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07 March 2010 @ 11:58 pm
Birthdays! and fic  
I have been insanely busy this month, again, which is not really an excuse, but does explain why I failed to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ldydark1  on the fourth. So, Happy Late Birthday! And I hope this year is wonderful for you!

Today is another one of those auspicious days on which several terrific people were born. And yes, I know that is true of every day, but these are people I actually know, so shush!

Firstly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to blindmouse . I cannot begin to approach the genius that is oddishly 's tribute to your birth, so I will just add my good wishes and hopes that we can all three finally meet up when I am next down your way.

And a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to raitala . Long before I had the insane good fortune to make actual friends with you, I had this idea that you were some sort of Kate-Bush-like Finnish artist living in a garret and yes I know Kate Bush is not Finnish, bear with me. Because that neatly explained how you could be so economically emotional in one moment, then quirkily hilarious in the next, all the while telling narratives that I would kill for with a far better use of ink than I can manage.

But actually, you're even better.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday, and year. I was bemoaning the fact that I have not even begun to make your present, when I remembered that I started on something for you for Christmas. It's short and unbeta-ed, and I have gone a step beyond no one having sex to no one even snogging, but it was begun on your sofa, with your cat helping, and it is H/D, or at least, will be in a few days after the close of the story, when they get their acts together.

Have a great day, dear!


Tidings of Comfort

When the cold finally reached down to Draco’s bones, he decided it was time to seek shelter. Sensible parts of his brain told him to go home and warm up, at the very least to buy a warmer coat. He ignored them, and turned towards St Paul’s instead.

People coming from the cathedral burrowed their faces down into voluminous scarves, and walked quickly towards the Tube, or dinner, or loved ones – all three, Draco surmised glumly. One woman looked at him intently, Draco cast his eyes down. He was stopped by a small hand grasping his arm.

‘You look frozen, love,’ the woman said in motherly tones. ‘Here’s a fiver, get yourself some soup and call your parents. They’ll want to hear from you. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done.’

He stammered out a thank you as she hurried off, Christian duty done. His throat felt shamefully tight, had it really been that long since he had seen an act of unprompted kindness? He didn’t need the money, his thin clothes were by choice – a foolish type of penance, why should he be comfortable? – but the generosity ... His soul, if such a thing there was, had needed that. The note was tucked into a pocket, to be passed on when opportunity allowed.

The urge that took him up the stairs of the great church was an undefined one. All he knew was that sitting in the hard-backed chairs brought strange comfort. The usher recognised him, and smiled as he made his way to the row that was not quite of the service, not quite gawping tourist. The choir stood to sing as he walked in, late, the canticles ringing out.

He sat, and let the lessons of Evensong pass over him. In this Yuletide period, the lesson was well-known: it was written, a child would be born, mercy and love … If you sat over here, on the left-hand side of the congregation and looked at the lights hanging from the ceiling, Draco thought, it was impossible to make your brain believe they hung straight down: it insisted they were all at improbable angles. He could not make himself believe the scale of the building, and so his eyes conspired with his brain to lie about it, rationalising straight lines into curves, distance into changes in level and so on.

And yet even as his perception delivered falsehoods, he knew. The genius was writ large on the structure, the artistry on the stones. That such a thing could be built by Muggles, using maths and hands and drawings on paper, it was almost beyond belief.

‘If you believe in him …’ the Dean’s voice rang out.

Draco looked on with polite inattention. He had believed in too many hims in his short days. Though he half-envied the parishioners their faith. In this place it was easy to see its beauty and appeal, with the choir filling the air, rows of the neat and the good, and the church’s strong, abiding structure a world removed from Crusade and burnings. Despite the lessons of his childhood, he could not be nervous here, the last people to die in England as witches had done so years before Wren finished this work.

The usher walked quietly past his row and smiled at him in his corner seat, as she had done for several nights now. Not the smile he usually received from young women, but a gentle one of welcome and communion.

You, he told himself, are a complete fraud. And to prove it, he bowed his head in prayer and followed the forms for the remainder of the service.

He was out the door at the first opportunity, barely hearing the last word of the benediction. Though he took comfort from the congregation, it was only in the same way he took comfort from the architecture, as something lovely to observe. Were they to speak with him, exchange more than the small smiles they had begun to give after his first week of appearing at services, the peaceful edifice would crumble.

As he walked down the cathedral steps, careful of the light frost, he heard footsteps louder than those of the general pedestrian traffic. He looked right. A tall figure was running down from Paternoster, slim in his athletic clothes, with a hooded top, but bare arms.

Draco smiled to himself. At least he was dressed more warmly than someone. And in a few minutes, he would find a dark spot and Apparate home. Meanwhile, he allowed himself a few seconds to enjoy the runner, whose steady and determined steps reminded him of no-one so much as …

‘Malfoy?’ The runner turned about abruptly, jogging on the spot.

Of course. ‘Potter. Aren’t you cold?’

‘I could ask you the same thing. Where’s your coat? And what are you doing hanging round a church?’

‘I know that my redeemer lives,’ Draco replied, piously. There had been a very good Messiah on the weekend.

For a moment, Potter’s face was a study in bafflement, but suspicion won out. He jogged to the base of the steps as Draco descended the last of them. ‘Seriously, what are you up to?’

‘Going to church. And a lovely service it was.’

‘Dressed like that?’

‘I’m perfectly neat.’

‘For September. What are you trying to do? Catch your death?’

‘Hardly. It’s warm inside.’

Potter sniffed his disapproval. ‘So you’re really just here for the church?’

‘Really.’ Draco managed not to glare. ‘What about you? Why are you running around the city in the chill of the evening?'

‘It’s afternoon.’

‘It’s dark.’

‘It's December. Anyway, I have to keep fit, Auror training.’

‘Of course. Well, good luck with the Auroring.’ Draco turned and began to walk towards the back of the cathedral, from where he usually Apparated.

‘Is that it?’ Potter followed him.

Draco did not look back. ‘I’m not sure what you mean by “it”.’

‘The last time I saw you, I was convincing Kingsley that your family had largely been victims of circumstance and that ultimately you deserved clemency.’

‘As I recall, I thanked you at the time.’

‘Actually, you said you had no idea I knew words like clemency, but your mother thanked me,’ Potter corrected him.

Draco was pleased Potter was behind him, so there was no reason to hide the smile that crossed his face.

'Malfoy, wait.'

Draco stopped.

Potter ran over to him. 'Seriously, a church?'

‘I like it. Everything happens in order, as it has always happened. It fills up my mind and I don’t need to think.'

‘What’s wrong with thinking?’

‘Potter, this is going to be hard for you to understand because it involves abstract concepts, but I have done some things that I might wish not done.’

Draco managed to refrain from smiling as he watched Potter work his way through the syntax.

'Right,' Potter said after a minute. 'And you're looking for forgiveness.'

'No, I'm looking for peace. I don't expect forgiveness.'

'Do you find it?'

'For an hour or two.'

Potter nodded. 'That can be enough.'

Draco was too slow to stop the surprise reaching his eyes.

Potter must have been having a rare moment of observational skill. 'I find running soothing,' he said. 'And afterwards, I'm too tired for anything else for a while.'

'Including embarrassment at your get-up.' Draco didn't mean the insult, but habits were hard to shift.

'This is considered extremely stylish by Muggles,' Potter advised him seriously.

'A people who believe chicken tikka marsala to be food,' Draco reminded him.

Potter burst out laughing. 'When did you ever learn about curry?'

'It's hardly curry.'

The smile stayed on Potter's face. Draco did not think that expression had ever been turned on him. Perhaps for a minute or two, in a dressing room, many years ago. He felt as though he should give something in return.

'You look less stupid than most people would in that outfit,' he admitted.

'Cheers, Malfoy. So, church …'

'Yup.'

'Um, St Paul's Cathedral?'

Draco shrugged. 'Why start small?'

'Every week?'

'Every Evensong. Eucharist on Sundays. What about your running? Every day?'

'Every day. About the same time. New route today, it's quite good. Ends up about here.'

Draco nodded slowly. 'So I'll probably see you again.'

'More than likely.'

'Perhaps even tomorrow.'

'I wouldn't be surprised.'

'Right.'

'Well,' said Draco. 'That's good to know.'

Potter hesitated before replying. 'I can change my route, if you'd prefer.'

'No need,' Draco said, the tiniest fraction too quickly.

The smile was back on Potter's face. 'So, probably see you tomorrow then.'

'Probably. I should be off. Things to do.'

'Yeah, same. Can't cool down too much.'

'Right. Good to see you.'

'And you.'

'And Potter?'

'Yes?'

Draco pulled the five-pound note from his pocket. 'Do me a favour and toss this at the first deserving person you see.'

'Should I ask?'

'Best not to.'

'Good-o. Till tomorrow then.'

'Till then.'

Draco made sure he turned away first, and walked to a point he could hide behind effectively before he crouched down to watch Potter's limber form run off. Tomorrow, he decided, he would wear a warmer coat. And possibly a more flattering pair of trousers …
 
 
 
Loyaulte Me Lieshocolate on March 7th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
'Um, St Paul's Cathedral?'

Draco shrugged. 'Why start small?'


*nods*

I have decided I am a very big fan of your pre-Harry/Draco.

*nods again*

Do wizards have flattering pairs of trousers that say, 'your bum does not look big in me!' ??
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on March 7th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
I dare you to write those trousers...!
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on March 7th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
Um - didn't mean that to come out as demanding as it reads; sorry about that. But it is a very amusing idea.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
Cheers dear! And kerryblaze and I are in cahoots, you will be happy to learn ;-)

I believe there should be such a pair of trousers, and second my friend's suggestion you write them. Would be quite happy for Harry to wear them for Ron's benefit if needed!
Loyaulte Me Lie: prideshocolate on March 7th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
I am proud to have initiated cahoots!

Her husband is amazed at our network.

*contemplates trousers*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
I explained the sequence of events to Mr Brammers, he was mightily impressed ;-)

*Succumb to the trousers! Succumb!*
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα: J-turn_inbetween_ on March 7th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
And I cannot stop marvelling how you come up with ever new and unique superlative descriptions of what makes people special (otherwise I'd have suspected you keep reposting the birthday posts every other day but nope, impressive).
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Well, I have these really amazing friends, you see! :-)
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα: J-downward-smile_inbetween_ on March 7th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
I can see so ! you braggart ;P

Edited at 2010-03-07 01:46 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Yes! Am quite chuffed to have you ;-P
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα: J-curtains_inbetween_ on March 7th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh *shakes fist* you so outwitted me. Again! Maybe if I get hit by a car I also mumblemumble ;P


ETA: it's not HARD to outwit me, says -i-, just returning from oven where empty plate was heated, full pot was cold because switched on wrong thingy but hey, for once no actual flames!

ETA-2: oh dear, luckily I got till October to maybe do SOMETHING mentionworthy!!!

Edited at 2010-03-07 02:04 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 8th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC)
Mr Brammers has slaughtered three coffee percolators doing exactly that thing with the stoveplates :-)

And HEE! Yes, brain damage sharpens up some of the senses even as it takes some away. I may not be able to remember the first half of the 90s, but my outwitting is through the roof ;-)
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα_inbetween_ on March 8th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
Hell, I'd actually be happy to give up all of the 90s ... and the 00s ... have my memories, give me (out)wit! *eagerly looks down at street*
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on March 7th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Huzzah for fic!

The concept of Malfoy enjoying evensong in St. Pauls is slightly mind-boggling (I'd love to read how that began...) but this is a most excellent coincidental meeting, with a promising future. I look forward to the fun!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
I have to confess, it was begun when Rai and I both confessed that although avowed atheists, we both find services there incredibly soothing. And I had seen this gorgeous jogger ... really it's all tremendously shameful. I like to think that Draco ducked inside to hide one day when he saw Granger and Weasley in the distance, and by the time he made it out, he was feeling all at one with the marble ... As to what he was doing in London, can you imagine the discussions between his parents at home?
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on March 7th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
I do understand the soothing bit; I haven't been inside St. Pauls, but I did go to evensong at Salisbury once, which was lovely if slightly bewildering (all that high-church standing and sitting and kneeling and so on).

So many postwar fics have Draco pickling himself in alcohol as a form of escapism, so the concept of him retreating to a church for sanctuary is a new and intriguing one.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 7th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
Well, he is a bit fussy, you see, and it is so hard to find a quality drinking place ;-)
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 10th, 2010 04:31 am (UTC)
Have you gone to check out Rai's art? Seriously, it's a delight. The pieces I have linked are some of my personal faves, but it's all good :-)

And thank you so much. When I am having a grim 'ARGH! WHY CAN I NOT WRITE??!!' day, you do reassure me that at least some of what I am trying to do works.

You're quite right, BTW, I do have fabbo friends. The lot of you are fairly universally Grade A.
Heather: Movie: Secret Garden - Seekingfaynia on March 7th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
I'm sitting here working on imagining what Draco could possibly be wearing in this fic, but what I keep coming up with is mildly inappropriate and reeks of too many years hanging around fandom.

You always write amazing things, even short amazing things. *claps and bounces*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 18th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
If only I wrote amazing replies to generous comments ... Bloody brain of fish! And not a smart fish, either ...

You made me laugh such a lot thinking of him in bumless chaps ;-) Thanks, dear!
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on March 7th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
re: Tidings of Comfort
How lucky we are that everyone gets gift fic from Brammers when it's Rai's birthday. I can see how this story was inspired by the Christmas spirit, but looking out into drizzling Berlin, it fits today as well. Totally love the rituals of redemption that both Harry and Draco have created for themselves. Draco Apparating into London for Evensong each day is beyond touching.

'A people who believe chicken tikka marsala to be food,' Draco reminded him.
Potter burst out laughing. 'When did you ever learn about curry?'
'It's hardly curry.'


Perfect! Thanks for this, B.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 18th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Tidings of Comfort
I started to write it in Rai's living room, terribly cold after a day with insufficient glovage (I should listen to Pingrid when she tells me to buy the cashmere-lined, but I was thinking of old early Decembers, not the newer, freezier sort.) Funnily, today was that sort of day, though far milder, on the other side of the planet. I thought of them and realised that I had been dreadfully vague about comments, so back to say thank you!
siria on March 7th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, wonderful! I love the idea of Draco looking for constancy and tradition in a place so muggle. As usual, your characters have a very real, human feel to them, which I think is particularly notable because the story is so short. (As usual, I wish it were longer, but only because it is so awesome.) Anyway, what a great gift. raitala is a very lucky birthday girl! :)
LadyDark1 ~ A  Harry and Draco Slash Addict.Period: Pondering pensiveldydark1 on March 7th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
re: Tidings of Comfort
Oh, I loved this!
I enjoyed Dracos thoughts.
I liked how the detail, how
Draco carefully went down the
church steps, mindful of the
frost. The clothing, the
charitable act of the woman
giving Draco money.
I liked the theme of how some
people go to church for the
traditional services, to find
comfort and peace. The
traditional prayers, and hymns.
I liked the comment about the
witches.
I love architecture, and liked
the reference to it.
I enjoyed the dialog between
Harry and Draco, I could see the
encounter actually happening.
A wonderful, thought out,
sensitive and touching fiction,
that encompasses so many topics.
Well done, I enjoyed reading this.
(thank you for the birthday wishes,
they are valued and appreciated)
Jaeenchanted_jae on March 7th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's lovely. Draco is marvelously in character--they both are--and I have great hope for their future meetings.
jamie2109: Harry/Draco - sunsetjamie2109 on March 7th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Beautiful. I haven't been to mass in years - not since the ids were little and it was required for things like first Communions and such, but I always found the churches peaceful places to sit and reflect.
oopsoddishly on March 7th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
and hopes that we can all three finally meet up when I am next down your way.

*raises hand* Also in favour! :)

And I love the fic! Draco heading to St Paul's for Evensong is wonderful.
goddessrissgoddessriss on March 7th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
‘I like it. Everything happens in order, as it has always happened. It fills up my mind and I don’t need to think.' That is exactly how I feel about going to mass. I'm not a regular church-goer, but every now and then I feel the need and you've just summed up why. Oh Brammers, I do love you and your 'no sex' and 'not even any kissing' fics. Rai is a very lucky girl and obviously her cat is a Very Good Helper. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Meredyth: SavingDracomeredyth_13 on March 7th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
I feel a teeny bit ridiculous, but this actually brought tears to my eyes.

Dunno ...

Blindmouseblindmouse on March 7th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the birthday wishes! I hope we can meet up too :-)

And this is terribly charming and

‘I know that my redeemer lives,’ Draco replied, piously.

made me giggle.
powerflower11powerflower11 on March 7th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
So good to read this! I've been feeling a bit deprived of good fic lately, so this was very refreshing. Perfect!
Pureblood Princessraitala on March 8th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, my lovely!

That ficlet is deliciously perfect - I am quite happy for it to end there. It is just my perfect Draco *squeezes him till he yowls*

I loved the woman giving him a little money and telling him to call his parents and so on - that she was able to intuit the essential elements of what he was feeling and translating it just slightly wrong. It was that close-to-the-boneness that I think Draco would recognise and why it touches him more. A beautiful moment and I am so glad he accepted the money, despite his very well-preserved snark-response.

I loved him in church. All the little touches. This sentence is just perfect: You, he told himself, are a complete fraud. And to prove it, he bowed his head in prayer and followed the forms for the remainder of the service. I can't explain, but you know already what I mean.

The glimpse of Harry was great too - soulful, soulful, intense soulful, oh nice arse! Well, you know, he's not dead, just a bit low.

I loved their meeting too - Draco's absolute Draconess. Yes, you can go through hell, repent of your many mistakes and achieve some real self-knowledge but that doesn't mean you have to let every opportunity for a good jibe pass you by - oh no! I really liked how natural their conciliations were too. A lovely, lovely gift - thank you!
lyraslyras on March 8th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I love how subtly you write Draco's viewpoint, with references to the witch burnings and chicken tikka. Even his snarkiness is softened (although it still made me grin) thanks to the POV. Lovely!
Libbylibby_drew on March 8th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
It was Rai's birthday, but we all enjoyed the gift. What a treat this was to come home to.
Leelaleela_cat on March 8th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
I hadn't considered it before, but I can see Draco Malfoy finding comfort in Evensong at a place like St Paul's. Not any church, but somewhere old and steeped in tradition and the kind of beauty and repetitive ritual that he can lose himself in.

And then the moment between Harry and Draco... there's such intimacy there, so much promise for a beginning of something new and different.

Just lovely.
george pushdragonpushdragon on March 8th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovely!

I really like the way you write the little steps between attraction and action, the way they telegraph their attraction to each other (and the reader). Like here, the cute negotiation about whether it would be okay to meet up in future. It reminds me of how one of my favourite moments in LR Courgette is when Harry coaxes Draco into giving out his address so they can have a hot private date instead of a stilted public dinner.
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on March 9th, 2010 09:13 am (UTC)
You wrote fic! AND POSTED IT! I adore it, my dear :)
the center of the room and beyond: draco dreamingsnottygrrl on March 9th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
i've had this bookmarked to read since you put it up because i was scarce on computer time that day. lovely to see some fiction from you, darling. you do such wonderful dialogue. love your boys just trying to cope ♥
lokifanlokifan on March 12th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
AWWWW. This was incredibly touching. I like that Draco finds comfort in St Paul's for its permanence if nothing else - I think a lot of Londoners could relate to that!
la_marianela_mariane on May 10th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Great fic. I really like Draco giving Harry the five pound note at the end.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 11th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It seemed to me a nice acknowledgment that Harry was far more likely to do something useful with it ;-)
Bubbaabsynthedrinker on August 29th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
This fic has my heart. People who've never lived in London often don't realize that it is a Winter city and that both the people and its structures are built around that fact. From clothes to fireplaces there is a certain look and feel to London which is all its own.

St.Paul's is monumental and dwarfs even many of the dreams of men. And while it's dome may have been modeled on that of St. Peter's in Rome, it is first and foremost English and Anglican, and far more orderly and less chaotic than its Latin cousins.

You, he told himself, are a complete fraud. And to prove it, he bowed his head in prayer and followed the forms for the remainder of the service.

This struck me also. I wonder how many people, even believers, have had this thought go through their head at least once.

Of course the quick Harry/Draco encounter was both charming and hopeful. Two damaged souls adrift in the world. Sighs We can all hope.

Thanks for a little taste of England this rainy afternoon.

Peace,
Bubba

Edited at 2010-08-29 09:08 pm (UTC)
Atira7atira7 on August 10th, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
Aaaah your dialogue! It makes me so happy :D
Dedicated Escape Artist: Escapejadzialove on November 28th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, well this was lovely! I'm so glad you mentioned it and I'm sorry I missed it when it first posted. It feels very much like it could be a wonderful opening to a much longer story... *grins*
søphia_clark: H/D - Dancesophia_clark on June 6th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
I love this story & podfic so much that I recced it here! :)
Lee Marchaisleemarchais on August 6th, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Gah, I wish I had seen this sooner! I love it. there are so many things to love about it, not the least of them the banter and the way Draco finds ways to distract himself. I love how the simple things become such a source of solace and peace for him, if even for a few hours. Brilliant, brammers. :) Thanks for sharing. Now I'm off to read the sequel.
Nennenenne on August 19th, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful. Draco's thought about using a warmer coat made me misty eyed. Lovely.
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on August 24th, 2012 08:05 am (UTC)
How on earth did I miss this? :D