Grown Up Cage
Harry missed another two days at work, which he spend sulking in his bed, ignoring all incoming calls. And there were quite a lot of them. The last time he checked, Mr Snape had called him a total of three times. Two calls had been made from his company number, one from his private mobile.
There were calls from Ron, Hermione, and even his mother had tried to get hold of him. Plus, a few from unknown numbers.
Harry had counted a total of seven voice-mails, but he deleted all of them without having listened to even one. He didn't care. About anything.
Harry also ignored his doorbell. People were coming and going, ringing said bell, more or less frequently, then shuffled around, muttered to themselves and left, when it became apparent that he wouldn't answer.
Some even knocked on the door. Or banged on it like there was no tomorrow, until the downstairs neighbour shouted and complained about the noise.
"Harry, I know you're home! Please open the door"
"Potty, come on, mate! Let's talk this though, okay?"
"Harry, I'm your friend. I want talk with you, open door, okay?"
"POTTER STOP BEING SUCH AN IDIOT!"
"Good Afternoon, Mr Potter. My name is Officer Finnagan, me and my partner, Officer Thomas just want to see if you're okay."
"FOR FUCK'S SAKE - OPEN THE DOOR, MATE"
"Mr. Potter, please open the door"
After only one day Harry had mastered to blend all the annoying voices out. There was no reason to listen to them. They were nothing. They meant nothing...
Why would his friends do that to him?
Who was the idiot that sent the police, for gods sakes?
His mother's and Hermione's faces came to his mind. Both of them could have been responsible.
So what if he got drunk? So what if he decided on having an orgy? He did not have to explain himself, did he? As long as he didn't harm anyone else or break the law in process, he was free to do whatever he liked!
Well, okay, perhaps he had broken the law with the amount of cocaine that he had used, but so what? It wasn't like he was the only person in London ever trying drugs! There were thousands of more severe cases out there. He wasn't even an addict! He had only tried it once!
It had been a one time thing!
It wasn't his fault that everyone made a big drama out of it.
His last admission to the A&E had been three month ago - if he remembered correctly. The whiskey overdose during his interview didn't count anyway. Who didn't drink prior to a life changing appointment?
Harry ran his fingers through his overgrown hair, then stumbled towards the kitchen. He didn't feel like leaving the house, but his refrigerator recently developed a severe case of anorexia, and he was starving as a result.
"Harry, what are you doing?" A soft voice asked from the direction of his bed. Harry shrugged, but turned around. "Just making some coffee," he replied, "and have a cigarette. Haven't had one for the entire day"
Draco was gone when Harry went back to the bedroom. That was not out of the ordinary. He came and went as he pleased these days.
Harry grabbed his guitar. His fingers ached to play some music. So much had been going on lately, and his twisted head needed an outlet for all the bottled up emotions that were running amok in his head.
Harry was covered in sweat, as usual when he finished composing a song and usually he wasn't too bothered by it. Today however, he had to jump into the shower. He had to wash this dreadful filth of his body that reminded him of the failure that he seemed to be in the eyes of everyone else!
The bathroom mirror reflected a blob of lobster-red surrounded by steam when Harry had finished his shower. The water had been hot. Too hot, but that was how he had wanted it.
Harry had scrubbed his arms, his chest, his legs, back and face until he couldn't handle the pain any longer. Still stark naked, he walked back to his bed to lay down to feel miserable.
"Are you alright?"
"Harry I'm worried!"
Slowly, he opened his eyes and saw Draco kneeling next to him on the bed. He was fidgeting and caressing his neck with one hand. "You're back" Harry exclaimed. "I never know when you come, or when you go, or for how long you're going to stay!" He complained.
"But that is entirely up to you Potty," Draco replied. "You make me come and go. I come whenever I'm wanted and leave whenever I'm no longer needed."
Harry exhaled, and got off the bed. He fished for the closest pair of boxers and an old red t-shirt, didn't care whether they were dirty or not, and put them on. That was enough clothing, as he didn't intent to leave his flat at all.
Draco wrinkled his nose in disagreement. "That's what you call an outfit? Potty, I have always loved your 'I-don't-give-a-fuck' - style, but don't you think this is a bit over the top? At least get some clean boxers. I can smell them all the way to nirvana!"
Harry sighed, but removed the shorts and grabbed for another pair. He gave them a thorough sniff to ensure he picked clean ones this time. Turning back to Draco, he received an approving nod.
"Play that song for me again," asked Draco. With the guitar already in his hands, Harry sat cross legged on the bed, tuning the instrument. Draco took a seat on the window sill, dangling his legs. He was whistling a tune along with Harry's guitar tuning, and then laughed at his own non existent musical skills. Harry couldn't suppress a smile. It was just like old times.
Harry changed the guitar cords a little, making them move powerful, and added a little crescendo here and there.
At the second chorus Draco chimed in, sounding like a rusty trumpet. But this was just perfect. The song sounded better this way, like a natural part of the chorus. The missing piece.
Harry threw his guitar aside and ran to his computer, plugged it in, and powered it on. While the screen was loading, he was running around the tiny flat like a frantic chicken.
"What are you looking for?" asked Draco frowning.
"You'll see, you'll see," was Harry's muffled response from somewhere behind his bed.
He was throwing some mess from one side to the other: dirty and clean socks, a couple of candy wrappers, some unopened mail from last month, something that could have been a leftover slice of pizza at one point and - after a loud shout of triumph - a microphone, that he handed his to Draco.
Harry started the song again.
There was no need to plug in the guitar or sing into the microphone himself. He would just add Draco's voice to the already recorded version.
Harry was completely engrossed in his music and just continued to play one song after the other. Some of his own, some covers, and then something he made up on the go. He only took notice of the time when the upcoming sunrise started tickling the nape of his neck.
When he looked up, he found a stray microphone lying lonely below the windowsill. Harry shook his head, feeling disappointed. He hadn't even noticed Draco's leaving. "Tosser could have said good-bye though," he muttered.
He fished for a pack of Camels that he didn't remember buying. (Camels... seriously? Who bought that shit?).
Once he finished the cigarette, and gave his balls a good scratch, he sat down to edit his recordings. He tweaked and tinkered with Draco's lyrics until he was satisfied with the result.
Harry had spoken to Frances about a release date for his song some time last week. It was a very brief conversation, and Harry was too excited to really listen. As a result, he didn't remember a lot. He just hoped there would be time to add Draco's lyrics to the released version.
Thinking quickly, he forwarded a short email to Gryffindor with Draco's recording in the attachment, and an explanation that they were essential for the song. Together, they had created a masterpiece.
His rumpling stomach advised him that it would be a great idea to leave the solitude of his flat, and grab a bite somewhere. There was a pub around the corner that served the most delicious minced pies in all London. He hadn't been there for a long time.
He had avoided the place because it reminded him of Draco. They used to meet up there all the time, shared a laugh, and poked fun of other customers. They had been there almost daily
"Once or twice a months perhaps. Maximum," a voice suddenly interrupted his musings.
Draco was back.
"It felt like it was much more often," mumbled Harry while he was looking for a left and right shoe that were preferably remotely similar.
"Take those at door," Draco suggested.
Harry looked up from under his bed, where he was currently looking for one of his converse.
"These are my running shoes" Harry said, shooting daggers at the offensive pair of footwear.
Draco only laughed at him: "So what? Since when have you become so picky over shoes? Just put them on, I doubt that anyone in the pub will mind - or even notice!"
Harry didn't care much about shoes in general, but this pair held a flair of sweat and endless torture. "But they're my bad karma shoes" he whined.
There was no need to turn around to see Draco shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Harry had a very accurate mental picture. Draco's antics didn't bother him though. They really had nothing on Hermione's eyebrow. That was one infernal torture devise!
Draco didn't say anything, but no matter how hard he looked, he could not find any shoe for his left foot! It was between going barefoot or wearing the dreadful trainers.
Only - and really only because the weather outside was less then ten degrees, the trainers screamed victory.
With said torture devices strapped to his feet, Harry opened his door, just to find Hermione standing on the other side, evil eyebrow in place.
Apart from that, she was wearing her purple tracksuit, her dirty black trainers, a funny device that looked a lot like a watch but was measuring her pulse, and had her hair pulled into a ponytail.
Hermione broke out into a wide grin and hugged Harry like there was no tomorrow. (Actually, there would be no tomorrow for Harry, if she continued her vice-like grip!)
"Need... to... breathe..." he coughed, and bent over, his hands on his knees, exaggerating. Hermione, completely oblivious to his brush-in with death, rambled on. "I was prepared to smash this bloody door in to and drag you out of you self inflicted misery, but you're already here, gear and all. I'm so glad to see you coming around, mate!". Her beam was possibly lighting up the north pole at the moment.
"I ... - but - ... What?" was all that Harry could voice in his baffled state of mind.
They had parted on a massive argument over his sanity, and Hermione wanted to go running as if nothing had happened at all? By the time he could think of a coherent response, Hermione had already dragged him four levels, down and outside of the building, still chatting away.
It was a freezing cold morning (much cooler than expected Harry wasn't sure whether he should continue to trust the BBC weather forecast). The wind blew icily around his red nose. Harry had both arms wrapped around his body, a burning cigarette in one shaking hand, which Hermione audibly disapproved of.
Perhaps he would light up another one as soon as this was done. Or maybe he should consider smoking two at a time just to really freak her out. He knew she was still struggling without cigarettes.
He wasn't a mean person per se, but he hated how he always ended up being the biggest failure known to mankind in the eyes of his friend. Hermione had to understand that she wasn't perfect as well.
He wanted her to fail, and he wanted to rub it in on every occasion possible. He would raise his own eyebrow, and he tell her in his most self-righteous voice how disappointed he was in her. Then he would cross his arms, and raise his eyebrow even higher, so that it disappeared under his hairline, like Hermione's did whenever she was on a roll, and suggest she seek professional help. He would even go ahead, and pick up a leaflet for her.
"Earth to Harry, are you still here?"
A hand was waving up and down in front of his face, almost knocking into his nose twice.
"What?" He barked back and glared down at Hermione who unknowingly had interrupted his master-planning.
"We're at the tube station" She looked at him as if this was the most exciting news of the day.
Hermione threw him a challenging look. "You might want to get your oyster card to get through the barrier" she explained like talking to a child.
"I know that!" Harry searched through all of his pockets.
"You don't have it, do you?" Hermione inquired after some long seconds.
Harry flared his nostrils, and brushed his fingers through his hair, pulling at some strands. If he kept that habit up, he would be bald well before his thirtieth birthday. He knit his eyebrows together in an attempt for a more menacing look, but only archived a resemblance to a gorilla with constipation.
Hermione told him so.
It didn't do anything to improve his mood.
"That's it," he grunted, but not loud enough for her to hear. He went to the little news-stand and bought a new pack of cigarettes. Camels. No matter how disgusting he found them, they were Hermione's preferred brand. In his hurry to unwrap the pack, he almost executed half of the cigarettes inside. He put on in his mouth and lit it up. "Hmmmmmm" he moaned with closed eyes, and immediately took a second drag one.
He could feel Hermione's eyes on the cancer stick, shooting daggers. She almost looked hypnotised.
Harry inwardly grinned. He felt a lot better now.
Unfortunately, the moment only lasted one mere moment. Hermione got a grip on herself, and moved her attention elsewhere. To Harry's missing oyster card, to be exact. With gritting teeth, Harry ended up paying for a full day 3 Zones pass.
At the end of the day, Hermione would beg him for a smoke, he knew it.
Harry still wondered how he ended up coming here with Hermione in the first place. His stomach was still screaming for the massive breakfast it had been promised. He also hated how Draco had disappeared again without a good-bye.
'No manners, that boy,' he shook his head slightly.
Hermione had caught the movement. "What did you say"?
"Nothing," mumbled Harry and turned to look out of the window. Not that there was anything to see. He just needed to distract his eyes and mind somehow.
"And why would thinking of 'nothing' make you shake your head?"
His too observant friend inquired without looking at him.
"It just does!" Harry brushed his hand through his hair, pulling strands one more time. Hermione didn't seem to notice. She just shrugged her shoulders and starred at her reflection. She had lost a lot of weight, but still insisted that her fat 'jiggled' around when she moved to quickly.
"Women!" He huffed under his breath. As if 'jiggly' fat would have been visible under her tent-like tracksuit anyway.
Hermione ignored that comment: "You were thinking about something, quite obviously."
"It's somewhat personal. I keep my diary up there"
"My brain, obviously, and I was just filling it up with some information."
"you are writing a mental diary?"
"That's what I just said!" Harry rolled his eyes. He hated having to repeat himself.
"Why didn't you just say so?"
"I didn't want to"
"Why not?" Hermione raised her eyebrow.
"I was afraid it might sound stupid"
"Almost everything you say sounds stupid, mate! That's what I like about you!"
"You like me because I'm stupid?"
Harry's eyebrow was now competing with Hermione's for the pole position.
Hermione exhaled and put her hand on Harry's shoulder, "You're not stupid, Harry, you're entertaining! - And maybe a bit of an idiot". She patted him twice, then crossed her arms again.
"I'm an entertaining idiot," parroted Harry
"There's nothing wrong with being entertaining, idiot," said Hermione: "You want to be an entertainer, so that should have been a compliment."
"I am a musician, not an entertainer!" Harry clarified, not looking at his friend. Absentmindedly, he started pulling the hair on his left eyebrow. - Or the left side of his unibrow, however one wanted to put it.
"You could do with some plucking!" A voice to his right pointed out. It wasn't Hermione's though. Somehow Draco had taken her seat.
"There is nothing wrong with my eyebrows," Harry argued.
"Good for you, mate - but why did this conversation suddenly shift to your pet caterpillars?" asked Draco with Hermione's voice and raised his eyebrow accordingly.
"You just told me to pluck them, didn't you?" Harry remarked anxiously. Tiny little alarm bells went off inside his head. Something was severely wrong with this conversation.
"I certainly didn't. If I'd start paying attention to your grooming standards, there will be no time doing anything else with my life anymore!" deadpanned Hermione.
"I must be hearing things again then" muttered Harry, and shook his head. Hermione laughed, but a small frown between her eyebrows remained. Harry bit on his lower lip. He had this dreadful feeling that he needed to be more careful how to act around his friend.
"What is wrong with my grooming standards?" asked Harry to move the conversation to a safer topic, not noticing that this was not the safest topic to discuss with a woman.
"Shall I start top or bottom?" This time Hermione had both eyebrows raised. Harry could see the imaginary list above her head growing in size. He shrugged, and slumped even deeper into his seat. "Why don't you just start in the middle?"
"Well, in that case, I will start with the hole in your pants - in a quite peculiar place - and shall continue with your cute little Charlie Brown boxers."
Harry looked down to inspect said hole. It was barely the size of a two pound coin, nothing to worry about.
"That's Woodstock, not Charlie Brown," he remarked.
"And that's better because...?."
"Because he's much cooler than Charlie Brown and he's named after one of the most awesome music festivals ever!" The eye-roll was present in Harry's voice.
"How do you know?" Hermione's eyebrow was back in full force: "Have you been there?"
"Not yet, but my time machine's already ordered." Stupid questions deserved even more stupid responses.
"You would just fit in with the crowd there," Hermione nodded. "Your clothes and hair definitely are from that era.
Harry was quite certain that they wore flared jeans and flowery blouses back then. He didn't own any item of clothing that was remotely like that. The hair - maybe, but that didn't really count.
"You're trainers are certainly from the sixties," said Hermione.
"They're not. They're from Oxfam."
"Just what I said."
Hermione's eyebrow raised all the way up to her hairline and further. "You asked me about your grooming standards, didn't you? I'm pretty sure that the lumps you call clothing fit into that category."
At the next stop they emerged the train in a cloud of people that were rushing towards their perspective places or work.
Hermione was squinting her eyes, looking for someone. Seconds later, a head of red hair walked towards them. Clad in Adidas sports gear, Ron greeted them with a huge grin like a lovesick puppy on his face.
Harry rolled his eyes, and starred into the opposite direction, making gagging noises. Grouchily, he demanded that they better start running now so was finally going to get to his breakfast.
After the jog, he and Hermione sat down at the table Ron already occupied with three cups, as usual. Stomach still grumbling, Harry bought an additional 6000 calories worth of shotbread. Hermione didn't seem to notice, as she was chatting with Ron. Otherwise he would have been told off by how.
Somehow that didn't make him feel better. Harry felt left out.
After having finished his coffee and breakfast, Harry yawned, and got up. He stretched his muscles, then turned to say good-bye to Hermione and Ron, who didn't give the impression that they would miss him at all. "Okay, I'm heading off to bed now," he announced, "I'm tired enough to sleep through the next century."
Ron looked at him as if he wanted to say something. His mouth gaped open, and his eyes bulged, but no sound left his lips. Ron then shook his head, and turned to stare out of the window. Whatever it was that he had wanted to say to Harry must be something quite awful.
Harry was in self defence mode. His hands, hidden away in the pockets of his trousers were balled into fists. His nostrils flared, and his lips had disappeared into a firm white line.
Ron shook his head, defeated, and whispered something to Hermione, who put a hand on his shoulder. Both threw worried glances towards Harry, who then turned around and stalked away without a glance backwards.
Harry had an idea what that had been about. Ron had certainly wanted to discuss therapy again. Apparently Harry had made 'progress' in joining their morning exercise again, and they probably felt that this meant he was ready for another round of lecturing, and belittling, and telling him about all the advances of a mental institution.
He did not want to hear anything about that!
He wasn't interest in going back to his flat any longer and instead was riding on the tube thoughtlessly, changing trains ever so often.
When he passed Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Acton Town and South Ealing, he realised that he was on the way to Heathrow Airport.
'Fair Enough,' he muttered to himself, and stayed seated until the train reached its destination.
Twenty-two minutes later he arrived at Heathrow Terminal Five, but still felt like he had travelled far enough. There was random chatter in various languages, some people were talking into their phones, while others were having conversations with their travel partners, and for the first time Harry allowed himself to admit that he felt utterly alone and out of place.
All of them would get away eventually. They would board a plane and fly away, while he remained super-glued to his stupid little life.
"Just do it!"
Draco was talking to him.
"Do what?" He whispered back, hoping that none of the other people would catch him talking to himself.
"Go away," the blonde replied, "book a flight to somewhere. Anywhere. Sometimes you just have to leave all worries behind and move on. Being trapped in that cage called grown-up-world isn't good for you when you live there permanently. Give the child in you some time to play."
Harry's thoughts shifted to some destinations he always wanted to travel to: A beach in Spain, a trip to Amsterdam. Salzburg, with the little cobbled streets and old fashioned shop windows. The place where Mozart grew up.
All sounded wonderful and irresistible, but he was well aware of the meagre, little red figure, that was his recent bank statement. He wouldn't be able to afford a spontaneous plane ticket to anywhere, even if he fully exhausted his overdraft.
"Too bad that you don't have your guitar on you," said Draco. "You could play some music and earn a ticket to anywhere with it."
"Maybe I really should just do that." He agreed. Somehow, his mood had already improved.
He didn't need therapy. He needed a holiday. And a plan!
Oxford Circus wasn't his favourite spot by far, the crowd usually a cloud of teenage girls who's idea of good music was Rihanna and Justin Bieber.
As soon as his guitar and mic were set up and he was warmed up, Harry played a cover of 'Knocking' on Heaven's Door' - the original version, and not the horrid Guns'n'Roses cover - and managed to make it sound much sadder than Bob Dylan himself.
No one threw as much as a penny into his direction, and Harry didn't expected them to. The song was soon followed by Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah,' and 'Good-bye, Ruby Tuesday', a song that Harry wasn'table to finish at all. As if stuck in an eternal time loop, he kept on repeating and repeating the chorus, not giving a damn that his two hours were almost up, and there was still no money next to his name.
"Fuck it all," Harry announced to no one in particular, and started to make up random notes on his guitar.
"I want to die in a fucking time machine"
"and watch myself taking my last breath over and over again"
"because, fuck it all,"
"fuck that shit!"
"I care about nothing but my own misery"
"what a pathetic life"
"Fuck that pathetic life"
He shouted out to his mismatching, cheery accords. He started to whistle to his music for a while and - without realising - did a little penguin dance.
Somewhere between senseless lyrics and uncoordinated dance moves, people started showering Harry's case with a waterfall of coins.
Later in the evening he found himself banging like crazy at the door of Hermione's second floor apartment. She opened, clad in plaited pyjama bottoms and a purple tank top, that was still too small for her. "Harry mate," she said in a sleepy and surprised voice: "What the heck are you doing here in the middle of the night that needs the attention of all my neighbours?"
"I was thinking about what you and Ron told me the other day, and I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with me, Hermione. I don't need therapy. I don't even need to rest. I just need to get out of here for a while. You know, go somewhere else, see a different scenery. Get a different vibe."
Hermione only looked at him, too tired to raise her eyebrow like she probably would have done.
"I went busking. Got a last minute slot, and almost made a hundred quid. Its enough for a trip to somewhere. Close the tattoo shop, let Ginny move your appointments to other days, and come with me. Let's just have some careless fun"