What Could Have Been (And What Was)
Summary: Neither epilogue-compliant nor EWE; seven separate demonstrations that you can't stop the signal.
Harry/Draco (of course), ~7,000 words, R rating.
Some meta. Spoilers for the story follow:
The structure of the fic is of seven beginnings, each one told to the point where the reader can see how the pattern is going to follow in the way it did before, showing that Harry and Draco will inevitably get together. Each segment starts at an earlier point in the lives of the characters, showing where everything deviates from the timeline.
The first segment of the story is epilogue-compliant; it starts the second that Deathly Hallows ends, there at the train station. I hate this segment. I don't hate the writing; I'm satisfied with the writing. I hate the story it tells. The reason I chose this structure, the reason segment one ends where it does is because I utterly hate this sort of thing--the infidelity, the divorce, the children left bereft. The reason Harry thinks, at the end of that segment, that he has no idea in hell what he's going to do, is because at that moment, channelling him, I wanted to die. Rather than go home to my wife and children and tell them what I'd done, rather than hear my children crying and asking me why I had to leave Mum, I would be contemplating throwing myself out of the window. He/I had no idea how to go on from that moment. The only way I was able to write that segment was to tell myself at every step that I was not writing it, because it didn't happen that way. I was writing what didn't happen. Which leads to an oddness, doesn't it, because I point to that segment and say, "I could never write a story like that." Except the argument would be that I did write it, didn't I--except I can keep pointing to it and say, "But no, I didn't. I wrote what didn't happen. That's what it says."
In another story that was coincidentally written for the same prompt femmequixotic's Take a Sad Song (And Make It Better) (do you know that I'm typing this before the reveal? That I don't actually have the confirmation in front of me that she wrote it, but I'm so sure I'm not even pausing?), all of the same issues that I hated in my first segment--infidelity, divorce, miserable children--are addressed in cruel detail. It's a brilliant, gorgeous story. I could never have written it, could barely read it. I haven't even looked at all of the hd_worldcup fics yet but I know it's one of the top showpieces of the fest. I love that it exists but only a storyteller of femmequixotic's caliber could make me bear to read that particular style of post-epilogue Harry/Draco to its completion.
So anyway--that's why segment one of my fic ends where it does. At the moment where I couldn't bear to go on, not one more word. Each segment after that became easier to write, because the calendar keeps turning back: Ginny's infidelity is easier for Harry to bear than his own, children keep disappearing from the timeline, marriages never come to be at all. Less fallout, easier for me to think about.
I used this structure, the calendar turning back, because that was my take on "fanon": find all the key moments that we know existed in Harry's life, in those interval nineteen years--the send-off at the train, the births of his children, his marriage, his role as Teddy's godfather, the moment he walked out of Dumbledore's office to begin his less-exciting life--find them all and turn them to your die-hard H/D shipper's purpose. Take each one of them, ask yourself, "How could the deviation from canon begin here instead; how could Harry get together with Draco from this point?" Show how it could happen, show how it hinges on the same things each time. And, in the last segment, brashly claim it is inevitable, from the moment Harry made the choice to save Draco Malfoy's life.
--An easy confession: the Harry-raises-Teddy segment is my favorite, because I'm completely melty for the idea of Harry-raises-Teddy. If there's good Harry-raises-Teddy slash out there, any slash pairing, point me.