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All the Toys of the World
By the mystery tramp

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Category: Post-DH/AB, Potter’s Affairs Challenge 2008-4
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Extreme Language
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 13
Summary: ** Winner of Drama in the “Potter’s Affairs” Challenge **
It's like he's broken, maybe. Like he's a little wind-up toy who's lost his key—and some big blundering idiot of a kid stuck a knife in his back instead, and turned, turned, turned—wound him up so he's still moving, still breathing... but not like before.
Hitcount: Story Total: 7878

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.


"All the Toys of the World"
by the mystery tramp

His scar is fading, you know. That's all I can see when I look at him. And it's funny, to be honest, it's so dreadfully, ironically, terrifically funny, because when it was there – when that lightning bolt was so vividly etched into his forehead – I never looked at it, because that was what everyone else looked at, you know? And what did he need me looking at it as well for? What good would it do him, or me, or anyone else, if I were to stare at it too? It was just a scar, after all. But now – now that it's barely there anymore – it's all I can ever see.

"Hey," she said, knocking twice on the door as she opened it. He looked up at her, smiled (or grimaced?) for just a moment, and looked back down at the enormous mess of books and papers spread out on the desk in front of him.

"Hey," he said, weakly.

"You should take a break, you know," she said. She was at his shoulder now, looking at the papers, frowning. "We were thinking about heading out to that pub down the road? You should come with us." She put a hand just below the back of his neck, a comforting gesture – he winced, at first, startled, but then leaned into her touch. She swallowed, and felt a knot beginning to form in her chest. "It'd do you good."

He's different in other ways, too, besides the scar, but they're harder to describe. It's like he's broken, maybe. Like he's a little wind-up toy who's lost his key – and some big blundering idiot of a kid stuck a knife in his back instead, and turned, turned, turned – wound him up so he's still moving, still breathing... but not like before.

"Yeah," he said, but he was reading something, his eyes darting back and forth across the piece of parchment. He wasn't really listening. He didn't really mean it.

"Yeah?" she said, sort of deflated.

"Yeah," he said again, just the same sort of not-really-listening response.

She sighed. "Yeah," she said, once more, and she took her hand from his neck, shook her head, and left him to his books.

After the war, he bought a big house, up on a hill not too far from the Burrow. He just went out and bought it, really – on a whim, the first thing he did. He said he wanted a place that was his, really his, and he moved in as soon as he could. He wanted Ron and Hermione to live there too, but Ron didn't want him to just give him a house, you know? So he said he couldn't move in till he got a real job and could pay rent. And Hermione was going back to Hogwarts, so she wasn't about to move in, either.

But we hated seeing him in that big empty house all alone, so we all went over there as often as we could. His fireplace was only connected to the one at the Burrow, separate from the rest of the Floo Network, so we could all visit him as often as we liked, and he didn't have to worry about the crazy ones, the ones that never left him alone when he went out.

He didn't really want to hang out with us, most of the time, though. He was different, like I told you. Everything was always business... and sorting things out. That's what he always said, he said he was sorting things out, that there were so many things left to sort out.

You could tell he hated it. You could tell that this was something he'd never wanted in a thousand years, something he'd never thought about during the war – that he'd always figured once it was all over, everything would be so simple. But all these things had started to crop up all over the place – inheritance he'd never heard about, vaults at Gringotts – and all these things people insisted he was entitled to, for ending the war, things he had no interest in but couldn't seem to escape from. You could see it when you looked at him – he looked so lost, so disillusioned.

I think that might be why I can't stand to look at his face anymore – why I only ever really look at his forehead, at the barely-there lightning bolt that was always such a big deal – like I said.

"Wait," he said – just as she'd reached the doorway. She stopped.

"Where are you going?" he said, looking confused.

She blinked, took a breath, and turned back around to face him. She said: "I'm leaving you alone, like you want me to."

He was rich, now – he had always had money, but it had always been a mystery to him, so he'd never had to worry about it, never had to deal with it. He'd tried to hire people to help him with all of it – but that hadn't turned out very well.

They were partners, Jasper and Worthings, they were called. He was wary of them at first – they had been Slytherins, the both of them, when they'd gone to Hogwarts – but they were supposed to be the best, according to Hermione. They were supposed to be reputable advisers who'd worked with loads of people – and maybe they had been, before. They certainly seemed fine to begin with. But maybe they had just never dealt with quite so many things, quite so much money – maybe they'd never felt quite so much temptation before. But anyway, whatever made them do it, they had done something rotten with the paperwork and gotten away with more than just money.

"What?" he said. "I don't want you to leave me a–"

"Oh, stop KIDDING yourself –" she burst out, then stopped. His mouth fell open, he quirked his head to the side, as though he wasn't quite sure he hadn't only imagined it. She wasn't quite sure herself.

They were both silent for a long moment – he opened and closed his mouth, once, twice, three times, then:


And then there's me. When we were younger, before the war was over, he used to talk about what it would be like when it was over – about how we'd be so happy, how we'd be together and everything would be so perfect, you know? Our little happily-ever-after, that's what it always was, in the back of our heads – we thought, after it's over, everything will work out just as splendidly as could be, you know?

But I don't know anymore, to tell you the truth. Maybe we are together? Maybe we're not? Maybe it was just something that happened automatically when the war ended, but he never really asked me out again, and we never kiss. But sometimes I still think we're together – or at least that he thinks we're together – and I don't really know why.

When I was a kid, my dad brought home these Muggle toys, sometimes, from work, these Muggle dolls – these perfect, plastic, I don't remember what he called them – did it even matter if they had names?

But there was a girl, and there was a boy, and they were so obviously made to be like, counterparts to each other – so all the little girls would pretend they were married, you know? And even if you weren't pretending they were married, you could still tell that they were supposed to be paired up, even if they were just lying there on the floor. And that's sort of what it feels like, me and him – like even if we're not actively together, we're just waiting for some little girl to pick us up and hit our lips together and make kissy noises, you know?

Do you know what I mean?

"You honestly haven't even noticed, have you?" she said, taking a step, then another, slowly, back towards his desk.

"I haven't noticed what?" he said, furrowing his brow.

"You haven't noticed yourself," she said. And because she felt strange, standing while he sat in his desk chair, she kneeled, crossing her arms on his desk and putting her chin on her arms – and looking at him – but not quite looking at his face.

"What are you talking about?" he said. "I don't know what you mean –"

"This isn't you," she said. "All these papers, all these books. You haven't been yourself, since those people took –"

"Well, I've been busy, all right?" he said, beginning to sound defensive. "There've been a lot of things to sort –"

"Oh, yes, of course, all these
things to sort out..." she said. "I'd forgotten."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing at all," she said. "I've just been wondering, you know – when you’ve gotten all these
things sorted out – are you planning on actually starting to live your life, by any chance? Or would you rather just sit here gathering dust?"

"I have been–"

"You haven't been anything," she said. "You haven't been you. You haven't been the boy I fell in love with."

Her words echoed softly in the empty house for a long moment.

"Well, maybe that's because I'm not a boy anymore," he said. "Maybe I've grown up. And when you grow up, you have to deal with all of this stuff, you can't just pretend that everything's perfect anymore –"

"But you can't act like everything's broken, either," she said. "There are still things that don't NEED to be sorted out – things you can just know are there, things that can make you not so
fucking depressed all the time –"

He blinked, and opened his mouth, closed it, opened, closed – a pull string toy that's lost its voice box. Then, finally:

"You swore at me," he said, weak, quiet. Another moment, and then: "Why did you swear at me?"

"We're both
adults here," she said bitterly. Then, raising her eyebrows: "Why shouldn't I?"

He didn't say anything – he just looked at her.

His scar is fading, you know. That's all I can see when I look at him. And it's funny, to be honest, it's so dreadfully, ironically, terrifically funny, because... actually, I don't know why it's funny. It isn't funny. I hate it.

Why can't I look at him? Maybe if I could look at him, maybe if I could really sink deep down into him through his eyes, like I used to, maybe I could understand him, maybe I could help him.

Maybe he could help me.

"I'm sorry," she said, finally. But then: "I guess. I don't know. I don't know about anything anymore. Maybe I'm just sorry I don't swear at you more often, so you wouldn't have thought it was strange."

"No," he said. "Don't."

And she shook her head. Faintly: "I'm not going to." A breath, and then: "It feels wrong, to swear with you."

"I think I know what you mean," he said. He looked down, at all the books spread out over the desk, all the papers, and then – all at once, like he hadn't even thought the words before they came out of his mouth:

"I'm going to give it away."

She blinked. "What?"

"All of it. I don't need it. I'll get a job, I'll find a flat with Ron..." Then, as if realizing it just now himself: "I hate this house."

He looked back from the papers and the books, back up to her face, and said: "Do you want to go do something fun?"

And she looked at his eyes, and nodded.

The End

"Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses–
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.
– John Frederick Nims

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