Author's Note: Apologies to the people whose song lyrics Kissaki pinched. Hee.
My Mother Told Me Life Was Like A Box Of Weevils
By Kissaki and Libertine
Remus had found himself in the ideal position. "Snape, what exactly is this?" he repeated.
Severus rolled his eyes, "What, Lupin? Is it too difficult for your canine eyes to read?" Snape slowly stood up, taking elaborate pains to straighten his robes out.
Remus let the insult slide, honing in on the bigger picture. "I can read the label, Snape. What I want to know is why you have it…unless…" he trailed off suggestively.
Severus caught on to Remus’ insinuation and actually *blushed*. "It’s not for me!" Severus snapped defensively, "I’m developing it, you half-wit." He strode forward reaching for the small jar.
Remus’ attention had fallen back to the rest of the collection of jars and vials. Severus made an attempt to grab the suitcase, but Remus casually placed one hand on Severus’ chest and shoved the other man back. Given that Remus had phenomenal strength due to his werewolf status, Snape was flung back against the opposite wall.
Remus’ eyes widened as he read the assorted labels…aphrodisiacs, lubricants, a couple designed to improve virility. Oh…what a moment. Suddenly it was worth all the wolf jokes, insults, and servitude to the Malfoys. Remus had never dreamed of such a golden opportunity to get back at Snape. Christmas had come early to Malfoy Manor.
Remus choked back laughter. "Severus Snape," Remus purred, "Well, now I understand why you walk around being all snarky. Perhaps you should save up all that hot air for your next blow-up date."
Severus was livid. "I said that it wasn’t for me! I don’t need anything like that. Not that it’s any of your business." He drew up in attempt to regain his broken dignity.
Remus’ eyes were tearing up, "Uh-huh…try doing it with a partner ok?" Severus began to turn a very interesting shade of purple, only causing Remus to laugh out loud.
With a snarl, Severus grabbed the broken case from Remus and clutched it protectively against his chest. The very picture of Snape protecting his sexual potions was enough to send Remus into another barrage of laughter, this time throwing an arm against the wall to keep from falling.
After letting loose with a string of interesting expletives, Severus stalked down the hallway leaving Remus breathless with hysterics.
"So you're an erotic dancer, now," said Harry.
"Yes," said Neville Longbottom.
"And you're a porn star. And an escort."
"Yes," said Neville.
"Well," said Harry. "That was unexpected."
"He he," said Neville. "Did you want some more butterbeer, Harry?"
"Yes please," said Harry. "I think I need it."
By this time they were all seated in Justin's "office", a comfortable (if dimly-lit) back room in the club. A small bar fridge - the contents of which Seamus was eagerly going through - stood in the corner; the rest of the furnishings comprised five or six plush chairs Draco would surely have coveted, and a large oak desk. Harry had the distinct feeling that Justin's office was a multipurpose arena. There was a certain salty and quite unmistakeable smell lingering in the air.
Harry's mind was reeling. He remembered Justin as an over-friendly, desperate character from their school days together - a long-term fan of the famous Harry Potter. He'd honestly not given the man much thought since he'd left Hogwarts with Draco - he assumed the ebulliant little Hufflepuff had gone on to some boring Ministry-regulated job, like most of his graduating class. Something in P.R., no doubt. But here Justin was, running a seedy gay dive in London, and apparently shacked up with some incredible-looking asiatic pin-up girl. There were pictures of her on Justin's desk: raven-haired, tall, athletic looking and.. undeniably sexy.
"Is that your girlfriend, then?" Harry asked, gesturing toward the photographs. After the flamers' attack, he wasn't quite sure how to broach the subject of business once more. He felt it would seem fairly trite in the circumstances.
Justin, standing behind his desk, frowned slightly, and lifted one of the framed pictures. "Wife, actually," he told Harry. "..your memory really is on the blink, isn't it? I'd have thought you would have at least.."
"Oh, what a woman," Seamus sung suddenly, off-key. Withdrawing from the flourescent interior of the fridge, he tossed Harry a bottle of butterbeer, and opened one for himself. "Nev..?" he asked, after taking a swig of the contents.
"He he. No thank you," said Neville, blushing scarlet.
"The more for me, then," said Seamus, philisophically. "You still need me, Potter? Figured that whilst I'm here, I might meet a few of the locals. If you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink, how's your fat-"
"Malfoy. Harry Malfoy," said Harry, staring at the bottle in his hand. "No.. I'm fine.."
"How's your father, who's your daddy.." Laughing to himself, Seamus ducked back into the fridge. After appropriating himself another few bottles of Justin's private collection, he headed out of the room.
"That man.." Justin began, shaking his head. But his tone was affectionate. "Still want the club, after what you saw?" he asked Harry, setting down the photograph and settling back into his chair.
"That's what I'm here for," said Harry. He wrestled in vain with the top of his bottle; it was the first time in an age he'd been presented with an unopened bottle - in the manor the house elves did such menial duties. Neville and Justin observed his struggles, sympathetically. "Er - you don't have a bottle-opener, do you?" Harry said, finally.
"Not exactly," said Neville, helpfully. "But I do know a good party trick. No hands, and all that.. I could get it open for you in a-"
"Not in my bloody office, Nev," Justin said, firmly.
"I could do it outside," said Neville.
"I don't think Harry would want to drink it after -"
"Well, he wouldn't have to know," said Neville. "He he."
They both looked at Harry, who'd turned extremely pale. "Er," said Harry into the silence. "Perhaps I'm not so thirsty after all."
He looked for a coffee table to set the bottle down on. There wasn't one. He set it uncomfortably on his knee. Neville beamed at him.
Harry's brain was very slowly turning to mush. He could feel it liquifying between his ears - who needed liquor to obtain a mental oblivion, when you could gain the same sensation by meeting up with old school friends? With school friends changed for the - weird, Harry thought. His memories of the Neville of yesteryear had been of a nervous, plump kid with an uncanny ability to get spells backwards, screw up the simplest of potions, and turn up at the most inopportune moments.
If he'd speculated at all about Neville's future, Harry was fairly sure his thoughts hadn't involved seedy strip joints and hard core pornography. Or the ability to open a bottle-neck without using his hands.
Harry blinked up. "Eh?"
"The flamers. Business." Justin grinned, in a terse fashion. "I'm sure we can get to know each other better later.. hm?"
"He he," said Neville, and stretched out happily on his chair.
"Uh. Right," said Harry, as his occipital lobe turned into a puddle of gunk.
Justin shot Neville a look that Harry couldn't quite read. No doubt, however, it had something to do with not wearing lycra underwear to what was ostensibly a business meeting. "They left another note," he said, presently, as Neville - who'd obviously not picked up on the intent of Justin's glare - began to wipe at his teeth worriedly.
"Eh?" said Harry, tearing his eyes away.
Justin had pulled the piece of paper from the wall in the club after the attack, and now he passed it across the room to Harry.
Harry read it over, then read it aloud.
">u fukin suk with yr porn go to hell loser bitch u r fukin sick," said Harry, and added, with a frown: "Cripes."
"It's in the code they speak, sometimes," Neville explained helpfully. "A sort of gang signature of theirs. Everything they say comes out sounding as if they're an aol user."
"Oh, just something I picked up from a Muggle client," Neville said, flushing. He twiddled his fingers around the hem of his t-shirt.
"There's been others, too. Some of them sound quite reasonable, you know," said Justin. He was searching through a filing cabinet, placing sheet after sheet onto his desk top. Harry rose, curious, and began to thumb through the pages.
">look maybe you think this is cool but you are destroying a kid's fantasy world and that is disgusting, you need to think about your morals :(" Harry read aloud, perfectly articulating a smiley. ">i hope warners gets you and brings you to justice."
He frowned, and chose another: ">hi, found out about this place from a friend and i have to say i wasn't impressed, is this your idea of a joke, if it is it's not funny, i'm really disgusted."
"Doesn't make sense, does it?" said Justin. "None of their letters do. I can't even work out what they want us to do. They're a rival club, I know that much, but their notes just don't seem to.. well, some of them seem as if they want us to stop operating outright, while others want us to keep operating, so that the law will catch up with us, and others - I'm at a loss, Harry. Every week we get raided by these guys, and even improved security can't stop them from getting through. If you think Lucius can put a stop to them, I'd be happy to hand the club over to him - so long as - as I said - I could continue on as the manager."
"You're sure?" Harry looked up over the edge of a Flamer-letter, surprised. He was used to screwing people out of their businesses, but it made him feel a little bad to think he'd be doing it to someone he knew on a personal level.
"Of course I would. Look, Harry, I worked my ass off to get this club up and running, and I don't want to see it go down in smoke on account of these fools. I'm not above looking for outside help in this sort of matter, and most of the other club owners I know are in the pay of Lucius anyway. From what I've heard he only taps a small margin of the profits, and leaves people alone to run the clubs as they see fit. Even before the Flamers entered the picture I was thinking of propositioning the Malfoy family for funding."
Justin sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I don't know what to do now, though. I'm not even sure Lucius would be willing to help us out. We're losing support and profits daily because of the threat of the Flamers."
"You - actually want to sell?" Harry was having some difficulty with Justin's offhand attitude. It was the first time he'd ever had a client who was literally throwing business at him. Was Justin mad? But the man's eyes were clear, and proud, too; his shoulders set defiantly. The Flamers had obviously pushed him to the limits of his tolerance; Justin was willing to try anything to save his club.
"Give me the papers and I'll sign, Potter - I mean, Malfoy," Justin corrected himself. "On one condition, however."
"That Lucius clears up the Flamer problem once and for all?" Harry asked.
"You got that straight."
"Straight. He he," said Neville.
Both Harry and Justin turned to stare at him. Neville coloured again, and started to play with the buttons on the side of his chair, altering the seat settings. Justin groaned, faintly, and hooked his arm into Harry's.
"Come with me a second in private?"
Harry saw infinite possibilities for a quick one-liner, but dashed them all due to Justin's serious expression. "..sure," he replied, following.
"Really - I'm cool. It was just a bit of a shock, y'know," Ron garbled. "Y'know how it is. You expect a dragon and instead there's a nak-nak-nak a woman with n-no clothes on and well, really, I'm completely.. you know. Chilling. Hey. Girl. It's all cool. Look, c'mon. It's me, right? As if I'd take advantage of the t-t-situation. I mean, hey. We're friends. Right? Totally friends. We're like, inse-se-se something. I mean, hey. I mean, yeah. Shit happens. Cool."
The dragon-woman wrinked her exquisite little nose, causing the dimples in her cheeks to perk to prominence.
"And-and I'm totally in no way at all feeling as if, y'know - like maybe I - something - whatever. You and me, right. It'd be a complete - I mean, you don't mix species. Unless you're one of Draco's fucked up relatives. Er. I - I - um. Hey, girl. So, like. What's it like, being - a - um. Crap. What I'm trying to - okay. Let me try that again."
Sally recrossed her arms, and Ron swallowed, thickly.
"What, like - I mean. Okay. I'm cool, now. I just wanted to, y'know. Tell you that even if you are an incredibly attractive woman we're still nothing more than mates. Great mates. I'm not saying we aren't great mates. But that's all we are. Unless you want more. Which you probably don't. Because you're a dragon. And in comparison to most dragons, I'm not, like. Like. Scaley. Yeah. Hey, it's cool. I have absolutely no interest in you as a sexual object, whatsoever, uhuh. Nor do I have, like, a compulsion to be the father of your, um, children."
You do remember that I can read your mind, don't you, Ronny?
"Oh, shit," said Ron.
You do go a funny colour when you're embarrassed, the dragon commented, unmercilessly. Funny, I've never seen you from this perspective before. You're quite tall for a mortal, aren't you?
I hate to ask, but could you lend me your top? These mortal-nipples are getting all weird in the cold. They're all hard and - pointy. Is that normal? I mean, just look at them. Oh - you are already.
Ron pulled off his vest and passed it to her. He didn't trust himself to speak. He didn't even trust himself to think.
He'd heard stories, of course. Stories about what it felt like to fall in love. Eyes meeting across a crowded room, and all that assorted bullshit people said, mistaking lust for genuine attraction. During his years in Africa, he and his dragon-breeding mates would sit infront of the Nintendo and laugh at the idiocy of it all. Why would anyone want to stay with the same person for a life-time? Why would anyone bother with the sheer angst of it?
And he'd seen Sally before. He knew Sally; he knew the way her mind worked - he appreciated her cutting sarcasm, her occasional flights of fantasy, and her logical approach to everything that got in her way (Step on it, ask questions later). In the absence of any meaningful male friendships, she'd been an unlikely but perfect substitute. She had attitude; she didn't give a damn, and she understood that Ron's 'shit happens' didn't mean Ron didn't care - far from it. He cared - he just didn't want to get involved. And according to Sally, dragons felt the same way about the trivial matters of human life. So long as when their shit happened, it got shoveled away.
It's lust, he told himself. She's sexy - she's naked - and you haven't had a shag for four weeks, Draco-interludes excluded. It's perfectly normal for you, Ron the Rogue, to feel an urgent desire to throw her to the ground and make with the sweet Weasley loving. It's completely and utterly and totally natural. It's cool.
Sally struggled to pull the vest over her head - she hadn't quite got the hang of this new body yet. Before he realised what he was doing, Ron had moved to her. Without a word, he helped her put it on; all the while making a conscious effort not to touch her skin.
When she was dressed, or half-dressed, he stood back.
She shivered, hugging herself.
"We'd better go back to my place," said Ron. "Find you some more clothes."
And there was me thinking the first thing on our new, ammended to-do list was to find help for the young man I accidentally stepped on earlier.
Ron had forgotten completely about the unconscious Sirius. He shrugged. "He'll be safe enough, here. And Viktor will be coming back with medical assistance in no time."
Shame, really. The dragon-woman's teeth were chattering.
"Shame? Why? I told you he was alright - he's not about to die, Sal.."
No. I meant, shame we have to leave him. There's good eating on that, I reckon. Nice muscled thighs, tender biceps. It'd go down a treat.
Sally grinned at him wryly, her expression altogether dragonish - feral, cunning, and quietly bemused by the odd conventions of mortals all at once.
Ronny. I'm fucking with you.
Now quit staring at my tits, and let's go. Good grief, Ronny. You'd think you'd never seen a woman before.
Plenty. But no one quite like you, Ron thought.
Ronny. Mind-reader. Remember? the dragon commented, dryly.
"Aw, crap," said Ron.
Remus Lupin intended to take full advantage of this new and interesting course of events. A germ of an idea began to take hold. After reconciling the Malfoy's bank statement for that week, he made his way over to the Malfoy’s Owlery.
Clutching the letter that he’d just written, he beckoned the most imposing looking owl and tied the letter to one its legs. Remus watched as the owl flew off to make its delivery. Rubbing his hands together and cackling in a caricature of villainy, Remus began to plot the rest of the day.
Remus walked down the hallway toward his room. Time to start planning ‘Operation: Sting Severus Snape" After arriving and shutting the door behind him with a ‘do not disturb’ spell, he walked over to the wardrobe and took out a very simplistic yet elegant muggle suit.
He looked at his reflection…no this would not do. His robe was torn and he had clumps of Snape’s hair clinging to his collar. Remus frowned as he pulled the strands and placed them on a small tray on his dresser. He’d find something to do with that hair. Every wizard who uses the brain he was born with knows enough not to leave hair laying about the place.
No, he had to clean up if he was going to achieve his plans.
Severus pushed the door to his lab open, clutching the tattered case to his chest. Furious, he kicked the door shut behind him. Stalking toward the nearest table, he slammed the case down as hard as he dared. Those potions were valuable…wouldn’t do to break any of those jars.
How *dare* he? That…that…*wolf*! Suggesting that he, Severus Snape, needed some of these potions. Why, the very idea was ridiculous! Ludicrous! Even the thought that he would have the same afflictions as the pathetic wizards who made up his clientele was enough to give him the creeps.
Severus tore off his robe revealing a simple black t-shirt and black jeans underneath. In all of his years at Hogwarts, he never could get it through people’s brains that long flowing robes and cauldrons over fires do not mix well. Idiots…all of them. Too wound up about needing ‘proper robes’ for all of that useless wand waving crap. Severus sneered, any fool could wave a wand. The big question was how many of them can brew a decent invisibility potion?
He fell heavily into the nearest chair once again thinking of Lupin laughing. It was a merciless loop that was replaying over and over in his mind’s eye. It was enough to drive Severus mad. No, this will not continue. He would have his revenge!
Severus was aggravated. He needed something to suit his frame of mind at the moment. He made his way over to the muggle stereo system that took up an entire wall. Severus smiled without mirth. Another contingency upon his agreement to work for Malfoy. Lucius had balked at first, but it was either a laboratory built to Severus’ specifications or another hike in his salary.
After browsing through his impressive collection of muggle CDs, he loaded a few into the carousel, before turning back to the broken suitcase again. Soon, the Misfits reverberated against the walls of the lab.
We walk the streets at night. We go where eagles dare. They pick up every movement. They pick up every loser. With jaded eyes and feature...you think they really care.
Severus sighed as he emptied the case and placed all the vials on the tabletop. This was his solace. The art of potion brewing was his therapy, the comfort through many a boring day. He’d have to find something a bit more sturdy if he was going to be carrying these things around. Lupin would have to wait. Severus had to think of the perfect way to destroy every shred of joy and dignity that remained in the werewolf's psyche...he had to be patient. He had to be a Slytherin. Severus would have vengeance...well, after he brewed some more potions.
Soon Severus was engulfed in labeling his beloved potions…and relaxed enough to absently sing along.
I ain’t no goddamned son of a bitch. You better think about it baby. I ain’t no goddamned son of a bitch.
Narcissa Malfoy patrolled the ranks of the Death Eaters. They stood in the laundry room of the manor, shifting furtively in their boots as her grey-eyed glare pierced them. To be ordered about by Lucius was something they could handle - the laconic Malfoy patriarch's lazy style and sarcastic inferences put them at ease. But Narcissa was a different matter entirely. Every move she made could be construed as a threat - her deliberate step, the sharp taps of her heels, and the pinching of her nostrils as she surveyed the horde.
Hermione straggled along, a few steps behind Narcissa, her shoulders hunched. Any looks that were sent her way caused her to blush. She felt like a dog on the heels of her mistress, completely cowed into submission. Perhaps this was how it was for Harry; perhaps this willing obesience to a great power was all part of the allure he felt for Draco.
"I have come to a decision," said Narcissa.
At her words, those Death Eaters who had been trying to finish another wash stiffened and paid attention.
"We are going to war."
Hermione risked a glance at the Death Eater's faces. To a man - or woman - they were smiling, smirking, as if they'd known all along that this laundry duty had just been a test of their loyalty. They were aware they were destined for bigger things, for wide-spread tyranny. So she'd been right all along, Hermione thought. For once the Malfoy family took on more that they could handle, more minions than they could control. The Death Eaters couldn't have been put off from making another attempt at taking over the wizarding community; the Malfoy's laundry couldn't have distracted them indefinately.
It shook her to realise how gravely the Malfoys had misjudged the situation. These weren't simple people, these were killers, murders - they'd tasted blood once, and they'd lived their lives dreaming of the time they could taste it again.
To promise war was the only option the Malfoys had.
Hermione sucked in her breath. What could she do, though, to stop it? Tell Cornelius? She couldn't see him managing to control the Death Eaters any more than he could control her. There was Dumbledore, and the Aurors - but against this many Death Eaters? Hermione wouldn't have bet on their chances of coming up victorious.
"From now on, half your time will be spent working on household chores - so that no one will suspect us," said Narcissa. "The other half you will spend in training for the cause."
That would give Hermione a bit of time, at least. A bit of time to prepare the outside world for what would happen. Perhaps she could organise an alliance of some sort.. perhaps the Ministry could call in assistance from other countries.. perhaps she could contact some of the greater wizards, and see what they thought about the situation..
Perhaps they were all going to hell in a handbag.
"We shall strike when the time is right. You will not question me, and you will do exactly what I say."
But for now there was nothing she could do but watch Narcissa, as the woman prowled through the mass. As she came to the end of the line, she conducted an abrupt about-face on a single stilleto, and smiled down upon them all, revealing a set of brilliant white teeth.
"Voldemort failed you," she told the Death Eaters. "I, on the other hand, will not."
The office had a back room. All the best establishments did. It was about the same size as a closet in the Malfoy's house - which were built, as per Lucius' specifications, just large enough to fit four Veela and an ouchie chair. Justin leant heavily on the door and began to massage his temples with the tips of his fingers. Harry, unsure of how to help, could do nothing but watch. He felt uncomfortable; he anticipated a lecture of some description, and wasn't quite sure why.
"He's a nice kid," Justin said.
"Neville, I mean." Justin shrugged. "I had a fling with him at school, you know - long before I got married. Experimenting, and all.." He trailed off, his eyes searching Harry's face for - something, Harry wasn't sure what. "It was actually my affair with him which prompted me to start the club, you know. Not that he knows that."
"Oh-kay," said Harry.
"Harry, don't play coy with me - I can see the way you look at him.."
"He's wearing lycra underwear!" Harry began, affronted by the man's speculations. "I can't bloody help looking."
"Are you still with Draco?"
"It's a simple question, Harry. Do you still love Draco? I want to know. Because Nev is like a son to me these days, and I don't want to see him getting hurt by anyone. He falls in love easy and he comes out of it hard, and if you're planning anything.."
"I don't plan to play anyone around! What is this? The fucking inquisition?"
"Are you still with Draco, Harry?"
Harry shuddered, and hung his head. "Sort of," he admitted, deflating somewhat. "At least - I'm with him. He's with - well, hell knows."
"And you love him?"
"..don't ask me that."
"Do you love him."
"..yes. Fuck you, and yes."
"Then don't touch Nev. Are we clear?"
"..I didn't have the first fucking intention of doing so," Harry growled. "Listen, when you see someone's genitals embossed in bloody latex you can't help looking, okay? It's like a fucking train wreck, or something. It's like.."
He noticed Justin's expression. "What?"
"Are you alright, Harry?" said Justin, carefully. "You just seem - a bit.. up tight, I suppose the word for it would be. I didn't mean to offend you.."
"You did." Harry banged his fist against the door for emphasis, and Justin shrunk a little. There was a fearful look in his face - a look that brought Harry back to a time, over a decade ago, when he'd seen a snake lunge for Justin in the self-defence class, and shouted a warning in Parsel-tongue..
"Forget it," Harry grunted. He had to get out. He needed something to kick that wasn't a potential business client. "I'll bring over the final settlement papers when I have time, and discuss the flamer problem with Lucius in the meantime. Okay?"
He shoved the door open with his elbow and stamped out into the office. Neville, alarmed by the crash, shot out of his chair.
"Harry..?" he began.
"Fuck you," Harry snarled, and turned back to the cupboard, where Justin remained, hunched up in the corner. "And fuck you too, Finch-.. whatever your fucking last name was, anyway."
"Fletchly," said Justin, quietly. "Justin Finch-Fletchly."
"Whatever," Harry shouted, and crashed out of the room.
Remus stepped out of the fireplace at the Leaky Cauldron. Without hesitation, he walked over to the entrance of the pub. With a grin he opened the door and stepped into muggle London. He had planned this as perfectly as he could. Any observers would find nothing amiss with the attractive and conservative gentleman with a pleasant smile. Checking his watch, he was relieved to find that it was only half past ten in the morning. Plenty of time before tea.
With a bit of a spring in his step, he made his way down the road stopping every now and then to marvel at the new technology that muggles came up with. Why, sooner or later magic may even become redundant. Oh sure, apparating is convenient, he thought, but more often than not wizards never got their apparating license. So it takes a bit longer flying and actually driving a car, it was more an inconvenience than a hardship.
If truth be known, he felt that muggles were a hell of a lot more interesting than the majority of the wizards. They would have to be. If people can’t rely on anything like magic to solve their problems, they’d have to come up with more creative solutions and actually use *gasp* logic to figure things out. And, muggles had more interesting theories on medicine.
Remus stopped outside a pharmacy and grinned again, this time in true wicked delight. This was going to be fun.
Severus looked up from his potion. He was faintly aware that the ache in his stomach was, in fact, due to hunger. He shook his head, he couldn’t take a break now. Not when his weightlessness potion was at such a delicate stage. He checked the color, satisfied to see that it had turned the precise shade of orange.
The music continued as Joey Ramone’s voice rang out through the lab.
They're piling in the back seat. They're generating steam heat. Pulsating to the back beat. The Blitzkrieg Bop.
Severus grinned…ah, youth. It was amusing to think of that old Gryffindor crowd listening to that bland disco and top 40 crap. He snickered, remembering the day that Sirius Black showed up to school with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo and bell-bottoms. That memory was enough to lift Severus’ normally sullen spirits.
His gaze fell across the small cauldron across the room. Severus bit his lip. I can’t keep putting it off, he thought. He walked over to the cauldron and contemplated the innocuous silver potion. This was going to be his crowning achievement. Finally, a potion for desire. Liquid sex. It was to be Severus’ path to riches. His path to freedom. When he finished with this, he’d never have to work for anyone again. Of course, Lucius had no idea that Severus was working on this.
Here, in this lab, he could get his hands on the more...unconventional potions ingredients, unlike Hogwarts where anything remotely exciting was forbidden and labeled as part of the "Dark Arts." Severus snorted...of course, the only reason why things were defined as Dark was because the majority of witches and wizards lacked the brain capacity to do those little Dark charms or to brew those little Dark potions. Anything deemed too difficult was labeled "Dark."
With his own independent fortune, he could build his own laboratory and experiment with as many 'forbidden' ingredients as he wished. Perhaps he could even build one in the heart of New York City. Ah, how he loved that place. There was always something going on even in the dead of night; which was a good thing since he tended to be a bit of a night owl. He could spend his time invading the various record stores in the attempt to find those rare vinyl records that he couldn’t get his hands on here in the middle of this wizard wasteland. He could browse the large variety of museums and libraries there. He could get a condo in Manhattan...better yet, a condo with cable television! He could find a decent pizza place. He could find a tolerable cup of coffee. He could find VHS copies of "The Kentucky Fried Movie" readily available. He could finally see a show at CBGB's. The possibilities were endless.
Severus forced himself to cease his woolgathering. It was all good to daydream, but until he could come up with the antidote, he couldn’t produce this for the masses. He’d be slapped with so many lawsuits that any earnings would soon dwindle into nothing. Not to mention the embarrassment of possibly being sent to Azkaban where he would, no doubt, be subjected to the most juvenile practical jokes by Cornish Pixies. Or worse, he’d end up in Lucius’ veela dungeon in an ouchie chair. Again.
With an involuntary shudder, Severus went back to his weightlessness potion as the Ramones echoed in the lab.
Hey ho, let’s go. Shoot ‘em in the back now. What they want I don’t know. They’re all revved up and ready to go.
"You are dismissed," Narcissa told Hermione. Cold and aloof as always, the woman hadn't said a word since they'd left the Death Eaters in the laundry. Now they stood in the hall way of the manor, Narcissa poised on the first step of the spiral staircase which led to the upper rooms of the house.
"I - yes." Hermione bowed her head, nervously, not daring to look the woman in the eye. She didn't move.
One of Narcissa's slim hands curled around the bolster at the end of the railing; she leant there, watching Hermione in silence.
"..Mrs. Malfoy? Narcissa, I mean.." Hermione struggled for the words.
"Yes, Hermione?" said Narcissa, patiently.
"I want.. what are you doing? Are you really serious about all this?" Hermione babbled. She was shocked by the plaintive tone in her voice - she sounded like a child. "I mean - are you going to start a war?"
"Didn't I tell you not to question me?" Narcissa asked.
"You told them not to question you. Not me."
"And what makes you different, Hermione."
"You.. well. I'm.. and you are.." It was impossible. Everything she wanted to say, everything she needed to say, was stuck inside her throat, pinioned there by the woman's unnerving grey-eyed stare.
"Hermione," said Narcissa, taking pity on the luckless dominatrix. "I don't want you to question me, either. Is that better?"
"I.. I think so."
"You are privy to what is going on in this house because I trust you. I caution you not to break that trust. Otherwise I doubt that you and I will ever be - companions again. Do you understand me?"
There was only one answer to this. "Yes," said Hermione.
From outside there came a clatter of someone running up the stairs. Behind her, Hermione heard the great oak doors of the manor opening, but she didn't turn around to see who it was. Narcissa tore her gaze from Hermione, and stared over the dominatrix's shoulder toward the new arrival. "Your boyfriend is back," she said, cooly. "He appears rather agitated. I suggest you find out what's wrong."
Narcissa was already proceding up the stairs at a languid gait. The click of her heels against the stone steps was jarring, yet precise. "No questions," said Narcissa, without turning back. "Good afternoon, Miss Granger."
Remus checked his watch again. Half past one in the afternoon. He was back in his bedroom at Malfoy Manor looking the respectable wizard. He had just received his delivery from Hogsmeade. Time to start planting.
Taking a strand of Snape’s hair, he performed a location charm that resulted in a bright red glow. Remus directed that glow onto the parchment laying on the desk. The blueprint of Malfoy Manor appeared on the parchment. If there was one thing that Remus was grateful about, it was the spell the Mauraders invented when they had made that map.
Remus’ eyes widened as he looked at the map…there was more to the manor than anyone would guess. However, at the moment, he was only interested in one person. Severus was currently located in "Severus’ Secret Lab". Well, it wasn't so secret anymore. OK…time for action.
He snuck into Severus’ bedroom and placed a variety of muggle sex toys, plugs, magazines and lots of batteries in places that Severus would only find by accident. Before he left, he was sure to place a prescription bottle of Viagra on Snape’s nightstand.
He was still laughing to himself when he made a quick pass through the kitchens on his way down to Severus’ laboratory. He quietly opened the door and nearly dropped the lunch tray he was carrying in surprise. Severus was working in the middle of the room, his back turned towards the door. Remus was relieved that Snape was unaware of his presence. He took the time to observe the other man. Snape would never fail to surprise him. Who would’ve known that Severus would listened to X-ray Spex? But he was. Not only was he listening, he was also singing along!
Bind me tie me. Chain me to the wall. I wanna be a slave to you all. Oh bondage up yours! Oh bondage no more!
Then there was the attire that Snape was wearing. Remus’ mouth felt dry. It was blasphemy that Severus could make something so simple as a t-shirt and jeans look so alluring. Remus could easily picture himself running his hands up that firm abdomen, could see laving Severus’ nipples with his tongue…damn the man, Remus thought in frustration.
Remus pulled himself together, nervousness creeping up in his belly now that he was about to pull his prank. Casting a glance around the lab, he found Severus’ wand laying on the table in front of him. Making his way quietly, Remus pocketed the wand and replaced it with the joke wand he'd ordered from the Weasley twins earlier that morning.
He cleared his throat. Severus, predictably, spun around in surprise.
Severus’ upper lip curled into a sneer, "What are *you* doing here?"
Remus smiled in his most innocent way, "Well, we missed you at lunch, so I brought you something to eat."
Severus arched his eyebrow, "Oh? And I suppose that you’re just doing this out of the goodness of your heart? If you think I’m going to eat what you’ve brought, you’re sadly mistaken. You could’ve put anything in that food." Severus’ stomach growled loudly and he added quickly, "But out of curiosity, what did you bring?"
Remus smiled as he uncovered the plate, "Oh, I brought a kielbasa sausage and some tossed salad."
Snape’s jaw dropped and he began sputtering, "Why you…you.."
Remus continued, "Well, they were serving seafood, but I told them that you most definitely did NOT need any oysters…"
Severus’ face paled enormously before he regained his faculties. With a snarl he went for ‘his’ wand. He pointed it at Remus with a sneer, "Right. I’d like to see you smiling after I curse you into oblivion."
In response, Remus nonchalantly placed the tray on the table before him and crossed his arms in the picture of not giving a damn.
This only served to enflame Severus’ temper. "Fine! Have it your way. Pruritus!"
It was meant to give the recipient a very nasty and embarrassing case of scabies. However, the wand only went limp and sagged in Snape’s grasp.
Remus smirked, "Ah…performance anxiety. I’ve heard that it happens sooner or later." At seeing Severus pale even more he added, "Of course, that doesn’t make you any less of a wizard. It can happen to anyone, I’m told."
Remus tried to hold on to his mild grin, but lost the battle when he noticed that Snape was awkwardly gaping at the wand and scowling. Time for the final straw. "Maybe if we gave it a couple minutes, you can try again."
The music abruptly changed to Ministry, the anarchistic chords seemingly encouraged the fight as Snape growled and launched himself at the werewolf. Even though Remus knew what was going to happen, he was unprepared for the ferocity of the attack. Remus fell beneath the weight of the other man as they began grappling each other and rolling about on the floor.
all the locals hide their tears of regret. open fire cos i love you to death. sky high, with a heartache of stone. you'll never see me cos i'm always alone.
Soon they began throwing furniture at each other, as if they were not satisfied by the harm done by plain fist fighting. Remus ducked as a chair came flying at him, shattering on the wall behind him. Severus began pelting him with random laboratory equipment. Beakers, vials, scales, even bunson burners. Remus reached for the nearest cauldron and threw it at Severus without thought.
Severus stopped, speechless. The scene was unfolding before him in sickening slow motion. He was barely aware of his cry, "Noooooo!" He was barely aware of himself bringing his arms up as if to hold off an attack. Just one thought penetrated his quickly panicking brain. No antidote.
Then he found himself drenched with the silvery substance. He could already feel the effects. Squeezing his eyes tight, he thought to himself, if I don’t look at anyone, maybe I can get around the desire part. If there’s not object of my desire, I can quickly brew up something…anything. "No…no…nononononono," he moaned.
But it was not to be. Remus, subdued by the panic on Snape’s face as the cauldron dumped its contents on him, ran over to Snape’s side. "Oh Severus! I’m so sorry…are you ok? Is it burning? What can I do?" When Severus didn't respond, Remus began to get hysterical, "Oh my god…why aren’t you opening your eyes? What’s the matter? Look at me! I don’t know what to do! Severus!" In desperation, Remus slapped the other man across the face.
The slap made Severus open his eyes involuntarily. The other man was leaning above him biting his lower lip eyebrows furrowed with worry. Severus knew he was doomed, but he was entranced as the other man licked his lips before biting them again. He was unaware that he was breathing heavily or that his hands were gripping Remus' arms. He could only be aware of one thought...the thought of that tongue…he groaned as his body responded to the sensual image of unbuttoning Remus' shirt...of exploring the chest in front of him. He shut his eyes again.
Remus frowned, "Severus? Are you all right? What’s in that potion? Can I get you anything? Is there anything I can do for you?"
Snape closed his eyes in resignation. Yes, he thought, you can put that tongue to good use if I can get these jeans off. But instead of voicing that, he said, "Remus, I need for you to leave immediately. Don’t ask questions…just go! If there’s one thing that I ever ask from you, it’s this one thing."
Remus, taken aback at the sound of his own name on the other man's lips, was uncertain, "Well, if you’re sure…"
"I need to…just go. Please." Snape said. When he felt Remus’ body heat recede, he slowly got to his feet. Without a word, Remus gave Severus one more look of confusion before turning to leave the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Snape slumped into the nearest chair…shit, he thought, what am I going to do?
Fucking Finch-Flettery.. Flattery, whatever the hell the man's name was. Suggesting that Harry was planning on being less than faithful. Suggesting that Harry was anything but a loyal and trustworthy boyfriend. Suggesting that Harry might corrupt dear, sweet fucking PORN STAR Neville. What a fucking joke. Justin had seen Harry again for what - an hour? and already he was making assumptions. Already asking idiotic questions. He was still the annoying git he had been in school. Wanting to be friends, wanting to know the gossip.. the inconsiderate amd ungracious little dweeb..
Harry elbowed a scantily clad rent boy out of the way as he thundered down the steps. The kid lurched, spluttered, "Do you mind?" but Harry was long gone. Red-faced, he threw himself out the door of the club and into the street.
Finch-fucking-fucker-fucking-fuck-fuck-fuck. Asking if Harry loved Draco. As if Harry had ever thought about being with anyone else. As if Harry had ever considered the possibility of not being completely and utterly dedicated to Draco. Even when he left the man, he hadn't thought about pursuing a new better-half, not seriously. Even when Draco cheated on him - not once, but on a bloody time-table.. No. And certainly not with vinyl-dick Neville Longbottom.
He stared up and down the road, wildly.
Did they all think he was some sort of slut? Did they think he was no better than they were? Did they think he was no better than Draco? It was love, fuck them all. He adored Draco. Draco was his one-true-fucking-love. They'd been together for almost ten years. He was dedicated. Draco was sort of dedicated. They were in it for life.
All or nothing.
Harry stared into the rush of traffic which swept past him, and realised he had no idea where the hell he was.
The voice came from the top of the club's stairs, and Harry looked up to see Neville standing there. The man had put on a coat, thankfully, to venture out into the busy street. Harry relaxed, but only slightly.
"What?" he yelled.
Neville flinched. "I just wanted to make sure you were - um, you know. Justin says he's sorry." Neville hiked up the flapping ends of his coat and ventured down the steps. He was wearing gaudy japanese-styled sandals - the sort of thing Draco would have worn a year or so ago.
"Right. Yeah." Harry watched the man descend. He felt a vague embarrassment for his behaviour. If he were to be honest, he had to admit he'd over reacted a little.
Just a little.
Why did I freak out about that? Harry wondered. Why did it strike such a nerve? I could have laughed it off, easy. I -should- have just ignored it, answered the question, and continued the conversation. But..
But.. but.. but what?
"Um." Neville smiled, in an apologetic way, and hopped from foot to foot before him. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked. "You don't want to go back inside and have a drink - or something? Or, if you don't want to go back in - we could go find a coffee house. There's plenty of places around here. I just - well, I just don't want you to feel unwelcome. It's been years since we've seen each other, and I wanted to - you know. Catch up, I guess. I - do you mind? Is that okay?"
It was the longest speech Harry had ever heard Neville make. He blinked.
"Oh. No. No. I have to get home. To Draco."
"Justin said he heard a rumour that Draco got fat," said Neville, offhandedly. "That's why he's not on the covers of the Witches Weekly anymore."
"Justin can go fuck himself," said Harry.
"That's what I told him, too," said Neville, with another cheery smile. "I said - even if Draco did get fat, or ugly, or whatever, it doesn't matter what anyone looks like. It's what's on the inside that really counts, right?" He paused. "That -is- right, isn't it, Harry? That's what you and Ron and Hermione always used to tell me."
Harry could find no words to reply.
"I think Draco and you are wonderful, Harry. All these years, and you're still completely in love. You're so lucky. Oh, wait. Should I say that? I don't want to intrude - I just mean - you know. I think it's marvellous. I think - I think that's all I wanted to say. I -" He blushed, a deep crimson, and hung his head.
There was the old Neville, right there, tongue-tied and unsure of himself, clumsy and unpretentious. Innocent and honest. Or as innocent and honest as he could be wearing shiney black pants three sizes too small.
"Should I go, Harry?" Neville was asking. "I can go, if you like. I - sorry."
"Don't be sorry," said Harry. His voice sounded hoarse, choked; as if were on the verge of tears or tantrum. "You're right."
"About what, Harry..?"
"Nothing, Neville. Where did you say that coffee house was?"
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