Author's Note: THIS EPISODE IS NOT PC. JUST SO YOU KNOW.
Disclaimer: All characters & places belong to JKR & Warner Bros. We're making no money from this.
My Mother Told Me Life Was Like A Box Of Weevils
Chapter Seven : A Time of Revelations
By god!Libertine and goth!Kissaki
Strange things were afoot at Malfoy Manor.
Remus Lupin frowned as Snape all but fled the dining room. Make that Extremely Strange Things, he amended.
It had been the same scene since the Potion Incident. Snape had always been decidedly a bit off-center to begin with but as of late his behavior had tilted into ‘alarmingly paranoid’.
Last night, Remus had once again ventured into the dungeons to bring Severus a dinner tray. While Severus didn’t make biting remarks, he was clearly very close to snapping…from what, Remus couldn’t tell. After a few tense and silent minutes, Severus made a rather lame excuse and bolted from the room.
This morning at breakfast had been no different. Remus had been chatting with Narcissa while Lucius read the newspaper when Severus had walked in, obviously very distracted and not paying very much attention to what was going on around him.
To Remus’ heightened senses, it was evident that the man had been quite awake all night. Snape walked as if weighed down with all the weariness in the world, his eyes bloodshot with dark circles underneath and his fingers appeared discolored as if he’d been brewing potions the entire night.
Snape looked up from his musings and froze, realizing that the only free chair was directly across from Remus. Puzzled by his reaction, Remus frowned, glancing down the long table before the hesitation became clear. Severus couldn’t possibly sit elsewhere without appearing rude and ill mannered. If there was one thing that the Malfoys insisted on, it was good table etiquette.
Snape gulped and seemingly drawing strength
from his rapidly decreasing willpower, he closed the distance and seated
Lucius lowered his paper to arch an eyebrow, "Gods, Severus! You look positively horrid."
Snape glowered, "Yes, I am fine, thank you for your concern Lucius. You will be pleased to know that I filled in that emergency order that’s to go to Venezuela. I must thank you for leaving it until midnight to tell me about it being due this morning."
Lucius waved offhandedly, "Oh, that. Yes well,
I can’t be everywhere at once. Besides I just knew that you’d enjoy
Snape smiled, or rather, bared his teeth, "I’m sure you were only thinking of my interest at heart, what with being the benevolent Voldemort slayer you are-"
"Oh! Is that a Death Eater in the hallway? They know not to walk around the main dining room unless they’re on kitchen duty." Lucius looked slightly alarmed, glancing in mock sympathy at Severus, who had gone quite pale. "Oh…dear me. How embarrassing, that was only my Uncle Caldius’ ghost on his morning roam. I am sorry about that Severus. You were saying?"
"Obviously nothing worth talking about, I’m sure." Severus sneered as much as he could get away with.
Narcissa had perked up at the mention of Death Eaters and she lowered her glass. Abruptly, she rose and announced, "I have some affairs I need to take care of," while glancing at her husband who merely responded with a slight tilt of his head. Her lips turned up slightly before muttering, "Not that kind of affair. Business as you well know." She looked at her husband again, who had leaned back and crossed his arms, "Lucius, it has nothing to do with the Death Eaters. I have no plans of taking over the world, and in fact, I don’t even know any dark magic at all whatsoever."
She looked at Lucius, who remained silent, "Fine! Just so you know…" She glanced once around the table, "Good morning gentlemen…and you too Remus." She departed, ignoring Remus’ bemused look and Severus’ scowl.
After a couple minutes of tense silence broken only by the sound of Severus shifting nervously in his seat and Remus tapping his fingertips against the dining room table, Lucius gave a long-suffering sigh, "Well, as much as I’d hate to leave this fascinating conversation, I really do have matters to attend to. I’ve been meaning to clean out my desk drawers. If you’ll excuse me," he trailed off as he sauntered out of the dining room, leaving Remus and Severus alone.
Remus cleared his throat, "Well.."
"How…" Snape had started asking at the same instant.
"No, go on…" Remus urged.
"Oh, no. That’s ok…you go" Snape insisted.
"Very well," Remus took a breath before continuing, "How are you doing this morning? Are you alright? You look as if you haven’t slept at all."
Severus didn’t answer right away. Instead he became very interested in moving eggs around his plate with his fork. "Well, I have been a bit…distracted as of late."
Remus tried not to get too anxious. This was extremely rare to have two civil conversations in a row with the volatile Potions Master and he didn’t want to muck it up. He nodded slowly before asking in a very neutral tone, "Oh? Is there anything I can do?" There. He didn’t want to push too hard. Snape’s brows furrowed slightly, making Remus’ throat tighten up in apprehension.
Snape shifted uneasily in his chair and bit his lip absently before answering, "I don’t believe that there is anything you can do…at this point in time."
Remus nodded, and they sat in companionable silence, both mulling over a million thoughts and both unable to articulate them to each other. Remus had been charmed at this unconscious habit of Snape’s. So, Severus bit his lip when he was nervous. He wondered what other small habits Severus had. Did Severus chew on his quills? What kind of books did he like to read? Did he prefer cold climates to tropical climates? Severus was so hard to know. And Remus very much wanted to know him…almost to the exclusion of everything else.
Something subtle changed in the air. Remus was able to sense it as soon as it happened. Severus had lifted his glass, but his hands were shaking badly. Remus narrowed his eyes. Pheromones. Remus almost laughed in disbelief. Severus was sending out an intoxicating scent, like a mating call. Heat. It sent his primal instincts reeling. Gods, it was irresistible. It was a promise. It was blood. It was desire.
Remus leaned forward, barely aware that Severus was mirroring his actions. When their hands met, Snape gasped as if burned.
Snape’s eyes widened as he felt his body react
to such a casual touch. Without a word, he jumped to his feet, knocking
the chair back to the floor. "I have to go!" he blurted out before fleeing
from the room before Remus could say anything to break his resolve.
Remus let out a sigh of frustration. What the hell was going on?
The next morning Ron Weasley woke up to find himself in bed with a dragon. Although being *in* bed was something of an exaggeration. Certainly when Ron retired for the night, he had fallen asleep on a bed. He could distinctly recall crawling under the sheets. He could also distinctly recall having some very good sex.
However -- Ron pushed vainly against the massive scaly bicep currently curled about his body -- it seemed that he was no longer in possession of a bed. He *did* have a lot of rather nice polished (if splintered) timber, though. And a mattress the width of a pancake. And four sticks of wood with knobbly bits on the end which looked remarkably like bolsters -- or, alternately, like humourously shaped dildos.
Ron sucked in his breath, and pushed. He heard a brief tearing noise, and hoped it hadn’t got anything to do with his genitalia.
After several minutes of wriggling and puffing, Ron managed to squeeze out from underneath the dragon. With his hands on his hips, he turned in a slow circle, surveying his surroundings.
Ron scratched his head. He was pretty sure he had been in possession of a house at one point, too.
"Well, bugger me," said Ron.
He wandered over to the heap of wood, ceramic and plaster which had once been his bathroom and stared into the smashed toilet bowl.
He felt vaguely confused.
He took a piss.
"Must’ve been some fucking good sex," he remarked, to no one in particular.
He spent the next few hours attempting to salvage what he could of his clothing and possessions. He hadn’t owned much to begin with; he’d never been the collecting type. Ron had always prided himself on the fact that he could fit his essentials in a single suitcase; it meant he could get up and move away from anywhere, whenever he chose to.
Digging up a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, he pulled them on. He uncovered a bag from the ruins of his lounge room, and started to stuff it with anything salvageable he could find. He was inordinately pleased to discover that his kettle was unscathed. He held it in his open palms, rolling it gently between them. It was a small weight, a small mercy -- but it made him smile nonetheless.
When he had gathered everything he could together, he sat himself down on one huge talon and lay back with his hands behind his head. It started to rain, a light drizzle; he ran his fingers through his hair, wetting it, cleaning it of the flecks and shards of plaster.
Beneath him, the dragon moved. Ron clung to a talon. "Watch it, girl," he advised.
He waited in silence for a few minutes while Sally assessed her current situation. The dragon’s bleary eyes observed the mess of timber and tiles. Her tail thumped thoughtfully against the ground; her massive shoulders slouched.
Hm. I appear to have broken your house.
"Yes, I noticed that too."
"Hey. Shit happens."
I can help you rebuild it, I suppose. Sorry. But I really mean that. Wasn’t aware that potion... well, you know. The potion must have worn off during the night, and... oh dear. Perhaps... you could magic it back together again? There should be... some spell... something.
"It’s cool. Not your fault. Anyway, I’m not the kinda guy who’d chuck a girl out of bed for... turning back into a dragon. I think." Ron made a face.
Really, this is absolutely frightful. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. How embarrassing.
"Embarrassing?" Ron coughed into his hand to disguise a chuckle. "Yeah, I guess you could call it that..."
I’m really very flustered. This has never happened to me before. Look -- why don’t you go and -- I’m not sure. Head down to the pub and have a few drinks, and I’ll call in a few friends, and maybe we can have this lot straightened out by the time you get back. Won’t be quite the same as before, I know, but it’ll be a roof over your head, and...
Oh? The dragon’s head swung to stare directly at him for the first time. If Ron wasn’t much mistaken, her cheeks beneath her scales were glowing a fiery red.
"Yeah. We’re moving."
"On. Just... on." Ron dumped his bag on the talon, and slithered off the shiny claw. He brushed down his thighs, and then tried out a bit of a swagger. It felt good. He did it again. "I reckon..." he said slowly, "it’s about time we got the hell out of here."
The dragon gazed at him in silence.
"Like, this morning," said Ron. "You and me, last night. We worked. Maybe we’ll never do it again, maybe we will. But -- it fucking worked. You can’t say it didn’t." He paused. "At least, I bloody hope you won’t say it didn’t." He paused again, and when the dragon failed to comment, he grinned. "Exactly. So -- I had an awesome idea. Just came to me, just like that."
For emphasis, he smacked the side of his head. The dragon winced.
"I like you, Sal. And I don’t reckon I’m going to like anyone more than you again. You’re my mate, like. You know?"
"Great. So -- what I figure is this. You and me, we say good bye to people, and then we nick off. Do the hero thing again, maybe. Or just explore some, hang out, go to -- pubs, or dragon-dos, shit like that. I’m figuring I might become an animagus, too. That’d be good for a laugh. A dracimagus -- if Wormtail could do it, I don’t bloody see why I can’t. Hell, I still got the contact numbers of all those animagus Remus was working with at my place back in Cape Town. Unless Charlie’s decided to sell the place off. He’d better bloody not have..."
He trailed off, his eyes scrunching up in concentration. Everything seemed so damned *clear* to him now, and he wondered why on earth he’d never realised it before. He’d been an idiot, pandering to the whims of Draco and Harry -- even Hermione -- when all he’d ever wanted was to be free. He’d taken on guilt for issues beyond his control; he’d let himself be a pawn in their immature games, and the only reward he’d gotten for his troubles was mediocre sex and a truck load of accumulated angst.
He had to get out. That much was certain. Where he went, and how he got there was of no matter.
"These aren’t my fucking problems, Sal," he said aloud. "These aren’t my fucking problems, and these people aren’t my fucking friends."
Ronny... the dragon murmured into his brain.
"They aren’t my friends. They’re just people who like having me around so they can dump their bullshit on me." He smiled ruefully. "I’ll head up to the house and tell Draco I’m leaving, and then we can nick off. Are you packed?"
Oh gosh, no. I have to fix up my makeup bag, and then I’ll have to iron out all my clothes...
Ron frowned. "You don’t sound happy," he commented. "I thought this was what you wanted."
It’s a little sudden, Ronny. Let’s just put it like that. Sally clawed a few lines with her claws in the muddy earth at Ron’s feet. Do you always get this way when you have sex with a woman? she inquired gently.
"This isn’t about sex. Or really about you, to be honest." Ron shrugged. "Maybe you were the one who got me to realise it, but it’s what *I* want."
A hassle free, responsibility free, commitment free lifestyle, the dragon supplied.
"Got it in one, dragon lady."
Sally’s scaly features twisted into the semblance of a smile; a gruesome, fangy grimace. You’re a bit of a wanker, Ronny, if you don’t mind me saying it.
"Not a problem, babe. I like criticism. Makes me tough." Mockingly, he beat his chest with a fist. "Makes me feel *manly*."
Makes me want to convulsively vomit. The dragon sighed. Fine. I’ll wait here, with your bags. Go take a shower, grab something to eat, say goodbye... and then we’ll leave.
"Right-o." Ron slapped her talon in an affectionate fashion, stuck his hands into his pockets, and swaggered his way off the debris of his house. But before he’d made it more than a few metres, he turned back. The dragon squatted there, impassive and silent; offering him neither encouragement or reprimand. In usual circumstances Ron was capable of reading her features as easily as a human’s, but now -- now she was being purposefully blank.
Ron had always been a realist by disposition. Life’s a bitch... and so on, and so forth. He accepted (normally without much protest) all those tribulations and jubulations which came his way; he lived solely in the moment. But now he found, to his own surprise, that his thoughts were suddenly drawn to the contemplation of a future. It was a revelation which had come to him seemingly from nowhere, an impromptu self-analysis. Perhaps he’d been motivated by Sally; perhaps he’d simply remembered that he was twenty eight now, and getting no damn younger, and he *still* hadn’t seen Paris, or driven a Muggle airplane, or eated sushi off a naked geisha...
There were a thousand things he wanted to do. These were balanced by the thousand things he felt *obligated* to do. To stay and attempt to moderate Draco’s relationship with Harry; to regain Harry’s trust and friendship; to patch up the growing distance between himself and Hermione... essentially, to live in the past, working and reworking every fucked up relationship he’d ever had.
Was he attempting to outrun his problems, then? Perhaps he was -- but that, Ron felt, was his prerogative.
He would have liked to explain all these things to Sally. But the words didn’t come, and in the end the only thing Ron said was: "Reckon I'm making the right decision here?"
The dragon smiled again, warmly this time. Yes, Ronny, she said. Yes, you are.
Snape ran down the hall and turned the corner. He stopped and slumped against the wall. Balling up his fists, he leaned back and shut his eyes. His body was on edge with overwhelming tension. If he had stayed one more second, he would have given in. He had been unbelievable aroused by the sight of Remus Lupin.
No, he couldn’t give in. Not now. He was so close to finding an antidote. If any of this was to ever lead to anything, it couldn’t be on the foundation of a mere potion. Severus would never know if his feelings were genuine and Remus would never believe anything that would happen between the two of them if it did.
Severus couldn’t ignore his state of mind though. He certainly wasn’t about to admit to anyone that his sexual virility has increased probably as much as tenfold due to the potion. Sexual tension had to be released one way or the other if he were to ever find the needed antidote.
He frowned as he weighed the options. The most obvious answer of course was absurdly convenient. Taking a deep breath, Severus walked to the nearest closet and went inside.
A veela was in the middle of combing her hair when Severus entered. She merely regarded him with a knowing gaze.
"We were wondering if we’d ever see you," she purred.
"Indeed?" Severus asked, eyebrow raised.
"Oh yes," the veela nodded. "It appears that the Ice Man Cometh…or rather he *wants* to cometh…"
Severus couldn’t resist asking, "I’m known as the Ice Man?"
"Quite," the veela answered. "You’re the cold Potions Master…this should be quite a treat," she said speculatively. "And I’m known as…"
Snape had pressed a finger against her lips, "It doesn’t matter," he whispered before claiming her lips in a soft kiss. "For right now, your name is Remus."
Neville twitched. "Um, no," he said.
Harry opened one eye. "You sure?" he managed.
"Um. Pretty sure, actually, Harry." Neville attempted a smile, but the expression faltered on his lips. "Look, Harry. I should go, I think. This isn’t going to work..." He tried to scoot out from under the blankets, but Harry held him fast. Neville squirmed uncomfortably, and then gave up. "I have mace in my pants," he said quietly.
"It’s this little spray thing. You spray it in the eyes of someone who’s trying to rape you. Or making you do something that you don’t want to do, Harry."
"Oh. You going to mace me, then?"
"Um. Maybe. If you don’t let me go."
"But your pants are on the other side of the room. Hanging off the lamp stand, actually." Harry squinted over Neville’s shoulder. "You want to go get ‘em?"
Harry rolled over, Neville got out of the bed and reclaimed his pants, Harry made wet smacking noises with his lips, and Neville returned to the bedside with a can of mace gripped tightly in one trembling hand. Looking deeply into Harry’s sleepy eyes, Neville just wanted to cry. He felt violated on so many levels -- no, violated was the wrong word for it. He felt *used*. Used and abused. His fingers slowly peeled away from the can, and the mace fell to the floor with a clang.
In the bed, Harry started. "You dropped it," he told Neville unnecessarily.
"It’s kind of -- well, beside the point now, really," Neville mumbled.
"You should have used it earlier," Harry agreed. He checked the bedside clock. "About -- uh, twelve hours earlier. Right before you went down on me."
Neville shifted uncomfortably. "Are you blaming me for -- for what happened?" he said quietly.
"Should I?" Harry was now scrabbling about on the floor for his glasses. "I thought it was a -- I don’t know. You didn’t chain me up or anything, I mean, not that I don’t mind that once in a while, but I get awful burns on my wrists, and..." he found his glasses and pushed them up his nose. "...and are you crying, Neville?"
"No, not at all," Neville sobbed.
"Er," said Harry.
"Oh my god. I can’t believe... I’m so... I’m so horrible. No one will ever love me." Neville threw himself at the wall and then fell into a little naked shivering heap by the wainscoting. "I feel like such a... whore..."
"Well, you *are* a whore," Harry pointed out, and regretted it instantly when Neville burst into another round of tears. His fingers bunched up against his chest; he looked like a small child. Harry vaguely remembered seeing Neville in a similar state of hysteria during seventh year, when his indomitable great-aunt had perished in an unfortunate accident involving a grand piano. This was pathos in its purest form. Neville was actually tugging out strands of his own bleach-blonde hair.
"I’m so sorry for... wasting your time... Harry..." Neville spluttered through his sobs. He crawled on all fours over to the other piles of his clothes, and began to pull them on. "I’m so... sorry... I won’t... trouble you again... I just thought... I’m so... so stupid..."
"...tell Draco... I’m really really sorry... I didn’t want to come between you... I didn’t even... think you liked me... just... things seemed to be horrible... with you and him... and I... you’re on the rebound, I understand... oh my god... I’m so sorry... whatever made me think I was... I’m so... stupid, stupid, stupid... poor Draco..."
"...I’m such a... whore... and now I’ve... had... oh my god... poor Draco... I feel horrible... I *am* horrible..."
"I think Lucius has a whip around here somewhere, if you want to flagellate yourself," said Harry helpfully.
Neville gave him a stern look. "It’s not funny," he whispered. "It’s not funny at all. I just... think of Draco... and... I’m a very bad wizard," he finished lamely.
Harry wisely chose not to agree with Neville this time. "What the hell brought this on?" he asked instead; a bloody reasonable question, he felt. "Draco and I -- he sleeps around, okay? It’s alright. It’s not as if he can bloody talk."
"Oh Harry, you just don’t get it, do you?" Neville cried, stamping his foot and throwing up his hands at the same time.
There elapsed a short silence, during which Neville fumed and Harry’s mouth formed a very perfect little O shape.
"Wow," said Harry presently, wearing an expression of deep astonishment and awe. "That was... *really* gay."
"I think you just blew the camp-o-meter. Fuck. And Ron said *I* was bad..."
"THIS ISN’T FUNNY, HARRY!" Neville shrieked. The bulb above his head splintered into pellucent shards, as did the mirror in the en-suite, the front of the drinks cabinet, and the standing light. Harry jerked the bedcovers reflexively over his face to shield himself from the rain of glass. When he peered nervously over the edge of the blanket, Neville was still standing there, his hair shimmering with splinters.
"Okay, okay, you aren’t gay..." Harry muttered.
"I AM GAY!"
Two vases exploded. Harry ducked a second time.
"Okay, okay, you’re gay," he called out, his voice muffled, and then added in a barely audible undertone: "You are gay, you aren’t gay, you are gay... geeze, Ron much?"
"I didn’t sleep with you because I wanted a fucking one night stand, Harry!" Neville screamed. "I slept with you because I thought you liked me. More than liked me. So I tried to do everything to please you, even that fucking thing with the hair brush which completely grossed me out, because I thought stupidly that *maybe*, *maybe* you might want something to do with me the next day. But then, what happens? I fucking wake up to you purring Draco’s fucking name in my fucking ear. Do you *know* how that makes me feel, Harry? Have you any idea?"
"Um." Harry squirmed under the blankets. "Gay?" he tried, hopefully.
"I can not *believe* you, Harry," said Neville, in a quieter tone. "I can’t believe you’d do this to me. That you wouldn’t even give me a fucking chance. Was this -- was this some sort of game or something for you? Do you and Draco do this often? Bring guys home, fuck them, and send them off in the morning feeling like shit? Has becoming a Malfoy fucked up your value system *that* badly? Does this give you a kick? Do you feel PROUD NOW, HARRY POTTER?"
"No," said Harry honestly. "Right now, I feel very, very afraid."
Neville burst into tears again. Harry wriggled about uneasily. Finally he mustered up the courage to peep over the blankets again. Neville had assumed a foetal position on the floor and was rocking himself backwards and forwards while tears streamed down his pale face. With a sigh, Harry pushed back the covers. He felt incredibly sorry for Neville; and who wouldn’t? Neville could do angst the way Draco could do nasty bastard-ness.
In short: very, very well.
Harry touched Neville’s shoulder lightly; the man flinched, and Harry withdrew. "I’m sorry, Neville," he said softly. "Didn’t realise you thought... hell, I don’t know. You just don’t understand how it is with me and Draco." He gesticulated vainly, horribly aware of Neville’s bloodshot gaze following the motions of his hands. "Draco has this... grip on me," Harry concluded vaguely. "A grip... you know?"
"Magic?" Neville perked a bit. "He’s using magic to keep you here?"
"Um, no. What I mean is -- I think, since I’ve been with him so long, and he’s the only person I’ve ever -- aside from you, now -- slept with... well, I sort of feel..."
"Obligated? Forced? Like you’re trapped and there’s no way out?"
"Er, yeah, actually," Harry admitted. "I mean, I do love him, but..."
"Co-dependency," said Neville, in a slightly cheerier tone. "That’s what you have. You’re dependant on him. I talked to my shrink about it -- he said that the only way to get out of a relationship like that is to just -- to just walk away. You got to get him out of your mind. You see, Harry, it’s like I’ve always said: He can’t hurt you if you don’t feel it."
Harry went cross-eyed trying to decipher the wisdom within this little Longbottom gem.
"You can’t keep on going like this, Harry," said Neville comfortingly. He rose to his feet, and wrapped his arms about Harry’s body; gently he patted Harry on the back. "I know it seems bleak now, but you just have to move on. You have to get out. Otherwise you’ll go on and on and it’ll get worse and worse and worse and then he’ll be locking the apartment door so you can’t get out during the day, and then he’ll be flirting with some guy in a club and making sure that you’re watching and, oh, don’t get me started on the abusive phone calls during the day when he’s checking up on you so that even if you wanted to have an affair which you didn’t at all, you couldn’t have one, and after that he starts bitching about what you wear and --"
"Are we still talking about me?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Mhm," said Neville, nodding.
Harry opened his mouth to protest, and then shut it again.
"Fuck," he said, after a few minutes.
"Mm," said Neville.
"I mean, he doesn’t always bitch about my clothes, it’s usually my hair... and okay, I can understand why he didn’t want Seamus working with me... and he hasn’t locked the door yet, but he’s threatened to send his guards after me to do surveillance... and..." He trailed off.
Neville hugged Harry, and Harry hugged him back.
"I have to get out," said Harry quietly.
"Yes, Harry," said Neville. "Yes, you do."
Severus slumped back against the crude pallet. The veela lying next to him was unconscious after that last orgasm. Snape sighed. By all rights he should be exhausted, but his heightened senses were able to smell Remus clear on the other side of the manor.
That smell was enough to arouse him once again. Shaking his head, he turned to use an "Enervate" spell on his…um…casual screw? It was certainly fitting.
As the veela regained consciousness, her eyes widened. "No," she stated flatly, her hand firmly planted on his chest. "This is too much even for me. I simply can’t do it another time."
Snape smiled slightly, "But aren’t you here for this one purpose?"
"Yes, well…" she began, uncertainly.
"I’m not quite…sated. So if you’d like to propose a different solution?" Snape murmured, tilting his head slightly.
The veela narrowed her eyes in thought, "I can call my cousin. If that’s alright with you."
Snape smiled graciously, "Of course."
Lucius leant out his study window and surveyed the scene in the courtyard. His wife, armed with a large fireman’s hose, was training a stream of freezing water on a group of naked Death Eaters.
"YOU THINK YOU’RE TOUGH, BOYS?" Narcissa yelled, her voice audible from three stories up. "You think YOU’RE DEATH EATERS? You SCREAM LIKE GIRLS!"
Mrs. Goyle raised a tentative hand from the huddle of shivering Dark Wizards. Narcissa, snarling, briefly turned off the hose. "What the FUCK do you WANT?" she shouted at the unlucky witch.
"Well, some of us are girls..." Mrs. Goyle protested, through chattering teeth.
"That’s my bloody point," Narcissa retorted. She switched the hose back on, and the Death Eaters went back to screaming hysterically.
Hardly surprised that Narcissa had lied to him, Lucius withdrew from the window, beckoning over a waiting house elf with a finger. "Seems as if the aspirin I gave her last night just wore off," he told the elf, with a sigh. "Perhaps you should, ah, bring Mrs. Malfoy another one. And if that fails... try morphine. Or Drano."
"Master wants Dopey to go out... there?" the elf asked, horrified at the prospect of having to brave the wrath of a hormonal witch.
"Master is not given to repeating himself," Lucius returned, shortly.
The house elf whimpered quietly to itself for a moment, and then chittered off. Lucius rubbed his temples, and wondered if he shouldn’t have requested some morphine for himself, too. Groaning faintly, he returned to his task of desk-drawer cleaning. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife. He loved Narcissa as much as he loved himself.
It was just that some of her little quirks had begun to irk him over the years. The whole 'Must Take Over The World' phase she went through once a month played havoc with his nerves. He’d already plotted to take an extended holiday when she went through her menopause. There were some things even a sadistic tyrant couldn’t deal with.
"Oh my GOD!" said someone, behind him. "What the *hell* are those?"
"Good grief." Lucius turned. "Haven’t you ever seen a collection of novelty salt and pepper shakers before, Harry?" he asked his adopted son, who was standing in the doorway with a shocked expression on his face, one trembling finger pointing at the oddments Lucius had unearthed from his drawers.
Harry relaxed. "Oh, hah, sorry..." he said, blushing. "See, dad, I thought those were..."
"Me either," Lucius interrupted. "I collect hand carved dildos, myself."
Harry wavered. "Oh."
"Mm," said Lucius.
"Oh my *god*," said Harry again.
Lucius stepped back, perching his bum on the edge of the desk. "Can I help you with anything, Harry?" he said cooly. "I’m rather busy at the moment. What with my wife deciding to take over the world, and such things. I thought Mr. Finnigan would have been able to sort out any... business related problems you had."
"I can put them away, if they disturb you, Harry."
"I bought this one from a very nice old man in Australia. It was a family heirloom, apparently. Carved from fossilised guano."
"Stop it!" Harry pushed his hands underneath his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Stop it. I *know* you’re only doing it to make me twitch. So -- stop." He focused his gaze directly on Lucius’ purposefully blank face. "I want to talk business -- business, and not-business with you. And it’s important, so -- you should listen. You *have* to listen. And... oh, for fuck’s sake. Can you put them away, somewhere? Please?"
Lucius reached for his wand, made an absent gesture, and his 'collection' flew into the air. For a few seconds they hovered above Lucius’ head, then darted directly towards Harry. Harry screamed, and ducked behind the door. Lucius smirked, and made another gesture. The dildos did an abrupt about-face in mid-air, and flitted off to a corner.
"Not funny," said Harry reprovingly, peeping around the edge of the door. "Not funny at all."
"It made me snicker," said Lucius, who was.
"About the Finch-Fletchley case," said Harry loudly, determined to get the conversation back on track. "Justin Finch-Fletchley, the proprietor of the bar, is having problems with -- eh, a rival joint. A bunch of savages come in and break up the place fairly regularly; it even happened while I was *there*. Justin says that if you deal with them, then he’ll be willing to hand the place over to you -- so long as he can stay on as manager."
Lucius considered this. "Leave it with me," he said. "Write me a report, give me a few days, and I’m *positive* the members of the rival joint and I will come to some arrangement. Anything else?"
Lucius waited. Harry looked at him, steadily. His mouth moved. Lucius strained forwards. Harry’s mouth continued to move, silently; he made a few expansive gestures. Lucius watched. Harry made more gestures. His mouth moved faster. Lucius raised an eyebrow.
"Well?" Harry gasped, finally.
Lucius moved his mouth, silently, and made a few expansive gestures of his own. Harry leant forwards to hear -- and then realised too late that Lucius was fucking with him yet again.
"This is serious," he snapped. "Do you think this is easy for me?"
"Think *what* is easy for you? I may give the appearance of infallibility, my dear boy, but sadly I’m as yet unable to read lips."
Harry’s shoulders slumped; he leant heavily against the doorframe. "...can’t even say it," he mumbled.
"Say what?" Lucius persisted, surprised by his own patience.
"Say I have to leave Draco, of course." Harry blinked as his brain caught up with his mouth. "Oh, damn you, dad, and your clever word games," he whispered, and hugged himself. His next words came out in a babble, hurried and inarticulate: "I’m sorry... I didn’t mean that... I mean, I was just thinking about it... and I thought... you know... if you don’t want me to... I mean, I don’t really want to, but Neville was saying that... I should... and..."
He was talking just like Neville. Mustering all his willpower, Harry clamped his mouth firmly closed, and tried to will his body to stop shaking. Saying the words, though -- saying 'leaving' and 'Draco' in the same sentence -- well, it wasn’t half as cathartic as Neville had told him it would be. Instead of feeling a sensation of relief, Harry felt like an addict in great need of a quick fix. There was a horrible finality about it, and Harry wasn’t even sure if he wanted it to be final.
He’d left Draco before, countless times -- but each time he’d *known* he’d have the opportunity to return. And those weeks he’d spent with Ron in Africa, Draco-free... the terrible pain of it all came back to him now. There wasn’t any chance he could really leave Draco, Harry told himself feverishly. He was just being stupid. It was never going to happen. Harry Potter was meant to be with Draco Malfoy, and that was all there was to it, and Harry Potter was madly in love and...
"You’re rather fucked up, aren’t you, Harry," Lucius commented.
"Um. Kind of," Harry admitted hoarsely. He didn’t dare to look at Lucius’ face.
"Come here, Harry." Lucius wriggled back on the desktop and patted his lap.
"I said, come here. Sit on daddy’s knee." Lucius smiled.
"Hell no! You’ll stick one of your dildos in me."
"Harry Malfoy," said Lucius, in a voice that brooked no dissent. "On my lap. Right now."
"I’m twenty-eight," Harry mumbled his protest, even as he found himself walking over toward his adopted father. He eyed Lucius over; the man might have been taller, but he was a fair bit thinner than Harry was. Harry didn’t quite know what to do. He was half scared that by sitting on Lucius he might break him. Still, he wasn’t about to piss Lucius off any more than he could help. He turned around, and pushed his bum onto Lucius’ knees -- wondering, in a hopelessly way, if doing this was technically legal. Before his nerve failed him, however, Lucius’ bionic arm had gripped him about the waist and hoisted him effortlessly all the way onto his lap.
"There. That isn’t so bad, is it?" said Lucius.
It really *wasn’t* so bad at all. Despite feeling incredibly self-conscious, Harry could almost see himself getting used to this. He swiveled to one side, and Lucius put his arm around him. "Just... keep your hands where I can see them," he muttered.
"I would have imagined you’d be able to trust me by now," Lucius said calmly. "Then again, you’ve always been the paranoid type." He patted Harry’s knee in a fond fashion. "Now, I’m going to make this short," he said. "I don’t care to listen to your bitching, or your reasoning. I certainly don’t want to listen to the details of your personal life. I also don’t want to know what you’ve been doing with that skinny blonde boy currently lurking in the spare bedroom."
"To me, Harry Malfoy, you are both my son *and* a commodity. I intend that you take over the business side of the Malfoy affairs when I am gone. I *also* intend that you take care of Draco. Even if you can’t love him, you *will* cater to any other needs he may have -- and also those of any Malfoy offspring. Consider yourself a caretaker to our great lineage." Lucius paused. "I also can’t help but notice that your relationship with Draco is interfering with your work. This does suggest to me that if you *do* stay with Draco, you may manage to screw up our entire business in the future."
"Consequently, it would appear to be in *my* best interests that the two of you split up before you reach the drinking-poison stage. So, Harry -- you may leave Draco. I will make in perfectly painless for you should you decide, definitely, that this is what you want to do. However, if you *dare* attempt to leave, ah, the Malfoy famiglia... I shall hunt you down and lock you in the basement for the term of your natural life. Is this clear?"
"As glass, sir," Harry mumbled. "But... painless?"
"I suggest you seek out Severus to ask about that," said Lucius.
"Snape?! What does he know about relationships? He’s probably still a bloody virgin."
"No, he fucked my wife back in 1977."
Harry spluttered; Lucius patted him helpfully on the back. "There’s my fatherly advice for you, Harry," he said, sweetly. "Now, off my lap, there’s a good boy."
He gave Harry a pointed push, and Harry hopped off clumsily. He stood there brushing neurotically at the seat of his pants while Lucius swung his thin legs and hummed. Something about Lucius’ manner suggested to Harry that there was another joke being played at his expense. He was too tired and confused though to try and work out what it was on his own. Instead he asked, simply: "Are you fucking with me again?"
Harry looked at Lucius, and Lucius looked at Harry.
"Thanks, dad," said Harry finally.
"Not a problem, son," said Lucius, without missing a beat.
To Mr. And Mrs. Lucius Malfoy
The veela scribbled on her parchment. She paused, nibbling on the end of her quill.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am requesting a leave of absence in order to physically recuperate.
She shivered, pulling the collar of her Victorian dress closer tighter. She glanced at the pallet on the other side of the closet where Severus Snape was spectacularly shagging her third family member in a row. The other two were passed out in a heap nearby.
I also have it on authority to request similar leaves of absence for my three cousins, who are also in need of rest.
The sound of peaking climaxes reverberated in the closet.
Might I suggest, in order to service your Potions Developer, that you consider employing a succubus? Or in this case, it may be more fitting to employ an incubus. Creatures such as they are more suited to this amount of sexual activity.
Snape began to raise himself for another go. The veela sighed.
Correction. I need to request leaves for myself and my four cousins.
Rube the Veela
Hermione had been staring out the window watching the antics of the Death Eaters in the courtyard, when she became aware of the fact that someone was standing behind her. Quite close -- close enough for her to feel their breath against the back of her neck. Another woman might have reached instinctively for the mace, but Hermione was a woman of mettle. And a dominatrix, to boot.
"Get your slut breath off my back and kneel, bitch," she said automatically.
"Hermione... Little Hermione Granger?"
"...Sirius?" Hermione blinked, and spun around. He smiled faintly and withdrew a step, one hand pressed over his chest. His eyes were bloodshot, his voice was sick and hoarse, his skin was pale with fever, his dark hair was awry -- but these things aside, Hermione was stunned again at how handsome he was. There was something about his solid, strong features that reminded her of Viktor. And hadn’t that masculine profile been what had drawn her to Viktor Krum in the first place...? Hermione firmly pushed that thought, and all those others which were sure to follow close behind it, out of her mind.
She’d watched him all night. She’d stayed awake and tended to him, she’d dressed and redressed his wounds, using all of her skills in medicine to knit his bones. For a while she’d lain beside him, offering him warmth as he shuddered with fever. She’d remembered her little-girl crush on him, the innocence of it, and it made her feel dirty now -- to see how far she’d progressed from such naive desires. And this, in turn, made her feel a sort of impotent rage -- an intense frustration directed at everything and nothing in her life. Once it started, she couldn’t get it out of her mind -- she blamed Narcissa, she blamed Lucius, she blamed the Death Eaters, and she felt so horribly useless, so horribly pathetic that she couldn’t stand it.
"I see you’ve recovered," was all she said to him.
"Yeah. God, though, my stomach hurts. Feels like a dragon bloody stepped on me."
"Yes," said Hermione.
"You grew up nice," said Sirius, grinning. He reached out to ruffle her hair. It took Hermione a great deal of self-restraint not to perform a quick judo twist, knock him off his feet, and then flip him over her head. "Very nice, really," he continued. "You had your teeth sorted, did you?"
"Yes," said Hermione.
"Been ages, since I saw you. Over a decade. What have you been up to? Married, I’ll bet. Got any kids?"
"No. I became a professional dominatrix."
Sirius recalled his brief encounter with Hermione earlier, on the stairway. And Cornelius Fudge on a leash. "Oh, yeah. That’s right." He frowned. His mental picture of the Hermione of yesteryear -- young, thirteen year old Hermione -- was taking a while to readjust to the twenty-eight year old Hermione reality. "You know," he said slowly, "I’d have never... well, thought you’d be the type. No offense. Figured you’d go into the Ministry, or something."
"I was in the Ministry. However, I soon found that being a dominatrix was more enjoyable than having to deal with idiot wizards who crashed into telephone poles or tried to set fire to their pet dragon’s farts in public places."
Sirius didn’t know how to respond to that, so he said nothing at all.
"Of course, now that I *am* a dominatrix, I got roped into working for the Public Relations division of the Malfoy’s consulting service. And then I accidentally managed to get caught up in the return of the Death Eaters, who Narcissa appears to be training to take over the world. So I’m caught between a rock and a hard place; I can either lose my job and go to the Ministry for help -- though I doubt *they* could stand against this many Death Eaters. Or, alternately, I can go down to the courtyard, take off all my clothes, and simper around after Narcissa on my knees. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past seven and a half months."
Her lower lip was trembling slightly, but with her arms folded across her chest she gave off a distinct 'don’t try and comfort me' vibe.
"I can *stand* to be manipulated," she said
bitterly. "Everything in life is a form of manipulation, anyway.
Sex, love, politics. And I can
manipulate with the best of them, though at least I try to be nice about it. But I can’t stand to be ignored. I can’t stand to be treated like a fucking simpleton. I am *not* a fool. I wasn’t made dux of Hogwarts only to become a bloody sycophant of Narcissa Malfoy."
"It’s really great to see you, again..." Sirius tried.
"She treated me as an equal, before. Perhaps not an equal, but I was her student, and she was my teacher. We *communicated*. And I was grateful for it. Before I met her I thought I was unbreakable. And then I realised that I wasn’t -- that I had my faults, just like anyone else. I realised that it wasn’t my job to hurt people, but to train them. To help them. And she was -- she *is* my fucking mentor. But then, all of a sudden, she decides to ignore me, to ignore me and to ignore reason. Which leaves me where exactly, Sirius Black?" Her fingers were digging into her upper arms. "I’ll tell you where. It leaves me right here, in one of her bloody spare bedrooms, spilling my guts for no reason to someone I haven’t seen in fifteen years, to a bloody stranger."
Sirius watched her. She was shaking all over by this stage -- he could feel the weight of her anger, palpable in the air between them. He wondered where it had come from, and if his reappearance had in some way been responsible.
"What can I do? I don’t know what to do! She’s like a fucking wall. I can’t hurt her, and I can’t break her down."
She caught her breath, held herself tighter, and closed her eyes for a long moment. Her lips moved; she was counting backwards, slowly, from 300 in multiples of eleven. At one hundred and seventy nine she stopped, opened her eyes, and stared at him.
"I am *not* going to lose control," she said. "I refuse to lose control. I also refuse to have a breakdown. Instead, I am going to assess the situation, and I am going to work out what the best thing to do is. And then I will go hurt someone. And then I will do whatever it is that I will have to do to stop her."
"...Hermione," said Sirius, heavily. "Sit down."
"Who are YOU to tell ME what to do?" Hermione
growled, but her heart clearly wasn’t in it.
Sirius placed a hand on her shoulder. She didn’t move to resist him -- which was a blessing, as in his weakened condition he was in no position to stand against her. Ever so gently, he steered her over to the edge of the bed, and pushed her down. She sat.
"I’m going to make you a cup of tea, Hermione," said Sirius.
"Where do you keep your tea-things?"
"There’s a little kitchenette around the corner. Tea is in the top cupboard."
Sirius went into the kitchenette, found the tea, found the kettle. He whistled to himself as he fixed them both two steaming mugs. His body ached, his stomach was a horrible twist of intestines and viscera. He washed his face in the sink, and the cold water made him feel a lot better. He scraped plaque off his teeth, panted into his hand to make sure his morning breath wasn’t too bad, and then carried the tea back into the bedroom.
She was still sitting on the bed. She didn’t look up as he came in. He gave her one mug, kept the other for himself, and sat beside her.
They sipped their tea in silence.
"I feel like fool," Hermione told him, finally.
"I can help you, if you want my help," Sirius said.
"Help me, then."
He paused. He gazed at her. Tentatively, he put his arm around her.
"We have to stop Narcissa," said Hermione. "We have to stop her before she goes too far. Further, I mean."
"We can do that, Hermione."
"Are you sure?" She sounded like a little girl.
"Trust me," said Sirius, infusing his voice with more certainty than he truly felt. "Trust me."
Harry was irritated with himself. Lucius always managed to keep him on edge. And his suggestion to talk to Snape. What could *Snape* possibly know about relationships? Well, to be fair, he had to admit that Snape was…attractive. But what could he know about…well, this kind of thing?
Harry scowled, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he trudged down the hall. If Draco wasn’t such a selfish bastard, he wouldn’t need to ask Snape for anything. He’d be able to do his job perfectly well, he’d still be on speaking terms with his best friends, and he’d be able to spend his nights having perfect wild sex. Life would be as close to perfect as it could possibly get.
Well…perfect except for those enhancement workshops that Lucius insisted upon. But other than that, he should be having one of those happily ever afters. He gritted his teeth. But life was never going to be easy. It was always one struggle after the next. And now…things were irrevocably screwed up.
Trust Neville Longbottom to know about this codependency stuff. What *was* that supposed to mean anyway? And Neville…what part in his life was he supposed to be? Harry couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing him again. But he had to acknowledge that he felt guilty.
Why was that? It’s not as if Draco was having an attack of conscience for sleeping with Ron. So why couldn’t he just enjoy whatever he had with Neville? Why couldn’t…
Harry’s thoughts were interrupted by sounds coming from a closet that he was passing. He stopped, leaning towards the door. It was sex. Someone was having spectacular sex on the other side of that door. Harry frowned, it’d better not be Draco, he thought. Then, just as he was about to leave, he heard the words.
Harry clapped a hand over his mouth, eyes wide. Remus was in there? He just didn’t seem the type. Well, his curiosity was killing him now. Harry tiptoed carefully towards the closet and cautiously pressed his ear to the door.
But everything had gone quiet. The only sounds were the soft rustling of clothing being pulled on. Without warning, the door opened nearly making Harry fall into the closet.
"Wha—what?" Harry stammered, looking up at the emerging figure in surprise. "Snape? What are *you* doing in there?"
Severus’ arched eyebrow and satisfied smirk spoke volumes. "I should hope that you would’ve figured that out for yourself by now, Potter. Although in all fairness, you were never really the sharpest knife in the kitchen."
Harry glared silently. He peeked around Severus into the closet suspiciously. "Is Remus in there as well?"
Severus went violently pale, his lips compressed in a line, "Why the hell would you think that Lupin is in that closet, Potter?"
But Harry was too caught up in searching the closet interior, casually brushing past the furious potions master. "Well, I heard someone call his name. I actually thought that *he* was the one in here." He looked around, but only saw four unconscious veela laying about the place, and one curled up in a corner writing a letter. "Don’t tell me *you’re* responsible for this."
Severus sneered before answering, "Potter, what I do is not your concern. Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me. I have things to do."
"Actually, that’s why I’m down here. Or rather, I was on my way to see you when…well, obviously I was sidetracked. " Harry paused, wrinkling his nose, "Ew. You smell like a bathhouse."
Snape gave an exasperated sigh, "As if you’d ever know about *that*, Potter. Very well then. Walk with me." He turned on his heel and walked away leaving Harry to stumble after him.
"Well, Lu- I mean, *Dad* sent me here," Harry panted, struggling to keep pace with Snape. "He says that you could help me."
"Indeed? And what did you need help *with*, Potter?" Snape asked. They had reached the corridor leading to the laboratory when Snape directed a side glance, "and, what makes you think that I’d help *you*?"
Harry sighed as they reached the door, shifting uneasily, "He said that you could make things…painless."
"Painless…well that certainly explains everything Potter," Snape commented dryly. He made his way across the room to the side bath, drawing his shirt over his head. "Care to elaborate on that?" He disappeared behind the open door.
Harry suddenly felt shy. Snape evidently had no compunction in shedding his clothing in front of him. Harry quickly averted his eyes and busied himself with closing the door in an elaborate gesture. He heard the sound of the shower being started. He cleared his throat.
But Snape had emerged from the shower once again, his head lowered as he began to undo his belt. "Well? Are you going to tell me what exactly you need or not?"
Harry gulped and scrunched his eyes shut. This was not a good time to be distracted by Snape’s abs. "Ummm…" he began, still eyeing the suddenly very interesting floor.
"Potter, just spit it out for Merlin’s sake," Snape blurted impatiently as he began toeing his shoes off.
"W-well, I was thinking about how things were between Draco and me…and I was thinking that maybe…that maybe it would be best to…well, best to-" Harry stammered.
Snape gave a long-suffering sigh, "Potter, I haven’t got all day. You’ll just have to explain everything to me while I’m in the shower." He turned and walked toward the bath.
Harry bit his lip and looked at the door to the hallway. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to ask Snape. But he had to be able to deal with Draco. Harry took a deep breath and gathered his resolve before walking into the other room.
Snape had already stepped into the shower. "Right then. Tell me what the problem is, Potter and I assure you that I will listen."
Harry quickly averted his eyes to the fascinating as always floor. He had to, otherwise it would have been all too easy to gawk at Snape through the glass door. "I’m leaving Draco. Lucius gave his approval. He said it could be painless. He suggested I see you."
Snape, who had been in the process of lathering his shoulders, froze. He turned to Harry and asked very seriously, "Do you realize what you’re asking?"
Harry raised his head to meet the other man’s eyes, "I think I do. I have no choice. It’s either this way, or continue living in this hell that I’ve found myself in."
Snape had bitten his lip in thought, and was absently soaping his chest. "Well, I can brew a potion for you, to help with breaking up. I suppose you need it because you intend to remain under this roof?"
Harry nodded, trying not to lower his gaze. "Dad said you could do it for me. I need to do this, Professor."
Snape arched an eyebrow, "You do realize that this is considered a Dark Art by Ministry definition, don’t you?"
Harry shook his head, "Given the alternative, I’m past caring, frankly."
Snape’s lips upturned slightly, "I never knew you had it in you, Potter. Will wonders never cease?" Snape leaned back under the water to rinse the soap off before continuing, "I’ll help you. But I need you to do something for me."
Harry groaned inwardly, there’s always a catch, he thought. "What do you want me to do?" His mouth had suddenly gone dry as his eyes roamed over his ex-professor’s body.
Snape shut off the water. Opening the glass door, he raised an eyebrow as he wrapped a towel around his waist. Snape smirked knowingly, taking in Harry’s blush. "I need you to help me find an antidote."
Whatever Harry had been expecting, it wasn’t that. "You need *my* help in potions? Wouldn’t you be better off asking Hermione?"
Snape shook his head, "Yes, her marks were much better than yours, but she doesn’t have the same investment. With you helping me, you’d be a better helper if you knew that I’d help you in return."
Harry nodded, "So, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?"
Snape smiled, "It’s a Slytherin cornerstone."
"If you don’t mind my asking…what kind of poison is it? I mean, why do we need to find an antidote?" Harry asked.
"Potter, what we say within this room and this lab will remain between the two of us, is that clear?" Snape asked, crossing his arms.
Harry nodded vigorously, "Yes, yes…of course."
Snape leaned against the wall and took a deep breath before exhaling heavily, "I’ve been experimenting with a new aphrodisiac that I was planning to market for myself. Independent from Malfoy Enterprises, of course," Snape waved his arm in an offhand gesture. "Anyway, it has the potential of being the most potent desirability potion ever developed. The nature of the potion manifests in that the first person that the taker sees after ingesting a mere tablespoon is the object of every desire. However, fate would have it that I accidentally got drenched with an entire cauldron full. Well, the first person I saw after being doused was Remus Lupin. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had a chance to develop the antidote. Therefore, my situation…as it stands."
Harry stood with eyes wide. He slowly shook his head letting out a soft whistle, "Professor, it seems that you are even more screwed than I am."
"Mr. Potter, you’ve just said an entire mouthful."
Completely unaware of the torrid events which had occured in the spare bedroom the previous night, Draco chose to spend *his* morning reading on the front porch of the manor. It was a particularly lazy sort of day, he felt -- the sort of day which simply demanded as little movement as possible, and also some of those fancy cocktails with bits of fruit in them. Who was he to blow against the wind?
A few weeks beforehand Draco had liberated a copy of The Princess Diaries from one of the Veela maids and, now, fifteen pages in, he was firmly convinced the book was a masterpiece. "Inspired," he muttered, sipping at his Wizhattan cocktail through a gaily painted straw. Absently he wondered where Harry was. If Harry didn't crawl up spluttering apologies for his bad behaviour within the next hour, Draco would have to give some serious consideration toward depriving him of sex in the near future.
Serious consideration. Really, Draco thought, what on earth was Harry thinking these days. Inviting people over, refusing to succumb to Draco's wiles... the man was playing hard to get, there was no other explaination for it. As if Draco was the sort of person who would get jealous over petty things like that. As if Draco would give a damn about the fact that Neville Longbottom had happened to get rather worryingly sexy over the years. As if...
Draco shot up from his chair, wringing his hand. His cocktail glass had somehow splintered in his grasp -- sending a spray of liquid all over both the book and Draco's pajamas. Sheepishly, Draco glanced around to make sure no one had noticed.
"Whoops," said Ron Weasley, leaping agilely up the steps, in all his bestubbled morning glory. "Waste of a good drink, that was. Anyway, I just dropped by to say I'm leaving you. Catch you later, eh, kid?"
And with that, he gave Draco a half-wave, turned on his heel, and jumped back off the porch. Dripping, Draco stared at his retreating back. It took him a moment to regain his powers of speech -- and by that time Ron was half way across the courtyard.
"EXCUSE ME, WEASLEY?"
"I'm leaving you." Ron spun around again, and scratched a hand through his head. "Oh, that reminds me -- can you say bye to Harry and Hermione for me? Not that they'd care to hear it, but you know how it is."
"No," said Draco, coldly. "I do not know how it is. I would be... very interested, Ron, to hear how *you* think it is." Wrapping his nightgown tighter around his body, and folding his hands over his chest, he padded toward the man -- looking about as menacingly as it was possible to look when wearing fluffy white griffin slippers. "Are you drunk? Again? Or have you been at the herb garden with that bloody dragon of yours? You know my father doesn't like it when you eat his poppies."
"I'm leaving you," said Ron, for a third time. He shrugged amicably. "You, and everyone else. No offence, or anything."
Draco stared at him. His mind was very, very slowly attempting to process this information, and resisting it all the while. He took a deep breath and said, quietly, "Do you intend this to be a permanant thing?"
"Maybe. Not exactly sure yet."
"Can I ask... why? Or would that be overstepping the boundaries of fucking reason, you fucking stupid shit?"
"Well, to be honest -- I'm not really enjoying myself here any longer," said Ron, truthfully, ignoring the insult. He squinted over Draco's shoulder, and frowned. "Hey, is that your mother over there spraying a bunch of naked Death Eaters with a hose?"
"Don't change the subject," Draco grated out.
"No, really..." Ron protested. "I think it is."
"Nice slippers, by the way. I think Ginny used to have a pair like that, when she was six."
Draco considered his options. He was fairly sure by now that Ron had taken complete leave of his senses. Growling under his breath, he stepped forwards, gripped Ron by the shoulders, and angled him downwards so that they could see eye to eye. Ron didn't resist him, but his freckled face screwed up slightly in confusion. Draco gave him a hard, cold, milk-curdling stare.
"Ron," said Draco, in a voice that could have cut diamond. "I have no idea what you are on, and in other circumstances I would probably ask you for some. However. Right now your dear friend Draco is in no mood for your idiot games and is about five seconds away from firing you. So I would suggest to you, Weasley..."
"I resign," said Ron.
"No you don't," said Draco promptly.
"Yes I do," said Ron. "I resign." He grinned lopsidedly, and scruffed a hand through Draco's hair. "Hey, you already have seventeen poolmen as it is. Shouldn't hurt to lose one..."
He broke off. Draco was beating his head rhymically against Ron's chest, letting out a small muffled 'unf' noise every time he did so. "You," said Draco, "are a complete... and utter... fucking... pain in the neck." Before Ron could interject with another unhelpful comment, Draco pressed his hand over the man's mouth. "Did Harry put you up to this?" he said. "I bet he did. If he can't have me, no one can... stupid, stupid, stupid. Well, you can trot off to your best friend and tell him that I don't think it's at all funny. What did he bribe you with, anyway? Or was it Sally? I bet that little lizard had something to do with all this. Just the sort of nasty plan she'd find really damn amusing."
Ron pried away the fingers locked onto his jaw. "Draco," he said.
"Ron," said Draco.
In a shocking and unexpected epiphany, Draco came to completely understand the meaning of the words 'justifiable homocide.'
"It's got nothing to do with you, mate," Ron continued obliviously. "I just like to move around a bit. And I've been stuck here for what seems like forever, doing nothing saving for shagging you and getting drunk, and I'm bloody bored. So -- I'm nicking off. Simple enough, ain't it? There's no need to make a big deal about it. Shit happens."
"AAAAARGH," said Draco.
"I figure I might go eat sushi off a naked geisha, or something like that. And I have to get back to Africa, see Charlie. Maybe I'll drop back here in a few months, or years, or whatever, and see how you're doing. If you like, I'll send a postcard... hm." Ron paused. "Can you stop eating my shirt?" he asked. "It's the only relatively clean one I have left."
"ROAR," said Draco.
"Anyway -- eh, I'll probably be off now. I left Sally waiting for me, and she'll expect me back any second. And, Draco, it *is* my only... oh, for Merlin's sake." With a sigh, Ron caught both of Draco's tightly-wound fists by the wrist and held them above Draco's head. Impotent and infuriated, Draco defiantly spat out a button. "I really didn't think you'd be so bloody angsty over this," Ron said, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, if you're going to be like that..."
"How the HELL am I supposed to take this?" Draco screamed at him. "Excuse me for imagining, just for a *second*, that I might be a wee bit more important than a fucking furniture impressionist prostitute. Excuse me for thinking that you might actually have a little bit of fucking compassion in that tiny Weasle brain of yours. Excuse me for choosing to believe, in all my sexy and rich ignorance, that you actually give a damn about me."
Ron blinked. "You're.. excused?" he tried.
"OUT. OUT. GET OFF MY PROPERTY, NOW. GET OFF AND FUCK OFF AND I DON'T CARE. I DON'T FUCKING CARE."
"Oh-kay," said Ron slowly. He released Draco's hands and jumped a quick step backwards, just incase Draco tried to chew at his lapels again. Draco didn't make a move. He simply stood there, stinking of spilt liquor, with his fingers balled at his sides, and his grey eyes squinched into narrow slits.
"Hm," said Ron.
Draco said nothing.
"Well, bye then," said Ron. "I really will write, you know."
Draco continued to say nothing.
"Nice knowing you."
Draco's face was bright pink. For a moment, Ron was overwhelmed by pity -- but he knew that if he were to voice any comfort it would only add fuel to Draco's rage. You can't help him, Ron told himself. You tried, or did what you thought was trying -- and in the end you only fucked things up a wee bit more. You don't owe him anything -- you don't owe anyone anything. And while you may think of Draco fondly, the way you think about Ginny or any of your other siblings, like the little annoying brother you never had the pleasure of tormenting as a child... in the end, it's *better* this way. In fact, anything has to be better than *this*.
"I'll be off then," Ron said aloud, and when Draco failed to reply, he turned and headed away across the hills, toward the remains of his house and the waiting dragon. It was time for a new beginning, and even if this end hadn't gone exactly as Ron had hoped -- at least he'd made it out without losing more than his shirt pocket and four buttons. This episode in the life of Ron the Rogue was now complete, and a new one, a thousand new possibilities lay before him, each one more enticing than the next -- if only by virtue of their novelty.
He shoved his hands in his pockets, and tried to whistle, but no tune would come to him.
As he crested the first hill, Draco's voice shunted bitterly into his brain.
Anything has to be better than this?
Dragon-speak. Ron whistled his tuneless tune, and pretended he couldn't hear.
How fucking optimistic of you, Ron.
Ron whistled louder until his lips felt parched, drowning out the voice, and drowning out the memory of Draco's pinched, flushed face.
I really liked you, Ron.
On the low side of the hill, Ron Weasley's nerve snapped. Gritting his teeth, he broke into a run, a mad and hysterical dash toward the future, all the while keeping both hands clamped firmly and uselessly over his ears.
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