Toward End Game
Harry, frustrated and annoyed - with himself, with Draco, with the universe at large and especially with Hermione, who refused to be drawn into his melodramas - was squatting on the porch by himself when Draco turned up. Hermione had long since quitted Harry's self-absorbed presence; she'd mumbled an excuse which might have had something to do with averting homocide and strutted out the front gates of the manor. Harry felt a faint sense of revenge in the fact that he'd neglected to remind her that she was currently wearing her much-abused hospital gown. It was childish, he knew, but it made him feel good.
Harry wasn't entirely sure where to go, or what to do. He hadn't killed Voldemort. In the past nine years he couldn't even recall doing one remarkable thing - anything which would vindicate his hero status. He felt a child star in one of those Muggle movies. One day the toast of the town, and the next - hooked on drugs and whoring themselves out in an alley somewhere. Well, Harry thought, it wasn't quite like that - but the same principles applied.
And now Draco was there, with him, standing in the open doorway munching a ham sandwich and acting as if absolutely nothing had happened over the past few days. Harry didn't even look up - he didn't want to give Draco the privledge of seeing his face. It was better to act as if Draco didn't exist, as if he could ignore Draco just as easily as Draco ignored him.
Draco stretched, yawned, and wiped mayonaise off his chin. At least, I hope it's mayonaise, Harry thought, grimly.
"Nice weather we're having, wouldn't you say?" said Draco, nonchalantly. He wolfed down the last mouthful of his bun and tilted his head on one side. "The first day of the rest of our lives - in more ways than one. Not to be overly dramatic about it, but.." He licked his fingers. "Those elves do make a nice sandwich, incidentally," he added. "You should really try -"
"Don't," said Harry.
"Don't what?" said Draco, licking his chin. Draco had always had an unnaturally long tongue; Harry caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye. He looked away, flushing slightly.
"Look, I don't want to be long-winded about this," he said, presently. "I just - I can't be arsed procrastinating any longer. Do you - I mean. What do you want, Draco?"
"Cucumber, I think. With mustard," said Draco. He blinked, and looked back at Harry. "Eh?"
"Me or Ron, Draco," Harry hissed.
Draco looked shifty. "Can't I have both?" he tried.
"You most bloody certainly cannot," Harry spat.
"We could make some sort of time-share arrangement," Draco suggested, mildly. "You could have Saturdays and Sundays and Mondays, and then -"
"Fine. You can have Thursdays, too. I'm always cranky on Thursdays, anyway."
"You're - considering leaving me for Ron?"
"I never said that." Draco squinted. "Did I?"
"You fucking - fucking - fucking -"
Harry got to his feet, and Draco took a wary step backwards. He'd been slapped enough recently to gain an instinctive sense of when to duck.
"For goodness sake, Harry. I just want a break. Is that too much to ask? I have wild oats to sow."
"And a wild Ron to reap," Harry squeaked. "What the fuck does he have that I don't?"
Draco cast a candid eye over Harry's body. "About sixty pounds, and three inches -" he began.
"Draco! Oh my gods.." Harry's impulse to kill, maim, and destroy was overpowered by his urge to curl into a very small ball and hide. He coiled up against the wall, his forehead against the stone. "I don't - believe - you want to do this," he muttered, in a stilted voice.
"Do what? Fuck Ron? Come on, like you've never thought about it."
"No, actually," said Harry, tersely. "I haven't."
"You so have. Didn't you tell me once you thought red-heads were hot?"
"Fucking - fucking - fucking -" At each word, Harry banged his forehead against the wall. Draco sighed, and eyed his nails.
"Calm down, Potter. It's not as if I plan to kick you out, or anything. You can still live here. My father likes you, anyway. We can have some sort of - I don't know. A menage a Ron."
"I do not want a menage a Ron," Harry grunted.
"Then I'll have a menage a Ron by myself," said Draco. "I'm sure it will all end up sorting itself out in the long run. Shit happens, after all.."
"Stop talking like him," Harry said.
"Hey, whatever.." Draco threw up his hands.
"Draco. For your own sake - I advise you to leave. Very fast. With your hands over your crotch. Before I.."
"Before you what, Potter?" Draco chimed.
Harry slumped. "You said we were made for each other," he mumbled. "You said you loved me."
"Loving you and loving fucking Ron are not mutually exclusive," said Draco.
Harry couldn't believe how cool Draco was being - if Draco had pleaded, or teased, it would have been far easier. But a non-commital, careless Draco? This was Harry's life they were talking about.
Both their lives.
"They are in my book," said Harry. "I won't - I won't stand for it - oh."
"- oh," Draco agreed.
There'd been a sudden spurt of flame from the gates, and a shimmer of blue scales. Draco tilted his head to one side.
"Oh dear. There goes a pool man," said Draco.
"Your mother won't be pleased," said Harry.
"Mm," said Draco.
"We should get Ron," said Harry.
"No. Wait. I never liked that guard," said Draco. "Let's see if he.."
"You sick little bastard," Harry snapped. He slung himself up the stairs and into the manor.
I killed Voldemort. I killed Wormtail. I should, by rights, have screaming fan girls. But no. I just get a pat on the head from Narcissa, as if I'm a dog. And a raised eyebrow from Lucius. And that's it.
Ron stamped up and down the manor halls. The only reason he hadn't stormed out yet was because he was completely lost. The portraits on the walls, mobile as the paintings at Hogwarts, weren't particulary willing to offer a Weasley any help. Two of them had thrown paper fruit at him, and a stately blonde gentleman in a long corridor had directed Ron into a closet - which was, at the time, occupied by two Veelas in french maid outfits.
Ron didn't want to ask.
For now he padded back and forth up staircases and landings, with his hands in his pockets, trying to look as if he was meant to be there. Various guards and elves gave him strange looks, but Ron found that if he mouthed the words, "sex slave" at them they simply nodded and moved on without further comment.
He'd just made it up a long hallway when he bumped into Harry. They jolted apart, and Harry glared at Ron, warily, as if he expected Ron to jump on him at any second.
"Weasley," he said.
"Potter," said Ron, biting back a grin. There was something incredibly amusing about a pissed-off Harry. "You and Draco made up yet? Or should I give you another couple of hours?"
"No. We haven't made up." Harry snorted. "Menage a Ron. I think fucking not."
"Er," said Ron. "What?"
"There's a dragon outside for you, toasting the guards," said Harry, bluntly. "And I hope you and Draco are really fucking happy together. No, really. I mean that."
"I can tell you mean it from the way you're spitting out bits of your teeth," said Ron. "What, er -"
"How could you?" Harry yelled.
"Hey, man. It was just sex. I don't want a commitment. Hell - I still got a date with my ex-girl's sister.." Ron scratched his head.
Harry stamped his foot. Ron stared at him.
"What the fuck was that, man?" said Ron, finally.
"I .. don't know," said Harry, looking at his foot, as if it were a separate, autonomous entity.
"Did you just stamp your foot at me?" Ron asked.
"Er," said Harry.
"It looked like you just stamped it at me," said Ron. "Which would be pretty lame, if you ask me. I mean - hell. Even Ginny grew out of that when she was nine."
"I'm - I'm -"
"You're stamping again."
Harry turned on his heel, with his nose in the air, and kicked his way up a nearby staircase. How bloody.. Malfoy, Ron thought, barely managing to hide his grin.
"That was from Cornelius," said Lucius. "They're sending Lupin and Snape over here within the next two days. And he booked me in with his private doctor - one who does magical surgery. Of course, given the state of Cornelius, I'm unsure if I should trust in the doctor's ability. Still.."
Lucius folded the letter, and waved airily to the owl. A procession of them were lined up against the window of the Malfoy's bedroom. Narcissa lay, pale and slightly nervous, on the bed. She was still unsure what had happened; and a little scared by the cool manner in which Lucius was handling himself. She attributed it to blood loss and the after effects of Draco's anesthetic drugs.
"It's all over, now?" she asked, quietly. "The Death Eaters, Voldemort, Dark magic.. all over?"
"Hardly," said Lucius. He worried the ripped ends of his sleeve with his sole hand. "Over for Voldemort, yes. For me, and for the Death Eaters - I think not." His lips curled into a lopsided smirk. "You did like those robes, didn't you, my dear?"
Narcissa smiled, slowly. "Do you think they'll come to follow you, darling?" she asked. "It would be like old times again.. the orgies, the massacres, the demons.."
"..the pizzas," said Lucius. "Nothing like a Death Eater special. Black olives and cottage cheese." He touched his tongue to his lips. "And we really could do with some more hands about the house.."
"Death Eaters are terrible with laundry," said Narcissa, wrinkling her nose. She was beginning to feel rather more jovial, suddenly. "You remember the time when a group of them got locked in that Muggle laundromat -"
"It set back our rampage across the East Coast several days," Lucius nodded. "Still, we've always a need for new gardeners.."
"And pool men," said Narcissa.
"Do you think Johann's wife would still fit into that French maid outfit?" Lucius wondered aloud, stroking his fingers along his chin. "The last I heard the woman had more asses than a donkey farmer-"
"Lucius," Narcissa broke in.
"Mm?" he murmured, looking at her directly for the first time.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" she asked. "With End Game, and Draco and Harry?"
"Of course, love," Lucius replied, settling onto the bed beside her. Despite the absent arm he was as graceful as ever. "But first, you and I will have to do a little - social rumour mongering." He wriggled his eyebrows in a boyish fashion - a mannerism she couldn't remember him using since their days in Hogwarts. "We're very good at that."
"Rumour? Which rumour?" Narcissa asked.
"How about we start with this," said Lucius, leaning forwards with predatory self-confidence. "Voldemort was murdered by a one-armed man."
/Of course I had to breathe a little fire. They were being so impossible. Haven't they ever seen a dragon before?/
"A dragon, perhaps. But not a fire-breathing blimp. Unless they've been using some very expensive drugs." Draco leant in the gateway, picking bits of mushroom out of a pizza slice. "Harry went off to find Ron for you. I'm afraid you'll have to make do with my company until then."
/Actually, I need to see both of you./ the Bluewing huffed out a plume of smoke from her nostrils.
"We fulfilled your slash-fantasies once, Sally," said Draco, reprovingly. "Ron and I don't intend to again, at least not publicly. Unless the lighting is very good and you provide the alcohol," he added, as an afterthought.
/It's not about that. But I do know a rather nice little hotel not far from here, with a view of the beach, which stocks a rather sweet butterbeer -/ the dragon grinned, showing all her teeth. /A little while after you left, the medallion appeared again right in the middle of our den./
/Gave John a bit of a shock. He sat on it. It took Cindy an awful long time to work it out with her-/
"Something tells me I don't want to hear this anymore than I want to hear about my father's sexual conquests," said Draco, making a face.
/Anyway,/ Sally relented, /it magically reappeared. And so I've brought it back to you. Evidently what you tried to do with it - with Ralph - didn't work. So../
"Wait." Draco tilted his head on one side, struggling to work this one out. "You're saying it came back almost - oh, wait. Time would have reset itself - which means that - let me see - I suppose no one else remembers or saw what happened except us, which means -" he paused, becoming aware of the dragon's inquisitive stare.
/You're talking to yourself,/ Sally commented, unnecessarily.
Draco rubbed his temples with his slightly greasy fingers. "I think I'm suffering from temporal reflux - or something," he muttered.
/Any cure for that?/
"Probably the same sort of drugs one uses to see fire-breathing blimps," said Draco. "Give me the medallion - oh. Ick," he continued, as Sally gagged. "Yuck. Oh. Ew."
/Got it. And don't be so damn prissy. From what Ron's implied, you should be fairly well acquainted with vomit./
"It's like snot. It's okay unless it's not yours," said Draco, holding his nose with one hand, and half covering his eyes with the other. "And I rarely vomit out half eaten cows. Er. That is a cow, isn't it?"
The dragon looked shifty. /Maybe./
She prodded out the familiar green disk with a talon and pushed it towards Draco. He used the heel of his boot to wipe the object firmly against the grass before daring to pick it up with his bare hands.
As his fingers slipped around the metal circle he felt that strange chill he'd always experienced in the presence of the object, a strange, anticipatory shiver down his spine. He frowned; and knew, before he turned, that Ron was close by. The red-head was ambling up the courtyard, a solitary, gruff wet-dream in tattered jeans.
/Morning, shit-sweeper,/ said the dragon, amiably.
/Don't get fresh,/ Ron grinned; though the smile didn't quite touch his eyes. He shot Draco a confused look; Draco simply shrugged. He could hazard a guess that Harry hadn't been particulary friendly to Ron.
/The medallion came back./ The dragon surmised, breifly, what had happened, and then indicated with a great, sweeping wing toward the green glitter in Draco's palm. /We still don't know what to do with it. But we've learnt the hard way that even the constrictions of a particulary anal retentive dragon-/
"Eeh," said Draco, wincing.
"My ears are already bleeding," Ron warned. "Well, guess we gotta figure something out now. At least we aren't starved for choice. What with your Firey Pits and the like. What was that Big Crack of Darkness you mentioned before?"
/I assure you, John squeezed for all he was-/
"Aaah," said Draco.
"Oy, Sally. You're scaring the blonde." Ron ruffled Draco's hair with one hand; and Draco felt another chill streak through him, from the crown of his head to his toes. Ron's hand was disturbingly warm - too hot for comfort. Draco flinched away, and noticed that Ron had done likewise - the man was now gazing, confused, at the centre of his palm.
"I feel sparks," said Ron.
/You're a lovely couple. As I've said before../
"No. No. Draco, come here. Let's see what happens if.."
Ron extended his hand, palm uppermost. Draco felt - what was it? A compulsion, perhaps? It was natural, the way he reached for Ron's hand now, as if he were watching himself move from an alternate vantage, beyond his physical body. He cupped the medallion in the centre of his own palm, and pressed it firmly to Ron's..
There was a breif flash of light.
/Ooh,/ said Sally.
Around Draco the air seemed suddenly thick, yet sheer at the same time, a glass-like quality. It remained like this for an instant; Draco hadn't even the time to exhale the breath he held before the moment completed itself, and normality returned. But he was sure Ron had felt it too, this strange shifting of reality; Ron's face was flushed as if he'd been within the near proximity of a fire.
/The earth moved,/ said Sally, blinking.
Ron grunted, and squeezed his fingers tighter around Draco's hand. Their palms now touched, without the sheild of the medallion between them, and Draco gulped.
"It's.. over," Ron said, slowly.
/Well, that was anti-climactic,/ said Sally. /No wonder the women keep leaving you, Ronny./
"No. I mean - the medallion. It's vanished. Destroyed, I think." Ron stared at her. "It was - well. I dunno."
"Definately gone," Draco agreed.
/Just like that?/ The dragon raised a craggy eye-ridge at them.
"Yeah. Kinda - stupidly simple, really. Wormtail was right." Ron managed a grin. "Ralph, rather. Hey. Guess that's all the loose ends wrapped up."
/..are you sure?/ Sally persisted. /That was an aeon-old artifact, you know. I can't../
"Gone," said Ron. "You can look, if you like."
/Can't. You're still holding hands./
"So we are," he said.
"Mhm," said Draco.
"Mhm," said Draco.
"Well," said Ron.
/I'm going to need a crowbar, aren't I?/ said Sally, wryly.
"You could use it to pound him into submission," Ron agreed, adjusting his fingers to interlock with Draco's.
"I could think of a lot of better uses for it," said Draco, whose smile by this time had reached his ears. Not even a cat could feel this smug, he was sure.
"Down, Draco. Down," Ron cautioned him.
/Too late for that,/ Sally grinned. /I think I'll leave you two alone for a while. But I'll be back in a few hours - up for a joy ride, Ronny?/
"He he," said Draco.
"Don't be coy," Ron muttered.
..Dreamscape and dragons.
Walking back toward the manor, swinging his arm in tempo with Draco's, Ron felt a strange feeling of confidence rise within him; a feeling of a satisfaction. Job satisfaction, to be precise. A hero's quest completed, the universe saved, and the world at large a better place.
All thanks to Ron Weasley. All in a bloody day's work.
And despite the absence of screaming topless fan girls and the accolades of millions, it was enough to give Ron an extra spring in his step.
A spring enough to cause him to miss the bottom step of the stairs completely, and sprawl headlong over the front porch with his knees against his chin.
He stood up, aching, and turned. Draco was watching him, bemused.
"My hero," he drawled, sarcastically.
"Got it in one, flyboy," Ron grinned.
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