- Story Summary:
- SLASH. London, 2003, and two old enemies have become partners in crime. But the wizarding world is out to disrupt Harry's none too peaceful existence ... sex, guns, rock n' roll, drugs and bad language abound in a fast paced romantic thriller.
- Chapter Summary:
- SLASH. London, 2003, and two old enemies have become partners in crime. But the wizarding world is out to disrupt Harry's none too peaceful existence ... sex, guns, rock 'n' roll, drugs and bad language abound in a fast paced romantic thriller.
- Author's Note:
- The rating is, as usual, justified. This would be rated 15 in the UK, but I'm putting it as R to be on the safe side. This story also contains considerably more explicit language and situations than my previous works. And there are gay characters in it, and the implication of slash. If you find this in any way offensive, I beg you not to read on. Out of respect for any younger readers (I know I must have some) I really do recommend you stick with Dracaena Draco and its sequel, The Time of Trial, which are both more traditional fanfics. I respect you guys enough to be sure you will keep to your word, and therefore I feel I can post this here. Please do not prove me wrong!
CHAPTER FOUR. THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.
FRIDAY JANUARY 10TH, 2003.
When Harry woke up in the morning, his hangover from the vodka was pounding inside his skull like a jackhammer, worse than anything he had ever felt before. For a minute or so, he just lay there, moaning softly to himself and clutching his head in his hands. He wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep, and to remain sleeping for a very long time.
He glanced over at the bedside clock. It was coming up to twelve thirty. He could hear movement in the kitchenette next door, the sounds of frying bacon and loud, out of tune humming. Steve must already be up, he thought.
He opened his eyes, and winced as light flooded in. A fresh wave of pain overcame him, and he gasped in strained agony. He felt weird.
God, what happened to me last night?
He became aware that the covers, the cotton bed sheets and duvet were all tangled around his body in an impenetrable mess. He felt awkward, yet at the same time, strangely satisfied, and very calm. He shifted his weight on the mattress, and lay back amongst the pillows, willing the pain in his head to go away.
And then he realised that someone was lying in the bed with him, watching him through half closed eyes.
"Good morning," beamed Draco. "I trust we had pleasant dreams?"
Harry recoiled instantly. "Draco ... what the fuck are you doing in bed with me?"
"So you don't remember. I rather hoped you would remember," said Draco, looking disappointed.
Harry shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Remember what?" he asked, even though he fancied he already knew the answer, and responses were running through his beleaguered, hung-over mind nineteen to the dozen. I couldn't ... I'm ... I'm straight. I have a nice, normal sex life. I don't go for that kind of thing. It's just ... weird.
But another little voice in the back of his mind was telling him otherwise. Didn't you enjoy it the first time? Wasn't it good then, with Draco, and with the other one? You were perfectly happy to let yourself be taken.
That was then!
So was last night, Harry.
He found himself looking into Draco's eyes. Very grey. Slowly, the words taking time to form in his mouth, he spoke. "Please say we didn't?"
Draco nodded. "Didn't you enjoy it?"
Harry put his hand to his forehead ... as always happened when he had had too much to drink, his scar was aching worst of all. "Draco ... I don't even remember it."
"Let me remind you."
Before Harry could reply, Draco leant forwards, and very gently kissed him. Just as he had the first time, all those years before, Harry felt a strange kind of heat rising within his body ... something he never felt with anyone else. He pushed Draco away.
"Stop it! Fucking stop it! What do you think you're doing?"
"You weren't like this last night," said Draco softly, almost sadly. "I really think you need reminding."
"Why not? You're unattached ... it isn't like you're betraying anybody," said Draco, scooting closer to Harry, whose heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest. In spite of himself, he could feel adrenaline coursing through his veins ... that familiar sensation, and Draco's touch lightly brushing against his chest, his hands sweeping across his sides, down his back, feeling in an altogether more private area.
"Don't pretend, Harry," whispered Draco. Harry could feel his tongue at his neck.
"Stop it," his hands were frozen to his sides, and he could feel Draco pressing against him, and he felt sick, and very ashamed. But he did not do anything. He did not move.
"Kiss me back ... see how it feels."
"What exactly are you fighting?" asked Draco, his breathing becoming faster. "Remember back then? You used to love our sordid interludes."
"I was sixteen, Draco," Harry protested, knowing as he did so that his entreaties were feeble, that he would eventually give in. "You're living in a fucking time-warp. I was experimenting ... everybody experiments."
"That's not what I heard," breathed Draco, huskily.
"I don't know what you mean ..."
"I heard you, Harry Potter. You may be a different man now ... but really, you're still the same. Nothing changes. Last night proved that to me. You loved it, you were begging me not to stop ..."
"I was not!"
"But I think you were."
Before Harry could reply, Draco had rolled him over onto his back. "What say we give it another go?" he asked, releasing Harry briefly.
Harry felt tainted, violated, as he had done all those years before. Had he enjoyed it? Last night ... he couldn't remember. He could remember the other times ... but surely they had been what Draco had said; merely sordid interludes.
"I don't want to," said Harry weakly.
Draco propped himself up on his elbows. "Just once?"
"Just for little old me."
"What ... no ... what will everyone else say? I have contacts ... business ..." he was cut off by Draco, who lunged at him, taking his mouth in a kiss so sudden that Harry felt the breath knocked from within him.
And after that ... he didn't resist.
Ron had been at work for some time, dictating letters to, variously, the Chevron operatives in the United States, the Arch-Chancellor and the Head of Internal Affairs. Each of these letters contained a long, rambling apology on behalf of his department, and assurances that those responsible were being dealt with harshly. This meant Bones had been sent back to the Aurors in Barking, and Cardwell reduced to chauffeuring diplomats around London. He had also spent the morning avoiding Jo, although he wasn't entirely sure why that should be, given they had woken up that morning in the same bed.
At about twenty past two, the local branch of Chevron reported that there was still no sighting of Harry or Draco. It appeared they had left London. Ron could have killed someone at that point, and he sent a tersely worded memo around his department to cheer himself up, before starting on his seventh coffee of the day. Then he had rung Chevron on his mobile to complain, and the people operating Chevron had not realised who he was, and had gotten cross with him, and he had been told just where he could put his opinions by a most impolite young lady.
At three o'clock, Remus arrived back from his working lunch. He and several other representatives from the Department of Overseas Operations had been ostensibly discussing their priorities, or 'networking' as Remus liked to call it. This meant that they had retired to the nearest pub on Diagon Alley, and had a large meal involving copious quantities of chips, several tankards of butterbeer and a sticky pudding with custard, whilst coming up with ways to make their expense accounts look smaller.
Ron looked up as Remus entered the office. "How was your meeting?" he asked.
Remus slung his cloak at the stand in the corner. He missed by two feet.
"Not bad," he said, picking up the cloak and hanging it up properly. "We networked extensively," he added.
"That's nice," said Ron.
"We prioritised objectives and standardised our practice," he went on. "It was very interesting. What have you been doing?"
Ron was about to say, 'Getting very angry with people who don't deserve my wrath,' but decided against it, and said instead, "Nothing much. I'm not very fast moving or dynamic these days."
Remus sat down on the other side of the desk. "Want to talk about it?" he asked.
Ron shrugged. "Well, I'm still pissed off about Harry," he said.
"Understandable. You've been trailing him for ages and then some transfers from another department fuck up your operation."
"It isn't Bones and Cardwell ... it really isn't Bones and Cardwell," said Ron. "I just feel like I've been out chasing windmills myself. The last two years, ever since I graduated and Sirius took me on, through all that, and at the culmination of it, when we're springing the trap that we spent so long preparing, it all goes haywire. I end up looking like a tit and the entire department gets a rap on the knuckles from the Arch-Chancellor."
"You oughtn't to blame yourself, you know," said Remus, leaning back in his leather swivel chair, making the mechanism creak under his weight. "It just wasn't to be this time."
"That doesn't make it any better," said Ron, reaching for his coffee mug. It had 'To the World's Best Dad' written on it ... a Father's Day present from Cameron, three years earlier. Hermione had bought it, obviously. It was one of the few things of hers he had kept.
"I just want to know that he's okay," Ron went on, softly and very unexpectedly.
Remus raised his eyebrows. "Hello, reality check on aisle six please? You do know he's okay. You've been following him around for the last two years. And they wouldn't have promoted you to Head of Department if they didn't think you were doing sterling work."
"They promoted me over you," said Ron darkly.
"But like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter," said Remus. "Look, that whole promotion thing, it doesn't matter. To be honest I couldn't cope with the hours thing."
"They only did it because they thought I'd be able to get close to Harry," said Ron. "Fucking lot of good that did them then, isn't it?" he looked up, as if expecting Remus to agree with him. As if wanting Remus to agree with him.
Remus shrugged, and shook his head. "You're going to carry on beating yourself up over this no matter what I say. Would you rather go home? Get some rest. I'll cover for you ..."
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Jo, looking flustered and annoyed about something, and bearing under her arm several foolscap plastic files.
"Problems?" asked Ron.
Jo set the files down on his desk. "These are the briefs from the Malone case," she said. "1992 to 1996, just like you asked. And the Advanced Reconnaissance Team just got back from Harry's flat. Looks like we might have found him without resorting to Chevron. They've got some stuff in the bay downstairs they want to show you. Important stuff. Looks like the fish might have taken the bait."
Draco kissed Harry one last time, and then clambered slowly out of bed, stretching as he did so. Harry watched as he padded over to the window, opened the curtains, and stretched again.
"People will see you," he said, half-heartedly.
Draco turned back to face him. "Let them," he said. "I have just had sex with Harry Potter. The Queen Mum could be watching and I wouldn't care."
Harry put his hand to his forehead again. His whole body felt sticky, and wet with a fine film of sweat. Yet at the same time ... he felt good.
"I don't know how I let you talk me into this," he said.
"Probably because I am damn sexy ... and no man or woman could refuse my charms," said Draco, returning to staring out of the window. Without warning, he lifted the sash, and Harry felt the cold breeze wafting into the room, carrying away the strange, musky smell.
"I don't think I'll bother getting dressed," said Draco.
"What are you going to do then?" asked Harry.
"I'm going to come back to bed and spend the afternoon making love to ... what?" he asked, catching the expression on Harry's face. "Don't start that again."
Blustery afternoon sunlight was falling through the window, casting Draco's form in bright light on one side, and dark shadow on the other. Harry swung his legs over the side of the bed, and groped blindly on the floor for wherever it was Draco had left his boxer shorts.
"No," he said. "We are not having sex again."
"Oh, Harry," moaned Draco.
"I'm going to have a shower," said Harry firmly. "And then we'll have something to eat. Do you want to have a look round town?"
"I want to have sex again," grumbled Draco.
"You're too horny for your own good," snapped Harry. With that, he got up, and stalked out of the bedroom. A moment later, Draco heard Steve shouting something, and Harry shouted something back, and then the bathroom door slammed.
"Shit, shit, shit," said Draco, kicking the wall, which thudded, as if it was hollow.
What to do? To him, it was evident Harry had enjoyed himself ... more than he had been letting on. But then again. He had been vociferous in his opposition ... but at the same time when they had made love ... Harry was capable of such tenderness and ... it was too confusing.
Never in his life had any boyfriend succeeded in reducing Draco to such a state of random confusion. He stood, staring out of the bedroom window for a couple of moments more, until he realised that someone in one of those tall townhouses opposite might very well be watching; indeed, knowing his luck it would be an elderly lady who kept cats and called the police if her neighbour didn't take in the milk in the mornings, and so he turned away hastily to look for his dressing gown.
Ron flashed his identity card at the guard standing by the door, and tucked it back into the pocket of his robe.
"Confirm that please, sir?" said the guard, staring straight ahead.
Ron sighed, and put his eyeball up against the metal housing on the wall. A green light winked. It was a rare day when the guards down at the Evidence Room did let someone through without using the retinal scan. Whoever had suggested adopting certain facets of Muggle technology deserved to be at the bottom of the Thames with weights tied to their feet.
"Thank you, Commodore Weasley," said the guard, pulling the door open for him. They stepped into the Evidence Room, where several large boxes of stuff had been placed on a central table. Around the table, seated on chairs that must have looked comfy when designed, were the rest of Ron's team.
"Are we all here?" asked Ron, scanning around the room for any missing persons. "I'd better take a register."
"We're all here, sir," said Xenia.
"Nevertheless," said Ron. "Miss Onatopp. I would like to check. Do we have Doctor Spencer with us?"
"Right here, sir," said Doctor Spencer. "Came as quick as I could."
"Thank you, Cassie," said Ron, ticking off her name on the pad. "Avon Tyrell and Strickland Abbas ... yeah, I can see you guys. Where's Neville?"
"On his way, sir," said Cassie, brightly. "He got a little tied up with some business."
"That would be a euphemism for sex, would it?" asked Ron. Cassie blushed.
"He's rediscovering himself," said Xenia, helpfully. "With that tart from Research and Development; Emma Wilkinson."
"It's good to know, isn't it, that even when we're in the middle of an important operation," said Ron, "good old Neville can still make the time to satisfy his primeval urges. If he isn't here in five minutes, he's on a charge."
"Ooh, that's not fair, sir," said Cassie. "He's only doing what you would in the same circumstances ..."
"That's as maybe," said Ron, shooting Jo a knowing glance. Jo looked away hurriedly, and blushed to the roots of her perfect hair.
"And you have to admit," said Xenia. "Ms Wilkinson is hot."
One and all turned to stare at here in amazement. "Well, she is, I'm merely stating a fact, instead of allowing myself to be overcome by anything quite as sordid as sex."
"This from the woman who bedded two Death Eaters in an attempt to get to the heart of the Silver Serpent Cult," snorted Cassie.
"That was professionalism," said Xenia. "They had vital information which I thought could best be yielded by ..."
"Getting into their pants," Cassie finished the sentence for her.
"That's one way of putting it," snarled Xenia. "Let us not forget the, oh, three lovers you had on the rebound from Sirius Black ..."
The entire room had fallen silent. Cassie looked very angry. "Don't dare speak his name," she hissed. "Don't you dare speak of him that way in front of me."
"Come on, Cassie," said Ron, stepping in. "It isn't worth it ..."
Cassie rounded on him. "He's dead, damn it," she snapped. "She shouldn't speak of him like that. He was a good man."
"Okay, okay," said Ron. "Just calm down, yeah? You're not at your best when you get all flustered. Xenia, just leave off for a while, okay?"
Xenia glared at them; her Russian temper was legendary in the corridors of the IBME building, and people had been known to hide behind rubber plants when she passed by. However, she said nothing, and allowed Ron to continue.
"Right," he said, shuffling his papers on the table in an attempt to look vaguely like he had a clue what he was going to say. "We, um, didn't find what we were looking for at Harry's office."
"Remind us just what we were looking for at Harry's office," cut in Xenia harshly. Ron knew she was very angry at having been transferred from International Surveillance to Domestic, but for her to pour cold water on their work constantly was just too much to bear. He had already filed a report on her to the Arch-Chancellor.
"We think he might have something we want."
"And what might that be? If it was a thaumic accelerator, or something of that ilk," said Xenia, "then I could probably just about see the point. As it is, you seem rather desperate to prove he's been sleeping with this Draco Malfoy character."
The others all looked at their feet and shuffled them. Ron looked slightly defeated. "We already know that he is ... was," he corrected himself hastily.
"And what would Harry be doing with a thaumic accelerator in his linen closet?" asked Remus. He caught a death ray glance from Cassie, which silenced him soon enough.
"He could be plotting to destroy the fabric of the known universe," said Xenia defensively. Everybody else gave her a withering look. Besides being irritating, short-tempered and critical of everything that did not live up to her exacting standards, she also did not know when best to let go of a concept.
Ron sighed. "But he isn't," he said. "There's no evidence to suggest that."
"Someone is," said Xenia.
"Yes, and when that someone is caught, it will not be us doing the catching," said Ron. "If you'd like to be transferred to the Department of Certain Death then I'd be only too happy to recommend you, Miss Onatopp."
This seemed to shut her up a bit. Ron opened the folders he had brought down with him, and pulled out an enlarged photo. Avon coughed at that point.
"Thaumic accelerator ... a what now?"
"Some kind of device," said Ron. "I don't know what it does. Magic and metaphysics are very closely related ... I imagine it has something to do with particles."
"I majored with a BAM in Eldritch Lace-Making," hinted Avon. "With Geo-Psychology and French. I do not do particle physics ..."
"The thaum is the basic elemental unit of magic," said Cassie, sighing as though she was roundly sick of having to explain this to everyone. "It can be split into five sub-particles, known in the trade as flavours; up, down, sideways, sex appeal and peppermint. The purpose of a thaumic accelerator is to bombard an item with magical particles."
"To see what happens to it," said Cassie. "Physicists aren't especially original people. They like blowing things up and such ..."
"Thanks for the science lesson, Cassie," said Ron, glaring at her. "If we can get on now, please?"
His team shuffled their collective feet.
"This," Ron said, holding it up so that the team could see it, "is a photo of Wilbur Malone, taken in 1996. We know that Mr. Malone here was involved in the Muggle criminal underworld for quite some time. Indeed, we are aware that he has been supplying guns to several gangland elements, in particular dear old Harry."
"But what Harry doesn't realise ..." prompted Remus.
"... is that Mr. Malone is actually a half-blood wizard," said Ron. "Exactly. Mr. Malone here has been leading the Muggle police a very merry dance around London since 1998. He controls several legitimate business houses, a couple of seedy bookshops in Soho, and a clearing warehouse for a Dutch company, through which he runs the second largest pornography racket in Western Europe."
"Who runs the first?" asked Cassie.
"Harry," said Ron simply, "actually. We know that Harry knows Malone in a vague personal capacity ... we also know that Malone has been out of the loop for so long that the possibility he knows who, or what Harry is, is very low indeed."
"And Harry's in danger?"
"Something like that," said Ron. "Harry may well be about to get entangled in something that will involve us all. This is the last point at which we can stop him, and turn him round ..."
"Don't you think he's too far gone for that to have any effect?" asked Remus.
Ron looked down. "I don't know," he said, as if with difficulty. "I found some things out about Harry that I never knew before. I ... I found out he'd been lying to me, and that he'd been ..."
"This probably isn't the time or the place," hinted Cassie. "We think not. We've been running a psychoanalysis of him. We think he's probably very confused, and still trying to carve out a niche for himself."
"It's a common reaction amongst wizards who get stranded between the worlds," said Ron. "As Avon will testify."
Avon Tyrell nodded. "But carry on, Cassie."
Cassie grinned. "Okay, so, Harry has been out of the loop for more than five years now. Neither world ever accepted him for the person he thinks he is. This is why he's seeking to justify himself through infamy, because fame didn't work out for him."
"That's clever reasoning," said Avon, at which Xenia laughed scornfully.
"Thank you," said Cassie, shooting Xenia a venomous look. "I think with a little work, we could have Harry right and back within no time. That's an optimistic approach, but hey, I'm optimistic, so sue me."
Harry and Draco walked along the seafront, Harry pointing out some of the more interesting buildings and describing their histories as they walked. The sun had come out, and although there was a strong wind blowing in off the Channel, there were people out in force. Mothers pushing buggies, gangs of kids let out of school, and here and there people were actually sitting on the shingle beach.
"You should see it in summer," said Harry, sensing Draco was watching the proceedings with interest. "It gets really chilled out. It's nice."
"They must be nuts," said Draco. "I'm freezing," and as if to emphasise his point, he plunged his hands deeper into his trouser pockets. He was wearing a very thick winter jacket with fake fur bits on it.
"That building went up in the twenties," said Harry, pointing to a large tower block that looked very out of place amidst the regency townhouses. "It was the lap of luxury, but it's falling to bits now."
"Why don't they do something about it?" asked Draco, staring up at the vast, white fronted block.
"The bloke who owns it owned half of Brighton before they put him away," said Harry. "He's just built himself a vast mansion just down the coast, near Newhaven, but they say he won't allow anybody to do any work to it. He's just neglecting it."
"That's rotten," said Draco with feeling.
"Oh, I don't know. It's an ugly building ... looks ridiculous," said Harry. "Do you know why Brighton wasn't bombed during the War?"
Draco shrugged. "Why not?" he asked.
"Local legend has it that Hitler wanted to live in the Royal Pavilion, once he'd invaded, so he ordered them to leave it well alone."
"Nice of him, in an admittedly twisted way," said Draco.
They walked on in silence. They were passing a paddling pool, empty for the winter and filled with dead leaves, when Draco said, "All this is by way of denying that we slept together last night, isn't it?"
"What do you mean?" asked Harry.
"This guided tour of the delights of Brighton's fair city," said Draco. "It's a complete load of bollocks. You think I give a toss who built what when? I'm a twenty three year old hedonist and a gangster's stooge ..."
"Don't call me a gangster."
"Well, you bloody are," Harry looked offended at this, and Draco softened his tone. "Look, I just ... I just think there's something between us, some kind of chemistry, that, correct me if I'm wrong, is a beautiful and all-round lovely thing to have going on."
"I don't know," said Harry, looking hurriedly away. "I'm confused. Yesterday I was straight ... today I find I'm having sex with my best friend."
"You never called my your best friend before. I'm flattered. But look ... if it makes you feel any better, a couple of shags doesn't necessarily make you gay," Draco said. "Hell, sexuality isn't something I think you can define as easily as society makes out. It's symptomatic of humanity's desire to classify everything into neat little pigeonholes, and by doing this, implying that one thing, in this case a straight lifestyle, is better than the other, a gay lifestyle, for instance. Both have their benefits, both have their drawbacks."
"Shit, that was deep."
Draco grinned. "Too deep ... I shall have to eat in a Kentucky Fried Chicken at least twice to atone for my outburst of lucidity."
"You're right though."
"I'm always right," said Draco. "Bisexuality is much more common than people make out ... and there are gay people who are prejudiced against bisexuals for not being able to make up their minds, which is also a load of crap ... that's bollocks, it's reverse bigotry. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter either way. What makes you gay is a set of inherently biological processes as far as I am concerned. The biological sex act is entirely natural. However, society constructs an elaborate web of explanations to account for it, and that's what defines a gay person. In that respect, it is a choice to be gay ... but not to how appealing you find gay sex."
"You're being confusing," said Harry.
"Okay, so, having sex with another man, for you, does not mean you are gay," said Draco. "Being gay is the result of social conditioning, it's a set of characteristics defined by society to account for a biological condition, and the degree to which people feel able to follow this is the ... well, it's how gay they are. With me?"
"I think so."
"You might call it a stereotype ... and there are three gay stereotypes, as we all know," said Draco. "At one end of the spectrum are the trendy, drug taking, disco dancing, tight T-shirt wearing crowd, like me. At the other are the Village People, all being butch and wearing construction helmets. Like your mate Steve."
"Actually, Steve is bi," said Harry.
"Proves my point then," said Draco. "In the middle you have the gay weirdoes. The respectable city gentlemen who have a wife and kids but still buy themselves a shag now and then. They're the ones to look out for. Weird bastards."
"Okay, so I've convinced myself that sociologically, I'm not gay," said Harry. "But biologically, I am, possibly a little bit."
"In a nutshell," said Draco. "Of course, there are people who disagree with me. There's a lot of debate in gay society over this. Loads of people get bloody angry with one another with alarming regularity, I'm ashamed to say. It doesn't say good things about us. There's a camp, (excuse the pun) that says it's completely biological, and a camp that says it's a personal choice, and there are millions of people who float somewhere in the middle, straddling the fence. My little theory isn't necessarily the right one, but it's nice and cosy and I'm rather attached to it. It has sentimental value to me. It's like a stuffed bunny rabbit."
"I understand," said Harry. "What about religion?"
"Don't get me started," said Draco. "The Book of Leviticus, I think, somewhere in the Old Testament. Well, the bit about homosexuality being an abomination is quite close to the bit that says you can be put to death for eating a pelican, or seeing your Uncle naked. "
Harry shuddered at the thought of seeing Uncle Vernon naked.
"Religion's nice and wonderful and all, and cosy too. And it'd be lovely if there was a divine plan and a Heaven and stuff, and to know that life has a purpose, and I really wish it does all exist, and I bet secretly most scientists do too, but nobody's proven it yet, and sometimes it doesn't half say some funny things to justify itself."
"I suppose you're right."
"The Bible itself seems to me to be an instrument of control," said Draco. "Of course, that's just me. Look at the Commandments. If you went straight to Hell for disobeying just one of them, everyone would end up in Hell, which by nature, and by the very fact that religion also stakes out a nice place called Heaven, explodes the notion of a Hell immediately."
"You mean nobody can live by the Ten Commandments all their life?"
"Exactly," said Draco. "Nine of them are pretty easy to live by, if you put your mind to it. Stealing, adultery, murder. But I bet you've coveted your neighbour's ass."
"Well, maybe not his ass, maybe his new telly, or his sound system, or whatever, but everybody gets envious ... even die hard Bible thumpers. But back to the matter in hand."
"Which was?" asked Harry. Their footsteps were leading them past the seafront clubs, closer to the gleaming white pier.
"I think you're denying you had sex with me," said Draco.
"Well, all of them," said Draco. "Remember when we first ... um?"
"Did it? Yes," said Harry. "Halloween Ball, 1996, we sneaked away afterwards."
"Where did we go?"
"Astronomy Tower, I think," said Harry.
"What did we do?"
"What's the point of this?" asked Harry.
"We had sex," said Draco. "Now, don't you think mere curiosity is a rather lame excuse to justify shagging, especially with your worst enemy?"
"You were hardly my worst enemy," said Harry.
"Yes I was, don't lie, you hated my guts," said Draco. "Surely you'd rather have done it with Weasley, or at least someone you liked."
"The thought never crossed my mind," said Harry, looking away hurriedly, as if ashamed of something.
"You did come back for more," said Draco slyly. "Several times. You were getting quite good, by the end. Not that I was any better," he added, hastily.
"Then what happened? Enter Lucius Malfoy, stage left," said Harry bitterly.
"Yes, I'm sorry about that," said Draco sincerely. "I honestly didn't know he was visiting."
"Draco, I don't know if you forgot, or something, but he walked in on us, and I had my ... I was ... I was, well ..."
"Having sex with me," said Draco. "Exploring the forbidden delights of my deliciously sexy body. Yes, you were. And believe me, I'm sorry."
"Not so loud," hissed Harry.
"Who'll hear? Those Japanese tourists?" asked Draco. He turned towards them. They were standing at the water's edge, taking photos of the seafront. "Hey! We like to have sex with each other!" he yelled. The tourists looked up and gave them a bizarre, scandalised look.
"Anyway, I was the one who got chucked out over it," said Harry.
"I was the one who got beaten to within an inch of his life, then taken out of school," said Draco. "I was the son of a multi-Galleonnaire business magnate. I was the heir to a fortune the size of Greater Manchester. Believe me, you had it easy. How could his precious son turn out to be gay? He wouldn't accept it. He gave me six months of hell after he took me out of Hogwarts. He made me run round the estate every morning, and cold showers, and boiled cabbage. And then there were all the shrinks and the quick cures. So when I just couldn't take it any more, I ran away."
"Is that how it happened?" asked Harry, looking at Draco with renewed interest. Draco nodded.
"As I live and breathe," he said, quietly. "I had to get away from that place. I had two pounds in Muggle money, I even dyed my hair brown so I wouldn't be recognised, and then I went to London. I spent the next two years looking for you."
"Well, you found me," said Harry. The roar of the surf crashing on the foreshore, and the cracking of the tiny, rounded pebbles against one another as the backwash rushed over them filled his ears.
"I did," admitted Draco. "Took me five more years to get another shag out of you, but then there you go."
Harry grinned. "Okay, I was confused as a kid, but what does it mean now?"
"I don't know," said Draco. "The important thing is that you don't feel bad about it."
Harry weighed it up in his mind. He had been completely pissed, out of his skull on drink, and bleary-eyed and hung over, and Draco had taken advantage of his confused state, but strangely, the anger he had been expecting completely failed to materialise.
"I don't feel bad about it," said Harry. "I honestly don't. I don't know why, and I know I should be hopping mad at you, but I'm not."
"That's good," said Draco, the wind was whipping at strands of his long, blond hair, which was tangled and uncombed.
They walked on in silence, up the steps at the far end of the beach, and around onto the pier itself. It being a Friday, out of season, there was very little activity. The public address system was playing 'As Time Goes By,' and there were a few elderly ladies, sitting on deckchairs, watching the gulls scrabbling down on the shingle. Harry and Draco paid them scant regard, and carried on walking, their feet thudding on the boardwalk.
There were about ten children, with the studious, badly dressed look of French exchange students, and loud backpacks to match, clustered round a coin operated machine, taking turns to pick up teddies with a little grabbing bucket. Their teacher was sitting on a bench nearby, eating chips noisily out of a paper cone and smacking his lips in between each mouthful. His harsh, pointy face reminded Harry especially of Snape, although the warm smile with which he greeted them as they walked past certainly did not.
"I love tacky things," said Draco, pausing to peer through the window of one of the sideshows. "Rajah Singh, Indian Mystic ... divines your future. Doesn't seem to be in at the minute."
"Divination is a horribly imprecise science, anyway," said Harry, smiling. Draco turned to look at him, surprised by this. Harry did not usually condescend to talk about Hogwarts, or any of the things he had done or the friends he used to have there.
"Probably a fraud," said Draco. "Do you think we should get our signatures analysed?" he asked, pointing to the next booth along.
Harry shook his head. "For two pounds a shot, you have to be kidding me."
"They're closed too ... everything's bloody closed."
"There's a fairground at the far end," said Harry. "We could see if any of the roller coasters are operating."
"They have roller coasters on the pier?"
Harry nodded. "Two of them. Didn't you see them from the beach?"
"Wasn't looking," said Draco. "I hate roller coasters. Why don't we just take it in turns to gob over the side?"
"How very straight of you," said Harry. He followed Draco over to the rail, and peered over to the churning white tipped waves below. There were gulls bobbing up and down on the oily surface, and bits of polystyrene, empty boxes from the takeaway fish stand floating in it.
Draco hawked noisily, and then spat. A gobbet of saliva fell to the sea below.
"See if you can hit one of the gulls," he said, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.
"You're still basically ten, aren't you?" said Harry. "Malevolent little sod," he put his feet up on the rail, and then copied Draco by spitting over the side.
As it turned out, the roller coasters weren't operating, although some of the little kiddie rides were, and they watched as a bawling toddler was reprimanded by a harassed-looking parent, before they wandered off to find some food.
There were several restaurants on the pier itself, but Harry insisted they crossed over the road to the Lanes, a twisting maze of medieval and Tudor alleys, crammed with arty boutiques, where he knew a good vegetarian restaurant. It was getting on for five o'clock, and darkness was rapidly falling outside, but the restaurant was already quite crowded with the young and trendy. There was also a party of loud Americans sitting by one of the windows, and Draco took care to choose a table far away from them, where they sat down. There was a wooden dinghy, bleached to make it look old, hanging from the ceiling above them.
"What'll you have?" asked Harry, picking up his menu.
"Something with cheese in it," said Draco. "I like the sound of the pottage. And those and potatoes with that nice garlic dip to start off.”
"You bet," he said. "Hey, look, they do cocktails."
"Don't order anything extravagant."
"But for you, oh beautiful one, I would order Budweiser," said Draco, grinning. "You know, you're a completely different person when you're not worrying about your sodding business."
"Excuse me!" snorted Harry. "You work for me, thank you very much."
"I didn't mean it disrespectfully," said Draco. "Up in London, it's all places to go, people to fuck. Down here, you're more chilled out, more relaxed."
"Must be the sea air," said Harry, smiling. "And Brighton's a funny kind of place anyway. It has this weird effect on people."
Draco nodded his agreement. "It's a place not entirely in tune with the rest of the country. It's a bit like, it doesn't exist. A place outside of the confines of time and space ..."
Harry began to whistle the theme from the Twilight Zone.
"I think I like you better in Brighton," Draco went on. "But then again I fancy you rotten wherever you go, of course."
Harry became aware that Draco had slipped off one of his shoes, and was running his toes up and down his ankle.
"Not here, people will see," he whispered, opening a new packet of cigarettes.
Draco giggled. "And who's going to see?" he asked.
"That load of Americans, for a start."
"Let them ... get a load of the indigenous culture," said Draco., his toes running lightly over Harry's shin and higher still. "Can I ask you something?"
"Fire away," said Harry. He pulled a lighter out of his pocket, and lit up, savouring the taste.
"Did you think you loved me at the time?" asked Draco. "I mean the first times, back at Hogwarts ... before. Or were you just in it for the sexual gratification?"
"Which answer would you prefer?" asked Harry.
"Either's good," said Draco, though Harry sensed this was a lie, and he wondered why Draco would be lying about that. Didn't he have a personal preference? Hadn't he been in it for the sex too? "I was just wondering, that's all it is," he sounded like he was trying to be casual.
"I think it was the sex," said Harry finally. " After they chucked me out, I wanted to bloody murder you for some time. I don't think I loved you ... I still not sure if I do."
"What did you like about me?" asked Draco.
"Getting personal, aren't we?" said Harry.
"Yes, but, I'd tell you the same."
"Well," he began. "I liked the way you looked at me, and the way you used to hold me afterwards. Does that count?"
Draco nodded. "I guess," he said. "I'll tell you something ... I was madly jealous of you."
"Well, you were small and bony and naïve and silly," said Draco, reeling off the points by counting them on his fingers. "But you weren't half gentle with me. I used to love that. I don't think I was ever like that. You seemed to care about making sure I enjoyed it too. It wasn't just pleasure for you. I think I knew then you were fundamentally a good person."
"But I'm blatantly not now," said Harry. "I run guns, I deal pornography and I blackmail people."
Draco snorted. "Huh, where did it all go wrong, eh?"
"I fell in with the wrong crowd," said Harry. "My family weren't going to take me back after that. Well ... and I hardly wanted to go back to Privet Drive. It was make or break time, and I broke it, big time."
"What happened to you?" asked Draco. "You never usually talk about it."
Harry sighed. "I got in with the wrong crowd. We were living rough, squatting where we could, doing all sorts of weird shit. Mushrooms, LSD. Then I got caught by the police, and banged up for six months," said Harry. "When I came out, I'd taken my GNVQ in Hospitality Management, so that seemed to be the way to go. Six months later, I'd set up my first club. The Pink Parrot. I was on my feet, independent, and truly free, for the first time in my life. It didn't half feel good. Now it's five years on ..."
"How did you get into all the criminal part? I mean, you're rich as Croesus without the gangland connections," said Draco. "You could quite happily live off the clubs and the gyms."
"Now you're getting into personal territory," said Harry. "You know, I have to admit I don't know. Perhaps legitimate business wasn't thrilling me like a normal person. Perhaps I need more kicks to be satisfied."
"That makes sense, I suppose," said Draco.
Hermione usually enjoyed the secrecy of the affair, the illicit trysts in his London flat, the sex, especially the sex. Her lover, tall and slender and undeniably beautiful, had a manner so tender and gentle that she did not think she had ever encountered in a man before. Right now he was in the kitchen, making the post-coital coffee, and having a sly cigarette, no doubt. Hermione had been pressuring him to give up, and to all intents and purposes he had done.
Just not completely.
He came back into the bedroom, set down her coffee on the bedside table, and climbed back into bed next to her. He removed the half spent cigarette from between his lips, and stubbed it out in an ashtray, before turning to face her.
"You alright, love?" he asked.
Hermione nodded. "Why do you ask?"
"You look spent," he said.
Hermione smiled and flicked back her hair. "I just spent the last two and a half hours making love to the man of my dreams ... "
"Brad Pitt, where?" he asked.
"The other man of my dreams," said Hermione. "You."
The light from the streetlamp outside was illuminating him from behind, meaning she couldn't see or read the expression on his face. Outside, Hermione knew the world would be coming and going as normal ... just as it always did. She could hear the swishing of traffic passing, and the rumbling trains passing over the nearby railway bridge.
"That's very gracious of you," he said. "I'm sure you can't possibly mean it though."
"I think I do," said Hermione. "How's Ron?" she asked, changing the subject.
Her lover looked away hurriedly. "I wouldn't know," he said. "I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks or so. He's going to be home Sunday. Ginny told me on the phone."
"Ginny's too good to me," said Hermione. "She tolerates me. That's about the most I can hope for ... tolerance."
"Not outright bloody adoration ... with icing on? And sprinkles?"
"Maybe, just a little bit," Hermione conceded. "But I don't deserve it."
"How very strict of you. You should join a nunnery. Ginny's the kind of person who will ... well, she'll just help anyone," he said, sounding pensive. "She'll never turn someone down, or turn them away."
"Hmm," agreed Hermione.
"And I bloody adore you," he went on, leaning in close to kiss her, full on the lips. For a moment there was silence as Hermione put her arms around his neck and drew him in closer to herself.
"You know something? You are without a doubt the most beautiful woman I've ever seen who didn't have staples through her stomach. I mean, look at me, I'm constantly fighting the urge to fold you into thirds."
"Do you fancy another go?"
"I don't think I could stand it," said Hermione.
"I'll take that as a yes," he planted another kiss on her shoulder, and slowly began to work his way down ...
Jo turned to look at Ron. "I was thinking," she said, putting her head on her hand, and smiling. Her smile, her face, her whole being reminded him very much of someone. It was probably why he found her so attractive.
"What about?" asked Ron lazily. He was still breathing hard, his heart thumping inside his ribcage, his entire body coated in a fine gloss of sweat. Downstairs, he could hear Cameron playing a Star Wars video at full volume.
"You make love like a Japanese meal," said Jo.
"How do you mean?"
"Small portions ... but so many courses," she smiled. So did Ron; he couldn't help it.
"It probably comes from having such a large family," conceded Ron. "At mealtimes we all have to eat double quick just to be sure of getting seconds."
It was Jo's turn to giggle, she put her arms tighter around Ron's middle, and he shifted his weight. She ran her hand slowly down his chest to his navel.
"Well, you do need feeding up a bit," she conceded.
"It's all this rampant passion," said Ron, kissing her back. "It's very good for me; I'm burning calories like nobody else's business. Besides," he added. "If I really want a slap up feed, I can just pop home. Mum usually excels herself."
"When do I get to meet your Mother?" asked Jo. "You keep putting me off. We've been sleeping together for two months now. I think it's about time."
She took his head in her hand, and moved so that he was forced to look into her eyes.
"There might be sushi in it for you," she said.
"In that case," said Ron, feeling heat running through his body once more. "You shall come to dinner on Sunday."
"Do I get to meet all your gorgeous brothers too?" she asked.
"If you want," said Ron. "One Weasley ... ooh," he broke off suddenly as she snaked an arm across his waist and round the small of his back, "is pretty much the same as another ... or so I'm led to believe!" he ended on a squeak.
"We shall have to see," said Jo.
"We will," said Ron. "You'll get to meet Charlie's new shag as well. He's been going on about her for weeks now. It's getting boring."
"She can't be as sexy as me," whispered Jo, huskily.
"Indubitably!" squeaked Ron. "What do you think you're doing down there ... oh. Oh, I see. That's certainly unexpected."
He was cut off by the loud trilling of his mobile, which he had placed on the bedside table. Sighing in a mixture of annoyance and undisguised lust, he picked it up, and took the call.
The voice on the other end of the line sounded frantic. "Ron ... it's me, Cassie."
"What the fuck do you want?"
"Huh ... charming," came Cassie's voice.
"Sorry ... I'm a little busy right NOW!" he squeaked.
"Ron? Are you okay?"
"Yeah ... yeah ... got the plumbers in," said Ron, gasping slightly. "Pipes need lagging."
"Oh ... okay. Look, Chevron just got in touch. We've found Harry and Draco."
"Oh ... oh, yes. Um ... yes, that's very nice."
"You sound distracted. What's that funny noise?" asked Cassie.
"Plumbers," lied Ron hurriedly.
"Whatever. Chevron has spotted them both. They're in Brighton," said Cassie. "I took the liberty of sending down some of our girls to see if they can take care of them."
END OF CHAPTER FOUR.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Author notes: In the next part of Snitch! Draco enjoys his Saturday night, and wears leather... a bit, Chevron closes the net on Harry, there's a double whammy of a surprise for dear old Ronniekins, and we find out just who Hermione is shagging. Coming soon... to a theatre near you.
Reviews... ooh, plenty of those to keep me happy last time round. Thanks so much for the feedback. I appreciate it lots and lots! So waves and schnoogles go out, in order, to the following...
Parker, Saitaina, Cassandra Claire (I accept the plaque with pleasure... and I just want to thank my manager... my agent *g*), wingedkeys (catching all my pop culture references... yes *Al looks relieved*), Crazy Slash Luv'N Chick, Karina, heidi tandy, Simon (skipped a bit), Zybenkizzashanta, Sara, wow, Amanita Lestrange, Destiny, Hillary, Sanna, Lauren, AngieJ (I appreciate those comments so much, thanks a million Eb *g*), Viola (yay, thanks ever so for the beta, as ever), Dervish (you can get trousers with... um buttons... instead of zips... ok?), Teek, Rhysenn (wonderful beta that she is... *schnoogles Rhysenn*), Juniper, Wynster McG, minx, Crazy Michael, Kei, Tanasia Maleficarum, Arabella, PJ Babington, lot, Hype, Keoko-sama, Cassie Lee, f, kath (Brighton's teenage hordes are indeed legendary, and the traffic ... don't get me started), Melpomene, Bec, Talia Fisher, carissa, yael, elel88, Chelsea, Dewi, elysian, ~Lily Black~, Flourish, virgo, Beth825 (he's in denial ... poor Harry), mima (insult Eastenders as much as you like in my review column... I despise that show with a burning passion), Gwendolyn Grace, LongLongHair, dicy, Sekhmet (no Sirius for a reason which I hope is obvious, and more of the back story is to come, so don't despair), Penny & Carole (*Al does 'we are not worthy' actions a la 'Wayne's World'*), kine, Bookworms Anonymous, Felicitas, darkangel, Abby Stiles, Colin, Inspiring Author, starling, Catriona Snape, Morsus Crustum, Lizzy/Tygrestick, rave (the Queen Mum's knickers are indeed legendary in the world of underwear), Keieru, *Ice Lily*, princess_katrina, Fringe Element, Second Catch Policy, Anrui Ukimi, Gemma Potter and Bracken... and I'm spent. You are all wonderful human beings, and deserve virtual biscuits and hugs and stuff. Thanks!