- 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:
- In London's seedy criminal underworld, two old enemies have become partners in crime, but the wizarding world is out to disrupt Harry's none too peaceful existence. Guns, car chases, wizards, sex, slash, Slut!Draco and drug busts 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 FIVE. GANGSTER'S PARADISE.
SATURDAY JANUARY 11TH, 2003.
The magical community down in Brighton was about ten thousand strong; one of the largest in England, and certainly large enough to warrant a Diagon Alley style 'secret town' in the heart of the city. In this case, it was referred to as the 'Hotpot,' even though it was actually called Brighthelmstone; the nickname having arisen as an allusion to the hundreds of wizarding immigrants who had poured into the UK following the final defeat of Voldemort in 1998, creating a cosmopolitan and diverse mini-culture that was perpetually at odds with the more staid, formal style of wizarding London. Like Diagon Alley, the Hotpot was accessed through a small pub, deep within the Lanes, called the Bent Copper, and it was to the Bent Copper that Ron and his team, Remus, Cassie and Avon Apparated shortly after five p.m. on Saturday.
Cassie wanted to stop for a drink, but Ron was most insistent that they press on to the local Chevron office, which shared premises with the local MLES centre, the floor above Flourish and Blott's Brighton franchise.
Even though it was January, and dark, fairy lights had been strung across the alleyway, and there was a distinct carnival atmosphere. People were spilling onto the pavements from shops, pubs and cafes, and here and there vendors wandered through the thronging crowds, carrying trays of sweetmeats strung about their necks, Caribbean delicacies and the ubiquitous 'Sausage-inna-Bun.' Loud music -- a bizarre but not unpleasant fusion of British Celtic influences, Salsa and Jamaican steel drums -- was blaring out from a pub announcing itself to the world as 'The Man With A Load Of Mischief' - the sign playfully depicting a furtive looking man sneaking off with a young serving wench slung over his shoulder.
They trooped upstairs to the Chevron office, which turned out to be a cubby-hole next to the water cooler. There was just enough space for two desks, only one of which was occupied, by a young, earnest looking wizard tapping zealously and with great care at the keys of an ancient Apple Mac. He looked up when Ron coughed.
"Oh, hello," he said, not sounding at all overjoyed to see them. "You must be the London mob. I'd say take a seat, but we don't actually have any."
"That's fine," said Ron. "You must be Edmund Rathbone."
The wizard smiled, and proffered his hand to be shaken. His face was cast in shadows from the dim bulb in his anglepoise lamp. "That's me," he said. "My colleague was going to be here ... but she had to go out and set up the club, make sure the contacts are in order."
"Ready for later?" asked Ron.
Edmund nodded. "Certainly," he said. "I can't tell you what a day it's been ... and such short notice too."
"Sorry about that," said Ron. "It is rather important though."
Edmund nodded again. "Of course, of course. I quite understand," he said. "Who are we after?"
"Very dangerous men," lied Ron. "One of them is called Draco Malfoy ... he's a wanted criminal. The other ... the other is a much nastier piece of work."
"I see," said Edmund. "Well ... we've used the club trap before down here ... and it seems to work. Basically we take over a Muggle club for the night ... there's one we like to use called Snap, which is where we're confining our operations tonight. We get in a few witches and wizards for surveillance, and open the club up to the Muggles as usual. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am," he said this with the faintest hint of a chuckle creeping into his suddenly overexcited voice. Ron got the impression that he was a man who really, really enjoyed his job. Either that or he really needed to get out more.
"Do we all get to go clubbing then?" asked Cassie, looking hopeful.
"God, I hope not," said Remus. "You know there is nothing sadder than a forty-something trying to dance. I havenÂ’t a hope of looking good. And I didn't bring my flares."
"For surveillance purposes, you may have to," said Ron.
Â“Bugger,Â” said Remus.
STEVEÂ’S PAD, BRIGHTON, LATER THAT EVENING Â…
Draco stepped out of the shower, picked up one of the towels, and began to rub himself dry vigorously. This done, he slipped into clean underwear and pulled a T-shirt over his head. It was one of Steve's, and as such hung down to his knees. Then he went into the kitchenette, where Harry was sitting at the table, nursing a couple of shot glasses and a new bottle of vodka.
"Are you drinking or smoking?" asked Draco.
Harry shrugged. "Both," he said. He poured himself another shot of vodka. Draco took the bottle away from him, and set it down at the other end of the table.
"You know what they say about men who've had too much to drink," he said, teasingly.
"Not really," said Harry, lying.
"They perform below par in the bedroom."
"But you said I was very good when I was pissed," protested Harry.
Draco pondered this question, and then decided to tell Harry the truth. "Yes, well, you didn't actually ... um, as it were."
"Oh, right," said Harry. "He's quite happy to shag defenceless drunk boys like me, but try letting me shag him ..."
"You just said you were never going near me again in your life," said Draco. This was true. Their lovemaking the previous night had been very boisterous, and come the morning, Harry had appeared to be even more confused than before, if such a thing were possible. He claimed afterwards not to want to do it again. Draco, of course, had other ideas.
In the more private moments which Draco often shared with his subconscious; usually when he was stoned beyond belief, he had been increasingly thinking about Harry just lately. He had suspected that there had always been something there, something between them, the ability to touch, to communicate on levels which transcended the mundane world; or maybe that was the hash talking.
The first time they had ever slept together ... now that was a story worth telling. It had been the Halloween Ball, or rather, a couple of hours after it. Harry had been dancing with, variously, Hermione Granger and numerous other Gryffindor girls, and Draco had been mainly sitting at one of the tables at the side of the Great Hall and trying to fend off the unwanted attentions of Pansy Parkinson.
Draco watched them as they danced, and he knew he should be thinking about other things, girls and such, but what had struck him most had been the way Harry moved. Having outgrown his old bottle green dress robes by the start of the fifth year, he had traded up to a pair of very fine, velvet, burgundy robes with a high collar, the sort Draco himself favoured, complete with a solid gold clasp across the front in the shape of two dolphins. They had, Draco recalled, fitted Harry very well, and had given him an air of great poise and dignity, and of course, they made him look sexy beyond belief. Draco had always thought of himself as a bit of a gangly idiot, to tell the truth, though he was loathe to confess that to any of the guys he slept with these days.
Harry had walked out of the Hall alone afterwards, and Draco had, unconsciously, unaware of what was happening, followed. He didn't fully appreciate why it was suddenly important to follow Harry ... at that time he had still been in a state of near desperate denial, and despite the fact that Pansy Parkinson had bad breath and looked like Shergar, would probably have consented to do it with her if she had bothered to ask him. Thank God, she had not, for he probably would have accepted.
Draco found himself walking up to Harry, and though at first he had been met with a curt, "Fuck off, Malfoy," he had persisted, and as they had been walking along the second floor Charms corridor, everything that he had been feeling inside had burst to the surface in a wave of formerly repressed emotion. He had grabbed Harry by the shoulders, thrust him up against a wall, and kissed him. And to his surprise, nay, his delight even, Harry had responded in kind. He remembered vividly how Harry smelled of butterbeer and the pumpkin pie they had had for dessert, and the look of surprise in his eyes.
Neither of them spoke a word to each other as they hurried up to the Astronomy Tower, it was past midnight, and the other students were long abed. Draco remembered how his hands had trembled, how he had felt sweat breaking out across his forehead, under his arms as he struggled with the clasp on Harry's robes ... how easily they had slid off his body under his touch, and the feel of the buttons on his shirt, and how he had known what lay beneath.
"Draco," Harry had breathed. "Stop it."
Harry had made no attempt to stop Draco himself. Draco had not known what to do. He felt as if he was being driven by a force that was occupying his body on its own remit, doing what it wanted to do. This was absurd ... he was getting off with Harry Potter! This oughtn't to be allowed, surely. What would the others think? What would he tell them? What would this do to him? Would he become queer and never carry on the family name? His Father! For fuck's sake!
And then the realisation had hit him, as he slid Harry's shirt off, the other boy struggling, albeit half-heartedly as Draco pushed him again against the wall, so that his back was pressed against the cold stone. He didn't have to tell anybody! Nobody had to know! This had fuelled his passion further ...
"Malfoy ... what are you ..."
Draco seized Harry by his bare shoulders, and kissed him again, this time thrusting his tongue deep into Harry's mouth. Harry gagged and nearly coughed, but Draco steadied him.
"Nobody has to know," he gasped, his breathing rate increasing. "Nobody has to fucking know."
"Shut up and fucking kiss me."
His hands were playing across Harry's chest, down to his waist and struggling with the buckle on his belt, then the buttons and zip. Draco's heart was thumping so loudly he was sure he would give them both away. Harry's hands seemed pinned to his side ... he seemed awkward, he didn't have a clue. Without a word, Draco pulled back ... seized Harry's hands and clasped them in his own.
"Just relax," Draco breathed.
Harry was shaking violently. Draco felt physically sick.
"Have you done this before?" asked Harry. Draco dug his fingernails into Harry's wrists and held tight.
"Never," he whispered.
"Malfoy ... let go of me."
"Well ... then ... uh ... perhaps ..." began Draco. He released Harry's hands, and took a step backwards. The snitches on Harry's boxer shorts were fluttering their wings angrily at him.
"Oh fuck, no," said Harry. "Don't do this. Fuck."
Draco undid the clasp on his dress robes, and let them fall to the floor. Then he stepped forward again, slipping off his patent leather shoes as he did so. Harry looked on.
Draco closed his eyes. When push came to shove, was he really sure he could go through with this? Was it really the right thing to do? His brain was fighting a hasty rearguard action ... and other parts of him were screaming to proceed.
He felt Harry's hands, warm against his sides, as they ran down his body, lifting the shirt, deft fingers going to work on the buttons. Draco sighed. "Just the once?" he asked.
Draco did not try to resist as Harry eased his clothes off of him. But neither did he open his eyes, consumed as he was by a mixture of shame so violent and all-consuming that it brought him close to vomiting, and yet was it really shame? Perhaps it was lust too ... perhaps something else, perhaps something stronger. Harry's hands ran swiftly across his stomach, pausing at his navel.
"Do you want me to?"
"Fuck, I don't know," Draco moaned.
"Yes, then," Harry's hands were wrapped around him, and he could feel the other's skin against his own, and he gasped as Harry kissed him again.
Draco opened his eyes suddenly. He was sitting on the kitchen table, with Harry looking on, in a mixture of amusement and alarm.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked. He poured himself yet another shot of vodka. "You looked like you were having some sort of seizure."
"No, I'm fine," said Draco, hurriedly. The vexatious voice of his subconscious was screaming in his ear.
Fuck! You love him ... and you fucking know you do. Now stop being such a fucking twat and ... fuck him.
Draco put his hands over his ears. "No, no, no, no," he said. "I'm not listening to you," then he became aware that he was talking out loud.
"Did I just say that?"
"Kill me now, I don't want to live anymore."
Harry turned away. "Tell me," he said, feeling his chin for any stray hairs he might have missed whilst shaving, "where we are going tonight? I thought you said you had some good ideas."
Draco grinned and nodded. "Now, this depends," he said. "How drunk do you want to get?"
"Drunk enough to be able to dance without being aware that I look like a complete prick," said Harry. "Not so drunk that I do dance looking like a complete prick."
"Ah, well, it's a fine line," said Draco. He fell silent for a few seconds, and Harry looked at him oddly.
"A fine line?" prompted Harry.
"Between looking like a complete prick and actually being one," said Draco. "It's like being cool. Remember James Dean?"
"Not especially," said Harry.
"Fifties film star, American," said Draco. "Honestly, you're more fucking Muggle than I am ..." he stopped, instantly knowing he had gone too far. Harry did not like to be reminded of such things; it was one of the few provocations at which he would explode violently. But, to Draco's surprise, Harry continued checking his face in the mirror.
"He had a trademark thing, where there was a matchstick poking out one side of his mouth," Draco went on. "Which made him look very cool. But, if he'd had a second matchstick poking out the other side of his mouth, he'd have looked like a complete twat."
Harry did not reply.
"You get the same with eye patches," said Draco. "Only the scenario is more extreme in its consequences."
"Shall we get slaughtered then?"
"I think we might just have to."
GINNYÂ’S FLAT, LONDON, THAT SAME NIGHT Â…
Ginny paused with her key in the lock. She was standing on the landing outside the Knightsbridge flat she shared with Hermione, and was instantly aware that something was awry.
For a moment, she considered turning, and heading down to Nero's on the corner for a coffee whilst she waited for Hermione to finish shagging the living daylights out of whoever it was she was shagging the living daylights out of. But then she thought, sod it. It's raining, it's cold, and there are plentiful supplies of freshly ground Brazilian in the cupboards. Besides, Hermione's always going on about how bloody wonderful this bloke is. I want to meet him. Perhaps he's a fresh Brazilian.
She nodded to herself, and opened the door. Instantly, the noises from within ceased, and she heard a voice, Hermione's, saying. "Quick, it's Ginny."
She did not hear the man's reply. She walked past the bedroom door, and into the kitchen, where she set her handbag down on the table. Whoever was 'visiting' had bought them a very nice bunch of roses, which Hermione had put in water. There was also a bottle of tequila, unopened, and a half smoked Marlboro Light in the pig-shaped ashtray.
That's Charlie's brand, she thought to herself.
"Ginny, love. Put the kettle on!" came Hermione's voice.
"Um ... okay," Ginny took the kettle, and filled it with water from their new filter jug. A copy of 'Magical Mess-Making & Cookery For Career Conjurors' by The Naked Wizard lay open on the worktop, and Hermione's wand was abandoned next to it.
"Please don't say you've been bringing home Muggles and showing them magic," called Ginny, as she switched the kettle on, and took three mugs down from the cupboard.
"Actually, he's not a Muggle!" Hermione called back. "Are you making coffee?"
Ginny nodded. "Yeah. Does your bloke want some?"
There was a whispered consultation that she could not hear, and then Hermione spoke again. "Black, no sugars, no crappy instant, and definitely no decaff."
Funny, she thought. That's just how Charlie takes his coffee. Then she wondered why on earth her thoughts were suddenly drawn to Charlie, and then she realised that his old, black, ex-USAF bomber jacket ... the one that had been torn in a bar room brawl at Ron's graduation party all those years before, was slung across one of the kitchen stools.
"Oh fuck," she said to herself.
The bedroom door opened, and Hermione came out. She was wearing a pair of blue pyjama bottoms and a T-shirt with the legend; 'St. Andrews Greek Week Monster Blow Out Bash & Pole-Sit-A-Thon 1999' emblazoned across the chest.
"Hermione," ventured Ginny.
"What?" Hermione looked up ... her hair, normally so well kept, was in a state of disarray, her face was flushed and there was passion in her eyes.
"Who, exactly, have you just been shagging?" asked Ginny.
Hermione stared down at her feet. Ginny observed she had painted her toenails in clashing shades of day-glow orange, green, yellow and pink.
"I was meaning to tell you," she said.
Ginny folded her arms. "When, exactly?" she asked. She could hear the sound of running water coming from within Hermione's en suite bathroom. The tap turned off, and then footsteps could be heard.
Hermione wrung her hands in despair. "I'm sorry, Gin," she said, finally.
"It is Charlie, isn't it?"
Hermione looked up, and nodded briefly. "I'm sorry."
"You complete fucking bitch."
"Please ... look, it was a silly mistake," Hermione began. "I never meant to ... I mean, I wasn't planning ..."
Charlie Weasley came out of Hermione's bedroom at that point, fiddling with the top button of a rather expensive looking Armani shirt. He looked all of his thirty-seven years ...
"Um," he said, awkwardly.
Ginny merely looked at him, her arms folded across her chest.
"Ginny," he began. "Look ... I've ... we've. It's not what it looks like ..."
Ginny's eyes widened by several degrees. "It looks very much like you've just been shagging my flatmate. Your brotherÂ’s ex-wife! Are you completely thick ... or just borderline?"
"We didn't think you'd come home," said Hermione.
"You didn't think I'd come home," said Ginny, repeating every single word agonisingly slowly. "To my flat? Where I live? You expected me to rent a cardboard box under Waterloo Bridge for the night, maybe? I know a couple of drunks down there who do very reasonable rates on Cape Apples. 50p per night ... out of the way of commuters."
Charlie leapt to Hermione's defence. "No ... no ... nothing like that," he said. "Just ... not so soon."
"Bully for you," said Ginny. She could barely bring herself to think about it. It was just ... yuck. Her ex-sister-in-law ... and her brother?
"So ... why are you home?" asked Hermione.
"Because I clocked off early," said Ginny. "Because I'd finished typing my copy for tomorrow's glossy supplement. Because there was sod all else to do and the only other person at the Prophet Office was Stacey ... and you know how she gets ... sod it ... I don't even know why I'm explaining myself to you! I shouldn't have to explain this! You bloody should!"
"We can't," said Hermione.
"We love each other," said Charlie, playing the 'Sunset Beach' card.
Ginny picked up her handbag. "I'm walking out of this flat now, Hermione. And in an hour, when I come back, you are going to be gone, your stuff is going to be gone. How many lives do you want to ruin? Wasn't it enough for you that I stood by you when you and Ron split? I mean ... it was Ron's fucking fault! Now you have to start ... I ... I just. Don't you even care what this looks like?"
Hermione was looking at the carpet.
"I'll go. You won't have to see me again if I can help it," she said quietly.
BACK IN BRIGHTON Â…
It was twenty five past ten on Saturday night, and the queue outside Snap was snaking along the seafront almost as far back as the derelict West Pier. Draco almost gave up when he saw it, but reluctantly, mainly because Harry was prodding him in the back, joined the end of the queue. A bitterly cold wind was blowing off the sea, and the clubbers were not dressed for the occasion in their flimsy, summer clothes. Draco, who had spent nearly two hours getting ready, as opposed to Harry, who spent ten minutes, was wearing a pair of leather trousers, and a sleeveless black T-shirt so tight it was a miracle he had been able to get into it. He had had his hair done too, and looked the part. They had stepped out of the house twenty minutes earlier, and almost instantly Draco had been wolf whistled by a pack of teenage boys at a bus stop. At which he had actually crossed the road and kissed one of them, much to Harry's amusement and their evident disgust.
Draco eyed the other patrons surreptitiously as they gradually drew nearer the head of the queue. There were two bouncers checking people's ID up at the front of the line.
"No knives, drugs, anything you shouldn't have?" asked the shorter, female bouncer, letting Harry through with a smile but stopping Draco, who reluctantly spread his arms wide to be frisked.
"I can barely get myself into this T-shirt," said Draco, by way of conversation, as the bouncer, whose nametag pinned to her bright red bomber jacket proclaimed her to be called 'Rave,' patted him up and down, spending an inordinate amount of time at his buttocks. "Let alone drugs or weapons. Is that your real name?"
Rave shook her head. "It's a moniker," she said.
"Your name's Monica?"
"Don't be silly," said Rave, patting his trainers. "Hah ... you're clean. It's always the sexy ones who are up to something."
Draco tapped the side of his nose. "Sadly, my bread is buttered on the other side," he said. "How much do I owe you?"
"Five pounds, three with an NUS card," said Rave. Draco, who had never set foot on a university campus voluntarily (except to shag rat-arsed student boys), parted with a crisp five pound note, which Rave held up to the revolving ceiling lights to check it was in order.
"Thank you," she said, stamping his hand with a fancy black design. "No re-entry after one a.m.," she added. "Have a good evening, mate."
"Thanks," said Draco. Harry had already been cleared by the other bouncer (presumably on account of not being sexy enough), and was waiting for him by the queue for the cloakroom, which consisted mainly of students being pretentious and angst-ridden, and bitching about how much they'd had to drink.
"Ready?" said Harry.
Draco looked at the other clubbers cautiously. "You're sure this is a gay night?" he asked.
"Quite sure," said Harry. "Trust me, there's a certain currency amongst straight people down here, gay nights are in."
"That defeats the point of a gay night," said Draco, huffily. "Kiss me, mon brave, I need fortification."
"People can see," hissed Harry.
"There will be more than kissing happening in this club before the night is out," said Draco firmly, and without waiting for Harry's reply, he pinned him to the wall, and kissed him deeply on the lips. Harry let out a muffled exclamation of surprise, and grabbed at the only things he could to keep himself from losing his balance. These happened to be Draco's buttocks.
"Feisty," murmured Draco, breaking away from the kiss. Harry looked at him, his face a mixture of surprise, disgust, and something approaching lust. Draco grinned.
"I know I shouldn't have enjoyed that," breathed Harry. "But ..."
"Come on, my little friend," Draco cut him off. "Let us enter the melee."
Harry pushed open the double doors leading into the club. Two straight people were snogging one another on the other side of it.
"Yuck, get a room," whispered Draco.
The music was not yet loud enough to make conversation impossible, and the dance floor was relatively empty save for three men about Draco and Harry's age who were wearing what looked like lederhosen, and a woman in a purple cat suit.
They picked their way through the crowd that was already two deep around the circular bar, which occupied a position slap bang in the centre of the giant room. On one side of it was a quieter area for chilling out and relaxing, with comfy-looking sofas. Through the haze of dry ice drifting around the club, Draco could make out the lighted tips of cigarettes. Harry ordered them both Vodka and Red Bulls, and they went to sit down on one of the giant sofas
Ron, feeling very out of place indeed in the most clubby clothes that Ginny had been able to find for him; a pair of white Levi 501s and a plain black T-shirt, reluctantly submitted to be frisked by Rave, who was clearly enjoying herself greatly.
"First night," she said, caressing his thighs.
"Um, yes, actually," said Ron. "I'm not normally into this sort of thing."
Rave gave him a surreptitious glance. "Yeah, that's what all the straight blokes say," she said. "And I meant it's my first night. I used to flip burgers up at McDonalds. Five pounds please."
Ron leant in closer. "The cat is out of the bag," he said.
"You nuts or something?"
"No," said Ron. "The cat is out of the bag."
"I'm sorry? Is this some sort of gay chat up line?" asked Rave.
"Are you White Phantom?" asked Ron.
"Oh no, that's Sher," said Rave. Her face lit up as she realised what he was on about. "Are you that guy she was talking about?"
"May I see your magic wand?"
Ron hissed at her to be quiet. "Look, did you see a blond bloke and a dark haired bloke. The blond was ..." he broke off, unable to find the words. "Um."
Rave nodded. "I frisked him," she grinned. "He's been working out."
"That wasn't exactly what I was interested in," said Ron, as a crowd of students pushed past. They were wearing deely-boppers on their heads.
"He's attached," said Rave. "to the dark haired kid ... the one who looks about eighteen. They were snogging like the nuclear siren had just gone off. Someone's going to be getting some ..."
"Yeah, thanks," said Ron, his mind turning over as he tried desperately to think of a reason for Harry to be doing this to him. It was bad enough he had overturned the sting that they had spent weeks preparing, and left poor Alf the bouncer, Alf, with his hernia and flat feet, in a ditch somewhere near Hayward's Heath, without forcing him to follow up by trailing them to the campest club in Brighton.
Ron spun around. He was looking into the eyes of a woman slightly younger than himself, who was dressed, like Rave, in a red bomber jacket bearing the name of the club and black jeans over trainers so white they looked luminous in the half-light. She flashed her IBME warrant card at him.
"I'm Sher, the Chevron liaison officer for this area."
"Commodore Weasley," said Ron, slightly stunned. He had been told to expect a bloke. Was Chevron messing him about again?
"The targets went into the club about ten minutes ago. Since then, we've had them on CCTV. There're cameras all over the club," she went on. "Of course, we leave some black spots. Nobody likes to be caught on candid camera when they go clubbing."
"Forgive me for sounding naÃ¯ve," said Ron. "But, black spots? And why would people mind being filmed? It's for safety, isn't it?"
Sher gave him a funny look. "When did you graduate from Hogwarts?" she asked.
"June 1998, why?" said Ron.
"That makes you twenty-two, twenty-three," said Sher. "Have you ever actually set foot in a club before?"
"There's a nice little jazz venue on Diagon Alley," said Ron, remembering it fondly. It had been there that he and Hermione had shared their first dance. "I went there quite often when I was training at IBME Headquarters."
"I meant a club club," said Sher. "House? Garage?"
Ron shook his head.
"Then let me explain a little something to you," said Sher, taking him gently to one side. The hordes of clubbers swarming past them and through the double doors just assumed Ron was another poor sap who had tried to smuggle in ecstasy. "This club is predominantly for members of the homosexual fraternity, not that that matters one jot in this town. This means that we are surrounded by gay men, which means there are a lot of horny, like-minded people here tonight who are going to want as much guilt-free sex as possible. They're not here to just brush up on their tango."
"But that's awful," said Ron. "Aren't you ... aren't they worried about that? What about diseases and stuff?"
"It's so dark in there, nobody really notices," said Sher. "And besides ... most people who are into this sort of thing know the risks, and most of them play it safe. And if they don't ... well, I'm sorry, but it isn't the management's responsibility. We don't do blood tests at the door," she looked a bit annoyed. "Now ... are you ready to go in? What can I get you to drink?"
"Bitter lemon would do nicely, thanks," said Ron.
"Don't be a ninny ... you're having something strong with schnapps in it."
They pushed through the crowd to the bar, and then had to wait ten minutes to attract someone's attention. The DJ stopped playing 'Disco Inferno' and started playing S Club 7 ... and when he was done with them followed up with Steps and the Bee Gees. Quite a few people were dancing by now. Mostly exuberant young men about Ron's age, quite a few of them shirtless. Ron found his gaze inexorably drawn ... quit that! You got over it!
"I hate Muggle music," said Ron. Sher handed him his drink, which turned out to be Malibu and Coke.
"There. Now you look the part," she said. "All you need is some glitter on your cheeks."
"Don't push your luck," said Ron, downing his drink in one go. "Have you spotted the targets yet?"
"Harry and Draco ... sure," said Sher, nudging him to look. "They're busy doing something over there."
"Oh fuck no," hissed Ron. "Harry!"
"Actually, it looks like Draco is doing most of the doing," said Sher. "They've got a couple of other guys with them and ... oh shit. Look away; pretend to be dancing," she finished hurriedly and wrapped her arms around Ron's waist.
"How much do I owe you for the drink?" asked Ron.
"Be quiet and watch the targets," snapped Sher. "Else I really will charge you for the drinks."
They edged slowly away from the bar, Ron's feet moving awkwardly in tune to the infectious beat of 'Rhythm of the Night.' Sher spun him slowly around so that he could get a better view. Ron swore under his breath. The sensation of actually seeing them both, in the flesh, after all this time ... it felt weird. It felt unearthly. It felt as if it shouldn't be happening. And to think what could have happened. Harry could have played world-class Quidditch.
"You dance like a straight man," commented Sher.
"It wasn't a compliment," she hissed back.
"This is weird," regarded Ron. Harry was perched on the arm of one of the leather sofas. Draco appeared to be holding court ... or holding something. It was impossible to see where his hands actually were through the floating haze of cigarette smoke. The other blokes, similarly attired, were standing in front of them.
"Well, are you going to talk to them?" asked Sher.
"What ... me?"
"Well, I don't see any other operatives in here," she said, sounding exasperated; the rest of Ron's team were watching the proceedings on closed circuit TV cameras in the club owner's office.
Ron broke away from her. "I may need backup," he said.
"I have a wand right here," said Sher. "Go on."
Ron looked awkward.
"Oh don't be pathetic," Sher scolded. "You've got a drink, you don't look too bad. Go and talk to them."
Ron glanced quickly over, only to find, to his dismay, that the sofa Draco and Harry had previously been occupying was deserted. He cast his eyes quickly around the club, which was really starting to fill up now, and eventually spotted them, dancing with those two other blokes they'd been talking to before.
Sher gave him a gentle nudge. "Go on then. I'll be your backup in case anything nasty happens."
Ron got the feeling Sher was probably taking the piss out of him in a pretty fundamental way, but he couldn't quite put his finger on whatever it was. Nevertheless, he ambled over to where Harry and Draco were dancing, Harry reluctantly so.
He drained his glass, and set it down on the bar top. Draco flashed him a grin, and held out his hand. Ron winced.
"Why don't you join us?" Draco yelled over the music. "This is Harry!"
Harry smiled half-heartedly. Ron got the impression he was merely tolerating Draco's excesses.
"Want a drink?"
"I'll get them in," Harry yelled. "What's yours, Carrots?"
Carrots? Ron would normally have floored anybody who dared call him that.
"Mine's a pint of ..." Ron began, then thought better of it, "mine's a Bacardi Breezer."
"I like your style," he bellowed. "Harry, get a Bacardi Breezer for my sexy young chum here, and follow that up with two pear flavoured schnapps. And get a pint of something for yourself," he handed Harry a crisp twenty pound note, before turning back to Ron. "You'll excuse my friend, he seems to be labouring under the delusion that he's straight. Tell me, do you know the funky gibbon?"
"I'm not into that sort of thing," said Ron hurriedly, keeping one eye constantly on Harry, who appeared to be fighting tooth and nail to get through the crowd to the bar.
The music changed again ...
"Pity," said Draco, humming along to 'Stick It Out,' by Right Said Fred. From somewhere else in the club came a loud whooping sound, and the dance floor was suddenly flooded with students. The podium dancers were struggling to stay upright.
Two bouncers, Rave and another one Ron didn't recognise, moved swiftly past them, heading in the direction of a ruckus that seemed to have developed over by the cigarette machines.
A group of three students elbowed through the middle of their abortive conversation, carousing loudly in Spanish and clutching bottles of Heineken. Harry returned with their drinks.
"Where's my change?" Draco hollered over the opening bars of 'The Thong Song.'
"I'm keeping it," Harry shouted back. "I've hidden it somewhere about my person," he handed Draco the drinks. He had bought himself a pint of yellow liquid with bubbles in. It might have been lager, but more likely was overspill from the slop tray.
"You're dancing all wrong!" Draco yelled, placing one hand on Ron's hip to steady him. "Move more gently," Ron tried to ignore it. Harry, he noticed, appeared to be eyeing him suspiciously. Did he suspect? He glanced over his shoulder, but Sher had been surrounded by an excitable group, waving bottled vodka around in the air and singing along to the music. She appeared to be enjoying herself.
"What do you do?" asked Draco. His breath smelled of hash - nutty and not altogether offensive.
Ron began, "I'm a tr ..." but got no further, for someone knocked into him from behind, causing him to spill half his drink on Draco's new suede shoes. "Sorry!"
"No worries!" shouted Draco. "Only cost eighty quid. You're a transvestite then?"
Ron shook his head. "No, a ..."
"Train driver? Travelling sex aid salesman?"
"I track people down!" Ron shouted.
Harry's ears pricked up immediately.
"How do you mean?" asked Draco, who was too pissed to notice what Ron was getting at.
"People pay me money, and I go and find people for them," said Ron, judging this was probably the most explicit job description he would be able to give if he didn't want Harry to kill him, or something like that.
However, he observed at that point that Harry was giving him a very guarded look indeed.
"You looking for someone now?" asked Draco. "Oh, I know. You're getting 'paid' to track down the sexiest man alive ..."
Ron could feel himself blushing very deeply. "Not exactly," he began to say. However, before he could get any further, Draco had seized him round the waist, pulled him right up close, and was kissing him. Ron could do nothing to stop it. Draco was very forceful, after all.
"Mmph," he went, forcing himself not to respond in kind.
Draco broke away suddenly, and cupped Ron's chin in his hand, smiling into his eyes. "I can tell you're going to be a lot of fun," he said.
The rest of the evening seemed, to Ron anyway, to degenerate into an increasingly drunken and random series of regrettable events. He vaguely remembered being helped onto one of the club's chunky sofas, of Draco doing something to him in full view of everyone else that he was sure Draco shouldn't be doing to him. He remembered being plied with drinks, he remembered staggering outside at half past two in the morning, and the cold air coming off the sea nearly killed him on the spot. He remembered, very vaguely, throwing up in something that could easily have been a litter bin, then a very rapid cab ride, and an even more rapid kebab. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out completely was being put to bed.
SUNDAY JANUARY 12TH, 2003.
"Fact remains, who is he?" the voice was asking.
"I have a talent for picking up random blokes in clubs," said another voice. "Trouble is, even I don't remember picking this one up."
"Did you have sex with him?" the first voice again.
"I'm ... not sure, Harry," the second voice. "I could very well have done."
"Have you checked his wallet?"
"Nothing, just twenty quid and a photo of a kid," said the second voice. "He doesn't have any credit cards. Nothing." Ron opened one eye sleepily. Where were the others?
Something that looked a bit like a grownup version of Harry was peering at him. As his eyes became used to the light that was pouring into the bedroom, the blob materialised into a grownup version of Harry, peering at him with something approaching concern.
"I think he's awake," he said. "Morning, Carrots."
It was like looking at a phantom. Green eyes - the same as usual, glasses slightly slimmer, fit his face infinitely better than his chunky, round, NHS schoolboy lenses had done. Shit, what a headache. His hair was different.
"Morning," said Ron, sleepily. It felt like someone in a JCB was driving repeatedly back and forth across his head. "Whassatime?"
"About twenty past one," said Harry. "You were out like a light."
Ron sat up suddenly. "S'Sunday ... right?"
Harry and Draco both glanced at each other, and nodded. It barely registered with Ron that Draco was wearing only a pair of red satin boxer shorts, and Harry, a fluffy white dressing gown.
"Shit!" exclaimed Ron. "I was meant to be taking my girlfriend to meet my parents today. Shit, shit!" He clapped his hand to his forehead, but this only prompted a fresh explosion of pain.
Draco's face fell visibly.
"Do you want to phone them?" asked Harry kindly.
Ron shook his head. "Wouldn't do no good," he said. "They don't have a phone."
Harry and Draco exchanged puzzled looks.
"They're very set in their ways," Ron said hurriedly to cover up. "Don't like mixing with the Twenty-First Century if they can help it."
Harry nodded. "I knew some people like that once," he said. "Fucking weirdoes."
Ron had an idea what he knew Harry was alluding to, and it was a great effort for him to pretend not to be gravely offended. "Any chance of some coffee?" he asked.
"I'll get some," said Draco, slipping out of the room. Both men heard his muffled shout of, "Bollocks!" from outside.
An idea struck Ron. He looked up at Harry, and said. "D'you think you could find my mobile for me?"
Harry nodded. "Trouser pockets?"
"Probably," said Ron.
Harry picked up Ron's jeans from the floor, and fished about in their pockets, withdrawing, finally, a tiny, slim-line mobile. It was an 'M-Net Aurora,Â’ the very latest brand, and most definitely not commercially available to Muggles; it only connected wizarding communications and blanked all others. Harry, thankfully, didn't notice the wand and owl logo, and merely said, "Nice phone. Never seen one like that before," as he handed it over.
"You wouldn't have done," Ron said, flipping open the cover. "They've only just come on the market. They're Finnish ... the very latest thing."
Ron had never heard of Nokia. "Probably not," he said. He switched it on.
"You have two new messages," the phone said. "Press 'hash' to retrieve your messages from the M-Net Call Centre.Â”
Then he pressed the button.
"Could you step outside for a minute?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded, "Sure. Voicemail?"
"Something like that."
Harry tactfully withdrew from the room.
"Message number one, delivered at ... 0 ... 2 ... 3 ... 5 ... a.m. on ... Sunday ... the ... 12th ... of ... January ... 2003. Caller was ... Hermione ... Granger."
"Fuck. Ron. I'm at your house now and you're not fucking there! Please let me in. We need to talk now," she sounded distressed. "It's Ginny. Well, actually, it's not ... it's me. But it's my fucking fault and I need to talk to you now. Phone me back soon please."
"Message number two, delivered at ... 0 ... 1 ... 0 ... 2 ... p.m. on ... Sunday ... the ... 12th ... of ... January ... 2003. Caller was ... George ... Weasley."
"Ron. What the fucking hell is going on here? It is one o'clock and we are just about to sit down for lunch. You are not here. Your date is not here. Ginny is not here. Charlie is not here. What the hell is up? Call me back, and be eternally thankful that Mum doesn't know how to use a phone. She's calling you an ungrateful little sod as we speak."
Ron set the phone down. "Shit," he said, as Draco came back into the room with coffee. He set the mug down on the bedside table, and then sat down in the chair.
"Aren't you cold?" asked Ron.
"Draco Malfoy does not get cold," said Draco. "I am Draco Malfoy. Therefore, I am hot."
Ron decided to take a chance. "Funny sort of name, Draco Malfoy," he said. "Isn't that Latin for something."
Draco sighed, then nodded. "If you pronounce it that way," he said. "It means dragon."
"How'd you get lumbered with that?" asked Ron, sipping his coffee. It didn't taste like his usual brand - but then the coffee revolution had passed him completely by some years previously; Ron's usual brand was Sainsbury's Economy.
"My parents were a bit weird," said Draco. "I like to think that's reflected in my zany, easy-going personality."
Ron was about to say something to the contrary.
"So," Draco was saying. "You're attached?"
"For a few weeks now," said Ron, who, despite being trained in sixty intermediate to advanced to bloody terrifying interrogation techniques, found himself admiring Draco's ability to flip the conversation on his head.
Ron nodded. "Yeah, well," he said. "She's ... um, my secretary."
"Ron Weasley ... private eye," said Draco. Ron froze.
"You just remind me of someone I once knew," said Draco. Ron's heart started beating again. "Actually, he was more of a friend of Harry's. I thought he was a right little wanker. He gave me a black eye once ..."
Ron could barely suppress a smile. "You guys were at school together?" he said.
Draco nodded. "Uhuh ... private, pretty expensive. Up north somewhere. It's just occurred to me that I don't know your name, kid."
"Ron," said Ron quickly. In circumstances such as this, IBME operatives were usually told to stick as close to the truth as possible. "Ron Jackson."
Draco gave him a funny look. "How bizarre. And you're sleeping with your secretary?"
"That is so 1950s. Lemme guess? There's a wife and a young kid on the side?"
"There was," said Ron. "We're divorced. It got messy. I'd rather not ..."
"And so young, too," said Draco, crossing his legs and trying to make it look like he was just ... crossing his legs. No way was Ron falling for that one. "I don't assume you ... dabble at all?"
Ron, knowing that the 'dabbler' was, by the sounds of things, having a shower in the bathroom next door, kept quiet.
Draco, clearly assuming Ron's silence as an admission of, at least, partial guilt, grinned. "Go on. You weren't out in a gay club last night just for your health now, were you?"
"I certainly wasn't there for my health," said Ron. "I hate clubs."
"Non-scene? Pity," said Draco. He leaned forwards. "So if you hate clubs, why were you there?"
"I told you," said Ron. "I track people down. It just went a little haywire ... that's all it is."
"Good job you don't have a boss to reprimand you," said Draco. "I do."
"Harry. Now, tell me about your dabble in the dark arts."
Ron, who was almost on the verge of finding the both of them dropping subtle hints about the same thing amusing, grinned.
"It was a couple of times," he said. "A boy at school."
"Ah, the blessed naivety of the teenage years," smiled Draco. "What was his name?"
"Harry," said Ron.
Harry, who had walked back into the room at that moment, froze.
"Harry, get this. This guy's name is Ron, and he once shagged someone called Harry ... at school!" said Draco gleefully. "Isn't that ... " his face fell as he finally made the mental connection. Ron's heart sank. "Oh."
Ron looked up, to find Harry pointing a gun directly at his head.
"Okay, Carrots," Harry said, moving slowly around the side of the bed, and pocketing Ron's mobile as he did so, presumably so as he wouldn't be able to call anybody.
"What?" asked Ron, innocently, or so he hoped.
"Pop quiz," said Harry. "Answer convincingly, and I might let you walk out of here with your brains intact. What year were you born in?"
"1980," said Ron hurriedly.
Harry removed the safety catch from the handgun. "Okay. In which case ... you'll be familiar with Rainbow."
Ron shook his head.
"Playschool? Fraggle Rock? He-Man? No ... this is a house, this is a door, windows, one two, three, four? Ring any bells, Carrots? Eric is a perfectly normal boy, but when he eats a banana ... an amazing transformation occurs. Yes, Eric is Bananaman," he paused. "I'm not getting through to you, am I, Carrots?"
Ron shook his head to all three. "These are TV shows, right?"
"Good guess, Carrots," said Harry. "And with no real cultural heritage of our own, they are all our generation has to feel nostalgic about. So, strange that you don't appear to have heard of any of them ..."
"I didn't watch a lot of TV," said Ron.
Harry sat down on the edge of the bed, keeping a tight grip on the trigger. "Who saved TVAM?"
"Luke Skywalker?" hazarded Ron.
"Roland Rat," said Harry, voice dripping with sarcasm. "What was the name of the amusing rodent who partnered Philip Schofield in the Broom Cupboard?"
"Bob the amusing rodent?"
"Gordon the Gopher, Carrots. Okay, so maybe you didn't watch TV. Let's try you on movies," said Harry. "But not Star Wars," Ron's heart sank yet again. Cameron Weasley's obsession with the series meant these were the only movies he watched with anything approaching regularity.
"Name two people who were in Quadrophenia."
Ron remained silent.
"I'd have accepted Toyah Wilcox ... Leslie Ash," Harry said. "Name two of the kids out of ET."
"Jack and Jill?"
Harry shook his head. "Deeply sad," he said. "What do you think, Draco?"
"I'll go with whatever you say, Harry," said Draco calmly.
Harry appeared to be pondering his options. "Then get some clothes on you. We're going to take Carrots here for a little drive."
END OF CHAPTER FIVE.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Author notes: Original author's note which Alex thinks is twee but which Heidi wouldn't let go missing:
In the next part of Snitch! Ron is put to test, we learn more about Hermione's secret affair, and whatever became of Cassie and Remus? Find out! Coming soon, to theatres everywhere!
And I was going to do a massive long thank you section here ...
... but ...
What the hell? I'll do one anyway! Special thanks go out to everyone who reviewed before the charity deadline. You successfully cleaned me out to the tune of £25.00 exactly, which will really, really be appreciated wherever it is used. Thank you so much. You were ...
Cassandra Claire, Dr Branford, Saitaina, Morsus (yay ... mad schnoogles), Lizzy, Parker, heidi (Ron is not about to be hit by a truck), Carole, Hillary (sorry for the wait), Nora, Karina, FringeElement, Me!!!, Jocetta, Keoko-sama, princess_katrina, Katia, sherlock03, Molly, Catriona Snape, Silverfox, Inspiring Author, Moriel, Sara, HannahB, Tanasia, starling (if you haven't yet seen *that* picture, then head out to cassie_and_rhysenn, and shortly, the HP_Paradise Yahoo Groups), Virgo, Lady Malfoy (I'm sorry for disrupting your muse ... you can have her back now), Helmione Nightingranger, morgead, Amanita, isis, darkangel, Crazy Slash Luv'n Chick, Heather, anon56, Tom Riddilpley, Destiny, Cassie Lee, minx, Felicitas, cassie, Cali, Black Goddess, Hype, I am not a gay man (thanks for telling me that ... you don't have to be ... glad you seemed to like the story), Wynster McG, delentye, wingedkeys, LongLongHair, perenelle, Gwendolyn Grace, CrookshankS, nortylaK, Gryffindor, yael, Anita Skeeter, Keieru, HedwigAngel, Dewi, Nyias, Bec, Mima_W, *Ice Lily*, *strange charm*, Neo, Tessie, Benjamin, Celeste Chang, Parvati&padma, ME, Moondragon, AVK, water_nymph, pantalaimon, Krissy, elel88, Tinuviel182, saarah, dagan, Kris, Paperdoll, Wyvern, Sylph, Emerald Rose, lisa, Treehavn, Becks, and kine.
You are all very worthwhile people. Thank you.