- 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.
- Author's Note:
- Please be aware that this story contains slash material, so if you have any problem with this at all, then hit that back button sharpish – the rest of you brave bunnies may read on at your peril.
CHAPTER SEVEN - ILLEGALLY BLOND
Ginny stared at them for a minute. Draco, still wearing his underpants, was clinging to Harry, who was naked, whilst Hermione cowered in a corner amongst the coats.
"Good evening," said Draco. "If you don't mind, this is pay per view."
If Ginny's mouth could have opened any wider, she'd have been able to swallow ... something pretty fucking enormous.
Harry went fiercely red.
"I don't ... know you, do I?" said Ginny.
Draco looked at Harry, and then nodded his head. Harry looked hurriedly the other way.
"I do know you?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. Ron, Seamus and Justin shuffled their feet awkwardly.
"Okay," said Ginny. "I am going to close this cupboard door, and in a minute, I am going to open it again. In that time, you two degenerates are going to have dressed and ... put that away!"
"Sorry," said Harry.
The cupboard door closed again.
"That was close," said Draco, pretending to wipe his brow.
There was a scrabbling sound as Harry hunted around in the darkness for wherever it was his clothes had disappeared to.
"That was closer than close," said Harry.
"Close," finished Draco. "Too damn close."
"Well, personally, I think she took it rather well," said Harry.
"You mean, as in ... there were no actual outright screams of rage?" said Draco. "Yeah, I guess. Are all your bits still intact, by the way?"
"Yes," said Harry, firmly and without humour. There was a zipping sound as Draco pulled the leather trousers back on.
Hermione piped up. "I do realise that, given the circumstances, this may seem like quite a strange question ... a ... a bloody strange question, if the truth be known, but exactly who the fuck are you, and what the fuck are you doing in my ex-husband's hall cupboard?"
"That's a very good question," said Draco. He would have explained their situation further, but didn't get his chance, for at that moment, the door opened again, revealing Ginny, standing there, hands on hips, looking for all the world like she was about to throw a high megaton hydrogen wobbly.
Ron said, "Now ... Ginny ... I know this may seem altogether very weird and bizarre and stuff and I just know we all have a logical explanation for what's going on here ..."
"Which we will give to you when we have thought of one," said Draco, grinning his perfect smile.
Ginny slapped Draco across the face. "I daresay you've been sleeping with my brothers, too!" she yelled.
"Actually, yes," said Harry, stepping into the light. "But it was a long time ago."
Ginny turned to stare at him. Her eyes travelled slowly up Harry's face, taking in the slim set to his features, the designer specs, emerald green eyes and scar ... it looked, to everyone else, as if she was having a moment of epiphany.
"Harry?" she asked, astounded.
Harry nodded. "Sorry, Gin," he said.
"You came back?" asked Hermione, in a croaky voice.
Harry nodded. "I can explain everything ... possibly not why we were hiding with Hermione in a broom cupboard ... but everything up to that point ..."
Harry would have continued talking, but got absolutely no further whatsoever, for at that moment, Ginny and Hermione had flung their arms around him.
"God, I missed you!" Ginny said. "I thought it had something to do with me!"
Harry fixed Ginny in the eyes. "It had nothing to do with you," he said. "Absolutely nothing at all."
"But after we ..."
Harry held her tight. "I know ... I know. I'm truly sorry."
Ron appeared to be thinking quite hard.
"I'm sorry, Ginny," Harry repeated.
Ginny was blinking back tears as she held onto Harry very tightly.
Ron and Draco put two and two together at the same time.
"Wait a minute!" Ron shouted. "You shagged my sister!"
Harry looked at Ron. "I'm sorry," he said.
Ron looked flabbergasted. "Fair play to you, Harry," he said.
"She is dead sexy," admitted Draco. Then, "What?" he exclaimed, as everyone gave him a very funny look.
"So I wasn't your first either, Harry?" asked Ron.
"M'afraid not," said Harry.
At that point, Hermione exploded.
"I don't quite begin to understand what is going on here!" she yelled at them all. "But from what I understand, you all have a great deal of explaining to do ... and you can start by telling me just how come this rather sexy and downright adorable specimen of British manhood ends up being Harry 'Cupboard Boy' fucking Potter! After all this time ... after all this time! I just ... it beggars belief. Somebody's been covering up ... big time! I want to know who it is. I want details ... and then I'm going to sue your arses all the way to the fucking Moon and back!"
It took them a considerable amount of time to calm Hermione down sufficiently for explanations to begin. Draco and Seamus, who between them, had an eye for a vintage, were sent down the road for a few bottles of wine, whilst Ron rustled up some more nibbles, Ginny and Hermione sat at either side of the kitchen table, glaring at each other, and Harry wandered aimlessly around the living room, looking at Ron's CD collection, which consisted mostly of Burt Baccarach compilations.
Finally, when Draco and Seamus returned from Oddbins, they moved through into the sitting room, and sat down on the comfy sofas found therein. Ron silenced the TV, and turned up the thermostat a bit.
Draco set to the wine with a corkscrew.
"You've done well for yourself," Harry said, apropos of nothing.
Ron munched on a twiglet. "Yeah ... I guess," he said.
"Half of it should be mine by rights," scowled Hermione, who did not look at all pleased to be there.
Draco sloshed a little wine into each of the plastic tumblers, and passed them round.
"Who wants to start, then?" asked Seamus.
Harry coughed slightly. "I think I'd better conduct my own defence," he said. "It all starts back in the Summer between Fifth and Sixth Year at Hogwarts. You remember it, Gin?"
Ginny nodded. "Very well," she said.
"Sirius was still on the run ... but they'd sorted something out so as I could go to the Burrow for the summer," said Harry. "Ron didn't know it, but I somehow managed to fall in love with Ginny over the summer ..."
"This is true."
"We kissed a bit," admitted Harry. "Things moved on ... then we well …you know ... right at the end of the holidays ... it was silly, I know ... but ..."
"Very nice," said Ginny, peering into her glass of wine. "If you all must know, Harry didn't want to, and I kind of forced him ..." she blushed.
"How sweet," snarled Draco, glaring indiscriminately.
"We went back to Hogwarts," Harry continued. "Ginny gave me a lot to think about ... and at the time, it was kind of a vindication to me. It proved to me that my suspicions about myself … that for some years I’d thought I might be gay, were unfounded ... until I kissed Ron for the first time ..."
"What!" exclaimed Hermione.
"You already said that," said Ron. "Yes ... I still remember it. Harry and I were sitting up late talking to one another about ... y'know ... girls and stuff, and, well ... one thing led to another, and we kissed a bit, and things sort of progressed from there," he grinned at Harry. "I guess I quite enjoyed it."
"But you were sleeping with me!" Hermione cut in.
"Oh, shut up, Hermione!" said everyone.
"It was nice," agreed Harry, after a brief pause to pass around the bowls of crisps. "I thought very little of it ... until the Halloween Ball. That was a great night," he said, his eyes taking on a mysterious glow. "Ginny wasn't there, of course ... Sixth Form only. I must've danced with ... Cho ... you, Hermione and a few other people. Afterwards, I walked Cho back up to her dormitory. It was completely innocuous, nothing more. Draco followed me and ... I can't explain it ..."
"I fucked him," said Draco, not looking at all shamefaced. "Partly out of jealousy ... partly out of rage ... partly out of love, I think. Harry always was a beautiful thing."
"I wouldn't quite say fucked," cut in Harry. "But essentially, that's correct."
"I fell in love with Harry that night," said Draco. "He's very precious to me ..."
"We had a few secret rendezvous points," said Harry. "We carried on this affair for a couple of weeks or so ..."
"Until we got caught," said Draco.
"And thrown out ..."
Everyone was very silent. Crap, Draco thought. We’re finishing each other’s sentences … that’s meant to be bad, right?
"I never knew any of this," said Hermione.
She got up from the sofa, walked over to the armchair where Harry was sitting, and enveloped him in an enormous hug.
"Oomph," went Harry.
When Hermione was done squeezing all the oxygen out of Harry, he continued talking.
"I lived rough for a while ... spent some time inside ..." he proceeded to tell the rest of the story, as he had done to Ron earlier in the day, and both Ginny and Hermione listened, utterly amazed. When Harry reached the bit about resuming a physical relationship with Draco, Seamus and Justin grinned at each other and held hands across the sofa.
"That is, like, so sweet," Seamus said tearfully. "I … I just … I think I’m going to have a little cry."
Draco looked at Harry expectantly, but Harry didn’t say anything. Justin handed Seamus a Kleenex, and the other man dabbed tears away from his eyes.
"And that’s it," said Harry. "That’s how it worked. That’s my shit, sad little life, wrapped up in a tidy fucking nutshell."
Ron crossed his legs, then uncrossed them rapidly. "Harry," he started. "I don’t really know what I can say to you … some of it you already know, of course. A couple of years back, when I graduated I was seconded to Sirius Black’s team …" he got no further, for at that moment, a voice, amplified by a megaphone, rang out.
"IBME. Open up! We have this place surrounded! We are armed and will not hesitate to open fire. Surrender the hostages now and we'll go easy on you!"
"Oh bollocks," said Ron.
There was a dramatic pause, purely for comic effect.
Harry stood up. "You know …" he began. "A little bird whispers to me that Ron might not be being entirely honest with me, Draco."
Ron stood up as well. "Now, wait a minute," he said. "I … I don’t know what’s happening … I’ll go see what’s happening … pour some more Chardonnay or something … act normal."
"If that’s possible around you," Hermione snapped.
"Don’t piss me off, Hermione …"
"Oh shut up …"
"You shut up," snapped Hermione. "Fucking incompetent twat."
"Steady," said Seamus. "Children in the next room and everything. Not exactly wise to …"
"Oh, you can shut up too, you cheap Graham Norton rip off!"
"Ooh, that’s lovely."
Ron was getting angry. "Will all of you SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
There was a loud hammering at the door.
"Open up! Now. We repeat that we will not hesitate to open fire upon you!"
Ron sighed, shrugged, and walked out into the hall. Draco leant over with the wine bottle, and refilled Harry’s glass. Only he noticed that Harry was holding his gun out of sight. He winked at Draco. Draco shook his head.
"There are kids," he said. "No guns."
Whatever Harry was about to say next, he never got a chance to, for at that moment there heralded an almighty crash from the hall as someone broke Ron’s front door in.
"Hands up! Nobody move. Freeze!" Harry heard a woman’s voice, an American accent – raised on cop shows and doughnuts that go dunk in your de-caff.
"Commodore Weasley … you all right …" a man’s voice.
There was another loud bang as someone kicked the sitting room door open. Everyone jumped … Seamus and Justin were poised with their wine glasses halfway to their mouths, Hermione was sitting comfortably in an armchair, and Draco and Harry were sitting on the sofa.
The woman looked puzzled.
"What’s going on?" she asked, lowering her wand, which she had been aiming threateningly at them. "Is this some kind of Tupperware party?"
But Harry, with the reactions borne of six years in the Muggle underworld, was on his feet, and pointing his gun straight at the woman’s head.
"Give me a reason to do it and I swear I will," he said. "Back off, darling … you don’t understand what’s going on here …"
"It looks obvious to me …" the woman stammered. "Put the gun away, Mr Potter … that’s an illegal weapon. There’s no reason to do this!"
"You were going to fuck me over, right?" snarled Harry.
"Our Commodore was kidnapped …" she began. Ron stepped into the room.
"Cassie," he whispered, as delicately as possible. "Does it look like I’ve been kidnapped?"
"No," Cassie’s voice had suddenly gone very small indeed.
"What does it look like, Cassie?"
Ron nodded. "You’ll have to excuse my colleagues," he said. "One whiff of danger, and they start acting all gung-ho. Harry, put the gun down …"
Harry kept Cassie covered. "First, I want your word, Weasley, that you are not trying to fuck me over here. You see what this looks like?"
Ron nodded. "I see perfectly what this looks like," he said. "Please just put the gun down. Cassie and Remus made a mistake and they are very sorry. They thought I was in danger …"
"Oh, you’re fucking in danger all right!" Harry snapped. He undid the safety catch. "Luring me here under false pretences …"
"No, that’s not true. We explained all that …"
"Why should I trust you?" Harry asked. "Make her put her wand down."
Ron nodded. "Okay … very good, Harry. Cassie, I’m going to put your wand on the coffee table, right here, where we can all see it …"
"Okay," said Ron. He plucked the wand from Cassie’s outstretched, shaking fingers.
"I’m sorry …" she said. "This is my first stakeout. I’m usually just a psychiatrist."
Harry nodded wryly. "I understand," he said. "Wands on the table, please."
Ron nodded. "Doing it now. Here’s the wand … yeah … and now I’ve put it on the table. Now will you put the gun down so that we can talk like civilised people again?"
"What else is she carrying?" Harry asked. "Guns? What?"
"Cassie, any other weapons?" asked Ron.
"The other man as well," said Harry.
Remus put his hands up. "Okay, Harry," he said. "We’re doing it."
"But …" Cassie began.
"It’s already clear this is just an attempt to fuck me," said Harry. He stared along the barrel of the gun at the man he didn’t yet realise was Remus Lupin.
"It isn’t," said Ron. "I promise. Cassie … un-strap your gun."
Cassie knelt down, and Harry lowered the gun so that it was pointing at her. Slowly, she rolled up her left trouser leg. Just above the top of the standard issue boots she was wearing, a holster had been strapped to her leg, and the butt of an impressive looking gun was sticking out of it. Slowly, she withdrew it.
"Put it on the floor," said Harry. "Then lie face down."
She did so.
Draco stood up.
"Frisk her …"
"I’m onto it," said Draco. "Keep me covered, Harry."
Harry nodded. "Go now," he said.
Draco stepped past Harry … "You do realise that if she makes a move against him I will not hesitate to blow her fucking brains out," said Harry. "Ron, are you carrying a gun too? What about him?"
"Remus?" asked Ron.
"Remus …" Harry echoed, quietly. For a moment, the barrel of his gun dropped slightly. "Professor?"
Ron, looking at his friend, suddenly caught another flash of that hidden emotion he had witnessed earlier. It was painful to watch Harry like this.
"She’s clean," Draco said, standing up.
"Good," Harry’s flicker of emotion died away, and he raised the gun again. "You too, Lupin."
Remus nodded. "Okay, Harry … just stay calm …"
"I’m as cool as a fucking cucumber," said Harry. "I want your gun, your wand …"
Remus nodded again. "I’m onto it."
"Draco, pick up the guns, empty the bullets and give them to me."
Draco picked up Cassie’s gun from the floor, opened the chamber, and allowed the bullets to drop out into the palm of his hand. Harry reached out, took them, and stuck them in the back pocket of his jeans.
"Now, isn’t this cosy?" he said.
"Oh yeah. Fucking cosy indeed," Seamus said. "Harry … please will you put the gun down, you’re givin’ me and Justin the screaming abdabs here."
Harry turned the gun on Seamus. "Quiet," he said. "I really do mean it."
Justin whimpered and held onto Seamus very tightly indeed. Harry turned round again, keeping Cassie, Remus and Ron covered.
"Draco … give me your gun …" he said.
"I don’t have one," said Draco.
"What do you mean you don’t have one?" asked Harry, not even looking around. "You’re a fucking gangster, how can you not have a fucking gun?"
"Well, you called in such a hurry and I was having a bath and I must have left it on the kitchen table or something - I’m not really helping my cause here am I?"
"Too damn right you’re not," said Harry.
"I could get the bullets out of your pocket …" Draco started forwards.
"You are not putting your hands in my pockets," said Harry. "Ron, got any kitchen knives?"
Ron nodded. "Yes, Harry … loads … but I don’t think …"
"Right, go and get a knife, Draco. Make sure it’s a sharp one."
Draco nodded, and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Harry," said Cassie. "You’re holding every single last fucking card here. Why don’t we concede that you’ve won this time, and then we can all sit down and at least try and get things straight …"
"And then what police force will you turn me over to?" began Harry. "Interpol? The Met?"
Draco came back into the sitting room, brandishing a fearsome looking carving knife.
"Nobody is going to be doing any handing over whilst I’m in charge," said Ron. "Harry, I promise you that …"
"Are you quite sure that’s wise …"
"Doctor Claire, you and Agent Lupin are already on a charge and facing demotion for endangering the security of an IBME mission. Now shut up and let me do the talking," Ron snapped.
"Perhaps I can try something," Remus said. He put both his hands in the air, in plain view of the rest of the room. "This is my guarantee to you, Harry, that I am not carrying any concealed weapons, that I mean you absolutely no harm whatsoever, and by all the gods you can shoot me through the bloody skull if I’m lying. Have you fully understood what I’m saying to you?"
Harry nodded. Ron observed that the hand he was holding the gun in was shaking visibly.
"I’m going to step closer to you now … we’re going to go into the kitchen together, and we’re going to leave these good people on their own, Harry. Do you understand me?"
Harry’s grip on the gun faltered slightly. "Not a fucking chance," he said.
"Ron gives us his word that he will not try anything," said Remus. "I am your hostage, Harry … I want you to take me into the kitchen, and I want to have a drink with you … have you got that?"
"What are you planning?" Harry asked.
"I swear, nothing," said Ron, who also had both hands in the air. He was keeping a very close watch on Remus indeed.
"Nobody leaves the fucking house?"
"Nobody … you can shoot me at anytime," said Remus. He reached out his hand. "I swear, no weapons. Keep your gun if you want."
"I do want," said Harry firmly, maintaining his grip. "You’re planning something. I’m not stupid. How many of you are there outside?"
"Nobody," said Remus. "We came alone … there is nobody outside, Harry. Check, if you want."
Harry shook his head. "Why should I believe you, though?" he asked.
"You believe I’m not carrying any guns. You saw me put my gun and my wand on the coffee table …"
"Then take a chance, Harry. Believe me now, too."
Harry nodded again, slowly.
"Are we going to go into the kitchen, then?" Remus asked.
Harry nodded. Remus gestured to the door.
Harry nodded again. In silence, the two men walked into the kitchen, and Remus closed the door behind him.
"Sit down, Harry."
Harry was trembling from head to toe again. Slowly, he pulled out one of the kitchen chairs, and sat down upon it. Remus walked round to the opposite side of the table, and sat down.
"Put the gun on the table, Harry," said Remus.
Harry looked up at him.
"Fuck off …"
Remus nearly shouted something about being a teacher, damnit … but remembered himself at the last minute.
"Okay, that’s okay," he said. "Harry … Harry, Harry, Harry. What are we going to do with you?"
Harry shrugged. "Azkaban, I guess," he said. "You’re going to fuck me over whatever happens, so I guess …" he stopped. "Won’t you?"
Remus shook his head. "Jesus Christ, no, Harry – not in a million years."
Harry set the gun down on the table, and pushed it towards Remus.
"I don’t want it," he said, softly.
"I don’t want the fucking gun," said Harry. "I want my life back … take the fucking gun … will you … please?"
"I’m not sure that’s a good idea," said Remus. He left the gun well alone. Harry knew instantly that this was so that Remus’ fingerprints weren’t left all over it.
"That proves it," he said, slowly. "If you were for real, you’d pick up the gun. Why do you want me? What are you after?"
Remus sighed, and picked up the gun. Then he hurled it across the kitchen. It bounced off a cupboard, crashing to the floor, and discharging with a deafening bang. There was a pinging sound as the bullet ricocheted off one of the hanging woks.
"Happy?" he asked. "I know what that little game was all about, Harry. Well, now there are my fucking prints on that, too. So are you happy now? Does that make you feel any better?"
He sounded angry.
"Yes," said Harry, shortly. "Much. Thank you."
"I think the same way as you, Harry. The good cop always thinks like his quarry to catch his quarry. I know what you’re capable of, and believe me, this isn’t it," Remus said. "This whole bag of shit isn’t you, Harry …"
"It’s who I want to be," said Harry. "It’s who I am. Why don’t you understand me?"
"Because it isn’t true," said Remus. "This isn’t who you are. I believe this whole playing at being hard gangsters charade to be nothing more than the performance of a very gifted actor – you, Harry, are the gifted actor …"
"In case that wasn’t obvious," said Harry, raising the flicker of a smile.
"I’m looking at you, now, Harry," said Remus. "Do you want me to tell you what I can see? I can see a sad, little misfit orphan kid … I can’t see anybody being hard, or doing drugs, or running porn, or shagging every two bit whore he comes across, gay or straight or whatever the fuck – sexuality doesn’t fucking matter, Harry. I’m seeing the thirteen year old boy meeting his godfather for the first time – outwardly brave, inwardly quaking in his boots. I’m not seeing gangster Harry, not on the inside …"
"Big fucking deal …"
"Your parents gave their lives to save you, Harry," said Remus. "A poor way to repay them, gambling their sacrifice on Armani suits and Ferraris."
"You just going to lecture me?" asked Harry.
"No," said Remus. "I’m not … I want you to lecture me. I want to know what you’re feeling, Harry Potter … right now … and then I want to put something to you. Something that can end this shit for good."
Harry stood up. "All right," he said. He crossed the kitchen, put his hands on either side of the sink, and stared at the white porcelain.
"I’m thinking," said Harry. "Because I don’t know how I feel anymore … Pr … Professor …"
"I don’t know how I feel," said Harry. "You can’t know what I’ve known."
He stood upright again.
"You must be able to tell me …"
"On the third of March, 1997," said Harry. "I
sold myself for the first time, and I remember that date very well because of
it. Have you ever been on the game, Remus?"
"I can’t say I have …"
"It isn’t very nice," said Harry. "Do you know how I made myself feel better about that?"
"I can ima…"
"Drugs," said Harry. "I took drugs and suddenly everything didn’t seem quite so fucking bad as it did before … and that’s how I lived my life for a year or more – I can’t remember because when you’re as fucked as me the days sort of blur, they become completely insignificant and it doesn’t matter what you’re doing one hour to the next – you could be walking the streets of London – you might not even be wearing any shoes and you wouldn’t notice because the streets were so soft and the rush from the drugs was that intense that it made it all seem right. What I was doing wasn’t right, Remus – but that’s what made it seem better for me. So that’s what I did. I remember I was on some kind of shit when I robbed a newsagents in Tottenham … poor man behind the counter was some Pakistani who didn’t have a word of English and looked like he’d just stepped straight off the fucking plane – probably he had, but you know something? I didn’t feel guilty robbing him. I didn’t feel guilty that I was wearing a pair of tights I lifted from Marks and Sparks over my head because I was too fucking yellow to fucking show my face in front of some Pakistani shopkeeper. I hit him, on the head with a brick, and he went down, and you know what? I don’t even know if he lived or died. But we got us four hundred pounds out of his cash register and Jesus, man but that bought us some good shit."
"I remember when I first sniffed glue – a whole fucking bunch of us down in the cellar of some leaky bed-sit in Hackney with no carpets and a bathroom that should’ve fucking been condemned in Victorian times. That wasn’t good at all. But the glue – that was fucking excellent – such a rush and such an incredible feeling and it took the edges off my days. The acid was trippy and weird and believe me everything it’s fucking cracked up to be – there are dancing elephants and shit – but only if you want there to be because that’s the sheer fucking beauty of it. That it’s your fucking hallucination, your fucking dream and everything else can just piss right off. Too many days I woke up lying in a pool of shit … I mean really lying in a pool of shit, quite often my own – but that didn’t matter either. I remember them arresting me and I remember the faces and I remember the magistrate sending me down so clearly. I was hallucinating at the time, so I thought he was a kangaroo but it didn’t matter. Fuck it, I didn’t have a suit for my trial. I was on legal aid and I went up in court in a pair of Adidas jogging pants and a stained T-shirt which, which trust me amongst those fucking lawyers does not make you look good. It prejudices your case something rotten, but of course there was no case and there was no way I could plead not guilty because I fucking was guilty and it was written all over my face so I got six months for it."
"My first night in prison was an absolute fucking nightmare. I shared a cell with some six foot bodybuilder who was inside for turning over a branch of Curry’s in Walthamstow, and at about half past midnight, when they’d put the lights out for good I could feel his breath on my cheek and I know that he wanted sex from me, so that’s what I gave him. Well, you’ve not tripped so you can’t know what it’s like to be fucked by a twenty foot rhino, but believe me it isn’t very nice. God I was so scared, and the next day I asked for a transfer and you know what the fucking wardens did? They fucking spat in my face, Remus, and they left me in there with some weird maniac. But I got over that because I learned not to let it bother me, because there’s so much else you have to deal with in there that being buggered every now and then hardly seems to matter. They put salt in my food because the rumour got around that I was the best piece of arse in the place – I tried not to let being tripped when I collected my lunch bother me. I tried not to let having my face ground into some slop masquerading as mashed potato and gravy whilst two other guys kicked me in the ribs … I tried … tried not to let that bother me in the slightest. I tried not to let having to shower in groups, and me being the one who’d wind up with the soap jammed in his mouth – I tried not to let that bother me. And after a while they took me off suicide-watch, so I must’ve succeeded. I did try to do myself in, though. Twice. But that’s irrelevant. After barely two weeks in that hole I was moved out to Feltham Young Offenders. Feltham isn’t exactly the dogs, but it’s a damn sight better than where I had been. That’s how I learned not to cry."
"I don’t know what made me choose to do a GNVQ," Harry went on. "The whole cold turkey thing was kicking in. At Feltham they gave me a counsellor who told me I could make something out of my life whilst at the same time making it perfectly clear that to her I was some worthless little shit who would spend his days working behind the scenes at Asda."
"You’re not worthless, Harry …"
"Quiet," Harry snapped. "I’m thinking. I still honestly don’t remember what made me do it. I enrolled, I studied like crazy, I studied more than Hermione. I got myself a bit of a reputation. Oh, sure, at Feltham I was their golden boy. The model of a reformed prisoner. They let me have shoelaces and metal cutlery … that’s quite something, by the way. At the end of my time there, slightly over five months later, I had taken and passed my exam. I had a qualification, and so maybe it wasn’t an Oxford first but it was a qualification and Oxford degrees are no different and no better than anything else – that’s for sure. I got a cash grant from some charity, and with that money I bought a room to live in and a mattress for that room, and with the rest of it I went back to my old … friends who I’d made before I went inside, and some of them were better off by then, and I scrounged and borrowed and begged money off of them, and then I set up a gym. It wasn’t anything like the plush studios I run now, with Sloane Rangers shaking their arses in time to Steps, but it was something. And in order to run it I started selling drugs, and then it just went out of control, but by that point I was somebody and it didn’t matter and nobody could touch me. One day Draco came along and he was in a right old state and practically begging me for a job. So I gave him one and I taught …"
"That’s enough," said Remus.
"I want my life back," said Harry. "But this is my life, this is what I do and this is the only thing I’ve ever been good at. It’s just me and Draco, and we’re a good team, we are. We work well. You … you people … with your magic and your wands and your strange little secret world. It’s just … it … it …"
Remus got to his feet, crossed the kitchen, and put his arm around Harry.
"It’s all right," he said. "You’ll be fine. You’re all right."
"Bollocks, I’m fucked," said Harry.
"Harry – I want you to do something for me. I want you to go home, and I want you to sleep like you never slept before, and I’m going to telephone you in the morning and you can come up to the IBME building on Diagon Alley – no strings attached, this isn’t a phoney deal, and I think we need to talk."
The kitchen door opened. Harry looked up. It was Draco, he was still holding the kitchen knife.
"Let’s go home," Harry said.
Draco drove. Harry didn’t often let him behind the wheel of the Aston, so it was a rare treat for him. He couldn’t help thinking, however, as they headed back into London through the freezing air of a January evening, that Harry’s whole aspect seemed to have changed. Gone was any pretence of projecting an image … any kind of image whatsoever – whether that image be a gangster or whatever … it didn’t matter. Draco had not heard a word of what had been said in the kitchen – but he knew from bitter, bitter experience, what it was like for your world to unravel around you so fast you barely noticed it was gone. Your security blanket, your safety net – the illusion of sanctuary with which humankind surrounds itself in a blasÃ© and pathetic attempt to pretend that somehow, the world isn’t happening. When it goes, when you realise it’s going, going, gone … there’s a certain amount of psychological shock that you have to deal with. Draco sensed Harry was dealing with it now. He slumped in the passenger seat and stared out of the window at the traffic.
"All the things that I used to know," Draco found himself humming in tune with the song playing on the radio, "have gone out the window ..."
They drove across Westminster Bridge, heading home, to Harry’s flat. They were nearing the place, snarled up in dense traffic, when Harry suddenly jerked, and slammed his hand on the dashboard.
"I don’t want to go home," he said. "Turn
the car around now."
Draco looked at him strangely, and pulled the Aston over to the side of the road. A passing cab hooted angrily.
"What do you want to do?" he asked.
"Take me home, but take me somewhere else," said Harry.
"You mean my flat?"
Harry nodded. "I can’t face seeing my things," he said. "I can’t face any of it yet."
They arrived back at Draco’s flat half an hour later. Draco eased the Aston into the parking space reserved for visitors to his flat. He shut off the engine, got out, and walked around to open Harry’s door for him. Then he led the silent, sullen boy up to the flat, and installed him on the sofa.
"Sit here," said Draco. "Let there be food and light and strong drinks with umbrellas in …"
"A strong drink will do me fine, thanks," said Harry, quietly and hoarsely.
"Coming right up," said Draco. He went through into the kitchen, and for a couple of minutes, Harry just sat there on the sofa, listening to the clinking of glasses and the rattling of bottles, and then Draco reappeared, holding a tray on which stood a large quantity of shot glasses, each one filled to the brim with neat whisky. There was also a bowl of peanuts that was in truth entirely superfluous to their requirements. Draco set the whole down on the coffee table, and then sat down, and put his arm around Harry.
"I’m sorry," Draco began.
"No … don’t worry," said Harry. "This is my fault."
"I can’t pretend to understand you, Harry," said Draco. He got up again, leaving a dent in the leather sofa, and walked over to the window. The Millennium Bridge was glowing a trail of lights across the still surface of the Thames. In the distance, the skyscrapers glowed a collage of fluorescent yellow on black, each one topped with a glowing red beacon, flashing a warning to low flying aircraft. St Paul’s, afloat on ethereal tides rode above the city, gently lit from below by soft floodlights, it looked like some incredible pudding basin.
"Then don’t," said Harry. He reached for the first of his shot glasses, and drained it in a single gulp. "Owww … that’s damn good."
Draco turned around and grinned. He walked back across the room, clearing a pile of back issues of NME off the table.
"Want some music?" he asked.
"What’ve you got?"
Draco shrugged, and pointed towards one of the walls of the room, which was entirely taken up with a vast, glass fronted, chrome cabinet. Inside the cabinet were thousands of CDs.
"Review copies," said Draco. "Do you fancy some undiscovered talent, or shall I just put Coldplay on?"
"Coldplay will just depress me," said Harry. "I want the worst fucking music you’ve got."
"That shouldn’t be too hard to find," said Draco. Harry relaxed on the sofa and closed his eyes as Draco clicked open a jewel box. There was a faint whirring as the CD player got going …
‘When the world, seems to get to you,
You can count on me, and I will be there for yoo-uuu …
When it seems, all your hopes and dreams …’
"I asked for the worst fucking music you’ve got, Draco."
Draco nodded. "This is it," he said. "I burnt my copy of Black Lace’s summertime dance classic ‘Agadoo’ in a fit of sanity."
‘Reach for the stars,
Climb every mountain high,
Reach for the stars,
And when that rainbow’s shining over you (naa-naa) …’
"You can do worse than that," said Harry.
Draco turned off the CD.
"Music not good?" he asked.
Harry, who still had his eyes closed, shook his head.
"I’m well sorry to hear that," Draco said. Harry could hear the soft padding as he crossed the room, and sat back down next to him. "Well," he went on. "We really don’t need music, anyway."
"You are not getting sex out of me, Draco," said Harry. "So don’t try."
"I wasn’t going to try," said Draco. "But don’t you wish, sometimes …"
"I don’t know," said Draco. "You know something? For me, one of the worst things about realising I was … well … the way I am, was realising that little babies were, for me, out of the question. You exclude yourself from, well, normal society by definition, and it’s so lonely, too."
"What are you getting at?" asked Harry.
"Straight people have a thing called companionship," said Draco. "It’s not about the sex … it really isn’t just about the sex …"
Harry stretched. "That’s quite some statement, coming from you …"
"Hush, take me seriously a minute," Draco said. "It’s closeness and being together and snuggling on the sofa and … and you know that feeling you get when you’re just so, so happy that you can’t keep it in and you need to leap about and you feel like you’re going to burst because you’re just so damn happy?"
Harry nodded. He hadn’t felt that way in a long time, although he was not going to admit that to Draco.
Draco picked up one of the shot glasses, and drained it in a single gulp … and then he did exactly the same thing to another one.
"That," he said, "that is what I miss."
"It doesn’t have to be like that," said Harry. "You can be happy the way you are."
"I guess," said Draco lazily. "But you’re not happy, are you?"
Harry shook his head. "No," he said. "It’s all … everything’s happening to me so fast and I just don’t see how I can cope."
"You survived plenty worse," said Draco.
Harry nodded – he had never had the guts to tell Draco about half of the stuff that had happened to him whilst he had been in prison.
"How can I make myself happy?" asked Draco. "How can we both make ourselves happy?"
"I think Ron might’ve been right," said Harry. "I think we need each other. I think we’re friends … I should’ve told him … should’ve made my peace a long time ago …"
There was a sudden flurry of movement next to him as Draco shifted his weight suddenly.
"No, no, no, no," he said. "You don’t want that, Harry. The wizarding world fucked us over, both of us. Can’t you see that? No, we’re better off without them."
"But are we?" Harry asked. "I don’t think I am."
"And they’re hardly going to welcome you back into the fold like a little lost sheep," said Draco. "This isn’t some parable we’re talking about here. The wizarding world burnt its boats – as far as I’m concerned, a very long time ago indeed. We can’t go back …"
"But it can’t hurt," said Harry.
Draco shrugged. "Do you like your life now?" he asked.
"Yes and no," said Harry.
"Damn," said Draco. "My next statement was
rather banking on you saying yes, there."
"Well, I did."
"Not explicitly," said Draco. "Harry, I wish I could help you, I really do. But I think you need to do what’s best for you."
He leant forwards, over Harry, and in a display of tenderness which Harry didn’t think he had ever witnessed from the other man, ever before, brushed a stray lock of hair off Harry’s forehead, and twirled it around his finger, playing with it. Then Draco bent down and kissed him, ever so lightly, his lips barely brushing Harry’s scar.
Harry found himself biting his bottom lip and screwing up his face.
"I don’t know what to do," he whispered. "I can’t handle this."
Draco kissed him again, this time on the lips, a little more forcefully.
"This isn’t a good time," Harry whispered.
"I didn’t seem to notice you resisting," said Draco. He kissed him again, this time the tip of his tongue brushing against Harry’s closed lips. This time, Harry responded, just lightly grazing against Draco’s tongue.
"Make it better."
"I will, love," said Draco.
Harry couldn’t sleep. Draco was a careless, messy sleeper, and had a tendency to thrash various limbs into different places, and currently his left arm was thrown across Harry’s chest. He was sucking his thumb, and making little subconscious cooing sounds. Harry hoped that whatever he was dreaming about, it was pleasant.
Reasoning that he was very probably not going to get back to sleep for a long time to come, Harry moved Draco’s arm gently aside, prompting a series of indescribably cute snuffling noises from his sleeping partner, and slipped out of bed. He fumbled around on the floor, and picked up a pair of Draco’s green, silk pyjama bottoms. Yawning, Harry pulled them on … they were a tad tight around the waist … and wandered blearily through to the kitchen.
It was snowing outside. Harry took a glass from one of the cupboards, opened the fridge, and poured himself some milk, then, the noise of his footfall soft on the woodblock floor, he padded over to the window. The City was still ablaze with lights. Harry sat down on the floor. It was warm to the touch – the flat block was very new, and all the apartments had under-floor heating installed. It was quite pleasant.
Harry drained his glass in one go, and set it down on the floor. The large, designer clock on the wall showed the time to be around ten to six in the morning.
"It’s been a weird couple of days," Harry said, softly to himself. He stood up again, and, fumbling slightly with the catch, moved the sliding doors aside. The cold hit him with an indescribable rush, and Harry felt all the hairs on his arms stand on end simultaneously. Goose pimples rose across his chest and back. The balcony itself was covered in about an inch of pure white snow, and as Harry stepped down, the cold spread through his veins like fire. The snow crunched between his toes.
Harry walked carefully over to the balcony rail, not caring how soaked and cold he got. The metal railing was sticky and icy to the touch.
He looked down. The Thames was in full flood. A month’s unseasonable rainfall had swelled rivers across the country to capacity, and the swirling, grey waters lapped angrily at the banks. The first of the morning buses were already crossing Blackfriars Bridge.
Harry could sense, somehow, that he was standing at yet another of those tedious crossroads in which his life seemed to abound. Sure, life was good – there was money and there were good cars and there was a nice flat – although admittedly not as nice as Draco’s. Harry would’ve killed to own a pad like this one, as opposed to his nice, but understated home in an old, Victorian townhouse. But at the same time, it was horribly unsatisfying. Harry had never managed to stay together with any of his girlfriends for more than a couple of months at a time, there was hardly a period of his adult life when he had not been on some kind of drug. Even he knew full well that he drank too much, smoked to excess, and was slowly, yet surely and with great resolution, fucking himself beyond redemption. Sure, hedonists, people with no sense of guilt, like Draco, who seemed pathologically unable to be guilty of anything save devastating sexual allure, could party all night and sleep all day. But this was not Harry. This was not, he felt, his personality.
Something he had always craved, back in the far off days when he had been kept in a cupboard and treated worse than a dog, was a sense of normality and security. The Dursleys had, of course, always stopped him from having any friends. Dudley had seen them off at school, and his Aunt and Uncle had spread rumours amongst the other parents, who, terrified at what they heard, made sure their charges stayed well away from that strange Potter boy.
Sometimes, on one of the rare occasions when he had been allowed to watch TV, he had caught a glimpse of a world where he didn’t live in a cupboard under the stairs, where people were normal, lived in normal houses, drove cars, went about their lives with a sense of purpose and loved one another very much. It was something akin to this that Harry had craved.
And that craving was starting to gnaw at the back of his mind once again.
But, equally, there was something very nice about the feel of the gun in his hand, the dull, fuzzy taste in his mouth after he had drunk too much, the pleasant, nutty smell of cannabis. At least he was living. Better live a little than some of those dull fucks who get up, go to work, come home and are miserable as hell in their sad, boring existences. There is, after all, thought Harry, nothing quite so bad as being ordinary. And ordinary I most certainly am not.
"Harry, what the fuck are you doing?"
The sound of Draco’s voice jerked Harry out of his thoughts. He turned to see the other man standing, framed in the doorway, naked save for a pair of black, silk boxer shorts, just a bit short of being indecent.
"Are you trying to kill yourself? You’ve gone blue? And are those my pyjamas?"
Harry turned away, and stared out across the river again. He heard the crunch of Draco’s footsteps on the snow, and a whispered, "Fuuuuuck, it’s coooold!"
"What do I do now, Draco?" he asked.
Draco crunched over to him, and put a hand around Harry’s waist, holding him there. The warmth of his body pressed against Harry’s own felt like he was burning up.
"You come inside," said Draco, "and warm up. Do you want coffee? I can make some coffee and we can have a bath. D’you like that?"
Harry nodded sheepishly. "But I’m still not gay."
Draco pecked him on the cheek. "Of course you aren’t. Come along now."
He steered Harry back inside, and sat him on the sofa. Then he retrieved his duvet from the bedroom, and draped it around Harry’s quivering frame.
"What about that coffee?" Harry asked faintly.
"I’ll just make it," Draco said. "I don’t think I’ve been up this early for years," he added. Harry grinned, despite himself.
"What do I do?" he repeated.
"Like I said, whatever you feel like," said Draco. "I can only influence you so far."
Harry pummelled his fists against the sofa as Draco rattled around with the coffee cups.
"I need an answer," Harry said. "None of this softly, softly, catch the monkey shit."
"An answer," began Draco, as the coffee machine began to gurgle in earnest, "is something I am quantifiably unable to supply you with. You take yours black, don’t you?"
"This early in the morning, yes," said Harry. "Why won’t you help me, Draco?"
"I’m trying to," said Draco. "Believe me, Harry. I want to see you happy, and I don’t want to do anything that’d make you unhappy, even though I do sometimes …"
Harry nodded. "You do," he said.
"But there is no answer," said Draco. "There was never an answer, and there isn’t going to be an answer. That’s the answer."
"I’m really on my own," said Harry, realisation dawning on him.
"No," said Draco, pouring their coffee. "You’re not on your own. You’ve got me … and God but I love you."
Harry gave a start.
"I’ll support you in whatever you want to do," said Draco. "Except running away to become a monk … I’ll draw the line at having to visit you in a monastery."
He came back over to the sofa, set the two mugs down on the coffee table, and sat next to Harry.
"I do love you, though," said Draco. "I know I’m probably not ever going to hear it back from you, Harry, because I don’t think you love me, and I’m not damn fool enough not to spot that. Mind if I snuggle?"
Harry shook his head, and gave Draco some of the duvet. He snuggled down underneath it gently, taking care not to touch Harry. Harry could feel the growing heat from his body.
"I only want you to be happy, Harry," said Draco. "You’re everything, you see. I’m no good at this eloquent shit, but … I … I just know how I feel and …"
"Shut up," said Harry.
"Yeah, okay," Draco said, "was rambling, not good. Sorry."
Harry swallowed and gritted his teeth. He was still shaking from the cold outside. Draco leant forwards, the duvet sliding off of him, exposing the line of his back, and passed Harry his coffee.
"Black, very strong and very hot," he said. Harry tucked the duvet back into place with his free hand, and Draco looked at him, faintly surprised.
"Thanks," he breathed.
Harry sipped the coffee. "Anytime."
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes, just thinking, their breathing light. Finally, Harry replaced his mug on the table, and said again.
"What am I going to do?"
Draco looked up.
"I’ve had nothing but crap," said Harry, "these last twenty three years … they’ve all been utter bullshit. None of it means anything and …"
He broke off, and coughed, blinking rapidly several times.
"Oh, don’t, Harry," Draco began, leaning across, slipping one hand around Harry’s back and letting the other rest across his chest, feeling the faint quivering of Harry’s heart underneath his fingers. Harry rested his head on Draco’s shoulder.
"Please, don’t cry. It won’t solve anything …"
Harry coughed. A single tear detached itself from his eye, and rolled slowly down his cheek, leaving a glittering trail behind it.
"No, no, Harry. Ssssh, please don’t."
"It’s not fair," the gasp from Harry was quiet and almost inaudible. "Nobody ever loved me really …"
"I do," said Draco, quietly. He rocked Harry back and forth, as he might do to a baby. "I do, very much."
He felt Harry’s hands brushing carelessly against his stomach, and hitched his breathing momentarily.
"I don’t want to do this to you," said Draco. He took his hand away from Harry’s chest, and removed the searching hand, which was probing beneath the waistband of his boxer shorts. "Not when you’re like this. I can’t bear to see you like this, Harry, and you know it’d break my heart to make you do anything you didn’t want to do. I don’t think you want this. Not now."
But Harry would clearly not be swayed. He leant in close, and kissed Draco, ever so lightly, on the cheek.
"I do want this," he said. "I want to be loved, Draco."
"Not by me."
He kissed him again. And this time Draco turned his head, brushing his lips against Harry’s. Harry faltered again momentarily, nervousness creeping into his eyes. Draco hugged him closer, his free hand easing the pyjamas gently off, causing Harry to squeak in surprise.
"If you think I’m going to let you get away with this whenever you’re feeling upset," Draco breathed, as he leant in close to nibble on Harry’s left earlobe, the way he remembered he liked it. "Then you’re absolutely correct."
END OF CHAPTER SEVEN …
TO BE CONTINUED IN CHAPTER EIGHT …
Author notes: You’ve read it, and now there are numerous ways to review it, too, all of them neatly affordable and neither requiring more than a couple of minutes of your time. You can take a trip to Paradise and review there, you can drop us a line at the new Snitch! Yahoo Group (over 18’s only, please), or you can review at Schnoogle, part of the Fiction Alley group! It’s up to you, but do please give me some feedback. I want to improve my writing and I can only do that if people tell me what they thought … so what are you waiting for?
The following people were instrumental in getting Snitch! back on the rails when all appeared lost. Thank you so, so much to Christian, Stacey, Michelle and Sheryll for their plot pointers and ideas. Thanks also go out to the beta-readers; Rhysenn, Viola and Parker. Thanks to John (a.k.a. The Bloke Who Nicks Al’s Sig Files) for his purveyance of skincare tips and for putting Draco in a thong, to Heidi for being generally brilliant and the rest of the HPfGU Sunday Chatters who are consistently prepared to put up with me.
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