- 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:
- 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 ELEVEN. THE REBEL PRINCE.
NUMBER FOUR, PRIVET DRIVE ...
For long moments they sat in silence as Harry cried himself quiet. He finally closed his eyes, lying spent in Draco's arms, Draco knelt there, only dimly aware that his knees hurt like hell.
"Shush," Draco whispered. "Shush, shush." He wanted nothing more than to just curl up in the cupboard, there and then, and go to sleep with Harry in his arms.
However, reality intruded.
"We can't stay here, Harry," he said. "We really can't."
Harry looked up and opened his eyes.
"Can I stay with you?" he asked unhappily, blinking.
"For as long as you want to," Draco said.
"And you have to promise me something," Harry went on.
"Keep Ron away."
"It would be my pleasure."
He kissed Harry's hair.
"We should go," Draco said. "Come on."
"I'm sorry, Draco," Harry murmured, allowing himself to be pulled onto his feet. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"Shut up," Draco said, not unkindly. He could hear footsteps, and talking outside. The door opened and Neville and Ron entered, lit from behind by the porch light.
"I'm sorry," Ron said, though the tone of his voice showed he was anything but.
Draco was only barely aware of his hands being prised off Harry, and then he felt a hand clamped on his shoulder. He looked up.
"What are you doing here, Weasley?" he demanded.
"We have to take Harry back," said Ron.
Draco sprang to his feet. "You can't," he started, panicking. "He said he loved me. He doesn't want to leave me."
"I'm not going to leave," Harry interjected.
"But we don't know what you might have done," Ron said, his face betraying not the slightest hint of emotion. "Look at what you've already done, Harry! Look what you could have done if we hadn't come!"
Harry looked mournful. "I don't know what I was thinking," he began. "But please, Ron - I didn't do it. Please don't do this to me."
Draco looked at Ron and sneered. "You make me sick, Weasley."
"We're only taking him to the Secure Unit at Saint Mungo's," Ron said. "It's not very far from London, you'll be able to come and see him every day, and they've -"
"NO!" Harry shouted. Draco took his hand gently. "I won't go with you! You can't make me!"
"I don't want to see Harry in that loony bin!" Draco growled, losing his cool at long last, right there in that cramped, chintzy hallway. "I want to see him at home. I want to see him whenever I like. I want to see him happy!"
"He was happy until you got your filthy little hands on him, Malfoy!" Ron spat, flecks of spittle landing on Draco's sweater. Draco was very aware of Harry pressing close against him, heart beating nineteen to the dozen.
"He didn't get his hands on me," Harry started. "Why won't you see that I love him!"
"My hands!" Draco spluttered. "I did nothing to him, Weasley! I have his best interests at heart ..."
"Don't give me that shit!" Ron snapped. "You don't know Harry and you don't love him! You can never love him!"
"Now look here, you badly dressed piece of shit!" Draco said. "You abandoned him! You and your ... you pathetic, self-righteous bunch of fucking tosspots! Never in my life have I heard this much fucking rubbish spouted by such a complete twat with his head rammed up his own arse! You can't know what Harry wants! Only I can, because only I know him!"
"Easy ..." Ron began.
"Shut the fuck up!" Draco roared, poking Ron in the chest. "Listen to me! Only I went to look for him. Only I abandoned my family for him. None of you did anything! None of you!"
"We thought he was dead, you idiot!"
"You believed that shit? Give me a break, Weasel! If you were ever Harry's friend, you'd have refused to believe Harry was dead until you saw his body for yourself! Until you had his blood on your hands. If you were true friends you'd have looked for him. I did it for him. I went looking! I went looking because I knew that I loved Harry, and I couldn't bear to be apart from him for one moment, and fuck me but it took a while. But I found him! I found him, and he's my friend and I know him better than any of you ever did, and at this rate, better than any of you ever will. I know what he likes on toast. I know how he likes his eggs done. I know that he colour codes his socks. I know his favourite brand of hair gel! I know where he lunches on Tuesdays, and I know he hates spicy curries because they make his nose run. Did you know any of that, Weasley?"
"No ... but ..."
"Then listen to me, you self-important little fuck! I know Harry. Harry's my lover. Harry's my boyfriend. I know how to make him scream with pleasure. I know exactly where to bite him and how hard. I know how he kisses. I know that his life has fucked him up this much that he needs to be loved and cuddled and protected. He exudes need. He still needs me to be with him. I need to hold him. He needs it! Otherwise he'll die! I love him because I know him. I understand these things because I love him. And you! You! You never can! Your people never will."
Harry said nothing.
Ron stared at Draco.
"My people, Malfoy?"
"You know what I mean."
"You're one of us," Ron said. "You always were and you still are. You can come back, Malfoy. You will come back. It's not too late, you know."
"Why would I want to?" Draco asked.
"Because the wizarding world has decided it doesn't give a fuck about your melodrama any more," Ron said. "Because as soon as we release Harry, Harry is going to be arrested by the Muggle police, and Harry is going to go to prison for a very long time. And you, chum ... you are going to go down with him. Do you want them to take ten years out of your life, because that's what'll fucking happen!" Ron started forward, but Neville put an arm out to stop him.
"No. No, it won't!"
"We can still stop that," Ron said. "It's entirely up to you, Malfoy."
Harry started to speak, but Draco interrupted.
"I suggest you have a very long think about which direction you want your life to take, Draco," Ron said.
"That's blackmail," Draco said.
"Who are you going to tell?" Ron asked. "The police? You ever been in prison, Malfoy? Doubt it," he answered his own question. "You're far too pure and godlike for that to happen."
Draco started forwards. "I know I don't want to go," he said softly. "But I'll be buggered if I ask for help from you."
"Then you'll spend the next ten years being buggered by Big Dave," Ron smirked. "It's your choice. I hear prison can be very rough for pretty boys like you."
"Very, very rough," Ron went on. "And not in a good way. Sex in prison is no fun." He lowered his voice. "No lube, you see."
"What will you do for us, then?" Draco asked.
"That's better," said Ron, smiling a little. "We can stop that from happening, you see. We can still make it all better, you know." His voice was low and calming, almost as if he was talking to a small child. Draco wanted to sock him one in the gob right there and then.
Instead, he asked, "How? I thought you were fired?"
"I've got contacts," said Ron. "We can make it seem absolutely vital to the magical authorities that we need Harry on board."
"You're mad!" Draco declared.
"No, I'm risking a long, long stretch in Azkaban for you two," said Ron. "If we fuck up, we'll all go down. But roll over and I'll throw you a bone."
"And if I refuse now?" Harry asked
"Then you two will get banged up and I will walk free," said Ron.
"You scheming fuck!" Draco began.
"You have to be, in a job like mine," said Ron. "Why do you think Hermione and I divorced?"
"Harry told me she said it was because you had all the chemistry of wet cement, that you were boring in bed and that snails had larger willies ..." Draco said.
"SHUT UP!" Harry roared. He had been standing next to them, going steadily redder. "Who the fuck do you two think you are? You think you can just stand there and argue over my fucking life! My fucking life! You're both out of order. Neither of you know me! Neither of you really know me. Only I know me. I've had to live with me for twenty two years! And in all that time, nobody has known me!"
Both of them looked at Harry, and then at each other. Draco reached to put a hand on Harry's shoulder, but Harry brushed him away.
"I'm sorry," Draco began. "I shouldn't have said those things."
Ron didn't say anything. His face went red and he clenched his fists. He watched Harry's face crumple and his bottom lip begin to tremble. He watched Draco take the other man lightly in his arms and rub calming hands up and down his back. He watched Draco whisper something in Harry's ear. Ron turned away.
Ron looked up, suddenly.
There was a man standing in the doorway. He was about fifty five or sixty years old with thinning grey hair. His face was podgy, his moustache hideous, and his neck virtually non-existent. His belly protruded from under a foul, paisley patterned jumper.
Vernon Dursley radiated incandescent anger. "Who the hell are you?" he shouted. "What the hell are you doing in my house? Damn lucky we spotted the lights on. I'll have you know we have already called the police ..."
Harry's head jerked up. Vernon spluttered indignantly. "You!"
"Do you know this man, Harry?" Draco asked.
Harry nodded. "Oh yes," he snarled. "Oh yes, I do."
"You're meant to be dead!" Vernon declared. High heeled shoes tapped on the path outside, and the door swung open again.
"Darling, the police are on ... oh."
Petunia Dursley stopped dead as she caught sight of her nephew.
"Are these your aunt and uncle, Harry?" Draco asked calmly, looking at Harry, who nodded, glaring from behind his spectacles, eyes aflame with old hatreds.
Vernon Dursley drew himself up to his full height. "I am the owner of this house," he began. "Who might you be?"
Draco, who was a good half foot taller than Vernon, stepped up close to the other man and looked down into Vernon's piggy little eyes.
"My name is Draco Malfoy," Draco said. "I am Harry's lover."
Draco sighed. "His lover, you funny little man. His boyfriend. His homosexual partner. His fuck buddy. His favourite shag."
Uncle Vernon spluttered, pointing to the door. "Get out," he shouted. "All of you. Police are on their way. Now get out!"
Draco tapped his finger on Vernon's chest. "No," he said. "I'm not going to get out, because I know what you did to Harry."
"The boy was a waste of space!"
Draco casually withdrew the gun from his jeans, and pointed it at him. Vernon recoiled and Petunia let out a shrill squeal.
"What a wonder is a gun ..." Draco began.
"You wouldn't dare ..."
"Such a versatile invention," he continued. He removed the safety with a click. "First of all ... when you've a gun ..."
Dursley paled visibly.
"Everybody pays attention."
"Now listen here, you little shit!"
Draco raised one finger for silence. "Unfortunately," he said, after a pause of around twenty seconds during which not a whole bunch of stuff happened, "this one doesn't happen to be loaded."
And with that, he tossed the gun casually aside and punched Vernon Dursley in the face. The older man's eyes crossed, and he fell with extraordinary, ballerina-like grace, to the floor. The house shook as he landed. His jowls rippled.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Neville shouted. Everyone whipped round. Petunia Dursley, looking slightly stunned, toppled to the floor. She was holding a vase, and looked as if she had been about to smash it over Draco's head.
"I can't believe we just did that," Ron began. "Shit, we are going to be in so much trouble!"
"Actually, I quite enjoyed it," said Draco. "Now, Ronald, darling, I'm going to take Harry home to bed. This," he produced a small piece of card from inside one of his pockets, "is my home telephone number. In the morning, you will call me and we will discuss things. Goodnight to you both."
He took Harry by the hand. Ron and Neville looked at each other in amazement.
"Let's get out of here."
"Wait," Ron began.
Draco stopped, paused, and turned back. "What the fuck is it now, weasel breath?"
"I'll ... I'll ... stop," Ron said quickly. "Just ... just ... come back with me first. We can work something out. Maybe a deal?"
The wailing of approaching sirens could be heard as they stepped outside, closing the front door behind them.
"The police are almost here," Ron said. "We have two cars ..."
"We'll take the Lotus, then," Draco declared.
Neville shook his head. "It's safer that I do, surely ..."
"No," said Draco. "The Alfa has all those magic odds and sods installed. You'll be able to make a clean getaway. I have experience of fast driving in a Muggle car. It'll be safer by far if we take the Lotus and make for London. Harry has a warehouse out in the Docklands. We can leave the car there and ..."
Neville shook his head. "Make for there, then" he said. "We'll follow and run some interference for you. You know the way?"
Draco nodded and handed over Neville's car keys.
Neville rolled his eyes. "Look. Just do as I say, guys," he said. "We can lose the Muggles, no problem. Just take it easy and don't raise any eyebrows. Draco, drive sensibly for once -"
"I'm a fucking wanted criminal, Neville," Harry said. "I can drive."
"Harry ... you're in no ..."
"And you are, Draco?" Harry said. "I've got the fucking keys. I'm doing the fucking driving. Neville. Shift that fucking car, now."
"Harry!" Draco snapped. "I'm driving. Now get in the fucking car before I do something I might regret."
Harry looked angry, but said nothing.
Draco sighed and walked round to the other side of the Lotus. Harry slid into the passenger's seat and closed the door. Draco clambered in the other side, started the engine, and clipped his seatbelt on. Neville and Ron got into the other car, and closed the doors. Seconds later, their headlight beams lit up.
"All set?" Draco asked, gunning the engine and slipping the Lotus into reverse as Neville backed off the driveway. Harry thought he could hear sirens approaching at a fair lick.
Draco backed the Lotus out into the road, and then put his foot down, leaving a trail of rubber behind him as the car surged forwards. Harry gripped the edges of his seat in panic as three police cars rounded the corner onto Privet Drive. One of them stopped, slewed across the roadway as Draco flicked the Lotus up onto the verge, narrowly missing a tree, and drove right past them.
"That's some good driving, Draco," Harry said. "Make a right here. I know a way out." Harry glanced in the driving mirror to see one of the police cars, a powerful Volvo V70 estate, close behind them. Draco turned right at the next junction, and caught a glimpse of dead end signs flashing past them.
"This road doesn't go anywhere!" he yelled. "Are you fucking nuts?"
Harry shook his head. "I used to run down here to get away from Dudley," he said. The Lotus crested a speed bump, impacting on the other side and jarring their bones. "Don't remember these being there, though," he went on. "There's an alleyway at the end. On the left!"
Draco glanced in the mirrors. Blue flashing lights filled his field of vision. He looked forwards to see a brown slatted fence rushing up at them. He flung the car into a sudden left hand skid, and suddenly, sure enough, they were driving down a narrow alleyway.
"Told you," Harry said, as the police cars, too wide to go any further, stopped at the far end.
They emerged onto the village green. Draco slowed down slightly as they hit the main road and melted into the evening traffic.
"Easy as pie," he said, as they passed by the duck pond and the local shops.
"What is it?"
"I don't think they've given up on us yet," Harry yelped. Draco checked his mirrors. The other cars were back in pursuit, evidently having found their way out of the warren of suburban housing.
"Okay then, pigs," Draco said. "If you won't fuck off and leave me alone, then I'll fuck off and leave you alone."
He pushed the throttle down and the car leapt forwards. The tail lights of the car in front of them suddenly seemed awfully close.
A lorry flashed past them, heading in the opposite direction, and Draco took his chance to dive out and overtake the other car. Ahead the road turned slightly to go under the railway bridge. Draco wrestled with the steering wheel as the rear wheels lost their grip at speed, and the Lotus came to a halt with a squealing of tyres.
"Shit. Shit!" Draco yelled, restarting the stalled engine. He pumped the clutch and pushed the car into reverse, righting it again before driving off.
"You're doing well," Harry said, checking the mirrors again. They had not shaken off the police, indeed, their near crash at the bridge had given the pursuers a good shot at catching up.
"We'll lose them on the M25," Draco said, as they turned back onto the main road at Chobham High Street and began to pick up speed. Expensive, gated houses lined the road on both sides as they drove along the Chertsey Road.
"How do we get to the damn motorway?" Harry yelled. He had a road map open on his knee. "Go right ... go right at the next roundabout!"
"Help! I don't bloody know where I'm going!" Draco yelled, as they drove onto the roundabout, barely missing a large juggernaut. The police cars stopped in their tracks. Harry turned to Draco, suddenly gripping the sides of his seat again as if staring death in the face.
"WATCH THE FUCKING ROAD!"
Draco reacted immediately, jamming on the brakes. Neville's car had just popped into existence dead ahead of them. He swerved out into the centre of the road, causing an approaching car to veer wildly in the opposite direction.
"The police are gaining!" Harry said, as they raced side by side down the road, approaching another roundabout. "Go right onto ... my eyes, I can't read in this light ... St Peter's Way!"
"Which one's that?"
"Just go right!"
More roundabout signs loomed up out of the darkness. Neville's car was close behind as they barrelled around the corner, the V70s hot on their tail. Draco leaned forwards and glanced in the rear-view mirror. One of the Volvos had come out into the centre of the road, sliding past Neville's Alfa, it drew level with them as they raced over the M25.
"Shoot their tyres out!" Draco yelled. "Do something!" The policemen were gesturing at them to stop through the windows.
"There aren't any fucking bullets!" Harry screamed in response.
"Bugger ... fuck, fuck, fuck," Draco shouted, putting his foot down and nudging the Lotus up to seventy-five as they rapidly approached the Eastworth roundabout. The car surged ahead as they drove onto the roundabout, horn blaring. Draco turned onto Eastworth Road, but Neville's Alfa suddenly skidded round in front of one of the Volvos, which braked sharply. With a popping sound, the Alfa vanished again, and the police car slammed into a tree.
NEVILLE AND RON ...
"Good work, Neville," Ron said, as they Apparated a couple of hundred yards behind the Lotus and one of the pursuing squad cars.
"Check the mirrors and shut up," Neville said, edging the car out into the traffic to overtake a dawdling Metro. "And have your wand ready."
"Right you are," Ron said. Ahead, Draco had turned onto Fordwater Road, a narrow street lined with houses, cutting up a Mercedes trying to turn right. The other car edged slowly out into the road, and Neville clipped its bumper as he made a right turn, mounting the pavement. The police cars turned, barely missing it.
"It's closing!" Neville yelled, pushing the accelerator just a little bit more. Ron had turned round in his seat, wand at the ready. Neville never knew exactly what happened next, but all of a sudden the Volvo vanished, and they found themselves being pursued by a large, wheeled teacake. It rolled slowly to a halt. The two policemen sitting on top of it, one of them clutching a steering wheel, looked very puzzled.
"That's some nice transfiguration, Ron," Neville said, as they followed the other cars onto the B375, heading towards Sunbury ....
HARRY AND DRACO ...
"One left," Draco said calmly, his eyes darting to the rear-view mirror, which was filled with blue lights. He moved out onto the wrong side of the road, flashing past a Transit van slowing to make a turn. The police car, however, was not to be lost so easily.
"There're loads of residential streets round here," Harry suggested. "Perhaps we could lose them ..."
"Not likely," said Draco. He turned to Harry, and grinned wickedly. "I'm up for causing a scene, aren't you?"
Harry turned to him, and looked into his eyes. They crossed another roundabout, and surged off down the Lower Sunbury Road. Dense mist was drifting off the Thames, and Draco flicked on the fog-lights, just to be safe. He took one hand off the wheel.
"Shall we see how fast this mother can really go?" Draco said, putting his free hand on Harry's thigh.
Harry couldn't help himself. He let out a rebel yell as they powered ahead, the police car still on their tail, sirens blaring ..
"FUCK ME!" Draco yelled at the top of his voice. They crested another speed bump, and the impact on the other side pinned both men into their seats. Draco lost control of the car.
"Shit!" Harry yelled. The Lotus flew into a sideways spin as Draco wrestled with the wheel, his foot pumping desperately at the brake as they skidded to a halt.
For a moment, all that could be heard was the clinking noise of the stalled engine cooling. They had come to rest on a stretch of road running parallel to the Thames, with only wooden bollards stopping them from entering the water.
Harry struggled to breathe. Draco could only stare dumbly ahead. Somehow, they had avoided a very sticky end.
"If I ever get out of this," Draco began, "I swear I am never setting foot ..."
Harry's strangled yell caused Draco to look suddenly to the left. The headlights of the police car loomed up out of the fog. He flung the driver's door open, and was about to leap out as the police car, the driver not having anticipated any obstructions, slid gracefully past them. Draco caught a glimpse of startled, terrified faces as the Volvo spun around on itself, taking out five of the wooden bollards before disappearing, with a satisfying splash, beneath the surface of the Thames.
Harry looked at Draco. Their breathing was hard and fast ...
"If we weren't ..." Harry began.
"I would so fuck you now ..."
"However." Harry straightened his jumper.
Neville's car pulled up next to them, and Harry looked up as Neville and Ron climbed out. Draco unclipped his seatbelt, leant back against the seat, and sighed.
"Well, that was fun," he said. "How are you doing, Harry?"
Harry didn't say anything, but he nodded vaguely. Draco wound down the window.
"Thanks, Longbottom. You ... er ..."
"Saved your fucking bacon? On more than one occasion, if I might make so bold, Malfoy," Neville said.
"I owe you a drink at some unspecified point in the future," Draco said.
"I'd be ... I'd be glad to," Neville said, a smile spreading slowly across his face. "Thanks, Draco."
"No worries. Now what do we do?"
Ron started forward, but Neville blocked him with an arm.
"Go home," he said.
"Now hang on just a motherfucking minute -" Ron said.
"Weasley, will you please hold your tongue?" Neville snapped. "It seems to me that we've reached a critical point in our little narrative ..."
"A what now?"
"A cri ... oh, never mind." Neville paused. He fixed Draco with a steely gaze. "I want you two to go home. We'll ... I'll have Ron call you in the morning."
"Neville," Ron began. "I hope you know what you're doing."
Neville turned to look at Ron. "You are in no state to take this any further tonight. Harry needs sleep and lots of it. That means sleep, Draco ..."
"And I'm fucking knackered and all," Neville said. "Ah, one minute ..."
He waved his wand at the car. Draco felt something give underneath him, and a sudden shift in the position of his seat almost crushed his knees against the wheel.
"The pigs won't spot you, now," Neville said. "They're on the lookout for a Lotus Elise."
Draco looked down at the steering wheel.
"What is it?"
"Draco Malfoy does not drive a Mini."
"He does when I'm trying to save his neck," Neville said, annoyed.
"What a fucking hideous car," Ron said, smirking at Draco's obvious discomfort.
"What about it, Weasel?"
"Well, for starters it's a brown Mini."
Draco's eyes narrowed to tiny slits. The glare he gave Neville at that moment could have melted the ice caps and brought down governments. "This is a brown car?"
"I hate you."
"What's wrong with brown?"
"I hate brown."
"But what's wrong with brown?"
"Just fuck off home, Draco, before I change my mind and give you an '84 Corrolla with a wonky door handle, no road tax and seatbelts that don't work properly filled with screaming women."
Neville blinked. "Just a dream I had once. Go home!"
Ginny had had the forethought to put Cameron to bed, and was sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea, Radio 4, two chocolate digestives, and a Discworld book which she was only half-paying attention to when the front door opened and Ron and Neville came in.
"You're back late," she said. "There's half a leftover Chinese in the fridge for your tea if you want." She looked up. "Oh, hello, Neville."
Neville smiled. "Hi, Gin."
Ron opened the fridge, and took out two cans of lager he had been saving. "We need to talk, Neville," he said. "Come through into my study."
Ginny got to her feet. "I'll just heat up the rice, then, shall I?"
The men disappeared into the study without a word to her, closing the door behind them.
"Yeah ... okay. I'll do that."
Ron bid Neville sit down, and he took the comfy armchair by the window. Ron pulled out the desk chair, and plonked himself down on it. He handed one of the cans to Neville, who cracked it open and took a very large gulp.
They sat for about five minutes in a strange kind of silence, until Neville said. "I can't believe your cheek."
Ron looked up. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Don't say you're turning against me as well, Neville."
Neville drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. "Well," he said awkwardly. "You have to admit ..."
"You are. Fuck, Neville! I thought I brought you on board to help me. Not to take Malfoy's side." Ron balled his fist and banged the desk in aggravation.
Neville sighed. "I'm not saying that we're doing the wrong thing ..." he began.
"Well, it fucking well looks like that to me," Ron snapped. He folded his arms defensively, and struck a supremely pouty pose. Neville sighed again, deeply. Ron really was stuck in his adolescence, he thought.
"You're not looking at both sides of the argument," Neville said, playing the diplomat. "You have to see this from their point of view."
"Their point of view?"
"Harry and Draco's," Neville said.
"You mean Harry's," said Ron bitterly. "Malfoy's brainwashed my Harry, or something. I can't believe this is happening."
"No brainwashing of any sort has occurred to anybody," Neville said. "You're being silly."
"But they're having sex."
Neville nodded. "Yes, Ron. They are having sex. They are having sex because they are in love with one another. There's nothing wrong with that at all. It isn't illegal or anything. I think they're sweet together."
"Well, maybe not sweet. But they complement each other," Neville rephrased.
"I can't believe my own friend is saying this to me," said Ron incredulously.
Neville lost his temper for the first time that day. "You already let your anger over this whole thing ruin your career!" he shouted. "Don't fucking let it destroy your friendships, too! Because that's what you're fucking doing, Ron. One day you're going to wake up and you're going to look at yourself in the fucking mirror, and you're going to realise that everyone who cared for you, everyone who liked you, has deserted you. You're going to be all alone and nobody is going to give a toss!"
Ron said nothing. Neville had stunned him into complete silence. The wall clock ticked loudly.
"Was it necessary to do all this?" Neville asked, after they had watched the second hand make two laborious circuits.
Ron nodded. "We had no choice," he said.
"Draco was pissed off."
"I noticed," Ron said darkly.
"Hey ... come on," Neville said. "Harry's ... well ..."
"Twisted," said Ron.
"I wouldn't put it like that," said Neville. "I'd like to talk to him some more."
"He'll talk to you," Ron said bitterly.
Neville sighed and shook his head. "Ron ... I'm really trying not to take sides, here, but to be quite frank ..."
It was Ron's turn to sigh. "I know, I know," he said. "I behaved like a complete fucking twat."
"Well ... yes," Neville said with feeling. "Tell me. Exactly how do you intend to make it appear obvious that we need Harry?"
"I have a little theory I've been working on these last few days. I bought myself a Reader's Pass at the National Library of Magic..."
"You? Doing research? Pull the other one - it's got bells on!"
"It's just something that occurred to me the other week, after Harry's crash. I wanted to follow up some leads, and ... well ... I dug out some stuff from the records, and Remus and Avon helped me with the stuff I couldn't get out of the IBME. I cobbled together this theory that I think you might be interested in."
"I was doing some digging," Ron said.
"In the garden?"
"Don't be a tit! This is serious, Neville," Ron said.
"It has to do with this Wilbur Malone character," Ron said. "I just ... I just think there's more to it than we realise. I think Harry's in more danger than just some renegade wizard."
"How so ... Ron ... you shouldn't be telling me this," Neville said. "You shouldn't be telling anybody this!"
"But it's absolutely vital I do. Look, the point is ... Malone is a tricky man to pin down," Ron said earnestly. "We know he's a wizard ... but there's no record of him at Hogwarts. Now, that doesn't immediately surprise me. He's Irish - he could've gone to the Tipperary Academy."
"So we don't know much about him, then?" Neville said.
"Not a whole lot," said Ron. "He's on Ministry files as a possible threat. We don't know how much he knows about the wizarding world. We don't know why he chose to live as a Muggle. We know from his records that he's had no contact with the wizarding world for some considerable time. He missed both the wars with You-Know-Who - unless someone was keeping him informed then there's no reason for him to know -"
"Unless he's read the books," Neville cut in.
"And even then he'd only have the most basic idea," Ron said. "Unless Malone was You-Know-Who -"
"What?" Neville exclaimed incredulously. "You don't seriously think ... Ron ... are you completely off your rocker?"
"Sirius agrees with me," said Ron. "It's not so hard to believe ..."
"It's bloody hard for me to believe that You-Know-Who could conceivably choose to live as a Muggle criminal!"
"Well, maybe he knows, in some way," Ron said. "You know ... about Harry leaving. It's just a theory." He sounded very defensive.
"So ... you don't think You-Know-Who's dead, then?" Neville asked.
Ron shrugged. "You know what the Ministry is like for cover-ups," he said. "Nobody ever said they actually found a body -"
"Because You-Know-Who was incorporeal -"
"Nobody ever actually confirmed that," said Ron. "All we actually ever knew was that the Death Eaters scattered in 1998, right? Lucius Malfoy topped himself after Draco ran away, the others just drifted off ..."
"Interesting to see how they're going to put that in a book," Neville said.
"Yes, it was quite possibly the most boring war ever fought," Ron said. "We assumed You-Know-Who was driven out of the country. The IBME had a lot of resources dedicated solely to him at that time, and they never picked up a magical signature, or any kind of activity from him. Well ... what if he didn't leave the country at all?"
"Well, he might have been vanquished," Neville said. "Can incorporeal people die?"
Ron shook his head. "No," he said. "I don't believe that anything like that happened. The last date anybody had any record of his existence was on the 25th of May, 1998. Coincidentally, that was the day Harry got out of prison. And it was the day that Malone held up a Securicor van at Stanstead Airport."
"Why is the heist significant?"
"Because it is the first record we have of Malone," said Ron. "Everything we know about him was dug up from that point. Now ... what if there's some sort of subtle memory charm working on everyone, here."
"What if Malone didn't show his face before 1998 because he didn't actually exist before 1998?" Ron explained.
"You're nuts!" Neville exclaimed.
"No ... I'm not. Hear me out," Ron said. "Malone's birth certificate, his file with the Muggle police, his file with us, all seem to prove that he was born in 1948 in a village near Limerick, in Ireland. There's no record of his education, but we do know that he left the wizarding world, never to return, in about 1970."
"You mean to say he wasn't born?"
"No, let's say the documents are fabricated," Ron said. "Placed there by willing agents, or just created by magic. It's been done before. Or maybe he died young and the records have simply been seized and doctored."
"Ron ... I really don't think - you're saying You-Know-Who has fabricated an entire life - implanted it in our heads - in the heads of everybody Wilbur Malone has come in contact with - for what purpose, pray?"
Ron shrugged. "Beats me," he said. "Perhaps he wanted to lie low. Although you must admit it looks suspicious that he chose the same ... well ... career path as Harry. Perhaps he knew something we didn't at the time."
Neville was incredulous. "I think you might have to be a lone voice on that one," he said.
"I think Harry's in danger," said Ron. "I think the arson attack on his flat was meant as a warning, a wake-up call. I think we need to keep Harry very close to us."
"And you propose we do what?"
Ron smiled slyly. "Well," he said. "Here's the plan ..."
BACK AT DRACO'S FLAT. LATER THAT EVENING ...
Draco set the taps running on the bath, and went back outside. Harry was sitting on the sofa, his face a picture of utter misery, nursing between his hands a warm cup of tea.
"How are you feeling?" Draco asked. Harry shifted his legs out of the way to make room as he flopped down on the sofa.
"I feel horrible," said Harry. "I don't know what I should be feeling."
Draco sipped his tea. He was too absorbed in Harry's eyes to notice he was dripping it on the sofa.
"I did mean it, you know," Harry said.
"Mean what?" Draco asked.
"I do love you," Harry said. "I do."
Despite himself, Draco blushed.
"It's very sweet of you to say so," he said quietly.
Harry was in earnest. "But I do," he said. "I only just realised it but I really, really do."
Draco blinked back tears that he could feel welling up in his eyes. "Harry?"
There was a perfect silence between them. In the background, the water thundered into the bathtub.
"We shall have to take your dressings off," Draco said. "Before you have your bath, that is. They gave me some fresh bandages to use - it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out."
"Stop it," Harry said.
"Stop trying to bloody pretend that this moment isn't happening," Harry said, vexed. "Stop trying to pretend that you didn't hear what I just said."
Draco hung his head. His heart was aflutter, his mind confused.
"I don't give a flying fuck about the bandages," Harry said, setting down his mug. "I don't care about them. I only want to be with you."
"Listen to me," Harry went on, scooting forwards. "I don't care. Magic could've fixed those wounds instantly, you know."
"Harry, please stop it." Harry had climbed onto his lap now, and was sitting astride Draco's thighs, his hands resting on the sofa on either side of Draco's head. Draco looked up into a sea of green. Harry had taken his glasses off.
"Magic did fix those wounds," Harry said, quietly.
Draco gave a start, and nearly flung Harry off. "What?"
Harry looked sheepish. "I got Neville to do it," he said. "Yesterday, when you weren't around."
He grinned cheekily.
"Oh," said Draco.
Harry bounced up and down slightly, trying to arouse some interest. "So come on," he said.
"Come on what?" Draco asked.
"Oh, all over me if you want," said Harry. "Come on ... get up! We need to have sex."
"No we don't."
Harry looked puzzled. "But you always have sex ..."
"Harry. I don't love you because I want endless shagging," Draco said. He reached out and took Harry's head in his hands, holding him under the chin and caressing his hair at the same time.
"It's more than that," Draco went on. "I want to be with you. I don't want sex for the sake of sex."
"But what about all those others?"
"I never felt that way about any of them," Draco said. "Never. It's like I'm a virgin all over again. I've never felt this way about anyone. I love you so much and I don't want to spoil it ... our first time ..."
"We had a first time some time ago," Harry pointed out. "Please shag me, Draco? A few days ago you were begging to ..."
Draco gave a start so violent that he flung Harry off his lap and onto the floor. "That was different!" he snapped.
Harry looked up at him through tearstained eyes. "Draco?"
"I need to work out how I feel!" he shouted. "I can't just do this. Not now! Too much has happened. It isn't the same, Harry."
Harry got to his feet.
"Fine," he said bitterly. "I understand."
Draco looked up imploringly. "No, stay here," he said.
"No. It's all right," Harry said. "Just answer me one thing?"
"Am I the first person whose heart you ever ripped out and trampled on?" Harry said. "Or do you make a habit of it? I love you, Draco! I fucking said I did!"
"Harry, shut up and sit down. You don't know what you're saying!"
"I fucking know all too well what I'm saying!" Harry yelled. "I'm going to have my bath! You can call up some cheap little whore out the back of Gay Times if you fucking want. I don't care what you do! You can fuck right off!"
Harry turned on his heels and stormed off, fists clenched by his sides, indescribable anger and lingering arousal coursing through him. He slammed the bathroom door shut, and locked it noisily. Then he stopped.
A solitary tear trickled down his face. He put his hand to the door. Draco had turned on the TV, and the theme music to ER was blaring out.
"If you love me," he whispered, as he silently slid the lock open again, "you'll follow."
He shut the taps off, and took off shoes and socks, his sweater and trousers and pants. Then he dimmed the lights, and lit candles. Draco's skincare products were lined up neatly on their own little shelf, and there was also a bath pillow shaped like a pair of lips, and a little bottle of lavender oil. The bath water steamed gently. Outside he could hear the TV.
Harry climbed into the bath, and arranged the pillow behind his head, sinking down into the deep, hot water. He was surrounded by the scent of the aromatherapy oils. He closed his eyes, and then let out a choking sob.
Why won't you come?
He waited. He could just about make out the sound of panicked American accents on the telly. Then all sound died. Harry could hear Draco moving around, and through the mist of his unhappiness, he felt his heart begin to beat again.
More music started up. Fuck. He had only been putting on an Abba CD, and 'The Winner Takes It All' blared out. Draco turned the volume up slightly.
Why won't you come?
Harry's eyes flicked open again. Nothing was happening. He closed them.
The door creaked open. Harry's heart skipped a beat.
"Harry?" A whispered voice. "Harry? Have you gone to sleep?" Now that the door was open, the music was slightly louder.
"You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to," Draco said, venturing further into the bathroom. "I thought you might like a sandwich and ... um ..."
Harry opened one eye. "You eat in the bath, Draco?"
"And ..." It was clearly difficult for Draco to get the words out. "And I'm sorry."
"Please talk to me, Harry."
Draco's face cracked into a grin. He walked over to the side of the tub, and knelt down on the bath mat next to it. He set the plate on the side.
"I'm not hungry," Harry said, opening the other eye.
"I'm sorry," Draco said. "Please forgive me."
It had taken guts for him to do that ... Harry could tell. The blond's fingers splashed lazily in the bathwater, sending little ripples across the surface.
"I'm sorry too," Harry said.
"You don't have anything to be sorry for," said Draco. "Look ... fuck the food. I think we need to talk properly. It's a really, really big step we're taking. It's as bloody new to me as it is to you. You do realise that, right?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah - I guess," he said.
"But you don't feel like talking," Draco allowed his hand to slip beneath the surface of the water.
"Not really," said Harry. He could feel the tension of the past few days draining out of his body. It was like a succession of weights sliding from his shoulders.
He looked up into Draco's eyes. There was a wicked glint in them. Harry smiled a cocky grin, and Draco hissed with arousal, thrusting his hand deeper into the water, and tickling Harry's abdomen with his fingers.
"Mr Malfoy!" he exclaimed in shock. "I pray that you will take this favour and then kindly leave. I am trying to bathe and you are spoiling my dignity."
"By my troth," Draco began. "I must protest. You have no dignity before me, for I have given thee a blow job."
"Mr Malfoy, you are being scandalous, and I shall ring for my chaperone!"
"And what, pray, will Mr Weasley do when he catches us?"
"Prithee," Harry smirked. "He will go as red as his hair, Mr Malfoy."
"Then no harm can come of our little tryst," said Draco. "I trust you will not inform him?"
He bent over the bath, taking Harry's mouth in a deep kiss. Harry seized on the drawstrings around the hood of Draco's sweater, and yanked hard. Draco gave a yelp of surprise, and plunged, fully clothed into the bath.
"Mr Malfoy," Harry giggled. "I fear you will become soaked."
Draco nibbled at Harry's neck, his jeans and jumper plastered to him, wet through. "I fear my jumper is dry clean only," he mumbled, as he licked and suckled at the wet skin. Harry's hands ran through his hair, and he groaned.
"Love you so much."
"Is that a declaration, Mr Potter?"
"I fear so," Harry breathed hard, bucking as Draco pulled the ruined jumper over his head, and dropped it on the floor. Harry's hands fumbled with the buttons on his jeans. "I also fear," he said, as he eased them free, "that if we do not stop soon, I will become quite carried away in transports of orgasmic delight."
"That was my intention all along, Mr Potter," Draco said, his hands joining Harry's as they eased the jeans off. "I pray, would you rather I fucked you now or later?"
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17TH, 2003.
The phone was ringing. In his haste to get to it, Draco almost squashed Harry, who was lying sprawled across the bed on his front, naked under the duvet, snoring slightly. Eventually he succeeded in knocking it off the hook.
"Draco, is that you?" It was Neville's voice.
"Yes. What is it?"
"I'm just calling to say I'm on my way over. I'll probably be with you in about fifteen minutes."
"What the fuck ..."
But Neville had hung up.
Ten minutes later, red faced and clad in only a black g-string, Draco opened the door to Neville and Ron, who was holding a black case.
"You didn't say he was coming!" Draco snarled through the crack in the door, glaring at Ron.
"Tant pis, Malfoy," said Neville. "Are you going to let us in or not?"
Draco sighed mightily, and opened the door. Neville wolf-whistled, and Ron snapped, "Oh for fuck's sake, put some clothes on, Malfoy!"
"I just got out of the shower. I only just woke up."
"It's eleven thirty in the morning."
"I suppose I'd better take a look at Harry. I take it he's awake," Neville said.
Draco leapt in front of Neville, barring the door to the bedroom. "Not as such," he said.
"Not as such?" Neville raised an eyebrow.
"As in not at all," said Draco.
"Well, we'd better wake him, then," said Neville. He moved Draco out of the way, and disappeared into the bedroom. Draco followed meekly.
"I really don't think you ..." Draco began.
"Oh for fuck's sake, Malfoy!"
"I said he needed sleep!"
Neville raised Harry's limp left arm, and let it fall back to the bed. Harry snuffled.
"What is that? Is that not asleep?"
"What did you do to him?"
"Nothing," Draco said quickly.
Neville picked up a small bottle from the table. "Poppers, Malfoy?"
"They belong to my ex ... Harry's delicate, I wouldn't give him drugs."
"And what's this?"
"That's lubricant," said Draco. "That's mine, I'll thank you not to go sniffing at it like that ... you don't know where it's been."
Neville caught sight of something on the floor, and picked it up.
"Where's the condom?"
"The one that was in this wrapper?" Neville sighed.
"There was no condom in that wrapper."
"Yes," said Draco. "It was a dud. That's the last time I buy Durex. Perhaps you'd like a cup of tea ..."
"What's in the tissue paper?"
"Draco. What is in the tissue paper?"
"Condom ... but I didn't ..."
"No. Honest ..."
Neville threw the tissue paper in the bin next to the bed, and then lifted the duvet. There were two large, red, purple marks on the back of Harry's neck.
"What are those?"
"Giant mosquito bites. You should see the size of the mosquitoes we get around here ..." Draco began, but then he caught sight of Neville's face. "Love bites ..."
"Administered by the Invisible Man, perhaps?"
"Um, well ... not as ... such ..."
Neville lifted Harry's right hand. His fingers were wrapped around something.
"That's definitely not mine," Draco said, as Neville held up what appeared to be a vinyl jockstrap.
"What part of 'Harry needs sleep' didn't you understand?"
"He ... slept ... look ..."
"But you also fucked him."
"I gave him a blowjob first!" Draco protested.
"Yes, because that so makes it okay," said Neville. "Draco, I appreciate your ... feelings ... I appreciate it and all, but when I said Harry needed plenty of rest, I wasn't fucking kidding."
Draco made a weebling noise.
"Oh, what the fuck is it now?" Neville snapped.
"It wasn't my fault! Harry led me on ..." Draco lied.
"You mean he was in the same room?"
"More or less," said Draco, downcast.
"Malfoy, you're an idiot ..."
"You are a complete moron."
Draco hung his head. "I was naked. So was Harry ..."
Neville made a strangled, gurgling noise. "I'll be outside!" he snapped. "Where do you keep your tea things?"
"In the kitchen. Cupboard above the tumble dryer," Draco mumbled.
"You have ten minutes to get Harry presentable," said Neville. "Then I want you to come outside, and you and Ron are going to talk like civilised human beings."
"I'll need more than ten minutes."
"Tough break, Malfoy. You don't get shit," said Neville. "See you in ten."
He closed the bedroom door on his way out, and a morose Draco turned back to the bed.
Draco clambered onto the bed, and shook Harry by the shoulder. The skin was soft and smooth under his touch. "Harry, oh Harry ... wake up, sweet ..."
Harry opened his right eye, and blinked.
He clasped Draco around his abdomen.
"What's the time ..."
"You have ten minutes, come on, get up. We have visitors ..."
Harry grinned. "Mmmm." Then he kissed Draco.
"No, no! We mustn't."
But Harry was already working his way down Draco's chest, lapping at his nipples and working his hand inside the g-string.
"Nooooo!" Draco wailed softly. And then he gave in.
TWENTY FIVE MINUTES LATER ...
Ron was in the kitchen boiling a kettle for their second cup of tea when the bedroom door creaked open, and Harry and Draco stumbled out, Draco's hair was unkempt, and he wore a pair of very battered jeans and a white vest, riding up around his abdomen. Harry was wearing a borrowed turtleneck jumper and black dress trousers. Neville shook his head.
Draco shrugged. "Hey, Weasel. Bung some toast in, will you?"
Ron turned up his nose, but he did it anyway.
"I take mine lightly crisped with marmalade," Draco said, flopping down on the sofa. "You guys could've put the television on, you know ..."
"We didn't think you'd be long," said Neville.
Harry sat down next to Draco, and folded his arms defensively.
"I'd just like to say that I have nothing to say to Ron," he said coldly.
The kettle boiled, and Ron poured out four mugs of tea. "Milk, no sugar, right, Harry? Like always?"
"Hmmph," went Harry.
"Suit yourself," said Ron. He picked up the salt shaker and sprinkled it liberally over Draco's cup. The toast popped.
"So," said Neville, as Ron sat down and handed round the tea. Draco took a sip of his, made a disgusted face, and then said nothing.
"So," Ron said.
"Hmmph," said Harry.
"Oh, please," said Draco.
"Harry, I want you to try something for me," said Ron. "Get up and come over here."
"Please, Harry," Neville said. "You need to do this."
Silently and sullenly, Harry got to his feet, and followed Ron over to the window. Ron opened up his briefcase and took out a long leather case. Draco recognised it immediately as a carrying case for a wand. He wondered exactly what stunt Weasel was trying to pull?
Harry, meanwhile, was staring at the case in rapt fascination. It had his initials on it in silver.
"This is mine," he said softly.
Ron nodded. "Take it," he said. "You might need it."
Harry, fingers trembling, took the case out of Ron's hands and flipped the latch open. From across the room, from where Draco and Neville were sitting, he appeared to take on a sudden glow. He had never, Draco thought, looked so alive as he did at that moment. He felt his heart give a brief lurch. He felt nauseous and he could only look on.
"But McGonagall broke it ..." Harry said. "It can't be put back together again ... surely ..."
"Hermione spent four weeks working on it," Ron said. "She pieced it back together again and ... well ... it works fine ... has a tendency to turn things into pumpkins though."
Harry swished the wand experimentally in the air. A few purple sparks shot out of the end.
"What is this crap?" Draco was on his feet, angry. "Weasel? What are you trying to do to him?"
Ron turned and glared, "Would you shut up already?" he asked.
Harry pointed the wand at the biscuit tin. "Accio Biscuits." The tin flew across the room and into his hand.
"Good stuff," Ron said.
"Heh," said Harry, looking at the wand, interested. Then he set it down on the worktop. "What's this in aid of, Ron?"
"You might need it later," said Ron.
"It's a toy," said Harry. "What the fuck do I want a wand for?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Not especially," said Harry.
"I'd like you to come with me, Harry," said Ron, smiling. "Bring the wand and ... there are things I need to show you. Things I need to talk to you about. I can't do that here."
"Fuck you!" Draco yelled, starting across the room. Neville pointed his wand at him, and intoned something. Draco wobbled, and disappeared from view with a thud.
"Jelly legs!" His voice could be heard from somewhere in the region of the floor. "You bastard, Longbottom! I thought I trusted you!"
"Will you please shut up?" Neville snapped. "You're beginning to irritate me. This isn't about you, it's about Harry. Let him make his own choices. Did you ever think of doing that before?"
Draco hauled himself up into a sitting position. "Of course I did!" he yelled, his face purple with fury.
"Then," said Ron, "why don't you let him trust his judgement?"
"I think Draco knows me better than you, Ron," Harry snapped.
Ron rounded on him. "Oh really? That's not what you were saying yesterday. You said only you knew you. Well, if that's the case then make your own choices, instead of letting this worm lead you ..."
"Draco's no fucking worm ..."
"This is not the Harry I knew. The Harry I knew would never in a million years let himself be led by someone like Malfoy. I've met his type before. He's a slut ..."
"RON!" Neville snapped.
"But he'll chew Harry up and then he'll spit him out as soon as the next bit of arse shows up on the scene. Harry, you don't have to let that freak dominate you. I thought you were a brave Gryffindor ..."
"Get out of my house," Draco glared. "Now."
"Maybe you love him and maybe you don't," said Ron, paying Draco no attention. "But I'm on your side, Harry. He just wants to fuck you. You want to let him? Can it truly be said that yours is a relationship of equals? Who tops?"
Harry looked down at the floor.
"What is it you want, Ron?" he asked. "I don't fucking understand what the fuck it is you fucking want!"
Ron placed a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Just come with me now," he said. "Leave Draco here. He'll be fine - Neville will take care of him, nothing will happen. I just want you to be able to make your own choices."
Harry looked at Ron, and then at Neville and Draco.
"If Neville harms a hair of his head ..."
"I won't do a thing," Neville said. "I'll even make him some lunch."
"Ooooh, that makes it all better!" Draco taunted. "Why not buy flowers, too?"
"I'll see you both dead and in Hell if Neville so much as touches him," Harry sneered. "So God help me I will."
"If I betray you now, Harry. I'll deserve Hell," Ron said. "But are you ready to follow me in? Because you'll end up there, too, the way you're going."
"I'd follow you, Harry!" Draco began.
"Nobody asked you," snapped Ron.
Harry picked up the wand, and studied it intently. It did appear to be his own wand, complete and accurate in every detail, with only a faint hairline crack to show where it had been broken. Then he looked at Ron, and in that instant, something deep inside him clicked. He swished the wand and smiled. Ron smiled back.
"Do it for me, mate?" Ron asked. "Look ... if ... if ..."
"Go on," Draco sneered.
"If I can't convince you in a day. Then ..." he sniffed, "then I'll let you alone."
"Harry! Walk out that door with him and you're fucking finished!" Draco yelled. "I'll never fucking talk to you again!"
Harry looked at Draco. He sighed. He stood for a brief second at the threshold of the most important, life-changing decision he would ever have to take.
I can't take that decision.
I have to take that decision.
Harry looked back at Ron, who was looking at him intently. Ron, who had been his first and best friend, Ron who had abandoned him.
He looked over at Draco. Draco, who had done his utmost to make Harry's life hell for so many years, Draco who had followed him and who now loved him.
"I have to go," he said. "I can't go on like this."
"Come on, then," Ron said, nudging Harry's arm.
"Harry! Don't do it!"
Harry ignored Draco, choking back a wave of emotion as he forced himself to blank the other man, and followed Ron to the door. As he closed it he heard Draco yelling. "Fuck you, Potter. I never want to see you again, you backstabbing BASTARD!"
There were tears in Draco's eye.
END OF CHAPTER ELEVEN
TO BE CONTINUED IN CHAPTER TWELVE ...
With grateful thanks to Aja, Dinah, Fearthainn, Mara, Nancy, and Parker for their work in making this chapter less of a disaster ...
Special thanks to Amy, who though she had me screaming at the computer in torrents of frustration, came up with the best damn job I ever did see.
Lyrics in the chapter are taken from Sondheim's Assassins, and the title comes from a Rufus Wainwright song. And because everyone who's read it so far has had issues with the line, 'tant pis' is French, and translates literally as 'tough shit.'