Disclaimer: JKR owns the stuff, we make no $$, Bronte sisters quote in there but I dunno which one. Credits to whomever, then.

My Mother Told Me Life Was Like A Box Of Weevils

Chapter Six

By Kis "Cycle of the Werewolf" Saki and Liber "Did you just moon the dark lord" tine


He brought Neville home.

He wasn't quite sure why he did it. Perhaps it was something about the way Neville smiled, or the way he dithered with his spoon against his coffee cup, looking very like Harry knew he himself often did - attentive and distant and trying so very hard to keep his mind on the subject - to maintain concentration on the present and not on the horrible, beautiful past. Neville: wayward, flitty, self-conscious and utterly absorbed by anything or anyone who would show him the slightest interest.

"I'm so happy for you and Draco," said Neville, as he giggled his way up the front steps of the manor. "It's such a wonderfully big house, too. You're so very lucky - can I say that? You don't mind, do you? Only I haven't - well. I'm excited, is all. Is this okay?" He was standing on the top step now, wavering and unsure of himself. Perhaps, Harry thought, he'd caught a glimpse of the lines of Death Eaters performing star jumps and other aerobic activities at the poolside. Neville wrinkled his nose. "I don't want to come in uninvited. I wouldn't - um. Intrude. You know?"

"You're with me, Neville," said Harry, pushing open the front door. "Trust me. It's cool. I'm Lucius Malfoy's son, you know."

Neville squinted. "Funny," he said, finally. "Why aren't you blonde, then?"

"Neville.." Harry paused. "Forget it. Come in. I'll show you the Nintendo."


Hermione followed her clearly distressed lover across the lawn, over the small hills and through the thickets into a copse where there appeared to be an unconscious man sprawled inside a giant footprint.

"What the hell happened?" Hermione asked. Although, in truth, there really was not a need for explanation. Obviously the poor man was stepped on by a really large creature - a really REALLY large one at that.

Viktor slumped. Wearily, he raised up a hand. Five words.

"That's OK, I think I can figure this one out."

Hermione knelt down and put a finger on the crumpled man's neck. There was still a pulse, which was obviously an optimistic thing to have. "Is this one of mine?" she mumbled under her breath. The man DID look very familiar, but she just couldn't put a name to the face. She noticed a wand lying inches away from his right hand. She decided to pocket it, since he would need it later on.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a quiet gasp. She leaned closer and put her ear close to the man's lips.

"M-must tell Harry to use the Conjunctivitis Curse."

Hermione sat up suddenly, her mind putting together all the evidence. The man obviously knew Harry. The conjunctivitis curse was used primarily to defend against dragons. She almost laughed at the irony of the situation. He really should have used taken his own advice. The pieces fell into place. It was Sirius Black.

Now Hermione, being the cleverest witch of her generation, deduced these facts and came up with the conclusion in roughly two seconds. She didn't want Viktor to unknowingly entangle himself in what was shaping up to be a complicated scene. Frankly, she didn't believe he knew that many gestures.

"Oh, I pity this fool. Thinking he could escape from me. I guarantee the satisfaction of all my clients. And he paid for the premium treatment - roleplaying or not," she sighed. "I'm just going to have to nurse him back to health before I whip him again. The nerve of this one! He KNEW not to touch my favorite apron - he will be punished."

Viktor cringed as a squeaking noise emitted from his tongueless mouth.

"Too right," Hermione said. "Well, best to get a move on. Oh I don't think I'll be home for dinner tonight.. overtime, you see." She conjured up a stretcher and levitated the unconscious Sirius off the ground.

Viktor shrugged. With a last flurry of gestures, he disapperated.

Hermione exhaled in relief. She bit her lip. This was definitely something that the Malfoys should *not* know about. She wondered briefly if she should take him to Diagon Alley and put him up in a hotel room.

Sirius moaned again, louder this time.

She nixed that idea when it became apparent that his condition was not getting any better. So what was she to do? She decided to cast an invisibility shield over the stretcher while she made up her mind. The best thing to do was to take him back to her quarters in thing to do was to take him back to her quarters in the Manor.

As she made her way back to the mansion, a pair of death eaters carrying the morning laundry in giant wicker baskets were coming in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, this was the one time that Hermione, cleverest witch of her generation, didn't react fast enough.

Suddenly, the hapless Death Eaters were flung onto their backside after bouncing off the invisible shield. A week's worth of corsets and underwear flew into the air and landed in a nearby mud puddle.

They turned to stare at the ruined washing, speechless and gaped at Hermione.

Hermione raised an eyebrow, "Oh dear. I believe those are Narcissa's delicates that she bought in Paris. She'll be ever so annoyed." The unfortunate duo looked as if they were about to argue when Hermione brought out her horse crop. "Did you have something to say, sluts?" she snapped as she brought the crop against her upturned palm.

The pair quickly averted their eyes. They knew better. Messing with the Malfoys' dominatrix of choice was akin to eating cold death off a platter.

"Now, if you don't mind, I need to get back. And if I were you, I'd make sure that you take care of that," she indicated the sodden pile of unmentionables with her crop. "I myself would not want to be in your shoes if she ever finds out that you've been careless."

Without giving them a chance to react, she waved her hand indicating for them to part so she could walk between them. She and her catatonic charge continued through the thicket, down the hill and across the yard unmolested.


"I’ll have her in my arms again! If he be cold, I’ll think it is this north wind that chills me; and if she be motionless, it is sleep."

Remus snapped the book shut. All those Brontë sisters were so depressing. But to be completely honest, his own mood wasn’t helping any. He was worried. It was only a harmless joke…Severus shouldn’t have taken it so seriously.

No, he told himself. Quit defending him. As if Severus even had the right to be angry. For all the times that Remus had to endure those revolting werewolf jibes, Severus got what he deserved.

Still, he conscience wouldn’t let him let it go. Not when Severus was probably suffering the doubtless painful side effects of that mystery potion.

Remus sighed, getting to his feet. He would help Snape get over…whatever it was. He seriously doubted that the Potions Master would even be polite enough to thank him.

Not that Remus cared what Severus thought. Of course he didn't. That would just be foolish. Yes...foolish.


Harry had just managed to teach Neville the basic commands for the "jump and smash your boobies into your opponents face whilst beating their head with a wooden mallet" move Ron had taught him almost a year ago when Draco burst in, waving a handful of papers and looking decidedly po'd.

"Did you fucking think you could keep this shit from me?"

After opening his eyes and unplugging his ears in the wake of Draco's hysterical shriek, Harry checked to make sure Neville was alright. His Gryffindor companion of yesteryear had curled into a foetal ball, and was squinting up at the furious Draco with sheer terror written across his face. At least, Harry noted, Neville hadn't wet himself, or tried to hide under the cupboards. With an internal sigh of no small proportions, Harry set down his bottle of butterbeer and raised himself out of one of the many beanbags which littered the Nintendo-den, readying himself to face the music.

But Draco was - for the moment - completely speechless. He was gaping at Neville, making the occasional jerking motion of his hand toward the man; who, for his part, flinched each time.

"What.. who? Harry - you'd better have a bloody good reason for this." Draco twitched. "Who the hell is he? Why is he in my house? What the fuck is going on? Are you cheating on me? Is he a hooker?"

"Escort," Neville mumbled, hopelessly, and Draco threw the papers at him. They fluttered down around Neville's head.

"You hired an escort? You - you fucking cheap tramp," Draco snarled at Harry. "First, I look through father's papers and find out your fucking 'personal assistant' is none other than Seamus Finnegan, the Boy Who Slept With All The Boys At Hogwarts And Came Down With A Nasty Case Of Herpes In Sixth Year, and now you're hiring hookers to - to -"

"To play Nintendo with?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No! To screw. To shag. To fondle. To -"

"Er. Draco."

"I thought you - I thought we'd made up this morning. If we were fighting at all. Were we? I forget." Draco tugged at his hair in a slightly abashed way. "You didn't have to - I will not have you - this is not fucking fair, Harry. I didn't do anything. I refuse to let you punish me if I did nothing wrong. I completely, and absolutely -"

"Wait," said Harry, waving his hands. He was feeling remarkably calm, he realised. Perhaps all those anger management classes had paid off. "Excuse me. I know you're fairly sure you've done absolutely nothing wrong, but - well, I have this rather strong memory of you fucking Weasley. Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, actually - as I recall it."

"We agreed on that, Harry," Draco spat. "We talked about it. And we agreed on it."

"No, actually. You just said it, and didn't give me an choice in the matter," Harry replied, cooly. "At any rate, you've nothing to be worried about. Aside from heart failure in later life, of course.."

"Fuck you, Potter."

"Neville Longbottom," said Harry, who couldn't help but grin now, "this is Draco Malfoy. Draco - this is Neville. No doubt you remember each other from school."

Neville, buried in papers and beanbag, blinked up and offered Draco a nervous wave. "Hi, Draco."

"Ffuf," said Draco.

They watched him struggle vainly to regain his composure. It was a losing battle.

"Ffuf," said Draco again, with rather more emphasis. In a way, Harry could sympathise with his plight. It had taken Harry a significant amount of time to reconcile the existence of the new Neville with the memory of the old one.

"Um. You're looking well," said Neville, politely.

Draco spun to glare at Harry. "You're fucking joking," he whispered.

"I'm afraid not," said Harry, shrugging. "You'd be surprised what a dye job and some well fitting lycra can do for a man. Not that you'd know anything about that."

"You know I'm a natural blonde," Draco hissed.

"Oh, you're telling me."

"He has roots. Look. I can see them. You can't - you can't play Nintendo with someone with roots."

"I heard roots were fashionable these days," said Harry, glancing toward Neville, who nodded, mutely.

"They are fucking not."

"They are too," said Harry.

"They are fucking not." Draco paused, and took a deep breath. "I'm not accepting this from you, Harry," he said, finally, in a primmer tone of voice. "Any more than I'm inclined to take fashion tips from someone whose crotch is so squished into his underpants that it looks like a relief of Stonehenge."

Neville winced, and turned crimson. Harry, used to Draco's acid tongue, couldn't even muster up the desire to repond to such a jibe. It was funny, really - once you knew you had the upper hand in a situation, it really didn't seem so important any longer. Draco could think what he liked - he always did, anyway. Harry whistled between his teeth, and shrugged again. "That's nice, dear," he said, mildly. "Did you want to play Nintendo with us, or what?"

"I'd rather lock myself in the basement with the Veelas," said Draco, emphatically.

"Right. In that case," said Harry, tumbling back onto his beanbag, "let's try out Bison versus Chun-Li, eh, Neville?"

Draco remained silent, and Harry took this to mean the conversation had ended. With himself, for once, in the lead. Offering a nod of apology to the stricken Neville, Harry began to fiddle with the controls, trying to lose himself in the game - but all the time he was aware of Draco's presence in the doorway behind him. Silent, watchful. Harry felt his guts twist with indecision.

I should go over there and talk to him, he thought.

Let him stew in his own juices and see how he likes it, he thought.

Can't lose him. Want to hurt him. Don't really give a damn either way.


There was a quiet, yet unmistakeable note of tension in Draco's drawl, an undertone of pain. Neville shivered slightly, and squeezed his controls. Expectantly, he turned to look at Harry, raising his eyebrows in a 'well, he's upset' sort of way. Grunting, Harry relented, and unfolded himself from his beanbag. If Neville didn't mind, he'd go and talk to Draco. But only because Draco was creating a scene and Harry didn't want Neville to feel as if he was responsible for it. Only because of Neville, and Neville's feelings.

Harry wondered how many times he'd have to tell himself this in order to make it sound even vaguely true.

In the doorway, Draco was wringing his hands in a desperate fashion, and couldn't bring himself to meet Harry's eyes. He appeared utterly pathetic - plump and unhappy and completely uncomfortable with himself.

"Well?" said Harry.

"Can we go outside and talk, for a bit?" Draco asked.

"I'm kind of busy," said Harry.

"I'm kind of po'd," said Draco.

"I'm sure there's a cheesecake in the kitchens that could make it all better," said Harry.

"I'm sure you could quit being an asshole for at least five minutes," said Draco, quietly. "But I've been known to be wrong before."

"Draco -"


With a groan, Harry returned to Neville. "Can you give me a moment? I'll be back as soon as I can, okay?"

"Um. Sure, Harry."

Harry rose, and went to Draco, who gently took his arm and led him outside.


The dragon woman was having a shower. Ron was fighting the urge to go and peer through the shower curtains. He had now managed to accept Sally in her human state. By the time he had arrived in the hut he was even able to look at her without blushing. But a naked *wet* woman was another situation entirely. There was something infernally wonderful about a woman in a shower. Something to do with the slick wet skin, and the smooth, drenched hair, and.. Ron bunched his hands into fists.

Shit happens. Deal with it. Get real, Ron. You are not in love with a dragon.

She'd been his best friend for seven months. Possibly a better friend even than Harry; and Ron had regarded her in the same light as he'd regarded the Harry of yesteryear - someone cool to hang out with. But now Ron felt the same way he had when he'd seen Hermione, dressed up and pretty for the ball in their fourth year at Hogwarts. What had he said then? "You're a girl!" or something equally idiotic. He obviously hadn't grown up any since then, he reflected morosely. He'd only narrowly avoided spluttering those very same words out to Sally in the clearing.

Lighting a cigarette, Ron slouched down on a couch. There was a book lying on the table - or at least, the crate Ron used as a table - a nice big old tome on dragons which Charlie had sent him for his birthday. Ron smiled, slightly. It was just the thing to put his erotic thoughts about Sally on hold, at least temporarily.

Five minutes later Sally wandered in wearing one of Ron's old sweaters, and asked Ron exactly why he was banging his crotch with a book.

"Eh. No reason." Ron showed her all his teeth in what he hoped looked like a reassuring grin. "Just - you know. Excercise."

It looks as if it hurts, said Sally, squinting at him.

"No pain, no gain," said Ron cheerfully. "That's what they say."

You're not feeling a little - weird now, are you, Ronny? the dragon asked. You've been acting extraordinarily strangely.

"Hah? Strange? Me? No. Never! No. Definately not," said Ron.

You know, I'd almost think that you had a crush on me, said Sally.

Ron started, and dropped his book. Sally watched him, with a sort of fond, despairing expression on her face. Ronny, she said, slowly. Do I make you uncomfortable?

"Ha ha ha, no," Ron lied.

Funny. Your mind is screaming quite the opposite to me. In fact, there's a large part of your brain currently occupied in telling your penis your weekly shopping list. Really, Ron. We've been friends for a long time. We've destroyed magical artifacts and done quite a lot of vaguely heroic things together. If you want to sleep with me, we may as well do it right here, right now. Sally rolled her eyes, her arms folded over her chest. While I'm still in this state. I'm not sure exactly how long this transformation will last, and it's better to be safe than sorry. Right, Ronny?

Ron's mouth opened, and closed again.

It'll be quite the learning experience, I think. I've never tried to have sex with a human before. Except - well, there was this one time when I'd eaten too much herb grass and well - one of my old keepers was drunk and climbed into my cage.. It was a terrible accident. Lovely funeral though..

She broke off. Ron was babbling incoherently at her, and making odd gestures with her arms which reminded Sally of that young mute Quidditch player. Patiently, the dragon waited for Ron to regain his powers of speech.

"I'd love to," Ron managed, finally, "But I can't."

Oh? Why? Because you think it would have a detrimental effect on our future friendship?

"Well, there's that," said Ron, wincing. "And there's also the fact that I think I might have just destroyed any chance of having sex for the next year or two. And I'm fairly sure I won't be able to pee straight for a month."

Oh dear, said Sally. Now there's a shame. Perhaps I should go try and find that Draco boy instead. I'm not letting this form go to waste. I'd like to experience just about.. well, everything there is possible to do in a human body. It'll be fun. Hm. Draco's probably up at the manor, isn't he..

"Wait," Ron gasped. She'd turned for the door, and as he lurched out of the couch to stop her, he nearly tripped over his own feet. Gripping onto the edge of the coffee table for balance, he spluttered out, "I could - um, go a back rub. Give you one, I mean."

Sally beamed. That sounds perfectly marvellous, she said. How exactly do we go about doing that?

"Well," Ron began, subsiding back into the couch, "if you just sit between my legs.."


"Are you - and he -?" Draco was having difficulty shaping the right phrases. His warm body, pressed close against Harry's, was trembling. They'd chosen to have their 'talk' in the nearest closet, and after ridding the small space of three Veelas, a naked poolman and four gerbils, they'd climbed in together. There was ample room within for the both of them to stand well apart, but Draco didn't seem to want to relinquish Harry's touch, even for a second. He pushed himself closer, until their noses were almost touching. Harry might have been mistaken, but in the dim light, it almost looked as if Draco's eyes were wet.

"Are you? I don't - Harry.."

"No. We aren't," said Harry, grimly. "I met him today at work, quite by accident. Though, oddly enough, you aren't the first person to ask me that question. It's as if everyone thinks I'd be ready to fuck anything even half-way attractive."

"So you find him attractive, then?"

"Draco - don't. We went out for coffee, talked about the old times at Hogwarts, and came back here to catch up a little more. Is that okay with you?"

"I'm not sure. Is he going to stay the night?"

"I guess that's up to him," said Harry.

"I'd really - rather that he didn't," said Draco, in a small, tight voice.

"Like I said. It's up to him."

Draco squeezed closer, and pressed his head into Harry's shoulder. When Harry didn't move, Draco reached for Harry's arms, and wrapped them about his body. It was a half-hearted embrace, and Draco seemed to sense this - how could he not? He was trembling harder by this stage, hugging Harry in a hopeless, clumsy way - so very unlike the usual, cool and composed Draco. It was as if Draco was scared.. by what? By Neville's presence? It wasn't as if, Harry thought, Neville was particulary good looking - except in a dolly, prissy sort of way.

Then again, Draco had always been slightly on the dolly, prissy side himself.

"Draco -" said Harry, trying vainly to pry Draco's hands away, "I should really be getting back. Neville will be wondering where the hell I am."

"Tell him you were in a closet with your boyfriend," said Draco, muffled. He withdrew, slowly, to let Harry manouver himself into a postion whereby he could open the closet door. "You know I had to ask," he said, finally.

Harry bunted open the door with his hip, and stepped outside. "If you say so, Draco."

"It's not that I don't trust you."

"Right," said Harry, gazing steadily into the pale face which peered out at him from the closet's darkness. "You trust me. I know."



"Bye. Oh. Wait. Harry?"

Harry turned. "Yes, Draco?"

"If you cheat on me, I will personally hang you from the dungeon wall by your scrotum," said Draco.

Harry slammed the closet door in Draco's face.


Severus slammed his fist on the table in frustration. After experimenting with different blends of henbane, he was no closer to finding the antidote to his liquid sex potion. He slumped forward, his head in his hands and sighed heavily.

Well, he thought grimly, there’s no rest for the weary. He got up from his chair and emptied the cauldron with the failed antidote. He began writing on his parchment the latest attempt and the effects.

The worst part about it all was that he couldn’t ask for assistance for the Malfoys. Narcissa, especially, was brilliant at potions, and it was a shame. If he had an assistant, he could come up with the needed antidote with no problem. If the Malfoys got wind of his liquid sex potion, he could kiss financial independence goodbye along with his dream condo in Manhattan and hello to permanent indentured servitude.

No, he’d just have to muck it out himself. He’d just have to ignore his own feelings. It would have been bad enough to get the intended dosage, which was about a teaspoon. A teaspoon is enough desirability potions to last for a couple weeks. To be completely doused, well, it wasn’t something to think about.

The worst part of it all was the fact that *Lupin* was the object of his affections. Severus knew very well what the consequences would be if he was unable to find an antidote…and quickly. As it was, his senses were so heightened that he was actually able to *smell* Lupin. Of course, it only worked with Lupin. Why did *he* have to be the one that Severus looked upon immediately after that fiasco? Things just couldn’t get any worse.

Although, if he were to be completely truthful, there was really nothing *wrong* with Lupin. Lupin was really quite fetching. Severus closed his eyes in frustration, this was definitely the work of the potion. The problem being that sometimes, depending on the body chemistry of the person taking it, the potion served to loosen inhibitions and show desires that were deeply suppressed.

Did this mean that he had secretly desired Lupin? Was it truly something he’d buried deep inside of himself, or was it simply the work of a very strong aphrodisiac? The insidious nature of the potion was daunting.

Severus paused. Looking back upon the entire history of his dealings with Lupin, there’d always been this conflict. Not necessarily rivalry, but something that was definitely between the two of them.

There was the element of the primal that was very evident with Remus Lupin. Severus doubted it was entirely due to the lycanthropy, although it did lend a certain amount of attractiveness to the man. People could say what they wanted, but the truth was that Lupin was alluring.

Severus sneered, the Malfoys liked to play games with people. He knew that only too well. ‘First one to do livestock’. Indeed. Lucius was deluding himself. He remembered when it happened at Hogwarts. Lucius had been purring for an entire week afterwards.

At the time, Severus felt angry. He always assumed that it was disgust, but he was beginning to understand that his anger was really directed towards Lucius and Narcissa. How dare they make a game of people like that? Or more specifically, how dare they make of game of Remus? He was still reeling from the Lucius-Remus episode when Narcissa had propositioned him. Well, why not, he had reasoned, it wasn’t as if he was saving himself for anyone, no…not at all.

It had been his own reaction…he had been jealous. He had really buried that deep down. Now that it was out and in the open, everything came flooding back. The very thought of Lucius possessing Remus was simply unbearable. Lucius was attractive, no doubt about that, but it was a cold beauty…the ice prince. Remus was…Remus. It was wrong in too many senses of the word. Remus deserved better than that.

But Severus couldn’t delude himself that he had been that much better. He silently cursed at himself. If he could’ve been honest with himself, he could’ve been having the time of his life.

Severus sighed. Taking a vial of feverfew, he began to experiment again. Whatever happened, he’d just have to deal with it.


Hermione was thanking the gods above that it was her night off. After levitating Sirius into her quarters, she began to brew a restorative potion. If there was one thing from Hogwarts that she was grateful for, it was the fact that Snape was so difficult to impress. It had given her the impetus to exceed in potions studies.

A semi-conscious moan made her focus on the task at hand. She frowned as she applied a cold washcloth to Sirius' forehead.

What in the world was he doing here? The last time she saw him, it was - gods, it was when she was still at Hogwarts. At least.eight, nine years. He disappeared with no trace.

That was a very hard time for Harry. If she were to be completely honest, it was hard for her too. She shook her head. She had the biggest crush on him - no, not a crush. She had loved him.

But that didn't excuse him for running off like he did. Where the hell was he for all this time? She couldn't think about how bloody gorgeous he was, still after all these years. If Sirius was a middle-aged muggle, he would have looked more like a squashed apricot rather than a slightly ruffled Adonis.

"Hermione, pull yourself together girl," she muttered.


Ring, ring.


"Hello, sir/madam! If you have the time, I'd like to ask you a few questions about a new product!"

"Well, actually, I am about to go out - "

"Do NOT play silly buggers with ME. I've met your kind before on the fields of battle. There, I crushed skulls with my bare hands, and fed upon the molten brains inside. I gorged myself on blood and screamed the name of the true Lord to the sky. And if you dare to fuck with me, no doubt your head will end up on a pike. We have ways of finding out where you live. Your family, your children, even your fucking dog will not be safe from our wrath."


"We are Legion. We live to kill."

A long silence.

"As I was saying, Mr. Aspen's Revitalisers come in all types, and are specifically tailored to *your* individual needs! If you like, we can send you a sample pack which comes with a free plastic spoon!"


"I warn thee not to turn away the gifts of a devil. You shall boil in the pits of hell if I have my way with thee. I shall bathe in the blood of babies and destroy the stars.."

"Okay, okay! I'll take the sample pack."

"Wonderful to hear, ma'am! You've made a very good choice! We will be sending Mr. Aspen's sample pack to you at the soonest conveinice! We hope you choose to buy more of our products in the future!"


"Thankyou for your time! Have a nice day!"

In the doorway, Narcissa gazed steadily at her husband.

"Death Eater telemarketers," said Lucius. "You have to love them."

"You are invariably an inspiration to me, darling," said Narcissa.

They walked together along the corridor, lightly holding hands. Walking out to the balcony, they gazed solemnly over their estate. Narcissa stepped forwards, suddenly, breaking free of Lucius. Tilting her head slightly, she raised her arms, as if to gesture for a crowd to cheer. She appeared about to break into song, when Lucius cut in.

"I should have never let you watch that Muggle movie," he told her. "They have a bad effect on you."

Narcissa snapped out of her reverie. "True," she said, sighing. "We got into an awful lot of trouble after I saw Terminator 2, remember?"

"I was actually refering to the time we sat up watching John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut," said Lucius. "But the T2 episode was fairly nasty too, as I recall."

Narcissa whistled, cooly - in a way that reminded Lucius of himself. He smiled thinly. "What exactly do you have planned for the Death Eaters?" he asked her.

"I'm going to take over the world, dear," said Narcissa, calmly. "Just because you don't want to rule the universe, doesn't mean I can't."

"Ah. You don't think this - " Lucius chewed his lower lip thoughtfully, wondering on the best way to phrase it. "You don't think that's a little rash, my love?" he said, finally.

"I certainly do not. I think, personally, that everyone can go to fucking hell," said Narcissa, shortly. "If you'll excuse my crudity. I hate every one of them." She made an expansive gesture, encompassing the horizon and all below. "I shall certainly not be a benevolent dictator, when I assume power. Let them crawl at my feet. I'll spit on them. If I'm disobeyed I'll -" She broke off, noticing that Lucius had summoned a house elf. "Don't look away when I'm talking to you," she snapped.

Lucius looked up. "My apologies."

"As I was saying." Narcissa returned to her address of the estate. "I certainly won't accept any disobedience from anyone. Certainly not a man. And that includes you, Lucius. Yes. I shall have a glorious castle, and throw boiling oil down on the plebes who dare come to be to beg for food. Or perhaps I'll lure them inside and then roast them on a spit - and send their bodies back to their poor starving families. Ha ha ha. I'll be known as Narcissa the tyrant. I'll line my gardens with heads on sticks. Oh yes.."

Lucius backed away slowly. A small hand nudged at his knee, and he stared down into a house elves' round eyes.

"Sir.. I have the asprin the master asked for," the house elf chittered.

"It's for Mrs. Malfoy," Lucius told the creature, quickly, and then bolted.

Dodging into the hall, Lucius made for the nearest cupboard, where he remembered leaving a few Veelas and other assorted sexual utilities. A quick grope in a closet would do wonders for his nerves, he felt - and would also keep him out of Narcissa's way until the asprin kicked in. Shutting the door behind him, he reached out into the darkness, and heard a faint yelp - and then a quiet moan.

"I knew you'd come back, baby," said a small, breathy, drawling voice. "Oh.. give me your love-wand.."

Lucius blinked, and withdrew his hand.


"Dad?" Draco shreiked, and thudded into the closet wall. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I was intending to have sex," said Lucius.

"So was I," said Draco.

There was a short pause.

"Hm," said Lucius.

"Mm," said Draco.

"Well," said Lucius.

"Quite," said Draco.

"So," said Lucius.

"Er. Yes," said Draco.

There was another, equally short pause.

"We'll just pretend that didn't happen," said Lucius, finally.

"Of course it didn't," said Draco. "Er. Are we going to get out of the closet now, father?"

"It's probably inadvisable." Lucius tapped his nails against the inside of the door. "Narcissa is - ah. Currently planning to take over the world, so she says. In a rather nasty fashion. The blood shed of thousands diatribe.."

"Is it mother's time of the month again?" Draco asked.

"Mm," said Lucius, nodding.

"Oh, shit," said Draco, emphatically.


Remus found himself at the door to Severus’ laboratory. He hesitated, listening at the door to see if he could hear anyone stirring within. Notes from an organ were pounding from the other side of the door. Remus smiled, trust Severus to listen to the Art of Fugue.

Taking a deep breath, Remus pushed the door open. Severus was facing the opposite direction beside a cauldron, stirring what was undoubtedly one of his beloved potions. Remus closed his eyes in relief. So whatever that potion was this afternoon, it obviously wasn’t deadly or poisonous. Before Remus had the chance to announce his arrival, Severus visibly stiffened and slowly turned around. Remus braced for a scathing remark of some sort and was surprised that nothing of the sort came from Severus.

"So," Severus whispered, "what brings you down here, Lupin?"

Remus blinked, "I wanted to check on you. I…was worried about what happened earlier."

Snape’s lip twitched and it seemed as if he were bracing himself against the table, "I thank you for your concern…but I’m quite alright."

Remus didn’t know what to reply to that. He tried desperately to think of something…anything to say. Anything to stay in the presence with Snape.

The silence stretched between them, Remus had the feeling that there was more to the story than what Severus was saying, but he couldn’t just accuse the man of not being truthful. He would just have to take Severus’ word on it. Remus casually strode forward and stood by the unattended cauldron, the potion bubbling from the open fire beneath. "What are you working on?" he asked, glancing up at the man beside him.

Snape fought to keep himself from grabbing the other man and pouncing on him. "It’s nothing special," he replied quietly, "just something I was playing around with."

Remus looked around the table to all of the potions jars scattered about, "It seems that you take your ‘playing around’ quite seriously." He leaned forward to lift a jar, nudging Snape’s arm in the process, "Is this wolf bane?" Remus asked.

Severus barely heard the question as his senses were reeling from that brief touch. "Yes," he answered absently, "I was working on developing a different wolf bane potion for you…one that may prove to be a bit more palatable." He couldn’t stop himself from leaning forward and deeply inhaling the other man’s scent. Gods, he thought, Remus smelled…nice…more than nice.

Remus frowned slightly. Why, when he had given up on ever befriending the man, did Severus constantly disarm him? He desperately wanted to believe that Severus had come to care about him, but he knew that was just his own wishful thinking. He looked into Severus’ eyes, "Why would you do that?" he asked softly. "Everyone knows that you’re brilliant already. I may hate the way it tastes, but I’m grateful nonetheless that you brew it for me. You don’t have to go so far as to make it taste better…I’m thankful all the same."

Severus returned the look, his heart beating, "The pleasure is all mine. I know that it’s quite…unpleasant what you go through every month. It’s churlish of me to add to your…discomfort."

Remus smiled, "You mean to say that you…care?"

Severus found himself looking into the golden eyes, he gulped. "I do," he replied quietly. The moment stretched between them, the air thick with tension. Severus suddenly stepped back, and looked at the floor. He stammered, "Remus, could you…um, stir the cauldron for a bit? I have to go…do something. Yes. I’ll return shortly." With a last frightened look, he fled the room leaving Remus dazed.

Remus blinked. He knew deep down that something was happening. He could feel the other man’s attraction. Remus’ animalistic senses could smell the pheremones coming off the other man. So why was Severus so damn stubborn?


He took Neville to bed with him.

He wasn't quite sure why he did it. Perhaps it was something about the way Neville smiled, or the way he held onto Harry's hand as they headed upstairs to one of the many guest bedrooms, looking very like Harry knew he himself often did - despairing and hopeful and trying so very hard to keep his mind off the subjects that hurt him - to maintain concentration on the present and not on the horrible, beautiful past. It might have had something to do with the six bottles of butterbeer Harry had downed during their Nintendo gaming. It might have had something to do with revenge, too.. something about Draco's smart arse comment, something about Draco's ridiculous threats. Something about the way Draco tried to make him feel guilty, even when Harry had done nothing wrong.

Whatever it was, the thought simply popped into Harry's brain fully formed. If he can do it, Harry thought, as they climbed the steps, why they hell can't I?

It seemed like quite a reasonable question, with a very obvious answer.

Well, actually - I can.

Neville was slightly on the drunk side, too, which helped matters along. As they entered the bedroom, Neville leaned up to plant a sloppy good night kiss on Harry's cheek, and Harry turned his head at that precise moment, and the kiss - which should have landed on Harry's cheek, ended up on his lips. And stayed there. Harry wrapped his arms around Neville's smaller body, and the kiss became a snog, and Neville - who'd initially attempted to struggle free - submitted completely to Harry's body, Harry's mouth. With his foot, Harry kicked the door closed, and they stumbled together to the bed.

"..Draco..?" Neville mumbled, pulling away.

"Fuck him," said Harry.

"..oh dear.. what, um.." said Neville, but all his further protests were smothered.

They got naked, got into bed, turned off the lights, and attempted to get in some serious nookie. A half hour into the proceedings, however, they came up with some small problems - or rather, slightly varying differences of opinion.

"Ow," Harry yelped. "That does -not- go there."

"I - er," said Neville, repositioning himself. "What about - "

"Not a fucking chance." Harry dove to the other end of the bed. "I don’t do that."

"Er," said Neville. He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, and released them one by one. "Can I ask - um - what it is you do, then, Harry? I mean, you and Draco. Er. I’m a little confused."

"Oh." Harry frowned. "Draco does that. I don’t. He tried it once, but I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now, either."

"Um. Okay."

"I can do it to you," Harry offered. "Or you can do the other thing to me."

"The other thing?" Neville asked.

Harry made appropriate gestures. Even in the dark, Neville could tell what Harry was hinting at. He swallowed thickly.

"Um," he said. "And if I do that to you, are you going to do that back to me?"

"Probably not," Harry admitted. "I don’t usually, as a rule."

"And Draco - he, um, does?"

"Well, yes."

"Isn’t that a little one sided?" Neville tried. "I mean - it sort of makes him your, um, sex toy, or something. Not really fair, is what I’m saying."

"He doesn’t mind," Harry snapped. He was beginning to feel annoyed that even in his absence, Draco had still insinuated himself into his sex life.

"Are you sure?" Neville asked. "Have you talked to him about this?"

"Well, no," said Harry. "Now - can we bloody stop talking about Draco?"

"I - sorry." Neville smothered a nervous giggle. "It’s just that I imagined things were a little different. Er. Have you ever been with anyone else, Harry?"

"No," said Harry, firmly. "That would be cheating. Not that this isn’t. But it’s different now - he’s cheating on me. It makes it fair."

"You’re - um, using me to get back at Draco?"

"No! I like you, Neville."

"How do you, er, feel about Draco?"

Harry couldn’t reply. The words seized in his throat - he was choking on them. You’re nice, he wanted to say. I could love you, Neville, I think; I could have loved you. But - there was always that 'but', the prelude to that crucial argument of Draco entanglement.

Neville - I could love you, but I love Draco. I can’t explain it, and I’ve never tried to. But he’s caught up in the guts of me, like a worm or a coiling Slytherian snake, and to deny him would be like trying to deny the warmth of the sun.

He rose unsteadily from the bed, gathering the blankets about his waist. Neville’s eyes were upon him, wide, shocked and - pitying. But who was that pity for? For Harry, or for Draco? Or for both of them, trapped in the whirlpool ritual of each other?

In the bathroom Harry splashed water on his face. I will not let this go on, he told his reflection, solemnly. I will stop it. I will go back to Neville and do whatever the hell it is he wants from me, and I will enjoy it. I will find pleasure beyond Draco. Or I will die trying.

"Harry?" Neville called. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Harry replied.

"Should I, um, go?" Neville asked, in a small, defeated voice.

"No." Harry opened the bathroom door. "I want you to stay."

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