Lucius Malfoy And The Gift Of Mercy
Hermione Granger, aka Mistress H., was somewhat blissed out. She lay on the couch, sprawled lengthways, too exhausted to adjust the cushion which held her neck at an uncomfortable angle. Her eyes rolled back in her head every time she attempted to open them but in those moments before the world turned to a red blur she saw the Malfoys standing above her, their arms interlinked in such a way that they appeared a strange parody of siamese twins.
"Burble," said Hermione, distinctly. She had a feeling she wasn't going to be able to walk for a few days. That was okay with her. She rather liked this couch, despite the annoyance of the cushion. In fact, right now, Hermione liked pretty much everything. She cooed at the ceiling.
Above her head the Malfoys exchanged looks.
"We should really start a business, my dear. Market our talent."
"I think clothing would be an enterprising beginning. Garments with the tag-line: I was fucked by the Malfoys, and all I got was this lousey robe."
"You are marvellously amusing."
"Thank you, love. I do try."
"I wonder how we'll get her out of here. I can't imagine she has a portkey on her. And I doubt she'll look the same way at a broomstick for a few years."
"We could leave her here. She's not likely to do much harm. We can leave the house elves to take care of her."
"Another pet, Narcissa? My word. You'll be bringing in stray squibs next."
"Do be serious, love. I have standards, you know. We couldn't have a squib in here, anyway. They might stain the furniture. These are- antiques."
"Perhaps we could construct a small shed outside."
"But then the guards would get to them. I'd hate to think what a guard might do to a small, pitiful squib. Quite horrifying, really.."
"You're liking the idea of it, aren't you?"
"I am enamoured by it, love. Simply enamoured."
The rest of their exchange was mercifully lost to Hermione. With a groan, she passed out.
In the African pub, Serverus and Remus, their angry conversation having come to an uncertain conclusion, mulled over their drinks. Serverus had probed Remus relentlessly for information on the Malfoys, about the whys and hows of their behaviour, and Remus uncharacteristicly had launched into a rant about intrinsic evil, with references to all the sly tricks the duo had planned ever since entering Hogwarts. This lapse of foresight could possibly have been attributed to the fact that Remus was verging on tipsy heading into blind-drunkeness or Serverus's very immediate proximity.
Both were feasible excuses. Remus still felt guilty. He was naturally disinclined to start trouble simply because all his life he'd never had a way to fight back. And now Serverus looked as if he was plotting something sinister to wreak his vengance on the Malfoys Remus knew that expression, all Slytherins seemed to get it: a constipated, squint-eyed stare into the far distance which boded no good for anyone within a five mile radius.
Revenge that was what Serverus wanted. Remus should have known that the man would react this way to finding out he'd been played. Remus sighed and swirled a finger in the remnants of his beer. It was too late to take it all back now.
He must have been crazy to have run out when he'd seen Serverus, Remus reflected. Perhaps it was the waiting of it the absence had driven him a little crazy. It wasn't so hard now, sitting here musing over his acidic brews. Talking to someone, Remus felt, made them seem more human it was an obvious statement, but Remus often forgot it. Reviled for so long, he'd begun to feel that even simple greetings were overly confrontational.
He still liked Serverus. He wanted to touch him. Platonicly, of course. Living a life devoid of gestures of kindness, Remus was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to give back that which he'd never had. He and Serverus were in a common situation, too both of them royally screwed by the Messers and Missers Malfoy. Remus wanted to pat Serverus on the back, to offer some small and pithy comfort, a motion of sympathy and empathy combined.
It was respect, Remus understood now. Perhaps it never had been lust and his teenage hormones simply misinterpreted the quiet admiration he had for Serverus as something baser, more primitive. He respected Serverus because of his perseverance, his methodological approach to justice. The man possessed no intrinsic sense of right and wrong, and was therefore forced to experience the trials of both sides in turn in order to reach an unbiased moral conclusion Serverus came to goodness by the long road every time.
We're both loners, too, Remus thought. Maybe that's what made me notice him. Live too long on your own, and you soon come to sense that same loneliness in strangers. Perhaps loneliness was too strong a word, though. Detachment, that was more fitting. Remus had recognised this solitary instinct in Serverus. And Ron, too, he supposed. In the end, they were all more alike than different.
Full moon rampages nonwithstanding.
"Lupin?" said Serverus.
"If I was less drunk," said Serverus, coolly, "I think I'd probably be so angry that I'd port to the Malfoys house and do something I'd regret later. Probably whilst sitting in an ouchie-chair in Lucius' basement." He was airing his thoughts. "So I'm thankful that I'm currently unable to walk and also thankful that this chair is hard enough to keep me in a vaguely upright position. I dislike sliding under tables unless I've been formally invited to do so beforehand."
His voice was slightly slurred if it wasn't for that Remus would have thought him completely sober.
"It gives me time to plan exactly what I want to do. From here. I've concluded of course that you are telling me the truth; I see no reason why you'd lie. Saving those unresolved Lucius-livestock issues.." Serverus frowned. "You are telling the truth, aren't you?"
"You've been hurt by them. What did you do?"
Remus diddled with his glass. "I just didn't speak to them and sort of got out of their way," he said.
Serverus stared at him. "That was rather harsh of you," he said. "I can't believe you could be so vengeful. Lucius and Narcissa must have gone to bed every night in torment, having been so cruelly avoided "
"That's enough," said Remus, as sharply as he dared. "Look I'm particulary good at that kind of thing; you should know that by now, Serverus. It's far easier not to make an issue of it and go on with your life. My life, I mean."
"I'm not letting this go. I worked myself to the bone sorting Harry and Draco's case."
"Are you sorry you helped them get out?" Remus asked.
Serverus' lips twitched. "That isn't the point. It's the principle of the matter."
"You don't sound convinced," said Serverus.
"I'm not." Remus sighed. "Listen I know what people like the Malfoys are like. I know that they only have to snap their fingers to get whatever they want. It took Lucius some stupid story to make you follow him and I suppose I can't really talk, on that account. I mean what I'm trying to say is that you'll never end up beating them. And I'm not sure that you'd want to, either."
"Give me one good reason why I wouldn't," Serverus snapped. "Give me one good "
"He's their son. Say you managed to get the two sent to prison, or maybe killed them heck, they're both equally unlikely. What is Draco going to do?"
"Well, I don't know," said Serverus, scratching his chin and missing it twice. "I guess he'd end up with Harry, moping about that great big manor of his with millions of galleons in his pockets, having sex where ever and with whomever he likes, just the same as any other poor little rich kid "
"You're with me, then?" said Serverus.
"I wouldn't go that far," said Remus, nervously. "How about I say I understand your complaint and feel for your plight, and realise that "
"That's not good enough."
"I guess I'm not good enough, then."
Serverus looked at him for a long time, without blinking a heated, wordless regard that had Remus recoiling instinctively in his chair. "Stop that," he spluttered out, after five minutes had elapsed and Serverus showed no sign of relenting.
"Stop what?" Serverus tilted his head, vaguely.
"Looking at me."
"I'm afraid I have to. I'm trying to will you into taking action with me. Intimidation requires a certain level of eyecontact. Even if there are currently three of you."
"Don't. I feel like I have something in my teeth."
"Ah. I must have been focusing on the wrong pair of eyes."
"We need to sober up."
"A wise idea. But first I think I'm going to pass out. Excuse me."
Serverus slid slowly under the table by degrees a graceful descent. Remus watched. He supposed it was probably too late at this stage in the proceedings to inquire of a formal invitation. Reaching for his wand, Remus wondered if he was in a fit state to remember the words for a sobering incantation.
Ron came home, early, smelling faintly of dragon manure. It had been a particulary long day after twelve hours of mucking out dragons, walking them around the grounds, and planting fence posts, Ron was thoroughly exhausted. Right now the only things on his mind were drinking a bottle of something toxic from under the sink and sleep; not necessarily in that order.
In the front hall he slung his bag through the open door to his bedroom, followed by his broom. Yawning, he walked into the kitchen.
Then he walked out again, rather faster than he'd entered.
"Oops," said Harry.
"That was rather rude. He didn't even say hello," Draco mumbled.
They waited. They heard Ron dry retching in the bathroom.
"Now I'm really offended," said Draco. "Bloody Weasley. He's completely wrecked the mood."
Harry sighed. "I think that's probably a good thing," he said. "We may as well stop and clean off the counter." He paused, thoughtfully. "And then fly as fast as we can to England before he has time to sharpen the end of his broomstick and come after us."
"Sensitive about his kitchen table, is he?"
"No more than anyone else. But I think that if you came home from work one day and found say, Hermione and Viktor on your counter taking tea with the parson, so to speak "
"I see your point. And I hate you for the mental picture."
They hopped off, reluctantly, and Harry went to get a bucket of water and a cloth. Together, they wiped the counter down. Draco didn't protest at having to complete such a menial task and the sight of Draco with a rag in his hands, buffing the surface of the table, made Harry feel a sudden pang of love, combined with homesickness.
Draco dumped the cloth into the bucket, and went outside to pour the dirty water into the alley. He walked back in and sat down on a kitchen stool. Harry sat on another, directly opposite, and took Draco's hand.
There was a knock on the kitchen door.
"Are you finished yet?" Ron called.
"What? Oh. Yes." Harry replied.
Ron opened the door a few inches, peeped in, then shut it again.
"Clothes, you gits. Clothes."
"I knew we'd forgotten something," said Draco.
Harry tossed Draco his shirt and pants from the floor. A few minutes later, after going through a quick check to make sure all was in order, they resettled themselves on their respective seats.
"Okay, Ron," Harry called.
Ron entered, highly unimpressed. Harry had the decency to look ashamed. Draco coughed into the uncomfortable silence, and stared at the wall to the left of Harry's head.
"I suppose you'll both be wanting a dragon back to England?" said Ron.
"I've got a portkey," said Draco. "Or at least, Serverus has."
"I'm not completely sure " Harry began.
"You looked very sure when I first came in," said Ron, nastily.
"He felt very sure, too," Draco mused.
Both of them stared at Harry, who blushed. "I just don't know if it's a good idea," he muttered. "I mean we haven't really talked about anything "
"Not for want of trying," said Draco. "I opened my mouth, and you stuck in your "
"Moving the hell along," said Ron.
"I was going to say tongue," Draco protested.
"Moving the hell along," Ron repeated, sternly. He scratched a hand through his hair, glancing up the hallway. "Where is Snape, anyway? Or Remus."
"For some reason Remus ran out when he saw Draco and Snape at the door. And Snape nicked off when he saw me," Harry said. He shrugged. "They'll be around somewhere. They probably met up and decided to catch up on old times. You know how wizards are."
Ron moved to kneel by the sink, and opened a cupboard. "Right. Harry, I reckon you'd better pack. If they aren't here in an hour or two, wake me up and I'll go hijack a dragon. I'm not having you both here for longer than I can help it. For the sake of the furniture alone. Later."
Pulling a bottle of something from underneath the sink, he rose, slumping off to his bedroom again. The door closed quietly behind him.
"Is he always like that?" Draco asked, when he was sure Ron was gone.
Harry shrugged. "Pretty much."
"It's amazing. He doesn't you know. Stop to procrastinate or angst about things, like we do. Just does it, and then seems to forget about it completely."
"He calls it going with the flow."
"Didn't even ask why, or what happened, or anything." Draco shook his head. "Didn't question how I got here. Or what Serverus was doing with me. Or how we got back together if we are back together."
"Moving right along," said Harry, in a passable
imitation of Ron's voice.
Draco smirked. "It just makes me feel so trivial. What's the point in all this if I can't constructively bitch to people about things afterwards? I mean how does he cope without angsting? What does he do in his spare time?"
"Play Nintendo," Harry explained. "It's a type of Muggle computer game."
"I should pack."
"Yes. You should. But " Draco rubbed his forehead with his fingertips. "Look, Harry," he said finally, shamefaced, "We can't have a quick angst now, though, can we? After talking to Ron, I'm dying to prostrastinate about something facile and irreversible. I'll even let you start it, if you like."
Harry sighed, glancing at his watch. "I guess we've got time. How about we begin with the snitch issue?"
"Right." Harry took a deep breath. "I didn't realise how much it meant to you," he said. "I mean, how could I know? Only a few minutes before you'd said that you didn't think it would work out between us. How was I to know you were joking or whatever it was you were doing? I hate your mind games."
"You think I'd have spent two years putting up with your bullshit, just to throw it back in your face?" said Draco, immediately warming to the topic. "I wasn't sure how you felt you never said. All you wanted was sex, anyway. Right from the beginning."
"How can you say that? I'm the Boy Who Lived, dammit. I could get that anywhere. You meant more to me than that. And I, unlike you, never cheated with anyone. You bitch on about my libido, but at least I don't crawl to get some elsewhere. At least I'm bloody faithful."
"I was forced! Well with my cousin, anyway. And you know how it was with Ron. We were both depressed, and you ran out, didn't you? You left me there, alone. I wasn't thinking clearly. Hell, how do I know you've been faithful, anyway? There's plenty of times I've left you alone with people. You could have been doing that Granger girl behind my back."
"I can't believe you'd say that, trying to make me feel bad about talking to my friends. If you had your way, I'd be locked in your father's basement with the Veela, as your pet man-slave. You've never trusted me, Draco, never and in all my life I haven't done anything to deserve that. You think that just because you're a cheating, lying bastard I have to be one too."
"Oh, you think I'm a bastard, now? Why don't you just leave me, if I'm that bad? I think you just like all the luxury that comes with being my boyfriend. The nice house, the money, the private spa, the Veela masseuse. I'm your bloody sugar-daddy, now I come to think of it. Hell, why "
"Hold that thought," said Harry. "I really should be getting packed. We can probably continue this at a later date, though." He grinned. "It was rather refreshing, wasn't it?"
"Very," said Draco, as they headed for Harry's bedroom. "You do realise we were made for each other, don't you, Potter."
"Rather sad, isn't it?"
"Extremely. But much more fun than Nindo, you'll have to admit."
"Nintendo. And yes. But you've never seen Chun Li flip over Bison's head and throttle him with her thighs."
Harry grinned. "I'll show you later."
Remus struggled off Serverus, gasping into the suddeness of his vertigo. He'd raised his wand, and cast the sobering spell on both of them and when Serverus began to stir, Remus crawled under the table to help the man to his feet. Digging his arms into Serverus' clothes in order gain a better leverage, Remus' fingers had slipped inadvertantly into one of Serverus' pockets, and then suddenly
"I can't help but notice we're in England," said Serverus, dryly. "And under a table, no less."
"So it's not just me? I wasn't quite sure of the sobering spell..."
"I can tell. I have a tail."
He did, too. It was long, feline, and stuck out from underneath his robe, coiling and uncoiling beyond Serverus' conscious control. Serverus mumbled the antidote under his breath, and it vanished. He reached up, forced the table off, and stood.
"The Ministry grounds," said Remus, unnecessarily. "You must have had a port key in your pocket."
"Which rather begs the question as to what you were doing with your hands in my pockets," said Serverus, coldly. "Then again, given your pitiful state " he looked over Remus' scruffy attire, "I think I can come to a relatively quick conclusion."
"It wasn't like "
"I'm not a fool, Lupin, and I'll be damned if Lucius still considers me one." He rested his hands on his hips, his head tilted back toward the sky. Watching the stars as they glimmered to prominence, a thought struck him. "Shouldn't you be locked up in a cage somewhere?" he asked Remus.
"Not for another day." Remus wrung his hands. "I need to get back to Africa fast. I have potions there I can't risk staying "
In Serverus' Slytherian brain, another thought curved its way sinuously into the forefront of his brain. A nasty thought. A vengeful thought. He stared at Remus, in all his overanxious fervour, and smiled a curl of smirk which didn't touch the darkness of his eyes.
"You forget that potions are my speciality, Lupin," he murmured. "Why don't you take a quick break from your studies and have a holiday? I'm sure we could catch up on old times, as it were."
Remus blinked. "Excuse me?"
"You don't like the idea?"
"Well I mean " Remus tilted his head, at a loss as to Serverus' motivation for being so disturbingly nice. "Well, you don't like me, for a start. And.. why?"
"You don't think I can't be hospitable, when I want to be? And we do have quite a bit in common at present. The Malfoys.." Serverus trailed off, delicately.
Remus frowned. "You aren't going to try and convince me to be part of some evil scheme while I'm there, are you?" he asked.
"No you're not."
"It'll take me a few days to find a portkey, anyway," Serverus lied. "You'd be better off living in comfort for the duration of your stay here, rather in those horrible spare flats they have in the Ministry. Now, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Lupin. What do you say?"
"Er what should I say?"
"You should say, Yes, Serverus. Thank you very much."
Remus felt weak; he looked away. "Yes, Serverus," he said. "Thank you very much."
"That wasn't so hard, was it?" Serverus smirked. "Shall we be off?"
He offered Remus his arm. Hating himself, and still utterly confused at the change in Serverus' attitude, Remus took it.
Return to Archive | next | previous