hd_hols (hd_hols) wrote in hd_holidays,

Happy (belated) H/D Holidays, violet_quill!

Author: frayach
Recipient: violet_quill
Title: Powerful Men
Rating: R
Pairings: Too many to list here, but the most important being Harry/The Minister of Magic
Summary: The Battle of Hogwarts was lost, but after ten years of tyranny and terror, Harry Potter has finally defeated Voldemort. Slowly, those who suffered the most under Voldemort’s reign – the half-bloods, the Muggleborns and the blood traitors – emerge from their enslavement, literally and figuratively, seeking refuge and comfort and healing from a group of volunteers, organized by Harry’s friend Hermione Granger, working out of the half-ruined St. Giles-Without-Cripplegate Church. New friendships are kindled, laughter shared, and secrets spoken, and all the while a bell tolls. The final message from one man to another, whose deepest secret only now does he understand.
DH Compliance: violet_quill asked for an AU in which Voldemort wins. I’m assuming incorporation of DH up to and until Harry defeats Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Warnings: Rentboy; off-stage character death; and frank discussions of bodily functions, torture, grief, death and love.
Word Count: 8,900
A/N: Written on a lark for violet_quill who, I learned Tuesday night, went giftless despite being a last-minute pinch-hitter. Thus, there was little time to work with before the Reveal on Sunday. This fact, coupled with the info the mods shared with me re: your likes and dislikes, presented a challenge, to say the least (which, btw, was at least half the appeal of trying to write a fic for you). Turns out you’re actually not terribly fond of H/D (which is the only pairing I write) and loathe H/D cliches but nonetheless requested dark AU Voldemort-wins-the-war rentboy fic. LOL. Oh, and one of the mods threw in her own request for Harry!Rentboy rather than Draco!Rentboy. See what I mean by a challenge? I tried to upend as many cliches and reader-expectations as I could. I hope you enjoy it.


Pardon me. Dark in here, innit? Didn’t mean to step on you. May I sit down? I promise I won’t bite. Least not hard, anyway. Though you need a strong jaw to make a dent in these bastards, don’t you? Where are we, you ask? Well, by the looks of it, we’re in a basement of a Muggle church, eating week-old pumpkin pasties and waiting for St. Mungo’s new volunteers to transfigure those empty crates over there into cots. And don’t ask me what that smell is. Mingin’, innit? I don’t know, and what’s more, I don’t wanna know. But really, it’s not all that bad, is it? We’re here, aren’t we? We’re alive. And we’re free. It’s just a wee bit crowded with all these people crammed in, and a bit maftin’ too if you were to ask me. Not said as you were gonna, but if you were, that’s what I’d say. Apparently there were a lot of blokes like you an’ me out there, just sort of biding our time between the cracks of life, so to speak. Or as Aloho-Maury would say, “in the crack of life – arse crack, that is.” That was the kind of thing Aloho-Maury liked so say. Not terribly classy, mind you, but funny. Good for a laugh after you’d had a bad night. Some punter buggered you dry and then fecked off with the few Knuts you’d been able to earn. Happened more than I’d like to admit, but no matter what, Aloho-Maury could always get a laugh outta you.

Anyhow, here we are, all sitting around in the basement of this old falling down church, listening to that bell clang like it’s the end of the world, and most of us wondering when the tremors are gonna start. I know I am, at least. Ask not for whom the bell tolls and all that shite. This is the longest I’ve gone without The Potion since . . . fuck, I don’t know when. At least since, You Know Who took over. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was that night I first broke down and tried it, when me and the other lads heard. Seemed like the only sane thing to do, really, though I’d stood my ground a long fucking time and refused to touch the stuff. Rentboy Rum, the older lads call it. Bum Rum. Liquid Lube. Gigolo Juice. Blue Heaven (on account of its colour). My boyfriend. It has as many names as it does addicts. Each of us forming his own personal connection to it like a baby to its mummy’s tit. Pretty soon, You Know Who’s people sussed out what a good thing they had goin’ and began providing it to us for free. I remember learning in Muggle Studies about this bloke who once called religion the opium of the masses. Well, old Voldie just cut straight to the chase and gave us the opium. Didn’t bother with the religion. Unless you call worshiping the rich and the pure-blooded a religion. I sure as hell don’t.

This place must be for rentboys only because there’s a hell of lot us milling around. That’s Clayton over there with that manky old blanket over his shoulders. And that’s Thestral Theo, named on account of his cock being all long and thin and dangly like a Thestral’s. Oh, don’t look at me like that! His real name’s Theo Spencer Zeus-Plover, not Theo I’ll-eat-your-babies-for-breakfast Nott. Yeah, we’ve heard of him, all right. Him and his father, both. Shit, I wager you’d be hard pressed to name a Death Eater we didn’t know – and intimately at that. If not us, then our sisters-of-the-night down the street in that old grammar school. They’re drying out, too, I’m sure. No matter whether you tote around your genitals on the inside or the outside, making a living on your back’s no easy ride.

Yeah, alright, I know. Bad pun. Sorry ‘bout that. It’s just I’m feeling a wee bit nervous. Never actually thought I’d see this day to tell you the truth. Most of us had pretty much given up on the thought we’d ever see You Know Who get taken out, let alone play a role in the whole thing happening. That’s right, you heard me. Play a role and a fucking big one at that. Though in hindsight I reckon we shouldn’t’ve been that surprised, after all we had Harry . . .

What do you mean “Harry Who?” Where have you been livin’? Under a rock some place? Harry Potter, of course! But don’t go looking for him here, you won’t find him. Never partook of The Potion, nor anything but the occasional bottle of Firewhisky now and then. Why? Well, for one, he’s Harry Potter, isn’t he? You think just because he was renting out that sweet arse of his by the half-hour that he was slowly putting himself in the ground like the rest of us? No, sir! He never said it, least not to me, but I reckon he wanted to keep his head clear and his eye sharp and on the look-out. Always hearing things, he was. Always tucking away a bit o’ this and a bit o’ that. Waiting, as I see it now. Waiting for the chance to make his move.

Now, now. I can see that you’re smiling, and I’m gonna have to revise my earlier observation about this place being full of rentboys, because you obviously ain’t one and ne’er will be if you don’t know The First Law of Fucking Powerful Men. Yeah, yeah, I know. Straight boys always think they know all about fucking, but I can assure you they don’t. Don’t even have a clue. Well, perhaps you do if you’ve slept with a skilled whore, but most of ‘em don’t. Have you? Well, there you go. I rest my case. Let me see if I can explain it to you. It’s not like we’re goin’ anywhere anytime soon. You’ve got the start of the D.T.s, and I’m gonna start frothing blue foam at the mouth here any minute. We’re not fit for gentle society yet, friend, and right now this place – and the likes of ourselves for company – are gonna have to do. Anyhow, as I was saying. The First Law of Fucking Powerful Men goes like this . . . think back on your Arithmancy for a second, it’ll help:

Powerful men are repressed men. Repressed men are men with secrets. Men with secrets will spill them. Thus, all powerful men will eventually spill their secrets. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to catch them. We rentboys make it our business to be in the right place at the right time.

What? You don’t believe me that powerful men spill their secrets to us? I’ll give you an example, then. The fucking prima-ballerina of examples. The former Minister of Magic. Yes, him, old Voldie’s protégé. Yes, the one they found in a bathtub full of pink water this morning. Was he a regular, you ask? Well, no. Not at first. Not till he ended up with Harry one night. He was after that, though . . . You should’ve seen him! Bespoke boots, spelled-to-fit Tattinschonin robes, and the most immaculate fucking hands you ever saw. No way had that boyo ever done any of his own dirty work. I’d be surprised if the International Wizarding Tribunal could’ve traced an Unforgiveable within a country mile of his wand, he was that squeaky fucking dirty. Titled? You betcha. Reckon you’re not from around here, are you, if you don’t know something as basic as that. Yeah, title, peerage, the whole Quidditch pitch. Pretty little wife, too, who no doubt could’ve done better for herself in a husband than a closeted homosexual Death Eater with a taste for being bent over and spanked and told he’s been a naughty naughty naughty boy.

You laugh, but it’s true. How do I know? Because I watched them once, that’s how. Oh sweet Apollo on a popsicle stick, don’t act like that! I’m a rentboy, not a saint. Funny, right? That’s another Aloho-Maury special. One of my favourites, actually. A rentboy, not a saint. Gets me a laugh every time, and believe me, once I get goin’ on this story you’re gonna be glad I made you laugh beforehand. What, you don’t think you could ever feel sorry for a Death Eater? Well, a Death Eater’s a man, isn’t he? A man of flesh and blood like the rest of us? No, I’m not excusing them for what they did. Fuck no! My mother, Merlin bless her, is in her grave because of them and their kind. And you never forget that. Not for one fucking second, even when you’ve got their cock in your arse and they’re beggin’ and blubberin’ like babies because they haven’t come this hard since they were in their school robes, and they’re scared as shit every fucking day because their boss man would soon as disembowel ‘em as look at ‘em, and they just want love damn it! Someone to love them. Even if it’s just for one night and the next day they’ll send some Junior Death Eater to A.K. you on the gents takin’ your morning shite ‘coz they remember saying something to you last night in the heat of passion that they shouldn’t’ve and now they – and by extension, you – are F-U-C-K-E-D.

Did I ever see that actually happen? Yeah, and more than once too. We had this one lad on our corner. Pretty, prissy little thing. Couldn’t’ve older than sixteen, and by the looks of him a pure-blood himself. Not that we ever knew for sure, but he just had that I-was-in-Slytherin-House air to him. Goyle, the pére, took a fancy to him. Used to come pick him up in his Ministry car once a week, then one morning we came ‘round to our usual spot and found him. Hit all over the face and chest with Defodio and left to freeze or bleed to death, whichever happened first. Rumour has it, it was Goyle pére sent Goyle fils to clean up his mess. Which probably explains the viciousness. Nothing quite like finding out your dear old dad gives it up the poop pipe to someone who’d only been in nappies when you started Hogwarts.

Now what are you looking at me like that for? “Poop pipe” a little too crude for you? Well, at least it’s better than “shitter.” Never was a fan of the term, meself. Go over there and ask any of those nurses what they call it when they’re wiping the shitty arse of some poor spell-damaged blighter. We’re all professionals, mate. Rentboys and nurses and healers and surgeons and whores. There’s nothing the human body can do that we haven’t seen, and no matter what you call it, it’s still a body and they’re still bodily functions and bodily fluids that come out of it. It’s better than the alternative, innit? Give me a human body any day over that scraping, howling, scale-covered, black-blooded thing that controlled us till recently. Took Harry months to learn whether the fucker even had to eat and drink like the rest of us. Turns out he didn’t.

So, I’ll take the human body, thank you very much. Even with all its faults and its flaws and its weaknesses. After all, if a man still has a man’s body, then chances are he’s still got a man’s heart. At least, I’d like to think so, and to tell you the truth I haven’t seen anything over the years that could convince me otherwise. What was that? I’m sorry, did you just call me a hopeless romantic? Well, there’s something I don’t hear every day, and I’m not saying it’s true, but then again, I’m not saying it’s not, neither. But perhaps it’s people like me – people who every day watch men sweat and crawl and come and shit and bawl like babies – who really know what love is.

And isn’t . . .

Pardon me? No, no, I’m alright. Just got thinking, there. Dangerous thing, that. Thought you’d be thankful I’d shut up for a second. Been running my mouth since I got here. Worse even than that bell clangin’ away up there. It’s like I said: I reckon I’m just nervous. Don’t remember what it’s like to be sober. Don’t remember what it’s like to walk in a park or eat in a restaurant or carry a wand or send an owl or clean my own arse with anything but a Galleon-sized piece of soap and an old t-shirt. They didn’t leave us much, we half-bloods and Muggle-born. Hardly a pot to piss in. It pleased them to see us crawl, to have us wait on them and clean up after them and care for their sick and their young and their Squibs and their old and their dark dark hidden lusts. We weren’t good enough to go to their schools or live on their streets or ride in their carriages or eat in their establishments, but we were good enough to crawl to when the nights got too long and closed in over their heads and drowned them in their own beds with loneliness and longing and regret . . .

Am I saying I think they grew to be sorry in the end? Well, that’s a good question. Before Harry and the Minister, I would’ve said, no. Spooked, perhaps. But not sorry. But now I’m not so sure. Not after this morning’s news. The Minister, that’s right. Remember we were talking ‘bout him before I got all sidetracked by Goyles and poop pipes and wands and civil rights and shit? The man whose robe hems touched the heels of his boots? Who, I’ve heard from reputable sources, threw his custom-tailored shirts away after wearing them, not because he was a germaphobe or anything like that, but just because he could. Because he wanted for nothing and as far as people knew, never had. Yeah, of course you remember. How couldn’t you? It was the Minister, after all, who pushed through every single one of You Know Who’s “reforms” without even batting an eye, let alone shedding a tear . . .

Right. Except for that last Decree. But then, given his track-record, who’d have imagined it possible? I mean, who’s ever even heard of such a thing, in the annals of Wizards or Muggles or Gods or Kings? A supreme sectarian national leader requesting the intervention of foreign – multiple foreign! – governments? Unthinkable.

I’m sorry, did you just ask me if I’d ever “entertained” him? Mate, you crack me up. We’re rentboys not geisha, for Merlin’s sake. But to answer your question, no, I never fucked him. He never let any of us touch him but Harry, though he looked at us often enough. Mind you, not that I knew it was him at the time, sitting there behind those black-mirrored windows in the back of that long black car of his. He started coming ‘round every evening, just at sunset. Just as the streetlights were coming on, making these bright little reflections on the windows of his car that looked like stars or flowers made of fire or something. There was never a spot on that fucking thing. Must’ve had enough repelling charms on it to deflect a bird if it should so much as even think of crapping on it. At first we thought it was old Voldie himself, which of course made all of our dicks shrivel up so much you couldn’t’ve found ‘em with a pair of tweezers and a Muggle microscope. Except for Harry, of course. I think the thought of a fair fight probably made him hard enough to cut glass. He’d have killed him, cut off his head, and pissed down his lizard neck if he could’ve. Harry hated him that much. We all did, of course. But Harry, even more than the rest of us had his reasons. A whole photo book of reasons. Dead parents and dead teachers and dead mentors and dead friends. Old Voldie had cut a swath through Harry’s life, so he had. And the only reason Harry hadn’t bled to death is that he’d managed to bite the bullet and cauterize his wounds. It cost him, though. You could see it in his eyes.

What?? Hang on a second. What are you thinking? That Harry’s some kind of war-torn Quasimodo? Have you not seen those victory posters of him they’ve got hanging up all over the place? Looking all grim-faced and determined? You haven’t? Well then, more’s the shame. As soon as they give you a clean bill of health and let you out of here, go find yourself one and take a good long look. For someone that’s gone through what he has, he’s one beautiful damn son of a bitch. Hell, he’s beautiful no matter which way you slice it. And I do mean beautiful, and not pretty. Even with his eyes all done up with kohl and shadow, you never forgot he’s a man. He moved like man, spoke like a man, smelled like a man. And he wasn’t shy about it, neither. Wore the most shameless leather pants you ever saw and stood like the royal fucking Crown Jewels hung between his legs. When he was out on the take, none of us got first dibs. He took them all, every time. Every Death Eater, every Ministry official, every boot-licking department head in the DMLE. They went for him first and would even wait for sloppy seconds – or thirds -- driving around for an hour if he was off with someone else and wasn’t available, though, of course, if the Minister came by . . . Harry sometimes bragged when he was drunk that he didn’t need lube because every Death Eater he let fuck him greased the way for the next. He was a Death Eater fucking machine, and he hated them with a hatred like black boiling pitch in the deepest darkest ditch in hell.

And out of all of them, I think he hated the Minister in his black boots and bespoke robes and his beautiful gleaming car the most. Why do I think that, you ask? Because after the Minister started coming ‘round, Harry stopped fucking the others, catering instead to him – and to him alone. What could that’ve been, other than hate?

Perhaps it was love, you say? No, don’t worry. I’m not gonna laugh. I should, but I won’t. We’ve just met. I hardly know you, but yet I feel as though you’re able to see deeper into my heart than many of the closest friends I’ve known for years. Perhaps it’s because you and I are going through similar things – the ends of our worlds as we knew them, the ends our addictions, and perhaps (dare we even hope?) the ends of our long exiles from the lives that were our birthrights – the lives of magic and of flying and of feeling the universe murmur against our fingertips like the fluttering wings of a thousand moths. I never thought the day would come. I never thought we’d be free of him, but now . . . now . . .

I’m sorry. It’s just that everything over the past few days is finally catching up with me. The Minister’s treason, the battle, the breaking of the Bands that enslaved us, the news of . . . of . . . Forgive me. I’m tired, and it’s been such a long fight. Such a terribly long fight . . .

Thank you. Yeah, I reckon I was thirsty. You want another sip? You sure? Well, cheers. I appreciate it. Maybe when this is all said an’ done, you an’ me can get together sometime. Maybe they’ll even reopen the Leaky, and I’ll buy you a pint. What? Oh right, sorry. How about a Gillywater then? Yeah? Righto, it’s a deal. And no, I’m not trying to ply my trade. Reckon I’m done sucking dick for a living. May not’ve been first in my year at Hogwarts, but I sure as shit know I can do better than ridin’ around in the back Ministry cars with my knees around my ears.

I said, Ministry cars, not the Minister’s car. Told you, no one but Harry ever saw the inside of that baby. Though he told me ‘bout it once. Said the leather on the seats was so soft you thought it’d melt like butter when you sat your arse on it, and there was a bar with cut-glass lowballs and crystal snifters and hundreds of Galleons worth of whisky – Macallan’s Fine & Rare, Bruichladdich, Auchentoshan sherry – that kinda thing. But ‘pparently the Minister ne’er drank a drop. Least not while Harry was with him. Liked to watch Harry drink it, though. Harry told me that once the Minister got off from doing nothing more than feeding him whisky-soaked ice cubes one time. Creamed those fancy trousers of his when Harry let him suck a little Glen Garioch off his tongue. Yeah, I know. Erotic as fuck, innit? Too bad it’s the fucking lordgodking of the Death Eaters you gotta picture when you’re wanking to it.

What? Yeah, sure I speak from experience. You think I get all shy over admittin’ to a little bit o’ masturbation? Listen mate, after you’ve let some old blighter piss down your leg because that’s the closest he can come to ejaculating after his sadistic fuck of a Dark Lord Crucioed him to the point of permanent nerve damage, admitting to wanking over the thought of two men as beautiful as Harry and the Minister gettin’ it on is hardly a big deal. Beautiful? Shit yeah, he was beautiful! Never seen a picture of him neither? Mate, where have you been all these years? Sorry. Rhetorical question. No need to actually answer. I saw the tattoos. You’ve obviously been in Azkaban at least part of the time. And no wonder you started drinking and didn’t stop the second you got out. Probably would’ve done the same thing meself. Or worse. But yeah. He was beautiful, alright. Fucking waste, if you ask me. Had the longest legs you ever seen. Went on for a fucking mile. Long and lean and clad in the finest cloth you can imagine. And, no, he wasn’t like those other fat Ministry fucks with their rings and their bowler hats and their purple velvet robes. Honestly! Who’d they think they were foolin’? No one I know, that’s for sure. But the Minister was cut from different cloth. Nothing on those fine hands o’ his ‘cept his wedding band and nothing but cotton and wool and leather touching that perfect skin. A different breed of man, altogether. No, I’m not necessarily saying he was better. In many ways, he was worse because unlike the Crabbes and Goyles and Carrows and Rookwoods of this world, he knew what he was doing. He wasn’t just followin’ orders, he was giving them. And what’s scarier, I ask you? A man who Cruicos you with a smile on his face? Or a man who does it with tears in his eyes, but does it all the same and does it till you start sweating pinpricks of blood through your pores and lose control of your bowels and offer to hand over your own mother if he’ll just fucking please STOP!!

Sorry, mate. I’m sorry. Don’t know what’s got into me. Those bells are dreadful mournful sounding, aren’t they? Like you need to see another man cry. Bet you saw more of that in Azkaban than a man needs to see in a lifetime. Harry himself told me a bit about it. He did a stint there too, you know. Four years after You Know Who won the Battle of Hogwarts. Four years, and he told us that every morning, every single fucking morning, he woke up thinkin’ that day would be his last. Can you imagine? Well, most likely you can, but I can’t. Wouldn’t have lasted four weeks there meself, let alone four years. I’ve often thought I’d rather face You Know Who himself than one of those fucking Dementors. Least they say old Voldie was a man once. Those fuckers never were. How’d he escape, you ask? He didn’t. Was released the day after our dearly departed Minister was sworn in. Yeah, I know. I think it shocked him, too. After all, none of his friends were released – those that had survived the Battle, I mean. No one knows who gave the order or why. Though you gotta believe old Voldie must’ve approved it because if ever there was a man he had to keep his eye on, it was Harry. But someone, somewhere, must’ve had Harry’s interest at heart, otherwise . . .

Ah! Now, you just gave voice to something I’ve never had the balls to. The Minister, himself, you say? Well, one does wonder, doesn’t one? The way he fixated on Harry like a Seeker on a Snitch shortly after that. Almost like he’d been looking for him all along, crawling the streets after dark in that big black silent fucking car of his. Did Harry know him from before, you ask? Can’t say as I think he did. At least he never let on that he did. But then again, like his most famous punter, Harry was about as secretive as they come. Not about everything, mind you. He shared with us plenty o’ details when it came to the things they did, just not the things they said. Never breathed a word as to what they talked on to anybody I knew . . .

What do you mean, “maybe they didn’t talk”? Course they talked! Or at least the Minister did. Like I told you before, powerful men talk to us, mate. Spill their hearts and their guts and their tar-black souls to us. But Harry? No way. Harry was too disciplined to ever say a word to one of those boyos, Minister of Magic or no. And I do mean disciplined. Like a soldier’s disciplined. This wasn’t some joke to Harry. Some way to pass the time and make a few Sickles. This was war, mate. Fucking war. And they were the enemy. The men we kissed and sucked and caressed and fucked and held while they came and cried and cursed. They were the fucking enemy, and we never forgot it. Couldn’t forget it. You see that scar around my ankle? Yeah, that one right there. That’s where the Band sat. For ten years, it sat there, cutting into my skin with its fucking Dark Magic and keeping me tethered like a dog to a single square mile in Cripplegate. Thousands of us there, we half-bloods and Muggleborns and blood traitors – the ones that weren’t in Azkaban, that is. Merlin, but the pure-bloods certainly hated their own even more than they did us, didn’t they? I’d sooner be a Knutless – yeah, that was another one of Aloho-Maury’s sayings, good one, innit? I’d sooner be a Knutless Muggle-born than a tried, convicted and branded Blood Traitor. The things they did to the Weasley family . . . Don’t even get me started!

So, yeah, Harry was disciplined alright. Just about as disciplined as the bloke who’s been ringing that bell for the last hour, come to think on it. One of the reasons he never touched The Potion like the rest of us did. One of the reasons he’s not here now, keeping us company. No withdrawal for him with its shakes and cramps and visions and screaming and vomiting and . . . sorry. It’s just that I’m stating to feel it comin’ on, and I’m not embarrassed to confess that it scares the living shite out of me. Thanks, and I’ll take care of you too, mate. As best I can, but you and I, we’re both gonna have our hands full with what the next seventy-eight hours have in store for us. Let’s just hope there are more nurses where these ones here come from. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Hard to believe there are this many people out here who, like Harry, didn’t succumb to addiction and despair and instead kept their eye square on the day it’d all be over and the rest of us would need their help. Their pity. Their love. Hard to believe there’s any of that stuff left after all we’ve seen. Love, I mean. Once, in one of his dark moods (yes, he had plenty of ‘em), Harry told me that love is like spilt spunk after a fuck: warm at first, full of potential and life, but soon enough it turns cold and dries up and starts to stink. Yeah. Bleak. I know. But, you know what? Deep in his heart of hearts, I don’t think that’s what Harry really believed. I think maybe he might’ve wished he believed it, but I don’t think he ever really did. After all, I don’t think Harry was a survivor because he tore his heart out. I think he was a survivor because he buried it down deep and far, where it could stay safe. Safe and untouched.

‘Cept by the Minister, you say? Well, for someone who’s never even seen photographs of the two of them, let alone met them yourself, you sure seem confident of that fact. Can’t say that I share it. Your confidence, I mean, though the idea has crossed my mind. But you gotta remember, I saw the effects of that man’s policies every minute of every day for years. I saw the orphaned and the maimed and the crippled and the ruined. But then again, I also saw the way he touched Harry that night two weeks ago. The night before he issued the Decree. Are you a Muggle-born? Okay, I thought so. Me too. You’ll appreciate this analogy then. That Decree was the falling domino that set it all off. That resulted in the intervention of the International Confederation, and the fall of the Ministry, and the shattering of the Band that held us all here and ultimately – I think, inevitably – Harry’s defeat of Voldemort . . .

Yeah, that’s right. I saw them together. Didn’t I tell you that already? What did I say? Oh right, that the Minister liked to be spanked. Sure, it’s true, but I was fibbing a tad when I said I knew that ‘coz I’d seen it. Truth is, I never saw Harry turn the Minister over his knee (though I’d have paid a pretty Sickle for the privilege, let me tell you!) Only heard Harry mention it once. In the beginning, when the Minister first started coming around. Gave us all a good laugh, he did. Had us practically pissing ourselves over the image of our haughty posh Lord Minister with his trousers ‘round his knees and his bum cheeks emblazoned with Harry’s hand prints like the Ulster flag. But no, sadly, never got to actually see it. Rarely saw them together at all, actually. Only a few times when I was around as Harry got in or out of his car. Once too, I saw them standing on a corner in a snowstorm. Arguing that time, they were. I mean really arguing. Fighting, one might even say. Like best mates, or brothers, or lovers. Red-faced and yelling, and Harry so hot under the collar the snow looked like it was melting into rainwater before it even hit his face. Couldn’t tell you what they were arguing about because frankly I was too shocked and stoned and teeth-rattlin’ cold. Plus the wind was whipping the other way, and it carried their words right off likes bits of old newspaper or something. Can still recall that storm. The worst I can ever remember. Nearly twenty people died when the heating charm failed in that vacant Barbican estate flat they were sharing. Knew a couple of them. Good chaps. Such a fucking waste . . .

Oh, but as I was saying. I hardly ever saw Harry and the Minister together even though we all knew that towards the end there, they were seeing each other almost every night. Not that we knew that the end was coming, mind you. In fact, speaking only for myself, of course, I hadn’t a fucking clue the end was nigh, so they say. Although, looking back now, it makes sense . . . Anyhow, Harry and me and Aloho-Maury and these three other blokes were sharing this two bedroom flat. Not bad, actually. Nicest place I’d seen in ten years, which I suppose says more about the sad state of affairs than anything nice about the flat itself. Let’s just say it was functional and leave it at that. One working burner on the stove. A toilet that flushed. And a sink with a functional tap. What more could one want, eh? Oh yeah, and there was a bed. Well, not a bed so much as a mattress on the floor, but to us it was the fucking height of luxury and comfort. We all took turns sleeping on it, and it was agreed that none of us would bring a punter into it. Keep it just for ourselves, we would. Nice and pristine, like. Well, excepting the fact that the five of us stank to high heaven because there’s only so much cleanliness you can achieve from a sink. Can’t tell you how many times I walked in on Maury trying to wedge his gummy arse under the tap. Fucking barmy git. Merlin, I love him. Been lookin’ ‘round to see if he’s here. Haven’t seen him since the fire three nights ago. Burnt half of Cripplegate to the ground, but if I know Aloho, he made it out alright. He’s a survivor like the rest of us. Practically a fucking cockroach, he’s so good at surviving. God, I love him. You will, too. The three of us’ll go for that Gillywater, and he’ll tell you some stories, alright! Think I’m full of ‘em? Well, I can’t hold a Lumos to Aloho-Maury and his store of daft fucking stories.

Anyhow, so it was the six of us trying to eat and sleep and stay warm and not get on each other’s nerves more than three times a day. Not that we were always there, of course. Most of us spent our time out on the corner trying to turn a few Knut. And most of us were getting stoned pretty fucking regular, too. I, myself, was up to a bottle of Blue a day, which is sad and rather scary now that I’m thinking on it, but it made perfect sense at the time. Anyhow, it was my twenty-four hours with the bed, and I was getting arsed out of my head on it, lying on my back and staring up at this Muggle hippy tapestry thing one of the lads had found and pinned over the ceiling to cover the green mossy shite that was growing there. As I recall, evening was just starting to fall, and I was pretty fucking stoned. So stoned in fact that when I felt someone in the doorway and looked up and saw the Minister, I thought I was having one pretty fucking weird-arsed hallucination. Hullo, says I, and he just stares at me for a moment before very carefully saying, I’m terribly sorry to disturb you. I’m looking for Harry. Have you seen him? Just like that, all calm and posh and shit. It was as though the Minister of Magic just regularly turned up in rundown flats in burnt-out Muggle housing estates on Chiswell Street at teatime on Wednesdays. Felt like if I said anything, I’d probably just be talking to myself anyway, so I decided not to say anything, since there was no way in fucking hell that Death Eater Numero Uno was really standing in my bedroom doorway, looking rather sheepish and put-out, while I lay about in my t-shirt and stained underpants counting my farts. I mean, Merlin’s bouncing blue balls! I thought I’d finally lost my fucking mind!

So, I take it he’s not at home, then? Right. Exactly. That’s exactly how he said it. I’m not making this up. Running the “at” and “home” together just like that and looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. At this point, I realised that this was not a hallucination and was probably actually happening and that I should do something and quick. So, I tell him to hang on a second and pull on my jeans and a jumper and go to look for Harry, ‘coz I’d had a pretty good idea where I’d find him. Like I said before, I was stoned out of my head, but I can still remember that the Minister didn’t move out of the doorway when I went to pass him. Instead, he turned with his back against the jamb, all straight like, and when I went to squeeze by him, I remember catching this amazing scent off him. The Potion always heightened my senses and responses – one of the reasons it was popular with rentboys and punters alike – and I remember feeling kind of faint an’ dizzy from the smell of him. At the time, I thought he smelled like power. Raw fucking power. But now that I’ve had my first real bath in ten years, I realise it was just plain old English lavender soap. Can you believe that? Such a change our perspectives have undergone in such a short time!

Well, Harry was exactly where I thought he’d be. Plotting and scheming with his friend Hermione, and this Irish bloke he’d gone to school with and another fellow with a hyphenated name who I never was that keen on, but I reckon couldn’t’ve been that bad if he was helping Harry. They all lived across the hall, and sure enough, there he was. They all look up when I come in, and I say, Harry, mate, you’ve got a visitor, and he suddenly gets this expression on his face like, Holy shit, I forgot! He leaps up and tells his friends he’s got to go, and then he asks me quietly, as we’re going back across the hall, can he have the bed tonight even though it’s not his turn, and can I do everything I can to keep the others out until he gives me word? I could tell he wasn’t too chuffed that I knew who it was who was waiting for him, but then I reckon he also realised the cat was out of the bag as far as I was concerned, and he might as well make use of the situation by using me as a look-out for the others. So, I tell him fine, okay, and he goes into the flat and I sit down in the hall, my heart going boom boom boom, like, and thinking, fucking hell!

I’ll wager you know where this is going. I can see it in your eye. Yeah, I had a peephole, and yeah, I watched them. Are you kidding me? Would you have passed up the opportunity if you’d stumbled over it? Anyhow, so the flat next to ours was empty. Someone had torn off all the doors and ripped out the fixtures and kicked holes in the walls. One of which happened to give me a tidy little glimpse into our flat and the room with the mattress. So, I used some lipstick to write, “Keep Out, You Arseholes!” on our door and then I went ‘round to the neighbouring flat to play peeping Tom. And sure enough, there they were. Harry and the Minister.

They’re talking, but I can’t hear them. I can only assume it was about something important because Harry was gesticulating like mad, and the Minister kept pounding his fist into his open palm as though he’d rather be pounding it into Harry’s face. I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but at the time, I assumed they were arguing over the price of rent, so to speak. Which seems crazy, I know. I’m sure that if the Minister can afford a three hundred-Galleon bottle of Scotch, he can afford an hour of Harry’s arse, sweet though it undoubtably is. But like I said, this was the evening before the Decree issued. Not that I knew that then, but I sure as shite know it now, and it gives me the shivers just thinking about it because I’m sure (and aren’t you?) that that’s what they were talking about. And all I can wonder now is: who was trying to talk who out of what and why? But I reckon that’s something we’ll never get an answer to. Not now. Not unless Harry spills the beans, and something tells me he won’t. A powerful man he may be now, but not the kind of powerful man who talks. At least not to the likes of me and you, and not about something like that.

I’m an arsehole, I know it, and when I’m an uncle or a daddy or somebody’s godfather someday, I know I’m going to kick myself. But the truth is, I can’t remember every detail of what I saw. I was stoned, and they kept wandering outside the scope of my little peephole. But the things I do remember, I remember like they happened yesterday. I remember at one point the Minister broke down and starting crying, and I’m not talking a couple of tears and sniffles and that’s all. No, sir. The man broke down, as though all the weight of the world had been piled on his shoulders and suddenly something inside of him, some little part, broke, and the whole thing came crushing down on him like a tonne of bricks. I mean, it was on-your-knees-grabbing-fistfuls-of-rug-and-wailing crying. And let me tell you, that I heard. And something about it scared the shite out of me. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard men cry before. Plenty of them. In fact, I’d wager I’ve seen more men cry than most of your psychologists and your healers and your Muggle priests put together. After all, nothing can make a grown man cry like an arse-fuck he’s denied himself for years and an orgasm you’ve made him beg for. Something like that can break a man like few other things can. Think I’m putting you on? Well, I’m not. Plain and simple fact is all. But as many men as I’ve seen cry, I’ve never seen a man cry like the Minister did that night. And what’s more, I’ve never seen a man like the Minister cry at all. The men who come to me have already learned to crawl – in some way or fashion, be it by their wife or their boss or their dear old dad. But the Minister had that look about him that said, “I have never crawled and I never will.” Broom handle-straight that man’s back was. And with eyes as cold and as grey as a December sky. I’m telling you: this is the kind of man that made other men crawl and liked it, but there he was before my very eyes, on his hands and knees with snot on his face weeping as though he’d never be forgiven. Which, come to think on it, he won’t be. Least not by lesser beings than God.

Did Harry forgive him? Mate, you’ve asked me something I can’t answer. Harry said something to him, alright. Something I couldn’t hear, but whatever it was, it stopped the Minister’s tears as though Harry was his mummy, and he was nothing more than a child with night fears. But Harry pulled him up by the elbows and led him over to the mattress and laid him down, all the while murmuring something I couldn’t hear. Or maybe he was humming. I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that the Minister went willingly, almost shyly, you could say, and didn’t make a move to stop Harry when he began undoing the clasps on his robes. And, again, I’m ashamed to say it, looking back on all of this in hindsight, but I remember thinking, Fuck yeah! Give it to him Harry, old boy! I mean, for the first couple of months the Minister had started coming ‘round for Harry, we’d been the glad recipients of Harry’s detailed accounts. For instance, we knew the Minister liked to frot through his trousers like a schoolboy and that Harry could kiss him to orgasm. We knew, as I’ve already said, that he liked to be spanked, slapped, and laid into with a riding crop on occasion, all the while being told he deserves it, every last lash of it. Harry said once that his greatest aim in life these days was making it so the Minister of Magic winced every time he sat down for tea. Aloho-Maury loved that one. Treated us to a little pantomime every day for a week at least, sliding delicately into his chair and wriggling his bum around with this hilarious prim little expression on his face like he was the Queen Mum and just bit into a lemon. Cracked us up, it did. Anyhow, that’s what I thought I had in store for my viewing pleasure that evening, although why, I don’t know. By that time, Harry had long ago stopped sharing the details of his sexual exploits with the Minister and had even once, about a month previously, punched one of the lads in the mouth for even mentioning the fact he’d seen Harry getting into the Minister’s car the night before. Set us all back on our heels, you can be sure! I remember thinking, Shit! Harry’s going to become his kept bit on the side and take the Mark or something. It seemed that serious somehow . . .

Why hadn’t I considered it might be the other way ‘round, you ask? You mean instead of Harry falling for the Minister, the Minister had fallen for Harry? Again, I guess it’s because I know him, and you don’t. Or maybe I don’t know him exactly, but I’ve seen him. Been in the same room with him. Watched him once give an order to burn a Muggle village to the ground without so much as an eye tic. The man is harder than steel, and colder too, I bet. Though you wouldn’t have thought so that night, I suppose. If you’d seen him like I did . . .

You know, it’s funny. At the end of the day, we’re all just men, aren’t we? Men with fingers and toes and blood and guts and pricks and hearts. Used to turn me on, seeing big men in their undershorts and garters, all bulging bellies and graying chest hair, and knowing that I had the power to make them whimper and plead. All those Ministry big-wigs with their gaudy fucking rings and their hair glamoured to look thicker than it is so they can pretend they’re international wizarding playboys and not just a bunch of balding sadists. Most men when you undress them seem older, sadder. But not the Minister. Harry fucking stripped that man to his skin, and you know? It’s the oddest thing, but it was as though with all his trappings gone – his knee-high dragon-hide boots and his perfectly pressed trousers and his pristine white shirt and his bespoke robes, it was as though suddenly the years just sort of melted off him. He just lay there, open and bare, his hands curled in the dirty sheets like a child’s. Fucking did something to me, that image did. And it clearly did something to Harry, too, because all of a sudden he’s crying, but silently, not like the Minister had before, and kissing his wrists and his throat and the crooks of his knees. I ask you: how can a man, his hands steeped in blood up to the elbows, have such pale flawless skin? How can a man who’d effectively ordered the deaths of hundreds blush the colour of a fucking rose petal when Harry kissed his open palm? How can a man who invented a spell binding Cruciatus with Sectumsempra, causing its victims to thrash about spraying blood through a thousand cuts like a fucking Muggle lawn sprinkler, have nipples so pink and delicate they look like they’d melt under your tongue like candy floss? And how – how – can a man with no fucking trace of a heart turn the words, “Fuck me, Harry,” into a declaration of love? Tell me. I’m serious. I want to know because if someone so twisted and so evil can be so . . . so fucking beautiful, then maybe life just doesn’t make sense like it should. Been a long time since I went to church, but aren’t the righteous supposed to be able to know the Devil by his tail? Isn’t evil supposed to be malformed and ugly and just plain fucking wrong? The only thing wrong or ugly on that man’s body was that filthy Mark, and if the papers are to be believed that’s how he died. Trying to cut it out of his perfect skin. A week after his Lord’s defeat at the hands of his lover. Like I said, a fucking waste.

Seems to me there must’ve been someone, somewhere, at some time – maybe when he was still a schoolboy – who could’ve pulled him aside and said, “Really? Is this really who you are?” I mean, did it really have to be like that? Was he really evil to the marrow of his bones? Or was there perhaps someone – a teacher? Perhaps a friend? – who could’ve saved him before it was too late? Or was he just born lost? Pure-blooded and beautiful and lost. Well, we’ll never know now, will we. While it’s true that powerful men will eventually tell you their secrets, it’s also true that dead men take them to their graves.

Whoa. Is it just me, or did it go all quiet in here all of a sudden? Oh, you’re right. Those fucking bell finally stopped. Thank Merlin. ‘Bout drove the last bat from my belfry, that did. Maybe now we can lie down and get some sleep before the worst of it hits us. Here, take half my blanket. Like I said when I first sat down, I don’t bite. Besides, it’s January and as cold as fuck and a little human body heat never hurt a man – be he straight, gay, rentboy or prisoner. Here, you can even share my pack with me for a pillow. Yeah, I know. The floor’s fucking hard, innit? But at least we’re safe and we’re fed, and if I wake up in the night, you’re here, and if you wake up, the same goes for me. You know, they say the price of power is a sound night’s sleep. Well, all I know is there’s one powerful man who’s finally gonna sleep soundly tonight, and all I’ll say ‘bout that is, may he rest in peace.

Because the one he left behind sure ain’t gonna.

Tags: [fic], genre: au, rated: r, round: winter 2007

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