FIC and ART: 'Cotyledon' for bluestocking79 Recipient:bluestocking79 Author/Artist:trickofthedark (aka, Didodikali) Title: Cotyledon Rating: Perhaps R for naughty language. Pairings: Slughorn/Hooch, brief mentions of Firenze/Trelawney, Pomfrey/Snape. Word Count: 2150, plus etcetera. Warnings: ...entirely harmless. No, really. Summary: After the Battle of Hogwarts, the Slytherins seek rewards.
When it was all over and the students streamed out around me and before my colleagues and most especially Minerva could call me back for yet another staff meeting, I escaped.
I slipped out with my broom and took it up for one last circuit around the castle. I found no one, the ramparts were emptied, the students vanishing away across the grounds.
It took two hours at speed to scrape my head clean of the worst of the blood and memories and, when I'd finally had enough wind, I went looking for water. I turned my broom around and around over the castle for a while like an oversized dowsing rod and then followed it back down to the ground, to the hospital wing.
The hospital wing was quiet, those merely injured had left in the rush with their friends and family, and the dead made no noise. And yet I caught Poppy still bustling between curtained beds with her hands piled high with bloody black robes. "Did you find another patient? Shall I go find the rest of the healers? I'm sure there's a few not out the gate yet," I said to her.
She shrieked when I spoke and whirled around to face me, her little white hands guiltily clutching the red-streaked wool closer to her. "Xiomara! Oh, it's just you. No, everything's fine. Excuse me. Must dash," she said and backed away down the hall.
My broom dowsing never gives me much detail of direction. I called after her. "Have you seen-"
"-Conservatory," she cut in and disappeared.
I left her to her secrets and went out the blue wooden door off the side of the hospital wing into the conservatory, the hospital's small greenhouse. There were some few medical herbs grown here, but mostly it was a place to brew the medical potions that so frequently required healthy sunlight in a convenient place out of the wind. Many large cauldrons had been set going in the center flagstones at the beginning of the battle by some quick-thinking soul; now most were emptied, scooped out and crusted over, awaiting a scrub. There were five full cauldrons still blurping away, one recognizably Pepper Up, the others no doubt of similar utility.
And next to them there was an upholstered chair. I bent over it. It was dark green with a barely visible pattern of leaves and little pink flowers. I tossed myself down into it and thrust my hand down between the cushions. The chair turned back into Horace, squawking and blinking, sitting on the floor with me on his lap and my hand down his green pajama trousers. I peered into his face. "Hullo. Were you sleeping?"
Horace blinked at me faster and yelped, "Aaaiii! What? What? Are there more of them?"
"We got them all. We won. Everything's fine."
This declaration made him sit back and sigh, but he seemed none too steady even so. I crooked my finger over at Horace's least active-looking potion. It shook out its claw feet, stretched, and tiptoed over to us. It stopped where I pointed it to, nudging up behind Horace. He leaned back against the cooling cauldron and asked, "The children?"
"Our little lambs went obediently to safety." Well, mostly, but I wasn't going to be the one to tell him about the ones gone astray, not while I had my hand down his trousers. "The other houses have gone home, too. There was a speech."
"Oh. Am I sorry I missed it?" He shoved his tasseled hat straighter on his head and looked me over, seemingly quite awake, his brain-meats now most excellently simulating intelligence. He still hadn't noticed my hand.
"They seem to be under the impression that you were the only Slytherin at the battle. They offered you much honor," I said.
"Good god. I presume you didn't stand up even then. Not even now?" He left 'not even for me' unsaid, but I still heard it.
I glared at him. "No, dear. I referee Games; I must seem impartial. Gilderoy's no longer available and I'm counting my blessings that the incognition spell's lasted this long."
"Well, what about Sybill? She's always chock full of house pride and I saw her ruin her best ball. Shattered into a thousand pieces. She must have stood up for our house!"
It is difficult to seduce a man when he insists on talking about other women or politics, but if he insists on talking about both at once, one's prospects of getting any become remote. I removed my hand from the nice warm spot I'd found inside his pajama trousers, sighed, and said, "Sybill rode off into the sunset with Firenze before the speeches even started. Lucky bint. I'd certainly trade some awful speeches for some big juicy horse cock any day."
Horace blinked some more at that, then looked down at my hand, now forlornly laid in my own lap. "Oh," he said, grinning. He reached up to his mustaches, gone limp from the steam of the cauldrons, and twirled them back into curlicues.
I draped an arm around his neck. "Speaking of opportunistic Slytherin ladies, what is Poppy up to?" I might have been talking about other women and politics, too, but he'd started it. And I was curious.
Pulling his hands away from his face, he noticed his potion-stained fingers. He casually shook his hands and the marks on his hands disappeared. It looked like an impressive bit of wandless magic- if you didn't know he keeps his wand up his sleeve, strapped to his arm under his wristwatch. Primping complete, he said, "I believe she is patching up a mostly dead reptile for to release it into the wild. But let us not take any notice of her. I prefer we're unable to give over any useful snippets if they use veritaserum on us later. I say we talk about us."
"Veritaserum? No wonder you didn't show for the speech. Perhaps a bit less paranoia might help, you great twit."
I trust the Aurors rather more than him and when this particular conversational friction blows up, he always, instantly (and conveniently for me when I want it) tacks in another direction. "Yes, yes, nevermind. Were you indeed wanting a pony today? I have some centaur fur and some tweaked polyjuice. Did you want to try it or have me have a go? "
I tell myself that the reason I keep coming back to him is for the camaraderie and security, although that never describes what I get. "Oh, come on, we just got out of a battle. I'm not feeling energetic enough to throw a leg over all that, no matter which way we try it. Give me some nice vanilla for a change."
"I do have a vanilla orchid right over there." He nodded toward the far end of the greenhouse. "The flowers were pink and yellow. I pollinated it by hand. The bean is very long. And curly. I'd be happy to give it to you."
"Curly is good. Whatever's on offer."
This daft talk was just a cover for the usual silent shorthand conversation of my hand infiltrating his shirt and unhitching his buttons and his nose in my ear and sparks jumping the gap between us.
As he ran his hands over me, stroking me, snapping open the closures of my robe, his hand wandered over my Hogwarts badge, its profusion of colours calling him back to our habitual quarrel and a sudden swell of pique. "Take off this fucking black camouflage," he grumbled, pulling at my robes, and at my sharp look he went on to say, "Nothing but endless black, like that bleeding reptile. What kind of a Slytherin woman are you? You should show your colours. You even look well in them."
I blew back, "I don't owe you-"
"You bring them up now? You are the least romantic-"
"-Quite," he said and plugged my mouth with his tongue.
I grabbed him by the ear and pulled him off. "And if you interrupt me one more time when I'm talking, I'll-" I fell off his lap onto the floor.
"-tie my tongue in a bow. Promises, promises." He followed me down, an arm on either side of me holding most of his weight up off of me, but also neatly pinned me in place.
I liked this so much I forgot what we were talking about. I reached up and pulled him closer and shut my eyes. He kissed me, but then backed up. Horace wasn't forgetting. He pulled my flying robe open and revealed what was underneath. "Oh, look, more black," he said. "What a surprise." And when instead of more kisses I felt surging magic, I opened my eyes to see him silently mouthing words, his hand cutting quick signs over me.
For a Potions Master, Horace's transfiguration and charm skills are prodigious. Splashes of peacock green appeared on my clothes, the solid conservative soot of my robes overtaken by floods of gaud.
I pulled my own wand out of my belt and canceled his spell.
He started again.
And then it all devolved into a childish wizard's duel as we wrestled over our wand hands. I almost got him with some tickling, but he wriggled to escape. A bit of well-timed frottage on his part almost stupefied me again to placid intoxication, but before my eyes glazed over I flipped him over and fell on him.
Eventually our efforts foundered; we'd pinned each other decisively, unless one or another of us wanted to leave off playing and use Expelliarmus, which would have been against the rules. We remained panting and checkmated for a while, his hand turning white gripped with my broom hand and knee and me caught by right hand and foot, until I said, "Is this floor made out of slate? It's very hard on the knees."
"You want to let me go and I'll do a cushioning charm?" He was still laughing at me.
As if I would let him go just like that. "I've got easier access to my wand. You let me go," I said.
"Or we could both let go, go home, and do this properly. In a bed," he offered.
"I reckon that would be more gratifying. And all our toys are at home." We untangled ourselves and I hauled him to his feet.
He cast a finite on my robes, ungreening them, and tossed them over his arm. I located his lost slipper for him. We set off. Horace disdained the back way, which I like as it goes as the crow flies, but I often humour Horace's little whims. Our route took us instead by the main hall where we met a group of laggards: professors and volunteers who'd come to defend the castle and who didn't know when to call it a day and scram.
The boys, girls, Irma, and Minerva all goggled at us- although Horace and I were not misbehaving publicly. Irma elbowed Minerva in the side; Minerva pulled out her purse and emptied it into Irma's hands. Minerva always loses her bets, and she deserves it because it's very rude to bet on other people's personal lives- and had oblivious Minerva actually been too busy over the last few months to notice her staff's follies? Minerva, annoyed by Irma's cackling, called over to us, "Horace, you missed the speeches. I do hope you'll bother to show up for the medals whenever they get around to that. I reckon you'll get one or two."
Horace laughed. "Send me an invitation. I'll check my schedule." He dragged me down the corridor.
My attention was caught by the group of mannerless boys: ex-students, Aurors, and so too old for me to take points off them, standing next to my old colleagues and laughing and staring... I thought at first staring at Horace, who was dressed to frighten the birds in his loud pajamas, but it wasn't him they were looking at.
I calculated the trajectory of where the boys were staring and looked back at Horace. Horace smiled innocently into my face, never lifting his eyes higher, trying just a little too hard. I stepped away from him, reached out and pulled a lock of my flyaway hair down in front of my eyes. It was green. Bright Slytherin green, a match to Horace's pajamas, an artful souvenir of our little wizard's spat, and he'd just paraded me before all our acquaintance. "You, you- " I sputtered. But I could find nothing sufficiently dire to chuck at him.
"Yes, my poisonous little orchid? My precious sweet-tailed skrewt," he asked, clamping his arm firmly back around my waist.
"Right. I'll get you for that."
"Again?" he said, pulling me down the hall to our rooms. "This does seem to be my lucky day."