|Beth H (bethbethbeth) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2010-04-15 13:10:00
|Entry tags:||beholder_2010, fic, scrimgeour/moody, slash|
FIC: "Never hearts and Flowers" for alimsiemanym
Title: Never Hearts and Flowers
Pairings: Rufus Scrimgeour (b. August 1st, 1940 - d. August 1st, 1997)/Alastor Moody (b. April 30, 1937 - d. July 27, 1997)
Word Count: 7287
Warnings: Character deaths. Canon compliant insofar as possible.
Summary: Scenes from the lives of two men.
Author's/Artist's Notes: With thanks to the Beholder Mod for great forbearance with my Meatspace problems. My beta has my undying devotion, always and forever. Props to vikingcarrot, whose characterization of Rufus in her artwork has always stayed with me.
July 27, 1997
Alastor's second to last thought was that Rufus would not take this well at all.
His last thought was that Rufus might well already be waiting on whatever other side there was.
August 1, 1997
He knew that he was dying, and with everything he had, Rufus welcomed and embraced it. Dead men, after all, could tell no tales. His death was the only thing left to Voldemort's followers to use against him. His parents were long dead, and his bitter estrangement from his brother Brutus a fact of better than thirty years standing. He had never married, so no beloved spouse or dear child would be made to bear the horrific consequences of his failure. No impulse of heart over head and finely-honed political senses would unlock his tongue to betray the Wizarding world. The only possible lever-
"Alastor, forgive me."
His head snapped up, cold terror squeezing at his heart at the thought of having said that out loud. But no, his guard snored on and in any case, he'd forgotten that Alastor was safe from all harm now.
September 1, 1951
It was his turn. He could feel Brutus watching him from the Slytherin table, surrounded by the Quidditch hoodlums he thought of as friends. Rufus' feet carried him forward, and he was gratified to make it onto the stool with only one hop. He was well aware of how slight he was and thus practised making believe he was taller. Sometimes if you simply pretended to be something, people could be made to believe you were just so.
The Hat settled on his head, covering his eyes until he reached up and adjusted it.
"Hm. hard working second son, hard work makes its own luck. Perhaps you belong in Hufflepuff? No? Your brother is content to be the heir and ride his schoolboy Quidditch glory, but you... you have higher ambitions, perhaps in Sly- It was just a thought, no need to be rude.... hm. Not Ravenclaw. Though you've the mind for it, you haven't the temperament. Just answer me one question - could you?"
The image was a flash in his mind, fading as soon as it registered. Yes. Yes, he could.
Alastor looked over the crop of Firsties with the jaded eye of the fourth-year. Snotty-nosed and ickle. Christ, he'd never been that wee. What were they doing off the bleeding leading strings?
"Scrimgeour, Rufus!" A tiny gingerheaded sprat detached himself from huddle of firsties and made his way to the stool with such a look of steely determination that it would have been funny, if not so terribly earnest.
Marlene Bones craned her neck, stealing a chip from Jason McKinnon's plate. "Brutus' baby brother. Must take after the Prewett side of the family - look at all that ginger. Two Sickles says he sorts to the snakes."
Alastor took a draw of his pumpkin juice, noting the Hat's hesitation. Normally he'd pass on the bet as everyone in Hufflepuff knew Marlene's knack for calling the Sort, but this was different. Digging in his pocket, he never took his eyes from the boy. "Five Sickles that he's for Gryffindor."
Marlene's Sickles hit the table just one second before the Hat shouted its choice. Alastor wondered why the boy didn't look happier.
December 15, 1951
Ambition was not incompatible with being a Gryffindor, but for a time that first year, Rufus thought he had made a horrible mistake in his House. He was a methodical lad, often mistaken for being introspective - or worse, a day-dreamer - when he was simply observing.
In Gryffindor House, he observed the uppers and their interactions with Professor Dumbledore. Which behaviours brought reward, which brought censure, and which passed unnoticed were logged with the meticulousness of a trainspotter. The most popular of the House were not always the ones most respected, and the most respected were seldom the most popular. However, in crisis, the most respected were the ones sought first and the ones who led, whilst the most popular simply became followers.
Which would he rather be, Rufus asked himself: respected or beloved?
For now, he was neither. A second son and distant third child, he was born to be the heir's spare should the unthinkable happen and was an unwelcome reminder that it well might. He was a firstie, regarded as having the intelligence and motivation of a mushroom, of little use other than to occupy space and consume food. Yet the uppers discussed them as cottagers would discuss the merits and faults of their livestock.
Who might make the chess team? This one might make a good Chaser. That one is bleeding Mozart with gobstones. Their roles and future wins were being carved out for them even before Christmas break. Small steps, even petty, but he could see the need of making them.
But Gryffindor House was not the world, as much as it might seem so to those within it.
Rufus tried out for the chess and duelling clubs, making both handily. The slight approval of the uppers made life easier within the house, and he could always stare at his chess board if he wanted time to think. Duelling club... that was not much different than living with Brutus at home. Come to think of it, school was not much different from home, as Brutus made Rufus' life difficult wherever he was. Here, however, Brutus had minions and sycophants who could craftily play a first born son as simply a tin whistle. Oh, he wasn't playing at some of the more dangerous debaucheries, it was simply that a first born son from certain families would someday be in the position to do favors.
Of course, some seemed to see right through him. The Hufflepuff's first Beater, for one. It was, to Rufus' embarrassment, something of a revelation that Brutus was not the Quidditch god that he liked to portray, though it was little surprise that Brutus would cheat. The Hufflepuff Beater caught the feint, deduced what chicanery it was meant to conceal and,with the crack of the bat insured that Rufus' holiday would be spent Brutus-free. Brutus' having been confined to Saint Mungo's to regrow an astounding amount of bone was perfectly all right with Rufus.
They boarded the coaches for the station the next morning, the snakes still reeling from the defeat of the previous day - and the banning of the team from play for the rest of the term. Ambition was one thing, cheating another. Perhaps it should not have been that satisfying for Alastor to knock Brutus Scrimgeour arse-over-teakettle off his broom as the prat was just doing what Faraday'd told him, but at least it got the smug look off his face.
Jason McKinnon bounced on his toes as of he'd made the carom himself. Well, maybe he did deserve some credit - he'd caught the snitch a scant few seconds later and sealed the win for Hufflepuff.
"A fine thing to go home with, Alastor." Marlene had obtained good, cold cider for all of them - slightly hard and as brisk as autumn - for toasting purposes.
"That's going to settle the snakes, but good." Jason nodded, trying to casually slip his arm around Marlene's shoulder. "There's talk that Faraday might be hexspelled for what he tried to pull."
"Bah. He's got the right kind of family. Faraday wouldn't be sent down if he dropped a steaming turd in old man Dippet's porridge." Alastor took a swig of cider, looking out to see Pinky Scrimgeour evade the attentions of some of his brother's friends and leap from platform to train.
"Trouble?" Marlene already had her wand in hand. The snakes had not taken the Hufflepuff win or their current disgrace well. There were not may times in Hogwarts' history that a House had managed to go into negative points, but the snakes had put their worst foot forward and had ended up kicking their own arses.
"Snakes giving Pinky Scrimgeour the piss." Again.
Marlene snorted, "They're bloody stupid. Brutus hasn't a head for anything but Quidditch, and Pinky got all the familial brains. Mark me, there are going to be plenty of people kicking themselves over that one someday."
October 20, 1952
Second year meant going out for Quidditch, and as a Scrimgeour it was pretty well expected of Rufus that he at least try out as soon as he was eligible. He was faintly surprised when he was made third Chaser, though it seemed that others had fully expected it. Quidditch meant shoehorning his chess and duelling in beside it along with his studies, but it seemed that Professor Dumbledore was willing to assist him, saying only that Rufus was on track to becoming a nascent renaissance man in truth.
The Hufflepuff Beater was now the Hufflepuff Captain, and also a prefect. Rufus liked to think he was much more mature in second year than he had been as a firstie, but Alastor Moody was interesting. He could be boisterous, and rude, and stubborn, and as contentious as pit full of bears, but he was compelling. Rufus, previously interested in watching songbirds, found it quite agreeable to watch Alastor Moody.
Truthfully, Rufus had rather admired him after the trouncing handed out to Brutus. It had been the finest Christmas Rufus could remember, actually. This summer past had not been too bad either, what with his parent's annoyance brought to bear on his brother not being made prefect, and his sister's hasty trip in early May to Gretna Green, subsequent new husband, and impending child. With Father in paterfamilias crisis mode and Mummy flitting about with her smelling salts at hand, Rufus had been comfortably ignored.
It was too good to last.
Brutus and some of his friends were waiting for him after his first Quidditch match. Or, to be more accurate, lying in wait for him between the greenhouses.
One thing about Brutus, he never wasted words, and the punch delivered to the side of his head was the only notice given. For a few scrambled moments, Rufus lay sprawled on the grass, wondering if they'd manured the lawns only this morning. He was lifted up by his collar, face to face with Brutus who was sporting nearly an apoplectic shade of red.
"You little shit." Brutus drew his fist back. "Who do you think you are, making a fool of me out there?"
Rufus felt his mouth move and marveled at what came out. "Wasn't as if you've ever needed much help in that."
The fist filled his vision and, in the moment before it hit, Rufus decided that he'd had quite enough of Brutus, thank you.
"They should have been able to win it in their sleep," Alastor grumped. "Pickton's a new captain, but he's been flying Slytherin for five bloody years and he's a prospect for the Arrows besides."
Handing over some of her chips, Marlene shook her head as they walked back to the castle. "He was overconfident. He knew the Gryffs had a lot of new players and thought he could take them easily."
"Pinky did pretty well for a ginger." It had been surprising, actually. Scrimgeour the Younger had been tagged as a quiet little swot, something of a daydreamer and certainly not the type to concuss his brother with a quaffle, driving him into the path of an oncoming bludger. "He's got a bit of the hothead in him."
Marlene laughed outright. "Well, aren't they all quiet as firsties? You being the exception. And the hat made him Gryffindor - not that some of them aren't all piss and wind."
Whatever his reply might have been, it was preempted by a howling, screaming ruckus between the greenhouses that spilled out onto the lawn.
One combatant was down, holding his balls and vomiting in the grass, a second ran away as fast as he feet would take him, while a third threw a his attacker to the ground. If he had to guess, Alastor would venture that Brutus Scrimgeour had not taken the loss lightly.
"Get Pringle and Professor Dumbledore." He was running before Marlene could protest, only to stop in his tracks. Pinky Scrimgeour came up off the ground with a bounce like a rubber ball and gave Brutus a Glasgow kiss complete with crunching bone and flying gobbets of snot and blood.
It was indeed a day for the unexpected.
September 1, 1953
"Oi! Oi, Rufus! Hey, he's over here!"
Carefully marking his page, Rufus nodded to his housemates as they came down the platform pushing trolleys and reluctantly dragging younger siblings. He'd won the grudging respect of the uppers following his brawl and consequent skirmishes with Brute and his cadre. As much as the loss of the House Cup to Ravenclaw had pained him, it gave him grim satisfaction that as Gryffindor had bled points, Slytherin had positively hemorrhaged - and lost the Quidditch Cup to Gryffindor.
He was included now. He was invited. Seats were saved for him, room made for him. He was looked for, and perhaps more gratifying, he was listened to. Honestly, the Gryffindor lion was a fitting symbol - whatever the political climate within the House, an outsider had only to trifle with one and the whole pride would involve itself. In a good few cases last year, Rufus had taken the lead in talking hotheads out of chancing further damage to House standing.
"Look at you - what're they feeding you at home? Brute's food?"
"Christ, Pinky! You've shot up a full hand! I'll eat my broom if you haven't."
"Ready for the pitch, Rufus? I'm putting you in as first Chaser this year."
"Did you hear? Hannah Silver's family emigrated."
Surrounded by his fellows now, Rufus still felt himself Apart. It was just one of a host of impressions that had made themselves known this summer, some less comfortable than others. Never a glib conversationalist, he simply spoke when he wished to direct the flow of conversation away from the inane or trivial and into positive action. They needed strategy this year just to avoid Slytherin's attempts to avenge their ignominious achievements of last term.
He heard Moody before he saw him, bellowing at McKinnon to move his fool arse or they'd have to sit with the firsties. There, right on schedule, was one of the less comfortable feelings.
Jason had decided that he Liked Marlene. Only took the bampot what, all of six years to notice? Since they'd finished the OWLS he'd been mooncalfing about as if Cupid had shot him up the arse with an arrow loaded with stupid. Marlene, for her part, seemed equally bemused and amused at Jason's sudden dogged courtship, and was not above making him pay high for that 'one of the blokes' crack back in second year.
She was, actually. At least to him. Alastor had finally concluded that he was bent, and that as much as he loved Marlene - and he did, deeply - they were just going to carry on with carrying on. There were worse things than having your best friends faffing about.
Christ, they kept making the firsties smaller and younger and stickier every year. Next thing you knew, they'd be coming down the platform in prams with their dummies in their mouths. He walked the platform, on the alert for any shenanigans, cuffing some younger Hufflepuffs who'd been emboldened by the epic bad behaviour last term. And there was Scrimgeour the Younger himself. Sitting in a circle of his yearmates, he was looking a good bit taller than he had at the end of June. Somehow he'd come out all arms and legs, and walked about as if not quite sure that they'd do what he told them.
Alastor stopped, blinked, and wondered just when that ginger-headed puppy had come to occupy so much of his thoughts.
March 22, 1955
It had been a cardinal goal of Rufus in his fourth year not to kill his brother. The summer following third year had seen him making an extended visit to his mother's Diggory cousins at their country home near Chipping Norton, as his parents needed to give their heir the full benefit of their attentions without the distractions and brawling of Heir and Spare. The Aurors had shown up at one point, called by an irate neighbour. Brutus had thrown a nasty secateurs at him and Rufus had deflected it, however a neighbor's unfortunate cow had been decapitated.
His fourth year had not been without high points. It was with great pride that he'd managed to get the Slytherin Head Boy to boom down on his brother - who was now more cowed than his parents had managed. Quite simply, Slytherin did not need more shit on their shoes and Brutus was not going to be in the position to do anyone any favors after leaving school, even if he did pass his NEWTs. In fact, the only faint whiff of a job had been as an assistant coach to a second tier Quidditch team - the Belnacraig Buzzards.
Rufus was now captain of his House's duellists, had taken part in winning the chess championship for Gryffindor. In studies he led his year, and had heard that he was considered the only pick for Gryffindor's new prefect next year. It was as it should be, as he had worked for it to be, but the Apartness - as he's come to think of it - only seemed more entrenched than ever. He had friends, or rather he had friendship, but nothing seemed to bridge him to the people he'd been told would become the most important people in his life. He could not help to wonder if the lack was in himself.
And Moody. Alastor Moody continued to cause him some vexation. Admiration. Irritation. Puzzlement.
And some rather mortifying dreams. The stray bawdy thoughts were often followed by inconvenient manifestations hidden by school robes and a carefully angled book bag. For the dreams, well, he'd learned laundry charms better than any other boy in his year.
"He follows you like a puppy, Alastor." Marlene shut her Arithmancy text and shoved it in the bag. NEWTs were only three weeks away and if they didn't make a good show, there was no way the Auror division would accept them as postulants.
"He does not." The idea was ridiculous and a bit obscene. He wasn't a kiddie-diddler. Some part of him still saw Scrimgeour as ickle Pinky, leaving aside that he'd been growing like a weed for two years and was now as old as Alastor had been the year he'd Sorted. Besides, it was considered a bit pathetic to mine the unders for your jollies. If you couldn't talk someone your age up to the astonomy tower of an evening, how was it going to go out in the world?
Bugger. He was going to die a virgin at this point. And now that he'd made up his mind that he was bent, he had girls all but chasing him down the halls.
Still, Pinky'd made a bit of a name for himself and staged a coup of sorts against his brother. The oaf was on probation, and if he didn't pull up and fly right, Brute would be packed off to Durmstrang come winter break. To be honest, Brute had taken the piss with enough people that Apollyon Pringle's new apprentice had gone and started a betting pool for how long he'd last.
"He has?" Jason's attention was actually diverted for the moment, and Marlene's expression told Alastor that she was calculating the odds. "What's the buy-in?
August 1, 1955
The letter arrived upon Rufus' birthday, bearing the Prefect's pin and hail-fellow from Headmaster Dippet and Deputy Headmaster Dumbledore. The pin, old and heavy, warmed in his hand as he read the letter of boilerplate congratulations, which he would answer with equally pro forma letter of humble gratitude. Strange, but the achievement rang hollow to him. It mattered, of course it did, but only in the way his final terms would be measured against the larger world after leaving school.
Rerolling the thick parchment, he went downstairs to dutifully inform his parents of his change in station. The windows of Wyverstone Hall were open to the perfumed breezes of an English summer, and without Brute in residence the place was peaceful enough to enjoy.
Pausing at the bottom of the stairs was enough to summon Mimsy, his house elf, and ascertain the whereabouts of his parents.
Uncharacteristically, Mimsy seemed hesitant to tell him.
"It is that they discuss Complicated Things, Master Rufus. Things not for the ears of nestlings."
Rufus arched an eyebrow, turning the letter over in his hands. "What manner of things, Mimsy? My scandal of a brother?"
Mimsy shrugged, looking uneasy. "Bad things, Master Rufus. Things have happened. The wireless and the papers do not speak of them. Secret and frightful things."
"I see. These things have been classified?" He could pretend he was tall, and now Rufus decided to pretend he was calm. Overwrought people (or elves) would talk to calm people, and Mimsy was wringing his tea towel to rags.
"Your parents and the Wizengamot have decided so." Mimsy's ears drooped. "There have been killings done, and Dark magic, but they cannot find who has done them." One ear lifted at a call only Mimsy could hear. "They call for tea, young master, in the pergola."
Rufus murmured, "Of course, Mimsy. Please tell Father and Mother that I will join them shortly."
If Alastor had harbored any illusions that becoming an Auror was going to be glamourous, the illusion had not survived the first week in the postulant's barracks, much less cleaning the shared sanitary facilities with toothbrushes and Mrs. Skower's. The instructors were devils from Hell that Hell would not have, and not a one of them could be loved by anyone other than their mothers who had less birthed than whelped the lot. In two months, the incoming recruits had been reduced by attrition to fifty-one - some left, some washed out, some kicked out so hard that the Deputy Minister's size 10 Wides were tattooed on their backsides.
It was summer. It was hot. It was the hottest circle of Hell. Even Jason and Marlene were not fit company, snarling at each other like ill-tempered dogs. And worse, they couldn't even go out and get a lager.
But things were afoot, all in the barracks agreed on that. Their intake interviews had been conducted in camera, under the influence of veritaserum and with an interrogator at hand. Those recruits accepted had been required to take Unbreakable Vows of secrecy as to their training and education, and those who left were obliviated at the front door before being sent on their way.
Alastor wiped the sweat from his forehead and finished blacking his boots as Doug Ainsley came in, uncharacteristically quiet and not denigrating their allegedly irregular parentage.
"You lot. Up. Dressed if you can manage it, and down to the automobile pool. You have three minutes, and anyone not there in that time can pack their kit and get out." He pointed to Alastor, Jason and Marlene with a lack of expression that made Alastor's guts go cold. "Bones, McKinnon, Moody - with me."
Something was had gone very, very wrong. Ainsley led them deeper into the MLE, walking ahead of them in strict silence, not looking back. The directions to various departments thinned down to one, and he could see the fear on Jason and Marlene's faces as they entered the double doors of Forensics.
Ainsley turned, looking at them for the first time since leaving the barracks. "Bones."
Ah, God no. They'd been good to a friendless lad. Treated him like one of their very own.
Marlene stepped forward, almost in slow motion like you'd see in a Muggle telly show, her voice somehow higher and pitifully young. "Yes, sir?"
Ainsley spoke slowly and with great sadness, his hand on her shoulder. "The department extends its deepest sympathy in your time of loss."
July 1, 1958
"Rufus Ethelred Scrimgeour."
A dose of Veritaserum was placed in front of him.
"At no time in the future may you divulge the particulars of this interrogation either within or outside of the department. If you are passed to postulant status, you will take all oaths as required by your superiors, obeying all orders without question. Drink."
Breaking the seal, Rufus quaffed the dose and waited for it to take effect.
"Is your hair blue, Mr. Scrimgeour?"
"Are you a registered animagus?"
"What is your form?"
"Fitting. What was your mark in Defence?"
"Did you cheat?"
"Why do you wish to join the Aurors, Mr. Scrimgeour?"
It was odd to feel the tangible effects of the potion as the questioning went on. While he could not lie outright or even form a lie in his mind, he did find that he could hedge the truth. The truth could be slanted, shaded, all depending on what he told himself was the truth.
His interrogator and witness looked at each other, then back at him.
"Extend your right hand, Postulant Scrimgeour. Prepare to take your vows."
Marlene was slouched in his chair again, blonde hair up in a knot, a bottle of lager in hand.
"So the bodies show no sign of normal decay, not even fish nibbles, even after what must've been weeks in seawater." She took a pull on the bottle and sighed. "Everyone thought they were mannikins, or rubber suits from a costume shop. It wasn't until the photos started showing up in Muggle newspapers that we matched up the missing with these washed up bodies."
Alastor grunted, peering in the mirror and rubbing balm on the bright pink scar that lanced from forehead to jawbone. "Did they die like the others?"
"Inasmuch as their hearts stopped beating, yes. I-"
Whatever she'd been about to say was cut off by the arrival of his mentor, who exhibited her habit of opening his door without a please or thank you. With close-cropped grey hair and a face like an anvil, Senior Auror Bellona Harkett made the instructors of his postulant year look as mild as mother's milk and as meek as church mice.
"Moody. You're promoted to... bugger... what'm I calling you... assistant something-or-other. No increase in pay. Belt it and move your arse down to the Ickle Aurors nursery and get... wossname... Skimmer... Scourger... never mind... get the bloody ginger one and bring him to me on the dueling pitch."
Pinky had puppied his way into the Aurors.
May 3, 1960
Alastor Moody was a pain in the arse, not so much hard of hearing as he was hard of listening, and Rufus often heartily wished a variety of discomforts, inconveniences, and indignities upon him. This was so as Moody saw it as his sworn duty as Rufus' superior to visit discomforts, inconveniences, and indignities upon him - in the name of training and field experience, and so on and so forth.
Necessary, yes. Rufus could admit that.
But Moody enjoyed it far too much.
Granted, Rufus was not 'ickle Pinky' any longer. At twenty he'd grown into his arms and legs, leaving him tall and lean, with little spare flesh and more muscle than one might think. Still, Alastor Moody, having taken Hawkett's paranoiac exhortations to constant vigilance too much to heart, was convinced that ambushes, surprise attacks, and lurid harum-scarum tales that would make even the most credulous of firsties sneer were indeed valid training methods.
Rufus finished pressing his uniform shirt, hung it upon the back of his desk chair and blew the steam from the tip of his wand. He'd been assailed at table, doing his shopping, at study, shaving (with bloody results), in the bath, and sleeping. His lips quirked - he quite doubted that Moody would attack him in the kitchen again. Mimsy was a meek elf but could swing a skillet like he was beating for Ballycastle.
Reaching back, he slipped his wand between his belt and the waist of his trousers, lodging the tip in the shallow pocket at the back. It was something he'd done hundreds, if not thousands of times. However, in all the times he had positioned his wand so, none of the accompanying events had ever simultaneously taken place:
1. The lights went out.
2. The lounge window blew in, spraying shattered glass and splintered wood.
3. A strange green sigil lit the night with a lurid glow.
4. Two dark figures appeared in his lounge.
5. The cast expulso missed Rufus and instead hit his tea kettle.
In the hurly-burly, he reached for his wand with a spell on the tip of his tongue and, as he closed his hand around the haft had only a second to register the mind-blowing pain it caused before he drew and cast anew.
The strange sigil still shimmered in the night over Pudding Lane, and Alastor's blood still sang in the aftermath of the scrum. Christ, they were getting bold, going right after the Aurors themselves. Scrimgeour was as green as a new apple, true, but he was damned fast. It was a testament to his training, actually, as Maxim Belyakov and Garnant Maddox had found out.
He could have been killed. Well, of course he could've been killed. They'd found a recent Killing Curse on Maddox's wand, and a slew of evisceros on Belyakov's.
The smug little bastard just stood there in his pressed trousers and shirt, calmly answering questions. There might be days when Alastor fondly thought of throttling the swot, but see him dead? No. At root, some portion of his mind rather fancied Pin- Rufus.
When he wasn't being the swotty, nitpicky, tight-arsed stickler. When he wasn't arguing with every word that came out of Alastor's mouth. When he wasn't nipping at his heels.
A note fluttered into his hand and he unfolded it, reading with relief that the Scrimgeours were safe and sound. Rufus, whatever he was tonight, was alive and not an orphan - some good news to impart in the rising tide of bad. Moody slipped around the Aurors picking though the wreckage and the landlord's men repairing the window to where Rufus stood with his shirttails out, back to the wall and looking desperately uncomfortable.
"Bloody hell, Pinky, we're not tossing the place for your lad mags and the Minister ain't visiting tonight." Moody waved the note. "Aurors Bones and McKinnon went out to your family's place and all's well." He clapped the lad on the shoulder, alarmed to see him pale and sway, sweat breaking on his forehead. "Shit, they got you, didn't they? Why by Merlin's piles didn't you say a thing about it?"
Rufus batted his hands away, disclaiming as fast as his lips could move. It was a scratch, a sting, really nothing, a... mishap?
"I was startled, to say the least." Rufus was keeping his back scrupulously to the wall, arms crossed defensively on chest. "It's a scratch."
Moody rolled his eyes, manhandling the cub about. "Of course it is, which is why you about laid out on the floor." He pulled the shirt off, turning him around. No, nothing there. Or rather nothing burned, bleeding or broken. "Do me the favor of thinking I was not born last bleeding night? Turn around, turn around, you ain't got a thing that I haven't bloody seen-"
Well. All right. Maybe there was something that he hadn't seen before. Granted, he was a still-slightly-shiny new auror, but surely he'd remember seeing someone who'd blown a brand new furrow though his buttock three inches to the right the of original.
Scrimgeour turned a shade previously only seen on an aubergine.
"And you were going to tell me you'd blown your arse off... when, exactly?" Christ it looked awful, but at least it was a clean wound and not one given with Dark Magic. "Bugger it all for a lark, Pinky!"
Rufus winced. Maybe that had not been the best turn of phrase.
Moody sighed. "Right. Get your coat. We'll go back to my place and patch you up, they're going to be hours here. I'll doss on the sofa."
Somehow, when Rufus had previously pictured himself face down on Moody's four-poster bed with his pants off, this was not in the realm of his fantasizing. A stray bit of evening breeze lifted the curtains and caressed his bum, and the late train went clattering out of Euston station.
"Be there in a moment. Just relax." Moody called from the loo.
Relax. Of course. Why did he not bloody well think of that. Thank you too much.
Rufus buried his face in the pillow, reminding himself that Nothing Was Going To Happen. Whether that was a relief or a disappointment, he'd not yet decided. It was not as if he'd been... inactive. He'd been quite... active in sixth and seventh, but as a postulant and trainee, he'd been run ragged. There were nights when he not only couldn't get his hand interested, but he fell asleep on himself.
What he would not give for disinterested anatomy right now! You'd think that, oh, blowing one's buttock off might distract one from inappropriate fancies, but no.
"Right. Here we are. Joan Darke's Burn Salve, Mrs. Biffinbottom's Superior Dressings, and Moulton's Mortification Mitigant." Moody came in and set the stuff on the nightstand as Rufus tried to think the opposite of arousing thoughts. For some reason, narrowly escaping death or serious injury tended to make him libidinous. The mad fling with the Seeker and Keeper from the Montrose Magpies-
"Er." Rufus held down his shirttails and eyed Moody warily as he reached to move them. "What is it that you're intending to do?"
Moody rolled his eyes. "Aren't you a little old for maidenly modesty, Pinky? I'm going to spackle and patch your blown bumcheek."
Oh, and didn't that engender an entirely indecorous come-hither twitch from his prick - and a rather painful tightening of his- ow.
"I can do it." Because he'd really rather not have to use his schoolboy cleaning charm on Moody's sheets. "Just give me a little privacy."
"You'll get the angle all wrong. For shit's sake, you think I've never seen bums before?" Moody tugged the shirttail. "Besides, I heard about you falling madly in bed with Kennaly and Hires from the Magpies..."
Bugger. Somehow Marlene Bones saw all, knew all, and would tell damned near everybody. "I've no idea what you're talking about." Rufus truly hoped that the heat in his face was some after-effect of dark magic and not a worsening of his blush.
The distraction was enough for Moody, who pinned his hand and batted up the tail of his shirt to expose- well. It really was awful, raw and red and he hadn't really looked at it before and... he really did need to put his head down on the pillow for a moment.
"Just a scratch, he said." Moody muttered, reaching for the dressings. "Merlin's balls, what a mess. Keep your head down for a bit. Get this cleaned up..."
Perhaps it would have been comforting that while Moody's hands were all over his arse for the the next thirty minutes, they were as impersonal as a butcher's on a haunch of beef. Rufus, however, kept his face in the pillow. While Moody's touch was almost brusque, his own response was unquelled. He was going to have to figure out how to cast that laundering charm without Moody noticing or without setting off every one of the thirty trap-spells he could count from the bed.
There had to be some sort of... bylaw, a statute or something. Anything that Alastor could repeat to himself to stop himself to thinking highly unsuitable thoughts about Rufus Scrimgeour's bum, even as he set about fixing it. It was actually quite a nice bum. In fact, it was almost a prissy bum, rather small-cheeked, tight and smooth.
And, if he was any judge - and he was - Rufus' tension was not simply from having blown his buttock off. Rufus was, quite possibly, hiding a stiffie.
This thought did not help Alastor one whit. Instead, it diverted blood flow from the head that should do the thinking to the head that should never under any circumstances do the thinking. Marlene had gone on for hours about the physical reasons for such arousal - a stew of amines, peptides, and steroids, vasodilation, and the old brain hollering "Whoopie! I'm still alive! Let's have it, wot?" And right now, he had not the first idea how to broach the subject, with Rufus face down on his pillow, his ears a glowing red and his toes curled.
When he could raise his gaze from the contemplation of rank, bums, being drummed out of the aurors, and how in God's name he was going to get to the loo for a wank, Alastor found that while he had been caught in argument with the big and little heads, Rufus had been contemplating him. Alastor was quite certain that the flush on his cheeks was composed of equal parts of embarrassment at being caught out and honest desire.
Rufus might not be a romance novel cover, but he was easy on Alastor's eyes. Lean and rangy, almost languorous at times, he could fool you into underestimating him. Alastor shifted his hand up his thigh on the little head's initiative, seeing nothing in Rufus' expression to indicate that it would be unwelcome. He was rewarded as a little of the tension went out of Rufus' thighs.
It nearly took his breath away, truth be told. "That so, Rufus?" He couldn't do this, could he?
Rufus didn't even blink, his thighs spreading in invitation, his gaze dropping to the violent rise in Moody's trousers. "That's so."
"Christ." Alastor slid his hand higher, wondering where his good sense had gone. "You're injured. Likely in shock. This is bloody bad form, Pinky." He pressed lightly just behind Rufus' ballocks and was rewarded with a delightful purring moan.
"It's only bad form if someone knows about it, Alastor. Lord, please don't stop..." Rufus pressed back against his fingers, then pulled back. "No, wait, stop. I'll mess in your bedding!"
"Who do you think cleans my sheets, Pinky?" He chided. His thumb circled Rufus' bunghole, bringing a gratifying quiver. "Accio almond oil."
It was tremendously difficult to argue with something that felt so good. Rufus' face thumped into the pillow, his back bowing as Alastor's finger entered him. He was going to make a terrible disgrace of himself, and for the moment had no qualms about doing so in as wanton and satisfying a manner as it was possible to manage whilst literally half-arsed.
Alastor curved his finger. Probed. All remaining thought fled.
"There. Oh, right there." A look over his shoulder gave him a sight that came close to causing him to shoot on the spot. Alastor had himself well in hand, his strokes matching Rufus' quickening rhythm.
"Fuck, yes. Come on, Rufus, make a mess." His voice low and rough as gravel sent a hot shiver down Rufus' spine.
"Mmmore." His loins tightening, quivering right at the edge of release, flushed and hot and needing - and more was what Alastor gave him. Three oiled fingers to make him writhe in abandon, hips stuttering and frotting shamelessly against the sheets until he groaned low, making a sticky mess of his belly and Alastor's bed.
He would be heartily ashamed of himself, he knew. Later. Maybe.
For now, Alastor was staring at him, prick still in hand and seemingly dumbstruck. It was an opportunity not to be wasted. Wriggling off of Alastor's fingers left him feeling wickedly loose and open, but he turned and pounced - startling Moody, who tried to fend him off.
Or at least tried to fend him off until Rufus actually got him in his mouth. Rufus was pleased to partake of the saltiness of his skin, greedy for the taste of him.
Alastor rallied. "You can't do that."
To an extent, Alastor was absolutely correct. Just not in the way he thought he was. "You're right. The angle's awkward. Shift over here against the pillows."
He found that he rather enjoyed shocking Alastor, and when you had a man's tender bits in hand, a combination of sweet treatment and sharp teeth could ensure exact co-operation. It was a little bit of payback for manhandling him about earlier, but Rufus doubted that Alastor would ultimately object.
And he wouldn't be 'dossing on the sofa', either.
"And what makes you think you're going on top first?"
"I'm older, that's what."
Rufus sniffed. "That's hardly a qualification."
August 1, 1997
Rufus awoke in one of his own holding cells, Alastor's voice still with him as if they'd been speaking only seconds ago. It was hard to say what day it was, or even if a day had passed. He was dying, but possibly not fast enough to take his secrets to the grave with him. It was a concern.
His silence was the only thing he had left to give to the resistance, and he knew of only one way to insure it.
Tom Riddle was well past psychotic, and his followers were by now either the most insane or gutless of the cadre. It would not take much to provoke them. When they came for him, he was silent.
Riddle, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Thorfin Rowle in for what Alastor used to call 'ape factor.' It was amusing, and he allowed that to be seen. They were ridiculous, really, with their posturing and declaiming. It was contemptible - and he could say it all without a word.
The first crucio whited out his vision, and it was no effort at all not to scream. There was no breath for it. When the roar of pain stopped, he found that he felt as light as a Muggle child's helium balloon, the cold weight of his body fading away from his perception.
"I can save you, Rufus." Riddle's face was inches from his own, his tone unsucessfully feigning sympathy. "I can heal you. Give you back the Ministry, give you everything you've ever wanted. I understand ambition, you see. We're strivers, you and I. All you have to do is tell me how to find that troublesome boy, and how you've helped him."
Rufus gave him silence.
Riddle gave him Bellatrix.
He lay panting on the floor afterward, his screams still echoing in the cell block.
"Should I tell you, Rufus, how Alastor Moody died?" Riddle asked, Bellatrix sniggering in the background. "How he fell? It was easily, oh, a thousand feet down."
"It wasn't the fall that killed him, Rufie, it was the stop at the end!" Bellatrix chimed in. "But look what I got!" She flashed Alastor's eye at him like a child who'd won a prize - and he only smiled.
"I know how he died, Mr. Riddle." Rufus rasped, his throat almost afire. "He died well and likely yelling all the way to the afterworld about being taken out by a mingy, gutless little-"
Bellatrix hissed and drew her wand.
The world went green.
"Took you, Pinky."
"I know. Things were messy."
"Did I stuff it, Rufus?"
"No, Alastor. They were asking me where he was."
"You didn't stuff it, did you?"
"Took it with me."
"More than. We've earned a rest, I hope."
"Don't know, but there's a train station over here..."
In death, they were not long parted. They were swifter than eagles, and stronger than lions.
- 2 Samuel 1:23