|Beth H (bethbethbeth) wrote in hp_beholder,|
@ 2010-04-22 13:24:00
|Entry tags:||alastor moody, beholder_2010, fic, rufus scrimgeour, scrimgeour/moody, slash|
FIC: "Men of War" for chaos_rose
Recipient: chaos_rose / cathouse_mary
Title: Men of War
Pairing: Rufus Scrimgeour/Alastor Moody
Word Count: 3263
Warnings: Some violence, swearing, light bondage
Summary: There was always the light coming from the small window, the taste of Firewhisky in the morning, and Moody's gruff smile as he opened the door to let him in.
Author's/Artist's Notes: I hope you'll like this, chaos_rose -- I've been wanting to write this pairing for a long time, and your request gave me the perfect opportunity. Many thanks to my beta readers, aigooism and kellychambliss. <3
Late nights, early mornings. Dirty laundry and corners that never see a cleaning spell. Bottles of beer strewn around the kitchen, half-empty mugs of coffee standing about the rooms, a flat that is cold and dark when he stumbles over the threshold, too tired for words.
It's been like this for as long as he can remember, in all the various places he's lived, even those where there was occasionally someone to share his bed and table. It's no different now, even if he's living in the Minister for Magic's posh residence. There's still the late nights, the darkness, the cold. The Ministry has offered him house elves to clean up the laundry and the dust, but Rufus has declined: his filth is his own to deal with.
So when he crawls out of bed one morning, sore-eyed and stubbled, the remains of yesterday's take-away dinner is still cluttering up his kitchen table, and there is no snack ready for the owl that's been rapping on the window for the last fifteen minutes. It fixes him with a cold stare, dropping today's Prophet on top of the pile of rubbish before taking off in a demonstrative flurry of wings.
He picks up the paper and sees the headline.
He goes very still.
Several minutes later, a cold draught of air from the open window wakes him up. He sinks down on a kitchen chair, slams the paper down on the table, and buries his face in his hands.
After some more minutes, he gets up again, and walks to one of the cupboards. It holds two items: an old record and a bottle of Irish Firewhisky. He sends the record to the player with a wave of his wand. The bottle of Firewhisky is relentlessly popped open.
He sinks down again, holding the bottle between both hands. The sentimental music is grating on his nerves, and he welcomes it. So much for constant fucking vigilance, he thinks.
The last time they saw one another, it was Christmas and he'd just been scolded by a brattish kid with too much fame to his name. The Leaky Cauldron was almost empty, save for some lonely old drunkards who'd probably long ago ceased to care about Death Eaters. Rufus's obligatory bodyguards, a couple of naive youngsters barely out of Auror training, skulked uneasily about the counter, while he and Moody sat in the far corner, sipping at their respective drink or hip flask and not saying a lot.
Moody had listened to Rufus's complaints about Potter without commenting much; the boy was just another subject on which they disagreed. Not that it mattered. Rufus knew that Moody was on good terms with Dumbledore, and Moody knew that Rufus detested the Headmaster's influence, and neither of them was going to change their mind.
What did matter, however, was that they'd known each other for several decades.
"Damn," Rufus mumbled at last. "It's been six months."
Moody nodded grimly.
"We're not getting anywhere, not fast enough, not nearly." The Firewhisky was stale in his mouth. "Too much to do, too few people."
"Like the last time," Moody grunted. "We should've been better prepared now, though."
"Emmeline died," said Rufus, staring into his drink. "The first week I was Minister."
Silence. Then Moody's hand, rough and gnarled and big, landed on Rufus's knee, under the table where no one could see it. "I know. I was at the funeral."
"I remember. I just..." He closed his eyes, feeling ancient. "I could have stopped her."
"She was intelligent, Emmeline was," said Moody. "She knew what she was getting herself into."
And there it was, that old guilt, mixed with resignation, the feeling that nothing could have been different. He breathed in, nodded, and placed his hand over Moody's. "Yes."
They sat in silence for some minutes. Then Moody said, "You coming back to my place?"
Now there were multiple options, born out of all the years they'd known each other. And Rufus chose the easiest one, the one that would require no explanations, no rescheduling, no measures to protect his privacy. He shook his head and patted Moody's hand, then got up. "Busy day tomorrow. But another time. Stay in touch, yes?"
And Moody nodded again, his magical eye looking Rufus up and down. "Stay safe, Minister."
He left, young bodyguards in tow, glancing back at Moody's dark shape and wondering where the years had gone.
Of course, he should have given a different answer altogether.
The air was soft and warm, the afternoon sun growing pink in the west. It would be a romantic evening for anyone who was romantically inclined, which Rufus wasn't. He'd had a long day at the Ministry, he was over-worked and annoyed, and the latest news from Hogwarts was the last thing he needed to hear.
When he heard about the trunk business, however, he Apparated straight to Moody's house, impatiently waiting for the warding spells to recognise him and let him get close enough to hammer at the door. After ten minutes or so, Moody opened the door just enough to peer out, magical eye scrutinising him suspiciously. "Ah. It's you."
"Nice to see you, too, old man." Rufus placed a foot on the threshold. "Let me in, won't you?"
"Not really interested in company at the moment." Moody's hands were out of sight somewhere behind the door; Rufus wouldn't have been surprised if his wand was at the ready. "Besides, it's a little late now. Would have been better for you to have come see me at Hogwarts, eh?"
"Sod it!" Rufus hissed. "You were the one who told me to stay away, you old prick."
"Mind your tongue, lad," Moody growled. His voice sent shivers of anger and excitement down Rufus's spine; it was the familiar thrill of adrenaline, the sort of tension that had to be resolved by fighting, or sex, or both. "I'd expect you to at least send an owl now and then."
"Perhaps I did," said Rufus through gritted teeth. "Perhaps I was fooled, like everyone else. Perhaps you should be glad I didn't come to see you in person, so that I didn't inadvertently let the Death Eaters know about a thing or two we'd agreed to keep secret. What do you say to that?"
Moody stared at him for a long time. Rufus stared back, into that uneven pair of eyes, past that scarred and wrinkled face.
At long last, Moody stepped back and opened the door, and Rufus followed him inside.
It wasn't the easiest of friendships, but it was real. Too many people will go through life without showing their true self to anybody; they're all smiles and nods while dreaming of bloody knives and back-stabbing hexes. Moody had killed a Dark wizard with his bare hands once, after they'd both lost their wands. He talked about it that night of all nights, growling voice shaking with emotion. Rufus never forgot about it.
Three in the morning, and he was coming down from one of the greatest highs he could remember having, gasping for air, buried deep inside Moody's body. The room was dim, lit only by a beam of moonlight through the window; it fell over the marks on Moody's chest and face, creating patterns that blended together with the dots still swimming in front of Rufus's eyes.
"God," he panted, his pulse hammering. He pulled out and flipped over on to his side. "Fucking Merlin."
The patterns rearranged themselves: Moody was grinning. "Not quite. But still good." He tugged a little at the ropes that were binding his wrists to the bedstead. "Untie these, will you?"
It was strange, Rufus thought as he reached for his wand, that the very man who'd become famous among the Aurors for his paranoia was willing to let himself be tied up for sex -- that he not only trusted Rufus to do it, but that he'd in fact wanted him to. Rufus wasn't sure what it might mean, nor had he asked. Those eternal questions and answers, they weren't what he came here for. Besides, he supposed it was quite logical -- the tighter you hold on, the more intense the thrill of letting go.
He tapped his wand against Moody's wrists, and the ropes unravelled obediently. Moody rubbed his wrists, a look of grim satisfaction upon his features. "Got the tension out of you, all right."
"Yes." Rufus summoned a pack of cigarettes, and lit one for each of them. "You might say so."
They smoked in silence for a few minutes. Then Moody said quietly, "How's life down at the office?"
"We miss you," said Rufus, blowing out the smoke. "Surely you know that."
Moody made a hmph that somehow did not sound entirely displeased. Rufus smiled to himself, his body lax with post-coital contentment.
"I have never been tied up," he remarked after a while. "It's always you... Terribly unfair, that. Shouldn't it be my turn soon?"
"Aye." Moody leaned over to grab his flask from where it was sitting on the nightstand. Taking a swig, he passed it on to Rufus with a shrug. "We'll try it the next time, though."
"What makes you think there'll be a next time?" Rufus said, accepting the flask. "I'm a busy man, you know."
Moody laughed, that characteristic sawdust sound of his. "Oh, but it's a little late for saying that, isn't it, lad?"
He put out his cigarette, seized Rufus's neck, and brought their mouths together in a rough kiss. Rufus closed his eyes, feeling the scrape of Moody's stubble against his own, tasting the smoke and alcohol.
"Aye," Moody said again, letting go. Their foreheads rested together for a moment, before Moody lay back, folding his arms under his head. Again, there was the grim, satisfied look. "You came here before, you came here tonight, and no mistake, you'll be coming back."
He did keep coming back; he couldn't help it. There was always the light coming from the small window, the taste of Firewhisky in the morning, and Moody's gruff smile as he opened the door to let him in.
On the fifth anniversary of He Who Must Not Be Named's downfall, the Ministry for Magic held a grand banquet of commemoration. Invited guests from Britain and elsewhere congregated at Malfoy Manor, which the family in question had generously offered up for the Ministry's convenience.
Although the Death Eaters were long gone, at least officially, there were still Dark wizards about, and the Aurors were in charge of the guests' safety. Anonymous letters had arrived beforehand, threatening an attack -- obviously someone was displeased with the connections between the Malfoys and the Ministry.
"Can't say I blame them," Moody growled. He and Rufus were standing outside the main entrance to the ball room, where they could keep an eye on the prominent witches and wizards who were currently mingling about. "Everyone knows Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater. He should never have got away with it."
Rufus shrugged. "He wasn't convicted."
There were other Aurors present, stationed outside the building, in the grounds, and inside the Manor itself. All safety procedures had been followed, but Rufus still had a bad feeling, as if something invisible kept setting his nerves on edge.
"Wasn't there supposed to be a concert soon?" He squinted into the room, where what looked like techni-wizards were setting up magic mikes, spelling them into working order. "With Celestina Warbeck and Marie... What's-her-name."
"Lapointe," Moody informed him. "Canadian."
Rufus looked at the witch standing next to the mikes, wearing a low-cut evening gown. "Interesting."
Moody followed his gaze, then smiled in a rather unpleasant way. "Emmeline knows you're ogling pretty lasses at work?"
Rufus shrugged again, looking over to where the Canadian singer had taken her place alongside Celestina Warbeck, whom he barely recognised. "What Emmeline doesn't know won't harm her."
"Right," Moody said. There was something in his tone that suggested his smile had not become any less unpleasant. "I suppose that's true."
The singers were introduced; applause erupted from the crowd. They began a slow duet, reminding Rufus why the Wizarding Wireless Network had always bored him to tears.
A movement at the back of the ballroom caught his eye. He frowned; then, momentarily dismissing it, turned back to Moody.
"Care to elaborate on that statement?"
"Nah." Moody's smile was somewhat bitter now. "You know well enough what I mean."
"Thank you!" the toastmaster announced as the song ended. "And for our next number, Miss Lapointe will perform her grand hit, 'I Taste a Potion Never Brewed'..."
Rufus rolled his eyes. "I'm going out for a moment."
Outside, he talked to the Aurors guarding the entrance. None of them had seen anything unusual, yet Rufus still couldn't shake off that feeling of dread. He smoked a cigarette, checked his watch, and returned to where Moody was standing.
"Has the bloody concert ended yet?"
Moody shook his head. "But almost. Next thing that's happening is Lucius Malfoy giving some sort of a speech. I suppose that's when we have to keep our eyes open. Not that I really want to," he added under his breath.
Rufus scanned the ballroom again. And there, at the opposite corner from the mikes, there was something... A shift in the air, a play of shadows. Something.
"Wait here," he said to Moody, entering the ballroom without waiting for a reply.
Discretion was imperative in situations like these; you wouldn't want to cause panic unless it couldn't be helped. He made his way stealthily among the guests, eyes fixed on the corner in question, wand in hand.
Before he got that far, however, the situation exploded.
A jet of red light erupted from seemingly nothing, stunning the toastmaster as he was about to introduce tonight's host, Lucius Malfoy, who jumped back with an undignified shout and was missed by a second jet of light, green this time. People screamed, starting to run toward the entrance as more curses were fired, some of them green, others red. Whoever this was, they were a damned good fighter.
Rufus ran toward the mikes, where Lucius Malfoy had temporarily hid behind a table. "Are you people completely incompetent?" he barked as soon as Rufus reached him. "There's a terrorist on the loose here!"
A curse hit a painting on the wall above them, causing the heavy frame to break and fall to the floor with a heavy thud. Rufus barely escaped it. "Come on," he snapped, grabbing hold of Malfoy's sleeve. "You're the main target. Let's get you out of here."
Malfoy stared about, his eyes wild. "My wife and son!"
"We'll take care of them --" Rufus dragged the struggling man to his feet. "Come on!"
More Aurors had arrived, struggling through the mass of fighting guests. The attacks were coming from at least three sources, Rufus calculated, three skilled wizards or witches hidden by Disillusionment Charms. All around him, people were firing curses at thin air, hitting each other instead. It was chaos.
He'd made it to the door, where he ushered the guests outside, trying to cover them with a Shield Charm at the same time, when something hit his leg.
It was a pain more searing than anything he could have imagined, like a thousand small piranhas eating their way into his flesh with fire-hot teeth. His vision blackened, and he screamed, dropping to his knees and collapsing onto the floor.
"Oh fuck!" someone shouted above him. Rufus could barely make out the words; his ears were ringing with pain. "Oh damn it, Rufus! Rufus!"
He opened his eyes, dizzily. Moody was kneeling above him, looking shaken to the bone, the paleness of his face in horrible contrast to the blood welling out from where his right eye should be.
Rufus opened his mouth. You look horrible, he wanted to say, but the piranhas were at it again, and the pain seared and burned, and he closed his eyes and thought no more.
"You know what bothers me the most?" Moody said from the hospital bed.
Rufus shook his head.
After more than twenty people had died and several more had been hurt, the terrorists had been captured at last. Two of them were currently in Azkaban, waiting for their trial; the third one had committed suicide in her cell. She'd lost her husband in the war.
Moody closed his eye. Where its neighbour used to be, there was a white patch; his prosthesis hadn't yet arrived. "It's knowing that those who did this... They weren't Death Eater filth. They were on the right side."
A single tear trickled down his chin. He wiped it away with an irritable jolt of his arm.
There wasn't much to be said to that, so Rufus took his hand and held it until Moody had fallen asleep. St. Mungo's was busy and nobody cared, he least of all.
A month later, they could both walk again, and Rufus broke it off with Emmeline.
It started, as many things do, with an insult.
Rufus Scrimgeour, bright third-year student, was not particularly pleased with being partnered with Alastor Moody in the Dueling Club session and expressed his feelings in no uncertain terms. What surprised him was the quickness of Moody's reaction.
"Ow!" Rufus touched his hand to his head, scowling. "We hadn't even started yet."
"Wrong. We started the moment you called me an oddball," said Moody, his wand still poised. "Defend yourself, lad."
"Don't call me that!" Rufus snapped, raising his wand in turn. "You're only three years older than I."
"More than enough." Moody grinned, which made him look slightly less brooding. "Come on, let's duel."
Although Rufus's temper was sparked, he only managed to get in a few hits that day. Still, the Professor praised them both, asking Rufus whether he'd started considering possible careers and whether he'd like to become an Auror, and suggesting Moody, who'd applied for a training position come next autumn, teach him a few tricks.
Thus it began. After a while, resentment came to be replaced by respect and various third-year girls by Moody's face and body in Rufus's nightly fantasies. Not until several years later, however, when he himself was about to go into Auror training, did anything happen. A chance encounter in a Muggle public lavatory was all it took.
"You know," Moody said a couple of months later, "poofs aren't very popular among the Aurors."
"Good thing we aren't poofs, then," said Rufus and shrugged. At least he wasn't. That he enjoyed jerking off in Alastor's company certainly didn't count.
He's played the record a few times now: Marie Lapointe's first album. A Christmas present from Moody, the old sod. A twisted old sod with a completely inappropriate sense of humour, that's what he is. Was.
Rufus still holds the bottle of Firewhisky between his hands. He doesn't want it; it's too early in the morning and there should be no reason for him to drink, because Moody should not be missing. Unfortunately he is missing, which means that Rufus will have to get plastered and call in sick. He has never done that yet. Called in sick, that is.
Lapointe's sugary voice is still filling the room, singing about le sorcier de mon cœur. Rufus has no idea what that means; he doesn't speak a word of French. A terrible failing in a Minister for Magic, to be sure.