FIC: "The Other Side of The Coin" for (viking)carrot Recipient:carrot/vikingcarrot Author:eeyore9990 Title: The Other Side of The Coin Rating: R Pairings: Rufus Scrimgeour/Augustus Rookwood Word Count: ~3500 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *torture; character death*. Summary: Rufus wasn't always Minister for Magic. Once upon a time, he was just a man. Author's Notes: I cannot thank my beta, leela_cat, and writing partners enough for all the support they gave throughout the process of writing this fic. carrot, one of your pieces of art might have played a huge role in the creation of this fic. Consider this fanfic of your fanart. :D
And to the ever-patient bethbethbeth, my most heartfelt thanks.
His past has come back to haunt him.
The Ministry has fallen through no one's fault but his. His choices have brought destruction down on them all.
Rufus grips the edge of his desk and holds tight as the Death Eaters come for him, laughing in anticipation of their success. He has the fleeting desire to draw his wand and go down in a blaze of glory, but the lives of every witch and wizard employed by the Ministry hang in the balance. Their only chance to escape, possibly to survive, relies upon his ability to distract the Death Eaters and their master for as long as possible.
"Tell me, Rufus," a voice near the doorway draws his attention away from the two goons gripping his arms, and he looks up into a pair of clear brown eyes that still have the power to stop his breath, "where's the boy?"
"Go to the devil."
Rufus sees his own downfall in Augustus' smirk.
Augustus Rookwood wasn't pretty, he wasn't even good-looking really, but there was something about the way he moved, about the look in his eye that drew Rufus' attention and held it. He seemed to know a secret the rest of them didn't, a secret simultaneously hilarious and devious.
Considering where he worked, it was highly possible Rookwood did know such a secret, which made him all the more intriguing. And Rufus could never resist even a hint of intrigue.
It was why he'd become an Auror, after all.
The lift juddered under his feet, throwing Rufus forward into Rookwood's back and jostling the papers in Rookwood's hands. Unable to stop himself from looking, Rufus caught sight of a moving photo from one of the unsolved cases currently sitting on his own desk.
"Something I should know about?" Rufus asked, lips curving downward in agitation.
Rookwood twisted around, one eyebrow quirking as he ran a lingering gaze over Rufus. "Auror Scrimgeour?"
Chin inching upward, Rufus narrowed his eyes and said, "Senior Auror."
In a move that would, with time, become equally aggravating and arousing to Rufus, Rookwood smirked. His murmured, "indeed," set Rufus' teeth on edge.
"You've gone through my files. Those papers are meant to be confidential until the investigation is complete and the case closed."
"For your information, Senior Auror Scrimgeour, I'm intimately acquainted with the Ministry's guidelines concerning the security of information. However, such guidelines cease to apply when the Head of the Auror Department asks for my help with a case that remains unsolved."
"Auror Jones gave you access to this case?" Rufus asked, ignoring the sinking sensation in the pit of his belly. "I haven't been notified of such."
That damnable smirk twisting his lips again, Rookwood stepped closer to Rufus and brought his mouth near Rufus' ear before he whispered, "Consider yourself notified."
Fingers clamp around his throat, cutting off his breathing, but Rufus knows better than to show weakness. This won't end quickly no matter what he does, so he closes his mind to the pain.
"Weren't expecting me, were you?"
Rufus stares forward, ignoring both Augustus and the twisting sensation in his gut. Whatever he'd felt for the man had died long ago, no matter what his traitorous body believes.
But Augustus has never taken well to being ignored — Rufus should have remembered that — and suddenly he's right in Rufus' face, his features twisted into an expression of unholy glee.
"The big, bad Auror brought down by just the three of us. The Dark Lord will never believe it. And you didn't so much as raise a wand in your own defence. Tut, tut."
Rufus clenches his teeth as his vision starts to go spotty; the fingers haven't let up. He fights his body's need to close his eyes and fall into unconsciousness. Waking up in the hands of enemies is entirely unthinkable.
But it's no use. He's not frail, but he is human, and it's his human weakness that forces him to submit to the demands of his body. Augustus' voice accompanies him into darkness.
"But you're no longer an Auror, are you, Minister?"
The streetlamp out front flickered, drawing Rufus out of his thoughts. He shifted on the bed and watched as the thin sheet slid down Augustus' chest, catching precariously on a jutting hipbone.
Rufus reached out and tugged it the rest of the way down, mostly just to see the look on Augustus' face. The eyebrow raised in muted delight and the curve of his lips as he stared at Rufus through heavy-lidded eyes.
"See something you like?" His voice was rough from sleep, and the sound of it stirred something in the pit of Rufus' belly.
"Perhaps." But his mind was still wandering, prompting him to ask, "What now?"
"Hmm? What now, what?" Augustus seemed distracted, a mystery that was quickly resolved when he asked, "D'you mind if I smoke?"
Rufus grabbed a pack of cigarettes off the nightstand, shaking one partially free and offering it to Augustus.
After Augustus had lit the cigarette and taken several deep drags off it, he turned his head and asked, "What did you mean, what now?"
Rufus had never been one to avoid confrontation; staring straight at Augustus, he said, "Now that the case is over, and we've had this… opportunity to settle more personal matters, what becomes of our personal relationship?"
"That's darling, it really is," Augustus said, choking on smoke as he laughed. "We've just shagged, man. I wouldn't call it a relationship."
Though he was slightly disappointed, Rufus simply shrugged. "I see. You're right, of course."
"Hey, now, don't be like that. I didn't say I didn't want to see you again. Just… there's no reason to rush, is there? I think we should get to know one another better outside work before we decide to get serious, don't you?"
Rufus considered this for a moment before his lips quirked at the corners. "That sounds remarkably level-headed. From you. I'm shocked."
He waited until Augustus pinched out the lit end of his cigarette before he rolled atop him. "One thing you should know about me," he whispered, dragging the sharp points of his teeth over Augustus' shoulder. "I like a little pain with my pleasure."
Paperwork is scattered everywhere. It's the first thing Rufus notices as he opens his eyes. Of course, that's because it's the only thing he can see in the position they've bound him. He's facedown over the length of his desk, feet dangling from one end, and from the murmurs in the room he knows the number of Death Eaters has risen since he passed out.
Not a good sign at all.
A searing pain takes Rufus' mind off his 'guests' and it's all he can do to hold back a scream as a burning sensation travels from the base of his neck down his spine. When it finally stops just above the waistband of his trousers, his every breath comes out as a low whine. But the part of his mind that's always analyzing the situation awards him points for not screaming.
Especially when he realizes, as a warm, wet sensation starts creeping in random patterns down his sides, that they've cut him open.
Rufus twists his hands in his bonds, eyes rolling as he tries to see how they've tied him, but the pain begins again. In his legs this time, damn them. And he can only grip the edges of the desk tightly, teeth clenching painfully as they continue to slice him open from neck to heel. His feet barely move when he kicks them against the pain, and with the part of his mind that notes details, he realizes they've tied them as well.
The voice that rumbles in his ear this time isn't Augustus', but the sibilance of the smooth tones is chilling nonetheless. "You will tell me what I want to know, Minister."
"I'll die first," he says through his teeth before lifting his head as much as possible and slamming the side of it against the flat surface of the desk. The combination of pain, blood loss, and the blow to the head are enough to send him spiralling into unconsciousness once more.
Rufus could barely believe it, but the evidence was overwhelming. His hands shook as he dug through the stack of photos, incriminating shots of Augustus meeting with known Death Eaters.
And the signed confession… Rufus breathed through his nose, certain that if he opened his mouth, he'd either lose his lunch or let loose a scream of betrayal that would echo through the Ministry for the rest of eternity.
"Are you ready, Scrimgeour?"
Rufus turned to Asher, his partner, mind gone numb. The one resounding thought in his head was that at least he and Augustus had kept their relationship a secret. No one would know that they'd had been lovers.
"We need to interrogate him. He'll be able to lead us to the others."
A jerky nod of his head was all that Rufus could offer, but it was apparently enough. They walked down the narrow corridor side by side, and Rufus was the first one through the door to interrogation.
As soon as he saw Augustus, a red haze swam across his vision and suddenly he was reaching across the scarred desk, dragging Augustus out of his chair. The warmth of Augustus' throat under his fingers was too reminiscent of other times, better times. Innumerable moments filled with sweaty flesh and flashing teeth, grunts of satisfaction and nonsensical murmurs in the dark of night.
Augustus must have read the hesitation in Rufus' eyes because that hateful little smirk was twisting his lips again, humour brightening his eyes until they seemed to glow in his face. "Harder," Augustus rasped, pressing forward into Rufus' grip, forcing Rufus' fingers deeper into his flesh.
Anger flashed through Rufus and he bared his teeth, nearly lifting Augustus from his seat as the strength of his grip broke fragile bones and ripped through tendons. Pain twisted Augustus' features and he choked, panic chasing the humour from his eyes when his every attempt to breathe met with futility.
"That hard enough for you?" Rufus growled, releasing Augustus from his grip and watching, anger still boiling through him, as Augustus' eyes fluttered and he dropped to the floor, his face gone far beyond pasty.
Rufus' team leader rushed into the interrogation room, healing Augustus almost before his body could hit the floor. But anger and betrayal could not be swept so neatly away, and it was at that moment that Rufus truly began to feel the bitter edge of hate worm its way into his soul.
A finger is tracing the ragged edges of the wound down his back when he's jerked back to reality, the tint of magic leaving a metallic taste in his mouth. Enervate. Of course they won't want him sleeping through this.
Somehow he knows that the finger belongs to Augustus. It's got the echo of memory to it, even as he knows somewhere on the edges of his mind that the person Augustus is today is not the person he was.
Augustus used to be charming, once upon a time.
Rufus' voice is a broken croak of sound when he speaks. "You've changed."
The fingers still, then a sharp dig into the open wound makes Rufus hiss and bow his back in pain even though his bonds don't really allow it.
"You abandoned me in that place, left me with those monsters. Are you truly surprised now that I've become one as well?"
"You were always a monster," Rufus says, though he doesn't know where he's found the energy to talk.
Augustus comes around the desk and kneels so that Rufus can see his eyes. They're hollow and darker than Rufus remembers them being. Truly windows to his soul.
"Well, you did call me a beast once, if I recall." Augustus is smirking again, and he brings his finger up, wet with Rufus' blood, and sucks it into his mouth.
Something like desire swirls in a twisted mess with the revulsion churning in Rufus' gut.
Azkaban was everything a prison should be: dank, dark and depressing. And cold. It was a cold so bitter and pervasive that Rufus felt it down to the bone. His joints protested and his fingers crackled as he gripped the edges of his thick cloak, drawing it closer around himself. He added another burst of magic to the Patronus trotting along at his side, his only comfort in this place.
He followed the hulking figure of the Dementor down a long, curving corridor, past hundreds of prisoners. A chill snuck down his spine as the deathly silence pressed in on him from all sides. He was unable to stop himself from wondering if the Dementors had slipped the Ministry's leash. Were the prisoners already soulless shells? Would his questions find an answer?
Rufus stumbled to a halt, leaning backward to avoid brushing the ragged hem of the Dementor's cloak. He'd been so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he'd not noticed the creature slowing, but it appeared they'd finally reached Augustus' cell.
The loud creak of the cell door as it slowly opened under the claw-like hand of the Dementor made Rufus frown slightly, unobtrusively casting a lubrication spell on the hinges. That sound really was one step beyond ridiculous for a place that needed no extra decoration to instil horror in the most unimaginative mind.
Gathering himself, Rufus edged past the Dementor and into the cell, eyes squinting against the dim lighting. A figure huddled in the corner, flinching away when Rufus approached.
"Augustus Rookwood?" While Rufus was certain the Dementor knew the location of every soul in the place—intimately—Augustus' behaviour was so uncharacteristic that he felt the need to verify the prisoner's identity. "Devil take it," he muttered and raised his wand, lighting the tip with a quick lumos.
Instead of shielding his eyes from the light, Augustus turned toward it, his expression that of a wild animal. His lips pulled back from his already-blackening teeth, his hair a matted mess standing out from his head. A thread of life seemed to spark in his gaze as his eyes landed on Rufus.
"You." His voice was thready and rough, but the animosity underscoring it was impossible to miss.
His professional demeanour deserted Rufus in that moment, and all he could ask was, "Why? Was everything between us a lie?"
Augustus' laugh, when it came, was a choked, horrible thing. "I was his long before I became yours."
Rufus has no idea where Voldemort has been but something has obviously pushed the man over the edge. His movements are short, jerking, and he frequently pauses mid-stride to shout questions at random.
"Gregorovich! What have you heard of him?"
This latest question is so unexpected that Rufus breaks his self-imposed silence to say, "The wandmaker?"
"Imbecile! Of course I refer to the wandmaker."
Rufus knows enough of current events to smile triumphantly. "Wand still giving you trouble?" he taunts, relief strengthening his voice and pushing down the pain that radiates along his body, from his head to very nearly the tips of his toes.
Voldemort is at his side so suddenly, Rufus wonders whether he Apparated. "I am going to kill you personally, Minister. But not before I've ripped Harry Potter's location from your tongue." Turning away, Voldemort looks directly at Augustus and hisses, "Have you incompetent idiots located the Veritaserum yet, or shall I send to Hogwarts for it?"
"Veritaserum?" Rufus asks, and his laughter is thickened by something broken loose inside his chest. He's light-headed now and almost beyond the pain. "You don't honestly think Veritaserum works on me, do you? It's standard procedure to start all junior Aurors on daily doses until they're impervious to it."
"Then we shall simply have to use old-fashioned methods of persuasion to loosen your tongue. Rookwood, your assistance is required."
Rufus can't help looking across the room to where Augustus had last been standing. It gives him no pleasure to see the slight hesitation before Augustus moves to his master's side.
The paperwork on Rufus' desk mocked him with the precision of its stacks. A piece of him wanted to reach over and bat every last parchment off the desktop, but instead he took a deep breath and willed himself to calm down.
The day had been filled with too many such moments of unsettled emotion. Were he a less logical sort, he'd think it an omen. But it was exactly that feeling that kept him at the office well past the time when all other regular Ministry personnel had gone home for the day.
Something was coming, and no amount of logic was going to stop it.
It was therefore almost a relief to hear the silence of the after-hours Ministry broken by sirens.
"Sir!" Abrams, a fresh-faced junior Auror straight out of training burst into Rufus' office, features drained of colour. "There's been a mass break-out from Azkaban."
Rufus gripped the edges of his desk and pushed to his feet.
The clock on the wall ticked slowly and dust motes floated through the air around him as he braced his hands on the desk, leaning over it to peer at Abrams.
Fourteen years, ten months and six days...
"Summon everyone," he said, and even through the ringing in his ears, he could hear the authority in his voice. How he managed it, though, he didn't know. "Inform them of a Situation Alpha. Have Shacklebolt and Dawlish Apparate immediately to the Minister's residence and set up a protective perimeter. Anyone who approaches is to be deemed suspicious and detained; the use of Unforgivables is authorized. All other Aurors are to convene here for Ministry detail." When the boy's eyes began to glaze with fear, Rufus snapped out, "Abrams!"
Rufus lowered his voice to a comforting, gruff rumble. "Immediately, son."
"Yes, sir." The steel returning to Abrams' spine was encouraging to behold, though Rufus still felt the need to guide the young man from his office into the main room. As soon as Abrams was on his knees before the large, private Floo reserved for Auror use only, Rufus returned to his office and shut the door, slumping against it.
Augustus was back.
Rufus closed his eyes against the betraying wave of relief that rushed through his body.
Rufus is weakening; he can feel it. Or rather, it's the bits he can't feel that tell him his own end is close. But he's managed to retain enough of his wits to know that he's not given up any vital information.
He pushes memories of Potter and the boy's friends out of his mind. Voldemort has already attempted to Legilimize him for information; though he'd been strong enough to keep the man out the last time, he's afraid another mental probe will shatter his shields.
There's a crashing sound then, so unexpected that it causes Rufus to flinch, which in turn causes the various wounds scattered over his body to come to screaming life. He hisses through his teeth, eyes watering as he stiffens against the pain, which only makes it that much worse.
He's so lost to the fire spreading through him that he's barely aware of the voice that says, "The Order, my Lord! We've located them."
The words filter to Rufus as though through water, and he forces his eyes open. Rodolphus Lestrange is there, his face shiny with devotion as he stares openly at Voldemort.
"They're in Ottery-St Catchpole, my Lord. The Muggle-loving Weasleys are having a party. Very nearly the entire Order is there!"
The mention of the Weasleys sends a chill through Rufus that nearly overwhelms the pain. "No," he breathes, his fingers flexing for the wand he lost so many hours ago. He has to stop this. Has to stop them.
Protect the boy at all costs.
His frantic gaze bounces around the room until it lands on Augustus and stops. He's the only one not slavering over Voldemort; instead, he's staring at Rufus, an unfathomable look in his dark eyes.
There's a voice in his ear now, though he can't seem to take his eyes off Augustus long enough to pay it any real attention. Dimly he realizes it's Voldemort, come back to gloat over the upcoming devastation of the Order of the Phoenix.
"I'm sorry, Minister, but it seems your service is no longer required."
Rufus would roll his eyes at the absurdity of Voldemort's words, but it's as if he's been Imperiused. He can't look away.
Rufus stares, transfixed, as Augustus' eyes slide closed.