FIC: "Red Dreams" for wwmrsweasleydo Recipient: wwmrsweasleydo Author/Artist: ??? Title: Red Dreams Rating: PG Pairings: Antonin Dolohov/Filius Flitwick Word Count:6,850 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *[Character Death]*. Summary: “...and with a burning pain in my heart I realized how unnecessary, how petty, and how deceptive all that had hindered us from loving was. I understood that when you love you must either, in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.” ― Anton Chekhov Author's/Artist's Notes: I hope that this story pleases you, wwmrsweasleydo. When I finally found the right story to tell, it all seemed to fall into place. Thank you to L, my invaluable beta and dear friend, who never fails to improve anything she touches.
He knew no one here. He barely spoke the language. He held tightly to his mother’s hand as he watched the chaos on Platform 9 3/4. He would never fit in here. Why his mother had brought them here, of all places, after his father’s death, he did not understand. All he knew was that his father’s family had made it clear that they were no longer welcome in the family home. He knew, too, that Babka believed that Mama had murdered her son, but then she had always hated Mama. It was true that Kazimir Grigorjivich Dolohov had been a hard and difficult man, but Mama had been the only one to whom he had been kind - he certainly had not been kind to his only son. If anyone had had reason to murder his father, it was he. He wished he had. In spite of it being the cause of his exile to this strange place, Antonin was glad his father was gone.
His mother was tugging on her hand, gently removing it from his.
“It is time to go. We will not see one another again until the school year ends, so it is time for you to learn self-reliance, my son. You may kiss me, then you must bid me farewell and board the train.”
Dutifully, he stretched up on his toes to kiss the cheek she offered, picked up his small overnight bag, and boarded the car nearest to where they stood. He did not look back.
Every compartment he looked in was full of children chattering and laughing. They all seemed to know one another, and regarded his alien face through the glass with suspicion, if not active hostility. He moved on until he found one that contained only one other boy, who was deeply engrossed in reading.
He did not look up from his book as Antonin slid open the door, put his case on the shelf and took the seat opposite. In fact, until the train lurched forward as it began to move, the boy seemed unaware of the existence of anything outside his book. Antonin very nearly scooped up the spider he’d seen in the corner of the compartment and dropped it on the book’s pages, just to see if he’d notice it. But the spider didn’t deserve him taking chances with her life. He liked spiders. They were clever and patient and solitary, like him.
Instead, he took advantage of the boy’s absorption to stare at him in a way that would have earned him a rebuke from his mother and much worse from his father. His stares often unnerved people, or so he had been told. But his intent was not to perturb, but to study, as this boy was interesting because he was so very strange.
For one thing, he was quite small. He hardly looked old enough to be going to school at all. Antonin thought he was about the same size as his four year old cousin Oksana, though he must certainly be at least his own age. The boy’s face was angular and his hair so blond as to be nearly white. He wore small, round-lensed glasses through which he peered in perfect concentration at the book, mere inches from his tiny nose. Periodically, the glasses would slide down far enough that he would push them back up again with a stubby forefinger, though Antonin doubted that he even knew that he was doing this.
The boy’s clothing was the oddest he’d ever seen. He did not wear robes, but instead was dressed in trousers of light grey wool, with very fine white lines running the length of them. With these he wore a crisp white shirt and waistcoat, covered by a very strange short, black coat with long sleeves that met in the middle in a single button and had two long tails coming from the back of it, which splayed on either side of him where he sat. The boy wore a tie, too - sky blue and tied around his neck in a large bow as if he’d been gift-wrapped. He looked like a perfect miniature of a picture of a Muggle butler Antonin had seen once. All he would have needed would have been white gloves and a domed tray.
When the train jerked into motion, the boy looked up, startled, and found Antonin staring at him. Bright blue eyes focused on him over the top of the glasses with a quizzical expression, as if to say ‘how did you Apparate into my compartment without a sound?’ Then the boy smiled at him with his whole face and Antonin nearly gaped at him in wonder.
“Oh, hullo,” said the boy. “I’m sorry - I didn’t hear you come in.”
He extended his hand. Antonin’s former tutor had warned about the English custom of shaking hands, so he knew to extend his own in return, rather than bow.
“I’m Flitwick,” said the boy as they shook hands. Flitwick’s grip was strong for such tiny hands.
“I’m Dolohov,” he answered, and the boy’s smile got even wider, though he wouldn’t have thought it possible.
“Delighted to meet you,” replied Flitwick in perfect Russian. This time Antonin did gape openly. “Your accent gave you away,” he said in English, still smiling. “You sound as if you are from somewhere near Moscow, I am thinking, and a firstie.”
“How -, how did you know? And what is this ‘firstie’?” He wanted to make it sound like a demand, but it just came out bewildered.
“You have the same accent as my old tutor, who was from Kolomna. And, a ‘firstie’ is someone in their first year at Hogwarts. I’ve never seen you before, and you look too young to be anything but a firstie.”
“You look younger than me!” he blurted in Russian. Instead of taking offense, the other boy grinned mischievously.
“And that can be very handy sometimes. Even so, I am thirteen and a third year. Did you move to the UK to go to Hogwarts?”
“No, not for that reason,” Antonin said. He didn’t care if he sounded uncivil in the way that he answered. He did not care to talk about this with a stranger.
“All right,” answered Flitwick, and his smile did not falter. “Do you know anything about Hogwarts? Other than that it is a school, I mean. Like what house you hope to be sorted into?”
Antonin shook his head. He knew nothing about where he was going. His mother had not seen fit to tell him anything other than that he was going away to school. He knew that she wanted to get him out of the way so that she could find another husband to support them. He hoped she would choose better than his father this time, now that the choice was hers. When he met Flitwick’s eye he could see the pity and the curiosity there and he turned away.
“Then I have something which might be of interest to you,” replied Flitwick softly. He took out his wand and Accio-ed a bag nearly as big as himself down from the shelf onto the seat beside him. He rummaged around in it and brought out a crumpled robe, then hit it with a steam charm that left them both coughing. “Hmm, that one needs perfecting,” he said, waving away the mist. “I should change, I suppose. No sense parading about the grounds in what I wore to the Proms with Granddad. Ah - here it is!”
Flitwick hauled out a large book and laid it reverently in Antonin’s lap. The title read ‘Hogwarts, A History.’
“That should tell you everything you need to know and then some. Do you need a translation charm?”
“No, I can read in English.”
“Well, I’ll just go change then,” said Flitwick as he spelled his valise back up onto the shelf, “and leave you to it. I’ll answer any questions you have, if you want. I know what it’s like,” he continued softly, “feeling as if you’ve been stranded in terra incognita without a map. I’m in Ravenclaw, by the way, so it doesn’t matter in the least what house you get sorted into - we’re equally snobby towards all the rest.” He said this with a grin and sparkling eyes as he exited the compartment, and suddenly, Antonin felt much better. As he opened the book, he wondered just where he had landed and whether or not he’d just made a friend, the first he had ever had.
He couldn’t remember exactly when he had first felt like kissing Filius. It had probably surfaced originally in a dream. He’d been having some strange ones lately. Mostly, however, his dreams were filled with red. He had always been angry at the world, he now realized. But since the new year, he’d had a real reason to hate the universe. The only good thing had been Filius, and now he had certainly ruined that, too. What had he been thinking?
He threw himself down onto the grass behind the greenhouses, near some ancient oaks that had probably been saplings when they’d built the castle. No one ever came here. The gnarled old trees had an evil feel to them, as if they were trapped souls who’d spent the centuries since their imprisonment yearning for vengeance. He knew how they felt. He laid his head in his hands. He truly was alone, now.
Antonin was no longer the boy he had been the last time he’d seen his mother, when he’d bid her goodbye at the train nearly 3 years ago. He had spent his summers at his Uncle Vadim’s, waiting for her, and slaving on his Uncle’s farm for the privilege of his room and board. She was coming, she always told him in the rare owls she would send. She was coming as soon as she had earned enough. She would take him back with her to Russia And they would have a house in the country, and once again take the places they deserved, the wizarding world paying homage to their bloodline as it should and never acknowledging the so-called family that had turned their backs on them. They would be sorry they had behaved as they had. Soon.
But shortly after the Christmas hols, Professor Dippet had called Antonin into his office, pity and embarrassment written all over his doughy face.
“Have a seat, Dolohov,” he had said, shuffling papers on his desk.
Antonin had sat. He had never been in the Headmaster’s office. He’d kept his nose clean - at least, he’d never been caught - and he knew he’d done nothing out of bounds lately. Dippet cleared his throat.
“Well, my boy, there’s no good way to say this, so I’ll come straight to the point. I am very sorry to have to be the bearer of bad tidings. Your mother has died.”
He heard very little after that.
He was certain that Dippet had rambled on in his usual way, but he’d never been able to recall exactly what it was that he had said. He simply sat there, struck dumb and his brain refusing to take in what he had heard. Then something in his speech caught Antonin’s attention.
“ . . . they’ve agreed to take you over the summers, seeing as how they already have one of our students.”
“What?” he had said sharply, forgetting to whom he had been talking. Dippet reddened.
“The Lambeth House. Our Head Boy Tom Riddle lives there, you know. I’m sure he can tell you more.”
“I don’t understand. What is this about Lambeth House and what does my mother’s death have to do with it and with Riddle?”
“I thought I’d made that clear. Due to the present circumstances, your Uncle doesn’t want you in his house from now on. Perfectly understandable, I suppose, but regrettable. So you will be going to Lambeth House at the end of the term.”
Antonin had stared stupidly at Dippet, who flinched and lowered his eyes.
“You’d best read this.”
He’d stared with uncomprehending eyes at the papers DIppet had handed him, unable to process their contents. His mother had been found, lying half-dressed in a Muggle opium den, where she had apparently lived for the last two years, dead of a botched abortion. There had been abundant evidence that the deceased had been a prostitute and an opium addict, and the coroner’s office had ruled her death accidental. The brother they had discovered referenced among her effects had been contacted and he refused to claim her, so she had been buried in a potter’s field, her grave unmarked.
It had taken him two readings to realize that the woman they referred to had been his mother. His mother. How could this have been? HOW COULD THIS HAVE BEEN? He had no memory of what followed, but apparently every glass item in the Headmaster’s office had exploded. When he again became aware of his surroundings, he was in the school infirmary, the matron tending to his wounds matter-of-factly, and Filius Flitwick was sitting anxiously by his bed, holding his hand. That night was when the dreams of red began.
He burned for vengeance. Vengeance against his father’s family, who had turned them out and started them down this path. Vengeance against his mother’s family, who had forced her to marry into the mudblood Dolohovs in the first place because they were wealthy and her pure blood would command a high bride-price, then refused to lift a finger to help after his father’s death, so that she’d had to get mixed up with those accursed Muggles in the first place; and against his uncle who had treated him as a beast of burden and then as an untouchable, soiled by what his mother had ended up as. Vengeance against the Muggles who had addicted her to their hateful poppies and ruined her life. And, whenever he could admit it to himself, against the mother who’d abandoned him, who’d fallen in with Muggle scum and sunk so low; who had kept the truth from him when he might have been able to help her. That he could hate her for this scared him, but there was no denying that at times he did, with a fury that burned what little soul he had remaining to ashes.
And in the midst of the red dreams which haunted his nights, Filius had been there. It was Filius who had kept him in school, when all he had wanted to do was slaughter, Filius who spoke of a future where he would conquer by intellect, where the wealth and prestige he would garner would be the best revenge against those who had hurt his mother and him. Filius, whose dueling skills had protected him from the taunts of the other students when he first came here and thought that he might begin laying waste to his tormenters if they had called him ‘Ivan’ and made fun of his accented English one more time. Filius, with whom he could speak in his mother tongue, who had made him laugh when anger had threatened to swallow him whole, whose touch he had begun to crave and about whom he had begun to have dreams of a most shameful nature.
His vision went the color of blood, and without conscious thought, a spell Riddle had taught him was on his lips and a dozen daggers flew from his wand and embedded themselves in the side of the potting shed a hundred yards away, with such force that they splintered the wall.
There was no way to pretend that he hadn’t done what he had done, no way for Filius to brush it off as merely the act of a friend. He had revealed himself, shown his unnatural feelings and now he would be the object of the same disgust and scorn as his mother. Why had he been born into this world if it was only to live out this cursed life? Had his father seen this in him when he was just a boy? Had this been why the man had flogged him so regularly, trying to beat this taint from him? Could he scourge it from himself before it brought ruin upon him?
He must leave the school, that much was clear - but where would he go? No one would hire him without his at least taking the O.W.L.s, and that was nearly two years away. Antonin would die before he went with Riddle to that Muggle orphanage- he’d made it plain enough what he thought of the place. He might be only 14, but Antonin knew what would happen if he went there. He had no wish to live out the rest of his days on that gods-forsaken rock in the middle of the North Sea where the British sent their wizard murderers, but if he was forced to spend his days in the company of such filth as Riddle had described, filth like the ones who had killed his mother, he knew that this would be his fate. But how could he stay and brave Filius again, to see disgust with Antonin on that beloved face? That, too, he would rather die than see happen. Maybe that’s what he should do and spare himself and everyone else the continued pain of his existence.
Suddenly, the potting shed wall began to repair itself. The daggers vanished, the wall was as it was before he’d had his fit of rage and despair. He turned and saw Filius standing there and wanted the earth to open and swallow him in his shame.
“Tonechka,” said Filius softly, calling him by his pet name for him. “Here you are.”
“Don’t call me that,” he protested, hugging his knees and hiding his face against them. “I don’t deserve your endearments.” He did not look up as he felt the familiar presence settle beside him.
“I don’t know why,” he answered, his voice hoarse with misery. “I cannot explain myself. I apologize. It will not happen again.”
“Well, that’s not what I meant, but that would be a shame. What I meant was, ‘why don’t you deserve them?’ You are dear to me.” He laid his small hand on Antonin’s shoulder and gave it a brief squeeze. Why could he still feel it after Filius’ hand lifted away? There was a pause.
“You didn’t mean that kiss, then? You wish you could take it back?”
“Yes. No. What -?” He lifted his head in shock as what Filius had said sank in. “Are you mad?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps we both are. But I would be a liar if I told you that I didn’t like it. Or that I haven’t been thinking about doing the same to you.” Filius’ cheeks went pink as he looked away. “Because I have. Constantly.”
The power of speech suddenly failed Antonin. Could this be true? Could Filius possibly feel these same feelings for him?
“Would you kiss me again?” Filius asked, still looking away.
Shaking, he put his arm around the smaller boy and drew him close, both of them with their eyes wide open as if they couldn’t bear to not see this moment. Gently, slowly, he brought his lips against Filius’ plump pink ones, his head swimming with the unreality of it even as his senses told him that this was no dream. Filius’ lips were slightly rough - he’d been licking them again- but it didn’t matter. As they kissed, and then kissed again and again, Antonin felt that there could be no greater happiness than this, and that a world in which he belonged to Filius and Filius to him might well turn out to be one in which he could live after all.
“Antonin Kazmirivich Dolohov, I accept your service. Come and take your place among your new family, and receive the Mark which binds us all together in a glorious future.”
The words echoed in Antonin’s head as he lay in his bed, and he was still drunk on the power that had flowed to him through Riddle - oh, right, he was Voldemort now, but it wouldn’t do to call him either thing, would it? Now He was his Lord, and Antonin was happy to call him that. He had been so empty, so lonely, and his Lord had found him and given him purpose. He had picked Antonin up from his despair and restored those dreams of vengeance he’d tried so hard to forget over these last five years, the years he’d tried to make it work with Filius. He had given Antonin tasks to prove his worth, tasks that had filled him with joy to complete, starting with his pig of an Uncle. Oh yes - the expression on old Vadim’s face as Antonin had made him suffer until he begged for death, to suffer as Antonin’s mother had been left to suffer, while the life drained from him slowly - that had been worth everything to him. For this gift, he would follow his Lord until the end of his days. Too bad, really, that the crowning achievement, the tracking down and his slow destruction of the filth who had corrupted his mother, the deed which had earned him his place among the Elect, would be the death knell of any hope of fixing what had gone wrong between him and the only other person who had mattered to him. Filius would never have understood.
But what did he care anymore what Filius would think? It had been a year since that horrible day, the day the house of cards they’d built had come crashing down around their ears and he had walked away for good. Where was Fili now? Was he still living that lie that had cost them everything? Antonin knew he should be over this by now, that this was weakness in him that his Lord would not tolerate, but he couldn’t seem to move on. He couldn’t stop that last afternoon from playing over and over in his head.
Maybe it would have been different if they had been in the same year, if they had left Hogwarts at the same time. His 4th and 5th years had been the best of his life - how pathetic was that? But after Filius and he had come together, it was as if everything that had cursed his miserable existence had turned to blessings instead. Even though it had to be kept a secret, it would be different when they could settle in Russia, where the wizarding community turned a blind eye to men who loved other men, tolerating it, even if they did not embrace it. In Britain it was not only not tolerated, it was illegal and viewed with disgust. But Hogwarts herself seemed sympathetic to them, and they were already known to be close friends, so it was easy to find time and convenient, out-of-the-way corners of the castle where they could be alone together. Even thinking back on the things they had discovered with one another sent an ache of desire through him and made him long to feel Fili’s body against his, to touch him and to be touched. He pulled his pillow over his head and held it with both hands to keep from retracing those remembered paths of pleasure on his own.
How easy it had all seemed! They made plans that had appeared so reasonable then - Fili would go chase his dreams and make his name on the International Dueling circuit, taking that World Championship that he had trained so hard for. And then Antonin would join him as soon as his 7th year was done, and travel with him as he defended his title for another year or two, and then it would be Antonin’s turn. He was beginning to think at the time, that he might be interested in working in the Department of Mysteries, or perhaps he’d be an independent curse-breaker. It didn’t really matter then what it was, as they lay together, skin against skin, building their castles in the air. All that mattered was that they would be together and that they would retire, young and wealthy, to their Dacha and live out the the rest of their lives in bliss.
It had seemed not only so possible, but probable that this would be what their future would hold, that even the summers spent apart between his 3rd and 4th year and his 4th and 5th made no dent in their happiness. That had been the first of the favors his Lord had done for him, hadn’t it?
“You cannot go there, Antonin,” He had said firmly when Antonin had told him about being sent to the orphanage. “I will arrange it so that you won’t have to spend a single minute with those wretched vermin.” And so He had. Antonin had spent the summer between his 3rd and 4th year with Terrence Flint and his sister Isabel, who had taken a fancy to him for some reason, and the summer between his 4th and 5th year under the wing of the Rookwoods.
But then it was Fili’s last year and Antonin would not see him again but for the occasional brief holiday for another two years, and in the meantime, the Filius he had thought he would run to when he was finally finished with Hogwarts, vanished.
It hadn’t been so easy, as it turned out, to become the International Senior Men’s Champion. By the time Antonin had finished his schooling, Filius was still only ranked 19th and had been there for the last year. He had become frustrated, his focus only on winning the World Championship, with little left to devote to Antonin.
Oh, their reunion had been joyous enough, and he had moved into Fili’s flat in Diagon Alley that first night. And for a while he had been content enough to be sparring partner and general dogsbody, and to watch his beloved doing what he had certainly been made to do. Watching Fili in competition was like watching a piece of chamber music become human flesh. It was beauty and precision and devastating surprise attacks that left Antonin awestruck. His small stature had been a huge help to him in the beginning, as his opponents nearly always made the mistake of underestimating him. But as he gained notoriety, he lost this advantage, and he couldn’t seem to beat anyone in the tier above him.
He fired his coaches and hired new ones, and worked harder than ever, and Antonin began to see less and less of him. When he wasn’t training, he was traveling to competitions, hoping to move his stagnant ranking with every win. It had been a bit lonely, but it was survivable, and, he told himself, only temporary. With such persistence and effort, Fili would have his world title eventually, he was certain, and then they would be back on track. Antonin rejoiced with Filius as his ranking slowly improved, but when he finally made it into the top 10, two things happened which changed their lives and sealed their fate: Fili took on an agent and the Marchbanks scandal happened.
Without his quite realizing it, Fili had become an international superstar. The Daily Prophet and other papers hounded him for interviews, his every move was dogged by photographers and worse, he’d acquired a number of hangers-on, who seemed to pop up wherever he went. He was so very recognizable, and as his career began to ascend, he couldn’t so much as cross the street without being mobbed. The fan mail began pouring in. With every headline that screamed Diminutive Duelist Devastates Deutschland!, Bitty Brit is Brill! and Great Things Expected From This Small Package!, it just got worse. Going to the corner Chippy for a quick bite was now a thing of the past.
So Filius hired an agent, hoping that if he had someone to manage his public image, schedule appearances and the like, that private life might return to some sense of normalcy. It was almost amusing to think of how naive they had been.
They had not realized that it is the business of an agent to put his client before the public at every opportunity. So the growing number of public appearances was added to the list of reasons why Antonin was beginning to think that he was going to have to start scheduling himself onto Filius’s daily agenda. And then Simon Marchbanks had been caught in a loo in Lausanne with a cock down his throat and all hell broke loose.
Marchbanks had been ranked number 3 in the world - tall, fit, handsome and very popular with the ladies, even though anyone with half a brain could clearly see that he was bent. As the only other high-ranking Brit on the circuit, he was even more popular than Fili with the press, and he always had something witty to say. Every competition was breathlessly covered, every party he attended, usually with some pureblood socialite on his arm, was headline news. Now the headlines were of a different sort all together.
The idiot had been dallying with Muggles in an effort to hide the truth about himself from his own world and ended up caught by the Muggle police. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas, as the saying goes, thought Antonin with a sneer. Pictures of Marchbanks in leg irons and manacles wearing Muggle prison garb as he was sentenced to a year at hard labor in a Muggle prison for his ‘crime’ were splashed over every wizarding paper in Europe. Then, all mention of him vanished as if he had never been, even after he had been released, and no one spoke his name now except with revulsion. The chilling effect on homosexuals all over the world was immense, even those not inclined to engage in sex in public loos. The effect on the relations between Filius and him had been devastating and immediate.
Fili’s agent deemed it no longer appropriate for Filius to be seen as an ascetic, caring only about the glory of competition. He began to arrange for Filius to be seen publicly paying court to some of the more beautiful of the women who had drifted into his orbit since Marchbanks’ fall from grace. And as public opinion began to matter more and more, what he, Antonin, had to think began to matter less and less.
Even in private, what little privacy remained to them, Filius was reluctant to show any affection toward him. They no longer slept in the same bed, and sex was reduced to short, furtive sessions at infrequent intervals that left them both unsatisfied. But Filius was unwilling to risk anything more. His fear of exposure now ruled their lives.
At Filius’s request, he took a job in the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Games and Sports, so that he would, in the words of Filius’ agent, ‘look more like a flatmate and less like a kept man’. He too, was required to begin being publicly seen with women, so he chose Millie Bagnold to keep company with. She was hiding her own homosexual relationship, so the two of them came to a mutually beneficial arrangement. He had assumed that Filius would choose similarly. How wrong he had been.
He still remembered exactly where he had been, what he had been wearing, the time, the weather, every little detail, the day the press release announcing Filius’ engagement to Belinda Davies had landed on his desk and the bottom had dropped from his world.
Looking at it objectively, he could see that it had been brilliant strategy on Filius’ part. She was a lovely pureblood witch, famous for her beauty, her fortune and for the dazzling parties she threw. She was among the most desirable women of their acquaintance, and moved in social circles well above the ones that either Filius or he could hope to frequent on their own merits. This would elevate him in their world, bring him prestige, fortune, and confirmation of his manhood, that this little man could woo and win so impressive a catch. Too bad it was all a lie.
He had risen from his desk, put on his hat, bid farewell to the office secretary and headed for home at 2 that afternoon, intending to speak to Filius the moment he returned from training, to confirm that this was some sort of joke or merely a wild rumor. He had not been expecting, when he Apparated into their flat, to find Filius already there, surrounded by packing cases.
He stood there, gazing at the love of his life, in much the same way he must have at Dippet after the Headmaster had informed him that his mother was dead. It was the same sort of feeling, as if he had separated from his body and was viewing it all from some distance. It was the only reason that he could have spoken to Filius so calmly.
“I never took you for such a coward, Flitwick.”
“Let me explain -,” Filius began, but it was more than he could bear.
“NO!” he had shouted, and the huge crystal trophy on the sideboard that Filius had won in his last regional championship burst into a thousand pieces. The shards fell harmlessly around them both. The cuts were deep, fatal and entirely inside. “No. I do not wish to hear it. When were you going to tell me, Filius? At your wedding? And now you are sneaking out of the flat to avoid having to tell me to my face what is true, that you are too craven to face your own nature and would rather live a lie than risk the world suspecting that you might be a shirt-lifter. This is all that I have meant to you, after all. I put up with being pushed away for your career, turned a blind eye to you cheating on me - oh yes, I knew about the hangers-on, how did you think I could miss them?- and took the photos in the Prophet of you canoodling with every skirt your agent threw at you with as much patience as I could muster. But this? This I will not tolerate. If you had hoped to have me as your bit on the side while you live out your fantasy, you can forget that. It’s over. Keep your flat. Keep everything. Much good may it do you. I wish never to see you again.”
With that, he had Apparated blindly from the flat, landing in an tube tunnel somewhere in central London, only what little luck he had remaining preventing him from splinching himself to death. And to think that he had, for a time, wished that he had!
He spent that night on Millie’s sofa, crying on her shoulder as she tried to soothe him by telling him that he deserved better. Yes, he did. Antonin definitely deserved better than being used and discarded like a spent rag. But he didn’t want better. He wanted his Fili back. And that could never be.
He found a cheap flat in Knockturn Alley, and Millie’s nose had wrinkled in disgust when she came to bring the the few items he still wanted from his old flat. He didn’t care.
“He’s miserable, you know,” Millie had said, handing him his valise full of clothes. “He lost his last two comps and withdrew from a third.”
“Good,” he had answered bitterly. “He deserves to suffer. But you will notice that he is still engaged and has not apologized, nor has he asked me to return. He has made his choice, so now he will pay the price.” Too bad that Antonin would pay right along with him.
Filius’ wedding was the social event of the year. He did not attend, even though Filius’ future wife maliciously sent him an invitation. He wondered if he had it in him to tell the soon-to-be Mrs. Flitwick the truth, in graphic detail, about his former relationship with her fiancé. Disgusted with himself, he decided he could not. He didn’t give a damn about whether the knowledge that he had been Filius’ lover ever became public for his own sake. But Antonin, in spite of everything, could not bring himself to hurt Filius as Filius had hurt him.
He quit his job at the Ministry. He couldn’t bear to be anywhere he could hear anything about what was going on with the dueling circuit or in the society pages. After several weeks of inactivity, he saw the ‘Help Wanted’ sign in Borgin and Burkes and was hired on the spot. It was there that his Lord had found him, had reawakened another set of dreams he had given up on long ago, had set him on this new path to glory. Filius Flitwick could go to the devil for all he cared.
He laid his hand reverently on his Mark, and felt the high of power sing through his veins anew. He had no need of Flitwick now. He closed his eyes and opened his arms to Morpheus and to the beautiful dreams of red that awaited.
He stood in the middle of the ruins of the place he had gone to school, had found his only love, and prepared to fire another blast at the wretched redhead who was making his way toward his Lord. Oh, he was tired. Azkaban had changed him, and in spite of all the talk by the Dark Lord about how his suffering had tempered his steel into an even finer weapon, Antonin knew that it had not been for the better.
The Dark Lord had changed too. Gone was the brilliant boy of his youth and the bewitching, powerful wizard of his young adulthood. The thing he had become since his resurrection was no longer really human, but some entity unknown - mercurial and unstable and even more cruel than he had been before. There was no longer any talk of a brave new wizarding world among his followers. All that was left was hope of the victory of the power-hungry and the mad.
He could count himself among that second category, he well knew. The times the red dreams did not consume him now were few and far between. What an irony that they should desert him at this moment, when he needed them most.
He sent a Reducto toward the arch where the redhead stood, and had the pleasure of watching it blow the boy against the wall. He was preparing to send his favorite Sectum Internalus curse at a tall, thin man he did not recognize, when he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and his heart stopped.
The curse left Filius’ wand and pain seared along every nerve ending. He, who had been fed a steady diet of the Cruciatus at the wand of his master, should have felt nothing with this weak cousin of that curse. But somehow it hurt more than every Crucio he had ever endured combined. He cried out and fell, unable to find the strength to rise and fight. He had nothing left.
Suddenly, that beloved face, tears streaming, was beside his own, and everything around him faded into insignificance.
“This is my fault,” sobbed Fili in broken Russian, “all my fault. Oh, my Tonechka, what did I do to you? I am sorry, so sorry.”
He shook his head and tried to speak, but found that he could not. He wanted Filius to know he had forgiven him long ago, that it was possible that he might have ended up like this anyway, but Fili shushed him, clutching his hand.
“You were right, my dearest. I should have stuck by you. I had it all, if only I had realized it. Instead I was left with nothing but the knowledge that I had set you in the path of that monster. I have lived here in Hogwarts with the memory of your love and what you had been and the horror of what I made you become haunting every stone. Please do not leave me again. Please.”
He shook his head again, and reached his hand up, first to brush the greying hair from his beloved’s face and then to lay it over his heart. He was tired, so tired, but the red dreams were gone. In their place was a realm of green and blue and white, a peace he knew he did not deserve. He walked into it gratefully, and it felt like coming home.