Fic: Wild Sphinx Chase (Harry/Ron, R) for derryere Author:gm_weasley Recipient:derryere Title: Wild Sphinx Chase Rating: R Pairing: Harry/Ron Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older. Summary: In which Harry and Ron meet a sphinx and shag in a tent. Warnings: EWE, established relationship, frotting, camping Word Count: 4500 Author's Notes: Thanks to M for beta-reading.
He would have liked to begin his account with the words 'once upon a time', but that would have implied a fairytale beginning and there wasn't one. It was drizzling, they'd been walking for miles, and the satisfaction gained from ogling a mud-splattered Harry had worn off round about day six. Nine and a half days, they'd been tramping through the bloody Peak District, and they had seen neither hide nor hair of the sphinx.
Ron was not happy; sod that, Ron was infuriated. So was Harry, and given that a small child was yet to go missing, one could only assume that the sphinx hadn't had much to eat lately, so she probably wasn't very pleased either.
Harry did too.
They smiled at each other, though rather ruefully.
"After we've found the bloody thing and shipped it back to Thebes," said Harry, "might I suggest that we hunt Draco Malfoy down and kill him?"
It was, he thought, quite typical. While a good many wizards might have decided that they wanted a pet sphinx (though Hermione objected on ethical grounds and had already founded a Sphinx-Rights movement), only the Malfoys would be able to afford its being shipped in from Egypt. Only the Malfoys had enough house-elves to care for a sphinx for a period of what the Aurors suspected was almost a month. And only Draco Malfoy would take the bloody thing for a walk on the moors and let it slip out of its lead.
Actually, the last bit was unfair. Hagrid might do that too.
But still. Ron was not in the mood for being reasonable.
He sighed again.
"Well, bugger," said Ron, after their day had proved to be wholly fruitless.
They had had quite enough camping for one life; the fact that they were stuck in a tent together again was really not funny. Had it not been for the obvious benefits of being in the middle of nowhere with nobody to intrude on them, Ron suspected that they would both have gone mental by now.
In the circumstances, though...
He grinned at the thought, and sat back to watch Harry attempting to fry bacon over a pathetic campfire, which kept alternately trying to die down to nothingness, and flaring up and attempting to singe Harry's eyebrows. In the cold dark of night, it was a little easier to forgive Dawlish for sending them on a wild sphinx chase, and Harry's skin really did look lovely when the firelight was playing across it.
Ron shifted uncomfortably, trousers suddenly a little too tight.
"Harry," he said, trying to make his tone conversational, and just about succeeding.
Harry looked up. As it turned out, this was a bad idea, as some of the bacon fat chose that moment to part company with the pan. Harry swore.
"You okay?" asked Ron, moving to Harry's side of the fire, and glancing to check that Harry's reddening arm wasn't on the verge of falling off or something.
Harry shrugged. "Seems to be." He shook his arm and glanced back at it, presumably trying to make sure, and then nodded. "Looks fine."
Ron began to return the nod, but then had a good idea. "Maybe I should really make sure," he said. "Can't be too careful out here. Nowhere to get decent medical attention, if something happens."
Harry frowned. "What could happen?" he asked incredulously.
"I don't know," said Ron. "It could get infected or something. Possibly."
"Unlikely," said Harry. "I reckon I'm fine." He held his arm a little closer to the firelight so that he could inspect it more closely.
Ron inhaled deeply and counted very quickly to ten. He wondered if Harry was being deliberately thick, but he supposed it was possible that he just wasn't being clear enough. "Are you sure?" he said.
Harry looked rather impatient. "Yes."
"Oh for Merlin's sake!" said Ron. "I was trying to offer to kiss it better and then seduce you, you arse!"
Harry stared. "Really?"
"Oh." Harry's forehead wrinkled. "Why didn't you just say so?"
"I was trying to be subtle."
"S'okay." Ron tried to resist a strong urge to pout.
Harry shuffled closer, so that their thighs touched. "If you wanted, I'd probably catch on if you fancied being subtle now."
Ron shook his head. "It'd probably be weird shagging outside, anyway. Maybe later."
Harry nodded, though he looked a little annoyed.
"Harry?" whispered Ron much later that night.
Harry rolled over and mumbled something in his sleep.
"I'm ready to be subtle now."
Harry didn't respond, though he did choose that moment to start drooling on Ron's pyjamas.
Ron huffed, and rolled onto other his side.
The sun was setting on day eleven of the Sphinx Search when Harry finally said, "Aha!" in the manner typical of a children's book character who had made an important discovery.
Ron lit his wand, looked down at the floor, and saw a footprint. A rather large footprint, which showed a definite hint of claws.
He and Harry looked at each other. Ron resisted the urge to gulp.
Judging by Harry's Adam's apple, he was having trouble resisting a similar urge.
There was a pause, during which Ron's stomach lurched. Harry swallowed audibly.
"I suppose we should follow them, then," said Harry after a moment. Judging by his tone, he was beginning to think that running off home was a good idea, Auror work be damned.
Even though he agreed with the unspoken bit far more than the spoken bit, Ron nodded.
And so they began to follow the footprints.
The trail led them to the edge of a patch of trees, which reminded both of them of the Forbidden Forest. Ron redoubled his efforts at recording their path, using his wand to mark the trees they passed, while Harry kept his wand to light their way. The sunset was replaced by dingy twilight, which made it increasingly difficult to avoid rogue trees; several pointy twigs bounced off Harry (who was leading) and flicked back at high velocity at just the right height to meet Ron's eye.
At an appropriate moment, it started to rain.
"Oh bugger," Harry said.
Ron could see his point. Slogging through woods on the trail of a sphinx was not what he had envisioned when he signed up to become an Auror. Actually, sphinxes hadn't featured on that list at all. Impressing Hermione (and after that hadn't worked out, Impressing Various Other People) had been, as had Duelling Death Eaters, Earning Enough to Pay the Rent and Then Some, and Being Able to Spend (a Lot of) Quality Time With Harry. But no sphinxes.
He sighed, and took comfort in the fact that the rain might wash some of the mud off. Also, it did very nice things to Harry's trousers.
They stopped while Harry cast the spell to make his glasses repel rain. He muttered something about getting contacts at some point, and Ron muttered something about the crappiness of work.
"Shall we crack on?" said Harry after a moment.
Ron nodded, albeit grudgingly.
The first sign that anything was wrong was that the dark got a lot darker and a lot shadowier. In front, Harry drew to a sudden halt, and gave a very audible gulp. Ron walked straight into him, and the sphinx looked down at them.
Her stomach rumbled rather pointedly, and she narrowed her eyes. Ron and Harry both made quick checks that their wands were still in their hands.
"Um, hello," said Harry.
She stared at him, and craned forward to get a better look at him. When she saw his scar, her eyes lit up in sudden recognition. "You again!" she said.
Harry nodded. "Yep," he said.
"Hi," said Ron.
The sphinx merely nodded.
There was a slightly awkward silence. The rain got a bit harder.
"Nice weather, isn't it?" said Ron.
Harry grinned, though the sphinx gave him a funny look.
"No," Ron said, "I suppose it isn't."
Harry had a go at breaking the ice: "Long way out of Thebes, aren't you?" he said.
The sphinx nodded.
"Um, do you like it here?" asked Harry.
She looked as though she would have shrugged if only her lion's body had been able to accommodate it. "Don't think much of the weather," she said, glancing at Ron.
Ron shrugged, trying to place her accent. He concluded that he couldn't.
"Food's rather sparse, too," she said.
Ron, attempting to be helpful, offered her the remains of their picnic tea. She accepted the remains of Harry's chicken sandwich, but sniffed them in disapproval. Her stomach rumbled again.
There was a short pause while she swallowed Harry's second-hand crusts, and then she regarded them both with irritation. "Unless you can answer my riddle, I'm afraid I'll have to supplement my diet with the two of you. Sorry about that."
Harry's eyebrows knit. "Hang on," he said. "You're meant to give us the option to stay silent and walk away."
The sphinx looked rather annoyed. "Fine," she said.
"And anyway," said Ron, "we were rather hoping you'd come with us."
Her eyes narrowed. "Why would I want to do that?" she asked.
Harry quickly cut in. "You said something about a riddle."
The sphinx nodded, and fixed him with a steely look almost worthy of McGonagall. "Which one did I ask you last time?"
Harry and Ron exchanged glances.
"I think I'd be better off not telling you," Harry said after a moment.
Ron nodded in silent support.
The sphinx didn't look happy, and she rearranged her legs to look more threatening. The claws of one paw glinted in Harry's wand light, and the pointed ends suggested a fairly recent manicure. All the better to gut you with, they seemed to say, and Ron swallowed.
Harry seemed to agree. Before either of them could turn into a complete pushover, Ron said, "You can't kill us unless we get your riddle wrong, remember?"
She looked thoughtful, and eventually nodded. "Very well," she said, and wrinkled her brow in thought.
There was a contemplative pause. Ron met Harry's eyes, and wished that their relationship was still at the stage when a brief glance at Harry would distract his brain from panicking about the fact that they were about to die. It was, after all, very unlikely; they'd flirted with death on an annual basis back at school and lived to tell the tale, so why should Auror training be any different?
That didn't stop him from wibbling just a little bit when the sphinx opened her mouth.
"Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?"
Ron looked up, grinning widely. "Man," he said. "Everybody knows that. Oldest sphinx riddle in the book."
"Oh damn," said the sphinx. "It's just that I get a bit fed up of having to write verses when I'm hungry. But... Well, how about a different riddle?"
"Not a chance," said Ron. "You're coming with us."
The eleventh night in the tent was spent huddled together wondering whether it was safe to go to sleep while a hungry sphinx that thirsted for their blood was grazing outside. Harry was almost convinced that the sphinx would not harm them unless they answered a riddle incorrectly, but Ron was far less sure that it would keep its word.
Harry looked impatient for just a moment, and then a spark of inspiration must have hit, because he grinned. "Keep me awake?"
It took half a second to realise that subtlety had left the building, but Ron decided that he liked this approach much better. "Okay," he said. He reached for Harry and pulled him close enough that he could crush their lips together.
"Guh," said Harry, and Ron grinned. He loved reducing Harry to incoherency. Somebody sighed, and it got lost in the kiss. Harry shuffled closer; one hand found the base of Ron's neck, while the other arm wrapped tightly around Ron. The hand on Ron's neck tangled in his hair.
In their current position, though, with a hungry sphinx a few feet away, carrying on would be dangerous. It could attack at any moment, and so knowingly weakening themselves could be akin to suicide; but Harry cast a couple of spells to make the area more secure. Ron grinned. Safely hidden away from the world, he dropped one arm lower to cup Harry's arse, pulling their bodies closer together until their cocks brushed together and Harry groaned.
"We still shouldn't really..." Harry began, but then Ron moved just so, and Harry's be doing this now, should we? lost all of its vowels and coherence, and ended up sounding a bit like guh.
Against Harry's neck, Ron's lips curled into a smile, which was wiped away when Harry's hands dipped and his body moved in retaliation. Once he had confirmed for the millionth time that he could reduce Ron to groaning, Harry smirked. He rolled them both over, settling over Ron, and moved with more confidence and urgency.
Ron climaxed with a deep groan; it was swallowed in a hard kiss, which Harry pulled away from a second later when he came himself.
Outside, they heard the telltale sounds of an angry sphinx destroying the local countryside, but it was very difficult to bring themselves to care.
"We'll fix it tomorrow," said Harry, and then they slept.
"Morning," Harry said to the sphinx on emerging from the tent. Ron lingered behind him, admiring Harry's arse in his pyjamas, and what could only be described as post-sex hair.
"Hello," said the sphinx. "Sleep well?"
Harry nodded. "You?" he asked, though Ron wasn't entirely sure that sphinxes did sleep. Come to that, he hadn't a clue what sphinxes did, full stop, and he didn't much want to find out. He joined Harry at the door of the tent, and briefly admired the mess the sphinx had made of the ground. Tree trunks and the odd fallen log littered the surrounding area, much of the grass had been pulled up, and a bird was indignantly studying the remains of its nest while keeping well out of the way of the sphinx.
"We should really introduce her to Grawp," said Ron. "They'd have a lot in common."
The sphinx ignored him. "Fancy a new riddle?" she asked Harry.
He shook his head, and she looked rather disappointed. "Are you sure?"
"Amazingly enough," said Ron before Harry could reply, "we'd rather not be murdered, if it's all the same to you."
"Picky picky," muttered the sphinx, and Harry grinned and set about cooking breakfast.
Ron was getting rather fed up with bacon, which he'd never have thought he'd say, but he was better off than the sphinx, who refused the bacon she was offered, and glared at them while they ate.
"Can't I just wait for a nice juicy tourist to appear?" she asked, but they insisted on taking her back to London.
"Though God knows how we'll get her there without being spotted by a Muggle," said Ron. "I'm buggered if I'm going to Apparate with her. She's huge."
The sphinx looked rather offended and muttered something about very personal remarks. Ron ignored her.
A day of tramping through woodland and ducking behind rocks in order to prevent Muggles from seeing the sphinx did not endear her to Harry and Ron. At least the search for her had had an element of adventure, but the return journey was downright boring, and the monotony was only disrupted by her and Ron bickering.
"Will you two shut it?" snapped Harry. "I'm starting feel like I should be taking a ring to Mordor."
"Huh?" said Ron and the sphinx in unison.
"Never mind," said Harry.
There was a break in the tedium just after lunch time, during which Ron's relationship with the sphinx took a turn for the worse. The Muggle postman who had not been eaten would have been grateful for Ron's intervention and Harry's hasty memory charm (if only he'd remembered), but the sphinx spent the rest of the afternoon muttering to herself. Ron put her mood swings down to PMS, though he wasn't entirely certain that sphinxes could get it.
Dinner was about as much fun as triple potions with Snape. The sphinx poked at her plate of raw pork with extreme displeasure, even though Ron had terrorised the local butcher by asking for the closest thing he had to human meat. Neither Harry nor Ron could look at her plate without gagging, and Ron suspected that his own face was as green-tinged as Harry's was.
Harry offered to do the washing up. This was good in that Ron didn't have to deal with the blood-stained plate, but bad in that it left Ron to make conversation with a very stroppy sphinx.
"Any, um, plans for the evening?" he asked. "Children to eat, people to see?"
The sphinx looked rather bored. "Standing and waiting for you and your nasty little friend to finish resting, I imagine," she said.
"You could try and write a new riddle," he suggested.
She nodded slowly. "Not much point, though," she said. "You two won't listen."
"Surely you could find a nice little kid to answer it," said Ron. He intended it ironically, but sphinxes did not seem to understand the concept. She smiled, and her teeth glinted. The fact that they were slightly bloodstained was probably the thing that caused Ron to stand up and move a bit closer to Harry and his washing up bowl.
"Maybe so," said the sphinx, and silence descended. Every now and then, she would mutter a rhyme under her breath ('Harry Potter' and 'terracotta' appeared not to be fitting into her poem, however hard she tried – Harry and Ron were both rather relieved).
By mutual assent, they left her to her poetry, and crept into the tent.
They allowed themselves a few moments to recover from the raw pork, and then Ron found himself very much aware of just how close Harry was sitting. He pulled him even closer, and kissed him. It was intended to be gentle and deliberate, to slowly ease them away from all memory of the sphinx's dinner before trying anything at all strenuous. Harry didn't appear to have realised, though; he muttered a variation on a simple Banishing Charm, which removed their clothes and sent them to the rucksack that sat open in the far corner of the tent. Ron grinned, really not minding the upping of the pace, and he shifted so that he was lying over Harry. Their lips met again, and the kiss immediately became deep and searching. After a while, Ron's mouth left Harry's and scattered kisses across his jaw, over his cheek, to his forehead. Very deliberately, he dropped a kiss on Harry's scar, and though neither of them mentioned it, Harry's arms tightened around Ron's body. Ron slid down a little, kissing a path to Harry's ear, down his neck, and across his chest to his left nipple. For a moment, Ron's tongue swirled there, but then his mouth moved away quickly; Harry began to voice an objection until he realised that he liked its new destination much better.
Afterwards, when both of them were lying sated and trying to squeeze side-by-side into a sleeping bag that wasn't designed to fit two, they sighed in satisfaction.
The next day was cloudy, and they agreed to take their chances with suspending the sphinx beneath their brooms, and flying back to London.
"I'm starting to wish Dad still had the Ford Anglia," said Ron when they were just discovering that persuading a broom to go forward rather than fall out of the sky was much easier said than done when a heavy sphinx was involved.
Harry nodded in agreement, though his Firebolt was being a little more cooperative than Ron's broom. They managed to fly for a few miles without much trouble – though the sphinx began to complain that she was being rocked around too much, and was starting to feel sick.
"Look ahead into the distance," said Harry.
"Think about something else," Ron advised.
"Are we nearly there yet?" asked the sphinx.
They landed, finally, just after lunchtime, in the part of Hyde Park that was kept free of Muggles. The sphinx seemed extremely relieved, and she wandered around looking pale and disoriented for quite some time. Ron tried to feel sorry for her, only, she usually ate babies, which made it a bit difficult.
Maybe her pallor and dizziness made her open up a bit, but she suddenly settled by Harry and Ron and looked up at them in a way that didn't make them feel as though they were too likely to end up dead. "The truth is," she said, "I don't actually want to go back home. It's too hot, and all those tourists are a real bitch when I'm trying to sleep."
"Oh," said Ron. "Sorry. I think you might be stuck with it."
Harry frowned. "That's not fair," he said, and looked thoughtful.
It took seventeen minutes for Ron to think of the obvious way to solve their problem. Hermione appeared ten minutes later.
"Hi," she said, striding over to them and carefully sitting beside Harry rather than Ron. She didn't seem to be holding a grudge against him for leaving her for a man, but things were still slightly awkward, even though he and Harry had been together for years longer than she and Ron ever had been. Ron gave her an apologetic smile, which she either didn't see, or chose to ignore. "What's going on?" she asked.
Harry gestured vaguely at the sphinx.
Hermione gave an impatient nod. "I'd worked that much out," she said. "Does rather stand to reason that if the two of you are sitting gawping up at a sphinx and looking helpless, it's probably part of the problem. Can you be more specific?"
"She doesn't want to go back home."
"Oh," said Hermione.
She joined them in looking confused for a while. The sphinx glared at them and made sarcastic comments about the pause and the inability of humans to make decisions – or, for that matter, to do anything at all.
"She can't stay here," said Hermione. "The Ministry won't let her."
Harry shook his head. "They will if the great Harry Potter wants her to stay."
"Er, Harry? Kingsley's in charge now, remember? He actually has a brain, and isn't likely to let a sphinx stay here and eat the wizarding world, even if it is as a favour to you."
"She hasn't eaten anybody in the whole time we've known her," said Harry.
Ron frowned. Though he wanted desperately to side with Harry over Hermione, he couldn't help but think that she was right. Even if he'd actually liked the sphinx, it was utterly illogical to keep her in the country; as it was, he wanted her out of his sight as quickly as possible. Ron liked Harry, he really did, but sometimes his desire to save anything and everything could get bloody infuriating.
"Harry," said Hermione in what Ron recognised as her 'I am going to humour you and be very reasonable even though I think you're being an arse' tone. "While I'm sure the sphinx is very happy here, she belongs at home, and it would be wrong to keep her here – she can't be adapted to the climate. And anyway, it's completely illegal for her to be living here without a visa."
"Malfoy bought her one already," said Harry.
"Oh," said Hermione, temporarily silenced.
Harry saw his opportunity, and seized it. "Anyway, Hermione, it really isn't fair to force her to go home against her will. She doesn't like it there. Besides, you could help her find a job and a life. You're good at that sort of thing."
Hermione was – half the house-elves in Britain were now living in proper housing and entering into legal marriages, and they had to acquire special permits to be allowed to do voluntary work.
"Fine," said Hermione.
Ron was rather tempted to bang his head on a desk or against a brick wall; unfortunately, neither was to hand. He settled for frowning.
After Hermione had left for the Ministry with a Disillusioned sphinx in tow, Ron and Harry headed sleepily for home. They dumped their luggage on the kitchen floor, fully intending to deal with it later, and made themselves a vegetarian snack – Ron had a suspicion that pork, at least, would be off the menu for quite some time to come.
Food eaten, they staggered to bed, thanking Merlin that they could finally sleep without worrying about becoming the sphinx's midnight feast.
Ron awoke at twilight to find Harry's lips ghosting over his neck.
"Evening," he began to whisper, but it ended in a hiss when Harry's teeth found the juncture of his neck and shoulder, and gently bit down.
"Hi," said Harry. Ron rolled over to face him, and Harry smiled at him.
"There's no sphinx," Ron said, grinning.
"Good, isn't it?" Harry pulled Ron a little closer to him, and their lips met.
Things would probably have got interesting, but a pygmy owl tapped on the window and ruined the moment entirely.
"Bugger," said Ron.
Harry grinned. "Later," he promised, getting up to let the owl in. Once the letter had been freed from its leg, the owl flew to a good distance and watched them balefully from Ron's chest of drawers. Ron and Harry ignored it in favour of reading. Dear Harry,
I talked to Percy, and he put me onto his girlfriend in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and Audrey and I met up an hour ago. Long story short, the sphinx can stay, though she'll have to be registered and cared for by a wizard, and her diet will be very carefully regulated. I already sent an owl to Hagrid.
I found her a job, too. She's going to be writing the clues for the Prophet's crossword, and Luna says she can probably get her a spot doing riddles for the Quibbler. Anyway, the sphinx says hi (or something along those lines) though she also thinks that you and Ron are a pair of incompetent idiots. Her words; sorry.
I have a meeting with Xeno Lovegood in a few minutes, so I'll sign off, but I thought I'd let you know what was happening.
See you soon!
Harry beamed. "That's great," he said.
Ron forced himself to nod. "Course it is," he said, and then grinned. "So, now that you've sorted out the sphinx, is it my turn?"
"You decided not to bother with subtlety anymore, then?" said Harry.
Ron shrugged. "Didn't seem worth it," he said. "Your way worked perfectly well."
Harry seemed to think so too, and he tugged Ron back in the direction of their bed.
As it turned out, the ending was as wholly inappropriate for a fairytale as the beginning of the story. The sphinx, however, had a much more appropriate happily ever after.