Summary: Stationed in Venice, Harry is trying hard to stop Death Eaters from smuggling new weaponry back to England. He only wishes his partner would focus more on the case and less on his personal obsession... (Pre-DH)
The villa overlooked a small square that played as the forecourt to a large church. Small children were down on their hands and knees in the street, marking the cobblestones with chalk drawings while parents and tourists looked on from the café across the kerb.
The walls of the lodge were painted terracotta, but most of the lead had faded, fallen, or washed away in the perpetual rain of the city, making the villa look run down and drab. The terrace accessed through the French windows of the bedroom was shaded from the sunny day by an iron wrought canopy covered in climbing ivy. The quaint veranda was complimented by a rusty table and single chair perched next to the hanging baskets of posy white flowers.
Like all houses in Venice, the villa's ground floor was dilapidated and abandoned, but on the upper levels of the building were rich inhabitants, sitting on their terraces, enjoying the picturesque view of Venetian life. One of these people was Draco Malfoy.
Draco placed the diminutive coffee cup down on the table and leaned back in the chair. It gave an ominous creek at the welding as he contemplated his hatred of Venice. Or any part of Europe that wasn't England. The tea in any foreign country was a cheap imitation of the good English patriotism, the coffee was always too sharp, and the cups were too small. Damn those cups. Draco sent a glare to the cup that sat innocuously beside him. The cup continued to sit there, unaffected by the infamous Malfoy Death-Glare.
Draco gave one last glower to the 'cup', ultimately disappointed that it hadn't cried tears of coffee dregs, and looked at his watch. Coffee glaring had lasted three minutes. He sighed and looked down at the urban square below him. Four more days. Damn.
"In retrospect," Draco leaned against the kitchen counter, "this is not a very good place to hide. There's too much water. Makes running away very difficult."
"For another, it's very unhygienic. All the wood's rotting, the paint is peeling and the drains make things smelly…too much water."
"And sure there's plenty of water, but no one does anything useful with it, do they?" Draco shook his head. "Snape once told me that you can't use the canal water to make tea."
"I'd imagine not. Too many micro-organisms."
"I was very disappointed. There's never enough tea. I had to go to twenty different shops for teabags this week. Twenty! That's…" Draco turned and looked at the near empty Tetley's packet sitting near the kettle, "A thousand teabags! Approximately." He turned back to look at the bowed head sitting at the table. "That's a lot of teabags."
"Frankly, I don't care," snapped Hermione, closing her book and standing up from the table to leave. "I'm trying to research. Go and bug Harry!"
"He's on a mission!" cried Draco to her retreating back. The kitchen was somehow emptier without Granger's reading murmurs and Draco felt very put out. He hated Venice.
"HALT!" yelled Harry, running past an old Chinese couple at breakneck speed. "Stop or I will resort to restraining you!"
"Fuck you!" A red spear of light shot towards Harry. It was poorly aimed and only stung the side of his ear before slamming into the old stonework of the bridge. Harry wanted to refrain from spell fire because the bridge was old and a polluted canal ran below the suspended relic, but Muggles were nearby and allowing McNair to simply fire at him and those around was not acceptable. Grabbing his wand, Harry paused in his run and took a deep breath as he aimed. "Stand down!"
"Petrificus totalus!" An oldie but a goodie, the spell hit McNair dead in the back and halted his getaway, his wand falling uselessly from his hand. Harry ran over and quickly bound the enraged murderer, ignoring the looks from several stunned Muggles.
"You are being arrested for conspiracy against the Ministry, participation in the illegal organisation of Death Eaters, possession of illegal weaponry, and you will be taken into questioning for the murders of those named against you by the Ministry. You will also be questioned about the whereabouts of certain Dark Lords and followers under the supervised use of Veritaserum. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court before the Wizenagomot. If you choose to plead innocence, a lawyer can be provided for you by the Ministry. If you plead guilty, you will be taken into further questioning by the Department of Mysteries. How do you plead?" Harry finished spouting rights that he didn't think the man deserved and tapped his wand against McNair's lips. An expected string of obscenities flowed forth immediately. "How do you plead?"
"You fucking half-breed scum, when the Dark Lord gets hold of you, he is going to make you beg for death and -"
"Come on, McNair. Plead something so I can go get a cup of tea. All this running has made me dead thirsty." McNair seemed a little stunned by Harry's words and blinked dumbly at him for a second before gathering his wits.
"EUGH!" screamed Harry, kicking the empty spot. "Fucking Portkeys!" Harry continued to beat up the bridge with an enraged vigour, stomping his foot into the dusty stone and imagining McNair still stood in place.
Harry was just about to pulverise the viaduct a little more when he was suddenly blinded by a bright blue light. Blinking away spots, he looked at the old Chinese couple clicking their camera at him, then to McNair's forlorn wand. A quick Obliviate and a melted camera later, Harry had pocketed both wands and left, leaving only a handful of dazed Muggle tourists behind.
"Hey, Weasley! Wait up!" Draco pounded up the flight of stairs to the hunched figure on the third landing.
"Oh no," muttered Ron, hanging his head on his chest. So close. "What is it, Malfoy?"
"Did you know you can't make tea from the canals?"
"Erm…no. No, I didn't." Ron looked around, searching for some form of escape.
"Yeah, apparently it's unhygienic. I don't see why they can go ferrying people around in those little boats but you can't drink it. A good Transfiguration Spell ought to do the trick, I should think, but Granger says there are these things called micro-organisms and -"
Ron put a hand on Draco's shoulder to halt his words and smiled forcefully. "Yeah, micro-organisms. Hey, did you know that Justin is going out to a bar tonight? He did mention something about needing some company…"
"Really?" Draco's face lit up with enthusiasm, "That's brilliant. Do you know where he is now? I could ask if I can go along, too. You going?"
"Erm, sure. I think Justin is in a meeting right now with Kingsley. Top floor." Ron had no idea where Justin was. All he knew was that the top floor was the furthest away he could send Malfoy without violating safety procedure and orders. Draco nodded happily and made to move towards the stairs.
"Hey, they sell tea at bars too, right? I've heard things about these Muggles bars…crisps instead of hors d'oeuvres, only beer - terrible things."
"I think so." Ron shrugged. Seeing the beginning of a scowl appear on the other man's face, he amended his statement. "I mean, of course they do. Everywhere sells tea…it would be a crime not to, right?" Draco smiled indulgently down on Weasel-King.
"I do believe this is the first time I've ever felt a smidgen of respect for you, Weasley. Man after my own heart." Draco made his way up the stairs, bellowing down the hallways, "DOWN WITH COFFEE!"
Once the blonde head was out of sight, Ron sighed in relief and sent a quick prayer to heaven for Harry to come back soon.
"Oi, Flinchy!" Justin turned around at the ruckus and immediately wished he hadn't. Smiling politely, he walked over to the banister where Draco Malfoy had slinked himself over.
"Hi, Draco. What's up?"
"Did you know that you can't make tea out of the canal waters?"
"Probably not. All the bacteria and micro-organisms, right?" As if he cared. Justin leaned against the banister, looking up into Draco's deep grey eyes and gleeful face.
"Yes, micro-organisms! Have you been talking to Granger, too?" asked Draco. "Are you as concerned about the blatant tea drinking of those boys from the fourth floor?"
"I think they drink coffee, actually. Don't they have their own kitchen up there?"
"That's besides the point," stated Draco imperiously. His eyes turned to slits as he remembered the empty teapot he had found in the sink that very morning. Damn the fourth floor! Damn them and their tea-stealing thievery! Turning his eyes back to poor naïve Flinchy, he said, "I heard you are going to a bar tonight. Can I come?"
"I'm not going to a bar." Justin wondered who was the traitorous sod who had clearly foisted the blonde menace down to him.
Disappointment riddled Draco's face. Justin sighed. "We're supposed to be hiding, Draco. Going to a bar isn't exactly inconspicuous. Just face it, we're stuck here until next week." Draco sagged against the stairs and pondered for a moment.
"I wish Potter was here. At least he's fun enough to duel with me."
Justin narrowed his eyes a little, but then he sent a wide smile when Draco looked around again, "Yeah, I miss him too. He'll be back in four days. Missions like these always take their time."
"Damn Potter. How come he got the mission and everyone else is stuck in this STUPID house? I haven't smelt fresh air or tea since last week."
"I thought your bedroom had a terrace."
"The Fidelius Charm. Stops the Muggles from seeing in and the stale air from going out." Draco sighed melodramatically. "When I next go on a mission, I am going to buy so many teabags…"
As Malfoy shook his fist threateningly at God only knows what, Justin had an incredible idea. "Draco…Kingsley did mention something about a surveillance mission over breakfast today…"
Draco was becoming more and more disgusted with Venice every moment he stayed in it. Despite the air of unkempt charm that the city provided him as he took a short boat ride along the canals, he was indefinitely appalled at the overwhelming presence of the city mascot. A lion. Why not a bear? Why not a kangaroo, and even a snake? Where the hell were the bloody snakes?! Kingsley sure had a sick sense of humour to choose this place as his stakeout point. The sun was too hot, there was a distinct lack of shade, and too much Gryffindor memorabilia! Damn Kingsley and his trickery. Two hours now and the tip of his nose was turning the palest pink, a shade of severe sunburn for any of the Malfoy descendents. Draco was beginning to doubt whether or not this was really a mission or Kingsley's ruse to not buy more tea. The cheap sod. Draco was beginning to doubt the alleged Death Eater activity of the island, feeling more inclined to believe in a beverage conspiracy from inside the Order itself.
It was quarter to five in the afternoon, as stated by the huge blue and gold zodiac clock face. He had another fifteen minutes until his shift was over and he had to return to the dingy headquarters, with its coffee drinkers and lack of entertainment and fresh air and big cups. And until that time, he was going to continue to take in the sights of St. Marco's Square from his vantage point atop of the basilica, lions and all. Goddamn it.
The square was packed with Muggles milling about in lazy circles, weaving in and out of the marble columns to view the shops embedded in the ancient monuments, and listening to the music played from several restaurants that had been ingenious enough to set up stages for small orchestra bands. Muggle children were riddling themselves with diseases, standing like statues with dried sweet corn in their palms, feeding the pigeons like in Trafalgar Square.
"Bored!" cried Draco suddenly, scaring the pigeon perched on the stone railing next to him. As it fluttered down to join its fellow poultry, Draco leaned over the roof of the glorified church to look down at the plebeians below, his eyes tracking the bird's decent.
"How much?" asked Harry. His words were not understood, but he gestured to the china mask that was painted in bright blues and oranges.
"Forty euro!" exclaimed the saleswoman, protecting her stall viciously from thieves by jangling the multitude of glass necklaces around her throat at any bystanders. Harry scowled and shook his head.
"No, that's too expensive," he said. Her blank expression completed her imitation of Professor Trelawney. She grabbed hold of the mask and held it out to Harry, her head tilted as she held out her other hand for money.
"It's too much," Harry stepped away from her, his hands held up in a show of surrender to prove he wouldn't allow this extortion.
She looked at him for a moment, jangled her necklaces at him and said, "Thirty-five euro!"
"Twen - ARGH!" A pigeon had taken a low dive, swooping dangerously close to Harry's head as it made its way towards a little boy who was throwing birdseed up into the air like rain. Recovering from the shock, Harry turned back to the stubborn woman. "Twenty!"
"I don't fucking believe it!" Draco exclaimed. He gave a whoop of joy that he would later deny and spun around to leave the rooftop. He had to push his way past a young woman getting her photo taken next to a lion-statue, who would later show the picture of the 'handsome blonde sexy man' to her friends ten days later when the negatives were blown up to proper proportions.
Draco pegged it down the consecrated flights of stairs, ignoring the gold mosaic ceilings, and ran through the main hall of the basilica to the exit, acquiring some stern looks from a crowd of nuns who were congregating against a water basin set into a statue of two cherubs. The hot Venetian air was stifling in comparison to the cool church interior, and Draco's lungs protested the vigorous stimulus in such ungodly weather. He elbowed his way through hordes of Muggles, undiscovered Mudbloods and pigeons to fling himself at his unsuspecting victim.
Harry toppled forward. The vanilla and pistachio ice cream that he had been savouring was now sludged down his white shirt, but that was the least of his worries because whatever caused the collision was now clinging to his back. What if it was another Death Eater avenging McNair? Harry let his empty, half-nibbled cone fall to the floor and delved a hand into his trousers, pulling out his wand and spinning around, shoving the tip of the weapon under a pale chin.
"Oh, that's friendly," said Draco sarcastically, pushing the wand away and pulling Harry into another hug, "You have no idea the hell I have been through in the last two days! No one understands my plight, I'm bored and out of TEA!"
Harry squirmed a little. Draco's warm breath was sweeping the shell of his ear and the ice cream now squelched between both their chests. Harry put his wand away and put his arms around Draco, returning the hug awkwardly. His favourite shirt being ruined by thawed dessert had never entered the scenario when Harry had envisioned the first time he held Draco in his arms.
"We'll go buy a cuppa now, eh?"
"Oh Potter!" swooned Draco dramatically. "No one will ever understand me as you do, my fellow tea-lover, you!" They separated and Draco finally noticed the sticky evidence of their physical contact over his own chest. "MY SHIRT!"
"So, what you are really saying…" Harry smirked. "Is that you got a mission to find me?"
"No. I told you. It was merely coincidence. St. Marco is a very popular place. Only good thing worth seeing in Venice. No water in St. Marcos, is there? Did you know that you can't use canal water for tea?"
"Who told you that?" asked Harry, ripping open two paper packets of sugar and pouring them into his cup.
"Aww well…it's a good fantasy though, isn't I? Venice; the city on the tea."
Draco's face was overcome by a blissful expression before he turned his attention back to his own cup that barely passed his standards of what made a good tea, despite it costing nineteen euros. "I don't understand why I can transfigure blood into tea, but not water. And why can I transfigure water into blood? It's madness!"
"Blood into tea?" Harry laughed and asked curiously, "Can you turn water into wine?"
"Of course not, don't be stupid. That would go against all laws of nature!" Draco shook his head pityingly at poor, silly Potter, "Pfft! Water into wine. Good one."
Harry decided that he was not going to inform Draco of the works of Jesus Christ in case the blonde began an unbridled verbal dispute against religion. While Draco explained the tea conspiracy that had apparently occurred at Headquarters during his absence, with Kingsley as the main perpetrator, he took the chance to study his partner.
Draco's hair fell over his grey eyes and the split ends stuck to his cheekbones because of the humidity. A few freckles spattered over the bridge of his somewhat sunburnt nose and cheeks, pert lips babbled nonsense of paranoid delusions and every so often a pink tongue darted out to moisten each lip. Draco liked to speak with his hands, which were waving about manically to draw shapes of twaddle in the sky. Harry was just about to admire the cut of Draco's trousers when he became aware that he was supposed to designate an answer to a question he never heard.
"I said, did you catch McNair?"
"Sort of. This morning at the bridge of Sighs. He had an internal Portkey on him, though."
"I hate those. But oh well, that means we have time to go stock up on teabags before we have to report back at HQ. Sound good?"
"You drink too much tea."
"No such thing."
Author's Notes: Yep, that's right. New story. It's a long one, but I promise Draco becomes somewhat less annoying as the fic goes on, if only because he grows on you. Hope you enjoy, weekly updates. All reviews welcomed.