HP Magic Eight Ball Chapter 26
Warnings: AU; EWE; NC-17; Junior Aurors!Harry smuff-filled center (how many licks to get to the center? As needed. Repeat at will); Bonding at Wandpoint!; Uncomfortable In-Laws in the Offing!; minor flangst; some PWP for additional flavor and colour.
The 20 standard answers on a Magic 8-Ball are:
● As I see it, yes
● It is certain
● It is decidedly so
● Most likely
● Outlook good
● Signs point to yes
● Without a doubt
● Yes - definitely
● You may rely on it
● Reply hazy, try again
● Ask again later
● Better not tell you now
● Cannot predict now
● Concentrate and ask again
● Don't count on it
● My reply is no
● My sources say no
● Outlook not so good
● Very doubtful
10 of the possible answers are affirmative (●), 5 are negative (●), and 5 are maybe (●). Using the Coupon collector's problem in probability theory, it can be shown that it takes an average of 72 questions of the Magic Eight Ball for all 20 of its answers to appear at least once.
Chapter 26: Epilogue and A Few Small Details Cleared Up
"So, Muggles, Malfoy?" Harry confirmed, wiping sandwich crumbs off his face and scattering them on the bedsheets. "Depressed Muggles? That's your 'cause'?"
"Why, yes, you imbecile—would you stop that? That's why there are lap trays, Potty—mannerless morons like you."
Malfoy—Draco budged up against the piles of pillows and his tray adjusted itself with nary of a slop of tea over his terribly antique twee china cup. His buttered, jam-spread wheat toast even stayed balanced, the berk.
"There's a need, you know. Even if they've been Obliviated, they don't truly forget. It's buried in their subconciousnesses, and Muggle psychiatry doesn't do the trick. Ergo—my rehabilitation programme. It's multi-pronged, naturally."
"Of course," Harry hid his grin in layers of fillings, many of which were leafy green, vibrant red and terribly healthy, though the avocado not so much. The thick, succulent applewood-smoked rashers on his BLT and the farmhouse cheddar were both from Malfoy's own hogs and dairy cows, he was sure. The tomatoes were 'hothouse' and the bread 'whole-grain' and 'crusty' and baked by Sorbonne-trained elves, still warm from the oven before the actual toasting and fragrant with a yeasty overtang. He was bloody dying of hunger, though, so he spared not a regret for frittered eggs in burnt butter and phosphate-packed bangers and such and noshed instead on champagne-laced tropical fruit cup and full-grained, fibre-filled foodstuffs. Besides, one less thing for the berk to complain of, his diet.
There'd be lots to bitch about in the future, no doubt.
"We live a long time, Harry—we're Wizards," Draco had said sometime earlier that morning. He'd been so very intent, his eyes shadowed, a finger running continuously along the lines of Harry's bristly jowl. "A few more years of Aurors and then you're done with it, and so am I. I'm not twiddling my thumbs, laying about watching you risk your arse till some stray curse clips you. That's absolutely not on, so deal. I have plans for you."
"Don't try and run my life for me, Malfoy," Harry had warned, quite seriously. "I won't stand for it."
"Don't end up deceased or incapacitated then, arsewipe," the prat snapped back. "and I won't. In any case, it's fine, now. It's 'later' I refer to. We're young and we're spry. I've no objection to allowing you to play at hero for a while longer—it's good for the Cause."
"And how is that?" Harry wasn't sure he wanted to know all the details. Knowing the prat, there'd be badges and banners and likely a catchy jingle. Only the best of Wizarding PR firms for his nibs, naturally, and that's likely translate to Nott, Goyle and Greengrass the Younger, Ltd.
"SpokesWizard to the Wizamgot, for one, and the Overbearing Council Clan of Accredited Magickal Sourcerers, for two, and a few rousing speeches here and there for the hoi polloi. Mayhap a tear-out card in the Prophet, asking for funds, with your image on it. Nothing major," Malfoy shrugged and Harry tensed automatically, realizing full well that the plan would actually translated into serious heaps of his personal time, better spent doing other things. Likely there'd more pictures, too, of him cozying up to sundry Muggles and kissing their shell-shocked babies, Merlin forbid. After all this time, he certainly knew how Malfoy's mind worked; a very dark and frightening place, that.
"OCCAMS?" Harry gulped. Gods, but how he despised dealing with those people—all pointy hats with stuck-on stars and enough Attitude to turn a regular Wizard's stomach sour. "Please, tell me not OCCAMS."
"Yes, Harry. Be pleasantly surprised I've not installed you on the Governors' Board, do."
"Spare me," Harry pleaded, "if you truly do love me," and gazed sorrowfully at his socially uninvolved recent past. It was going extinct rapidly, his lack of PC and PR, even as he watched his soon-to-be-lawfully-wedded fellow Wizard plot and ponder.
'Other things', though. He should consider those. Such as marriage, which hadn't been much more than a distant blip on his horizon for many years. He still wasn't certain of all the details—Malfoy's usual modus operandi was to skip merrily over the more upsetting and head straight for the jugular, which was why he'd employed unfair tactics on Harry in the first place, shagging his brains to mush for hours upon hours. Harry had been browbeaten—nay, cockwhipped!—into submission, though the promised ring was not yet on his finger.
"Of course I love you, git. But seriously, Potty," Malfoy went on, swallowing his tea and interrupting Harry's train of thought. Harry watched him warily, his groin still indicating addled interest even after hard use. 'Doomed', yes. That described him. "It's a good Cause—you should be able to get behind it, given those horrid Muggles of yours. Your aunt sounds like a right good fit for our Daily Cheering Programme, and we could gainfully employ your slob of a cousin for rebuilding all those villages He-Who-Was-Terrifying-on-a-Daily-Basis ever so masterfully blew to smithereens. There's a great deal of property damage left to rectify yet. Not to mention the important historical landmarks."
"How'd you get into this, Draco?" Harry wanted to know, licking truffle-flavoured mayonnaise off his fingers but genuinely curious, all the same. "I'd have thought Pureblood orphans or some such—not just plain old terrified Muggles, of all things. Where's the catch?"
"Oh, burning at the stake, boiling oil, persecution, mayhem—you know, the various side effects of fear and unreasoning hatred? They're quite convincing vehicles for change, Scarhead. One must nip the problem in the bud with matters like these, in my experience. Find a way to allow for tolerable elbow rubbing on both sides. Voldemort proved that beyond doubt, don't you agree?"
"That's so—so bleeding democratic of you, twat," Harry smirked, ducking the question of what Voldemort proved or didn't deftly. "Live and let live, even. So, erm, Muggle-hugging. Not that I don't agree, in principle. But why you, of all people? It really doesn't come across as your sort of thing."
Malfoy shrugged and returned to his toast. "It's not, but it should be. I've a NEWT in Muggle Studies, Potty—and I haven't forgotten Professor Burbage for a bleeding minute. I owe it to her. To all of them."
"…Fair enough," Harry nodded, and let it go. He owed the dead, too; more than he could relate. And if the git chose to rehabilitate already 'dealt with' Muggles, then let him. He'd play along. But there was another issue, of paramount importance to his life.
"Your, er, father. And mother, of course. What'll they say to this, Malfoy?" he waved the last bite of his sandwich at the enormous bed, and themselves, established like a ruddy nesting pair in its midst. "I can't think they'll be exactly, um—"
"Happy? Pleased? Possibly—possibly not. Not my problem," Malfoy replied decisively. "And not yours, either, Harry."
"No?" Quite honestly, how much guff did the tosser expect him swallow? Harry knew a set-up when he saw it.
"No. The Muggle Eight Ball advised me. It says to marry within the month, 'without a doubt'. Mum can't be arsed to rearrange her social obligations in a mere month, much less kick up a fuss and return to the Manor—trust me, they haven't sufficient time available to spring into any unfortunate rearguard action."
"Look, Malfoy, don't be offended when I say this, but your Mum's a very determined woman, and I wouldn't put it past her to just fetch up on the doorstep, wedding planner in hand. And I'm not—repeat not—having her fucking run me ragged with that shite."
The berk Vanished Harry's bruncheon—the tray, the remains of the last mayo-smeared rasher, the half-full teacup; the lot—with a careless wave, along with his own, and was suddenly all that much more in proximity to his officially affianced.
"I've told you—'no worries', Scarhead. I'll take care of all that; you just prepare to let me shag you legally."
"Mmm," Harry couldn't say much against it, what with that tongue. "Mmmpgh!" He did struggle a bit, however. Slightly. Well…not that much.
"As of today, in fact." Malfoy was just so full of it, and consequently full of himself, Harry could retch. In place of that, he boggled, certain his hearing had suffered during their marathon of mutual mauling.
"Garden-party reception, prat. Four o'clock sharp. Final fittings for our robes in an hour; rings delivered from Gringott's shortly thereafter. Bonding ceremony at three, Minister Shacklebolt officiating. Your bleeding best mate Weasel will be here to provide his dubious moral support in, oh, perhaps three-quarters of an hour or so."
"What?!" Harry moved quickly onto aghast, appalled and astonished. Bushwhacked, baleful and buggered were next, hustling up the bar in readiness. He opened his mouth, really ready to protest this time. Vehemently!
"We can shag in the shower, Potty," Draco leered, slipping in for the kill. "Multi-task."
"No!" Harry yelped. "No, no, no, no. No, Malfoy! I will not—will not—No!"
"Yes," the git said, and reached around Harry's scowling self to adjust the water in the already steaming shower. "You will, Harry."
There was a marble bench seat built in, six different nozzles from 'Rain Forest' to 'Shiatsu Massage' and a host of professional product Harry hadn't seen outside of the perimeters of a full-service salon—not that he ever set foot in those places.
The bastard shite ponce cum-sucking arsehole had Apparated him again! Just to get him into the fucking shower! Harry's ire was absolutely immense. It boiled up and over like the froth out of Vesuvius, the scum from a Snape-approved cauldron, the—the—the—!
"What in the bloody fuck do you think you're—!?"
"Harry," and oh, there it was again, Harry's undoing. "Harry…"
The water was perfect—not so hot as to scald; not so tepid as to leave soap scum from the lather the berk was applying to his tense shoulders and ramrod-straight spine—and those hands were the best thing invented since pre-sliced flobberworms in tins. Harry allowed his future life-partner to snog him, though he bit back 'round the edges, rather, just to show Malfoy all was not perfectly sanguine in Harryland.
Married! Married in less than three hours! And to the very bane of his existence, therefore sentencing him to life of disharmonious dissention, uncalled-for social events requiring designer Wizard garb and mind-shattering shagging! Oh, Merlin—his karma was in sad shape and his next damn life had better be better than this!
He'd be a Kneazle, he would, Harry decided. A pedigreed one. A Malfoy one. Serve 'em right.
Malfoy lavs came equipped with lubrication, apparently, as well as loofahs. That he could get used to.
Malfoys came equipped with long, pale pricks surrounded by paler blond hairs that curled when wet. Doused with citrus-scented bodywash and licked clean and delightfully turgid, they bobbed in a beckoning frenzy. "Harry, oh, Harry!" the berk cried out as Harry sucked and squeezed and nipped just to be that way, and nearly fell onto the bench as his knees gave way, almost before Harry could spell a Cushioning Charm under his (very nice) arse—the one he had plans for later. The one he'd bloody own for the remainder of the git's long years in this realm of tears, laughter and the raw stuff of Life.
"Do I really have to go through with this, Ball?" Harry asked it. His fingers trembled with pre-wedding palsy and he was gagging for a Firewhiskey. Ron, catching his mate's case of nerves like a bloody Muggle virus, twitched and fidgeted about him, describing some ginger-tufted irregular ellipse solely determined by the path of priceless antique breakables and furniture far too ghastly aged and valuable to sit upon.
It is decidedly so. The Ball was twinkling at him, damn it; practically chewing on its non-existent beard. Harry was positive it was possessed.
"And will I be happy, joined at the bloody hip for all eternity with that infernal prat?"
As I see it, yes. And, quite possibly, it was possessed by Dumbledore, the sly old coot. Harry wouldn't put it past him; be just like him, poking his pointy nose and flyaway hair into Harry's life, even now.
"What about my career—is he going to make my life even more difficult? I like being an Auror, damn it! Must I end up as Minister some day, just because he says so?"
Concentrate and ask again. The Ball's bluish liquid innards came over a bit hazy. Harry jiggled it gently to help it along.
"Er—sorry, Ball. I know vagueish questions like that upset you. Just the last then, alright? Being Minister? Will I have to?"
Better not tell you now.
"Er—mate," Ron was staring, eyes swiveling from the shiny black Ball, which rather gave off the air of someone really wanting to skive off, and his admittedly cranky-but-very-powerful-Magickally best friend since age eleven. Both presented oddly addled auras, in his view. "You really need to get a leg up now—you'll be late."
"Hang on half a sec, Ron; this is important," Harry waved him off with an uncaring hand. He had bigger cauldrons to stir right counter-clockwise at the moment; Burning Questions, rather, that must be answered to the very best of the Eight Ball's ability before he knowingly embarked on the Good Ship Draco. "What about family, Ball? Are we going have winsome, spoiled-rotten little Potter-Malfoy brats to deal with?"
"Merlin, Harry!" Ron was shocked, his blue eyes popping wide at Harry's offhand dismissal of the importance of spawning future generations to belt up and carry on. Which was likely all Hermione's influence, as Ron didn't actually wish to beget a Very Large Weasley-style Family, not to Harry's knowledge, at least, having had quite enough of fighting over available resources as it was. Hermione, though—she was a different story, being the one-and-only. Ron was in for the Battle of the Intentional Midriff Bulges, Harry knew. He wished him well, from a safe distance.
Most likely. The Ball wavered a bit over the question of siring younglings. Ask again later.
"Right," Harry said. "Er—my in-laws to be. Are they going to murder me when Draco's not looking?"
My sources say no.
"Brill," Harry observed dryly. "Will I, um, actually manage to tolerate them? Or they, me?"
"Ah…well. That's just jolly good. Er, um—what else, what else?" Harry took a quick spin about the room, trying frantically to recall any other matters he might need advice on before hitching his proverbial cart to the scion of the Malfoys. Not that Draco wasn't a very fine gallop.
"Um, Harry," Ron tried again, apparently getting rather desperate to whip his best friend up to the starting gate, to the point of actually laying hands on the precious Muggle Oracle, attempting to pry it from Harry's clenched fingers. "For crying out loud, let's go! Get your flippin' hands off that Muggle widget! Ferret-face is likely champing at the bit out there in his huge fucking gazebo and I'm not bloody managing his miffed arse if he barges in after you! There's limits, mate!"
"Oh—right, right," Harry was distracted, by the clock chiming three p.m., by the feeling that cliff-diving sans safety rope was in his very near future, by the horrible, thrilling, rather wondrous suspension of disbelief overall. This really couldn't be happening to him, could it? "Any last words, Ball? Is he—is he going to be happy? With me, I mean?"
You may rely on it. The Ball replied sanctimoniously.
It jerked and spun suddenly, the little white triangular bobber gyrating and the Muggle Magick Ball itself trembling. Then it grew quite toasty in Harry's white-knuckled death grip, a relaxing warmth which somehow Magickally transferred over to Harry, inexplicably easing his tension.
Good fortune will befall you. The Eight Ball assured him, twirling its invisible waxed mustachios, not like a Crup puppy at all. In bed.
Finite to the fickle fateful fic in drabblets, mostly daily. All done