Summary: Marcus leads Harry astray. Sort of. Not really but something like that. SLASH Marcus/Harry
It was loud, so loud that Harry wasn't sure if he would be able to ever use his ears the way same again. It was crowded too, and no matter where he turned he seemed to be bumping into someone; someone who wanted to shake his hand or buy him a drink. And when people didn't want to do either of those they were whispering obscene offers into his ears that made him want to puke. Since the start of the evening his need to get out was growing stronger and stronger.
He wrangled his way out of the crowd when the flowing liquor made it harder for people to recognize him as the Hero of the Moment.
Outside it was freezing. He inhaled through his nose, the sensitive skin of his nostrils quivering as they were exposed to what felt like ice particles. He exhaled in a rush through his mouth, looking like a dragon puffing smoke. He leaned against the side of the building and just focused on slowing his breathing. The throbbing in his temples began to recede. It was snowing and the flakes muffled everything. He could just barely make out the distant sounds of traffic from Muggle London.
The Dark Lord had been dead for three days, and he had been swamped since then. He split his time between the Ministry where he cleaned up the legal processes and identified Death Eaters, St. Mungo's where he visited with the injured, and parties thrown by important people he couldn't refuse without starting a feud.
He was getting really tired of being the guest of honor. All people did was say the same things and smile the same smiles. Their speeches sounded so similar he could mouth the words along with the speakers. Even faces were starting to bleed together. He thought that things would calm down once Voldemort was dead, but they only seemed to become worse to the point of resembling a fever delirium. It was better than a nightmare, but not by much.
Someone came out the same door he had. He had his back to Harry so he couldn't see his face but his physique kept his interest. He was uncommonly tall and wide, though he couldn't be described as fat or even soft by any stretch of the imagination. He looked, from the back, more like a large fur-less bear than a man. He was smoking and seemed oblivious to Harry's presence. Harry was content to watch and breathe and enjoy being undisturbed for a while.
The man smoked three cigarettes, one after the other, stubbing them out in the palm of his hand and tossing them into the trash instead of onto the floor. He turned, finally, and Harry recognized him. It was Marcus Flint.
Marcus Flint was a bit of a shady character when it came to the war. Although branded as a Junior Death Eater, he had seemed more allied with the Creature factions than the Dark Lord and left when they did. If he hadn't sold information to the Ministry about the locations of various camps, he would have been sent to Azkaban with so many others.
He spotted Harry in the shadows.
Harry was unsure of how he should behave. Should he be nervous that he was alone with someone of dubious character that could most likely overpower him? Was it uncharitable to think that, when Flint had helped their cause? Neither of them had come out here for conversation; perhaps it was best to just ignore Flint now.
Marcus made that impossible when he came over to lean against the wall beside him. He held out his large hand to shake.
Harry shook it, "Harry."
"Hi Harry. Look, I want to get out of here but I don't want to go home or go sit in a bar by myself. I'm already fucking depressed enough as it is. What do you say to getting some food and drink and getting the hell out of here for a bit?"
He knew it was rude to his host, who was some important person he'd never heard of, but Harry couldn't bear the thought of going back inside where he would be surrounded by grateful strangers again in that wall of sound and heat.
"Where did you want to go?"
Marcus shrugged, "Are you okay with just walking around until we find a place that's open?"
The didn't have to walk more than a block or so from the rented dining hall before they came across a small bar and restaurant decorated in mismatched tables, lamps, and artwork. It was indifferently heated so they left their coats on as they settled into a booth. Once they were across from each other Marcus suddenly jerked and looked at Harry very hard.
"Um, are you alright?"
"Yeah. It's just…I must be drunker than I thought."
"What do you mean?"
"When you introduced yourself back there I didn't realize that you were you."
"Oh." Well. That was a first.
They ordered and began to settle in. Marcus stretched his legs out under the table on either side of Harry and Harry took off his boots and tucked his feet up under him. The party was semi-formal, but Harry wore boots on principle. If he got into a bad situation, dress shoes were not helpful. They were slippery and uncomfortable and they made him look weird too.
"So what do you do for work?" Harry asked.
"I'm a blacksmith."
"Oh. Do you like that kind of work?"
"I do. It combines a lot of things I enjoy and there's a lot of call for blacksmiths right now because of the repairs."
Marcus asked him how he was handling the Post-War drama and Harry felt the floodgates open. He'd been holding so much stress inside (who could he confide in? Ron and Hermione were too busy with each other to listen and everyone else he knew contributed to the stress) that his intention to only let out a little was soon ruined. He ended up pouring all of it onto Marcus' lap. He discovered that Marcus was a really good listener with the added benefit that he gave what sounded like good advice. He even walked Harry through some methods for identifying and avoiding people that would want to use his fame to meet their own ends.
After what felt like hours of saying things that needed to be said and hearing things he ddin't know he needed to hear, he worked up the nerve to ask Marcus about his experiences as a Death Eater.
"I have no excuse other than panic. All around me was this mounting realization that, no matter what anybody said, there was going to be a war. It wasn't a matter of me picking a side; my parents made that choice for me. I almost lost my soul in that growing gloom, when it seemed like nothing was sacred and that everybody I knew was dying. But even then, when I was on the edge of blowing my own brains out, I was careful to find ways to avoid the, you know, the acts of barbarism or what-not that I was expected to get into. I know you probably remember me as something of a bully at school, and I admit I was a mean kid. But I wasn't, I'm not, a killer. I couldn't do it. I was disciplined, demoted, almost killed…but I couldn't go on raids. So I somehow ended up as a diplomat to the Creature factions, mostly because I look intimidating, and I heard a lot of information.
"I've tried to put my finger on when the turning point happened, but I can't pick out when my doubts about the Dark Lord became real to me and I made a conscious decision to fight against him. You probably know that I became an informant. No one suspected me. I come from old Pureblood stock and most of the other juniors were scared shitless of me. The only people I had to worry about were the Inner Circle, and they ignored us juniors for the most part."
With some probing Marcus told him about what it was like to work with Vampires and Giants and Werewolves. They ate and drank as they talked and the hours seemed to melt away. It was late when they left the party, and it was undeniably early morning by the time they were asked to leave so that the restaurant could close.
Outside in the street they admired the snow and then Marcus said,
"Hey, my flat isn't too far. Would you like to come over for a Scotch and milk before you go home? It'll help you with those nightmares you told me about."
Harry didn't want to go back to Grimmauld Place at all. In an ideal world he would have been staying with the Weasleys, but a lack of space and awkwardness with Ginny made that impossible. Still, he would have gladly taken dramatics to going home to a big empty house every night.
Maybe he could pretend to fall asleep and get to stay on Marcus' couch?
He smiled at Marcus, "That sounds nice. Scotch and milk, though? I've never heard of that."
"It's what my mom used to give me and I vouch for it."
Harry tripped on a bit of slick pavement and Marcus caught his elbow, putting his arm around his shoulders a moment later.
"We can hold each other steady," he explained. Harry just nodded, fighting down his desire for the gesture to mean more. He would be the first to admit that he was lonely. He hated living alone, he hated sleeping alone, and he was definitely tired of just being alone. He had friends, but that wasn't the same as a significant other. Ron and Hermione's blatant happiness with each other just rubbed salt in the wound.
Marcus hadn't been lying when he said he lived close by. Less than five streets later they were climbing the rickety stairs of his building. He apologized about living on the top floor of a building with no elevator. Harry assured him that he didn't mind.
The flat was small but clean. It was plainly and nicely furnished with the bare minimum of furniture, which helped keep it from feeling like a cupboard. There were thick carpets overlapping one another on the floor that swallowed his feet and the sounds of their movements. Marcus gestured at the sofa and Harry sat while Marcus went around a corner and presumably assembled the Scotch and milk.
Harry looked around and noticed that there were only two photographs. One was of Marcus and a young man he recognized as Adrian Pucey. There were other men in the background, but they were not the subject of the picture. Marcus and Adrian were holding a trophy between them, grinning ear to ear. As he watched them, Adrian turned to Marcus and gave him such a look of heartbroken longing that Harry wondered how Marcus didn't notice at the time.
The other was of Marcus and an older woman who looked strikingly like him. He assumed she was his mother.
Marcus tapped him on the shoulder. Harry jumped, not having heard him because of the carpets. In his hands he held two glasses of milky liquid.
"I took a sip of both, so I know they're done right. If you don't like it there's something wrong with you."
Harry snorted and took a cautious sip. It was just warm enough and went down very easily to curl in his stomach. He felt immediately more at ease and comfortable in his own skin than he'd been for days. He took another sip and began to feel sleepy.
"It's good," Harry smiled and drank some more, padding over to the sofa. His plans to trick Marcus into putting him up for what remained of the night were returning to him. Marcus also sat, and because it was a small couch and Marcus was not a small person, Harry ended up practically in his lap.
Harry found himself surprisingly open to the idea. He slowed his intake of the drink and watched Marcus. Marcus drained his quickly and his eyelids began to droop as he settled deeper into the sofa. Harry felt himself following the same route even though he'd only had half of his. His head sank easily onto Marcus' shoulder, and Marcus' arm curled around him, pulling him against his chest.
Marcus snuffled a little and then fell asleep. Harry followed.
They woke after about half an hour, confused and disoriented. Marcus went to use the W.C. and Harry sank on the sofa, despairing that he would be made to go home after all. When Marcus returned he gave Harry one look, and then picked him up without telling him why. Harry squirmed and sleepily demanded to know what Marcus was doing. Marcus didn't reply but walked into the next room where his bed dominated. He pulled back the covers and deposited Harry inside. He unselfconsciously unbuttoned his thick trousers and discarded them before joining Harry and pulling the covers up and over them.
Harry decided that he may as well copy him, so he removed his own trousers and after a moment his shirt, which was rented and scratchy as well as ill-fitting.
Comfortable at last and ecstatic about not sleeping alone, he felt Marcus shuffle closer and pull him into a bear hug. Marcus was very warm and his shirt was soft and nice-smelling.
Harry was asleep in seconds.
Sometime around seven in the morning he woke again and panicked about being late to the Ministry where he was scheduled to continue his never-ending stream of reparation projects. After a moment or so of reflection he decided that he would go if Marcus was awake. If not, he'd sleep until Marcus did and hope that no one died while he was gone.
He turned his head and watched Marcus sleep. After a catching a flutter of eyelashes, he whispered,
"Marcus? Are you awake?"
"No," he replied, and moved closer to rub his forehead against Harry's neck. His arm came to rest across his chest, preventing any intentions Harry might have had about leaving. "Go back to sleep."
"But I should go to work."
"No you fucking shouldn't. Stay here with me. I like having you here. You're warm and nicer than people say."
Marcus snuffled and Harry thought he was going to go back to sleep without answering when Marcus explained,
"Reporters. People on the street. They're scared of you or they pretend to hate you because they don't want people to see they're scared. You have a lot of power and a lot of influence and you haven't really declared your place in the hierarchy. That makes people nervous. Will you go to sleep now? You're keeping me awake with your tension."
Harry obeyed. When he woke again, it was to the ticklish sensation of Marcus' stubble against his cheek and the soft brushes of his lips against his ear. Harry decided not to question this. His falling out with Ginny had been based in his inability to become sexually aroused around her, and he'd spent many sleepless hours pondering the possibilities of why that was. Even after all his thinking, the only new realizations he'd come to were that he hadn't reacted to Cho either and that maybe he was just meant to be single his whole life. Not everyone was born with a strong need for sexual fulfillment.
He hadn't thought seriously about being gay because he couldn't remember being attracted to a man, but Marcus was proving him wrong.
"Is this okay?" there were nerves hiding behind the hoarse morning voice and Harry smiled, nodded, and guided Marcus' lips to his.
He didn't get to the Ministry until three days later, and refused to tell anyone where he'd been or who gave him the obvious bruise on his mouth.
All things considered, taking up with Marcus Flint was an unlikely possibility, but it'd happened nevertheless and Harry was glad that it had. Grimmauld Place was boarded up and he consulted Marcus on what to call himself. He settled on Knight and left it alone. Ginny looked at him queerly when they next met, and he avoided her as much as possible afterward. He didn't want to know what she must think of him.
News of his homosexuality was received well. It humanized him in the eyes of the public. People began to smile at him again, even if some of the smiles were derisive or sly.
Marcus continued to work as a blacksmith even when Harry amassed enough money to keep both of them well beyond the need to work for a thousand years.
End Unlikely Possibility