Remedial Denial and Matchmaking for Beginners . magique
Theodore Nott, Blaise/Neville, background Neville/Hannah | Harry Potter | M | romance, humour, friendship | ~4,500 | course language, sexual references, infidelity, homophobic slurs, flippant treatment of alcoholism/spoilers up to DH, uses bits and pieces from JK's post-series information
One of the rare instances in Theodore Nott's life where he uses words for good instead of rampant douchebaggery. (A large part of Theodore wants to leave things alone so badly it makes his skin itch, but the rest is aware that Blaise will be sad everywhere and his version of moping is painfully passive aggressive.)
This is a revision of a fic I wrote in 2008 called Sate This Addiction. Finished, it's almost exactly 1,000 words longer than the original which I'm verypleased about. :D There is a PWP prequel (If I Had Have Listened, which you'll be able to find on my author page if you're so inclined) and there will, hopefully, be a sequel or two at some point in the future. I'm working on it. (I actually started the rewrite, before getting distracted by porn and finishing IIHHL first, so this was worked to fit more closely with that version of events & character interaction than those of STA.)
Concrit and spelling/grammar nitpicking welcome!
"You're insane. You're fucking insane, you know that?"
Blaise glances back to arch a brow at his companion. "You're an alcoholic," he points out blithely. "Someone was going to notice eventually."
"I'm not an alcoholic, what the fuck. This is so fucking unnecessary."
"Tell that to your prick when you stop getting erections, Theo."
Theodore twists his face into a grimace as he trails after Blaise down Knockturn Alley, and weighs the pros and cons of using an Unforgivable versus maybe just beating Blaise's head in with a brick. He's too fucking curious for his own good though, because this isn't like Blaise; Blaise Zabini couldn't give two shits about anyone's life but his own. Maybe once in a while he watches Theodore develop a small army's worth of empty glasses around himself and make wild assumptions about their respective theoretical lifespans (though it's always bollocks, because Theodore may one day die of alcohol poisoning, but Blaise is going to get himself murdered). But Blaise has never expressed anything that resembles pity or concern—it's one of the few reasons Theodore actually tolerates his presence to any degree.
This is, then, violating what Theodore considers one of the very foundations upon which their dismal attempts at friendship are based. And Blaise should know better than anyone that, even if Theodore were an alcoholic, he'd have done something himself if he took issue with it. He doesn't, for the record; he's content to sit in a bar and get so smashed he forgets he has no fucking life to speak of. It's easier than acknowledging that fact head on, and Theodore's always had a deep fondness of taking the easy way out.
"Stop talking about my prick, you fucking perv," Theodore says, because he's fond of tackling the most important details first too.
Blaise turns to face Theodore properly and smirks like Theodore has somehow, bizarrely, proved his point. "I rest my case," he says (to which Theodore scowls and mutters, exasperatedly, "What case?"). "Not to say anything of the liver disease and ulcers and all that."
Off Theodore's sceptical look, he says, "I researched it," like opening one book at random and gleaning from it possibly two pieces of information is something that deserves a solid round of applause. Considering, though, that Blaise's idea of studying at Hogwarts was finding the best looking nerd he could and hoping he'd learn something by sticking his prick in her (or him or them), maybe it does.
"I patently refuse to believe that," Theodore says, because, on revision, it's far more likely that Blaise found a Healer who thinks the medical side effects of long term alcohol abuse make good dirty talk.
"You are twenty-one, Theo, how are you already such a bitter, twisted old man?" Blaise asks, with the kind of derisive tone that usually means Theodore's managed to strike something of a nerve. Or (as Theodore suspects Blaise has realised how reluctant he is to deal with how annoying Blaise is in a proper snit) that he's sick of arguing and wants Theodore on side as quickly as possible.
He stalks away with the air of one who expects his dog will catch up eventually, he's very well behaved you know, off lead, just let him finish taking a piss on that bin and he'll heel, you'll see. Even knowing this, Theodore finds himself heeling anyway, because Blaise has this infuriating tendency to get exactly what he wants, even when everyone knows exactly what he's up to. And, to be honest, Theodore is morbidly curious about what could possibly be important enough that Blaise would put himself out like this.
When they reach almost the end of Knockturn Alley, Blaise approaches a nondescript section of brick wall nestled between an awful smelling apothecary and a gnarled old witch who seems to be trying to con anyone who so much as looks in her direction that her broken-looking twigs would make exceptional new wands.
"Mother drove her fifth husband to booze," Blaise explains, tapping at the bricks with his wand, while Theodore tries to fend off the witch's frankly terrifying advances; "and she sent him here because they provide their clients with total anonymity. It was all terribly embarrassing for her, you understand." A tall wooden gate materialises before them, and Blaise unlatches it cheerfully. "There's nothing wrong with me, so I'll be out here when you're done."
"Pillock," Theodore says as he pushes past Blaise and into the narrow garden that sits in the clammy shadows of the buildings on either side. A short path of rotting wood leads up to the entrance of what may have once been a house at some point in the last several thousand years. It's hard to tell beneath the thick layer of dirty green vines that cover every surface, including the windows if ever there were any.
If a study were to conclude that more cases admitted to St. Mungo's were caused by a presence in this facility than by any underlying addiction, Theodore could easily believe it. He considers the chances that he could escape unnoticed by Blaise to the Leaky Cauldron instead of going inside. If necessary, he's ready and willing to knock Blaise unconscious to do it.
All hope of this series of events is dashed to hell when he turns on the spot to see Blaise ducking in and shutting the gate firmly behind him with a vaguely hunted expression on his face.
"What now?" Theodore asks suspiciously.
Blaise makes an elaborate show of examining the garden, Theodore, and the gate, and then, content in his safety, says, "Oh, you know. Remember the thing with the Patil twins in seventh year?"
"Yeah. Caught you cheating on one with the other, didn't they?"
"Something like that."
"Should've known you couldn't outsmart a Ravenclaw though, don't you think?"
"Shut up, Theo," Blaise snaps, eyes narrowed.
Theodore smirks. He has fond memories of the aftermath of that incident, and the ensuing weeks of Blaise returning to the Slytherin common room looking rather worse for wear. "One of them out there or something?"
"No, but a good percentage of our year group have yet to forgive me for the whole misunderstanding—although, honestly, bigger fish and all that, considering—and, well, it's fine, I'll just come inside and we won't get lunch in Diagon Alley afterwards."
"Bit paranoid, aren't you?" Theodore observes.
Blaise's expression is all tight, irritated lines. "It's not paranoia when you've woken up with batwings on your face and an arm made of jelly. I was an outlet for a lot of misdirected aggression."
Theodore snickers and goes to retort mockingly when a murmuring voice gets close enough for words to be distinguishable; both amusement and annoyance are rich in his tone: "Are you trying to bribe me?"
"Stop being silly, Neville," another person, a bossy-sounding woman whose footsteps stop suddenly on the other side of the gate, says. "We're all worried about you."
The only person that could possibly be is Hermione Granger. Theodore doesn't revel in the idea of seeing that Mudblood again, but watching her give Blaise a new set of batwings is too good an opportunity to pass up.
But the gate stays firmly shut as Granger and her friend carry on airing their dirty laundry in the middle of Knockturn Alley.
"Hannah's been talking to me about it, Neville, and I—"
"And you relayed it all back to all of our friends. Hermione, I am sorry I've worried everyone, but it wasn't your place to tell them."
"I didn't want to, but you've been so secretive!" Granger protests, and somehow manages to sound put upon nosing about in someone else's business. "I was only thinking of what's best for you. Honestly, how are you meant to do your job properly if you don't sort this out?"
There's a pause, a resigned sigh, and then; "Okay, I believe you, Hermione, I'm sure you had my best interests at heart. I'll—see you later."
As Granger returns his goodbye, Theodore glances over at Blaise, who doesn't look at all concerned about getting caught skulking about eavesdropping. No, Blaise looks smug. In fact, Blaise is wearing the open, self-satisfied smirk he gets when life is going exceptionally his way.
Theodore opens his mouth to comment or ask or something, because he really needs some clarification on a lot of the details of what the fuck is happening right now, but the gate opens and the man enters the garden. This does actually help a little, since the man is fit and tall and good looking in that labourer-ish way that girls and fairies and Blaise tend to fawn over.
"Neville Longbottom!" Blaise announces, like he's never been more pleased nor more astonished to see someone before. "Imagine bumping into each other here!"
Neville Longbottom—who Theodore should probably have recognised what with the biweekly explosions in Potions—looks momentarily shocked before the expression dissolves into scepticism. He rakes a hand through his hair and sighs. "And yet."
"You've seen each other recently then?" Theodore asks. No one quite manages to sound that sick of Blaise without some recent exposure.
"We saw each other the other day," says Blaise.
Longbottom raises his eyebrows. "And a few more times besides," he adds dryly.
Blaise's mouth quirks into something between a smirk and a real smile. "Aw, I'm surprised you're keeping track."
"It's so hard not to," Longbottom retorts sort of shiftily as he crouches down to inspect a few withered plants by the soggy, flaky edge of the path planks. "They're always such peculiar coincidences. What are you doing here anyway?"
"I'm moral support," Blaise says. "Theodore here's decided to take a positive step towards sobriety."
Theodore rolls his eyes. "Sod off, Zabini."
Longbottom looks up from a tiny plant nibbling at his finger like he's the answer to all its prayers, and apologises. "Nott, right? From our year at Hogwarts?"
"Sure," Theodore says. "You made me a lot of money when you singed off Draco Malfoy's eyebrows in third year."
"You're welcome," Longbottom laughs, which Theodore finds oddly disappointing. This isn't the same Longbottom from school then, who would have stammered and blushed over any mention of his failings. There'd been rumours about all the crazy shit he was doing to undermine Snape's rule as headmaster in seventh year though, and Theodore had read somewhere he'd cut a snake's head off with a sword in the final battle too. Still.
He isn't Blaise's usual type, as far as Theodore's aware—Blaise has always seemed to really like a class of human a lot sluttier than Longbottom—but it's nice to have evidence that Blaise is just being his normal, manipulative self and not suffering some sort of disturbing concern about Theodore and his erectile function.
"You've been snooping through my year planner, I suppose?" Longbottom says, tickling the plant under its jaw-like petals.
"It's hardly snooping when you've left it open," Blaise protests with an appalling little grin.
"This is disgusting," Theodore interjects, because ew. "Do you have to flirt while I'm right here? It's bad enough I'll probably get the play-by-play version later."
Weirdly, this causes Blaise to make harsh, abortive hand gestures while mouthing, 'No no no no,' and Longbottom to shoot Theodore an indecipherable look. It figures, though, that Blaise might consider it unhelpful for Theodore to imply—to the face of someone Blaise wants to fuck—that he'll get all the TMI details of whatever they end up doing.
Theodore decides that, really, a strategic retreat is called for, so he wanders off up the path—better that then stand around while Blaise splutters, "Neville, I don't—I haven't—" to calm Longbottom's tits.
Indistinctly, before the door shuts behind him, Theodore hears Longbottom start to say, "I, er. Actually, I have to tell you…" and the next he sees of either of them is a few minutes later when Blaise appears looking ill, and says, "Back in a bit," before disappearing into the men's room.
Longbottom trails into the room next, his guilty and downtrodden expression twisting into a strained smile when he sees Theodore sitting there watching him. Frankly, Theodore would prefer it if he didn't, because that smile will haunt his sleep for the rest of his natural life.
A large part of Theodore wants to leave things alone so badly it makes his skin itch, but the rest is aware that Blaise will be sad everywhere and his version of moping is painfully passive aggressive. He flicks past a few articles in the Witch Weekly magazine he'd picked up about the million ways using magic in your sex life can Go Wrong and comes across a feature about some bland witch pretending she'd had a years-long romance with Gilderoy Lockhart. Torn between reading that and confronting the tragic-looking Longbottom now sitting a few seats away from him, he reluctantly enters the fray.
"So I gather you've shagged already," he says.
Longbottom throws a horrified glance his way and then stares at the opposite wall in quick succession. His face is pink and Theodore hasn't seen anyone look such a peculiar combination of shifty, scared, and uncomfortable since fifth year at Hogwarts. Theodore interprets this to mean: Yes, Theo, we have shagged. I'm also too much of a pussy to ask whether you know this because Blaise has been oversharing again.
"Oddly, no," Theodore tells him; "Blaise didn't share this information with me himself."
Actually, Theodore is more confused by that than he's willing to show. Blaise enjoys regaling him with unnecessary, unwanted stories about all the people he shags, because it makes Theodore want to hack off his own ears; Blaise specifically choosing not to mention someone at all is unusual.
"How long have you been fucking?" Theodore asks, morbidly curious.
Longbottom blushes again, but his eyes track up and to the side and his fingers twitch as if counting, and he obediently replies, "A bit over three months."
Theodore looks him over thoughtfully. Either Longbottom's a better shag than he looks or Blaise is starting to catch all those genuine feelings off him. Judging by the way Blaise just hurtled through to the loos, there's actually a chance it's the latter. Although, "Aren't you with one of the Abbotts?"
"Yes," Longbottom says like a man going to the gallows. "We've been together for two years and she loves me; it'll kill her if she finds out." He glances over at the still-shut door to the men's room and adds morosely, "He doesn't even care about me, and I'm still risking hurting her like that."
"Fuck's sake, really?" Theodore implores vaguely upwards. "Longbottom, I've killed more brains cells than you probably had to start with and I can still see what's going on better than you can."
"What do you mean?"
Theodore curses what few deities he can think of and then Blaise, repeatedly, for good measure. He better get such good karma for putting up with this shit. "What did you tell him that has him hiding in the loo like a bloody girl?" he asks instead, because if he has to break this down for Longbottom he's going to kill himself. "Because unless you've somehow gotten yourself up the duff, I can't imagine you'd have done anything but break up with him. Right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I told him that, er, I said we had to stop seeing each other," he says faintly. "But he doesn't—Blaise doesn't…but he can't."
"You do realise his main exposure to relationships has been through a woman best known for black widowing her way through his childhood?" Theodore says. "If you think that hasn't fucked him up, you're stupider than you look."
Longbottom parses this and then decides the best course of action is to bend forward and bury his head in his hands. Muffled, he explains, "I've asked Hannah to marry me."
Theodore's lip curls. "Why'd you go and do that?"
"I don't know!" Longbottom says, sitting up. "I was lying to her and—and sometimes he'd show up before I was meant to meet her and better I smell like alcohol than—than—"
"The bloke you're bumming," Theodore helpfully supplies.
Longbottom casts him a despairing look, but carries on, "And suddenly I'm buying her a ring and asking her and I do love her, I do, but I was such a coward—I was so scared she'd figured it out that I proposed." He exhales sharply. "But really she'd just been worried I was drinking too much since I was acting so strange and smelling of it all the time."
Theodore supposes, throughout this tirade, that his suddenly becoming a reluctant yenta for these dramatic, messed-up queers is partially of his own doing and probably he should just speed this all up a bit so he can go home. "I will talk to Blaise," he enunciates very clearly, "because if I leave you to it, you'll both just fuck it up worse. Now sod off and figure out what you want."
"Why are you bothering to help at all? You don't even seem to like Blaise."
Theodore shrugs. "I hate Blaise more than my whole family combined. But somehow he ended up being my friend, and, Christ, have you been around him in a mood? It's bloody torture." He pauses, considers, then adds: "Also, I guess, if you hurt him, blah blah blah," and goes back to flicking through the abandoned Witch Weekly on his lap.
Longbottom dithers about, standing up, trying to look around as if he'd brought anything in with him to start with, and then just hovering awkwardly.
"Um," Longbottom begins, very cleverly, and bites his lip. "I just—have you ever, er, you know? With, with him, I mean."
Theodore raises his eyebrows, replying with very careful diction because Longbottom was clearly dropped on his head as an infant, "Of course not. I'm straight."
Longbottom opens his mouth, protest written all over his face, but instead says, "Oh. Yes, of course. Sorry."
"Now piss off."
He nods absently and, finally, disappears out the door.
Theodore goes back to his magazine and somehow passes five excruciating minutes skimming through the Inspirational Journey of a witch who'd been irreparably disabled by Death Eaters during the war, someone else who claimed to have been locked in the Malfoy Manor's cellar (that room was getting full, if all these people were to be believed), and something he can't even follow that strongly features both Animagi and Squibs, before Blaise slinks out of the loos trying not to look too pathetic.
"About fucking time you showed your face," Theodore says disgustedly. He didn't say he'd talk to Blaise immediately.
"Neville already went in, did he?"
Theodore shrugs and flips through a few more pages. "Nope."
Blaise takes a seat by Theodore and cocks his head to the side. "Where'd he go then?"
"You look like a poof when you do that," Theodore comments instead.
Blaise obediently uncrosses his legs and frowns, but Theodore pointedly leaves the question unanswered.
"Hmm? Christ, this is drivel. Have you ever read one of these?"
"Theo," Blaise snaps. "Answer the fucking question!"
Theodore looks up. "Oh, he left."
"What do you mean, 'he left'? What did you say to him?"
"I'll happily answer your question if you answer mine first," Theodore says. "Did you even book me an appointment?"
Blaise sniffs. "Of course not, do you know how expensive this place is? Actually, we should clear out of here before anyone comes out looking for Neville."
Feeling gratitude for anything Blaise does is something Theodore resists on general principle, but he makes an exception as they side-along Apparate to his dingy flat to finish having words. Even if Blaise dragged him headlong into his mess without asking.
"So?" Blaise demands when they appear in the tiny space that works as kitchen, dining and living areas all in one.
Theodore points at the couch until Blaise, grudgingly, sits. "Your crying in the loo happened to come up," Theodore explains. "And I enquired as to the nature of your conversation outside."
Whatever Blaise meant to say ends in a cut-off noise of displeasure when Theodore stares him down, so he continues, "Longbottom then told me about his recent engagement and we discussed, at great length, all the reasons Longbottom should reconsider that particular life choice."
"Why would you do that?" Blaise protests.
Theodore scowls deeply. "I know you have trouble understand even the most basic of human interaction—" ("Says you," Blaise bitches) "—but you are being exceptionally dim. I know it's been a while since I've had to watch you with one of your twinks, but I don't remember there ever being so many feelings involved."
"And you're calling me dim," Blaise says with raised brows. "Is that what this is about? Theo, let me help you out: I don't care about Neville."
"How do people as stupid as you survive?" Theodore wonders. "Wouldn't you have been culled during the war?"
Blaise snorts. "Remember that conversation we had while you were in St. Mungo's last year for telling someone the only reason you didn't support the Dark Lord was because he was a Mudblood? In case you're wondering, on a scale of one to they'll have to bury your finger, you shouldn't ever say that in public."
"Oh, for fuck's sake, stop pretending you don't know what this about; you fancy Longbottom and if it were possible you'd marry him and carry his enormous Squib babies."
"What is wrong with you?" Blaise asks indignantly. "I don't—"
"Imagine that you're not you," Theodore says over the top of him, repressing the urge to punch his face in. "And imagine that—actually, Longbottom's well-adjusted, never mind. Imagine that Not-You and Longbottom have been buggering each other for a while and then, in a fit of guilt, Longbottom proposes to his girlfriend and it makes Not-You want to cry big, girlish tears."
"Fuck you, Theo," Blaise spits like a cornered wildcat.
"No, fuck you, arsehole," Theodore hollers. "You think I don't know you after eleven fucking years, Blaise? I get you're a big, bloody sissy and your mummy didn't hug you enough, but if you screw up this thing you've got going with Longbottom, you are going to make both our lives a fucking misery!"
Blaise flinches back and Theodore runs his hands down his face and takes a deep breath to calm down. "And I didn't want to say that so fuck you for making me," he adds.
"Oh, very sorry," Blaise says, sarcastic and too-quiet. "Didn't mean to force you to get involved in my life and lose your shit at me."
Theodore scowls. "You got me involved the second you dragged me to fucking rehab so you could bump into your secret boyfriend." He rubs his forehead and sighs. "I told him to figure out what he wanted, for the record."
"Well, in that spirit of sharing, I didn't mean to get you involved," Blaise says. "We were meant to meet yesterday, but he didn't show. I just—I knew about the appointment already and I thought it'd be easy to wait outside to find out what happened. But then, Granger and, you know." He shrugs, stares very hard at the furthest point away from Theodore he can find, and says, "Turns out he was probably proposing to his girlfriend while I was waiting."
Generally speaking, Theodore's style of handling tension involve booze and/or cruelty, but the level of angst Blaise is wallowing in implies that probably neither of those will help any. Theodore can do supportive though. He can totally do supportive. "How'd you meet after Hogwarts anyway? I can't imagine he spends much time in places people wear lots of glitter." Or something approaching supportive. He's trying.
It distracts Blaise though, and that's the bit that matters. "It was at St. Mungo's last year," he says, and gets sort of shifty and flustered out of nowhere. "While the Healers were trying to work out the particular combination of hexes you received."
"So—and tell me if I've got this timeline wrong here—you bumped into Longbottom, and then came back to give me a pep talk about how to talk to strangers?" Judging by Blaise's expression these were the two details he'd rather hoped Theodore wouldn't connect and, yes, his timeline was exactly right. "Oh my god," he crows. "He makes you want to be a better you."
Blaise glowers and says, "I am more than happy to tell you all about him fucking me, if you'd like," but Theodore hasn't put up with him for this long without knowing what a bluff looks like when he sees it.
"You are not," Theodore says.
"Ugh," Blaise says. "Fine, you're right. Neville's different; I never know what he's thinking and I can never guess his next move. I can barely fucking think straight when he's around. He drives me crazy. Was that painful enough for you or should I talk about my feelings some more?"
This is possibly the worst thing Blaise has ever told him, although that doesn't allow for the fact he's suffering through this sober where before he's always had a comforting grip on the neck of a bottle. But he's doing the good-friend thing right now, so he grimaces and tactfully changes the subject, "Longbottom's going to want a committed, monogamistic relationship, you know. With, like, flowers and dinners and shit."
"I can totally do that," Blaise says.
Theodore doubts this. Actually, it looks like Blaise does too. Theodore, however, refrains from commenting on this.
"And if he decides to marry Abbott?"
The set of Blaise's shoulders is too-casual as he arches a brow and says, "I'll fuck a bunch of people and get over it. It's not a big deal."
"Okay, I'm gonna avoid you for a few weeks just to be safe," Theodore says, and thinks, liar.
"Is that you all done then?" Blaise asks. "There aren't any more details of my life you'd like to analyse? Perhaps, while we're here, you could tell me how I feel about my mother too?"
The words are cutting, but his tone is plainly amused, so Theodore rolls his eyes and shrugs it off. "I'm done. Now are you gonna piss off so I can block this afternoon from my mind or do you want a drink?"
"Just a glass of water's fine," Blaise says imperiously, and kicks his feet up onto the coffee table.
"Get it yourself, twat," Theodore snorts. "Fuck's sake, I'm not a house-elf."
Blaise digs around behind him on the couch and lobs the bottle cap he finds at Theodore's head. "Hey, Theo," he says, only once Theodore's given him the finger and turned away. "Thanks, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah," Theodore says, and goes to get himself smashed.