Vonne: I'd love feedback on this! I'm not too sure what I think of it personally, but I spent SO MUCH TIME on it, so I'd like to hear your thoughts. Any at all. Thank you so much!
She always had that little drop of poison...
A large boy with small eyes watches silently from the window sill. He's got a wide, rounded belly and his fringe is cut sloppily too short, and he doesn't fly with the other boys but instead watches shyly from behind the bedroom curtains.
He has got a broom of his own though. It's a nice, fast one that his parents bought him and they'd said, "The Malfoy's bought their son this same one, Vincent," as if it were something impressive enough to be bitterly competitive over. It's just about his most favorite gift they'd ever given him and he wants to ride on it, but the other children don't really like him much and so he never goes.
The Goyle kid tells him, "My father says the Malfoy son is nothing more than a 'delinquent', anyway."
Gregory Goyle's got the largest gut that Vincent Crabbe has ever seen. His stomach hangs over his too-small trousers and his pudgy cheeks are always red and overheated. When he eats, he talks with his mouth wide open, and he doesn't seem to mind it when the other kids poke fun at him. Instead he just says things back like, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me," and Vincent thinks that its just about the dumbest thing that anyone could ever say because, physical bruises aside, names actually hurt him very much.
Because of this, Vincent takes Greg's word with a grain of salt. The boy often says stupid things without really meaning to and Vincent finds himself agreeing because Greg's the only boy he's got around to agree with at all. So when Theodore Nott and Adrian Pucey go flying above the garden with the little golden snitch that they never asked to borrow, Vincent watches silently from the ground hoping that they'll call down to him and if he'd like to play, too. But after what feels like an eternity, its Greg who turns instead, snitch flying around his lopsided head like a mockery of a small golden halo.
"Want to play Exploding Snap?" he asks lamely. "Mum just bought me a whole new deck, and they're not even burnt or anything like the last set."
And so Vincent Crabbe plays card games with Gregory Goyle because it's easier than not playing; and, for that matter, it's supposed to be that way, anyway. Outside, Theodore Nott zooms by on his broomstick right as an explosion takes off in Vince's face. He laughs and tells the other boys, but Goyle tells him not to mind as if doing so were just that simple. "The cards are supposed to explode," he says, not noticing that Vincent's ears are a bright shade of red or how he doesn't think he could be any more mortified in his whole, entire life.
But then as all young boys do eventually, Vince turns eleven. He gets bigger and more circular; and often times he worries that he's ugly. Greg tells him, "Mum says we look alike," and the comment does nothing to console his inner turmoil.
Instead like a maniac, he tugs feverishly at his jumpers and pulls all his cloaks across his front. He covers his pudginess with large, baggy sweaters, and wraps scarfs around his neck to hide the extra skin.
In the dead of the night he stands stilly in front of his mirror and imagines himself handsome. It's strange because though he doesn't have a picture in his head of what 'handsome' might actually look like, Vincent closes his eyes and molds his frumpy body into a tall, sleek, and angled one. He imagines how his extra large clothes might hang off his frame or how his frail, perfect hands might reach out for a handshake.
"Hello, darling," he says to the night, while ignoring the sloppy snores of Goyle, asleep on the spare bed. "How lovely it is to finally meet you."
In his head, he is so handsome that the stars actually melt in his presence. They drip gold from the sky and the liquid makes lustful puddles of desire in the rose beds of his mother's almost-elegant garden. "Vince," they say, breathily. Those lustful stars, forever lusting. "Oh, Vince, Vince, Vince, Vince, Vince...".
"Vince," says Greg in the real world.
When Vincent opens his eyelids, the world seems less bright. Dull, uninviting black meets his eyes and he squints momentarily to make out the newly roused Goyle, sitting upright on the bed sheets.
Goyle eyes the empty lump of blankets on Vincent's own bed and the discarded slippers overturned along the rug. He sees Crabbe with his hand outstretched, eyes wet and glossy in the distance. It doesn't occur to him that perhaps he might be crying, so he balls his large hands into a pair of even larger fists and rubs the sleep from his eyes. "What are you doing out of bed?" he asks.
"Nothing," Vincent tells him, and Goyle is stupid enough to believe it. He stuffs his hands back down to his fat sides and goes back to bed beneath the covers.
There is silence for a second; and then Goyle lifts his head up from the pillow. "Now that you're up, want to play a little Gobstones?" he asks.
"Not really," Crabbe mutters hoarsely into the mattress.
"Okay, tomorrow then" says Goyle, unaffected. He brings the covers up around to his chin and turns his burley chest to the wall. "Night," he says.
"Night," Vince says.
Before Vincent knows it, three months have gone by and the very next morning, he is going to be heading off to school. It's all his mum can talk about, and she sets out outfits on his bed, packing and unpacking his luggage while his father makes tutting noises from the corridors. "The boy's too big for those garments, Elaine," he tells her, distain dripping from his curled, thin lips. "They're going to be busting at the bloody seams, for God's sake."
His mother invites the Parkinsons, the Puceys, the Bullstrodes, and the Zabinis over for brunch in the afternoon after she finishes having the house elves loosen the threading to all of Vincent's trousers. Sometime later in the evening, he finds himself itching in the suit she'd picked out; and he wants to take it off, but he doesn't say a word even though its several sizes too small. However, Vincent worries that the other children are looking at him funny; and every so often he catches their wandering eyes pass scowling glances.
Pansy Parkinson tells him, "You look like a great, blubbery baboon," even though she looks something like a pug herself. "Mummy says its got to do with bad genes and unfortunate looking people, like your father."
Zabini adds, "It's lucky that my mum's Persian." He takes one look at the woman at the table across the garden and adjusts his posture elegantly. Crabbe doesn't know what background his family's from, but he has a feeling he's not Persian or even Pug, like Pansy- though he'd take the latter over looking potato-ish any day.
"Look at them," says Crabbe's ugly mother to Zabini's pretty one somewhere across the lawn. "They'll all becoming such good friends." The two look over at their offspring from the garden and return back to their conversation, and Crabbe hopes what she's said is true eventually. Sometimes he worries about going off to Hogwarts with only Goyle to keep him company.
And it isn't, of course, as if they truly are becoming good friends. Crabbe knows the way the other children know that they only invite him to sit at their table because their parents are watching. He wonders if they had been forced to do so on their way over. He wonders, mortified, how many of their mothers had leaned over and asked silently in their ears to, "Be nice to Vincent tonight, dear. Poor thing really has no one but the Goyle's son," before patting their backs and knocking readily upon his parent's lovely doorstep.
"I inherited my mother's cheek bones and slanted eyes," Zabini continues over his dinner salad. He says, "In London, exotic features are rather desirable."
Thodore Nott rolls his eyes and scoffs quite loudly. "You're not that exotic," he retorts. Theo's got a head of stringy hair and a set of large front teeth. He looks a little greasy and slightly out of place, but he's slender and Vince feels a large ping of jealousy over it.
"Oh, yeah?" sneers Zabini. "Well at least I don't resemble a filthy rabbit!"
Millicent Bullstrode laughs so hard that her drink shoots out her nostrils. She slaps her meaty hands over her mouth and Pansy bursts into hysterics. When he feels safest, Vincent chuckles a few times and then returns back to poking awkwardly at his caviar. "I wonder what your poor children will look like!" shrieks Pansy to Theo, pink-faced and beaming.
"Probably better than your squashy faced mutts," snaps Theo, and for the first time, Vincent's happy they're not poking fun at him.
"My children will not be 'squashy-faced'," Pansy says. She gets a bit more serious and her eyes blaze brightly as if she's done the topic a serious bit of considering. "Besides, Draco's features are too pronounced."
And it's not the first time Vincent hears the name. He turns up from his plate to listen in closely, for mother and father utter it often times in the dark at night when they think he's not listening. They say, "Have you heard about the Malfoy boy, young Draco, in the Prophet?" as if the story were not one to be missed. Over the fireplace, they lean over one another and his father adds amusedly, "Seems he got old Lucius in a spot of trouble at the Ministry last week."
"Oh, what a shame," he hears his mother respond, oddly triumphant. "What'd he do?"
"Was quite the scandal. Got himself spotted by a Muggle aircraft, flying that lovely new broomstick his father bought him over London. Tsk..."
But this time it's Theo who snorts and says, "What's Malfoy got to do with anything?" as if he really was insignificant all along.
"We're to be married," Pansy snaps. "Mother says. She says I should be married to a proper pureblooded boy. Funny, she never mentioned you, though, Nott."
"Like I'd want to be married to you for the rest of my life," Theo barks, but Blaise Zabini looks away from his mother for the first time in the night and, despite his dark features, appears absolutely livid.
"The only thing appealing about Malfoy is his fortune, Parkinson," he says, unconvincingly. However, he cocks his finger to the side and jabs it almost dangerously too close to Vince's chest. He says, "Besides," in a sort of tone that is not so light-hearted, "with any luck, you'll be married off to someone like Crabbe here."
Pansy's face turns the brightest shade of red that it has all evening and at first, Crabbe foolishly thinks she might be blushing. He realizes how close to her he is and how, at that perspective, she's actually quite unique-looking. Somewhere inside his belly, Vincent's stomach does flips. Its the first time he thinks about life with another girl, and for some reason or another, the thought of spending an eternity with someone as slightly-pretty as Pansy makes him blush, too.
He doesn't take it personally when Pansy throws her napkin down or doesn't speak with any of them for the rest of the evening.
Vincent's mother puts her hand on his shoulder and he wishes she wouldn't do that in public. There are other children present.
She says, "I want you to do well and study hard, Vincent," and throws him a look that adds, "And don't start any trouble," but seems to take it back once she realizes her son doesn't start much of anything at all in the first place. Instead she places her lips on his cheek and tells him, "Perhaps you'll make the Quidditch team next year," as if his meaty frame made up for the lack of anything present between his ears. Then his father hands him his books and they step back just a bit before walking through the station and stopping at the side of the trolley.
The man doesn't look at him too much. Instead he surveys the crowd as if he's looking for someone else in particular. "Don't see Lucius anywhere around here," he says, smoothing his hair back behind his ear for the millionth time in the morning. He has a stiff back and he checks his pocket watch consistently. For one reason or another, he's worn his most expensive coat and his mother looks squashed into a frilly summer dress.
They stand there dumbly for what seems like hours. Vincent glances over his shoulder and sees Theo, Blaise, and Pansy. The boys make subtle kissy-faces at them behind Pansy's back, but Vincent turns away and grips his luggage even tighter.
"Oh, look," exclaims his mother, bending down just in time to save him from the humiliation. "There's Gregory!" She gives his hefty backside a little shove as if to send him off and Vincent staggers out into the opening, his eyes set anywhere aside from the likes of the boy's pudgy frame.
Soon enough, though, he's standing shoulder to shoulder next to Gregory in front of the great, red train, watching puffs of smoke rise fantastically from its wonderful engine. Goyle says, "My dad said he's never seen the station this crowded." He takes one felt swoop with his eyes around the buzzing scenery and Vincent swears he sees his knuckles turn white from how hard he's clenching his school things. "There must be a lot of other first years coming to Hogwarts this year."
Crabbe looks at the hordes of children wandering around with their friends and their parents. They don't look as awkward or out of place as Crabbe feels inside or Goyle looks outside, but Vincent wills himself to control the shakes in his body and boards the train with jelly legs. "Yeah," he agrees.
They sit in the compartment closest to the back and remain there in silence. Goyle watches the late arrivals board the train and doesn't even flinch when Blaise, Zabini, and Nott intrude on them. They throw their bags beneath the seats and chat loudly amongst themselves; and when the door opens again and Pansy Parkinson stands there with the staggering figure of a bored looking blond boy, Nott nods, "Malfoy," and Crabbe looks up just in time.
Malfoy is, undoubtedly, everything that Vincent Crabbe is not. His chin is not rounded into a large, fat lump, and his eyes do not lack the lust-less sheen of muddy brown that Vincent's do. Rather, Draco's face is pointed and proper. His gray eyes are stark and unignorable; and the mere way he holds himself, even for a boy of eleven, impresses Crabbe to bits. There's something charming and poised about the way that he holds his bags- one arm linked within Pansy's own- and his shiny black oxfords look unworn and overly expensive.
For a split second, Draco's eyes flick over to Crabbe and Goyle there on the benches before him. Though he doesn't smile, Crabbe thinks something about the stars and, for one reason or another, is almost certain he hears them singing...
"Who're you?" asks Malfoy, and he looks right at Vincent when he asks it.
"I'm Vince-" says Vince, the very same moment Nott pipes up and says, "That's just Crabbe," in the most bored, uninterested way he can possibly hope to muster.
Draco's eyes snap away from Vince's for a second and Crabbe is certain that he is about to tilt his head back and laugh. To himself he images the cool, careless sound of the blond's very chuckle. How amused he might be at the ghastly lump of Vincent's torso- the uneven, imperfect impression of his face. Crabbe's cheeks ignite in a bright shade of indigo. He holds his breath waiting for a spectacle that, surprisingly, never actually comes.
Draco says, "I don't believe I asked you, Nott," and Crabbe just sits there awkwardly, unsure of what to respond with next. No one, not even Goyle, has stood up for him before.
"Get bent, Malfoy!" snaps Theo.
Theo has his wand drawn before Crabbe even knows what hits him. There is a quick rustle of baggage and, in an instant, Nott has Malfoy pinned up against the compartment wall, seemingly deaf to the shrieking sounds of Pansy behind him. His fist is balled up in Malfoy's collar and Malfoy, ghostly pale, looks as if he, too, hadn't expected such a violent outburst.
He opens his mouth to say something, but Nott socks him so hard in the face that blood pours everywhere from his nose and dribbles down to the previously perfect lining of his once untainted sweater vest.
But Crabbe doesn't even notice that his own fists are crumbling up, too. In his head, he repeats the blond's line over and over and over again until it feels like he finally has a real friend and, for one reason or another, he stands up easily, silently. And it's simple. Without much of an effort, Vincent just lifts his burley body from the benches and pounces on Nott so fast that the wand goes flying and rolls, unseen, somewhere behind the cushions.
Malfoy fumbles to the floor and lands on his ass, hair a sleek mess all over his befuddled, yet striking, face. Theodore Nott, however, is red-faced and horrified, hands fumbling frantically at his own, hoisted-up collar. For a moment he looks as if he can barely believe Crabbe's reaction himself, yet after a moment of self-composure he blinks out the shock and flails his limbs in desperation to get back at Malfoy.
"Get off of me," he spits, "you filthy, overgrown-"
Crabbe brings Theo's body forward quickly. They're almost nose to nose before he forcefully slams Nott's body back into the wall and, on impact, knocks him out. Nott's body goes limp the very instant Crabbe lets go of his clothing. He slips down to the ground, lands ungracefully upon the floor, and hits his head on the edge of the benches.
No one says a word. No one says anything. Then-
"Get out!" demands Nott, lumbering over to Malfoy. His eyes are wild. There's a collection of unattractive spit gathering at the pointed ends of his exotic mouth. He looks as if he's about to strike Draco again, but Crabbe doesn't wait to find out. Instead, he quickly grabs Malfoy by the upper arm, pries him away from the frantic clutches of Pansy Parkinson, and slips the two of them out the compartment door, ignoring Goyle's sound of protest behind them.
He props Draco against the other side of the door and leans his own body against the wall opposite him. Minutes go by without either of the two saying anything, but when Crabbe looks up from the palms of his hands, Draco is staring wide-eyed and horrified right back at him. Blood just pours out his face. It leaks onto his white collar and stains the fabric offensively.
"Nott's an arsehole," says Crabbe lamely.
Draco looks like he's about to be sick. He moves his mouth around a bit and when he parts his lips, he lifelessly spits out a tooth.
"Uhh, here," says Crabbe, who dives into his pocket and retrieves the Tooth-Growing potion his mother had given him the morning before, just in case. "For your mouth."
Draco looks over the potion, takes it from Crabbe's great, powerful grip, and downs it quickly. He doesn't look funky or weird with one tooth missing. Instead, he looks beaten and rugged- pretty, despite everything else. "How convenient," muses Draco. "What did you say your name was? Lobster?"
"Crabbe," corrects Vincent, dismissively.
"Crabbe," repeats Draco. Oddly enough, Vince's name doesn't sound ugly or unusual on his lips. "I like it."
Crabbe learns quickly that Draco doesn't like Harry Potter. He doesn't explain to him why, but Crabbe senses the way he tenses up in his presence. He can almost physically hear his heart beating during the moments that they pass one another in the corridors before class. Thump. Thump. Thump.
Since Draco lets Crabbe and Goyle hang out with him, Crabbe decides that he hates Potter, too. He hates his stupid glasses and his stupid scar. He hates the ugly handmade sweaters that he wears even in the spring and he hates the squishy way his sneakers rub up against the castle's stone flooring during the day. He hates the way the students look star-struck at him. And, for that matter, he hates the way that Draco looks at him, as well.
But he keeps that much to himself.
It's sometime in their second year and they're sitting on the grass outside the castle. Draco's got his pretty blond head bent back into Pansy Parkinson's lap and he's going on and on about Potter in a bitter green voice, saying, "Saint Potter," with a grumpy scowl and his wiry arms crossed loosely around his chest. Goyle, slanted unflatteringly against one of the nearby tress, is nodding properly in agreement, but Crabbe watches the slow trepidation of Pansy's fingers in Draco's hair instead.
"Oh, your hair is so long, Draco," she says.
She's raking her nails into the depths of all that blond; and its effortless, so effortless, as if doing so were nothing. Her eyes scan the crown of his head- and as she does so she makes small noises of encouragement from above him, eyes sparkling and teeth gnawing nervously on the shiny curve of her bottom lip.
"Just look at it!" she tells him again after several minutes of massaging his scalp. She smoothes his fringe to the back of his forehead and Draco, making a face, bats her hands away, annoyed.
"Mother writes I ought to chop it," he tells her back, equally as pouty as before.
"Oh. Well, in that case, you should grow it long enough to rival your father's." Pansy reaches out for Draco's hair again and this time, when he doesn't push her hands away, she reemerges herself into his skull. From where Crabbe is sitting, it looks like she's trying to drain his worried mind.
Crabbe plucks a dainty flower from the earth. He scans the delicate structure of it and draws back the petals in hopes to mimic the gentle gesture of Pansy's intimate touches. However, the small stem only bends under the pressure of his meaty claws. When he slips his fingers out to stroke the silky center, the torso snaps tragically in half and Crabbe's crossed legs are then littered with the pollen-infested evidence of the flower's untimely murder.
No one actually notices. Goyle "uh's" at the proper moments, Pansy fiddles with Draco's hair, and Draco glares at Potter from the distance.
"Poppy's a crazy bitch," announces Pansy in third year. She's sitting cross-legged on the couch in the Common Room with her hair an outright mess and her face all red and blotchy from crying so much. "Draco is seriously injured! He could have died!"
Care of Magical Creatures has been cancelled because of the hippogriff. Draco's in the infirmary and Madam Pomfrey won't let Pansy come and see him. She won't let anyone see him. And because something feels off without Draco around, Crabbe just heads back to the dormitories when Poppy tells him to shoo.
Pansy sits in front of the fireplace sulking alone when he stumbles in on her by accident on his way to the boys' beds. It's the first time she's ever talked to him directly and Crabbe wonders if that means she might like him. She tells him, "I saw i happen!"; and he thinks, 'This must be an intimate moment.' She's crying in front of him and Crabbe's never had someone cry in front of him before.
"I was there," she says, "when that beast shattered his arm!"
It's slightly strange with the two of them just sitting there across from one another. All the dark makeup under her eyes is smeared and running across her jawline, and every so often Crabbe twiddles his thumbs awkwardly by his knees. Pansy makes small side comments under her breath sometimes, too. It's as if she doesn't even realize it; her mouth moves, but her eyes gaze through the door that is closest to Draco.
If Crabbe were a bit more confident, he might start up a conversation. He might lean across the couches separating them and compliment Pansy on her outfit or the lovely emerald necklace looped around her shoulders. It's certainly something Draco might do. Tall, slender, and elegant, his fingers would graze over the pointed curve of her knee and she'd glance up, teary eyed, with the lustful expression of a person in love.
Crabbe imagines that he's Malfoy in his head. He sucks in his gut and de-squashes his features, and he imagines that he might drawl coolly, nonchalantly, as if being social were easy enough. He wonders what it might actually feel like to be Draco, too; but for one reason or another, he figures he'd feel less heavy- not just in stature, but as if he were walking whimsically upon the very clouds.
"Oh, Vince," Pansy's lips might mutter. Just like the stars- those leaking, lovely stars. "Vince."
Really, he doesn't even know why he does it. Pansy's getting up to leave when he pushes himself up from the couch and grabs her clumsily by the shoulders. They're in knots on the divan in seconds and Vincent pushes his lips up against hers, unsure of how well he's doing it. His tongue drags slickly along her lower lip. On accident, he bites the top one. When he lifts his hands up to touch her face, she looks horrified and repulsed underneath him.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?"
Two delicate hands shove him forcefully to the ground. Crabbe rolls off the couch and lands in shambles on the Slytherin rug, almost knocking himself out by the edge of the sculpted tea table. He barely has enough time to collect his thoughts. Instead, Pansy's up on her feet and wiping the essence-of-Crabbe away from her mouth with the back of her hands. She's screaming and shrieking at him; and she looks more angry and embarrassed that Vince has ever seen another woman look in his whole life.
"You disgusting little maggot!" she spits at him. "You slimy, vile little worm! As if I'd ever want to kiss an inbred idiot like you!"
When she speeds away and slams the Common Room door shut behind her, Crabbe just sits in the middle of the living space unmoving. He looks down at his large beefy hands, surprised for a second that they actually hadn't been anything close to delicate like Draco's. Reality hits him like a ton of bricks, however, when he catches his reflection in the looking glass just across the way from the lounge.
And there he is- fat and undesirable, with his face red and his eyes wet and the whole damn day left to wait for Draco to feel better.
If anyone has the slightest idea about what happened last term with Pansy, they don't let Vincent know about it. Pansy, however, seems to position herself closer to Draco when she speaks to him. She leans her head on his shoulder and when he allows her to kiss him after their dance at Yule Ball, her eyes flick up to Crabbe's sharply before she slams the broom closet door back harshly in his face.
It's anyone's guess, but Crabbe suspects they've started dating when Draco's head in her lap becomes a regular, daily sort of occurrence. She brings him cups of tea in the morning and rouses him lovingly from his sleeps. When she touches his hands, her fingers draw circles in his pale white skin; and Crabbe wonders to himself if Draco even likes it. For whatever reason, he hopes that he doesn't.
Still, he's thinking about it while he's waiting for the others to stumble in from the Ball downstairs; and in the bathroom, he steadies himself against the porcelain sink in determination to avoid the glistening mirror.
Draco had washed his hair in the shower only hours beforehand. He'd brushed his teeth with the very toothbrush on the counter and dried his body with the still-wet towel on the hanging rack. For one reason or another, the thought makes Vince's insides crumble. He thinks, if he were to climb in that shower and if he were to dry off with that towel, would he look in the mirror and be Draco, too?
There's one time that Vince remembers in particular. It's just before the summer of fifth year and Draco's disappeared into the Room of Requirements after pacing in front of it for what feels like hours. It has been. Vincent knows from having watched it tirelessly from the cobblestone sidelines of the castle corridors; and he waits, anxiously, to garner up the courage to follow him in.
When he finally does, he finds Draco slumped up against the wall, legs strewn outwards within the wreckage of lost nothings; and he looks like he's been crying. There's an empty bottle of rum cradled in his hands and his blond hair is cast all over his face, but when Vince steadily studies him, only soft, small sighs escape sadly from parted lips.
"Draco?" Vince asks him dumbly. "Are you sleeping?"
It certainly is a stupid thing to ask. Eyes closed and head slanted slightly to the left, Malfoy is either sleeping or dead, and only those miniscule breaths rule out the latter. Crabbe touches those narrow cheeks just to make sure. He grabs that thin, wiry wrist and trembles slightly over the throb of his faint pulse. He doesn't try to wake him again, but instead lets Draco's hand slide back down into his lap. His knuckles graze the glass there, hitting it slightly with a soft ting.
Still, it's too early to carry Draco back to the Common Room; they'd be spotted and Draco would be expelled, so Crabbe edges towards Draco on the ground and examines him still. Malfoy's hands slip down his torso and fall to his sides. His face lulls back and his pointed chin directs itself up, exposing his neck. For a moment Vince just kneels there, heart fluttering without any intentions in the world. He doesn't know what to do- and its perhaps for the lack of ideas alone that he reaches out and touches the curved side of the blond's jutting collar bone.
Malfoy really is too thin. His face is narrow and gray beneath Crabbe's fingers and he looks miserable, even well within unconsciousness. It's as if he actually might break or shatter tragically in pieces; and when Crabbe touches him, he just barely grazes the surface.
Then it hits him that he never has really had any sort of special moment with Draco in the five long years that they've known each other. Crabbe wants to bend down and swipe the strands free from his face. He wants to watch those gray eyes open, sit down civilly, and talk to him for hours. It's strange because, standing there awkwardly in front of him, Crabbe thinks he has perhaps a million things to say. He feels like he could talk Draco's ear off, feels like he could ramble on and on and on and simply never stop talking.
Luck strikes him, however, when out of the blue, Draco blinks back into awareness. His breath hitches a bit first and his fingers move against the black fabric of his trousers, but he lifts his head just enough to spot Crabbe there, lumbering stupidly above him.
When he opens his mouth to speak, a thick string of saliva dribbles down his pointed chin. He starts to say something like, "I..." or even just "Nng", but the rest of his sentence simply trails off into breathy air, unfinished. Suddenly, Vince can't think of anything to say at all.
"Is it May?" Draco asks groggily. He's not quite looking at Crabbe and his eyes wander around the room as if the answer has been hidden somewhere in the dark.
"Uhh," says Vince. His heart is pounding hard against his chest and he doesn't know why he's so nervous. Draco's positively piss-faced. "Yeah."
Perhaps, however, he should have just lied. When the realization hits him, Draco's face crumbles like a small child. He presses his eyes shut, lifts one hand to rub at his face, and then sobs, pitifully, into his clammy palm. For a second, Vince just stands there and watches. He's never imagined what it might be like to watch Draco Malfoy cry, but it unsettles him to the point of exhaustion; and he wants to do something, but his lumpy feet won't move. Like a tree, he's rooted to the spot.
"Oh, God," coughs Malfoy. "Two more months. Just two more months."
It lasts like that for a long time; Draco continues crying and Crabbe stands awkwardly on useless, wobbly legs. Every so often he catches the empty glisten of the bottle by Draco's side and he can't even imagine how Draco had consumed the whole thing. It's large enough to give him a poisoning of some sort and undoubtedly, he'll wake up in the morning with a throbbing, unbearable headache and a memory worth shite to go along with it.
Crabbe wonders if he wants Draco to remember. When he thinks about the helpless way he only just stands there, he prays to whomever that he won't.
He doesn't even muster up the courage to say anything, though. After a good ten minutes, Draco pulls his hand away from his face, wipes it clean, and mutters, "'M getting up," to his feet. He uses the side of the wall for support, surprised at his own ability, and shoves his body away from it gently, as if getting used to using legs for the first time. His balancing act, however, only works for a moment- the second time he attempts to step forward, Draco plummets face first into Crabbe's burley chest.
Two large hands wrap around the wiry, delicate torso. They clamor along the jagged, boney back and hold it there tightly, out of sheer reflex alone. Only when the harsh sobs sound out against the thick fabric of Crabbe's jumper does he know that Malfoy is still a wreck; and yet, sobbing, Draco's cheek unintentionally nuzzles back against him. His brows knot together and his body goes rigid, tense.
Crabbe stares at the arched curve of Draco's spiny back, watching him hiccup and gasp against his fat, lumpy stomach. For some reason it doesn't disgust him that Draco's snot seeps through the lining of his once nice school-shirt.
He thinks he should say something. In fact, he wants to say something. And in his head, Crabbe thinks that whatever he says makes Draco wipe his face clean and smile. It makes everything alright again- and they walk from the Room into the corridors to go to bed, leaving the mess- leaving it all.
The stars cry hypothetically at the sheer beauty of the thought alone.
So Vincent tries the one thing that pools out of his mouth, an uneasy offer of gentile consideration that pools out in the sloppy form of, "I-It'll be okay." He promises it without really knowing. And perhaps it's the wrong thing to say completely.
"Okay?" Draco pushes himself away from Crabbe's body instantly. He wobbles a bit on his feet, but his eyes blaze brightly and Crabbe thinks his whole body looks on fire. "How the bloody hell do you think it's going to be 'okay'? What the fuck would you know?"
There's snot and tears and sweat slashed all over Draco's pointed face. He looks handsome, sure, but the deranged quality about his visage is something new- foreign- and Crabbe freezes at the mere sight of it alone. "I..." he starts, feeling his throat go dry and his eyes start to sting.
It's never been Draco versus Crabbe before; and for the lack of familiarity alone, Vincent starts to panic.
"You what?" snaps Draco. He's drunk and inconsolable, and perhaps he doesn't see the horrified expression or the bright red tint on Crabbe's anxious face. "What the fuck would you know about anything? How the fuck would you know if it's 'going to be okay'?"
Several stories plummet in the confines of Vince's sickened stomach. He can feel the weight reach his toes and pool out in intestines at the ends of his chilled, frozen feet. "Draco-"
"No!" croaks Draco. He's crying all over again, but this time he stumbles back slightly and makes a swift grab for his cardigan on the floor. It takes him only a minute to clamor over the discarded whiskey bottle and past Crabbe's shoulder, knocking into it on his way. "S-Stay the bloody hell away from me!" he tells him cruelly. "God, you're such an idiot!"
And with that, Draco Malfoy slips back through the front door of the Room and out of sight, leaving Vincent Crabbe in the middle of all the wreckage. Crabbe's chest hurts. It hurts really bad and he doesn't know why.
Two more months. Whatever he's been dreading, Draco Malfoy's got two more bleeding months.
June comes. It's gloomy, as the saying goes.
Crabbe and Draco see one another like two passing ghost ships in the night; and Draco is barely there. He's a looming, lurking specter. He's a pale, foreign shadow in the rest of so much black. He isn't, however, the only thing that changes.
Crabbe's father stays out longer during the nights and, in his absence, Vince picks up the books he knows are the dark ones. He spots them by the light of the flickering candle, open and vulnerable on the mahogany desktop, just waiting for him to come wearily along. Because his father speaks of dark wizards and killing curses and ghosts that smile seductively in the night, Vince wraps his fingers around the edges and dives into the madness of unspeakable things.
The next time he sees Malfoy, Draco won't even look at him. He's standing next to his father and he's not in a cardigan, but instead a stark black suit with a swollen, black eye shut to match. Crabbe wonders silently who might have hit him there, over the steel gray pupil of what was once one of his strange and handsome eye. And Draco just watches any place but ahead of him. He gazes over at the clocks, and the deceitful looking portraits, and the elegantly crafted crown moldings. It's Lucius who does all the talking.
Long story short- he isn't there when Draco gets the Mark. He isn't a Death Eater, and so he isn't allowed, but Goyle comes over one night and tells him, "Malfoy's still unconscious in the dining room," as their parents sip wine over dinner. His eyes are wide and round, and his big flabby chins wobble when he leans his body forward and talks in low whispers just to make certain no one's listening. "My father said that Narcissa bitch got herself Crucio'd just trying to move him."
"Nobody can touch him?"
"Apparently not. He had some sort of fit, spewed up all over the place. That's what my dad said."
For some reason or another, the thought of Malfoy lying in the middle of the living room alone for two days makes Crabbe more angry than it does anything else. It blends into the lack of communication on Draco's part and forces Crabbe to immerse himself deeper into the dark books with their dark spells and the dark secrets that his father has been paying so much attention to. He doesn't even know why- one day he's sitting in the library flipping through pages of ancient curses and the next he's trying them out on the nearest hare unfortunate enough to cross his path.
Blaise Zabini calls him fat and he punches him hard in the gut. Adrian Pucey looks at him the wrong way and he knocks his tooth out just so he can't smile at him in that smug, self-satisfied way anymore.
It doesn't matter that Draco's not around; Crabbe just takes things in his own hands and fortunately enough the others all start to listen. Only when he lies in bed at night does an angry, drunken voice tell him, "Stay the bloody hell away from me!" When he closes his eyes and sees death behind the wrinkly folds of his eyelids, the very same one accuses, "God, you're such an idiot."
Vincent Crabbe wakes up in a bloody cold sweat. When Goyle's standing over him on one of those rough nights in August, gripping the bed sheets is all he can do to keep from hexing the life right out of the stupid bastard just to preserve his solitude.
Dumbledore dies on a Tuesday, and its raining when the train takes them back to their houses without Draco.
By the ice-coated glass, Vince sits in silence by Goyle and Zabini, who haven't said two words the whole trip. Pansy Parkinson won't stop bawling. Her eyes are wet. Her hair's a mess. She won't let anybody touch her and for the past hour she's been digging her fingernails into the seats just grinding, grinding, grinding. Crabbe thinks he sees the red painted surface crack, but he doesn't say anything. Instead he just thinks of Draco.
"Now what's going to happen?" asks Goyle after a long while of monotonous silence. Zabini's neck cracks when he turns it to glance at him, but Goyle just stares back at Vincent, waiting anxiously for an answer.
"Now what's going to happen?" snaps Zabini. "How the hell should we know? Hogwarts is fucked, the Wizarding World is fucked, and Malfoy's probably six feet under ground right now-"
There's complete chaos. Pansy makes a strange noise from the depths of her throat and she leaps out of the chair, looking absolute deranged and more animalistic than ever. "Shut up!" she's saying, over the loud clinging noises of the train around them. "Shut up!" Then she turns to the compartment door, wretches it open, and storms out without saying anything else.
The sound of the metal hitting wood echoes around the small space wildly. Despite the ringing reminder, no one says a word for the remainder of the trip.
Crabbe thinks about Draco being dead.
He thinks about how the pale body might look under gravel and decides, 'It'd be odd'. All those particles trapped like cement, deep into still growing fingernails. At night he pretends he's a corpse, too. Crabbe holds his breath underneath the covers and lies there with his eyes pressed shut and his lips parted and he doesn't move for hours.
When the sun comes up and the air from the garden smells like rotting flesh anyways, Crabbe cracks weary eyes open and scans the array of the still-gray morning. He thinks about how the dead always sleep and he finds himself hoping for one reason or another that Draco's eternal dream is about him.
Draco's not dead; Crabbe finds out four months later, after The Incident, and the war is eminent. Or so father says.
Draco is standing by his aunt when Crabbe first sees him. He looks down and doesn't glance up even once, but every time the woman raises her voice, Draco flinches. It makes Crabbe wonder where Lucius has gone off to. He takes in the blood stained walls and the peeling wallpaper and he contemplates whether or not they've killed him, old Lucius. Father hopes they have.
"Crabbe," says Lestrange with a large cocky smile, mockingly manneristic.
"Lestrange," says his father.
Bellatrix runs her fingers through Draco's blond hair. It is, as Crabbe notices, no longer perfect. Rather, the locks slide lifelessly through the witch's frail hands as she rakes herself through them, and Bellatrix smiles, tucking it carefully behind his ear. "My goodness, Draco," she says to him with insincere affection, "isn't that your little friend? Why don't you be a sweetie and say, 'Hello'?"
Draco looks up for the first time in the evening. His eyes are puffy and bruised, his lip is split, and his shirt sleeve is pulled far down over his left palm. His bloodshot eyes linger on Crabbe's face for just a moment. They waver while he holds them there and when he finally opens his mouth to speak, all that comes out is a crackly, "Hello."
Crabbe doesn't even reply back. Instead he just stands there and his chest fills with pride when his father places his own hand upon the broad stretch of his rounded shoulder.
Draco looks outright humiliated. He stiffens when the wicked woman pats him gently on the back and her laugh sounds crooked within the narrow hallway. "Good boy," says Bellatrix.
They sit at the large dining table for dinner. The Dark Lord is not there, but his snake slithers around their feet like a watch dog and Draco's face looks like stone in the moonlight. Fenrir wolfishly sniffs into the space between the blond's neck and his collarbone. He mutters something raspy into his ears and Draco just stares daggers into his dinner plate. He doesn't move, he just simply sits there.
Even days after, Draco doesn't speak to him. Instead, Crabbe watches stone gray eyes cloud over, staring at the walls or the floors or the vases. Draco takes every opportunity not to look at him- he busies himself with stumbling over his own two feet, fetching whomever Greyback demands he go fetch, burying whomever he demands he go bury.
It's as if it is not even Draco in the wiry body anymore at all. It's as if someone has reached in and pulled him quickly out. Just a shell; Crabbe thinks he might be just a shell.
Of course, it does make the next bit easy.
Crabbe is walking down the corridors when he spots him- Draco, of course. And he's alone. The Death Eaters have gone out and Draco has been left behind like a puppy forbidden to venture from the confines of the too big house. He starts off not meaning to scare him, but the big bouldering steps of his frame shake the hallways and the large black fog of his shadow stretches long. "Draco," he says, and he almost doesn't even recognize his voice.
Malfoy spins around, frightened. He looks like a deer in the headlights by the great, expansive window, but he freezes with his shoulders hunched and his mouth slightly parted. There is no more confidence about his demeanor anymore, and the lack of normalcy alone makes Crabbe initially uneasy. Draco doesn't say a word, and its strange too, how much the silence upsets him.
"So they've got you here," Crabbe spits at him. "All this time, you've been hiding out here." Really, he doesn't even know why he's mad, but Draco hasn't spoken to him in months and the unfamiliar person standing in front of him is too off putting. "Hey," says Crabbe, "look at me."
Draco stares at his feet and Crabbe can't help it. He feels his blood broil.
Before he really has time to think about it, Crabbe takes a fast lunge over towards Malfoy and pushes him to the ground. He's larger and it takes no time to pin his body to the floor- that damn floor, Crabbe even feels a ping of jealousy over the attention. And yet, he easily locks the slim wrists by Malfoy's temples, presses his own thick knees down hard on Draco's flailing legs. It takes a matter of two seconds- one minute Draco isn't looking at him and the next he can't find himself looking away.
When Crabbe's lips meet Draco's for The Kiss, it's sloppy and not at all romantic. Rather, Crabbe just presses his mouth down roughly on Draco's and Draco goes stiff underneath him. For a moment he doesn't move and Crabbe, working his lips in an awkward fiasco around Malfoy's mouth, feels elated when he supposes, for a moment, that Draco might just kiss him back.
However, Malfoy's moment of terror passes rather quickly. A frantic noise bursts out from his mouth and he panics wildly underneath him. Two arms reach up and try to shove Crabbe off of his body. He bucks his hips upwards and with an admittedly strong effort, tries to shove Crabbe's larger frame to the floor.
It doesn't work, of course. Crabbe only has a second to be truly hurt about the rejection and then, uncontrollably, his anger heightens. Instantly, the grip around Malfoy's wrists get stronger. Crabbe pushes his torso down into the wood and when Draco tenses up for another lurching movement beneath him, Crabbe slaps him- hard- across the face.
The reverberating sound echoes down the hallway; and for a moment Crabbe thanks his lucky stars that the Death Eaters are out. Draco's outright uncontrollable; Crabbe can hear his heart beating even from inches above him, and he reenforces his hold over the smaller torso. The next time, when he kisses him, his hands fumble down to the button at the top of his trousers.
Crabbe thinks of the boy on the train next to Pansy Parkinson, who he had once been so foolish in thinking he'd marry. He thinks of the blond locks of hair and the smug expression on his face- the way that Theodore Nott had pinned him up against the compartment wall by the collar of his shirt. He thinks about how much blood had poured from his pointed, angular nose and how much had dribbled down the front of his clothing. He thinks about how those gray eyes had looked at him, how grateful he had been for saving his life...
Now, Draco doesn't look so grateful anymore. To fix the problem, Crabbe lifts his burley arms and turns Malfoy clumsily back over, ignoring the way that his chin slaps the floor and slices deep into the skin, bleeding red all over- just like the first time. A frantic sound, like a trapped animal, comes out from Draco's throat and Crabbe rams his head back into the floor, where Draco goes still. His eyes glaze over and Crabbe is satisfied in the way that they're nothing more than two cloudy orbs now.
There's no appreciation there, sure, but isn't a spot of anything else, either. "Hey," he says, though he's not really sure why he says anything at all. "Shh."
Crabbe yanks Malfoy's trousers down to his ankles, pulling his pants down with them. The pale, white arse looks skinny and delicate in the moonlight; and when the realization hits, Draco immediately snaps back to his senses. He gives another admirable struggle and Crabbe easily towers over him. He jabs his elbow down roughly and Malfoy cries out against the rug, tears fresh against his sunken cheeks. "Vince..." he says.
"Who's that?" asks Crabbe. And then he makes sure Malfoy won't forget.
There isn't much to do with the body. Draco passes out half way through, gurgling on his own spit; and Crabbe just lifts up the limp form of him and takes him to his bedroom. He lies the handsome boy beneath the covers and shuts the door quietly. When the Death Eaters come back and Crabbe is sitting by himself by the armoire, no one even questions Malfoy's absence.
In the passing days afterwards, however, Draco still won't look at him. Instead, Malfoy passes him by with the paled look of an embarrassed teenager, awkwardly shuffling through the house with puffy eyes and a runny nose. He hides out frequently behind the closed (and locked) door of his bedroom and when Crabbe calls his name out from the other end of the wood, Draco pretends he's sleeping.
His mother seems to notice. He flinches when she reaches out to touch his long, blond hair- shoulders arched, eyes squeezed, breath hitched. For a moment Narcissa stays questionably still and then, a little hoarsely, she asks, "Draco, are you feeling sick?"
To which Malfoy shakes his head and replies, "I just need to lie down."
It goes on like that for weeks. Crabbe assumes Malfoy doesn't mention anything to his parents- or anyone at all for that matter- because no one speaks a word of it to him. Rather, the Death Eaters speak in hushed tones amongst themselves and plan to take the school two nights later.
Then Crabbe finds himself chasing after Draco, not down the corridor of the Manor, but instead through the rumbling wreckage of his childhood school.
He stalks him to the Room of Requirements, holds his wand up to the uninteresting likes of Harry Potter, and when Draco doesn't kill him, Crabbe knows that he's weak. He tells him he doesn't have to listen to him anymore, kicks lost items across the floor, spits in his face. Draco yells after him, "Don't kill him!" and Crabbe just loses it. He wants Draco to die more than he even wants to hurt that precious boy, Potter.
And so for that reason alone, he ignites it.
When Crabbe feels the first prickle of fire at the hem of his trousers, he almost pisses himself.
He's hovering in the middle of the Room of Requirements and he can't control the flames spewing from the end of his wand so he drops it and watches the thin stick fall to the roaring orange of hot magma below. Around him, he can hear the whooshing noises of boys on brooms- very much like the sound of the ones that wouldn't let him play all those years ago- and that Weasley is calling out. They're all shouting for someone else that is not him.
A cry from above him jolts Crabbe's attention to the rocking dressers. Draco and Goyle are perched up a bit higher than he is and, every so often, he spots Malfoy's eyes drift downwards, hears his dry voice helplessly whimper over the harsh sound of licking flames. In that moment, he regrets ever casting the Fiend Fyre in the first place. The act feels forbidden and horrible at the tips of his fingers and he wants, more than anything, to pull back time and make the world all cool again. Less hot. Less Hellish. But of course, there is no going back now.
The flames grow higher on the fabric of his left leg. They push through the thread and snag on his skin, burning so harshly that Crabbes fingers loosen. He knows he can't hold on any longer- and the thought of falling in front of those school boys makes his heart pound faster in his chest. He can't think of anybody he wants to be in the world now except Vincent. Not Crabbe, but Vince- the one in the window. The one who wouldn't even qualify to marry Pansy Parkinson. The one who had been told more often than not that Gregory Goyle could be his very own brother.
He wants to feel his mother's hand on his back, rubbing in circles and promising him that perhaps he'll make the Quidditch team. What he wouldn't give to hear his father scold him, Adrian Pucey poke his tongue out at him, or Theodore Nott trip him in the halls. He'd go back- to that compartment on the Hogwarts Express- and save Draco Malfoy from certain death and just stare at him for years on the other side of the train's narrow hallway.
And then someone shouts, "Crabbe!"
Before he can even register that the drop in his stomach is due to nothing more than the drop in his elevation, Vince- not Crabbe- looks at Draco. Sweating and barely dangling from the highest dresser, above the flames, Malfoy watches him go to the depths of the Hell he'd created. And for some reason or another, a part of him looks sad.
He wants to yell back, "Draco!" but the mouth of purgatory opens up and swallows him whole and then, Vincent Crabbe is nothing but the newest addition.
Vonne: Please review!