A/N: Love to signofthetimes, CB and reviewers.
Dedicated to for her suggestion.
This is officially AU, or at least not strictly canonical to the SIH-verse.
To new readers, this is part of a verse of dense, self-referencing stories, and will make no sense to you unless you've read 'Strange and Invisible History' and 'Influence of Souls'. Please don't PM me complaining it makes no sense.
Pavel knew something was wrong when Lucius Malfoy nodded to his wife almost as soon as they'd returned from seeing the Dark Lord. The woman nodded back, and touched his arm gently.
'I think I will retire, gentlemen. We will retire, I mean.' She meant the little adder, who was toasting in front of a small brazier that was set up for that purpose. The snake hissed agreeably and twined about her arm, resting his head on her wrist as they went upstairs, Narcissa speaking softly to him, calling him a good boy.
'Go into my study, please. I'll be in shortly.'
Pavel clutched his wand tightly but nodded. He spoke excellent English, but there were still times nuance was lost on him, or words had a slightly different meaning regionally. This, obviously, was something like that, some cultural thing that was only between men.
He went in and stood in front of the desk, uneasy despite his attempts not to be. He had no reason to believe Malfoy meant to hurt him; they were on the same side, and hurting Pavel would blow his cover here. So probably he was safe enough, as safe as he could be in a hostile country.
The door closed and he spun, wand raised, and then lowered it when he saw it was only Malfoy.
'How did you find the Dark Lord?'
Pavel motioned round and Malfoy shook his head. 'This room is soundproofed and the elves check it daily for Peeping charms and wires. Speak freely.'
'It's disconcerting, that body, isn't it? The boy.'
'The boy, yes. He was my niece's best friend. It caused her great pain, I am given to understand.'
'I regret to hear that, sir.'
'So did I. But he was sane? No odd outbursts? No demands?'
Pavel summed up the conversation and Malfoy listened, nodding. 'That sounds like it went well, then.'
Malfoy sat down at his desk and leant back in his chair, steepling his fingers. 'You didn't expect to be summoned, I take it.'
'I was startled by how much it hurts. I apologise if I disturbed you.'
'Not at all. I am rather curious, however, about that word you used.'
'When you were being summoned.'
Pavel nodded. He hadn't been asked to sit down, he noticed abruptly. It added to his unease, and made his skin prickle. His predator senses were blunted in this fully-human body, but his mind was still wolfen, and that was enough.
'Romanian is my first language, sir.'
'Of course it is. I'm just wondering what that word means.'
Malfoy leant forward again. 'I see. You know, I'm sure, the importance of keeping your cover?'
'I do. Again, my apologies.'
'Mmm, quite so. How bad, precisely, was this word?'
Pavel fought the urge to drop his head. His body, he suspected, was reacting in human fashion, muscle memory and Malfoy Jr's brain chemicals conspiring to give this reaction. His cheeks were flushing, he found, his hands damp.
'I see. Was that something your parents tolerated?'
Honestly, yes, it was. His parents would never have tolerated being sworn at, but if an obscenity slipped out, as long as they weren't at his grandmother's or somewhere like that, neither of them would had said anything.
'My people do it rather differently.'
'That does not answer the question.'
'I am twenty-eight, you know.'
'I am aware. Would your parents have tolerated that sort of bad language, not to mention evasiveness?'
'They wouldn't have liked it.' The second part, at least, was true. Lucius Malfoy cocked his head a little, nodding.
'I see. You knew better than that, then?'
Pavel fought a visible squirm. 'I can't help but think, sir, you are going somewhere with this.'
'No one has ever accused you of lacking perceptiveness, I take it.'
'Not to my knowledge. Of course, most people wouldn't say such a thing to the face of a werewolf.'
'There is that. What do you know of our house rules, exactly?'
Malfoy Jr really hadn't briefed him. 'To avoid the portraits, because they'd know it was...they'd know.'
'Quite so. Anything else?'
'Nothing, sir, I can recall.'
'Ah. For one, bad language is not permitted. I do not use it, nor my wife. It would seem you have broken this rule, do you agree?'
He could hardly disagree. He'd already admitted it, for one, and for another, Pavel was sure this body would betray him. And he was curious, a bit, about where this was going.
'I did, yes.'
'Mmm. Even had you not used a foul word, you might have inadvertently outed yourself as a fake, is that right?'
'I certainly didn't mean-'
'Of course you didn't. But the fact remains, that could have been quite a serious blunder. Is that so?'
'It is.' Pavel swallowed hard, young Malfoy's body feeling hot and anxious and, well, a little like prey. He, himself, wasn't all that uneasy, but this body was, and it put his mind on edge.
'All right, then. We'll take care of that word first, I think. Open your mouth, please, and put your hands at your sides.'
'What do you mean to do?'
'Correct the objectionable behaviour. Hands at your sides, please.'
'I ask again, sir, what do you mean to do?'
'I have told you. One...'
Was Malfoy counting? Pavel blinked, too startled to form a coherent response. He dropped his hands and opened his mouth to protest.
'Two...good. Good boy.' He raised his wand and swished. Pavel was aware, first, of something in his mouth, sometimes dense, and then was aware that it tasted terrible, and he was a veteran of many terrible tastes.
He raised his hands to spit whatever it was and Malfoy's own reached out, seizing a wrist.
'No. You don't want to do that.'
Pavel fought the urge to gag. The taste was miserable, but simultaneously, his predator sense kicked in and told him, bad as it was, that it was not dangerous.
'Five minutes. Go and stand in that corner, please, whilst we prepare to deal with the other thing. This moment, Pavel.'
Malfoy Jr was quite tall, taller than Pavel, but Malfoy Sr was taller than his son by two inches. He moved quickly, too, for such a large man; before Pavel had had time to process it, Malfoy had come round the desk and spun him, gently grasping his neck in order to guide him firmly-not cruelly but firmly-toward the corner.
'Hands on your head, please.'
Pavel complied, feeling like he would choke. This human body, once very like his own, seemed limited and weak, unable to shake the affects of the spell, which, objectively, weren't all that serious. He'd once dug glass out of his own arm with a butterknife, and after the British Ministry, had fixed his own broken ribs, healing the multiple breaks in the rest of his arm at the same time.
'You're fine.' Malfoy gently clamped his shoulder, sounding very close to his ear. 'It is unpleasant but you cannot choke on it. I will stay right here until your time is over, all right?'
Pavel managed a nod. It was a very long five minutes, to say the least. His very mouth felt foreign to him, full of saliva as well as the foamy substance.
An elf popped in. He felt Malfoy shift and then something was directly in front of his face. 'Spit it out, that's right. Don't be shy, just spit it out.'
Pavel did. The taste lingered, making him want to swish his mouth out. 'Water?'
'The taste is a consequence of your poor choice. We've still a ways to go.'
'What you did was dangerous. It could kill us all.' Malfoy gestured, cutting off his protest 'I know it was an accident. But we can't let it happen again. I'll need you to trust me that this is the best thing.'
Pavel started to shake his head and Malfoy took his chin, raising it. He squirmed against the hold, instinctively sensing that he wouldn't like this. Hadn't he often used this same technique to assert dominance over the others?
'You may either agree to submit to my discipline now, in the knowledge that I will not hurt you, or tell Snape about your lapse. He also will not hurt you, but it could well weaken your position with him.'
'Why do you want to do this?'
Malfoy smirked a bit. 'Any number of reasons. Mainly, I am curious about what wolves are made of.'
'You think you can manipulate me into agreeing by calling me a coward?'
'Yes.' It was utterly bald, a flat statement of truth.
'What do you mean to do, precisely?'
Malfoy didn't answer directly. Instead, he smiled a bit and sat on the small divan that stretched along the wall of the study.
'If you come directly, then I shall contemplate permitting you to keep your small clothes up for the first half.'
Pavel snorted out loud, hand on the wall. 'You can't be serious.'
'As spattergroit. That's one.'
'I am twenty-eight years old.'
'You've mentioned. Two. It will be most unpleasant should I get to five, incidentally.'
'You've proved your point, Malfoy.'
'I disagree. Three.'
Pavel stood rooted to the spot. 'This is absurd.'
'All the more reason you will wish to avoid this in the future. You may put your wand on the desk or else hand it to an elf, whichever you'd like.'
Pavel hadn't willingly disarmed himself since he was eleven. 'I'll keep it, thank you.'
'I am not sure I believe you quite understand this. You are being punished. In a moment, I have every intention of taking you across my lap and smacking you like a disobedient child. You may either cooperate, inasmuch as making the choices permitted you is giving you that option, or you may fight, but fighting will make things harder for you. Four.'
'At least stop counting.' Pavel knew he could duel Malfoy Sr. He was as magically talented, and he was also at least ten years younger, which would negate the differential in their heights. In this human body, his wolf reflexes were out of the running, but he had confidence in his abil-
Malfoy sighed deeply and stood up. 'Minky, take Mr. Pavel's wand. That's five.'
An elf appeared and abruptly, Pavel's wand was gone, the elf holding it soberly, eyes very sad.
'Thank you, Minky.'
Pavel realised belatedly that Malfoy was closer to him than he'd thought. He was used to having faster reflexes, and when Malfoy's hand clamped down on his arm, he tried to turn, thinking he ought to have heard him, and then was being tugged toward by the elbow.
To his credit, Malfoy was not being brutal by any stretch. He propelled Pavel briskly along but when his foot caught the edge of the rug Malfoy immediately stopped, righting the wolf in his son's form, quickly making sure he wasn't hurt.
Still, as soon as he was sure Pavel wasn't hurt, he kept marching him until they reached the edge of the divan. Malfoy, still clutching his neck, sat, and then, somehow, improbably, he was draped awkwardly across Malfoy's lap, the man's elbow gently pressing down on his back right between his shoulder blades to keep him from putting his head up, pinning his wrists to the small of his back and his leg draped over Pavel's own to prevent him from moving. He was, in other words, thoroughly stuck.
He felt Malfoy's hand (a very large hand, he noticed nervously) gently probing about his stomach. 'Lift up.'
'Lift up so I might pull your trousers down.'
One of those very large hands cracked down directly on Pavel's arse. It hurt! He squirmed, biting back a gasp. 'Stop that!'
This time it was two. The burn was spreading unpleasantly. Malfoy stopped, resting a hand on the small of Pavel's back in a way that felt a warning to him.
'I will give you one more chance, and I suggest you take it, or else I will send for my wife's hairbrush and use that instead. Lift up, please.'
Pavel lifted up, face red, squirming, half unable to believe that he was doing this. If he had his usual body...he didn't, and that was the point. He buried his face in the cushion of the divan as the man casually undid his belt and lowered his trousers, and then, with no fanfare, his pants.
'I'm sorry, were you trying to get my attention? That's hardly a very polite way to do it.'
Pavel tried to give his voice as much authority, as much alpha, as he could in his current position. 'Pull those back up. This joke has gone quite far enough.'
'I agree. Minky, Mistress's brush, please.'
'You said you weren't going to use the brush.' He tilted his head to try and speak to Malfoy, who eased down on his elbow to stop Pavel's squirming.
'I said perhaps, and this attitude is not helping your cause. Now, why are you being punished?'
'Is this necessary?'
Malfoy huffed and lifted his hand, presumably to take the brush from the elf. 'Some people, Minky, must learn the hard way. All right, then. Brace yourself, this will hurt quite a lot.'
That was an understatement. At least, at first, it wasn't the brush. It was Malfoy's incredibly-hard-and-not-getting-any-softer-hand. Pavel was shocked by how much it hurt, fighting the urge to kick and wriggle.
He was a werewolf, damn it! It shouldn't hurt like this! But it did, probably because of the fully-human body he was stuck in. He groaned through clenched teeth, fighting the urge to snap and snarl to scare the larger male, to make the pain stop.
Malfoy continued to smack, totally unperturbed by Pavel's reactions. He stopped for a second to tug him closer and pressed the same hand he'd been swatting with against Pavel's back.
'This room is soundproofed, remember?'
Pavel groaned again, tasting salty blood on his tongue. Malfoy kept his hand on the younger man's back.
'I'll be looking you over very carefully after. I don't recommend biting your lip or anything else, because self-harm is a much more serious offence than bad language. This is your sole warning.'
When he started again, Pavel, sensing he was serious, didn't bite down. He turned his head away and breathed deeply, trying to intellectualise the pain. It was just a smacking, he told himself sternly. Children got this and didn't make a fuss, so surely he could...could...Malfoy was stopping again.
'All right.' He reached for something and Pavel tensed, knowing the brush was coming. Malfoy sighed deeply underneath him, clearly exasperated.
'I would ordinarily give you a good warm-up, especially because I perceive that it has been a long time for you. Is that correct?'
Pavel took another deep breath. 'Never.'
'No? Quel surprise. Be that as it may, the fact remains you have, once again, chosen the hard way. This will not end until I believe you have found sincere contrition, so I suggest you stop fighting me and work on convincing me that you're sorry.'
'It was an accident!'
'Yes, it was, but rather than admitting your mistake and accepting your punishment, you've been stubborn and difficult. Tell me, has it helped at all?'
Pavel did growl then, unable to put his anger into words. Malfoy brought the brush down directly on the crease between thigh and buttock and Pavel jumped, shocked by how terrible the pain was.
'Fuck! That hurt!'
'You do not growl at me. You are a man, not an animal.'
Pavel writhed, angry rather than in pain. 'Who are you to tell me that? You're a Death Eater.'
'I was, surely, and you led a guerrilla war on civilian targets, so let's don't get into it, hmm? Furthermore, what did we just say about your language?' He tapped Pavel briskly with the brush, clearly threatening him with another smack should he not give the right answer.
'Bad language is against the rules of the house.'
'Quite right. Since the mouth soaping clearly didn't have the desired effect, I will take care of that word this way.'
Pavel had exactly enough time to remind himself he was an alpha and not really fifteen before the brush came down with what was surely bruising force. He yelped, a human sound, and dimly realised his feet were kicking, and Malfoy was bringing down the brush again.
He wasn't sure how long it went on. The pain consumed him, blocking every other thing from his mind. His eyes were burning, his sinus cavities aching from holding in his tears.
Malfoy stopped again. 'Cry. It will help.'
Pavel said nothing, knowing he could only lose. Malfoy was gently tapping him again. 'I spoke to you.'
'What do you say when someone addresses you?'
'It depends on who it is.'
Malfoy actually laughed a bit. 'You are either terribly courageous or totally mad. Which is it, do you think, in this position?'
'I'm not actually fifteen, you know.'
'No, and that hasn't helped you a bit. If you haven't noticed, Mr. Pavel, this is not a circumstance conducive to dignified repartee.'
Pavel huffed. 'What do I need to do, then?'
'What do you do when someone addresses you?'
'Speak to them.'
'Correct. I've suggested you cry to help manage the pain. And because I will not let you off my lap until I feel sure you've got the message.'
'You're doing this. Need you take my dignity as well?'
'What dignity? You are not alpha in this position. You are the same as any Wizarding child would be, getting punished for reckless behaviour and cheek.'
He started again, and this time Pavel found his will to fight it was ebbing. It was doing him no good, and to his shock, the pain never seemed to lessen as his body adapted to it. If anything, it got worse, and finally he could control his tears. He sniffled, pain-tears rolling down his cheeks, and struggled harder as his body reacted to the agony of the brush.
Oddly, this pleased Malfoy. He said nothing, but carefully moved Pavel slightly, which boded no good. Pavel had no time to react before the first swat burnt onto the back of his thighs, one and then another. The pain was overwhelming, hurting even worse than his arse had.
Every so often, the brush would stop the trek knee-ward and go back to that hideously sensitive area between bum and thigh, giving a few measured smacks to make the burning throb deeper and more awful before the brush returned to his thighs, until it stopped a handsbreath above the hollows of his knees.
'Are you ready to discuss your behaviour now, Mr. Pavel?'
'Good. What have we learnt?'
'No bad language.'
'Yes, good. And?'
'Be more careful about using English.'
'Yes. What else?'
'You don't care much for flippancy.'
Malfoy snorted and gave him a mild tap. 'Fair enough. We're going to take care of that word you used a few minutes ago, and then we're done. Brace yourself.'
Pavel had time to wince before the brush came down right on where he sat in a rapid-fire tattoo of sheer fire. He gasped, squirming and crying openly, unable to believe how much it hurt. Malfoy repeated it on the other side and then rested the brush on the small of his back.
'No more bad language.'
'Then we're done.'
Malfoy made no move to release him, however. Pavel almost didn't care. He nodded exhaustedly, head down, tears trickling down his cheeks.
'Take as long as you need.'
Pavel nodded slowly. 'You don't mind touching a werewolf.'
'I don't mind touching a man whose devoted himself to helping our family.'
'Your son speaks very highly of your wife and yourself. He misses you terribly.'
'And we him, but with people like yourself and Lemuel Scabior about, I feel better with him abroad.'
'I'd like to get up now.'
Malfoy spelled his pants and trousers up before he stood. Pavel's hands flew back to rub at once. The rasping of his trousers was overwhelming given how sore he was.
'That really hurt.'
'No doubt it did. You'd really never...?'
Malfoy nodded slowly. 'Ah. You knew about it, though.'
'Scabior enlightened me. He's a very interesting fellow, Lem.'
'His experience was no doubt quite a bit different.'
'To put it mildly.'
'He's a bright fellow. I wonder what he might have done with a better start in life.'
'He's achieved quite a lot, I'd say.'
'Of course. We cannot always control the hand we're dealt, but some of us decide to make the best of things.'
Pavel raised a brow. 'That was really quite subtle.'
'I save subtly for politics. I might not especially approve of some of your actions, Mr. Pavel, any more than you do mine, but I respect that you've worked to better your lot.'
'Thank you. I have great esteem for your obvious love for your son. My own parents were much the same way.'
'Do they know?'
'That I'm a werewolf? Yes. About my line of work? No. They think I work for a surveying project.'
'It must be very hard on them, having you far away.'
It was. 'They're glad I'm doing something I feel passionate about.'
'Passion is important. So is being circumspect. It seems you might work on that.'
Pavel laughed softly. 'This again?'
'It bears mentioning if you want to avoid a repeat of this evening.'
'I'm going back to Bulgaria soon.'
'You will find, Mr. Pavel, I've got very sharp ears.'
Pavel laughed and Malfoy joined him, the whole weird thing finally over. Perhaps...