a trick question (erb_) wrote in zhficrelay,
a trick question

Eleven: The Nose Knows

keywords: the passing mention of someone (female!!!) having a child or being pregnant, postcards from Harry to Zacharias or vice versa, a very old car in the process of falling apart, the mocking of great literary figures, smoking that is not in any way portrayed as sexy or arousing--be realistic about it.

first off, thank you all so much for your comments on this entry. and feel free to make more, if you haven't already.

secondly, i really coudn't think up of a title for this. if you can think of anything, please tell me. if not, i'm sticking with "untitled & smelly" (not because it stinks, because it's about smells.) ;)
title found. :P

about 1,700 words and officially the longest thing i've ever written. wrote? agh, i'm on cold medication right now. i'm going to use that as my excuse for the comma abusage in this, because i'm pretty sure i've finally crossed over that line with this one.

this isn't so much harry/zacharias as it is about harry and, oh yeah, zacharias is there too, i guess. rated pg-13 for language and mentions of sex, and a warning for passing mentions of het.

The Nose Knows

After eleven years of fame, fortune, and unusually clear skin, Harry Potter has thrown himself down to the bottom rung of the social ladder. He’s taken up life as a Muggle.

Leaving the wizarding world was not the grand ordeal the Daily Prophet made it out to be. He did not ride through Diagon Alley on his broomstick, shaking the hands of every business owner and kissing every baby. He did not buy all the children free ice cream as a parting gift. He did not stop at Azkaban or Hogwarts to soak in the nostalgia. He certainly did not stand at the top of a grassy hill and wave goodbye as the sun set, casting his form in silhouette and outlining him in gold. In fact, the Prophet hadn’t even realized he was gone until months after he’d left, and it took them another month still to come up with a reasonable excuse as to why no one could remember Harry Potter’s Grand Finale (“We’ve removed that memory from your mind, Mrs Madley, so as not to cause you too much grief over the loss of a hero dear, dear to our hearts.”).

No, two years after living up to his expectations and defeating Voldemort at age nineteen, Harry woke up, made himself breakfast, grabbed his trunk, and walked away, leaving everyone none the wiser. Why? There was no one to stay for, really. No parents, no relatives of any kind (he refused to count the Dursleys), Sirius gone in his fifth year, Hermione and Ron both found dead three days before Voldemort’s defeat… that was his excuse. But the reason, well, that’s a little less dramatic. Harry was lonely. That’s it. So, staying true to his habit of making decisions that don’t make much sense at all, he went somewhere where no one would know him.

And now, at twenty-one, as he wakes up and stretches his arms, his legs, his back; as he rubs his eyes and tousles his hair; as he tries to remember that very good dream he was having that’s made him wake up as hard as he is, Harry Potter is unknowingly moving closer and closer to that moment, that pivotal blip, where he will find out he’s not alone.


Something Harry’s always had, but has never told anyone about, is an acute sense of smell. Before Hogwarts, he could tell what Uncle Vernon had for lunch when he yelled at him; at Hogwarts he could differentiate what girl his mates had been with by smelling their shirt or their hair. He doesn’t know if it’s a wizard thing, or if he’s just very strange. Both, probably.

It’s Monday. The first Monday, as far as Harry’s concerned. He’s bought a tiny office building in London, splurging for a view of the Thames. He plans on… well… he’s not exactly sure what he plans on selling, yet, but he’ll figure it out soon enough. He hopes. No, he’s sure.

He’s hired a secretary, as well. Her name is Margaret and her hair is red and curls all the way down her back. Must weigh at least five-hundred pounds, Harry thinks as he watches her unpack her things. Her desk is right outside his door, and he leans in the cracking doorjamb, arms crossed and both feet planted firmly on the ground. He’s invested in a pair of square, black-rimmed glasses he saw on every other CD cover after accidentally walking into a large music store (he was looking for a grocers, and was obviously very, very lost). His hair is gelled, the style at least halfway successful.

Margaret sits down and taps her white-tipped fingernails on her protruding stomach. Harry’s pretty sure she’s pregnant—hopes she’s pregnant, and makes a mental note to find a backup secretary. Harry gives her something to do to keep her busy, something she could never possibly finish before he figures out what exactly it is he’s doing here. She stands up and passes in front of him; her hair smells like peaches and traffic.

So that’s Monday. Every Monday is peaches and traffic. For a while, until the baby gets too big and it’s just uncomfortable, every Monday night is peaches and traffic as well.


The first postcard arrives Tuesday. It’s not even a postcard, exactly, it’s a piece of white cardstock with a stamp and Harry’s business address on the front, and a short, cryptic note on the back. There’s no return address, so he can’t tell the bastard to fuck off, but he does tell Margaret to do so when she starts asking too many questions and flashing too much thigh.

Only when he’s alone does he smell the note. It smells crisp, like it’s never left its packaging. It’ll take him all of three hours and a lunch trip to the post office (to drop off an order form for more paper clips and manila folders) to fix the smell with its owner. And it’s only underneath the glaring, overhead lights that Harry sees a “Zac”, firmly—but not completely—erased.

Tuesday is cardstock, fresh from the post office.


Wednesday will forever, in Harry’s mind, be old, rotting books. Margaret’s come down with a horrible bout of morning sickness, and so Harry stops doing nothing early to go visit her. Her flat is large and pompous, near the top of a luxury suites building in the middle of downtown. She has an elevator that opens directly into her living room and a wall made entirely of Italian marble. Her husband, Harry’d found out after sex on Monday, had developed his own brand of perfectly balanced vodka and a smaller line of malt beverages. He’d died tragically of alcohol poisoning.

Margaret lets Harry in, offers him a glass of her late husband’s vodka, which he declines, and then spreads out on the couch. She’s wearing a low-cut black camisole (taking advantage of her swollen, milk-laden breasts) and a pair of black maternity jeans. She doesn’t look as though she’s suffering at all. In fact, the only thing that appears wrong with her life at all is the piles of dust collecting on the bookshelves.

Harry looks over the titles as Margaret looks over London, eyeing it like a disapproving mother. Shakespeare, Homer, Dickens, Pope, yeah, they’re all there. And they’re all shit, Harry scoffs internally. He’s never been much for reading. Takes too long.

Especially Pope, the fucker. Can’t understand a word that man says, regardless of what Zacharias Smith may have said on the way back from a Herbology lesson. Had anyone really been talking to him, anyway? Harry asks himself as he flips absently through the yellowed pages.

Ron had asked Hermione about “this Alexander Pope character” she was always carrying around, and Zacharias felt it very important that he shove Harry out of the way to argue with Hermione about meter and ABAB or CCDD or XYZ-whatever.

Anyway—Harry slams the book shut, drawing Margaret’s attention away from the window—he refuses to think of Smith any more than his subconscious is already feeding him. Blathering on about the former Hufflepuff, even if it is only in his head, is not going to help get those curls, those long fingers, those slightly dipped hips peeking from underneath sopping wet Quidditch trousers out of his head.

“I, uh, I think I’ll have that drink, after all.”


Harry goes in to work early Thursday morning, determined to find a direction for his business by closing time. A man can only go so many days rearranging little, plastic boxes of paper clips, building staple forts, and writing dirty haikus (the ones from Tuesday complete with illustrations) on yellow notepads and still call it work.

He sighs because it’s gloomy and grey and the fog is drifting off the top of the Thames, and that’s what he’s supposed to do in these circumstances, right? His sigh quickly turns into a gasp and a groan as a car with no doors and three tires runs straight into the electricity box fueling his building. The lights flicker and then shut off. The coffee maker stops bubbling. The neon clock made out of old bottle caps stops ticking. With shuffling feet, Harry goes outside to check on the passenger.


“I hate you,” Harry hisses from behind his desk as he decides Thursdays will be motor oil and burnt rubber and is that gin he smells?

Zacharias Smith pouts and reaches into the inside pockets of his tan trench. “That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?”

“What—what are you doing here? Here, of all places!” Harry’s whispering very loudly and sitting on the floor in near darkness, the windows with the view he’d paid extra for finally paying him back. He can see Zacharias’s outline, and he can see how it’s changed. His face is no longer round and squishy, but sharp and defined. His hair is unruly and turning brown. His lips are full and there’s a patch of blond fuzz on his chin. He looks even better than he does in Harry’s fantasies, albeit a bit on the starved side, a thought which makes Harry clench his teeth and hit his head against the back of his desk.

“Don’t you have candles?” Zacharias asks, one eyebrow cocked while his eyes examine post-war, Muggle Harry Potter from a distance.

“No,” Harry murmurs, kicking at a pile of staples on the floor. Zacharias shrugs.

“No matter. I’ll just use this.” A quick flick of his thumb and his lighter is aflame. Harry looks from it to Zacharias once, twice, probably more times than that, but the disturbing weirdness of the situation is finally settling in and his mind is wandering. Plus, he asked a very important question earlier and he wants an answer, damnit. “Now, let’s get a closer look at you, yeah?” Zacharias asks as he moves closer in harsh, staggering movements.

Harry pulls his legs up to his chest out of habit, but looks Zacharias straight in the eyes. Zacharias, who scours his face with his eyes, who holds the lighter too close to Harry’s skin. Zacharias, who should be behind his eyelids, who Harry should’ve left in the toilet or in a tissue or Margaret, or, as it’s been lately, in his bed or on his couch after a nap. Zacharias, with his yellowed teeth and his dirty eyes, with his whooping cough and his rotting fingernails.

“Hey, you never did answer my question.” Harry inhales as Zacharias exhales. He crinkles up his nose. “Do you smoke?”

spectacular's next five keywords: Harry's dormmates, a sunset, something warm that shouldn't be, a rickety fence, and a watermelon seed spitting competition.

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