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

Fifteen: This Is That New Thing

keywords: Inspiration drawn from the song "Midnight Show" by The Killers, a theme of jealousy, an underappreciated female character we haven't already used, one of the characters having a thing for ties, the perfect crime.

This is embarassingly late. *blush*
But it's also roughly 3,000 words, so hopefully that makes up for it.
And it's happy.
THERE. ARE. NO. DRUGS. I know, I know. Step back. You mean Lani isn't a bitter, drug-crazed psycho with hypnoswirl eyes and butcher knives for hands? NO. Surprise! ;D
(Although can you imagine trying to type with butcher knife hands? Agh!)

LIGHT PG-13 for language and wee bit of girl on girl.
Title modified from the song "This Is That New Song" by Badly Drawn Boy.

This Is That New Thing

Harry stands in the shower, lets the water cascade over his shoulders as the sun waves goodbye. The bar of soap in his right hand is shrinking. The steam has almost filled the room, making it hard to breathe without taking deep, gasping gulps of air.

Harry’s skin is turning red and his fingers and toes have puckered up, but there’s nothing off about him. He isn’t frozen in shock or contemplating borrowing Dean’s razor for non-shaving purposes. He isn’t even masturbating.

He’s savoring.

He’s just felt the most amazing—no—intriguing sensation. It was quick and cooling, like the tingle of a minor healing charm, but sharper, much more distinct like a snap. A snap of fresh air encircling his neck.

Harry doesn’t know why this happened or what it means. He doesn’t know if it was magical and he’ll sprout wings by breakfast, or if it was natural and he’s just discovered another turn-on point. He doesn’t know. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe… well… maybe Harry just doesn’t know.

And maybe Harry just doesn’t care, either, because he’s standing in the quickly cooling water trying to memorize the feeling—this, this thing he knows he never wants to forget.

Secretly, because Harry’s never been one to put much weight on signs, he thinks maybe it was a foreshadowing, a little bit of honey that’s leaked out of the bottle and onto his finger (or, really, his neck).

Harry thinks that maybe, maybe he should be so lucky.


It was common knowledge that the Astronomy Tower was near impossible to get to yourself. It was near myth that it was not used purely for sexual exploration. In fact, if it wasn’t being used for class, there was a good chance someone would be up there—alone. Have a humungous essay due? Take a lantern and your texts up to the Astronomy Tower for some peace and quiet. Need a place to sketch or write? Go on up. Rather fond of flailing about and hopping up and down and calling it dancing, but don’t want anyone seeing? Astronomy Tower. And, yeah, okay, need a place to take him or her or maybe both in hopes of getting some? Mmhmm.

Possibly even more common knowledge, however, was that you could not just go up into the Tower. The entire point was to be alone, and people blundering in every fifteen or so minutes does not make for quality privacy.

And so the Ravenclaws, feeling it was their duty as “the smart ones”, set up a scheduling system. No one knew how far back the generations of Ravenclaws had been in charge of the Astronomy Tower because everyone who could still remember attending Hogwarts had grown up with it. Regardless, if you wanted to get time alone, you had to go through a Ravenclaw.

Many people did not think this very fair, especially those who were on bad terms with the Ravenclaws. Draco Malfoy, for example, made his opinion very well know as often as he could, just as he did with every other opinion he had every time it was quiet enough for his voice to be heard, and sometimes even when it wasn’t. But the Ravenclaws insisted that it was not an easy job, keeping track of who went when and how long they’d be.

“Lies, all of it,” Ron says in the Great Hall the morning after Harry’s shower (he hasn’t sprouted wings, by the way). “Oh sure, they whinge on enough, but it’s all rubbish. What they don’t want you to know is that they take bribes—”

“Oh, I don’t believe that at all,” Hermione cuts in, turning the page of an Advanced Arithmancy text. “I know quite a few Ravenclaws, and they’re all very nice.”

“Yeah, and then there’s Luna,” Seamus says, rolling his eyes goofily.

“But, no! Listen!” Ron tries to regain control of the conversation. “They take bribes for people who want to stay longer or who say they ‘need’ the room that night. They’re making a bloody fortune off of us, and they’re not saying a word.”

“Then how do you know, Ron?” Harry asks, looking up from the jam jar.

Ron flushes, a bit involuntarily, but he’s sure in his response. “Fred and George told me.”

“They would know, wouldn’t they?” Dean smiles. Hermione huffs and turns the page. Neville doesn’t think she’s actually reading, but doesn’t say anything, instead choosing to have another piece of bacon.

“That’s not even the worst part,” Ron says gravely. It’s near comical. “Since they’re always off taking our things so other people can have a go up there, they forget to block themselves in, right?” Seamus nods, leaning in so far that his tie skits across the top of the butter dish. Ron swallows noisily and continues, “Right, well, a lot of times they’ll tell someone they have the wrong time and have to come back whenever they say to come back, and then the Ravenclaws steal that person’s slot! They’re taking our slots, the ones we pay for, for themselves!”

“They make you pay?”

Harry, Neville, and Seamus turn around. Ron, Hermione, and Dean look up. Zacharias Smith is standing behind Harry, eyebrows raised, a lopsided smile on his lightly freckled face.

“They must not like you Gryffindors very much, eh?” Zacharias cackles.

“What do you want?” Harry asks, looking up with a scowl. From this position, Zacharias’s tie looks as though it’s pulled very tight.

I,” he begins in a snotty tone, “just came over for my book.”

Hermione dog ears the page she was on, closes Advanced Arithmancy, and hands the book over. Zacharias has to lean in between Harry and Neville to get it. Harry notices, and is annoyed that he even took the time to do so, that Zacharias’s shirt smells like the Quidditch pitch on a game day, freshly clipped and full of an unnamable, revigorating spark.

When Zacharias turns to walk away his elbow—mistakenly, of course—catches the back of Harry’s head. He throws Harry a sardonic grin and then ambles back to his own.

As Ron sputters at Hermione about borrowing things from Hufflepuff bastards, Harry pushes on the knot in his tie, which suddenly feels much too loose.


About twenty minutes til midnight, Ron shakes Harry awake, whispering “I was right! I was right!” and jiggling on the balls of his feet. Harry considers thwapping him with a pillow or, even better, his fist.

“Get your invisibility cloak, Harry!” Ron says, already digging through Harry’s trunk for it. Harry sees a glint in Ron’s eyes equaling mischief, and this wakes him up considerably. He pulls the cloak out from inside his pillowcase, shoves his glasses on (a bit too hard, “Ouch, dammit!”), and slips on his trainers.

Huddling together underneath the cloak, Ron shoos Harry’s questions away until Harry realizes where they’re going and shoots Ron a skeptical side glance. For a moment he wonders if this was worth getting out of bed for, but there’s Ron’s hand on his wrist and there’s that familiar sound of his breathing—too loud when he’s excited like this—and here comes the adrenaline, bubbling up inside the both of them, waiting to explode at any moment.

And then they turn the corner. They are not alone. Ron groans.

“No one was here when I left,” Ron grumbles.

“C’mon,” Harry says, pulling them flat against the nearest wall so no one tries walking through them. “What is this?”

Ron sighs. “It’s Luna. I told you that the Ravenclaws steal everyone’s slots. Remember?” Harry nods. “Yeah, well.” Ron fumes in the direction of the door.

“But, I mean. Why is everyone here?” Harry asks, standing on his tiptoes to see why a fair number of Hogwarts boys are staring and snickering and calling at a closed door. And then he sees something entirely new: the door isn’t closed. Well, it is, but it’s not. The door itself is closed, but they can all see right through it.

And there’s Luna. And there’s Pansy. And there they go, at it again, lips and hands and breasts. Milk white breasts, pressed firmly against each other, Harry notes.

“Why were you up here, Ron?” Harry asks, a tad vacantly, not looking away from the midnight showing.

Ron blushes, again slightly involuntary, and says rather hoarsely, “I was scheduled for tonight.”

“This is great!” a Gryffindor, too young to really appreciate the way Pansy slides her hips slowly up Luna’s body.

“Who cast the spell on the door?” someone else asks.

“Who cares?” another responds. “I want to know why no one ever thought of this before.”

“Luna and Pansy? Oh, I’ve thought about that.”

A tiny chorus of somewhat jumpy “Me too.”s.

“No, I meant the door thing, you git.” A pause. “Although they work pretty well together, don’t they?”

“Yeah, thanks for telling me about this, Seamus.”

“Yeah, thanks Seamus!”

“Seamus,” Ron growls. He steps out from underneath the invisibility cloak before Harry can stop him. Harry wonders how Seamus always knows everything.

None of them hear the clicking of Professor Snape’s hard soled shoes until it’s too late to scatter and hide. They’ve only just spelled the door back to normal as Snape turns the corner.

Harry, knowing how much shit he’ll get if he’s the only one there that doesn’t have detention, grabs the person nearest to him and scrunches the boy close underneath the cloak, eyes closed as he prays it’s Ron.

A curl bounces against his cheek.


Harry, painfully, opens one eye. Zacharias, hunched over from Harry’s hasty grab, glares up at him. The pointed tip of his tie sways back and forth just below the outside of the waistband of Harry’s blue and white striped cotton trousers as Snape throws detentions around like birthday confetti. Harry wonders why Zacharias is still in his uniform, and also why he wears his ties so tight.


After every DA meeting through the following three months, right up until the last meeting before the Christmas holiday begins, Zacharias stays after and helps Harry clean up. They never talk about it, or talk at all for that matter, but Harry knows this is Zacharias’s way of saying thank you.

Harry’s surprised at the kindness, but no one is more surprised than Ron. Ron, who Harry doesn’t need around after lessons anymore. Ron, who kind of sort of maybe just in a very tiny little way feels the beginnings of being replaced.


Christmas comes and goes, as does Zacharias, who went home for the holidays. Ron’s in sky high spirits all throughout the break and scowling the day the carriages bring everyone back.

That night Dumbledore’s Army gathers for a somewhat lax meeting. They spend more time than Harry thinks they should talking amongst each other, catching up, but Zacharias has brought a new book back with him, which has Harry’s undivided attention. It’s a book of Muggle fighting strategies his Uncle Eggbert (who lost three fingers, all of his toes, and went bald because of a fight and don’t you forget it, you ungrateful child) gave him as though it were his family jewels.

Zacharias points out the pages he’s dog eared and Ron can’t hear what he’s saying, but he does notice they both talk with their hands. He wonders if anyone else sees the way their fingers constantly smack against each other. He wonders what the hell is up with Zacharias invading his friends by giving them books. Harry doesn’t even really like books unless they’re about Quidditch. Ron knows these sorts of things because he’s Harry’s best mate. He bets Zacharias doesn’t know that.

And then he swallows, blinking owlishly. He wonders what Zacharias does know.


On the Monday in January that Hogwarts is blanketed in snow and it’s so cold that the Giant Squid almost freezes to death, Zacharias stands outside and watches Harry return from the Quidditch pitch.

Harry stops outside the main door, the one next to the wall Zacharias is shivering against, and looks up through the snow. There’s no wind to blow flurries in either of their eyes. The snow falls straight down. The air is biting all on its own. Harry’s nose is red. Zacharias’s eyes look warm.

“I fly better in the cold,” Harry states, entering the castle. Zacharias follows.

“I don’t think you flew at all,” he says, a step or two behind. There’s challenge in his tone.

Harry turns around, his thick hair thawing against his forehead. Zacharais’s curls are heavy and the snow does not melt as well. “Were you watching me?” Harry asks, followed immediately with a smirk and, “Do you want to get some cocoa from the kitchen? You look more frigid than McGonagall.”


The day the snow melted it stormed. The grass seemed to implode, giving way to sticky, thick mud. Miles and miles of mud, which of course found its way inside Hogwarts in almost no time at all. Mud was turning up in places no one would ever think to look for it, leaving everyone clueless as to how it got there and, more importantly, what they should do about the sloppy mess creeping in like a disease.

The obvious answer was to hold the first ever mud fight. Like most great things, it wasn’t planned. On their way to Herbology, Neville slipped (not for the first time) and fell on his back, the wind knocked out of him. Draco, who was on his way back into the castle, waited until Neville snapped back into it to throw mud in his face. Harry, turning their mudslinging into a literal term, reciprocated. Some passing first years decided to join in, accidentally hitting a group of older Hufflepuffs, who not-so-accidentally hit them back, and so on and so forth.

And that’s how it began.

How it ended was again by Snape, who didn’t feel like being forced to see so many students in detention and took an uncharacteristically large number of points, instead.

Zacharias pulled Harry behind greenhouse three, laughing. Mud was streaked across his face and dripping from his hair. Harry put his hand over Zacharias’s mouth, and they collapsed against each other in silent, delighted convulsions. After making sure Snape was gone, Zacharias made a show of brushing the mud off of his tie. It was loose and a little crooked. Harry smiled at that, not even caring to wonder why it mattered to him at all.

“Well then,” Zacharias said, fighting down another round of laughter. “I suppose my debt is paid. You saved me from detention last term, and I’ve just saved you. Although I should win bonus points, since I did it on purpose.”

Harry couldn’t help it. He’d been spending too much time studying with Hermione. He had to point it out. “But Snape wasn’t giving out detentions. He just took points.”

Zacharias elbowed him in the head. Harry grabbed his elbow and pushed him away. The mud shifted underneath Zacharias’s trainers, stained brown like everyone else’s, and he fell, pulling Harry down for the ride. Their bodies plopped into the mud, sending it splattering against the glass walls of the greenhouse.

They were late for class, mud was seeping into their socks and their ears and down their necks, and the rain started up again. Harry and Zacharias just laughed, letting their skin absorb the earth and their bones become soaked. They didn’t even bother to care.


By the second week of April the school had dried up and the students sick from the mud had all recovered. Homework was building up due to the fast approaching NEWTS, so Harry spends most of his time playing Quidditch and watching the team tryouts.

“The way I see it,” Harry says over a game of Wizard’s Chess with Parvati, who’s surprised to be winning, “I don’t really need that many NEWTS. I mean, I’ve been studying a little, because I do want some, but I don’t need, like, six or ten or fifty or anything.” What he leaves out is that he’s somewhat shamefully relying on the scar over his right eye to get him an Auror position. Oh, and a tiny little mention of his spending all but three weeks of his sixth year defeating Voldemort might not hurt, either. (It was a unanimous decision to continue on with Dumbledore’s Army, as it had improved interhouse relationships and taught the members techniques a teacher would only grudgingly show them.)

“That doesn’t sound much like Harry,” Ginny says, under her breath, to Ron. He looks at Harry and then goes back to helping his sister study.

“Sounds like something Smith would say.”


Zacharias is the first to bring up life after Hogwarts to Harry, whose stomach clenches at the thought of the world, big and open, completely unsympathetic. Zacharias mentions a flat in Ireland that his bald Uncle Eggbert, the one with no toes and seven fingers, is looking to sell. He thinks he could get a family discount for it, and the rent is affordable, but that he’d need to find someone to help him pay for it.

The grass is overgrown and bright green as the sun shines through it. Harry’s on his back between Zacharias’s legs, the blond’s Hufflepuff tie wrapped around his head. It’s making his hair do crazy things and Zacharias just wants to push it. Just push it. Please. It’s giving him a twitch. But he swallows his anal retentiveness, because when Harry looks up through his eyelashes, the sun raining down between the leaves of the tree Zacharias is leaning against, dappling Harry’s face, it’s… well, it’s almost cute. If Zacharias were girlish enough to think things cute, anyway. Then it would be. Sort of. He supposes.

Harry’s hands reach up and rest on Zacharias’s knees, which escape through the holes in his jeans, and Harry begins telling him how he’s never been to Ireland and the things Seamus, Dean, Neville, and Ron do that drive him off his knocker. He tells Zacharias of things he’s always dreamed of doing, the mundane and bizarre swirling together into fantasies of finishing an entire crossword while watching the ocean slam against sharp rocks. Zacharias takes mental notes.

Fifty feet in the air, Ron swarms over the tree they’re sitting under. He can’t see them, but he knows they’re there. He can hear their voices, even if he can’t make out the words. He hopes they think he’s just a cloud.

But good on you, Zacharias, really, Ron thinks. He’s given Harry what he wanted without telling him that was what he’d been looking for. He’s confused and excited Harry. He’s given him something new. Zacharias has given Harry the spark he felt in the shower, the thing he savored as his skin burned red and the soap melted away. He’s become that new thing. He’s done what Ron wasn’t given the chance to do. He’s stolen Harry away, leaving everyone none the wiser. But good on you, Ron thinks.

Congratulations, Zacharias. It was the perfect crime.

spectacular's next five keywords: Hufflepuff flags, Draco Malfoy playing a supporting role, an oil lamp, buckets full of something (I'll leave that part up to you), and a flood.

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