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

Twenty-three: Wonderfully, Wonderfully, Wonderfully, Wonderfully Pretty

keywords: The line “I’ll stay awake for you, if you can stay awake for me,” a wealth of post-it notes with messages on them, stairways, Zacharias as an Auror but not Harry, and real, actual love.

Okay so, you know how near all beach fic is a bunch of artsy, pretentious hullabaloo? Well, I wanted to try and see if I could write beach fic and make it NOT artsy, pretentious hullabaloo. I started listening to Sigur Ros near the end, though, so it does get a bit "symbolic" if you can even call it that. But yes, I think I've done well. Okay so I basically just poked fun at it (SEE: the cheese danish post-it conversation). Point?

Plus there are pictures! OOH SHINY.

(Anyone who can name the two people who covered the song this title comes from AND where they performed it--WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP--is pretty darn cool, and will maybe get a drabble or something.)

PG, at most.
About 2,000 words.
ALSO: Harry has the small, all caps handwriting. Zacharias has the big girly kind. Just to clarify.

Wonderfully, Wonderfully, Wonderfully, Wonderfully Pretty

Harry’s damage is not that he has death on a leash, putzing along in his wake like so much untrained puppy. Hardly. The thing is, you see, (Zacharias steeples his fingers and firms his jaw.) Harry can’t write.

“But he’s writing a book?” Susan Bones asks through a raisin scone, one thin eyebrow arched. Zacharias takes a grave lick of caramel drizzled whipped cream.


And you’d think, you know, that if you’re really shit at something you’d notice, right? I mean, you’d be able to look at what you’ve just written and you might get chills under your arms or a bloody nose or maybe your hair would burst aflame or something, right?

“I mean,” Zacharias pauses to take another lick at his whipped cream, now mushy from the heat of the mocha latte underneath. “I’m quite brilliant at many a thing, so maybe that’s why I notice when others fail miserably, but…” he trails off, choosing instead to poke at his cheese danish and watch the filling smoosh about.

“Have I ever mentioned you’re a glistening picture of modesty?” Susan grins, a slightly yellowed tooth (too many coffees) scratching against a plump lower lip. She knows he’s only playing, doesn’t really think that highly of himself. Her hair is really shiny today, Zacharias notices.

“But, you know! It’s like… when I’m bad, I know I’m bad. But he’s so… so thick about it. I don’t know if he’s disillusioned or if he’s just severely confused but—”

“Aren’t those the same thing?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be quiet and let me talk?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be telling these sorts of things to a therapist?”

“Aren’t you my friend? Aren’t friends supposed to be a step up?”

“Aren’t you… aren’t you… oh phoo. You win,” Susan sighs.

“Huzzah!” Zacharias stuffs half of his cheese danish in his mouth in celebration.

Zacharias stops bringing home white boxes stuffed with cheese danishes, opting to eat them in a Muggle café with Susan every morning before heading down to the Ministry of Magic.

“He’s getting out of hand, Susan. I’m up to my aorta in disgustingly penned sticky notes with little French girls on them,” Zacharias says before Auror training on a particularly blustery Thursday. The sun, nevertheless, beats down on the filling dripping out of the pastry he’s waving up and down threateningly. “Help me fix him or I’ll jam this in your face.”

“Maybe you should encourage him?” Susan holds up a stubby-fingered right hand to catch Zacharias’s eyes in case they actually go through with this popping-out-of-his-head trend they’ve been leaning towards all morning. “You know, maybe he’s just hit an obstacle. Maybe he just has a line he needs to be pushed across.”

I’ll push him across something. And then over the edge. Mm, unless it’s our bed. I’d still push him across that. And then down into it. Again. And again. And again. And again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and god I love it when he takes his kit off in front of me.

“I don’t follow,” Zacharias says, looking slightly flustered. He arches his neck.

“My mum did some dabbling in writing when I was little, and whenever she’d be feeling inspired she’d whisk me up in a suitcase and take me to a cabin we rent near the moors. There wasn’t anyone around for miles, no scrutinizing eyes or anything, so she could really let herself go and focus on whatever she was inspired by. All I remember is she’d always put me in little white dresses and we’d go sit outside and I’d chase the birds until it rained and I started crying, and even then she’d stay outside, writing with runny ink for hours, sometimes.”

“That’s real nice and all, but how does it relate to my problem?” Zacharias asks, sucking danish filling off of his left pointer finger. Susan snorts sardonically.

“I don’t know, take him to a beach house or something. Give him someplace to breathe.”

“Someplace to breathe, hmm?” Zacharias rests his head against his right palm, idly eating his cheese danish from the inside out.


“Za… Zacharias I can’t… I can’t breathe I… what… I Zahhhh,” Harry manages around Zacharias’s smothering. He was sitting on the couch with a quill and a Muggle notepad, looking on the verge of “writing”. And that’s when Zacharias attacked, using none of his new Auror tricks and all of his hip region.

“We’re going on a trip,” Zacharias says, sort of lying between Harry and the back of the couch, dark blue fabric chaffing the small of his back where his thin white tee has been scrunched up.

“Are we then?” Harry asks, eyes half-lidded and lips resting comfortably on the crown of Zacharias’s shoulder.


“Mrrr,” Harry pouts and then licks a little, playful. Zacharias can feel Harry’s legs tense up and steadies himself, waiting to be pounced, rolled on, and possibly pushed to the floor.

“Well, we were going to go somewhere, but now I don’t know…”

Milk this for all it’s worth, mate. Milk… mmm. I’m hungry. I want porridge. Porridge with milk and cinnamon and milk and milk. Bugger this snogging thing. I need sustenance!

(on top of the milk jug)

Zacharias thinks a good idea might be to die.


The beach is windy, possibly even windier than it was at the café with Susan last Thursday morning. It’s very cloudy. Something is falling outside, but whether it’s snow or rain Zacharias can’t tell. Could be freezing rain. Maybe it’s hail. Could be lice for all he honestly cares.

The house is tiny, tinier than they’d expected it to be and much tinier than it’d been advertised at. But it’ll do. It has a toilet and a cooker and an ice box and a bed and a chipped wooden dining table with chipped wooden chairs. It’ll do. The outside was naturally sea green, but is now vehemently white. Zacharias plans on spending an entire day looking for something wrong with the paint job, refusing to believe it perfect. He’s yet to find one thing ever in all existence that’s been perfect, and he’s not able to admit defeat to some paint. (He will find his imperfections above the doorjamb where a sliver of green reveals itself behind the weather-warped wood.)

The lighting is particularly unfancy: each room has a lightbulb hanging from a chord in the ceiling, which is light grey and chipping dreadfully, much to Zacharias’s satisfaction.

“This’ll do nicely, I think,” Harry smiles. He looks hopeful and encouraged. Zacharias almost feels badly, knowing his motives. Well, almost anyway.

Harry wraps an arm around Zacharias’s shoulders, the tips of his fingers burying themselves underneath a forest of blond curls. He fumbles around in his pockets for the key to the door and, after finding it, unlocks the deadbolt, kisses Zacharias’s slick (it was raining, turns out) and shivering lips crookedly, and then heads for the toilet.

It’ll do.


The first sticky note finds Zacharias early in the morning. It must’ve been feeling merciful, because all it said was

which isn’t bad writing (a pleasantly radical change), but it’s still not good.

Zacharias sticks a piece of bacon in his mouth and searches around the counters and in the drawers for a pen. He finds that Harry’s already combed through the house, placing tiny, brightly coloured pads of sticky notes with French girls on them in every available place. Zacharias finds an uncapped pen on top of a pink pad in the cutlery drawer.


Zacharias yawns.

“Tired?” Harry asks after taking a gulp of the wine Zacharias had insisted they bring. He’d figured he’d get bored and, well, better to be bored and drunk than to be bored and nothing else.

“It’s the wine.” Zacharias watches the waves crash down into themselves, a harvest moon glinting them red. “But I’ll stay awake for you, if you can stay awake for me.”

“It’s good,” Harry mumbles. He nudges his right shoulder against Zacharias’s left, their sweatshirts pulling against each other. “So… how’s the Auror training going?”

“Fine, it’s going fine.”

“That it?”

“I think I’m getting sort of randy.”

“About the Auror training, I meant.” Harry nudges his shoulder again. Zacharias kind of shrugs.

“Yeah, I suppose. I mean, it’s training. Not much to say…”

“Yeah, I remember when I went in for my traini—” Harry cuts himself off.

“What?” Zacharias asks, turning to face Harry now. His eyebrows are furrowed and his nose is red. Both of theirs are, actually. Combination of the wine and the cold and the blushing.

“I… er… well, before we, you know… before we made this official or whatever, I sort of might have trained to be an Auror.” Harry scratches his head like his own past is confusing him or something.


“Er… heh. Heh?”

“You said—so you’re an Auror, too?” Zacharias grips his wine goblet very tightly.

“No!” Harry shakes his head and sucks in his lips. “I never went through with it. Never went to the final tests. Realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Found something better,” he says, tipsily patting Zacharias’s knee at the double entendre.

“You lied to me!” Zacharias exclaims.

Wow. You’re a dramatic drunk. Did you notice until now?

“Yeah, that’s true.” Harry takes another drink and then pours himself half a glass. He refills Zacharias’s glass. “This wine really is good. Oh, but yeah. I lie to you about a lot of things. Little things, of course. Nothing that would hurt anything or whatever. Just out of habit.”

Zacharias leans back into the swinging bench, suspended by chains from the top of the back porch’s shingled covering and made stationary by a large rock the last tenants had wedged between the swing and the railing. “Really?” He really wants to feel Harry’s back against his front, randomly. “Me too. I lie to you about things, too.”

Harry smiles, eyes on the ocean. Or maybe the moon. Not on Zacharias’s face, at any rate.

“Cheers,” Zacharias says, holding up his glass.

“Cheers.” Harry’s eyes smile as their glasses clink together.


There seems to be a trillion stairs leading down to the beach, and Zacharias takes each one carefully. They don’t seem sturdy and he’s not about to find out what’s living underneath them. He knows the home was rented to them by Muggles, but he’s not sure how Muggle of an area this is. He doesn’t want to chance anything.

He first sees Harry’s back, bundled up in a black pea coat with his old Gryffindor scarf flapping along behind him, having the time of its life. Harry’s walking along the tide, letting a good pair of jeans get ruined by salt water and, knowing his luck, crabs and jellyfish and pirates and vikings and great white sharks.

Zacharias curls his toes against the bottom stair and curses himself for stupidly thinking it’s always as warm as it looks outside, but then being much too lazy to go back up the stairs and slip on a pair of trainers.

He hops down from the stairs, walking oddly because of the cold, packed sand, and nudges Harry’s shoulder with his own from behind. His hands are too cold to take out from the natty brown blanket he’s wrapped up in.

Harry turns around and, without saying anything, without smiling or blinking or even breathing, puts two sticky notes on Zacharias’s face, one on each cheek. He’s jogging up the stairs soon after, swatting uncoordinatedly at a seagull trying to eat his hair.

spectacular's next five keywords: something thrumming, the pale light of dawn, something intangible being stolen, beer, and some hubbub.
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