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27 February 2006 @ 11:08 pm
Fic: Dancing With Ben Hall  
Title: Dancing With Ben Hall
Rating: PG-13 (for now ...)
Summary: For Harry, fighting Dark Lords is a job that goes hand in hand with occupational hazards. Such as, for example, accidentally breaking through to another dimension where Lucius Malfoy is the King of England.
Warnings: AU (duh)
A/N: I want to thank Kitty Kelly and Blackadder for giving me such a warped, and most likely entirely accurate, view of royalty. Also, this story was directly inspired by a certain picture drawn by the artist formerly known as flimpy, entitled "En Garde, Potter!"

I: A Minor Miscalculation


II: A Proposal Of Marriage

Father and son stood in the Cloisters, if the term ‘stood’ could legally be stretched that far. Lucius was huddled near the door, heaped with so many furs and cloaks that he resembled a walking thoroughfare to Narnia. In hands rendered several sizes larger by the addition of pony skin gloves, he held a steaming goblet of spiced wine. At the far end of the cloister several servants stood at the ready, armed with all the hot drinks Lucius could think to list in five minutes or less.

Draco, on the other hand, leaned against one of the glassless window-frames as if he’d been born to lounge and loaf and laze and other things beginning with L. He’d always found it wise to seem rather bored of everything and act as if the world were completely unsupportable. It didn’t matter that, most of the time, he dearly wished he could set off some of the fireworks that were always whizzing about in his brain.

In English society generally, and in the court of King Lucius I especially, people who acted and spoke with fervour, passion and belief were looked down upon as being rather vulgar or even -- the ultimate social suicide -- common. In Draco’s case, he’d be common and dangerous, neither of which were especially good things for a Prince Regent to be.

“I’faith, I am quite convinced. It is high time you were wed!” Lucius declared. “After all, you are almost -- how old are you again?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Nearly twenty, Your Majesty.”

“Good God, really?”

“I am reasonably certain, yes.”

Lucius narrowed his eyes at him. “Are you sure you aren’t your mother’s very much younger illegitimate child? Say, ten years younger? I’m sure I’m not old enough to have a twenty-year-old son.”

“I hope that is not a certainty to which you have cleaved with any great deal of assiduity, Father.” Into the bleak silence, Draco added, “That is to say, I’m sorry, but I will be turning twenty in a few months’ time. It truly can’t be helped.”

“Well, you certainly need to be married soon! I was married at --” Lucius’ lips moved with the strain of rapid calculation “-- four, after all, and you were born when I was … five, so I myself am only twenty-five --”

“No, Father.” Draco sighed. “I was born in 1980, when you were thirty-three. This makes you almost fifty-three at this point. Basic mathematics. If you have thirty-three beans --”

“I shan’t have any damn peasant beans! Exclusive Belgian chocolates, if you must, sir.”

“What, we aren’t at war with Belgium?” said Draco under his breath. Louder, he said, “Very well, thirty-three exclusive Belgian chocolates , plus --”

“The truffle assortment. With the little twirly bits of caramel on the top.”

Draco gave it up as a bad job. In some small ways, His Royal Majesty the King of England could be remarkably astute.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to get married,” said Draco. He wasn’t usually so blunt. An iron fist in a velvet glove, surrounded by a tissue of lies and a dirty hanky of misdirection, tended to go down far better.

However, he was feeling impatient. There was something in the air that morning that spoke to Draco’s skin, telling it to tingle in a most illogical manner. And Draco was sure he kept getting the scent of the sea, which was frankly ridiculous. The closest Diagon Palace came to the sea was the kitchen after the cooks had been to the fish market.

“You dare defy me!”

“You may recall, Father -- if it’s not too terrible a mental strain for you -- that I was the one who suggested it in the first place.” Irritably, Draco flicked a piece of mortar from crumbling stonework he was leaning against through the window. It bounced off the head of one of hundreds of shivering house elves, who were warming a Hairy Acronychia and several white sandpaper figs with their breath in an futile effort to keep the frost from killing them.

“By jove, was it? Why the ruddy hell did you suggest it then, if you don’t want to?”

“I never said that, Your Highness.”

“You did too!”

“On the contrary, I said it would not be a good idea.” Draco paused. “I fear there is no one suitable for me to wed.”

“Never fear, my son. I’m sure we’ll rustle up a duchess or two in short order. Why, your mother was no princess when I married her!”

“She still isn’t, she’s the queen,” said Draco.

“I mean, she was only a Countess of the Noble House of Black, quite a minor line.” The King had a faultless memory for lineage, although it sometimes took him an hour to recall where he’d put his house elf prod.

“So what induced you to marry her?” asked Draco.

It was a question that was of minor interest to Draco. His parents saw each other about once a month, if they happened to be in the same residence when the other was hosting some sort of gathering. Any interaction that took place between them was fraught with the same kind of disguised peril as would imbue light banter between a lion and a gazelle.

The Queen was liable to treat the King as she would one of her cats, by stroking the vermine on his robes of state and telling him dreamily not to do his business in the priceless Ming vases, there were litter boxes for that. By the end of any conversation with his wife the King looked fit to burst with the repressed desire to order her head chopped off, and had to relieve his feelings by upending the punch over a tea-girl and making the jester do a humorous skit with the bowl.

In the present time, the King’s face had gone soft. “Do you know … I couldn’t tell you. Can’t bloody well remember. Something about starlit nights and rose gardens and your mother dressed all in white. Putting flowers in your hair and wearing almost see-through gowns was terribly popular back in those days. And your mother’s flowers never seemed to fall out or wilt like everyone else’s did.”

“So you married her for her amazing skills at botany,” said Draco flatly.

“That, and the fact that I could see through her dress.” The King chortled. “That’s the sort of thing that can make a lad forget his head completely and do all manner of rash things!”

“Indeed, sir.” Draco flicked some more mortar out of the window, aiming carefully to avoid hitting any more elves.

“Although you do not, my son. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard tell of you getting caught in flagrante delicto with two housemaids and a flagon of chocolate syrup.” Lucius pulled his fox-fur tighter around his neck and slurped some wine.

“That may well be because it’s never happened,” said Draco. “I have more urgent demands upon my time.”

“What? Fencing, archery, hawks? Reading all those books?” The King shook his empty goblet at the servants, one of whom came rushing forward. “Demmed unnatural, if you ask me.”

“And yet, I didn’t,” sighed Draco. “If you like, you can imagine that I am keeping myself chaste for my future bride.”

“Let’s be clear, you now want to get married?”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Your Highness, I exist only to serve your will.”

“You do?” The King tossed his goblet at the servant, and looked very disappointed when the man caught it. “Some cocoa this time, and make it a bit snappier than your cravat.”

“Well, yes, Father.” Draco felt a little irritated. He’d spent years carefully cultivating an outward appearance of being perfectly civil towards his father, whilst actually thwarting his will at every turn. He had not expected Lucius to develop the acumen to realise this, however. “What did you think I was around for?”

“To make me look pretty by comparison,” said Lucius, “and to remind me daily that there are still men in England who have not realised how well they can look in silk breeches and shoes with pom-poms on them. Which, frankly, is rather a good thing. If there was anyone who turned a better leg than I they would have to be shot.”

“I fear that would not be the most effective method, Father. The cannons are still rather erratic in their aim.”

“Good.” The King sounded satisfied. “That’d teach ‘em to wear nicer hose than me, wouldn’t it?”

“Do you know, Father,” said Draco, “I do believe it would.”

“And of course you happen to be my only legitimate heir and will get the throne after my death. Which reminds me, I must finalise my funeral outfit with the couturier.”

Draco was taken aback for a moment. “You have planned what to wear to your own funeral?”

“In detail. It wouldn’t do to have all those grieving peasants to see me not looking my absolute best, now would it?”

“It could be argued that, by that point, ‘best’ would be a rather fallacious and misleading term,” murmured Draco. “However, I’m sure His Highness knows what he is doing.”

“Yes, and I’m sure I do too, so that’s settled. I’m still torn between the purple silk bloomers or the black ones with silver snakes around the hem. Purple is a wonderful colour on me, but it could be argued that black is more appropriate for a funeral. What say you, Draco?”

Draco bowed. “You will excuse me if I take a few days to consider the question?”

“But of course, my boy.” Lucius beamed. “I’m pleased to see that you are finally ready to take heed of the important matters of court.”

“Your approval warms the cockles of my heart,” drawled Draco.

There came a sudden clatter of hooves on cobblestones. Draco tamped down a smile of genuine warmth -- it would not do for his father to know that he could do such a thing -- and turned to face the source of the sound.

“Ah, Cornelius,” said Draco, inclining his head. He was careful to keep his expression neutral.

Lucius was staring at Cornelius in most impolite curiosity. “Is this another of your pets, Draco?”

Cornelius tilted his head minutely in Draco’s direction, his eyes flashing. “How extraordinary, Draco,” he said, in his fathoms-deep voice. “I was just about to ask you the same question.”

It took a number of seconds for the insult to reach the mostly cognizant parts of the King’s brain, but when it did, it made up for lost time with a vengeance. “Why, impertinent wretch! Do you know who I am?”

Cornelius scratched his roan flank, looking bored. “You are apparently Draco’s father, which I account as a most unfortunate occurrence for him. Apart from the excellent bone structure, which is about the only commendable thing he has inherited from you.”

“I say --” the King roared, and then paused. “Would you really say excellent?”

“Yes.” Cornelius’ expression barely flickered. “It almost makes up for the fact that your eyes are too close together -- but not quite.”

“Enough, Cornelius,” said Draco. He struggled not to let his amusement show. “Father, this is Cornelius. He is my newest … teacher. Cornelius, may I present His Royal Highness King Lucius the First of England?”

Cornelius swished his long tail. “You could, but only if you included a receipt so I could bring him back to the shop afterwards.”

“Teacher, you say?” Lucius eyed Cornelius speculatively. “Of what, precisely?”

“Oh, this and that.” Draco’s voice was vague, a brilliant technique he’d picked up from spending time with his mother. It usually helped to bring along malt whiskey on these maternal visits, for practice and to prevent her from attacking him with a feline. “A touch of astronomy, a little star-gazing, perhaps the odd lesson on kicking someone’s kidneys out through their ears …” He beamed winningly at his father. “Nothing truly worthy of your royal notice, Father. As you can see, Cornelius doesn’t go in for clothes all that much.”

“Yes, well.” Lucius waved a hand that was so be-ringed that his fingers drooped under the strain. “Be off with you, then. In a few days I will send you a runner with the shortlist of duchesses and whatnot.”

“Very good, Your Majesty.” Draco gave his father a truncated bow. He was never able to pull off a deep one unless he was purposely being ironic about it. Fortunately, his status as Prince Regent meant that there were only two people of higher rank than him in the country, and they had not yet noticed this particular quirk of their son’s.

Cornelius swished his tail again. This could be taken as a small sign of respect to his nominal ruler. Draco, however, was in a position to see the flies.

When they were out of sight of the King, Draco held up his hand. Palm to palm, Cornelius returned the greeting in the ancient manner of the centaurs.

“By Saturn and all the satellites, now I know what you meant.” Cornelius shook his head. “How do you put up with him, Draco?”

“I have my ways.” Draco smiled secretly. “I’m glad you got the chance to meet him. I’ve found it advisable to make friends with people my father would find hard to kill.”

“What did he mean by a list of duchesses?” asked Cornelius. “Do you hunt them for sport?”

“An admirable idea, but no. He was referring to my choice of future bride.” Draco pushed back the frills on his shirt-cuffs. He disliked them intensely, but they were so fashionable at the moment that finding the Holy Grail, bundled up with the Emerald Tablet and a bit of the True Cross and gathering dust bunnies under one’s bed, would have been a good sight easier than locating a plain shirt.

“You’re letting that -- that idiot pick out your wife?” spluttered Cornelius. “Draco, are you feeling quite well?”

“I am always in perfect health, thank you.” Draco succeeded in hiding most of the lace under the ends of his jacket. He looked up into Cornelius’ face, which was an interesting shade of magenta. “What’s wrong?”

“I confess, I am bewildered. Do you know what it will mean, to have your father choose the woman with whom you are going to spend the rest of your life?”

“Of course I do. It will keep him occupied for months -- the rest of the year, if I’m lucky. Not to mention that he will regard this as a sign of my becoming more biddable, which will only bode well for spoiling his other plans.” Draco paused. “As for the rest of my life, hardly, my dear Cornelius. I daresay I could get away without seeing my wife above three or four times a year. We have plenty of property to keep such a woman occupied. Jewels and maids and so on. She will scarcely need me at all.”

“Continuation of the royal line may require your presence,” said Cornelius dryly.

“Ah, but that’s the beauty of it, you see! My father is renowned for his promiscuity. It is highly unlikely that he would choose a bride for me who did not fulfil his own qualifications regarding female desirability. Thus, when it comes to providing an heir, I can manoeuvre my father into doing that for me as well. He is not going to contest my claim to the child of such a union -- and it would still be legitimate.” Draco beamed, pleased with his own cunning.

Cornelius looked as though Draco had spontaneously transformed into a small troupe of amateur Morris-dancing pixies.

“You don’t see any … flaws in such a plan?” Cornelius tugged at his beard, a small frown line riveting his brow.

“Oh, of course,” said Draco. “The girl he chooses will be unfailingly stupid and, I daresay, utterly insufferable to boot. However that could be a blessing in disguise. After all, the last thing I need is an intelligent wife.”

“Draco, may I be frank with you?”

“Of course. It was one of my main reasons for engaging you as a tutor, if you recall.”

“Then hear me now.” Cornelius brought all four hooves to a graceful halt and placed his hands on Draco’s shoulders. “I readily confess that many human habits are a great mystery to me. The business of drinking tea, for example, or eating very small cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. However, there are some things that transcend species, and sex is one of them.”

“Are you going to tell me where babies come from?” asked Draco suspiciously. “Because I filched the key to my father’s library of banned erotica when I was about seven. Ergo, I think I have a fair idea of the logistics.”

“That only makes what I’m about to ask all the more strange,” said Cornelius. “Draco, have you never desired to … try it out for yourself?”

Draco had always regarded himself as a man of the world -- or at least the part of the world that bathed regularly and owned whole rooms full of riding boots. However, he couldn’t help but blush. “If you are referring to night-time manipulation, then … then I think I shall leave you to work that out for yourself.”

“Well, that’s reassuring. But I gather that it is natural for humans to want to copulate with one another. My home is a wood that grows whole carpets of bluebells in spring, and human males are charmingly predicable in these matters. I flatter myself I know a little of the subject. Have you never desired to lie with a woman?”

“I’ve lied to plenty of women. It’s part of what makes my life so full of joy.”

“No, Draco. I mean -- this is a good deal less complicated in whinnies, let me tell you -- is there no woman that has fired you? One shared look that makes you want to kiss her, touch her, mount her?” Cornelius sighed. “How much clearer can I make this? Would you like me to sketch a little diagram?”

“No, I think I’ll cope,” said Draco distantly. Certain carefully-concealed emotions were stirring in his hindbrain. “Would this firing include things such as … oh, accidentally brushing their hand whilst in conversation with them, and feeling a strong urge to kiss each of their fingers so they make that little sighing noise that usually means they’ve read some piece of unintelligible poetry --”

“I think we’re straying into cucumber sandwich territory here, but yes. This is a relief. I was starting to think you were a man of no desires at all.”

“Oh, I have desires.” Draco’s mouth twisted. “Would you mind if we postponed our lesson till the morrow? I suddenly feel fatigued.”

“Fatigued, eh?” Cornelius quirked an eyebrow. “I take it that’s human for ‘I need to see a girl about a shag,’ is it?”

“Don’t be so crude,” snapped Draco. “And of course it’s not. I don’t know any girls like that.”

Cornelius looked confused. “But you just said -- all that about licking and poetry --”

“It was merely a theoretical example.” Draco sniffed loftily. “It seems to me that all these desires would quite get in the way of leading a prudent and rational life. I am grateful to you for warning me in time.”

Draco turned on his heel and walked off, leaving Cornelius shaking his head.

He waited until he was several corridors away before he let himself shudder.

 
 
Current Mood: thirstythirsty
Current Music: "Only Hope," Switchfoot
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Narniascoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
Well, when you're fishing for your Dirty H of D, you'd really needs some P-skin gloves ... right?
A Better Word for Weird: HP ridiculousa_leprechaun on February 27th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
“I’ve lied to plenty of women. It’s part of what makes my life so full of joy.”

*snrk*
'nother good chapter. Am awaiting Harry's arrival with great anticipation. :D
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: I aen't dedscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you were awaiting my reply, too, as politeness would suggest ... sorry about the lateness, and thanks for reading! Harry shall be along directly.
jehnt: incoherencejehnt on February 27th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
heaped with so many furs and cloaks that he resembled a walking thoroughfare to Narnia

Endless love. No, seriously.

“Well, you certainly need to be married soon! I was married at --” Lucius’ lips moved with the strain of rapid calculation “-- four, after all, and you were born when I was … five, so I myself am only twenty-five --”

*cries* HOW TRUE.

“So you married her for her amazing skills at botany,” said Draco flatly.

Lucius/Neville OTP?

“What did he mean by a list of duchesses?” asked Cornelius. “Do you hunt them for sport?”

YES, OH, YES.

I really don't have anything more coherent to say. Well, "More! More! More!" but, you know, don't want to be seen begging and such. Soooo funny.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Matildascoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
Lucius/Neville OTP -- now you've killed me dead.

Actually, no, that's my (poor) alibi for not replying sooner.
moocowmisconstrue on February 27th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
*snorts* I love your fic, you have such a way with words. Draco is truly, quite a character. Cucumber sandwich territory sounds quite frightful.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Navalscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
It is a most terrible place! Beirut has nothing on it. ♥
kabeyk on February 28th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
I loves and wants more, wah.

kxx
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Juliescoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
Yup yup.

I see you have a multi-dark-ship thing goin' down! Tell me more. I would be enticed to read just via authorship, but you know me and dark!ships. Or rather, you don't, 'cause I usually stay well away.
Rose: Baby face Dracofourth_rose on February 28th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC)
Draco is clearly saving himself for Harry. *approves*

This is so utterly brilliant that words fail me. Can't wait for the next part!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Pretty facescoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
But of course.

Thank you! I'm sorry I took so long to reply. My bad.
(no subject) - fourth_rose on May 24th, 2006 02:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on May 25th, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
BOFbest_of_five on March 1st, 2006 09:28 am (UTC)
when i was over on your LJ the other day (concrit discussion) i noticed the first part of this fic and now came back and caught up with both chapters.

oh god, i LOVE LOVE LOVE witty harry/draco stories. this one is just brimming with clever turns and sly references (i would end up quoting almost the whole story back if i tried to give examples) that i am absolutely hoooked!

i've read your LJ before but now i'm officially un-lurking and saying hi :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Lesbian weddingscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
As ever, I'm delighted that I hooked someone -- my hand-eye co-ordination is shot, so there's no chance of making a fisherman of me at this stage.

Hi back! I'm so sorry I didn't reply earlier, but the next part is going up tonight and I'll explain then.
cutecoaticutecoati on March 9th, 2006 07:43 am (UTC)
MOOOOOOOOOOOOORE! NOW!

It's so incredibly brilliant, and you're so incredibly brilliant and creative and ... [insert endless praise here] ...

*adores*

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Knitting patternsscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
Your wish is my command, m'lady! [sweeps courtly bow]

And thanks. ♥ +++
Insufferable, man.: teacynicalpirate on March 14th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC)
Damn it.

I'm going to have to check continually for an update anytime I'm anywhere near a modem.

“Well, you certainly need to be married soon! I was married at --” Lucius’ lips moved with the strain of rapid calculation “-- four, after all, and you were born when I was … five, so I myself am only twenty-five --” LOLZ.

Oh, and -

I think we’re straying into cucumber sandwich territory here

Absolute class.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: iDuckscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
Not to worry there, eh? Ahem, coff, coff.

I should make myself some pimpin' icons! People seem to like that cucumber one. Then again that would be horribly vain.
(no subject) - cynicalpirate on May 25th, 2006 11:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on May 25th, 2006 12:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jehnt: hp - harry potterjehnt on March 31st, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
Where are you, scoradh? You haven't posted in over a month and I'm officially worried/curious/missing your entries! Post or something to let us know you're still alive! *frets*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Life is hardscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
I'm here, I'm here! As you've ... probably guessed ...
sushinasesushinase on April 11th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
“I shan’t have any damn peasant beans! Exclusive Belgian chocolates, if you must, sir.”

“What, we aren’t at war with Belgium?” said Draco under his breath. Louder, he said, “Very well, thirty-three exclusive Belgian chocolates , plus --”

“The truffle assortment. With the little twirly bits of caramel on the top.”

*snort*

excellent crack
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Her hairscoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Only the finest crack is served Chez Rachel, with the freshest ingredients plucked straight from the ... er ... crack fridge. [beams]
some Great Lexicographer descending from the skiesroastchicken on April 24th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
K, so I am bad at this whole scouring journal thing.

This is also brilliant and I feel stupid for missing it.

“So you married her for her amazing skills at botany,” said Draco flatly. = ♥.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Gatescoradh on May 24th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
No worries! I entirely missed the fact that twelve people had replied to it ... I think I pwn.

As someone else said, Lucius/Neville OTP? ARSKJSKF.
potterhead224 on May 22nd, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
*rolls around on the floor, laughing dangerously for (checks clock) 12 million years*
ha.
hahahahahahahahahahahaha.
i actually did start quoting my favorite parts to you, but the the comment became a whole page long. *sigh*
btw...do you mind if i friend you? because i need to know the SECOND you update this ;)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Librarianscoradh on May 23rd, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
No, indeed! Friend away. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Ehm. The wait could be a little prolonged. If you like Harry/Ron I could distract you with shiny new fic ... if not ... I have no words. Literally. ♥
(no subject) - potterhead224 on May 23rd, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on May 24th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on February 3rd, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
HfHQZsMnLLHhRsepRT
Helloooo.... h are u?