The Coast Is Never Clear
by zahra

There were several things Theodore Nott took under consideration before he extended an invitation to Neville Longbottom to visit him at Nott Terrace during the Winter Break of their sixth-year:

a) The whereabouts of his sister, Alexandria, and their doting house elf, Dottie during said visit;

b) Whether or not Neville's grandmother would be willing to let her grandson visit the son of a known consort of The Dark Lord, and if not, did Theodore even care? The answer being a resounding 'no', and

c) (which perhaps should have been a) would Neville Floo directly to the kitchen or the sitting room?

For the obvious reasons -- propriety and a need for privacy -- the kitchen seemed to be the natural choice.

The kitchen Floo was more of a back route used by house elves and less-pedigreed wizards, but Theodore didn't want Neville to think he considered Neville the sort of person who Floo'd into kitchens all the time. After all, Theodore rarely Floo'd into anyone's kitchen at any point, ever -- but he was a Slytherin and Neville was a Gryffindor, and who knew what they did?

When he was small, Theodore had traveled with his house elf by the secondary line and traveled with his mother by the mainline; he had traveled by the backline only twice by himself. On both occasions he had been on family business that required great discretion, hence the use of the kitchen Floo.

Use of the Floo in the sitting room was rather obvious, and more importantly it was the sort of thing that people kept tabs on. Well, not people in terms of a Ministry Committee, but Theodore's father had told him tales of the Hawke family, who'd been responsible for Floo Law & Maintenance since the earliest days of the Network.

Referred to by the Muggles as "Chimney sweeps", the Hawkes knew the whereabouts of any wizard or witch at any given time if they traveled by Floo Network.

The Backdoor Floo, as it was commonly referred to, however, was monitored by a sole cantankerous old Italian wizard, Frederico Antonio de Medici, who never answered any route inquiries and instead regaled callers with tales of his ancestors. The stories grew old after the first few times, and yet, Theodore still listened avidly when the kitchen elves recounted how de Medici's family had once hexed the entire Muggle religion of Catholicism.

Unlike many of his peers, Theodore held house elves -- particularly the Nott house elves -- in a solicitous sort of respect. There was never a question of who was in charge, but Theodore had a healthy esteem for wandless magic and anyone who prepared his food on a daily basis, and he'd instilled the same appreciation in Alexandria.

This was not a sentiment shared by many of his equals, like a good deal of the Nott philosophy, but it was another one of those things that Theodore had learned how to keep to himself. After all, one didn't have to grow up in Malfoy Manor to understand the general order of the world ‹ particularly the whys and hows of unpopular opinions and those who spoke freely of holding them.

Not all Slytherins were power-mad, murdering megalomaniacs, but none were stupid enough to publicly question those who were. The common thread among all Slytherin families being a desire to keep breathing and living, unfettered by any Unforgivable Curses.

Everyone understood that sort of ambition.

For his part, Theodore knew that attempting to upset the status quo was foolhardy, and he had no desire to do so. At most you could change one mind -- you simply had to make certain that was a mind worth changing.

In Theodore's experience a person was intelligent, but people were unbearably dense. He wasn't terribly certain where house elves stood in this equation; it wasn't something he had given a great deal of thought to.

When he had suggested to Dottie that Alexandria required new robes, she had nodded her head and agreed that Alexandria was outgrowing her everyday robes without any further comment. Dottie needed no further prodding to make an appointment at Armani Wizarding in Diagon Alley for Alexandria to have a fitting, which was obviously why she had been picked as a suitable caretaker for the youngest Nott.

That and her ability to follow thinly-veiled orders.

Not that Theodore felt the need to veil his orders when requiring things to be done, but he had heard all about the Dobby/Lucius/Harry Potter fiasco, and he didn't want anything of that sort to occur under his roof.

The pretense of kindness could go a long way, and with Alexandria and Dottie otherwise engaged, the only other impediment to Theodore having Neville over was his father.

Since Those Events At The Ministry, Alexander Nott had spent a great deal of time outside of Nott Terrace, but where exactly his father was spending his mornings and a great deal of his afternoons was not known to Theodore.

It was impertinent to be suspicious of one's father, but that was far better than admitting to being concerned. The carefully vague queries of his Aunt Narcissa, and the more direct questions of his sister, led Theodore to believe that his father was not whiling away his hours in the company of other Death Eaters.

In Theodore's mind this could only be seen as a good thing, and yet, he was troubled by his father's lack of appearances within the inner circle. It was one thing to distance oneself from certain activities, but something else entirely to be seen doing so.

Everything Theodore strove to be could be traced back to his father, mother and aunt -- everything he worked to avoid could be found in Draco and Lucius; therefore, Theodore could only trust that his father was making the right decisions.

Not that trust was not a distinguishing Slytherin characteristic, but loyalty was, and it did Theodore no good to fret and agonise over things not within his power.

He couldn't protect everyone all the time, nor did he wish to -- at most he could be discreet and make intelligent choices. He could do his best to keep those he cared for safe, or at the very least make certain that his own choices didn't endanger them.


Theodore had reasons for wanting Neville's company without the intrusion of other people: the desire to move about without worrying over who was coming around the corner every five seconds; the ability to wear whatever he chose without using an Obscuro; and a lack of endless pandering required by most of his associates --- but there was also something more primal.

He could pretend that once again he sought Neville's vast knowledge of Herbology and all things plant-related. He could say he was considering buying Alexandria a toad, or that he sought companionship and conversation. None of these things was completely untrue, except the toad business, but the fact of the matter was that the time Theodore and Neville spent alone together in the library and the greenhouses and various other locations was wreaking havoc on Theodore's hormones.

Really, it was a matter of sex.

Theodore wanted to have sex with Neville, but he was completely unwilling to do so at school, because that was entirely too crass and common, and who knew who might come barging in like a herd of centaurs and ruin the moment. It was fine to be seen shagging another Slytherin, or even a Ravenclaw, but this was a more delicate matter, and as such it required more finesse.

Naturally they had exchanged hand jobs, and there had been fellatio and all sorts of explorations under robes and shirts and inside trousers, but the vast majority of these exchanges had taken place standing up or in empty classrooms. The fact of the matter was that Theodore wanted Neville naked, and in his bed, and that was not possible at Hogwarts.

It was possible at Nott Terrace, and while such behaviour could have been construed in some quarters as unwise and foolish -- especially in light of that business with his father trying to kill Harry Potter -- on the surface there was nothing questionable about it.

Neville came from a long line of purebloods and fine stock; his parents were well-known casualties of Past Events, and no one could disapprove of Neville on the face of it. Of course there was the matter of families and sides and acquaintances and all that other nonsense that inevitably came up whenever two people who weren't formally thought to interact came together, but Theodore didn't have time for all that rubbish.

Besides, he had needs that had to be met.

He was a seventeen year-old Nott, and no one was going to keep him from having sex with his boyfriend, if that was what he wanted. Theodore hadn't announced as much to Neville when he invited him over, but there was no point in dwelling on something so self-evident.

Neville had been nervous enough about accepting Theodore's offer, even though Theodore had assured him that he would look after him. Not that Neville couldn't look after himself -- surely Theodore's father's convalescence had shown that, but there was no need to trouble the issue with unnecessary facts.

Theodore had everyone's best interests at heart, especially his own, and it would do him no good for his father to find Neville Longbottom in their home.

So in preparation of this event, on the correct day and time, Theodore took a long hot bath and dressed himself in his favorite outfit, an artfully faded bottle green shirt and a pair of dark blue-black trousers. In a moment of whimsical fancy, he decided to forgo shoes for bare feet, and after a brief glance in the mirror, he went to make sure the house was rid of its various occupants.

Theodore wasn't terribly obsessed with his looks, but it wouldn't do for him to entertain a guest looking less than his best, especially a guest he was planning on separating from his virginity. Not that Neville had ever told Theodore he was a virgin, but the truth was rather obvious whenever they were alone together. Theodore found it rather charming in a somewhat amusing manner; it was a rather common assumption that Gryffindors only had sex for procreative purposes, which apparently was not entirely true.

A quick sweep through Alexandria's playrooms and his father's bedroom showed that their primary occupants were indeed out, and Theodore took the stairs down to the first floor somewhat quicker than he normally did. He paused in the foyer for a moment and considered the large portrait of his mother than hung against one wall. There were several occasions when he would look for her and find the painting empty, but on this day Anora Nott sat at her roll-top desk writing, with her favorite owl, Nimue, perched on the edge. Theodore watched her for several seconds as her ivory quill dashed back and forth, and she reached up to push dark locks behind her ear.

"Theodore, where are your socks and shoes?" she asked, after lifting her head and placing her quill back in its inkwell. Shifting in her chair, she rearranged the indigo-coloured robe she wore and fixed her gaze on her son.

Theodore hadn't even realised she'd noticed his entrance, but his mother had always been very perceptive. His father said it was because she was a direct descendant of Rowena Ravenclaw -- normally he only said this after she caught him attempting to hide something from her.

"I thought I would go without today," said Theodore, brushing the invisible wrinkles from his attire. It took him a moment to comprehend that he was fidgeting, and when he looked up at her portrait she was smiling.

Her smile was small, but genuine. "Did you now?" she said, propping one arm on the side of her desk and resting her chin in the palm of her hand.

"Yes, Mother."

Theodore stood as still as possible as his mother gave him a rather appraising once over. Anora Nott had sharp, angular features and long dark hair, which had been inherited by both of her children.

"Indeed, well, do be careful where you step," she said after several moments.

"I will."

"I know you will," was all she said. They looked at each other intently for some time before his mother nodded her head and waved him on his way. "I would love to stay and chat, but I must finish this epistle and then I'm to have tea with your great-aunt Daphne."

"Great-uncle Reginald's fourth wife?"

"No, my darling, his second. Anyway, I'm sure you have things you must attend to, so off you go."

"Yes, Mother." Theodore gave his mother a sharp nod as he left the foyer and headed towards the kitchen. He slipped his hands into his pockets as he passed by his father's second study and his mother's old sitting room, which now served as a schoolroom for Alexandria. The door was slightly ajar, and Theodore nearly stepped on one of her animated ostriches, which had escaped from her zoo menagerie.

He had once tried to explain to Alexandria the mechanics and insanity of The Ostrich Races, but as she had never seen twenty-seven ostriches careening around the countryside, the explanation was a bit lost. Alexandria continued to think all ostriches were adorable and friendly, and she had blackmailed Theodore into promising to take her when the races were held in Prague in the next leap year, which he was not looking forward to at all.

The last Ostrich Races had been held in Milan, and Theodore had attended them in the company of Draco, Blaise, Aunt Narcissa and a wing of the Zabini family that lived locally. Everything had gone smoothly, or as smoothly as things with Draco ever went, until there was an altercation with Draco, three escaped racing Ostriches from Tunisia, and some underfed Muggle women from the local circus, Fashion Week, who were under some illusion that Draco walked a cat.

Blaise had found the whole incident impossibly amusing, but Theodore had been the one forced to restrain Draco to stop him from hexing a piazza full of people.

It was the sort of disaster that always occurred travelling with Draco, and Theodore had to force himself to focus on more pleasant things.

The Nott kitchen was clean and bright and empty. Great bunches of sage and thyme hung from the rafters, and the slate tiles underfoot were rather chilly. There were copper pots drying on the sideboard and the fireplace was only marginally sooty, which meant that Biddy and Pokey had taken Theodore's request for quail for dinner seriously and were obviously out procuring some at the wizarding bazaar. Considering quail was horribly out of season, the nearest possible bazaar to stock them would probably be somewhere warm, like Algiers. Clearly they would be gone some time, which was exactly what Theodore had hoped for.

Theodore glanced up at the clock on the wall briefly; he loathed waiting, and in exactly six seconds Neville would be one minute late.

The thought was cut off by a crackling in the fireplace and a flash of light.

The smoke was stifling, and Theodore shaded his eyes from the brightness. He heard Neville coughing before he actually saw him, and he stepped forward into the cloud of ash and caught Neville just as he stumbled out of the fireplace.

There was soot on Neville's cheeks and in his hair, but his eyes were bright with the flurry of Floo travelling and he radiated heat.

Theodore opened his mouth to welcome Neville to Nott Terrace and found himself on the receiving end of a brain-shattering kiss. Neville's hands gripped Theodore's biceps and held him fast as his tongue slipped into Theodore's mouth and wiped his brain of conscious thought.

Neville's lips were cold and dry, but no-longer chapped, and he tasted of toothpaste and dirt. Theodore was completely blindsided by this aggressive version of Neville Longbottom.

He quite liked it.

His body certainly took notice, and when Neville pulled away, Theodore cleared his throat and adjusted his clothing. He was at a loss for what to say, and Neville coloured when he smiled.

"I missed you," Neville said.

Theodore smirked and licked his lower lip. "So I gathered," he said, busying himself with helping Neville unfasten and remove his traveling cloak.

Neville was attempting to tell him something about something or other, but Theodore wasn't listening since he was much more interested in sniffing Neville's neck and investigating how Neville's arse looked in the dark blue jeans he was wearing.

His hands ghosted over Neville's hips and arse of their own accord, and Theodore only looked up when he noticed Neville was laughing. "You're not listening to anything I'm saying, are you?"

"Of course I am," Theodore said taking Neville's cloak and folding it over his arm.

"Really?" Neville stepped forward, forcing Theodore to step back once, twice, and he started slightly when his back hit the wall. "What did I just say then?"

It took Theodore a moment to collect himself when he realised that Neville was, well, nuzzling his neck. Even though Neville's nose was cold, the brush of his nose against Theodore's neck was making it hard for Theodore to concentrate. "You said you thought we should go see my room, which I think is an excellent idea."

When Neville lifted his head, his brow was furrowed, but then he smiled. "That's exactly what I said."

Theodore smirked and slipped away from Neville. "I know."


The gray marble passageways of Nott Terrace were wide enough for Neville and Theodore to walk side-by-side with ease, but despite the excess of space, their hands continually brushed against each other as they walked through the halls. Neville's cheeks flushed when he caught Theodore watching him taking everything in.

"I'll take you on a tour some time if you like," said Theodore as they passed several windows, which looked out onto the property. "Sometime when the weather is warmer and you can explore the grounds."

The family Augurey was sitting on a low branch of a Chinese Elm, practising his scales in preparation for what Theodore assumed, would be another torrential downpour.

"I'd like that," Neville said.

Theodore never hesitated in taking Neville through the foyer instead of using the backstairs, but he was rather disappointed that his mother wasn't in her painting so introductions could be made. "I had hoped to introduce you to someone," he said pausing and pointing to his mother's empty portrait. "But it appears that she's gone visiting."

"Maybe next time?" Neville's sentiment echoed Theodore's earlier indication that there would be a next time, which made something in Theodore's chest tighten, but not in a bad way.

Neville opened his mouth as if to say something further, but instead bit his lower lip.

"I think she would like that," Theodore said.

"It's a really nice house," Neville began hesitantly. "Our house isn't nearly so -- it's just not like this. But I mean that in a good way," he hurriedly added on the last part.

"Well, I quite like it." Theodore winked at Neville as he shifted Neville's cloak from one arm to the other and motioned for Neville to follow him upstairs. "It's not necessarily the biggest house," he said. "But it keeps us dry."

Neville rolled his eyes, and Theodore laughed openly and freely. It was an amazing feeling, and one to which he was becoming accustomed the more time he spent with Neville. Of course it was the sort of thing that was completely un-Slytherin and very un-Nott, which was obviously why, when Theodore was still snickering when they reached the second floor, he woke up the portrait of his Great-Uncle Reginald.

"What on earth is that infernal noise you're making?" the portrait demanded, and Theodore sighed. The portrait swung back and forth as his uncle shifted in his chair and cleared his throat.

Theodore watched his great-uncle lift his monocle up to his bad eye, become aware of his mistake and then switch it to his good eye. Next to him, Theodore could feel Neville radiating anxiety.

He tamped down on an urge to reach down and squeeze Neville's hand.

"Hello, Great-Uncle," Theodore said, shifting the cloak to his left arm. "How are you today?"

"Terrible, my boy, absolutely terrible. I've got a toad in my throat, and my wand hand's swollen from all the rain and cold weather. Your useless Uncle Gerald still hasn't avenged that slight from 1903, and word's come down that your Great-Aunt Anastasia will be joining me shortly. You know I never cared for my third wife. Or was she my sixth?"

"I believe she was your sixth," Theodore said. He shifted closer to Neville slowly, and brought his right hand up to the small of Neville's lower back. Theodore was pleasantly surprised when Neville didn't start, but his back went rigid.

"You have to watch out for those women, boy, they're crafty." Reginald tapped his nose with his monocle. "I should know -- I married enough of them."

Theodore rubbed circles on the small of Neville's back, hoping he would relax, but if anything he seemed to be more on edge. "Great-Uncle, I want you to meet Neville Longbottom."

Reginald lifted his monocle, and his face grew larger in the portrait as he leaned closer. "What's that you say, boy?"

"Longbottom, Uncle Reginald." Theodore whispered into Neville's ear, "He's a bit deaf."


Neville shivered when Theodore's lips brushed the shell of his ear. "And a bit mental."

Theodore felt an overwhelming urge to do something completely shocking and perhaps squeeze Neville's arse or drop to his knees and suck Neville off in front of his Great-Uncle, but he thought better of it. He wasn't terribly fond of sharing.

"Longbottom." Theodore enunciated clearly while moving back into his own space, and he licked his lips as his uncle studied Neville. Neville's skin tasted quite good, if not a bit sooty.

"Longbottom, you say? I knew a smashing bloke at school, Vincent Longbottom, married an Emily Van Der Klempt. Titan of a woman you know. First female beater in Ravenclaw. Broke my nose twice." Reginald seemed delighted, but if it were at all possible Neville grew more nervous.

"That's - that's my grandmother," he said.

"Is it really?" Reginald said. "Oh, you poor boy, and how is your nose these days?"

Neville let out a tiny chuckle. "It's fine. It's only been broken once."

"Yes, I'm not surprised. You know, your grandmother was quite a looker back in her day. She used to go around with --"

"I'm sure Neville would love to hear your stories, Great-Uncle," Theodore interrupted. "But we wouldn't want to keep you from preparing for Great-Aunt Anastasia's arrival."

"Oh, Merlin's goolies," Reginald said. "Yes, I suppose I'd best be getting on then."

Neville and Theodore watched as Reginald tottered to his feet and produced a snub-nosed cane from up his sleeve. "Send my regards to your grandmother, Nathaniel, and protect your nose!"

Theodore covered his mouth with Neville's cloak to hide his smirk, and waited until his great-uncle had hobbled out of his portrait to say anything further. "It looks as though you're a hit with the family."

Neville shook his head and stepped away from Theodore's hand. "I can't believe you were molesting me while we were talking to your dead great-uncle."

"No, if I'd actually fondled your arse as I'd been thinking of doing -- that would have been molestation. In this matter, I was simply attempting to relieve your tension."

Neville looked horrified for a moment. "You wouldn't have dared."

"I wouldn't have?" Theodore narrowed his eyes and stepped into Neville's personal space. "Are you so certain of that?"

"I was tense because -- because of you!" Neville blurted out, tugging at the hem of his shirt. Theodore couldn't help but look where his hands were, and no wonder Neville had seemed so tense.

Theodore would've been tense talking to someone's family with an erection himself.

"Would you like some help with your problem?" he said, running the palm of his right hand over the bulge in Neville's jeans.

Neville opened his mouth, but nothing came out.

"I'll take that as a yes," Theodore said, squeezing Neville through the fabric.


Theodore wasn't a great proponent of convoluted seduction techniques. Slytherins on a whole leaned more towards the 'if you want something, you should take it' school of thought; and while that was all well and good in most situations, especially those involving his fellow Slytherins, Theodore's technique seemed to be lacking somewhat when it came to seducing Neville --- or at the very least getting him in Theodore's bed.

They were a veritable grope-fest at Hogwarts, and Theodore had just accosted Neville in the hall, but now that Neville was in Theodore's bedroom, Theodore was sitting at his desk as though he had no idea what was supposed to come next. Draco would have said something about his own preternatural good-looks; Blaise would have said something witty; Theodore could only be himself.

"Do you like the art?" he asked, getting to his feet and crossing to the bay window where Neville was looking at various pastels. The paleness of Neville's skin was a great distraction from the blue walls of Theodore's room, and he narrowed his eyes as he tried to focus on the pages in Neville's hands.

Theodore had had involved dreams about Neville's hands.

"They're lovely renderings." Neville didn't look up as Theodore situated himself at Neville's elbow, but he did seem to lean into Theodore's space when Theodore pointed at one of his favourites. "You said they were done by your sister?"

Neville's eyes were bright in the afternoon sun and Theodore nodded. "Alexandria is the talented one in the family." His lips brushed Neville's ear as he spoke, and he could see Neville shudder.

"I don't know if she's the only talented one." Neville's voice was husky, and Notts didn't do modesty well, but Theodore could feel the heat colouring his cheeks.

"Will I get to meet her one day?"

Neville's tone this time was teasing, and yet it seemed as though he was being earnest. Notts didn't do confusion either, so Theodore would hear what he wanted to hear. "I think we'd both like that."

Theodore took the etchings out of Neville's hand and dropped them lightly on the window seat. "I was looking at those," Neville protested good-naturedly as Theodore leaned in and pecked him on the mouth.

"They're not going anywhere," Theodore said, crowding Neville towards the large bed in the centre of the room. "You can look at them later."

Neville clearly wasn't expecting it when he backed into Theodore's bed, and he grabbed at Theodore before falling backwards and taking Theodore with him.

The wind was knocked out of Theodore's lungs for several moments, and he shook his head and smirked -- he'd managed to get Neville exactly where he wanted him.

"That worked out quite well," he said, tugging on Neville's hips to urge him further onto the bed. They were stretched out parallel to the headboard and pillows; their legs tangled over the side of the bed. Theodore couldn't be bothered to correct their situation. "I didn't even have to resort to any nefarious planning -- which on second thought isn't quite right at all. This is all very unbecoming for a Slytherin, you know," he said running his hands up Neville's chest and pushing himself up.

Neville chuckled as Theodore knelt on either side of Neville's thighs. "Is it, really?" asked Neville. "And what else is behaviour unbecoming a Slytherin?"

Theodore leaned forward and dropped a kiss on Neville's forehead and another on his nose. "This isŠ and this is --"

"And this absolutely is," he announced before leaning forward and kissing Neville heatedly. Neville's lips parted easily under Theodore's, and whereas once they'd had problems with coordination, now they fit fluidly.

His tongue slipped between Theodore's lips, and Theodore could taste the soot from where he'd kissed Neville's face and then kissed Neville.

Theodore felt Neville's smile against his mouth, and he couldn't muster a frown of his own as his hands scrambled to push Neville's white shirt up under his arms. His plans were nullified when Neville's arms came around his waist, and when he inched forward he noticed he was sitting rather firmly on Neville's erection.

Theodore ground downward experimentally and was rewarded with a groan from Neville and a glorious rush of heat from his own groin. Neville gave his lower lip a sharp nip when Theodore began rocking his hips back and forth in tiny motions.

The friction against his cock and his arse were amazing, and if this was how it felt fully clothed, they obviously needed to take off their clothing -- but that required stopping, and Theodore wasn't terribly interested in that.

He let a small groan escape when Neville's hands gripped his waist, and Neville began thrusting upwards with considerable strength.

This wasn't quite how Theodore had envisioned passing the afternoon, at the very least there should have been more skin exposed, but he was busy pulling Neville's hair and couldn't think clearly.

The bedsprings began to creak, and Theodore panted against Neville's mouth and throat. He propped himself up with a death-grip on the duvet, but the blue silk was slippery and made it difficult. Sweat formed underneath his clothes, and his trousers grew damp from the friction on his confined cock.

Neville's hands slipped, or moved, and one moment they were on his hips and the next they were groping his arse. Theodore could practically feel Neville's fingerprints through the thin wool-blend of his trousers, and Neville's grip was going to leave marks.

Theodore's orgasm hit him like a hex and rolled through his body leaving him confused and stupid. Neville held him firmly for a few more thrusts before coming himself, and Theodore panted against Neville's neck for several long moments before levering himself off of Neville's body.

Theodore rolled over onto his back, and stroked his chest a few times to make sure he was still breathing.

He'd had sex often enough, and yet he couldn't recall his orgasm ever being so intense. Every nerve in his body was alight, and he could feel the soft knit of his shirt underneath the flat of his hand. He looked over at Neville when he chuckled lightly and then tugged at the sleeve of Neville's shirt to bring him closer.

"I never took you for a cuddler," Neville said even as he entwined his arms and legs with Theodore's and rested his head on Theodore's chest.

"This isn't cuddling," Theodore said, even as he stroked Neville's hair. "This is conservation of body heatŠ It's also a bit uncomfortable," he said after several moments, propping himself up and tugging at his trousers.

"I could sort that out," Neville said.

"Please do."

"Right," Neville said sitting up. "I just -- do you hear something?"

"Apart from the pounding in my head? No," said Theodore.

"That would be all the blood rushing back to where it stays normally," Neville teased. "I do I think someone's calling you though, Theodore."

"Not possible. No one's home."

And then Theodore heard someone calling his name.

He would know that voice anywhere.

"Bugger," he said, levering himself up and over Neville rather quickly. Grabbing his wand from the cupboard, Theodore cast a quick Scourgify on his clothing, and tried to compose himself. Now was not the time for this.

He glanced up at Neville's bemused expression and cast a quick Scourgify on him as well. "Do not move," Theodore said. "I won't be more than five minutes."

Neville looked at the clean, but rumpled state of his clothing. "Five minutes?"

Theodore's breath caught at the sight of Neville pawing at his own shirt absently. "Three minutes," he corrected. "One-hundred and eighty seconds. I promise. You can even count."

"One, two, threeŠ"

Theodore closed the door on four.

Neville didn't count in increments in French -- thank Mordred.


Notts did not run through the halls of their ancestral home yanking on their clothing like heathens with no training or upbringing. They certainly didn't take the stairs two at a time and then jump the last four steps and slide on bare feet through the foyer -- at least they didn't do these things under normal circumstances, but as everyone knew, times were changing; so Theodore only hastened his stride and glanced quickly at his mother's portrait, which thankfully, was still empty.

He took a deep breath outside the sitting room, smoothed his hair down, and walked in to find Blaise Zabini's face in his fireplace.

"Look who finally decided to answer my calls." Blaise's eyes rolled dramatically in the green flames as Theodore crossed the room.

"Have you been calling long?" Theodore asked.

"Only for three whole minutes," Blaise said. "It was very taxing for my vocal chords; if I get laryngitis I'm blaming you, and where are your house elves? Where's Alexandria? Whatever were you doing that you couldn't --"

The Blaise's visage squinted in the fireplace. "You're not wearing any shoes," he said.

"I was just having a lie down." Theodore dropped onto the velvet ottoman in front of the fireplace that was normally used for conversations held in this way. The ottoman had also been transfigured into a pony when he and Alexandria were younger.

"In the middle of the day?" Blaise was all disbelief.

"That's why it's called a 'lie down', Blaise." Theodore pinched his nose and began counting by threes in Italian -- that was his father's trick.

Tre, sei, nove, tredici...

"You've got company, haven't you?" Blaise said matter-of-factly. "I was thinking of coming over in a bit, but perhaps not."

"No, no I don't --- but I don't think now is a terribly good time," said Theodore.

"Really? Why ever not?"

"Because I'm not feeling terribly well, and I could be contagious. We all know how fussy you are when you're ill."

"I'm not Draco," Blaise said.

"Yes, but all the sameŠ" Blaise narrowed his eyes and Theodore sighed. It was coming. He could tell. Morgana protect him.

"I know you're not attempting to lie to me, since you normally do it so better than this," Blaise began. "This is laughable."

Theodore shifted on the ottoman. He felt quite warm this close to the fire. "What are you getting at, Blaise?"

"Your clothes are all rumpled, Theodore."

"Are they really?"

"Theodore Marcellus Nott," Blaise said.

"Blaise Anton Dominico Machiavelli Zabini," Theodore parroted.

"Oh, fucking hell," Blaise said, his hand passed over his face and the fire was a green blur for several moments.

Theodore blinked. "What do you know about hell?"

"Now is not the time to be pedantic, Theodore. Have you got -- you have. I can't believe you've fucking -- Have you lost your mind?"

Theodore did not flinch. "You know what they say about incomplete sentences, Blaise."

"You've got that -- that Gryffindor in your house!" Blaise shouted.

Blaise said 'Gryffindor' as though it were a terminal disease -- which it was considered to be in quite a few Slytherin homes.

Theodore got up from the ottoman and closed the sitting room doors. "I'll thank you not to refer to him in that manner," he replied, his tone sharp.

Blaise was not to be put-off. "You've gone mad, haven't you? Where's your father? What if he sees --- what am I speaking of, he's obviously not home or you wouldn't look this way. What if he comes home while Longbottom is there?"

Theodore stood in front of the fireplace with his arms crossed defiantly. "Neville is a pureblooded wizard of impeccable lineage; there's no reason for Longbottoms and Notts not to associate."

"He's one of them!" Blaise hissed. "It doesn't matter if his grandfather was Rasputin!"

"I think you haven't gone far back enough for his grandfather to be Rasputin, and you know as well as I do that Rasputin would never sire a Gryffindor heir," Theodore said calmly. "And I'll thank you to keep your voice down."

Blaise seemed slightly manic. "Has he got you under Imperio -- never mind. This is Longbottom, he couldn't Imperio his toad."


"You're really doing this, aren't you? It's not just a passing fancy of some sort either. Have you tried shagging it out of your system? Is that what you're doing now?" Blaise paused thoughtfully. "No, that's much more Draco's speed than yours. "

Theodore didn't answer any of Blaise's questions. "Did you want something or did you fancy just sitting in the fireplace all afternoon and staring at nothing?"

It was Blaise's turn to pinch his nose, and after several moments he sighed and shook his head. "Fine. Have at it. I'll do what I can to protect your secret."

Theodore exhaled a breath he didn't know he'd been holding in. "Thank you."

"Yes, well, you can thank me by not getting yourself killed."

"I'll do what I can," Theodore said with a small smirk. "Anything else?"

Blaise looked confused for several seconds and then smiled. "Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot in all the insanity of you losing the plot -- I was after a bit of information."

"Such as?"

"Terry Boot."

Theodore blinked, and then his smirk began to enlarge. "Are you after a bit of information or a bit of something else?' he asked shifting from one foot to another.

"Theodore Nott, are you implying that my motives might be questionable?"

"Blaise, I've known you since we were Promised, born, and then Un-promised because you weren't a girl."

"Who knew you couldn't be betrothed to someone of the same gender?"

"You can according to the Kinsey Rule of 1969," Theodore pointed out.

"Yes, but then there would be no heirs, and you know how important lineage is. My mum still curses Bathsheba's Baby Gender-Generator to this day," Blaise said ruefully.

Theodore shook his head. "She must be thrilled that you fancy girls and boys then."

Blaise snorted. "Indeed."

"What do you want with Terry Boot?"

"I'm not terribly sure yet," Blaise answered honestly. "He's quite fit though, and Professor Vector seems to think he's the best Arithmancy student in our year."

"Which you could be if you ever did your homework."

Blaise made a dismissive wave of his hand. "Details. Anyway, have you got anything for me as far as he goes? Likes, dislikes, preferences, blackmail material? I know you had a dalliance at some point."

"Hardly," Theodore said. "Nothing really. Left-handed. Quite a good snogger. Terribly into Quidditch."

Blaise made a face. "Bloody Quidditch strikes again."

Theodore smiled. "You asked."

"Yes, well, the fit ones always have something wrong with them, don't they?"

Theodore's smile grew larger.

Blaise smiled back. "Well, enough talk, go back to whatever unseemly behaviour you were up to."

"I don't know -" Theodore began, but before he could formulate a proper response there was a tiny pop and Blaise was gone. All that remained was the faint smell of smoke.

Theodore took a few moments to compose himself and clear his throat. He'd been gone for quite some time, surely longer than three minutes. Or even five. Perhaps it would be best if he returned with an offering of some sort to placate Neville, not that he expected Neville to be out of sorts, surely he hadn't been gone that long.

Nonetheless, a great many rows had been stemmed by biscuits and juice. He would need to summon Bippy --- except he'd sent the house elves off on a fool's errand.

He would have to collect the food himself, and surely it couldn't be that hard to prepare juice and chocolate biscuits. Taking a deep breath, he opened the sitting room doors, stepped into the hall... and heard his mother's dulcet tones carrying on a conversation with someone.

This did not bode well in a house that should have been empty, and Theodore's mind raced to think of possible explanations for his current shoeless state. If Alexandria were home early -- that wasn't possible, as he had been occupying the front room fireplace and Floo. She could have come in through the kitchen, but surely he would have heard her, and his father never traveled by kitchen Floo, which only left...


Theodore froze in the entryway to the foyer and took in the scene before him.

His mother was standing by her desk, gazing down at Neville as though she found him quite engaging. Neville stood at the foot of the marble staircase, elbow on the rosewood railing; he was looking at Theodore's mother's portrait in the same manner that Theodore often did when she was indulging him on some trivial matter.

Perhaps he found the red amulet she wore as hypnotic as Theodore did.

Neville's clothing was clean and he looked very fetching in the long sleeved white shirt he wore, plus there was color in his cheeks and he looked healthy and happy. There was nothing dour or tightly-wound about him. He didn't scream breeding, but he presented himself well.

Except for being barefoot.

"Theodore, why didn't you tell me we were having company?" Theodore blinked at his mother and tried to compose his thoughts as rapidly as possible.

This was not going as he'd planned. He wanted Neville to meet his mother under more controlled conditions --- or least when he could be there from the outset.

Being covert in one's own home was extraordinarily taxing to the nerves, and Theodore looked at his mother with wide eyes. He didn't do innocent terribly well, but it was unheard of him to be caught with his hand in the proverbial biscuit tin.

His mother's gaze was piercing, but her tone was kind. "I wish I had known Neville was coming, I would have postponed my afternoon plans," she said.

"I'm sorry, Mother, I didn't mean to keep it -- him -- from you," Theodore confessed.

"I try to take an interest in Theodore's friends," his mother explained as she turned back to Neville and smiled. "Especially those who possess such a great knowledge of Herbology. Theodore's never been terribly interested in plants, but he often helped in the garden to humour me. Have you had a chance to see our gardens, dear?"

Theodore could feel the flush coming from somewhere, and he struggled to contain it as Neville glanced at him and then shook his head. "No, Mrs Nott."

"That is a pity; you'll have to come back in the spring and look at them, I think. Don't you, Theodore?" The nod she made with her head was practically imperceptible, except to her family, and Theodore felt the tension in his shoulders release tenfold.

"I think that's an excellent idea," he said.

Theodore's mother nodded her head again, this time more noticeably. "Yes, as do I."

The sentence was a simple answer, but to Theodore it was much more. He crossed the foyer to where Neville was and stood by his side.

"I would love to stay and chat," his mother said producing her rosewood wand from somewhere and changing the color of her cloak from a deep blue to a mercury-silver, "but I really must get on before Uncle Reginald starts off for the dinner party without me. Neville, it was lovely to meet you and I hope to see you again; Theodore, please make certain your sister does all her French recitations."

"I will," Theodore said.

And with that his mother was gone.

Theodore couldn't say how long he stared at the painting after she was gone, but it was some time before he detected that Neville was tugging gently on the sleeve of his shirt. "C'mon," was all he said as he led Theodore back up the stairs to his room.


Theodore wasn't the sort to spend his time day-dreaming or imagining a reality that would never come to pass, and yet he found himself slightly distracted as Neville closed the door of his bedroom behind them and sat down on the bed.

He had wanted Neville to meet his mother, and he could never have asked for a better initial meeting between them, and yet it grated that it had happened without any machinations on his part. It was a very natural interaction --- and very un-Slytherin, but Neville was a Gryffindor and his mother a Ravenclaw, so perhaps that was simply the order of things.

He felt rather dazed by the proceedings, and it was only when Neville started to remove his own clothing that Theodore focussed on the scene before him.

Neville Longbottom was taking off his clothing in Theodore's room. In Nott Terrace. And there was no one around to bother them.

Theodore blinked and removed his own shirt with some haste, before dropping it on the floor -- somewhere in the world one of the Nott house elves was having a conniption.

Theodore strode across the room quickly, and he paused at the edge of his bed when he realised Neville's fingers were shaking as he undid his jeans. "I can help you with that," Theodore said, raising his eyebrow slightly in an effort to ease Neville's tension.

Neville relaxed and stretched out on the length of Theodore's bed, smiling. "Have at it."

It was Theodore's turn to suffer anxiety, and once again he fought the duvet cover for purchase as he climbed onto the bed and knelt between Neville's legs. He would have to transfigure the silk into something less slippery for the next visit.

Neville twitched when Theodore's fingers touched his bare chest, and he leaned forward slightly to tweak one Neville's nipples. The bud tightened under Theodore's fingers, and Neville's resulting squeak wasn't the most masculine sound ever, but it made them both laugh.

"Is there any reason I should be feeling this nervous?" Neville's voice hitched as Theodore traced the left nipple with the tip of his finger and then the right one.

"I think that really depends on you." Theodore counted Neville's ribs as he slowly dragged his hands down Neville's stomach. "Do you like it when I do this?"

Theodore traced Neville's navel with his index finger.

"Yeah -- yes," Neville corrected.

"And what about this?"

Theodore spread the opening of Neville's jeans and shifted until he was crouched over Neville's groin. He glanced up at Neville to make sure he had his undivided attention before he licked a line from Neville's navel down to the waistband of his Y-fronts.


Theodore blinked before remembering that Neville was not a Parselmouth.

"Then I think we should be all right," Theodore shifted back onto his haunches and hooked his fingers under the waistband of Neville's jeans. "Lift."

The clothing came off with a minimal amount of trouble, and Theodore rose onto his knees to adjust himself. Neville made another noise, and Theodore looked up and gave him a wicked grin. "One thing at a time," he said.

Neville propped himself up on his elbows and frowned. "I'm not really keen on that idea," he said.

Theodore's grin slid into a smirk. "Oh, really?"

Theodore had noticed that Neville didn't tend to move terribly fast unless he was motivated; clearly today he was motivated, because one moment Theodore was kneeling on his bed smirking, and the next Neville had grabbed him, pinned him and was doing extraordinarily interesting things to get him out of his trousers.

Theodore's teeth snapped together when Neville palmed his dick through wool, and he almost bit off his tongue. How he would have explained that would have been truly an interesting thing to see, but instead he squirmed on the bed as Neville groped him.

Grabbing fists full of spiky hair, Theodore pulled Neville's mouth towards his and kissed him hard. It wasn't a particularly polite kiss, but it was hard and wet, and when Theodore slipped his tongue into Neville's mouth he was all business.

A growl escaped the back of his throat when Neville pulled away, and he stared hard at Neville's wet, red mouth as he said something that went right past Theodore's ears.

Theodore wanted that mouth back on his and then he wanted it on his dick and then --- well, there was no need to put the carriage before the Thestral. Theodore reached out to pull Neville back and stopped when he discerned that Neville was trying to remove his trousers.

Batting Neville's hands away, Theodore kicked his legs free with haste and his cock slapped wetly against his stomach as he tried to tug Neville back down. He missed the warm security of Neville's body blanketing his. He frowned when Neville refused to budge.

"You weren't wearing any pants." Neville's tone was matter-of-fact, but his eyes were huge, and Theodore made a dismissive gesture with his hands until he understood that Neville was staring at him as though he were something amazing and new.

It was Theodore's turn to twitch when Neville ran his hand up the inside of Theodore's left thigh. "Does it bother you that I'm not wearing any pants?" Theodore asked as he bent his knees and spread his legs. "It's not as though you haven't seen me naked before."

His voice hitched as Neville's fingers brushed the crease of his thigh and hip and skirted along his ribs. Theodore's cock twitched on his stomach in disappointment, and their hands bumped against each other as Theodore reached down absently and squeezed himself.

Neville took a shuddering breath, and Theodore took advantage to roll them over so Neville was on his back.

"This is different," Neville said as Theodore straddled his waist.

"Then we should probably take off your pants as well," Theodore pointed out, hooking his fingers under the waistband and yanking meaningfully. Neville lifted his hips, and Theodore pulled the offending item off.

Neville's dick was swollen and flushed, and the head was wet; Theodore licked his lips when Neville made another one of his noises. He shifted to his knees and noticed that Neville had a little scar on his shin that Theodore had never seen before. He stroked it lightly, chuckling when Neville grunted. There was also a scar high on Neville's thigh that Theodore had only seen in bad lighting, and he touched that one too.

"Are you investigating my scars?" Neville asked.

"Does that bother you?"

"No," Neville hesitated for a moment. "Am I supposed to be getting turned on by this?"

Theodore's mouth went dry when Neville gave his own dick a tug. "It's certainly working for me," Theodore admitted, tracing the scar on Neville's thigh with his fingernail.

There was another scar on Neville's hip, but it was entirely too close to Neville's cock for Theodore to take serious notice, and without any ceremony, he leaned forward and took the head of Neville's cock into his mouth.

Neville arched up at this sudden movement and nearly knocked him off the bed. Theodore snorted and petted Neville's thigh in an effort to calm him down, but judging by the grip Neville had on his duvet, it didn't work terribly well.

Theodore made an obscene slurping sound as he went up and then back down. Gripping the shaft in his hand, he pulled off and rubbed the fold of foreskin over the head as he licked his lips thoughtfully. Neville always did taste rather salty, but not in an unpleasant way.

Neville's eyes were closed tight, and Theodore turned his head slightly and nipped at Neville's hip. "Pay attention," he said when Neville's eyes flew open.

He wasn't prepared for the narrowed eyes or the lip licking. "My turn," was all Neville said, before once again, Theodore was the one on his back.

Theodore was slightly disoriented by all the rolling around, but he committed himself admirably to being thoroughly kissed by Neville, and he let out a low moan when Neville wedged both his legs between Theodore's thighs and began thrusting back and forth in a manner that couldn't be construed as anything else but fucking.

Their cocks were trapped between their stomachs as they rubbed together, and Theodore had not planned on being the 'shag-ee'; yet he wrapped his legs around Neville's back and urged him on.

Neville hissed when Theodore nipped at the junction of his shoulder and neck, but he couldn't really help himself, and he sucked at the bite mark instead of leaving well enough alone. With every thrust of Neville's hips, Theodore sucked a bit harder until he began to feel dizzy from not breathing. That mark would require a Glamour of some sort before Neville left.

There was no penetration taking place, just lots of friction, and between the sweat and the pre-come and saliva, they were moving around in a slippery mess. Neville's thighs were slapping against the back of Theodore's thighs, and he was gasping against Theodore's neck as Theodore held on.

Neville came first, and when he collapsed on top of him, Theodore worked a hand between their sticky bodies and brought himself off with a few deft strokes. His orgasm started in his groin and traveled to every part of his body, much like Firewhiskey or a potion, and as much as Theodore enjoyed having Neville on top, his lungs were being crushed.

He pushed and wriggled until he was out from under the pressure of a sweating, breathless Gryffindor, and he laughed when Neville turned his head and smiled at him.

"So, was this worth coming over for?" Theodore asked.

"You were," said Neville.

Theodore blinked. He seemed to have misplaced his ability to speak.


Slytherins by nature were not clingy or overly emotional; they were passionate about certain things. Everyone was as far as Theodore's social circle went, except for Draco Malfoy, who was emotionally unstable full stop. Draco was always an exception though, which was a thought for another time altogether -- and certainly not when Theodore was standing in the Nott kitchen and waiting for Neville Longbottom to depart.

Theodore had never noticed how long his own toes were, and he frowned and shook his head before looking back up. Neville fastened the toggles of his traveling cloak and ran his hair through his hair before stepping into Theodore's personal space.

"I'll see you next week?" Neville asked. His mouth was less swollen that it had been an hour ago, but his face was still flushed, and it turned darker when Theodore narrowed his eyes and leaned forward.

"I'll let you know when," Theodore spoke against Neville's mouth.

"I'd like that."

Neville's eyes fluttered shut, and he tilted his head, Theodore was just closing his eyes when there was a flash of light, and he stepped back. Grabbing Neville by his cloak he pushed him behind him, and coughed as he waited for the green smoke to clear.

"Theo! Theo!"

Theodore peered into the smoky air, but was still bowled over by his sister when she bounded out of the fireplace and threw her arms around his waist. "Back so soon?" he said, petting Alexandria on the top of her head.

"Dottie got Miss Alexandria lots of robes, yes, she did!" Theodore looked up and nodded his head as their house elf emerged from the fireplace only a few steps behind.

"Of course," Theodore said. "Well, if you're all done --"

"Who's this?" Alexandria let go of Theodore and stepped back. He frowned when she cut him off mid-sentence.

"Alexandria," he began.

"I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to interrupt," she said. Taking another step back, Alexandria gave Neville a small curtsey. "Hello."

Theodore shook his head and stepped to the side to make a proper introduction. "This is a -- this is Neville. He and I attend Hogwarts together. Neville this is Alexandria, my sister. Alexandria, Neville."

Neville smiled, and Alexandria gave Neville a very long apprising look before smiling back. "Do you like animals?"

Neville looked thoughtful for several moments. "I prefer plants, but I quite like some animals."

"Would you like to see my zoo?"

"I'd like that very much," Neville said, "but I don't think I can today."

Alexandria smile diminished, and Theodore opened his mouth, but Neville spoke first. "Perhaps I could come and see them another day."

"I'd like that," Alexandria was all smiles again, and Theodore nodded his head when she glanced at him. "Theo, can Neville come back?"

"If he wants," said Theodore.

"I'd like that," Neville replied.

Dottie had taken all this in with nary a word, but at another glance between Theodore and Neville she stepped forward. "Miss Alexandria Nott should be getting changed soon, yes?"

Theodore nodded. "We should let Neville get home," he said.

Alexandria looked at Neville solemnly. "Of course. It was very nice to meet you."

"The pleasure was all mine," he said, nodding at Alexandria before stepping forward and taking a bit of Floo powder from the brass canister that Theodore gestured towards.

He glanced over his shoulder at Theodore as he tossed the powder in and green fire ignited; Theodore smiled back.

Neville said something, and then he was gone.


The worst thing about having Neville over to Nott Terrace was not that Theodore had been unable to keep the visit a secret, but that after having incorporated Neville into his life, Neville had then had to leave.

It was intolerable, and it made Theodore irritable.

A simple cleaning spell had taken care of the damp mess on his duvet, and they had both been barefoot most of the time, so there were no footprints left to cover over, but even though Neville was gone, his imprint was now all over the house. Theodore could smell Neville in his room, and he sat in his window seat, flipping through his Charms text trying to figure out if he really wanted to eradicate every last trace that Neville had ever been to see him.

A faint knock at the door jarred him, and the book slipped from his fingers. "Come in," he said clearly.

The door swung open, and Alexandria's freckled face appeared around the side of the door. She wore rose-coloured pajamas and house shoes, and her brown hair curled around her shoulders. She hadn't yet had her growth spurt, but Theodore had every reason to believe she would be as tall as their mother.

"Mother's not in her portrait and Father is in his study; I wanted someone to conjure me the story of Le Petit Sorcerer," she announced. "Theo, will you read it to me?"

"If you like," he said, crossing the room and removing his wand from his cupboard. He followed his sister back over to the bay window and waited until she had made herself comfortable.

"Right, now how does the story go again?" he asked as he prepared to conjure up the visuals for her

Alexandria frowned. "I've changed my mind, I want a different story now. I want the story about the prince and the other prince and the seven gnomes and the bad apple."

Theodore raised an eyebrow. "Do I know that story?" he asked.

"You can make it up."

"I can?"

"Of course you can." Alexandria gave him a toothy smile. "Also? I like him."

Theodore froze. "You like who?"

"Your friend."

Theodore exhaled sharply through his nose and then crouched down until they were eye-to-eye. "I'm glad you like him, I want you to like him, but there's something I need for you to understand. Father hasn't met Neville, and ..."

Alexandria fixed him with big, brown eyes. "Who's Neville?"

"The story of the princes and the gnomes and the bad apple you said?" Theodore repeated again.

"It should also have a dragon and a Pegasus."


"And a heffalump."

Theodore raised an eyebrow, but Alexandria was not to be dissuaded.

"Of course," he said, returning her smirk.

She would make a fine Slytherin if it weren't for that Squib business. Alexandria's lack of magical ability was of no importance to Theodore since she was his sister, but he wasn't terribly certain of the Hogwarts admissions policy where Squibs were concerned, and he had no intention of allowing his sister to be sent away to Beaubaxtons or Durmstrang. She wouldn't be safe there, especially with Coming Events; she would have to stay where she could be protected.

Of course, family came first because loyalty was everything, but Theodore now had an additional problem. He now had other loyalties, and he wasn't going to give up Neville either. He would make it work out so that he didn't have to.

It wasn't ambition -- it was fact.

Notts protected their own.


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