Rating: R|M|18 [implicit sex]
Disclaimer: All characters and wizarding concepts belong to J. K. Rowling; no profit, etc.
Pairing: Rabastan Lestrange/Walden Macnair
Summary: Whilst serving as an envoy to the giants during the first war, Rabastan Lestrange contemplates his world, his brother’s fiancée, and Walden Macnair.
They’ve never spoken much, not even to each other, though not for lack of worthwhile thoughts. In romanticism, a cliché: the strong and silent type; in reality, psychosis: the muteness characteristic of the shrewdly unhinged. They shared a house in school, they share a sadomasochism. They shared a womb, but they are not identical.
Rabastan, the beta twin, has heavier features, and is somewhat shorter than Rodolphus due to a slight stooping of his broad shoulders. His eyes are sleepier, greener than Rodolphus’ (although both are called hazel), and despite his own decent intelligence he is not as quick, in terms of wit, as his one-hour-elder brother. Rabastan is left-handed; Rodolphus, right.
And, perhaps their most defining difference: Rabastan is blunt.
Not forthright -- they do not share their thoughts . . .
Walden Macnair moved with a lumbering grace, an ease contradictory to his size. His walk left deep footprints in the snow as he made his way over the drift that half concealed their cave, but his gait could not be called a trudge. His eyebrows were hoary from the ice-flecked winds, and as he approached their cold haven he released his hold on the front of his heavy fur cloak.
Antonin Dolohov, the third member of their delegation, snored obliviously near the meagre fire in the centre of the cave. Rabastan Lestrange sat back on his haunches, his fingers steepled pensively, and waited.
There was a fresh bruise discolouring Macnair’s jaw, Rabastan noted as the other man slipped through the mouth of their shelter. It was likely one of many; even bearing opulant gifts, one did not escape the giants’ realm unscathed. A comradely pat on the back was enough to dislocate a shoulder, as Dolohov had discovered some two weeks ago. Still, there was no gingerness taken in Macnair’s movements, no favouring of either leg, and judging from the rhythmic tightening in his temples his jaw remained intact. It had been a profitable visit, and Macnair, by that time quite familiar with Rabastan’s habit of silent observation, knew he didn’t need to say as much aloud.
Rabastan watched as Macnair crouched down to retrieve something out of his rucksack (dragonhide; Hebridean Black, Rabastan had admired during their climb through the mountains). A knife first - rather atypical for Walden - then a roll and sausage, compliments of January bride Narcissa Malfoy. Rabastan had missed the wedding, but was told by Augustus Rookwood that it had been an affair of monarchial proportions, the marriage of the snow queen and her long-sought king. Rabastan knew this comparison to be ridiculous; Narcissa Black and Lucius Malfoy had known each other since she’d been seven and he, ten, but the picture did become the wintry couple. The ice sculpture had been, fittingly, of two serpents laced together in an adderdance; a pretty deception, for certainly their marriage bed, if their courtship had been any indication, was a great deal warmer than any of the assembled Death Eaters were at present.
“The erumpet sword next,” Macnair muttered as he sank against the wall beside Rabastan. “That should be enough. Korps’ greed is beginnin’ ta outweigh his wariness.”
The youngest Lestrange nodded, neither pleased or disappointed by the prospect of finally being able to return to Britain. He wouldn’t miss dealing with the giants, but he had to admit that, avaricious behemoths aside, he had grown abstractly fond of the Caucasus and its frozen crags. There was a swollen, ancient power in these earths, the beat of which he felt matched the dense thuds of his own heart. This was where Zeus had chained the Titan Prometheus for gifting man with fire. Sometimes, when an especially strong wind licked at his ears, Rabastan thought he could hear in it echoes of the immortal’s screams.
And then he remembered who he was withstanding the wind to meet, and realised that the screams weren’t those of an anguished primordial god -- nor were they echoes.
“Will you present it yourself?” he enquired. Macnair, almost startled by the rare sound of Rabastan’s voice, paused briefly before swallowing a bite of bread.
“Nae,” he answered. “Routine dictates Antonin’ll speak with them next. Any deviation from that routine and they might decide not ta trust us any longer.”
Rabastan held his tongue. It was evident from Macnair’s tone that he would have preferred being able to make the final offering and arrangements himself -- there was no question that he possessed a talent with the giants, a certain affinity that put him at ease with them, and contrariwise they with him. Even Rabastan and Dolohov, whose ancestry entwined far more of the region and its inhabitants than did Walden's, could not best the Scotsman in that. Dolohov was too unsettled in the giants’ presence, too eager to sacrifice his dignity for their benefit. Respect would in turn earn theirs; blind reverence would not. On the other side of the coin, Rabastan was thought to be too confident, his reticence mistaken for apathy or, if their Gurg Korps was feeling exceptionally fractious, rudeness.
They liked Macnair. More than once Rabastan had wondered inwardly if the giants saw in the executioner some recessive trait buried for generations, a blood link to their extinct Celtic cousins that heightened the rapport they shared with him. Walden Macnair, who stood well over six feet tall, with sinew-gnarled arms like tree branches and a voice that rumbled quakelike through air and flesh . . .
Rabastan liked Macnair, too.
Bellatrix liked to tease him about it, and there were times when not even Rodolphus could rein in his feral fiancée, although it was rare that he ever wished to. Bellatrix Black, with her angular body and caustic tongue . . . she was a thorn in Rabastan's side, she was the pins and needles one had to tread to avoid agitating insanity, inanity.
Rodolphus, acuity aside, had always been the sharper of the two brothers.
Bellatrix was a lesion, and Walden a contusion, a throbbing ache to her piercing sting, blood pooled hot and deep in one’s belly and not on the floor. What a wasteful lust belonged to Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange, one that would someday cease to serve them well. Rabastan had no intention of being there when that particular fissure erupted and its foundation crumbled. He could not believe in justice just as he could not believe injustice, but irony . . . irony was a law to which he gave his complete sanction. Man created justice; irony was savage as the rest of the world, and the earth had weathered far more than any man.
Yes, he decided, he did rather enjoy it here. This frigid pillar had thus far managed to support one-half the weight of the world; anything the forthcoming war was to throw at it, it would endure. Through everything, this place would endure. He would endure.
Whether Rabastan was thinking of Macnair or himself, or of someone else entirely, he couldn’t be sure.
His eyes strayed from the smooth stone ground to Walden’s callused, gloveless hands. The other wizard had finished his modest meal and was washing it down with a swig from a silver hipflask. Walden grimaced at the sudden burn of whatever spirits it contained, then offered the flask to Rabastan, who shook his head in refusal.
Macnair took another drink.
“Karkaroff’ll have the Portkey ready by now,” he said. “I wonder what ol’ Antonin would do if we left him lyin’ there with the sword and a sausage.”
“Eat the one and fall on the other?” Rabastan offered.
“Aye. Squash the sausage and choke on the horn.”
The corners of Rabastan’s mouth lifted slightly. The pile of pelts and noise that was Dolohov snorted and fidgeted in its sleep. Macnair scowled at it in disapproval. “Lazy bastard.”
“He does have a point,” Rabastan yielded. “On any given day, two of us have bugger all to do.”
Walden was quiet for a moment, and Rabastan cast a glance his way. The older man’s gaze was scrutinising, almost suspicious.
“I think I like ye better silent, Lestrange.”
Rabastan shrugged, the gesture evidence enough of the request's fulfillment and finishing in an involuntary shudder, as the bite of the cold tapered in contrast to the dense heat of his body, a smouldering coal pitted against a glacier. This must be, Rabastan mused to himself, what a star feels like: a wink of heat gone mad in its resoluteness to survive, gripping itself in a swirling embrace, an ultimately futile but still ceaseless coil to contain and conduct the glowing ember of its core. A candle in a cave, flicker-flighting its own extinguishing from the pitch black and yawning void of Dolohov's stertorous maw.
Although, if the breath of space were anything like Dolohov’s in sleep, it was no wonder that the stars dealt ominous fates so frequently. Ill-starred . . . perhaps the phrase was wrongly translated, and its truth more literal than metaphorical: celestial sickness, the symptoms of an ailing heaven.
In ennui and cold, the possibility seemed sound, and Rabastan could almost forgive Bellatrix Black her torments.
The fire struggled for life against a gust of wind that managed to swipe further into the cave than its predecessors. Its disturbance was brief, but the small spiking flames couldn’t quite recover, and began to sink as the sun did. As the landscape diffused from white to saffron to silver in the mauve cast of twilight, they were at last exhausted to a slow burn barely beyond firelight.
“Are ye goin’ ta get that?” Macnair asked, already settling back, his pack serving as a makeshift cushion behind his thick neck. “I don’t much fancy goin’ out again for more firewood.”
“I’m not cold.” A partial truth; he was nearly numb by now.
“T’ain’t your comfort I’m concerned with, lad.”
Rabastan shrugged again. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure; one man’s discomfort must be another’s source of satisfaction.”
For some moments, the Scot stared at him, his lips slightly parted but wordless. His eyes -- brown, Rabastan had noted some time before, but betrayingly dark -- studied the younger wizard with all the intensity of a battering ram heaved against a fortress’ doors.
It was not in Rabastan’s deliberate nature to flinch.
Finally, Macnair’s tongue recalled its ability to function.
“You’re not as slow as ye like ta make out, are ye?”
A third shrug. “I’m . . . thorough. People underestimate anyone receptive to gradual gratification. Better a steadily convincing lie than a dead giveaway.”
Macnair smirked, knowing the last sentence to be all too literal in its meaning.
“Well, aren’t you full o’ surprises. I wonder what else you’ve got hidden up your sleeve.”
A broad grin spread along Rabastan’s face. “I’m fucking freezing.”
Walden sat up, allowing his pack to slide to the ground, and turned to crouch in front of Rabastan like a great Amur tiger examining a fieldmouse that had just grown into snow leopard. He gave a snort of laughter, his breath a warm cloud against Rabastan’s cheek. It stank of whiskey.
“Now that’s another lie,” he murmured, his gruff voice pitched so low as to resemble a deep purr.
Rabastan arched a brow. “Is it?”
“Aye,” Macnair nodded. “You’re only freezin’ yet.”
He moved forward, but Rabastan neither expected nor received a kiss. Such a tender display, or lack thereof, was the distinction between desire and affection. Walden and Rabastan had both been reared with a distorted but strong awareness of the term ‘means to an end’: the meaner they were, the better the end, and like any true predator Macnair chose the jugular for their brutish beginning.
Rabastan closed his eyes, a heavy sense of calm and what might have been contentment, if it weren’t so forceful, crashing over him like a tidal ridge under the administrations of Macnair’s bruising mouth, his wonderful mouth that broke blood, but not the skin that imprisoned it. Layers of clothing were shed through writhing, like snakeskin, and mountainous bodies were mapped by harsh hands. He could trace the Highlands, Rabastan thought, in Macnair’s rough form; it wouldn’t have surprised him to learn that Macnair had not been born but grown, sculpted from the very earth of the hulking hills and sloping moors, an evolutionary Gaelic god.
He no longer took notice of the cold, and found the scrape of the cave’s rugged wall against his torso -- for in the axis of their motions he had got spun around -- not unpleasant in the slightest.
“Walden . . .” The word was hoarse, spoken with the slithering tail of a breath -- Rabastan’s last, before Macnair’s left hand slid up from his trunk to grasp his throat. The dull ache that had been cocooned in Rabastan’s groin unfurled throughout his lungs, his limbs, as Macnair crushed him against the cavern wall. Between a rock and a hard place; oh, this was indeed his favourite spot in all the world . . .
“I like ye better,” Macnair repeated, his gravelly brogue rolling like a rockslide from his lips, “silent, Lestrange.”
Rabastan had no choice but to comply and no inclination to rebel, as Walden stained his neck with fingerprints. Black and blue joined the violet of previously devoured flesh, and Rabastan fought to snare the groan building behind it.
It is sometimes said that each soul possesses its own music, a song that sets the pace by which all scenes in life are performed. The executioner’s percussive rhythm was primaeval -- Prime evil, the thought pulsed to light in Rabastan’s mind -- not an urgency but a reiteration. Gradual, like the worship of a Muggle god, an antiphon following a lengthy epistle.
This was Rabastan’s gospel.
His observations, the parallels he drew, his very perception was proven correct with every drumbeat that culminated in a kindred reunion to this barbarous joining. How could anyone call him -- their cause, this act -- wrong, when its very happening only proved his rightness (and it did feel right, right and roughshod, a cruelty worthy of irony) and, therefore, his quality? Wicked, no; Rabastan was not a wicked man, but the epitome of virtue in the only true reality: one without manmade interferences. He was being fucked by a god in a wasteland that had swollen into alps with myth, to which he had been sent to oversee the forging of Ragnarok.
Primal, primitive, simple, uncomplicated, blunt.
Bellatrix Black was the pins and needles one had to tread to avoid agitating insanity. A thorn in Rabastan’s side.
And because ill-starred was rarely without the companionship of irony, Rabastan could almost forgive her her torments. To err is human, after all; to forgive . . .
His antiphon undeniable, Rabastan Lestrange lent his voice to the rataplan song of his world, and gave up his own strangled scream to the mountains' reverberant holloes.