It's not so much dark as it is, well, bleak. Not a tearjerker (or, at least, not intended to be), but not a happy fic.
Title: Conspiracy of Silence
Pairing(s)/Characters: Harry/Draco; Blaise/Draco
Summary: To betray, you must first belong. (Harold Philby)
Rating: Hard R
Word count: 6300
Warnings: Violence. The epilogue and Ginny are both ignored.
Author's notes: Many thanks to my beta-readers, incapricious and oddnari. <3 Originally posted here.
The robes all around Draco are hot and scratchy, but he doesn't complain. Mrs Zabini does not know he is here, and his nude presence in Blaise's wardrobe would be tricky to explain. At least she knocked before opening the door.
"There is a letter from Giancarlo. It's time, Blaise."
Blaise's sharp intake of breath chills Draco. "When do I leave?"
"Tonight. They've arranged a Portkey to Le Havre. A man will be waiting there; he will accompany you on the train."
"How charming. A babysitter?"
"A bodyguard. News of your grandfather's death has already spread, and the Navarros will want to stop you if they can."
"In that case, wouldn't it be better to Apparate?"
"There are things you must know before you arrive in Palermo. The man Volpi will make sure of it."
"I see. Thank you."
Mrs Zabini withdraws, heels clacking delicately. The wardrobe doors fly open, and Blaise stands before Draco, draped in a sheet, eyes stormy.
"What was that all about?" Draco asks. Something tells him their afternoon plans have just been cancelled. Not that having sex nine ways from Sunday is much of a plan, but they're both only nineteen.
"You heard her. I must travel to Sicily."
Grandfather's death. "A funeral?"
"Something like that." Blaise's tone is a shade too noncommittal; he's lying, but he clearly wants Draco to know he's lying, which means Draco asked the wrong question.
"Why isn't your mother going with you?"
Blaise looks at him. "She would be killed there. After my father died, she was allowed to live so she could raise me far from Palermo. That's finished now."
The pit of Draco's stomach freezes. "And you're going to leave her here?"
Blaise's eyes glint and fall shut. "No. I'm going there so I can stop them."
"You're not making any sense," Draco says. He's still leaning back against the wardrobe wall, but the robes have become threatening, suffocating.
"I know," Blaise murmurs. "This just. It's unexpected. I didn't think it would happen so soon."
Draco edges out of the wardrobe, clothes in hand, and begins to dress by the window. Through the curtains, he can see a sliver of grey April sky. It's useless to ask more questions; Blaise has already said far more than he normally would. The unspoken expectation clings to the atmosphere: Draco must react.
"When will you come back?" Draco asks after a long silence.
The car stops beneath a dead streetlamp. No one but an inquisitive rat is around to see the three men get out of the back. The car pulls away with a dull whine, and the street is dark once again. It's been raining for two days, and the men are drenched within moments.
"I hate this shitty country," the stocky one growls and shoves his companion towards an awning. "Move, cazzo, or I'll move you."
"Behind there," says the tall one, pointing to the corner restaurant, La Coupole. "The frog-eaters' place. There's a passage."
The stocky one nods and continues to push his charge forward. The third man's hands are bound behind his back, and if his eyes weren't concealed by a blindfold, there would be terror in them.
"Please," he tries, turning his head sideways. "I didn't tell the sbirri anything!"
The tall one pauses a step. "Heh. That's good. We're gonna make sure you don't tell 'em anything tomorrow, either."
It's not much drier behind the French restaurant, but there are a few lit windows above their heads, giving just enough light to see by. The restaurant shares the courtyard with a Japanese place, and the faint but persistent stench of yesterday's seafood guarantees that the windows will be closed.
The stocky one forces the prisoner to his knees next to a stack of sodden crates. "Hold him, Rico."
Rico seizes the prisoner's shoulders as Mr Stocky throws a slip-knotted rope over his head. His movements are unhurried, precise; he's done this often, though it's been a while since the last time. He ties one end of the rope to the bindings around the prisoner's wrists, then ties his ankles together, securing the other end of the rope there. Then he steps back.
"Please," the prisoner whimpers. "I have a son."
"We ain't Palermo-bene, brother," Rico says with a shrug. "Everybody's got a son."
"I have two daughters and a son," Mr Stocky says. "That's why I keep my mouth shut. Now move, or I move you."
The prisoner's pointed grey beard touches his chest. His bound hands shake, and the knot slides closer to his windpipe. The man's fingers struggle to find the end of the rope in an attempt to unravel it before he moves, but to no avail. He's quite still for a few moments, as though hoping the executioners will leave, and he'll just sit here until help arrives. But it is impossible for an untrained man to remain motionless for longer than a short while. He probes for the rope again, and this time his wrists move downward, pulling the rope tighter. The prisoner's feet twitch upwards, as though to keep the hands from moving, and he begins to wheeze against the noose. Panic sets in quickly, and soon he is in a gasping fury, struggling uselessly as he strangles himself with his own hands and feet.
After he lies still, the two companions disappear into the rain.
Draco sprawls on the sofa in the back room of his restaurant and watches the door swing open. The maître d' walks in, quite flustered.
"Monsieur Malfoy," he begins, and Draco has to hide a grin. Charles always pronounces his surname Malfwah, as if that somehow will make Draco French. "Outside, there is a man. He is demanding to speak with you. I have told him we are still closed, but he is quite insistent."
"Did he tell you his name?"
"Potter, monsieur. Harry Potter. I believe he's from Scotland Yard."
Draco doesn't bother hiding his smile this time. "Oh? What makes you think so?"
"The police, they all look the same," Charles says with a dramatic flourish.
"Well, we've got nothing to hide from the police, have we? Show him in."
"Right away, monsieur." Charles sketches a formal little bow and backs out. He returns a few moments later, followed by -- so it is Potter.
The intervening years have been good to him, though not as good as they have been to Draco. With his broad shoulders and too-straight back, he does, indeed, have the look of a policeman, though surely not the kind Charles is thinking of. Potter's eyes are still the same, and Draco is delighted when they widen upon spotting him.
"Well, well," he drawls, smiling for all he's worth, now. "Look what the maître d' dragged in."
Draco nods. "Would you like something to drink, Mr Potter?"
Potter just stares at him, uncomprehending.
Draco nods again. Rendering Potter speechless still carries a special flavour; how strange, after all this time. "Charles, please have Lance bring Mr Potter an espresso."
"And you, monsieur?"
"I've still got my tea," Draco says, gesturing at his barely-touched cup, and then at the second sofa. "Have a seat, Mr Potter."
"You can drop the Mr," Potter says, sitting down. "This is unexpected."
"Small world," Draco replies, chagrined somewhat at Potter's swift recovery. "So what brings you by on this fine spring morning?"
"I-- Seriously, Malfoy, what are you doing here? You work in a place like this?"
"Work? Moi?" Draco throws him a horrified look. "Of course not. I own the place, that's all."
"--own a Muggle restaurant, yes, Potter; is it really so hard to believe?" Truthfully, he can see why it would be hard to believe, but Potter hasn't lived Draco's life for the past five years. "This one and twelve others besides."
Potter frowns down at his hands. "Interesting."
There is a knock at the door, and young Lance enters with a coffee tray. He throws Draco a smouldering look as he sets the tray down and withdraws with a murmured "Enjoy, monsieur." Draco wonders if Potter's presence has anything to do with the slightly exaggerated swaying of Lance's hips. But he can't be distracted by waiter antics, so he turns his gaze back on Potter, who's feeding his espresso way too many lumps of sugar.
"Well?" Draco asks after a sip of lukewarm tea.
Potter's spoon clinks against the cup. "It's just strange, because I was going to visit Malfoy Manor later today."
Draco sits up straighter. "Really?"
"Yeah," says Potter, still frowning. "I didn't come here to see you."
"Then this is quite a coincidence, isn't it?"
"There's no such thing as coincidence," Potter says flatly. "Do you know what happened in the courtyard of your restaurant last night?"
Draco, somewhat affronted, sets his teacup down. "I don't know what happened, but Mifune-san found a dead body there this morning. That poor man."
"The manager of the Japanese place next door," Draco says, exasperated. "I didn't realise the Auror Office lacked work to do; what's a dead Muggle to you?"
"No, I meant, which one of them is 'that poor man' -- the stiff or Mr Mifune?"
Draco blinks. "Both, I suppose. You still haven't told me what that's got to do with you."
"It was an execution."
Draco draws himself up, rather annoyed now despite his best intentions. "This is absurd. You barge in here, well out of your jurisdiction, assault me with impertinent questions--"
"We're working with Scotland Yard, posing as MI6. No question of jurisdiction, I'm afraid."
"Fine, whatever," Draco snaps. "I don't care if you're playing at being the bloody Interpol; why are you here?"
Potter suddenly gives him a furtive look. "This isn't going very well, is it?"
"I've had better reunions," Draco murmurs, smiling slightly. "Though I can't say I've ever reunited with a former enemy before."
Potter smirks at something evidently private. "While we're on the subject of reunions, what about Blaise Zabini?"
"Blaise? What--? Potter, you're still really infuriating."
"Hey, it's my job," Potter says, smirk still in place. "So, about Zabini?" From his inner pocket, Potter pulls out a notebook, flips to the middle. "Says here you spent time with him when you did your Grand Tour."
"Palermo was one of my stops," Draco says, eyeing the notebook. "Naturally, I visited with my old classmate, but I haven't seen him since then."
Potter pulls out a pen, then pockets it again in favour of a quill, which hovers above the notebook, waiting. "How long did your Palermo stop last?"
"Mmm, two weeks? Maybe three. It's been more than two years since then; I don't remember."
"What can you tell me about Zabini's activities during that time?"
Draco considers telling him all about his and Blaise's activities, but decides this is neither the time nor the place. "We toured the countryside -- beautiful lemon groves. Great food, too. Aside from that, though..." Draco waves a hand in the air and shrugs.
Scratch-scratch-scratch, goes the quill. "What does he do for a living?"
"Blaise doesn't need to do anything for a living."
"Neither do you." Potter looks almost hawk-like.
"So? Doing business the Muggle way is my hobby. Fewer goblins to deal with."
"You said you owned twelve other restaurants."
"And three night clubs, four soon." Draco leans back, crossing his arms. "I create Muggle jobs without breaking the Statute of Secrecy. I don't see why the Ministry's got a problem with that."
"It doesn't." Scratch-scratch-scratch.
"And you do?"
"No. Look, Malfoy, I'll be frank."
"Okay. I'll be John."
Potter rolls his eyes. "That was terrible."
"Wasn't it just? You're too serious." Draco takes another sip of his tea, licks his lips. Potter's all grown up -- not bad to look at, and quite sharp, by the sound of things. Draco can see potential here. Seducing Potter will brighten things up for a while, and their past should make things more... colourful. He wonders what Potter would say if he knew what Draco was thinking.
"Have you ever heard about an organisation that calls itself the Brotherhood of None?"
Draco laughs. "Organisation? Come now. I've heard of it, but it's just an old wives' tale."
"No," says Potter with a firm shake of his head. "It's a worldwide fraternity of wizards whose aims are not terribly different from those of the late Lord Voldemort."
Draco flinches. "And I'm the prime suspect for ringleader? Or-- wait, you don't think Blaise--?" There isn't a trace of humour in Potter's face. "Really, Potter, you're wasting your time. If I were involved in this, ah, organisation, of course I'd deny its existence. It's one of the supposed rules, isn't it?"
Potter's lips twitch with the ghost of a smile. "So are you saying you're involved?"
Draco throws up his hands. "You're so annoying. The Brotherhood of None isn't real."
Potter squints at his notebook. "It isn't, huh. What do you know about organised crime in the Muggle world?"
"Enough to keep the local rackets well away from my establishments," Draco says in an even tone, and then hastens to add, "Without magic, naturally."
"Naturally," Potter mumbles. His quill scribbles something, and now Draco really wants a closer look at that notebook. Potter glances up.
"I've been investigating a possible link between the Brotherhood of None and the Sicilian Mafia. There is a strong indication the Dark Arts are involved. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"
"No. Shouldn't you be asking questions at a pizzeria, then?"
"That dead man didn't turn up at a pizzeria. He turned up behind your restaurant."
Draco purses his lips. "Isn't it a little presumptuous of you to suspect Blaise just because he happens to be Sicilian?"
"It was more than a little presumptuous of you to demand I visit a pizzeria upon hearing the word 'Mafia', so spare me your indignation."
"Oh, you're good," Draco breathes, delighted. Potter looks down at his notebook, but Draco can tell he's pleased with himself. The game is on now.
Potter is looking at him again. "The man who died last night. The method of execution leaves no doubt that it was a Mafia job."
"I thought the Mafia was more careful about that sort of thing these days. Perhaps whoever did it wanted the police to think it was the Mafia."
"It's not impossible," Potter says. He's obviously got a counter-point, but his wristwatch begins to chime furiously. He gets up, his movement so fluid that Draco almost gasps. No wonder Lance was so keen; he's no doubt seen Potter prowl through the restaurant with that liquid grace. Oh, yes. This is going to be very fun.
"I've got to go," Potter says, pocketing the notebook. "If you think of anything--"
"Why don't you come and have dinner here tonight? On the house. I'm sure I'll think of something by then. Bring your girlfriend."
Potter raises his eyebrows. "I haven't got a girlfriend."
The name of the man killed behind La Coupole was Vittorio Santagata. He worked for a shipping-and-forwarding company called BKS Group Limited, specialising in custom-made furniture. The furniture is assembled in Thailand and shipped to India, where it's labelled for trans-shipment to Canada and sent to the United Kingdom. BKS switches the labels on the crates to comply with Canadian import policies; the cargo stays within the Commonwealth of Nations, enjoying reduced tariffs and fewer inspections.
A large number of BKS shipments contain something else besides wardrobes and vanity tables for wealthy North Americans: heroin from the Golden Triangle. These days, after BKS is through processing the cargo, as much as four-fifths of the heroin stays in the UK for domestic use. BKS operates under an umbrella corporation named C&C Holdings, short for Cuntrera & Caruana Holdings. The police believe that the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia family's drug trafficking operations have been dismantled; belief, it seems, is a poor measure of reality.
Vittorio Santagata was never a Mafioso, but during his twenty years of employment, he looked the other way and remained silent. He was only a boy when he started at BKS, a Sicilian manovale whose best qualification was an intimate acquaintance with the meaning of silence. He did not imagine that he would have to watch his son become a man in a world enslaved by drugs; supply created its own demand, and with time each new shipment was another straw on Vittorio's back. Leaving the company, his smiling boss explained, would not be smart. "You are a smart man, Santaglia. How's that even smarter boy of yours?"
Early this week, Vittorio made it as far as the nearest police station. Once inside, half-mad with fright -- and overcome with disgust at his own weakness -- he fled before he had a chance to speak with an officer. Like the other four BKS employees, he was under surveillance. Unlike them, he would be bait.
"Who would have thought," Draco says, chuckling. "Harry Potter can't hold his alcohol."
"Shut up," Potter grouses, emptying his wineglass. "I tripped."
"Tripped on thin air, I see. Secret power of yours?"
Potter nods solemnly, and then they're laughing again. Ferrand glides in, collects their dessert plates and four empty wine bottles with an imperturbable look on his face, and departs into the merry chaos of the main floor. Potter's gaze follows him, and Draco feels a little offended.
After the door shuts, Potter turns to Draco. "Are they all--?" He looks away.
"Um. Don't take this the wrong way, all right? But everyone I've met here looks very, um."
Potter's already-pink cheeks burn nearly scarlet. "Sorry. I shouldn't have--"
"It's quite all right," Draco says. "They are, yes."
Potter opens his mouth, but Draco doesn't let him ask. "I prefer to discriminate against the majority." The real reason is that gay Muggles don't tend to breed, which makes them far more tolerable in Draco's estimation than the regular sort. But he doesn't think that sort of reasoning would go over well with Harry Potter, intervening years or no.
"You're really odd," Potter says after a few moments.
"I've been called worse," Draco replies, smiling.
Potter looks vaguely uncomfortable. "Right. Well. Look. I've said I was leaving three times already, but this time I really mean it. I've got to--" He rises, swaying only a little bit.
Draco follows him to the door, where Potter once again loses his balance and has to grab Draco's arms to stay upright. "Sorry."
"Are you sure you can Apparate?" Draco asks with some concern. He doesn't want Potter Splinching any important parts of himself, not before Draco's had a go.
Potter doesn't respond; he's staring, transfixed, at a spot behind Draco. He's so close Draco can barely stand it. But not yet. Not yet.
"Malfoy," Potter mumbles, his hands iron manacles on Draco's upper arms. "Are you... uh... you and your... people. I mean... You too?"
Draco, who has discovered an unexpected fluency in Drunken Potter, smiles slyly. "I operate a number of French restaurants and employ gays exclusively. What do you think?"
"Oh. Were you always--?"
"I suppose," Draco replies. "I've never thought about it." He shrugs, and Potter looks at his hands in bewilderment, as though just realising he's still holding onto Draco. He lets go. For the first time in hours, Draco can't read him at all. He doesn't know if Potter is disgusted to have touched a gay man, if he doesn't want to move too fast, or if he simply doesn't want Draco to get the wrong idea.
One way to find out.
Draco grips Potter's chin and slides his tongue into Potter's wine-slackened mouth, slides it gently against Potter's tongue and pulls back. "Feels nice, doesn't it?" he murmurs. "Gay or not, what does it matter?"
Potter doesn't move. Draco can feel the heat of him, fiercer now than a moment ago, though perhaps it's wishful thinking. "Was this what you were after?" Potter breathes.
"Was I not obvious? He who plays coy sleeps alone; that's what I always say."
"What if I'm not interested?" Potter asks with a shifty look that doesn't suit him, and Draco knows this round is his, as long as he gives the correct answer.
He shrugs again. "So what if you aren't? I had a good time. Didn't you?"
"Yeah," Potter exhales. He reaches for the door handle, and Draco begins to frown; he couldn't have said the wrong thing, could he?
Potter turns the key in the lock and faces Draco again. "C'mere."
Two seconds, and Draco is pushed against the door, Potter's tongue deep in his mouth, Potter's hands on his arse half-lifting him off the floor. Potter's cock is hard and huge against his thigh even through all the clothes they're still wearing.
Two minutes, and they aren't wearing the clothes anymore. Potter's on his knees and, oh, by God, he's done this before, maybe even more than once. Draco's thoughts flee; all he wants is to get closer, closer, until he doesn't know where he ends and Potter begins. The back of his head hits the door, and Potter pulls back, looks up with concern.
"They won't care," Draco gasps, but Potter gets to his feet, still a bit wobbly. Draco doesn't give a shit; room temperature is not fucking acceptable to his cock right now. Before he can say something to that effect, Potter hauls him towards the sofas.
"Did the door hurt?" he murmurs into the crook of Draco's neck, and Draco laughs weakly -- he's lost all ability to read Potter since his cock took over.
Potter lowers him to the sofa, and Draco drags his head down with both hands. "Fuck me."
It turns out Potter's great at taking orders when he wants to be.
Blaise Zabini stands before his office window and stares at the boxlike monstrosity across the street. Just another relic from the Sack of Palermo, an eyesore, an eternal reminder of the price they must pay for the future. The future that is ten years closer today than the day he took his grandfather's place as the Sicilian representative to the Brotherhood. So young he was! It all seemed like such a fun game, then.
"The English investigation has still not stopped."
"I heard you the first time," Blaise says quietly without turning around. "Since when do you interrupt me when I'm trying to think?"
Thud. "I am sorry, padrone."
Blaise doesn't turn around, but he knows Salvatore is kneeling in obeisance. He will stay there until Blaise says it's enough. It's bad enough that Blaise had to verbally express his displeasure.
Salvatore Gravina is third in the succession line; his elder brother Giuseppe, second. Blaise should have had them killed after they tried to assassinate him eight years ago, but he didn't want to alienate the rest of the family. A representative is only as strong as his family, after all. Non essiri duci sinno tu mancianu, non essiri amaru sinno ti futanu. If he's too forgiving, the rest of them will sweep in to bleed him dry like mosquitoes. If he's too harsh, they will drag him down like a pack of wolves.
So he let them live -- under Unbreakable Vows to serve Blaise for the rest of their days. It made the rest of the Gravinas finally acknowledge him -- at least enough to stop the attempts on his life. Unfortunately, there is still Salvatore's impertinence.
"Perhaps if I remove his tongue," Blaise murmurs. He doesn't look at Salvatore. Let him sweat and wonder if Blaise is talking about him or Harry Potter.
Harry Potter. Why him? The personal connection, however tenuous, makes the whole investigation Blaise's responsibility, naturally. Japan's representative was particularly insistent about that, and of course the Russian woman is following Japan's lead. The rest of the Brotherhood will too. Why hasn't the investigation stopped yet, they all want to know. They've never met Harry fucking Potter, that's why. What can Blaise do against a man who survived the Killing Curse twice?
Besides, Potter is too famous, a legend. Murdering him might prove as near-fatal as the Muggles' blunders with Dalla Chiesa and Falcone -- it might mean the investigations would never stop. No, this requires a different approach. Delicate. Blaise nods to his murky reflection in the window. "My man in London will take care of it," he says. Half-turning to Salvatore, he adds, "That's enough, now."
Salvatore gets to his feet, head still bowed. "Who is the man in London?"
"Not blood?" The disapproval is thick in Salvatore's tone.
Blaise raises an eyebrow, struggling to contain his fury. "It is better to have a good friend than a bad relative."
"It hurts my heart to hear that."
"Then don't ask me stupid questions, Totò."
"Baciamo le mani a vossia, padrone."
Even now, Draco thinks he can still taste wine on Harry's tongue when they kiss. "Where were you yesterday?" he asks, pulling away. "I thought you were going to stop by."
"Sorry," Harry says. "I spent the day with Ron and them. Twelve years since Fred's death."
"Mmm. Always the Weasleys. Oh. Lower. That's it."
"I'm all yours tonight, though."
"You'd better make it really good, Potter. I'm leaving tomorrow. For a week."
"Where are you going?"
"I've decided to open in Edinburgh, so I need to go to Nice to court a famous chef. Ouch, what's with the teeth?"
Harry looks up from Draco's lap, innocent-eyed. "Did you say court?"
Draco smirks. "Jealous?"
"Oh, this sky. I want to bottle it and sell it to the poor sods in London. They think grey is normal."
"I'm glad you're so taken by Sicily's beauty, but don't change the subject."
"It makes me think of your Muggle charges. So blinkered. Unable to see past their noses.
"You're still changing the subject."
"Haven't I done enough?"
"You've done enough. But--"
"Good. Then consider what I said. Potter could be useful in the future. If I move now, that possibility might disappear."
"You won't get caught. Tinemu d'occhiu u scurpiuni e u sirpenti ma nunni vardamu du millipedi. We watch the scorpions and snakes but miss the millipede. You understand."
"You do ask much, padrone."
"I told you not to call me that. It doesn't suit you."
"Oh, but you like hearing it. Your eyes light up -- like a boy whose father has praised him."
"I remember now why I sent you home."
"But do you remember why I agreed to go?"
"The family will back you."
"Then say no more."
"Good morning to you too," Draco murmurs, flipping over to see Harry.
"I don't want to go to work," Harry announces with the look of a man who carries the world on his shoulders.
"Then don't," Draco says unsympathetically. "Drop the case. Chasing phantoms can't be good for your self-esteem."
Harry shakes his head firmly. "We're about to break major ground."
"Gosh, it couldn't be another Muggle psychic, could it?" Draco holds his splayed fingers in front of his mouth in an attempt at high drama.
"Shut up! This bloke we found up north, he's got something big to tell us. Says he once saw something, and he's never talked because it's bad luck to talk about black magic. I'm going to talk to him tomorrow."
Draco yawns. "He's probably just a lunatic who's never even been to Sicily."
"No, I checked it out. He was in the Mafia, all right, but on the wrong side of the Great Mafia War. He pulled one of those disappearing acts -- you know. His car was found empty in the middle of nowhere, and he just vanished. Changed his name, too."
Draco gives Harry his best "whatever you say, dear" smile and stretches.
Harry pokes an accusing finger at Draco's chest. "You're just like the Yard pukes. All they can say is, 'We have no Mafia problem here,' and then they refuse to assign more people to the cases that matter. It's disgraceful."
"So Confund them."
"Easy for you to say." Harry flops down on the bed, deflated.
Draco leans in to kiss him. "You're going to be la-ate."
Harry sighs. "Will you be here when I come back?"
"Still not moving in?"
"My father would have kittens, and so would the Weasleys -- several litters."
"So? The world needs more kittens."
"Potter. If we move in together, none of them will be able to call it a phase anymore."
"It's been five years. Of course it's not a phase."
"It's an awfully long phase." Draco glances at the clock. "Go on, then. We'll continue this pointless discussion later. I promise."
Draco stays in bed for an hour after Harry leaves, half-dozing. He's not expected at the new restaurant until noon, and by the time he crawls out of bed, it's going on eleven o'clock. After a hasty breakfast, he sends Kreacher to buy fresh milk and mounts the steps three at a time to Harry's study. It used to be a dusty, cluttered place until Draco suggested Harry keep copies of his files at home in case his suspicions of corrupt policemen bear fruit. Now it's airy and spacious, with a monstrous mahogany desk -- Draco's gift -- next to the bay window.
From the desk's bottom drawer, Draco pulls out the topmost file, the one Harry was studying last night before bed. He riffles through the contents for ten full minutes -- Muggle paper is too thin for magic -- before he finds the name he wants.
Alessandro Barresi, formerly Gabriele Calderone, is an old man -- he looks only vaguely like the picture Harry has, but the resemblance is enough even two decades later. Both in the flesh and in the photograph, he's wearing dark sunglasses. There's no sun to speak of inside the seamy little pub, but Harry supposes this is Barresi's idea of a disguise.
"Thanks for agreeing to meet, Mr Barresi," he says after their drinks arrive.
"I don't like it," Barresi says. "Never been a rat, you know. I never talk to no cops before. But those Corleonesi are devils." His voice hardens. "They won the war with black magic. God will punish me if I don't say nothing."
Harry gets out his notebook and pen. "Please describe what you saw in detail."
Barresi begins with a roundabout tale of his childhood. Harry has often seen this: former Mafiosi breaking omertà seek to excuse their sin before committing it. Omertà isn't just about silence; it's about honour -- relying on authorities for protection is cowardly. A real man must rely only on himself. So Harry does not complain about Barresi's tale of the inner-city violence that drove a boy to crime so he could protect his sisters.
"Then the war started," Barresi says finally. His beer's untouched. "A week after Don Stefano got killed, I was coming out of a restaurant when I heard 'em -- like you hear me now -- chanting in some devil language, like the Indians. Only it was real quiet-like, coming from underground, see. Me, I grew up on that street, knew all the hidden places better 'n anyone. There's an old cellar Don Stefano used for questioning sometimes, and I crawls down to it for a look. There they was, ten or eleven of 'em, all dressed in black robes like some devil monks. I knew they was Corleonesi because they had Inzerillo's picture hanging on the wall all in lights, and the Don's eyes, they was missing. A week later, Inzerillo got killed, you know." Barresi picks up his glass and drains it in several huge gulps, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "So that was what I saw."
Harry does his best to hide his disappointment; he thanks Barresi for his time and leaves, walking just far enough away from the pub to Disapparate safely. Draco was right; Barresi's just another lunatic, seeking a supernatural explanation to assuage his pride. There are a lot of them amongst the war's losers.
After all these years, he's sure of one thing: eventually, someone will make a mistake. And Harry will be waiting.
Draco sits in the armchair by the open window and watches the sky, colourless despite the breaking dawn. Harry is asleep a few feet away. He was in a bad mood last night -- his lead turned out to be a crazy old man, just as Draco predicted. Sunglasses were such useful little things. Without them, Harry would've seen Barresi's empty eyes.
There'll be others, of course. The Brotherhood's involvement in the Muggles' enterprises is almost non-existent today, but too many still live who saw when things were different. Draco chuckles, a soft sound muffled by the awakening world outside.
"Shall I tell you about it?" he murmurs just as softly, addressing Harry.
Harry doesn't reply; he's asleep, and even if he weren't, he wouldn't have made out Draco's words. Draco knows; he has had many a conversation with Harry like this, after all. The danger feels better than flying.
"This Barresi character, he's like the rest of them. Men who think they're big because they're a part of something faceless. His so-called Mafia is nothing but a fraternity of criminals. Their only banner is greed. No purpose is higher than wealth."
Draco shuts his eyes against the rising sun and leans back in the chair. "Other Muggles idolise them. The glamorous world of high-stakes crime. Criminals as honourable fellows on the wrong side of the law."
Harry's breathing is deep, steady. Draco loves the sound of it; it is the song of innocence, drifting away unawares. It makes him hard. He rises, approaches the bed, and stretches out next to Harry.
"We never talk about the Muggles, Harry. Let me tell you about them, because I don't think you understand them at all. The average Muggle's deep-down attitude towards the Mafia and its many brothers -- the Triads, the Mob, the Cartels, the Bratva, the Yakuza -- is a frighteningly accurate reflection of his values. Always wanting something for nothing, always furtively admiring those who flout the law and get away with it."
Draco sighs deeply, peering sideways at Harry through lowered eyelids. "These are the people you would hand the world to?" Harry still doesn't respond, but he looks beautiful, and that's enough. It makes Draco lose his train of thought, and he closes his eyes once more. He's not done yet.
Several hundred years ago, the Brotherhood of None -- an ancient secret society spanning all wizarding communities but answering to none, hence the name -- perceived this fatal flaw in Muggle character. "We gave them our magic so they could sin with impunity to establish empires built on lawlessness. We helped spread the myth of organised crime as a creature from the pits of Hell. A long time has passed since then, though."
Draco looks up at the ceiling. This proximity has him aching to touch Harry, now, but instead he frees his cock from beneath his dressing gown and begins to stroke it, slowly. He won't last very long even like this if he doesn't distract himself further.
Across the globe, Muggle organised crime has been operating mostly without the Brotherhood's direct involvement for decades now, and they've surpassed all expectations. Their greed is so unstoppable that they will see the world choke on heroin before they even begin to have the faintest inkling they've been tricked, manipulated into this slow murder of millions.
"The Dark Lords of the past few centuries," murmurs Draco thickly, his hand quickening, "have been sideshow clowns. While they proclaimed their motives and methods to the world, the Brotherhood of None approached its goals unnoticed, unknown, and unimpeded."
England lost its membership around the time China's representative made the first foray towards his Muggles. England's representative balked for reasons lost to time, and his family became a bloodstain. The Brotherhood abhors betrayal and rewards loyalty. Now, having served an existing member for ten full years, Draco will join England to the Brotherhood of None once more.
Whether fate or luck brought Blaise Zabini into his life, he will never know, but Blaise opened this door to him. "He loved me," Draco nearly gasps. "So he offered me this. I followed him to Palermo that night, posing as another 'bodyguard'. We sent a double on my Grand Tour, and it was he who enjoyed the lemon groves I told you about."
Remembering that first encounter with Harry still makes Draco's insides surge with painful, terrified longing. He lets go of his cock and rolls over to get to his knees, staring at Harry's peaceful face. "In Palermo, I had to keep posing as bodyguard, and I ended up saving him from his cousins' plot." Blaise sent him back to England after that. Owing someone too much is just as dangerous as not owing enough.
Draco begins to tug the duvet cover gently away from Harry's chest. The heat trapped beneath caresses his fingers. "But you probably don't remember," he mutters, so quiet now that he can barely hear himself, "what I owe you."
Twenty-two years ago, Harry saved Draco from certain death.
"I hate you for that, my love."
Draco presses his mouth softly to Harry's shoulder. Harry stirs but does not wake. Draco leans down, pulling at the duvet cover with more force. Now that there are no more words, he's half-mad with want, with this unrelenting desire that has never changed. He sighs as he takes Harry's cock into his mouth, and a breathy moan from above answers him. Draco looks up into Harry's sleep-heavy eyes and smiles.
"Said you'd let me sleep late," Harry complains. It's rather half-hearted.
Draco releases Harry's cock for a moment. "Have I taught you nothing?" he murmurs. "Never believe what a Slytherin tells you."
...when you're awake.
Notes: cazzo = dick; sbirri = cops; padrone = master; baciamo le mani a vossia = I kiss the hands of Your Lordship (used to insult, here);