Title: "Worth a Thousand Words"
Prompts: Silencio, Babbling Curse
Word Count: 10, 254
Warnings: confinement, touching, inappropriate use of a wand, UST.
A/N: A great big thanks to the_rainbow_jen and the_minx_17 for going to bat as betas for me! Especially Jen for catching the one howling gaffe I had made (I still can't believe I did that!).
Read Part One first
Part Two: Babbling Forth...
The wand was stroking his throat, and he held absolutely still as the faint tingle of restrained magic penetrated his skin. It made him want to squirm, made his breathing a little bit faster as he wondered if he had grown to like that tingle just a little too much. But he didn't move. The hard lessons of the last two and a half weeks were still with him. Ron was not unintelligent, and once he applied his mind, he learned quickly. He was bloody stubborn, though, and that was the problem. He began to recognize that the time he had spent here had been taming that stubbornness, changing and refocusing it in a way that he could understand. He just hoped that he could handle whatever this man, one that he was still wondering if it was Malfoy or perhaps the last Death Eater on the Auror payroll, what was his name? Then he wondered if anyone knew it, because no one had seen that particular man's face...
"Weasley! Pay attention!"
A sharp rap of the wand on his forehead made him jerk, then relax against the wall. His arms were stretched out to his sides and the magic that fastened the leather cuffs to the wall tingled over the back of his hands, making him shiver the tiniest bit.
"There... that's better. Now, you have learned to control your temper, Weasley, and I must admit, I am most impressed. I thought it would take at least a month, and here you have achieved much in just the last week!" The wand slid down to his temple and dug in slightly. "Now you must learn a much different sort of control, boy. One that I know will be almost impossible for you, but... I have faith, Merlin knows why." The wand tip nudged into his temple again. "You see, this will require you to do something you haven't done in a very long time. This will require you to think... before you speak. And it is going to be very, very hard for you to do it, boy... very hard..." The wand pulled away from his temple, and he heard the man hiss, "Open..."
Without question, Ron let his mouth fall open and again, that smooth, faintly bitter wood slid across his tongue, aiming at his throat, and the words, "Finite Incantatum Silencio," never sounded sweeter. It was what happened after the wand slid out of his mouth and pressed back against his temple that made him start struggling against the spell that had him pinned to the wall. "Garrio Profundo!"
His fingers scrabbling for purchase on the stones, Ron babbled helplessly, "Oh, gods, oh, gods, oh FUCK not the Babbling Curse... screwed, I'm screwed, I'm screwed, fuck Rabastan, it's gotta be Malfoy, fucking Malfoy, fucking Lucius Malfoy, and </i>Merlin help me, I'm saying this all out loud!!</i>"
Hearty laughter met his terror, and he wanted, oh, he wanted so desperately to clamp his lips tight shut and not give the fucking bastard the satisfaction and oh, shite but he was saying that out loud, too, and how was he ever going to fucking stop ...
His mouth still moved, he still spoke, but it was silenced, and he felt a large hand press into his chest, just over his heart. It was warm, the fingers spread wide as it pushed against his skin, calming him, settling him. The hand pressed once more, then fingers were stroking up his chest over his collarbones, gliding up his cheeks, making him shiver again. Then he felt those fingers undoing the blindfold. He blinked frantically in the too bright light of the room, tears running down his cheeks and then he was looking up at fucking, sodding bastard Lucius Malfoy, who had cast the fucking Babbling Curse on him, and he struggled as his thoughts seemed to go wildly out of control.
Lucius smirked at him knowingly and traced the tip of his wand around Ron's still moving mouth. "Most think the worst of this curse is that it makes the speaker talk, telling every secret they've ever held deep in their hearts. That, of course, is a misunderstanding of what this curse does. What it actually does, Weasley, is make the victim spew out every single thought he has... as he has it. And of course, since most victims are terrified of telling their deepest secrets to the world, secrets they have never shared with a single living soul, secrets they would simply die to have known, those secrets are the first things they think of, and therefore..."
Ron stared at him in horror as the implications sank in. All the things he knew... and he suddenly, resolutely shoved those thoughts away. He couldn't give them away if he didn't think them... and then... he blinked, stunned as he realized what Lucius was telling him. And the hell that Lucius had suddenly pushed him into opened up wide to swallow him in darkness.
"Bugger it all to hell!"
Lucius looked up from the Daily Prophet. "Buggering seems to pass through your mind with mind-numbing frequency, Weasley. It is interesting, however, to know where your priorities lie," he commented dryly. He tilted his head and smiled, as if appreciating the picture Ron made, pinned and spread against the wall again. His eyes seemed to linger a little too long on Ron's broad chest, and Ron found himself thinking of the difference between Malfoy's appraising glance, and Harry's ardently admiring one.
Sweat stood out on Ron's forehead as he forced his mind away from Harry, and the words that spilled out of his mouth instead were, "Porridge, think of porridge, boring porridge, hate porridge, Mum's a cow... hate porridge... newspaper, bloody wanker, can't read it from here... what? Flying birds? Quidditch! Quidditch... Cannons, wonder if they're winning... no, orange blanket... Mum... bought it for me... no, Chudley Cannons, definitely... ugh, my foot itches... bloody wanker, keeping me hung up like this... my nose itches, why's my nose itch when I can't scratch it? Fucking Malfoy, won't even get off his pansy arse to scratch my nose... fuck... can't control... p-p-p-porridge! Porridge!! Porridge!!"
Lucius stood and obligingly came over to scratch the end of Ron's nose, not because he was being considerate, but because he knew it would anger Ron beyond anything. And he smirked when he heard Ron say that between his clenched teeth screams of, "Porridge!! Bloody, fucking PORRIDGE!!"
"I do find it so amusing to hear you screaming 'porridge' all the time," said Lucius, eyes sparkling with malicious glee as he let the scratching finger drop to trace down alongside Ron's mouth. "It makes me wonder what you are so desperately trying to avoid thinking, to be forced to think of something so bland, so harmless, so...benign... as porridge. Could it be... Potter... perhaps?"
He made a valiant effort to keep his lips closed, struggling to not say anything, nothing, nothing at all, "No, no, nothing, nothing, saying nothing, nothing, can't talk, won't think, won't think it, won't, won't... no, porridge... porridge... PORRIDGE!!!" His head fell forward, and he was sobbing, exhausted. "Harry... Harry..." he whimpered, still trying so hard to fight, to keep the words in. "Harry... soft... eyes... so green... no, no, no, won't... won't... porridge... lumpy... Mum's... lumpy porridge... think of lumpy... I hate lumpy porridge... nasty...treacle... house elves... Hogwarts never has lumpy porridge... Harry loves.... NO!!! PORRIDGE!!! No... no... Hermione... Hermione... so annoying... love Hermione... best friend... books, too many books..."
Ron slumped with relief, even as his mouth kept babbling. If Lucius didn't give him occasional breaks by casting Silencio on him from time to time, he'd probably have gone mad days ago.
"You are getting better at it, Weasley," Lucius said, pouring a glass of water and bringing it to him, temporarily abating the curse and holding the glass to his lips so he could drink. Then he re-cast it and stepped back to study Ron's face. "However... you need to rethink your strategy. You exhaust yourself unnecessarily with your efforts to avoid thinking of certain subjects. Certainly it is admirable of you to substitute one subject with another. It's been three days, and you are too tired to be coherent. Have you even been able to think of a strategy to fight this, beyond diversion?"
Mouth still working busily, Ron shook his head slowly. Think? How? He couldn't take time to think! It took all his time and energy just to do this!
Lucius shook his head sadly. "Tell me, Weasley... have you ever heard of Occlumency?"
Ron nodded, remembering Harry's lessons in fifth year.
The sudden smirk on Lucius' face told Ron that he was babbling Harry's name again, and Lucius could read his lips. He turned his face away, grimacing. "Weasley. Weasley? WEASLEY!" He flicked his wand.
He jerked when a stinging hex hit too close to his left nipple and he looked back at Lucius, who was glaring at him. "Do me the courtesy of looking at me while I am instructing you, boy," he said coldly, and Ron grimaced again, though he didn't look away this time. Probably because he knew Lucius was now having to read his lips saying a long string of obscenities, and he didn't care if Lucius could figure that out. It wasn't because of the stinging hex, no, not at all.
Lucius sighed and idly twirled his wand through his fingers. "Occlumency requires clearing the mind of all thoughts. It requires focus to clear the mind, focus and a strength of purpose, as well as the ability to use an image or an object to focus upon..."
Ron frowned, his over-taxed mind trying to follow, and again, Lucius sighed. "How ironic that those who cast this curse, thinking it basically harmless, have no idea what it really does." He stepped close to Ron, close enough for him to feel the warmth of the man's body, to smell the spicy scent of woodruff and sandalwood that he'd come to associate with the man, and he stroked a hand over Ron's sweaty forehead, pushing damp hair away from the pale face as he leaned close, leaning toward Ron's ear. "You can literally talk yourself to death, talking endlessly about everything... and nothing. Unable to eat... unable to sleep... barely able to catch your breath at times while you fight to communicate effectively even as you spout the effluvia of your mind..."
Shuddering, clenching his fists against the anguish that swept through him, desperate, and terrified all at once, Ron stared up at Lucius, determined to hide his misery... and knowing he could not. The two men stared at each other for long moments, each passing second making Ron hurt as he pushed all thoughts of Harry ruthlessly from his mind, and finally, Lucius stroked his face, pressing a kiss to his forehead, before he stepped back and touched his wand to the spot he had kissed. "Solumnus..."
Ron fell into darkness, knowing he'd still babble helplessly, determined to not surrender to the magic that stole his consciousness from him, but from somewhere deep inside of him, he heard his own voice say softly, "Let go..."
And he did.
The thing that bothered Ron the most about the Babbling Curse wasn't that he babbled every single thought he had the very moment he thought it...
Right, then, he admitted it, that bothered him. It bothered him a lot. It was a lack of privacy that was worse than growing up in a house with two parents, five brothers, one sister... and one bathroom. Still, the thing that was most embarrassing, and at the same time, most puzzling, was the discovery that apparently, he did not think in complete sentences. He never gabbled, "Porridge, I'm thinking of porridge, I'm going to think of porridge so damn hard, I'll bust a neuron!!"
That's what he was thinking, really.
What came out of his mouth, though, was, "Porridge... porridge...lumpy... never really liked it... eat it... don't like it... Hermione... fussing... always fussing... never liked books, really... studying hurts my brain... brain... what is brain... my feet hurt... ooogh... arse itches... no, no, cramping again... need to shit, damn Malfoy, won't ask, won't ask... big tits, really big tits... scary tits... what, no onions?"
It was humiliating. Was this normal? Surely if Hermione were hit with the Babbling Curse, she would speak nothing but complete and grammatically correct sentences. Hell, she'd probably spout her words in iambic pentameter, whatever the hell that was, and why was he thinking of that anyway?
He rolled over, trying to enjoy the hazy dream-state that came before waking, and found his thoughts turning to Harry. What was Harry thinking right now? Was he frantic with worry, wondering where the hell Ron was? Or had he been told that Ron was in "field exercises?" Maybe Harry was caught in field exercises of his own... and then Ron had a horrible vision of Harry on his knees in front of Rabastan Lestrange, arms up over his head, and with a shock, he sat up, eyes opening as he stared around the room.
For once, he was alone. And he wasn't sure if he were relieved... or disappointed.
This did not mean he could stop trying to control his blather, but... it did mean that he could take the pressure off of himself a bit. He fell back and stared at the ceiling, avoiding the images that danced just beyond conscious thought, mental pictures of Harry tied to a chair and Rabastan Lestrange... he grimaced and rolled over onto his stomach, pressing his face into the pillows. No! He wasn't going to think of that, or think of Rabastan giving Harry any sort of weird potions, or hurting him or...
Ron gave up. There was no point in trying to avoid it. The harder he tried to push the thoughts away, the more determinedly they pressed against his mind, and he made himself sit up and think. What was the worst that could happen?
Rabastan could... his mind tried to shy away, but he ruthlessly forced it on. Rabastan could... rape Harry. Okay, he let himself think it, dwell on it for a moment, images that he'd never wanted to picture dancing before his eyes. Then his common sense kicked in. Harry was a very powerful wizard. Sure, he wasn't the tallest guy around, but there was a lot of strength and determination packed into that wiry frame. Magic just shimmered off of Harry, like a glow you could only faintly see from the corner of your eyes, and one thing that was certain. No one, not even Rabastan Lestrange, would be able to hurt Harry, even without a wand.
And just like that, the fearsome images retreated. Others tried to slip into their place, but Ron dismissed them again with the reality of his knowledge of Harry.
He froze in the motion of pushing his hair up off his forehead. Wait a minute... had his mouth stopped moving? He reached up to touch his lips and found them still. Had Malfoy Senior removed the curse during the night? Fucking bastard, it would be just like him to do something like that, just to throw Ron off balance and... his lips were fluttering under his fingertips, and he realized he was blathering again. He frowned. What had made them stop? He forced himself to go over everything since he woke up, his thoughts on waking, remembering his concerns about Harry, and how he'd dismissed them...
His lips had stopped moving.
He blinked. Was it thinking of Harry that had done it? Harry, his shock of wild black hair a bit tamer now, the way he looked in the new, thin-wire frames he'd bought after seeing the Wizard Oculist and...
His lips were moving, he was babbling, he could feel it.
But... why? What was different about what he'd been thinking about Harry just seconds before?
Something niggled at the back of his brain, but before he could pursue it, the door opened and Malfoy was striding in, a house elf behind him with an overloaded tray in its arms.
"Still babbling, I see," his captor said, a neutral look on his face. "I will remove the curse for five minutes. I suggest you eat quickly and neatly, because the curse will be re-cast right on the dot." He cast a Tempus charm, and aimed his wand at Ron. "Finite Incantatum Garrio Profundo"
Ron wasted no time asking questions, preferring to mull over the morning's occurrences while he ate, taking small bites and chewing them quickly, but thoroughly. The niggle that had pushed at him was elusive and kept evading his grasp, so he gave up on it, and just went back to his mental timeline. He woke up. He thought of the Babbling Curse and what he realized about it. He thought of Harry, then thought of him with Rabastan. He tried to avoid those thoughts, then gave in and faced them, forced himself to think of them, to think of the worst that could happen, then dismissed those thoughts with the reality of his knowledge of Harry and Harry's abilities. His hand paused in the act of lifting a chunk of sausage to his mouth.
"Is something wrong?" Lucius sounded curious, but also... Ron looked up and saw the man staring at him intently, his eyes keenly fixed upon him as if.. as if, and again, Ron found himself staring almost dreamily as his mind went rapidly over the occurrences of the morning, shuffling the facts, mixed with the hints Malfoy had given him, and bits and pieces of things that the other instructors at the Academy had said, and what he'd picked up from the books they had to read...
He blinked, and stared up at Lucius as it all came together, and he was opening his mouth, about to voice his realization when Lucius pointed his wand at Ron and said, "Garrio Profundo!"
"Fucking hell, couldn't you wait five minutes?" Ron blurted. "Fucking Malfoy... can't wait... what was I... my thoughts, can't... think, can't think... potatoes... Mum's washing...nasty chickens, pecking at my shins, hate the bloody chickens, why's Ginny ... no, not right...was I thinking?... No... there's no spots... wank... need to wank... relax... NO!! Bloody hell, can't shut... no... won't think... PORRIDGE, BLOODY FUCKING PORRIDGE!!"
Lucius sighed as Ron babbled on and set his wand back down on the table. "And you seemed so close..." His voice was rich with disappointment, and Ron scowled even as he blathered on, struggling to recapture the threads of the thoughts that had so eluded him, and he had so nearly captured.
What was it again? "Woke up... babbling curse... woke up.. woke... Rabastan... nasty, nasty... Rasta... Rastaman... Rabas.... no... no, not Harry... no... Rasta... pasta? NO... Rabastan... torture... Harry... bloody potion, I HATE POTIONS!! Snape, such a fucking... snarling... Snape... detention... no, no, wrong direction... no, focus... back... Ron... I'm Ron... no, woke up... woke up... Harry... what was Harry? No, no, no..." he struggled, closing his eyes and trying to force the lost threads of his thoughts to mesh together. His brow furled, he was hardly aware of the man who was sitting across from him, leaning forward and watching breathlessly as Ron struggled to focus his thoughts.
"Woke up... woke up... babble... woke up... curse, hate curses, why... no...no... woke up... woke up... Rabastan... Harry... hurt Harry NO!!!... no, no... Harry... face it... face it..." and suddenly, Ron was still, his thoughts were still, all was quiet. Lucius watched, watched Ron sit with his eyes closed, face drawn in stiff lines as he focused inwardly, hardly even daring to breathe, waiting...
I was thinking, thought Ron slowly, I was thinking about how well I know Harry, how I know he's up to any challenge, how people continually underestimate him, even how I underestimate him, how he's starting to win at chess now... wait... chess... chess... chess... something about chess... The thoughts fell into his mind like drops of water into a pool, like watching the reflective surface of... of a pool... a pool of water, his thoughts like drops, falling into the water and... and... disappearing below the surface... which rippled briefly... then calmly reflected the surroundings as if nothing had fallen at all... absorbed... becoming one with the water, surrounded and... his voice whispering from far away... Let go...
Ron's head came up. His eyes opened and he met the icy blue ones across the table, saw the cool but expectant look on that usually neutral face, and took in a slow deep breath, then let it out. "I'm not... fighting... the curse," he said slowly. "I'm... I'm letting it sink into me and... accepting it... and ... absorbing it..."
"Yes?" said Lucius calmly, leaning back in his chair to steeple his fingers before him.
"My... thoughts... are my own," Ron said almost dreamily. "I... just had... to know... myself. Like chess... I had... to stop thinking about it... and... let go..."
The outside corners of the older man's mouth turned up and he lifted his wand, flicking it gently at Ron. "Finite Incantatum Garrio Profundo." Then he stood and with another wave of his wand, banished the wrist cuffs and removed the other spells that were on him. "You have passed your first year of Auror Training and are ready to advance. Knobby will have your clothes ready, and I will sign the forms for you to take to Auror Robards."
Ron blinked, astonished. "That's it?"
Lucius smirked. "Did you expect me to ravish you, Mr. Weasley? Thank you, but no. I prefer my partners to be willing these days. Besides, I know you are committed elsewhere." His eyes roved over Ron's bare chest, and the younger man shivered suddenly, memories of those fingers gliding over his skin , the voice murmuring in his ear as he was chided, belittled, encouraged, and driven to the day's conclusion. He didn't want Malfoy, hell no, but... he shivered again and closed his eyes, turning his face away.
Fingers slid across his jaw, a warm hand cupping one side of his face, and he heard, "Surely no regrets, Mr. Weasley?"
His eyes flew open. "No," Ron said stubbornly, turning to glare at Malfoy, and was caught, frozen, as cool blue eyes stared into his, the tip of a long, pale nose almost touching his before the face tilted and warm lips brushed his. It sent shudders down into his throat, his breath came jerkily and it was with an effort that he stepped back.
Lucius Malfoy studied him for a long moment, then nodded slowly. "As you wish," he said, then turned and left the room.
As Ron showered and dressed in the clothes Knobby the house elf provided, finding it strange to be wearing shoes after so long without them, he found himself wondering why he found the words as you wish so ominous. It would depend said that distant version of his own voice in his mind, upon what exactly it was that you wished.
He stilled, frozen in the act of putting on his cloak, then shook himself and accepted the papers that Knobby handed him before leading him out to a room that had a clearly marked Apparition point. He Apparated straight to Grimmauld Place, and ran up the stairs, knowing the noise would be enough to announce his presence. And sure enough, a door banged open and he saw the familiar shock of black hair, and wide green eyes peering at him from over the bannister. He grinned up at that wonderful face. "Harry! I'm home!!"
"Ron!!" And Harry's welcoming tackle nearly sent them both flying down the stairs.
He wrapped his arms around Harry, inhaling his familiar scent, and put all doubts out of his mind. He was home. And for now, that was all that mattered.