"They scowl. They shout. They hit. They bloody. That's what parents do. At least, that's what I thought they did until I met Vince and learnt that they . . . cast, too."
The first time Mr Crabbe spelled away Vince's voice and left him to the ants in the garden—so many more ants than there should have been—left Vince to scream without a sound, bound to be still by invisible bonds, Greg had been sick—but that had drawn the ants, and given him time to find Vince's mother.
"I said, 'Mrs Crabbe? One of your guests was complaining, about the scene in the garden. Thought you'd want to know', and she . . . she did. That worked."
Greg tells Harry his story. He's afraid, but Harry just holds his hand and says, "Tell me more about your friend."
They'd been sent to the kitchen with a house elf and given sweets, told to be quiet, to be good, and they'd tried to be, even though nothing seemed any good at all.
"But he was there for me, no matter . . . what I was," Greg says, some time later after telling Harry about his first time, about being discovered, about how his father had punished him. "Vince didn't judge."
Harry's face is full of light, even though he's scowling. His mouth looks soft, gentle, despite the set of his jaw. Greg wants to touch him, but he can't stop seeing Vince.
"I think you loved him," Harry says.
Greg's eyes burn. "He didn't know. Vince cared more about cake than cock." His words are bitter.
"Hey, don't do that. You don't mean that. He was your friend."
Greg does mean it. Vince—whom he did love, not that it ever mattered—was always dull, sometimes good for a laugh, and yeah, his friend. Loyal because he knew that Greg's life was like his own, and because it was easier to manage parents with someone at one's back. Pack mentality.
"Yeah, he was."
"And you never told him?"
"He'd've kicked my arse."
"But you wanted to?" Harry asks.
Greg stops speaking as Harry's face . . . blurs. It stretches and widens and transforms, and it's a good thing Harry's only in robes because his body's changing, too, becoming bigger, bulkier, more Vince-like.
"Why? What did you do? Why?" Greg demands, half-ill to see Vince sitting next to him in the grass.
"Because you loved him, and you never got to say goodbye, or any of a hundred things, I s'pose, that you wanted to say to him."
Harry. Harry Potter. Greg doesn't understand him at all. But he knows enough about Polyjuice to know that he's only got an hour, so he doesn't waste it. He touches him, touches Vince, learns his smell and the weight of his bollocks and how fucking tight he is, he was, he's . . . .
But it's Harry who's clutching his hair, Harry who pulls him down, close, to comfort him. Harry.
"Why?" Greg asks, ignoring tears and tangled limbs and trying to forget Vince's screams as he died. "Why would you have?"
"Told you already."
Greg is asleep before he can think to ask where Harry got Vince's hair.
When he wakes up, he's not alone. He knows that to Vince, that would have been all that mattered.
But it's not enough for me.
There's no one in the world like Harry, and Harry's his. He smiles. He kisses. He loves. He understands. And Greg's completely under his spell.