Title: The Smell of Fear
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon
Summary: Gwaine is unprepared for what lurks in the dark corners of wizard homes.
Warnings: Hogwarts AU, wizard slurs, mean things are said (for plot reasons), angst
Word Count: 1,362
Prompt: #385 - Scream
Author's Notes: Apologies for the length! Another visit to the Hogwarts AU. Reading the previous parts isn't necessary. Gwaine and Leon are in an established relationship and it's been some years since they finished school.
Gwaine followed Leon into the house, scrunching up his nose as the smell hit him.
Wizard homes were always heavy with a particular smell. It was layers of dust and parchment and unidentifiable magical things living in jars and hiding in boxes. They were always stuffy and musty even with the windows open during the height of spring. Gwaine blamed it on wizards not believing in vacuums or Febreeze.
Leon's great-uncle's house wasn't any different. An airing wasn't going to lift that smell.
Gwaine was glad he didn't have to live there.
"We should open all of the windows," Leon said, not noticing Gwaine's sniffs of distaste. "I'll start down here in the sun room; some of the latches are locked by a spell. Could you go upstairs and do the bedrooms?"
"Sure," Gwaine said with a nod. He started up the staircase, wiping his hand off on his pants when he realized the banister was covered in dust.
"If anything is stuck or won't open, let me know and I'll take a look."
"I can open a window, Leon."
Gwaine flashed his tongue at Leon as Leon rolled his eyes. He continued up the stairs, nearing the top when Leon called to him.
"Gwaine, don't forget-"
"I won't touch anything," he shouted back. "I know I'm not to disturb the precious wizard artifacts."
Gwaine leaped onto the second floor. He regretted his actions when dust and who knows what else flew into the air, forcing him to tug his shirt up to cover his nose and mouth. The stale smell was stronger up here. Gwaine hurried into the first bedroom off the hall. The sooner they aired out the house to Leon's liking, the sooner they could leave.
The first and second bedrooms went off like clockwork. Gwaine threw open any windows and moved on to the next room. He stepped into the third bedroom, his shirt still covering his face, and made a beeline for the lone window. He turned the latch and pulled at the window, muttering to himself when it refused to budge.
"What are you doing here?"
Gwaine started, hitting his hand on the window frame as he whipped around.
"Arthur?" he said, uncovering his face. "What the fuck? What the hell are you doing here?"
Arthur stood in the dark, unmoved. "I asked you the same thing."
Gwaine rubbed his hand. "I'm helping Leon air out this creepy old house. You know, for you to live in. A little gratitude would be nice."
"That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?"
"You don't belong here."
Gwaine crossed his arms. "Come again?" he asked, straining to see Arthur's face.
"You're a Mudblood."
Gwaine rocked back, more than a little confused. He knew that word was an insult. He'd been called that word as an insult at least a handful of times. It never hit Gwaine the way he knew wizards wanted it to. It sounded silly; it lacked the weight of a good 'bastard' or 'wanker.' But Arthur, despite their differences, had never called him that.
"What's your problem?" he asked. He could feel impatience coiling in his fists. He tried to let it go. Leon would be upset if he caught them fighting.
"You don't belong here," Arthur repeated. He didn't have the decency to even hint that he was joking. "You're nothing but a common, useless, foolhardy Mudblood."
Gwaine screamed something unintelligible as he hurled himself at Arthur.
He stopped abruptly, nearly tripping over his feet, his blood running cold.
Merlin looked back at him.
Gwaine's anger left him in a rush, making it difficult to think. This was magic, he knew that much. He'd been tricked.
"You're not Merlin," he said slowly, trying to convince himself.
'Merlin' sneered at him. "'You're not Merlin,'" he mocked, the casual cruelty stabbing at Gwaine like hundreds of pinpricks. "God, Gwaine, do you hear yourself?"
Gwaine set his jaw. It wasn't real. "You're not Merlin."
"You're such an idiot."
It was a weak comeback but Gwaine didn't know what to do. Whatever magical thing that was speaking hurt Gwaine the same as if it was really Merlin saying those things. Gwaine knew it wasn't real, on some level, he did know but he couldn't stop the wash of hurt and fear.
He couldn't bear the dismissal in Merlin's eyes.
"I can't stand you," Merlin said. His lip curled in disgust. "Seven years at Hogwarts was bad enough. I can't do it any more. I'm not your friend. Can't you see that I'm sick of you?"
"Shut up!" Gwaine shouted, clenching his fists.
They were shaking.
Gwaine had a sudden realization. This was magic. The only way to deal with magic was with magic. Even if he didn't know what the thing was, he needed magic. It couldn't be shouted at; it couldn't be physically fought. Gwaine grasped for his wand-
Gwaine reached into his empty back pocket again. No wand. He looked down at himself, hastily patting his hands over his body, looking for any sign of his wand.
"You've lost it again, haven't you?"
Gwaine didn't want to look. He knew that voice. He knew it better than he knew his own.
Cruelty from that voice would be too much.
Gwaine felt fear in his throat when he looked up to see Leon standing in front of him.
It wasn't real. It wasn't Leon. He knew it wasn't Leon but it looked so much like Leon, down to the scratches on his arm from Morgana's cat that were only two days old. It wasn't real. It wasn't Leon.
"You really are a terrible wizard."
"Stop," Gwaine begged.
Leon frowned at him. "I wasted so much time on you," he said, shaking his head.
Gwaine's eyes stung with tears. "Please, stop."
"You're an embarrassment." Leon spoke calmly, stating every phrase as fact. His disappointment was tempered by an attempt to not be cruel; that courtesy conveyed an accuracy Gwaine couldn't ignore. "I don't love you."
"I never loved you."
Gwaine felt like he was drowning. His throat burned and he couldn't hold air in his lungs. He couldn't think over the pain. He didn't know what to do with his trembling hands. He couldn't hear the sound of footsteps running down the hall amid the vicious repetitive cycle of Leon's words cutting through his mind.
Gwaine barely registered that Leon was in the room before he found himself on the ground.
He could hear screaming and Leon shouting and it felt deafening. He shut his eyes and covered his ears, trying to escape from the room and its horrors.
He lashed out like a wounded animal when someone touched him.
"Get away!" he growled, swinging blindly from the floor.
Leon backed off, holding his hands up at a distance. "I'm sorry," he said in the same voice that had cut Gwaine to his core. "It was a Boggart. I tried to tell... It's gone now. It's gone." Leon knelt near him. "Are you okay?"
Gwaine's voice broke on a single word. "No."
This time he let Leon touch him.
Leon gathered Gwaine in his arms, subtly checking him for any physical hurt. Gwaine let Leon hold him, let Leon conduct his inspection, barely hearing the lewd joke he'd usually make in a far corner of his mind. He turned into Leon's chest, a sob catching in his throat when Leon's cologne, heightened by adrenaline, hit his nose - sharp and Muggle and real.
He desperately wanted to believe this Leon was real.
"I'm sorry," Leon said, whispering into Gwaine's hair. "It's gone now. I'm so sorry."
"Can we go home?"
"Yes. Of course." Leon touched a gentle hand to Gwaine's face, coaxing him to look up. "Are you okay to Apparate?"
Gwaine nodded. Apparition was far from his favorite form of travel but he needed to get out of this house now.
"Okay," Leon said. He pressed a kiss to Gwaine's forehead, remaining close as a firm arm wrapped around Gwaine's shoulders. "Hold on."
They were gone with a loud crack, leaving only dust and the musty scent of magic behind.