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The afternoon sun beat down on Hugo's tanned skin, burning his face and neck and making him too hot to the touch. He pulled at his collar as he stepped into the hotel's lobby and made his way to the front desk. Even after nine months, he still wasn't as used to actually living and working in Miami as he thought he would be by now, previously only coming on holiday, and it was so hot; all he wanted was to get changed and jump in the pool.
Opening up another shirt button and embracing the air conditioning, delightful shivers running down his spine and tickling his skin like caressed fingers, Hugo leant across the desk and waited patiently for the receptionist to turn around and acknowledge him. She made her way back to the front and jumped at the sight him. It took all he could not to burst into laughter, seeing her warm, brown eyes widen in shock and her mouth hang open, then frown, her eyes narrowed as she slapped his arm.
"God, Matt, you scared the hell out of me," she said, trying not to shout, but her voice was still slightly higher than her usual. She couldn't keep a straight face for much longer as she watched small beads of sweat drip from his hair and forehead down his red cheeks and chin. Giggling a little, she picked up a spare towel from behind the desk and threw it at him. "Here."
"Thank you," Hugo said gratefully, opening it up and wiping his face. She followed him as he circled the desk to get to the elevator, knowing exactly what his question would be. "So, Jess, summer is here, anyone new? Anyone in my league at all?"
Jess laughed again, her lips curving into a soft smirk, and she nodded to the other double glass doors, the doors which led to the pool and outdoor bar. She beckoned Hugo over with a finger and they leaned in closely to whisper. "New guy checked in last night and went straight to his room. Today he checked the hotel out, had lunch and a few drinks in our restaurant, and then went outside to the pool." Jess nodded to the door again. "He's still out there. And he is gorgeous; dark hair, darker than yours, bright green eyes, muscular build but not overly so, and I swear his smile is hypnotic." She sighed, not sure whether her thoughts of him should be content or disappointed. "I really hope he's not in your league."
Hugo tried to figure out where he was the last time someone was described to him that way; all he remembered was talk of a man whose smile made them do crazy things. "What's this guy's name?"
"It's so unusual, but I think it suits him," she giggled again. Hugo rolled his eyes; he just didn't understand her thing for names in a guy, like that was the thing to look for. In Jess’ case the more unusual the name, the better chance the guy had of spending the night. But his was the eyes, always would be. There were no secrets in a person’s eyes; they couldn’t hide anything from Hugo. And that was how he liked it.
Her gaze left him for a second when she heard the door open and she stood up straight. "There he is," Jess whispered, trying hard not to stare and point.
Hugo turned slowly, caught his eye and turned back quickly. "Holy shit," he muttered, covering the right side of his face with his hand.
"Hey, Skander," Jess called out, waving him over, and in that moment Hugo wished he'd just gone straight to his room, that he'd never asked about the man coming their way. He stopped at Hugo’s side, the man’s intoxicating aroma surrounding him, clouding his judgement. He hated that cologne.
"Good afternoon, Jess," he said, smiling at her, his eyes never leaving her face as he leaned against the desk. "It’s lovely to see you again."
Hugo could've sworn he heard the girl squeak. Damn he hated that smile, too, and what that one simple gesture could do to a woman. Or a man, he silently admitted. "Skander, I want you to meet my friend, Matthew Granger. He lives here in the hotel." She pointed to Hugo. "Matty, this is Skander Dolohov."
Hugo dropped his head to the counter briefly before faking a wide grin and holding out his hand, facing him properly. "It’s nice to meet you, first time in Miami?"
Skander took hand. "First time in America actually, but you already know that." Hugo pretended to look confused. "Oh, don't be like that, Matty, acting like we don't know each other."
Hugo squeezed their still joined hands together tightly, until Dolohov grimaced and pulled back from his grip. Then he smirked, knowing he'd got to Hugo in such a short time. "You two have met before?" Jess asked.
"Went to school together," Skander answered her before Hugo got a chance to deny anything, leaving him the only option of nodding in agreement. What the hell is he planning? What's he going to say about me?
"Were you close?" she asked, this time awkwardly. "I sense tension."
This time Hugo got the first word in. "He's my ex."
Hugo contained his glee, watching her look visibly disappointed by his confirmation that her new guy was definitely in Hugo's league. He chose not to tell her that she probably still had some sort of a chance, if the man was still in denial. He knew it was all down to jealousy, he'd never hated Jess for any reason. But Skander Dolohov had been his in Hogwarts and, despite the time apart, he still rather liked the idea of being the only person to have been able to get to the supposedly unattainable and unbreakable man at his side. Hugo had no doubt that there was still no one else who had been able to do what he had done; Dolohov would never let them.
He wanted to keep it that way.
Hugo ignored the glare sent his way, said good bye to Jess and walked away to the elevator. He wanted to shower and change before he went out to dinner. He tried not to think about what Skander may or may not say while he was gone. "Welcome to Miami, Lover," he called out on his way.
Hugo stepped into the lift not being able to help feeling smug, despite his anxiety; he'd got the last word in, too.
A/N: New story for a new challenge. And my favorite kind of crime/auror mystery; the confusing kind. They're certainly more interesting. ;)
I hope you enjoy this new story, in a brand new setting, with my all time favorite character; Hugo Weasley. :D
Edited. Thank you AC for reviewing this for her challenge and helping me improve. I hope it's better now.
Hugo was well aware that he was slightly better dressed for his dinner-for-one than he was every other day; his black, silk shirt and denim jeans were brand new and very expensive, the best he owned that he could still pass off as casual. He also knew exactly why he'd chosen the outfit; to get to Dolohov. He wanted the man to react the way he once did when he was around Hugo. In public, Dolohov had been cold and indifferent, but alone he'd been possessive and demanding, seductive and undeniably hot. It was as if Dolohov had been two different people in Hogwarts; the boy he revealed to the world and the man Hugo made him in private.
It was all Hugo, the way Dolohov had been around him was because Hugo knew how to push his buttons. And he'd do so again; he wanted to distract him, unhinge him even, enough to get deep into that dark, mysterious mind of his and figure out what he wanted, why he was in Miami. Then he'd use it, until Dolohov was completely defenseless. Hugo would ruin him, just as he did the last time.
Only this time, he wouldn't be damaged in the process.
He could admit that Dolohov had an effect on him, made him cautious, made him wonder if knowing everything, knowing anything, was really worth it. His feelings for Dolohov had run deeper than casual sex by the end of school. But those feelings were gone, and he wouldn't let that happen again.
Dolohov was in Miami for a reason, he hadn't told anyone about Hugo or even used his real name. Yes, finding out why would be worth getting closer to the man again, considering he was the only one who knew the rules this time around.
Piece of cake, Hugo thought, smiling to himself as he finished styling his hair in his mirror. Finally looking good enough to get to dinner, he made his way out of the hotel room, making sure to grab his card key and wallet before he shut the door. He looked good, Hugo knew that, but so did Dolohov; it would take a lot more than simply looking good to get Dolohov distracted. He wanted the look to be his best.
He wasn't alone in the elevator. He managed to keep his face passive every time he caught the young woman watching his reflection. They kept eye contact in the mirror for a moment whenever he looked up and then she'd look down, her cheeks heated. She was at least twenty, he guessed, and he could agree with any other guy that she was beautiful with blond hair cut at her shoulders and long, tanned legs revealed by the denim short shorts. Hugo didn't have the heart to tell her she wasn't his type, or reject her number before she got off on the fourth floor. The guy who showed an interest after her, now he was another matter...
Hugo followed a few steps behind and paused at the front desk, watching him leave the hotel, before he turned into the restaurant. The maitre 'd informed him that his table would be ready shortly and Hugo told him he'd be in his usual seat at the bar until then, then walked through, keeping an eye out for Dolohov. He found him at alone at a table close to the bar, sat back in his chair, seemingly perfectly at ease in surroundings. Hugo had to remind himself that the man was a good actor. In his hand was a half drunk pint glass, a full one across from him. He knew that drink was for him, there was no way Dolohov knew anyone here and he hadn't been in the city long enough to have met someone else. Not that Hugo would expect that from Skander Dolohov; he was not a people person.
Hugo walked with the intention of moving past, even pretending he hadn't seen him, because he refused to let Dolohov make the first move. But Dolohov was quicker than he remembered and he kicked the chair out, hitting Hugo in the shin hard. He groaned in pain and bent down to rub the spot he'd been hit, his narrowed eyes focused on Dolohov.
"Hello, Matthew," he said, the forceful tone in which he'd said the name removing any pretense of being pleasant. He nodded to the chair, telling him to sit without actually opening his mouth. Hugo started to walk away. Dolohov caught his arm and gripped him tightly. "That wasn't a request, Hugo."
He whispered his real name, his tone just as forceful as before. There was a threat clearly hidden in there, Hugo could tell; Dolohov would have no problem telling people his real name. That just wouldn't do. So, he sat. And he waited. And Dolohov watched, calmly drinking his beer.
Hugo quickly realized that he could have the most perfect plan of getting to and destroying Skander Dolohov written out, but in reality his ex would always have the upper hand. He had his name, his past and his family, and just whispering those to one person could ruin everything he had in the city. He'd have to leave again, before they found him. Dolohov knew this, he had to. He hadn't been surprised when they'd been introduced, he'd loved seeing Hugo's discomfort. It was all Hugo had needed to know the man had a reason for being in Miami, for coming back into his life.
He was more determined than ever to find out what that reason was, to stop it before it could start and ultimately ruin the man before him.
So, he played along.
"I can't believe you're really here," Hugo said softly, leaning closer, a playful, almost flirty, smile on his face. It wasn't enough, he knew. Like with looking good, Dolohov already knew Hugo would do this, but it was a start.
He was right; Dolohov shook his head and chuckled - Hugo couldn't remember if he'd ever heard the man chuckle before - and leaned forward as well, so they both had their arms folded on the table and were staring right at each other. "Try again," he smirked.
"I genuinely mean it," Hugo answered. "The smile may be fake, but I honestly can't believe you're here. Why are you here?"
"I'm on holiday," Dolohov said immediately. "I thought I'd get away from my family for a while. You know I can't stand them. I can barely even stand my sister and she's the only one I actually like."
"I remember." Hugo moved back briefly, just to take a sip of his drink. "Do you really expect me to believe that you being here, at the exact same hotel as me, is purely a coincidence? I find it hard to believe."
"I admit, I did wonder where you'd be. It's been so long since you were last heard of in the UK. Even your family are worried." Dolohov kept that same relaxed smile; he didn't care about Hugo's family or how they were. No, he just wanted to get a reaction out of him. Hugo didn't give him one, he didn't even flinch. Except for a few members of his family, whom he kept in contact with secretly, he didn't care either. He was surprised to see Dolohov's smile widen further when he realized that. "I thought about you for a while, I knew I could find you if I tried."
"You thought about me?" Hugo asked skeptically, his eye-brows raised.
Dolohov moved even closer. "Maybe I missed you," he whispered. "Do you remember how much fun we used to have at school?"
"Hard to forget," Hugo answered, hating his honesty. He was thankful when the maitre 'd came over to them then and announced that his table was ready. Hugo stood up, taking his beer with him. Since Dolohov was so thoughtful and got me one. "Enjoy your holiday, maybe I'll see you around."
"Definitely," Dolohov nodded.
"Thanks for the drink, Sky," he bent down to murmur in his ear, deliberately using the nickname he'd given him when they were together because he'd hated it.
Dolohov didn't blink. "You're welcome, Huey."
Hugo pretended not to be phased when he walked to his table, but that nickname was the last straw. Dolohov would not keep his upper hand.
I'll break him.
Skander moved to the bar not long after Hugo went to his table, having a better view of the ex only a few knew he had, and was still there when Hugo left the restaurant. He drank his drinks slowly, not wanting to get drunk just in case, and had almost finished his fourth beer when the night receptionist, a middle-aged man with a uniform that looked a size too small and wearing what was obviously a toupee, came over to tell him he had a phone call.
Right on time, he thought somewhat bitterly and left a nice tip on the bar before following the guy to the front desk. He took the phone from the man and looked at it hesitantly for a second before he put it to his ear, like he'd seen the day receptionist, Jess, do. "This is Skander Dolohov."
"What's going on?" the voice in the other line asked quickly.
"Well, I'm talking to you," Skander said sarcastically. He ignored the voice swear. "Nothing's going on, I just got here. He hasn't magically robbed a bank in the twenty four hours since I got here." He stopped suddenly and made sure no one could overhear him, then he continued. "He owns his own store, selling antiques, he's doing surprisingly well. He was there from nine till three, then he had a late business lunch; he's also paid to find things for people, did you know that? Then he came back, swam in the pool, had a few drinks, got changed, had dinner and went back to his room."
The voice cursed again, but thankfully not at Skander. He didn't think he could manage being so polite a second time and he needed to stay in the man's good graces. The second noise the voice made was an annoyed sigh; he didn't know whether he should be glad or disappointed, Skander knew. He wanted to be glad because he didn't want the reports to be true, but he was disappointed because they all knew the reports were true and for that, no results didn't mean 'he's innocent, come home, everything's okay'. To the ministry, it meant 'he's too clever, wait for him to slip'. If he continued to best the Aurors, they wouldn't be going home for a while.
Still, Skander had to ask. "Mr. Potter, are you sure Hugo is the one you're looking for?"
"You know he is, Dolohov," Potter sighed again. "We don't want to believe either, but we can't deny it anymore." For a second, Potter wasn't in 'work mode', he was a worried, uncle scared for his youngest nephew. But it disappeared quickly. "You're here because Albus and Louis said you knew Hugo better than anyone. Even though I find that hard to believe, I trust what they say. We want to bring Hugo in quickly and quietly. Don't screw this up, Dolohov."
"Yes, sir," Skander said, only slightly mocking, which he was proud of himself for. Potter ignored it and hung up, probably to give Ron Weasley and the rest of the small team of Aurors they'd brought for this assignment the lack of news he had to offer.
Skander dropped the phone onto the receiver and ran his hands over his eyes and through his hair, content to just stand there for a moment while he wondered what the hell he'd gotten himself into. He was a freelance private investigator because his family had somehow gotten it into his head that because of their mistakes he couldn't be an Auror. But at the age of twenty-four he'd decided to try anyway. His family had been right onsome level, his last name was like a black spot on his otherwise spotless record - more or less - and they didn't trust him, but they'd been willing to give him a chance with Hugo's case when Potter Junior and Blond Weasley had said he was their best chance. He just had to prove that, then his real life experience, both with this case and his PI cases, would allow him to work while he trained properly.
He had no idea it would be this difficult. Because that's exactly how it was and he'd forgotten just how difficult Hugo Weasley could be. He was sure the man already knew something was up and he had to act quickly if he wanted to keep Hugo from finding out. He was undercover and a damn good actor; I can do this.
But if the reports were right and it was definitely Hugo they were looking for, then Hugo was a better actor than he'd ever given the man credit for.
Who'd have thought Hugo was the Ministry's most wanted con-artist and thief.
A/N: Finally a chapter two to post and share with anyone still reading this. I hope you enjoy this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
A few days passed before Hugo spent more than five minutes with Skander Dolohov again, having made sure he'd kept as far away from the man as he could until he knew of his intentions. And he hadn't figured them out yet, so to say that he wasn't pleased to see his tormentor walking towards him would be an understatement.
He couldn't help but watch, though, unable to take his eyes away from Dolohov's toned abs and strong arms, half concealed through the open, sleeveless jacket. He'd made some changes since school; he was far from buff, Dolohov wouldn't even dream of putting his body through that, but he had definitely worked hard to look as good as he was. He'd worked out since his late teens, keeping fit for Quidditch; he'd been good looking then, but now?
Hugo's usually quick, brilliant mind came to a sudden stop. He couldn't remember the last time that had ever happened.
He managed to tear himself away from the man when he felt eyes burn into his back. Turning around hesitantly, though he wasn't sure if his hesitance was because he didn't want Dolohov surprising him or because he just didn't want to look away, Hugo scanned the hotel's overly large poolside for his own watcher.
...And found the guy from the elevator.
He wasn't as good looking as Dolohov, Hugo was regrettably quick to notice; his features were too sharp and he looked like he lived in a gym. The man was nice, Hugo deduced, but not his type. The smile he was receiving promised one good night and it was a night he could accept, because he knew it would drive Dolohov crazy. It wasn't exactly using the guy if he wanted Hugo for a night, too. Then again, Hugo didn't care either way.
Dolohov reached him first.
"Good morning, Matty," he said cheerfully, stretching his towel out on the plastic blue padding that covered the sun lounger and lying on top. He straddled the lounger, carelessly throwing a leg over each side, and kicked off his shoes. He stayed in that position, folding an arm behind his head to use as a pillow while his other fixed his black sunglasses. He turned to Hugo then, a cheeky, I-want-something smirk on his beautifully deceptive face, and Hugo hated him. He couldn't see the man's eyes, couldn't tell truth from lie with those damn glasses.
Which was most likely why the man was wearing them.
Hugo didn't return the greeting. He pointed to the sun lounger Dolohov had claimed. "That lounger's taken."
"Really?" Dolohov asked, feigning surprise. Given how much Hugo had been avoiding him for, he knew Dolohov had been expecting excuses to get rid of him. He shrugged. "Well, it's mine now. Who's the guy?"
Hugo followed Dolohov's gaze, quickly spotting Elevator Guy walking their way, only this time he looked slightly confused and focused on the unwelcome man by Hugo's side a number of times. Hugo couldn't help the barest of smiles that came about when he realized that potentially being with someone was in no way stopping Elevator Guy from coming over.
"I guess we'll find out," Hugo answered his question softly, too focused on his new 'friend' to see Dolohov's mood change.
Elevator Guy finally stopped in front of them, trying to lean casually against the umbrella that stood between the two sun loungers to shade the three men from Miami's harsh sun. But he was too heavy, too much muscle was pressed against the pole, and he pushed it sideways lightly before catching it and standing up straight.
"Hey," he murmured, a slightly husky tone to his Midwestern accent, and smiled cheekily. It didn't get to Hugo like Dolohov's did, but it did make him look more attractive and Hugo smiled back.
"Hey," he replied, holding out a hand. "I'm Matthew."
"Carter," Elevator Guy said, returning the handshake. "It's nice to finally have a name to go with a face."
Carter's grin only widened when Hugo answered him, acknowledging the flirtatious edge to his voice. He reluctantly turned to Dolohov. "And your... friend?"
Dolohov sat up straight and moved closer, his smile returning by the time Hugo faced him. "I'm Skander, Matthew's boyfriend."
"Ex-boyfriend," he corrected quickly, ignoring how Dolohov stressed his name, the clear warning that said he could tell everyone the truth in a moments notice evident, and the hand that slowly stroked his lower back. "We have nothing to do with each other anymore."
"Clearly," Carter said, looking unsure.
Hugo discreetly pushed Dolohov's hand away and stood up, stopping right in front of the other man. He made sure they were visible, that Dolohov could see his finger graze Carter's chest and play with the hem of his swim shorts.
"He's just here to visit the city, came over to say hi for old times sake," Hugo murmured, enough promise in his tone to reassure the man. "But I want to talk to you."
Carter's smile quickly returned and in his eyes, Dolohov was all but forgotten. "I'm glad. Why don't I get us some drinks?"
"I'd like that."
Hugo watched him walk away, in the direction Dolohov had come over, and turned his smirk on the thorn in his side. "You can go now."
"But I'm having so much fun, meeting new people," Dolohov argued. "You can't send me away now, Hugo."
"No," he agreed. "But I can call security, tell them you're harassing me. I've gotten to know the staff pretty well while I've been here."
He expected Dolohov to drop his smile, maybe glare or even yell. But he didn't. Instead he glanced at Carter, stupid smile still there, and put his shoes back on before rising to his feet. "Two can play at this game, baby."
"Where are you going?" Hugo called to his retreating back. "Dolhov, don't you -"
He didn't finish his sentence; the words died in his throat the moment Dolohov stood next to Carter. He leaned in too close, Hugo was unable to see what they were doing, but judging from the way Carter followed him so easily, he could guess what had been said. The barriers fell and anger flooded through his veins; Dolohov would not get away with stealing his man. He had to get Dolohov back, make him pay. He had to find out what the man wanted.
He had to make a call.
Hugo stayed by the pool for most of the day, knowing it was foolish to hope Carter would be back any minute but doing so anyway, until the clock on his iPhone told him it was five o'clock exactly and it was time for him to make his call. He picked up his belongings, leaving his empty wrappers from lunch and his beer bottles on the table, as well as Dolohov's towel. Maybe the staff would throw it away along with his rubbish.
Jess was just moving behind the front desk when he entered the hotel, her blouse untucked slightly and her work jacket off. She looked up as though knowing she was being watched and smiled, using one hand to wave and the other to push her wavy brown hair back.
"I need a favor," he said softly the moment he reached the desk. Jess nodded and leaned closer to him. "I need you to tell Max I'm coming to see him."
Jess' eyebrows raised in surprise and she pushed back a little, ready to grab the phone. Max was head of security at the hotel, he would be in his office watching the security monitors right now; Jess had a feeling she knew who Hugo was looking for her, he could tell.
"What's Skander done?" she asked, sighing as she dialed the number.
"That's what I want to know," Hugo muttered, turning to walk away. They shared a look and he went into the elevator. He was jumpy all the way up to his room, anxious to get his answers as soon as he was able. Hugo fumbled with his card key for a moment before opening the door to his room, rushed his shower and threw on the first things he found - an old pair of loose-fitting jeans and a light, white shirt. He kept the buttons open, knowing that that and the air conditioning would keep him cool, grabbed his wallet and made his way back downstairs.
Another nod from Jess told him that Max was waiting for him in his office. He took out his phone; it was almost twenty past five now, twenty past twelve back in London - they'd be having lunch right now.
He found the number easily and called it. It answered on the second ring.
"Hey, cuz. Miss us?" the voice said jokingly.
"Every damn day," Hugo replied, playing along. "I take it you're alone, Louis."
"We are." Hugo knew than that Albus was with Louis, just like he'd guessed. "What's up?"
He pushed open the door to the staff area and followed the hall to Max's office. The staff rooms were basic compared to the rest of the hotel; plain white paint covered the walls and the mixed smells of cleaning supplies from the maids' carts seemed to fill the hall. It burned Hugo's nose and he wished he could hold his breath.
He got straight to the point. "Why is Skander Dolohov here in Miami?"
He hoped Louis wouldn't know, that he'd promise to find out and call him back, because if he cousin had known then surely he'd have called to warn him. But he didn't make that promise; he was silent for a while, so silent that Hugo was sure that if he paid close attention, he'd hear his cousin's heart beat madly in his chest. Hugo had caught him off-guard.
"Ah," he eventually answered.
"Ah?" Hugo growled. "You knew he was here and all you can say is 'ah'? What the fuck, Louis?"
He frowned when he heard mutters and the sound of something banging. Then Albus' voice was heard. "He's working for our dads."
Hugo stopped at the door, his hand frozen against the wood, and played Albus' words over and over in his mind until he was sure they were going to drive him crazy. "He's what?"
"Working for our dads," Albus repeated calmly, as though he was talking about the weather.
"No," he muttered, more to himself than to his cousins. "He can't be. He's not an Auror and no way would they hire him, no matter how good a private investigator he is. They hate Dolohov and his family."
"Well," Albus paused. "No, I'll give you back to Louis. I don't work for the Ministry, he knows more than I do."
Hugo used the time they took to take back phones and finish eating to enter the office. Max was watching the door, waiting for him. He was an older man, mid forties, and a tired look in his eyes that told people he'd seen too much as a detective. But he didn't let it get to him; he had a relaxed, easy-going smile unless you really pissed him off, which Hugo never did, and had grown fond of Hugo, or Matthew, was always ready to help him out. Even though he pretended he wasn't.
"Hey, Matt," he greeted with the same relaxed smile. "Jess said you want to see me."
"I do," Hugo nodded, moving his phone away from his ear a little, so his cousins would know he wasn't speaking to them if they heard him. "Mostly because I need to look at your cameras."
"I don't know, Matt," Max replied nervously. "What do you need them for?"
"Come on, Maxxie, I'll make it worth your while," he said with a smile of his own, crouching down so that they were near enough face-to-face and waving a hundred dollar bill in his hand. But Max didn't budge, he wouldn't be bribed and Hugo knew he had to tell him the truth. Mostly. He sighed, "There's a guy here, my ex. I haven't seen him in years, then all of a sudden he finds me and talks about wanting me back. I just want to know where he is now, so I can avoid him, and maybe see if the cameras picked up something that'll tell me why he's here. Because it can't be for me. Please, Max."
They stared each other down for a few minutes, a questioning look in Max's eye, a pleading one from Hugo, until he stood up. "Put the money away, kid. I'm getting a drink, be done when I get back."
As soon as the man was gone, Hugo fell into the now vacant seat and pressed his phone to his ear again. "Still there?" he asked, going through the videos in case Dolohov had decided to leave his room.
"I'm here. Nice story, by the way," Louis added. Hugo wondered if he was smirking. "You play the part of nervous ex very well. I almost believed it."
"I am nervous, Louis, Albus told me he's working for our dads," Hugo reminded him unhappily. "Who knows how long I have before they try to get me and I have to run? There you are."
"Hmm?" he heard his cousin mumble.
"I found Dolohov in one of the cameras," he explained distractedly. "He's on one of the customer phones. If he's working for the Aurors, he must be talking to my dad or Harry. He doesn't know anyone else. Why is he here and how did he know I was here?"
"The first question I can answer," Louis promised quickly. "They wouldn't let me be the one who came with them, it had to be undercover, so you wouldn't suspect the Aurors were watching. So, I told them to get Dolohov because he knew you better than anyone and because of who he is and the history there, you wouldn't suspect he was working with them.
"What I didn't tell them," he continued. "Was that you wouldn't trust him at all or how he knew you so well. Nor did I tell them that you wouldn't trust him at all and would probably call me. I also didn't tell them that you could break him, so even if you didn't call me, you'd get your answers eventually. I think that Dolohov cares about you more than he let's on; I figured he'd tell you before you got caught. Either that or he'd get sick of the Aurors soon enough and let you go to spite them. He doesn't have a lot of patience and he doesn't like Harry and Ron."
"Then why agree to this to begin with?" Hugo asked, still watching Dolohov on the monitor. The answer came to him quickly. "Because he's always wanted to be an Auror. He's trying to prove himself. It's whether he really can that's the problem."
"Yep," Louis agreed. "They want him to get to you, to get the evidence they need to bring you back to England and lock you up. You made a bit of a mess back here with that guy, not like you to make a mess; our family can't pretend you aren't a criminal anymore."
"Shit," he muttered, remembering his mistakes, the reason he'd run from home in the first place. "Why can't you answer the second question?"
"Because I don't know," Louis replied regretfully. "I got Dolohov like Harry asked and they asked him how he could help and if they could trust him. He didn't answer them, but as soon as they turned around, saying it was a waste of time, he dropped the bombshell. He gave them information no one's been able to retrieve - he said 'Hugo's in Miami'. It shocked us all. I have no clue how he knew."
"Shit," he repeated. Dolohov was better than he'd thought, than he wanted the man to be really. But Louis was right about one thing; Hugo could break him. Now he had more of a reason to. He watched Dolohov hang up the phone and walk away from the camera. Another showed him getting into the elevator. Hugo rubbed his eyes and pushed his fringe back. "Don't worry, Lou. I know what to do. I would have appreciated a heads up, though."
"Couldn't do that," was all he said.
"Why?" Hugo asked tiredly.
"Because we're being watched, too. Just in case. You're lucky we can talk now," Albus told him, back on the phone. The number of swear words that left Hugo's lips surprised even them. "Hey, Hugh," Al said once he'd calmed. "How's that pretty receptionist? Jess?"
Hugo rolled his eyes, even though his cousin couldn't see. "She's just dying to see you, Al. I'm hanging up now, I have a man to destroy. Bye guys."
A quick good bye from them both and Hugo hung up, getting to his feet the moment the door opened. "Get anything useful, kid?" Max asked.
Hugo nodded and patted the man's shoulder. "Oh, yeah. He was right; he's definitely here for me."
"What will you do?"
Hugo paused to think, his mind already working, and he had the beginnings of a plan within moments. He smiled, "I'll give him what he wants."
Jess jumped the moment she turned around, not expecting Hugo to be standing back on the other side of the desk. "Jesus, Matty. Will you stop doing that?"
"I need Dolohov's room number," he said, not giving her the apology she'd long given up wanting from him every time he did something. "It's life or death."
"Meaning?" she asked nervously.
"Meaning he'll live another hour if I have to go looking," Hugo whispered, smirking. A little louder, he continued, "I need to talk to him about why he's here."
"You figured it out then?"
Hugo nodded, telling her the same thing he'd told Max. It was the most honest thing he'd told anyone while in the city, even if the reason for it was wrong. "He wants me back, in England."
"Oh," Jess said quietly. She went to the computer and discreetly checked the guest accommodations, knowing it wasn't really information she was allowed to give out. "Room 1013."
"Thanks, Jess," he said sincerely. And to make up for scaring her, he added, "Albus asked about you, by the way."
It made her grin, just like he'd wanted her to, and he left her to think about it. Or rather him.
Skander leant against the window, his arms folded stiffly across his chest, and he watched. His view was of the back of the hotel; the pool was on the right, people were still sunbathing on the loungers and cooling off in the pool, and the bar was on the left. People were already starting their Friday night drinking.
Skander watched them and waited and never once saw Hugo, he hadn't since five o'clock when Hugo had left the poolside.
It was only a matter of time before his anger over stealing Carter away tipped Hugo over the edge and he found his room. He and the receptionist seemed close, he'd get the room number easily enough.
It was the forceful knocking on the door that forced Skander away from the window, not Carter's pointless drivel about the television and the constant questions about what he was planning with Hugo. He'd welcomed leaving the room to call Harry Potter about his nephew's lack of criminal activity.
"That him?" Carter asked, looking disappointed. Skander knew it was because he knew if he had stayed with Hugo, he'd have had sex, not stuck in a hotel room doing nothing. He wished he'd stayed, but Skander had all but threatened him to stay away from Hugo, telling the man that he was with 'Matthew'.
Skander threw him his shirt. "You know what to do."
Nodding dejectedly, Carter got up and opened the door before throwing his top back on. From his place at the window, he could see Hugo's jaw tighten, his eyes narrow, and he stepped back for Carter to pass, saying nothing.
Hugo slammed the door shut, his eyes locked with Skander's; he'd never seen the man so angry and he'd seen him with his family. That was when Skander knew that something else was going on; Hugo wouldn't be this mad over a guy.
"So, how was he?" he asked mockingly.
"For me to know," Skander played along, his smile playful and teasing. He moved away from the window to stand in front of Hugo. "He's a fitness instructor, a little clue for you. He's from the windy city. Did you know that? He came here all the way from Chicago to have a little fun."
"Why are you here?" he said, choosing to ignore Skander's dig. He spoke slowly, his voice low. "No bullshit, Sky."
"I already told you," Skander replied loudly, trying hard not to yell. Because he wasn't angry with the man, not in the same way Hugo obviously was. He just wanted him to listen, even though some of his words were half truths and some were outright lies. "I came here for you, I found you because want you back."
"You really expect me to believe that?" Hugo cried incredulously. "You haven't spoken to me in years and another guy just left your room! You don't want me, so why are you here?"
Skander's only answer was one Hugo honestly hadn't been expecting; he put everything he had into the kiss, dominating Hugo so thoroughly that he left them both breathless, yet demanded more. He pushed the youngest Weasley up against the wall, holding him tight to make sure there was no room for Hugo to move away.
"I never slept with him," Skander muttered when he pulled away, more to do with embarrassment over admitting such a thing than breathlessness, but it was the most honest he'd been since setting foot in Miami and if it helped him get closer to Hugo, he'd take it. "I just wanted to make you jealous. I just wanted you to see that I'm here for you. I was an idiot in school and I regret how we ended. You have no idea how much."
He pushed his hands through Hugo's hair, curling the soft, brown locks around his fingers. "We were amazing together, we can be again. Take me back, Hugh. Please."
Maybe it was the pleading tone Skander had perfected and the use of the word 'please' that spurred him to continue with his plan now rather than make Skander sweat a little first, because Hugo pulled his former, now current, lover back to him, sharing a deeper kiss than before now that Hugo was kissing back. It was a silent agreement between them, a yes to Skander's plea, an unknown seal for what was to come.
Hugo definitely had a plan and he'd pretend to believe the man's lies to follow through with it. Skander Dolohov wouldn't know what hit him.
A/N: Yay, a new chapter. I hope you enjoy this chapter. It's fun writing my manipulative boys. :D
Please let me know what you think.
After Hugo had finally pushed Skander away from him, he'd sat on the edge of the man's bed with his head in his hands. Skander could no longer see his face, the concealed smile that promised a fun time crushing him for his real reasons for coming to America. It was barely there and only lasted a moment; by the time Skander reached him, pulled his hands away, the smile was gone. A contemplative stare took its place while Hugo waited for him to say the three words ready to roll off his tongue.
"Take me back."
"That'll depend on if you're still as good as they say," he murmured, pulling Skander to him and initiating a forceful kiss.
He let Skander push him backwards onto the bed before rolling over, pinning the rarely surprised Dolohov underneath him, and taking charge. Skander didn't protest, he only pressed himself harder against Hugo's chest.
Hugo didn't let them go all the way; he pushed away before things could actually happen and they lay side-by-side, breathless and wanting, but Hugo would make the man wait, have him close to snapping due to the anticipation. It would be worth it in the end.
"Still as domineering as ever, Hugo," Skander said quietly once he had gotten his breath back. He turned his head, then his entire body, so that he was lying on his side, and watched Hugo's chest rise and fall. "I've missed that."
"Well, you've known where I was," he pointed out a little harshly. "You could have come a long time ago."
"I didn't think you'd want me to," Skander admitted, wisely keeping his distance. "I stayed away until it became too hard. I had to see you."
He held his breath, waiting for Hugo's next move, and was thankful to note that Hugo, after turning on his side to face Skander properly, wasn't going to do anything else.
"How did you know I was here?" he asked softly and he didn't just mean Skander, but the Aurors as well. They shouldn't be in Miami. "I was so careful."
"I remember you talking about this place in school; you wanted to be able to live in a place where it was actually sunny when you went to the beach, you wanted to set up shop here, you said," Skander told him, remembering what he'd been told. And Hugo remembered it, too.
"So, a couple of months after you disappeared from England, I researched you; I took you literally and I found your shop," he finished with a shrug.
"And my name," Hugo added bitterly. "You weren't surprised when Jess introduced us."
Skander shook his head. "No. When I saw your name and business in the city you loved most, it struck me that law enforcement is either completely dense or your family are trying not to look for you, because they're the most obvious factors to look for and it makes you easy to find."
Hugo tried not to laugh at Skander's reasoning; was he coming up with another lie on the spot or was this his subconscious helping to cover his ass once he knew that Hugo knew everything? He didn't know. He was not easy to find; he'd made damn sure about that.
Except he hadn't; he'd forgotten how much he'd shared with the man by his side, back when they were together. It had been easier to just share them with Skander, he'd only have read them in Hugo's mind anyway. His damn ability made sure of that. That was probably the deciding factor for his father and uncle with letting Skander help... If they knew about it, that was.
"My family only know that I like being called Matthew, no one knows about Granger. It's too obvious and I'm smarter than that; they overlook it," Hugo replied with a grin. "Why would they look into real, honest jobs when I'm a criminal? I doubt people even click on that I was in university while doing what I did, or that I have a history degree. And you were the only person I ever told about Miami," he half lied. He'd told Albus and Louis, but not until he was already in the city. He'd been here two days and was at the beach with a drink when he'd finally called them. Lily didn't even know.
"I'm honored, thank you," Skander said, doubt just barely concealed on his face. He knew that he was closest with Al, Louis and probably Louis' brother Nick, too, Hugo knew that. But Skander also knew that Hugo liked to keep secrets from everyone, included his closest friends. Skander himself had been one such secret, apparently he deemed Miami to be another.
"So, what now?" he asked uncomfortably, changing the topic. They'd never been together in public before; it was strange even though they both had purposes for doing so.
"Now?" Hugo asked. Skander nodded.
Hugo smiled; what he had in mind would be perfect for his plan. He'd make the Aurors doubt while he broke Skander. He'd have them believing that Skander truly loved him again before the job was done, any evidence he gave them would be considered unreliable and unusable.
He'd be the best boyfriend they'd ever see.
"Now I show you Miami."
They met in the lobby fifteen minutes after Hugo gave his instructions, showered and changed, in smart yet still comfortable clothing since Skander was less used to the heat than Hugo was. The wind was cool and the sun was low, though not yet ready to set; in light pants and t-shirts, they were able to stay relatively cool in Florida's summer heat.
They turned right once out of the hotel, Hugo pointing in different directions, telling Skander where he could find things he knew the man would be interested in. The look of surprise on Skander's face told Hugo that he genuinely hadn't thought he'd remember any of his favorite things and Hugo wanted to laugh, scoff and wish it was true all at the same time - he wished he didn't remember this stuff. Hugo liked to blame it all on his eidetic memory, but he knew it was also because he'd cared for Skander once, fallen for him.
Well, not this time, he reminded himself assuredly.
"So, where are you taking me?" Skander asked curiously, glancing around the street they were in; it was filled with bars and restaurants. The hotel they were staying in was one of the most expensive, owned by a millionaire developer. It was his biggest and most successful in his chain; it made sense to be centered around places tourists would frequent. "If you really wanted to show me Miami, we'd be driving not walking."
"You know me so well," Hugo muttered, stopping at the end of the street. He pointed to the restaurant right across from them, a large, fancy looking place with seats inside and out, and nodded. "That's where we are going. I don't know about you, but I am hungry."
"I'm famished," he replied, following Hugo to the restaurant.
The waitress who met them smiled, recognizing Hugo immediately and greeting him like an old friend, and showed them to a table under the awning. She handed them menus and offered them drinks, said she'd be back with their beers when they ordered and left them alone. Skander finally felt like she was giving him back his air.
"She seems friendly," he said.
"Greta? She is," Hugo agreed. "I come here a lot. She's a model. Or she wants to be a model, I can't remember."
"Is that why we didn't have to wait? Because you come here a lot?"
Hugo shrugged. "Could be. Or it could be because I called them before we left and booked a table. I'm good, Sky, but I can't do the impossible. I still have to wait for things. Be patient." He gestured to the restaurant. "And book a table."
"If we were in Russia, all I'd have to do is snap my fingers," Skander countered with a smirk.
"That's because Dearest Daddy Dolohov distanced himself from his crazy ass uncle and made sure he couldn't be implicated in the war as he made his riches," Hugo scoffed. "He plans, your father. He's always three steps ahead of everyone else. I respect that."
"How many steps ahead of law enforcement are you?" Skander asked with grim smile.
I'm talking to law enforcement right now and I'm still about five steps ahead.
"I guess we'll see. But it's been nine months, so I'm not exactly waiting for them," Hugo answered with a grin, his eyes wide and bright with excitement, Skander was quick to note. Hugo pretended not to see the frown.
"Don't you think that's a little reckless?"
"You know me, Sky; I'm a live in the moment kind of guy," he said just as Greta came back to take their food orders.
By the end of the meal, dessert and all, Skander could see why Hugo came as often as he did; the food was delicious. He'd ordered the fish, but definitely had to come back to try something else. Skander tried to keep the conversation on business during their meal, asking questions about the antiques store and the private clients who pay him to collect things of historic value, but it only lasted ten minutes at most. He'd forgotten how good Hugo was at deflecting; he changed the subject so successfully that they'd been talking about a beach party for a good fifteen minutes before Skander caught on.
He said nothing, though. He still needed to know so much; the store itself was clean, he was sure, but he need to know about the private clients and Hugo's personal life, the hotel he'd chosen to stay in. Hugo Weasley was a conman, pure and simple, and everything he did was deliberate and planned to the last detail. He chose Miami for a reason, he chose the hotel for a reason and he was acknowledging Skander for a reason.
He was deflecting because he was suspicious. He knew something or he wanted to know something.
Be careful, Sky, he told himself.
And he knew how - the questions would stop, no matter what Potter and Weasley said. They could kick and scream for all he cared. He knew Hugo best and he'd do things his way. Hugo was suspicious, but once he'd asked his own questions, Skander was sure he could get Hugo to open up. Hugo would be telling him things himself soon enough. The Aurors just had to wait.
Hugo paid the bill, not letting Skander see the price; he just handed a credit card over.
"How can you afford this life?" Skander asked his last, but most innocent, question. He was dying to know. Because there had been no sign of criminal activity from him. Except for the name on the credit cards, even the money was legal.
"I have my sources," Hugo said mysteriously. "Come on."
They turned left rather than right to the hotel, meeting crowds of people ready to party. There were already lines into clubs, short compared to how it could get later, and music blending between the nearby clubs when the doors opened.
Hugo stopped outside the front of a popular one, Heat, shaking his head when Skander asked if they were going to wait in line. Instead, he took the man's hand and led him inside. Skander watched in amazement and fascination when the bouncer just let them past, before guessing that Hugo had probably known the owners and/or staff since he got here. Connections got you everywhere, Hugo used to say.
I bet he still does.
Hugo pushed past the dancers, one heated, sweaty body after the other, until they got to a door near the bar, almost hidden from view.
Well, they certainly got the name right.
It was only when they were through the door, up the stairs and Skander watched Hugo take a seat at the desk did he truly understand what was going on. He'd found one of Hugo's reasons for having money.
"You own this club." Hugo's grin was answer enough. Skander looked around the room, pretending to be interested in the pictures on the wall, then stopped at the large window which allowed them to look down at the club. "How did you get this? A club requires business stuff I don't even understand and money you didn't have. You were running from the law, Hugo. How are you running a club?"
"I have a partner. He took my idea and made it happen for me; I just run it. And own half of it," Hugo said.
"A partner. Will I get to meet this partner of yours?"
Hugo shook his head. "He's a silent partner. He travels, has other things to deal with. He checks in from time to time, always a phone call."
"Such a shame," Skander muttered, taking a seat across from Hugo. He hadn't stopped grinning since he'd planned dinner; it was starting to unnerve Skander. "So, businessman Hugo - the store, the clients, the club; what else do you have to keep you busy?"
"A life in the bedroom," he smirked. "Did you expect me to remain celibate after you left?" he laughed wickedly when Skander grimaced.
"Good. So, what do you do back in England?"
Skander noticed that England apparently wasn't home to Hugo, probably because it wasn't home to him either, Russia was, but Skander was born in Russia and Hugo was English. He wondered briefly if Miami was home before answering the questions he'd known would come.
"I'm a freelance private investigator."
"Law enforcement, interesting," Hugo said, still grinning, and sat up straighter. "Have you ever worked for my family?"
"Nope," he popped the P, "they don't like me. They never have, but now they think that I'm to blame for you turning to a life of crime. They're another reason why I had to get away."
"Next time you see them, please feel free to tell them that they're goody goody bullshit drove me to it. Stealing things was way more fun."
Skander couldn't help the laugh that came out. "I look forward to seeing the looks on their faces when I tell them," he said honestly, imagining their faces clearly in his mind. "Anything else?"
Hugo seemed to pause and think about that before answering, which confused Skander. "This would mean you're not staying, if you'll be able to tell them this. Do they know where you are?"
Skander ignored the odd look in Hugo's eyes and shook his head. Hugo was always odd to him. "No, they don't know. Yes, it would mean I'm not staying. I told you, this is just a holiday. But holidays can be extended if they have good reason to be."
Hugo considered his words, then nodded once, and Skander knew for sure that the man was suspicious of something. If he wasn't careful, they were both going to fall. Because there was way Skander was going down in whatever game was being played without Hugo coming with him.
"Then tell them this: it started when I was six, long before I met you. Those people at Mum's charity events had such big pockets and I just... helped myself." Hugo leant back into his chair, folded his arms across his chest and smiled. "I was told to, after all."
A/N: New chapter. I'm really glad I wrote a plan to stick to, I hope chapters will be more consistant now. :)
I made up the name of the club for the purpose of this story. If there is one by that name, it is purely coincidental.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
Skander didn't get much sleep that night. Hugo had only pressed the button to his floor in the elevator and the whole way there, he'd talked of the beach party and things they could do, leading Skander to believe he'd be coming inside, that they'd spend the night together. But at the door, Hugo barely brushed his lips against his before saying good night and shutting the door in his face.
He left for his room in a daze of sorts, knowing where to go without actually paying attention. His mind continued to turn, even after he'd gotten into bed; he was convinced that Hugo was up to something and he intended on finding out what it was. He just didn't know where to begin; Hugo's head was a maze, he had so many thoughts and ideas at once, he could be planning anything.
I know it's about me, though.
He knew that, at least, was true. Hugo had gotten better at hiding his thoughts, probably with some sort of shield charm, but Skander's ability to read people still allowed him to pick up some things about the man; his name popped up a few times, Hugo couldn't hide everything.
He got up around six am, watched the staff outside work while he drank his water, then showered and dressed, finally deciding that the Aurors could handle no news for a day; he'd have a few drinks and read, then meet Hugo at the beach. It was officially his day off.
The Aurors didn't see things his way.
Skander entered the lobby, his only thought being what to have for breakfast. Jess stopped him at the front desk and handed him a message, greeting him with a smile and friendly hello. He returned it, both surprised and glad to find someone who didn't judge him at first glance. He knew that it was because Jess was a Muggle, but he didn't care. She was a new friend and, despite what Hugo might have said to her about him, was willing to help him when he needed it.
His smile dropped as soon as he read the message. Damn them.
Skander looked through the glass doors at the entrance, unable to see the hotel across the street but knowing that it was there, that they were there. Waiting for him to call was no longer enough for them, they were deviating from the plan.
They were finally summoning him.
He made them wait; he wanted his breakfast first and he wasn't leaving until he'd finished. They could send him as many messages as they wanted, they could threaten his job if they felt they needed to, but he wasn't going to respond. They knew he wouldn't ignore them completely, he would go to see them, but they could at least give him the time it took to eat.
It was almost an hour after receiving the message that he finally left. It was still early for some guests, a few where dotted around the pool, while the rest where moving past him to get to the restaurant for breakfast. Skander didn't see Hugo anywhere; a quick detour back to Jess was all he needed to know that Hugo had left for work while he was still eating.
Skander stepped outside and breathed out in relief; Hugo wasn't around, he'd never see Skander go to the hotel, he'd never snoop and he'd never know about the Aurors. Not if Skander could help it.
The walk to the next hotel was quick. It was much smaller than his temporary home and not as grand or expensive; he knew as soon as he stepped foot inside why Hugo had not chosen this place to stay. Hugo was attracted to power, success and money, he wanted the best, even more so when it was illegal or forbidden.
Breaking into a safe in the house of a wealthy British Ministry official had been illegal. Sleeping with Skander had been forbidden.
The man looked bored at the front desk and seemed to be waiting for him; as soon as Skander gave his name, the man gave him directions to the room and dismissed him - he wasn't a guest, apparently the man didn't have to be as polite. The Aurors were staying a few floors from the top, in one of the hotel's larger rooms. Skander found it easily; he didn't bother knocking and couldn't help but take note of the differences between Hugo's room and his father's. The room was tiny compared to Hugo's suite, even if it was able to fit in everything the Aurors needed to follow Hugo and allowed four grown men to sit and work all day - Potter, Weasley and two American Aurors who had been picked to help them. Counting the two beds, Skander's first thought was who slept where. Then he remembered that he didn't want to know.
"You're late, Dolohov," Potter called from his desk, choosing to go through his work rather than look at him.
"I was hungry," he replied with a smile that didn't meet his eyes. "I figured I was entitled to food."
"Weasley's getting more agitated by the day," one of the American's said with a grimace. Butler, Skander thought his name was. "Not that I can blame him, since he has to arrest his son and all, but still. If you have any news, kid, I'd appreciate it."
Butler's face was apologetic and genuine; Skander decided to like him, understanding why he'd want to send messages to him. Weasley must really be driving him mad.
"Hugo's been stealing since he was a child, digging into the pockets of benefactors at his mother's events. When a child like Hugo hears 'help yourself', he's going to take it literally," Skander said, biting his gums to keep from smiling. He still found the man's reasons comical. "But there's been no evidence of it happening here; his business seems clean, there's nothing illegal in the bank. All of which we knew already. I can't find anything to suggest otherwise."
"Tell Ron that Hugo's been stealing from his mother's charities and he'll hurt you," Potter hissed, turning his head as though making sure his friend wasn't near them.
"You're not surprised by this," Skander noticed quickly.
He thought about looking through Potter's mind to find out what else he was hiding from Weasley, but Potter was more competent than he looked and had learnt to protect his mind; he couldn't stop Skander like Hugo could, but Skander wouldn't risk him sensing that someone was poking around.
"I know enough; Hugo didn't steal from the charities, he'd never do that to his mother, but he did steal from the people who went there," Potter told him, saying more or less what Hugo had said.
"Anything else we should know?" the second American Auror snapped as he came through the door. He dropped the bags onto Butler's lap and stopped between Potter and Skander. "If you have known that this boy has been committing crimes for as long as he says, why are you only doing something about it now?"
"That boy is my son, so watch yourself," Weasley growled. His hair was damp from a shower; Skander suspected he'd been ordered to. There were dark circles around his eyes and his clothes were wrinkled; he worked, sleep was pretty much non-negotiable and showering only happened when he was told.
"Oh, children," Skander tutted.
Potter stood between them, his hands out to keep them apart. "Ron, get some sleep now. Perkins, you are here to help, not to start fights; work, or I'll replace you. And you," he pointed at Skander, "Hugo is smart, I know, so dig deeper. We can't arrest him without evidence and we can't have our witness point him out until we arrest him."
"Harry says you're the best for this job, you know Hugo," Butler said kindly. "If that's true, and I have no reason go doubt him, we can wait."
Perkins scoffed, moving to sit in the closest vacant chair. "You've done nothing to show that you're capable of this job, Dolohov. How do you know Hugo Weasley?"
"They went to school together," Potter said quickly. "They were friends, despite Ron's protests."
"Really? Because I saw them having dinner when I went to get food and they didn't look like friends?" he smirked.
"What does he mean?" Weasley demanded to know, looking from Potter to Skander. "Tell me."
Potter turned away, not wanting to answer him, and Skander had to laugh. Another thing he knew and wasn't telling his best friend?
"How long?" he asked Potter.
"I saw you at the station at Christmas," he answered reluctantly.
Christmas... Skander remembered; he had decided go see his parents in his final year because they'd come to London. Hugo had pulled him away to tell him the plan to see each other during the New Year, no one had seen them kissing in the corner. Or so he'd thought.
"Harry, what is going on?"
"Oh, come on, Weasley, haven't you figured it out yet?" Skander grinned, almost wickedly. He inched closer and closer to the man, whose eyes were the same as Hugo's, though almost everything else reminded people of his mother. "How else could I know a man so well? So... intimately?"
"Skander," Potter warned, using his given name for the first time in a long time.
"No," Weasley whispered, finally understanding.
"Yes. I know your son so well because I was his lover, all through seventh year and for years after," he told him bitterly. "He was glad when I decided not to join the Auror program, but then I became a private investigator and things got hard. He didn't want to be involved with law enforcement, it didn't take me long to figure out why."
"You're the reason my son is doing this," Weasley snapped, grabbing Skander's shirt and pushing him up against the wall. "You're the reason I have to put him in jail."
"No, Ron, he isn't," Potter defended him, pulling him back. "Albus said that he was always sure Skander loved Hugo, this can't be easy for him. But he's helping us. He wouldn't help us if he had been helping Hugo steal; he wants to be an Auror. Don't you, Skander?"
Thrown once again by the use of his first name, Skander had to stop rather than give a sarcastic reply. And stopping made him think; did he really want to be an Auror? Did he want to work like this, hoping he never had to arrest someone he cared about and hating every moment when the time came? Because that time would always come as long as Hugo Weasley was in the world.
"I used to," he admitted sadly. "After seeing Hugo again, I'm not so sure I can do this for a living."
"Well, you have to," Perkins said. "So, I suggest you get back to work."
For the first time, Skander looked to Potter for an answer; he was beginning to like the man more now that he had spent time with Perkins, enough to know that he would rather take orders from him than from an asshole who thought he was in charge.
Potter nodded once and let him go; there was still plenty of time left before the party and he really wanted that drink.
By the time he found Hugo at the beach, Skander's world was already double what it should be. He wouldn't call himself drunk, not yet; he could still walk in a line that was mostly straight and people had understood him well enough to answer him when he needed directions. It just took a moment longer than it normally would be to figure out what was real.
"Matty!" he called out, then started rambling in Russian.
Hugo turned around, startled, but it quickly changed; he laughed out loud when he saw Skander coming toward him, holding out his hand to guide him the rest of the way. Skander chose to pull him closer instead, wrapping his arms around the man's neck. He was still speaking Russian.
It took Hugo longer than he would have liked to answer him; he was fluent in Russian, had learned after meeting Skander in their first year, but Skander was rambling and incoherent at times. It was hard to keep up.
"Thank you, that was very descriptive, but you'll have to wait and see," he grinned. "How much have you had to drink?"
"People are allowed to drink more than they usually would while on holiday," he pointed out, slurring a little. "I was having pre-party drinks."
"I'm sorry I had to work through it. Would you like another?" Hugo asked, removing himself from Skander's arms.
He made Skander sit before going to the bar, fearing the man would throw up or pass out if he stayed on his feet any longer. Hugo ordered them both cocktails, wondering if he should make Skander's non-alcoholic, then dismissed it; it wasn't up to him to decide what the man should and shouldn't drink.
It might also get him to open up.
When he came back, Skander was lying on the deck chair, his arm over his eyes. He was perfectly still and for a minute Hugo was sure he had fallen asleep.
"Checking me out?" he whispered.
Hugo played along. "Maybe. Your drink."
He sat up, just enough so that he didn't spill it all over himself as he drank, and thanked him quietly before taking it. He drank quickly, the cocktail almost half gone when he stopped, and he knew deep down that he probably shouldn't have, but the sun was still beating down on his skin.
He hadn't planned on drinking so much; he'd finished his first one faster than he would have liked when the temperature rose and then he had just carried on drinking.
"Not used to the heat?" Hugo guessed with a laugh. "Maybe water is a better solution."
"Alcohol sounded better. What is this party for?"
"A client of mine has a daughter; it's her twenty-first today, she invited me," he answered, pointing to a young woman not too far away, standing with a group. She looked up, smiled and waved.
"I think she likes you," Skander said and he knew he sounded more than a little possessive.
"She knows I'm gay, if that's why you're worried," Hugo assured him. "She knows I invited you, I called her this morning. But if it makes you feel any better..."
He stood up, closing the gap between him and Skander's chair to kiss him. It was brief, but hard and had Skander wanting more. He moaned when Hugo pulled away, both because he'd moved and to scold himself for getting too close - he had a job to do, he shouldn't be spending his time wanting to be with Hugo physically again.
"Tease," he said out loud.
"That shouldn't be a surprise," Hugo reminded him. He took the drink from his hand and placed them both on his chair, then grabbed his hand. "Do you still like to swim? I remember you loved it when we'd sneak off to the lake."
"I don't remember use doing much swimming," Skander said with a laugh as Hugo pulled him closer to the water. "I'm not sober enough to go swimming."
Hugo turned around once the water hit them, walking backwards while pulling him in. "Who said we were going to be swimming?" he murmured in Skander's ear.
They stopped when the water reached their waists, arms wrapping around each other again. His body seemed to grow too hot, even in the cool ocean, and Skander knew that this time it had nothing to do with the heat.
"What's the plan now, Hugo?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "You say you want to be with me, but I have never been someone's boyfriend. We weren't like that the first time."
"In defense of our first time, I did like that part," Skander replied, his tone suggesting that he was joking even though they both knew he was serious.
"In the defense of other parts of a relationship, maybe trying them would be fun," Hugo smiled. "There's an exhibit, we could go one night. Plus, there's something I want to show you."
"Sounds like a date," he whispered, moving closer.
"Then a date is what we'll have."
Hugo kissed him again, the reverse happening this time; it started off rough, each one fighting to dominate the other, but it soon slowed down until their kiss was soft, almost tender, and that scared them more than they would have liked.
They both wondered if they were in trouble.
A/N: New chapter, I hope you like it. And this is planned to the end, fourteen chapters in all. :)
Please let me know what you think.
The swimming, or rather the making out in the ocean, had been a huge mistake. But if there was one mistake Hugo had to pick to make he would go for the way Skander's hands stuck to circling his hips, his mouth teasing one moment and fighting for control the next, and his skin glistening because of the sea and the sun every single time.
That the man had been drunk, had let go and just done what he wanted, made it so much better.
It was the worst of all his ideas, and yet he couldn't seem to stop himself. The plan wasn't changing, not in the slightest, he knew exactly what he had to do, but something was happening. Memories of good times were coming back, once distant wants no longer seemed so distant, and damn but he missed the way the man's accent strengthened when he was mad or needy. Having lived in Russia his whole life until school, Hugo had had the misfortune of listening to that accent fade each time; by seventh year it was easily understood and now it was all but gone. But Hugo just knew he could push the right buttons and bring it back.
Of course, that was a weakness for him and he didn't necessarily want to, but it would also become a weakness for Skander; he'd think he'd won the game he was playing and drop his guard just long enough for Hugo to destroy him.
It would be worth it.
So despite his more dangerous desires popping up and threatening to halt his plan, Hugo still found himself in the basement of the hotel, watching the man he both wanted and hated on one of the monitors. Skander was on the phone again, probably talking to Harry or a Muggleborn on the team, especially if it was an American. Britain's relations with Muggles and their technology had progressed over the years, and while they hadn't yet caught up with the US more wizards had something that wasn't completely dependent on magic - usually a television or a phone, they were the most popular choices. Hugo had grown up with both and more; his father loved the television and was fond of the car, but still didn't quite care for the phone. That was reason number one.
Reason number two as to why his father wouldn't be using it? Well, he just really didn't like Skander Dolohov. A small part of Hugo, of everyone who talked to the older man, knew it was somewhat to do with prejudice; Antonin Dolohov had done many terrible things as a Death Eater during the war and carrying that last name came with a price. Mostly, though, it was purely because he was the rebellious kid who'd 'corrupted' his son - Ronald needed someone to blame. Both his parents did.
Though he couldn't make out what was being said - Hugo could barely see the man's face, let alone his mouth to lip read - he could tell from the tense way Skander stood, his back straight and his shoulders raised, and that he bit his lip whenever he wasn't speaking - a subtle tell that he was physically restraining himself to from saying something - that he really wasn't happy with their conversation.
In truth, he knew it was probably - or at least partly - because Skander wasn't used to being told what to do and didn't like who he was working with, but a part of him hoped it was because they had no evidence and couldn't touch him. It was too simple to think they'd give up and leave - his family were way too stubborn for that - but he could hope.
He was going through his next moves when his phone rang. He checked the door, though he knew that Max wouldn't be working till late tonight and the younger guy he'd paid off knew not to come back, and grabbed the phone. Albus' name came up and while he knew he had to answer it, they wouldn't call if it wasn't important, he decided to wait it out a few minutes. Petty revenge for not warning him about Skander in the first place, but it was fun.
Hugo answered the second time his cousin called.
"Find ways to get revenge later," Albus snapped, knowing exactly what he'd done straight away. They weren't close for nothing, the three of them had been a team once; Hugo had been the thief, Albus had been the fixer and Louis the decoy. They knew everything about each other. "The team on your case back home are going through your family and friends."
"You and Louis are the only two who really know anything. The others are useless. I don't see the problem," Hugo admitted with a slight grimace. It seemed like an inconvenience on their end, but nothing they couldn't get through. His cousins knew how to handle themselves.
"Are you absolutely sure no one can say anything about you, Hugo?" Albus insisted he think. "If they can get to you, it won't be long until they get to us. Now Louis doesn't really need to worry, even if he is weary about jail time, but I have a wife and kids to think about. And Lex is away on business, so I am all alone and screwed if something gets out."
Hugo sat up straight, his legs swinging off the table to rest on the floor. Skander was forgotten for a minute. "I promise, Al, you and Lex and the kids are just fine. We're the most careful people in the world; no one knows anything except us three. Skander and our dads only have suspicions about me for the Ministry official. Everything is fine."
"And your plan? How's that going?" his cousin asked.
Hugo's eyes flicked to the screen, to see Skander slam the phone down and lean against the wall. The man was rattled, hands going through his hair and eyes narrowed in distain.
"Oh, my plan is going perfectly," he murmured. "Is this call over now?"
"The Aurors are coming to talk to me tomorrow, so my part in your plan is officially done, cuz," Albus told him, straight to the point. There was no guilt, no messing; that was the great thing about their relationship. They knew exactly where they stood. "You're on your own, Hugo."
The line went dead.
He dropped his phone into his pocket and spun the chair a little to the right; Skander was gone now and he had no need to watch the monitors. He planned on leaving, there were a few things he needed to do, but for now he just wanted to sit and think. He wasn't close with most, but Louis and Albus, and Lex by extension, were the only family he counted on. He didn't think anything would happen to them, but he could still worry for them a little.
They know what to do.
With that in mind, Hugo jumped up off the chair and left the small security room. If he timed things just right, Skander would be on his way to the bar already, which meant that Hugo had a few minutes to change before the man started drinking heavily. Hugo needed him sober this time. He rushed to the elevator once he saw it open, noted Jess' absence as he turned around and headed to his room.
Inside, he went straight to his shower and powered through his wash, getting both his hair and body with the shower gel, and dried himself as he walked to the outfit he'd hung up that morning before work. It wasn't fancy, that wasn't what today was about, but the tighter-than-normal t-shirt and the loose jeans that hung below his hips would definitely have Skander looking, needing, dreaming.
That would be the day's prize.
As he guessed, he found Skander at the bar. The waiter he'd paid to keep an eye on the man informed Hugo that he'd just ordered his second beer, which wasn't bad considering his terrible mood, though Hugo wouldn't let a third happen. With a smile on his face, Hugo made his way to the bar and ordered the same. To his surprise, Skander didn't turn to see him, but from the slight widening of his eyes he told himself that the other man could see things quite clearly in the mirror across from them.
"Are you becoming an alcoholic?" Hugo asked just after taking a sip of his own drink. "I hear that people in law enforcement tend to become alcoholics. Especially private investigators. Or is that just in the black and white movies with the cocky detectives and the femme fatales?"
"I wouldn't know, I've never seen one," Skander answered honestly. "But in answer to your question, I'm certainly thinking about it. Alcohol is nice to me when I'm alone at night. It's a bitch in the mornings, though. Leaves me the nastiest presents. I thought you were at work."
"Checking up on me, are you?"
The scoff he earned in reply wasn't as exciting as the way the man's eyes narrowed, a pink tinge to his not yet tanned skin. "Jess likes to tell me."
Hugo raised an eye-brow. "Do you ask?"
It was a minute before Skander muttered, "Once. So what's on the agenda for today, Matty? Or have you just come to keep me company?"
"Actually we're going out," Hugo answered, strangely delighted when Skander's eyes widened again, this time in pleasant surprise. He tried to keep his own reaction hidden, but the returned smile told him that either he'd spotted the look or he'd read it in Hugo's mind.
They finished their drinks moderately quickly and left a tip each at the bar since their drinks were being charged to their rooms, leaving the hotel one after the other. They walked again, Hugo knowing exactly where he was going and taking joy out of not answering Skander's probing questions.
Finally, they stopped and Hugo watched as Skander frowned, spinning in quick half circles as he took everything in. It was the look on his face that had Hugo smiling; the man looked completely lost, unable to form a sound let alone a coherent word. The last time anything like that had happened was fifth year; Skander had gotten an Exceeds Expectations grade in a Defense Against the Dark Arts test when he'd been expecting an Outstanding. The difference, however, was that Skander clearly wasn't outraged this time, more confused.
Hugo took the time to glance over their surrounding himself; he didn't really see the shock value in shopping. It wasn't too pricy or extravagant, made for tourists without feeling so touristy that people would notice, and the small complex came about because of a wizard who had a chain of hotels around the world, so had things for both wizards and Muggles. It was... normal. Then again, he and Skander had never done anything normal before, so he supposed he couldn't fault the man for being confused.
"Why are we here?" Skander finally asked. He was giving in so easily that Hugo knew he had his shields up, because he really wasn't hiding his thoughts. He was surprisingly grateful for that, though not for the reasons he wanted; Skander was trusting him and he was happy to be able to surprise him rather than happy the guy was letting his guard down.
Still, Hugo smiled and gestured to the market; he didn't want suspicions to rise again. "You said this was a vacation, though one that could be extended, but you have a life and a job back there. So I'm not going to imagine you staying. What's going on between us hasn't even been long enough for me to think that, our past not included. Then I figured your sister would kill you if you didn't bring her back a souvenir, so I thought I'd show you this place."
"Kat would at least hurt me if I went back without a gift," Skander admitted, no longer watching the place in confusion but at Hugo in gratitude. "This place isn't on the map or in the travel guide at the hotel."
Hugo led him through, let his eyes wonder from one stall to another and get a sense of the place before answering. "It's part of that hotel," he said, pointing upward to a large building across from them, the name Gold View practically shining when the sun hit it. "A big time American property developer, coincidentally named Samuel Gold, also happens to be a wizard, and as you can see there are quite a few things that Muggles can't see here. I hear he's trying to beat Kieron Nott. One of many reasons why I'm staying in a Muggle hotel."
"You've done your research," Skander noted distantly. He was too focused on what he could see - the usual tourist-type souvenirs, such as t-shirts and jewelry, as well as American Quidditch memorabilia and brooms and anything else you could think of. There was also a few books on magical animals and creatures in the US; Skander was drawn to them the most. If Hugo remembered correctly, Katerina was training to be a magi-zoologist. She'd love the books.
He grabbed a few different ones, not needing to worry about spending money because she was the only person in his family he'd willingly spend money on - his mother was too picky and his father didn't like people buying him things. Once he had the books, they continued to walk on, just browsing and guessing who would like what and why.
Skander didn't notice that he'd grabbed Hugo's hand as they rushed toward one of the stands that served food. Hugo debated making an excuse to let go, choosing at the last second to keep their hands as they were. Softly but deliberately, he squeezed Skander's hand to see what he'd do.
Like he suspected, Skander looked down and finally realized what he'd done. There was a few moments of awkward silence as the man by his side turned away with pink-tinged cheeks and an odd look in his eyes that Hugo could almost call guilt. Then it disappeared and he smiled, squeezing back before ordering. Hugo just nodded.
That was all Skander was able to tell himself once he got back to his hotel room. First he said it out loud, needing to hear exactly how screwed he was so he could figure out how to fix it. Now he was lying back in bed, covers kicked to the end, and those two small words had become a mantra in his head.
He hated it. Hugo was going to figure everything out, kill him and take off again. He wouldn't put it past the man; he could be terrifying when he was angry and this was likely to tip him beyond anger. He supposed he could just make up some excuse and run before Hugo found out, but that would get him in more trouble than he wanted with the Aurors. Telling Hugo himself wasn't an option because neither was the idea of him going to jail for obstructing the investigation - with his name he knew they'd at least try that if they found out and he didn't fancy sharing a cell with an uncle he'd never met... assuming the old man was still alive.
I could lie to the Aurors...
That had him scoffing; sure, he'd done it before but never for something so important. Skander groaned and rolled over burying his face into his pillow. He still didn't know what to do when sleep finally came.
A/N: Wow. New chapter. Eight more to go. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, please let me know what you think. :)