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Fic Repost: Can't Buy Me Love

This is this first time I've ever re-posted anything I've done to my own LJ, but here is my dysfuncentine  thing.  The first version of this was an absolute mess, bogged down in too much detail, with scenes stretched to infinity.   This is the more concise version and owes an amazing debt to lash_larue .  I also think it's an amazing coincidence that everyone on my flist whom I have in common with Lash just happened to show up to read a pairing that most people wouldn't have been at all interested in.  Hmmmmm.   ::eyes dearest Beta with fond suspicion::   To all of you who have already read and commented, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so.  I wasn't certain anyone would find it of any interest at all, so you made my day.  Don't feel as if you need comment here as well.  As to the rest of you, I'd be obliged if you'd get out your little red quills and have at it.


Title: Can’t Buy Me Love
Pairing: Sybill Trelawney/Gilderoy Lockhart
Rating: PG
Prompt:  24. I don’t seem to have learnt, That a lady in need is guilty indeed, So I paid and got laid in return
Warnings: An ending that is probably too happy for Dysfuncentine
Summary: Sybill needs a date to Seer’s Soirée, and gets more than she bargained for.
Author's Notes: I can never thank lash_larue , my multi-talented Beta, enough for all her help. Her patience, midwifery of plot bunnies, clear eyes and rapier wit are all the reasons this wasn’t fed to my shredder about twenty different times. One of the last things I asked her for was assistance with a title, and her suggestions were too good to keep to myself; you’ll find them all at the end of this tale.



Fourteen steps to the door of the hotel room from the bed and fourteen steps back. Sybill Trelawney counted them for the 30th time since she'd finished getting ready for the Seer’s Soirée. In two minutes, there would be a knock at the door and she would be viewing her date for the first time.

If it hadn't been for the fact that this was the first time in 700 years that the International Clairvoyants Confab was being held on British soil, she wouldn't have bothered with this. But the Confab and its opening gala were the events of year in the wizarding world - even more prestigious than the annual Ministry Ball - and she just couldn't see herself not going. Literally. When she checked in with the Beyond in her favorite crystal ball, she had seen herself in misty blue robes, dancing with a blond-haired man.

She couldn't see his face, but she had no blond men among her acquaintances except that handsome new DADA Professor, Lance DuLac. She'd been so sure it was him, but asking him turned out to be an excruciating exercise in humiliation, complete with him accusing her of being in league with his wife to test his fidelity - not that he would have been tempted, since she was old enough to be his mother. It only got worse from there. She'd asked Filius ("Off to New Zealand to see Severus since he won't set foot in the U.K. again, Order of Merlin or no. But thank you for asking, Sybill. Why don't you ask Firenze?" Ugh.), Aberforth Dumbledore ("Sorry, gal, but I can't leave the pub. It's Valentine's Day and every poor sot that's had his heart broken will be in here drowning his sorrows."), Aurora Sinistra ("I'm sorry Sybill, but I'm going to Italy for a conference of my own"), Nimue help her - Minerva ("I thank you for asking Sybill, but Willa and I will be quite busy. Perhaps Horace?" Oh gods, NO.), and even lowered herself to ask the nag. But he declined. How degrading was that?

She'd gone home to her tower and consumed an entire bottle of Tipple's Dryad-Oak Barrel Reserve Sherry in an attempt to blot out the memory of her shame. Was she really so horrible that she couldn't even get a bloody date? She'd awakened the next morning with an aching head and a stiff neck, having fallen asleep on her dining table, her face stuck to the previous day's Daily Prophet. As she peeled it off of her cheek, she had noticed an ad on the back page that someone had circled in red.

Are You a Cinderella Looking For Your Charming Prince?
Need an Escort to that All Important Function?
Looking for An Evening's Companion Who Knows His Way Around?
Never Fear - We Have What You Need!!

MAGICAL MYSTERY MEN

Escorts for The Discriminating Witch
17 Diagon Alley
London

She had pondered it as she staggered into the loo for a hangover potion. "Your hair's still green, dear, you're shedding bark bits and someone's put a red mark on your face," said her mirror in a worried voice. "You know, you really shouldn't drink so much of that nymph-made stuff. I've heard that some people get stuck with the side effects permanently."

Sighing, she'd taken the potion and cleaned herself up.

"Who was that you were talking to last night? He sounded nice. Is he going to find you a date for the ball?"

She'd looked up at the mirror in horror. "What are you talking about?"

"That nice gentleman you were talking to - you told him that you were looking for Prince Charming and that he had to be blond and he said he had just the one."

She still couldn't believe that she'd Floo called an escort service when she was . . . in an altered state. Near hysteria, she'd called them back, ready to cancel, but the lovely young woman who answered the Floo immediately handed her a description of the escort they'd chosen for her. 'Aurelio: this blond, blue-eyed, handsome 6'1" charmer has a dazzling smile and a personality to match. He is an excellent dancer, ready conversationalist, has perfect dress sense and knows how to show a lady a good time.' At 15 galleons an hour, he wasn't a cheap date, but he sounded so perfect that before she knew it she had signed the contract and told the escort service to have him meet her at her room at the Leaky at 7 PM the 14th. 30 seconds to go.

She'd found the dress robes of her Vision in Madame Malkin's and the nosy old biddy kept trying to get her to tell who she was going with, but Sybill decided to be appropriately mysterious- she didn't even know the man's last name, after all. So she merely inclined her head and smiled when the subject came up, only murmuring 'I hope Aurelio will like them' with an enigmatic smile as she confirmed her selection.

Then she left and headed to the Spellbound Salon to make an appointment for this morning. After all, if she was splurging, she might as well go all the way, right? She even stopped at Fantastical Foundations for some decadent lingerie, just in case. Her Crystal had been foggy on this point, but she might as well be prepared. If that 15 galleons an hour included more than being squired at the Soirée, it wouldn't do to be wearing her usual workaday beige cotton. So blue-dyed spider silk with fairy-made lace, charmed to make her smallish bosom look a little perkier and closer to matching her more generous hips completed her purchases for the day.

And now she was coiffed, made up (and hadn't Stuart known just how to make it look good without it being overdone? And he didn't even ask if she could do without her glasses; he'd just charmed them into a more flattering shape. Really worth his weight in galleons, Stuart was.), dressed to the nines and she was certain that she'd never looked better in her life. So what if she'd had to be her own fairy godmother, she still felt like Cinderella. A rather antsy Cinderella. So where the hell her was Prince Charming?

She cast another Tempus. Five minutes late. Sybill took a deep breath. Only five minutes late. But what if he'd gotten lost? Or had gone to the wrong room? Or what if there was no 'Aurelio'? What if it was only a fly-by-night company and they'd flown off with her money, leaving her dateless after all? Oh, she knew she should have gotten references! And she couldn't go alone - she'd never live it down! In a few more minutes, she'd have to go down and ask Tom to use the public Floo to call Magical Mystery Men to find out what had happened to her 'date' and the humiliation would just be too much to bear. Suddenly she wanted a drink very badly, but she hadn't put any in the tiny suitcase she'd brought with her to the inn. She sat down on the bed and put her head in her hands. Oh, she'd been such a fool! And before she could stop herself, the tears began to fall.

She was so lost in her misery that she almost didn't hear the soft knock on the door five minutes later. She sat up and wiped her eyes and listened. It came again, a bit more insistent this time. Dear Circe, but she must look a fright!

"Coming!" she called out as she fled into the loo.

"Oh you poor dear," cooed the mirror. "There, there - it will be all right. You just look a little puffy around the eyes. You did a good job with that Imperturbable Charm on your hair and make-up. Just a little Pepper-up and you'll be right as rain."

"I don't have any!" she almost began wailing again. Some Seer she was, she thought as she blew her nose loudly and rinsed the tears from her glasses. Why is it she never knew she'd need things like this?

"I'm sure Tom has some," answered the mirror soothingly, if not, there's an apothecary right down Diagon Alley and a chemist just up the block on the Muggle side, if you'd prefer."

"Miss, - Miss!" came a muffled voice through the door. "Are you well?"

"I'm fine, I'm coming," she called again, and steeled herself as she went to open the door. After all, he was almost 15 minutes late. She'd be taking it out of his tip, that much was certain.

But the stern expression into which she composed her face melted into shocked surprise as she flung the door wide.

"Hello there," he said with a dazzling smile, hastily shoving a small index card into the pocket of his formal, dark blue robes. "I'm your Magical Mystery Man, Aurelio. You must be Sybill. You're looking lovely tonight." He waved his wand and produced a corsage of tiny white roses and held it out to her. "Are you ready to go to the Ball?" The smile faltered as he took in her gobsmacked expression.

"Gilderoy?!"

"Oh, Merlin's pants! I forgot the bloody Glamour!" He grimaced. "Pardon my language." Then he peered down at her with a curious expression. "Do we know one another, then? I'm afraid my memory is still a little spotty, but I'm sure I would have remembered someone as nice-looking as you. Where did we meet?"

"Hogwarts," she said faintly, and watched as his shoulders sagged.

"You'll be wanting your money back, I suppose." That was a tone of voice she'd never heard from him before. The Gilderoy Lockhart she'd known at Hogwarts would have been brazening his way right though this, not sounding as if he was defeated before he began. "Which one are you? Transfigurations? Arithmancy? I'm pretty certain it can't be potions." He shuddered. "I remember that bloke."

"Divination," she said, suppressing a smile. "The Seer’s Soirée, remember?"

Gilderoy looked just past her left ear. "I don't remember you, so I'll just apologize now for whatever it was I tried to convince you that I knew better than you. The old man who used to come and see me at St. Mungo's said I'd been quite busy at it. I'll just be going now and I'll let Angela know you want a refund."

She laid her hand on his arm and he looked down at her, puzzled. "Who said anything about a refund? I still want to go to the gala, and we'd better get going or we'll be late for the dinner. The cocktail hour is already almost over."

He nodded and handed her the flowers and then took out his wand. "I'll just put on the glamour, then."

Sybill smiled at him and shook her head. "No need, Gilderoy. I don't mind being seen with you if you don't mind being seen with me."

"Just call me Gil." That dazzling smile was back. "And why would I mind being seen with you?" He looked her up and down. "You look like the sort of lovely lady any wizard would be delighted to have on his arm."

"Considering that I'm paying for your time," she said wryly, "that ought to tell you how interested any of the wizards I know are to date me. To be fair, I don't normally look like this." Now it was her turn to look anywhere but at his face. "I, - I don't really pay too much attention to my appearance, I'm afraid. Most wouldn't consider me much of a looker. I drink too much on occasion. And most of the students who have come through my classroom undoubtedly think of me as being as big a fraud as you were back then. I'm not." She tried not to sound defensive but she knew she did. "My gifts are real, even if they don't operate on cue. So you see, you're not getting much of a bargain, either."

"I don't know about that," he answered softly.

"People may not think of you with quite the respect they did before, but I know that you're different now. And you never stopped being a very handsome man. Younger than me, too. People will be telling you all night that you could do better."

"Oh yes,” he snorted. "That's why I'm working as an escort. Speaking of which -," he held out his arm. "Shall we go?"

Sybill slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow. "Let’s."

***



Where had the time gone? The glance she caught of the clock as Gil whirled her around the floor showed it to be nearly 1AM, well past her bedtime, normally. But she couldn't remember ever having such a wonderful time. There was only one little problem.

Gil had been marvelous, there was no doubt of that. Of course, he was being paid to be marvelous. Any time she caught herself enjoying things a little too much, it was that thought which brought her back down to earth. This wasn't a 'real' date. So, if he'd been perfectly attentive the whole evening, danced with her, brought her drinks, fended off the occasional still starry-eyed admirer with a disarming smile and a 'So happy to meet you. I am much improved, thank you. No I don't do autographs any more, but it's awfully kind of you to ask. Have you met Sybill? We're having a wonderful time this evening aren't we, my dear?", not to mention taking the brunt of Rita Skeeter's malicious interest in the two of them, it wouldn't do to forget that it was because her 15 galleons an hour bought her those things.

And that was a problem, because this incarnation of Gilderoy Lockhart she liked very much. The previous Gilderoy, the one she'd known at Hogwarts, was an intolerable, arrogant fool whose charm and handsome appearance were a mask for an insatiable thirst for attention and a diversion from his incompetence at his post. His absurd posturing had infuriated everyone on the staff.

Severus had been in one continuous snarl, and even Filius had been heard to mutter imprecations under his breath. Minerva had nearly frosted over with disdain, (not that she hadn't been on the receiving end of that herself on more than one occasion). And even dear, gentle Pomona had had Words to say to Dumbledore over his hiring. He had mostly avoided her. Perhaps he had been afraid she'd see through him. She smiled to herself. It was a nice thought that perhaps, for once, she'd been overestimated by one of her colleagues. But she doubted any of them would recognize the man smiling down at her as they finished the waltz and he guided her back to their table, looking for all the world as if he were truly enjoying himself. Perhaps he was.

Gil was different than Gilderoy, as ridiculous as that sounded. He sought no undue attention; he seemed embarrassed by it, in fact. Rita Skeeter had behaved as if Christmas had come early when she saw him, and she had descended on them at her earliest opportunity, all poisonous smiles and false solicitude. Sybill found out later that St. Mungo's had never allowed her in to interview him during the years he'd been there.

"Gilderoy! Darling! It's wonderful to see you out and about again! I trust that you are doing well?"

That horrible green quill of hers was going a mile a minute on the parchment floating beside her when without warning a great flash blinded her. Bloody photographer. As the spots faded, she saw Gil give Skeeter that smile that she was coming to recognize as a bit of a shield. His demeanor changed slightly too, as he gave off a gently befuddled sort of air. "Ah, Miss Skeeter, is it? Yes, thank you, I'm glad my Healers thought me improved enough to allow my release."

Skeeter made a little clucking noise that Sybill was sure was meant to be sympathetic, but that didn't quite hide the smirk underneath it. "Oh, are you still having troubles with your memories, then, after your tragic accident at Hogwarts? It must be such a trial to you. And how are you keeping yourself these days? Do you have anything to say about your book royalties taking such a decline?"

Gill shook his head with a wistful smile. "I'm afraid that there are great gaps in my memories still, but I hope that someday I'll be able to recover most of them. My Healers remain optimistic about that. And I am very grateful to St. Mungo's for the wonderful care they took of me for the last few years. Perhaps you could do a story about them!" Gil beamed at Skeeter with a smile nearly as blinding as the flash had been. "The work they do there is so largely overlooked, and I am certain that if someone as renowned as you are for hard-hitting journalism put them in the spotlight, they'd finally get the recognition they deserve. Well, thank you so much for your well wishes and for taking an interest in me, but I'd like to take my date in to dinner now. Goodnight!"

“Your date? But, wait! Gilderoy! Is that Professor Trelawney?”

But Gil had whisked them through the doors and out of sight like, well, magic, and she heard Skeeter make a frustrated noise behind them.

“I’m sorry about that,” said he, frowning. “She’s been bedeviling me for quite some time for an interview, but I’ve always managed to elude her up until now. With any luck, your event security Aurors will keep her out, and she won’t be able to spoil your evening.”

They’d had a lovely dinner together and they talked about the changes in the Ministry, the topics of the seminars at the Confab, where she Saw herself going on her next vacation, and the merits of the beach versus the mountains. When the lovely filbert-chocolate crème cake that had been served for pudding was all gone, he rose and held his hand out to her.

“Shall we dance, my dear?”

She placed her hand in his. It was warm and folded gently over her own. She didn’t quite know what to make of the tingle which ran up her arm. It had been easy to forget up until this point that she had bought Gil’s company, but she had, hadn’t she? With a small sigh she stood.

“All right.”

The dancing had been wonderful – just as advertised, she reminded herself. Gil certainly knew his way around a dance floor. She did not, but he whispered to her to let him do all of the work and she’d be fine. And she had been. And the thrill that ran through her at the feel of his lips close to her ear, of his arms around her, at the feel of his body next to hers, was very enjoyable in spite of her knowledge that none of it was real.

The waltz had left her breathless and as he held her chair he asked, "Would you like some champagne and strawberries? It was Valentine's Day until an hour ago, after all."

Suddenly, the whole evening left a sour taste in her mouth. In spite of the heart-shaped bubbles drifting through the air and the fairy cherubim whose flight criss-crossed the dance floor with lovely patterns of light, Sybill had quite been able to put the significance of the day right out of her head. And now it was it was being shoved in her face. She hadn't had a sweetheart since her own Hogwarts days, and that had ended shortly after school had. She was well past the age where her youth might make up for her lack of beauty and there were no prospects - the best she could do was pay a man to be her companion for the evening and that's all there would ever be. At that moment, she couldn't decide what she wanted to do more: go home, strip off her hopeless finery and have a good wallow, or to have a drink right now. The drink now won. But she needed a moment to figure out a way to escape without simply churlishly disappearing on her ersatz date. It wasn't his fault, after all. So she smiled at Gil perhaps a little too brightly.

"That would be fine, thank you. I think I'll pop 'round to the Ladies while you fetch the bubbly. Is that all right?"

He gave her a baffled look. "Certainly."

The huge ballroom suddenly felt far too close and crowded as she fled the table in the general direction of the loos. Looking around her, it seemed as if everyone else here had come with the loves of their lives. Canoodling couples were everywhere, dancing slow with their bodies pulled together tightly, or sitting at tables with heads resting on shoulders, or touching with the sort of comfortable ease which screamed 'taken'. She picked up her pace and flung herself through the nearest exit door, and found herself in a quiet hallway, away from the music and the crowds and the cherubim and everything she'd never have.

She stepped away from the door, then laid her cheek against the cool surface of the wall. Why, in Circe's name, had she thought this would be a good idea? All she had wanted was one evening where she could have a good time along with everybody else and instead she felt just like she had as a child looking through the windows of the shops in Diagon Alley at beautiful things she could never afford. She'd just tell Gil she felt ill and call it a night. It wasn't really a lie.

"You and Gilderoy have an argument?" came a voice full of sardonic pity from behind her.

Rita. What a perfect topper to a miserable night.

"I have nothing to say to you, so you can just go away and leave me be, please."

'Now why would I walk away from the evening's biggest story? Hogwarts' most reclusive teacher, rarely seen outside her Tower of Dire Predictions and the recently released tragic victim of a hushed up accident that cost him most of his memories and which also seems to have changed his personality. Together. At the event of the year, no less!

"So tell me, Professor, what do you know about what happened to Gilderoy Lockhart at the end of his time at Hogwarts? Do you know I've been investigating this for years and still have only rumors and innuendo to go on? Surely something of what happened made its way up to those lonely heights."

Sybill said nothing, so Skeeter continued in that acid-sweet voice that made Sybill want to hex her mouth permanently closed. Maybe she should. There would be many who would consider it a service to wizard-kind, so it might be worth the stint in Azkaban.

"And how did you come to have the delicious Mr. Lockhart as your date for the evening, hmm? I can't imagine the two of you seeing each other at the school. The Gilderoy Lockhart I knew would never have glanced twice in your direction. So the way I see it, you are either taking advantage of his mental handicap or you have some sort of hold over him. Which is it?"

Come to think of it, there was no way the Wizengamot would ever convict her. She was just about to reach for her wand when she heard -

"Oh, THERE you are, Sybill. I thought I'd lost you there for a minute! Come on back to the dance, my dear. I'm certain the champagne and chocolate covered strawberries will quite vanish that nasty headache."

A pair of arms enfolded her and drew her against him, and for the moment she didn't care that it was all for show, and gratefully laid her head against his chest. He smelled so nice.

"Now isn't that sweet."

"You know, Miss Skeeter,” his voice sounded deeper and pleasantly rumbly against her ear, "it really isn't on of you to be harassing my date this way. It was quite an honor that she asked me, and I was happy to accept. Nor do I appreciate the way in which you've been hounding me since my release from St. Mungo's. I'm telling you now that I will bring action against you if you do not cease immediately."

"And why would I want to do that?" she answered with a nasty laugh. "The rumors that have been circulating since the accident are rather interesting and not very flattering to you. I know you claim not to remember any of it, but I'm certain someone does, and I mean to get to the bottom of it. Or, we could collaborate to tell your side of the story."

Sybill turned her head to look at Rita Skeeter; the naked greed in her voice was so shocking.

"Just think of it Gilderoy, you'd be back on top of the best seller lists again, - with me, of course. There'd be book tours, signings, parties in your honor. You'd be celebrated again, rather than viewed with suspicion. You'd have your old life back! What do you say?"

"How about, 'no'." Sybill looked up at Gil in surprise. "It may come as a bit of a jolt to you, but I don't want that life back. I've had enough of the spotlight to last me a lifetime. I don't need it anymore, Rita."

Skeeter was looking as shocked as Sybill knew that she must. "But -,"

"And lest you think you can blackmail me into this somehow with one of those rumors you just spoke of, I know a little something about you, too. Professor Dumbledore used to visit me regularly while I was in hospital, and a few years ago, he happened to mention something he'd had from Severus Snape, who apparently had gotten it from one of his Slytherin students. Malfoy, I think it was."

The combination of Skeeter's green satin dress robes and her bright red face made Sybill think of Christmas and she barely stifled a giggle.

"I see," she said tightly. "You win, Gilderoy. For now. But if I ever -,"

"But if you ever publish another word about me without my permission, you'll be accumulating your royalties from the inside of Azkaban." Gil said this lightly, almost as if he was joking, but it was very plain that he wasn't.

Rita Skeeter gave him one last furious glance and then turned on her heel and stalked down the hallway, closing the door behind her with a bang.

"Well! I'm glad that's over!" Gil gave her a squeeze, then loosened his arms but didn't release her. "Sybill . . . ."

He was looking at her mouth. And before she had time to react, he was kissing her and her head was swimming with the glory of it. Oh, it was better than her best sherry! The dizzying softness of his lips against hers, the scent of strawberry and bitter chocolate on his breath, stealing her breath, the way she felt when she was really Seeing. She floated on it for a moment before that horrid little voice in her head piped up with the reminder that money had changed hands for this. She pushed herself out of his arms, breaking the kiss. He looked down at her with slightly glazed eyes, puzzled. Merlin, he was still quite the actor, wasn't he?

"No,” she said, and stepped away from him, wrapping her thin arms around herself to compensate for the loss of his warmth. Oh, how she missed her shawls!

"What?"

"I don't want this. I'm sorry, Gil, but I need to go home now."

"Why don't you tell me what this is all about, Sybill," he said quietly. "You seemed to be having a good time until just a little while ago."

She stepped a little farther away from him and bumped against a bench beside the wall, knocking her off balance for a moment. She righted herself and then tilted up her chin.

'What I am saying is that whatever 'Other Services' Magical Mystery Men has told you to provide, I am refusing them." She could hear the hysteria begin creeping into her voice, but she couldn't stop it. "I'm tired of pretending like this evening is anything more than a business transaction and I'm sure you are, too. So let's just bid each other a good evening and be done with it." She turned away from him and took a deep breath. "I did have a very nice time this evening, Gil," said Sybill softly. "You're very good at this. I want to tip you to show my appreciation, but I'm not sure what's customary."

Gil walked up behind her, stopped for a moment, then stepped around her and sat down on the bench. He crossed his legs and then looked up at her with amusement on his face.

"You know," he said casually, "that 'escort' is not the same thing as 'whore'."

"I didn't mean - !"

"Oh, yes you did, but it's a common enough misconception that I won't hold it against you." He smiled at the aghast look on her face. "And that was a very fine gratuity you just gave me. I feel a bit greedy asking for more, but I wouldn't say no to another kiss. There was no pretense at all in that for me. I did it because I wanted to, not because my employer said that I should, - which they don't, by the way. I still want to."

Her heart was thumping loudly enough that Sybill was certain that he could hear it as clearly as she could. Was this possible? She knew she was gaping at him, but she couldn't find the words to ask what he meant.

His smile got wider. "I've been off the clock since 12:15. You only paid for five hours, so I've been on my own time since then, and I've no intention of asking you to pay for it." He looked at her earnestly. "I wasn't lying to Rita, you know. You could have chosen to go with 'Aurelio', but you didn't. You chose me. That's about the nicest thing that anyone's done for me in quite awhile. Sybill, I'm right where I want to be, and I'm having a wonderful time. And I want to tell you that you've helped me decide that my days as an escort are over as of tonight. I'm handing in my resignation to Magical Mystery Men in the morning."

A feeling of warmth stole over her, but she had to ask. "Why are you quitting?"

"Two reasons," he said, taking her hand and pulling her down on the bench beside him. "First, because, well, this is really my first successful job. The first woman who hired me recognized me too, and Flooed my boss to demand a refund, as escorts are supposed to be anonymous, and I am anything but. Silenus gave her the money, but he told me after that, that I was supposed to wear a glamour while I was on the job. Since we're going to end up in the Prophet tomorrow morning, he'll know that I didn't do as he told me." She started to protest, but he shook his head. "It won't matter that you didn't want me to. You shouldn't have known it was me in the first place. I guess I'm just not cut out for an anonymous life. And as long as I have some notoriety, I might as well use it for something good for a change. I wasn't kidding when I said that the Healers who run the Janus Thickey Ward could use some positive attention. Maybe I can convince them to hire me to do their publicity. I understand," Gil said dryly, "that I was rather a genius at it at one time."

She couldn't help but laugh. "Yes, that you were."

"But, there's another reason." He took her other hand in his, and looked her in the eye. "I like you very much, Sybill. I'd like to see you again and I don't want you to worry that I have ulterior motives or that I might feel this way about every woman I see professionally." Then he dropped his gaze, and an endearing flush spread across his face. "I hope I'm not misreading the signs that you are enjoying my company, too."

"No," she answered around suddenly tight vocal cords, "no, you're not."

"So you won't sic Cornish Pixies on me or anything, if I ask for another kiss?"

She laughed again, and by way of an answer, leaned forward boldly and took his lips herself.

That delightful floaty-swimmy feeling was back, and this time she could revel in it. Their arms went around each other, and they pulled each other as close as they could, sitting hip to hip. Arousal spiked up, hot, sharp and sweet, as they kissed until they had to gasp for air, then dove right back in again. His hand was on the back of her neck, stroking down her spine until she shivered, and somehow her hands had found their way into his hair. Between the giddy feeling in her head and the fireworks going off low in her belly, she thought she might melt from the sensory overload. His hands slipped down her back to her rib cage. He slid them forward, and her nipples pulled up hard and tight at the feel of his thumbs against the undersides of her breasts.

When their mouths parted for another breath, he shifted beside her with a groan and leaned his forehead against hers, panting, his eyes still closed.

"Do you still want to leave?" asked Gil breathlessly.

"Yes, I do," she answered, surprised that she said it out loud, but apparently a little bit of the immediate future had unfogged itself, and she could See as clearly as if she had her orb in front of her. His eyes flew open, and she could see worry behind the daze of want. She gave him a smile almost a brilliant as his own.

"But the difference is, I don't See myself going alone." His answering smile was like the sun chasing way the morning haze. Sybill stood on slightly wobbly legs.

"Would you like to escort me back to my room at the Leaky?"

He leapt from the bench and offered her his arm. "With pleasure," was his fervent answer.

And with a sharp crack, the air closed itself around the void left where two people no longer stood.


Fin.


Lash’s Titles…

“Cupids Revenge”

“Through a Glass, Blearily”

“Beauty and the Seer”

“Saw It in the Want Ads”

“Magical Misery Tour”

“My Sherry Amour” (My favorite ::g::)

“Last Need, First Want”

“She Didn’t See Him Coming Until After the Ball”

“Not All is Pumpkin After Midnight”

“Sybillrella and Prince Charmed”


Tags:

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
cranky__crocus
Mar. 2nd, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
laskjdfklajsdf I love the titles!

I need Lash to pick out all of my titles from now on.

Also, I loved reading your fic - and can say that Lash did not 'make' me, as I'm sure she did not have to force anyoneto read this masterpiece. (:

(Plus, I'm not a Trelawney-hater. But shhhh I'm still marginally in the closet.)
albalark
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
I need Lash to pick out all of my titles from now on. Amazing, isn't she? ::g:: I about died of howl when she sent them to me. Maybe she should start a service!

I'm not a Trelawny *hater*, I've just never really thought much of her. But her insecurity, I get. :-P
lash_larue
Mar. 2nd, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
Not guilty.

I would never compromise the integrity of a fest or exchange. I'm afraid this thing had to stand on its own merits, and it did.

Of course you have an imagination, you work with stuff you can't see, and you have me on your flist. That last surely requires imagination.
L
albalark
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
I would never compromise the integrity of a fest or exchange. I know that you wouldn't. ::looks sheepish:: this was meant for a tease and not as a question of your integrity. Forgive me?
lash_larue
Mar. 3rd, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
"I would never compromise the integrity of a fest or exchange."

That was meant as a tease as well, sort of a reply in kind. I'd do it in a minute if I thought it would do more good than harm. In this case I knew that it wasn't needed. That was me being "on my dignity", to quote the redoubtable Samwise Gamgee.

Oh, and I never thought it was a question of my integrity, I saw it as your insecurity over your writing flaring up.

Nothing to forgive, I am quite often a tiny bit of a smartass, and my dignity is primarily imaginary, ;)

* hugs *
L

Edited at 2011-03-03 10:21 pm (UTC)
therealsnape
Mar. 2nd, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I'd like to speak in lash_larue's defence, Your Honour.

There was no ficcie-leak in this exchange, and Lash is NOT guilty of compromising your anonymity.

I always try to read as many fics as possible. Fics with older characters are by definition given the benefit of doubt.

Your fic had the doubt expelled after the first few lines. A complete and absolute winner.

lash_larue
Mar. 2nd, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
RE: icon...

I resemble that remark.
L
albalark
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
Lash is NOT guilty of compromising your anonymity I know . . . I was attempting to tease and it fell as flat as western Kansas. :-P

::bangs gavel:: Case dismissed! The judge will now recuse herself from further attempts at humor. ::g::
kellychambliss
Mar. 3rd, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
I knew this was yours! Knew it, knew it. (I get to gloat because I'm so rarely right. I guessed four other fics for this fest, too -- wrong on three of them.)

SHERRY AMOUR!!!!!!! FTW!!!!!! OMG, it's perfect.
albalark
Mar. 3rd, 2011 05:59 am (UTC)
OK, I have to know . . . what gave me away (and no, I didn't really believe Lash had told anyone)?

OMG, it's perfect. It is isn't it? ::g:: I nearly split a side at this list.
kellychambliss
Mar. 6th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
No, Lash didn't tell. It was several things --

--You'd said you were working on a pairing with characters you didn't know very well. Somehow I didn't think your fancy would have been caught by Trio-era kids, and of the older-person fics in the fest, this pairing seemed best to fit your description.

--The style of wit here is similar to the style you often show in your posts.

--Underneath the wit is a fundamental kindness toward both characters, and I see this sort of kindness as characteristic of you.
atdelphi
Mar. 3rd, 2011 06:04 am (UTC)
I love it. *g*

I don't think I've ever read a story with Sybill as the protagonist before, but oh, what a way to start. She's perfectly IC here while still being human and sympathetic. From the line "...she just couldn't see herself not going. Literally." I knew this was going to be great.

I especially admire how you balance humour with the more serious notes. Wonderfully done!
albalark
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That means a lot, coming from you. :-)

P.S. If you need another set of eyes for your Beholder, I'm willing. :-)
pingback_bot
Mar. 26th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
FIC: "Can't Buy Me Love" by Albalark (Sybill/Gilderoy)
User kellychambliss referenced to your post from FIC: "Can't Buy Me Love" by Albalark (Sybill/Gilderoy) saying: [...] Author: Word Count: 5800 Alternate Links to Fic: Here [...]
roseofthewest
Mar. 30th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
Not sure how I ended up here, but I'm glad I did.

What a lovely story about two oddballs finding their spot in the world with each other. Your writing style is so full of charm and affection as an author for her characters, that I fell in love with them too.
duniazade
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:40 am (UTC)
"Which one are you? Transfigurations? Arithmancy? I'm pretty certain it can't be potions." He shuddered. "I remember that bloke."

Bwahahahaaa!

I'm so glad I discovered this - it's both wry and utterly adorable, and does justice to characters who definitely deserved more tenderness. I'm ready now for more Sybill/Gilderoy!

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )