The Mirror Never Lies, by Rhysenn

A/N: This is SLASH, so if it isn't your cup of tea, just move along.
This is a not-so-short but rather sweet Harry/Ron fic, in which the Mirror of Erised makes itself useful... Rated R for non-explicit sex.

The Mirror Never Lies

"Ugh, Divination again," Ron moaned, gathering his books and trying to ignore Hermione's smug grin. "Too bad I didn't break my leg as I predicted, or I'd get to skip the lesson."

Harry smiled sympathetically, although he dreaded Divination lessons just as deeply. There was really nothing even remotely enjoyable about Divination - it ranked all the way down there with Potions. Probably the only consolation was that Ron was always there to keep him sane (and awake). It was easy to get depressed by Professor Trelawney's ominous predictions, which got steadily more morbid when they pertained to him, but Ron's constant presence and impish grins served to cheer the gloomy atmosphere considerably.

"C'mon, let's go, I don't want to be late and have to tidy away her crystal balls again." Ron nudged Harry along as they waved goodbye to Hermione and set off in the opposite direction. "Really, it was a marvel I didn't smash half of them with her hovering behind me, breathing down my neck and saying, 'Clumsiness and slippery fingers plague you this month under Neptune's prevalence...' " Ron shuddered, and their footsteps quickened down the crowded corridors.

Harry laughed. Ron's disarming humour always made things seem a lot less overcast than they were, and he was continually thankful for Ron by his side to prevent him from going off the deep end when things got rough. Unlike Hermione, Ron's sensibility was tempered with a healthy measure of mischievousness, and it was the perfect combination in Harry's opinion. During their past few years, they'd made it through the most death-defying situations together - in comparison, surviving another Divination class was hardly a tall order.

They arrived marginally late and climbed the ladder to the Divination classroom to find most of the class already seated. Professor Trelawney was there, bedecked in her usual array of jewellery and necklaces, nodding approvingly at a star chart that Parvati Patil was showing her.

As Harry stepped into the room, the first thing that caught his attention was the grand mirror placed in the middle of the room. It reflected the crimson decoration of the enclosed classroom in a dazzle of red, and Harry immediately recognised it as the Mirror of Erised, which he had discovered during his first year at Hogwarts on a midnight stroll.

The Mirror stood magnificently on two clawed legs and had an ornately decorated frame surrounding a perfectly smooth panel of reflective glass. It exuded a certain mystical appeal, a sublime air of mystery, as though it contained the most deeply entrenched secrets ever held, which Harry knew it did.

Ron, coming up next to him, saw the Mirror as well.

"Hey!" Ron exclaimed, pointing to the Mirror as he turned to Harry. "That's the one we saw back in our first year, remember? You said it showed your family and all, but I couldn't see them." He looked interestedly at it once again. "So what d'you think it shows? The past - or the future?"

Harry noticed the mildly hopeful tone in Ron's voice and remembered that the last time they had encountered the Mirror, Ron had seen himself as Head Boy in the reflection. Harry wanted to tell Ron that he really didn't have to compare himself with his other more prominent brothers - it didn't matter how successful or talented they were. To Harry, Ron was always the most special of them all.

"Well, the Mirror actually shows -" Harry started to explain, but Professor Trelawney interrupted him as she swooped over to their position near the trapdoor.

"Will Mr Potter and Mr Weasley kindly take their seats?" Her misty voice was sharper than usual, and she shot them a reprimanding look. "You're just in time for the lesson." Her tone was laden with sarcasm.

Harry and Ron slid into their seats, exchanging looks behind Professor Trelawney's turned back as she swept off to the middle of the classroom, where the Mirror stood. She clapped her hands twice to get everyone's attention, and the classroom fell quiet.

"See here, my dears!" she proclaimed, waving her arms toward the Mirror in an exaggerated gesture. "The Mirror of Erised!"

Ron rolled his eyes and muttered rather loudly, "Yes, we can read."

Professor Trelawney heard him, and she regarded him with a reproachful glare. "Does Mr Weasley have anything to add?" she asked in an offended tone, her beady eyes fixed on him.

"No, Professor," Ron answered innocently, flashing her an affected smile.

"Very well, then. As for yourself, dear, you may like to be more attentive to the whispers of the unseen influences all around - you may start with the beckoning of time, for instance, which would help greatly with your punctuality." Professor Trelawney shot Ron another withering look as she turned away.

"Crazy old bat," Ron mumbled resentfully, but much softer this time.

"Well then," Professor Trelawney resumed her position next to the Mirror, "this Mirror has graced us with its exclusive, unique powers for centuries, guiding all sorts of men in their quest for their destiny. It has mysterious abilities which transcend all space and time, governed by no dimensions." She paused for effect, and Parvati and Lavender Brown both oooh-ed loudly in unison, staring at the Mirror with rapt interest.

"What does it do, Professor?" Lavender asked in an awed voice.

Professor Trelawney swept her hands in the air theatrically as she motioned to the class.

"Come and see for yourself, my dears!" she cried, and Parvati and Lavender were on their feet immediately. "Experience is the only path to understanding, and it takes courage to accept the challenge. I invite all of you to step up to the Mirror, and tell everyone what you see in the reflection!"

Harry already knew the secret of the Mirror - it showed the reflection of a person's deepest, most inscrutable desires. The last time he looked into the Mirror, he had seen his mum and dad smiling and waving back at him, together with the entire family of Potters standing behind his parents.

There was a loud scraping of chairs as everyone rose from their seats, and Harry got to his feet with more enthusiasm than usual. He gladly welcomed any opportunity to see his parents again, even if it was only a transient, virtual image of them.

"So what does the Mirror show, Harry?" Ron asked him in a low voice, as they both made their way to the centre of the classroom.

"It shows your heart's most desperate desire," Harry whispered back. "What you want more than anything else, you see reflected in the Mirror."

"Oh. Okay." A sober expression crossed Ron's face, and Harry immediately knew that his friend was recalling what he had seen the last time he looked into the Mirror. It was probably rather embarrassing for Ron to have revealed his secret wish to be Head Boy as well, after his relentless and often derogatory teasing of Percy.

A short line had already formed in front of the Mirror, headed by Lavender and Parvati, who were both jostling for the first place. Harry waited for his turn after Dean Thomas, while Ron stood behind him.

Since his classmates didn't know the significance of what the Mirror displayed, they proceeded to blatantly describe every detail they beheld, and the strangest secrets came tumbling out. Lavender saw herself frolicking with silver unicorns in a lush meadow, and Parvati described herself being romanced by a charming prince, complete with a sprawling, medieval-type castle in the backdrop.

At this, Ron snorted derisively. "Does she think we live in a fairy-tale world?" he muttered softly to Harry. "Look at her - she's so excited, she probably thinks the Mirror tells the future. Charming prince - grand castle - ha!"

After Dean had described himself scoring the winning goal that clinched the European Cup championship title for West Ham United, it was Harry's turn to look into the Mirror. He took a deep breath and stepped up to it, already expecting to see his parents and his relatives welcoming him.

When he stood before the Mirror, however, he did a double take.

He saw his own startled reflection blinking back at him, but this time, he wasn't surrounded by his relatives. He didn't even see his parents.

He saw Ron.

A choked sound escaped Harry's lips as he stared disbelievingly at the image in the Mirror. His first impulse was to whirl around to look at Ron, who was watching him anxiously. It only dawned on him a second later that he was the only one who could see the Mirror's image. Harry felt a temporary sense of relief, and he turned his attention back to the Mirror as it started to play out his deepest fantasy.

He was there, with Ron, and they were walking toward each other. Ron had a sensual, lilting smile on his face, and Harry felt a flutter in his stomach when Ron's hand reached out to caress his cheek. When they were just inches apart, Ron fingers trailed down his jaw to hold Harry's face, and then Ron leaned forward and kissed him on his lips.

Harry gasped softly, staring at his image entwined with Ron's, their lips locked. He could feel himself blushing furiously, and vaguely heard Professor Trelawney's shrill voice echoing in the distance, asking "What do you see, dear? Behold, and describe what you see!"

Harry stood rooted to the ground, speechless, entranced by the surreal vision before his eyes. His hands were clenched into fists as he watched himself kissing Ron in the Mirror, and he could almost feel Ron's lingering sweetness on his own lips.

"Harry! Are you alright, my dear?" Professor Trelawney's voice was now more insistent. "What do you see? Not a symbol of death, I pray?" She sounded almost hopeful at this possibility.

"N-No." Harry stammered, still transfixed by the Mirror. He blurted out the first thing that came to his mind, other than what the Mirror really reflected. "I-I see myself - and my parents."

His revelation was met by oohs and aahs from his classmates, and Professor Trelawney excitedly cried, "Tell us more - details, child, details!"

Encouraged by the fact that they were successfully deceived by his fabrication, Harry continued, albeit distractedly.

"I see my mum and dad - and my relatives - all standing behind me," Harry described haltingly, and his eyes widened as he saw himself and Ron sink to the ground, still tangled in an embrace, still kissing passionately. Harry felt his knees weaken at the sight and sensed a persistent stirring in his groin, which immediately alarmed him.

"They're all waving to me," Harry finished feebly, trying desperately to drown his volatile urges. He tore his eyes away from the Mirror and numbly stepped backward, watching the reflection of him and Ron disappear. Harry withdrew, self-consciously gathering the front of his robes to hide his dangerous arousal in the folds of fabric, aware of everyone's eyes on him.

"Very well, then." Professor Trelawney sounded disappointed by Harry's abrupt retreat. She waved her hand casually, in a rather disinterested way. "Ronald Weasley, dear, your turn now."

Ron gave Harry a concerned glance as he took his turn next, stepping up to the Mirror.

Harry leaned against a table for support, watching his friend absently. He was still shocked beyond words by what the Mirror had shown him - Ron, his deepest, darkest desire? Was the Mirror malfunctioning, or was he going insane? Or was his obscure passion something he had actually known all along, but was just too afraid to acknowledge?

Harry saw that Ron was looking into the Mirror with an expression of utter surprise as well, but such animated responses were not uncommon with their other classmates either - Dean had bellowed 'IT'S A GOAL! IT'S A GOAL!' and Parvati had declared, 'Oh yes, my love! I do, I do!' Harry comforted himself that probably no one thought his reaction to be anything out of the ordinary.

Harry discerned an odd ripple of emotion cross Ron's face before his friend finally spoke up.

"I'm - I'm playing Quidditch, for England - and they're winning," Ron said, his voice quivering slightly. Ron was gripping the frame of the Mirror with both his hands, and Harry noticed that he was blushing profusely and the tip of his ears had gone pink.

Ron inhaled deeply and seemed to draw himself together to continue. "I'm playing Quidditch, for England," he repeated, his voice ringing rather hollow. " I'm the Seeker, and I-I'm catching the Snitch, England's beaten Bulgaria, 150 to...uh, 10."

Ron quickly backed away from before the Mirror, stepping over to stand next to Harry. He looked rather shaken, but Harry was too dazed himself to enquire about Ron. Professor Trelawney gave Ron a cursory nod as Neville stood up to take his turn.

Neville saw Snape being dismissed by Dumbledore because of his outrageous bullying of the Gryffindors, which sent the whole class into fits of laughter. On any other occasion, Harry would have roared with laughter along with the rest, but this time he only managed a half-hearted chuckle. His mind was hopelessly distracted, and the remainder of the lesson passed in a shifting blur - Harry wasn't paying attention to a word of what Professor Trelawney was saying.

All he could think about what he saw in the Mirror.

He was kissing Ron. Oh god. Was that what he really wanted, deep down inside, beneath all the layers of ignorance and denial? Did he really want Ron as so much more than just a friend? Thank goodness no one else could see what the Mirror reflected, or Ron would have a fit and Harry'd probably die of embarrassment.

Harry closed his eyes as confused thoughts swirled through his dazed mind. Since when had his feelings for Ron bloomed from friendship into desire - and love?

When the lesson finally ended, the class dispersed in a rather sombre mood. Before they were dismissed, Professor Trelawney had explained what the Mirror actually showed, and everyone was less than thrilled at having spilled their deepest secrets in front of the entire class. The chatter was subdued as the Gryffindors made their way back to the common room.

Ron too was unusually quiet as he and Harry walked side by side down the corridor. They both said nothing for a few moments, until Ron finally broke the silence.

"So - you saw your parents again, huh?" Ron's voice sounded strange, but it still held steady.

"Yeah," Harry replied, not meeting Ron's eyes as he answered. He forced a smile, hoping that it effectively masked his discomfort. "And you - Quidditch for England, eh? Not bad at all."

"That's something that'll more likely happen to you than me, Harry," Ron pointed out matter-of-factly. Harry offered another strained smile in response, and they both lapsed back into silence as they continued walking.

Ron eventually spoke up again, talking slowly. "If you only saw your parents, why did you look so shocked?" he asked thoughtfully, not looking at Harry. "You've seen them in the Mirror before, haven't you, back in the first year?"

Ron's question was valid and logical, and Harry stalled for a moment as he fished desperately for a believable reason.

"I just - well - pretended to be surprised," Harry lied, hoping that he sounded convincing. He carefully avoided Ron's gaze. "I mean, Trelawney doesn't know that I've seen the Mirror before. If I'd been too nonchalant about seeing my dead parents, she'd suspect something, wouldn't she?"

"I see." Ron cast him another contemplative look. "You just looked so startled, that's all - got me kind of worried. For a moment there, I thought that you saw something scary - You-Know-Who, maybe."

"Voldemort?" Harry repeated incredulously, and Ron flinched slightly at the mention of the name. "The Mirror shows your deepest desires, Ron, why on earth would I see Voldemort?"

Ron shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe something else, then."

Definitely something else, Harry thought to himself, shaking his head slightly. Someone else.

They both fell quiet again, the buzz of chattering along the corridors filling the otherwise awkward silence. A few times, Ron cleared his throat loudly, as if he was going to say something, but when Harry looked at him expectantly, he just shook his head and mumbled, "Nothing."

When they entered the Gryffindor common room, Harry was slightly disappointed that Hermione wasn't back from her Arithmancy class yet. He'd have welcomed her company to bridge the strange rift that was diverging between him and Ron. Harry's heart sank as a stray thought struck him hard - could Ron possibly have sensed what Harry had seen, and was now holding it against him?

They made their way up to their dormitory together, which was empty except for them because Dean and Seamus had gone to the Owlery and Neville had to see Professor McGonagall about his latest detention. He and Ron didn't engage in their usual hearty banter as they began unpacking their bags, and Harry could feel the tension mounting between them.

Harry was putting away his Divination books when Ron turned around and suddenly blurted out, "Okay, I lied."

Harry turned to look at Ron in surprise, his eyebrows raised, mildly questioning.

"I didn't see me playing Quidditch for England," Ron said quietly, dropping his gaze to the floor. "I saw you."

Harry blinked. "You saw me playing Quidditch for England?" He gazed at Ron, slightly confused.

"No," Ron's voice sounded choked with a mix of exasperation and embarrassment. "I saw you, Harry. And me." He drew a deep breath. "I saw us."

"You saw what?" Harry couldn't believe his ears, and he stared at Ron.

"I know!" Ron exploded. He looked genuinely distraught, and kept raking his hands through his red hair. "I know! I mean - I don't know, why I saw you and me together in the Mirror, and I don't know why I'm telling you this, I know you think I'm absolutely barking mad..."

"Ron..." Harry tried to interrupt.

"...and I don't understand why I saw what I saw, either, and I don't want you thinking that it means anything more than-"

"RON!" Harry repeated, much louder this time.

Ron abruptly stopped raving, and looked curiously at him. "What?"

"What did you see us doing?"

Ron's cheeks coloured crimson red to match his hair. "You don't want to know, honestly," he mumbled, bowing his head.

"Ron," Harry said meaningfully. "Look at me."

Ron refused to meet Harry's eye and continued to study the floor intently, the nervous twitching of his foot betraying his edgy state of mind.

Harry dumped his books on his bed and moved over to the other bed where Ron was sitting. He dropped to his knees and leaned closer, reaching out to hold Ron's face in both his hands. Harry looked deeply into Ron's startled eyes, seeing his undisguised pain and confusion.

"Was it something like this?" Harry asked softly, and he bent forward and tenderly kissed Ron, full on the lips.

Harry's mouth smothered a gasp of surprise from the other boy as he gently pressed against Ron's lips in a tentative, chaste kiss. Ron's lips were delicately soft, warm to the touch, and the kiss seemed to melt between them, sending a shiver of pleasure down Harry's spine. Harry closed his eyes, allowing himself to be immersed in the moment, to treasure the sensation as one of the best memories of his life.

When they finally broke apart, it was like stepping off a cloud of mist back onto the harsh ground of reality. Harry felt a flush burning against his face as he opened his eyes again. He glanced at Ron, who looked equally dazed. Harry took a deep breath and waited in anxious anticipation for the consequences of what he just did.

Ron was staring at him, gawking, a contortion of disbelief and realisation on his face.

"This was much better," Ron whispered breathlessly, his freckles standing out against the pinkish tinge on both his cheeks. He looked at Harry with wonderment in his eyes. "Harry..."

Harry smiled pensively and shifted closer to Ron, still on his knees.

"I saw you too," Harry confessed. "I saw us in the Mirror as well, and we were - well, you know, doing what we just did - but I was afraid you'd run screaming to Alaska if I told you the truth." Harry offered a wry grin.

"You think I wasn't afraid?" Ron countered, although the relieved smile on his face told a different story. "Jeez, I was deliberating on whether to tell you or not all the way through Divination until now. I almost decided against it altogether - I was scared to death that you might just freak out and -" Ron paused, then exhaled deeply. "But in the end, I knew that I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I let a chance like this slip away."

Ron's quiet words struck a chord, and Harry suddenly understood the true meaning of courage, the measure of a person's strength of character. He gazed at Ron with a new admiration in his eyes, fervently grateful for Ron's courage simply to believe his heart.

"Thank you," Harry whispered, his voice quavering with emotion as he allowed his finger to stroke down from Ron's cheekbone to chin. "Thank you for taking the chance."

"Thank you for giving me a chance," Ron answered softly. He took the initiative this time, reaching over and gently pulling Harry closer as their lips met once again, more passionately than the last instance. Harry moaned softly as Ron's tongue gently teased his own, feeling a jolt of arousal stab through him.

Ron pulled him onto the bed, and they fell backward in a tangle of limbs, still kissing feverishly. Ron graciously lay back as Harry straddled his waist, his body arched forward in perfect alignment with Ron's as they continued to kiss.

Without thinking, Harry reached for the collar of Ron's robes and started to tug it open, and in response he felt Ron's hands sliding under the back of his robes.

Suddenly, noisy footsteps faintly sounded from the foot of the Tower, and Harry bolted upright with a start. Ron jerked into a sitting position as well, looking wildly around. The footsteps gradually grew louder as they steadily made their way up the stone staircase.

"Dammit!" Harry hastily scrambled off the bed, landing heavily on the floor. Ron was hurriedly attempting to button up the top of his robes, where Harry had succeeded in tearing off a few loosely-sewn buttons in his enthusiasm.

Harry had just managed to stagger over to his own bed when the dormitory door swung open. Neville entered the room, looking rather gloomy, a slip of paper held in his hand. He noticed the flushed, guilty expressions on Harry and Ron's faces, and eyed them curiously.

"What's up?" Neville asked, looking from Harry to Ron and back again.

"Uh, nothing," Harry offered him a bright smile as Ron furtively tried to smooth out the rumpled sheets of his bed. "What makes you think that anything's up?"

Neville blinked, still not looking very convinced. "No, it's just that your hair is all tousled and Ron's robes are in a mess." He looked at Ron, who was trying to hold the collar of his robes together. "Did you two get into a fight or something?"

I wouldn't call that a fight, Harry thought, drowning the desire to laugh.

"No," Ron answered for him. Ron quickly gestured at the piece of paper in Neville's hand, changing the subject. "Another detention, Neville?" he asked, even managing to inject some sympathy into his voice.

"Yeah," Neville answered morosely, walking over to his own bed and rummaging through a drawer. "And McGonagall wants me to go down to her office now for extra Transfiguration tuition." He gave a sorrowful sigh, picked up his parchments and quill, and headed back out of the dorm. "Well, I guess I'll see you."

"Uh, yeah, bye," Harry called, trying not to sound too pleased.

"Oh yes, almost forgot." Neville turned. "Hermione asked me to check if you two were here. She said to meet her in the library."

"Right, thanks," Harry said. He waited for Neville to close the door before turning to Ron, a bashful smile on his face. "Uh, sorry about that, got us into quite a spot just now."

Ron's eyes were dancing with laughter as he shook his head, dismissing Harry's apology. He hopped off his bed and walked over to Harry's. "It's all right, danger is a powerful aphrodisiac. It's rather exciting when you know you can get caught any time."

Harry raised an eyebrow in genuine surprise. He never knew Ron had such a daring streak in him - but then again, he realised that he never really knew Ron the way he thought he had until a few moments ago.

"Exhibitionist, aren't you?" Harry grinned. "Well, in that case maybe we should go for it again during Potions, it doesn't get any more thrilling than that. Snape will have an apoplectic fit, and I'll give my Invisibility Cloak to see the expression on Malfoy's face."

Ron laughed, and leaned closer to Harry. "Nah, can't wait that long." He tilted Harry's face toward him and kissed him again. Harry gladly received his lips, allowing his hands to stroke through Ron's hair as he savoured the taste of the essence of his desire.

They both fell back onto the bed, neither of them willing to break the lip lock. Harry closed his eyes, relishing the softness of Ron's mouth against his, the delicate brush of Ron's tongue across his lips. He was content to lie here all afternoon if he had the choice - after all, how often do people get the object of their desire so soon after it was revealed in the Mirror?

He kissed Ron hard, his hands straying across Ron's body, feeling the defined cut of his torso, the smoothness of Ron's skin as Harry's fingers glided over his exposed calf. His fingers danced higher, under the hem of Ron's robes, trailing teasingly up his thigh, drawing a groan of appreciation from Ron. Encouraged, Harry began to unbutton Ron's robes from the bottom up.

"Harry..." Ron murmured against his lips, shifting slightly so that both of them lay fairly comfortably on the bed meant for one. "Harry, are you sure...?" His question trailed off, and Ron contradicted himself by pulling Harry's collar apart and sliding one sleeve of his robe off his shoulders.

Harry abruptly caught himself. He suddenly realised how fast things were moving, that they had been nothing more than just friends when they walked into the room twenty minutes ago, and now they were about to do something that would redefine their relationship forever.

"You're right," he said breathlessly, struggling upright. He suddenly felt quite awful about being carried away by his emotions, almost getting too caught up in the moment without asking Ron how he felt about the whole situation. He raised his gaze to meet Ron's, a sombre, contrite expression clouding his emerald green eyes.

Ron looked rather taken aback by Harry's sudden change of demeanour, and an expression of anxiety flitted across his face.

"I'm right, what?" Ron asked, still slightly bewildered.

"You're right, we're moving too fast." Harry felt himself blushing, but he forced himself to look at Ron.

"What?" Ron blinked. "I was just going to ask you if you're sure we shouldn't lock the door, in case Seamus and Dean come back."

"Oh." Harry felt himself go even redder, and he felt incredibly stupid. He wanted to take Ron in his arms and kiss him again like there was no tomorrow, but the moment was gone. They sat side by side on the bed rather awkwardly, and Harry felt like kicking himself.

"Still," Ron finally broke the silence and the tension before it could freeze over. "That was the best kiss I've had in a long time."

"Yeah, but it could've been so much more." Harry said glumly, still silently cursing himself.

"Well," Ron shrugged, "I'll take what I can get." He broke into an impish grin. "Never thought a Divination lesson could be so fruitful, eh? Bless ol' Trelawney for bringing that Mirror to class, and for being the goofy old bat she is and getting duped by both of us."

"I knew you were lying about the Quidditch for England," Harry said, the shadow of a smile playing on his lips as he smoothed back Ron's flaming red hair with his hand.

"Oh yeah?" Ron challenged, his eyes twinkling, as he drew himself up into a sitting position.

"Yeah." Harry offered Ron a superior grin. "You know how? You said at first that England was winning, but later you said they finished the game with 150 points, after you caught the Snitch. Doesn't add up, does it? If they were winning, they must have scored something before the Snitch was caught, and the final tally should've be more than 150 points."

Ron rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine," he conceded. "You're becoming like Hermione - really, trust you to be so logical and mathematical after you'd just seen us kissing in the Mirror." He leaned forward and planted another kiss on Harry's parted lips. "After I saw us making out, I could barely remember the rules of Quidditch, and that's saying something."

They smiled wordlessly at each other for a moment, enjoying the moment, not wanting to think about what was to happen next. Finally, Harry's smile faded and he sobered slightly.

"What're we going to do now?" he asked seriously, gazing deep into Ron's eyes, finding measureless comfort in the peacefulness he saw in them.

"Well, what do you want to do?" Ron answered calmly. He ran his fingers down the outline of Harry's jaw, allowing them to caress his flushed lips, while his other hand lay innocently on Harry's hip.

Harry drew a deep breath and closed his eyes. Ron's silky touches weren't helping him to clear his mind and think straight. What did he want to do? Frankly, all he wanted to do now was to push Ron back down onto his bed and spend the rest of the afternoon making love to him.

Inexplicably, Ron seemed to know what he was thinking.

"Now isn't a good time, Harry," he said slowly, watching Harry's reaction.

Harry ventured a feeble smile. "I thought you liked the thrill of being caught?"

Ron shook his head. "I want the first time to be special. It's not very romantic if Neville decides to waltz in again when we're - in a more compromising position." Ron chortled. "Although his reaction would be extremely amusing."

"Look, Ron, I'm sorry about just now," Harry said, somewhat forlornly. "I didn't mean to blow it."

"Don't worry, " Ron smiled. "We'll find some time alone. Trust me, it'll be worth the wait."

* * * * * * *

It was unbelievable how infuriatingly hard it was for Ron and Harry to find some time alone, considering that they were constantly in each other's company. If they weren't at class, Hermione was by their side, and when they went up to their dormitory, one of the other boys would be there.

"This is ruddy impossible," moaned Ron in frustration one day, after they'd just managed to stumble apart when Dean suddenly walked in on them. Fortunately, they had only been kissing and their clothes were still intact, and Dean was too absorbed in the latest issue of Soccer Weekly to notice them.

Harry was equally exasperated. He was never very good at waiting, especially not for something like this, and he wanted Ron more badly with each passing day. Harry settled for a stolen kiss here and there, but in truth he yearned for so much more than that.

"Let's sneak out tonight," Harry finally told Ron as they filed back to Gryffindor Tower after dinner one night. Hermione was talking to Neville about his Potions assignment, and couldn't hear them. "We could find an empty classroom or something."

Ron shook his head. "It's too risky, Filch has taken to doing random checks on the disused classrooms for students on a midnight rendezvous. Last week, he caught a couple of Ravenclaws in the store room on the fourth level. And besides, I prefer to do it on a bed instead of the hard cold floor."

Harry sighed as he secretly wondered since when Ron had become so fussy. He wasn't too keen on doing it on the floor either, but he was getting quite desperate as time wore on and continued to deny them any opportunity for some privacy.

"How about after your Quidditch practice?" Ron suggested. "I could go out and meet you."

Harry shook his head. "Not a good idea, we always finish practice pretty late and I'll be all hot and sweaty and tired. Besides, the whole team normally walks back together, I don't think you want your brothers to suspect anything going on between us."

"I'm not embarrassed about it," Ron said quickly, almost defensively.

"I didn't say you were. I just don't think you'd like them teasing you about me all the time."

"Fair enough," Ron agreed. "So, what are we going to do?"

Harry thought hard about possible options, but it was difficult with so many requirements - a place that was completely undisturbed and had a bed, a time that left them to themselves without any interference from Filch or their friends. On top of that, it had to be arranged without raising too much suspicion, especially from Hermione, who was starting to notice their peculiar behaviour.

"What is UP with you two?" snapped Hermione later that night, looking up from her Transfiguration homework. Harry was doodling circles on the blank parchment which was supposed to be filled with his Astronomy essay, and Ron was absently perusing their timetable, which wasn't anything odd except that he'd been staring at it for the past twenty minutes.

"What's the matter with you?" Hermione repeated, looking sternly at them both. "There's tons of homework to be done, Ron, and you're sitting there idling away. And Harry, don't tell me that's a diagram of a planetary belt, because it looks more like chicken scratch to me."

"No, it's Neptune's moons," Harry retorted irritably. Of course, he'd just been randomly scrawling while he pondered where on earth he could find a place to spend some time alone with Ron. "Oh, cut us some slack, Hermione, we're not as crazy about homework as you are."

Before Hermione could open her mouth to respond, Neville came scuttling up to their table for some help with his Potions assignment. He automatically approached Hermione, who readily agreed to give him a hand, and she cast Harry and Ron a pointed look which said 'See, here's someone who really appreciates my help' before strutting off to Neville's table.

Ron was still looking distractedly at his timetable when Hermione left. Suddenly he sat upright and turned to Harry. "There's Divination tomorrow."

"Hmm?" Harry glanced at Ron. "Yeah, I know, I haven't finished my star chart yet either."

"Don't bother. Let's skip the class."

Harry's head snapped toward Ron. "What?"

Ron looked excitedly at him. "It's the perfect time for us to be alone! Why didn't I think of it earlier? Look, Hermione will be at her Arithmancy class, and the rest of the Gryffindors will be with Trelawney. We'll have the dormitory all to ourselves, no disturbances at all."

Harry thought about it for a moment. "Okay," he finally said, although rather doubtfully. "But she's bound to give us detention once she finds out that we cut her class with no valid reason."

"Who cares?" Ron raised his eyes heavenward, then looked impatiently at Harry. "Ergh, you're sounding more and more like Hermione. So, let's do it?" He grinned, "excuse the pun."

Harry smiled. Ron's enthusiasm was infectious, and he was delighted as well at finally having a chance to be with Ron. Ron was right - frankly, who cared if Trelawney gave them detention, or even docked a few points from Gryffindor? The latter was highly unlikely since it had never been Professor Trelawney's style to give or take points - she'd once said that 'mere points are a dismal indication of the inner strength and hidden talent borne by each of the Houses!'

"All right," Harry surreptitiously slid his hand over Ron's thigh, his movement obscured by the table top. "It's too good a chance to miss." He let his hand slip between Ron's legs to emphasise his point.

"Harry!" Ron yelped, his body writhing, although he made no attempt to move away. "Not here," he implored, but with no conviction in his voice as he yielded to the careless strokes of Harry's slender fingers, all the while trying to keep a straight face.

Harry leaned closer, his chin resting on Ron's shoulder, his hand still on Ron's lap.

"Let's go upstairs now," Harry whispered sensually, allowing his tongue to flicker against Ron's ear. "Everyone's here in the common room, we'll be by ourselves in the dorm."

"I thought we've planned it for tomorrow?" Ron frowned slightly, sounding puzzled and cautious. "Harry, now's not good, anyone can come up at any time."

"We are doing it tomorrow. I just feel like kissing you now, that's all."

The sudden noisy scrape of chairs made Hermione and Neville turned their heads toward the direction of the sound. Harry and Ron had abruptly risen to their feet and were hastily gathering their scrolls and books. They appeared to be in a hurry, and drew a few quizzical stares from the other Gryffindors in the common room as well.

"Where are you two going?" Hermione demanded crossly, looking sceptically at the unmarked scrolls on the table. "Don't tell me you've finished all your homework, because if it's true I'll eat Crookshanks."

"If you have to, eat Pig instead, he drives me nuts with his squeaky twittering," Ron muttered, only half-listening as he closed his bottle of ink and kept his quill. "But don't worry, Hermione, you're still miles ahead of us in the homework department."

"Where are you going?" Hermione persisted, still looking suspiciously at them.

Ron gave her a patronising look. "We're going upstairs," he said innocently, with a shrug of his shoulders. "You know, the dorm? Where we sleep every night? Harry can't concentrate here, and he wants to plot his planets in some peace and quiet."

"Oh." Hermione seemed satisfied that their departure was prompted by something related to studies. "All right then, good night."

Harry shot Ron a secret smile, laughter in his eyes. They both knew how uptight Hermione was about homework and studies, and the looming exams were making her even more neurotic. It irritated the hell out of her to see them loafing around, and she was constantly on their backs about getting down to revision way ahead of time.

"G'night, Hermione, Neville," Harry called as Ron joined him at the foot of the stairs. He took Ron's hand the moment they disappeared from public sight, leading him up the winding staircase that brought them to their dormitory in Gryffindor Tower.

Harry's lips were on Ron's the moment they entered the dorm, and he nudged Ron up against the closed door. They kissed deeply, and Harry wondered if the sturdy oak door could withhold the sound of their muffled groans and feverish words. That was probably the last coherent thought in Harry's mind as he lost himself in the kiss, drunk on the taste of Ron's soft lips, enjoying a prelude to what was yet to come.

* * * * * * *

The next morning, Harry and Ron spent most of breakfast exchanging furtive glances across the table. Ron almost burst out laughing when Harry offered Neville his half-completed star chart when the other frazzled boy moaned that he had completely forgotten about his Divination homework owing to his agony over the dreaded Potions assignment.

"You don't need your star chart, Harry?" Neville asked, his eyes wide with disbelief at his stroke of good luck.

Harry grinned, although his smile was directed more at Ron than Neville.

"No, it's just my first draft, but it should be able to tide you over the lesson. You can easily tell her you'll finish it after class." Neville's eyes shone with gratitude and he looked as if he could kiss Harry, and it was a good thing he didn't because that definitely would've drawn a violent reaction from Ron sitting across the table.

The first lesson for the morning was History Of Magic, which was dry as a bone and about as interesting as tending a Flobberworm. But for once, Harry welcomed the prospect of a boring lesson, as it afforded him some time to think without too many other distractions. Even with Ron sitting so close next to him, it was hard to get turned on while listening to Professor Binns droning endlessly about cranky old wizards who lived eons ago.

As the end of the class drew nearer, Harry started to get rather nervous. Suddenly, it seemed like such a vast step to take - his first time, their first time, yes there was always a first time for everything, but Harry wished they didn't all have to come at once. He fervently hoped that Ron knew what to do, because he had only the vaguest idea from a few cable TV shows Dudley had sneaked down to watch when Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia weren't home.

Another thought arrested him. Never mind how he thought it'd turn out, how if it was nothing like Ron expected it to be? It was altogether different if it happened on the spur of a moment - there'd be no anticipation, no standards to live up to. Now that it had been planned beforehand, how if he couldn't match up to Ron's expectations?

Harry stole a sidelong glance at Ron, and found him looking down at his History Of Magic text, his brow furrowed ostensibly in concentration. Ron looked completely calm and composed, as if they were simply going back to the dorm to sort mushrooms for their next Herbology lesson after this. A few moments later, Ron looked up and saw Harry staring at him, and offered him a coy, knowing smile.

Harry feebly smiled back, and sighed when Ron turned away again. Why was Ron so relaxed and unruffled about the whole thing? Harry's nerves were fraying more as the time drew closer, a mix of eagerness and nervousness brewing within him. Well, Harry thought, he'd just have to chalk it up to first-time jitters.

When the lesson finally ended, Ron leaned over and whispered in Harry's ear, "We'll follow them halfway to the Divination classroom, then loop back to the dorm. Less suspicious that way."

Harry nodded mutely, suddenly finding his throat too tight for words. He and Ron walked back to their dormitory with the other Gryffindors, and dutifully gathered their Divination things like everyone else. Neville scurried over to claim the star chart Harry had promised during breakfast, and Ron winked at Harry as he picked up his Divination books.

They left Gryffindor Tower together with the rest of the class. En route to the Divination classroom, Ron suddenly slapped his forehead and stopped short.

"Oh no, I forgot my zodiac chart!" he announced loudly, and a few of their classmates turned to look at him. "I'd better go back and get it." Ron shot Harry a meaningful look when he didn't seem to cotton on.

Harry blinked. "Oh! I'll, uh, accompany you, then," he mumbled. The rest of the class didn't seem to think much of it and simply nodded as they parted ways.

They both said nothing as they hurriedly retraced their steps back to Gryffindor Tower. Near the top of the winding stairs leading to the dormitory, Harry abruptly seized Ron and kissed him hard on the lips, as if in a desperate measure for some reassurance. Ron sportingly allowed their progress up the stairs to be halted as he responded to Harry's ravishing.

"Mmm... Harry," Ron managed in between kisses, as he ran his fingers through Harry's tousled dark hair, "Maybe we should... mmmph... continue this on the... other side of the door."

Harry reluctantly pulled away. "All right."

They completed their ascent up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. Ron took Harry's hand and pulled in into the dormitory, closing the door behind them.

"Maybe we should lock the door this time, just in case," Ron suggested.

"Good idea," Harry agreed. He turned and pointed his wand at the doorknob.

"Arceostium," Harry commanded, and there was a dull metallic clang as bolts fastened on the door.

Now that they were on the locked side of the door, Harry seemed to freeze up. He suddenly felt very pressurised, now that they were both alone. He'd fantasised so much about this moment, heck, lived it out so many times over in his dreams, but now that he was here in the flesh, Harry couldn't believe that he didn't know what to do next.

Ron noticed his change of manner, and was watching him with a concerned expression on his face. "Harry, are you all right?"

"Ron..." Harry began, not even knowing what to say.

"Having second thoughts?" Ron asked quietly.

"No," Harry replied, too quickly. "It's just that..." He struggled to give form to his thoughts. "It's just that I haven't much - experience - when it comes to this sort of thing." He felt himself blushing profusely.

Ron smiled kindly, and seemed to understand. He stepped closer, backing Harry up against the closed door, much like they had done the night before, only now their positions were reversed. He said nothing for a moment, and simply leaned forward and kissed Harry lightly on the nose.

"Relax, all right?" Ron whispered softly. "It's not supposed to be a contest to see who knows more moves - if it was, I'm lousy competition anyway." He smiled. "You're just supposed to close your eyes and let yourself go, and do whatever your body tells you."

Harry returned a grateful grin, feeling the tension in his body dissipate as Ron's soothing words dissolved his fears. As always, Ron made everything feel all right, and the last vestige of apprehension melted away as Harry pulled Ron closer.

"Like this?" He slid his arms around Ron's neck and kissed him full on the lips.

"Mmm-hmm," Ron murmured, closing his eyes as their lips met, passion burning as their tongues touched and duelled.

Kissing Ron was always so intoxicating, and Harry moaned softly as he felt the hot velvet of Ron's tongue outline the ridge of his teeth. They stumbled backwards in an ungainly manner until the edge of Harry's bed nudged against the back of Ron's knees, and they both collapsed onto the mattress, still kissing madly.

After what seemed like forever, Harry finally tore his lips away and straddled Ron, his legs clasped on either side of Ron's waist.

"I want you so bad, Ron," Harry breathed, allowing his lips to brush lightly against Ron's, feeling a shiver of pleasure run through Ron's body beneath his, eliciting a moan laden with desire. "I've waited so long for this."

Ron looked up at him through half-lidded eyes, filled with such depth of emotion as Harry had never seen before.

"Believe me, Harry, I've waited longer than you can imagine." He offered a wry smile. "Since we've both waited so long, another few moments wouldn't make a difference."

Ron deftly wriggled out from under Harry and went over to his own bed. He knelt in front of a drawer and rummaged hastily through it, coming up with a small tube which he tossed over to Harry.

Harry caught it and looked at the label. " 'Lovett's Lusty Lubricant'," he read, and pulled a face. "Sheesh, Ron, how tacky is that?"

"Don't complain, what matters is that it serves our purpose." Ron made his way back to the bed as Harry continued to read the instructions printed on the tube.

"Where'd you get this?" Harry asked as Ron slid onto the bed next to him, slipping an arm around his waist.

"At Hogsmeade," Ron replied, with a mischievous grin. "There's this hidden shop, The Adult Arcade, that not many students know about. I overheard Fred and George snickering about it and I snuck over there one day to check it out and, well, pick up a thing or two."

"My, Ron," Harry said teasingly. "You sure are pretty well-equipped."

Ron blushed. "You know, just in case."

"Just in case?" Harry couldn't hold back a bemused chuckle. He held up the tube and inspected it - the safety seal appeared still intact. "Hasn't come in useful yet, has it?"

"Not until now," Ron replied, arching his eyebrow in a silent challenge. "So, are you going to make it useful or not?"

And that was exactly what Harry did.

Harry spent the next glorious hour discovering unbelievable new pleasures he had never experienced before, and the small tube of lubricant was a recurrent feature in their explorations. Time blurred into a forgettable dimension as Harry surrendered himself completely to Ron's artful ministrations, his body flooded with wave upon wave of the most exquisite pleasure he had never thought possible.

When he entered Ron, Harry thought that was the supreme ecstasy, as it rushed through his veins and plunged him in a cesspool of spiralling emotions, as he poured himself out inside Ron, a profession of everything he felt for Ron.

But when Ron took him, it was a different kind of sensation altogether - for a change, it was a feeling of submitting to someone, of being protected, of being made love to. Ron's manner was slow and gentle, the comforting whisper of his voice constantly in Harry's ear, making sure he was all right, asking if it felt good. And did it feel good, as testified by the low, keening cry which tore itself from Harry's lips as Ron came deep inside him, filling him with warmth and touching a secret part of his soul.

Harry closed his eyes, feeling the retreating shades of orgasm throb through him and gradually subside. Ron slumped back onto the bed next to him, his body glazed with an invisible layer of sweat, his breathing shallow and wheezing.

"Harry..." Ron gasped, staring up at the ceiling, completely exhausted. 'That was..." He shook his head as words failed him. "Oh my god."

And 'oh my god' pretty much said it all.

* * * * * * *

"Hey, Harry!"

Harry turned to find Seamus and Dean climbing through the portrait hole and hurrying up to him. They were in the Gryffindor common room after lunch preparing for their next class, Care Of Magical Creatures.

"What happened to you and Ron during Divination? You went back to get your chart, and never turned up." Seamus curiously eyed Harry, as well as Ron who was sitting beside him. "Trelawney wants you to go and see her, I think she's gonna give you detention if you don't have a half-decent reason for skipping her class. Where were you?"

"Well -" Harry started, casting a furtive glance at Ron.

"You cut Divination?" Hermione interrupted, leaning over. Harry wondered if she'd start lecturing them, but instead all she said was, "I don't blame you, that subject is a whole lot of rubbish in my opinion. You really should have taken Arithmancy or Muggle Studies, those subjects -"

"I'm sure Harry's got enough of Muggles during half of every summer vacation," Ron put in, rolling his eyes.

"Definitely," Harry agreed fervently, wondering if he could ask permission to go directly to The Burrow with Ron during the coming summer break.

Hermione glanced at her watch. "Next lesson's about to start, let's go," she announced, and began tidying up her numerous scrolls and books.

"Erk, I wonder what beast Hagrid's got in store for us this time," Ron grumbled, getting to his feet. "We're starting a new topic today and I overheard him mumbling something about Ten-Legged Tropical Striped Spiders." Ron shuddered, and Harry consolingly squeezed his hand under the table.

"Need us to bring the smelling salts?" Seamus piped up, chuckling.

"Oh, shut up," Ron snapped, although his face turned another shade of grey as he thought of the spiders again.

The common room was steadily emptying as students filed off for their various classes. Ron was deliberately packing his bag very slowly, and he muttered out of the corner of his mouth, "Stick around for a bit, I want to tell you something."

Harry hung back and waited for Ron, who stayed at his spot until the last student had left the common room before he moved over to Harry, and surprised him with a firm kiss on his lips.

"Thinking of skipping Care Of Magical Creatures as well?" Harry asked lightly, when Ron finally pulled away. "I'm better company than ten-legged spiders, I'm sure."

Ron shook his head. "Hagrid'll notice we're gone." He cocked his head to one side, a lopsided grin on his face. "But see, it wasn't as difficult as you thought, was it?"

"I never thought it was difficult," Harry protested. "Just - complicated."

"Oh, don't worry, you're a natural," Ron said, and Harry felt himself blush at the amiable compliment. "We just need to get some more lube for the next time, that's all."

Harry raised an eyebrow. The next time? An irrepressible smile broke on his face at the mere memory of how exhilarating the first time was. Harry felt immensely comforted by Ron's words, which extinguished a lingering fear inside him that Ron only wanted it to be a one-shot deal, something he had wanted to ask but had been apprehensive about doing so.

Ron gave him a look. "What? You've got a tipsy grin on your face."

"Nothing." Harry gave Ron a would-be innocent smile. "I was just thinking about what you said... about, you know, the next time."

"What do you mean?" An odd, wary expression flickered briefly across Ron's face.

Ron took a small step backwards, giving Harry an appraising sort of look. Harry noticed a glint of anxiety flare and die in Ron's eyes, mirroring the same hesitance he had felt just a few moments ago, the dread that one time was all that would be given them. The tacit fear that the next words would be, 'Look, it was great, but I don't think we should...'

"It's not what you think," Harry rushed to assure him, and Ron's tight expression relaxed slightly. "What, do you think I'm a masochist? Get a taste of something like that and then deprive myself of it?"

"Oh." A smile of relief softened Ron's features, although he instinctively hurried to deny, "I didn't think you were going to say that!" But the gleam of happiness in his eyes ran contrary to his words.

Before Harry could say anything, the shrill ring of the bell startled them, alerting them that the next block of lessons had begun and they were late for Care Of Magical Creatures.

"Okay," Harry said quickly, glancing at his watch. "As I was saying, about the next time. What are we going to do? We can't cut any more Divination class, and other than that it's going to be a mammoth task finding some time to ourselves without Hermione getting suspicious or thinking that we're avoiding her."

"Don't worry, we'll figure something out." Ron leaned in, so close that the tips of their noses touched, and Harry's worries instantly faded to black as he gazed deep into Ron's clear eyes. "We'll find a way - if nothing comes up, we'll just do it in Potions and give ol' Snape a heart attack."

"And we'd better hope he doesn't survive it, 'cause if he lives, we're dead," Harry quipped, reaching out and drawing Ron toward him. Ron readily slid closer, and slipped his arms around Harry's shoulders.

Harry smiled, closing his eyes as he felt the feathery touch of Ron's lips on his own. Suddenly, it didn't matter where they went, when they did it, or even who saw them together. It didn't matter how often he had to cut classes, or how many detentions he had to attend.

Just for Ron, there'd always be a way.

* * * * * * *

-- Epilogue --

"Well, at least this is better than cleaning out the trophy room with Filch," Ron pointed out reasonably, as they walked down the corridor toward the Divination classroom.

"I guess so," Harry reluctantly agreed, remembering with a shudder the insufferable detention class when he had to spend the whole night helping Gilderoy Lockhart reply fan mail. "But Trelawney's classroom always makes me feel dizzy, her incense smoke clouds my head."

A night spent tidying up Professor Trelawney's classroom was their punishment for cutting Divination, although Harry had hoped that it could've been something else like weeding Hagrid's pumpkin patch or helping to clear the mess at the library, where Peeves had overturned several shelves for sport to see what Muggles would call the domino effect. (Hermione had been so annoyed that her usual studying corner had been wrecked that she voluntarily assisted with the restoration work so that she could go back to studying in peace.)

When they reached the North Tower, the silvery rope-ladder tumbled down in front of them and Harry went up first, followed by Ron. As he stepped into the room, Harry was overwhelmed by the familiar redolence of magical potpourri, charmed to smell of every spice and perfume there was, which combined to produce a rather unsavoury odour.

"Ergh, she must have refreshed the Fragrance spell," Harry choked, coughing. "It's worse than ever."

"Oh, let's just hurry and clear this place up so that we can get the hell out of here as soon as possible," Ron said, glancing around impatiently. But his eyes immediately lit up as they fell on an object in the corner of the classroom. "Hey Harry, look! It's the Mirror Of Erised!"

Harry's head snapped in the direction Ron was pointing, and true enough, there it was. He quickly put down a small porcelain ornament he was examining and hurried over to the Mirror, which still looked majestic and splendid even amidst its drab, mismatched surroundings.

Ron followed him over, looking over the Mirror with keen interest. He trailed a finger along the intricately designed frame, marvelling at the fine craftsmanship. The tarnished copper enhanced the mystical aura of the Mirror, giving it a rustic, antique feel.

On the other hand, Harry was more interested in the depths within the Mirror than the Mirror itself, and he peered into the clear glassy surface with eager anticipation. He'd never quite agreed with Dumbledore about the dangers of the Mirror - Harry felt that sometimes, if you saw your deepest desire before your eyes, it helped you overcome the greatest hurdle of your own denial, and gave you the belief to make your dreams become reality.

Harry looked intently into the Mirror, watching the swirling, indistinct images slowly come into focus. He greatly wondered what he would see this time, now that he already had Ron exactly the way he wanted him.

Ron finished scrutinising the frame of the Mirror and came to stand behind Harry. He slid his arms around Harry's waist, resting his chin on Harry's shoulder.

"What do you see, Harry?" Ron asked, somewhat coyly. He allowed his tongue to dart out and lightly lick Harry's left earlobe, laughing softly as he felt a shiver of pleasure tingle through Harry's body, which was pressed enticingly against his own.

Harry blinked, trying to concentrate on the Mirror, which was becoming increasingly difficult with Ron nibbling on his ear in that same delicious way he always did. Ron's chest felt comfortably warm against his back, and Harry subconsciously arched his spine toward the heat of Ron's body.

The misty haze in the Mirror cleared considerably, and Harry stared back at himself, a hesitant smile on his face. In the Mirror, he saw Ron standing directly behind him, his arms around Harry's torso, his head propped on Harry's shoulder, an expectant grin spread across his features.

It took a moment before Harry realised something strange. He frowned. Wait a minute...

"Well?" Ron pressed, giving Harry a gentle nudge in the ribs. "What do you see?"

The intoxicating aroma of Professor Trelawney's scents and Ron's body so close to him was definitely causing Harry's mind to function in slow-motion. Harry looked distractedly at the Mirror, and his reflection stared back at him with what some might call an intelligent frown. On the surface (literally), everything seemed exactly as they should be, but Harry's innate senses told him otherwise. He had expected to see Ron in the Mirror, like he had the last time, but there was something different...

"Well, I see you," Harry began slowly, still thinking hard, watching Ron nuzzling against his collar in the reflection, feeling Ron's lips hot against his throat. "And you - you have your arms around my waist and you're kissing my neck, just like the way you're doing now..."

Suddenly, realisation struck Harry like a bolt out of the blue.

"It's acting like an ordinary mirror!" he exclaimed loudly, startling Ron. He took a step backwards in his excitement, accidentally treading hard on Ron's foot.

"Yeow!" Ron leapt away, clutching his foot as he stumbled to keep his balance. "What's the matter with you? What're you talking about?"

Harry was still staring at the Mirror, riveted. He saw Ron behind him, hopping on the spot, massaging his injured toe. He saw himself, looking back into the Mirror, his mouth slack, pure astonishment written all over his face. It was true - the Mirror was doing nothing more than simply reflecting whatever stood before it.

At the back of Harry's mind, Dumbledore's words came echoing back to him: 'The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?'

And finally, Harry understood.

"What's going on?" Ron's anxious voice interrupted Harry's thoughtful reverie. Ron had sufficiently recovered from having his foot stomped on, and was eyeing Harry in a measured sort of way. "What did you see this time?"

"Nothing," Harry said, meaning every nuance of the word. "Absolutely nothing."

Ron gave him an incredulous, disbelieving look. "Nothing?! How can that be? The Mirror is supposed to show your deepest desire, right?"

"Precisely." Harry moved closer to Ron, and slid his arms around his neck. "I already have you, and there's nothing else I want more."

The look of sheer happiness on Ron's face was priceless. The next thing Harry knew, he was being smothered by a hot, feverish kiss as they both sank to the floor, Ron's shoulder narrowly missing a set of china teacups placed precariously on a nearby tabletop. Harry ended up flat on his back on the cool tiled floor, with Ron leaning over him, kissing him with fierce vigour.

After what felt like an eternity, Ron finally pulled back. Harry gazed up at him breathlessly.

"Hell with Trelawney, let's get out of here," Ron whispered huskily, recklessness in his voice. "We'll find an empty classroom, hopefully Filch won't venture up to the North Tower."

"I thought you didn't want to do it without a bed."

"Well, I want you more than I want a bed."

Ron pulled Harry to his feet urgently, not even bothering to straighten his own robes, which were bunched up in certain places where Harry had attempted to pry them loose. Harry got up, his legs rather wobbly, and allowed himself to be led away by Ron.

As they passed the Mirror again on the way to the trapdoor, Harry drew to a halt and looked into it once more.

He saw Ron, his robes in disarray, holding his hand, tugging impatiently. He saw himself, a lopsided grin on his face, his cheeks flushed with a rosy hue. And, shimmering in between the distinct images of him and Ron, Harry saw the reflection of his cherished wishes, fulfilled hopes and dreams come true.