Disclaimer:

I own neither Harry Potter nor any other character or creation of J. K. Rowling. Give her credit for the characters. Give me credit for the plot.

Notes:

This is my first attempt at a slash fic, and my second attempt at any kind of fan fiction ever. Constructive criticism is welcomed and flames discouraged. I hope you enjoy the tale.

Forget about me? I wouldn't blame you. Please know, readers, that although I've not updated in months, I absolutely have not forgotten about you all, or this story. It is my full intent to continue this story immediately, and I ask that you bear with me. I've had a bit of a rough semester, but I anticipate my next semester being easier, and therefore giving me more time to write. All I can ask is that you stick with me, and thank you for your continuing faithfullness.

Please note that I do not have a beta, so all mistakes are my own.

To my readers, my favorite people in the world, thank you thank you thank you.




Chapter 9



Grumpy, frustrated—that didn't even begin to describe it as Ron downed one more glass of champagne. Only one, though, he thought. It was getting way too simple to drink his entire vacation away, alone. He tried not to think what that implied about the rest of his life. "Alone and drunk with the bloody dragons," he said through clenched teeth. He didn't notice his hand tightening on the empty glass flute until it shattered in his grasp. Surprised, he watched as the blood seeped through his clenched fist numbly. It dripped onto the hardwood floor. He jarred when finally a drop of blood slashed up from the forming puddle to mark the Potter settee.

"Jesus, what the hell am I doing?" he asked aloud, and left the room swiftly to find a sink to wash his wound. In the bathroom, he ran the cold water for a few moments, and then placed his hand under the stream, and only then did he unclench his fist. His wounds weren't too deep, but they were deep enough—they surely wouldn't disappear with a healing charm before tomorrow. He shook his head, staring at his hand. The flesh beneath his rough skin was visible and pink. He sighed and glanced at the mirror, then froze, catching his own reflection.

The dark circles under his eyes were evident in the Potter powder-room lighting, more so than they'd ever been. His hair was unkempt. He was dismayed at his reflection. He reached up to touch the glass incredulously, but drew back sharply when crimson streaked from his hand across the surface, cutting his reflection in half. Eyes wide, realization finally set in. "What the hell am I doing?" he breathed again. This was madness. How ridiculous did he look, living the past two days trying to get into the trousers of one of his oldest enemies? Yes, Draco was a good guy, and yes, they could probably be good friends, but still! This is Draco Malfoy, who made his childhood miserable, who made him ashamed of his past, who…

Ron's thoughts trailed off as he dwelled. Trying to get into the trousers of one of his oldest enemies? Where the hell had that come from? He'd not thought of Draco for, hell, years. At least not since their tirades of Hogwarts. No, that was a lie…Draco popped into his head randomly, but not so much as this, as to be assaulting his lips and grabbing Draco into his lap at every chance! And when had he become so forward? This urge inside, it was nothing like the alcohol-rushed affairs he'd had back in Romania. Although alcohol was commonly involved here, he definitely wasn't drunk before. It was a conscious decision to tempt him in for another go. But damned if he could understand why. He was missing something here.

He'd not felt so agitated in such a long time, he mused. So alive. Not really in all of his time studying with Hagrid, not in his time in Romania. The dragons made him happy, but there was something missing. Was it Draco? Draco who made him feel alive again? Hell, Ron was a gift to magical creatures and wizards alike, and although he came from a poor wizarding family, or was now a Romanian hermit—something just wasn't right. He'd never realized it before, because no matter what he'd been doing, it never seemed as important as Draco seemed—as Draco was—right then and there.

Ron blinked and realized he'd been staring at his disheveled reflection for a while. A blush crept up as he recalled how he'd earned the appearance. His pursuit, he reflected, however misunderstood, had been rather persistent. He glanced down again, and noticed his wound had stopped bleeding, so he wrapped it up, cleaned the mirror, and headed back to his room.

Once inside, he leaned against the door and sighed. For a moment he paused, and then he slowly opened his eyes and moved away, casting his eyes accusingly at the wooden frame. The position just felt too familiar. He retreated to the bed, casting off his shirt. His mind was still working. So I want Draco Malfoy, he thought, and not because he's attractive…well, really attractive…fuck it, he's delicious…but because he makes me feel things that I don't feel with anyone else. Right? That seems substantial enough for a relationship, doesn't it? Its more than just sex…whether we're fighting, glaring, conversing, or kissing, there's an energy there, and he's got to bloody well feel it, too. Right? So what was so bad about the pursuit? But how can it be more than sex? We've never even had sex yet! There was still something bothering him, and he couldn't quite figure it out. He yawned, stretched, and decided that it wasn't worth thinking about tonight. He pulled his socks and pants off and slipped into bed in his boxers. "I'll figure it out tomorrow," he promised himself as he dimmed the light.

*******************


Ron entered the pub, pulling his jacket closer around him. Inside, a rough fire was roaring in the center of the room. Ron felt its warmth as he passed by, heading for the bar. He grabbed a stool and sat down, rubbing his hands together, glancing up. He found himself looking directly into the gray mists of the blond bartender's eyes. The bartender smiled and winked as if he knew what was on Ron's mind. Ron looked down, bashful, feeling the contrast of his wind burned face beginning to flush. His attention, however, was stolen by a rogue voice from the door.

"Ron! Ron, my boy!" Charlie called, walked over, and grabbed the next wooden stool at the bar. He clapped Ron on the back, a brotherly show of affection and support. "How's the new young dragon that you herded from town last night?" To the bartender, he motioned, "A pint, good lad." He watched as the blond bartender moved to tend to his order, and said, "Sodding fool, that bartender."

Ron opened his mouth to answer Charlie's surprisingly caustic comments, but he froze as his eye caught something on Charlie's sleeve. There was a black spider, round and bulbous with hairy legs. His mouth hung open as he felt an immediate stab of the old fear he'd harbored back at Hogwarts for the creatures. How foolish, he thought, I've worked with the creatures since then without problem. I should just brush it away. Try as he may, though, he was unable to lift his hand to lift the creature from his brother's inner arm, or was he able to tell Charlie of the spider's occupancy. Charlie moved on, not waiting for his brother's answer, jumping from topic to topic. Ron could not halt his growing anxiety as the spider crawled around. He wondered in the back of his mind how Charlie couldn't sense his distraction. Words rushed by, but the only thing that remained in Ron's conscious was the spider.

"Oh, and did you hear about Draco Malfoy?"

The spider was forgotten. Ron's head jerked up, and he looked his brother straight in the eye, and asked, "What about Draco Malfoy?"

Charlie scoffed. "Seems like the ferret finally some scum that could stand him for over an hour. Haven't you looked at the Prophet lately? It's all over the front page—Draco Malfoy finds his mate." He moved his hands from left to right as he said the words, punctuating them with a burst of fingers. Ron stared at him, eyes wide. Charlie scoffed, and took a large gulp of his pint, tipping back his head. As he finished the drink, he wiped his mouth and eyed Ron warily. "What? What's stolen your tongue, eh?"

Finds his mate. No, that couldn't be. Ron opened his mouth to speak, but something grabbed his attention again. The spider had jumped, and he looked down at Charlie's sleeve to find that it had grown larger and seemingly more intimidating. He stammered.

"About bloody time the bugger quits taking up the news, that's what I say," Charlie continued, ignoring Ron's distraction. "The man's bad blood, and the least I hear of him, the better. They say he's with a lad, too. A bloody fag, to boot."

Ron's eyes jerked back up to his brother's face again. What? he thought, Charlie's never been so bigoted before...hell, Charlie's slept with more men than anyone I know! And then the spider jumped again, and began crawling up Charlie's bicep, up the flannel material, and it grew and grew. Ron began to sweat. He tried to move his arms to shoo the creature, but he just wouldn't budge.

"The bugger's a menace to society!" Charlie barked, his eyes bulging. He began to breathe heavily, and with every breath, he grew taller, larger. The spider, about the size of Ron's fist, crawled onto Charlie's shoulder as Charlie seethed. Ron looked around as people began shouting and running, and suddenly, Ron was running too, out of the pub, out of the clearing, but he couldn't escape. Once he was out of the pub, he ran, but was caught by a large dragon, larger than any species he'd ever seen, and it roared and blew fire and brimstone, and Ron knew—he just knew—the dragon was Charlie.

"He's wrong! A freak! He should be killed!" Charlie roared, and Ron could see that Charlie had the blond bartender in his grasps, was crushing the poor kid, and the spider was crawling around his feet.

"Ron, help me!" The bartender called weakly before his mouth was smothered by force of the dragon.

Ron sprang into action. He cast a spell that he'd never heard before, but it sounded something like acceptance, and the dragon went down, crying terribly, cursing Draco and Ron. The spider squealed and shrunk with the defeated dragon until it was smaller than a thumb. Ron sighed as the dragon lay on the ground, and watched as the bartender ran up to him and threw his arms around him, kissing him heatedly. Surprised, Ron drew back only to find Draco's smiling eyes in front of him.

"Anywhere, Ron, where ever you go. I'll follow you anywhere," Draco whispered into the air, and then resumed the kiss. Ron heard his name over and over on Draco's lips, and he smiled as he drew back and opened his eyes.

"Well, Sleeping Beauty. Sweet dreams?" The same voice drawled as Ron smiled into gray eyes. Ron was about to reach up for another kiss when he paused for a moment...dreams?

Draco wasn't moving, and it was then Ron realized that Draco was poised above him, and further more, that he was lying down—and then it dawned on him—he'd been dreaming!

"Ah!" Ron shrieked, and Draco jerked back. Ron jumped upright and scrambled back against his bed board, eyes showing his shock.

"Ron! What is it? What's wrong?" Draco asked, worried.

"You! Wha...hey! You! How, er, what are you doing in here?"

Draco frowned. "We're going to watch the Cannons today, so I thought I'd...uh, wake you." He paused, and Ron's eyebrow rose as he sensed that Draco was a bit unsure of his actions. "I didn't know you were going to freak out like that."

Oh. Ron digested the information with a sigh. "I don't usually freak out like that. I just had a—," and Ron shivered as the details of the dream undulated into his conscious.

"A what? A nightmare?"

"Um,...kinda. It was more a pretty blatant manifestation of my subconscious...," Ron thought aloud," so, yeah...I'm pretty fucked up."

Draco laughed. "Well, at least you've got your diagnosis, Sigmund. I can live with that. However," he said as he stood and bowed dramatically, "I cannot live with you leaving the house—with me—in those pajamas." He paused for a moment, then continued with a smirk, "Unless leaving the house isn't in your plans. Either works with me, but in both situation, you will be loosing your flannel pants."

Ron chuckled to hide his blush. "And see, I like these pants, too. I thought they looked good on me."

Draco widened his eyes and laughed. "Hell no, even I'm not taking that bait." Draco grabbed the comforter and yanked, uncovering Ron clad only in those lucky pajama bottoms. He crossed his arms as he surveyed and said, "Are you sure you want to see the Cannon's today? I mean, I own the damn team, and, hell, I could parade them past you in tutus tomorrow afternoon..."

Ron was off the bed and heading for the shower. He brushed a kiss across Draco's lips and laughed. "Somehow, I don't think Harry would be up to that idea." Before entering the shower, he said, "Anticipation makes it all the sweeter, Draco."

Growl. "Get in the damn shower before I hex and jump your ass."

*******************


The day was beautiful, and why shouldn't it be? Draco had practically ordered it so, and he'd be damned if something foolish like the weather was going to fuck up his perfect day with Ron. Yes, perfect, and so what if Ron could tell on the ride over that he was on edge? Today had to go successfully, and that's all there was to it, because now that Draco had found Ron, he wasn't ever letting go. Crazy, forever thoughts, though—he should keep them to himself, at least until after the first week.

The first week. Draco couldn't help grinning at that—barely contained the dance of glee. Finally, after a world of negativity telling him it would never happen, he was sitting next to Ron Weasley, running his fingers along the hem of Ron's jeans, waiting to introduce Ron into his world, eager to offer Ron a permanent position there. If Draco knew for a fact that this wasn't just a whim, that Ron wouldn't rethink this in days or weeks, then hell, they'd elope tonight. It was hard enough keeping his hands to himself. His restraint was the final proof, though. If it was anything less than love, Draco would have domineered the entire meeting from the first instant. No, he was taking it slow, or at least trying to take it slow. He just wanted to be sure that Ron wanted this, too. Damn it, Draco thought as he glanced at Ron, who was staring out the vehicle window at the passing sights. This car ride is far too long, or we're far too silent, he mused, because I'm thinking far too much. Draco continued to mindlessly run his fingers along the hem of Ron's denims, and smiled to see the blush creeping over the other man's face. He ran his fingers further up Ron's thigh, still seemingly innocent, until he gave a harsh tug to the belt loop on Ron's hip. Startled, Ron jerked away from the window towards Draco. Draco swooped in for a quick kiss.

Ron chuckled, still blushing. "What was that for?"

"My own peace of mind," Draco replied. "This ride is taking far too long." Ron's expression changed, and Draco was both amused and aroused at the fully-grown, pouting red-head. He laughed and said, "Ron, don't pout—it's dangerous."

"I'm not pouting! I haven't seen downtown London in years…" Ron exclaimed, crossing his arms, his lower lip conspicuously protruding. "And why is pouting dangerous?"

Draco shook his head. Someday, the man will learn, he thought as he caught Ron's lower lip between his teeth, teasing with his tongue. Who was he to complain, so long as Ron never stopped kissing like that? "Being in the car with you this long makes me want to show you something other than the sights," he gasped against Ron's lips.

Ron burst out laughing. "When did you become so fond of puns?"

Draco feigned hurt. "They're not puns. They're innuendo. Double entendres. There's a difference."

"There is? What's that?"

Draco smirked. "Destination."

Ron couldn't hide the grin as he admonished Draco. "You know what, Draco? You really need laid."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Well yeah. Duh."

The vehicle rolled to a stop, and Ron glanced out the window. "Where are we heading?"

"The practice pitch for the Cannons."

Ron looked confused. "I thought you guys practiced in Devon."

"Well, usually we do, but Harry and I decided to have a go with the team at Harry's London pitch. It's in that building, there." Draco pointed to a worn-looking building down the road from where the vehicle had parked. "It looks small, but it's actually quite adequate—for an indoor, that is. Nothing beats an outdoor pitch, you know, but as far as indoor facilities go, Harry's running the best."

"The pitch is just Harry's?"

Draco chuckled. "Well, as far as everyone else knows. Come on, let's go."

They approached the black phone booth near the alley between two dark buildings. Draco punched in a series of numbers, saying them aloud. "9-3, 7-4-2-5-5, 2-6-6-7-8-3-7."

A disembodied voice said, "Welcome to the Chudley Quiddich Facility. Please state your name and business."

"My name and business?" Draco snorted. "It's Draco Malfoy and…guest." He winked at Ron. "Now let me in my own damn building."

"Oh!" the voice said, startled, "Mr. Malfoy, I apologize! Its just that—well, you usually apparate, and—"

"And I'm still outside the building," Draco said sarcastically.

"Right away, Mr. Malfoy," the voice said, sharp and nervous.

The booth lowered and the men were taken into the lobby of the facility. Ron looked around in awe at the interior of the building. There were many more people than he expected. "Wow," he said, "I didn't know it was public."

"Well, it wouldn't be fair to have a perfectly good pitch in the middle of London and not allow other wizards to use it, would it? Think of it like a Muggle ice skating rink, only much bigger."

"A what?"

Draco laughed. "I'm not sure either. It was Harry's comparison, just like this place was originally Harry's idea. On a different note, would you like to go to my private box to watch practice? The pitch should be clearing out in minutes. Many of the people here will stay to watch the team's official practice. It should be pretty successful today." Draco grabbed Ron by the arm and led him towards the private stairwell that led to his box.

"Draco Malfoy!" A female voice called out shrilly.

Draco paused, then groaned.

"What?" Ron asked.

"Already?," Draco replied, more to himself than to Ron. He turned around and found himself faced with shrewd, sixty-something looking woman. "Rita Skeeter," he said in a saccharine-sweet tone of voice, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Rita Skeeter?" Ron blurted, his eyes bugging. "Wow, you got—" He stopped himself before he said, 'old,' and said instead, "uh, new glasses!"

Rita turned to eye the tall red-haired man. "Do I know you, sir?" She thought, and said, "You do look awfully familiar…have I ever written an expose? Of your love-life or something?"

"Rita," Draco interrupted, "let me introduce you to Ron Weasley."

"Ron Weasley?" Rita squealed. "The Ron Weasley? The Dragon Tamer?"

"There's no such thing as a 'dragon tamer.'"

"Of course not," Rita said to appease him. "How do you do, Mr. Weasley! Please, let me call you Ron—so, Ron, what are you doing out of Romania? Romania! Yes, I knew I've seen you before! I wrote a piece on your talents back when you were graduating! It was a good piece, if I do say so myself, although it was shadowed by the war and all, and I was just getting back on my feet again—"

"Rita," Draco said, the tone of his voice harsh, "if you wouldn't mind, practice is about to begin, and we're heading to watch." Draco's hand found Ron's arm again.

Rita watched the action with her eyes, then gasped slowly. "You! You two are a couple, aren't you?" Headlines ran across her eyesight, then she hurried on to speak, "Draco! And all this time, I've been dying to pin you with a young debutante! You clever boy!" She reached her wrinkly hand over to pinch Draco's cheek. Draco pushed her arm away, annoyed. Ron grew red with embarrassment. "Well, let me leave you two to, well…you know! You tame that dragon, Ron!" She squealed again, and then rushed away, her hands already digging in her crocodile purse for parchment and her faithful Quick Quotes Quill.

"Damn it," Draco said, and then he looked at Ron. Ron's eyes were wide with bewilderment. Damn it! Draco thought, she's going to scare him away! I just hope he doesn't have any qualms with his name next to mine in the society pages. "Come on, let's go. The damage is done now."

Ron blinked. Damage? Why was Rita Skeeter seeing him with Draco damaging? Unless it had something to do with the person Draco wanted—especially if it wasn't him. The thought struck Ron, and he began to get nervous. If Draco wants someone else, then what the hell am I doing here?, he thought, but followed Draco up to his box.

They reached the door to the private box. Decorating the door was a silver serpent. His eyes were brilliant with green gem stones. It hissed as Draco murmured the incantation to open the door, and then they were admitted into the room. Ron's doubts were put on hold at the beauty of the room. The floors were a dark wood, there was a fully stocked bar, a roaring fireplace, and a comfortable looking emerald set of furniture. It was like a comfortable lounge.

"How do you watch Quiddich in this room?" Ron asked.

"Watch," Draco instructed, and found his wand. Another incantation, and the walls of the room disappeared, giving both occupants a full view of the entire pitch area.

"Woah," Ron said and approached the missing wall. "Are they still there, or just invisible?"

"See for yourself."

Ron extended his hand forward cautiously only to have it meet some invisible barrier. He laughed. "Wow, who developed that?"

Draco chuckled. "I guess you could say it's a spell I've been working on developing for a few years. So, do you want anything to drink? Sit down, the practice is starting."

Ron moved towards a comfortable chair by the fire. "I'll just have some water, thank you."

"Water?" Draco wrinkled his nose. "I don't think I have water...here, have some champagne."

"Of course," Ron sighed, "Champagne."

"What's wrong with champagne?"

"You're just not hiding your plan very well."

"My plan?" Draco said as he raised his glass to his lips.

"To get me drunk and seduce me later tonight."

Draco paused, his drink halfway to his mouth. He looked at Ron pointedly. "Believe me, when I seduce you later tonight, it won't matter if you're drunk."

Ron snorted. "Really? What makes you so sure?"

"What, that I'll succeed?"

"No, that you'll be the one doing the seducing."

Eyes met for a moment, clashing fire with fire. Ron grinned impishly. Practice is going to be far too long, Draco thought. "Fine, I'll keep your champagne, then."

"No, hand it over. I'm thirsty. Oh look, here comes the team." Ron pointed, growing excited as they pushed off the ground for some flight exercises.

Draco brought Ron's glass over from across the room and sat on the couch nearby. He handed the glass to Ron, his fingers brushing against Ron's, the skin he met rough, calloused. Waiting for those big hands on his skin again...yes, for once, practice was going to be far too long.



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