Author: Mad Maudlin
Email: mekamorph Category: Adventure, romance, sports drama
Keywords: Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, slash, Quidditch, Cannons, Damn Yankees, musical
Spoilers: Through OotP
Summary: All's well that ends well—at least, for some people.
Disclaimer:This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
In other words, they're not mine; talk to the nice Scottish lady.
Act Two, Scene Five:Found Again"...first time in over a century. Coach Edwin Coulter has been quoted as saying the win is 'miraculous' and that his was 'one hundred per cent confidant in this team from the very start.' A victory parade has been planned down Diagon Alley late next week to honor these lovable losers turned underdog champions.
"Meanwhile, the mysterious disappearance of star Seeker Ronald Hardy continues to baffle all investigators. After making the winning catch in today's heart-stopping match, Hardy flew into the stadium and has not been seen since. Cannons owner Ludovic Bagman refused to speculate on the embattled American's disappearing act just over twenty-four hours after he was cleared of doping accusations by the Ministry, but witnesses say that Hardy appeared ill as he flew off the pitch and was possibly bleeding from his scalp. His locker at the stadium and his hotel room in London were both found empty, and there was no sign of foul play at either location. The WWN will bring you further details as this story develops.
"In related news, a brawl broke out in the stands after the Cannons' astonishing win, and more than a dozen spectators were sent to St. Mungo's as a result. Healers there describe the injuries as mild and for the most part very silly, though there were reports of a few fans more seriously harmed. One wizard, a suspected Tornados sympathizer, was thrown onto the pitch by an angry mob and—"
Harry switched off the wireless set and sank back onto the couch, shutting his eyes. He'd gone to the match to support the Cannons and watched from the first goal to the moment Hardy flew off the pitch. He'd listened to commentary on the wireless the rest of the afternoon, but the announcers kept repeating themselves over and over. The Cannons won. Hardy was gone. And Harry had the unbecoming urge to crawl under the covers and hide.
It wasn't like he hadn't enjoyed the match, because he had, and he was happy that the Cannons had won the Cup. But that happiness was bittersweet, tempered by the knowledge that the person he knew who would've been the happiest—the person who should've been next to him at the match, enjoying it with him—wasn't around. And Hardy's disappearance somehow made everything worse. Harry had liked the Seeker, and he'd hoped that, once he'd gotten his own feelings straightened out, they might've been able to maintain some sort of friend. Somehow things hadn't seemed as bleak while Hardy was flatting with him, even if the American had been a poor substitute for the Ron he was really missing. Besides, he'd never explained what he meant the day he'd gone running out of the Muggle café.
But no one in wizarding England had seen a hair on Hardy's head since the end of the match, and somehow that only compounded the loneliness squeezing around Harry's chest.
He pulled the afghan Mrs. Weasley had given them as a flat-warming gift around his shoulders and stretched out on the couch. Maybe—just maybe—Hermione wasn't wrong about this one. Maybe he ought to move on, move out, let Ron come back on his own time when he was good and ready. Whenever that would be. It had been nearly six months since he'd gotten that last letter, six months of waiting and empty silence. Any other wizard would've given up long ago. Maybe Harry was being unreasonable, holding vigil here when he could be staying somewhere larger, safer, nicer...
But some small part of him held out hope—rather foolish, at this point, perhaps—that any minute, his old friend would could walking in the door like he'd never been gone, with a smile and an amusing explanation. He promised, he told himself for the umpteenth time. He promised me...
He thought he must've dozed off for a while; it certainly couldn't have been more than a few minutes, though the flat was mostly dark when he started awake. He listened carefully, and the sound that had awakened him repeated; the front door rattled and thumped, and someone on the other side swore just loud enough to be audible. As Harry groped for his wand, though, he heard the notoriously temperamental lock grind open, and the light from the hall sketched a long, thin silhouette on the floor as the door opened.
"Harry?" someone called.
The voice was familiar, achingly so. Harry's heart leapt into his throat. For a split second he was almost scared to turn the lights on, in case this was all just a really peculiar dream, and movement would wake him; but then the door shut and the shadowy figure stepped into the front room, and he had to see for himself. "Lumos," he called, and he was so nervous every light in the room—probably every light on the floor—switched on at once.
And the man who stood blinking not five feet away was real.
Harry stared frozen for a minute, but then Ron rubbed his eyes clear and spotted him. The grin on his face lit up the room in an entirely different way. "Harry," he said again, and Harry thought that if he could just hear Ron say his name like that all the time he could someday die a happy man.
"You're back," was the first thing that popped out of his mouth, and his instantly cursed himself as a total idiot.
Ron spread his arms, shrugging, a little shame-faced. "I'm back. For real."
Harry lunged forward and hugged him, tight and without a shred of self-conscious reserve. Ron thumped him on the back once and returned the embrace, nearly squeezing the air from Harry's lungs. "You stupid git," Harry growled, "you incredibly stupid git."
"How mad are you?" Ron asked warily.
Harry pulled back and looked up at him, at the face he'd missed so badly. "Not at all, really," he said, and stepped away, suddenly embarrassed. Ron's face was rather pink itself, and he cleared his throat briskly as they sat down on the couch. "Ron, where—?"
Ron raised one hand, and Harry fell silent. "Not yet," he said. "Don't ask me that yet. Just—I'll explain later. But I don't really want to think about it right now."
Harry immediately checked his friend over top to bottom, but he looked healthy and whole, though his clothes didn't fit him quite right. "All right," he said slowly. "Not yet."
They stared at each other for a moment.
"The Cannons won the League Cup."
"I know." Ron paused for a bit, cleared his throat. "I...I missed you."
Harry's heart did a funny little two-step, and he couldn't help but smile. "Missed you too, mate." Ron smiled back, and they just sat there for what felt like forever, grinning at each other like a couple of idiots. Harry wondered, in the back of his mind, whether he had the balls to do what he'd been imagining himself doing on this day for the past couple of weeks—but then Ron's eyes focused on something over his shoulder, and his smile melted into an expression of sick horror. Harry turned around to look; there was nothing there but the window, rattling in the wind, and the dark alley beyond it. "Ron? You okay?"
For a moment, Ron was frozen and silent, but then he nodded his head without shifting his gaze. "Yeah," he said hoarsely. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Ron looked at him, with an intensity that made Harry's breathing hitch. "Harry," he said, sounding a little desperate, "there's something I've been wanting to do for a very long time. Would you...I mean...can I...?"
"Yeah?" Harry asked, not daring to let himself hope.
Ron swallowed hard, then put one hand on Harry's shoulder and kissed him. It was clumsy and sloppy and glorious. I have to be dreaming, Harry thought, there was no way—surely Ron didn't—but there was a tongue in his mouth, which obviously meant Ron did, and Harry decided that even if he was dreaming he might as well enjoy it while it lasted. He took a double handful of red hair and returned the kiss, hard, with all the emotion he'd bottled up since he got the letter, all the feeling he'd forced himself to admit to after the fiasco at the Hardy banquet three weeks ago. Ron groaned a little bit and pulled Harry close, as close as they could get, until they were practically sitting in one another's laps. It wasn't nearly close enough.
And for some damn reason, Harry thought of the time Hardy had kissed him in the cloakroom at the banquet. Except this was somehow more, somehow better, because it was Ron; Harry's best mate, the one he knew best, the one he'd practically grown up with. This kiss was the most intense thing Harry had ever felt, and he kicked himself for not trying all this sooner.
Ron broke off for air, gasping, and Harry dove for his friend's throat, licking his pulse point before biting down hard enough to leave a mark. Ron jumped, and tugged on the back of Harry's shirt. "Harry. Harry."
"Mmmm?" He left off exploring the curve of Ron's jaw and looked up, setting his glasses back arights as he did.
"Do you hear anything?"
Harry blinked. Ron was staring out the window again, but there still wasn't anything out there, unless he counted the rickety old fire escape. "Just the wind," he said, turning about around.
Ron was grinning, broader than ever, if that was possible. "Exactly," he said. "Just the wind." Harry wanted to ask him what was going on, but then Ron kissed him again, and he forgot the question entirely.
As a matter of fact, he forgot quite a few things, at least for the rest of the evening.
Malfoy paused on the fire escape, one flight below Potter's flat. He ached in places he hadn't even known existed; at least the sons of bitches who'd thrown him from the stands had gotten their just deserts. Even if he'd been too unconscious to appreciate them. Dragging his battered carcass up the last set of creaky metal stairs, he vowed to lay off the surface work for a while after this. Strictly non-corporeal manifestations for him. He'd never realized what a hassle a body was until he'd had a chance to go without one.
Just for a moment, he let his grip relax on the flesh, let this body with all its injuries fade from the world a little. That was better. He still hurt like a son of a bitch, but it wasn't so much a hindrance. And he was still real enough to do what needed to be done—get Weasley back under contract. Satisfied, he made it up the last few steps and turned to the glowing window near the edge. Potter's window.
Draco peered in, pressing both hands against the pane to keep his balance. Yes, there he was, the treacherous ginger son of a bitch. Weasley was sitting on the sofa with Potter, and they were making googly eyes at each other. Disgusting. But Draco could still get him back, oh, yes—just a little buzz on the fiendish frequencies, just a little bait in the trap. He could still pull something out of this fiasco, even if it was just one soul. He had to. He was not setting foot in the shit pit.
He tugged on the window, trying to open it. It was locked. Bless him. "Weasley!" he shouted, pounding on the glass. "Weasley, let me in!"
The Weasel looked up—yes, good boy—and got a look of horror on his face that bordered on the comical. Draco growled and pounded harder. "Come on, Ron," he tried. "Let's talk about this. I'm not unreasonable, I'm willing to negotiate here...compromise...you stupid bastard, open this window!"
Potter glanced around, but of course the virtuous little prat didn't see him; Draco didn't care about him. He was there for the Weasel. "I'll change you back," Draco said feverishly, pressing his nose to the glass. "I won't sign you with the Tornados. You want Potter? I'll let you have Potter...I'll let you have all the speccy little midgets you want...Weasley, please, don't make me beg here..."
"A bit late for that."
Draco whirled around, but the light he faced nearly blinded him; it was a more than physical glow, and took a moment for his eyes to adjust. When he could see again and recognized the figure perched on the fire escape stairs, he snarled. "Parkinson."
"Very good, Malfoy, very good," she said dryly, fluffing her hair.
Draco's eyes narrowed. It was Pansy but it wasn't; same voice, said beautiful hair, but the lush figure had become slightly chunky, and her severe white suit didn't show it off well. And her face was different, more like she'd looked when she was alive, right down to that horrible nose...
"Let me introduce myself, by the way," she said smoothly. "Pansy Parkinson, Messenger-in-training."
Draco sucked in a breath and backed away. "You traitor," he hissed.
She shrugged. "If you like to think of it that way."
"You switched sides."
She stood up and smoothed her jacket. "What can I say? It turns out there's more important things in the world than my precious ego. Not that I'd expect you to understand that..."
The bitch. The bitch! "You ruined me!" he shouted. "Do you understand that? I'm ruined!"
"I knew that," she said coolly, "but it's no fault of mine."
Draco clenched his teeth until they ached. "Parkinson, when I get my hands on you—"
"You can't do a thing."
His snarl would've put quite a Doberman pinscher to shame.
She smiled sweetly and peeked in the window. "So you didn't even get one soul out of the bargain? They're not going to like that Below."
"They're going to like it fine Below, because I'm going to get Weasley back!" Draco bellowed. How dare this virtuous little bint, this two-faced, conniving angel question his damnation skills. "And you can tell your new friends Above, too!"
"Do you really want me to?" she asked softly, and Draco swallowed hard. "I didn't think so."
"I'm a bit busy, Parkinson," he snarled, "so if you're done gloating, I have a temptation to see to."
"Go ahead, if you really think you can," she said, and took a few steps up the fire escape. "You know, Malfoy, there's still hope for you."
"I know," he growled, "that's the whole reason I'm here." He pointed sharply at Weasley through the glass, and yelped when he jammed his finger.
Pansy sighed. Was that pity in her eyes? Was she pitying him? Nobody pitied a Malfoy. "Enjoy the shit pit, Draco," she said. "You know the way out if you want it."
He sneered at her as she climbed the escape. Shit pit indeed. He wasn't going to end up in the shit pit. He couldn't. He pressed his face against the window again and kept knocking. "Weasley, please, I'm begging you...Weasley? Oh, Hell...Weasley! Stop that at once! Potter, you bastard, let go of him, he's mine! Weasley...Weasley, listen...get your tongue out of his mouth and listen to me! Hey! WEASLEY!"