Harry Potter and the World That Went Bloody Insane…In a Good Way.
HR FQF Callenge # 57: The boys move in together. It's platonic. Really.

"I know something you don't know" is, apparently, the essence of Harry Potter's love life. Harry's certain that the world has been reading one too many romance novels, but then, Harry's always been a bit oblivious.

February 26, 2005

It is, perhaps, the ugliest place I've ever seen. In fact, it rather makes me want to cry. It's a tiny two-bedroom, with a living room and single bathroom. I can walk across the kitchen/dining room in three steps.

I have to hit the faucets to make them turn on. The muggle electricity is practically non-existent (unless you like muggle disco on acid). There's a funny smell in one of the bedrooms. I'm afraid to look in the hall closet. I can hear things skittering around in there. Ugh.

But it's mine. Well, mine and Ron's anyways. No one else's.

It may be a piece of shit, but it's our piece of shit.


Hermione looked around with her nose wrinkled and a clear look of disgust on her face. Harry couldn't help but agree with her. He sighed and scrubbed his hand through his hair and looked longingly at the box he was relatively certain contained his coffee maker. Damn Snape for getting him addicted to it anyways.

"Well," Hermione began delicately, "it's, uh…"

If she was trying to find a word in her considerable vocabulary that could define this place in a good light, she was going to be standing there for a while. Harry snorted and tossed the box in his hands into the pile growing in the cramped confines of his new living room.

He winced half-heartedly as he heard a crash and cast a quiet repairo before Hermione could give him a scolding. Not that it would have mattered; she was too busy being morbidly entranced by the desolate state of her best friends' new abode.

"Disgusting, vile, miniscule, dilapidated, laughable, grotesque, diminutive, grimy, unappealing, dingy, pathetic: feel free to pick and choose, they're all accurate descriptions," Harry filled in for her helpfully. Well, he thought, nice to know those Dictionary Detentions had some use.

She faced his self-deprecating grin with a look of utmost incredulity. "What in Merlin's name were you thinking?"

Sighing, Harry replied, "Well, Ron and I decided to split the rent fifty-fifty. This is what we could afford. At least," he tried, "it's in a great location! It's close to the children's shelter and there are some magnificent Chinese restaurants around here."

"Harry," Hermione said, "You hate Chinese food."

"Yeah, well," he shrugged, "Ron likes it anyway. And it is close to the shelter, I can walk there within a quarter of an hour if I want to."

Hermione shook her head in tragically fond exasperation. She just couldn't conceive that after everything Harry'd gone through he could still look at the glass as half full. It was an optimism that had astounded and charmed many as well as it had also driven Severus Snape, his field partner in the later part of the war, up the metaphorical wall.

It was an ingrained trait of his. That, and an unconscious selflessness.

"You know you could have your own flat. Honestly, you could have bought yourself a house if you'd wanted to and still not have had to work a day in your life. You could still volunteer full-time at the children's shelter and live comfortably, rather than live in this…this dump."

"Yeah?" Harry snapped, tired from moving and longing for caffeine and wishing Ron was here to help him deal with all this shit. "And what about Ron? He'd still be living in a dump like this, even if I were living in the lap of luxury. In fact, it'd probably be worse than this!"

"Well that's his own fault!" Harry blinked at her furious vehemence. "I love Ron like a brother; you know I do! But damn it, it's his own stubborn pride that's keeping the two of you in this squalor! Honestly!"

Surprised at her outburst and unable to deny the truth, both of them took a moment to calm and collect themselves, Hermione patting down her hair and Harry silently counting the boxes arrayed in his living room. Seven, and yet there's barely any spare room left. They're not even big boxes. Lucky that even between the two of us, we barely have anything worth keeping, just two or three more boxes and we'll be all moved in.

"Ron's the best analyzer and tactician they have, Hermione," Harry said quietly. "You know that. Soon, he'll get a promotion and be in a far more prominent position. The Ministry is still trying to get itself back together after the war. Just give it a little time.

"We won't live here forever Hermione," he added dryly.

Hermione licked her lips and gazed at him speculatively. A gleam appeared in her almond colored eyes and Harry swallowed a sudden bout of nervousness. It was a Slytherin look, something she had probably picked up from Millicent at some time or another, later on when houses were inconsequential things and schoolboy prejudice could get you killed.

It was a sly look that meant she suspected something and wanted answers, and was determined to get them. Half the time, you didn't even know you were giving her the answers she wanted.

"You know," she murmured, still staring intently at him. "I really don't understand why the two of you are even living together. I mean, you're twenty-five, there's certainly no reason that the two of you couldn't support yourselves on your own."

Harry shifted on his feet, not quite sure why that thought disquieted him so much. He took a guess. "Yes, well we could. But, you know, with the war right out of school and everything, we never really had a chance to do things like we would if things were, er, normal, for us. We just, you know, didn't want to miss out on anything, uh, you know?"

"You just said "you know" three times and used terminology like "er" and "uh". I thought you grew out of that awkwardness."

"Er, well, yes," Harry blushed. He had stopped; at least, he thought he had. It was only matters of the heart – a difficult topic for him – that caused him to stumble and stammer like that.

Hermione raised her eyebrows, a look in her eyes that Harry was sure meant that she could look inside his mind, Occlumency or no Occlumency, and read what he had just thought: Yes, you only lose control of your tongue on matters of the heart, and what have you to say to that, hm?

Airily, Hermione changed the topic. "Yes, well, if you say so Harry. In any case, I'm meeting Neville at that little coffee shop just on the other side of Padma's new bookstore in Wayward Alley. You know, where that old menagerie used to be? It still smells faintly of animals on rainy days."

She nudged a toe at a wall and eyed the white paint that flaked onto her brown loafers critically. "I'll just give them your regards, shall I?"

"Yes, yes," Harry said, already digging through boxes. He knew he had coffee in there somewhere! "Tell them I hope they're well and that drinks are on me this Friday."

Hermione brightened and straightened her coat. "Excellent. I'll see you at nine in that case! Oh!" She pulled a small wrapped item from her pocket and handed it to him, eyes twinkling wickedly. "Minerva sent this with me as a house warming gift." She pecked him on the cheek and apparated back to Hogsmeade.

"Thanks, Hermione," Harry murmured distractedly to the empty space and slipped the package into his jeans before once again diving into the boxes. He sniffed the air and tried to find the coffee maker by scent alone.

Unfortunately, all he could smell was the wet, dismal odor of his new apartment.

February 27, 2005

I took the smelly room.

I think I'm going to die. I think the smell is really going to coalesce into a sentient being in the middle of the night and eat me.

Either that, or my nose may revolt and kill me so that it doesn't have to breathe in this stink anymore.

Harry Potter, Defeater of Dark Wizards, done in by his own sodding nose.


It was the same appalled, faintly horrified expression, but this time, it was on the face of Neville Longbottom. Harry sighed and huffed a slightly greasy lock of his hair out of his eyes. Great, not only did the git get me addicted to this stuff, but now my hair's trying to imitate him. Ugh. He took a long gulp of his coffee and set the mug in the sink, not bothering to wash it out.

He was saving the water up for his first shower in three days. His kids were beginning to look at him funny. He probably smelled. No, he knew he smelled. They were just too nice to say anything outright. Must be why Annette had hung that air freshener on his office door. Subtle, that girl.

Sighing mournfully, Harry swept a hand out, encompassing the entire apartment in the brief, short gesture. "Welcome to our home, I'm afraid that Ron is out buying dinner at the moment, so I will be your host for the evening. Unfortunately, it's standing room only unless you care to pull up a box; feel free to run out the door screaming. No one will blame you."

It truly was a pity that they didn't have enough room to transfigure some furniture. And Harry wasn't about to risk transfiguring a box full of different things. They would just have to do without simply luxury for a day or two more.

Neville gave a nervous laugh, eyeing a dark corner. Harry understood: he was pretty sure that there was something growing there, too.

"That's, uh, that's all right Harry, Hermione warned me – I mean, uh, it's no big deal." He perked up with a smile and held his hands out. A strange, mottled purple plant sprung forth from a sturdy blue ceramic pot. "In fact, here's your flat-warming gift! Hermione told me to buy a plant that would do well in, um," he trailed off, "well, it wasn't very nice anyway. But, I'm sure it'll fit right in!"

Harry smiled at his long-time friend and took the plant from him. "What's it do?"

"Huh?" Neville startled and blinked back to Harry. He had been trying to discover where exactly that atrocious smell was coming from. It smelled, well, awful.

Harry smiled ruefully and placed the plant on the stove before taking Neville's arm and leading him off into a hallway, skirting a closet door with ominous scuttling sounds coming from behind it. Reaching the end of the hallway, Harry hesitated a moment before mentally gathering his courage and wrenching open the old door. The smell hit Neville in a fierce, vomit-inducing blast, and he doubled over for a minute coughing, peering through his watering eyes into the small, cramped, empty quarters.

"There's mold in the walls and floors. As well as something else that we're not quite sure of the name. It moves. Until we can find a spell to get rid of it, we're trying to keep the smell just inside here. It's a little too strong for the containing spell though," he sighed, "so the whole place smells wretched."

"Well," Neville coughed, firmly closing the door.

"Indeed," Harry said dryly, quickly steering Neville away from the Hallway of Doom back into the front bit of the house.

"So will that be your guest room then, when you've fixed it up and all?"

Harry glanced back at the walkway they'd just come from. The bathroom door was immediately in front of you if you stood in the opening, and if you took a short right into a small almost nonexistent hallway you'd come to a closed door, Ron's room. The Hallway of Doom was to the left, and there were only two doors down that way, the closet that Harry and Ron still hadn't dared to open and the room with mold in it which was to be his as soon as it was, well, de-molded.

"No, no, that'll be my room," he said, a puzzled expression on his face. "Where else would I sleep? S'not like there's enough room for a couch in here."

Neville looked at him with an expression similar to the peculiar look Hermione had had earlier, only much more flustered and honestly bewildered. "But, uh, I mean, you're not sleeping-"

"Well, no, I can't sleep in there now. It's unsanitary!"

"But I thought, you and Ron…?"

"Oh!" Harry said, feeling his face flush. "Yeah, I'm sleeping in Ron's room for now, but I mean, it's only until we can fix the other room, of course."

"But, but I thought-!" Neville was looking even more bewildered and rather uncomfortable. "Um, never mind, apparently I was, uh, mistaken."

"No, no, what were you going to say, Neville?" Harry asked, curious despite himself and the burn he felt creeping down his neck onto his chest. Really, it wasn't like they hadn't shared a dorm for seven years! And yeah, okay, there had been others in there with them before and now it was just the two of them, and yeah, they had been in separate beds in the Gryffindor tower but, well, there wasn't enough room for two mattresses and no one really had to know about that anyway.

"Um, uh," Neville flustered, "it's just that, I'd always thought that the two of you, well, that you and Ron were, uh, to- my!" he said abruptly, his eyes slightly wild as he searched for a distraction. "That's quite interesting. It's a catnip mouse isn't it? I can smell the catnip from over here, just took awhile with that heavy, uh, fragrance coating everything."

Harry blinked at the sudden change in conversation and looked over to the wall opposite their sole window. "Yeah," he said, studying the gray catnip toy that had been tacked to the wall by its tail. "It was a house warming gift from Minerva. Pretty classy, eh?" he grinned wryly.

Neville laughed and clapped him firmly on the back. "Yeah, she always was a queer duck wasn't she?"

Harry snorted. "Queer cat sounds about right. Just so long as she doesn't buy us a cat to go along with it, Ron's not too fond of cats ever since Crookshanks, and personally I prefer snakes."

Neville grimaced. "Really Harry, and I'm not being House prejudice or anything, but how can you stand them, they're all, slithery and hissy and creepy."

Harry laughed and flicked his tongue out at Neville, hissing out a bit of Parseltongue just to watch his friend shudder and stick his tongue out at him in a fit of immaturity, as if they were kids again. "You're an evil, evil man Harry Potter, who takes a sadistic pleasure in giving his friends the willies. It's a wonder that we even put up with your fiendish ways."

Grinning easily, Harry shot back, "it's my charm, of course, it has you wrapped around my little pinky, despite my slithery, hissy, creepy and fiendish ways. That, and I buy you guys free drinks almost every Friday."

Neville laughed and shook his head, glancing at his watch. "Well, looks like I've got to go, Ginny and Dean cooked dinner tonight and I don't want to be late. They send their love and Ginny says that if you don't come down and visit us for teatime soon, she'll brandish the spoon at you."

Harry's eyes twinkled. "Sounds like a regular Mum Weasley in the making. How are the kids, by the way?"

Neville's eyes went soft with love and pride. "Wonderful – though Dean's going to go a little stir-crazy having a little shadow following him around, Elise has decided she wants to do everything like her daddy," he grinned. "And Samuel says he wants to go with his papa to work soon, so it looks like I'll be having a little helper at the greenhouse. Gin is still pining for another little girl, and I think Dean and I are about to cave in."

Neville placed a finger on his lips, his eyes sparkling. "Don't tell her, but we've already got the preliminary papers filled out at the orphanage. Our house is too big for just the five of us."

Harry smiled happily at his friend, his heart swelling with only the slightest twinge at the thought of a big, happy family. Someday, he thought wistfully, I'd like to have one of those.

"Well, have a good night, and I'll be sure to floo Gin and set up a tea date, okay?"

After Neville left, he stood in the same spot for what seemed like hours, just gazing at nothing. It didn't even occur to him that he had never heard what Neville was going to say. He just kept thinking about a house, with kids and a white picket fence. He couldn't quite picture the wife, but that was okay. He was gay anyway and he could just imagine arms around him, loving, strong, and kind. It was a little masochistic, given the circumstances he found himself in, but it was a sweet kind of melancholy.

It wasn't until a key turned in the lock and he heard Ron grumbling as he balanced boxes of take out in his arms and a bag of groceries that he looked up. The bittersweet vision was whisked away by a brilliant smile as he helped Ron bring everything inside. They ate their dinner in their kitchen, sitting on the floor with the cabinets at their back, legs carefully intertwined in place so as to give them enough room.

Relaxed and happy, Harry listened to Ron describe his day at work and in turn told him about the field trip he and Annette had taken the kids on. They laughed over a soap opera that was playing on the Wizarding Wireless and turned in early, tired and showing it.

As Harry fell asleep with Ron's heat at his back, he wondered why exactly his lips had felt so lonely when Ron had walked through the door, why he felt like there was something else he could have, should have done when he saw him, rather than just clasp his arm in greeting.

It was probably just the weird day, Harry thought and drifted into sleep.

March 1, 2005

Ginevra Weasley-Longbottom-Thomas is an absolutely terrifying person. She doesn't even need a wooden spoon to strike fear into the hearts of sheepish individuals. I think it's a gift: a great, and terrible gift, passed down from the Great and Terrifying Molly Prewett-Weasley. May humankind fear her.

She about had an aneurysm when I showed up for tea today with my lank hair and wrinkled clothes and smelling of the various fungi living in the dark corners of our flat. (Ron calls it "The Modern Embodiment of Hell," or, "Seamus' College Dorm.") She forced me into a shower in three seconds flat and told me she didn't want to see me for an hour.

I smelled like roses for the rest of the day, and it was heaven.

According to her, she expects to see me each day until we get running water, or else she'll take the kitchen knife to my most valuable bits. Ack, threats of castration! And she'd do it too, that scary, scary woman.

But hey, at least I get free showers everyday!


It was bloody freezing, and Harry was quite sure his balls were a bright blue by the time they reached the park. But the Ministry was under construction, and Ron had a day off. Spending it in their flat was an option they refused to even consider.

"S-s-so t-then," Harry said, his teeth chattering. "What are w-we going t-t-to do tod-d-day?"

Ron looked down at him and grinned at his red nose and full body shivers. Harry had forgotten his scarf and hat and gloves, simply grabbing a heavy jacket in his flight. Shaking his head, Ron pulled Harry off to the side of the walkway and took off his own scarf, wrapping it around his dark haired friend.

"You stupid git, you're going to get sick out here." Ron, his common sense fully intact since he spent much of his day away from their flat, had thought to bring along all of his winter gear.

"I t-t-thought it was g-going to be war-warmer." Harry shivered and hunched into his dark jacket, breathing in the musky scent of Ron's violet and green scarf (a present from Luna). For some reason, the scent helped warm him more than the thick wool.

Ron snorted at him, his blue eyes sparkling in mirth. Harry pouted at him and kicked him in the calf before running down the walkway. Limping, Ron hobbled after him as fast as he could, waving an arm in vexation. Harry began frantically blowing on his hands and glancing around for somewhere that sold coffee, ignoring Ron's indignance entirely.

Ron finally caught up with him right where there was a bend in the trail, and the redhead took advantage of the lack of people and the heavy snowdrift behind them. Harry went down with a strangled shout that was practically drowned out by Ron's war cry. "Ack! Ron you blighter! G-g-get off me, get o-off me you- ahh, noo!"

Harry's protestations were quickly lost to his laughter as Ron straddled him in the cold snow and proceeded to show him no mercy. He knew all of Harry's tickle spots. The green-eyed man never stood a chance.

When Ron finally released his captive, Harry was a shivering, damp mess, his hair in even greater disarray, and his nose bright red. His attempt to glare at Ron had all the effectiveness of a rumpled kitten. Ron laughed and flicked Harry gently on the nose.

"D-d-die," said Harry.

March 3, 2005

My cold is finally almost gone. Ron has, of course, been tripping all over himself to apologize for getting me sick, the bloody twat. He even took off of work and stayed with me at the flat. I'm sure it had to smell, but my nose has been so stopped up that I can't be sure. I'm not sure if the pinched look on his face was from trying not to be sick or from worry.

Ron has made me soup and bundled me up with blankets and forced liquids down my throat until I thought I was going to drown. I think it irritates him that I'm immune to most magics when I'm sick. Mwhaha. Stupid slag should have thought of that before he went and got me soaking wet on a bloody freezing day. Pft.

In any case, Ron channels his mum very well, and I'm almost all better; I'll be going to work tomorrow, at least! And I'll be very happy to as the past day and a half have been a sick blur of freezing temperatures, nasal congestion, and overall miserableness.

The only times I ever felt even a little better was when I was shivering despite the blankets and Ron held me.

Must be all that body heat.


Ron was late, of course, but Harry had been expecting that and took the spare five minutes to lean against the wall and bask in the wonder of bitter coffee and clear sinuses. He especially reveled in the bitter coffee, since he knew that the clear sinuses would come to bite him on the ass once he got back to his apartment. That was one thing he'd miss about being sick – no smell.

So he focused on the coffee and ignored the future prospect of perfectly functioning olfactory senses as Annette shut and locked her office door with a jingle of keys. Her eyes sparkled at him and she shifted the little monkey who was making faces at him on her hip.

"So, do I finally get to meet this mystery man, Harry?"

Harry paused in the face he was making back to the giggling girl and blinked up at his co-worker. "Huh?"

"Your man, Harry! Your one and only! The light of your life and heart of hearts! The prince that can make you smile like a love sick puppy for half a day!" Annette was beaming by this time and looking eagerly up and down the busy hallway.

"Um, Annette, I'm quite sure I have no idea what you are talking about." Harry knew he shouldn't have bought her those romance novels.

"What?" Annette gasped, appalled. The little girl was watching the exchange with wide eyes.

"D'you mean wese gets tah see 'Arry's boyfr'nd, 'Nette?" she asked. Annette nodded eagerly, her eyes shining with an almost manic glee. Harry tried to hide behind his coffee.

"B-boyfriend! What are you talking about? I don't- I don't have a-"

"Harry!" A voice shouted above the happy chatter and end-of-the-day sounds. Harry startled and almost sloshed some of his precious coffee from its cup. With wild eyes he scanned the crowd for red hair and spotted the man dashing over to them with a grin and a still slightly worried look in his blue eyes.

"Hey, mate," Ron slipped an arm around Harry's waist, bringing him close against his side and laid the back of his hand on Harry's forehead. "How do you feel?" Harry shivered and was certain his face was as red as Ron's hair. He chanced a glance over at Annette and saw that she looked as though she was practically vibrating above the ground.

The world had quite obviously gone mad.

"I'm fine," Harry murmured, ducking his head. Ron made a soft sound and moved the hand on his forehead to cup Harry's chin, tilting Harry's head up so that Ron could look down into his eyes and scan his face.

"I'm sure you are. In fact, I'm sure you'd be fine if you'd just lost an arm and leg and then had to march half way across town." His thumb made little circles along Harry's jawbone, and the dark haired man sighed softly. "At least your eyes aren't all glassy anymore," Ron smiled. "They're back to their usual radiant emerald."

Harry's stomach did a peculiar flip-flop. "I'm fine," he said, and wondered if the entire world was on crack or if it was Annette spreading her evil like cancer – he resolved to scour their flat when they got home and burn any romance novels he might find. They made people say the strangest things.

Across the hall, Annette squealed. Ron didn't seem to notice.

"Are you sure you're up for tonight?"

Harry rolled his eyes and wondered if he tilted his head just so if maybe Ron's thumb would continue to make those wonderful circular motions on his temple or if he'd bypass that altogether and go straight for a delicious head scratch. "I'm perfectly healthy mum Weasley," Ron scrunched his nose and Harry watched his freckles do a little dance. "Here, how's this: you stop worrying and I won't even drink anything alcoholic. Promise."

Ron watched him suspiciously for a moment but then nodded his head. "Alright," he said, squeezing Harry's waist a little. "If you start feeling bad again, tell me and we'll go straight home, okay?"

Harry, a little fed up with all the mollycoddling, was just opening his mouth to reply when Annette, apparently unable to contain her glee any longer, bounced right up to them with wide shiny eyes and a giggly, "Oh, you guys are just too cute together!"

Harry blinked and tried to remind himself that there was a world going on out there, and it was, remember this, insane. Ron's ears burned red, and a shy smile tugged his lips. Harry watched, fascinated, as he held out a large hand to Annette. "Er, thank you. I don't know if Harry's mentioned me, but I'm Ron Weasley."

Annette took the offered hand and shook it enthusiastically. "Oh, yes, Harry's spoken quite a bit about you." And then, to add even more strangeness to the an already strange day, Annette winked, and Ron's blush spread from his ears to his cheekbones. He managed to look somewhere between sheepish, embarrassed, and pleased.

"Youse best be carefuh, mistah," a little voice piped up and all of the adults blinked down at the little girl who had been all but forgotten in the ensuing soap opera. She glared at Ron from behind blonde bangs and continued; "All us kids here loves Harry, so youse best be real swell tah him or else wese get yah."

Harry wanted to die. "Mary! Don't be rude to Mr. Weasley, honey. I don't know where on earth you-"

"Of course, little Miss," Ron cut him off. In perfect seriousness, he held out his hand to the little girl who examined it critically for a moment before taking it in a somber handshake. "I promise you I'll be sure to take real good care of Harry. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret, okay?"

The little girl nodded, eager to know that Ron wouldn't hurt her favorite caretaker. Annette looked on just as carefully, and even Harry couldn't help the curl of strangely anticipatory curiosity unfurling within him. To hell with it, Harry thought, leaning foreword to hear Ron's whisper. Everyone's crazy today anyway.

"You're not the only ones that love Harry here. I love him, too, and I promise I'll always take good care of him, alright?"

"What?" Harry yelped. "Ron, what on earth-"

Annette sighed and looked at him appraisingly. "He's a little oblivious, isn't he?" she said to Ron. The little girl Mary giggled and Ron looked at Harry out of the corner of his eye. His face flushed apple-red and he had a fondly exasperated look on his face.

"Yep," he sighed. Bewildered, Harry let Ron's arm around his waist steer him down the hallway and out of the children's shelter. Giving up on making any sense of his life, Harry let Ron hail a cab and laid his head against his warm, broad shoulder for a little catnap before they arrived at the pub. Ron's arm stayed warm and comforting around him.

March 5, 2005

The world is insane, and apparently so am I.


The water finally worked. Hermione had found a spell that she gave to them the night before at the pub. It gave them not only water but also hot water. Bliss.

Or at least, that's what Harry thought he should be feeling. As it was, Harry's mind and emotions were in turmoil. His stomach was queasy, and he thought he might throw up if he didn't start crying first. He was so confused.

It hadn't been all that different from past nights out drinking, where someone would hit on Harry innocently, not knowing how completely and utterly unwanted their attention was. And Harry, as always, would be too polite to say something.

Suddenly, there was Ron's arm, warm and tight and possessive around him, his tall, hard body flush against his back. Harry sagged into him, hiding the relief in his face by turning it up into Ron's slender neck. There was that scent again: Chinese takeout and chocolate and male musk that smelled more like home than the peculiar odor of the flat ever would. Ron's voice vibrating through his body,

"Sorry, he's taken."

Harry slammed his palm flat against the shower wall, heedless of the fact that for all he knew, it might crumble right to the floor, then and there. A lot like what Harry wanted to do. It had all been so simple before. Ron had always saved him; it seemed so natural that Harry never questioned it.

Ron's hand turned him around in his embrace, arm still vice like around him, holding him tight and close, a peculiar battle raging unvoiced in his eyes. One that Harry was sure he'd seen before, but never commented on. Ron sighed and let go, trailing his hand up his back to touch his cheek before taking a half step away, turning to go back and sit at the table, the silent war gone but leaving behind ravaged and raw eyes that made Harry hurt.

Harry caught his arm before he could leave.

Harry didn't know why he'd asked. It could have been the move, Harry knew. It had certainly been taxing, exhausting. It could have been getting sick, that his immune system had been low. It could, Harry thumped his head against the smooth tile, simply be that he was finally ready to bloody open his eyes and see what was goddamn right in front of him.

"Ron. Why does everyone think we're together? Don't look at me like that, I don't mean that girl you just ran off." Surprise and realization sparked inside Harry, as though it hadn't been real until it was voiced and then everything made sense. "Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Annette, hell, even Mary. Everyone seems to think so. Tell me the truth, please."

Ron sighed, soft and tired. "Maybe because everyone else sees something that you don't."

And maybe they did. Harry turned off the water and scrambled out of the shower. His stomach hurt and his head hurt and his heart hurt. Harry was so scared and nervous he thought he was going to be sick. But, he thought, everyone else just might be on to something, and he'd be damned if he didn't round up his Gryffindor courage and jump head-first and reckless into something that could quite possibly be very bad but could quite possibly be very good.

Harry found Ron lying on his back on their mattress, his eyes staring up at the ceiling, wearing the Dead Man Walking expression he'd taken to wearing ever since he'd practically spilled the metaphorical beans at the pub. Harry stalked right up to him, naked as the day he was born and far too high on emotions to give a shit for anything other than wiping that lost look off his best friend's face.

"Ron," he barked. It was the tone he'd used during the war, when he was scared and couldn't show it. Love was like war, or at least that's how the saying went, so maybe he was on the right track. Ron jerked to attention, his eyes snapping immediately onto Harry's and his body action-ready.

And then Ron's eyes slipped down from Harry's eyes, slid over his face and along the curve of his throat, down past his sweeping collar bones and well defined chest, past his flat stomach and sharp hip bones, pausing just a few fractions of a moment longer at the junction of where his thighs met and then continued their journey down Harry's broom-muscled thighs and calves.

Then, Ron's body went into a very lustful kind of shock, and Harry quite suddenly realized he was naked and, apparently, quite rather enjoyed the way Ron's eyes had greedily drunk in the sight.

Perhaps he hadn't thought this out quite well enough.

"Shit," Ron breathed, staring at Harry with wide eyes, both hopeful and frightened. Harry just sort of stood there, barely breathing, as though any sudden movements might frighten whatever tentative thing was happening here.

Ron's hand boldly settled on Harry's thigh. He jerked a little, he couldn't help it, and his breath hitched in his throat. Ron hushed him and soothed his rough palm down over his thigh, nice and slow. "Harry?" he asked.

The green-eyed man swallowed. This certainly wasn't what he'd been expecting when he'd dashed from the shower. Not that he'd been expecting much of anything, really. He hadn't even had his second cup of coffee, after all.

"Ron," Harry hissed, his body trembling as Ron dug his fingers into Harry's hip and jerked him forward. Harry gave a quiet, excited yelp and landed in an uncomfortable sprawl on top of Ron.

"Ow," Ron murmured, wincing and at the same time snaking his arms around Harry, pulling him even closer to him and tangling their legs. His bright blue eyes were a little wild and desperate. He looked as though he thought Harry might disappear at any second.

Oh, Harry realized. Reassurance. Reassurance would probably be good. "Um."

He'd always been shit at speaking about emotional things. It was a rather good thing Ron understood.

Ron grinned at him, and quite suddenly Harry found his lips otherwise occupied. It was slick and hot and quite possibly better than coffee, though Harry wasn't placing any bets this early in the game. It required further research, he decided. And a lot more tongue.

Hermione would be so proud.

March 7, 2005

So it's not exactly a house, and the kids aren't exactly ours, and there sure as hell ain't no white picket fence.

But the arms are there: loving, strong, and kind, as well as possessive and passionate and fierce.

And really, that's more than enough for me.


AN: The page break thingies hate me. Sorry. Please review! I'm feeling unloved as of late.