BETWEEN YOU AND ME
The final war is now behind them, which leaves only the future before them. The problem is, now the future is becoming rapidly unstable. With the past creeping in and shocking discoveries leaving everyone on edge, friendships, relationships and faith will be tested and not without scrutiny or angst.
DISCLAIMER: All characters, settings, and magical occurrences were all conceived and created in the brilliant mind of J.K. Rowling. Nothing except the glorious plot is property of mine. No profits are being made from my writing.
ANOTHER WARNING: This story will contain some SLASH, as it will be the main pairing. If this bothers, offends, or just grosses you out, you can save yourself a lot of pain and heartburn and just click the back button. Otherwise, stick around. I can only hope not to disappoint. I suppose it's best to point out that there will be HBP spoilers throughout. Though the main story takes place following the impending war the stories depict. Oh and lyrics by the Goo Goo Dolls
I think about you all the time
But I don't need to think
If it's lonely where you are, come back down
And I won't tell your name
Ron sighed thoughtfully, settling down into the small rollup bed that accompanied their tent. It had been three long weeks and there was no sign of Lucius Malfoy anywhere. It had certainly been an interesting time spent scouring the area with none other than the prodigal son himself. And though Draco seemed to want to find his father as much as, if not more than Ron, the redhead found he still wasn't entirely sure what to think of it all.
After all, Draco just showed up one day, slightly off and poured out every detail of his story to Harry and Lupin. The story was then set up to the remaining members of the Order who review each detail and decided that to be sure, Veritaserum would be used. Harry seemed skeptical to take this approach. After all, should Draco's story check out, he wasn't entirely certain they would still have his trust.
But it had gone off without a hitch and before Ron knew it, he'd been thrust into the wilderness with little other than an old tent from the Quidditch World Cup years before and his wand. Well and of course Draco Malfoy. To his credit though, he'd managed to stay out of Ron's way for the first few days. Silence settling easily between them. When one dared to test it, it would turn into a screaming match and they would fall back into their silent routine until there was another outburst.
Somewhere after the end of the first week, they managed to find civil conversation, stilted but civil at least. Then more recently, actual conversation. Ron still felt uneasy as he spoke with the blonde whom had tormented him for six long years at Hogwarts. Things were just different when they were found all alone and with their only companionship the other.
He was still slightly discouraged by the lack of information concerning where the elder Malfoy had gone off too. From what they could gather, the Order wasn't the only group looking for him. This only led to heighten interest in locating him. The information the man could possess was endless. With some soft coercion and heavy drugging, it was sure that they would make some startling discoveries.
"What is that noise, Weasley?" Draco's voice traveled from another of the small bedrooms in the tent.
"Well isn't that spectacular? Our travel tomorrow will be incredibly pleasant," As is to reaffirm Draco's words, the clouds roared with a crash of thunder which caused the blonde to freeze in place.
"Just go to sleep, Malfoy."
"Really? You don't want to play chess or something? I haven't beaten you in a rather long time," Draco felt himself rambling which bothered him but not as much as the storming weather overhead.
"It's late. The last thing I want to do is sit up and get knocked down another peg in chess," Ron called back at him, finding himself a little perturbed by the continued conversation when sleep was so sought after.
"Ok then perhaps a nightcap?" It seemed the blonde would not quit.
Ron finally pulled himself out of bed and trudged into the blonde's sleeping quarters. "Is there a reason you are refusing to let me sleep?" He questioned, fatigue showing in his exhausted features.
"I'm just can't sleep and…"
"That's because you haven't tried," Ron countered before he could finish. Draco shot him a scowl. Another loud clap of thunder exploded above them and Draco felt his entire body shudder slightly. "Wait, I think I'm beginning to get it now. Is Malfoy afraid of thunderstorms?" Ron asked in a sickeningly sweet voice.
"I am not afraid of storms I just find it rather difficult to sleep through them. That's all," Draco assured him but the redhead would not be swayed.
"I'm beginning to understand why you enjoyed the dungeons so much. You'd have gone mad in the Gryffindor tower on a night like this."
"I'd have gone mad in the Gryffindor tower period, Weasley. Thunderstorm or not," Draco smirked in his direction but Ron brushed it off.
"Seriously, Malfoy. Are you going to keep me up or can I try and get some sleep?"
"I suppose," Draco said in a frustrated voice. He hated seeming to be bothered by something so silly but it wasn't as though he chose such an irrational fear.
Ron could sense that he was incorrect in his assumption. Sleep would not come easy if he didn't figure something out. He turned on heal and went into his own room, dragging the small bed the distance to Draco's. He put it in place a few paces from where Draco himself was sleeping and crawled back in bed.
"Good night, Malfoy," Ron told him, turning over on his side away from the blonde who was still staring at him in shock. He tried to tell himself that he was just really tired and that it had nothing to do with making the blonde anything less than nervous. And he continued to think it long after he heard the soft hum of Draco sleeping behind him.
"I just still cannot believe it. Hermione and Snape. I mean I knew she always went for the more brainy guys after her and Ron were a flop but I just never saw this coming," Harry rambled on as he and Draco began the short walk home to their flat. "Though I'm sure that was the first thing out of everyone's mouths when we turned up from France together."
Draco gave a weak nod. Though it was rather shocking news, there were other things on his mind. Things that mattered more to him than the impending wedding of one Hermione Granger to her former professor. His eyes fell against the pavement, deep in thought.
"What's gotten into you tonight? You've been awfully quiet. I mean I know you don't really care that much about this wedding but still," Harry commented, pulling the blonde in closer to himself.
"I'm just not quite feeling well, is all. It's been a long week. I think perhaps I'm coming down with something," Draco lied straight through his teeth and it seemed to be enough for Harry.
Draco let his mind block out whatever ramblings would follow from the other man that night. He found himself pondering what he was even doing. Such a large part of himself wanted to rip Harry limb from limb. But the more reasonable part was biding its time. As hard as it was becoming.
If anything else, the blonde was not accustomed to having to keep his mouth shut. When there was something that bothered him, he'd launch straight into it, giving the other person not a moment to even try and argue in their defense. And he liked it that way. But this was so different and it the number it was doing on his mental state was enough to make him go mad.
"I just hope she knows what she's getting into. And if nothing else, won't that be a grand story to tell the kids? Wait, kids?" That thought seemed to be a lot for Harry to stomach as he fumbled with the door to their flat, then holding it open for Draco to enter, pulling it shut as he followed him in. "Are you sure you're alright, Draco? I'm beginning to worry."
"I'm fine. I've just got a lot on my mind at the Prophet. Deadlines to meet. I'm just going to go up to bed. Night, love," Draco gave Harry a quick peck before ascending the stairs up into their bedroom, willing his nerves to settle.
Harry watched the blonde travel the stairs and up until he heard the bedroom door click shut. His brow furrowed slightly in worry as he went into the kitchen to grab something to drink. Draco had certainly been out of sorts lately.
He'd already been over the possible factors. There was of course work. But when he thought about it, he realized that Draco really didn't have a rather stressful work environment. He'd managed to secure a nice and cushy job at the Prophet writing his own column. He got to spend the whole day picking apart the things that bothered him most with the current state of the wizarding world. It could become controversial at times but Harry just thought the blonde thrived on that.
And things between them had been relatively fine in recent weeks. But this wasn't the first time he'd gone off to bed complaining of feeling less than adequate and more often than not he'd come off as distant and a little uneasy. Something was going on. Harry just had to figure out what.
Ron gave a short knock at the office door and seconds later heard Harry's voice give him the OK to enter. Harry was sitting at his desk, Seamus Finnegan occupying the chair on the opposite side. Seamus stood though as Ron entered.
"Ron. It's been a while. How have you been?" The Irishman questioned him with a broad smile.
"Just been busy. How about yourself?"
"As well as can be expected. Well I'll let you two alone. I'll talk to you later, Harry," Seamus gave another grin in Ron's direction before moving from the room, pulling the door shut behind him.
"I was just letting Seamus know about Hermione. It all still sounds so mad to me," Harry offered offhandedly as Ron took the now empty seat.
"Tell me about it. Of all the people to run into so far from home? It had to be him? Honestly?" Ron questioned, disbelief was still rich within him, and even if the Hermione ship had sailed many years before when they decided friendship suited them just fine.
"I don't know if I would really call that luck," Harry joked with a short laugh that Ron joined in on.
"Certainly not good luck by any means," Ron added, noticing instantly that there was something more serious on his best friend's mind. "What's going on, Harry? You haven't called me into work in years."
"Not that you're going to be thrilled by this subject matter either, but it's Draco. He's been acting strange lately."
"Stranger than normal, you mean?" Ron teased a little until he realized that his friend was indeed serious.
"He's just been so distant. And he's been coming down with something very often. Like he's trying to tell me something without actually saying it. Does that make any sense?"
"Not from Malfoy. He's never had one scrap of trouble telling anyone anything. Easily putting their feelings aside. Maybe he really has just come down with something," Ron offered, trying to sound as neutral as possible. Inwardly despising the fact that he'd raced over that afternoon for said conversation.
"I suppose that's true. Draco really never shies away from letting anyone have it. If something was on his mind, he'd just say it right?" Harry thought out loud, not expecting an answer either way. "Well I was hoping I was being crazy about this. It just seems out of character."
"Sorry I can't be of help, mate," Ron apologized with a bit of a shrug. Harry hadn't ever taken the time to ever seek out advice on the subject matter of Draco Malfoy. He wondered at the beginning if Harry ever suspected anything had happened between the two of them. It had to make some sort of sense as Harry had avoided the subject all together for as long as he could possibly remember. Ron knew that if he'd come to him, that it had to be something that was seriously bothering him.
"Oh no worries. Sorry I interrupted on your lunch break. I'm sure you've got better things to do."
"Well just eat lunch. What about you? You want to go grab a bite?" Ron asked, standing up and preparing himself to do just that.
"No, I've got some things to finish up in here. I don't have too much time for lunch lately. Thanks for coming down here though, Ron."
"No problems. See you around," With that Ron took his exit from the office. He gave a nod to Seamus as he passed him going in the opposite direction. What an interesting beginning to the week. Things could only get better he suspected. He repeated the thought over and over. Maybe soon he'd start believing it. It all just seemed off. And he wondered if his reason as to why wouldn't come from the blonde in question. Too often things seemed to come back to Draco and it was beginning to wear on him. Somehow he'd managed to occupy a permanent spot in the back of Ron's mind and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shake the thoughts loose.
It had been four weeks and five days since they'd found themselves thrust into the middle of no where and more recently they seemed to creep by at such a slow pace that it was enough to drive Draco mad. Somewhere between things being downright awkward to then bearable, they had gone swiftly back to uncomfortable and hadn't moved since. It wasn't that he was concerned, he was just getting very bored.
Draco was currently lounging on the tiny sofa that the tent afforded. He could remember tents like this though his was nothing so drab and sparse. It had reminded him very much of the sitting rooms at Malfoy Manor. Elegant and suave, but not quite something you were comfortable sitting on. He found that part of him preferred the informality of being able to put his feet up on the table and just sit. Perhaps it was just too much time spent with Weasley who ate like a pig and lived like one too. He chalked it up to bad influences.
He was humming quietly to himself when the flap of the tent was lifted. He had barely even let his eyes drift to the doorway before realizing that Ron was angry. His entire face was beginning to reach a pink color and his eyes were almost reduced to slits, staring angrily in Draco's direction.
"Malfoy, is this my jumper? The one that I found tossed over a branch in the woods?" He questioned instantly, firing up slightly more when Draco didn't as much as flinch at his tone.
"It would seem that way, wouldn't it? Surely you would know your own clothing."
"Well yes I would, especially when they turn up missing and then are recovered in a most unlikely place," Ron fumed at the nonplussed blonde.
"You have always been slightly absentminded," Draco replied nonchalantly.
"I have nothing to do with this. You took my sweater and left in the woods. It was rained on and everything. It's more or less ruined!"
"Did you even stop to think that maybe you'd done it yourself?"
"Oh since I did, I must be furiously trying to frame you just for kicks. I'm bored as sin, Malfoy but not that bored," Ron reasoned but Draco just shrugged his shoulders, standing from the couch and moving into the kitchen.
Ron watched him seething slightly. He wondered slightly why he was so worked up over the sweater. It was an old, Weasley sweater from years before. It was slightly worn underneath one of the arms and his sleeves were an inch and a half too short. But for some reason he'd kept a hold of it this long and it angered him to no end that it was no more.
Inwardly, he could feel that there was something more to it. Though he wasn't about to admit as to what that was and what it actually meant. His mind couldn't help but sift backwards to the week before when things had changed so drastically. It no longer was a chore being in the same room as the blonde. Quite the opposite, he found he rather enjoyed the company. He tried to tell himself that it was just the wilderness talking or something but his insides seemed to be screaming otherwise.
Draco had returned and was studying him, an odd look upon his face. He held a glass of water in one hand, taking a short sip before settling back onto the couch.
"You can't still be one about that shirt. It's much too small for you anyway!" Draco told him in an annoyed tone, sensing his peaceful and serene environment had thus vanished.
"Yes I can! You just take my things without asking and then don't return them and ruin them. How angry would you be?" Ron questioned, crossing his arms harshly.
"It's just clothing, Weasley. I would just buy another."
Ron nodded his head slightly and walked out of the small sitting room. Draco craned his neck slightly to see as to where he had vanished. He gave a shrug and turned back, finding another comfortable position. Just as he had, footsteps were heard and Ron appeared before him, clad in a charcoal sweater that was clearly much to small for him and clung violently to his form.
"Your sweater? Actually it is."
"Weasley, take my sweater off," Draco warned.
"But it's just clothing, Malfoy. Remember," Ron reminded him viciously.
"But it's my clothing! Take it off," Draco bit out between gritted teeth, standing up to match Ron's stature as much as he could. The redhead still had several inches on him.
Draco's silver eyes met Ron's, fervor broiling in both pairs. Pure emotion flying between them. And then something rather peculiar happened. The anger that was once coursing through them, more or less melted away and the intense stare changed into something all together different. Within seconds, the pair were clutching the other, mouths closing in, following with a desperate kiss.
Draco was backed quickly up against the couch, the seat pressing into the backs of his knees and pushing him down, Ron tumbling with him, arms entangling and winding together. Tongues pressed further into mouths. Hands explored. Minds left blank.
Ron felt oddly like a stalker as he entered the Daily Prophet headquarters. The only thing he had working to his advantage was that Luna Lovegood worked in the Divination department of the paper. With the lack of war-related news to print, they had moved in a lighter direction. Granted Ron had spoken to the girl in a good year, there wasn't a better time for a reunion.
He'd called his old classmate up the evening before and had made plans for lunch. Promising to pick her up at work. Stopping up to see the inner workings of a publication like the Prophet. Sure, he was slightly using her, he would devote his real attentions to her at their quick lunch.
He'd never actually been inside the building that housed the wizarding world's most reliable and sometimes biased paper. It was a very interesting sight indeed. Wizards and witches moving about in a flurry, fact checking and reprinting, arguing over the proper layout and procedure, and even a few who were diving into a short lunch over their desks. Not exactly what he had expected. Maybe he'd been holding out for something more exclusive and important looking.
Luna had told him that she was located on the third floor but the directory told him that the special features section was situated on the second which meant that Malfoy was lurking about somewhere laboring over his little column he was so proud of. There were a few who stopped and asked who he was and who he was looking for. He spouted off a quick lie, asking about the location of Draco's office in the most discrete fashion he would muster.
The office was situated near the back of the floor, glass windows nearly camouflaging the door. To his advantage, the blonde was absent from the office. It would have been a bit difficult in explaining why he'd shown up that afternoon and was then standing outside of his office. As his mind kicked into overdrive, wondering if he would go in or not, he spotted the familiar figure a couple of offices down.
As nonchalant as was possible, he stood outside of the office, casting a silent spell to allow him a better earshot of the conversation in progress.
"Sir, I really need the advance. I have a rather sizeable down payment to make and with my inheritance coming in at such a slow pace, I won't be able to make it on just that," Malfoy explained to what appeared to be his boss.
"And why can't Potter help you out? He's got the galleons around," The thick necked man, apparently Draco's editor, behind the desk asked. There was a brief pause.
"This isn't a joint investment," He replied simply. Ron spaced out for a moment letting the gravity of the conversation sink in. What was Malfoy planning? Perhaps it was a gift or something of the sort. Something that it wouldn't be best for Harry to know about because it would ruin the surprise.
"Malfoy, I'm going to do this for you today but with your work on the decline recently, don't expect another favor until things pick up again. When you first started here you had a bright future. These last few months it's been as though you were bored. You need to get back in gear."
"Yes sir. Thank you. I will work on that," Draco gave in response as the man began writing out what appeared to be a bank slip. The man just gave a nod which gave was enough to imply that the conversation was over.
Ron ended the charm quickly and hurried back off in the opposite direction, trying to avoid being caught. He finally made his way up to the next floor, mind aflutter with endless possibilities to what was going on. Growing steadily curious with each stair he took upward.
Luna was waiting for him at the top and greeted him briskly. She hadn't changed so much since the war. The same crazy girl whom had shared a carriage to Hogwarts with them so many years before. The same girl who had risked her life to help save theirs. It was shame they had all lost contact over the years. The history between them was rich enough.
The two found themselves engaged in light conversation as they trekked down towards the ground floor. Just as they were about to push through the revolving glass door, Ron noticed Malfoy at the corner, preparing to make a journey himself it seemed. He gave a look back at Luna and then to the blonde, making his decision inwardly.
"Oh Merlin! It was my turn to take Ginny to St. Mungo's for a checkup. She's due in a couple of weeks and these are important visits. Is it ok if I take a rain check this time?" Ron spouted off quicker than he could've imagined.
"Of course. Just give me a call later this week and we can arrange something else. Tell Ginny I said hello," Luna gave a warm smile as they parted at the door, Ron hurrying off in the direction that Malfoy had traveled, not giving any care to the fact that it would cause a bit of wonder from his original lunch companion.
He felt bad about lying to Luna and breaking their lunch date but something about that afternoon was just clicking. First the information from the editor and then this. It just seemed too priceless to pass up the opportunity.
It didn't take long to catch up with the blonde who seemed not to notice that he was distantly being followed. Even as he wandered back onto less than populated streets in the city, settling more into the residential area of Wizarding London.
Finally Draco came to a stop near a building of flats that were advertised as for sale. Now he didn't remember Harry mentioning that he and Draco were looking for a new place. And he certainly couldn't see why it would just be Malfoy paying for it. Unless of course…it all seemed to settle into place so nicely, Malfoy was planning on leaving Harry. But why?
Draco finally turned and looked directly at Ron. Shaking his head slightly.
"You didn't really think that you were being very discrete did you, Weasley?"
Even though Ron certainly had, he wasn't about to say that. Instead he closed the distance between them and decided that he should have the upper hand in the situation and he would play it as so.
"What is you are playing at, Malfoy? A new flat? I didn't know the two of you were in the market for such?" Ron questioned, obviously having formed ideas of his own.
"This isn't any of your business and I don't have time for it this afternoon," Draco started up into the building but this did little to shake Ron who followed him right up the stairs. "Honestly, Weasley. You have no concept of not being wanted."
"I'm just used to it when I'm in your vicinity. I should say the same for you."
"Except that I haven't been following you all afternoon," Draco offered back at him, which left Ron without a rebuttal as of yet.
"Ahh Mr. Malfoy. Right on time. I've been over the place with the real estate wizard. It seems to check out. I'm just not entirely certain that it's what you're looking for," A thin, middle aged man approached the pair, eyeing Ron over but giving no concern for his presence.
"No, neither am I. It's rather bland I would say," Draco began in as he walked the small foyer, noticing the other man's interest in the redhead being here. "This is Ron Weasley, an old schoolmate. He found it necessary to tag along this afternoon for reasons I'm still not sure of. Weasley, this is James Blackner," Draco gave a formal introduction as he continued to explore the house.
"Ron Weasley. That's best mate of Harry Potter then. Pleasure to meet you," Mr. Blackner extended a hand which a bit more grace than when the redhead had shown up.
"Yes, nice to meet you," Ron easily seemed to brush the man following a short handshake and followed Malfoy into the flat. "Malfoy, what are you doing here?"
"The more important question, Weasley, is what are you still doing here?" The wheels in Draco's head were turning now. It wasn't as though they had any sort of contact outside of the required bit because he was after all friends with Harry. And it was probably a good thing. What flustered Draco most was that he had the urge just to spill it all. Just to get it all out to the one person who would probably spill it the first chance he got.
"And the bedrooms? Big enough?" Draco continued exploring the house without giving any bit of an explanation to his currently unwelcome companion.
"The master is good size. The spare is a little on the small side but it can be worked around," Mr. Blacker informed him staying behind the pair, only speaking when questioned.
"Malfoy!" Ron all but yelled exasperated. "I haven't come this far not to get any answers at all."
"The problem is, Weasley, that I'm not sure why you have come this far to begin with. We have certainly not been on friendly terms by any standards," Draco didn't remove his eyes from the molding along the fireplace. This did much to unnerve Ron further.
"Yes but Harry is my friend and if you're planning on leaving him high and dry, it's only fair that he gets a heads up."
Draco turned sharply on his heals to face the redhead. "Of course. I'm just so malicious. My intentions have always been to get him just comfortable and then up and leave. Surely you have enough common sense that I wouldn't sit around for a year and then just leave for no reason. Just sit and revel in the great job I've done on the Wizarding World's best friends," He hinted around it as delicately as was possible. He really didn't want to involve Ron in all of his personal affairs.
"I'm sure you have reasons. There's someone else I'm sure. You never seemed to be the type to try the whole commitment thing," Ron was of course just talking theory out loud though it stood to reason. But he had experience to go on, if nothing else.
"Well let me ease your tiny brain of any trouble. There is someone else. But not for me," Draco bite out viciously at him, not wasting any time in leaving the small flat and heading back down for the streets of London. He found it rather awkward having revealed such details to someone who'd rather felt that way themselves no too terribly long before.
Weeks before, Draco had managed to get a little time off at lunch from the paper. Harry had stayed home sick that morning and in a relatively out of character move, Draco was going to bring him some lunch. But when he'd gotten to the flat, Harry hadn't been alone.
He was a little shocked at first to find a set of robes that belonged to neither of the inhabitants of the flat strung across his great grandmother's dining table. His shock grew further when the rest of the persons clothing was found scattered in what appeared to be a trail into the bedroom. What was more disturbing was that some of them he knew belonged to Harry himself.
It took every bit of pride Draco had to turn around and walk straight out of that flat. He threw away the Chinese soup, which Harry had loved so much and just walked. And as he got blocks and blocks from the flat, he slowly began to realize that he had no where else to go. He'd given up just about everything before the war and had gotten so little back afterwards. And aside from his job, he had absolutely nothing of real value that was his alone. And he realized that if he left Harry, he wouldn't know what to do. But everything changed that afternoon.
For being the kind of person he was, it wasn't very easy to continue pretending everything was all right. He got up every morning and went to work. He came home and occasionally made dinner or at least attempted it. Every now and then he and Harry would go out to dinner. Even having visitors every so often. But this didn't change what Draco had seen. So at the same time, Draco had been scouring the city for a new flat. For new furniture. For new everything so that when he worked everything out in his head, he could be ok. At least in a material sense. He wasn't certain what would happen to him emotionally.
His emotions were the only things that kept him coming home each night. He wasn't entirely certain he would know how to deal with the feelings that would inevitably accompany a break up with Harry. He'd invested so much. Changed so much of himself to make it work and it just seemed so unfair that this was all happening to him. He soon found he was only beginning to hate himself in the process. He didn't want it to become worse if he were to experience any sort of deterioration.
Ron stood there in silence a moment, sharing a look with Mr. Blackner. Just taking a second to soak in the accusations it was obvious that Draco was making. That couldn't be true though. Harry wasn't that kind of person. He'd seemed to generally care about the prat, even if it was almost impossible to see why.
Giving himself not another second, he thanked the other man quickly and bounded out of the flat as quickly as the blonde had before him. He barely missed the form at the bottom of the stairs as he attempted to rush out. Thankfully, he didn't barge full throttle into Draco but it did catch them both off guard a little.
"Please don't. I know that Harry is your best friend and you and I are…well not. I'm quick enough to know which side you'll leap to," Draco told him, sounding rather defeated. And on most levels, he was. He knew at this point that there was no avoiding it. Harry would have to know. He would have to tell him what he'd found out that afternoon and what he intended on doing.
"I just need to get an understanding of this whole thing. Are you sure? I mean Harry isn't the type…" Ron started, fidgeting uneasily on the stairs.
"The type to stay home sick from work and invite a special friend over? Yes, those were my thoughts exactly. And lets face it, it should have been a safe assumption," Draco settled into the short version of the despair that was becoming his life. Things just were never supposed to be this way. He could curse himself into a stupor for making such stupid decisions.
"I just never would've ever suspected. Are you sure?" Ron settled down onto a step a few above Draco's. The new information about his best friend was a little unsettling.
"Well the stunning display of clothing leading up to the bedroom was a pretty good indication. Unless Harry's taken to wearing two pairs of pants recently," As harsh as it had all seemed at the beginning, with time having worked it over a little, it wasn't as terrible saying it out loud. Even though it was to a person that would not revel in learning anything on the subject at all. That much had been made apparent.
The pair of them sat silently on the stairwell for a few more moments. After a bit, Mr. Blackner came out to acquire about his interest. Ron found the whole thing to be a bit inappropriate but Draco answered him as though it were nothing.
"It's just not what I had in mind. I would have to do more work to it then I am prepared to," He informed the man, which was enough, and they were left alone again. After this, Draco picked himself back up off the stairs, dusting off lightly. "I have to get back to work."
"Oh, yeah. I do too," Ron replied dumbly. After such a revelation, the last place he'd have wanted to go, had he been Draco, would've been work.
"I don't expect you not to say anything. I'm sure you can't wait to rush over and tell him now."
"Tell him what? This isn't exactly my place," Ron offered honestly. Even though he himself had dealt with a lot in the past in the way of the couple, he still had to feel bad. A lot had happened since then. But that chapter had all been closed and resolved. It was only right that all parties involved should move on and get to be a little happy. Well at least he hoped so.
"Like that would've stopped you before?"
"Actually if I'm correct, I've been pretty good about keeping a secret for you in the past," Ron explained easily, following the blonde out of the small building. Draco shook his head slightly at the comment, He didn't think he could even spend time thinking it over. That would make it that much harder than it already was. "And I think you should get the place. I think it would suit you just fine," He offered before heading off in the opposite direction that he'd come. Finding himself even more confused than he had been when he'd arrived.
Draco watched him go a second and turned in the other direction back towards the Prophet. It had been a very interesting afternoon. Back at the paper, he found himself with a bit more motivation and began a bit more satisfactory work on his next article.
As his hands just seemed to fill the paper with ease, he didn't notice how late it was beginning to get and even less when the fire in his office roared slightly, announcing that he had a caller.
"This is a new thing. Draco Malfoy deeply enthralled with his work."
Draco looked up abruptly to find Harry's head in the fire. This was the first time he checked his watch to realize that he was about an hour and a half-late getting home already.
"I just never cease to amaze, I suppose," Draco offered back which caused Harry to laugh a little. In the pit of the stomach, Draco just could feel how wrong it all seemed.
"Should I expect you home this evening then?"
"I've got a lot to get done but I won't stay too late," Draco couldn't help but wonder if Harry was checking if he'd have time for anything in his absence. He couldn't help but feel suspicious.
"OK, well I'll wait up then."
Draco just waited for the fire to die down before sinking back further into his chair. His mind was spinning into overdrive pondering what could be possibly going on at his house at that moment. It made him feel sick to his stomach. So much so that he had to get out of the office. He had to go somewhere. And for some reason, there was only place he could even think of.
He hadn't intended on actually going there but his feet had led him straight to the front door, stomach flipping over anxiously as he raised a fist to knock quickly. He almost thought about running but he didn't have much time before the door opened up to a very surprised tenant. Draco couldn't help but associate that look with the same one he'd gotten so many years before when he'd shown up with Harry and broken the news.
The day the owl had come, there were two collective breathed. The tensions that was steadily growing between Ron and Draco was becoming more than they could take. Following their kiss, it seemed that things had taken a turn for the much worse. They'd taken to arguing constantly and over things of no real importance, neither wanting to admit to feelings of anything but disdain and hatred.
On the inside though, there were things brewing that they were neither liked or were prepared for. Things were slowly changing around them while they found that they weren't too excited and willing to change with them. This left things stilted and harder than ever to deal with. In fact, it seemed that any attempt at talking brought about screaming and fury and then a rapid change to silence all over again.
The owl had come early one morning. They had abandoned the search for Lucius Malfoy. They weren't certain he was close anymore and they were rather certain that Voldemort was going to be attacking soon. Intelligence told them such anyway. Also that there was news waiting for Ron when he'd gotten back home.
The journey home had been uneventful. There were few words shared between the pair. The occasional question of location or time and when they'd stopped at night, neither questioned it, they just set things up and fell into a deep sleep pretending the other wasn't there.
Draco had found it rather difficult to sleep in recent days. The nights just drug on, leaving him in absolutely consciousness. This left him with a splitting headache in the morning and more agitation than normal. Ron on the other hand slept as much as he could. Anytime he was sleeping that meant he couldn't be wondering or thinking more than he should and about things he definitely shouldn't be thinking about.
Once they'd finally reached Order headquarters, they were relatively well received, Ron more than Draco for obvious reasons. Harry informed Draco that he had specific news to share with him. And concluded with telling Ron that he'd need to speak with his mother, a sad glance given as the redhead gave a nod. And then without a backwards glance, the two parted ways for the first time in over a month.
Ron flooed home to the Burrow, surprised to find so many familiar Weasley faces. Each of his siblings was present as well as his mother. One absence was not unnoticed. Mrs. Weasley looked away momentarily from her youngest son, pushing back the years. Ginny was already a mess it would seem and each of the boys stood solemn and uneasy.
"Mum, what's going on?" Ron managed to ask, voice cracking, as he was already certain he knew.
"There was an attack on the Ministry."
Her few words were all he had needed. Ron's worst fears had been confirmed and it left him merely standing there in shock and awe. Ginny embraced him fiercely, her tears staining the arm of his shirt. He dully put his arms around his little sister's back purely on a reflex, insides twisting in pain.
The family spent the remainder of the evening together before Ron decided to floo back to the headquarters. He didn't think he was quite ready to spend an evening at home knowing his father would not. It was all so surreal and most of him was certain that it still hadn't all sunk in yet. He was still walking around like a zombie, not letting the words take their full effect.
Grimmauld Place was so empty by the time he'd gotten back, a single light being on the kitchen, one person left sitting by a stack of Prophets. Ron spotted the tell tale top of a blonde head and mentally spurned himself for wishing for anything to do with it. Draco folded the paper over on his entrance, giving him a silent stare, seemingly looking for some words.
"Don't worry about it, Malfoy. I don't need you to apologize to me," Ron told him, holding a hand up as Draco moved to speak. The blonde nodded, setting the paper down upon the table.
"How is your family doing?" Draco asked as genuinely as was possible for him.
"I know you don't really care."
"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't," Draco insisted, folding up the current issues and putting it completely aside.
"I know you couldn't care less what happens to the worthless Weasleys, right? What a pathetic lot we are, right?" Ron persisted, the color having nearly drained from his face.
"Weasley, I didn't say anything like that."
"But you wanted to. It's what you're thinking."
"Do not presume to know what I am thinking. I am genuinely sorry that something like this happened to you," Draco countered standing up from the table; he held almost a worried look in his eyes.
Ron had opened his mouth to say something but promptly shut it and sighed heavily. He let all of the words between them melt away, standing there vaguely aware of anything. Draco crossed the room and stood before him, staring at him closely.
"Weasley, are you alright?" Draco asked softly, which caused Ron's eyes to lift and meet his, though the redheads were growing wet with tears.
Not giving himself time to think better of it, Draco pulled Ron in close to him, arms encircling around his shoulders. Following a similar course himself, Ron buried his face against Draco's shoulders, arms clinging tightly to the other form. And standing in the kitchen for many moments, Ron silently sobbed, the blonde doing his best to offer what comfort he could.
Sensing how late it was getting, Draco had suggest that he take Ron back to his room so that he could get some sleep. Ron agreed and showed them down the hall into the room he'd occupied before having left. Draco pulled the blankets back allowing the redhead to climb underneath them, eyes pleading for Draco to stay. Realizing what this could mean later, Draco pushed those thoughts aside and crawled into the bed with him. Somehow it just didn't seem as awkward or strange as one would've guessed. Instead, Draco couldn't find another place he'd have preferred to be than there when he was truly needed.
Ron nudged himself closer to the blonde, mind not giving a damn whether or not it was right. He found he honestly didn't care. And as he slipped off into sleep, it wasn't a sleep of trying to ignore or pretend. But rather to escape everything that had come crashing down on him.
As the morning sun had begun to peek into the small bedroom, Draco shifted around slightly, stopped when his left arm refused to come any further. It was then he noticed it was still wedged between Ron and the bed and that the redhead showed now signs of moving or waking. He settled against his back try to remain as comfortable as possible. He still wore his clothes from the evening before having merely taken his shoes off. He needed to take a shower. He needed to leave.
Given his sudden desperation, he lifted Ron's body slightly off of his arm, managing as best he could to yank his arm out from underneath the stiff redhead. To his credit, Ron managed to sleep straight through it, faltering slightly when he was placed back down against the mattress but settling back into slumber easily. Draco crept out of the room rapidly, scolding himself over and over.
He spent the remainder of the day in his room and it wasn't until that evening that'd he even seen Ron again until he'd shown up outside of his door, looking to thank him. Draco couldn't take the apology. He told him that he didn't deserve it, as he really hadn't done that much. Ron had tried to argue that he'd helped him more than anyone else had. And in between this somehow they'd managed to work themselves into a searing embrace letting instinct take over.
Clothes went quickly, as mouths and hands fumbled, getting acquainted as quickly as was possible. Always the more dominate of the pair, Ron had managed with some guidance to take Draco, the blonde settling easily into the opposite role, relishing in the feeling of being dominated in such a way. Apprehension settling over them in thick amounts as they laid in Draco's large bed, not knowing where to go after that.
A/N: Ok note that I am just reuploading. I've corrected a few things throughout each of the first two parts and also note that a third part will be added to the end. It is in the middle of being written now. Nothing has been changed, just simply fixed in a few places. Thanks for the all of the encouragement and enjoy!