A/N: I know this is another GoF Second Task things, but I tried to doI with a different twist. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own...Yadda...Yadda...Yadda...
A Proper Thank You.
Harry was plagued with strange dreams and nightmares the week after the second task. He found himself waking several times a night, breathless, sweating and shivering. With the nightmares he had the added bonus of waking with a burning forehead. With the other sort of dreams he woke with an aching arousal.
What bothered Harry the most was that both types of dreams centered around Ron.
The nightmares were clear enough to understand. Replays of trying to find and get to Ron in time for the second task. Only this time the creepy merpeople would not let him take his friend back with him. Or he would end up getting lost in the grindylows just as Fleur had done and not get to his mate in time. Some how or another, he would end up losing Ron in the end--forever. The person he would miss the most. The other dreams, Harry decided, must be because during the last week all he could think about was why Ron was chosen as the "thing" he would miss the most.
The other issue Harry seemed to be having trouble with was while Hermione was getting all sorts of grief about being Viktor Krum's most missed, no one had said a word about Ron being Harry's. For surely Malfoy and his goons would love to rub it in and make insulting insinuations about the two mates. Because after the fear of losing Ron, the need to find him and the rush get him (and the others) back up to the surface subsided, it was exactly what ran through Harry's mind.
Ron seemed quite unfazed about it, as he told false tales of being captured and tortured underwater until Hermione had had enough and told everyone the truth—very loudly. So Harry didn't bring his thoughts up to either of his friends. Instead he brooded over it, lost in arousing dreams and horrible nightmares.
Of course he tried to rationalize it. Ron had been his first real friend. For the most part, Ron had stuck by him, thick and thin. He sacrificed himself their first year in the chess match. The second year he came and broke Harry out of the Dursley's. Third year he stood before a known killer on a broken leg, brandishing his wand and his life for Harry. And this year when they had fought, Harry had been miserable. More miserable than he cared to admit. So when Ron came to him after the first task, he didn't even want an apology. He was just extremely relieved to have Ron back at his side. And Ron had been since, faithfully.
But wasn't that what best mates did? Stood by each other, no matter what? Of course he would miss Ron if he was gone—that month they were apart was proof. And of course he felt, well, something for Ron. If Harry thought about it, it could even be called love. Because wasn't it all right to love your friends? He loved Hermione like he would a sister…Didn't he love Ron as a brother? But you didn't have those sorts of dreams about your brother. And he definitely was not having dreams about Hermione…
It was driving Harry completely bonkers. Part of him was even a bit upset that Ron seemed totally oblivious. Why wasn't he questioning these things, too? Maybe Harry was making this into something it wasn't. But why did the dreams start?
And why did Harry find himself gazing at his redheaded friend in class and at meals? And why did he begin to feel heat creep up his neck whenever Ron smiled at him? And why did he notice just how many freckles surrounded those bright blue eyes? And why when he saw Cho Chang in the hallways and she smiled at him, didn't he feel the same fluttery feeling in his stomach as he had at the beginning of term?
And finally, why by the end of a week of dreams and nightmares, was Harry looking forward to going to sleep at night?
It was a little over a week since the second task when Harry woke up from his worst nightmare yet. This time, in his dream, Harry got to Ron within the time limit, but when he found his friend, instead of being in an enchanted sleep, Ron was dead.
Again Harry woke up sweating and shivering, trying to blink away the images. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Rubbing tight-fisted hands over his eyes, he tried to wipe the image of Ron's cold, still body out of his mind. By now, he had gotten into the routine of waking from a nightmare, calming himself and then begin to think about the more pleasant dreams to fall back to sleep with. Soon he would find himself drifting back to sleep.
It was not working this time. He just kept see Ron, floating in the water, never to awake again. A sick feeling was building in his stomach, so Harry grabbed his glasses from the bedside table and slowly slid out of bed.
He was greeted with a blast of cold as he stood next to his bed for a moment gathering his bearings. A loud snort from Ron's bed attracted Harry's attention. Ron had left his curtain partially open and Harry could see tuffs of red hair just peeking out from beneath the pillow. The rise and fall of the blankets reassured Harry that his best mate was alive and well.
Still, Harry felt the remains of his nightmare tugging at his brain. Sighing, he gazed at Ron, suddenly overcome with the desire to crawl into the bed next to his mate, in an effort to comfort away his nightmare. Quickly, Harry shook away the temptation, knowing full well Ron would think him mental for doing such a silly thing. And although his current nightmare was taking precedence in his mind, Harry could not ignore the fragments of the other types of dreams floating about in the back of his mind, making him feel a bit awkward about crawling into bed with the redhead.
It took more effort than it really should have to walk away and go down to the common room. Harry sat on the floor in front of the fire that crackled undauntedly. He stared into the flames trying to banish all the bad thoughts from his mind.
He had not been sitting there very long when he heard the stairs creak. Turning his head slightly, he saw Ron emerge from the stairway.
"Alright, 'Arry?" the redhead yawned. H rubbed his eyes with his fists and stretched, bringing his already too-short pajama bottoms up past his ankles. Ron's hair was tousled from being buried under his pillow and the collar of his tee-shirt was so stretched some of his collarbone was exposed. He looked absolutely adorable.
Yes, that was it, wasn't it? Harry thought to himself. Ron was quite adorable. He was also funny, good, kind and especially loyal. Harry's heart made a strange lurch and flopped heavily in his chest.
"Yeah, I guess," Harry smiled in spite of himself.
Ron came over to sit near Harry in front of the fire. "Was it a nightmare?"
Harry nodded, amazed at how Ron's freckles danced across his cheeks and over the bridge of his nose in the flickering firelight.
"You've been having a lot of those lately, haven't you?" Ron's blue eyes reflected the flames in the hearth.
"What?" Harry blinked, looking at his friend a bit stunned. "How…How'd you know…"
Ron shrugged. "I've been hearing you wake up a lot this past week. Usually you seem to go back to sleep, but tonight you didn't so I came down to check on you."
Harry felt himself warm at the thought of Ron looking out for him, yet he was embarrassed by it, too. "Oh. I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't really, I've been having trouble sleeping, too," Ron rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
"Why?" Harry wondered if Ron was having nightmares, too and hoped he wasn't the cause of them. It was always in the back of Harry's mind that he put Ron in more danger by being his friend.
"Oh, well, I've had a lot on my mind…"
"Is it about the second task?" Harry blurted.
Ron nodded, but didn't take his eyes off the leaping fire. There was a long silence until Harry found himself moving closer to his friend and leaning towards him to whisper,
"You know it just about killed me when we were fighting and didn't talk for that month."
Ron finally turned to look at Harry. Then he too, leaned forward a bit and replied in a soft voice,
"Yeah, me too…I'm sorry I was such a prat. I just felt you had gone off and done something without me…And I hated it because we always do everything together—usually."
"Hermione had said you were jealous…"
"Maybe I was—a bit. But mostly I thought you just didn't involve me in on your secret. And I was hurt. And I realized quite soon that you were telling the truth, but I was too stubborn to come up to you. Of course, when I saw that dragon you had to face…"
"It's okay, Ron, you don't have to…"
Ron put his hand up to stop Harry. "No, really. When I saw that this contest—this championship really did put you in a lot of danger, then I realized that the whole fight was stupid. I was stupid," Ron frowned and glanced away.
"I…well, as you can see, I forgive easily," Harry chuckled and rocked his shoulder into Ron's. "Especially those I would miss the most."
A small smiled formed on Ron's lips and he looked back at his friend. "Yeah, how 'bout that…"
"I never told you, but you're the first real friend I ever had."
"You mean wizard friend."
"No, friend period. Dudley treated me like such rubbish that no one wanted to be friends with the freaky kid," Harry frowned at the memory.
"Ah, well, they didn't know what they're missing then. Us freaky kids need to stick together. At last I don't have to worry about being replaced."
"No one could ever replace you, Ron," Harry admitted in a low voice.
Ron's smile grew wide and made his blue eyes brighten. Again Harry felt something in his chest lurch. "Well, all I know is that it's a good thing the roles weren't reversed and I had to save your arse—I'd probably screw it up somehow and then you would have been in trouble," Ron joked.
"You would have done fine. You would have saved Hermione right away…"
"No, Harry, I'm pretty sure it would have been you." Now it was Harry's turn to smile widely. "Although I probably wouldn't have had the moral fiber you had and tried to save everyone," Ron grinned.
Harry ducked his head. "I'm sorry, but after the dragon thing, I just wasn't so sure about the limits."
"Hey! I'm not complaining, at least you thought to save me first…"
"How did you know that I…"
"Ha! Now I do!" Ron was grinning mischievously and suddenly Harry found strange ideas forming in his mind.
"You know," Harry spoke in a low voice he'd never heard himself use before, "Fleur and her sister gave me a kiss to thank me for rescuing her."
Ron's ears went a bit pink and he mumbled, "Yeah, they did that to me, too. Because I helped bring her to shore, or something."
"And you know," Harry moved to sit facing Ron, his back to the fire. "I did rescue you, too…"
Ron snorted. "Of course, you prat, what have we been talking…"
"So the way I see it, you still owe me, then." The words were out of Harry's mouth before he could stop them.
Ron narrowed his eyebrows and studied his friend. "What are you on about?"
Harry cocked his head and scooted forward to bridge the small gap between them, causing their knees to touch. He reached out and began to draw a spiral pattern on one of Ron's thighs with his finger.
"You never thanked me properly. It's time," Harry ran his tongue across his bottom lip, "to pay up."
Ron stared at his friend for a long moment before realization dawned on his face, causing his jaw to drop and his eyes to widen.
"But Ron," Harry softly mocked as he leaned his face closer so their noses were almost touching.
Wha…I…er…" Ron was gibbering, but did not back or look away from the flirting raven-haired boy.
"Ron." Harry did not know why he was doing this or why he wanted it to happen so much. He only knew he could not stop now. "Just do it, okay?"
Ron's nervousness seemed to dissolve as he looked into Harry's green eyes; dark with something he'd never seen before.
"Fine. But you asked for it." In a quick motion, the redhead reached up and pulled Harry's face towards his to firmly press his lips to Harry's. He banged his nose roughly against the dark-haired wizard's in the process but didn't pull away. Instead he shifted his head and poked his tongue at Harry's lips causing the smaller boy to gasp and let the tongue through.
The kiss was awkward and experimental at the same time. Ron grasped Harry's waist and pulled him into his lap. Harry adjusted himself to wrap his legs around the taller boy's hips and then weaved his fingers into the soft red hair. Ron trailed one hand up to the nape of Harry's neck and fingered the hair there. His other hand firmly grasped Harry's waist, his fingertips pushed underneath the waistband of Harry's pajama bottoms.
The fire crackled and burned as they continued to experiment with their mouths and tongues, only breaking apart for gasps of air before continuing. The kisses got better with each go. Ron learned that Harry would mewl and moan when he slid his tongue over Harry's lips and teeth. Harry learned that Ron's groans would make his mouth vibrate slightly as he sucked diligently on Ron's tongue. They both learned that the feeling of the other boy's tongue against their own made chills run up their spines and their bodies flush with heat.
Eventually, after several minutes had gone by, they pulled slightly away and pressed their foreheads together.
"So was that a proper enough thank you?" Ron asked softly.
"Hhhmmmm…I don't know…In this situation, one thank you might not be enough," Harry grinned impishly.
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