Title: But It's Snape!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all it contains is not mine. I am in no way affiliated with Bloomsbury, Scholastic, WB etc in any way. I'm just having a bit of fun with the characters. Don't bother suing, the only thing I have of value is my highly prized iPod which no longer works...
Summary: Former professor and student meet again.
A/N: I actually thought of this in church, I know, hilarious, right? I think so. Anyway, my mind had strayed to a Ron/Severus story I read a while back and I thought there were not enough fics of that pairing, then bam! A plot bunny hit me and I left discreetly to write it down. This really was a piece of fluff done for my own amusement, but I've finally decided to get off my arse and post it. It's exceedingly long and I hate typing, but in my humble opinion it's worth a read so I figured I should make an effort and share with the masses. There really aren't enough Ron/Severus fics.
Also, I wrote this long before book six came out, like before the title was known. That book doesn't exist in this story. Too bad it doesn't exist period. I'm still traumatised.
x x x x x x x x
'Look!' exclaimed Hermione Granger.
'What?' Harry Potter asked around a mouthful of sandwich.
'Isn't that Professor Snape?'
'Professor Snape? You're kidding,' said Ron Weasley incredulously. He looked around and saw their former Potions professor in a queue waiting to be seated.
'He looks different,' commented Harry. 'Younger almost, and a great deal cleaner.'
The three friends were sitting in a muggle restaurant in London. Five years out of Hogwarts and the death of Voldemort four years behind them, they were leading somewhat ordinary lives. Harry was flying for England's Quidditch team, Hermione, a researcher for a leading potions manufacturer and Ron was working his way up in the Department of Magical Games and Sports. He hoped to be head of the department one day. They were as close as ever and made an effort to see one another (as they were doing now) at least twice a week.
'I heard he stopped teaching,' said Harry.
'Really? Not teaching?' asked Hermione.
'Why are you so surprised?'
'Because he was so good! Not with the students of course, but anyone could see he really knew what he was doing.'
'It seemed to me as if he hated it. Why else would he apply for the DADA position every year?' said Ron matter-of-factly.
They studied him for a while before returning to their meal. Eventually though, their conversation wandered back to their former professor who was now seated at a table in a corner obliquely opposite them.
'I wonder what he does now?' Hermione mused.
'Who cares?' said Harry eloquently.
'I don't,' added Ron, but that was not completely true. He'd been eyeing him interestedly since he noticed him.
'He wasn't so bad towards the end of the war.'
'Because he was too busy to be mean,' scoffed Ron.
'Maybe we should say hello…or not,' taking back her suggestion at the sight of Ron and Harry's appalled faces.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but smiled at them affectionately.
'When will you boys grow up? Anyway, thanks for lunch, this was fun, but I have to go.'
'Your bloke waiting for you?' asked Harry teasingly.
Hermione ignored the question, simply kissing her friends on their cheeks before leaving.
'I have to leave too mate,' said Ron shortly after.
'Running off to your bloke as well?'
'I actually have to work you know, not all of us can hang around entertaining friends all day. And if by "bloke" you mean Tony, I chucked him last week.'
'Eh,' was his noncommittal reply. 'I'll see you later,' and with a parting wave to Harry he exited the restaurant. It was a five minute walk to the Ministry, and though he could Apparate there he preferred the exercise. Keeping in shape when he spent most of his time in a cramped office was not easy and he was not about to lose his well-defined physique.
He was standing at a corner waiting for the light to change when someone spoke in his ear.
He turned so quickly that he lost balance causing him to step on another pedestrian's foot. He spun around to apologise then turned back to the man who addressed him.
'Professor Snape - er - fancy seeing you here.' Fancy seeing you here? He cringed inwardly.
'You can drop the "professor" part. I am neither your professor nor anyone else's anymore.'
'Oh- all right.' He had no idea what to call him now though.
The traffic light had changed and the two wizards were blocking people from crossing the street.
'Oh- sorry.' They both crossed. Ron was wondering what he should say, if anything, when Snape took the decision out of his hands.
'On your way to the ministry?' he asked casually.
'Yes, I work there.'
'I heard so. I'm going there as well- I dare-say you will not mind if I accompany you?'
'No, of course not.' They fell silent once more, but Ron's mind was racing. He could not fathom Snape's out of character behaviour. He was polite. In all his memories of Hogwarts, he could not recall Snape being polite or voluntarily talking to him or his friends. However, it had been years since they had seen one another- maybe he had changed, but Ron did not think so. He was having a hideous realisation that this might be the real Snape. The one without Voldemort on his back and employed teaching something he loathed to students that loathed him. It was a bit too much to stomach at once, and the fact that Snape was now attractive did not help his befuddled mind or randy body.
The years after the war had been kind to the Slytherin. His hair, though still long was no longer stringy and greasy, but shiny and healthy looking. Perhaps its previous distasteful condition was due to his constant exposure to the fumes and vapours of brewing potions. His complexion was fair, but not pallid and from what Ron could discern, his body was agreeably developed. Overall, it was a great change from the oily, peaky, professor he remembered.
Before he knew it, they were in the ministry and Snape was saying good-bye. Ron waved him off awkwardly then headed to his office.
'Hi Jan,' said Ron to one his co-workers who was also coming in from lunch.
'Hey Ron, was that Professor Snape I saw you with?' He had been a few years ahead of Ron in Hogwarts, but they never knew one another.
'Yeah, but he's not a professor anymore. I have to get to work,' said Ron effectively curbing anymore questions Jan might have had. He was a nice enough bloke, but a Nosy Parker if ever there was one. He hurried off to his small office and blanched at the amount of memos waiting for him. Wasn't it bad enough that his inbox resembled Mt Everest?
He had been promoted two months ago and his workload was alarming, but he loved his job. His duties mostly involved Quidditch, and right now, his department was gearing up for the World Cup. It had been cancelled during the war, but was back now and being hosted by England. They were also in the finals, a feat he contributed (with true best friend biased) solely to Harry's skill on the pitch.
By six o'clock, he had finally dealt with all the memos and his in tray was mercifully a quarter of its previous size. It was time to go home; these days he could name the maintenance staff and tell someone about their families.
He lived in a small flat not far from the ministry that he walked to and from work unless he was completely knackered. Despite his pureblood upbringing, his life was surprisingly Muggle. He knew as much as Hermione when it came to Muggle life and did most things that way. He found he rather enjoyed it, especially the clothes. He only wore robes for official ministry functions.
Twilight had fallen and the air outside was cool and refreshing after being holed up in his office for hours. He stopped in at a pub where he had drinks with Harry every now and then and ordered a pint. He sat at the bar and was amazed to find he was sitting next to none other than Severus Snape.
'Weasley, fancy meeting you here,' he drawled sarcastically.
Ron could feel his face heating up at the sound of his own idiotic words. 'Er- after work cooler.'
'Really? Where do you work now?'
'No one place exactly- you could call me a consultant of sorts.' He smiled and took a sip of his drink.
'No you don't.'
'You're right, I don't,' he admitted chuckling. Hang on- was he laughing with Snape?
Weird, weird, weird!
He started running his fingers through his hair- something he did when nervous- then stopped abruptly. He must look like a fool; his hair was longer now- almost to his shoulders –he could just imagine what it looked like. Hastily attempting to smooth down his hair, he stopped short. Why did he care what his hair looked like in front of Snape?
'So- erm –you come here often?'
'Seldom, and you don't have to make small talk with me Weasley. I am not your teacher; you won't lose points for being rude.'
'You could call me Ron,' he said abruptly, 'since you're not my teacher and all.'
Snape's mouth twitched up in a half smile. 'All right Ronald-'
'Ron, just Ron.'
'All right Ron. But I suppose you should call me Severus then.'
'Severus.' The name rolled off his tongue sensuously and floated in the air and for a moment, they just stared at each other. Then Ron cleared his throat nervously, the sound landing with a thud, disturbing the silence. He blushed redder than his hair, knocking over his mug in his haste to be gone.
'Er- it was good to see you prof- er Severus.' He got up and fled out of the pub without giving Snape a chance to reply. Forget walking home tonight. He Apparated the minute he was out the door, luckily no one had been there.
When he was in the safety of his own flat, he calmed slightly. What was he flustered about anyway? So he had a drink with Snape…so what?
So what it's Snape!
He picked up his phone and punched in Hermione's number.
He hung up. Andrew, Hermione's boyfriend had answered. He could not find it in him to like Andrew; something about him got on Ron's bad side. He once heard a friend of his from the Caribbean say that her blood did not take to someone. That was it.
'Hello?' he answered after his phone rang.
'Ron, did you just call?' asked Hermione.
'Yeah – er, sorry about that,' he replied sheepishly.
'That's okay.' They had agreed to disagree about Andrew. 'What's up?'
He quickly told her what had happened and waited. Silence.
'Well, what do you think?'
'I don't know what you want me to say,' she said hesitantly. 'It does seem a bit out of character, but apart from that - '
'– I don't think it's anything to jump to conclusions about.'
'Bet you anything he's queer.'
'And while you're probably right I still don't see what the fuss is about…unless…you're not interested in him are you?' she finished doubtfully.
'No! Of course not,' he lied. 'The Greasy Git, pah!'
'Hmmm. Methinks thou doth protest too much,' she said in a singsong voice.
'Hermione, he harassed us for seven years, more if you count the war, tormented us really and he happens to be twice my age.'
'He's not that old,' she stated calmly.
'What do you mean he's not that old! Are you demented? That's not the point, he's Snape.'
'I don't know - he was looking pretty good.'
So she noticed it too…
'You did not just say that. I have to go.'
'Call me later.'
'Yeah, you know I will.'
He wanted a second opinion, but calling Harry was out of the question. He would laugh him off the phone or suggest treatment at St. Mungo's. Either way he did not need that. Perhaps he could call Jeremy, his best gay friend, but he would probably make more out of it than Ron had.
'Why do I even need to talk about it?' he asked himself aloud. 'It's not like I'm going to see him again.' And with that comforting thought, he was able to eat something and go to sleep.
x x x
The next day he was busy at work, his previous mini melodrama forgotten. The amount of memos circling his desk almost made him cry, not to mention the actual work in his in-tray.
He could not even go out for lunch; he had to order something from the Ministry cafeteria (yuck!). His unsatisfactory lunch added with his frighteningly large workload put him in a rather foul mood. His co-workers stayed out of his way, even Jan, who usually acted as though he had some kind of claim to Ron, but no one really understood why, Ron included.
Ron's head shot up from among sheaves of parchment on his desk at the sound of his supervisor's voice.
'I need the stadium dimensions, now! I sent you a memo two hours ago,' said Phoebus Higgins, a heavy set wizard with a buzz cut. His ministry robes looked as though they should be a military uniform.
'I know sir, but you've also sent me twelve other memos. I've been trying to get through them in the order that they come,' replied Ron as politely as he could muster. He needed a recommendation from Higgins if he wanted to get manager of his division and he got the feeling that Higgins did not really like him.
'So all day you've been working on twelve memos!' His eyes bulged ridiculously. He and the higher ups were to scrambling to get everything done in time- or rather they were foisting off as much work as they could on their staff.
'The twelve from you, forty from everyone else and the actual work in my in tray!' he retorted, losing his temper. Ah fuck. He'd blown it now.
Higgins looked slightly taken aback. His general appearance scared most people into submission- except Weasley. He always felt as though he was just pretending to respect him, now he knew... but then again everyone was stressed right now. Yes, that was it, stress.
'I understand Weasley. Just get it to me as soon as possible.'
Jan popped his head in Ron's doorway after Higgins left. 'Whoa, can you believe he said that?'
'Jan get lost,' His bad temper had not abated any.
'Jeez, I actually have a purpose you know. You have a visitor.'
'I told Harry and Hermione I'm swamped,' he muttered irritably.
'It's not them,' he said with a cheeky grin before disappearing.
Ron walked out of his office looking more than a bit fierce due to his long red mane sticking out in various directions. He had been so frustrated at one point that he had actually pulled some strands out. He went to the lounge where visitors were asked to wait, preparing to run one of his siblings. The twins were forever trying to get Quidditch tickets out of him.
'What is it now?' he snarled upon entering the room.
Severus Snape merely raised an eyebrow at his tone.
'Oh! Prof- er- Severus! Erm, hello.'
'Good afternoon,' he replied smirking. He looked devastating in black trousers and a plain white cotton shirt. Apparently he no longer wore robes either.
'Er- what are you doing here?' asked Ron, bemused.
'I was in the building and thought I'd drop by.'
Now it was Severus' turn to feel awkward. Maybe he had not completely thought this out. 'I'll just be going then.'
It was strange seeing his once formidable teacher looking nervous. 'No, don't go. I'm leaving in a few minutes, maybe we could have a drink or something to eat. All I had for lunch was some disgusting concoction the cafeteria calls food.'
Severus' mouth creased into a smile and Ron suddenly wondered what it would look like doing other things.
'All right. I'll wait for you here then.'
'Okay, just give us a sec.' He hurried back to his office to pack up. It was almost five, but he still had tonnes of work to do. He packed some in his bag to do at home and told himself he would come in early to finish up, something he hated, but he had a feeling this was worth it. He smoothed his hair as best he could and straightened his shirt before re-entering the lounge.
Severus got up and followed him out the building. The unlikely pair drew a few inquisitive stares, but if the two wizards noticed they said nothing. They proceeded to the same restaurant where Ron and friends his had had lunch.
'I like it here,' said Ron.
'So do I. They make excellent curry,' added Severus.
'I love the curry here,' said Ron grinning. Severus smiled back at him and Ron could feel his face heating up. Luckily someone came to seat them, enabling him to turn his rapidly reddening face away.
'Do you enjoy working at the Ministry?' asked Severus conversationally. 'I never pictured you for it.'
'Me neither, but I do like it. It's hard work, but fun and I get a pretty decent salary. And after going through the war well, being an Auror suddenly lost its charm.'
'I'm happy to hear that. You were all too young...'
Ron wanted to change the subject, but tact had never been his strong point. 'When did you leave Hogwarts?' Real smooth.
'A year after the war - I had fulfilled my duty.'
'If you don't mind me asking, did you ever like teaching at Hogwarts?'
'Not for a minute, but I did it because I had no other options at the time. That is what you were going to ask me isn't it?'
'Yes,' answered Ron, blushing slightly.
Just then the waiter arrived to take their orders. With grins on their faces they both ordered curry dishes.
An hour and a half later they were sipping wine and getting further acquainted. They laughed over escapades that had happened while Ron was a student, shared a few sober moments over the war learned about one another in general. Both of them were forced to let go of several misconceptions about the other.
'Ron, aren't you afraid of splinching yourself?' asked Severus half jokingly when Ron started on his fourth glass of wine.
'Nah, my flat's just down the road. I'll walk, that's what I do most of the time.'
'We both seem to be leading very Muggle lives.'
'Except for our occupations.'
'Yes, except for that,' he said wryly.
Minutes later Severus was walking Ron home. They had both seemingly come to a silent agreement not to talk about the apparent strangeness of what was happening.
Ron completely forgot his previous panic as he and Severus strolled down the street to Ron's flat chatting amiably. The moment they stepped into the apartment however, his stomach started to flutter.
'Would you like something to drink?' he asked, proud of how calm he sounded.
'No thank you. I'll see myself out.' He dithered for a moment before moving toward the door.
Ron walked up to him and handed him a slip of paper. He pressed it into his palm, lingering slightly. How he ever got the nerve to do it he did not know. It must have been the alcohol. 'My number, in case we don't bump into each other.' He leaned forward and kissed him very quickly near his mouth. 'Goodnight Severus.'
'Goodnight Ron,' he replied slightly dazed. They exchanged parting smiles, then Severus Disapparated with a POP!
Ron remembered the work he brought home and groaned, He fished around in his medicine cabinet and thankfully found a sobriety potion. Seconds after taking it he was dialling Hermione's number frantically.
'Calm down Ron, I can't understand a word you're saying.'
'I think I just had a date with Severus!'
'A date with whom?'
'Severus, Severus Snape!'
'Oh my God, are you serious?'
'Yes, and I kissed him and gave him my number and - oh God, I actually want him to call- grant it I was a bit tipsy, but I still did it and-'
'Stop. Take a breath and start over.'
'He came to my department, just to say hello - '
'Just to say hello?' she repeated incredulously.
'Yes, but then he was going to leave so I asked him to wait for me and suggested we get a drink or something to eat. We went to Telly's and had dinner.'
'You asked him out!' she shrieked loudly, causing Ron to move the receiver from his ear.
'I'm aware of that Hermione,' he snarled into the phone.
'No need to get snippy. You expect me not to be shocked? I was just teasing you before. I never dreamed anything would come of it. It's Snape.'
'Thank you, you're really making me feel better. Super job.'
'I'm sorry Ron, really. Okay, aside from the oddness of it all, how do you feel? Do you like him?'
'Oookay, just give me a moment to digest that startling revelation.'
'Hermione,' he gritted out.
'Oh, all right, I'm just having a bit of fun.'
'At my expense!'
'And you have never done that to me? That's what I thought, now you must admit it is weird. Anyway, so yes you like him. Now, do you regret having dinner with him?'
'What about giving him your number? I think I recall you screeching something about wanting him to call?'
'Now we're cooking with gas!'
'It's something my mum says, never mind that - '
'But what does it mean?'
'Let it go! It just means we're getting somewhere. I thought you were proficient in all things Muggle?'
'You're digressing, hang on, there's a beep. Hello?'
'Hey Ron.' It was Harry. He pondered the situation for a few seconds before linking the two calls. Harry would find out eventually. It might as well be now.
'Hey Hermione. I was just calling Ron to find out if he'd be willing to be set up.'
'What, set me up? With who?'
'A Quidditch mate's brother. He's a good looking bloke, funny too.'
'Harry we've been through this already. I told you after what's his face - '
'I told you after Daniel no more fix ups - '
'But he's great!'
'If he's so fucking fantastic you go out with him!'
'Ron, language! And I'm still here thank you very much.'
'Sorry Hermione,' they chorused.
'Just forget it Harry. I'm not doing it.'
'Someone else you'd rather be "doing"?'
'Harry please, that was unnecessary,' said Hermione primly. 'There is someone else though.'
'What's she talking about?'
'Well... there isn't really someone. She's exaggerating.'
'Come on Ron, you can tell me.'
'Fine, but you can't freak out - stop laughing Hermione or I'll disconnect you. I swear I will.'
'Sure you are.' He then launched into a narration about his first run-in with Severus, and seeing him in the pub.
'Yes, but that's not all.' He told Harry about Severus showing up at his office, going for dinner, then the kiss afterward.
'Harry!' admonished Hermione. 'Could you be anymore childish?'
'Probably.' He hung up.
'I'm sorry Ron.'
'You didn't do anything, I'd probably have reacted the same if he told me that.'
'I'm sure he'll come around. It's just the shock really.'
'I guess. I have to go, lots of work to get done.'
'Okay, goodnight Ron,' she said softly.
Ron set about doing his work with a heavy heart. What he really wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep, but instead spent three hours filling various reports and writing documents. He might have finished faster if he had not been so distracted. Just as he was about to slip between his sheets the phone rang, but he was too tired to bother so he left it for the machine to answer.
Beep! 'Hey Ron, it's me. I'm sorry about my behaviour earlier. But - well - it's Snape, you know? We have a lot of history and it isn't everyday your best friend tells you he's seeing a very hated former professor. It'll take a bit of getting used to, that's all. I'll call again later. Oh yeah, don't expect me to be nice to him if you ever bring him round.'
Ron drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face. The next day he was in his office by six trying to finish up yesterday's work before he was bombarded with that day's onslaught. He did not leave his desk until ten when he went to the break room for a cup of tea.
'Morning Jan,' he said shuffling towards the kettle.
'Good morning Ron, I didn't see you come in.'
Yeah, well you don't see everything.
'I came in at six.' He really was not in the mood to make small talk with Jan when he was on one of his information quests.
'Six, wow! Was that to make up for leaving early yesterday?'
'My tea's ready so I'll be going back to work now,' said Ron making a quick exit. He stayed holed up in his office (mercifully without interruption, unless the countless memos sailing in and out counted) until after five. He had finished everything, thank Merlin, He would be able to watch Harry practice, something he had not been able to do for a month. Moreover, they would be able to talk. He Apparated straight onto the English team's training pitch, one of a select few allowed to do that.
'Ron!' he turned to see Harry jogging towards him in his Quidditch gear.
'I'm glad you came. We're on break now,' he said, indicating his team-mates who were milling around. 'Did you get my message?'
'I got it yeah, and it's not like we're dating or anything. It was probably a fluke, me giving him my number... I blame in on the wine.'
'Really? So officially you're single?'
'I don't like the look on your face Harry...'
'Parker! Bring him over!'
'Harry I told you I didn't want to be set up!' hissed Ron.
'I say it's fate. He's here and after not coming for ages you turn up. What would it hurt to meet him?'
Ron could not argue with practical reasoning. What would it hurt? Besides, from what he could tell, whatever his name was gorgeous.
'Hullo Ron. Good to see you again,' said Aaron Parker, a chaser for the team.
'Same here Parker.'
'This is my brother Artemis.' He was almost as tall as Ron, with a muscular build and shaggy blond hair.
'Hello,' said Ron, shaking his hand.
'Hi, it's a pleasure. I've heard quite a bit about you.' He smiled and his blue eyes sparkled as they roamed Ron's body shamelessly.
For once Harry had come up with a winner, so it seemed anyway. For all he knew Artemis was as thick as a troll.
A sharp whistle blew. 'Back in the air!'
'We've got to go,' said Harry. 'Why don't you two get acquainted?' With an exaggerated wink at Ron, he and Parker sauntered off snickering.
'Do you want to sit down?' asked Artemis.
'Sure.' They sat on the bleachers and watched the team run drills for a few minutes before talking again.
'You like Quidditch?' asked Ron.
'I love it; I just never had much skill for the game.'
'Same here - although I did play Keeper for my house in school. I wasn't very good though.'
'You were in Gryffindor right? I was a year ahead of you, in Ravenclaw.'
So much for him being thick as a troll.
After that both men forgot about watching the players and became engrossed in one another. They did not even notice when the team descended.
'You two hitting it off?' asked Aaron.
Ron looked at Harry with a raised eyebrow and shrugged.
'We're getting on just fine Aaron,' answered Artemis in a tone that clearly said go away.
'How about a round at The Dragon?' suggested on of the beaters. The Dragon was a popular hang out for athletes and young working wizards; it was dark, smoky and loud.
Ron and Artemis waited for the team to change and packed up, then they all Apparated into the travelling room of The Dragon. It was a room where witches and wizards could safely come and go without Muggles seeing their magical forms of transportation. For though it was a magical pub, it was in a Muggle area.
'Ron, what do you want to drink?' asked Artemis, leaning in close so he could be heard above the din.
'I'll have whatever you're getting.' A few minutes later he returned with several shots of...what?
'They're called blow jobs,' he said smirking. 'Muggles created it. They're quite good actually. Both kinds I mean.' He smiled suggestively and winked. 'Cheers.' He knocked it back and immediately picked up another.
Ron was blushing so hard he almost choked on his drink. And people called him forward? This bloke was making him feel like a prude. Artemis slapped him on the back.
'Too strong?' The drink or his signals?
'A bit.' Both
'C'mon, let's find some seats.' He steered Ron in the direction of the team and after grabbing a pitcher of beer and two glasses from them, found a table elsewhere.
Ron was definitely interested in Artemis, and it was quite obvious that the interest was more than reciprocated, but he did not want to be interested. Severus had caught his attention in a way he could not ignore. Maybe part of the intrigue was the fact that Severus was his former professor and that he had despised him. He wanted Severus to call, however it was not easy to keep Severus in mind when Artemis was busy chatting him up. A few more drinks and Ron would be shagging him on the bar. Not that he was a whore (yes he was, just a tad) but he was a randy young man. It was not as if he had any kind of commitment to Severus.
'Excuse me a minute,' said Ron. He went over to Harry and pulled him out of his booth and into a corner.
'What's up Ron? Do you like Artemis?'
'Yeah and that's the problem.'
'Why is that a problem?' asked Harry bemused.
'Because I like Severus,' explained Ron as though his reasoning was obvious.
'Seriously? You'd pick him over Artemis?'
'I dunno, maybe, either way we have to go.'
'Because Artemis comes on stronger than troll stench, and if I drink anymore I might not be able to say no.'
Harry snickered, 'wouldn't want to lose your non existent virtue.'
Ron could not help laughing as well, but sobered at the sight of Artemis walking towards them with more shots of who knows what.
'Ron, relax. If you like him just go for it.' said Harry quietly as Artemis approached them.
'Take one. They're good, even better than blow jobs.' He winked at Ron who coloured brighter than his hair. Harry had no idea what was going on, but accepted a drink and walked away... quickly.
Against his better judgement Ron downed the shot, then another, and worse yet, left with Artemis when he suggested it. Now to make things perfectly clear, Ron was not drunk - he certainly had not consumed enough for that - but his head was buzzing pleasantly and the buzz was making him forget his reservations.
'You brother moves fast,' commented Harry as he watched Ron and Artemis heading to the travelling room.
'He likes to call it going after what he wants,' replied Aaron smirking.
Ron and Artemis flooed to his apartment and as soon as they had tumbled out of the fire place Artemis' lips were on Ron's and he was being pressed into his own slightly battered couch. After the initial surprise had abated Ron responded with equal vigour. Soon it was all tongues, teeth and probing hands. Ron managed to manoeuvre them into his bedroom where they fell onto the bed without breaking contact. Artemis started tugging at Ron's clothes until his shirt made contact with the floor. He then pulled away from Ron, who was under him and simply stared for a moment.
'You look absolutely lovely,' he rasped, looking at Ron's smooth, defined torso. He gently traced the freckles scattered across Ron's milky chest with his fingers, then his tongue.
'Oh, God... take you're top off,' muttered Ron, almost incoherently. Artemis got the message however and quickly complied. As soon as the garment left his hands he closed the distance between them. The feeling of skin on skin was glorious but they both wanted more. Ron arched up against Artemis, pressing their groins together, who then quickly unfastened Ron's trousers and was soon closing his fist around Ron's hard member. Ron moaned and then tried to return the gesture, but the things Artemis was doing to him, rendered him incapable of doing anything but moan and whimper unintelligibly. Artemis covered his mouth with his own, quieting Ron with a searing kiss. He sucked, licked and nibbled his way to Ron's neck, all while his hands roamed his partner pleasurably. Eventually Ron remembered that what they were doing was a two person activity, and with some exertion was able to regain his senses enough to repay Artemis in kind. And, oh boy! did he ever.
Some while later they dozed off, wrapped around each other, properly sated.
There was a ringing noise... was it in his head? Did he get so pissed last night that his hang over caused ringing with every movement? There it was again, but he had not moved... the phone! Ron opened his eyes groggily and spotted the phone on the bedside table. Moving as speedily as he could with a person covering part of him, he managed to answer it just before the machine came on.
'Who the hell calls before ten on a Saturday morning?' he whispered acidly.
'What a lovely greeting,' came a sarcastic, dry voice. 'This is Severus. I apologise for obviously waking you.'
'Severus!' His tone changed instantly. 'I'm glad you called,' said Ron, smiling into the phone. He gently extracted himself from Artemis' possessive grip, taking the bedspread with him. He wrapped himself up and escaped to the living room, flopping down on his couch.
'I wasn't sure if I should,' he admitted.
'I did give you my number.'
'Yes, but I think you were slightly inebriated.'
Ron laughed softly. 'I suppose I was. I can't really hold my liquor.' The wizard lying in his bed could attest to that. He groaned aloud just thinking of what he would have to do when Artemis woke up.
'Did I call at an inopportune time?'
'No, not all. The groan wasn't for you.' He might as well come clean now. 'Someone's here.'
'Oh - I see. I did not realise you were involved.'
'It's not what you think... exactly.'
'It's all right. You don't have to spare my feelings, I'm a big boy,' replied Severus sardonically.
'No, seriously, I wouldn't have given you my number if I was seeing someone. Please don't try to back out. I know our situation is a bit odd, what with our history and all, but I'm willing to have a go if you are.'
'And the someone there?'
'A nice bloke Harry tried to set me up with.'
'It would appear that his endeavour was successful.'
'He only made it back here because I was a little drunk. I told you I can't hold my liquor. I would be lying if I said I wasn't interested in him, but for some inexplicable reason - and you know that's not some kind of backhanded insult - I'm more interested in you. Much more.'
Severus did not say anything, but Ron knew he was digesting his words. Possibly even smiling.
'Have you anything to say?' asked Ron, slightly worried that he had blown his chance.
'Would you like to go out with me tonight?'
Ron was momentarily silenced - despite the bravado of his words he had not expected anything so forward. 'I'd love to,' he finally replied, catching his bearings. Sooo, any advice on how to get rid of the delicious man in my bed?'
'Seeing as I've never had a delicious man in my bed - '
'That'll change soon,' said Ron cheekily.
Severus let out a rich, deep laugh that made Ron tingle. 'Yes, since I've never had such a thing, you're on your own. I'll come round at seven,'
Ron walked over the bedroom and stood in the door way. Artemis was sleeping on his stomach, and since Ron had taken the covers with him, his nude form was exposed. He took a moment to admire his taut body before throwing on a pair of boxers and sitting next to him on the bed.
'Artemis?' He touched him on the shoulder and spoke louder. 'Artemis.'
He rolled over and Ron hastily covered him with the spread he had taken from the bed.
'Morning Ron,' he yawned. He smiled sleepily, causing Ron to feel guilty for what he was about to do.
'Er - I feel a bit - that is... what happened last night - '
'Should happen again.' He leaned forward and dragged Ron down on top of him. He was ashamed to feel his body start to react and moved away swiftly. 'What's wrong?' asked Artemis sitting up.
'What I was trying to say is... I like you, Artemis, really I do - but I was sort of seeing someone... well not really, but there was someone and I really like him. Last night shouldn't have happened. It was not fair to you and I'm sorry if I led you on or hurt your feelings. I was randy and had drunk too much.'
Artemis looked at him for a moment with an unreadable expression, but if Ron was not mistaken, he saw disappointment in his gaze, if only for a brief second. 'Well I can't say I've never been guilty of having had one to many, especially while randy... I should leave.' He found his wand and summoned his clothes. Ron turned away to give him some privacy; he felt quite silly though, considering how well he had become acquainted with Artemis' body one the night before. However the situation was different now; he had no right to look.
'This is good-bye then, I suppose.'
'Yeah, I guess. No hard feelings?' No hard feelings? Hard feelings are what got him in this mess in the first place. He blushed beet red.
Artemis chuckled lightly, 'Don't worry about it. Well I'm off.' And just like that he was gone. Better to call Harry and tell him what happened before he heard it from Parker.
'Hellooo?' came a giggly female voice. 'Harry's phoney thing.' She giggled again.
'Could I please speak to Harry?'
'Sure, hang on. Haaarry, wakey wakey! Someone's on your ringing toy to talk to you, get up.'
Where did he find this one? He thought distastefully.
'And you call me a slut.'
Harry laughed, waking up. 'Hi Ron. I know you're not calling to discuss my bed partners, in fact, you're probably calling to tell me about yours.'
' "Bed partners?" Where'd you get that from? Hermione? And who says Artemis was in my bed?' said Ron indignantly, looking at the spot where Artemis had lain only moments ago.
'So you didn't sleep with him, nor did he spend the night?'
'I did not sleep with him... exactly. Well I did, but not in the way you imply.'
Harry cackled over the line. 'I knew it! Was it good?'
'You are way too into this.'
'Well?' asked Harry, unwilling to be dissuaded.
'What we did, yes, but there was no - ah - penetration.'
'Ew Ron, information overload.'
'I just wanted to make things clear.'
'All right, but you know that's really just a technicality, don't you?'
Ron sighed, 'yeah, I know.'
'Is he still there?'
'No - well that's what I rang to tell you. I chucked him.'
'Ron! He was perfect for you!'
'He was great, but Severus called me... this morning.'
'You dumped him for Snape?' asked Harry disbelievingly.
'I guess so.'
'And if Snape wasn't in the picture, would Artemis still be there?'
'It's a distinct possibility.'
'Ron, you pillock!'
'Harry, I like him, okay? I really do and I know, "but it's Snape!" You don't have to be supportive or like him, just don't give me a hard time about it. I know it's weird. He was our teacher, he was cruel, and we hated him. I get that, but things are different now and I'm trying to not let the past interfere with the present.'
'You sound like Hermione.'
'Well she's usually right isn't she? So I guess if you think I sound like her, that's your way of accepting defeat.'
'So what was he like when he called?' asked Harry, genuinely interested. This was Snape after all, attempting to woo his best friend.
'A bit nervous if you'd believe.'
'Really, Snape nervous?'
'Yeah, it was great though, and before you ask I already told him about Artemis.'
'How'd he take it? He seems like a jealous bloke.'
'What makes you think that?'
'Mean, vindictive, unattractive - '
'Jealously just seems to fit doesn't it? But what did he say?'
'Nothing. I just told him that I wasn't that into Artemis, and that I really wanted him. This is squicking you isn't it?'
'Yeah, I'll tell Hermione.'
'Okay, and I want to hear all about your latest conquest.'
'Don't say it like that, I might see her again.'
'Or not. Nothing in this world is guaranteed.'
'Where'd you hear that? Hermione?'
Ron shuffled around for a while after that. He had some breakfast, watched a bit of telly then soaked in the bath for an hour. When his wrinkled form finally emerged from the tub it was close to one... and he was bored. Even after three years on his own he still did not know what to do with himself on Saturdays. He still had a lot of time to kill before he had to get ready and he had no errands to run. His eyes strayed to a picture of himself and Jeremy. They had not spoken in a few days and Jeremy would kill him if he heard any of what had been going on second hand. He had just picked up the phone to ring him when someone buzzed to be let up. It was Jeremy.
'I was just - '
'About to call?' finished Jeremy, sauntering into the flat.
'Yeah. Sweet Merlin, what did you do to your hair?'
'Do you like it?' Jeremy beamed up at him, his green eyes sparkling playfully. What he had done to his hair could only be described as a Mullet gone awry. And to top things of he had dyed a patch -
'To match my eyes darling.' He walked over to the large, well worn couch and sat down, crossing his legs.
It was times like these that made Ron wonder how he had managed to become friends with Jeremy; the only thing they had in common was their love for men. He had met Jeremy just before he moved into his flat. Ginny was going to a party at her friend from school was throwing and their mum insisted he go along to keep an eye on her. Jeremy was there; he was the muggle cousin of Ginny's friend Arianne. He knew all about magic without possessing a drop of it himself. Ron spent the evening in a corner chatting with him, and despite their many differences they became good friends.
'What brought you over?' queried Ron, sitting next to him.
'I figured you'd be here bored out of your skull.' He turned himself so his back was leaning against the arm rest and threw his legs across Ron's lap.
'You figured right.'
'I'm always right, you're just never willing to admit it. Do you know what your problem is?'
'I'm sure you're about to illuminate me.'
'Exatamundo. You're problem is that your life is so organised that you don't know what to do with free time. You have no consistent activity allotted for Saturdays so you flounder on how to spend your time. You know I'm right.'
'Maybe a little.'
'You said I was right twice! Ha!' His lithe form jumped up from the couch and did an impromptu victory dance while wiggling two fingers in front of Ron's face for emphasis. He was tiny; small and slender. Shorter than Hermione even, who was a full head shorter than Ron.
'You really should move you know. This place is a dump,' stated Jeremy, still standing and surveying the shabby apartment. Again Ron was inclined to agree with him. The kitchen could not hold two people working at the same time and other than that it was just a medium sized room that worked as TV., dining and living room all at once. The bedroom was not minute, but no great prize either. As for the bathroom, it was little more than a cubicle with a sink, toilet and old time bathtub/ shower that he had installed himself. The paint and wallpaper was peeling and the furniture was worn and simple, but at the time it was all Ron could afford. It did have its upsides however, the close proximity to work was priceless.
'Yeah, it's a bit on the crappy side but I've got used to it. I like it very much now,' said Ron, patting the sofa fondly.
'You can afford better now my dear. It's time to move on up. What must your dates think when you bring then back to this shanty?'
'The last one didn't complain, last two actually.'
Jeremy's eyes almost popped out of his head. 'What! You've had men here? Who? And you better not tell me one of them was that fucker Tony.' He glared down at him, hands akimbo.
'No, I haven't spoken to him since I ended things,' said Ron, resisting the urge to laugh at the comical look on his friend's face.
'Good. Now tell me about these mystery men you couldn't be bothered to mention before.' He resumed him seat, and Ron turned slightly so they could face each other.
'Okay, I was having lunch with - '
'Let me guess, the two Hs,' he said sarcastically. Harry, Hermione and Jeremy had never really taken to one another. Jeremy thought Hermione "frightfully dull,' and Harry "a dumb jock." As for Harry, he thought Jeremy overly effeminate and Hermione found him overly hyper and catty. Right on all accounts. When Jeremy first favoured Ron with his opinions of the "two Hs" Ron set him straight immediately and tried to get his two best friends to warm up to him, but failed miserably. He had long ago stopped trying to get them to be friends, he only asked that they be civil when around one another. Not even that was easy though, Jeremy got cattier still around Hermione and her sharp tongue was sharpest when around the petite gay man.
'Yes I was, now let me finish.' He told him the entire story of meeting Severus, Artemis and everything in between. Jeremy made a few outraged sounds but otherwise did not interrupt. 'You can talk now, you look about fit to burst anyway.'
'Well thank you for allowing my to speak your royal highness! I cannot believe that all of that happened and you could not pick up the phone to tell me!' he said shrilly.
'I was going to call...' he offered weakly.
'I bet you told them the second something happened.'
'Don't go there,' warned Ron, and for once Jeremy heeded.
'Fine, but I want juicy details to compensate. None of that gloss over rubbish! What was it like with Arty?'
'Answer the question.'
'It was great. We didn't do the act exactly.'
'You mean you did everything but stick it in his hole and vice versa.'
Ron had to laugh at his terminology. This is why he was friends with Jeremy. He could be completely open with him. Harry and Hermione were great, but they had their limits. 'That's exactly what I mean. The things he could do with his tongue...'
'You whore! What did your elderly gentleman think of that? Was he jealous?'
'No, I told you, he didn't care. And he isn't elderly... or my gentleman. Don't make him sound like some kind of sugar daddy.'
'Oh all right, don't get your knickers in a twist. Severus... the name sounds familiar. I think I may have heard Arianne mention someone by that name.'
'She knows him. I may have left out a small detail... when I said I knew he him from before, well he used to teach me in Hogwarts.' Five, four, three, two, one...
'What! How could you omit that sumptuous titbit! You're sticking it to your old professor!' He picked up a lumpy cushion and pummelled Ron. 'Old acquaintance my ass! Anything else you keeping from me?'
'No, that's it.'
'It had better be. Hmm, former professor... that's so kinky.'
'In what way?'
'Imagine, maybe he used to watch you in class and fantasise about bending you over his desk and having his wicked way with you,' said Jeremy, his eyes glinting mischievously.
That was kind of hot... He would definitely have to ask Severus about that.
'Anyway, I forgive you for now, but I want details later.' Jeremy waved a manicured finger threateningly at him.
'Thank you. And you'll get them, first too. I promise.'
'Good. So what are you wearing?'
Ron's freckled face crinkled distastefully. 'I haven't decided what I'm wearing yet. Unlike some, meaning you, I don't spend hours getting ready and primping.'
'Yet you know the word,' remarked Jeremy loftily.
'Shut up and come on.'
They went to his room, where Ron opened his tiny cupboard obligingly. Jeremy browsed through for a few moments before pulling out a pair of dark blue jeans, black boots and a black, fitted cashmere jumper. He also pulled out a white t-shirt for layering. The sweater was a gift from Draco Malfoy. It was exquisite and fit Ron like a dream. During the war he and Draco had had a relationship of sorts and while they were not quite friends, they kept in touch occasionally and acknowledged each other's birthdays. On the morn of his last birthday he was awoken by the tapping of a rather haughty owl against his window pane. When he opened the package it brought, he found the jumper and a card that said "Happy Birthday Weasel" and nothing more. Draco did not need to sign his name for Ron to know it was from him.
'Why so dark?' asked Ron, eyeing the selection.
'It will bring out the auburn in your hair and make you look mysterious. Plus I know for a fact this jumper makes you look incredible and those jeans make you look like you have a behind. I know what I'm doing. Trust me Ronnie, you'll look fabulous. I have to go now; I didn't intend to stay this long. Before I go though, please, please promise me you will comb and brush your hair.' He said it with such seriousness that Ron smothered his laugh.
'Good boy.' They walked to the door and Jeremy kissed him on the cheek. 'Call me after, ciao for now.'
Ron still had time to spare, so he grudgingly tidied up the flat and before he knew it, six o'clock had rolled around. He took a quick shower, dressed according to Jeremy's instructions and wrangled his hair until it looked quite presentable. He had to admit, he looked pretty damn hot. The t-shirt alleviated the darkness of the outfit enough so that he did not look washed out and the sweater clung tantalisingly to his broad shoulders. Draco always did have a thing for his body. At exactly seven, he heard the buzzer. Ron let Severus up, quickly giving himself a once over in the mirror before answering the door.
'Hullo,' said Ron, his mouth suddenly dry.
'Er - would you like to come in?'
'Thank you.' He stepped inside the small flat and looked at Ron candidly. 'For someone who was so confidant on the phone you certainly appear to be nervous now. What a delightful change.'
Ron chuckled in spite of himself. 'It shows huh?'
'Just a touch.'
'I'm not having second thoughts if that's what you're wondering. So, where are you taking me?' he asked brightly.
'I know it's a bit conventional, but how does dinner and a show sound? I have tickets for Rent. It's showing in the West End.'
'Sounds perfect. You look really good by the way.' The Muggle look really did suit Severus; he looked very handsome in black trousers with a big buckle belt and a plum, button down shirt.
'As do you.' It may have seemed like small praise, but at that moment Ron was the most beautiful man Severus had ever seen.
Ron grabbed his jacket from the peg by the door and they left. Even though he was all for them getting involved a part of him still could not believe what was happening. It was hard to forget their unpleasant history, although the way Severus was looking at him made it easier.
'What are we doing first and how are we getting there,' asked Ron as they exited his building.
'I thought we would see the show first and then have dinner.'
'Fine by me - is that yours?' asked Ron excitedly.
'Yes it is,' answered Severus, indicating a sleek, black luxury car. 'Hop in.'
Ron jumped into the passenger seat. He loved cars.
'I thought it might be more fun if we drove.'
'You thought right,' he said grinning.
The drive lasted for twenty minutes, and after a few moments of stilted conversation, and a minor quarrel the talk flowed easily.
'How long have you been working in the Ministry?' asked Severus.
'Three years. Harry, Hermione and I took a year off after the war and travelled. It feels like we've been everywhere.'
'You three still very close then?'
'Yes. We've had our rough patches over the years, especially during the war, but we've always got through them.'
'Rough patches?' repeated Severus snidely. 'The Golden Trio of Gryffindor don't always get along?'
'Are we in Hogwarts or something? Where do you come off saying something like that?'
'I'm sorry Ron - '
'Stop the car.'
Severus obediently pulled over, his face the picture of remorse. 'I didn't mean - '
'I know exactly what you meant, but if I can put the past behind me you can too. Do you have a problem with me?'
'No, not all all.'
Here he remained quiet for a while. 'We will never be bosom friends but I can be civil towards him.'
'I never really had a problem with her, but no one likes a know-it-all. Look Ron, I am not a pleasant person. I never have been and I don't think I ever will be. It was an automatic reaction. Seeing you like this is strange, but I do not think of you as my student or someone I can or want to intimidate. I had a lapse and I apologise for it.'
'Apology accepted. Let's go.'
After buying programmes (which Severus insisted on paying for) they settled themselves in the theatre; their seats were excellent. Their conversation stayed on light topics, but was not forced. When the show finally started, they simply leaned back and enjoyed it in companionable silence.
'What do you want to eat?' asked Severus as they left the theatre.
'You don't have somewhere picked out already?'
'I thought I would let you choose. They are a lot of good restaurants in this area.'
'Okie, dokie artichokie...'
'What on earth?'
'Oh, something from a TV show. Pretend you didn't hear that. How about Creole? There's a West Indian place just across the way.'
'Creole it is.'
Severus was able to leave his car where it was and they simply walked over to the restaurant. Two hours later they emerged pleasantly stuffed and toting doggy bags. Ron was humming "I'll Cover You," under his breath, much to his date's amusement.
'You've changed Ron,' commented Severus, a few minutes into the drive home. 'And I don't mean it in - '
'I know what you mean. I have changed. I've grown up... we all have. I'm not the only one who's changed though, unless you've not changed at all and this is the real you. Is it?'
Severus was silent for a moment. 'I wish I could say that my previous - ah - behaviour was an act to correspond with my role as, well you know. Unfortunately however, it was simply, no not simply at all. I had an unhappy childhood which made me a troubled youth and that's putting it lightly. As I said before I'm not nor have I ever been "nice" and I don't think I ever will be, but I'm not the same bitter, cruel person I had a tendency to be. Does that answer you're question?'
Ron smiled warmly at him. 'It does.'
x x x
The next morning he slept in, wishing there was a warm body - namely one Severus Snape - next to him. He had said goodnight at his door. Neither of them wanted to ruin things by moving too fast, but that did not stop Ron from wishing differently.
He stumbled out of bed as late as possible, only giving himself enough time to get ready for his lunch date with Harry and Hermione.
'Hey Ron,' said Harry meeting him at the front of the restaurant. 'I got us a table in the back.'
'Cool. Hermione here yet?'
'Here I am,' called Hermione, jogging up to meet them.
'Great, I'm starving.'
'That's my line!' joked Ron.
'Okay Ron,' said Harry the instant they were seated. 'Let's hear about the big date.'
'What date?' asked Hermione, confused.
'With a certain Potions Master.'
She shrieked excitedly. 'You went out with him again? How was it? I want all the details.'
'All the details?' repeated Harry.
Hermione caught his hint and coloured delicately. 'Erm - maybe not all...'
'Jeez Hermione, what kind of a slut do you think I am. Nothing happened.'
'Ahem,' interrupted Harry.
'Shut up Potter.'
'I didn't say anything.'
Hermione's sharp eyes narrowed. 'Ron, what's he going on about?'
'You mean whom.'
'Stop helping Harry,' growled Ron.
The waiter appeared to take their orders, which was fortunate, for Ron looked as though he was about to throttle Harry. After he left, Hermione was back on Ron's case.
'Who is he talking about?'
Damn, she was persistent. That business with Artemis was not one of his finer moments.
'Ronald Weasley I demand to know what is going on,' said Hermione in what Ron called her McGonagall voice.
'Well what happened was - erm, do you remember Harry trying to set me up?'
'Yes, I remember.'
'Well I met him, not on purpose or anything. He was at the team's practice and we talked a bit. Then everyone went for drinks - '
'When will you learn that you can't hold your liquor!' exclaimed Hermione, exasperatedly.
'Neither can you,' Ron shot back.
'I don't attempt to. I know my limits.'
'Do you want to know what happened or not? Thank you. So we went to have a few rounds and er- we talked some more and eventually went back to my flat. Artemis moves super fast.'
Hermione hit him with a levelling stare, but he ignored it.
'Anyway, the next morning Severus called to ask me out. And before you ask, I told him about Artemis, then I told Artemis about him.'
'How did he take it?'
'Severus or Artemis.'
'All right I guess. I got the feeling he was disappointed.'
'And why shouldn't he be?' said Hermione briskly. 'You're a great catch.'
'You sound like my mum,' he said with a small smile.
'And how was the date?'
'We had a shaky start, but everything smoothed out and we had a good time.'
'After we said goodnight and that was that.'
'No kiss?' mumbled Harry under his breath.
'I heard that, and no, there wasn't a kiss, but there will be another date.'
'What? Another one?'
'Harry,' began Hermione reproachfully.
'Don't tell me you're pleased about this?'
The waiter reappeared with as impeccable timing as before, stopping the impending argument. Again Ron looked as though he would like to throttle Harry. Their food distracted them, the air was somewhat tense. After ten minutes of munching in uncomfortable silence, Hermione broke it.
'Now boys, let's not fight,' she said lightly. They both ignored her. She scowled. 'We've been through too much for something like this to cause a rift. Harry, stop being a child, you're various girlfriends - if you could call them that - have certainly been no prizes, or even consolation gifts. Ron, it's not like you decided to go blond, Snape is a big pill to swallow.'
'And me going blond wouldn't be?' retorted Ron, unable to suppress a grin.
'Ron, you know what I meant, after all - '
'It is Snape!' they said simultaneously, then burst out laughing.
'So now that we've discussed my new beau, Harry, let's talk about your new bint.'
'Ron, that's offensive,' interjected Hermione.
'Galinda... she's nice.'
'Oh Harry, you can't stand her, can you?'
'No, I really can't - stuff it Ron. I really tried, but an hour after I spoke to you,' he indicated Ron, who was laughing his head off, 'I gave her her clothes and hid in the loo hoping she'd cotton on and leave.'
'The last one cried Herm, I was just trying to avoid an unpleasant scene.'
'Why do you keep getting involved with those kinds of women? Surely they're not what you want, otherwise you wouldn't be breaking up with them so quickly. Don't you want to be in a serious, loving relationship?'
'Like you and Andrew?'
She turned slightly red, 'Yes, as a matter of fact. And I don't know what the two of you have against him. He is a wonderful man.'
'I never said I didn't I like him,' protested Harry.
'Please - you've known him for over a year and yet you never invite him to your stag nights, or to your practice or games, even though you know he loves Quidditch. At least Ron is up front about it.'
Harry had the grace to look abashed. 'It's not that I don't like him, it's just something about him...'
'Get's on your bad side?' she finished.
'It doesn't matter whether we like him or not Hermione, once you do,' said Ron.
She sighed heavily and shook her head. 'But I want you to. How do you think it makes me feel, knowing my dearest friends in the world can't stand the man I love?'
'I understand Hermione, really I do. I would like for you and Harry to like Severus, but I'm not banking on it. All that matters is that you love him and he makes you happy. Does he?'
'Yes... he did, that is. Oh, I don't know.'
That was unexpected.
'We had a row yesterday. It started off small, a simple disagreement really, and then it escalated until we were screaming at each other. We never fight.' This in itself was surprising considering how antagonistic Hermione could be.
'Did you break up?' asked Harry.
'No, at least I don't think so. But I feel like things won't ever be the same. I didn't even think we were having problems, but why else would we argue like that unless there were deep-seated issues.'
'What started it?' inquired Ron.
'You - the two of you really.'
Harry and Ron stared at her, taken aback.
'I thought you said it was a disagreement.'
'It was. He's being honoured at a work function and I wanted to invite you. He said you wouldn't care - '
'He was right,' muttered Ron.
'And I said you would,' she continued as though Ron had not spoken. 'That you were my closest friends and would be happy for him because I was, before you knew it, we were raging and storming.'
'For someone with so much insight, you're seriously lacking when it comes to your own affairs,' said Ron cryptically.
'What's that supposed to mean?'
'Isn't it obvious? He's jealous.'
'Jealous of what?' said Hermione, scoffing. 'He has nothing to be jealous of.'
'All the time you spend with us obviously, and just hear me out,' said Ron, sensing she was going to cut him off. 'I did not say he was right. We've been through hell and back together and I'll be damned if I let someone interfere with our relationship, but I'm guessing that work function was his thing. He wanted it to be all about him, not us. He probably resents us, maybe that's why we were never really able to be friends. He does not want to share you.'
'I just thought if you two saw him in his element you might come around... I suppose you're right though. It certainly makes sense.'
'Aren't I always?'
On any other occasion, Hermione might have made a cutting reply, but as it was she simply said, 'Not always, but thank you.'
'So Ron, since you figured out her problems, maybe you can tell me why I go for the women that I do?' asked Harry, trying to lighten the mood.
'Sorry mate, you're on your own with that one.'
x x x
'I thought we,' kiss, 'agreed not to,' kiss, 'move to,' kiss,' quickly,' said Severus as well as he could while his mouth was being plundered by Ron's.
'Nonsense, this isn't moving too fast,' murmured Ron, sucking on Severus' bottom lip in a way that made the older man melt. They had just come from their second official date and were in Ron's doorway, saying goodnight. Ron pulled back to breathe, leaning his forehead against Severus'. 'Do you want to come in?' he asked breathlessly, before kissing him again.
'Yes,' whispered Severus, his breath caressing Ron's lips. 'But I won't.'
Ron's hand froze under Severus' shirt and he moved back slightly, looking confused. 'You don't want...' he broke off not knowing what to say.
'Let me rephrase that,' said Severus drawing Ron near again. 'I don't want to come in tonight. I am not interested in a fling of any kind. If you want to pursue this, then we need to pace ourselves, move more slowly.'
'But not too slow right?'
'Ah, to be twenty four again. Goodnight Ron.' And with a final lingering kiss, he left.
''Not tonight,' called Severus from down the hall.
The next day Ron was at the Burrow for dinner. Since all her children had moved out, Mrs Weasley demanded they return every Sunday for supper. Luckily the entire family had made it out of the war alive.
'Ron sweetheart,' said his mother hugging him, 'go help Ginny set the table.'
''Hey Gin,' said Ron, tugging lightly on his sister's hair.
'Get off,' she said, swatting him. 'Here, put these on the out.'
With a flick of his wand, he enchanted the plates she gave him to place themselves on the table. 'Where's everybody else?'
'Dad is tinkering away in his workshop. Fred, George and Percy are out back resting. Apparently they got here early and moved a fork or something,' answered Ginny, rolling her eyes.
The war had changed many people including Percy and the twins. Percy gained humility and knowledge as opposed to pedantic learning, and the twins learned that not everything could or should be turned into a joke. As Ron had told Severus, they all grew up. They were forced to.
'I should be resting, that's what. I'm studying and training for the MLE exams and working nights, never-mind that I still manage to come here and help Mum whenever she needs, but those lousy oafs get to lounge in the garden.'
'Ginny, relax. How's training going? I meant to ring you this week, but I got -er- distracted.'
'Forget training, it's horrific by the way, why were you distracted?' Her face lit up, 'A new guy?'
'Why does me saying I was distracted automatically mean a new guy? I have work up to my neck and - '
'Ron, please. I'm not an idiot.'
'Oh all right. Yes there's a new someone.'
She squealed loudly. 'Who, who?'
'I'd rather not say.'
'Why not? It's someone I know isn't it? Someone from Hogwarts?' deduced Ginny with unnerving accuracy. 'Tell me!'
'Tell you what?' asked Molly, levitating steaming dishes from the kitchen and setting them on the table. 'Ginny go call you father and brothers.'
'Sure, and why don't I clean the house and de-gnome the garden while I'm at it,' she muttered sullenly.
'If you like,' replied her mother unfazed. 'What was she talking about Ron? What does she want you to tell her?' She stared at him suspiciously.
'It was nothing, she was just being nosy.'
She pursed her lips disapprovingly but otherwise remained silent.
'I'm starved,' said Percy loudly. 'Hello Ron.'
'Fred, George,' greeted Ron darkly. He never could get them to stop calling him that.
'Let's eat shall we?' said Arthur after hugging his youngest son. Soon everyone was doling food onto their plates.
'What's new with everyone?' This was a weekly question, and each week everyone had to say something new that had happened to them. According to Molly it was the only way she could get information about their lives out of them.
'Fred and I came up with a new product at work. Top secret of course, can't discuss it,' said George.
'I want to hear something personal,' said Molly sternly.
'Oh all right, I've finally asked Meg to marry me and unbelievably she said yes.'
Congratulations began to flow, but none as copious as Mrs Weasley's. 'You didn't! Oh George!' She got up and smothered him in a hug. 'When? I want all the details, and I hope the rest of you lot are listening. A wedding at last! I'm so happy!'
'Mum, geroff, I can't breathe!'
'Sorry dear. I'm just so pleased.' She wiped her eyes and resumed her seat.
'Not much to tell really. I just figured it was time. The business is established and thriving, which means I have enough to support a family, and well, I love her. It was just right.'
'Right you are indeed darling. From next week you bring her to dinner.' Girl and boyfriends were not allowed at the weekly family gathering. 'I always knew she was the one for you. I can't wait to start planning, in fact, I'll owl her first thing in the morning. We'll have to pick a day and - '
'What dear?' Oh yes, now is not the time. Fred, your turn,' said Molly, temporarily dropping the subject, but still beaming at George.
'Not much going on with me - honestly mum. I've been busy with the new item all week,' said Fred.
'All right, who wants to go next? Percy?'
'I've been promoted at work,' he said modestly.
'That's excellent. Well done, Percy. At this rate you and Ron will be running the Ministry in no time.'
'Ron, your turn.'
'I don't have anything this week.' Ginny coughed loudly. Molly's sharp eyes flew between her two youngest children.
'Ronald Bilius Weasley, I do not believe you.'
'Really mum.' Ginny coughed again, louder than before, then cleared her throat unnecessarily.
'You better get it over with now Ron,' said Fred wisely, 'before she drags it out of you.'
Ron looked around helplessly, he was not ready to tell them about Severus.
'Yes Ron, you ought to just tell us now,' said Ginny sweetly, completely ignoring the hostile looks her brother was sending her way.
'Fine, I'm seeing someone new. That's it.'
'He's always seeing someone new,' remarked George. Molly admonished him with her eyes and then returned her attention to her youngest son.
'What do you mean by that's it? Tell us his name. When did you meet him? Is he the reason you left Tony?'
'Is it someone we know?' asked Mr Weasley, observing Ron.
'Obviously it is, otherwise he would not be trying to keep it from us,' said Ginny.
'Thank you for that astute observation Ginevra,' said Ron through clenched teeth.
'Is it?' asked Percy.
'Yes and I'm not saying anymore. The relationship is very new and I'd rather not discuss it just yet.'
'Fine! I swear, getting you children to tell me anything is like pulling teeth in that barbaric Muggle way. Your turn Ginny.'
'I placed first in my stealth class at the Academy.'
'What happened to training being awful?' interrupted Ron, amidst her congratulations.
'Everything else is horrid, but I'm getting along,' she replied with an infuriating smile.
'I'm very proud of you Ginny,' said Arthur.
'Thank you Dad.'
'Yes, well done Ginny,' added Molly.
'Thanks mum,' she said quietly. Her training to be a Magical Law Enforcer was a touchy subject with her mother. If Molly had her way, she would be married and producing children by now.
'Come now, dig in everyone,' said Arthur, 'your mother has made custard for dessert.'
Ron was the first to leave. He did not want to endure his siblings' ribbing, plus he thought if he got a moment alone with his sister he might hex her.
x x x
'I need the portkey co-ordinates now!' snarled Ron, storming through the cubicles. Work was a bitch and he was up to his eyeballs in incompetence. 'Higgins will have my ass if he doesn't get them and I will have yours!'
'I just finished them sir, sorry for the delay,' stuttered Terry Clark. He was new, practically an infant and the only person that called Ron "sir". Everyone else remembered when he worked in the trenches with them and they weren't going to let him forget it, not to mention he was younger than most.
'I'm sorry I was rough with you,' said Ron when he got a good look at Clark's frightened face. 'Everyone's on edge because time is going and the workload is still enormous. I should not have yelled.'
''That's all right sir,' he replied meekly.
'You can call me Ron, everyone else does.'
'If you don't mind... Ron.' He blushed brightly.
'Oi Ron! I have the numbers you wanted,' called someone from another cubicle.
'Excuse me,' said Ron before he hastened away. He didn't like the way Clark was watching him, with that bleeding heart expression. 'About time too Millet!' With all his info in hand he stalked back to his office. 'I don't see why we should be dealing with this portkey crud anyway - Sir!'
'Is that what I've come for?' Higgins asked gruffly, eyeing the scrolls in his subordinate's hands.
'Good,' he replied shortly, taking them. After securing them under his arm he leaned close to Ron conspiratorially, 'Between you and me, I don't think we should be handling this slop either. But the transport guys got us on some kind of technicality. No department finds ways of skiving off work better than them.'
Ron went back to his office considerably happier than when he left it, he became happier still when he saw that there was a note on his desk from Severus. A tender smile lit his face as he opened it. It was short and sweet, saying that he had a good time and hoped they could do it again soon. They had waited a full week before going out a second time, although Ron had spoken to him often. Suddenly he had an idea; the World Cup was coming up. He had already reserved tickets for himself, his family, Harry, Hermione and Andrew, but perhaps he could get one more... however the match was still months away. Getting a ticket for Severus would be like saying he expected them to be together for a long time. Ron broke out in a sweat. Unlike Harry, he had no problem starting a relationship; it was the staying in it he didn't do well with. After a few months (if that long) he usually found a reason, whether legitimate, or not, to bail. But no, Severus was different. Something about him attracted Ron like a moth to a flame.
As soon as he got home he rang Severus.
'Hello?' drawled a cold, disinterested voice.
'It's me, Ron.'
'Hello Ron,' said Severus in a much warmer tone.
'Do you like Quidditch?' he blurted out.
'Yes, why do you ask?'
'Because I got you a ticket for the Quidditch World Cup, that is, if you want to go with me.'
'I'd love to go with you, thank you. But Ron, isn't the match almost three months off?'
'Yes it is. I hope it wasn't too presumptuous of me,' said Ron, beginning to rethink taking the initiative as he had.
'No, not at all. I'm very glad you did.'
''Good, and while we're on the topic of Quidditch, do you want to come with me to watch England practice on Friday?'
'They allow outsiders to observe them?'
'Not really, just people like spouses, partners, siblings, or in my case best friend. I try to go every Friday.'
'I highly doubt Potter would appreciate my being there.'
'Who cares? But if you think it'll be a problem we can do something else.'
'Will he be expecting you?'
'Probably, but I don't always make it. Sometimes I actually have a life, like now.'
Severus laughed softly. 'I don't want to deprive you of whatever enjoyment you get from that, so may I offer a compromise?'
'You watch Potter for a while, then come to my house for dinner.'
'Deal, but are we really going to wait another week before we see one another?
'To be honest, I would rather do something sooner.'
'Good, are you free tomorrow evening?'
'Yes, I am.'
'Do you want to go out with me then?'
'I have no objections.'
'Now once again with feeling,' joked Ron. He knew Severus was teasing him for "asking answers."
'I would love to go out with you tomorrow. Satisfied?'
'To an extent, you'd have to be here to truly satisfy me.'
'Hmm... I have nothing to say.'
Ron laughed. 'Okay, meet me at my office for six.'
'See you tomorrow then.'
x x x
Ron waited not-so-patiently for six o'clock to come. It was the longest two minutes of his life. He opened the door of his office to go to the lounge where he expected to find Severus, (he did not want to seem over eager by waiting there) only to find him on the other side of his door, fist raised in preparation to knock. 'Sev,' said Ron smiling brightly.
Severus stepped inside and closed the door. '"Sev?"'
'It just came out. I won't call you that if you don't like it.'
'I like it when you say it.'
The air was expectant, and Ron, always one to follow his instincts walked over to where the dark-haired wizard was standing and kissed him slowly. Severus opened his mouth, allowing Ron's tongue to enter and explore briefly before breaking contact.
'I believe we were going somewhere?' asked Severus, breathing fast.
'Yes, of course. Let's go.'
'Are you going to tell me where we're going?'
'Nope. Just follow me.'
They walked out of the building onto a busy Muggle street where Ron quickly flagged down a taxi. After ten minutes of driving, Severus asked again,
'Ron, where are we going?'
'You'll see,' was all he would say.
'We could have Apparated,' Severus said after another five minutes.
'No we couldn't. Just relax, we're almost there.' Another minute later they were out of the car and walking. They turned a corner and were suddenly faced with a huge fair. 'I came to this when it was here last year with Harry and Hermione - and Andrew,' he added as an afterthought.
'I take it you don't like him.'
'Not much,' answered Ron, steering them into the admission queue. 'But I think it's partly because he doesn't really like us, Harry and me, I mean. I was actually talking about it with Hermione recently; I think he resents our friendship with Hermione.'
'It's hard not to.'
'What?' asked Ron surprised. He turned around to face Severus, 'What are you going on about?'
'Your friendship is intimidating. The three of you are so very close it's hard not to resent you. It's obvious you put each other first.'
'And why shouldn't we,' began Ron hotly.
'I was not finished - walk up, the line is moving. I was saying some people, most really, tend to think that once they are in a relationship with a person, they should come first. They should be the most important person in their lover's life. Is he Muggle?'
'Yes, but he knows all about magic.'
'But I doubt he knows all the details of the war and what you three have been through together.'
'Do you resent it?'
'There was a time when I did, but not for the aforementioned reason. I always wanted a friendship like the one you share with them.'
'And what about the reason you just mentioned?'
'I would never expect you to put me before them, no one that knows your history would.'
'Good. That's good.'
After they bought tickets, Ron took Severus' hand in his as they walked around the park.
'You don't have to hold my hand if you don't want to,' said Ron, noticing Severus' pensive expression.
'It's not that. I've just never been very demonstrative. Most of my colleagues did not even know my sexual orientation.'
'Does it make you uncomfortable being like this?'
'No. It's quite freeing actually.' He leaned forward and kissed his companion softly. Ron's face lit up in a grin.
'Let's go on the Ferris wheel,' he said excitedly, pulling Severus along.
'The Ferris wheel?' repeated Severus unenthusiastically.
'We can snog on the Ferris wheel, now come on.'
Severus could not resist a snicker, but followed on secretly delighted. After they rode it (twice) they went on a series of rides that Severus referred to as 'noisy, Muggle death traps.'
'Let's get something to eat,' suggested Ron. Severus assented and they went to inspect the many food booths. They finally settled on fish and chips and after indulged in some ice cream.
'Are you having fun?' asked Ron as they strolled about (holding hands) and eating their ice-creams.
'Yes I am. This is - ' He broke off when he heard a female voice not far from them speaking.
' - that man could be his father. How shameful! Corrupting that young boy who could probably find a nice girl if he wanted...' the voice died away as they went in different directions.
'Ignore her,' said Ron sharply. 'Our age difference doesn't bother me, why should it bother anyone else.'
'But she's right,' began Severus is a self denying tone.
'The only part she got right was that you could be my father. So what?'
'So it doesn't bother you, not even slightly?
'The age difference or what people think?'
'Our age difference does not bother me in the slightest. I wouldn't be going out with you if it did. As for what people think, I certainly don't give a flying fuck what some old biddy has to say, but there are a few exceptions.'
'Potter and Granger?'
'Yeah, and my family. But just because what they think has weight with me, does not mean I'm going to rule my life by it. For example, Harry happens to think I'm a complete prat for dumping Artemis for you. I happen to disagree.' He gave Severus' hand a little squeeze, and the older man smiled at him. 'What do you want to do now?' he asked, changing the subject.
'I don't think I can handle anymore of those metallic contraptions, but the bumper cars look fairly manageable.'
'To the bumper cars we go.'
'What were you saying before?' asked Ron as they exited the park. 'You know, before the woman?'
'Oh, yes. I was saying this was the first time I'd ever been to one of these.'
'And how was your first experience?'
'Glad to hear it. Where do you live?'
'You going to see me to my door?'
'Yes. It's the gentlemanly thing to do. Besides, I want to see where you live, you know where I do.'
'Ulterior motives, the true mark of a gentleman. Very well, let's go.' With an assist from Severus, they Apparated directly into his house.
'Nice,' said Ron looking around appreciatively. The house was moderately sized and elegantly decorated in muted colours, but furnished sparely and lacking personality. It was lovely, but Ron could not help but think he was exactly what Severus needed to liven him up. His house was aesthetically pleasing, yet cold and uninviting. It needed warmth, something Severus as a person also seemed to lack.
'Would you like a drink?'
'Please.' They walked into the drawing where Severus kept a stocked bar.
'What's your pleasure?'
Ron's rakish grin implied something very different from a drink. 'Firewhiskey, straight up. Thanks Sev.'
Severus flicked his wand and the fireplace roared to life giving the room a warm glow. They settled on the comfortable leather couch with their drinks in tow; they soon abandoned them for a more favourable activity.
Ron had decided that Sev was the best kisser- ever. He was flat on his back with Severus on top of him and they were having a good old fashioned make out session. Their pace was leisurely; they were drinking each other in, their actual drinks forgotten on the table.
'Sev - ' Ron broke off as stars danced in front his eyes. Severus' hand had dipped into his trousers and was doing positively wicked things. 'Oh...' Eventually Ron was able to recall his senses. 'Severus... I have work in the morning.'
The dark haired wizard sat up and glanced at the clock above the mantle. It was after twelve. He looked at Ron's mussed clothing, rumpled hair and swollen lips. He did not want Ron to go, but seeing as things were progressing faster than he anticipated perhaps it was best if he did.
'Stay,' said Severus, ignoring his better judgement.
'Why not?' Severus' fingers slid experimentally under Ron's shirt, causing his breath to hitch,
'I have to go to work', he repeated. 'Plus I don't want you to think I'm easy.' They both laughed at that.
'You can Apparate,' he leaned back down and nuzzled Ron's neck. 'Or floo.'
'I don't have any clothes.'
'You can wear mine.' Severus winced at his words, he sounded desperate. Ah, hell, he was.
'The tables have certainly turned. I thought you didn't want to move too fast?'
'You're right.' Severus moved back, allowing Ron to sit up. They were still breathing heavily and itching to touch each other again.
'How about I stay on Friday?'
Severus stared at him quizzically. 'Are we making a date for sex?
'No, it just means that I won't be rushing off and if things were to escalate, very well.'
'Friday... okay. I can live with that.'
'Good. I better leave now, before I lose my nerve.' He kissed Severus quickly, then Apparated.
x x x
'You've seen him twice this week already?' asked Hermione incredulously.
'And I'm seeing him tomorrow.'
'And what?' he asked innocently. He and Hermione were having dinner. Harry could not make it.
'Ron, what aren't you telling me?' questioned Hermione, scrutinising his face,
'And I got him a ticket for the World Cup.'
'You did! I hear longevity in the distance, but that's not what I'm speaking of and you know it.'
'Fine. I'm supposed to stay over by him on Friday.'
'Things are happening awfully quickly between you two.'
Ron shrugged noncommittally. She was right, but it was not as if they were strangers. And she was only right because serious relationships tended to start off slow. If you were in it for the long haul there was no need to rush. Artemis was not the first man he went home with on the first night. But he was never serious about those relationships. He had slowed- or tried rather - his pace for Severus. The few serious relationships he had experienced had started slowly and he wanted what he had with Severus to be lasting.
'How many dates have you been on?'
'Three. Four if you count when he came to my office. And we had drinks before that.'
'Well that's not too bad,' she said sceptically.
'How are things with Andrew?' he asked abruptly.
'After the row I gave him a few days to cool off, then I confronted him head on. We talked for hours and you were right! He was jealous. I made it quite clear though that you and Harry are like my brothers and if he expects us to stay together he has to realise that there can be no competition amongst family.'
'Good on you. I would not have liked having to hex him for being a prat. Oh, all right, I might have liked it a little.'
Hermione merely smiled and shook her head.
'Herm, seriously though. About Sev... do you think it's weird?'
'Sev? No I don't. Well I did at first, but you've been so happy since you started seeing him that I can't think it's anything but just right. Either way, it's not about what I think. Once you're comfortable with it that's all that matters. Although I must admit, the idea of you sleeping with him makes me slightly ill, but it'll pass.'
'It feels like we've been going out for ages and not just two weeks.'
'It' s because you've known him for years.'
'Not like this though... Bill and Charlie are coming home next month. They haven't been home since the war ended and Mum wants to have a party.'
'You want to take Snape?'
'I was thinking of it, yeah. I don't want him to have a hard time of it though, and you know how Mum can be, not to mention my brothers. I took him to that amusement park yesterday and we overhears some old crone saying he should be ashamed for corrupting a young boy like me.'
'You're hardly a boy Ron. You're a grown man.'
'Mum might not see it that way,' said Ron, stabbing the remains of his meal sullenly.
'She'll see that you're happy with him and that's what's important.'
'I hope so.'
x x x
'Jeremy I'm running late. I can't talk right now,' said Ron, answering his mobile.
'I'll condense it. How many times have you seen him?'
'How was the sex?'
'Don't know, I haven't slept with him.'
'But you will tonight?'
'Older men make the best lovers, they're so experienced.'
Ron laughed, 'I really do have to go, and yes I will call you but you're not getting details.'
'So you do plan to fu- '
x x x
'Ron, I almost thought you weren't coming,' said Harry by way of greeting. They were on the Quidditch pitch, the rest of the team not far away.
'I went home to change first.' He had changed out of his work clothes into a light blue dress shirt and black trousers.
'You do look rather spiffy. What's the fuss?'
'I'm meeting Severus later. I can't stay for the whole practice.' Harry made a face. 'Is Artemis here?'
'Nah, but Aaron says he's pretty broken up about it,' said Harry sniggering.
'About what? It was just the one night, crap. I feel bad now.'
'Don't. Aaron say he's Is broken up about some bloke. In fact, he's so broken up about it that he's found a new one.'
'Oh, well I'm fine then.'
'So you really like Snape huh?'
'Yeah I really like Snape, huh?'
Harry scuffed his foot on the ground and fidgeted around for a while. 'It's just that it's Snape you know?'
'Yeah Harry, I know.'
'Ron I - '
'Potter, get Irse over here!' called the coach.
'We'll talk later?'
'Of course.' An hour later Ron was waving to Harry to signal his departure and within minutes knocking on Severus' front door. Severus answered wearing a white apron over an all black ensemble.
'Hey Sev. That apron look is really working for you.' Severus scowled, but moved aside to let Ron in, then kissed him lightly.
'I'll be done in a moment. Make yourself comfortable.' Severus walked off towards the kitchen, but instead of going to the living room, Ron followed his date. The kitchen was large and utilitarian. There was no homey warmth, like that of the Burrow's. This kitchen was built for cooking and nothing else. Everything was covered in chrome and reminded Ron of a restaurant's industrial kitchen.
'Do you need any help?' asked Ron, startling Severus.
'No, I told you I'm almost finished. I'm just dishing up the food, get out.'
'All right, I'm leaving,' said Ron, amused by Severus' behaviour.
Soon enough they were both seated in the dining room, with piles of steaming dishes around them.
'Everything looks really good.'
'Thank you, wine?'
'Please.' While Severus got the wine Ron got up and served the food. They moved around each other with accustomed ease, as though they had been doing this for years.
They started in on the meal eagerly, but after twenty minutes of pushing food around and many lustful stares it became apparent that they were hungry for something else.
'Sod this,' said Ron suddenly.
'Where's your bedroom? We're going there, now.'
Severus smirked, but rose and led the way. 'We didn't have dessert though. I made- ' Ron silenced him with his mouth.
'We are having dessert.' There was something delightfully naughty about abandoning their dinner for sex like two randy teenagers. By the time they reached Severus' spacious bedroom, Ron was only capable of noticing the dramatic canopy bed, draped in deep red fabrics. With a flick of his wand Severus was freed of his clothing.
'I've always thought that a rather nifty spell,' said Severus with a smile. He flicked his own wand at Ron, removing his clothing.
Severus climbed on the bed and lay down. He looked at Ron frankly. 'Are you waiting for instructions? Or am I right in assuming you know where to put it?'
'You certainly have a way with words Sev. Let's see what else you can do with that mouth of yours.' Both wizards grinned at each other. Ron joined Severus on the bed and lay next to him. In a swift, unexpected move, he pulled Severus on top of him then reached down between them and started stroking Severus.
'Tell me what you want,' said Ron, huskily.
Severus let out a shaky breath. 'I want you inside of me…'
Hours later, they both lay tangled in the sheet and each other, pleasantly exhausted by their all night activities. The sun was creeping up into the sky letting a light glow seep into the room. They were both awake; Ron had his head on Severus' shoulders and was casually stroking his arm.
'Are you going to make me breakfast?' he asked lazily.
'I made you a perfectly good dinner. It's not my fault you insisted on leaving it.'
'I'm talking about breakfast. And you didn't put up much of fight as I recall.'
'We're not talking about me,' said Severus haughtily.
Ron laughed softly. 'I guess we're official now, huh?'
'What are you talking about?'
'I mean we're in a relationship.'
'Silly me, I thought that was already established,' remarked Severus dryly.
'You know what I mean. That point where it shifts from dating to being together, last night was definitely it.'
'I know what you mean, love.'
Ron smiled at the term of endearment. 'So what should I introduce you as?'
'You've lost me again.'
'Are you my boyfriend? My -cringe- lover? I hate that word.'
'Perhaps it is too adult for you,' suggested Severus, smirking.
'No, it's just kind of sleazy sounding,' answered Ron. Severus' jibe went right over his head.
'Well I detest boyfriend, I'm over forty for goodness' sake.'
'No!' said Ron, 'you don't look a day over 39.'
Severus rolled his eyes at him but grinned nonetheless. They lay in companionable silence until they both dozed off, then woke again, a few hours later.
'What time is it?' asked Ron, groggily.
'Twenty past nine.'
'I need to shower. Care to - ' he yawned widely '- join me?'
'How can I turn down such a tempting offer?' retorted Severus, sardonically.
'Is that a no?'
'Yes it is.'
'Your loss.' Ron got out of the bed and searched the floor for his trousers. He bent down to pick them up; Severus made a little sound of discontent when he straightened. Ron turned to look at him. 'Did I interrupt your show?' he asked sarcastically. He extracted a small bundle from his pocket and with a wave of his wand it returned to its normal size. He shouldered the previously packed bag. 'Where's the bath?'
'Right through there,' directed Severus.
'Don't miss me too much.' He winked at Sev before going to wash up. When he returned to the bedroom completely refreshed, he found it to be deserted. He eventually found Severus is the kitchen, following the aromatic scents that had started permeating throughout the house. 'You're making me breakfast!'
'Don't flatter yourself Weasley. I was hungry.'
'I'll ignore that response. I know what you really meant,' said Ron lightly. 'Now hurry up with whatever that is, I'm starved.'
x x x
'Are you ready to us who you're seeing dear?' Molly asked Ron at the next Weasley dinner.
'No mum, but you'll meet him soon enough. I'm bringing him to Bill and Charlie's welcome back party.'
'That's over a fortnight away,' she protested.
'Patience is a virtue Mum.'
After dinner Ginny cornered him. 'So who is he?'
'What makes you so special that I should tell you who he is before everyone else?'
She looked affronted. She was closer to him than any other member of their family. They were friends.
'Relax Gin, I'm just winding you up. Although I'm not sure you could handle it.'
'Pish-posh. Tell me this minute. Is it someone from school?'
Ron looked around to make sure they could not be overheard. 'Yeah, you could say that.'
'Stop being so cryptic and tell me who he is.'
'You know, I should make you suffer for last week.'
'I already apologised profusely for that,' she practically whined. 'I was having a bad day. Now please tell me. I swear I won't say anything.'
'Oh, all right. It's', he dropped his voice significantly, 'Snape.'
'What? I don't think I heard correctly,' said Ginny, disbelief evident on her face.
'Yes you did. Severus Snape is for lack of a better word, my boyfriend.
'What!' she shrieked.
'Ginny shush!' The others looked over at them questioningly.
'Oh my God, you're not serious? Snape? Don't you hate him and doesn't he hate you? And he's ancient, not to mention -'
'Thanks Ginny. I knew I could trust you to behave like a mature adult.' said Ron with annoyance.
'I'm sorry Ron, but sweet Merlin...'
'This is exactly why I did not want to say anything.'
'Be reasonable Ron!' she said in a loud whisper. 'It's a big deal. You just told me you're romantically involved with our most hated professor. I'm having trouble breathing. Any minute now I'm going to pass out from shock.'
'You can drop the dramatics.'
'All right, but tell me Ron, honestly. Do you think the smartest thing to do is to just show up with him, especially if my reaction is anything to go on? I'm still quite amazed by it, I mean, what could you possibly see in him?'
Ron was tiring of the topic rapidly. 'I've had enough of this conversation...'
'I didn't mean to insult you. I am only trying to understand.'
'I know,' he said grudgingly. He really did know; the same thoughts ran through his head when things first started happening with Severus. Hearing someone else say it after he had made his decision however, irked him. 'I guess that's part of the reason for introducing, or rather reintroducing him at the party. I avoid having to go through this too many times. And as for what I see in him... I see an intelligent, interesting, sexy (Ginny made a face), caring individual. He really is amazing Gin, I know it's hard to believe, but try, we're not sixteen anymore.'
Ginny shrugged noncommittally. 'How does Harry feel about it?'
Ginny scoffed at his terminology. She could imagine Harry trying, just not very hard. There was too much baggage between them. Hermione was probably taking it in her stride being very supportive. Her brother had certainly matured if he could forget the past to the extent of being able to get in a relationship with Snape. 'And what about you?' she inquired again.
'At first I was a bit freaked out, but not by him - only the situation. Okay, and by him a little. He's so different from the professor I knew. And I'm different from the student. We aren't the same people we were then.'
'Obviously not or we would not be having this discussion. Regardless of who it is, I really just want you to be happy… even if it is with Snape.'
'Thank you Ginny.'
'Anytime, besides, I'd take him over Malfoy any day.'
'Draco proved himself time and time again - wait. You dislike him that much?'
'Yep. But it was never really serious and hardly anyone knew so I kept my opinion to myself.'
'Harry took that better than this,' said Ron contemplatively.
'Is this serious?'
'It's looking that way.'
'That's why then.'
Ron gave her a crooked smile. 'When did you get so smart?'
Ginny's reply was a very eloquent hand gesture including two fingers.
x x x
The week of the party Ron was in a mess. He nerves were frayed and nothing anyone said could calm him down.
'You'll give yourself a heart attack,' said Jeremy. 'And if you die nothing will matter so you might as well relax.'
'Everyone wants you to be happy and once they see that you are, no one will care who you're with,' was Hermione and Ginny's soothing mantra.
'Who care what anyone else thinks?' was what Harry told Ron, who after having had lunch with Hermione and the couple, had finally come around.
Severus chose different ways to attempt to soothe his companion; physical ways, but they only worked so well before Ron gave way to panic again, and in the end suggested he not attend the gathering.
'Not go! You have to go. I want you to go.'
'Your behaviour implies you expect the worst. I cannot help but think you secretly don't want me there,' said Severus, a trace of hurt barely detectable in his words. They were lying together in Ron's double bed after one of Severus' relaxing efforts. Ron sat up, displacing the dark haired man who had been leaning against him. Severus sat up as well, the covers pooled at their waists.
'I want you there,' said Ron taking hold of Severus' hand and twining their fingers together. 'I'm sorry if my actions made you think otherwise.'
'I just don't understand why you're making such a fuss. I know our history makes things awkward, but if it really no longer bothers you why should you get so worked up? Jeremy told me your family has met at least five others without a quarter as much fanfare.' Severus and Jeremy had instantly taken to one another.
'Those others were inconsequential compared to you.' Severus smiled warmly at the comment. 'I suppose it's harder because you mean more. I care more. I love you and I want them to love you as well.' He looked down at their joined hands and waited.
'You love me?'
Ron nodded, still looking down.
'I love you too.'
His head snapped back up so fast that he hit his head on the wall. Severus laughed softly at him then kissed him tenderly. 'Move in with me,' he murmured around Ron's mouth.
'What?' asked Ron, pulling away and looking at Severus bemusedly.
'I want you to move in with me.'
'Why not? We just established that we love one another, we spend most of out time in each other's homes and I cannot stand your dingy flat.'
'It's all right,' he said somewhat petulantly.
'Be honest love.'
'Fine. It is a bit shoddy,' he conceded, 'but when I moved there it was all I could afford. It felt like a palace.'
'I understand that, but you don't need this place anymore. You know you don't.'
'I guess, Jeremy's been bugging me to move for ages... but don't you think it's too soon?'
'Soon according to whose law? We love one another, yes?'
'Do you think we get along well enough to live together?'
Ron's face lit up as though it just occurred to him what was really happening.
'Let's do it!' He pounced on Severus, almost knocking them of the small bed. 'If we're going to live together,' continued Ron, talking more to himself than the wizard he was comfortably splayed on, 'we should make it official...' Severus' eyes widened upon hearing Ron's words.
'What are you going on about?'
'Why not make it official?' he repeated. 'Why not get married?'
'Married?' spluttered Severus. This time he sat up first, displacing Ron. 'You're not serious?'
'Why not? Hang on - didn't we just have this conversation?' teased Ron, 'and weren't we on opposite sides?'
Severus cracked a smile.
'We could get handfasted,' he continued seriously.
'Why do we have to get married though?' Severus resisted the urge to say he wasn't the marrying kind.
'For the same reasons you want us to share a home. Don't you want to commit to me, to us?'
Severus squirmed uncomfortably. 'It's a huge commitment, and so sudden...'
'And moving in with you after two months together isn't? Of all the hypocritical things to say!'
'Moving in and marriage are two different things.'
'Actually, no. People usually live together after they've been married. Ever heard of the term "living in sin"?
'You don't really believe that?' scoffed Severus. That was the wrong thing to say.
'As a matter of fact I do. That happens to be the way I was raised. And it doesn't matter whether I believe in it or not. You love me enough to want to shack up but not enough to marry me?'
'Co-habitation is a step in that direction, a direction that we can discuss at length after we lived together for a while and we think that things are working out - '
'You don't think that things will work out?' asked Ron in a dangerously low voice. Severus was forcibly reminded of Molly Weasley and the fact that Ron was her son.
'That is not what I said Ron,' began Severus in a placating tone. He did not want to have a row. They never quarrelled unless squabbling about who got to top counted. He did not want to start now.
'Then what are you saying?'
'I just think that since marriage is such a serious decision we should not rush into it. We can revisit the subject later on.'
'Okay,' said Ron in a deceptively amiable tone, 'but I'm not moving in then.'
'Ron don't be - ' he stopped himself short at the look on Ron's face. He was completely serious. 'Can you tell me why?'
'After all I've said you're still asking me why? You really don't get it do you? If I'm going to commit myself to you completely then I want to do it right. And if you think it's too early to talk about marriage then the same thing goes for living together.' Ron looked at Severus steadily, who averted his eyes. 'Maybe you should go,' said Ron after five unbearable minutes of silence. 'I have some work to finish up.'
Severus nodded distractedly and reached for his clothes. He wanted to say something to alleviate the fear that he had just irreparably damaged his relationship with the first man he had really loved since before he became a Death Eater.
'I'll see you tomorrow though?' asked Severus uncertainly. Everything had changed so dramatically with one conversation.
'I'm not sure. I'll ring you.'
'Ron - don't do this.'
'I'm not doing anything. I just need some time all right?'
'All right.' He kissed Ron softly on the cheek before leaving.
Ron flopped down on his bed mentally kicking himself. He knew he was being unreasonable, but that did not stop him from feeling the way he did. He needed to talk to someone. He considered his options and ended up calling Hermione. Jeremy would shout at him for being stupid, and Harry probably would not be able to hide his relief at a possible break up. Hermione would at least listen.
'Hello?' she answered.
'Can you come over?'
'Yes, but what's wrong?' Are you okay?'
'Just come please, and bring snacks.'
'I'll be there soon.'
True to her word, she flooed in a few minutes later bearing chocolate, sweets, ice cream and alcohol.
'Ron, where are you?' she called out.
'In the bedroom.'
She walked in, goodie bag in hand. Ron was still in the bed, but now he was dressed in a grimy t-shirt and pyjama bottoms.
'You look a mess. What's happened?' She sat down next to him and started unloading the treats. His only reply was to stuff a chocolate frog in his mouth.
'What did you do?' she asked suspiciously.
'Who says it was me?' he protested through a mouthful of chocolate.
'You pig, you sprayed me! And I know you, so what did you do?'
Ron sighed, 'I'm not even sure - what flavour is this?' asked Ron, opening the pint of ice cream.
'Mint chocolate chip, it's good. This room is filthy; I don't know how you stand it.' She summoned two spoons from the kitchen and they dug in. 'Now tell me what happened, no more delaying.'
Ron sighed heavily. 'I told Severus I love him, and he said it back.'
'Oh my God Ron!' she squealed loudly.
Good old Hermione, she was always so responsive.
'Then he asked me to move in with him,' he said heavily.
'What? Live together? Don't you think it's a bit soon for that?'
'That's what I said, but then he convinced me that it wasn't, that it was right so I agreed, but I said we should go all the way.'
Confusion flitted onto her pretty features. 'What do you mean "go all the way?"'
'Well, by moving in together we're making a serious commitment and if we're doing that, then I want to do it right. I said we should get handfasted.'
'What! That's marriage isn't it?' her mouth hung agape. She looked ridiculous, but Ron could not muster the energy to laugh.
'Yes it is.'
'But your relationship is so new! Living together? Marriage? Andrew and I don't live together and we've only hinted and talking about marriage. Are you sure you've been with him long enough to know he's definitely the one you want?'
Ron opened the bottle of vodka Hermione had brought and poured some into the tub of ice-cream they were sharing.
He ignored her and started mixing the concoction until it became soft.
'You're ruining good ice-cream you know,' she said, making a face of disgust.
'Join in or get out,' he said sharply. Hermione looked affronted. 'I'm sorry, I just feel like I've made a real mess of things. I told him I wouldn't move in without getting married first and he thought it was too soon for that. He said it was a very serious step, but it's the same thing when you boil it down isn't it?'
Hermione took a spoonful of the mixture and grimaced. 'I suppose so, but not everyone sees it that way. Some people view it as the next step in a serious relationship.'
'Would you live with Andrew before marrying him?'
'And I should 'cause I'm queer? If it's too early for one, it's too early for the other. As far as I'm concerned they go hand in hand.'
'Maybe he's not the marrying kind.'
'Nonsense. That's an excuse for people who don't want to get married. They just can't be bothered, or they have commitment issues. If you're with someone and really love them there is no reason not to get married. If neither of them feels so inclined, then fine, but if one wants it why not? It's just validating what they already have.'
Hermione nodded and ate some more of the improvised vodka slushy. 'Did you tell him that?'
'I tried, but I don't think I expressed myself too well. I thought he should have understood. That might have been a bit unfair though. Then I totally brushed him off... I'm such an ass!'
'The first step is admittance.'
He hit her with a pillow, sending her to the clothing strewn floor. He never saw her retaliation coming. Hours later Ron was standing outside Severus' house knocking. It was the middle of the night and Severus took a few minutes before answering.
'What is it,' he snarled, opening the door and glowering in a light blue terry-cloth robe that Ron had got for him. He looked startled at the sight of the red head.
'I'm sorry,' was all he was able to say before being grabbed and pulled inside.
'I'm sorry too,' mumbled Severus into Ron's neck.
Make up sex quickly followed... and followed.
Though they had officially made up and had both agreed to approach the offending topics after they had been together longer, the atmosphere around them was still somewhat strained. The fight had scared them and now they were walking around each other on eggshells, both loathe to do anything that might start another row.
The day of the party arrived and with it a flutter of feelings for Ron and Severus. It was like their coming out as a couple. Only Ron's closest friends and sister knew about them and while they did not hide when in public together, they did not flaunt it either. Also, they usually went out in Muggle areas. Severus came over to Ron's flat and they flooed directly to the Burrow. The minute Ron stepped out of the fire place his mother attacked him with a fierce hug and was about to give him something (the place was already flooded with family and friends) to do when he hastily explained that his friend was coming behind him.
'Oh, how lovely!' exclaimed Molly. 'Arthur, Arthur where are you? Come quick!' His father appeared at his wife's side looking slightly frazzled.
'What is it dear? I was outside topping up the - '
'Ron's friend is coming,' she informed him.
'His friend? Oh, his friend.'
Ron groaned, his parents, really. And what was taking Sev?
'Here he comes,' said Molly excitedly, looking behind her son. Ron turned and moved away, giving Severus room to step out of the fire. When he did the reaction was laughable, or would have been had it not been so distressing.
'Professor Snape!' exclaimed Molly, while Arthur peered behind him wondering where Ron's friend had got to.
'Er- mum, dad, this is my - erm - boyfriend, Severus.' He cringed inwardly and felt Severus stiffen next to him.
'Hello Molly, Arthur. A pleasure to see you again.'
'This is your...' Molly's mouth hung open, unable to finish. Arthur simply stared.
'Mum, dad, say something,' he whispered. 'Hermione!' she came running into the room at Ron's anxious expression.
'Hello Severus,' she said cordially. 'It's good to see you.'
'Hermione,' said Severus, returning the greeting with a small bow.
His voice seemed to snap the Weasley heads out of their astounded stupor.
'Er - welcome to our home. We were just surprised before, isn't that right dear?' Mr Weasley jumped into action.
'Yes, that's right. Sorry if we seemed a bit - er - inhospitable, shock can do that,' said Arthur with a wry grin. 'It's been a long time Severus.' He held out his hand and Severus shook it briefly. An awkward silence engulfed them all; Ron felt as though he was living a nightmare. the last thing he needed now was for one of his brothers to... ah fuck.
'Oi Ron! Aren't you going to say hello?' called his older brother Charlie from outside, spotting the small group through the kitchen window.
'Help!' whispered Ron frantically to Hermione. She immediately steered Severus away on the premise of getting him a drink and wanting to introduce him to Andrew. No doubt he saw right through the obvious ploy to get rid of him, but nonetheless he went without complaint.
'Charlie, Bill,' said Ron, hugging his brothers after they made their way over to him. 'It's great to see the pair of you. I don't think I realised I missed you until now.'
They chatted for a while until Bill noticed someone, visible through the kitchen window.
'Is that Snape? What is he doing here?' Their parents turned to Ron for an explanation.
'I brought him.' Bill and Charlie stared at Ron disbelievingly. 'I'm - er - seeing him.' They continued to stare.
'I beg your pardon?' said Charlie.
'Dating, going out, involved. About two months now.'
'Two months, are you serious?'
'Very,' said Ron. He caught a glimpse of Severus and was emboldened. 'He's wonderful really.'
'And your serious about him?'
'Yes I am.'
No one said anything for a moment, they just turned to stare at Severus through the window, then turned back to Ron. Luckily, being the oldest of the Weasley boys, Bill and Charlie were also the most mature and took the news fairly well... as well as can be expected at any rate. They were surprised, but other than that they thought who Ron slept with was his own business and no one else's. He knew there was a reason he loved Bill and Charlie best.
'Is that all you have to say about it?' demanded Molly impatiently.
'Say about what,' repeated Fred. George, Percy and Ginny had come inside with him.
'What's going on?' asked Percy.
Ron looked around hoping for an escape route, but there was no where to run. All of the guests were outside in the garden and he was trapped in the kitchen with a clan of Weasleys.
'Would someone like to tell me what Snape is doing here?' asked George.
'I brought him,' answered Ron.
'What do you mean you brought him? Since when have you been mates with Snape?'
Suddenly Ginny gasped, and Ron knew she had put things together.
'He's the person I've been seeing.' He was amazed at how calm he sounded. At least one person was, for the explosion soon followed.
'He's twice your age!'
'He's a bastard!'
Bill cut off his younger siblings' impending tirades with a sharp glance.
'That's enough,' added Molly. 'Ronald, why didn't you tell us before instead of blind-siding us like this? Your father and I made fools of ourselves.'
'I didn't know how to! I thought it would be easier if I just brought him. at least then I'd only have to face the inquisition once.'
'Molly, we have guests,' said Arthur, quietly reminding his wife of their duties as hosts. 'We can discuss this later.' Currently all the Weasleys were inside, including the guests of honour. Ron used the moment's distraction to slip away and find Severus. It did not take long. He, Andrew and Hermione were seated together, talking.
'How's it going?' Ron asked Severus. He looked up at him and smiled.
'Aside from a few odd looks, nothing to report.'
'I wish I could say the same - crap, here comes trouble,' said Ron, spotting his siblings approaching.
'Come on Andrew, I think I see Harry...'
'Deserter!' hissed Ron at Hermione as she made a quick exit.
Ron filled Hermione's vacant seat next to Severus and breathed deeply. Hand were shaken all around and stilted small talk was attempted until Fred finally said what most of them were thinking.
'So... you and Ron eh? How in Merlin's balls did that happen?'
Ron gave them the briefest history possible while glaring steadily. He wanted them to go away. They left soon enough, but Ron knew it was not over. He was beginning to regret bringing Severus.
'Don't be,' replied Severus, squeezing Ron's hand. 'It could have been worse. Give them some time to adjust, if Potter could stop acting like a royal ass, anything is possible.' Ron lifted their joined hands to his mouth, and kissed Severus' palm, bringing a pleased smile to the older wizard's face. 'Now that I've met your people, how about you meet mine?'
Ron was taken aback. He had completely taken for granted the fact that Severus might have friends and family, and he felt ashamed of himself for not thinking of it. Severus smiled at Ron as thought he could read his thoughts right off his face.
'Of course! I'm sorry I didn't think of it before.'
'It's hardly your fault - I certainly never mentioned anyone. My sister is having a birthday party next week, would you like to accompany me?'
'I'd be delighted.' He leaned forward to kiss Severus but stopped short when he noticed his brothers' eyes on them. A short internal battle ensued; the end result was him kissing them man he loved sweetly, albeit very briefly, regardless of who was watching. Harry sauntered over a little later with a date in tow.
'This is Colette. Colette, my very best friend Ron and his -erm- friend, Severus.'
'You have a funny house,' she giggled by way of greeting. Harry winced next to her. She would be gone by the end the day.
'How was it?' asked Harry after he got rid of Colette on the pretence of being thirsty.
'It could have been worse,' answered Ron, 'and I think it will be once the quests are gone. Mum must be going spare.'
'I don't envy you mate.'
'Has she met Colette?'
'No - and if I have it my way she never will. I don't know why I brought her here.'
'I don't know why you went out with her in the first place.'
Hermione, Andrew and Ginny came over, and with them Colette. Hermione gave Harry a look of disgust; she could not stand his recent conquest.
'Are you enjoying the party Professor Snape?' inquired Ginny politely.
'Very much, thank you,' answered Snape as politely as he had been asked. 'And please, call me Severus.'
An hour later Ron was more than ready to leave. He was glad Ginny was making an effort, but between the twins blatant hostility, his dislike of Andrew, Hermione staring daggers at Harry and Colette's incessant rambling he wanted - needed to get out of there. His only regret was not spending much time with his eldest brothers, but they would be here for a few months.
'You ready to go?' he asked Severus.
'I thought you'd never ask.' They very quickly said their good-byes to the present company before Disapparating. They went back to Severus' house where they enjoyed a long hot bath. Ron drew it and dimmed the lights while his partner got the wine. When it was ready they sank into the water with Severus leaning against Ron, back to chest.
'I had no idea you had any siblings,' said Ron, idly rubbing Severus' stomach.
'It's just the one - mmm, that feels good.'
'What's her name?'
'That's... slightly odd.'
'Her mother's Greek. She's my half-sister. She goes by Nia.'
'How old will she be?'
'Thirty. I have to go shopping for her birthday present.'
'Hey! You must have known about this for a while. Why didn't you tell me before?'
'She called me the day we had the fight.' No further explanation was needed.
'We can go shopping together. I have a birthday present to buy as well.'
'Who are you shopping for?'
'I have to get something for Draco,' said Ron matter-of-factly.
'Draco Malfoy?' asked Severus, disbelievingly.
'Why on earth are you getting him a present?' He was genuinely perplexed.
'We're friends... sort of. I dunno how to explain it, this is our way of keeping in touch I guess. We always acknowledge birthdays. Remember that nice shirt I wore on our first date, the black one? Draco got that for me my last birthday.'
'Oh, we had a thing during the war.' Severus, who had been leaning against Ron like a wet blanket stiffened.
'A "thing?"' he repeated incredulously.
'A thing with Draco Malfoy?'
'Yes,' said Ron smiling. 'Does it sound absurd? The same could be said for us you know.'
'I didn't know you two were ever close,' said Severus.
'We weren't really. It was a strictly physical thing. You know how it was during the war... you took comfort wherever you could find it.'
'How long did it last?'
'Is it important to know?' asked Ron, a bit uneasily.
'How long Ron?'
'Erm - how long was the war?'
'Two years! You don't fuck someone for two years without getting emotionally involved.'
'The sex was really good. What do you care anyway? Are you jealous Sev?'
'Of course not! I was just surprised. That's all.'
'Sounds like jealousy to me, but you didn't care about Artemis.'
'And I don't care about this.'
'Good, because Draco will be sitting with us at the World Cup.'
Severus was silent for a minute.
'There's been nothing between us for a long time. You don't have anything to worry about.'
'I never said I was worried. It does seems like you are friends though.'
'Maybe we are. He called me last week.'
'Yeah, he got chucked. You should have heard him, screeching like a banshee, "How dare he leave me! Me!''
Severus reached behind him and stroked Ron to life, 'How about we discuss something else?'
x x x
'This is Nia, Nia this is Ron.'
'Happy birthday Nia,' he said, smiling nervously.
'Thank you. You must be special, Severus hasn't brought anyone round in ages.' She smiled charmingly. Ron never would have thought they were related. She was petite, with sparkling crystal blue eyes and a very pretty face. The only thing they seemed to have in common was their jet black hair.
'That's enough Nia, thank you,' said her brother handing over her present.
'You come with me lovey,' said Nia, ignoring Severus completely. 'I want to show you off, I mean introduce you to everyone,' she made an exaggerated wink, laughed and pulled Ron away.
Soon friends were swarming around them and introductions were being made. It was a little strange being the youngest one there; now he had some idea of what it was like for Severus being the odd one out amongst Ron's friends. The party was fun and (surprisingly) he mixed with Severus' friends easily. He learned a lot about Severus that night and even met an ex-boyfriend. Severus always refused to talk about his past romantic dalliances. Ron was pleased to find he was a plain faced wizard with a soft belly and receding hair line.
x x x
The next day Ron arrived at the Burrow with strict instructions to Severus to ring him in an hour, ensuring he had an escape route if necessary. The minute he stepped out of the floo his mother was upon him saw him the questions started, but it took few more moments before they made sense.
'Where did you meet him?' she inquired.
'Don't be smart! You know perfectly well what I meant,' chided his mother.
'We ran into one another in the street. We were both going to the Ministry.'
'Did he approach you first?'
'It was a mutual sort of thing,' said Ron sourly.
'Answer the question,' she said sternly.
'Technically yes, but I gave him my number and told him to call.'
Her eyes bulged, 'You - '
'Yes! And this is serious Mum. It's not going to end anytime soon so you better get used to it.'
'What was wrong with Tony? He was a lovely young man. And what about that Artemis person? I heard Harry telling Ginny about him. What was wrong with them?'
He was going to kill Harry. 'Nothing was wrong with them, they just weren't right for me! Severus is.'
'I have nothing against that man,' she argued, 'but couldn't you have found someone your own age and with a better history? The things that man did!' The rest of the family, hearing the exchange filtered into the kitchen.
'That man's name is Severus. And one of the things he did was help us defeat Voldemort, or have you forgotten that?'
Molly turned red and started hotly, 'I am your mother! I have a right - ' but Ron cut her off.
'No mum. You don't have a right. If I don't care about his age or background then neither should you. I'm happy with him and that's all you need to know.' He turned to look at the rest of his family assembled in the room. 'That's all any of you need to know. So tell me right now if I'm going to be hearing about this all night, because Severus would be very pleased to see me.'
'Ron - '
'Molly, that's enough,' said Arthur with quiet authority. 'Ron is an adult and perfectly capable of making his own decisions, whether it's what to eat, wear or who to be with in a relationship. You have to respect his decision. We all do.'
'Thanks dad. I think I'm going to leave anyway.'
'You don't have to leave Ron,' said Ginny.
'I think I do,' replied Ron looking at the stony face of his mother and twin brothers.
'No you don't,' repeated Mrs Weasley. 'I shouldn't have reacted like that and I apologise. I only want what's best for you dear.'
'I know mum, but I'm not a child anymore. I can live my own life.'
'I know that darling, I'm sorry. Please stay, and next week you can bring Severus with you so we can all get properly reacquainted.'
'And I'm glad he makes you happy.'
'I'm glad too,' said Ron with a small smile. Molly hugged him tightly and dabbed at her eyes.
'All right let's eat, the food is going stone cold. Ginny, set warming charms on the dishes please.'
His brothers were not so easily appeased. The twins dragged up every unfair act Severus ever committed against Gryffindors and his all around spiteful behaviour.
'We're not in school anymore,' was Ron's reply.
'Obviously not, otherwise he'd be arrested,' mumbled Fred under his breath.
'I heard that you prat.'
'You were intended to...'
With some help from Ginny, they managed to reconcile their other siblings (Fred and George) to the fact that Ron and Severus were an item, but they by no means liked it.
Several months passed by and the couple grew even closer, finding out as much as they could about one another including Severus' occupation. He consulted for potion makers and laboratories as well providing research and doing experiments. He was not supposed to discuss his job, partially because they potions he worked on were still in the development stage and also because companies did not want his name to closely associated with them.
'Why don't you go do something else then if they insist on keeping you locked away?'
'What else can I do and who would hire me? Wizards aren't willing to accept me for anything else. The mark on my arm has faded but the stigma still lingers.'
'People are idiots,' murmured Ron before kissing Severus lightly.
'Thank you, love.'
They never really discussed living together again but slowly Ron's things began to fill Severus' house, then one day he went over and stayed.
'Wake up!' shouted Ron, bouncing around in the bed he shared with Severus.
Severus bolted upright, wand in hand, 'Where's the fire?'
'The world cup is today you prat! Get up, Draco's meeting us here soon.'
The last sentence woke him fully. 'Draco?'
'Malfoy. He's flooing in and then we're all taking a portkey.'
'Can't we Apparate?'
'Like five miles from the site. There's extra security because it's the first cup since the War.'
'Well let him walk then.'
'I'll make some coffee.'
'You do that,' answered Ron distractedly, flitting around, double checking they had everything they would need.
'Oi! Weasel!' called a voice from downstairs.
'He's here,' said Ron unnecessarily. 'Don't dawdle Sev.' He left to greet Draco, leaving an irrationally annoyed Severus behind. He dragged on the clothes Ron left out for him and went down to make the coffee.
'Professor Snape, how delightful to see you again,' said Draco unctuously.
'Draco.' If Severus were completely honest with himself he would admit that he was almost embarrassed for Draco to see him in such an intimate position. His students never knew much about him and he liked it that way. Now here he was, living with Draco's former schoolmate and lover.
'I'm going to start the coffee.' He went to the kitchen; voices trailed after him.
'Whatever you're doing, stop it.'
'I haven't the faintest clue what you are speaking of my dear Ronald. All I did was greet him, and very politely I might add.'
'I mean it Draco; I'm serious about him…'
Severus could not hear anything else once the coffee make was turned on, but his curiosity was killing him. Did Draco want Ron back? Did Ron omit details about his relationship with Draco? There was no time for questioning however, and to accuse Ron of lying (thereby causing a row) before something as important to him as the World Cup would be inconceivably selfish. Besides, it was stupid to form ideas based solely on conjecture, or in his case, part of an overheard conversation. He held a mug in his hand and levitated the other two.
'I apologise if the coffee is not to your liking,' lied Severus. He didn't care if Draco choked on it, far less if it was to his taste. 'I did not know how you take it.'
'Same as Ron,' replied Draco, smiling coldly. Severus tried to smile back but it was more of a grimace. Half an hour later they Disapparated and met the rest of the Weasleys at the campsite. Draco parted ways with them before they joined Ron's family, with a promise to meet them half an hour before the match started. A few minutes after the sat down with the Weasleys, Ron was forced to leave Severus on his own to sort out some last minute problems. Awkward did not do justice to the atmosphere. A strong silence descended swiftly with Ron's departure. Hermione and Andrew made some valiant attempts to talk, but even their greatest efforts died horribly.
'Ron!' cried Hermione, seeing him some forty minutes later.
'Can't stop - sorry!'
Their faces were comical in their wretchedness.
'Have you seen Draco?' Hermione asked Severus quietly. She and Jeremy were the only ones who knew the full extent of Ron's relationship with Draco.
'This morning; he Apparated in with us.' his disdain was evident. 'Er- as we are on the topic, were things between them ever serious?' He tried to pose the question casually, but Hermione say through his studied disinterest. She thought for a moment, wondering if it was her place to answer and decided it was within her rights as Ron's best friend.
'Ron will always say to the last that it was an unattached physical relationship but things like that don't last for two successive years without some kind of romantic feelings. I think it was serious but neither of them was willing at admit it. There was a time when Ron was badly injured - we weren't sure he was going to make it. Draco did not leave his side until he woke up. He was Ron's longest relationship.'
Severus bore the information admirably, but inside he was jolted. Ron made it last with Draco for two years; what was different about the other men he had been involved with? Did they not live up to the standard Malfoy set? The thought distressed him, but Ron loved him. Hadn't he told Draco just this morning that he was serious about Severus?
'What caused them to part ways?'
'Basically once the war was over they didn't know how to deal with each other. Their lives and personalities were so different… they couldn't make it work, although I don't think they tried very hard. Somehow they kept falling back together over the years. You don't have anything to worry about if you're wondering. Ron is crazy over you; completely smitten. '
'And you don't think Draco wants him back?' asked Severus, wishing his insecurity was not so easily discernible.
'It's a possibility, but Ron is loyal, and no matter what, he doesn't cheat. Whatever they had before, regardless of how Draco feels or what he wants is over, buried and gone.'
'But you said they keep falling back together.'
'Yes, but not necessarily because of unresolved feelings. They're comfortable with each other. It's like if they're disappointed in love or whatever they can go back to one another and be comfortable. They are each other's back up plans.'
'So if we didn't work out, do you think he would go back to Draco?'
'Maybe, I don't know.'
'What's so special about him that Ron keeps going back?' asked Severus somewhat bitterly.
'They have a lot of history. They were each other's first you know. I suppose that created a bond. I think they'll always be in each other's live in some way or other. No matter how they appear, they are friends and care about one another, although I don't think they'll even admit to that.'
'If you had a choice, who would you rather him be with?'
'Whoever makes him the happiest, and I believe that's you.'
Ron returned half an hour later and with him a semblance of normalcy. The rigid conversation dissipated and talk flowed freely and naturally once more.
'I'm glad you're back,' whispered Severus into his partner's ear.
'Missed me did you?' asked Ron grinning.
Fred cleared his throat loudly, causing Severus to back away from the close position he and Ron were in. Ron however scowled at Fred and moved even closer to Severus.
'Ron, there's no need to make them any more uncomfortable than they already are,' said Severus softly. Ron kissed him and Severus returned the gesture eagerly, forgetting his previous discomfort.
'They've had enough time to adjust. You've even been to dinner. Fred is just being an ass. At least Meg keeps George in check. Isn't that right luv?' asked Ron loud enough for his future sister-in-law to hear.
'What's that Ron?'
'Ignore him,' said George, who had heard the exchange. 'he's trying and failing miserably to be funny.
The hours drifted by and soon it was time to take their seats in the stadium. Ron, Severus, Hermione and Andrew sat in the row behind the rest of Weasleys. Draco slipped in next to Ron without raising their interest.
'Where were you?'
'Being entertained. Hello Severus, Granger, Granger's person.' He sneered slightly as if sensing he was Muggle.
Severus nodded curtly at Draco from Ron's other side and returned to his conversation with Hermione and her boyfriend.
'Draco please behave, for my sake. And why are you being so rude to Severus. I thought he was your favourite professor?'
'I couldn't stand him, although Lupin wasn't terrible.'
Ron goggled at him but said nothing. He'd grown accustomed to him springing comments like that on him. 'Just be nice, okay?'
'I will if he will - if they all will,' replied Draco, staring pointedly at the row in front of them. The Weasleys (excluding Ginny) knew nothing of Ron's previous relationship with Draco. All they knew was that working together during the war had somehow made them friends. They made it perfectly clear that though Draco was Ron's friend he was most definitely not theirs.
'Fair enough, just don't go provoking them.'
'So, what's this about being entertained? And tell me about the bloke that left you…'
Hours later, the match was finished and England had won. With the snitch they beat the opposing team by a mere hundred and seventy points. The teams were closely matched and the game had been a thrilling one. The cacophony of sound emitted by the crowd was tremendous. Harry spared them a wink and grin on the way up to collect the trophy with the rest of his team. He looked exhausted but happy. An impromptu celebration started up in the campsite, someone put on a wireless and amplified it and bonfires were lit. Unlike the last World Cup, there were no malevolent disturbances. The revellers were allowed to simply enjoy themselves.
Ron and Severus sat huddled together, close to a small fire, away from the crowd. Soon they were snogging like a pair of randy teenagers and they did not care who saw.
'I love you,' whispered Severus into Ron's ear. He kissed the shell of his ear softly. 'Marry me.'
Ron pulled away and looked at Severus. 'What?'
'That's what I thought. I thought you said marry you,' said Ron bemused.
'You're making this very difficult Ron. I thought that was very romantic and unanticipated.'
'Are you serious? What brought this on? Is it because you're jealous of Draco or something?'
'Damn it Ron,' snapped Severus. 'It's because I want to be with you for the rest of my life and I thought you wanted this. I thought would be happy that I asked.'
'I am, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life too. I just want it to be something you really want and aren't just doing because you think it's what I want.'
'I want this,' said Severus in a fierce whisper.
'So do I.'
Severus smiled, 'so let's get married.'
'Mum's going to be thrilled.'