In the Stillness of This House
Warning: This story contains SLASH (depiction of a same-sex relationship) between Harry Potter and Arthur Weasley. Sorry, Molly...
The Burrow was never empty; it was one of those houses that always burst with life, voices, and laughter. The smell of frying bacon and bubbling stew always seemed to waft from the cozy kitchen, and no matter how many unexpected guests dropped by, there was always room for one more around the worn rickety table. People seemed drawn to the ramshackle old house, to its well-worn chairs and creaking beds, to the company that always seemed to gather around the fireplace in the evenings. The Weasleys were poor, but they had an abundance of friends, an abundance of children, and an abundance of heart. The oddest creatures found shelter at the Burrow, drawn to its warmth and the pleasant company. A shabby werewolf, a genius teenage witch, an escaped prisoner, and a sixteen year old boy prophesied to be the redeemer of the magical world had all found a second home at the Burrow.
But tonight the house was strangely silent. Harry found the sudden silence of the Burrow unnerving. He paced restlessly through the familiar rooms, but they seemed different and lifeless now when there were no people in them. Without the usual shouting and laughing and slamming of doors, the well-worn rooms of the Burrows seemed oddly dilapidated and sickly, as if it had been the laughter that had kept the old house alive and well all these years.
Harry almost began to regret not going with the others after all. "It will be all right if you come too," Ron had assured him. "Fourth cousin Peregrine doesn't know us that well at all; he probably won't notice an extra Weasley at his wedding." The others had joined in and tried to coax him into going with them as well, but Harry had remained firm. No, he really had no desire to attend the wedding of a perfect stranger; he would be fine here at the Burrow for five days. And besides, Mr. Weasley would be here, wouldn't he? Mr. Weasley couldn't (or more likely, Harry suspected, wouldn't) take five days off work to attend what promised to be the wizarding wedding extravaganza of the century.
In spite of Mrs. Weasley's misgivings, Harry had been perfectly able to reheat the enormous pot of stew left for them in the kitchen when Mr. Weasley came home from the office. Harry wasn't very good with household spells, so he had resorted to lighting the stove with matches, which had impressed Mr. Weasley no end. Harry, suddenly starved for conversation, had quizzed Mr. Weasley at length about his workday at the Ministry, but in the end Mr. Weasley had retired to his study with a large stack of paperwork that needed his urgent attention.
Harry, left to himself, had listened listlessly to a few inane songs on the wireless and looked at a few books and magazines, but couldn't find anything that captured his interest. Perhaps The Daily Prophet? Hadn't he seen a copy laying about earlier? It was nowhere to be found now; perhaps Mr. Weasley had brought it with him to his study. Surely he wouldn't mind if Harry interrupted his work just for a minute to ask for the paper?
Harry found his way to the study in the far corner of the top floor. The door was ajar; should he knock, or just walk in? Somehow, it didn't seem right to knock at a door at the Burrow; doors were always flung open without warning here, and nobody seemed to mind in the least. Harry walked quietly in through the door.
The small shabby study was lit by a flickering lamp. Papers and books lay scattered about haphazardly, on the floor, on the chairs, on the sofa in the corner, on the worn oak desk. Harry had never been in the study before. This small room under the eaves was Mr. Weasley's private space, his small sanctuary in the midst of the chaotic life of the Burrow.
Mr. Weasley was sitting at his desk, his face half turned to the door. His tousled red hair was a flame in the golden lamplight, and Harry saw that his eyes were closed. Had he fallen asleep? His ordinarily pale cheeks were flushed, as with some enchanted dream, and he appeared to move a little. A soft moan escaped his lips, and another. A word, a name: "Harry..."
And suddenly Harry realized what he was seeing. Mr. Weasley was dreaming, but not in his sleep. Harry watched spellbound as the man's strong hand moved rhythmically in his lap, touching, stroking...
"Harry. Oh, God. Harry."
Harry must have made a sound, for Mr. Weasley's eyes suddenly opened in shock. For a moment, they stared at each other without a word, Harry and the man who had whispered his name.
It was Arthur Weasley who finally broke the silence. He shifted awkwardly, adjusted his clothes rapidly, and whispered: "Harry? I... I didn't hear you come in."
His face was assuming its normal expression now, paternal and pleasant, although he was still flushed.
Harry found himself half wishing that he wouldn't do that, that he wouldn't become his ordinary self again so suddenly. In his mind, he tried to conjure up that mesmerizing expression he had seen in the man's face for one elusive moment, that wild, frantic desire... Harry closed his eyes and silently cursed himself for not being more quiet.
"Harry?" Arthur Weasley's voice was hoarse. "I am so terribly sorry. I never meant for you to see... to see that. But you must understand that even married men sometimes..."
Harry looked down. "Yeah, I know. Sorry I walked in on you like that. Didn't mean to."
"No, of course you didn't. I'm sorry. This is so terribly embarrassing... Harry?" Mr Weasley ran an unsteady hand through his red hair, messing it up completely. Harry recalled that he had seen Mr. Weasley make that same awkward gesture before, whenever he had tried to reassure them all that they were perfectly safe, in spite of recent death eater attacks. "I feel that I should explain something to you. I don't know how long you... you were there, but if you happened to hear a name..."
"I did." Harry looked up, and his glance met Arthur Weasley's. For a dizzying moment, Harry felt like he was falling, although his feet were still firmly planted on the threadbare carpet of the study. Arthur Weasley must have felt it too, for he clutched the arms of his chair, his knuckles suddenly white.
Color flooded over the man's face again. When he spoke, it seemed to be with great effort. "Well, then I should explain... The person whose name I mentioned was... an old school friend of mine. Someone from long ago. His name happens to be "Harry", you see. Just an old crush I happened to remember tonight, nothing serious. You see, with my wife away, I was feeling lonely, and I lost myself in this silly fantasy... I would of course appreciate if you didn't mention it to anyone. And if you... if you could try to forget... what you saw... Please try to forget all about it, Harry."
Arthur Weasley got up from his chair with an abrupt motion. He spoke rapidly, his eyes fixed on the carpet: "Well, good night then, Harry. It is getting late. I will probably be gone before you get up in the morning. There is so much work at the Ministry these days, you see, that I am completely swamped. I may not be home for dinner even for the next few days. Just leave me a note if you need anything from the market."
"Good night, Mr. Weasley." Harry's mouth felt dry. Somehow, the familiar name didn't seem right in his mouth anymore. "Arthur-?"
Mr. Weasley was walking towards the door now, but paused and turned, pulled back by Harry's soft whisper. "Yes-?"
The air in the room felt oppressive, as if it had suddenly amassed an enormous weight. Harry felt it pressing against his skin, against his lungs; it made breathing difficult, almost painful. I need to hear you whisper my name again...
How did it happen? Harry didn't know. But suddenly he found himself on the other side of the room, with his arms around a man he had known for years and yet never known at all. Perhaps I am under a spell. Perhaps we both are, for I feel your heart beating madly against my chest, and your arms are holding me so tight I can hardly breathe.
You used to be my friend's father, so pleasant, plain, and ordinary. What is this strange change that has come over you? Or over me-? I can no longer tell. Which furious heartbeat is yours, and which is mine?
Harry felt a gentle kiss against his forehead, then soft lips that ghosted, almost imperceptibly, over his own. Too momentary, too brief... His own lips searched, hungrily, and found the man's mouth, found warm lips that trembled against his own.
What is this strange shiver at my spine when I feel your mouth against mine? Kissing Cho was never like this. She was so beautiful, so exquisitely flawless, but her kisses never went deeper than my skin. Your kisses are tearing at my very being, leaving something raw and ragged in my soul.
Arthur Weasley staggered backwards. His face was white. "Merlin, Harry, what am I doing? I must have gone mad. Oh, Harry, forgive me, I never meant to..."
"Arthur-" Harry stepped closer to him, reached out and traced the man's lips with a trembling finger. "I'm going mad, too."
For what seemed like an eternity, Arthur Weasley stood there, frozen. Then he whispered: "Have you noticed, Harry, how strangely quiet this house is, all of a sudden? I can't remember the house ever being this silent. For the first time that I can remember, I can finally hear my own thoughts, my own heart..."
"What are you thinking, then?" Your skin. I wonder what your skin would feel like against my hand...
"I am remembering dreams that I used to have... How long have I had these dreams? Perhaps forever, or for a few weeks; it is difficult to recall. My dreams always seem to be melt away in the morning, in the chaos of this house, drowned by voices and laughter and demands. But sometimes I seem to recall, from somewhere far away, dreaming of a strange and quiet love, of imagined kisses that vanish with the light of day, of a shadowy longing that must never be uttered, of dark hair and green eyes."
Harry felt strong arms wrap themselves tightly around him, lips burying themselves in his messy hair. Arthur Weasley said softly: "Five days. Five days of unreality before reality sets back in."
"Let's make the most of it, then," Harry whispered, tearing at the man's shirt. Finally. Your skin. Your skin under my touch... "Come to bed with me."
A trembling gasp of breath, a voice so soft he almost couldn't hear: "Not in the room you share with Ron. And not in the bed I share with my wife. Here. Here in this room. Only here."
Another kiss against his lips, deeper this time and more possessive, strong hands that tore at his clothes and set his skin aflame. Harry couldn't breathe, couldn't think... All reality appeared to dissolve into the flame that spread through his limbs, through his mind, through his soul. I am no longer Harry Potter, the chosen one, the hope of the wizarding world. You are no longer Arthur Weasley, ministry worker, husband and father. There is no reality except my lips against your lips and my skin against your skin.
They stumbled onto the faded sofa in the corner, brushing stacks of books to the floor. Harry moaned against his lover's lips: "Arthur, you need to show me... I have never done this before."
"Me neither. Not like this. Not with another man." There was a smile hiding in Arthur Weasley's eyes. How blue his eyes were!
Harry's hands traveled over the other man's body. His smooth, muscular chest, his strong arms, his stomach, his rock-hard erection...
"Oh, Merlin!" Arthur Weasley moaned out loud when Harry's finger wrapped themselves around his shaft. "Finally, finally..." He reached for Harry, pulled him on top of his own body, kissed him furiously and deeply, while his hands found Harry's swollen cock. Strong, experienced hands danced frantically over Harry's shaft, driving him to ecstasy.
"Arthur..." Harry breathed. "I want you to take me, I want you to enter me. I want to feel you inside."
But a hoarse voice whispered in his ear: "Not that, Harry. No, not that. Much as I want to, I don't want to hurt you. Let me just feel your beautiful cock in my hand, and your hand stroking me."
"But I want you to..."
A tender kiss found his lips and stifled his words. A tongue explored his mouth, gently, teasingly, while the strong hand stroked his shaft furiously. Harry sighed and abandoned himself to the wild pleasure that coursed though his body.
"Harry... Harry..." Arthur Weasley whispered his name, again and again. He deep blue gaze met Harry's. "I want you so badly..."
Harry came violently, his sperm spilling over his lover's stomach as he screamed out his name. The next instant, the blue eyes darkened, and a voice whispered hoarsely: "Oh, Merlin, I made you come, I made you come... Oh, God, Harry..." Arthur Weasley's body began to tremble underneath him, and the next moment, something warm and wet flooded over him.
They lay perfectly still for a few moments, pressed against each other, messy, sticky, delirious. Then Harry felt a gentle hand stroke his face, again and again, ever so softly. "Are you all right-?" whispered Arthur Weasley against his ear.
"More than all right..."
A soft kiss against his lips. "No regrets, then?"
"What?" There was a sudden glimmer of fear in the blue eyes. "What do you regret, my love?"
Harry gazed into the deep blue of his lover's eyes. "The only thing I regret is that I couldn't get you to fuck me."
Color flooded over Arthur Weasley's face. He wrapped his arms tightly around Harry and whispered in his ear: "If you keep talking like that, anything could happen."
Then he reached out, found a blanket that had fallen on the floor and wrapped it over the both of them. They lay still in each other's arms, warm and sleepy now. The lamp flickered and went out, and the room was cast in darkness. All was still, except for the sound of their own heartbeats.
Arthur Weasley spoke softly into the darkness: "I suppose anything could happen, in the stillness of this house..."