A/N This was written for shygryf with thanks for her donation to Alzheimers Scotland. My old friend tincat is running the marathon next year to raise money. My father has a form of Alzheimers and Parkinsons and I'm not in a position to donate so I offered to write for people who would donate at the just giving page. If you would like to prompt me or make a request you just have to make a donation of any amount. A link is on my profile.
Shygryf asked for something from Eternal Sunshine of the Scourgified Mind with Ron and Dee.
A Parting Gesture
He knew pain, he'd caused himself most of it, but there's something undeniably special about the pain of a six month old baby twisting his eyelid in their tiny fist.
"Edwin," Ron said, as calmly as he could,"Daddy's eyelid doesn't come off."
"Now that sounds like a challenge to me," the familiar voice over Ron's shoulder brought little comfort as the tiny fist continued to battle with his eyelashes.
"Dee, there are baby fingernails in my eye," Ron paused to wince, "in my eye, Dee!"
"Baby fingernails are cute though right?" Dee laughed as he stepped around to smile at Ron's little boy.
"They're the sharpest things on earth!" Ron gritted his teeth and tilted his head as his determined son twisted his fist.
"What the hell did you do to him to cause this?"
"Nothing," Ron snarled, "he's just got this thing about my eyelashes. He thinks they come off."
"Ouch," Dee said with a wince.
"Tell me about it," Ron said as he glared at his friend, from his rather precarious position, with watering eyes.
Dee leaned in and beeped Edwin's little nose.
"Hello you," he said, warmly, "you wanna beep me on the nose? You wanna do this to my pointy nose? Beeeep!" Dee beeped Edwin's nose again and the baby laughed, still clinging on tightly to his father's long eyelashes.
"Yeah, get Uncle Dee back," Ron said, neck aching from the angle he was twisting his head.
"Let go of Daddy's eyelid and beep me right here," Dee said as he tapped his nose and leaned in closer.
"Watch out, he's quick," Ron warned.
"My eyelashes aren't fascinating."
"And mine are?"
"They're kind of striking," Draco shrugged.
Ron looked at Dee, raised his available eyebrow, and waited for a punch line. Dee looked back at him.
"Really, they're abnormally long. They're like a girls only that…colour."Dee seemed to think that that was explanation enough but Ron's son had inherited his determined nature from both his parents and Ron wasn't giving up.
Ron felt the grip on his eyelid loosen and tried to close it as he frowned at Dee.
"I don't know, it's hard to describe. You have other-worldly eyelashes, that's all."
"Other wo- Ahhhhh!" Edwin released the eyelid and Ron leaned back away from his son with a deep sigh.
"Wanna give him to me?"
"Got anything valuable on you y'want to keep?" Ron joked.
Dee got a strange look on his face and Ron's smile faded quickly.
Dee thought for a moment and then nodded, apologetically.
Ron picked up a wet cloth and dabbed at his sore eye before grabbing the nappy bag and a spare bottle with a temperature charm on it.
"Come on then."
Dee led the way towards the beautifully carved wooden door in the hallway. He opened it and toed off his shoes. He left them outside the door and stepped onto the soft warm sand. Ron followed, babe in arms and loaded up like a donkey with infant paraphernalia, ready for all baby related emergencies.
Dee walked across the sand and noticed he was making the only footprints on the large magical beach. He turned back to frown at Ron, who was wrestling to unfurl a tartan blanket onto the sand, whilst balancing his baby and all the related luggage.
Dee moved back and took the task over.
"Ta," Ron said with a smile of weary gratitude.
Having a new baby was knackering. Dee knew that from still living at the house when Hermione had her first. He was amazed that the pair of them had decided to go for it again. He'd have put money on them being an only child couple. Hermione had loathed being pregnant and Ron had hated how miserable Hermione was. Then the baby came and they were both exhausted for what felt like two years solid.
After all the ' never agains' they went and got broody and planned another one.
Ron had said as much to Dee, a week after Edwin was born , with bags under his eyes, greasy unwashed hair and rumpled slept-in clothes – 'we planned this'. He couldn't quite believe what he'd done.
"Ron," Dee began as he flattened out the creases in the blanket and watched Ron drop slowly to his knees to lay Edwin down on his back, "when were you last in here?"
Ron made sure Edwin was settled and offered him his bottle, which the baby happily rejected before scratching the side of Ron's hand with his razor sharp fingernails. Ron set the bottle down and then sucked on his bumpy scratch mark. He used the moment to think back and then puffed out his cheeks.
"Um…" his eyes searched the sky, as if the clouds would jog his memory, "Hermione was pregnant, so…" Ron narrowed his eyes and then made a measuring gesture with his hands in front of him, "…about this big. What would that be? Augtober?"
"Augtober," Dee repeated, flatly.
"Somewhere between August and October," Ron said, nodding and returning his focus onto Dee himself.
"September maybe?" Dee laughed.
"No, definitely not, because there was too much going on around her birthday. Maybe September borderline, like on the cusp or something. Maybe cusping September…or August or October."
"Yeah." Ron nodded, brightly. "Why?"
Dee looked around at the untouched sand.
"It's just clear that no-body's been in here for a while." He looked back at Ron and smiled in a way that was almost proud, partly relieved, and dissolved into a forehead full of worry lines.
"Shit, you just looked like Edwin when he's filling his nappy," Ron exclaimed.
Ron sat back on the blanket, letting his fingers drape over the rug and into the soft sand, before he gave Dee one of his scrutinising looks.
Dee shook his head,
"I'm not. I'm really great at the moment. Everything's going well and I'm so totally in love that I went and bought this thing and…here, look."
Dee threw a small box at Ron and let his gaze wander everywhere and anywhere across the quiet beach. The box struck Ron on the chest and he caught it left handed as it dropped. He glanced at Dee before opening it and then looked back up at him with bulging eyes.
"Yeah, so there's that," Dee shrugged as he met Ron's eyes before looking away.
"I'm already married," Ron said, blankly.
Dee finally laughed and shoved Ron, who smiled at him kindly.
"It's for Carrie, you idiot."
"So you don't love me anymore?"
"Ron!" Dee huffed and Ron adopted his serious face and looked at the ring properly.
"You're happy," Ron said.
"And in love."
"Stressfully so, yes," Dee nodded, emphatically.
"Why are you so intense then? Nerves?"
Dee looked back across the beach and sighed. The breeze caught his hair. Edwin burbled and tried to gnaw on his own fist.
"Nah-ah-ahhh," Ron said as he rummaged inside the loaded bag of baby stuff. He pulled out a clear doughnut like thing and gave it to Edwin to hold.
The child rammed the thing into his mouth, dribbled around it for a moment and then threw it aside and sank his fist back into his mouth.
Ron sighed in resignation as he watched the teething ring sink slowly into the accommodating sand, "Fine, don't say I didn't try," he said with a grin as he caught a glimpse of the satisfied look on his son's face.
Dee looked back at Ron with his son, he played with one of the baby's feet and then smiled to himself.
"You don't, " Ron's eyes suddenly snapped into attentiveness, "have to get married do you?"
"No!" Dee rolled his eyes and gave a tut. "I'm just playing with the baby for goodness sake."
Ron relaxed, took off his socks and wiggled his toes in the sand, waiting for Dee to spit it out.
Ron frowned, "Huh?"
"Not been in here since Augtober. Not been in here since the baby was born."
"Too busy," Ron said, matter-of-factly.
"It's really great that you don't need it now."
"I still need it, Dee."
"I didn't mean that," he held up both hands and shook his head, "I know you need it. I just mean that you haven't needed it. That's really brilliant."
"Seriously Dee, you came to tell me you're going to propose or because you're worried about me?"
"Not worried at all. You're what I'm hoping to become."
Ron looked alarmed.
Dee held his hands up quickly in an effort to reassure his friend, "Happily married, children, all the stuff that makes you need your sleep at night. I want what you have."
Ron grinned, picked up Edwin and held him out to Dee.
"Help yourself, mate!"
They both laughed and Dee took a happily gurgling Edwin off Ron's hands.
"Can I talk to you about stuff and not have it…beach you?"
"Beach me?" Ron looked very offended. "I'm a whale now am I?"
"If I talk about the bad stuff and the bad times and…and… I won't ruin this run of not needing this room and feeling good and..."
"If I'm going to drop, I'll drop. It's never going to be down to a conversation, especially not one with you!" Ron punched Dee in the shoulder, lightly.
Dee set Edwin on his lap and watched the tiny fingers grip his one large finger, tightly.
"As soon as I bought the ring I thought about Jo," Dee blurted.
Ron lightly patted Dee's knee and then sat back and waited.
"It's not like I'm cheating on her. I'm not feeling guilty for moving on."
"It's that," Dee paused for some time, Ron waited, "I outgrew her. You've managed your…stuff and settled down and become a father and I've matured and changed and fallen in love. She's still back there in the same place."
"She's not stuck anywhere, she's dead," Ron said, plainly.
"But she's the same. She'll always be the same. She never evolved or changed or matured or…" Dee rubbed at his face, roughly.
"If I met her now, today, I wouldn't be able to talk to her. I wouldn't think she was funny. I wouldn't get her and she wouldn't get me. I've changed and she never got to and now I'm getting married and I'm not who she knew. She wouldn't like me. If we met again we wouldn't want to be around each other, we're too different."
"This isn't an ex you might bump into on Diagon Alley," Ron said, reasonably, "this is a ghost. She's a memory."
Dee's eyes reddened and he shook his head.
"I don't want her to be."
"I'm getting old and boring and my hair's thinning…"
"You noticed that?" Ron's voice was soft and the smallest of smiles pulled at one corner of his mouth.
Dee cast him a withering look that soon melted into a hint of a smile.
"I love you, you bastard."
"I love you back."
"Think she's growing up with us?" Dee asked. "When we meet again in the next life or in the afterlife or whatever, you think she'll have changed with us?"
Ron thought for a moment. Dee began to subconsciously rock a silent and contented Edwin as he watched Ron processing his thoughts.
"I think," Ron began; eyes unfocused on the sky, then looking deliberately at the horizon and across the perfect, untouched sand. "I think…she's…" he paused and nodded to himself. "She's in this room."
Dee looked around, as if expecting to see something out of the ordinary. Eventually he returned his gaze to Ron.
"Jo is the beach room."
"How d'you mea-"
"She's always gonna be the same Jo we loved, and needed, and miss," Ron's eyes began to well up and Dee suddenly wanted to change the subject and drag Ron out and back into the house where he was domesticated and happy and knackered. "She's always the same. This place is exactly the same as when you first made it for me."
Ron smiled at Dee and his eyes were clearer now, he had pushed through the feeling of sadness that had brewed up, and he smiled and reached over to take back his son.
"We might change and spend more time away. We might not need the same things, comforts, we did to begin with. This place was what we loved then. Ten years later it's the same and we still love it, we still get it, we still need it. "
Ron grabbed Edwin's bottle, offered it to him again and the baby began to drink quietly.
"You didn't outgrow the beach. You didn't forget why you liked looking at funny shapes in the clouds. The beach doesn't have to change because you're too old to build sandcastles. You can get something different from it as you get older. It might be different things to you," Ron paused and watched his son for a moment, " but it'll always be what it was ."
Dee crawled across the blanket and gave Ron a one armed hug.
"Can you be my dad?"
"I'd rather not, he's a complete bastard!"
"How about my best man?"
"She's got to say yes yet."
"As if she'd say no."
"I don't know; you can be a pain in the arse, I might have to just warn her about that."
Dee lightly swatted Ron about the top of his head and they both chuckled. Edwin drank greedily from his bottle and the clouds slowly drifted across the sky.
"Can I propose in here?" Dee asked, looking straight ahead.
"I think you should." Ron nodded.
They sat, enjoying the silence of Edwin feeding and then napping for quite some time. Eventually they looked back at each other, ready to leave the beach and go back into the house. Dee winced.
"That kid really fucked up your eye."
"I've been waiting for it to stop hurting and it still hasn't!" Ron said, with aggravation.
Dee drew his wand and cast a couple of healing spells.
"So you've waited until now to do that for me. Thanks. Considerate, that." Ron grumbled, teasingly as he began to reassemble all the baby's belongings and once again balance them on free arms and shoulders, whether they were his or Dee's.
"Oh stop complaining you big baby."
Ron looked down at his sleeping son, the frowned and looked back at Dee.
"What do you mean other-worldly eyelashes?"