Author's Note: Oh god. I have no words other than...my bad.
So yeah, I'm in University now and things were hellish. Today is actually my birthday (it's 3AM so it counts). It's pretty much the first time I've been alone-ish (my roommate's asleep), without homework (I took eighteen credits this quarter), and in the mood to write things (that is sort of important). I never realized how busy I would be, even during the summer before quarter started, doing things that weren't writing gay pornographic stories for my readers. All I can say is that I'm sorry and I'm a horrible writer, and this chapter is unedited because I was excited to actually write something. I may update this later so that it's not so shitty and brief. But for now...have this as my meager offering to you poor people.
This story will not die, I swear to all that is holy.
Edit: I changed a bit in the second half and edited other parts slightly, so the plot can go in the direction I want. I would recommend reading the latter portion again, but it's no huge deal if you miss the changes. Also, if you can refrain from throwing anonymous hissy-fits in my reviews and instead tell me what's wrong like a sane person, that would be cool I guess. I do actually look at what you guys say and take it into consideration. These chapters aren't set in stone when i post them, and if you think something doesn't work right or if there are mistakes, let me know.
The carriage was deathly silent. It seemed as if they were in some sort of funeral procession, for how lively everyone was inside. Hell, they were even black. Perhaps signaling the death of their dignity? Privacy? Happiness?
No, Ron knew that wasn't true, even as he thought it. Even as he snarled at the people who tried to enter their carriage, fending them off so as to not be trapped with a bunch of nosy tossers, he knew he still felt happy. It was sort of impossible when Harry was around now. Yet another sign pointing towards that thing that he didn't really want to think about at the moment –
"I said bugger off!" Ron snapped, feeling agitated at the gentle tapping on the carriage window. Yelling always helped relieve stress, at least. That was why his mum hadn't gone grey yet, or so dad said…
"Had a bad day already, then?" came a familiar voice. Ron's warning went unheeded as the door to the carriage squeaked open. Neville stepped inside, plopping down next to Hermione with a flustered look that reflected the general mood of the carriage already.
"Sorry," Ron said sheepishly.
"That's okay, mate."
There was a pause.
Neville rolled his eyes and leaned out the door again. "Luna, love, you coming inside?" he called.
They heard a wispy voice, also familiar, and there wasn't really much question as to who it belonged to. Whatever she was saying was muffled by the sound of rain and the carriage walls. However, they could hear Neville's end of the conversation just fine.
"No, sweetheart, they're fine…I'm sure they're well taken care of…They live in the forest, love, they always…Yeah, okay, just give it to him and come on…Well now you're getting drenched too…Yeah, I'll ask about it when we get to the castle…I'm sure Hagrid wouldn't let that happen anyways…"
Harry snickered. Neville leaned out further from the carriage, only returning as he pulled yet another person inside. A person sporting a mane of sodden, dirty blonde hair.
"Hello," Luna said dreamily, smiling around at them all. She appeared completely unfazed by the weather, or how wet her robes were from the pouring rain. She hadn't even been wearing a cloak.
Mad as ever, yet still infinitely loveable.
Everyone greeted her as she sat down, placing herself incredibly close to Neville. Harry and Ron sent him knowing looks, to which the brunet blushed slightly. He looked incredibly pleased with himself nonetheless, almost absently taking her hand in his own. Ron was glad that at least someone was able to show affection without it being a big deal. It was then that he realized he and Harry were still technically holding hands as well.
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad after all.
Hermione looked between the two couples and sighed. Ron had no idea what that was about. Was that a longing tone he heard in there? Was she already tired of the theatrics involved with their return to school? Whatever her reason, she remained quiet after that, gazing straight into the empty seat opposite her.
The carriage jolted into motion, apparently deciding that it was full enough to proceed. The wheels sloshed through the muddy path that led up to the front gate. Rain pattered on the roof overhead.
"So how was holiday, mate?" Harry asked, sounding slightly strained. He was clearly trying to avoid mentioning the giant elephant that had taken residence within the carriage.
"Good," Neville nodded. "Gran gave me a new broom, which was a nice surprise. Not that I can ride it worth a toss. I think she's still holding out hope that I'll become a national Quidditch player one day."
Ron laughed, despite Neville's self-depreciating comments. The bloke had way more confidence than he had last year, at least, no doubt due to their grand little stint in the ministry. He had been cursed and beaten by the Death Eaters to a great extent, but had also kicked a fair bit of arse there. Enough to be recognized by his grandmother again, so they heard.
"What model?" he asked. Neville had never really let on to how much wealth his grandmother actually harbored. Ron wondered what type of broom she could even afford, not that he really played into all that class-ranking stupidity. One's curiosity just couldn't be helped, sometimes…
"New Starlark that just came out last month," Neville answered plainly.
Apparently galleons weren't hard to come by for her, then. The Starlark had been on the cover of Quidditch Weekly not too long ago. It was placed just above the Comet series, dammit. And Neville wasn't even on the house team…
Not that he was jealous. Neville was a nice bloke, it was good that he got nice things from time to time. Ron just knew that, if he had ever owned a rememberall, he wouldn't have lost it so easily. Could buy a bloody house with those things, despite their near-uselessness.
"Wasn't that on Quidditch Weekly?" Harry said curiously. Ron felt a weird surge of pride in him. He had adapted well from being that kid who was raised by muggles in a sheltered environment, and instead moving onto Quidditch expert and captain of the house team.
"Yeah, it was pretty well-rated I suppose, and Gran wanted me to have a good one for practicing or something 'in case I felt the urge'. Told her thanks for it anyways, since it is pretty high-quality. They say it's real good for travel too if you want to go…"
Ron looked out the window, unable to pay attention any longer. All of the features he had already read about, and he knew he wasn't getting a bloody Starlark any time soon. Best not to linger on it. He had a perfectly good broom already.
The forest was visible out the window, pretty well considering how close it was to the path they were on. The tree trunks twisted and gnarled into different directions. No wonder people avoided that place. Aside from the Acromantula infestation, werewolf rumors, dangerous flora, and wild animals contained within, it was really dark and creepy. Something about it at night was revealed that you couldn't quite see in the day.
The thought of werewolves made Ron think of Lupin, of course. During holiday, when he had left in the morning he had apparently been off to rendezvous with the pack he had been secretly spying on for several months now. He supposedly left updates with Dumbledore every moment he could. Tracking their whereabouts, making sure they didn't kill, informing him of 'new recruits'. Those were apparently children who were bitten and dragged into the pack by force. Thinking of these things, of how bad some people had it in this war, made him realize just how small he was in all this. And how involved Harry was in comparison.
He was the one they hunted for constantly. Harry was their target, and had been for two years now. How did he sleep at night? How could he live knowing that the most dangerous wizard in the world wanted him dead?
And really, how could Ron sleep as well? He clearly cared for Harry, much more than he was admitting to even himself. If Harry died, or was taken, or was hurt in any way, how would that make him feel? Ron couldn't save Harry in some blazing glory thing. He couldn't take on all of the Death Eaters and rescue his boyfriend if something happened. He would attempt to in a heartbeat, but Ron knew it would never actually work. How could they laugh at jokes, eat food, live life so normally when, any second now, Harry could be whisked away and never seen again? Ron hated it. He hated that there were so many of them, that You-Know-Who was so powerful. He was completely helpless in protecting the boy he lo—
"Ron, you okay?" Harry muttered, shifting closer to him. Ron felt the hand twined with his squeeze slightly, punctuating the sentence.
"Yeah," he sighed. He felt slightly nauseous.
"It'll be okay, you know," Harry reassured him. He didn't sound too convincing, though, since his voice had a strange tone to it. It sounded like he would rather admit that the Canons were the best team in the league than admit everything was okay.
And that was all Harry was worrying about. No You-Know-Who, no murderous Death Eaters sent out to collect him, no fear of being captured or tortured or murdered. All he was concerned with right now was yet another problem atop the mountain that was Harry's troubles. He was just a scared boy, afraid of what his fellow peers would think about who he liked and didn't like. It all seemed so stupid and trivial. So pointless in a sea of worries.
Ron sucked in a breath and squeezed back.
"Yeah. It will."
When they entered the hall, there was the expected reactions. It may seem to some outsider that Harry always made some sort of grand entrance at the beginning of each term, but that wasn't even his fault. Everyone else gave that illusion by whispering excitedly when he came in. Couldn't the guy just walk through a bloody door without having a chorus of voices following him?
Ron scowled and dragged him along, still clutching firmly to his hand. He didn't bloody care anymore, let them see. Holding hands was better than wildly snogging in front of them, which they had already seen no doubt in the papers anyways.
He chanced a glance up at the staff table as they veered around to the Gryffindor side, and saw Dumbledore looking right back. His bright blue eyes were twinkling. He was clearly enjoying watching everyone scramble over this. Ron only hoped that he would start to enjoy it too, eventually.
McGonagall was pursing her lips at the whispering students, looking highly disapproving. Snape was scowling per usual. Ron hadn't expected that to change for anything, really. He either disapproved of the situation, thus hating Harry more, or he kept the same level of loathing he usually did.
As they made their way, Harry walked quietly along behind him, sticking close. Ron could tell he was blushing profusely, with those adorable green eyes downcast. He was clearly trying not to look embarrassed, but that had always been hard for him when receiving such attention. Ron scoffed under his breath.
Everyone was staring. Everyone was talking. And everyone was pissing him off.
"Fucking wankers," he muttered, finding a place for them to sit down. The benches had a fair few gaps, with more carriages still trundling along up to the school, so it wasn't hard.
He sat down, closely followed by Harry, and finally let go of his hand. Hermione sat opposite them, looking a bit tense herself. A section of the Slytherin table had broken out in laughter, and Harry's gaze flitted up to them instead. His face darkened.
"Ugh…" he groaned, leaning forward on his elbows. "I bet they're having a ruddy good time with all this."
"Just ignore them, Harry," Hermione muttered to him quietly. "It's not like their opinions are worth anything anyways. They never have been."
"No, but you've seen the things they've been spewing," he said into his hands. "I have not sucked Ron off in the loo, but everyone's gonna think I did now!"
Hermione's eyes widened considerably. Her hand was stilled mid-reach for a serving of potatoes.
Ron looked around curiously. It was true, people seemed to believe the wild comments more than one would think. Some of the other students were casting glances their way to varying degrees of humor, fear, and disgust. A fair few of them were simply talking amongst themselves, however. He couldn't tell exactly how much hassle they would have walking through the hall in the morning, or how many insults would be thrown their way. Ron had never heard of any other same-sex couples that had this much publicity before while they were still in school, since most people didn't come out so blatantly on the front page of the most consumed wizarding newspaper. But, maybe if so many people were aware, there would also be a lot more people willing to come to their defense? Ron could only hope. He didn't know if he could go very long without punching someone in the mouth, wand or no.
Harry sighed beside him, still ducking but otherwise uncovering his face. At least he seemed to have an appetite still, because he reached for the sausages without another word.
They ate, trying to ignore the constant whispering from their own table. It echoed around them, but Ron refused to actually listen to what they were saying. Good Merlin, someone needed to start a topic soon though or he was going to go insane. Fortunately, someone plopped down next to them, and their greeting was friendly.
"Hi all," Dean said. His smile was genuine and unassuming.
"Hey," Ron answered heavily as Seamus sat right next to him. His cheeks were slightly pink, no doubt due to the cold outside. "You still associating with us, then?"
"Of course," he scoffed, as if it were obvious. "Why wouldn't we?"
"For obvious reasons," Harry said moodily. "You have read the prophet recently, haven't you?"
"Yeah," Dean nodded. "Can't say I wasn't shocked. But I don't think anyone should be ashamed to date anyone they want. Right mate?" he nudged Seamus on the elbow.
Ron could have sworn he saw his cheeks grow a single shade darker as he nodded and said "Yeah."
"We'll stay with you tossers no matter what. Unless you lose next week's match, obviously," Dean added cheekily.
"Oh yeah!" Neville said from beside Hermione. He leaned around her enthusiastically as she rolled her eyes. Quidditch was never her favorite topic. "Think you'll do good, Harry?"
Ron looked over to see a slightly bemused expression on his face. If what was going on in his head was any correlation to Ron's, he had probably forgotten about the match as well. In all fairness, it wasn't as though they had been lolligagging the entire break from school...
"Yeah, we can only hope," Harry said, appearing to snap out of his trance. He seemed grateful for the change in topic, at least. "Unless Hufflepuff's new Seeker can get the drop on me, which is always a possibility."
Ron snorted. "Yeah right."
Harry shook his head, frowning. "We forgot to practice during break. Plus there could be a storm, and with my glasses there's always a - "
"Oh come on, we played loads in the orchard," Ron argued. "Your glasses never slowed you down before, either."
"That wasn't really Seeker practice though..." Harry said warily.
"Sure it was. Gorgovitch," Ron added in a mumble, enjoying the slight blush that briefly made its way across Harry's face. "Plus, you're amazing. It'll be fine."
"Aww," Neville said mockingly. "This is bloody precious."
"Shut up," Ron retorted, definitely not feeling embarrassed one bit.
Aside from that, dinner passed with a sense of feigned normalcy. They made their way back to the common room in their usual group, not encountering any nasty comments. Ron could only hope that it would remain like this once people had a day to let everything sink in. Perhaps he had been right. Perhaps they were just paranoid and it wouldn't really be that bad?
They made their way up the spiral staircase and up to the dorms.
"Be bloody glad to turn in," Harry said heavily. "I reckon we'll need all the energy we can get tomorrow, what with the possibility of having to dodge objects being chucked at us."
"I doubt that'll happen," Ron said bluntly. He pushed open the door to the sixth-year boys' dorm, leading the way inside. "Though I do think bed sounds bloody love – "
He paused, seeing only four beds in the room.
"What happened?" Harry asked, sounding immensely confused.
They entered, the other boys close behind, examining the change in furniture arrangements. Ron had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. As his eyes scanned the room, sure enough, he saw the trunks marked with each of their initials.
Everyone except his own.
"This better be a fucking joke," Ron said, feeling all the weight of the day's troubles come crashing down on him at once. The timing of his sleeping arrangements having possibly been changed could only mean one thing, could only be because of recent events. Events currently running around in the wizarding media, where they didn't ruddy belong…
"Oh no," Harry said, sounding worn. Ron clenched his fists.
"They have no bloody right," he snarled, looking around yet again as though he could have misplaced his bed somewhere. "No right to do this. It best be a joke, because I will literally flip the bloody hell out – "
The sound of the door creaking open again made them all turn around. Professor McGonagall was standing there, looking slightly less stern than usual. Was that pity in her expression?
"What's all this?" Ron said, gesturing at the obvious disruption of their sleeping quarters.
"Mr. Weasley I suggest we talk about this. Alone," she gave a pointed look to everyone else.
"I reckon we can talk about it here," Ron said moodily. "Where everyone can know what the bloody hell is going on!"
Her gaze narrowed, and she pursed her lips.
"It appears that, due to current circumstances, some of the parents would wish that the two of you be separated – "
"What?!" Ron said, and he heard his voice echoed by Harry and the others.
" – in your sleeping arrangements," she finished. Her voice held the usual severity, yet softened in that weird pitying way yet again. She didn't seem to approve, or appreciate being the messenger for this particular news.
Which changed nothing, in Ron's opinion.
"Who's parents?" Ron shot, feeling slightly betrayed. He had thought, what with Dean being the last of the boys to graciously accept their relationship for what it was, this wouldn't have been a problem. Who's guardian had requested they sleep in different rooms?
"No one in this particular dorm," she said reassuringly. "But other parents had expressed concerns at having an…obviously romantically involved pair boarding together. Which is somewhat understandable, in a sense."
"Like hell!" he raged, feeling her words sting even worse. Having her disapprove almost felt as if his own mother had cast him out. "You can't tell me we're the only ones who've slept near each other while dating! It isn't right, this is bollocks, and everyone bloody well knows it!"
"I'm not communicating displeasure at your choice in relationship, Weasley," she said, reverting back to her crisp demeanor at the drop of a hat. "As far as I'm concerned, you're entitled to make your own decisions in that matter, and I wouldn't look upon you any differently. The school must simply accommodate for the amount of inquiries regarding your sleeping arrangements…no matter how ridiculous the violation of student privacy may be…" she added under her breath. She looked sympathetically at them this time, including Harry as well. "We cannot simply ignore the amount of input the parents wish to put on the situation. It did, respectably, bring up the issue to the staff, and we did agree that the rules do state, technically, that no one may 'cohabitate' within the dorms."
Ron stared, fuming.
"People wrote in?" Harry said slowly, sounding horrified. "You had a meeting about it and…and decided on these things?"
Ron felt his chest constrict at the slightly broken tone to his voice. He was upset that so many people had felt the need to insist on them separating. So many people knew what they did at night, could guess that they were physically involved, had thought about the fact that they may want to snog or have bloody sex if they wanted to.
But what about the nights when Ron would simply want to bunk in Harry's bed for the hell of it? Sure, they went at it sometimes, they were young and stupid and randy for it. But it wasn't only Harry's arse that he was interested in. During holiday, Ron had grown accustomed to feeling a warm body curled up against his in the night. He had fallen asleep to a bare arm draped over his chest, or jet-black hair between his fingers, and had woken up to soft mumbles breathed into the crook of his neck. He had felt skin nestled against skin in non-sexual ways, with an instinct to be as close as he possibly could to the body beside him. The body that made Ron feel more at home than ever. He had wrapped his arms around a strong chest, felt legs twine with his own to share body heat when the blanket wasn't enough, and had tangled their fingers together as they fell asleep just because he could. The thought that all of it would be ripped away from him so quickly made a lump form in his throat.
But the look on Harry's face made him feel worst of all.
"I'm sorry, Potter," she said, somewhat reluctantly. "You know how inappropriate it is to have the two of you together. Any couple, not just yourselves, would have similar circumstances. There is a reason the girl's dorms are warded against you. This isn't us attempting to partake in the questionable prejudice about this particular situation. This is the school simply using a professional approach to a controversial circumstance. Because, while sometimes it may seem otherwise, this is in fact still a school, and you are here to learn with as few distractions as possible."
"But this is ridiculous," Neville said bravely, gesturing at nothing in particular. "We don't mind if they stay together. Do we?"
There was murmured consent and indignation all around, which made him feel a bit better.
"I'm sorry, Longbottom, but this is our only option. If I could change it and put everyone at ease, I would," she said, frowning. "But the facts simply are that being together is inappropriate, and I somewhat agree with that particular position. It would be unorthodox with any pair of romantically involved students to allow them to sleep in such close proximity. The temptations for…well…" she gave a microscopic grimace, which Ron didn't think he had ever really seen from her before, "would be there."
"But…this is – " Ron felt himself blushing slightly, knowing that McGonagall was trying not to contemplate their sex life, but still he argued. "It's only because people are bringing attention to it, isn't it?!"
She sighed. "Perhaps, but the reasons still stand, Weasley. It simply isn't allowed, and is possibly best for the two of you at such a young age regardless."
Ron snarled, crossing his arms. He had been so used to his parents and their shocking open-mindedness, he had forgotten what other adults were like. He thanked Merlin that his parents weren't as prudish as the rest of the world.
"Weasley, you'll be sleeping in the seventh year boys' dorm instead. Your things have been brought up and arranged accordingly. I've had words with them, and they're aware of the change. Other than that, there's not much else I can do…"
"Yeah, right," Ron muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes. He glared at the floor, feeling betrayed. "You're just like the rest of them."
She paused, and Ron was unsure if she had even heard it. With a final sigh, she left, nodding in farewell.
"Unbelievable," Neville said, shaking his head. "The nerve of some people."
"That's a pure dose, mate," Seamus added. "They shouldn't be able to do that shite."
"Well apparently they can," Ron sighed. He looked over at Harry, who was frowning unhappily. "You okay?"
Harry nodded, looking tired. "I was just wondering when things would turn to hell…"
"Maybe this is the worst of it," Ron said, walking over and pulling him into a hug. He didn't much care if anyone was watching, he needed it as much as Harry probably did.
He nodded again, hugging back.
"I guess…I'll see you in the morning," Harry sighed into Ron's neck. He felt the arms around him clench a bit tighter before letting go again, but not before a lingering kiss was placed in his hair. He returned it, pulling away finally.
"See you tomorrow," he said, trying not to sound as disappointed as he felt. After today, he could have used a good amount of sleep. But without Harry, he didn't even know if he could anymore.
It was horrible, and it had only been ten minutes. Ron was confined in his newly located four-poster, curtains drawn and eyes shut, after having prepared for bed the fastest he had ever done in his life.
Upon entering his new sleeping quarters, he had gotten a few looks of disdain and the rest were uncaring glances. There were six other boys besides himself, which was undoubtedly why the room was considerably bigger than his old dorm room. Plus, it must have been expanded for his own arrival as well, now that he thought about it. But his belongings were there, and his bed was warmed, so it wasn't all bad he supposed.
Until he walked across the room.
"Reckon he'll try to molest one of us?" one of the rather muscular seventh years said. He had at least made an attempt to quiet his voice as his friend sniggered beside him, but that hadn't stopped it from echoing through the room.
Ron sighed and unpacked his pyjamas. Worse yet, there were more surprises.
"Hey Weasley, fancy seeing you here?"
Ron closed his eyes, setting the clothes down on his bed and hoping dearly that the voice didn't belong to who he thought it did. But of course, logic told him what he had clearly forgotten, and the facts came rushing to him unpleasantly sound.
Cormac McLaggen was, in fact, a seventh year Gryffindor. Ron had been blissfully unaware of his presence for so long that he forgot the bloke even existed. Unfortunately, he would no doubt be seeing a lot more of the guy since they were now living together.
This was hell.
So Ron lay there, buried beneath his covers, hiding from the horrid day that had plagued him for so long. He had thought several times that this, perhaps this time, it couldn't get any worse. Yet each event had been followed by something even more unpleasant to endure. Perhaps now fate had punished him enough. Perhaps he was miserable to the extent that the universe wanted him to be. After a morning of pushy reporters following them to observe their sin. After a train ride where their enemy had sought them out to jeer at them. Followed by a dinner where they had been put on display for their fellow students to gawk at. And now here, in this dorm with these older boys who taunted him. Where he was alone and hidden away because the wizarding world didn't want him to be in close proximity to someone he loved.
And that was probably the worst part of today. The fact that just now, when his bed felt so cold despite the warmers in the sheets, that he realized why he was ultimately so miserable. Because he didn't have that warm body he had grown so accustomed to. Because he couldn't kiss that adorable nose, or ruffle that messy black hair, or see those bright green eyes slowly drift shut as they lulled each other to sleep.
Because he knew he loved Harry, and it hurt so much worse.
Author's Note: So hey, winter break. No classes. Look for chapters.
Oh I also have a tumblr that is linked through my author's page. Just click on my penname and it's there. Ask me questions in the askbox if you want, yo, because I actually will answer them.