I will never let you fall
I'll stand up with you forever
Ireland is hot this time of year.
Dean strips off his jacket and drapes it over his arm. He knows he looks like a right loon just standing in the middle of the sidewalk, gazing up at the tiny but clean little house wedged between two apartment buildings, but Dean can't find it in himself to care much. His eyes focus on the top window. It's open, the screen punched out to let what little breeze there is filter into the room. Dean knows it gets mighty stuffy up there during the summer holidays. Dean's lips wrestle through a smile as he pictures Seamus up there, shirtless, laying flat on his back on the sheets of his bed and struggling to breathe through the muggy, thick air.
A memory assaults him before he can put up a defense to stop it (the last thing he wants to do is feel) - him, two years ago, leaning out of that very window with his back to Seamus and contemplating drawing the trees across the street when the Irish boy took his hand, trembling, and drew him to the edge of his bed. Seamus had been so pink in the face it would have been comical had he not been physically stuttering his way through a confession.
"Don't ye get breathless, sometimes? All, w-wound up, kind of? It's ... it's right mad, Dean, the w-way I get, and it's, it's driving me completely bonkers."
Dean had just stared at his best friend with his dark brows wrestled down. "What are you going on about?"
Seamus' hands wrung together as if he were trying to squeeze the life out of something, or perhaps the truth, fussing with his sandy hair and the blankets on his bed before he blurted, hard and fast, "I think I'm mad for ye."
Dean shakes his head. The memory whips away like torn pieces of paper in a harsh wind. He takes a deep breath and steps toward the front door. It's small - the house is certainly not built for young men the size of Dean, who has no officially reached six feet - so he ducks a little to clear his head of the porch ceiling. His knuckles roll softly against the door, barely loud enough to be heard, but it's only moments before the little door swings open.
Seamus' mother looks nothing like her son. Whereas Seamus' hair is sandy and his face is immensely freckled like the night sky, his mother has straight, dark hair and a soft, clear complexion. Dean thinks of her like a second mother and, despite the circumstances, beams brightly when she appears in the doorway. A shriek of delight builds from her throat, her thin arms nearly crushing Dean to her chest.
"Merlin, ye're safe!" Her hand runs over Dean's dark curls before planting a warm, wet kiss on his cheek. Yanking Dean inside and pulling the door closed with a wordless spell, she fusses over him, taking his jacket. The front room is flickering with the light of a TV, illuminating the two couches that crowd the tiny room. Dean's eyes can scarcely look at them without a dozen memories flooding into his brain (no, no, feeling is not going to help at all-)
"We were so worried!" Seamus' mother hugs him once more. "There's no use pretending anymore, is there? Pretending Ye-Know-Who hasn't returned. Blimey, even thinking it gives me a fright. Oh, Dean, not a day's gone by that Seamus hasn't been talking 'bout ye, so worked up about yer safety - here, let me fetch him-"
She stops, arms slowly lowering, as if the jacket is suddenly a heavy weight. Her eyes are the only features that Seamus gained; hazel, green flecked with brown. The jacket pools to the floor. "Dean?"
"I've come to say goodbye." Dean's throat closes. He tries again, giving a slight shake of his head. "It's not safe for me anymore, not with the Muggle Born Registration ... Mrs. Finnigan, please."
"Ye can stay here." The woman's eyes are pricking with tears. "We'll hide ye. We'll keep ye safe, this house is yer home, too!"
"Mrs. Finnigan." Dean steps forward. She's taller than Seamus but still so little compared to Dean. He has to duck to wrap her in his arms, rubbing her back. "I would never put you or your husband or Sea-" He stops. His lips touch the woman's hair. "Or Seamus in that kind of danger. It's all right. I'm going to be fine."
Her arms hold Dean for several moments in silence. When she pulls back, she's crying pretty openly, wiping her wrists beneath her eyes and waving him upstairs. "He's in his room, sweetheart. Be gentle with him." She touches her chest and offers a trembling smile. "Ye're the most special person to him, Dean."
Dean blinks his burning eyes and nods. Before she can see, he hustles up the stairs into the dark second floor. He stops at the head of them, gripping the banister and forcing the tears back. He can't cry in front of Seamus. Not now. He's always been the more level-headed of the two and now is not the time to lose that title. He has the remain cool. For himself. For Seamus.
His eyes travel to the bedroom door to his left. It's eerily quiet in the hallway, making Dean's shaky exhales seem like explosions. The boy's eyes close again.
"I think I'm mad for ye," Seamus had said, his knees knocking together as he shifted across the bed, putting more distance between him and Dean. "Isn't that ... totally mental?"
Dean blinked. And blinked again. "Yeah," he agreed, with a laugh he couldn't sustain rattling his chest. "Bonkers."
"It's not funny." Seamus's ears burned red. "It's embarrassin'. I can't get ye outta my head for a whole minute!"
"I'm your best mate." Dean slid closer, but Seamus refused to look at him, his legs bouncing off of the floor. "And I'm a real catch. Why wouldn't you be smitten with me?"
Seamus' hazel eyes seemed as if they were trying to bore holes into the floor. "I just admitted to being a right poof and, blimey, having feelings for ye and ye're over there makin' jokes?"
A dark skinned hand had reached over and gripped one of Seamus' shaking ones. "Mate," Dean said, voice soft and eyes even softer, melting chocolate as Seamus dared to meet them. "I've been in love with ye since bloody first year."
Dean's hand collides with his cheek. No. No, not now. Not today. Not when - not when he had to run away and probably die and never see Seamus again. No.
(He already feels too much for one boy to handle and it hurts, it hurts so much -)
The door handle is cold in his hand despite the significant temperature rise from the bottom floor. Dean sucks in a thick breath through his nose and twists it, opening the door far enough to peek through the crack. He can see the window, vacant, and the bed, also empty, though the sheets are wrinkled and the blankets are tossed back in a hump at the end of it. Dean holds his breath, listening, waiting to see Seamus jig into his line of view with his headphones on or to jump out from behind the door, thinking this is just a surprise visit.
What he gets, though, is a lot less happy than that.
"Are ye gonna stand there or try to run away without telling me?"
Dean throws the door open. He ducks into the room (he swears the ceiling shrinks every time he visits - if he were to roll on his toes, his hair would be mashed by it) and turns around the door. Seamus, legs sprawled, arms crossed, is sitting in an old, battered recliner in the corner of his room. Dean's mind is once more filling with a hundred moments he never thought he'd remember in such vivid detail - Seamus sitting on his lap in that very recliner, watching a Quidditch match on the little telly in front of it, the first time Seamus' hand dared to venture lower than Dean's waistband on that ugly chair, that time they had toppled over it when Dean had been trying to teach Seamus how to waltz and he had bruised the back of his head on the chair's arm and Seamus had laughed so hard he nearly cried - they all chase away the speech Dean had prepared when he had been traveling from England to Ireland. The goodbye speech. The I love you speech.
The I'm sorry speech.
Seamus' hair grows like weeds, the sandy strands already tickling the Irish boy's light eye lashes. He doesn't move from the position he's in - defensive, denying. Dean's shoulders sag forward with a weight he doesn't know how to carry pressing at his back. "Shay."
Seamus' lips tremble. He tries to press them together but it's a sadness to strong to fight. He straightens in the chair and uncrosses his arms, planting solid fists on the tents of his knees. "Ye're not going. Ye're not going anywhere and that's final."
"No. Ye're not going into hiding like some kind of god damn criminal. Ye're gonna stay here and I just won't go to Hogwarts and we'll keep ye hidden and -"
"Seamus, stop, please -"
"No!" Finally, their gazes meet. Seamus' eyes are ringed red, tears spilling over the brim and trailing down to his jaw. "No, Dean!" His voice quivers, the anger giving way to a despair too great to have a name. Seamus struggles to a stand, leveling a pointed finger at the boy across the room. "We're not even discussing this. I am not losing ye! I am not going to stand by and let ye run off into the wilderness, just hoping they won't find ye! Ye'll die, Dean!" He waves his arms frantically when Dean opens his mouth to speak. "Shut it! Shut it right now, I don't want to hear it. Ye're staying here, I'm staying here, we're going to be together no matter what happens and that's that!"
Seamus is known for his temper. This is not the first time Dean has witnessed it first hand, but it is by far the most angry he's ever seen him. It's a wonder literal smoke isn't rising from his ears. (He's feeling too much too fast and Dean can't say he doesn't know how that feels.)
Dean doesn't say anything, listening instead to the rough breathing of Seamus trying to calm himself. Dean takes a slow step backward until he feels the mattress at his legs. As he sits, the smell that is Seamus - some kind of Irish cologne and his mother's laundry detergent and the sweat from the summer sun dying at the west horizon - whisks up Dean's nose and catapults him into a better, less dangerous time.
"Love me?" Seamus had said, his eyebrows - recently growing back from another fire mishap - dig over his nose. "Like, like real, real love?"
Dean smiled. "Yeah, you git. Love. I love you."
Seamus' chest had stuttered, his lips struggling between a blown out grin and a suspicious scowl. "If ye're playing me, Thomas -"
"D'you want me to prove it?"
All expression flitted off of Seamus' face. "What?"
"Do you. Want me." Dean slid closer, his hand resting hot on Seamus' knee. Their eyes snapped together and locked. "To prove it?"
"And how do ye -"
The rest of the words had been swallowed, because Dean's mouth had found Seamus' for the first time and after that, there were no questions. Just answers.
When Dean blinks, tears of his own are leading each other down his cheeks. He sniffles and wipes them away with his thumb. "I've already made my decision, Seamus." He folds his hands on top of his knees. "Tomorrow, I officially go into hiding."
"You won't be able to write to me. I won't be able to send you anything, either. And I'll stay wherever I can - floating around with the money I've been saving - until it's safe again. I don't know when that will be, Seamus, but I have to do this. I have to run. If I don't, my family could be in danger, your parents, you -"
Seamus fist connects with the wall with a loud, sudden crack. Dean jumps to his feet, two long strides taking him right to Seamus' side. His fingers circle tenderly around Seamus' wrist, drawing the bruised and now bleeding knuckles to his chest. He tries to find Seamus' eyes but the fellow Gryffindor refuses to look at him, staring heatedly at the crater he just made in the wall.
"Seamus. Look at me."
It takes a moment but finally the rage-filled gaze shifts from the wall to Dean. As soon as contact is made, Seamus melts, falling forward and crashing into Dean's broad chest. The taller boy crushes Seamus against him, whispering against his hair, kissing his forehead, his crown. One hand tangles in the back of his hair while the other glides down Seamus' trembling spine.
(And Dean stops trying not to feel because it's impossible with Seamus.)
He has to keep it together, Dean thinks absently, for himself, for Seamus, but as soon as a breathless sob wracks Seamus' frame, all of Dean's self control goes with it. The two sink to the floor, hands fisting in the other's shirt as if they simply can't be close enough - they're never close enough. Seamus' face buries into Dean's neck, the small room filling with the sounds of agony too heavy to carry alone.
"You go to Hogwarts, Shay. Look after the young ones. Look after Neville and Luna and Ginny and all of our friends. Make sure they're safe." Dean kisses Seamus' temple, talking over the smaller boy's sobs. "Do your homework and stay busy. Keep out of trouble. And please, love." Dean pulls back, cradling Seamus' tear-streaked face in both of his large, dark hands. He tries to smile to the best of his ability, though the corners struggle to raise. "Please don't blow yourself up while I'm gone."
Seamus releases a sound akin to laughter, though it's far more tortured. His skinny arms link around Dean's neck and hold him there as his mouth collides with his best friend's. The kiss is hard and hungry and says so much more than either of them can - I'm sorry I have to leave, I'm sorry I can't go with you, I'm sorry you have to be alone, I'm sorry I'm sorry I love you I love you. Dean kisses Seamus back with all the fire and passion he can summon, slowly guiding Seamus down to the floor and rolling on top of him. They part just once to catch their breath before their lips lock again, tongues uniting with soft moans that sound too much like whimpers.
"I love ye," Seamus breathes as Dean's lips pepper his jaw with kisses.
"So much it kills me," Dean finishes, about to devour the pale skin of Seamus' neck before the Irish boy's hands force his face to meet his own.
"Ye stay alive out there, Dean Thomas." His jaw tightens as he blinks, fresh tears spilling over his temples and gliding into his hair. "Promise me. Swear it."
"Shay." He shakes his head weakly. "I can't -"
"Do it." Seamus' eyes are more serious than Dean has ever seen them. His hands tighten on Dean's face. "Do it, I swear to God -"
"Okay." Dean takes one of Seamus' tight hands. He turns his lips into the boy's warm palm and kisses it softly, gently, and speaks into the lines that connect his flesh. "I promise to stay alive."
"Promise to come back."
"I promise to come back. For you."
"Dean." Seamus' chest caves so low Dean is certain the boy will never take a breath again, and once more his face is steered down to Seamus' lips and they're kissing and kissing because they both know that Dean can't make those kinds of promises and they both know that Dean could very well die and this could be their last night, the last time, the end.
When the two can breath steadily again, Dean lifts Seamus from the floor and half carries him to the bed. Seamus' fingers coil tightly in Dean's shirt. "Stay the night."
Dean knows he shouldn't, that he should get a head start right now, but he can't say no, not when Seamus is wiping away his tears with his wrists just like his mother does. "Okay."
The sun sets and in the darkness they make love as quietly as they can, relishing in the other's presence, taking advantage of every second they have left. They're gentle and soft but desperate, and more than once they have to stop to wipe away unruly tears and simply hold one another while sobs choke them breathless. Words soak in the wrinkles of the sheets, the hot Ireland night making them sweat, mingling their scents. By the time exhaustion steals them into sleep, their limbs are so tangled they're practically one person, and Dean's heart is so raw, every beat rings pain through his system.
Morning creeps on them much too quickly. Dean's eyes peel open and settle on the ceiling. He tries to pretend this is any other summer holiday he's spending with Seamus, waking up too close to each other, about to embark on another day of throwing footballs in the backyard or seeing a movie just for the air conditioning since they spend the whole film snogging anyway or eating meals with Seamus' parents around their tiny table where everything is warm and right and peaceful.
But this is not one of those days.
The world as they know it might be crumbling at their feet any day now.
Dean twists to look at Seamus' sleeping face. It's the only time that the boy looks relaxed anymore. His jaw is slack and his lips are slightly parted, smooth, even breaths making the softest of noises from his chest. Dean's lips tremble as he presses them together. Carefully, Dean touches the boy's jaw and leans forward, kissing the corner of his mouth.
The Irish boy mumbles incoherently, rolling closer, trying to swing an arm around Dean's waist. Dean catches the sailing arm, knowing that if it landed, he'd never get out of the bed. He'd never leave. He slides out of the bed and places the arm in the empty space he had occupied. Seamus' eyebrows tighten over his forehead but he doesn't wake up - yet.
Dean opens the bedroom door and stands in the threshold of the room and the hallway. He had his moments of weakness. Now, he has to be strong.
"Are we the forever kind of deal?" Seamus had spoken into the dark that first night they had slept together, hands coiling between them.
"You're turning into a sap, Shay."
"I mean it," Seamus chuckled, rolling onto his side to look down at Dean's dark eyes. "Forever?"
"Aye, mate." Dean kissed him. The feeling was still new then, sending his heart into a right fit. "Forever."
Dean closes the door behind him, burning the image of Seamus twisted in the sheets and reaching across the mattress for a body that was no longer there into his mind. He forces back his tears and pushes out his chest with a deep breath.
For Seamus, he had to keep it together.
He had, after all, made a promise.
The lyrics in the beginning are from The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' "Your Guardian Angel".
Hope you enjoyed the angst. I think I might write a sequel to this, in Seamus' POV, when Dean comes back to Hogwarts/after the battle. What do you guys think?