I'm coming home
I'm coming home
Tell the world I'm coming home
Let the rain wash away
All the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits
And they've forgiven my mistakes
I'm coming home
I'm coming home.
In the darkness of the tunnel, Luna's hands find Dean's. They're cold and small and he jumps at the contact, breath wheezing out of him in quick pants.
"Breathe," she whispers, and Dean tries to swallow and nod at the same time, but only a strangled, choking noise comes from his throat. He lifts his head to peer down the tunnel again. There's only a vague source of light that's enough to guide the two of them toward the portrait, toward the Room of Requirement, toward Hogwarts and Dumbledore's Army and his friends and Seamus.
His breath stutters. Dean still can't believe he's alive. Considering the odds that were thrown against him, it's nothing short of divine intervention - a holy miracle - that his heart is still operating, that he's still sane and breathing and here.
It hadn't been easy. The past few weeks he had spent with Luna at the Shell Cottage, which were heavenly days compared to the months before he had stumbled upon Harry. The Shell Cottage was warm and safe and Luna had taken tender care of him. He considered her a true, close friend now, and owed her more than he could express for pressing cold rags to his forehead when he thrashed himself awake, the few times she caught him holding back tears when memories of Seamus threatened to drown him, the way she always brought him back to earth when his eyes scanned the empty sky for the signs of an owl that wouldn't and couldn't come.
He looks to her now, her cheek smudged with dirt. Her hair is tangled and ratty from traveling, spiraling down her shoulders in white, wispy strands. It hasn't been easy for Luna, either, who spent months in Malfoy Manor, trapped in the dungeon. Dean knew that feeling - of being a prisoner - when he had been captured by the Snatchers, but the two of them had made a silent agreement not to discuss any of the unfortunate events that had occurred when they were being held captive. Neither of them really had to. It was obvious by the way they flinched from touch, spoke in whispers, jumped at the slightest movement that nothing kind had occurred during those moments of torture.
Dean shivers despite the fact that he's sweating. He had traveled with a group of runaways for a few months, made friends, felt safe. They were a good lot, all of them, people he grew to trust and could connect with. They made small fires and huddled close for warmth when it was cold, took turns cleaning clothes in streams. There was a third year boy named Oliver that Dean had taken a liking to, showing him how to perform more advanced spells if any trouble should come after him.
A whimper he forces himself to swallow builds in his chest. Oliver's dead. They're all dead. Him and Griphook had been the sole survivors, the only ones strong enough to escape. The whole thing was still a blur of spells and yelling and Dean just running, running until his lungs burned and his legs failed him.
He had lived, but those nights withering on the floor under the cruel agony of the Cruciatus Curse will haunt him for the rest of his life.
"Luna." Dean's feet stop. He almost falls to his knees. "Luna, wait."
She bounces on her toes, hands curling around one of Dean's upper arms. "Get up. We're almost there."
"Please." His eyes are burning. He sees Oliver's pale, empty face. He feels Fenrir Greyback's hot breath in his ear and his thick, hairy hand around his throat. Dean closes his eyes and shakes his head. "Luna, please, just a minute -"
"He's waiting for you!" Luna's voice cracks sharply, tugging him forward. "Seamus is down there. You need to move. Don't you think he's waited long enough?"
Even imagining Seamus' face - beautifully freckled and framed with blades of sandy hair - tears out a sob from Dean's chest. He straightens his legs, half leaning on Luna, but moving forward.
Seamus. His best mate. The hot tempered little Irish boy he fell in love with during first year. The only person he has given himself in his entirety to. The last picture he had of Seamus was the morning Dean went into hiding. Seamus was asleep. Dean kissed the corner of his mouth and stared at him from the doorway to the bedroom and tried not to shake as he closed the door, branding Seamus' peaceful, sleeping face into his eyes. He had promised Seamus he would return, that he would live through this and come back for him, but neither were convinced. At the time, Dean was certain he was going to die. It didn't mean he wouldn't try, but Dean thought it was inevitable. He was just a boy and You-Know-Who was a dark wizard with a powerful following.
The memory of Seamus both helped and hindered him during his months of hiding. When the sun was up, picturing Seamus in the stone walls of Hogwarts gave him mixed feelings. He was at least relatively safe there at the school, but with Snape as its Headmaster, and all of the new rules and new staff, who knew if it was safe at all? Dean had no idea if Seamus was suffering or not. Still, he could pretend in the warm shafts of the yellow sunlight that Seamus was sitting safe and sound in his dorm room, maybe flipping through a textbook or talking to Neville.
But darkness vanquished his partially happy fantasies. In the dark, Dean was scared and alone and tired and hungry and Seamus was locked in a dungeon for being too mouthy and Dean couldn't save him and every breaking twig in the forests was a Snatcher and every time he dared to close his eyes was the moment that danger would wrap him up again and he doesn't think he breathed at all in the dark.
The thundering in his ears reminds him that he is indeed alive. That, somehow, fate had decided to play him the right cards. Cruel cards, certainly, but the ones that would keep him alive, the ones that would take him back to Seamus. And here he was, literally minutes away from seeing him, seeing all of them, and he didn't know how to process it all, if any of it.
He knows that their reunion will be brief. There is a battle going on. You-Know-Who is coming for Hogwarts, for Harry Potter, and they're all going to have to fight. People are going to die. Dean swallows hard, now relying on his own two feet instead of Luna. The thought that Seamus could very well die as soon as he arrives doesn't soothe him at all. And he knows Seamus' nature - he'll be ecstatic to fight. And Dean can't even protect him. With his jaw grinding, Dean is reminded that he doesn't have a wand.
It doesn't matter. He'll fight, anyway, wand or not, because he'll be damned if he lets Seamus out of his sight for the rest of his life. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say, but it had done nothing but break Dean's in sharp, broken little pieces.
The light is brighter. Dean and Luna's pace quickens wordlessly, the two of them breathing so loud that it drowns out Dean's heartbeat. He can hear voices. Harry's. Neville's. It's deeper and louder than he remembers, but unmistakably Longbottom's. Dean almost falls right there, the sound of his friend's voice is so good to his ears. Luna braces a hand on his chest to support him.
It's only a few steps away now. Luna's hand extends before his can. The portrait yawns open and Dean can't breathe, squinting against the light, and faces start to multiply in front of his eyes, dozens and dozens of little heads turning to watch them. Luna says something, something cheerful, and there are other words shouted. Dean recognizes his name, but he's searching the crowd for a single face, one person, a head of sandy hair and a face filled with freckles and a short little body containing his best mate in the whole world and oh Merlin why can't he find him?
And then he hears it. A voice, a yell bordering on a shrill scream. He steps down from the portrait and scans the faces, a hundred of them buzzing before his eyes and none of them are his. Panic curls in his throat, palms sweating, knees threatening to give out and he's about to reach for Luna when something shoots through the crowd like a bullet, students parting for the figure to burst through. Dean doesn't even have time to see his face before Seamus collides into him, knocking him backward so hard he nearly falls. Dean's arms lock around the body, his chin grazing that glorious light hair. He takes a long, deep breath through his nose just to smell him and, Merlin, he's holding him again.
The room watched them. Even Harry Potter was taking time to stare at the two boys locked together like steel chain. Dean closes his eyes to them, hot tears searing his cheeks as his hand lifts and braces against the back of Seamus' head. The other Gryffindor is trembling, curling fists around the back of Dean's shirt. Dean takes a shaky breath and turns his head so his lips can find Seamus' ears. He shushes him soothingly before whispering, "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here -" which makes Seamus cry harder, his sobs muffled into Dean's neck.
Collectively, the crowd turns away from them - good thing, too, because Dean feels like he's about to fall over. He takes a deep breath and takes Seamus by the arms. Slowly, almost reluctantly, Seamus pries himself off and - shock reverberates upon seeing Seamus' face. It's swollen with bruises, the right side of his lip black, cheeks a sick green. Dean's hands cradle his face gently, unable to summon any words other than, "Who -?"
"Carrows," Seamus whispers before shaking his head dismissively, his own hands raising to push Dean's away. "It doesn't matter, now. Ye're here."
Something hot burns him from the inside. White hot agony, a fierceness that could only belong to a Gryffindor. Through gritting teeth, Dean says, "I'll kill them. I'll kill them for laying a hand on you -"
To his surprise, Seamus laughs, which sounds too much like a sob. He shakes his head again and takes Dean's cheeks in both hands. Dean has to lean slightly to accommodate for Seamus' height, the shorter boy still having to push up on his toes to meet Dean's mouth. "I've missed ye," Seamus whispers before closing his lips over Dean's. The kiss is hotter than his anger and pushes it away, leaving only Seamus and his swollen lips and the heat of his hands on his face, his presence, him.
They aren't in a room full of other students. They aren't about to battle against You-Know-Who and an army of Death Eaters. They're as simple as they've always been in that moment; Dean and Seamus, refusing to let the other go.
Separating but staying close, Dean lifts a shaking hand and swipes away the now chin length pieces of hair from Seamus' face as tenderly as he can. "I kept my promise," Dean says, pain making his face tense up. His voice quivers when he speaks again. "I said I'd come back for you."
Seamus blinks, tears following the paths of his bruises. "And from now on, ye're bloody stuck with me. Forever."
Dean almost chuckles. He kisses Seamus again, nearly getting lost in the smell, the touch, the sight of him again, but able to pull himself away when the crowd's chattering increases in volume. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
It's Ginny. She smiles apologetically, reluctantly cracking the illusion of a peaceful reunion. Tucking her red hair behind her ears, she looks to Seamus. "Snape is calling us out. We've gotta go."
Seamus swallows hard. He spins back to Dean. "I want to stay with ye," he says, hands squeezing Dean's. He lifts them to his mouth and kisses the white hills of Seamus' little knuckles.
"I'm not going anywhere. Besides, it's not over." Dean looks out across the other students milling around, gathering their things, obviously nervous. Dean thinks of Dumbledore and what he's fighting for, of his friends, of Harry Potter, and of course, Seamus. He looks back to the smaller boy, bruised and beaten, who waited for him through months and months of not a single word said to the other. The torture they had both endured had not only been physical; it had torn them up in invisible ways, left scars that neither could touch or kiss. He had to fight for Seamus because if he didn't, that meant the future he had always planned to have at Seamus' side couldn't exist. You-Know-Who would make their world a dark, evil place, and that was not a place he wanted to see Seamus suffer through.
"We've got a fight to win, right?"
Seamus grins. "And ye still got a promise to keep."
Dean can't stop himself. He kisses Seamus again hard and long and far too intimately for it to be seen, and so many students are indeed looking, but Dean can't bring himself to care at all. Pulling back just far enough to whisper against his mouth, Dean says, "I don't break promises."
A/N: So, here's the sequel to 'Close', which will come to you in two parts! The little blurb after this one will be Dean and Seamus meeting up after the battle. After that, I promise that more Dean/Seamus stories will be coming your way.
Deamus is just so canon that it hurts.