Title: Asleep Since the War
Warnings: Incest, angst, offscreen character deaths, loose adherence to the events of Deathly Hallows
Prompt chosen: Hermione dies, sacrificing herself for Harry.
Word Count: 1116
Summary: This is Ron, and this is Percy, now that the war is done.Is my soul asleep?
Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped? And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?
This is Ron, now:
He sleeps fitfully, from the afternoon on, naked under the worn cotton sheets in the bed meant for two. Waiting. He never snores any more, but sometimes he snuffles into the pillow and mumbles something that might be a name.
He wakes in the evening, when his brother comes home.
It wasn't meant to happen like this. This wasn't meant to happen at all. They were meant to be no more than brothers, seeing each other at family gatherings and comparing child-rearing stories, bouncing each other's babies on their knees.
But war interrupted, and this is Percy, now:
He comes home every night and sips a cup of tea, closing his eyes until the horrors begin again behind his eyelids. And that's when he goes into his bedroom and takes off all of his clothes, laying them over the back of a chair, and slips into bed with Ron, wrapping his arms around his brother and pressing their freckled foreheads together until he joins Ron in sleep.
There's a part of existence that's missing. In sleep, Percy can sometimes find it.
Ron wakes when Percy comes in, every time, though he doesn't show it. He cracks his eyes open and, through the fence of his lashes, he watches his brother undress, and he sighs when Percy's arms go around him.
He can't remember what day it was when this started. He can't count how many times they've done this.
Later, when neither brother is asleep anymore, they eat. Percy cooks and Ron washes up.
They never talk over dinner.
They never talk about what they've done.
Percy can't remember the last dream he had that didn't end in fire. When he's awake, he knows he must stop all this dreaming, must help his brother who so rarely speaks any more, who doesn't want their family to know where he is, who scowls at the mention of Harry Potter's name.
"It was his fault," Ron sometimes croaks, and Percy furrows his brow and bites his lip if Ron's back is turned, and he puts a hand on Ron's shoulder and rearranges his expression to a stalwart one if Ron is facing him.
"It wasn't," Percy always says, though it never makes a difference.
Ron scowls until Percy kisses him and takes him to bed.
Ron wishes Percy would grow his hair longer.
He grasps the ginger waves and closes his eyes.
Percy can't make lists anymore. They all turn into scratches. One, two, three. He could scratch regimented lines on his parchment all day. Little soldiers in little rows.
Sometimes he does.This one is for Oliver Wood
, he thinks, and this one is for Fred.
Scratch, scratch, scratch. Remus Lupin. Hermione Granger. Professor Snape.
They've all memorised the lists of dead.
(Anyway, Percy has.)
His quill hovers over Oliver's soldier mark, then he thickens the line, darkening it and tearing the parchment.
Fred's mark is next to Oliver's and Percy darkens it, too, in the interest of fairness, until the two lines are so thick that they run together, and Percy can't tell where Oliver ends and where—
His brother begins undressing, and Ron stretches.
"Hullo," he says, though he doesn't know why, and Percy starts, one leg out of his trousers.
Ron knows he's rattling the routine. Maybe that's all right, though, because Percy sits down on the bed, pulling off his trousers, and he still has on his shirt and his tie and his pants, and Ron's heart twinges a little. Percy is vulnerable
, and why hasn't Ron seen that before?
Percy leans over, after a moment, and he kisses Ron, and the kiss is different from the ones they've shared before, full of a different sort of longing, and Ron barely has time to register that Percy doesn't taste of tea today before his brother has his hand around Ron's prick.
Ron makes a sound that is barely a groan, and he thrusts his hips forward until he comes in Percy's palm, and he watches his brother's fluttering eyelids through the smudged defence of his glasses as Percy takes himself in hand and quickly, silently brings himself off with a handful of Ron's come, the only indication of orgasm a sudden, sharp inhalation of breath cut off too soon as Percy censors himself.
Percy wipes his hand on the sheet and doesn't open his eyes.
Ron doesn't worry about the mess, though he will be awake for a while longer, yet. Even if he's the one who ends up lying in it, it's a reminder that there's life here, still, between the two of them. Besides, he knows Percy will spell things clean when it is time to rise for dinner. Percy still likes to use magic.
Percy wakes, half-hard, from a dream of fire. He is sweating, and his arms are full of Ron. He still has clothes on and he's been half-strangled by his tie, the blue silk one he bought with his very first Ministry paycheque.
He struggles out of Ron's embrace and removes his tie. After a moment's deliberation, he tosses it at the chair where he usually lays his things.
It falls to the ground, and Percy doesn't care.
He shrugs out of his shirt and peels off his vest and his damp pants and presses himself to his brother.
"Don't go," Percy mutters in his sleep, and Ron's eyes fly open.
"You're dreaming again," he murmurs, holding tightly to his brother, anchoring him.
And it has come as such instinct that Ron doesn't realise his unnatural role until Percy's lashes have stopped fluttering against his cheeks and the twitching in his legs has subsided.
"I'll take care of you," Ron whispers, and something prickles behind his eyes.
And something breaks inside him.
Percy doesn't tell Ron, but there is no fire in his dream that night. There is warmth, but not heat, and there is ginger hair instead of orange flames.
No one is screaming.
No one is gone. Everyone he needs is there.
This is Ron and Percy, now:
They talk over dinner, and they talk about what they've done—I'm not Hermione.I know. I'm not gay.I know.
—and in unison, they decide that maybe none of it matters—That's all right.
never enters into it—I love you.
—and they heal. Only slowly, but they do—Let's go to bed.
—and there will always be fissures, mended but never watertight.No. I don't want to be asleep anymore.
They only sleep at night.