Fic: Cicatrices (Harry/Ron, NC-17) for itsbeenvery Author:bookofjude Recipient:itsbeenvery Title: Cicatrices Rating: NC17 Pairing(s): Harry/Ron, Ron/Hermione (mentioned), Harry/Ginny (mentioned) Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older. Summary: Of all of the things that Ronald Weasley expected, a dragon was not one of them. Warnings: Wanking, frotting, oral sex. Word Count: 9,153 Author's Notes: Here is humour, a dash of gen, and frottage! I hope it's to your liking. This story brought to you by the letters: D, R, H and Z! Thanks, D, for the brilliant beta and suggestions; R, H, and Z, thanks for the encouragement and the suggestions.
"The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again."
-François de la Rochefoucauld
They all have their scars.
Ron groans as he tries to shift himself, then whispers, 'Shit. Can you give me a hand to move? I've got a bloody awful cramp in my thigh.' His one good hand rubs at it.
Harry looks up from the last few pages of the Quibbler. The lights of the "Weird" Wendelin Burns Ward have long since been turned down, and the calm announcement of, 'Visiting hours are over, dears,' has deterred casual visitors, but Augustus Pye has long since learned that there's no getting rid of Harry Potter.
'Sure,' he says, standing.
He tries it the hard way first: Ron gingerly wraps his good arm around Harry's upper body, and Harry grabs Ron's by his arse and hefts him up. He tenses, clenches his eyes, lets out a little mumble of pain, and Harry lets him fall back against the pillows. Harry steps back, removing his hands as gently as possible in an attempt not to disturb the bandages.
'Better?' Harry asks him.
Ron nods. 'Thanks, Harry.' His eyes are still closed, so Harry sits back down to the Quibbler. Ron's hand returns to gently massage the top of his leg; any lower and he'll disturb the burns.
Out of the blue, a minute or two later: 'According to my horoscope, I have a high chance of being burned to death by a dragon today,' Harry says. His jaw is tight, but there's a slight quiver to edges of his lips.
'What? Really?' Ron's hand, still on his thigh, goes still, and his eyes fly open. 'That's fitting.' He laughs and then coughs, and, when he recovers his breath, his eyes begin to narrow. 'Hang on, I don't remember the Quibbler having an astrology section.'
Harry's eyes twinkle at him through glasses. 'Sure it does, Trelawney started doing it a couple of months ago, after she retired from Hogwarts.'
If it's anatomically possible, Ron's eyes narrow even further. They bore into Harry's like the drills Vernon Dursley used to sell. 'Give it here, you twat,' he finally says. He holds out his hand and, now grinning, Harry hands it over.
It takes a couple of seconds for Ron to skim to the end of it with only one hand (the other is still bandaged, limp, dilapidated) and then his brow furrows. He flicks back a few pages. 'It's an advertisement for a pet shop,' Ron says, in a calm, level voice.
Harry makes a sound like air escaping from a balloon, and then, as though he can't hold it in any longer, he starts to laugh.
Ron shakes his head and says, 'Stupid bastard.' The Quibbler falls unnoticed from the bed, and Ron punches towards Harry. He can't reach the distance to get Harry's shoulder, so he gives up.
'Made you laugh,' Harry grins at him.
Ron shakes his head, but he lets out a strained little chuckle.
Ron's scars are difficult to miss. Two fingernails are still missing from his right hand (Harry knows that they could be grown back: Poppy Pomfrey grew back the bones in right arm, what are a few fingernails?), and the skin on the upper part of his left arm is still uneven from where he Splinched himself.
Most noticeable of all are the silvery, tendril-like scars through the red hair on his lower arms. There are many ingenious ways to cover these: leather wrist straps for Quidditch, long sleeves for family dinners and dating, but easiest of all is forgetting.
It went something like this:
It takes Harry the last of his strength to Side-Along Apparate himself and Ron to the street-front near Purge & Dowse Ltd. As he takes half a minute to get his breath back, he tries not to think about the look that will be on Hermione's face when she finds out what's happened.
It takes another thirty seconds to scan the street quickly and ensure that they are unwatched in their arrival, though he doubts that anyone will be looking at two dark figures appearing in the shadows sometime after midnight. All of the shops are closed, and most of the nearby street lamps have been vandalised to the point of malfunction.
He isn't a trained Auror for nothing, though.
Taking a deep breath, he hefts Ron up into his arms and makes a mental note to encourage his friend to lose a bit of weight.
It takes him another half minute to convince the dummy in the shop window, all askew wigs and out of fashion sunglasses, to open the portal and allow him to carry Ron inside. He resorts to threats, eventually.
The reception area is dim and quiet except for a wizard who snores in a corner, every snort a shower of sparks, his beard charcoal remains and his robes charred to the point of tatters.
'I need some help?' Harry calls out. Silence is the answer.
Ron seems to be getting heavier by the minute. Harry shifts the weight, grunts, and then wonders when his brain has ceased to function: why hasn't he used a Levitation Charm of some kind?
He isn't given a chance to continue beating himself up because, at that minute, three healers in crumpled green robes arrive with a Crack! In a blur of wand waving and incantations, two of them (wizards) have stripped Ron's trousers carefully away and are investigating the burns.
The witch, however, has her sights set on Harry. 'What caused the burns?' she asks him.
'Dragon,' Harry coughs. Her face takes on a look of worry. She summons a vial of potion and forces him to drink it, then turns to talk to the wizards. A second or two later, they have Ron airborne and are floating him through the doorway into the wards.
'I need you to tell me everything,' the witch says, as she turns back to him. 'It may be the difference between life and death for him.'
Harry gulps and bites his lip.
Hermione's scars are insidious, duplicitous, treacherous and unknowable. She talks about them to no-one, because they are private scars to be pondered over in nightmares, to flash like a picture show across her eyelids when she sleeps at night, to whisper sweet nothings in her ears and grip her heart with a fluttering, ice-cold hand.
Sometimes, though, their faces are enough: to know that Harry and Ron are safe and alive calms every fear, washes away every hurt.
'A dragon,' Hermione repeats. The tone of her voice is the scariest thing Harry has heard recently. He wonders if Voldemort would've been more successful had he been able to convey such fear in two little words.
Instead, he winces and bows his head to escape her eyes. 'Neither of us expected it,' he says. The other half of 'us' groans in his sleep, but he's far from Death's Door now; all that's left for Ron is the road to recovery and more scars.
'A dragon,' Hermione repeats, slowly. The sigh that follows is pernicious but sad. Harry wonders what Hermione would be like if she ever 'went Dark', as Ron likes to call it, because surely she is capable of wickedness Voldemort could never have comprehended. Perhaps, though, she can scare him because he knows her so well, and he trusts her so much.
With a shudder at some horrible thought in her head, and then what could be a faint smile, Hermione slides into the chair next to the bed. Her attention falls from him. Harry perks up. He finds it unbelievable that he's managed to escape from Hermione's wrath so easily. He takes two steps to the curtain and parts it with a hand.
From Ron comes a grunted ''Mione?'
Harry stops on the other side of the curtain. He turns back to Hermione's face: it's turned towards Ron, and her hand is gently stroking his shoulder, but her eyes are on Harry. There's something in them—not blame, not anger, but more 'Don't you see what you've done?' that catches him in the celiac plexus and squeezes, and he has to cover his mouth and swallow three times to push away the pain and the urge to vomit.
He whispers, 'I'm sorry,' and lets the curtain fall between them.
These are the scars that Ron will add to his repertoire: from his knees to the tops of his ankles, both legs (though not his feet: dragon hide boots are to thank for that), shining white burn scars. He has Harry to thank for the fact that the scars stop there, and Harry to thank for the crushed bones that will leave a dull, unstoppable ache in his left hand.
Mrs Molly Weasley screams, cries, and then, after finally reassuring herself that Ron was going to survive, starts to say 'At least,' and then stops. She changes her mind and says instead, 'At least you're alive.'
What remains unsaid makes what's left of the hair on the back of Ron's neck stand up, and his cheeks flush a few shades lighter than his hair: at least he can still have children.
They settle into a comfortable routine after a week. As Harry's Auror partner is currently in St Mungo's with two burned legs and a mending, crushed hand, there isn't much for him to do other than fill out the little bits of paperwork that have been escaping him for the past few months. In fact, he reckons that Shacklebolt is taking great pleasure in the fact that there are no more excuses, no more 'perfectly' valid reasons for Harry to escape it.
So instead, he takes a long lunch and Apparates to St Mungo's. A week is enough time to convince Augustus Pye (a nice enough chap, even if Mrs Molly Weasley still gives him the gibbers, and nobody daren't use the word 'stitches' near the two of them) that it would be a very bad idea to not let Harry bring Ron lunch, or a book, or a magazine, or a funny photo clipped out of the Quibbler. In fact, it would just be a bad idea to try to stop Harry in general.
It's only reluctantly that he returns to his office for the afternoon, even if he does pack up after another hour. He says goodbye to the others and heads for home, but, half-way to the Floo point, he changes his mind and decides that there's no point going to Grimmauld Place if he's just going to mope or watch the telly.
So instead, he gets Indian takeaway (Ron is surprisingly taken with vindaloo, but Harry finds that too vinegary and has always preferred jalfrezi) and tromps through St Mungo's like a man on a mission.
The best way to deal with any staff—be they Ministry, St Mungo's, or even Hogwarts—is to act like you belonged there, that you have some purpose or have been assigned some task and are not to be disturbed or dissuaded.
For the instances where this tactic failed (which it has already, twice this week), Harry falls back on distractedly playing with his hair. He will be questioned for a half a minute by the healer, or the nurse, or the harried looking Mediwizard, and then, invariably, their eyes would flick upwards, and their monotonous tone would stop with a hitch.
So tonight, Harry walks with a purpose. He takes the stairs up to the fourth floor two at a time, the plastic bag swinging in his hand. It takes him a second to realise that he's humming, that seeing Ron will make him happy and somehow wash away the troubles of the day.
He takes a left down a corridor, then a right through a glass door into the "Weird" Wendelin burns ward. A nurse, hovering over a man sitting on an uncomfortable looking chair beneath a portrait of a grinning witch (Harry is unsure why she is grinning, considering several Muggles are attempting to strap her to a stake planted in the middle of a pile of tinder), looks up.
Her features say: 'Oh, it's you.' Harry gives her a quick grin and says, 'Is he still in the same room?'
She nods. For the first time, Harry realises that there is a slight blush forming on the top of her cheeks, and he has to bite back further grinning. 'Any news on his condition; did they say how the healing is going?'
She shrugs. Harry sighs, and is heading towards Ron's room before he realises that the woman hadn't even spoken a word to him.
Ron is in a foul mood, staring out the window (charmed with a view of Diagon Alley, at least a ten minute broom flight away) when Harry comes in. He doesn't look towards the curtains as Harry peeks round them, but instead mutters, 'Come to feed me another foul potion?'
Harry tries not to snicker and adopts his most snide voice. 'I'm afraid it's for your own good, Mr Weasley.'
Unfortunately, Ron has known him too long to be fooled. A grin breaks out on his face, even before it turns towards Harry. 'Sorry,' he says, quickly, 'I didn't realise you were coming tonight—thought you might have plans...'
Plopping the plastic bag on the cabinet by the bed, he bends to give Ron a quick hug. It's not really a hug, because Ron can't really lean forward without help. Harry settles for his hand on Ron's shoulder, and bows his head towards Ron's other shoulder.
Ron's used to these sorts of hugs, but then Harry's glasses begin to slip from his nose and, in the attempt to keep them on, he manages to give Ron a face-full of messy hair. 'God, Potter,' Ron says, 'when was the last time you washed your hair?'
With a frown on his face, Harry steps back and runs his hand through his hair, then grunts noncommittally. 'This morning,' he says, but the look on his face implies that 'washing' was more of a Cleaning Charm than a shower.
Ron shakes his head in disgust. Harry produces his wand and with a couple of flicks, Ron's steaming hot beef vindaloo and saffron-yellow basmati is hovering through the air towards him. The Auror trainer for non-verbal spellcasting is considerably better than Severus Snape.
'Mmm.' Ron sniffs the air. 'Smells great...' A tray appears from somewhere, likely transfigured, and settles cautiously on his lap. Ron winces a bit, but the smell from the curry alleviates discomfort; his stomach grumbles loudly because he can't really remember the last time he ate a good meal, or, for that matter, any meal that wasn't St Mungo's soup.
(Harry had tried the soup once, with his pinky finger, and had said in ponderous tone, 'Perhaps the chef is attempting to channel Severus Snape? Ought to have words with Shacklebolt and have him investigated for Necromancy...'
Ron began to laugh so hard that, by the end of it, he had pea soup dripping down his nose. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, glared at Harry and said, 'Git,' but Harry simply smiled.)
Harry mutters something into the plastic bag, and with another flick of his wand, two large samosas and a trio of onion bhaji float towards Ron. One of them bats against his cheek, but finally they settle down onto the tray.
'Right!' Harry finally says. He sits down in the chair and turns back towards the bed, jalfrezi balanced on one knee, and begins to gnaw upon a poppadom.
'Uh,' Ron says, a half a minute later, 'mate...'
Harry looks up, mouth bulging and fingers to lips. His eyes seem quizzical through his glasses. A second of frantic chewing and a rather pained swallow later, he says, 'Yeah?'
With his good hand, Ron gestures towards the still-steaming curry below. 'Slight problem?' This is followed by a raised eyebrow from Harry.
Then, 'Oh!' as understanding dawns. Harry turns back towards the cabinet, dislodging the curry in the process, but managing to catch it with a quick Levitation Charm, and finally plucks two sets of plastic knives and forks from amongst what was left of the rice and napkins.
'Here we go,' he says.
Ron accepts them gratefully, and for a few minutes, they eat in silence. Harry seems content to stuff his mouth with curry and let out a slight snicker at Ron's attempts to eat with only one hand.
It is over too soon, and Harry says so, but Ron makes a face.
'I suppose I should've thought about tomorrow before having a curry,' he says. There was a bit of a wistful look on his face, and Harry's quizzical look presses him to expand.
'Bed pan,' Ron mutters, a flush starting high on his cheeks and eventually leaving a tinge of red on his neck—stark in contrast to the white hospital gown.
Harry begins to laugh, slaps his knee with his hand. 'If I had my wand,' Ron responds, eyes both a glare and hand stretching towards the cabinet, but thankfully for Harry, it's too far for Ron to reach.
Harry's scar is ubiquitous, always hovering on the edge of vision when he's peering at himself in the mirror trying to shave without his glasses on. Sometimes he'll catch sight of it in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies' shop front—a flash of white through his hair— and sometimes he'll see himself in an old photograph from a holiday in the Lake District, where the wind gusts around and blows his hair this way and that.
In all of these instances he just flattens his fringe against it in the hope that it'll somehow disappear and fade away.
Harry has argued with Shacklebolt. Shacklebolt wants him to do paperwork; Harry wants a temporary partner and a mission, because 'I'm fucking sick and tired of paperwork, Kingsley. Why did you hire me as an Auror if you want me to sit around all day doing paperwork? Surely Percy would be more suited...'
However, his voice trails off when he catches sight of Shacklebolt's face. It's good that it does, because these following facts are true:
Fact one, Kingsley Shacklebolt has amazing patience. Once upon a time, he trained new recruits (and in fact, he trained Harry and Ron, though that's neither here nor there). He has amazing self control. Harry does not remember the last time he saw Shacklebolt speak in anger; if he has, he has shown no outward signs of it.
If the last part of fact one is indeed a fact, then this fact two: Kingsley Shacklebolt is perfectly capable of inhuman rage without so much as the hair on the back of his hands rising perilously into the air.
Following this is fact three: Harry can see Shacklebolt's eye twitching.
This is enough to give him cause to re-assess the situation. He can see that Shacklebolt is breathing calmly, but, like his eye, his fingers are twitching, like they're eager to curl into fists or slip into a pocket and fetch a wand. Harry knows that Shacklebolt has ways of standing perfectly calm one second, and the next, after a blur of movement, holding his wand to your suprasternal notch.
Another second, and unless you are an expert Legillimens, you will not even hear him mutter the spell.
And those fingers are itching for a wand.
'Sorry,' Harry says, quickly. He is relieved to see some of the tension drain from Kingsley's form, the twitching stop. 'I've not been feeling so great myself since the mission; bit pissed off, really.'
'Really?' Shacklebolt asks. His voice is level; even if it is monotone with no evident sarcasm, Harry knows it's there. He lets it slide.
Before Harry can say anything else to disarm—or further enrage the Chief Auror—Shacklebolt says this: 'Take an early day, Potter. I don't want to see you skulking around here on the weekend.'
Harry's heart begins to race. He smiles. 'Thank you, sir,' he says.
He sits back down at his desk, but only so that it's easier to grab the more essential items (wand, for instance), and is surprised to discover that Shacklebolt has not left when he says, 'Oh, and by the way?'
A chill creases Harry's back. He sits up straighter in his chair and his eyes flick to the doorway. 'I expect you bright and early on Monday,' Shacklebolt continues. 'I want you and Longbottom to check out those rumours about Stonehenge.'
'Thank you, sir!' Harry says, but Shacklebolt is gone. A mission!
The day cannot get any better, he thinks.
'Neville?' Ron roars with laughter, lifts the back of his hand to wipe the tears of joy from his eyes. 'Oh,' he says, 'if only I weren't—' he gestures to his legs with his right hand. 'You know. I'd love to be there to see it.'
Harry purses his lips. 'If you weren't all "you know", I wouldn't be in this position.'
He sits down on the chair and lets out a sigh. By the time he had reached St Mungo's, he'd already realised that the 'blessing' from Kingsley had instead been a nightmare in disguise. 'Neville's not all bad,' Harry finally says.
Ron looks at him. 'We shared a dormitory for six years, Harry,' he says, 'and I'll admit—he's much better than he was then. But "not all bad" just doesn't cut it, Harry. I'm amazed he made it through Auror training.'
'He takes after his father, I guess.' Harry doesn't mean it to come out quite like that, but there it is. He keeps his mouth shut for the next minute.
Finally, Ron says, 'Shit,' and that about sums it up.
Every once in a while, Ron says something that makes Harry stop and think. Most of the time he decides that it doesn't mean anything—and all of the time he continues like nothing's changed, but inside his head, the gears are ticking overtime.
The time that he doesn't continue like normal is a Friday, thirteen days after their trip to Scotland. But that is to come later.
It went a little bit like this:
Tonight, Harry is being the sensible one. Despite being spring, there is a chill to the air that isn't helped by being somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland. Ron is in a foul mood. 'Fucking Shacklebolt,' he's saying. 'Fucking Scotland.'
It's amazing that Harry can actually hear him, because there's a gale blowing. A quick Charm was enough to stop his robes from blowing up into his face, but he hasn't been able to communicate this suggestion to Ron yet. This is obvious in the fact that Ron is currently trying to deal with a face-full of robes.
Mostly, it's all Harry can do not to laugh. He casts a Shield Charm, which seems to do the trick. He's surprised to discover how difficult it actually is to think with the wind blowing in his ears, but now that it's down to a manageable breeze, he pulls out the list that Kingsley had handed up earlier that evening.
Ron is still swearing, but he'll deal with that in a minute. Instead, he checks the location listed, mutters, 'Point me,' to his wand, and finally decides that the abandoned building on the hill a half a kilometre away is the building they want.
'Come on,' he calls out to Ron. 'Last building of the night. It looks ruined, so it should be easy...'
'Fuck,' Ron says. He's finally pulled the robes out of his face, and has apparently used a charm to stick them to his legs. Harry grabs his arm to get his attention, and points him towards the ruin.
'Let's get going before it's dark.'
It may still be spring, but the summer solstice is approaching faster than the Hogwarts Express: even though the sun has only recently dipped from view under the horizon, it's already after ten o'clock. Harry's stomach rumbles as he guides the still-muttering Ron through a copse of trees ('Lumos,' quietly, is enough to deal with the darkness, and it also does well to stem Ron's fear of spiders lurking nearby) and wonders why Kingsley chose to pick on them.
Ron's answer will be that it's a simple mission and Kingsley's just a sadist who wants to ruin someone's Saturday evening. The very fact that the two of them were lounging around Harry's desk at the Ministry doing mostly nothing implies that there wasn't a Saturday evening to ruin, and probably has more to do with their choice than anything else.
So far, they've visited a barn in Shropshire, and scared a few cows, a ruined shack on an rocky island somewhere in Surrey, where they found nothing; they've startled a flock of geese behind a hen-house on a farm in Wales, and though Harry did seem suspicious that you would find geese near a hen-house, they discovered nothing of interest there.
The last item on the list is the ruined church they now approach cautiously, a little bit later than Harry had expected.
Despite the previous failures to find anything dangerous or exciting, they're still Aurors, and they're still cautious. It's Ron, however, who says, 'I've got a strange feeling about this place,' as they finally move out of the trees and arrive near one of the ruined walls of the nave.
'Me too,' Harry finally replies. They stand there and stare up at it; the dark sky and stars frame it nicely, but it takes another minute for Harry to pick up on what it is that's bothering them. 'Can you feel something, coming from over there?'
Ron thinks about it for a couple of seconds. 'Yeah,' he finally says.
"Over there" turns out to be an out-house, though in considerably better condition than the ruin of the church. 'Reckon this must be a later addition,' Harry says. Ron agrees with him. They circle the building: it's too large to be an out-house, too small to be anything more than a tool shed.
'Magic,' Ron finally whispers.
Harry can taste it in the air. It's out of place amongst the primal highlands of Scotland. There's heather, thistles, and no end in sight to the rolling hills. The slight tang in the air reminds him of Hogwarts, and, surprisingly, the Burrow. A few charms tell him what he needs to know.
'It's warded against Muggles,' Harry says. His brow furrows, making his lightning bolt scar ripple oddly. 'That's strange.'
'Is it just me, or is it all a bit...' Ron searches for the right word. 'Stale?'
'Now that you say it, yeah,' Harry says. 'That's really the word for it, isn't it? Stale...'
Ron taps the door to the shack with his wand. 'It's at least thirty or forty years old,' he says, 'you don't suppose the wards are that old?'
'Hm,' is the only thing Harry can think of to say.
'Well,' Ron says, 'I doubt there's anything living in there now. It seems to be as much a ward to keep things in as well as out.'
Before Harry can properly articulate his concerns, Ron has said, 'Alohomora,' and the door has swung open. By then, it's too late: the inside of the shed has clearly been magically enlarged, and it is home to a rather elderly, but none-the-less still pissed off, dragon, whose head is conveniently resting on the ground just inside the door.
Its mouth opens like a greeting, but instead of words, flames bellow forth.
Much later, it takes Harry a minute or two of thought to realise that the scream that echoed around the ruined church came from his lips, not Ron's.
Thirteen is an unlucky number.
Hermione once went into great detail as to why it was considered to be so—all about Knights Templar and Fridays and treachery and people being burnt at the stake—but then she said, 'Quite frankly, I don't believe a word of it.'
Harry was surprised to discover that Ron agreed with her. The Wizarding World has a completely different set of superstitions, he supposed.
It was thirteen days between Ron's legs being barbecued by a fully grown Norwegian Ridgeback, and Ron finally going home. Despite parallels that might be drawn between their first year at Hogwarts and their first year as Aurors, the Norwegian is not named 'Norberta'.
'You survived Longbottom,' Ron grins at him from behind The Daily Prophet. Two middle-aged witches beam and wave from the back page; Harry tilts his head to read the headline, but Ron puts the paper down.
Harry's robes are wet and muddy. 'Merlin may very well have erected those stones, but I don't get why that makes them special.' He rings the bottom of his robe out and sops up the water with a Drying Charm.
'So, nothing interesting?'
'Bloody great big rocks. For starters, Neville got himself lost.' Harry's eyes conveyed his unhappiness, albeit rage, at this fact. 'Ended up in fucking Avebury. I spent most of the afternoon traipsing around Salisbury looking for him.'
Ron laughs at this, and shakes his head. 'That doesn't really surprise me. I meant, was there anything to the tip-off?'
'Well, no elderly Norwegian Ridgeback taken up residence in the stone circle, if that's what you mean.' He flashes Ron a grin, and Ron groans and covers his face with the Prophet's flailing witches, but Harry sighs and, after transfiguring the hard chair into a rather more comfortable looking armchair, sits down.
'A bunch of "Druids". Muggles, really, snuck in one night and decided to hold a "ritual". Nothing to it. No Death Eaters or Dark Magic of any kind, don't know who thought it was a viable lead...'
Harry shrugs and sighs, steals a sip of pumpkin juice out of the cup on the cabinet closest to the bed.
'Oi!' Ron says. 'Get your own pumpkin juice.'
Harry wrinkles his nose.
Later, after listening to a Quidditch match on the portable wireless and falling asleep to one of the late night comedy shows, Harry wakes up to a strange whimper. The lights—Ginny suggested they were telepathic, but Ron reckoned they were just psychopathic—have dimmed, and there's no clock to indicate what time it is.
'All right, Ron?' Harry asks, quietly. He isn't sure if Ron is awake.
There's another whimper, and Harry's hand goes to his wand. 'Lumos' isn't so bright, but at least he can see that Ron is making a fist in the bed sheets and mumbling something under his breath.
His eyes are closed, but they fly open when Harry's hand touches his shoulder. 'Ron, are you all right?'
'Fine,' he mutters. He bites his lip, and Harry cocks his head to one side.
'Do you need me to grab Pye, or get you a pain potion?'
'No!' Ron says, all too quickly.
'What's wrong then, you were... whimpering.'
'Was I?' The tone is one of panic. Harry's brow furrows, and, with a little bit of thought, his wand begins to glow a little bit brighter. Ron's face is brightly flushed, and he keeps licking his lips like they've taken a holiday in the Sahara. 'I'm fine! Honestly. Um. I must've been dreaming?'
Harry takes a step back, and then, almost by habit, his eyes skate down Ron's form to the bandages. 'You sure you're not—' then he stops. His eyes skim back up to where Ron is trying to conceal the tented sheets with his hands. He is not doing anything to alleviate the problem; if anything, he's making it more visible. Harry's eyes skim back up to Ron's now flaming face, but all he can say is 'Oh.'
'Oh,' Harry repeats himself, and then he bites back laughter, because it isn't funny, but he's relieved, because at least it's not pain or a nightmare. 'Sorry.' He's not sure when he lost the ability to think properly, because he isn't sure what to say next.
''S okay.' Ron's voice catches and hits a high note, like it hasn't done since they were in fifth year and Fred and George were teasing him about his voice breaking. 'Haven't had a chance to... you know.'
Harry sits back down in the arm chair and tries to keep his eyes on Ron's face. He's not sure when his pulse began to quicken, but something deep inside him is telling him not to look, not to stare.
'My fault really,' he tries to say as apologetically as he can, but considering they're already whispering (for the benefit of Ron's next door neighbour, an elderly gentlemen who had a mishap with a cauldron of boiling potion, but who is also deaf and likely fast asleep) it comes out crackled and half-silent.
'What?' Ron stares at him. There's confusion in his eyes. 'What do you mean, your fault?'
Harry clears his throat and gestures gracelessly towards Ron's crotch. Ron has at least moved his hands, but the sheet is flimsy, and the pyjamas Ron is wearing are even more flimsy, because Harry can clearly see the outline of Ron's cock and balls. Harry tries not to look.
'You know, the dragon—I should've been paying more attention. You'd be at home shagging—' Harry bites "Hermione" from his lips '—some pretty witch instead.'
'Oh.' Ron's expression now is quite gormless. 'Right. I thought you meant the hand.' He lifts up the still-bandaged hand. They'd eventually used the same charm Lockhart had removed the bones in Harry's arm with to get rid of the crushed metacarpals and what-not, and re-grown the lot with Skele-Gro.
'Well, that's my fault too.' Harry wonders if this conversation could get any weirder. Perhaps he's still asleep and it's all a dream, but then, that would mean he's dreaming about Ron's dick, and he's not sure that's an easier concept to cope with. 'Bouncing boulders off a dragon seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.'
'Er,' Ron says. If it's possible, the flush has turned into a full-blown blush, and what's visible of the creamy white skin of Ron's neck is no longer creamy white; instead, it's more of a patchwork quilt in Gryffindor red. 'Right. Yeah. Well, hands and all that. I think I'll forgive you eventually.'
'Do you want me to cast some Privacy Charms and head off?' Harry asks, tentatively. 'Hands and all that.' He can't believe what he's trying to insinuate, but it's not Ron's fault that he's stuck in a hospital ward for who knows how many more days with no sexual relief but his...
'What?' Ron stares at him. 'Bloody hell, Potter, did Longbottom catch you with a Confundus Charm?'
'No, no,' Harry says, 'I mean... if you want to, you know.' He clears his throat. 'I can head off home and come back tomorrow...'
'No,' Ron says, 'I don't know—'
Harry resorts to the visual aid of making a fist in the air and giving it a few short jerks. He can feel the blush starting on his own cheeks, and wonders if it's worth it just to Memory Charm Ron and escape while he can.
'Oh!' Ron says. He holds up his bandaged hand and it's pretty clear he won't be making fists.
'Shit,' Harry says. He looks away towards the window, and then back towards Ron. No, the arousal is still there. Harry gulps. 'You've got the other... hand?'
Ron shakes his head. 'No use. Just doesn't feel the same.'
'Fuck, Ron,' Harry says. 'I...' He looks right in Ron's face, instead of at his crotch. 'I'm sorry?' he whispers.
Ron shrugs. It's the gesture of a defeated man. 'You can't do anything about it, and it's not really your fault... I should've been more careful opening that bloody door.' His features take on a darker look, the blush starting to fade. 'Bloody fucking Scotland.'
Standing, Harry runs his hands through his hair. He opens his mouth to say, 'I'd better head out,' but he's shocked when he says, 'I could, you know...' instead. He doesn't quite clap his hand over his mouth, but it's halfway there before he realises that it's not like he can reach up and force the words back into his mouth. Ron's already heard them.
His hand drops to his side.
'What?' Ron's staring at him. Ron's licking his lips, and Harry's eyes flick down to Ron's crotch and then back up to meet Ron's.
'I...' Harry opens his mouth and then closes it again.
'Are you kidding me?' Ron asks quickly.
Finally, Harry Potter makes up his mind and says, 'No.'
It's not like he's never seen Ron's cock before. Of course, he's never seen him hard, except for that one time when Seamus snuck some Irish firewhiskey into the dorms during their sixth year, and then somehow managed to convince them that having a wanking competition was a great idea.
They were all mostly surprised when they all mostly agreed. Harry was uncomfortable, but he'd drunk too much firewhiskey to say no, especially considering Ron was already stripping off.
The rest of that night is awkward memories. They all agreed not to talk about it later, and Harry's grateful for that fact because, quite frankly, he can't sort out in his head what are memories and what are fantasies.
That doesn't stop Harry from feeling strange a few minutes later, after awkwardly trying to sit on the hospital bed without sitting on Ron or his legs or the bandages, until finally Harry said, 'Fuck it,' and pulled the covers back.
Before Harry knows what he's doing, he's got Ron's pyjamas unbuttoned and he's pulled Ron's cock out. It's familiar in that Harry has a cock of his very own, but there similarities end. His hand is on it, gripping firmly, but not so firm that if he slips he'll wrench it off, and that's when he loses his nerve.
Harry takes a deep breath, and his eyes flit up to Ron's: they're closed, and the hand that can is making a fist, while the other is scrabbling at the sheets. Maybe it's better if Ron doesn't watch, Harry thinks.
At first, it takes longer than he expects to get used to it. He tugs at it like a bell pull, and then he realises that he knows exactly what to do. The angle is awkward, though, but soon enough he's got the stroke down pat. Up and down is really all it takes, but then Ron grunts 'Faster,' through his lips. Harry obliges.
Before he knows what's happening, Ron's coming explosively; a jet streaks forward, and Harry can feel Ron's cock twitching as though it were trying to break free from his grip; another jet, and then the rest of it dribbles out and covers Harry's hand.
Unfortunately, this is when it starts to get awkward, because Harry's got someone else's quickly drying semen coating his hand. He grabs his wand with his free hand and casts a couple of cleaning charms, and then he tucks Ron's cock back inside his pyjama bottoms and buttons them up.
Once the sheet is back in place, Harry starts to breathe properly, but Ron doesn't open his eyes until Harry is sitting back down on the chair, painfully aware—and hoping that his embarrassment doesn't show too much—of his own erection.
The silence is awkward. Finally, Ron says, 'Thanks, mate.'
The only response Harry can think of is, 'No problem,' but he knows that's not true. They sit in the darkness, until finally Harry is the only one awake and wondering if he's somehow fucked up their relationship forever.
Harry stops at the curtain just as his fingers are about to pull it aside. He can hear muffled voices from inside. Ron already has visitors. Harry debates turning on his heel and leaving, because it's bad enough having to look at Ron without there being other people around to say, 'Is something wrong?' because the two of them can't look each other in the eye any longer.
Instead, he flicks a corner of the curtain aside and peers towards the bed. Hermione's there, and she's holding Ron's good hand. They're whispering, which is why it's muffled. Harry debates clearing his throat, saying something, but then Hermione stands and kisses Ron on the cheek.
'Okay,' she says, loud enough for Harry to hear, and then she leaves. There are tears streaking down her face, and she clutches her bag tightly.
She stops, though, when she sees Harry. 'Hi, Harry,' she says.
'Hullo Hermione,' Harry says. He kisses her cheek, which is wet and salty and a flushed, deep red. 'Everything okay?'
Her eyes brighten and her lips quirk up in a smile. 'Everything's fine,' she says, and then she steps past him and disappears from the ward.
Harry turns to Ron with a quizzical look. 'Did you just get engaged to Hermione?' he asks. Ron mumbles something. Harry repeats himself when he's standing next to the bed, and he's surprised to see Ron's own eyes are red. 'Congratulations!' is the only thing Harry can think to say, though in reality his heart is racing and his palms are sweating. He knew this was coming, but he hadn't expected it so soon...
'I said,' Ron says, 'we just broke up.'
'Oh.' Harry sits down on the chair, transfigured back to its previous condition by a no-nonsense nurse by the look of things. 'Shit,' he says, 'I'm sorry... I thought. I mean. The two of you...'
Ron won't meet his eyes. 'Yeah,' he says, and this time it's a whisper tainted by emotion and tears. 'They're taking the bandages off for good on Thursday. They say that if this new ointment has healed the burns, I can go home on Friday.'
Harry wonders whether he should let this attempt to change the topic lie. He could force the issue, because it's not like Ron can stop him. He's about to open his mouth and say, 'Why did you break up?' but he stops himself in time.
He guesses that if Ron wanted to talk about it, he would talk about it. 'Great,' Harry says instead, 'I'll get you fixed up in the master bedroom, it's got an en suite.'
'Gross,' Ron replies, 'I get to sleep in the same bed as Walburga Black.' He shudders, and Harry laughs.
'At least you're not having sex in Walburga Black's bed.'
Ron shudders again and still won't meet Harry's eyes.
Things are a bit more cordial that night. They talk and they laugh: Harry bought fish and chips from the chippy down the road from Grimmauld Place, because Augustus Pye accosted him in the hallway and told him that under no uncertain terms was Ron to be subjected to spicy meals or curry until he was fully recovered.
There's no Quidditch on that night, so instead they listen to rock music on the Wireless. They're alone in the ward now, but Harry still casts a Privacy Charm because nurses are picky people and 'Mr Weasley needs his rest, you know!'
Instead of rest, Ron gets to talking about Hermione. He seems apathetic about it, as though it's not something that really bothers him. Harry wonders if that's the painkillers talking, rather than Ron.
There is a break in the songs while the news comes on. 'I dunno,' Ron is saying. 'I thought... we'd get married, have some kids.' He's staring off into the distance. 'What about you and Ginny?'
Harry isn't ready for that question. He freezes and feels his heart turn to ice. Well, what about him and Ginny? There isn't anything to talk about, at least, not any more. 'I...' Harry starts, and Ron turns to catch his eyes with a strange look.
'Nothing,' Harry finally says. 'She reckons I've done enough dangerous stuff in my life, given enough to the Wizarding World. Says she can't cope having a relationship with me if she's worried that I'm going to get shipped home to her as pieces in a box.'
'Oh,' Ron says. Then he laughs. 'Hermione said much the same thing. I guess most girls think alike.' His face shifts slightly. 'That, among other things...'
'Other things?' Harry wonders if Hermione's still seeing Viktor Krum.
Ron shakes his head. He looks torn, and opens his mouth and then closes it again. 'Nothing important,' he finally says.
By this time the music has started again, and they fall into silence.
At some point in time the music has fallen off into silence, and Ron has fallen off into sleep. Harry drifts somewhere between dream and fantasy, and finally stares out into the darkness of the night.
Ron whimpers, and déjà vu traces goosebumps down Harry's spine.
This time, though, he doesn't go to the bed; he sits up as straight as he can in the soft armchair and traces Ron's body with his eyes. As he does, it shudders and jerks, and by the time his eyes are on Ron's crotch, he can see clear arousal there.
Harry swallows twice.
Before he knows it, he's pulled the sheet back, unbuttoned Ron's pyjamas and gently fished Ron's cock out. Ron shifts in his sleep, but seeing as a Charm holds his legs immobile, it doesn't achieve much.
This is the second time in as many days that Harry has touched Ron's cock, but if Harry were willing to admit it to himself, it's not the second time that he's fantasised about touching it, or bending down to trace from balls to tip with his tongue, or locking his lips over it, or something.
He shakes his head and resists the urge to clear his throat. 'Why am I doing this?' echoes pointlessly through his head.
It's too late, though, because that head is bending slowly towards Ron's cock. He does all the things he's finally admitted to himself that he's fantasised about: he traces, from Ron's balls to the tip of his head, the vein on the underside. He gently tugs the foreskin back and slips his lips over the head.
Ron wakes with 'Shit,' and his hand lands on Harry's head. Harry tenses. Is Ron trying to pull him away or—ah. The fingers splay in his hair, but instead of pulling Harry's head off his cock, Ron seems to be trying to push it even deeper into his mouth.
'Okay,' Harry thinks. He's had this done to him before, only then it was a tentative tongue and soft, thin fingers and sharp, deeply coloured fingernails. He wraps his hand around the base of Ron's dick and takes a deep breath.
Two swallows later and Harry's eyes are streaming, his throat gagging and his lungs screaming for air. He pulls back up, Ron's cock slipping back to the front of his mouth, and is about to try again when Ron lets out a little whimper and says, 'Fuck,' and Harry's mouth is flooded with come.
To stop from boaking Harry swallows. It's salty, but not so overpowering as when Dudley held him down and poured salt in his mouth. If it's true that taste is partly smell, then it tastes faintly like bleach smells.
When he finally pulls back, and Ron's fingers slip out of his hair to fall with a slap on his bare stomach, Ron says, 'Um, thanks.'
Harry wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and tries to suppress panic. 'No problem,' he whispers. Instead of sitting down, he picks up his bag and runs his fingers through his hair, wipes his mouth again. 'I've gotta go,' he says to Ron.
Ron's staring at him with an open mouth. 'Fuck, Harry,' he says, 'don't go, I—'
'I'll see you tomorrow,' Harry calls back over his shoulder, and then he's disappearing through the curtains.
Harry doesn't work up the courage to go back to see Ron until the end of the day. His desk is clear of paperwork, all of the reports filed. He's even found some old paperwork stuffed in the back of a drawer, and finished that.
Finally, he runs out of old paperwork and outdated copies of the Quibbler.
Maybe it's just as well.
'I see they took the bandages off,' Harry says. He stays just outside of the curtains, where the rod connects to the wall.
Ron is still in bed, but the sheet has been pulled back and his legs show shiny new scars on strangely hairless skin. 'Yeah,' Ron says to him. Ron keeps trying to meet his eyes, so Harry lets him: Ron holds the gaze for a few seconds, and then finally flinches and looks away. 'Charlie finally managed to track down some dittany ointment and sent it over. Good as new, now! They're going to let me go tomorrow.'
'Cool,' Harry says.
'Harry...' Ron starts. 'I—'
'Don't worry about it,' Harry replies. 'There's nothing to discuss.'
'Okay,' Ron sighs. He holds up both of his hands. 'They say my hand's good as new.'
'I'm sure it'll get a lot of use,' Harry says dryly. Ron stares at him for a second, and then he laughs.
Harry is staring out of the window into the night, but he turns when he hears Ron approach. 'You should be in bed.'
Ron shrugs and comes to stand next to Harry. He doesn't wince as much as he did when they finally let him climb out of bed, but there's still a pained look on his face. Even though they have given him a 'clean bill of health', (which the Ministry of Magic and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement will thankfully be paying) Augustus Pye has given Harry strict instructions about Ron's need to stay in bed.
'You seem to be avoiding me,' Ron says, 'and I don't want to spend the night on my own in that creepy bed.' He gave a little shudder. 'I don't want to think about Walburga Black having sex in that bed.'
Harry turns to look straight at him. 'I changed the mattress,' he offers, 'but I suppose you're right.'
There's something hiding in Harry's eyes that Ron can't seem to get at, but before he can look deeper or asks questions, Harry has turned back to the window. Harry fills the interluding silence with: 'Do you want a game of chess, later?'
'I guess.' Ron's answer is noncommittal. 'I thought we could maybe talk about things.'
'Talk?' Harry's voice catches in his throat. 'Talk about what?'
'You know.' Ron struggles to keep the blush from rising back up his face. Instead, he takes a step closer to Harry and slings his arm over Harry's shoulder. Harry tenses up immediately, but after a few seconds relaxes. 'Stuff.'
'There isn't anything to talk about.' Harry's voice is gruff.
Harry can feel the pulse racing in Ron's wrist where it touches his neck. It goes on for a few seconds before Ron says, 'Hermione broke up with me because she thought I was in love with someone else, and she didn't think she could compete with that.'
'Oh,' is all that Harry can think of as a response.
A minute passes. 'Are you?'
Another minute. Ron swallows twice and licks his lips. 'Yes.'
'Who?' and then a few seconds later, 'Don't answer that, it's not really any of my business, is it?' Harry shrugs off his arm.
'Harry,' Ron says.
Harry turns to look at him. His eyes catch Ron's, and they stand in silence for a while. Finally, Ron reaches out with both hands and touches Harry's shoulders; Harry flinches, but he doesn't break Ron's gaze. He lifts his hands to Harry's neck and then takes a step forward as he reaches up to cup Harry's head.
The pulse in Harry's temple is fluctuating wildly. Ron watches Harry's Adam's apple bob as he swallows twice. Harry's lips part and 'Ron?' comes out as a whisper.
'It's you,' Ron says, but before Harry has a chance to respond, Ron's lips are upon his. Ron swipes his tongue across Harry's chapped lips, and when Harry opens them to let out a little moan, Ron slips his tongue inside. They take two steps towards the wall.
One of Harry's hands tangles in Ron's hair, the other one pulls insistently on his back. Breathing deeply through his nose, Ron finally manages to nudge Harry's legs apart with a thigh, and the hardness and the hotness of his cock presses against it.
'Shit,' Harry mutters, as he pulls away to breathe. He bucks up against Ron's thigh and lets what starts out as 'Ron' end as a whimper, as Ron's hands fall from his head to his arse and pull him harder against Ron's thigh. The hands fall away, but Ron is kissing his neck, and Harry is looking up at the ceiling and clutching for something—anything—to hold onto.
Next is 'Oh god', because Ron's hands have undone the button of Harry's jeans and slip inside to pull out his cock. It's then that Harry finds out that Ron had undone his own trousers first, because Ron squeezes them together with his hand, and then thrusts.
The thrust is all it takes to break Harry's resolve, and he thrusts back against Ron and lets out a garbled scream and comes. It takes Ron a few more seconds, but when he does come, it's silently, with his mouth locked on Harry's earlobe, and his eyes clenched as tightly closed as they can possibly be.
'Everything all right, Harry?' Neville asks him.
Harry shakes his daydream of the sunlight-struck, freckled, pale skin of a sweaty thigh across bed sheets away and says, 'Fine, Neville.' He steps into a patch of direct sunlight, curses, then lifts his hand to shield his eyes while he casts a spell to stop glare.
'You seemed a bit distracted there,' Neville persists.
'I'm really fine,' Harry says. 'Ready to try the door?'
'I guess.' Neville seems a little concerned, but as Harry is the 'senior Auror', at least in the sense that he's been assigned the leadership role of their duo, he follows him to the side door of the dilapidated manor house. 'No wards on the lock,' he says, after a couple of taps. 'Should open pretty easily.'
Harry grins. 'Right then! Alohomora.'
The lock clicks, the door swings open, and a soft crooning sound comes from inside.
The last thing Harry hears or remembers is Neville saying in a rather pleasant tone, 'Gosh, is that a Manticore?'