Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Falling, Failing, Flying

Chapter Four

by sumthinlikhuman 0 reviews

After the war, things change. Everything changes. Including old grudges.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Romance - Characters: Arthur Weasley, Bill Weasley, Draco, Fleur, Fred, George, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Ron - Warnings: [!!] [X] - Published: 2006-01-27 - Updated: 2006-01-28 - 5998 words

Chapter Four:

"You're doing /what/?"

Hermione's incredulous words were only dwarfed by the sheer, unadulterated perplexity of her expression. Ron was glad they were in a relatively public place; she couldn't hit him too hard while his daughter was standing there feeding ducklings and goslings old stale bread crumbs, Draco helping out a little.

He gave his friend a slightly exasperated look, and raised a brow.

"How much are you going to lose?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," she defended, crossing her arms over her chest. It was chilly for a mid-afternoon day in July, and Hermione looked bogged down in her light blazer and mobius scarf. Ron rolled his eyes, and collapsed completely against the bench.

"Come off it. I know at least the twins and Charlie were betting on it. So how much are you going to lose by my telling you this stuff?" Hermione was silent a moment, before adjusting her gloves, and muttering the amount. Ron cringed, and whined, "Hermione."

"It's not my fault. You were very convincing, being straight and narrow--"

"Minus the rather large jolt of that philosophy that involved me being /pregnant/." Draco and Molly both looked up at the hissed remark, but only Draco's gaze remained for any amount of time; Ron waved it off casually, smiling a little. Hermione huffed slightly, and ran a hand through her bangs.

"Really though, Ron. Malfoy?"

"I have been living with him for nearly eight years now," Ron pointed out. Hermione pouted a little at that justification, however lackluster it might have been. He gave up at that point, and looked around the park a little, startled to see their guest of honor swiftly approaching.

It wasn't that he was surprised to see Harry. More so that he wasn't expecting to see Ginny on his arm, and her three kids. Ron frowned a little; this couldn't be a good thing.

Molly was suddenly tearing off towards her cousins, laughing and shouting for Mirel to come and feed the ducks with her. All of Ginny's children had grown, and it took a moment for Ron to remind himself that Sirius was nearly fourteen now, Mirel twelve, and rotund little Arthur would be ten soon enough.

Harry smiled at Ron beatifically, but spared Draco only a moment's glance. He ruffled Molly's hair, and collapsed beside Hermione on the bench, kissing her cheek, before pulling Ginny down to sit on his lap as her sons went about terrorizing a few geese.

"Nice day, isn't it?" Harry questioned lightly. He sounded out of breath, and Ron couldn't help but wonder why that would be, considering it wasn't that long of a walk from the parking area to where they were sitting, and it certainly wasn't all that cold. Ginny looked a bit more than cold-flushed, and Ron only kept from glowering when Draco rubbed a hand along the back of his neck soothingly.

They spoke of mundane things for a while, before Harry finally paid any heed to Draco's presence, and only so much as to mention that he'd heard from the Director of Aurors that the blonde was doing well.

At that, Draco huffed, and settled nestled against Ron, practically exuding malice. Ron flicked his wrist, and pretended to be startled by the time.

"Is it that late already? We'd best be off. Molly!"

"What?" Harry murmured, looking truly surprised, his eyes reflecting a bit of regret. "You're leaving now? We've only just arrived--"

"I've got a report I need to finish back at the flat," Ron excused. Molly was nearly to him now, and Draco had stood, wrapping an arm absently around the redhead's waist. He spared a smile to his sister, pecked a kiss to Hermione's cheek, and hurried along, despite Molly quietly complaining about still having bread crumbs for the ducklings and goslings.

They were halfway back to the parking area when he heard Harry calling after them. Cursing, he urged Draco back on with Molly, despite the blonde's obvious unease with the idea. He waved it off, and turned to face his friend, forcing a smile.

Harry was grinning, laughing slightly. Draco was barely out of ear shot when he began to speak.

"Don't think I've seen you run that fast since seeing the spiders in second year," Harry jested, but his eyes gleamed with seriousness. Ron was loathe to have the conversation he knew was coming up--he'd never exactly come around to tell the younger man about moving in with Draco, though it was common knowledge now.

Harry was talking again: "I've been worried about you, mate. Don't see you as much as I used to. You doing ok?"

"Yeah. Never better. Really." Harry raised a brow at the hasty return, and looked over Ron's shoulder absently, though his eyes clung beyond him for a good long time. Draco must have still been standing there, loitering just on the edge of hearing, staring at them expectantly. Ron sighed, and rubbed his brow, muttering a curse. "Seriously though. I'm doing great. Job is good, Molly's good. Life's splendid."

"You're living with Malfoy," Harry pointed out, as though that explained why Ron was acting so edgy. The redhead only sighed, and gave his friend a cold little look, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Yeah. So?"

"So/? It's /Malfoy/, for Christ's sake. Life can't be all puppies and kittens where that's concerned." Harry was laughing again, and Ron had a distinct feeling that /this was the sort of thing Draco had meant when he told Ron that Harry 'pushed all the wrong buttons'. He bristled a little, and looked over his shoulder absently; Draco was standing there, Molly hoisted up to his shoulder, looking confused and worried.

"Really, Harry?" he murmured as he looked back at the dark haired, bespectacled young man. "It's none of your business."
Draco was silent as he rubbed Ron's shoulders and the redhead flipped through the files he really did have to finish before work on Wednesday. They could hear Molly in her bedroom, talking animatedly to herself, and through one of the various magical items Draco had bought her at one point or another to speak with her friends. The television was on, a distant drone of voices in the background.

They were domestics. Ron cursed suddenly, slamming his papers down and lulling his head back into Draco's lap to stare up at him almost expectantly. The blonde looked down at him, chuckling a bit as he ran his hands through the redhead's thick hair.

"What is it?"

"Why does everything have to be so difficult?"

"Because if it were easy, it wouldn't be any fun." Ron squinted up at Draco, sneering a little. The blonde shrugged, muttering that he thought the idea quite well thought out, before continuing softly, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Ron snapped, before sighing, rubbing his brow, and finally throwing his arms up and letting them fall listlessly on either side of Draco's legs. "Everything! Merlin, I guess I just never thought life would get this /hard/. I fought He-Who--well, yes. I fought him, helped anyway. That was hard. This is . . ."

"Brain murder?" Ron stared incredulously up at Draco, who seemed genuinely serious about the term. The redhead couldn't stifle his snort of laughter, and finally just dissolved into his hysterics, at which the blonde nudged him out of his lap, rolling his eyes. "That's it; you're off your rocker. Have fun."

"No, no, Draco. Come on back." He grabbed the other man's ankle, and tugged him back, graciously accepting him as he lost his balance and fell atop him. His smile was airy, but weighed a little by some dark sadness.

They kissed for a moment, just little pecks, before Draco leaned up on his elbows, digging them into Ron's shoulder to make sure he stayed down. The redhead grunted a little, but obligingly wrapped his arms around the blonde's hips.

"So what's really wrong?" Draco finally murmured, relocating a hand to run through thick red hair. Ron shrugged as best he could.

"I don't know. I told Hermione--you know, about us--"

"There's an 'Us'?" Draco sounded pleasantly surprised. Ron blinked for a moment, furrowing his brow, before sitting up swiftly so the blonde was in his lap but no longer weighing him down.

"There isn't an 'Us'?"

"Well, I don't know," Draco muttered, looking away and flushing about the ears. "I mean, we've fooled around, but you've never said whether it were serious or not. I just assumed--"

"Don't assume. It makes you look like an arse." Draco blinked, and sucked on his tongue, before cleverly wriggling out of Ron's slack hold and wandering off. Ron huffed slightly, and pulled himself up, following the blonde into the kitchen, where he was absently running water from the tap over his hands.

Ron sighed, leaning against the lintel leading into the area.

"I'm sorry?" Draco looked up, and let out a humorless little laugh.

"What for?" Ron blinked at that. In his experiences--no matter how few and far between they had been--it was always the best idea to apologize, and then figure out what you'd done wrong. Apparently, that wasn't going to work; Plan B then.

"I would . . . like us to at least try to be an 'Us'," he offered, stepping more into the room, until he was behind the blonde, arms wrapped around his waist again, leaning his chin on the slim shoulder. Pewter eyes darted up to his own cobalt.

"Why's that?"

"Blimey, Draco. Why are you making this so hard?" He rubbed his brow, and paced away from the blonde, before huffing and turning back. Their eyes met, and after a moment, Ron simply threw his arms up in the air, and let them fall lifelessly back down. "I don't know why, is that what you want to hear? Fine. /I don't know/. 's like you said--it's good to spend time with you, and from my very brief, rather lackluster relationships, I've figured that--"

He was cut off by Draco marching across the space between them, grabbing his face, and kissing him forcefully, absently grinding against him. Ron didn't miss a beat, wrapping his arms around the blonde's hips and pulling him closer, taking his time in copping a feel.

A sudden high pitched giggle drew their attention. Draco was back across the room in a flash, messing with the sink again. Molly grinned up at her father, holding some dirty dishes that had disappeared into her room as she danced from foot to foot gleefully.

"Were you two /kissing/?" She scrunched up her nose on the last word, and Ron found himself blushing brilliantly. What did you tell an eight year old who caught you sucking face with your house mate? More importantly, what did you tell you /daughter/?

"Yes, we were," Draco suddenly supplied. He was staring into the sink, but then suddenly turned, smiling at Molly gently. "Do you know why we were kissing?"

"Hm . . ." She placed her dirty dishes on the table, and tapped her chin for a moment, before smiling brilliantly. "Because you love daddy, Draco?" The blonde nodded, his smiling turning a little wanton, and little less savory.

"That's right Molls. I love your daddy." His eyes darted up, meeting Ron's, and the smile disappeared until it was only in his eyes. "I love him very much."
Ron could honestly say that he knew the reactions of everyone he told before he ever told them, and for the most part, he was right on his assumptions. Charlie had returned his letter with congratulations and some far warning of relationships; Bill and Fluer had stated how good that was for Molly, to have two parental units, even if they were both men; Ginny had smiled and laughed about how insecure Ron still was.

Fred and George had offered gag Coming Out gifts--most of which seemed to imply a very active and rather (Ron thought) repulsive sex life. He carefully locked all that away in the bottom, unused drawer of his rickshaw.

He conveniently 'forgot' to tell Harry about the whole scenario, considering his reaction to simply knowing that he was living with the blonde. It hurt a little, to keep something like that away from his best friend, but he felt it for the best, and he knew there had to be at least one or two relatively important things the dark haired man was keeping from him, despite their lengthy friendship.

He'd also learned not to get too surprised to come home to find Draco in interesting situations with Molly, who seemed intent on treating the lithe blonde as the mother figure of the family, despite the fact that she knew--and at least halfway comprehended--that Ron had carried her.

So it wasn't too much of a start when he came home to find Draco sitting on the couch, looking sullen, with dark violet eye shadow and bright, cherry red lipstick. In fact, instead of asking what had happened, Ron began to laugh, until the blonde was scowling at him menacingly, his eyes promising a painful retribution.

Molly only beamed.

"Look daddy! I made Draco pretty!"

"I can--haha--I can see that, sugar. He's very pretty." Draco muttered something unsavory, and stood, stalking towards their bedroom, only halting when Ron stood in his way, grinning, and Molly whined petulantly that she still had to enamel his finger- and toenails.

Ron was chuckling all through preparing dinner, and well after they had all eaten and Molly had wandered off to bed. It was only then that Draco brought out a threat of hexing certain rather important portions of the redhead's anatomy--few of them were above the neck, and there were a few others that were quite pointedly below the waist. He only smiled.

"If you did that," he murmured, pulling the still-beautified man closer and kissing his cherry red lips, "I wouldn't be much use to you, now would I?" Draco actually seemed to contemplate the idea, before kissing Ron again, muttering incoherently and pushing the larger man up against the kitchen counter.

When he pulled back, he smothered a bit of laughter, and rubbed at Ron's lower lip. His thumb came away bright, cherry red, and Ron couldn't help but laugh as well. He scooped the blonde up easily, and wandered into their bedroom, and then into the master bathroom just adjacent, shutting the door with his foot.

"We could use a wash up, I think," he found himself murmuring gently. Draco leered, an act made comical instead of sexy by the redness of his lips, and how the lipstick had been smeared by their earlier passions.

It wasn't a moment longer before they were standing in their already cramped shower, close enough to brush with every movement, the water cascading over them and making steam swirl thickly in the air. Ron smiled down at Draco, wetting his hand and running it slowly but firmly over his lips.

"Your daughter's a menace," the blonde uttered against the redhead's palm, ruffling gentle kisses against his lightly calloused skin.

"She's nine," Ron supplied, chuckling. "Of course she's a menace. Now hush."

He smothered any further complaints as he kissed Draco, moving him comfortably under the shower spray and running his hand through water-darkened tresses, savoring, if for only a moment, the silky feel of his blonde lover.

Draco pulled back with a soft moan, pressing against Ron wantonly, clasping his shoulders as though he were about to collapse. He chuckled thickly, moving his hips slickly and subtly; Ron let out a little curse, shaking his head and letting out a breathy little spurt of laughter.

"Have you always been like this?" he asked, half grumbling, his hands idling somewhere near Draco's waist. The blonde hummed against his neck slightly, nuzzling a patch of skin with the very tip of his nose.

"How's that now?"

"Prat . . ."

Ron shut off the water, and pulled Draco along with him out of the warmth of their shower and into their bedroom. The blonde sniggered slightly over nothing at all--or perhaps the whole situation itself--and allowed himself to be pulled atop the redhead as they tumbled into the bed, kissing with hungry mouths as hands idled over wet, flushed skin.

They were forced to pull apart as they heard the door open. Molly was standing there, weaving slightly in a half-awake state, murmuring something about a nightmare.

Draco smothered a curse. Ron slithered out from beneath him, snatching up his bathrobe and taking his daughter's hand as he shot an apologetic glance back at the blonde, who muttered something softly, but loud enough to sound distinctly like 'menace'.
"I can't believe you're getting called away on our six month anniversary."

"You're the one who didn't want to tell anyone. And even if I did have that as an excuse, I wouldn't use it."

Ron scoffed a little, and shook his head, messing with the papers on his desk idly. To tell the truth, he just didn't want Draco to go; he'd heard buzz around the Ministry about what the particular mission he was being sent on would entail, and the thought of sending the blonde into that much danger was nothing short of worrisome.

He looked up at the blonde sitting on the corner of his desk, and sighed, leaning his head against the younger man's thigh. For a moment, he only rested there, trying to collect his thoughts.

Draco was right though--even if people did know about their involvement, such a small milestone wasn't much of an excuse to forego a job opportunity, especially such a high profile one as this. And it wasn't as if they had made big plans for their six month anniversary; just a quiet night together, or something.

It still hurt a bit. He nuzzled Draco's thigh, before sitting back up, and sliding his chair over until he was in front of the blonde; he pulled him onto his lap, and nuzzled his neck as the blonde wrapped his arms around his shoulders loosely.

"Promise me you'll come back," Ron ordered simply. Draco sighed a little, and the redhead could almost hear the blonde rolling his eyes.

"You know--"

"/Promise/." The blonde met his eyes firmly, and shrugged a little, muttering his promise. Ron returned to nuzzling his neck, until he softly asked, "Is anyone going with you?"

"Tonks is. And Potter." Ron lifted his head, and met Draco's eyes firmly. The blonde shrugged again, looking faintly annoyed with the arrangement his superiors had given him. Finally, the redhead just shook his head, and wrapped his arms a bit tighter around the blonde's waist.

"Promise me you won't kill Harry."

"Can I hurt him if he gets annoying?" Ron chuckled a little at the nearly serious words, and shook his head slightly. "Not even a little?"

"I don't think the Minister or Director will be happy with you if you hurt him." Draco just grumbled, and shifted none too subtly against Ron, pulling a whispery little sound from the redhead. "That's unfair," he whispered, nipping at Draco's neck slightly.

"What is then?" He was moving even less subtly with those words, rocking gently against the redhead. Ron groaned, and let his head lull back against his chair slightly, muttering some choice words and a couple of halfhearted reprimands.

"You shouldn't start things you're not going to be able to finish, Malfoy," he growled. The blonde only chuckled, settling his hips for a moment as he leaned forward to worry the redhead's earlobe. "Hm . . ."

"Who said I wasn't going to finish?" His hand was tracing an idle pattern on the front of Ron's robes, skating dangerously close to a ticklish rib, making the redhead writhe just a bit, little airy sounds leaving him. "Though leaving you like this--"

Ron growled slightly, kissing Draco hard and lustfully, rocking his hips up against the smaller man. The blonde moaned, his hands coming up to cup the redhead's face as his hips returned to their earlier movement, chuckling a little as they pulled away, just leaning their foreheads together.

Neither realized the door had opened until a dry, annoyed cough drew their attention. Draco practically vaulted off Ron, scurrying towards the other side of the desk, his gaze downcast and a blush high on his cheeks. Ron let out a quiet little sob, and looked towards whoever had interrupted his little came.

He straightened instantly to see his department head standing in the doorway, looking scandalized and peevish at the sight she'd walked in on--admittedly, she was probably old enough to be Ron's grandmother, so the scandal in her eyes was most likely warranted; she probably stood for all things good and proper.

"Mr Malfoy, you're excused." He scurried out like a ferret, head ducked and murmuring the tiniest of apologies to the older woman, who adjusted her spectacles as she looked over at Ron, huffing slightly as she began, "And you, Mr Weasley. In my office. No delays."

Ron didn't think to argue. He followed the older witch into her office, where she shut the door, and told him firmly to /sit/. The chair was highly uncomfortable, and he shifted slightly; at least his the 'problem' Draco had created and was trying to remedy had quickly left.

"I do believe you owe me an explanation, Mr Weasley. Almost sixteen years in this office, Mr Weasley--/sixteen/--and I have never once seen such a blatant display of . . . of . . ."

"Sexual conduct?" Ron offered helpfully. The woman scowled down at him over the rim of her spectacles, and the redhead cowed a little, shrinking into his seat.

"Mr Weasley. There is a code of conduct we here at the Ministry are meant to abide by, and as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I have final jurisdiction over the consequences of such an act in my department--on both parties present."

"Ma'am--" She held up a finger to silence Ron, and swished her wand. Two thin files came zooming out of a cabinet beside her desk, and hovered beside her. She ruffled through one for a moment, frowning at it, before going on to the other. Finally, she sighed, and sent both files back to their proper location.

"However, due to your records here at the Ministry, I cannot find any evidence to give you more than a reprimand. Luckily for us, Mr Malfoy will be out of the office for a few days; you will be coming to the office until he returns from his mission, at which time I wish you to take a two week working vacation--"


"--Which should be a good excuse to spend more time with that child of yours." There was a derisive sneer in her voice, but she somehow managed to force a smile onto her thin lips. Ron barely suppressed a scoff, and sigh instead, standing slowly and making his way to the door before the older witch ever got a chance to dismiss him.

He flooed home as soon as he reached his office, and sat in his room until Draco came home, much later than normal, to collect his things before he left.

"How did it go?" the blonde whispered, kissing the redhead gently. Ron only shook his head.

"I'm on leave once you get back."

"Trying to keep us apart," Draco observed, running his hands slowly through Ron's hair. The redhead sighed a little, tilting his head along with the gentle strokes.

"It seems to be working." They half broke as Molly popped in to greet them, and say her good byes to Draco as he packed. Ron lounged on the bed, Molly seated beside him, and watched his lover slowly pack away his things. He didn't rise as the blonde left, too disheartened by the idea.

He had been right of course: over the past six months, the number of missions Draco was sent on had increased, and Ron's workload had become more intense. For the most part, he had shoved it aside as old-fashioned paranoia left over from the war. In the lime light of the events of the afternoon, he took his time in analyzing the situation.

As he fell asleep that night, chilly and alone, he silently prayed that Draco would once again keep his promise to come home.
"Happy Birthday Molls!"

Ron tried to remember how Fluer had convinced him that a large party was good for a twelve year old little witch, but he didn't say anything. Molly, surrounded by her cousins and aunts and uncles--and various other family members, both of blood relation or not--beaming at her, was tearing into a present from Sirius.

Ron wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know what the boy had given her, nor why he was giving it to her /now/, instead of when he'd seen her at school.

He hadn't been at all surprised when Molly had received the letter from Hogwarts. It was practically expected, and he would have been far more surprised if it hadn't come, but that was beside the point. Though not wholly pleased with the idea that Molly was the first Weasley to be sorted into Slytherin, Draco had pointed out that not all Slytherins turned into bloodthirsty murdering bastards.

Just most of them. It had earned him a slap upside the back of the head.

She did, however, seem to fit in quite well. Her cousins gave her a hard time about it--they were all Gryfindors, after all, except for Fluer and Bill's eldest, Avril, who had been a Ravenclaw. And, according to her letters, she was doing quite well with any trouble she was given.

That thought was a little disheartening.

/Draco would have liked to be here/, Ron mused idly as he watched Molly juggle a pocket Sneakscope and a Remeberall. The thought sent a little pang of guilt through his gut, and he found himself thinking of his far-flung lover instead of his daughter.

It seemed so stupid, even after eight years, to get so worked up ever time Draco got sent out. But maybe it was because he always seemed to get sent off with Harry; the pair still grated each other in such bizarre ways that Ron didn't even ask any more when Draco came back from a mission in a complete huff.

He jumped a little at a loud pop just behind him, and turned to see Draco approaching him, smiling softly, holding a large, silver and green wrapped present in front of him. Groaning, he halted the blonde's progression.

"I don't care what it is, you aren't giving it to her," he mockingly growled. Draco grinned, and rose just that little bit to kiss Ron delicately on the mouth.

"Let me pamper your daughter."

"You do that whether or not it's her birthday," the redhead pointed out. The blonde shoved him aside with his hip, and sauntered into the room, where Molly greeted him with a shriek of 'Papa Draco' and took the large gift.

The rest of the party passed as uneventfully as any before it, and it was well after wishing their daughter and the other youngsters off to school that they returned home to lounge in their general fashion. Draco broke out a bottle of Shiraz to celebrate yet another homecoming, and turned on a jazz track that Ron didn't recognize, but hummed along with anyway.

Draco's fingers were buried deep in Ron's hair when he spoke softly to the air above him.

"I've been thinking," he began. Ron chuckled.

"Don't hurt yourself." Draco pulled his hair a little, and scowled at him, but received only a gentle kiss in return for his troubles.

"I've been /thinking/," he continued when they pulled apart, once again playing with Ron's hair, "that we've been together for a while, and that it would only be appropriate that we . . . move forward in our relationship."

"Isn't that what we've been doing for the past, what, seven years?" Draco sighed slightly, and nuzzled the back of Ron's head for a moment, laying fluttery little kisses against his hair and the back of his ears. "Hm."

"I meant that . . . . Well. We've been living together for nearly thirteen years now, and we've been dating for about seven of them. Everyone who needs to know knows already, and I just think that the next logical step would be a Commitment and me adopting Molly."

Ron stiffened, and turned sharply to stare at Draco. "A /what/?"

"A . . . Commitment--"

"Why would I do that?" Ron demanded sharply. Draco blinked a bit, slowly removing his fingers from thick red locks to let his hand drop to the couch. "Why would I do that?" Ron repeated sternly.

"Because we've been together for /seven years/, maybe?"

"No, we've been 'together' for four years. Why would that constitute a Commitment?" Draco growled under his breath, sitting up and crossing his arms over his chest.

"You're joking, right Weasley? You've been shacking up with me for twelve and a half years, and you're asking why I would want to have a Commitment with you? You've been sleeping in my bed for nine years, you've let me treat your daughter as my own since she was a baby, you've told me you love me, and you want to know why I want to have Commitment? Are you out of your /tree/, Weasley!?"

"That's different!" Ron surged to his feet, and strode stiffly away, before whirling back, scowling at the blonde, who had a matching expression.

"How the bloody hell is that /different/? Different from /what/? So all those things are fine, but--oh, if you have a Commitment to another man, that makes you a pouf?"

"Yes!" Draco actually blanched heavily, until he was albino pale, and staring at Ron with such a pure confusion and loathing that the redhead nearly took the word back.

But by then, Draco had stood, approached too swiftly, and socked him firmly in the jaw. Ron took a step back, rubbing his face.

"Get out," Draco hissed. Ron looked up swiftly, caught the glimmer of anguished tears in pewter eyes, and nearly stepped forward, an apology ready on his lips. The blonde shoved him away, frowning deeply. "Get /out/, Weasley. Merlin, you're worse than /Potter/."

The barb stung, and it took Ron reaching the lobby of their building to realize he'd left in an angry huff for the words. It took him arriving at Hermione's door to realize that he probably should have apologized, or just kept his mouth shut.

She opened the door, looking blurry-eyed and frustrated. For a moment, she blinked at him, before murmuring a quiet, "Ron? Do you know what time it is?"

"Can I come in? Malfoy's kicked me out." She reacted to the use of the blonde's last name, straightening and pulling her dressing robe a bit tighter as she let him into her flat, and wandered into the kitchen, setting up the tea kettle as Ron took a seat in her dinning room.

A quiet voice from the bedroom made him look up. Seamus Finnagin, looking all together too confused and cute and bedraggled, stumbled down the hall, spotted Ron, and promptly froze, looking over at Hermione, who shrugged. Ron had the decency to flush, and look away for a moment.

"I'm sorry, 'mione. I should have called before I came over--"

"No. You were stressed and worried and upset. And you know my door is always open. Even when I am . . . uh . . ."

"Entertaining?" It earned Seamus a sharp glare for his troubles, but Ron was glad for the slight humor.

As the tea water boiled, Ron explained what had happened after the party in candid detail. Seamus, who had no prior knowledge of the ongoing relationship between Ron and Draco, was at first stunned, and than seemed a bit miffed.

"You turned down a proposition from /Malfoy/?" the young Irishman demanded, looking firmly aghast. "Look, I don't care if you're a poufter or not, you don't turn something like that down. Am I right, 'mione?"

"Seamus has a point, Ron," Hermione conceded, grasping her friend's hand gently. "And I've known a while longer than him. Why did you turn him down?"

"I don't know!" Ron snarled towards the table, and then slumped back in his chair dramatically. "I'm just . . . . No. I'm not a pouf, and doing something like that is like advertising the fact that I sleep with blokes. It's just inviting disaster. Look at Fred and George! They aren't even Committed, and they get threats--"

"That's because they throw themselves at each other at every opportunity," Seamus muttered. Ron cast him a halfhearted little glare. Hermione sighed a little, and patted Ron's hand consolingly.

"Is that what you're afraid of, Ron? The hate? Maybe you'll get to see what Malfoy and your brothers went through--go through. Grow up a little, Ron. Hate happens, and the only thing that you can do about it is deal with it, and report it when it happens to you. As for the advertising: I hate to break it to you, but you've been doing that since the moment you moved in with Malfoy."

"Hermy, you aren't helping--"

"And another thing," she continued, seemingly oblivious to his interruption, "Forget how you feel, how do you think Malfoy feels about all this? He loves you, Ron, and you react to that by throwing his sexuality into his face? Shame. What would your mother say?"

"She'd probably raise holy hell at him for having a kid first," Seamus pointed out. Ron nodded, and than amended in an honest fashion.

"Then she'd yell at me for sleeping with a bloke, and /then /she'd tell me to marry him so that he could make an honest man out of me, and help to raise my kid."

"Which is a roundabout way of saying she'd give you her blessing," Hermione stated, and nodded decisively. "So, in place of a sister or mother, I'm giving you my blessing as the best girl-mate. Now, you march your arse right back over to that flat, you apologize for being a prat, and you go down on hands and knees in acceptance of that proposition."

Ron blinked, but--not surprisingly--did as he was told. At least the 'go back to the flat' portion.

For a long time, he loitered outside the door, muttering to himself, until Draco opened the door, and stared at him for a good long, hard moment. His eyes were a little red and puffy from tears, and his hair was disarrayed, as though he'd fallen asleep on the couch. They stared at each other for a minute, until Ron shuffled nervously.

"Can I . . . come in?"

"It's your flat too." It wasn't exactly an invitation, but Draco wasn't screaming at him, which must have been a step in the right direction. The blonde strode away from the door as the redhead stepped in, leaving him to shut the door and follow, which he did obediently, finding the blonde one more on the couch.

"Draco, I--"

"No. You were right." The blonde sighed, but didn't look up. "I know that you're a bit sensitive about the whole . . . homosexuality gig. I know it takes a lot of you to have come this far. I should have taken that into thought--"

"Shut up, Malfoy," Ron uttered with a little sigh. He approached the couch slowly, and sat down beside the blonde, taking one of his hands in both of his as he sighed, and thought about what he was trying to say.

It probably didn't come out quite the way he had meant ti. It probably did a bit more damage before it did any good. But Hermione and Seamus had been right--one did not turn down a proposition from Draco Malfoy, no matter how frightful the proposition might be.
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