“Kill me,” he whimpers. “Please. Just let me die.”
He’s vaguely aware of Ginny’s hand on his arm. She’s a good sister. Wicked temper too, and she might just be able to do it before…before… Well.
The common room is a blur. He hears Hermione’s voice. Harry’s. Oh hell, Ginny’s answering them. He hears the name Malfoy and, like ice being trailed down his spine, it brings the world back into horrible clarity.
“…You asked Malfoy to the Ball?!” Hermione asks. Shrieks, really. Harry, the git, looks entirely too amused by this entire situation. Hermione…doesn’t. She looks furious, actually. Then sickened. “You realise he’s never going to let you live this down.”
“Yeah,” Ron croaks. “Yeah, I figured that for myself, thanks.”
Hermione sniffs. Harry, bastard that he is, hides a laugh with a suspicious sounding cough.
“Well,” Hermione says. “We definitely need to find someone to go with you now. We can’t have Malfoy think he was your only option, or that’ll be worse.”
Ron whimpers. Again. He lets Ginny do the talking for him. And, like Harry, he realises that she’s finding far too much amusement in this for his liking.
“Oh no we don’t,” she says. “Malfoy accepted.”
The moment Ron said it - more like blurted it out a bit too loudly, really – he’d wondered why on earth he’d actually done it. As a joke? To be funny? There was nothing funny about the deathly hush that fell on the room afterwards, and that was when the panic had started to set in. Why couldn’t he have asked someone like Delacour? Equally attractive and just as completely out of his league, but also due to leave the country in a few months and therefore not liable to torment him for the rest of his school career.
But Malfoy had stopped. He’d stopped. Right there, in the entrance hall. And he’d looked at Ron like he was actually seeing him for a moment. Him. Ron. Not just another Weasley or Harry Potter’s Comic Relief Sidekick. Ron.
And Ron had frozen while Malfoy looked him up and down and tilted his head to the side, considering.
And then the world had ended. The sky fell to the earth. Left became right and grass became purple and Draco Malfoy smirked at him and nodded. Nodded! And said, “Alright then, Weasley,” in that posh drawl of his before he’d turned away and sauntered off, leaving Ron utterly gobsmacked in his wake.
He’d left several, equally gobsmacked Slytherins behind as well, though they’d recovered from the shock significantly faster than Ron had.
Ron’s still not sure he’s over the shock now, actually. It’s several days on from The Incident and Hermione’s not over it yet either – she’s not talking to him. Harry, proving to be a much better friend than Ron himself (or, perhaps, a bigger sadist) is still talking to him, but also keeps sniggering to himself when he thinks Ron can’t hear him.
It helps nothing.
But at least there’s someone out there who thinks his ‘joke’ was hilarious, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
He’s still in shock, and he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop – he’s not heard anything from his parents and the twins have been suspiciously quiet – which is why he nearly has a heart attack when Malfoy appears behind him.
It’s impossible to Apparate inside of Hogwarts, or so Hermione’s told them, which means that Malfoy must have snuck up on him. That at least explains the slightly anticipatory look that’s been on Harry’s face for the last couple of minutes. The prick.
Neville, the traitor, moves down the table so that Malfoy can sit. Which, of course, he does, something that incidentally brings him far closer to Ron than he’s ever been before.
He smells nice, Ron notices, and he’s got oddly long eyelashes for a bloke. Impressive, really. This close, he can see the fine shadows they cast on Malfoy’s cheeks.
Not that he’s looking, or anything.
“How on earth do you plan to get through the Ball if you can’t handle a hello at breakfast?” is Malfoy’s opening statement. He doesn’t wait for a response. Which is just as well, really, because Ron’s still too stunned to actually think of one.
“We’re going to Hogsmeade, Weasley,” Malfoy continues. “So do hurry up.”
He waves a hand at the remains of Ron’s breakfast, which…really doesn’t seem all that appetising anymore.
“Hogsmeade?” Ron asks.
“The village, yes. Where there are shops. Shops that I’m taking you to, because it’s just occurred to me that the lacy monstrosity you had over your owl cage on the train was actually your dress robes, and there is absolutely no way that I will ever be seen in public with them. Are we clear?”
Ron gapes at him. Then he closes his mouth and kicks Harry hard under the table, because – some best mate he is (Ron’s definitely leaning towards the sadist theory) – he’s started laughing so hard he’s just snorted pumpkin juice out of his nose.
“You remember that?” he asks, looking back at Malfoy.
It’s probably not the answer Malfoy was expecting. Definitely not, judging by the flush that blooms in his cheeks. “Not the point,” Malfoy mutters. “Are you coming?”
There’s a chance here. A chance to start laughing in Malfoy’s face and jeering about how he took him seriously. A chance to escape.
But Ron is transfixed by Malfoy’s blush and his long eyelashes, and by the sudden realisation that, actually, Malfoy’s sneering hides an awful lot of insecurities. He clears his throat. “Sure,” he says. “That…yeah. That sounds good.”
He’s halfway to his feet before he realises that Harry’s finally stopped laughing.
He’s never actually been to the village on a day he’s not supposed to. He almost feels like pointing that out, but he doesn’t think Malfoy would care. Rules are made for lesser mortals than Malfoys, after all, and the previous three years have showcased how little regard Ron has for authority pretty well. They walk in silence, bundled up in their cloaks and scarves. They don’t hold hands.
Ron’s not sure whether to be relieved by that or disappointed.
It’s a nice day for a walk, though, and he entertains himself by scuffing his feet in the drifts of fallen leaves that litter the path. Bright sunlight shines through the trees, catching on dew-covered spider webs and on the tiny flecks of blue in Malfoy’s eyes. He’s trying not to stare, really he is, but it’s so novel to spend time with Malfoy without spitting insults at him or trying to hex him that he can’t quite help it.
There’s a tiny freckle on the shell of Malfoy’s right ear. Somehow, it’s endearing.
When they arrive in Hogsmeade, Malfoy grabs him by the wrist and practically drags him into Gladrags. The dragging isn’t necessary – it’s not like Ron’s willing to be seen in public with the lace monstrosities either – but he allows it. One of Malfoy’s fingers rests just above his glove, just over his pulse, and he’s surprisingly strong.
He doesn’t let go once they’re inside either, which is considerably more appropriate given that, when faced with seemingly racks of robes, Ron begins to think that maroon lace might actually be tolerable. In fact, as if he knows what Ron’s thinking, Malfoy’s grip tightens and he pulls Ron over to the menswear section.
The formal menswear section.
He might as well have dragged Ron to the moon.
“My robes are black,” Malfoy says. It’s the first thing to come out of him mouth since he’d invited himself over to Gryffindor table, and he sounds a lot calmer now than he did then. “So you can wear anything.” He glances Ron over. “Except black – we’ll look like it’s a funeral – or whatever travesty of a colour the…I hesitate to call them robes. The ones you already have are. No orange, either.”
That’s his favourite colour out, then. And while funeral wear might be appropriate for a Weasley attending a formal event with a Malfoy, Ron refrains from pointing that out. And since he hates maroon, he finds himself going along with it.
“No green,” he says. “Harry’s are green, and I don’t want to match with him.”
Not now that he’s proven himself to be a cruel sadist with an awful sense of humour.
Malfoy hums. “Fine,” he says. “Pity. Green would suit you. But –“
He seems to have realised what he just said, because Ron gets to see him blush again. Brighter this time. Malfoy coughs and clears his throat. “Blue?” he suggests.
Ron grins. “Sure.”
It turns out that there’s too many shades of blue and too many styles of robes to ever count in a lifetime, and the sun is setting by the time they make their way back along the path to Hogwarts. Ron is holding a bag stuffed with robes in dark blue velvet with silver embroidery round the cuffs that’s the exact same shade as Draco’s eyes. They’re tasteful. Modern. Easily the most expensive item of clothing Ron has ever had – certainly the only one that’s not been handed down from an older brother.
In his other hand, he holds Draco’s . Their fingers are laced loosely together, and they’re talking this time. Admittedly, it’s all Quidditch strategy from the Tutshill v. Kenmare game that played just before school started, but it’s a conversation. They’re talking, not fighting, and Malfoy is actually smiling at him every so often.
Tiny, wry little smiles that Ron only barely catches half the time. But they’re there.
Malfoy’s surprise invasion of his Saturday is not, as it turns out, a one-off event. He starts swinging by Gryffindor table more often, usually just to say hello, though he does like to do it with maximum amounts of drama. It becomes routine to see Harry glance over his shoulder only for Malfoy to drop into the seat next to him seconds later.
Neville, bless his treacherous ways, has started leaving that seat deliberately empty. Ron has no idea how to handle the fact that he actually appreciates Neville doing it, so he just locks that information away to poke at later.
“Have a quill,” Malfoy says, dropping down next to him. It’s a Friday, and the quill is made from spun sugar. It’s from the care package that he still receives from his mother on a weekly basis. Ron takes it gingerly, not entirely sure that he wants to eat anything that one of the older Malfoys has come into contact with.
Malfoy senses his trepidation and actually rolls his eyes. “I realise Mother’s family is infamous for killing off its more wayward members, but it’s not actually poisoned, you know. Honestly,” he says, and he grasps Ron’s wrist gently so that he can guide the quill to his mouth. He bites off the tip of it in a flash of even white teeth, and crunches audibly. “See?”
“Um, thanks,” Ron says.
“You’re welcome,” Malfoy replies. “But in future: things from Mother are usually safe, Great Aunt Cassiopeia should be avoided at all costs, and…well. You’re a Weasley, so you know exactly what to expect from my Father.”
He accompanies that statement with a gentle rub of his thumb over the inside of Ron’s wrist, and segues onto the real purpose of his visit before Ron can even begin to formulate an appropriate response.
“It’s just occurred to me to ask: you do actually know how to dance, don’t you?”
Ron is beginning to realise that Malfoy takes inappropriate amounts of pleasure in making people lose their footing. Verbally, mentally, and – he suspects – physically as well.
He’d paid attention in McGonagall’s dancing lesson. He honestly had. But the Yule Ball hadn’t been quite as important back then and so he hadn’t paid quite as much attention as he should have done. Especially since that was around the time that he’d thought of his ‘hilarious’ idea of asking Malfoy instead of literally anyone else.
Malfoy reads his answer in his face and sighs. “Of course,” he says. “That’s our plans for the weekend sorted, then.”
He leaves a second sugar quill next to Ron’s plate as an apology – possibly – as he leaves.
The day of the Ball, when it finally arrives, is bright and wintry. Snow fell overnight, and the grounds of Hogwarts are buried in a thick blanket of white. Ron, awake early after a restless night, sits by the window and watches the sun come up over the horizon.
He’s still not heard anything from his parents. The twins have been…quizzical. They’d sat him down for a vague and menacing conversation a couple of weeks ago, only to walk away as baffled with this whole situation as Ron himself is. Ginny and Harry have, he suspects, started some sort of betting pool between the two of them and Neville. Hermione’s still ignoring him.
It’s all Malfoy’s fault.
He grimaces and leans his head against the cool glass of the window. It’s not all Malfoy’s fault. It was Ron’s stupid idea to ask him. Everything else is Malfoy’s fault. He’s gorgeous and witty and horribly funny when he’s not aiming his sarcasm in Ron’s direction. He’s clever and expressive and has the worst habit of changing the subject of conversation at complete random. He’s got annoyingly perfect teeth and he hums instead of laughing properly and…and…
And Ron can’t get him out of his head. At all.
Hating Malfoy was safe. Getting to know him has been like being strapped to a rogue Firebolt heading for the Whomping Willow: exhilarating, but bound to end in complete disaster.
He hears his dorm mates start to wake up, and he goes back to bed. He crawls under the covers and buries his face in his pillow and resolves not to surface again until the absolute last minute possible.
Which, as it turns out, is approximately five minutes later, when Harry (complete sadist – honestly, Ron has no idea why he bothered making up with him) flings open his curtains and levitates his bed covers off.
It’s strange, but when he meets Malfoy in the entrance hall that night, he thinks Malfoy actually looks relieved to see him. It’s a brief look, and it vanishes swiftly as Malfoy begins to look him over approvingly, but Ron could swear that he did see it. It makes him smile. It’s what encourages him to reach out and run his thumb over the high collar of Malfoy’s robes and actually tell Malfoy that he looks amazing.
It’s worth it. He gets to see Malfoy turn pink again.
“Don’t you think you should be calling me Draco by this point?” Malfoy asks.
It’s a fair question. One that Ron has avoided asking as much as he’d avoided questioning his feelings until the early hours of that very morning.
“Draco, then,” he says, liking the way it sounds. “You look amazing, Draco.”
Draco blushes harder. “Thank you. Ron.”
Yeah, Ron thinks, the first names thing is so much better.
As it turns out, he enjoys the Ball far more than he initially thought he would. The food is great, the dancing is…well, he doesn’t embarrass himself or Draco, and he certainly enjoys holding him well enough. He definitely enjoys the running commentary that is Draco Malfoy’s constant criticism of the world around him (and takes a bit too much pleasure in Draco pointing out that Harry dances like he’s got a broom shoved up his arse – call it revenge for that morning), and the way that Draco’s breath feels against his cheek.
They barely let go of each other, even to get drinks. Draco is a warm presence in his arms or pressed against his side and it is maddening. Especially now, with the band in full swing, and the dance floor packed and swelteringly hot.
He gets his first kiss on that dance floor. Draco is pressed so close to him it’s like he’s trying to crawl inside that kissing him just feels like a thing that should happen. And it’s perfect. Draco’s mouth tastes faintly of stroganoff, and their teeth clash when some idiot careens into them, but it’s wonderful.
And afterwards, when Draco leans up and asks if he wants to go somewhere else, Ron agrees.
‘Somewhere else’ is the Slytherin dorms. At first, Ron wonders how he’s supposed to react, given that he’s not actually supposed to have been inside of them before, but then he decides to stop pretending that focussing on anything other than Draco is even possible and the whole world becomes that much easier to deal with.
Draco’s bed is as gloriously comfortable as the ones in Gryffindor. Draco just makes it a hundred times better, especially when he drags Ron down on top of him in order to kiss him properly.
Kissing is so much simpler when it’s not being done in the middle of a crowd of dancing teenagers.
Ron finds himself running his fingers through Draco’s soft hair. He presses kisses all over his face and down the pale column of his neck until Draco gasps and arches beneath him, pressing up against him. Ron pulls back. Draco’s beautiful like this, spread out beneath him, flushed and panting.
Their eyes meet. Something passes between them, silent and powerful, and then they’re tugging at the fastenings of each other’s robes, desperate to reach skin. Once he’s got Draco’s robes unfastened, he dives back down and resumes kissing his way down Draco’s neck. He nips at his collar bones and sucks one of Draco’s nipples into his mouth. He bites gently at the sensitive flesh. Draco moans. It sounds shockingly loud, and Ron freezes for a second, waiting for a curse from one of Draco’s sinister roommates. It doesn’t come. Instead, Draco hitches his leg up around Ron’s waist and uses it to press their hips together.
He’s hard. Really hard. And he’s so fucking hot that Ron can’t help but thrust against him, pressing their erections together and groaning at the friction.
They end up getting up to strip off the rest of their robes and toss them onto the top of Draco’s trunk so that they don’t get damaged. They shed socks and trousers too, so that they’re just in their underwear. There’s a damp patch on the front of Draco’s boxers; the thin cotton clings to the head of his cock and Ron wants. He wants everything. He’s…not entirely sure of the exact specifics of ‘everything’, but he’s pretty sure that it won’t be too weird if he reaches out and…
Draco feels good in his hand. He’s hard, yeah, but his skin is silky soft. Ron pulls away so that he can pull Draco’s boxers down over his hips and actually see what he’s doing. It’s not that much different from wanking himself, really, except that Draco is slightly smaller and makes much better noises – most of which he tries to muffle in Ron’s shoulder. His fingernails leave gentle scratches down Ron’s chest and belly, and by the time Draco’s hand slips into his own underwear, Ron feels like he’s on fire.
It doesn’t take long, after that. Draco is stunning when he comes and Ron decides – once his brain kicks back into gear and he’s curled up in Draco’s arms – that he wants to see it as often as possible.
“Next time,” Draco says, running an idle finger through the cooling cum on Ron’s stomach. “Next time, I want to suck you. Alright?”
Ron swallows. “Yeah,” he breathes. His cock gives a little twitch at the thought, and he knows by Malfoy’s smirk that he felt it too. “Yeah, definitely.”
Ron follows Draco into the hall the next morning. It’s…fairly obvious to the whole room that he never made it back to Gryffindor tower last night, given that he’s wearing his dress robes again, but Draco has his hand clasped firmly around his wrist and his head held high and he so visibly doesn’t care what people think that it’s actually a little inspiring.
Or Ron’s in love. Whatever.
He sits down, with Draco, at Slytherin table for the first time. Centuries of Gryffindor ancestry weighs disapprovingly down on him as he helps himself to toast and tea, but then Draco passes him the strawberry jam without him having to ask for it, and it’s all worth it. Because during all of Draco’s little visits in the mornings, he’s been paying attention to the things Ron likes. The little things.
He hooks his foot around Draco’s under the table. Draco blushes. Next to him, Parkinson wrinkles her nose.
“It’s official, then?” she asks.
“Weep for the sanctity of Slytherin dorms, Parkinson,” someone says from further down the table. “We have a Weasley.”
“Shut up Nott,” Draco says smoothly, and he turns to Parkinson with the air of someone who had no idea his friends were this stupid. Ron makes a mental note to try that expression out on Harry at some point.
“Of course it’s ‘official’, Parkinson,” he continues. “Where on earth have you been?”
From the corner of his eye, Ron catches a flash of gold. Galleons are being exchanged all the way along Slytherin table. A quick glance over at Gryffindor shows that the same is happening there. He shakes his head and catches Draco’s eye, and indicates the nearest set of gamblers.
“Bastards, all of them,” he says.
He wonders if Harry’s made any profit from this, and if he should ask for a cut. He has a Valentine’s present to buy next, and it has to be something special. Draco’s a Malfoy, after all – he only ever wants the best.