Muggle London is loud - this is the first thing Ron notices. It is summer, and hot, and there are tourists everywhere, so at least if Ron looks a little befuddled, no one thinks it's strange. At every crossing, painted on the pavement is which direction to look before you cross ("Look Left" or "Look Right"). He carefully does this every time.
He likes the buses, the touristy double-decker ones painted red. He likes taking the tube, where he always minds the gap. He also likes McDonald's, and Coca-Cola, and Muggle music. The last one surprises him the most. It's nothing like the WWN - it's louder, and faster, and electric, and harsh. He hears it coming out of a club late one night as he's walking around, not wanting to go back to the youth hostel yet. It's something with a beat, something that you would dance to, but not in dress robes. You'd dance faster and harder and... sexier than you would in dress robes. Or something.
He decides to go in, paying the cover charge and managing to figure out which of the colored pieces of paper is which without being too obvious about it. It is dark and hip and strange inside, flashing lights and people with glitter on them and dark lines drawn around their eyes. Men, mostly, all dancing in a writhing kind of heap on the dance floor. Dancing with each other and not the girls.
And Ron figures that this is fate or something, because of him and Harry and everything, back at school, so even though he didn't exactly mean to be here, here he is.
Not that that means he's going to dance. He pushes his way through the crowd to the bar and very nearly orders firewhiskey before he catches himself and orders a beer instead. While he's waiting for the bartender to get it, he looks idly at the other patrons. There's a young guy just down from him who has big ears and a crooked nose in a way that reminds him strongly of Neville, so that Ron smiles at him without thinking.
The guy scowls into his glass and tips it back into his mouth. "Er... hi," Ron says, moving closer and feeling like he needs to apologize for smiling or something, the way the guy's frowning like Ron did something horrible.
The guy gives him a skeptical look. "Suppose you want to know what Orlando's really like?" he asks dourly.
Ron blinks several times. This seems like an odd thing to ask a stranger in a bar. "Well... hot, I expect," Ron says.
The guy rolls his eyes like he can't believe Ron just said that, and gulps the rest of his drink in one go. He pushes himself to his feet and begins to move along elsewhere.
Ron persists uneasily. "I mean, it's in Florida, right?"
The stranger pauses at that, stopping and staring at him. Ron looks back at him, still terribly confused and not sure what in the conversation he's been missing. But after a long second of staring, the stranger takes Ron completely by surprise by grabbing him by the back of the neck and kissing him full on the lips. His tongue snakes into Ron's mouth and as soon as Ron gets over his shock he kisses back, hard. It's nothing like kissing Neville, though. He tastes liquor and sweat.
"Just for that," the stranger says, pulling back slightly, "you get to take me home."
"Oh," Ron says. "I... okay. Yeah. I just... I'm at, like, this youth hostel, and...."
"Okay, my place," the guy says easily. He slides his hand down from the back of Ron's neck, down Ron's shoulder and arm to grab his hand and start pulling him through the crowd, towards the door. Ron follows, a little dazed.
He is dazed the whole way to the hotel where the guy (whose name, it turns out, is Dom) is staying. This is partly due to the succession of Muggle things that Ron is not at all used to, like Dom walking right into the street, sticking his hand out, and a car just pulling over next to him. But it's mostly due to the way Dom kisses him the whole way over there, wet and breathless, and the way he rubs Ron through his trousers.
Ron jumps when Dom flips a switch on the wall and bright, artificial light floods the hotel room. He still can't get used to that, the lecktrycity, and Dom looks at him funny. It looks like Dom's going to say something about Ron being odd, so Ron quickly drops to his knees and sees if he can work a Muggle zipper from the wrong side.
Later, on the bed, Ron mutters, "Lubrica!" before he remembers that he doesn't have his wand and that he is passing for Muggle.
"Lube's in the bedside table, mate," Dom says above him.
Ron pauses, confused. "What?"
Dom sighs and sprawls over Ron to get to the nightstand, pulling open a drawer and grabbing a couple of things Ron doesn't quite see. And then Dom seems to be putting something on his cock, and squirting something else onto his hands. When Dom touches Ron's asshole, his fingers are wet and slick.
Oh. Being a Muggle is messy, Ron thinks, before Dom starts wanking him and Muggle/non-Muggle distinctions aren't so much what's on his mind.
Though Ron does suddenly hear Malfoy's voice in his head (Muggle-lover! Fucking traitorous Muggle-lover!) as Dom pushes into him. It almost makes him giggle.
After they've both come and are lying in a sticky heap on the bed, Dom rolls onto his back and stretches, cat-like, his bare stomach tightening as he arcs his back. "Now you know what one joke about Orlando will get you," he murmurs. "Just think if you'd joked about Elijah and Viggo as well."
"Joke?" Ron says sleepily. He's warm and relaxed and barely awake.
"Yeah, what you said about..." Dom trails off and props himself up on one elbow, looking down at Ron. "That was a joke, right? I mean, you know who Orlando is."
Ron blinks at him.
"Orlando *Bloom*?" Dom says.
Ron decides to fake it just a second too late. "Oh, Orlando Bloom, sure, right, of course."
Dom looks at him, his eyes narrowing. "What's he do, then?"
"He, er... you know. Sports?" Ron guesses.
Dom starts laughing and falls back against the pillow. "Right, mate. Where do you come from, then?"
At least Dom looks like he thinks it's funny and endearing, rather than freakish and alarming. Ron relaxes a little bit. "Mars?" he tries.
Dom nods wisely. "The red planet," he says, all mock-serious, and twists his fingers in Ron's red hair.
Dom's fingers feel good, warm against Ron's scalp, and they must fall asleep like that, because that's the last thing Ron remembers before it's morning.
Ron wakes up to Dom banging around in the suite. He sits up in bed and run his hands through his hair, certain that it's sticking up. (He does not, however, at all think about Harry's messy hair, and what it looked like in the mornings. This is the thing he is not thinking about the hardest.) Dom is flipping through pages of some big black book type thing, a bunch of circles made of metal held between two fingers. As Ron watches him, Dom pulls another circle out of the book. Ron can see rainbows on its surface as it moves and the light hits it different ways.
Dom turns towards him, all business, even though he's completely naked. "We need wake up music," he says. "What do you think?" He starts tosses the metal circles onto the foot of the bed and saying random nouns. "Beetles, postal service, cold play, shins, radio head?" He looks at Ron. Ron isn't quite sure what he's supposed to say.
Dom raises his eyebrows. "Well, pick one."
After a second, Ron slowly points to a circle at random.
"A man after my own heart," Dom says. "Excellent choice." He picks the circle up and moves to the other side of the room, doing something to a big black boxy device.
Music begins to play, but not the hard thumping of the club. This is mellow, and sad, and kind of dreamy. Ron likes it. He wonders if he could go to a store and buy some Muggle music, and if Dom would maybe tell him what to buy and how to make the music play.
He only vaguely hears the lyrics to the song, ...and send the autos swerving into the loneliest evening..., and is listening to the rhythms when there is a knock at the door that Dom goes to answer, still naked. A minute later, a hotel guy is wheeling in a tray of food and Ron, not nearly as comfortable in his skin, leaps for sheets to cover himself. Dom laughs at him and tips the waiter. "Breakfast," Dom says.
There are eggs and bacon and pancakes and sausage and quiche and enough food for the whole of Gryffindor house, practically. "I wasn't sure what you'd want," Dom says, "so I ordered everything."
"Cool," Ron says, as Dom brings the plates onto the bed next to him. They sit cross-legged with utensils all around them, some of the food perilously close to sliding onto the sheets. Dom doesn't seem to care.
"So what do you do?" Dom asks casually, putting butter liberally on his pancakes.
"Do?" Ron asks, watching him.
"You know, like a job."
Ron shrugs. "I dunno. I'm sort of taking some time off." He watches Dom dribble syrup from the jar. "I feel kind of aimless, you know, after the war and everything."
He is watching the patterns of syrup falling on the plate and doesn't even realize what he's let slip until the syrup begins to all puddle in one place. When he glances up from Dom's hand to his face, Dom is giving him the strangest look.
"What war?" Dom asks slowly. He looks at Ron hard, then laughs a little. "The war on terror?" He says this in an American accent for some reason, and makes a funny curving gesture with both hands that Ron doesn't understand.
Terror. Ron thinks about the way everything kept getting more and more horrible - Harry's slow progressive breakdown, Hermione going pale and strained and *quiet*, half the people he knew disappearing one by one (Lee Jordan and the Patils and Colin Creevey and Tonks and his mother and... yeah), rumors of pain and crucio and long death in agony creeping in the dark. "Yeah," he says slowly. "Something like that."
The thing Ron likes about Muggle London most is the crowds, happy anonymous people pushing by one another. No one wears that shell-shocked look, the glazed eyes and stunned grief. No one sees his red hair and shabby clothes and immediately knows who his father was. No one gets that quiet pitying look that wizards are always giving him, that look that makes him want to squirm and dodge. He doesn't have to hear them whispering to each other that he is the last of the Weasleys. He doesn't have to remember all the time.
"No, seriously," Dom says. He's still giving Ron that funny bemused look, interested and weirded out, his head tilted to one side. Ron can see that he's about to ask more questions, things Ron doesn't want to talk about, so he desperately leans in and kisses Dom roughly, tongue searching out the syrupy sweetness clinging to the corners of Dom's mouth. He blindly dips his hand in the mess on Dom's plate and uses his sticky fingertips to paint stripes down Dom's chest. His mouth follows to lick them clean, moving lower and lower.
Dom laughs a little oddly, breathless. "Are you distracting me?"
The faces of Neville and Ginny and Fred and George and Harry flash in Ron's head in quick succession, causing that familiar drop in the center of Ron's chest, that spasm of pain he can't quite head off.
"No," he says to Dom, shaking his head to knock the ghosts out, "you're distracting me."
He takes Dom's cock into his sticky mouth and does his best to be distracted.