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If It Talks and Walks like a Duck, It's a Duck

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Ronald Weasley never expected to be a single dad at twenty-seven. At fifteen, he was convinced he would be working with his best friend, Harry Potter, and be the youngest Head Auror of the century, or the star Keeper of the Chudley Cannons, and married to his high school sweetheart, Hermione Granger. Instead, he was divorced, coaching the Ottery St Catchpole Quidditch Team and working at Weasley Wizard Wheezes with his brother. And the most uncanny thing was, it made him tremendously happy.

For a long time, raising his eight-year-old daughter, Rose, was everything he needed in life. He had a wonderful best friend, an excellent relationship with his ex-wife, a great and loving family — all in all, a perfect life. But then, everything started to go awry.

Harry found love through a Wizarding dating service (created by Draco Malfoy of all people!) and fucked off to India to do an Ayurveda cure with his snotty blond git of a partner. Hermione decided that she wasn’t doing enough with the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and went to Australia for a six-months immersion in a Free Elves colony. And Ron… well, Ron found himself quite a bit lonely without them.

He made new friends of old acquaintances when he met Daphne Greengrass and Padma Patil at his daughter’s Quidditch team tryouts. As it happened, their two children, Ajay and Meera, quickly became Rose’s best friends. It worked out well, for a time, but Ron soon started to feel like the third wheel.

Lucky for him, Draco Malfoy, despite being a filthy ferret, was a brilliant man.

Daphne and Padma managed to convince Ron to sign up to Ardeo, the same dating service that brought Malfoy and Harry together, thanks to Malfoy’s regrettably indisputable genius. Ron had put up a good fight, but when faced with two women known for their cunning and intelligence since they were eleven, he didn’t stand a chance.

Three days after they brought the idea to him, he was registered and waiting for an owl.
Three days and five hours later, he received a letter.

“Congratulations, you’ve been matched. Are you ready to experience the magic? Name: Cormac McLaggen, Age: 28.”

Suffice to say, Ron wasn’t convinced.

*

Cormac McLaggen was the first to admit that he had always been an obnoxious and romantic bloke. He thought of himself as a bachelor, hopelessly looking for the one, but he was mostly a prickly picky prick. When he was a teenager, he thought he would be a true ladies’ man, a famous Quidditch player and the youngest man to make the cover of the special Sexiest Man of the Year edition of Witch Weekly. (Harry Potter beat him to that last one.) Instead, he was working a desk job at the Department of Magical Games and Sports and living with his two best buds, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas. They’d met again at the local sports hall where Cormac went to lift. Despite not being what he expected, Cormac was quite happy with his life. He would run every morning with Seamus, cook food with Dean after work, and the three of them would watch Muggle reality TV shows in the evenings, eating celery sticks and oat biscuits.

It was perfect, really, until Dean asked Seamus to fucking marry him, ruining Cormac’s life in the process.

It was one thing to room with his mates who happened to be together, it was another to share a flat with two soon-to-be-married horny men. Reality TV nights started to turn into snogging sessions with Cormac eating too many biscuits and worrying about his waistline, and both running and cooking got overwhelmed with wedding preparations.

Eventually, Cormac decided he’d had enough and signed up for the famous dating service that managed to match Harry Potter. And if a disaster like Potter could be matched, anyone could really, in Cormac’s opinion. It only took a few hours before he received an owl.

“Congratulations, you’ve been matched. Are you ready to experience the magic? Name: Roonil Wazlib, Age: 27.”

“What kind of name is that?” Cormac said and threw the parchment into the bin.

*

“I’m not going on a date with him, Padma!” Ron complained, shoving a chocolate biscuit in his mouth, “Merlin’s saggy left ball, we’re talking about Cormac McLaggen! He’s the worst! I’d rather snog Malfoy than share a lift with that bloke. That’s how much I hate him!” Ron added, mouth still full. Padma just looked at him while Daphne winced in disgust.

“You’re being difficult,” Daphne said.

“Maybe he’s grown up,” Padma concurred.

“Yeah, when nifflers fly,” Ron grumbled. “Look, I didn’t give up on that blasted dating thing, all right? I’m going on a date and I’m sure it will be pleasant, because it won’t be with McLaggen.”

Obviously, Ron was terribly wrong, and the date went as bad as it possibly could. The bird happened to be a Potter fan and proceeded to ask Ron about every detail of his adventure with the Almighty Saviour when she realised who he really was. Ron left early, pretending to have a child emergency.

When he came home, exhausted and disappointed, he relieved Hortense, the baby-sitter, from her duties and went to tuck his daughter into bed. Going back to his office to deal with some paperwork, he found two letters on his desk. The first one was a message from Ardeo informing him that he had been matched with McLaggen again, and the other was a note from Seamus and Dean announcing that they were about to tie the knot in the next few weeks.

Ron threw out the first letter and responded to the other with an invitation to host a celebratory dinner at his place. Ron was lonely, and seeing old friends couldn’t be bad, could it?

*

“I have standards,” Cormac complained when Dean and Seamus admonished him for dismissing a bloke on the basis of his name. “I went on another date, and I was charming, I’m sure she will want to see me again,” he added when Seamus crossed his arms over his chest.

But the only letter Cormac received was another match with Roonil Wazlib. Apparently, Melinda Bashfoot didn’t want to see him again. At first, Cormac was pretty sad about it (he had been such a gentleman!) but it soon turned to fuel his ego. Maybe he was too good for her and she’d seen it. He should tone things down on the next date (which wouldn’t be with Roonil Wazlib), just so he could be sure he wouldn’t make the lovely person feel overwhelmed with his own greatness. Cormac sighed. It was hard, being such a catch. People often got intimidated. But Cormac had hope; he would find the one.

“Cormac!” Dean called from the living room. “Could you come here for a sec?”

Cormac left the kitchen where he was making some kale juice and joined him. “What’s up?”

“Ron is offering to host our engagement party. You’ll be there right?”

Cormac winced at Weasley’s name. He never liked the bloke, too much of a brag for his taste. But he liked his mates more than he despised Weasley, so Cormac nodded. “Sure thing, bro.”

Dean beamed at him and Cormac knew then he’d made the right decision. What was the worst that could happen?

*

The dinner was an awful affair. Ron and Cormac were the only single people at the party, and everyone seemed intent on pushing them together, Merlin knew why. But the worst part was that Dean and Seamus found it an excellent idea to assign them both the preparation of the bachelor party.

From then on, it only got worse. Cormac was awful to Ron and was slowly driving him to insanity, while Ron’s constant complaining was starting to get on Cormac’s nerves. All in all, they both were having a terrible time.

When Ron started to think of ways to rid himself and the world of Cormac for good, something unexpected happened. Cormac showed up to Rose’s Quidditch training at the club to pick up Ron for another shopping trip. And as Cormac waited for Ron to finish with the players, he started to chat with the kids on the bench. Ron was otherwise occupied so he couldn’t hear what Cormac was saying, but he saw the smiles and heard the laughs of the children. And for the first time, Ron saw Cormac differently. Softened by the sight of Cormac McLaggen making duck faces at children just for the sake of their laughter, Ron resolved to be less antagonistic next time he would have to deal with him, which allowed them to pick a venue and an activity for the bachelor party quite quickly.

When Ron invited Cormac to their first match in the Devon little league, he spent a long time talking about strategy and how he managed the kids. Ron realised that when he wasn’t ordering anyone around, Cormac provided interesting insights. When Ron asked him about it, Cormac admitted that his work taught him a lot about game planning and team spirit, which pleasantly surprised Ron. Spurred on by the conversation, Ron even started to talk about his work at Wheezes, and spiralled into magical theory. Cormac didn’t understand a thing, but he surprisingly enjoyed just listening to someone else for once.

*

When Ron went home, there was yet another letter from Ardeo waiting for him. This time, Ron decided to read a bit further.

Cormac is a young bachelor and Ministry worker at the Department of Magical Games and Sports. He likes running, lifting, cooking, and watching Muggle television with his friends. Cormac would love to share his life with someone smart and family-oriented. Would you like to meet? Yes/No

Ron took a deep breath and ticked Yes.

*

“Another letter? Bloody hell, they’re persistent,” Cormac grumbled as he opened yet another match with Roonil Wazlib.

Roonil is a freshly divorced single dad who co-owns a joke shop, and spends most of his free time coaching his daughter’s Quidditch team. Roonil cares about family and friendship above everything else.

Cormac gasped. That was the description of the perfect man according to Cormac’s standards. And, that was… Well. That sounded an awful lot like bloody Ron Weasley.

Cormac grabbed a quill and ticked Yes as quickly as he could.

*

The first date went perfectly. It was only a week after the bachelor party (where they kept sharing secret smiles from afar, knowing this day would come), and Cormac may have been exceedingly chivalrous, but Ron ended up finding it more endearing than obnoxious now that he knew that Cormac was a big softie inside. Ron was a bit of an oaf and rude, but Cormac sort of thought it was cute because Ron was so real and unapologetic about being himself. After dinner, Cormac kept his distance and when Ron started to rant and get offended, Cormac admitted that he had once been known to trample over personal boundaries, and now was trying to let his partners set the pace. Ron settled for a shoulder bump and a flirty smile.

Next, they went to a Cannons-Puddlemere Quidditch match, while supporting opposing teams. When Cormac noticed Ron was so dejected to see his team lose, he took his hand and led him down to the locker rooms to meet the Cannons’ Keeper, a good friend of his. “Working at the DMGS has its perks,” Cormac had simply said when Ron, eyes bright, had looked at him and asked how they’d met. Suddenly, the atmosphere had changed, and Ron had hugged Cormac tightly before kissing him awkwardly. It wasn’t a great kiss, but it was a kiss that made them both very happy.

Eight weeks later, Ron and Cormac had been on many romantic dates, Quidditch matches, kids outings and dinners with Seamus, Dean, Padma and Daphne. Ron knew then that he would soon have to introduce Cormac to his family, and worse, Harry and Hermione.

Meeting Molly went surprisingly well, and Cormac took the opportunity to take Ron to meet his three sisters and his mother. Ron was a bit flummoxed as how Cormac became… well, Cormac with three sisters, but as soon as he met them, he understood that they were even worse than he was, and that Mrs McLaggen was the most doting person on Earth. Ron had only one fear: that she might meet his own mother.

Meeting Harry and Hermione when they came back didn’t go as smoothly. Ron was very anxious about it, and Cormac grew distant as the date of the meet-up approached. When they finally met, Cormac was insufferable throughout dinner, making dirty jokes and being outright rude.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Ron eventually said, pulling Cormac to the side. “I thought you’d changed. Maybe I was wrong about you…”

Cormac snorted and left without another word. Ron waited for an apology, or at least an Howler, but nothing came.

Two weeks later and without news from Cormac, Ron came to a dreadful conclusion: he was miserable without him. Rose kept asking for him, and even his own mother seemed to regret not seeing him around at family gatherings.

As for Cormac, he tried to busy himself with helping his flatmates with the wedding preparations, but his mother kept calling him every day, gushing about how Ron was a wonder and how she couldn’t wait to have him back for dinner. Cormac didn’t have the heart to tell her that he messed things up. Again.

*

When the wedding came, Cormac and Ron kept searching for each other, alternating ominous glares and longing stares. They were both best men, so they had to interact at some point.

“You look handsome,” Cormac said, straightening Ron’s bow tie before they took their places besides the aisle. Ron didn’t say anything, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off Cormac as the wedding proceeded.

When people started to dance, Ron downed a glass of firewhisky and marched towards Cormac, demanding a dance. They danced in silence for two songs, avoiding each other’s gaze. When the second song came to an end, Cormac almost ran outside, fleeing from Ron. But Ron was determined, and he followed him.

“Fucking stop, McLaggen,” Ron called, half-expecting to see him Disapparate on the spot.

But Cormac did stop. “What do you want, Weasley?”

Ron snorted. “What do you think? We had something good going on and then you turned into a right git before disappearing on me. I want a fucking explanation!”

Cormac sighed and rubbed his left arm awkwardly. He looked so small in that moment that Ron almost regretted yelling at him. Almost. “I was so scared your friends wouldn’t like me… So I blew it.”

Ron felt himself melt. “You’re so stupid,” Ron said. “I thought you were playing me. That you wanted to humiliate me in front of my friends.” Ron sighed. “Didn’t stop me from liking you, unfortunately.”

“It didn’t?” Cormac asked, hope gleaming in his eyes.

Ron crossed the distance between them. “I was so scared I’d lost you. And Rose was so upset…”

“I missed you both so much. And so did my mum…”

They laughed heartily, the tension diffused.

“Look,” Ron started, suddenly serious. “I’ll always eat junk food with my mouth open, I’m never giving up on carbs, not for you, not for anyone, and I’m never going jogging with you at dawn. Also, I’ll fucking leave my laundry everywhere, and you’ll find socks on the sofa, in the kitchen, in the cupboards, under the rug, on our bed, and you’ll complain, and I still won’t care, because this is who I am and if you’re not okay with me, then we shouldn't do this.”

Cormac grinned. “Is this supposed to be a declaration of love?”

“Yes,” Ron said, scratching his ear. “I think.”

“Well, then…,” Cormac said, taking Ron’s hand. “I’ll keep playing mini-golf even if you hate it because I think it’s fancy and makes me look cool. I’ll take hours in the shower and use too much gel on my hair and you will get impatient and I will ignore you because I care about looking good. I’ll keep calling my mom every other day, and I’ll probably start calling your mom too, because we’ll just get along that well. I will try and eventually succeed to bring you with me on my morning runs, and one day the three of us will absolutely do a family marathon.”

Ron laughed. “This is starting to sound more and more like an athletic nightmare.”

Cormac smiled. “Well, you started it with your socks apocalypse.”

“I think I love you,” Ron said, blushing.

“I love you too,” Cormac said and kissed him.