Harry rubbed at the burnt spot on the side of his neck and stared at Ron. That had been too close for comfort. But worse was the look on Ron's face, which bordered on malicious at the sight of Harry wincing in pain.
"What the hell, Ron? Fuck."
Ron's expression faded instantly into something akin to regret, as if he'd just realized what he'd done. The locket dangled from his neck, glinting in the sunlight that filtered through the trees.
"Got a bit carried away, is all. Sorry." Ron hesitated a moment more and then walked closer.
Harry leaned back against the tree, feeling an odd impulse to run. It wasn't the first time Ron had set him on edge in the last months, but it was the first time he'd believed Ron actually intended to harm him. Ron came uncomfortably close then, leaning in to examine the burn on Harry's neck.
"Let me see," he said.
Harry swallowed. "What was it?"
"The hex? Same as I was aiming at the rabbit. Tornos."
"That's comforting to know," Harry muttered, tilting his head as Ron's fingers pressed against the edges of the prickling wound. "Ow!"
"I said I was sorry."
"Sorry doesn't make it stop hurting."
Harry reached up to swat Ron's hand away, but it was caught. He jerked it out of Ron's grip, and then there was warmth on his neck and the feeling of Ron's lips pressed against his skin. Harry froze.
"Better?" Ron asked, leaning back.
"What was that?" Harry turned to stare at him, sure the locket had completely possessed his best friend.
"I was kissing it better, of course." Ron blinked at him.
Harry could only gape at him. "Kissing it what?"
"Mum always used to do it when we were little. It was one of the first bits of magic I learned. Whenever we hurt each other as kids, we'd always kiss it better."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
Ron tilted his head. "Didn't your aunt and uncle do it when you were little?"
"Of course not," Harry said, and then stopped. A memory flitted through his mind -- Dudley splayed on the pavement, having tripped after his shoelaces somehow intertwined, tears rolling down his red chubby cheeks. He'd pointed one stubby finger at Harry as Aunt Petunia came running down the drive. She'd kissed Dudley's skinned knees before turning an angry face to Harry. He swallowed. "Not to me, anyway."
"It's old magic," Ron whispered, his lips hovering close to Harry's neck again. "Dad says that even Muggles can do it." Those lips pressed against Harry's scraped skin, sending tendrils of sensation down his spine.
"I feel it," he said, closing his eyes. "I think it's working."
Ron's lips grazed his neck again and again, and Harry found himself a bit breathless. The tingling spread from his neck downwards.
"How does that feel?" Ron asked.
"Nice," Harry said. Too nice, actually. He was fairly certain he wasn't supposed to be feeling that when a bloke was kissing his neck. He turned his head. "Ron--"
Their faces were terribly close together, so close Harry could feel Ron's breath against his cheek. His eyes flicked up to meet Ron's, so blue and clear.
Ron leaned forward and Harry tilted his head forward without even thinking about it. Their lips met, a gentle press at first, and then harder when Ron leaned in. The bark of the tree was rough behind Harry's back, but Ron's mouth was soft and warm, and Harry closed his eyes. The kiss deepened and Harry felt himself melt against Ron, opening himself to the sensation of tongues sliding together and wet warmth. Ron's mouth felt surprisingly like Ginny's, and when Harry twined his fingers in Ron's shaggy hair he could almost imagine it was Ginny -- except for the stubble grinding into his chin and the unmistakable bulge pressed against his thigh.
Realization came crashing through him then, and Harry turned his head away.
"All better," he said. His voice hitched a bit.
"Got carried away again, didn't I?" Ron brushed Harry's cheek with a finger and Harry turned to look at him as he stepped away. There was something unfamiliar in his eyes, something that made Harry shiver. "Let me know if I need to kiss it better again."
The locket glowed, and Harry forced himself to nod and look away.
They walked back to camp in silence. Harry kicked at the weeds in front of him, wondering if he should tell Hermione about this. He was sure Ron wouldn't have kissed him without the locket goading him on.
But Harry would have. Of that he was certain.