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Some things that bend you- some things that broke.

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On the Weasley’s side of the wizarding world (1)

 

“I understand that this may be a little uncomfortable for you, but it’s important to your father,” Molly explained to her seven children and Harry and Hermione, fixing the tablecloth properly, “this is our chance to get over the ridiculous feud and become friends.”

“Why would we want to become friends with the Malfoys!” George objected, glaring at his mother.

The woman set her hands on her hips and turned to her son sternly.

“Now you listen to me George Weasley,” she began angrily, and Harry and Ron exchanged a look – going against Molly was never a good idea – Molly pointing a finger at the tall redhead in warning, “we might not have liked the Malfoys before, but Lucius saved your father’s life! We owe them a lot, if it wasn’t for him Arthur would no longer be here! So get over yourself and you better be behaving or I will have your head! Now go redress into something more proper!”

George growled darkly under his breath and headed back upstairs, his twin brother falling into step behind him.

The idea of having dinner with the Malfoys, was not as scary as Ron would have expected it to be. Actually, an irrational part of his head was kind of looking forward to it. Bill and Charlie were staying over during the summer, and they were sure to be teasing Draco in all sorts of way, which Ron was really looking forward to.

Having Malfoy on his side of the wizarding world would surely be hilarious.

It would be proven that although ‘hilarious’ wasn’t the exact word, it would definitely be some sort of entertaining.

By the time Ron and Hermione had set the table the entire house was reeking of red wine and all sorts of vegetables, a grand pot set on the fire with the beef stewing inside. The doorbell rang just as Molly was turning her stove down and Arthur went to answer it, the oldest Weasley brothers coming downstairs to greet the guests.

When the two blondes entered the kitchen, Ron couldn’t help but eye the younger critically from his place in the corner. He looked ridiculously good in just simple black jeans, the fabric clinging to his hips and tight around his thighs. He was still wearing his pea coat, and it was an almost blinding white, the top of his green shirt revealed as the first three buttons were undone. His hair was combed back, but wasn’t slicked with his usual hair-gel, causing some free locks to frame his face.

Molly scurried to take the boy’s coat and now that the shirt was completely revealed, Ron really just wished he could roll his eyes at how bloody perfect the boy was. The shirt revealed his pale underarms – one wrapped in a thick set of bandages, which everyone tried not to pointedly stare at - and the tiniest sliver of pale skin right between the green fabric and his jeans, making the skin seem strangely alluring.

Much to Ron’s dismay, Bill and Charlie took to Draco immediately. The blonde sat next to the oldest Weasley brother during dinner with his father next to him, Ron across from him. Lucius and Arthur talked about work while Harry tried his best not to constantly start glaring at the smaller Malfoy.

Draco was engrossed in one of Bill’s stories, but remained as refined as always, cutting his meat with scary precision and nipping from his wine without spilling. The blonde ignored all of Harry’s glares and didn’t notice Ron’s blatant staring, even when the redhead blushed at catching himself and then abruptly turning away. Each time he wasn’t squabbling with his sister or talking with Harry or Hermione, he would unconsciously turn to Draco, watching him move with ease. Charlie and Bill were fascinated by the boy as well, constantly trying to get his attention, and Ron was jealous at how easily they could talk to him.

Sometimes he really wished he and Malfoy had never started fighting in the first place. Then perhaps, talking would be equally easy for him.

Suddenly three small ‘beeps’ resounded over the table, and Lucius Malfoy’s pale brows rumpled into a frown as his phone flew from his pocket.

“Excuse me,” he scooted back in his chair as the mobile buzzed in front of his face, “it might be important.”

He looked at the screen and his brows arched gracefully. He put the phone back into his pocket and pursed his lips at his son. The blonde noticed his father’s expression and gave a questioning look.

“He’s called ninety-nine times?” Lucius queried with his one eyebrow still raised, stern but still remarkably gentle, “Honestly, how do you ignore someone for that long?”

“It’s very easy father,” Draco remarked smoothly, “you shut off your phone.”

Three more beeps resounded and Lucius fixed his son with a piercing look.

“Fix it,” he said, pointing to the living room.

“Excuse me,” Draco gave Molly a small nod – she was the hostess, after all – took his own mobile from his pocket and slid into the living room, out of view.

It was silent for a little while, as everyone mulled over the brief interruption. Before they could return to their conversation, they suddenly heard Draco’s voice harden in the adjoined room. They couldn’t understand what he was saying, but he was definitely angry, and with a sort of sadistic sense of glee, Ron enjoyed knowing the anger was not directed at him, for once.

Then Draco began sneering, and they could hear him talking now, even if it was only because the kitchen was so quiet.

“...try to sweet-talk me Zabini,” Ron and Harry exchanged a surprised look, seeing how Blaise Zabini was Draco’s best friend, “you can’t buy your way out of this one!”

A small pause indicated that the other boy was talking now, and though Ron felt a little bad for eavesdropping, none of the others seemed interested in restarting their conversation, instead intent on listening to the fight in the other room. Lucius was looking at the door with a frown, and Ron figured the man had no idea of what was going on either.

“Now you listen to me you little twat,” Draco spat – the Weasleys jumping at the sudden outburst, Lucius rolling his eyes, “I was gone for two weeks and you went and fucked your housekeeper’s son! Have you any idea how degrading that is? When we started this, we agreed to be exclusive, or did you forget about that?”

Molly’s mouth dropped in shock and Bill and Charlie had to repress a chuckle at the coarse language. Ron was not as amused. Since when was Malfoy queer?

“No,” Draco sounded resolute, his voice hitching, “no, Blaise, no. We’re not talking about this anymore. You really think I ever want to see you naked again, now that I know where your prick’s been? I think not. Sod off.”

There’s another silence and they knew Blaise was trying to find a decent reply, which honestly, there wasn’t.

“Stop saying you love me,” Draco sounded repulsed, “you don’t know what love is.”

Ron felt his gut churn but ignored the feeling. Suddenly, he didn’t want to hear the conversation anymore, because it was painfully obvious that yes, Malfoy was queer, and yes, he was in a relationship with his alleged best friend.

“That’s ridiculous,” Draco snapped, “I know I may not have made many promises of our future but I would have never cheated on you. And honestly! The least you could’ve done is fuck Harry Potter, at least he’s famous!”

Harry spluttered indignantly and Hermione almost choked on her drink. Ron wished he could shut off the conversation, because there was a tone in Draco’s voice he had never heard before.

“No. You are out of my heart,” Draco hurt, and even if he wasn’t talking to any of them, they can’t help but gasp – everyone but Lucius, who was used to the cold voice, a trademark the Malfoys shared like their blonde hair and grey eyes, “Blaise, if you come near the mansion, I will set my father’s peacocks on you, are we clear?”

They knew the Malfoy boy didn’t wait for a reply, because the phone snapped shut a mere moment later. Draco appeared back into the kitchen, apologising for his departure, and continued eating as if nothing had happened.

Ron was left with the churning in his stomach, but couldn’t for the life of him figure out what it meant.

 

***

Chapter Text

Hangover sloppiness (2)

 

“...and this is Percy’s room,” Ron gave a point to the door, “we can’t go in though, he’s a neat freak and always locks his door.”

“You’re really at unease, aren’t you?” Draco chuckled when the redhead ran a hand through his hair again – the fourth time in a mere minute – a sign of his nerves.

“Doesn’t matter, you wanted to see the house, didn’t you?” Ron gave him a questioning look.

The adults had retreated outside after dinner with some more wine, and as far as Ron knew, all his siblings had gathered in the attic. Bill and Charlie slept there now, and they kept a rather illegal brand of firewhiskey in their room. The other Weasleys had left Ron and Draco in favour of the strong liquor, and the blonde had politely asked for a tour, in lack of anything better to do.

“If I’d known it would make you this uneasy, I wouldn’t have,” Draco merely shrugged, “do I scare you?”

“No, of course not,” Ron’s ears burned red and he glared, “it’s just... weird.”

“Only a little,” Draco teased, laughing again. It was a wonderful sound, and Ron felt blessed at being at the receiving end of that laugh, a wonderfully bright sound filling the empty hallway, “You can join your brothers, I’ll be fine.”

“Well, come with me then,” Ron insisted, knowing his mother would deem him impolite if he left the boy on his own, “Bill and Charlie asked you to anyway, they won’t mind one bit.”

“Alright,” Draco nodded, tucking his hands in the pockets of his jeans – and Ron pretended not to notice how it caused them to slide down, revealing more pale skin – a smirk playing in the corner of his mouth, “lead the way.”

Ron went up the flights of stairs with two steps at a time, but only so he could wait for Draco on the landing and watch the boy come up after him. His hips curved when he mounted a step, and he moved easily, perfectly fit in his own body. Ron often felt a bit lanky, and he didn’t like that he was so tall and burly, but the Malfoy was just perfect.

When they reached the stairs that would lead them to the attic, they could hear music coming from above them. Ron frowned and went up first, chuckling when he was met with the sight of his siblings dancing like idiots. Hermione looked scared to death as Fred danced with her – her eyes wide in shock – and Harry was doing some very impressive hip twirls in the corner.

They were off their rocks drunk.

Bill and Charlie were the only ones not dancing, seated on one of the twin beds by the far wall. They were talking in quiet, passing a dark purple bottle between the two of them.

Draco made a noise of distaste when he entered the room behind Ron, and it was the redhead’s time to laugh. He beckoned the blonde to follow him, and headed over to his oldest brothers.

“Ronnikins!” Charlie cried in greeting, “Finally! Oh, and you brought eye-candy! How considerate of you!”

Draco scowled and Bill grinned, taking a swig from the oddly coloured bottle.

“Take a seat,” he patted the bed next to him, “have a drink.”

Ron flopped down onto the bed, and Draco followed suit, though he eyed the bottle suspiciously. At the distrustful look, Ron rolled his eyes and took it from his brother, taking a large gulp. It wasn’t the first time Charlie smuggled in liquor from Romania, and though it was always very strong and left a nice burn in the throat, it had never proven to be actually dangerous.

When Draco was still reluctant to take a sip, Bill wrapped an arm around the blonde’s shoulders. Draco tried prying him off and Ron wanted to glare but refrained.

“Don’t worry Drake,” Bill cooed, “just look at it this way. We’re all drunk. No one’ll give a fuck if you are too.”

Draco pushed the broad redhead off and snatched the drink from Ron’s hand.

“Tell my father I drank this and I kill you,” he swore, and without further ado took a large gulp from the bottle.

Ron had expected him to cringe, if only a little, but the Malfoy wasn’t fazed in the slightest. He handed the bottle back to Charlie, and allowed Bill to pull him off the bed.

Charlie and Ron watched their older brother dance with the small blonde, and even though rage settled in Ron’s stomach, he couldn’t turn away.

The blonde’s hips moved in time with the music, and he was the only one of the entire group doing a proper job at moving to the music, his ever-present grace curving his body just so to give Ron a most sensual show.

“He’s real pretty, ain’t he?” Charlie slurred suddenly, breaking Ron from his reverie.

Ron felt caught, knowing his brother had noticed him staring. He tried to turn it around and joked: “who, Bill?”

“Bill isn’t pretty,” Charlie chided, “Bill’s manly and rugged and handsome. I meant the Malfoy kid. He’s gorgeous.”

Ron didn’t know how to answer to that and instead just watched as the broader hips swayed enchanting circles, until all he could see was the dimple in the pale back running down into his plump arse, and the hair that was so close to gold it was silver.

The patterns he made were irregular but flowed into one another, creating something not of this world and completely new and Ron knew, that if he could just stay there forever, he would be perfectly happy to do so for the rest of his life.

Even when Malfoy left that evening, the image remained clear in his mind, and no amount of imported Romanian whiskey could burn the sight off his retina.

When he crawled into bed that night, he found Malfoy’s mobile on his bedroom floor – it was the first room he’d showed the boy – and a sort of calm washed over him as he fell asleep, knowing he now had something the blonde wanted.

***

“I’m sick of going over this with you,” Draco Malfoy, was not pleased.

His plan had been to sleep until noon and then maybe have a little lunch out on the patio but that had been proven to be a vain hope when his father had woken him at seven in the morning. The man had been called out to the ministry and had urged Draco to keep his cell phone close in case something happened.

When Draco had then realised he hadn’t the faintest clue as to where his mobile phone was, he had known that it would be a bad day.

He had gotten out of bed quickly, wrapping a silk robe around himself on his way to his wardrobe, and had searched the pockets of his jeans frantically.

The doorbell had stopped this brief search, and he opened the front door, unbeknownst to the exact lengths this ‘bad day’ would go to.

Ever since, he had been fighting with Blaise Zabini – ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend – and the boy just would not take no for an answer.

“Baby, you gotta give me one more chance,” the dark boy pled, and when he tried grasping Draco’s hand, the blonde pulled back, “I’m so sorry.”

“I’m not giving you another chance just so you can cheat on me again,” Draco replied sternly, keeping his cool, even though the other boy was close to breaking down, “I don’t care how many times you apologise.”

“But baby—“ he was cut off when the doorbell rang but then continued: “I didn’t even like it! Nothing compares to your fucking gor—“

“Will you shut up, there’s company,” Draco snapped, effectively cutting off his litany of praise.

Truth was, Draco wasn’t quite sure he could take another speech of how perfect he was. If he was so goddamned perfect, then why the hell did his best friend betray him?

He opened the door to a flustered Ron Weasley and though he was very much aware of how this should be bugging him, he couldn’t bring himself to it. The redhead was doing that thing where he was half-smiling, and was scratching his neck sheepishly, which made him more adorable than Draco cared to admit.

He had just gotten out of his friends-with-benefits relationship. He had been very fond of Blaise. This was not the time to drool over Weasel.

“Hey,” Ron greeted awkwardly, giving a small wave of his hand. He licked his lips unconsciously when he saw Draco – his pale legs covered only by a silk fabric not worth the name of ‘shorts’, a matching shirt covering half his chest with most buttons undone and a robe hanging open around his shoulders, the threads loosely tied together – but then his eyes fell on Blaise and he bit his lip at his own stupidity, “I’m sorry, I’m interrupting.”

“Of course not,” Draco opened the door properly to invite the boy in, “please. Zabini was just leaving.”

“No I wasn’t,” Blaise snapped, glaring at the redhead. He put a hand on his hip and turned to Draco, “we are not done talking. Kick him out.”

“No,” Draco’s voice was cold as stone, and Ron was glad not to be on the receiving end of it, as he had been many times before, “there’s nothing left to say. Leave.”

“Seriously baby, I’m that easy to replace?” Blaise sounded truthfully hurt, and if Ron had not overheard their conversations the day before, he might have felt sorry for him, “We haven’t even been fighting for a whole damn week and you’re already shagging the Weasley!”

“I’m done discussing this with you,” Draco pointed resolutely to the door, which he still kept open, “Go fuck your housekeeper’s son, I’m sure he’ll be happy to get on his knees for you. As for me, I’m done. We’re through.”

“Drake—“

Out,” he didn’t even need to raise his voice for the command to reverberate through the grand hallway. It shook the crystal chandelier and made Ron’s skin crawl.

Draco’s index finger was still pointing outside, and Blaise knew better than to disobey this time. Unspoken threats from Draco were by no means empty. The raven left with a last glare at Ron, and Draco shut the door behind him, the heavy wood creaking in its hinges.

“You didn’t even slam it,” Ron remarked silently, amazed at how Draco could still stay so composed.

“Just because I’m gay does not mean I slam doors Weasley,” Draco said, no real malice, turning to face the redhead.

“I would’ve,” Ron shrugged, “if he’d done to me what he’s done to you. I would’ve slammed it hard.”

“I’ll remember that,” the blonde looked at him with a strange stubbornness in his eyes, and Ron felt as if he was determined to sort him out, “would you like something to drink?”

“Erm... soda or something?” Ron was a little surprised by how easy it was for Draco to just fall into place like that. As if he had invited Ron over in the first place.

As if Ron hadn’t just watched him fight with what he supposed was now Draco’s ex-boyfriend.

He wasn’t sure he would ever be able to handle change so easily, but figured perhaps maybe Draco was used to this. Perhaps it just ran in his family, that everlasting grace, that mask that hid all real emotions, hid every hint of confusion and made every smile seem like something played and vague, as if it was not really there, but nonetheless the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on.

The blonde turned and beckoned Ron to follow with a curve of his finger. He led him to the kitchen, bare-foot, the silk robe swishing behind him majestically, his pale thighs revealed to Ron if the redhead stayed behind a little, just visible under the seam of the flying robe.

He let Ron sit at the kitchen table—the whole room was spic-and-span, smelling of polished silverware and cleaning products and something of roses—and Draco took a can of Chester’s chilled cherry soda from the fridge.

“Is this okay?” he asked, holding the can up so Ron could see.

The redhead just nodded, shifting a bit uncomfortably on his chair. Everything in the Malfoy’s manor was so special. He felt as if he could break one of those expensive vases by just looking at it, and when Draco poured the drink into a crystal glass Ron had to flinch at how easy it was for him to just act as if he was merely holding a plastic cup. Nothing about the luxury of the kitchen seemed to phase the Malfoy, even though Ron was awed.

He tried to hide his uneasiness, knowing that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and he needed to make the best out of it. He could always feign ignorance.

Who the hell needed a crystal punch bowl, anyway?

“So,” Draco watched Ron take his first sip of the drink and waited for him to let out a petite sigh of contentment—always remembering that pleasing your guests is an honour worth the pursuit—before he continued: “I’m always up for unannounced company, though I have a feeling you did not come just to see me in my pyjamas and drink soda in my kitchen.”

He seated himself across from Ron, and the redhead couldn’t help but blush at the words. Of course Malfoy had no way of knowing that Ron had been staring at any revealed skin of his thighs, but that did not make the comment any less embarrassing to Ron.

Luckily, there had been a teasing tone set to the words, which made Ron realise he was only joking. Still, he felt his cheeks warm, and averted his gaze to his own feet.

“You forgot something yesterday,” Ron muttered, more to his blue jeans than to his companion, “I found your phone on my night stand this morning.”

“You did?” he could not keep the excitement from his voice, and when Ron looked up curiously, Malfoy was smiling.

It was the most beautiful thing Ron had ever seen in his whole entire life.

All he could do was nod.

“And you came all the way here to return it?” one eyebrow flit up with ease, a sign that usually meant Draco was not buying whatever crap you were offering, but there was also a fondness in his smile still present, and that relaxed Ron somewhat.

“Yeah,” he shrugged, and felt himself grin without wanting to.

Draco said nothing, but his smile stayed present as he watched Ron take another drink. From the corner of his eyes he could see the blonde cross one leg over the other, and he sat sideways, so his slender limbs were perfectly visible. Even if Ron tried really hard not to look, it was futile, and he stopped fighting the urge, allowing his gaze to take in all the fine marble skin presented to him, beginning at his just-right slim ankle, all the way up over his calves and knees to the silk fabric of his shorts.

It was impossible to deny. Draco Malfoy was gorgeous.

Draco offered Ron a tour of the house, to return him the favour of showing the blonde around his own home the other night. It was a little strange to follow the Malfoy around, talking to him like nothing had ever gone wrong and that was such a lie, which made Ron feel a little queasy to think about it.

Now that they were talking, he realised Draco could have been one of his best friends. Perhaps even more, but that was a thought Ron tried to leave well alone, knowing it would lead nowhere good. He should get over any pubescent crush he thought he had before, because now that they were talking like two civilised people, he really didn’t want to mess it up.

By the time he had been shown around the first floor, Ron’s opinion of ‘behaving like two civilised people’ and ‘getting along’ had completely changed. His heart stopped still quite ostentatiously whenever Draco smiled or laughed or merely looked his way and it was saying more than all those years of fighting ever did.

When they arrived at Draco’s bedroom they suddenly halted. They had been talking quite avidly about Quidditch but the conversation abruptly stopped when they reached the set of doors. The blonde turned to Ron as if he wanted to say something, or as though he perhaps doubted letting him into the room. For a second, the air was stifling, and Ron went rigid at the sudden proximity he himself had caused, by walking on while his companion had already stopped.

Though Draco was tall, Ron towered over him, and there was a sort of determination set in Draco’s jaw, his eyes cold and piercing, trying to read Ron’s own. He was certain now, that the Malfoy simply didn’t know if letting him into his bedroom was such a good idea.

Ron did not know why he did it, but for some reason the whole ‘friendship’ thing seemed redundant if he did not allow himself to admit that yes, he had been crushing on Malfoy, for quite a while now. And the only reason it was outed in that moment was because Draco had smiled at him, and that was one of the things that drove Ron mad, just that before, those smiles had always been for someone else, while now, they were for Ron’s eyes only.

When Ron brought his lips down onto Draco’s, he had no idea what he was doing exactly, and if doing it was even such a good idea. All he knew was that he had reached out to cup the blonde’s cheek in his palm, and that it had felt absolutely perfect to have that soft flesh pressed against his own. It was like someone had turned on the light inside Ron’s head, and for some reason, the faint pressure of mouth-pressed-to-mouth made everything crystal clear. Before he could ponder the exact extend of his crush further, he pulled back in shock at his own boldness.

He rushed out of the house before Malfoy could even call his name, his ears flaming red with embarrassment.

 

***

Chapter Text

Intellectual seduction (3)

It was seven p.m. and hot as hell. Draco had to admit that he had been surprised before. He had not expected to have the Weasley in his house, and he had not expected that he would be improperly dressed when that occasion did arrive.

Now, he was fully aware of the fact that he was dressed improperly, but that did not matter because it was exactly the kind of improper that made Blaise wish he had never been born, in the best of ways, and if it was good enough for that punk, it would do good for the Weasley as well.

He was wearing tight marine blue shorts and a red t-shirt when he knocked on the Weasley’s door, and he was going to make the Weasley pay for messing with him. He was a Malfoy, he was not to be messed with. If that Weasley thought he would just let him fuck his head up like that, he had something else coming.

Molly opened the door with a sort of hesitance, her eyes widening as soon as she saw Draco standing there. Unconsciously, her look followed down his chest and to his half-revealed thighs, but Draco just smiled politely.

“I’m sorry to disturb you at this time misses Weasley,” he easily charmed his way into an excuse, “I was wondering if it would be okay if I came to visit Ronald?”

The woman blinked stupidly, before recovering.

“Yes of course, please come in mister Malfoy,” she opened the door widely to invite him into her cosy home, before pointing at the stairs, “he’s in his room with his friends, would you like me to show you the way?”

“That’s fine, I remember from the other night,” Draco granted her a quick quirk of the lips, before he left for the upper floors of the house.

As soon as he mounted the staircase, the smile morphed into a scowl. He was absolutely outraged that that redheaded oaf thought he could be played with that easily. It wasn’t because he was ruggedly handsome and those big hands meant wonderful things for Draco’s cock that he was just going to roll over and play dead. He was no-one’s hole to fuck, and a kiss from his mouth cost more than just a little sweet talking while touring the house.

He arrived at the desired floor, and headed directly over to the Weasley’s bedroom door. One of the twins passed him on the way down, but at the sight of his scowl, they wisely decided not to try and engage in conversation with him.

Without announcing himself, no matter how impolite that may be, he swung the door open.

Weasley, Pothead, Granger and the Weasley’s sister, were seated on the carpet, between the twin beds. All four of them looked up wide-eyed, like dear caught in headlights, at the burst of the door. Draco saw Weasley quite visibly flinch, and knew the boy was fully aware of why he was there.

“Weasley, out, now,” he demanded, pointing back at the hallway where he had just come from.

The ginger girl squeaked.

“Me?”

“Of course not,” Draco snapped, “For Merlin’s sake freckles, don’t make me make you.”

He tapped his foot impatiently, and Ron got up, his blush staining over his cheeks and to his ears. His friends gazed at him in surprise as he listlessly followed the blonde’s command. The door was closed behind him, and Ron stood there a bit sheepishly, doing whatever he could not to look Draco in the eye.

“You kissed me,” Draco stated simply.

The Weasley wrapped his arms around himself for comfort. Then he nodded.

Draco took a step closer. Immediately, the red head shot up, their eyes locking. It was silly, but Ron’s eyes were deep enough to drown in, swirling with all sorts of navy and indigo and cyan.

A slender wrist reached out and took a grab of Ron’s chin. He kept it stable as he demanded: “why?”

He could feel the Weasley swallow against his palm and his own heart skipped a beat. They were suddenly much closer than Draco had intended, and he realised he had unwittingly took another step closer to the boy. He knew this was not a good time to notice the Weasley had those damned adorable freckles even above his brow, but he couldn’t help himself.

“I—I wanted to,” the Weasley stuttered, his surprise showing well and full on his face, on the contrary to Draco’s.

“Not good enough Weasley,” Draco answered smoothly, keeping their eyes locked.

He saw a darker colour cloud the acid-blue, and the ears burned even brighter. Draco simply waited.

“I don’t know, okay,” he snapped suddenly, lowering his eyes in shame, despite the fingers around his chin, “I just realised that you could’ve been my best friend, but then that seemed all messed up because I didn’t want you to be my best friend, I wanted to hold your hand and do stupid lovey-dovey things and I couldn’t let that one chance go because we were close and I knew it might never happen again and I needed to kiss you because not-kissing seemed like the worst mis—“

Draco cut off Ron’s rambling with a delicately posed order: “if you’re trying to tell me you have a crush on me, nod,” and as Ron felt his cheeks gain a deeper blush, he nodded.

There was a moment of silence.

Then Draco cupped Ron’s cheek more comfortably, sliding his tips over the soft skin before his ear. Ron gasped softly, but Draco stole the sound by placing his lips atop the redhead’s mouth, meeting him in a kiss.

It was brief, but only because Draco made it so. He pulled back before he could give in to the urge to open his lips and venture out his tongue. He was falling for the redhead without the boy even trying, and in a strangely irrational way, it was really pissing Draco off.

He searched the baby-blue’s for any sign of hesitance, distrust or a plain, blatant lie. When he found only that shade of blue that seemed to swirl up whenever Ron laughed, he nodded, pleased.

“Good,” he said with a small quirk of the lips.

“So...” Ron pushed a lock of his red hair back behind his ear, looking up with his blush finally settling down, “we’ll... date?”

“Do you want us to?” Draco asked, moving back a little in case the Weasley wanted his space.

Ron’s hands shot out to grasp his pale hips, forcing him to remain close. He watched as Draco blinked languidly, before pulling the hips towards his own, nodding.

“Then we will,” Draco established.

“Are you just using me?” Ron asked in a small voice, all his former bravura suddenly gone. He let go of Draco’s hips, and the blonde really wished he wouldn’t.

“I don’t want another friend-with-benefits,” the blonde promised, keeping his tone cautious, “you could’ve been my best friend, but that’s not really what I want either. If I was using you, I wouldn’t let you kiss me.”

At this, Ron reached out and brought their lips together again, looking for the reassurance Draco gladly gave. This time, Draco waited for Ron to initiate a deeper kiss, and as soon as the boy realised Draco was not going to pull away, he did so enthusiastically. Opening his mouth, he easily pried the pink lips open, tasting the Malfoy eagerly.

“You taste like watermelon,” Ron chuckled when they parted, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“You’re daft Weasley,” he smirked when Ron’s hands found his hips again, his eyes travelling down his body, stranding on his thighs, “I’ll be off.”

Before he could put his words into actions, Ron’s big hands meshed their waists together again, and the redhead’s lips roved his own. They were panting when they parted, but Draco raised a delicate eyebrow, hiding the blush he felt was taking over his entire body.

“Just to be sure,” the Weasley shrugged, and Draco left, laughing aloud.

***

Ron was nervous and late. He did not like being either, but it had taken him much longer than expected to sneak out from under Harry and Hermione’s vigilant eye. Nerves, were inevitable.

He had to admit that he was beyond infatuated. He could not help it, at first, when he was still in fourth grade, he had thought his attraction to the Malfoy had been purely sexual. The boy was a downright arsehole, but he was sexy. When he had discovered that Draco was actually rather nice, and that they had a lot in common, surprisingly, whatever it had been before had amounted to a full-out crush. He had thought having Malfoy on his side of the wizarding world would have been amusing, but it had been a whole different kind of amusing for Ron.

Ron couldn’t explain it to himself, but then again, he knew he did not really need an explanation. He had fallen, was completely smitten, and there was no point in denying it. He got up early to call the boy’s mobile in the mornings and he stayed up far past Harry just to hear the blonde’s voice at night, before he was off to bed. He liked that he had gotten to know the other boy better, and it had come to a point where he could not imagine life without him. Even though they had only established their strange sort of begrudging friendship for about three weeks, and they still referred to each other as ‘Malfoy’ and ‘Weasley’ half the times, Ron cherished the relationship. He had never had something like he had with Draco. He had had Lavender in sixth year, but that was not comparable in any way.

When they talked, they quibbled, in that light teasing voice Ron adored. It wasn’t fighting, like they did before, it was playful and just little banter. They could talk about serious things too, though they had not yet shared anything too intimate. Ron understood that things like that would come with time, but it was still nice to know that he could discuss chess with the Malfoy without having to explain the rules for the umpteenth time, like he had to with Harry. It was simply different, because though he really loved Harry to pieces, Draco did not have to try to understand chess, he simply did.

They talked about Quidditch too, and about the games they had seen when they were still younger. Racing brooms were one of their most discussed subjects, but they could just as easily drift off about Florian Fortesque’s ice cream flavours. It was strange, how quickly all of this had gone, but Ron was not about to complain.

He apparated to one of the side-streets of the restaurant where they were meeting, and his stomach turned and did a summersault as he thought about it. He was about to have a date with Draco Malfoy.

The fact that it did not sound nearly as ridiculous as it should have, was oddly reassuring.

As soon as he turned the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. Draco was already waiting for him, and it made Ron laugh, because could that boy ever be anything but perfect?

He had a gorgeous ass in the jeans he was wearing—Ron inwardly scolded himself, since the Malfoy always had a gorgeous ass—made out of a very deep red fabric, tight around his thighs and calves. Draco’s figure was like one of an hourglass, he had a slim waistline but broad hips, which was a little girly, but it suited him entirely too well. He was perfectly fit in his own body, and he always did everything he could to bring out his own best features, Ron knew that just as well. He had strong thighs, and they were visible in his jeans, but Ron also knew his muscles were fine. He had seen those milky legs naked, and he knew that his muscles were not bulking, but instead ran under inches of soft flesh, hidden but definitely there.

The shirt was sailor-striped in blue and white, and it was cut out to reveal his collar bone slightly. If Ron had not seen the boy in his pyjamas before, he would have worried about that, since the bones of his collar were clearly visible, dipping in to the hollow of his throat. As it was, he knew that although Draco was skinny, he was not sickly so. He was just right, absolutely gorgeous, jacket lose around his shoulders, and it seemed as if he was using it to fan himself a little, the evening-air too hot.

He had to be still and catch his breath for a little while, the sight of Draco making him feel light-headed. When he realised that he was already late, and that Draco surely wouldn’t appreciate his tardiness, he hurried to reach the blonde.

“You’re late,” Draco said as a manner of greeting, turning his grey eyes on Ron sternly.

“I’m sorry,” the redhead apologised, and his look shifted from Draco, to the restaurant he was waiting in front of, “Draco... are you sure this is okay?”

This?” Draco queried, one eyebrow raising delicately.

“You know it’s a muggle place, right?”

Ron had been nervous when he had asked the Malfoy out on their first official date. It wasn’t per say the occurrence itself, but the fact that the only good and affordable restaurants Ron knew were all muggle establishments.

“Have you mentioned this before?” Ron felt his stomach sink, but then the corner of Draco’s mouth twirled up, and just like that it was made clear that he was teasing.

“Three times or so,” Ron chortled, feeling safe to carefully lean a little closer.

“And what did I say, those three times?” Draco continued, smile widening when the redhead approached him further.

“That it was fine,” Ron smiled too, because seeing the Malfoy smile was one of those things he had never experienced before, and he needed to cherish every quirk of the lips, in fear of having them be lost forever.

“Would I lie to you Weasley?” Draco linked his fingers in the cuffs of Ron’s black shirt, tugging the collar closer.

They were inches apart, and Ron could feel Draco’s breath on his mouth.

“I would like to believe you wouldn’t,” he replied truthfully, anxiously awaiting Draco’s response to that.

“Good boy,” the blonde purred—a sound so sensual Ron felt his heart stutter—before bringing Ron in that inch closer, “I’m going to kiss you now.”

He waited for the brush of lips that was sure to come, and felt his breath catch in his throat when the warm pressure melted with his own mouth. They shifted, and Ron opened his lips in question, Draco accommodating his own to the silent request.

Draco felt broad hands set on his hips, and revelled in the gesture. He was usually very stoic and a little cold towards others, but he enjoyed being held while he was kissed, and, no matter how sappy he found it, Weasley held him just right.

They parted with some hesitance, Ron by now fully cradling the blonde’s waist in his arms. Draco gave Ron a long look, which made the redhead feel as if his companion was trying to see right through him, into his soul. Then, he stroked a hand through the flaming red hair, Ron’s eyes fluttering softly at the motion.

“Next time,” Draco murmured, placing a kiss in the corner of the redhead’s mouth, “don’t be late.”

***

Ron would have expected Draco to be spoiled and hold high standards. He had expected the boy to be outgrossed by anything not chic enough to match his taste, and for him to demand to be served on his every whim.

The restaurant they went to was cosy and nice, but it wasn’t exactly fancy and Ron panicked because of that. Draco however, handled the redhead’s stress with the utmost care, and did whatever he could do to prove to him that he was okay with his choice of restaurant. They had a really nice dinner, and even though Draco talked avidly with him, Ron constantly worried. He had never gone on a real date before, nothing could really compare to what he had with Draco, or to what he felt for the blonde. He was nervous he would say something, sooner or later, that would mess everything up. All he could think about was how Draco had been in a relationship with Blaise Zabini, who was known for his stunning looks, his self-confidence, and his utter charm. Though Draco had told him they had just been friends with benefits, Ron still worried. How could he ever measure up to someone as experienced as Blaise?

“Ron?” he was shaken from his thoughts when he felt a squeeze in his hand, an electric current running from their touching fingers to his elbow and up all the way, “Is something wrong?”

He blinked unceremoniously, before faking a smile: “no, of course not.”

Abruptly, Draco let go of his hand, and the sudden brush of cold air made Ron miss the heat more than he should.

“Don’t lie to me Weasley,” the blonde snapped maliciously, “as if I would not be able to tell.”

Panicking, Ron grasped Draco’s hand back into his own, squeezing it too tightly to be comfortable—but for once, no snarky remark slipped from the blonde’s mouth, since he could clearly notice the boy’s distress—helplessly searching for words to explain. His eyes were widened, the blue practically wild and Draco took pity on him, and offered his consolation in the form of a cautious pet against the palm of his hand.

“I’m sorry,” Weasley managed to wheeze out, “I can’t help it, I’m nervous... I’ve never been on a date before.”

Draco smiled, and he gave the freckled hand a small pet as if the comfort him wordlessly.

“Don’t worry about it, you’re doing great so far,” the quirk of lips was so upright Ron visibly relaxed, and managed to find the sense to hold onto Draco’s hand more gently, “It’s just like when we talked on the phone except that now we get to see each other, which is a definite pro to me.”

Ron laughed at the remark and the tension seemed to disappear completely. They returned to their earlier conversation about Ron’s Quidditch-player-future wish, and even though Ron felt a little bit idiotic for being so insistent, he refused to release Draco’s hand until their dessert arrived. With the disturbing thoughts about Blaise currently banned from his head, it was much easier to give the blonde his undivided attention, which made the whole ordeal even more enjoyable. Even when they weren’t talking, it never got awkward because then Ron would look at Draco and Draco would be looking at him and they would both smile and there would be a mutual understanding between them, no words needed.

The only bickering occurred when the check arrived and Ron insisted on paying. Draco swore it was not a problem for him to pay, but Ron reasoned that he had asked him out on the date, which meant all the expenses should rightfully be his, like his mother taught him. Next time, Draco had said, he was paying, and though the mention of a next time made his heart flutter, he tried not to show it. Draco noticed anyways, the sheepish smile a bog indicator.

When they got out of the restaurant, they were both stalling.

“I don’t want to go,” Ron admitted in a small voice, his cheeks heating with a blush.

“Walk me home,” Draco ordered, his voice ever-stern and Ron knew that even if he had wanted to object, it would not have been a good idea.

They apparated to right outside the mansion’s gates—when Draco grasped his hand, Ron tried not to squeal, but he made a point of not letting go of the pale one once he had it in his own—and then they walked up to the front door together in a silence that was utterly comfortable. Everything about the night they had shared was absolutely perfect to Ron, and even though he was very glad he had finally gotten to experience it, he was still saddened that it had ended so soon. To Ron, it felt as if it should have gone on forever.

He didn’t want to think of how now, he would have to go back home, and the next time he would hear Draco’s voice again, it would be through the rotten static of the telephone.

His voice was so much nicer in real life.

“Thank you,” they halted when they reached the front door, and Ron smiled—a truly, uprightly happy smile—averting his eyes from Draco’s questioning gaze, “I’m really glad you were willing to go out with me. I had an amazing time.”

Draco took a cautious step forward—not wanting to frighten the redhead—and took a firm grasp of his chin. With their eyes meeting, there was nowhere for Ron to hide, but he didn’t want to; it felt safe, to be locked in by those shades of grey, everything from silver to ashen.

“I was waiting for you to ask me out ever since our first phone call,” he said matter-of-factly, skilfully concealing any emotion that could be reflected in his voice.

A blush crept up to Ron’s cheeks at the information, and Draco hummed, pleased. Then suddenly Ron was holding his hips and their lips met. Before Ronald could reconsider the action and pull back, the blonde’s fingers dug into his strong forearms, forcing them to stay in place as he kissed back passionately.

It was like melting, Draco decided. His whole body inched into the Weasley and he wanted nothing more but to be done with clothes and skin, just so they could be one, just smashed together with not even space to breathe between them.

His own reaction scared him a little—if not a lot—because no matter how likeable Ron had turned out to be, he was still Pothead’s best friend and that probably couldn’t be a very good thing. Not to mention that Draco was a Malfoy, and Malfoys didn’t fall so easily, it was terribly unbefitting.

This rather disturbing train of thought was halted when Ron’s hand invaded the bare space between his shirt and jeans, a warm palm pressing into his lower back. His hips were canted forward to meet the redhead’s, and Draco shuddered pleasurably.

Momentarily, they separated, dimly-lit blue meeting liquid silver, and then they were kissing again, Draco’s hands twining in fury-red locks.

There was a sudden cough and Ron pulled back so fast Draco was a little impressed.

“The alarm is going crazy,” Lucius stated with a yawn, clad in silk pyjamas and holding the door open to welcome the two teens into the mansion, “please continue inside.”

Ron’s eyes were so wide Draco feared they might have popped out at some point, and he watched with mild amusement as the boy stuttered his apologies.

“Mister Malfoy! We weren’t... I mean, I wasn’t... I would never—“

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was unaware of the fact that I know the two of you are dating,” Lucius closed the door with a frown, piercing the redhead with his stare.

Ron gulped audibly, the tips of his ears burning red.

“You told him?” his voice was filled with disbelief, his eyes blinking sluggishly.

Draco rose a delicate brow and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“No, of course not,” he stated in monotone, “I decided to sneak out of the house and hope he wouldn’t notice my disappearance.”

When Ron’s blush spread to his cheeks as well, and he lowered his eyes to the floor, Draco’s second brow joined his first.

“Did you decide to sneak out of the house and hope your parents wouldn’t notice your disappearance?” Ron visibly flinched at the stern tone, and Lucius took one look at the Weasley before deciding he really did not want to be there for the poor boy’s demise.

“Right,” he cleared his throat, “I’ll be off to bed. If you need something to throw, please take one of your mother’s vases.”

It wasn’t until Lucius’ footsteps had completely disappeared up the marble staircase, that Ron dared to look up and once more face the other boy.

One of the many downsides of always talking to each other on the phone was that Ron could not predict the blonde’s mood unless he spoke.

“Draco...” the silence was killing him and he wouldn’t let it. He took the pale upper-arm in what he hoped was a comforting motion, and when Draco didn’t pull away from his grasp he sighed in relief, “I was nervous and didn’t know how to tell them. You’ve met my brothers, I know it’s no excuse, but...” Draco’s silence was starting to worry him, and he bit his lip in concern, “I’ll tell my parents tonight, I promise.”

“It’s alright,” his voice was cold but not per say uncaring, and Ron identified it as merely pensive and sleek—the voice he used when he was keeping up the Malfoy mask, though had to begrudgingly admit defeat, “I’ve not yet given you reason to trust me. It was foolish to expect you to jeopardise your place in your family like that.”

“No, that’s not...” Ron couldn’t stand the sort of ambiguity that held, as if Draco was the one responsible for Ron’s idiocy, “I was nervous and afraid, but my insecurity has nothing to do with you.”

Draco’s eyes softened and he squeezed the redhead’s bigger hand in his pale fingers, a frown coming to grace his features.

“There’s no need to be insecure about anything,” he stated matter-of-factly, “we’re both new to this, so it’s fair, right?”

Ronald gave him a look of disbelief, at which Draco rolled his eyes.

“Listen, what Blaise and I had, that’s nothing like this, we’d been friends for so long it seemed rather stupid not to go to the next level together but when it comes to dating...” Draco shrugged his shoulder nonchalantly, almost painfully so, “I’m just as new to this as you are. Blaise doesn’t count.”

“But you loved him,” Ron pressed, although he knew he very well shouldn’t. His insecurities were now winning it from his nerves and the question had been in his head ever since he had heard the blonde on the phone with his supposed best friend. How had they managed to overlook the fact that Malfoy was in love with another guy?

“I’ve told you this already,” Draco sighed, exasperated but patient, “It’s true that I loved him but ever since I found out he couldn’t keep it zipped up for two weeks all I’ve felt is repulsion. The way I loved him is also not quite the usual way, I was very fond of him, indeed, but I was never actually in love with him. What we had was comfortable, something you get acquainted to. But it’s over now.”

When no reply came, and Ron’s look remained blank, the blonde shifted. He gave the freckled hand another squeeze, forcing a glimpse of a smile from the redhead.

“Ronald, I would not lie about something like this,” he promised. His voice was so stern, Ron felt very inclined to believe him, but there was that little voice in his head screaming at him that he was unworthy, and that this was a Malfoy, known for their lies and deceit, “I suppose it will take some time for you to realise it, but I do not love Blaise.”

He sealed this with a kiss—Ron’s smile grew when the blonde stood on tiptoes to reach him—briefly pressing his lips to the other’s. When he noticed Ron’s smile, he couldn’t help but smile as well, which made Ron’s smile widen and before he knew it they were both grinning like sodding idiots, but they were together so it was fine.

When Ron tucked himself in that night, after a long and elaborate conversation with his parents, he closed his eyes and imagined Draco would smile when he told him about his mother’s reaction. She had been least surprised, noting that surely the boy had been so scarcely dressed the night he came to visit Ron in order to seduce him. This would surely make the blonde laugh, and though he was unable to reach Draco’s cell phone that evening—his battery dead, probably—he felt comfortable knowing he would be able to talk to him without having to hide the phone from his parents in the morning.

***

Chapter Text

Operation Opera (4)

 

 

They had agreed on their second date six days later and Ron felt absolutely delighted that he was going to get to see the blonde again. Though they had talked every day, multiple times a day – since having a single long conversation was very hard, with Harry, Hermione and Ginny constantly wanting to spend time with him – he still missed being able to touch Draco’s hand or watch his hair gleam. During breakfast he found himself wishing he could have breakfast with the Malfoy instead, wishing he could be there as the blonde enjoyed his toast, one delicate bite at a time. When he showered, all he could think about was seeing Draco naked, which led to more showering, and when his eyes drifted shut with sleep, he prayed one day he would be able to feel the lingering of a kiss, pressed to his lips by Draco’s rose ones.

He was head-over-heels in love, and well, it felt pretty much amazing from where he was standing.

Draco had sounded pleased when Ron had told him about his parents’ positive reaction, and therefore it had been with regret that he added his bravery had departed him faced with the task of informing his siblings of their date. This hadn’t upset the other boy in the slightest. He didn’t have brothers or sisters of his own, and did not see it fit to judge the way Ron handled them, since he could not objectively say whether or not it was just. The situation was unfamiliar to Draco, and he had promised he would trust Ron’s better judgement of the matter.

Ron was nervous when he knocked on the door leading to Malfoy manor – the gateway had eerily crept open on its own accord – because he had not seen mister Malfoy since the man had sleepily disappeared up the set of marble stairs, and he was half-expecting a sort of terrifying questionnaire. You could never really be sure with the Malfoys, his dad always said.

The door opened in a haste, and Lucius was revealed to Ron, currently fixing his tie correctly around his neck, his eyes focused while his hands moved onto buttoning the cuffs of his sleeves.

“Mister Weasley?” he glimpsed up for barely a second and then returned back inside the house, leaving the door open in invitation while he grabbed his coat, “How may I help you?”

“I came to pick up Draco sir,” Ron did his best not to stutter, but the whole haphazard happening of things was throwing him off.

Though Lucius appeared to be in minor distress, he was still as regal as ever. He threw a questioning look over his shoulder – one pale eyebrow arched – and buttoned his coat.

“Draco?” he sounded unaware of the existence of his son. Then, he turned properly and realisation met his face, “He was unable to tell  you, of course,” he spoke more to himself than to Ron, using one hand to release his long golden locks from his coat while he used the other to fix his collar, “He’s in his bedroom, but I need to be going, or I’ll be late. Will you be able to find him on your own, or would you rather have a help accompany you?”

The idea of Draco and bedroom left him tongue-tied as his brain short-circuited and adjusted to default.

“I’ll be f-fine,” he rasped out, trying to force all the currently unwanted images from his head.

He was sure the older man had heard the strain in his voice and knew exactly what it meant, but all he did was give Ron one last look, before heading in the direction of what should be the salon.

“Alright then, good night mister Weasley,” with one last nod in the redhead’s direction, Lucius was gone.

It took Ron a moment to regain himself and realise he was supposed to be looking for Draco. All that had registered from the past few minutes was the fact that he was about to visit the blonde’s bedroom, a place he had regarded as sacred ever since he had kissed Draco against his bedroom door. He counted himself lucky that every time he saw Lucius the man was occupied in one way or another, which meant he could not fully focus on scaring the crap out of Ron, and then took resolute steps towards the staircase. There was something Draco had not told him, and by Merlin, Ron hoped it was nothing bad, because if that happened to be the case, he thought he would rather have Lucius rant at him then having to face the issue.

With the images of Draco naked in his bedroom gone, came images of Draco sick in his bedroom. Of Draco wasting away in his bed, of pining in a corner, his skin slick with transpiration and his cheeks flushed with fever and... then the images of Draco naked in his bedroom returned and Ron felt something between terrifying desperation and exhilarating anxiety.

He reached the bedroom in record time, only to find the doors thrown wide open.

Draco’s suite was huge, possibly as big as Ron’s entire kitchen and living room together, with two tall windows leading to the balcony, both thrown wide open to let in the sun and a cool summer’s breeze. The wooden bed overlooked the balcony, positioned perhaps a little awkwardly against the back wall with the foot of the bed placed against it instead of the head. There were dark green drapes, hiding the bed from view, opening up on the right side so Ron could see the green bedding, matching the drapes. The door leading to the bathroom was opened as well, but Ron could only make out a white tub with golden legs set upon the marble floor, and something that resembled a sink in the other room. One wall was hidden behind books and oak racks with framed photos, the racks going up all the way to the ceiling. Between two racks there was an archway visible, that lead to Draco’s closet – this fact was proven by the tell-tale trail of clothes strewn from the side room to the bed.

There was a desk against the other wall, and a chaise longue with a small table, atop it a bottle of firewhiskey. There was an easel and drawing blocks set atop one another. Amidst it all was a half-clothed Draco Malfoy, holding one shirt in front of his naked chest and then the other while he looked at his mirror-image.

Black, expensive slacks covered Draco’s long legs and pert ass, the fabric tighter around his behind so it was decently accentuated. A tiny sliver of faint pink was visible inches above the dark of the pants, and Ron smiled when he realised the blonde was wearing pink underwear, the colour standing out against his milky skin.

Inches of marble skin tended over the lean muscles in his back, his shoulder blades pulled taut at the action with which his arms moved. It ran down into a curve and then to his plump arse, forming a beautiful arch. His sides were exposed and soft, his abdomen rather taut with his abs defined though not too prominent. There was a fleck of silver that sparkled in the light, right near his navel and Ron marvelled at the display it made in the sun. He noticed a fresh scar on the wonderfully broad hips, the skin a little flushed there, but it did not bother him – it only made Draco’s figure that much more appealing, knowing that even he had imperfections. Ironically, a Malfoy’s imperfections made them all the more perfect.

“Ron? What—“ their eyes locked onto each other in the mirror, a smile playing in the corner of Draco’s mouth which meant he was glad to see the redhead. Then, his eyes widened and he bit his lip, “Damnit, I forgot to call you!”

“Is something wrong?” he was happy to at least see that Draco was still breathing which meant things could only be looking up from thereon.

“No, nothing’s wrong per say,” Draco focused his eyes on the two shirts again, picked one, and threw the other onto the bed. He slid into the soft white fabric and turned to face Ron directly – the movement of chest and arms drew attention to Draco’s left arm, for the first time rid of all bandage and cloth, and it was now evident why the blonde hid it from the world. There was a thick, crooked scar running from the dip of his elbow to his wrist – it was angry and pink and looked painful – right where Ronald knew the dark mark had been. He stayed silent for a moment, boring through Ron with his piercing gaze, before continuing almost painfully casual: “my father has a meeting with some stockholders and it turned out they’re bringing their sons, so I have to join. I know we were supposed to see a movie tonight, but let’s go to the opera instead?”

There was something horribly precarious about the question—as if it was a statement, but an uncertain one—and every single word was wrapped in layers and layers of thick innuendo.

Sometimes, it was really difficult to catch up with the Malfoy’s true intentions.

Sometimes, Ron had to stop trying so hard.

“I’ve never been,” he shrugged, trying to get his brain to stop functioning—which was a quite hard feat, surprisingly, “but if you’re sure it’s alright, I’d love to go.”

Draco smiled, something broad and upright that made Ron fall in love all over again.

“Thank you,” he replied honestly, the dark edge that had been in his voice before completely gone. He buttoned up his shirt and took a black waistcoat off his bed, adjusting it by the little straps on the back before tucking himself in properly, “you’ll need a different jacket though.”

“A jacket?” Ron’s voice mimicked the words with a clear question mark at the end, his eyes searching Draco’s for any answers.

“I’m sure we’ll find something in my father’s room,” Draco quickly slid a black bowtie out one of his drawers. He passed Ron and let his hand slide past the redhead’s hip, using the small touch to beckon him.

Ron’s body betrayed him, and before his mind could wrap itself around the whole ordeal, he was already following the blonde into the master bedroom.

Not much about the room drew Ron’s attention, but the first thing that caught his eye were the pictures placed atop the mantelpiece across from the bed.

The first picture was innocent enough – Lucius Malfoy, smiling with a toddler in his lap, the small blonde boy trying to do a braid in the long blonde hair, pouting as he failed. Draco’s hair was so bright it was almost nothing more but a light spot in the picture – Ron felt blinded by Draco as his sun.

There were two pictures in what appeared to be the three broomsticks, each time three Gryffindor students with three Slytherin students – one where they were cheering wildly at a table, clinging their butterbeers together with great zeal, the second where they were posing properly for the camera, arms slung around each other’s neck, broad smiles. Ron was positive he had never seen mister Malfoy smile so big, his arms wrapped around what appeared to be a young and stunning Sirius Black, and someone that looked suspiciously much like Harry. Remus and the late professor Snape were also in the picture, in their middle a smaller raven Slytherin grinning – Ron thought he might have seen the guy before, but he couldn’t remember.

The fourth however, had Ron back up slightly. He was relatively sure that in it, Lucius Malfoy was kissing James Potter – quite zealously, before the both of them disappeared from the frame. Draco was unperturbed by this, and was reaching up in one of the oak wardrobes for some old boxes he knew his father kept up there.

“Is that—“ he could not look away from the sight, the empty frame where the two men had just been engaged in a heavy lip-lock

“Yes,” Draco didn’t bother looking up, and brought the box to the grand four-poster, back turned to the older boy, “my father’s relationship with late mister Potter is a well-kept secret, and I’m sure he would like to keep it that way.”

The words were cold and calculated, stern. Ron detected just the undertone of insecurity that hitched his breath near the end, and like that, he was broken from his reverie.

There was no use to cry over spilled pumpkin juice, his mother always said. If Lucius Malfoy had once been involved with James Potter, so be it.

“I won’t tell a soul,” Ron swore – he tried to press every small and seemingly insignificant bit of love he felt for the boy into the words, all the affection and fondness and sheer joy – he came up behind the slim body and saw it cringe, the smallest of shivers running up Draco’s spine. He wrapped his arm around Draco’s form delicately, more for his own comfort than for the Malfoy’s, truthfully. When Draco leaned back into him, Ron pressed a kiss to his temple and muttered: “I hardly think your father’s clothes will fit me though.”

“This is one of the boxes my father kept that has mister Potter’s stuff,” Draco undid the lid, casually brushing his hand over one of Ron’s, tight against his belly, “my dad says he was nice and burly too, so I’m sure it’ll fit you.”

“Only you could make being big sound like a good thing,” Ron rolled his eyes, feeling his ears heat up at the blonde’s words.

Draco took a black suit jacket from the box, before turning in the tight embrace with a smile so lecherous Ron felt his knees go weak at the sight of it.

“Ron, I find it an incredible turn-on that you’re nice and broad like that,” his eyes shone with amusement, the curve of his lip deliciously distracting. One hand cupped a blushing cheek, pink tinging tan, and he brought Ron’s face down, so their mouths hovered just inches apart, “it’s fucking sexy Weasley.”

They kissed, urgent and open-mouthed, and Ron was just so happy he got to taste the Malfoy again, that every single doubt he might have had before disappeared like snow before the sun. It seemed to go on for hours, in the best of ways, every single brush of their tongues sending sparks up Ron’s spine, the tingles setting his entire core alight.

With their lips parting, Ron growled at the sight of Draco’s mouth. His lips were dark red now, much redder than their usual pink colour, and the knowledge that Ron had done that, made him feel insanely proud.

He was helped into the jacket by slim hands and fine fingers and Draco pressed a fleeting kiss to his lips afterwards, before leading him out of the bedroom, and into the hallway. They were silent while they walked, but only because Ron was still feeling dazed about the ferocious kisses he had just been fed – his whole body felt bouncy and deliciously warm, as if Draco had set him alight – his smile giddy when he reached for Draco’s hand.

Draco didn’t say anything but let him take it, granting him with a miniscule smirk in return.

They travelled to the opera house by floo, arriving in a grand oval room that was clothed with marble tiles all around. People dressed ridiculously fancy were swarming the hall as they left the fireplaces, decorated with white stone and sculptures of the same mineral.

Ron felt rather uncomfortable with some of the people looking at his shabby clothes with disdain. If he had known he would seem so out-of-place, despite the fact that he had deemed himself properly dressed when he left home, he would have changed. When the rather rude looks travelled to Draco however, they disappeared and most people were actually nodding politely at the blonde wherever he passed.

All Draco did was nod in acknowledgement and hold Ron’s hand tighter, feeling the tenseness enter his body.

They spotted Lucius amongst the crowd relatively easy. The man oozed superiority wherever he went, and even though he was just standing in the forecourt, glass in one hand, other on his hip, it seemed as if somehow, everyone was painfully aware of his presence, and all movement in the room resolved around him.

To Ron it appeared that Draco, although still in his teens, also somewhat had the same effect, since people immediately noticed he had arrived, and acted accordingly.

He was really damn glad he was used to people staring – due to being Harry’s friend for so long – and that Draco did not stop holding his hand, because he was quite sure their linked digits was the only thing stopping him from feeling like a complete outcast.

In their greeting to the older Malfoy and his three colleagues they were courteous, as Ron was sure Lucius expected, and they were then pointed towards the antechamber, where the sons of the co-workers were apparently staying. Though Ron had seen how close Lucius and Draco usually were, they were now strictly formal, and he figured it was thanks to the three other men present in the group. If the men were in any way dazed at the fact that the blonde refused to let go of another boy’s hand, they didn’t show it, and Ron felt rather lucky for it.

“I have to warn you,” Draco’s voice came suddenly, and his lips were almost startlingly close – so close that Ron heard him clearly even though his voice was dropped low, his breath warming against the redhead’s earlobe – making Ron shiver pleasantly though involuntarily, “these guys, they’re not very likeable. So just ignore them in a polite way.”

“How the hell do you ignore someone in a polite way?” Ron asked, confused, with the nerves shining through his voice.

All Draco did was smirk, fingers tightening their hold.

They approached a group consisting out of two brunettes and one raven, but they had been spotted long before they even headed their way. Ron had noticed the three boys by the tall, golden ashtray when they had entered, and their eyes had not left the pair until they were spotted. One brunette was rather tall and towered over the other two by almost a head, and the other brunette had a slightly toned skin, whilst the raven was almost unnaturally pale.

Before they even spoke a word, Ron was relatively sure he was not going to like them, their sneers and mocking attitude a blunt indicator.

“Thank Merlin, we thought you’d never be showing up!” the raven was the first to speak, showing off his shimmering white teeth when they were within reasonable distance.

“It’s nice to see you again Draco,” the smaller brunette smirked, eyes filled with a glee Ron was unable to place properly.

“Likewise,” there was a small, almost imperceptible nod, but other than that, Draco remained as distant and closed-off on the outside as he always was.

“Would you like a smoke?” the tallest boy offered, fishing a pack out of the inner pocket of his robes – he was balancing his own cigarette between his slim fingers, ashes nearly tipping off.

“No thank you,” Draco declined sternly, “I quit.”

There was a silent voice inside Ron’s head that was wondering about the newly revealed fact – the other more bulbous voice was far too busy loudly commenting on the way Draco’s hips curved when he favoured his one leg.

“You’ve been quitting a lot these days,” Draco pursed his lips as soon as the comment left the smaller brunette’s mouth, as if he already knew what came next, “Blaise’s been counting how long it’s been since he last saw you naked. He’s not pleased.”

“He misses you something terrible,” the raven added, “even got the maid fired because of it!”

“It was the maid’s son, actually,” Draco commented dryly, and as soon as Ron caught on – the words that had just been spoken rushing up and breaking through him – his hold on the blonde’s hand turned so tight it was uncomfortable, “the fact that he got an innocent woman fired only shows how utterly thoughtless he is.”

“I suppose it was rather inconsiderate of him to shag someone else,” there was a careless shrug and Ron fumed on the inside, “I’m actually rather surprised he hasn’t moved on. Are you really that stunning naked?”

Ron felt his ears redden and he was about to say something, anything, when Draco beat him to it: “it’s not about how stunning you are when you’re naked, it’s about what you do when you’re naked, and when it comes to that, yes, I’m very sure I could teach you a little something.”

His voice was a cover-up of sickly sweet and even though the words were not directed at him, Ron felt their impact immediately. From the glazed looks the three boys had, he was sure they felt it too – something Ron had come to fondly refer to as ‘the Draco Malfoy effect’.

“I would be one very eager student,” the raven teased – which brought a whole different feeling to Ron – and the redhead felt his anger rise like bile in his throat.

“I have no doubt that you would be, but I’m afraid I’m a very demanding teacher and you could not satisfy my needs, even if you tried very hard,” his bite was back and Ron literally saw the other boy deflate at the words, “you wouldn’t want to put yourself through the humiliation, I’ve been far too spoiled in the past to settle for you.”

Ron felt proud at the comeback, glad to see that Draco had not left his cocky attitude behind at school, and felt a silly smirk tug at his lips.

When Draco then let go of his hand and opted for wrapping an arm around his waist instead, Ron’s cheeks heated with the thought of what that would make the three boys think.

They looked at him as if they hadn’t even really noticed him until then, their eyes slightly wider than they were before, and their faces the perfect example of utter awe.

Ron had felt fortunate at dating the Malfoy before. Now, he realised he should perhaps also be honoured, since he was sure dating another would never earn him such looks of jealousy and resentment.

And though being glared at out of spite was not at all pleasant, it was okay if it meant he got to feel the blonde’s weight rest into his side, the smell of his cherry shampoo clouding his senses.

When a voice resounded through the room to announce that the performance would begin shortly, they joined the adults before a host lead them to their seating arrangements.

They had a separate compartment to their disposal, apparently, and Ron felt a little uncomfortable, knowing it must have been expensive seats. Draco took place on the second row, whilst the four older men sat on the first, and the other boys followed his example. Ron ended up next to the shortest brunette, whilst the crude raven happily took a seat on Draco’s other side.

Draco paid no attention to him, and instead leaned closer into Ron’s side, sending him a careful smile.

“This is your first time right?” he queried delicately, voice not exactly a whisper, but dropped down politely as to not disturb the other men on the front row, discussing business still, “I hope you’ll enjoy, I saw this piece before and found it rather amusing.”

Ron grinned, sliding a finger over the palm of the pale hand as he settled himself more comfortably in his chair.

“I’m kind of excited. Everyone’s always so mysterious about opera,” he admitted, “It makes you wonder what the big deal’s about.”

Draco chortled softly, earning the attention of the other three boys – even though they had been glancing at them the entire time – playfully catching Ron’s wandering finger in his own.

“You’ll see soon,” the blonde promised, “well, hear would be more accurate. I’m personally always amazed by the fact that even though they’re chanting in a different language, every word is somehow still understandable. Even if you close your eyes, it’s still possible to comprehend what they’re talking about, because you can sense the emotion in their singing.”

He beamed and in that moment Ron felt such an intense fondness for the beautiful boy next to him, he found himself unable to resist to the temptation, and claimed the pink lips to himself.

With their lips connected Ron felt the smile and it made him want to smile along – instead he adjusted his head and allowed Draco to grasp onto his neck, prying his lips apart with an eager tongue.

“You still taste like watermelon,” Ron revelled when they parted, the sensation of the kiss leaving him so putty he had to rest his forehead into Draco’s nape, currently much too excited to feel silly.

“You’re still daft,” Draco laughed breathlessly, Ron’s unconsciously traced patterns on his palm making him feel entirely too giddy, “are you comfortable?”

Ron looked up through his red bangs.

“Very,” he confirmed.

Draco just laughed again.

***

Chapter Text

We’re taking it slow (5)

 

Ron was guided home by the blonde this time, instead of the other way around, and they apparated to right in front of the burrow. There was a short, awkward moment wherein Ron glanced upwards to confirm that all the lights were out, which meant everyone had gone to bed already. With this established, Ron knew it was safe to invite Draco inside the house for something to drink before they were forced to part.

“So, erm…” he hesitated briefly, the hand in his own being squeezed to mush – even though he realised it must hurt, Draco didn’t even flinch, “would you like to come in?”

“Yes,” Draco nodded sternly, showing his honesty, “but I can’t. My father expects me to be home shortly, since it’s so late already. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” even though Ron was disappointed, he could not feel too sorry for himself when he was on the receiving end of Draco’s kind words and sweet voice – something he had heard before, but didn’t tire of, after all those years of receiving nothing but sneers, “maybe some other time.”

“I would like that,” Draco agreed, “I hope you enjoyed the night.”

“I really did, thank you for the new experience,” he felt a goofy grin creep up his face but couldn’t stop it, though he tried hard, “I never imagined I would have that much fun at something I always figured was just a stuffy occasion.”

“Stuffy occasions aren’t usually fun,” the blonde smirked, “it’s just a matter of going with the right people.”

“Are you insinuating I am the right people mister Malfoy?” Ron teased lightly, thoroughly enjoying the playful side of Draco.

He was such a tease on the phone, but having him tease in real life, was just that much better.

“Actually, I was insinuating I’m right people,” Draco purred, leaning in closer – his hands slid up Ron’s chest, and he immediately felt broad palms cup his back, right above the curve of his arse, as if afraid to move down further, “but you’ll do too.”

A mutual smirk had their lips meeting, and the hands moved more purposely, exerting pressure to keep Draco’s body in place. His fingers brushed the fabric of Draco’s black slacks, and trembled with nerves. He felt Draco take control of the kiss and the blonde’s pale arms wrapped around his neck as their bodies melted together, a feeling he was sure he would never get enough of.

The kiss deepened and a moan passed between their mouths. Ron felt his cheeks blush at the sound, even though he wasn’t completely sure he was the one that made it, since it sounded so sensual – a noise he had never thought he could be possible of creating – and lewd.

“Ronald,” Draco licked at his bottom lip when he pulled back suddenly, and Ron felt all the blood in his body rush down, his spine trembling at the sight of the pink tongue darting out, “hold me properly.”

His tone was demanding and bossy, and with that single command he locked their lips again. His hands released the hold on the red hair, and he moved them down to grab Ron’s and guide them.

Right onto his ass.

Ron was quite sure he was about to faint, but the thought that fainting when he was feeling up Draco Malfoy would probably be a very inconvenient thing as it might mean he would never get a chance to do so again, kept him standing.

At first he just kind of let them lie there, whilst Draco’s hands moved around his waist, grasping onto his shoulder blades. Then, when he figured this was one of those once in a lifetime experiences, he cupped his palms around the cheeks and squeezed gently.

He was awed to find that the cheeks filled his broad hands perfectly, as if they were specifically made to be held by him. For some reason this encouraged him, and he kneaded them feeling the flexible globes press into his palms deliciously.

This time it was Draco that moaned, which Ron knew with one hundred percent certainty. If his own expression of agreement had been lewd, Draco’s was beyond obscene, a sound nearly pornographic. Hearing it brought another shiver coursing through his body and his whole core felt aglow.

As soon as he realised the kiss had roused a rather unfortunate predicament from him, all his thoughts could only focus on not letting Draco know, and that was very hard to do when you were pressed up against one another.

It was as if Draco could immediately feel the change and he pulled back reluctantly. His eyelashes fluttered beautifully, and Ron could only stare.

“What’s wrong? You stilled completely,” he sounded somewhere between accusing and distrustful, and Ron knew he was also a little hurt.

“N-no!” his brain rushed to catch up with the words and even the single syllable came out jumbled.

In order to prove the stuttered statement he pulled Draco even closer, using the hands he had posed on the delicious arse and then realised that that had not been a good idea.

“Oh,” Draco blinked twice, and then a sneaky smirk grew in the corner of his lips – red due to their kisses, Ron noticed with another deep blush – his hands coming round from Ron’s back to his chest, “I see.”

“I’m really sorry,” the redhead mumbled in embarrassment, his ears turning red in his utter shame, “I didn’t mean to…”

“Shh,” Draco pressed a slender finger to his lips to hush him, “it’s okay, I’m rather flattered.”

“Draco,” Ron whined, the banter not helping his flaming cheeks.

The blonde chuckled airily, grasping onto Ron’s shirt and giving him a quick peck.

“Fine, fine,” the laugh was still clear in his voice, which was just plain beautiful to Ron, and he loved how he was now one of those people that could make Draco Malfoy’s voice smile, “things like this can wait, we don’t have to move so fast. Let’s just stick to making out for a while, alright?”

Ron nodded his eager agreement. He had no intention of rushing things, it was just that his body happened to betray him every now and then.

“I really should go, my father will be worried,” he sounded remorseful, but then his eyes lit up and Ron just knew he was up to something.

He pressed into Ron’s taller body completely, his thigh seemingly purposely rubbing up against Ron. His lips touched Ron’s warm earlobe and sent a chill down his spine, the sensation of the cool breath against his heated skin too much for him.

“Ron,” Draco purred deviously, flicking out his tongue sensually, “tonight, after I’ve gone and you go to bed to take care of your little problem, I want there to be only one person in your head, and that person better be me.”

The gasp that Ron let out – somewhere between a groan and a huff – was stolen by Draco’s eager lips prying at his mouth.

Before Ron could win the sense to push back into the kiss, there was a soft popping sound and Draco had disappeared, leaving Ron in a rather awkward position, groping thin air.

That night, after Ron had carefully followed every word of Draco’s little speech, changing the word ‘bed’ to ‘shower’ because of his current sleeping arrangement with Harry, he sneaked downstairs one more time to ring up the blonde.

The tone went to the answering machine immediately, indicating Draco had shut off his mobile, or more likely that the battery was dead.

“I know we’re taking it slow,” he said, no introduction or even a simple ‘hello’, because he knew Draco would know it was him, before he even spoke, “But I just want you to know, I’m falling for you.”

***

Chapter Text

Reciprocation is Key (6)

 

They were eating ice cream two days later, seated in a comfortable silence that was secretly driving Ron a little crazy. He looked forward to his dates with Draco because it was the only time that he didn’t have to hear him speak through the static of a crappy telephone line, and the fact that he was being deprived of his lovely voice was peeving him a little.

Still, he held his thoughts to himself, because he had a pale hand curled into his own and sweet ice cream and in Ron’s books, that was pretty much amazing.

“Ronald,” the sudden sound of hearing his name from those rosy lips pulled him from his thoughts and he turned to watch Draco properly. The blonde had his eyes fixed on the horizon, staring straight ahead as he took another lick of his ice cream, “since you were so honest the other night, I think it’s only fair if I’m true with you as well…”

There was a sudden poignant pause and Ron’s eyes widened slightly. A hundred new thoughts began racing through his mind and he felt his air supply cut off with tension – what if Draco was going to be honest and tell him it wasn’t working the way he had hoped. What if by coming clean with Draco, Ron had dug his own hole, ending all the future chances he could have gotten if only he had kept his mouth shut?

“I’ve already fallen for you,” confessions from Draco Malfoy were not like confessions from anyone else.

There was no sense of nervosa or discomfort, like Ron had felt when he had first uttered the words, instead it was all crystal clear, like a mere statement.

It was something to be envied, Ron decided, before he leant down and sampled Draco’s ice cream through his mouth.

 

***

 

Mom! I’m not telling him to come over! We already had plans and—“

“Ronald Weasley, leaving that boy by himself would be terribly irresponsible!” Molly turned away from her laundry to glare at her son, “Whatever you planned you can very well do here!”

“But mom, his dad leaves for business all the time and Draco is used to sometimes spending some time by himself,” Ron rolled his eyes at his mother’s apparent ignorance, fuming on the inside.

When Draco had announced that his father would be gone for work for three days, and that this meant they could stay in and play chess all day, Ron had been ecstatic, to say the least. He had never properly gone over to the boy’s house, and the idea of spending the day there with him was very appealing to Ron. He had also rejoiced in the idea of perhaps finding out a little more about the beautiful blonde, through learning more about his environment.

His mother was currently doing a very good job of messing with those plans.

“Besides, I was going to—“

“Sneak off again?” a voice called from behind them, and Molly turned away from the sheet she was currently folding.

The twins and Harry were looking at him as if he had grown an extra head. He cursed inwardly – at this rate, he was never going to be able to see the blonde.

“I don’t sneak off!” he blazed, huffing petulantly.

“No, of course not,” Fred and George laughed, “you take long solitary walks, or fall asleep in places where nobody can find you.”

“For Merlin’s sake, discuss this some other time,” Molly scolded her sons, giving a vague wave with her wand which sent the linens flying, “it’s not decent to keep the boy waiting. Tell Draco he’s expected here!”

Mum!” Ronald hissed.

“You talk to Malfoy?” Harry blinked a little stupidly and Ron wanted to brain himself with something sufficiently hard.

“We’re… friends,” he stumbled over his words not because he didn’t know how to explain what they were, but because he wasn’t very sure himself.

Now that he thought about it, what were they really? All the touching hardly counted as friendship, and their fondness for one another had already been established. They dated. Did that make them…

Friends?” Fred spat the word as if it tasted foul in his mouth, and George added: “you’re making it sound as if he’s likeable beyond his physique!”

Ron felt his ears burn and his mouth dropped open in shock. Molly let out a squeak of disapproval, flipping her wand to land the folded goods into the basket.

“George Weasley! How dare you be so rude!” she held the basket against her waist as she pointed a threatening finger at her identical sons, “Ronald, we are done talking about this, either you tell him or else I will! And imagine how awkward that would be, huh!”

She left with a finality in her voice that told Ron he would be a fool to argue, for she would find a punishment that would make him regret even bringing it up in the first place.

So it was that Ron found himself pacing the floor of the front door a mere ten minutes later. The idea of having Draco in his house with his brothers – despite their apparent attraction towards the blonde – was not a desired one. Ron had looked forward to spending the day with him, but doing so at the burrow felt wrong. As if he was purposely luring Draco into a place where he would be subjected to the scrutiny of Ronald’s meddling siblings.

There was also the fact that Ron’s plan of not letting go of the pale boy for the day had now been destroyed, but he decided to ignore that part – spending time with Draco was good enough, really.

The sound of the apparition pop shook the redhead from his thoughts. Before the visitor could even knock, Ron yanked the door open, revealing Draco Malfoy.

He was wearing navy blue shorts that had every logical thought short-circuited, his brain adjusting to default; an entirely too lovely amount of marble thighs was shown, and a slim stripe of excess skin was bared along the seams of his ruby shirt. All these colours Draco wore that Ron had never know about just made him want to swoon or kiss or cry – there was this whole other side to a boy he had hated for years, and if he had only seen that sooner, things could have gone so differently.

Draco was carrying a bag over one shoulder and holding a sort of white tulips in the other, the stems curling around one another.

“You brought me flowers?” Ron tried not to stare too hard, but it was difficult, his eyes naturally drawn to the flesh.

“They’re for your mother, idiot,” Draco smirked.

Ron blushed at his own straightforwardness, embarrassed of what he’d just blurted out. The corner of Draco’s mouth went up in half a smile and he chortled lightly: “I’ll bring you flowers next time.”

This only made Ron blush harder, and he spluttered indignantly. With a roll of his eyes Draco gave Ron a quick peck on the cheek before shifting his bag to the other shoulder and querying boldly: “aren’t you going to ask me in?”

“Yeah,” Ron nodded fervently, the heat rising to his ears, “yeah, it’s just, when we go in I can’t…” he paused.

Draco glanced at him with an eyebrow raised in question. Ron leered back, before leaning down properly and locking Draco’s frame into his own with both hands, connecting their lips into a real kiss. Immediately he had pale fingers tangled in his hair and Draco’s body melting into his own.

When they parted Draco wore a sleek smirk on his face and Ron felt his lips tingle at the previous contact. It was impossible to deny; he was head over heels. He even revelled in the way Draco’s fingers brushed down his neck as he pulled back from the embrace.

“We’re going to play chess right?” Draco smirked when Ron’s eyes stayed locked on his lips, knowing exactly what was going through the boy’s mind, “I brought my own pieces.”

He indicated his backpack to testify to his statement and Ron felt this inexplicable fondness for the blonde settle in his stomach. He nodded avidly and then led him into the house by his hand – he couldn’t care about any comments his siblings would give him, because Draco’s hand was soft and warm in his own.

They passed by the kitchen where Ron had left his pieces before and Molly was cleaning some dishes. She looked up as they entered, her smile widening when her look travelled not-so-subtly from their hands to Draco’s pale thighs.

“Good morning mister Malfoy,” Molly greeted the younger boy heartily, drying her hands on a towel, “aren’t you looking smart today.”

There was an obvious innuendo that was poorly hidden – so much so Ron wanted to brain himself – but Draco merely smiled, handing the woman the white flowers.

“I resent that misses Weasley,” his smile widened when she stared in awe at the offered gift, “I daresay I always look smart.”

Ron rolled his eyes at that, “so cocky.”

When Molly turned around to put the flowers in a vase the blonde leaned in closer to the taller redhead, bringing his mouth to his ear, “you have no idea.”

The redhead blushed a bright red at the comment, his palms suddenly remarkably sweaty. It didn’t help that Draco seemed more than aware of the effect that he had on the older boy, pulling back with a broad grin.

Ron tried his hardest not to seem too phased as he took his chessboard off the kitchen counter and then decidedly leaded the blond outside with a firm hand still holding onto the smaller one tightly.

He spotted his siblings and Harry and Hermione seated near the trees in the backyard, where there was some shade to hide from the scorching sun. Inwardly cursing as he had wanted to take Draco there to play their game, he decided to head the other way – and idea which in itself was rather genius, but proved mute when Charlie spotted them and waved them over.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Bill howled when he realised his youngest brother had been attempting an escape, “Draco is our friend too!”

The twins seemed to vigorously disagree, and Ron cursed under his breath at his brother’s insistence. Draco seemed mildly amused, though he took pity on the tall redhead, soothing with a quiet tone: “Ronald, we don’t have to go over there if you don’t want to.”

“I wish that was true,” despite the simplicity of the statement, it carried a lot of depth to it, and Draco seemed to pick it up rather easily.

As if it had been a mere accident, he slipped his hand from Ronald’s to avoid any more awkwardness that would surely ruin their date. Ron was grateful for it too – how he could have ever thought of the Malfoy boy as anything less than most considerate was beyond his own wits.

He settled the board down near his siblings and friends where there was a little shade but they could still enjoy the bright summer sun and Draco carefully set down his bag so he could remove his own pieces.

Ron had only briefly noticed the blonde’s chessboard before, but now that Draco was unpacking his things he was able to take a better look. It was obvious to him the pieces must have been expensive, and they were made from a green sort of stone instead of the traditional black or white. They looked clean and polished and important, as Draco treated them with the utmost care.

“They’re gorgeous,” Ron beamed when Draco took out his queen, the light catching in the stone prettily and accentuating the shine, “were they a gift?”

The blond nodded but didn’t take his eyes of his pieces as he set them on the board.

“My father brought them from China,” he elaborated kindly, “they’re made from Chinese jade, a little heavy.”

He offered Ron his King before he could set it down, a look of determination on his face. At first the sentiment struck Ronald as slightly odd, but when he took over the piece he thought he understood. They were obviously something Draco held very dear, and for him to allow Ron to touch them was most likely a bigger deal than the Malfoy made it out to be.

“Man…” he gave a little sigh of surprise when he really weighed the piece in his hand – saying it was a little heavy was definitely an understatement.

Draco chuckled softly at the reaction, “always so eloquent.”

“They’re just…” Ron didn’t want to say anything stupid, but he didn’t want to say nothing either, “really pretty.”

It seemed that it was a silly thing to say altogether, as Draco just chortled again. Ronald felt the tips of his ear burn red, but the blond had that unreadable smile playing on his lips that told Ron that he had done well anyway.

They started the game off easy enough, with no pestering from any of his siblings, which Ron really appreciated. It seemed that Draco was indeed as serious about chess as he had seemed to be, and they spent most of the time playing in quiet, both deep in thought.

The silence seemed to last forever – nothing but the scrape of the chess pieces, the distant sound of birds, Fred’s silent snores and his friends’ silent murmuring and that way Draco’s wrists seemed to sing as he brought his fingers to his lips in thought – until suddenly a phone rang.

Draco’s mobile flew out from his back pocket and called in a deep male voice: “your father, mister Malfoy.”

The blond threw an apologetic look Ron’s way, but to be honest, since he started dating the younger Malfoy boy he had also kind of grown accustomed with the way him and his father interacted. It was true that the older Malfoy was definitely a right-out prick to most people, but Draco seemed to bring out a fondness in his father, and watching the ice-king thaw with just a quirk of Draco’s lips continued to amuse Ronald to no end.

“Father?” Draco spoke in that distinctive tone Ronald had come to refer to fondly as the daddy tone – he sounded as smooth as always, but with a little sweetness there that was different from how he addressed Ron, “aren’t you supposed to be in a meeting?”

There was a little sound of a reply and Draco snorted, “I don’t know… did you eat too much ice cream like that time in Saquarra? Did you get drunk and pass out in front of the Eiffel tower? Are you going to make me go on forever?”

It sounded like Lucius was laughing, and Ron had to cough to hide a snort when Draco threw him a stern look. The stern look turned into a frown and suddenly Draco’s eyes widened in shock.

“He… they sang?”

A loud sound came from the other sound of the phone and the phone flew a bit further away from Draco as he winced. It seemed like Lucius was going off on a rant, because the other blond tried his hardest to soothe him with small tutting sounds.

“No!” he suddenly exclaimed, “It was fine but ever since the opera he’s seemed to have lost his mind,” Ron’s ears perked up at the mention of this, are they talking about me? He tried to meet the blonde’s eyes, but he suddenly seemed very interested in the grooves in Ron’s chess-board, “don’t worry, I’m not even at the house now…” there was a shrill noise and Draco rolled his eyes, “don’t be so plain father. I’ll tell him,” he rolled his eyes a second time, “yes, I’ll call you tonight. I’m terribly sorry, you know how he gets sometimes. I’ll handle it.”

After a couple of seconds the phone shut off and fluttered around Draco’s head. Finally the grey eyes raised to meet Ron’s, and the redhead felt relief flooding through him immediately. Draco didn’t seem angry with him after all.

“My father says hello,” he gave a silly little grin, as if maybe that wasn’t exactly how Lucius had put it.

“Is something wrong?” when it seemed that Draco was not about to reveal the exact content of the conversation, Ron felt it necessary to insist.

After all, if Lucius was worried about Draco’s safety, something terrible might have just happened and that very idea made Ron’s stomach clench.

The blond was hesitant, but only because of the presence of Ron’s siblings – his eyes flit to them and back again quick enough for Ron to almost miss it.

“Blaise is an idiot,” he stated matter-of-factly, “he sent my father singing love-letters. Explicit love-letters. Whilst he was in a meeting. In Paris.”

Ronald's mouth fell half-way open before he had the decency to stop it from going any further. Although it was true that mister Malfoy had turned out not to be as absolutely horrible as the redhead had first imagined him to be, he was a force to be reckoned with, and Ron knew he would probably not appreciate being put on the spot like that in front of people he was supposed to be doing business with. Blaise Zabini was a complete asshat, but he did have some impressive balls on him, Ronald had to give him that.

“Why would he send your father…” he stopped at the look of utter disbelief that graced Draco’s face, and realised the blonde was doing his best not to roll his eyes. Suddenly, it clicked, “oh.”

“Yeah,” Draco’s look softened at the grumpy demeanour that took over the redhead, “deciding to ignore him may not have been my smartest move.”

As if on cue, Molly appeared in the doorway, followed closely by none other than...

“Mister Malfoy?” she called to Draco, getting the group's attention, “Your friend is here.”

“Oh come on,” the blonde hissed under his breath when he realised that his so-called friend was Blaise Zabini.

He got on his feet when the dark boy gave Molly a thankful smile and the woman retreated back in the house – Ron immediately followed him. He wasn't sure why the Zabini boy was here, but it couldn't mean much good, really, if the boy was resorting to stalking now.

“What are you doing here Zabini?” Draco's voice was cool like ice in the warm summer breeze, and though Zabini acted like it didn't phase him, his previous smirk faltered.

“I should be asking you that babe!” the raven's voice was not nearly as composed, and took on a shrill edge near the end, as his eyes greedily roved over the blonde's body, “You've replaced me with a redhead?! He has freckles!”

The way he said it made Ron believe that freckles were very dirty and the root of all evil – the way Draco rolled his eyes convinced Ron the Malfoy thought otherwise.

“We're playing chess,” Draco stated plainly, “I fail to see how redheadedness and freckles have any relation to a skill in the game.”

“Don't go smart on me,” Blaise seethed, his fists balling, “you took him to the opera! THE OPERA!”

His voice reached a new pitch that made the Weasleys shudder – not even Ginny reached such heights.

Ronald felt the ridiculous need to wrap himself completely around the smaller blond grow with every second they stood there. He wanted to protect the other boy, even though he wasn't sure what of and why – all he knew was that no one had the right to raise their voice at the blond, and he felt like he needed to educate the Zabini about his less-than-fitting behaviour. Dear Merlin. Was he turning into a Malfoy himself?

“Are you still associating with those three?” Ronald immediately knew who the blond was referring to – the three bratty boys they met at the opera, “I swear they're bad for your health.”

“Pansy told me you got rid of your mark!” Blaise accused with a pointed finger towards the redhead, “that little twink made you scar yourself and then puts his head on your shoulder as if it’s his?”

The redhead balled his fists – as if resting a head on a shoulder was such a bad thing to do! It was hardly that memorable, and he couldn't believe those three annoying brats had felt the need to share all this information with Blaise. Sure, the night had been absolutely divine for Ronald, but was it really something that the Zabini boy needed to get so upset about? He was the one that had cheated, for Merlin's sake!

Behind them, the others shared a look amongst themselves. They had never asked about the bandages they had all noticed the first time Draco visited, but it seemed that some of their hunches proved to be correct.

“You're delirious,” Draco insisted, “If you're going to sprout nonsense, you should leave.”

The deep affection Ronald felt for the blond only increased by tenfold as he stood there – lying blatantly in the face of his former lover – all so he wouldn't jeopardise Ron's reputation amongst his siblings. He needed a kiss. Or to hold his hand.

Zabini took a threatening step closer and growled: “he--”

He was cut off however, when both Charlie and Bill decided they had had enough of the raven's antics, and both got up their feet as well. Both quite bulky and rather tall, they made an almost equally imposing sight as a seething Malfoy, and Blaise faltered.

He seemed to contemplate his next actions, and then snarled, “fine! I hear your father is in France now? I was just thinking this would be a fine time for us to... reunite.”

Ron's eyebrow twitched. His knuckles crackled ominously and Draco seemed to contemplate whether or not to let him go at the other boy.

“Blaise,” when he spoke next his tone was so uncaring the group shuddered, “You do not interest me. Leave.”

The Zabini boy's eyes widened almost comically.

“I don't interest you?” his voice shook – with disbelief and pain, Ronald thought it was a bit of both, “I stood by your side for years and--”

Draco laughed – hollow and a little scary and Ronald felt it in goose bumps all up his arm. It was a laugh that reminded him of much darker times and darker days and darker men.

“Don't remind me,” he almost spat – but only almost because Malfoy's don't spit about such trivial things, “years of fear and cowering and justifying unjustifiable things. To think I was foolish enough to ever put even an ounce of trust in you,” he shrugged almost nonchalantly, “I was naive. Trust me when I say I will not make the same mistake again.”

It seemed that Blaise was rendered speechless. His shoulders slumped and he stared at the grass for a long while. Ronald could feel the tension radiate from Draco's stiff figure, and knew he felt absolutely humiliated at having had to expose so much of himself in front of Ron's siblings – people he barely even knew for Merlin's sake!

Eventually Blaise lifted his gaze again. His shoulders still slumped, he said resolutely: “I'll be waiting for you at the Manor. We can continue later,” and then turned on his heel.

They waited until he retreated back inside the Burrow before everyone let out a collective sigh. Draco shot the older Weasley brothers a grateful look before he turned to Ronald.

“Are you alright?” he said in his sweetest all-business tone.

Ron blinked stupidly at the question – he ought to be asking Draco that, honestly! – and then nodded deftly.

“I'm sorry,” the blond apologised, suddenly very interested in his own shoes, “I had no idea he would--”

“Draco it's not your fault,” Ron hurried to cut him off, unwilling to let him apologise for something that was out of his control. He put his hands on the narrow shoulders and hoped it sufficed for now, “he's absolutely nutters!”

“You shouldn't go back home tonight Draco,” Bill chimed in, “I don't trust that guy one bit! You can stay here for the night.”

At this Draco lifted his head towards the older brothers and rolled his eyes, “you Weasleys, so quick to the rescue. I'm a big boy, I can handle it.”

“Draco no offence but,” Ron gave the lithe figure a little look and squeezed the slim shoulders to accentuate his next point, “he could probably snap you in two.”

The blonde looked absolutely appalled at the accusation and Ron hurried to explain further, “I'm sure you’re utterly capable with your wand but Zabini looks like a bodybuilder and he could probably beat you in a fist-fight!”

“Although a fist-fight is probably not what he has in mind,” Charlie supplied helpfully – which earned him a glare from his youngest brother and the pretty blond.

“If he wanted to hurt me he would have done so by now,” Draco said sternly – his voice sounding with finality, “I am not a toddler. Don't coddle me.”

He sat back down in front of the chess board, and the look in his eyes told him he was already contemplating his next move. Ron shared a look with his oldest brothers but relented – he wasn't going to let that raven Slytherin ruin his precious time with Draco, and fighting with the younger blonde was something he had been able to avoid so far and would continue to do so at all costs.

That night Draco refused to even let Ronald guide him home, apparently still a little upset at the redhead's lack of confidence in his strength. Ronald couldn't really take his words back now though – it wasn't hard to see who was physically stronger, and though Ron knew Draco was quick with his wand, he also knew he would be hesitant to pull it on his formerly best friend.

It was funny how a couple of months ago he wouldn't have doubted that Draco was malicious enough to curse his best friend, but now that he had gotten to know the real Draco a little better, he knew that he had a pure heart – and even though his friend had wronged him, he would never dream of inflicting him physical harm. He had had enough of that in the war.

He went to bed with a heavy heart. Harry was treating him a little coldly because he hadn't told the raven about his newly developed friendship with the Malfoy, and Draco hadn't called him to say goodnight, probably still a little cross with him. There was an unsettling swirl coiling in his stomach, and for the longest time he stared up at his ceiling, unable to catch sleep.

 

***

Chapter Text

To the rescue (7)

 

The house was brutally awoken from sleep at two in the morning when the phone started ringing. It was as if Ronald subconsciously had expected it somehow, as he was the first one to get up – he had left the phone on his wardrobe earlier after calling Draco, and as a result the sound reverberated rather horribly throughout his bedroom and probably the rest of the house.

He heard Harry mutter illegibly as the raven shot awake in shock. There was rumbling on the floor above and below them, and it sounded like someone had fallen from their bed – the phone was a novelty to the Weasley household, and it certainly had never rung in the middle of the night before.

Ronald reached it before the third ring and even though he felt wide-awake, he only managed an unintelligent: “'s you Draco?” muttered into the receiver.

“I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience Ronald,” Draco's voice was as smooth as always, but with an edge, and it caused Ron to become even more alert. Harry stumbled to his feet next to him, only to fall back on his arse comically, “I wouldn't call you in the middle of the night like this, but I cannot reach my father,” there was a slight tremble, and Ron held his breath – this could only be bad, really, “it seems that I was perhaps foolish not to take your brother up on his offer earlier.”

It didn't take as much as a second for that to process in Ron's head.

“Where are you? I'm coming for you,” all signs of fatigue were gone.

“Ronald that wouldn't be wise,” Draco scolded – but Ron knew better. He had called him after all, that meant he knew he needed help, even though he didn't want to admit it, “it's just that Blaise won't leave and...”

“Where are you?” Ron repeated – a little less than patient as he started rummaging around for the jeans he had discarded earlier.

“He wasn't here when I arrived you see,” Draco continued unperturbed – and that itself was such an odd thing for Draco, to ramble, that Ron felt uncomfortable and endeared at the same time, “I would have called you sooner if he had been here, but he just showed up and I went outside to make him leave but he... I am not weak!”

There was a sob and Ron's body froze.

“Draco where are you?

 

***

 

When Ron, Harry, Charlie and Bill arrived in the Malfoy salon where the fireplace was, the whole manor sounded ominously quiet. The lights flickered on as soon as they stepped out, and seeing the crowded room in full light and yet have it be so quiet was a little creepy.

They continued into the hallway and nearly had a heart-attack when they became aware of someone pounding on the front door – there was a blue hue indicating Draco had put a spell on it to keep it closed, but it seemed to be breaking down very slowly, the door almost out of its hinges. The Weasleys exchanged a look, but even as Ron's hands balled into furious fists, he shook his head.

“Draco asked not to. Can you guys wait here?” he spoke softly though it seemed unnecessary. His brothers and Harry approached the front door, nodding.

“Leave it to us. He won't get in,” Bill swore – Ron didn't doubt his brother for a minute. If there was anyone that knew even better protective spells than the Malfoy patriarch, it would be his brother.

He continued up the marble staircase by himself, knowing Draco would not appreciate the intrusion of four people into his bedroom. Despite the late hour, there was only one thing fuelling Ron now – where was Draco and how could he get to him as soon as possible?

Ronald broke out into a run as he reached the landing, and raced towards the bedroom doors, where he skidded to a halt. He foresaw all proper mannerism and pulled the heavy-set doors open quickly, rushing inside.

The bed was unmade, indications that the blonde had been sleeping in it earlier. The big windows were closed but the curtains were thrown wide open, an eerie glow filling the spacious room from outside. All was still.

“Draco?” Ron called loudly – he tried to sound kind, but he was too anxious to control his voice, “I'm here. Draco?”

There was a sound of creaking wood and he nearly jumped out of his skin as something moved in the pitch-black walk-in closet. Then there was a sliver of silver and Ronald hurried towards the figure, knowing it was Draco on instinct.

The boy continued to crawl out of one of the closets with as much dignity as he could muster – however for once Ronald didn't notice the graceful curve of the younger boy's body, and all he could do was drop to the floor and scoop the boy into his arms.

He was dressed in his silk pyjama shorts and shirt, the buttons torn. Ronald couldn't see his face from where he had it buried in his chest, but his hair looked remarkably unkempt.

“I used to hide here for my aunt and then later for...” he left the comment hang in the air, his voice peculiarly un-phased, “I always won at hide and seek.”

It's all Ron could do not to burst into tears of gratitude at the assessment that if Draco had some sass left in him, he was at least not in grave danger. He felt his heartbeat increase erratically when Draco pulled back a little – his cheek was a dark red, a promise to become blue by morning, but his eyes had dried, and though his body was still shivering lightly, he reached out a hand to stroke across Ronald's cheek.

He didn't speak, but a small smile crawled in the corner of his mouth – before Ron could beam properly, the smaller boy leaned up into a kiss. It was all teeth and hard pressure, Draco's entire body melting into Ron's.

When he pulled back they were both smiling in a relieved manner, and Draco teased, “such a Gryffindor you are,” which caused Ron to blush.

They got up, Ron wrapping an arm protectively around Draco's waist. The blonde looked as if he wanted to protest that he could walk on his own, but seemed to decide against it when he remembered his earlier statements about his strength and that he had been proven wrong.

When they reached the hallway and Draco spotted the redhead's friend and siblings however, he made to pull away. Ronald held on tighter.

“Don't be silly Draco,” the redhead murmured, “I have you.”

It was impossible to protest when he put it like that, Draco realised, and he allowed himself to be led down the stairs.

Bill was finished with the last spell, and they could no longer hear to sounds from the raging Slytherin outside – even though the slight shudders of the door indicated he was indeed still raging.

“This will be sure to hold up,” Bill said confidently.

“Thank you,” Draco's voice had gone back to its normal smooth tone, not a sign of distress left, “I'm sure my father will be very grateful.”

“Don't mention it,” Bill and Charlie approached the blonde none too carefully, causing him to cower back slightly, “hey...”

They looked a bit hurt that the blond would react to them in such a manner, but when they realised the red bruise in his face had indeed been inflicted on him by his former best friend, they understood the reaction. And now that Ronald looked at the blond in the bright light of the hallway, he noticed the bruises on the fine marble chest as well – two or three hidden between the torn-open flaps of his shirt.

Ronald felt rage bubbling in his throat and he struggled to keep his figure composed – if he tensed now, Draco would notice, and he surely wouldn't react to that kindly.

“Do you want me to heal that for you?” Charlie offered instead.

Draco shook his head warily.

“My father always heals me.”

“It might sting tonight if you don't,” Harry said – the first thing he had spoken since he had grumbled out a weak I'm coming when Ron explained him the situation quickly between tugging his shirt on over his head and getting into his sneakers.

Draco met his eyes, but there was nothing but a sort of equal resignation.

“It's fine,” he insisted.

They made their way back to the floo and then up the stairs in the burrow. The house was buzzing, everyone surely awake and eager to know what had happened, but they had the decency to keep to themselves until come morning. They heard Molly and Arthur talking when they passed their landing, and then the twins and even Hermione and Ginny. Yet no one excited the room or called out for them, for which Draco was infinitely grateful.

When they arrived at Ron's room, Charlie and Bill opened the door.

“We'll sleep here tonight mate, our room will be more comfortable for you two,” Charlie explained.

“Make sure Draco takes my bed, my mattress is more comfy!” Bill winked and ruffled his little brother's hair, “goodnight!” he sent a dazzling smile the blond boy's way.

“Thank you,” Draco said, a slight strain in his voice that went unnoticed by the others, but not Ron.

Harry smiled tiredly and suppressed a yawn, “I'll see you guys in the morning.”

Charlie and Harry also disappeared into the bedroom with a last sleepy grin towards Ronald and Draco. They were being awfully graceful about all of this, and Ron felt a renewed pride for his siblings and best friend. They could be pains in the ass, but they certainly knew when not to be.

Ron glanced at Draco – now that the others had gone, the blond allowed himself to lean into the burly body of the redhead a little harder, and Ronald could tell his body felt weak. He practically heaved the lithe boy up the last flight of stairs, and entered the room without even bothering to flick on the lights. It was near morning by now, and there was a faint glow filling the attic.

“Ronald...” Draco sounded a little tired, but when Ron looked down all he saw was a quiet determination in the grey eyes. His arms tightened around the slim waist unconsciously, “I know we're taking it slow, but sleep with me tonight.”

There was no way for Ronald to resist that – and he didn't want to either. If anything, he had wanted to sleep with the blond's body rested against his own for the longest time now, and he felt fortunate that the feeling proved mutual.

The redhead moved the mattresses of the two single beds onto the floor next to each other. Then he turned to the pile of clothes strewn in the corner, hoping he could find something to serve as a pyjama amongst the mess.

Suddenly arms encased him from the back, and he felt Draco brush a soft kiss into his nape.

“No, Ronald,” he urged the redhead to turn in the embrace, and when he did so, he stepped back.

He let his shirt slip down his shoulders easily, falling to the floor in a soft flutter. His skin was inches and inches of white marble, except where it was bruised with pink and blue now, “like this.”

Draco locked their eyes as he stepped forward again, crowding in Ronald's space. His hands grasped at the sweater Ron had thrown on carelessly earlier, so he could lift it over the red head. Then, he gave Ronald's jeans a pointed look.

Ron's cheeks and ears blushed bright red as they caught up with the blond's intentions. He shouldn't be so embarrassed about this – it wasn't a purely sexual situation, he knew Draco had no intentions to take it so far with him tonight. Yet he couldn't help but blush even brighter as the thin, pale fingers reached out and expertly fumbled open his zipper.

He stepped out of his jeans a little clumsily – surprised when Draco yawned instead of chortled, apparently honestly tired – and then led the blond lead him to their makeshift bed.

They dropped down on the mattresses carefully, Draco mewling happily on impact. Ron found it rather adorable, these little content sounds the blond could make.

Draco's eyelashes fluttered prettily as Ron covered him with the duvet, and when his eyes opened they were a lazy grey Ronald had never seen before. His breath stilled in his chest, knowing that tonight, for the first time, they would fall asleep together.

The nimble fingers found their way to Ron's chest under the blankets, palms pressing into his shoulders as he pushed his entire body closer into the broader one. He nuzzled at Ron's cheek, then licked his lips before ghosting them over the redhead's.

Ronald growled in anticipation, bringing one hand up to cup the now-marred cheek carefully. Their lips met in a kiss, slower now, savouring the meeting of flesh. Draco gladly accepted the redhead's tongue, and then kissed back a little harder, the naked flesh of his thighs twining around Ron's.

“Ronald,” he whispered lightly when they parted a mere inch, “hold me properly.”

The redhead didn't hesitate, bringing both hands down to cup Draco's arse through the thin material of his sleep shorts. The noise Draco made in return was pure sin, his eyelashes fluttering prettily. Their eyes met and the blonde smiled tiredly.

“Perfect,” he hummed, before pressing another swift kiss to the older boy's lips.

When Ron wanted to ask him what exactly was so perfect, the blond had already fallen asleep, head lolling on the redhead's chest.

 

***

 

Ron woke with the sun already high, and the spot next to him cold and empty. He was a little disappointed that he had failed to wake up next to the blond, looking forward to an early morning snog, but as he fished a seemingly clean shirt out of the pile of clothes near the door, he couldn't feel too bad. After all, he had cuddled with Draco all night, the pale boy unwilling to release his hold on him for even a second. It had been divine, and Ronald had lulled off with a sense of utter and complete satisfaction.

When he arrived in the kitchen, all of his siblings were already gathered round the table, and Molly was just bustling with the last pans in order to produce a breakfast suited for her hungry children. He spotted Draco and couldn't stop the stupid grin from taking over his face when he saw that the younger boy had been the one to steal the shirt he had worn the night before – the item was too big and fell off one shoulder slightly, but it was more appropriate than a torn-up sleep shirt, that was for sure.

However when Ron's eyes glided to his face, his grin faltered. His cheek that had been pink before was swollen and a dark blue now, greenish in some spots. It seemed more severe than he had previously anticipated, as it reached up next to Draco's left eye.

The boy seemed unperturbed by this however, and he gave Ron a gentle smile from across the table when he spotted him. He was seated next to his oldest brother, with an empty seat on his other side, and then Harry. Even though the two weren't speaking, Ron was glad to see them sitting close. They weren't fighting either, at least.

“There you are! Took you long enough,” Molly scolded when she spotted her youngest son, and the conversation between Ginny and Hermione stopped briefly as they shot him a disapproving look, “Draco was up three hours ago! He even helped with breakfast!”

“'m sorry mum,” Ron pecked her cheek in a manner of apology before flopping down rather ungracefully, “you didn't sleep well?”

He couldn't hide the slight tinge of hurt shining through his voice – he had had the best sleep in forever, but maybe the feeling hadn't been mutual.

Draco smiled and then flinched as the movement caused discomfort in his face, “I usually get up early. I slept very well, thank you,” he shot Bill a look, “your matrass really was the most comfortable one.”

Ronald blushed when he thought that the blond had barely even used the mattress – preferring to sleep instead with his body sprawled atop Ron's.

Before Bill could make an inappropriate comment that would surely make Ron's blood curl, they heard the sound of the fireplace roaring and then Arthur's voice calling, “Molly?”

And then mister Weasley entered the kitchen with mister Malfoy on his heels. The Malfoy patriarch looked as stunning as ever, his hair tied back in a long ponytail and his black dress robes not stained with even a bit of soot. The only indication that anything was off was the way his eyes ran over the Weasley's heads hastily, not stilling until they landed on his own son.

“Father!” Draco stood immediately, his tone a little more haunted, his careful facade breaking in the face of his father, “I apologise, you—“

He was cut off quite abruptly when, to everyone's surprise, the older Malfoy rushed over and pulled him into a full-out hug.

“Father...” Draco's tone turned a little childish and Ronald was sure he could see a pale blush gathering on his cheeks. It was adorable.

“That insolent little brat,” Lucius growled most un-Malfoy-like in his son's hair, making the boy blush deeper, “how dare he!”

Lucius pulled out of the embrace so he could hold his son at arm's length to check for any physical harm. When his eyes landed on the bruise, they narrowed to slits, “that little traitor put his hands on you?”

“I was too slow and—“ Draco was cut off when his father clacked his tongue.

Then, the older Malfoy lifted his hand to brush over the bruise gently – even so, the smaller blond hissed in pain, louder this time. Yet Lucius didn't relent, and as the stroked his long fingers over the blue skin, the whole kitchen watched in awe as the spot slowly grew fainter and fainter, until the skin was repaired to its former marble white self.

Draco closed his eyes as the feeling of his father's healing magic ran through his body and eased his discomfort. Charlie whistled, “no wonder he wouldn't let me heal him! Nothing beats wandless healing magic!”

The older Malfoy laughed at this – a hearty sound, nothing at all like what Ron had expected – and Draco rolled his eyes and fixed Charlie with a stare.

“He was always getting scraped knees and bruised ankles as a child,” Lucius chided lightly, and Draco went as far as to pout – well, it wouldn't be considered a pout if anyone else did it, but Ronald definitely saw this as the unique Malfoy pout, the boy's bottom lip jutting out just an inch.

“I liked climbing trees,” Draco defended lightly.

Lucius laughed again, a little longer this time – this caused Draco's pout to grow, “to say you liked falling out of trees would be a more accurate statement Draco.”

Before Draco could retaliate, the older man began examining his knees and legs – long marvellous things, inches and inches of skin showing under his short pyjama shorts, “did he hurt you anywhere else?”

“Father!” Draco nearly squealed when the older man lifted the back of Ron's shirt to examine Draco's back – not caring about their audience in the least, the only thing on his mind now mending his son – and sneered when he saw the bruise running over his ribs to his back.

Ronald noticed that the bruises on Draco's body too had gotten bigger and darker during the night, and he felt even more stupid about sleeping in. How could he have rested so peacefully knowing Draco was hurt?

The taller blond ignored Draco's protest and ran his fingers over his ribs from behind, a scowl on his face, “I knew there was something wrong with that kid! All his weird obsessions and strange fetishes! I should have put an end to it as soon as he got that horrid piercing!”

“Honestly father,” Draco tried not to wince when his father moved on to the next bruise, but his eyes closed in a silent attest of pain, “I doubt Blaise's nipple piercing has anything to do with his wretched nature. Besides, you're hardly one to judge.”

Lucius made a sound of disdain, and then said with a voice near-whine: “Draco we were young!”

“And you almost gave grandfather a heart-attack,” Draco added helpfully, peeking open one eye when he felt his father move in front of him to get to the last bruise, “I'm sorry.”

Lucius shook his head. The last bruise ran from Draco's side to his stomach, and everyone at the table winced collectively when Lucius's palm pressed into the skin.

“I can go to Paris anytime Draco,” Lucius murmured under his breath softly – Ron could tell from talking to Draco for weeks now, that Lucius had been scared for him, even though he didn't say it out loud, “but I only have one of you.”

The bruise slowly shrunk to the size of a peanut and then disappeared completely under Lucius's fingers. He straightened, and lowered his son's shirt properly over his chest, petting it delicately, “there. “

He turned to the two oldest Weasleys and wrapped a protective arm around his son, “thank you so much for taking care of him for me.  I will gladly compensate you for the trouble.”

“It was no trouble really,” Molly smiled brightly, giving the smaller blond a wink, “he's a darling! He even helped around the house, really, we were happy to have him.”

Ronald noticed that the faint blush creeped back up the blond's cheeks, and he couldn't stop a grin from taking over his own. Would the Malfoy ever be anything less than absolutely adorable?

They all enjoyed breakfast together – everyone having seconds and thirds of Draco's French pancakes – and under the table Draco's hand found Ron's thigh and he wasn't sure if this counted as a date but by Ron's standards that was probably the best one they had had so far.

 

***

 

Chapter Text

Not all that passes time, heals (8)

For the next week they were constantly calling each other every chance they got – after the “incident”, as Draco so gracefully dubbed it, his father was reluctant to leave him out of his sight again, and Ron's friends had acted a little hurt at the idea that the redhead preferred spending time with the blond now – usually not hanging up until the clock had gone far passed midnight.

Ron loved knowing more about the pale boy now – during their evening talks he liked to imagine Draco in his big bed, wearing those silk pyjamas as he lay on his back while talking to Ron. The first night had been a little tense, as Ron finally managed to coax the whole story from the other boy, and he listened with held breath as Draco explained how Blaise had overpowered him as soon as he'd opened the door for him. What was worse, was that Draco had been subjected to beatings by his aunt in the past, and since he had shared that information with his then best friend, the black boy had known exactly how to scare him into submission and where to punch him to make it count.

Draco's voice had turned remarkably little when he told the story, but other than that it remained as stern as ever. Ron could tell he felt nervous sharing something so intimate with him however, so he returned in kind by telling Draco the horrid story of how once, in second year, him and Harry had followed a path of spiders into the forbidden forest only to almost get eaten by one the size of a car.

Even as his ears burned bright red as he talked about the many unmanly squeaks he had let out that night, the thought that Draco was not mocking him and listening to his fears and doubts with full attention was comforting to him.

Draco told him how his mother had once thrown a vase at his head – only to have him duck away to sanctuary and fall down the flight of stairs instead. He said how his father had sat up with him all the while the healer mended his broken backbone, and that even though he had been sure that it would become a painful memory – as the pain had been just that, excruciating – all he could remember now was the sound of his father's voice, telling him stories about far-off places and mysterious characters.

In return, Ron talked about getting attacked by brains in the department of mysteries and apparently spending the rest of the should-have-been-rescue-mission talking about Harry's anus.

This had Draco laughing so hard Ron was sure the blond boy had fallen from his bed in the process. The grin that creeped up his face at the reaction was still there when he woke up the next morning.

It was on the fifth day that Draco casually mentioned, “I heard the weather will be brilliant tomorrow. A picnic would be great.”

And that's how Ron found himself knocking on the door to Malfoy manor the next day. He had been honest with Harry this time, telling him that Draco was nice and he wanted to hang out with him. The raven had been a little sad to see him go, but had to admit that this version of the Malfoy boy was indeed refreshingly polite.

When Draco opened the door for him, Ronald felt his breath leave him for a moment. He was wearing beige pants that reached just below his knees and accentuated his strong thighs, and a very light white shirt that seemed to be made of such a delicate fabric that it was nearly see-through.

He was holding a basket in front of his body, his eyes lighting up when he spotted the redhead.

“Ronald!” he sounded a little surprised, as if he had been waiting for someone else instead – the idea forming a frown on Ron's face, “I had expected you to use the floo!”

The redhead blushed at the idea that his own insecurities had gotten the best of him again, and Draco stepped out properly to give him a quick peck to the lips in greeting. He closed the heavy doors behind him, and his wrists moved so beautifully Ron wanted to kiss them all over.

“The floo is currently down at my place,” Ronald admitted, fighting the blush from creeping up his neck, “besides I need the practice, and what better time to do so than such a bright day?”

Draco's laughter rang through the air as he lead the redhead to the back of the house – the mansion stood amidst a plane of beautiful green, the garden separated from the world with tall hedges. When they arrived at the backyard, Ronald spotted a wooden patio with a breakfast table and resting chairs. Lucius Malfoy appeared to be sunbathing there, stretched out in a pyjama not unlike the one Draco's usually wore – his hair shone so bright in the sun it was nearly blinding, and Ron had to blink twice before his gaze could focus.

When the older Malfoy noticed them passing by to head further into the garden, he raised a hand to wave at them – a little childishly, if you asked Draco, but Ron couldn't help but find the whole movement rather cute, a word he'd never thought he'd ever use to describe Malfoy, let alone his father.

Draco rolled his eyes and called, “your gay is showing!” to which Lucius quite visible hmphed and folded his arms in front of his chest. The younger blond just stuck out his tongue petulantly and led Ron on towards the back of the yard where the grass ran into trees and bushes.

Behind the trees lay a big pond marking the end of the estate – large enough to swim or sail on, as indicated by an old-fashioned wooden dock settled a bit off.

Draco set the reed basket down and opened it up to get a blanket out. He had apparently prepared everything they needed, and Ron couldn't help but coo inwardly at the thought, so adorable it was. When the blond had laid out the blanket and began busying himself with the food he had put into the basket with utmost care before, Ron silently approached him from behind and then wrapped him in a tight hug.

The younger boy started a bit at the sudden embrace, but then allowed himself to be pulled back into the strong chest, turning his head slightly so he could send the redhead a questioning look.

“I missed you,” Ron murmured into the blond's cheek, revelling in the soft smell of roses and vanilla.

Draco tried to act coy, but Ronald could tell he was fighting a smile.

“We spoke just yesterday,” the blond retaliated stubbornly – pressing a kiss to Ronald's lips anyway, as if to say I missed you too.

They sat on the blanket together, turning over to lie on their belly so they could watch the ducklings in the pond, whilst they ate the sandwiches Draco had prepared – really diligently too, making sure all of them had cut off crust and formed perfect little triangles. After the sandwiches they had fruit and pumpkin pasties and expensive chocolate that melted in Ron's mouth and left behind a deep, rich flavour.

When  Draco sat up and fished an old-fashioned muggle camera from the basket in order to take a picture of the ducks, Ron plopped the last grape into his mouth and then made himself comfortable in the blond boy's lap, resting his head on one of the strong thighs.

Draco looked down at him questioningly from behind the camera, but the redhead just shrugged, “just getting comfortable for a post-meal nap!” he murmured under his breath.

Draco snorted, not commenting any further, and snapped a picture of the scenery in front of them. He held his hand out for the paper that popped out of the upside of the camera, and then waited for the picture to reveal itself. Ron watched the blond boy as he scrutinized the picture and then snapped another, wriggling his nose rather adorably. He took a third picture, and then abruptly looked down at Ron.

The redhead blushed when he realized he'd been caught staring, knowing it was no use to avert his eyes now. Draco gave him an unreadable look, and then promptly dipped down his head to kiss the older boy in earnest.

It felt like they hadn’t kissed in ages and Ron decided to savour every second of this moment for future reference. The way Draco’s hair tickled his cheek and the smaller hand grasped onto his own – the swell of his own heart at the feeling of trust emanating from the younger Slytherin. He was dating Draco Malfoy. It was as if he’d forgotten for a moment what that felt like.

Just as abruptly the blond pulled back, focusing again on his camera.

Ron soon dozed off with his head still in the other boy’s lap, the sound of the wind rustling the trees and Draco’s slender fingers running through his hair soothing him. He dreamt of watermelon and blonde hair and a foreign place where nothing hurt and nothing was a secret and everything felt like cotton candy in his stomach. He woke with the blond’s hand still in his hair, but Draco’s fingers had become lazy, the blonde’s eyes focused on the sky.

He wanted to ask why – but Draco explained without needing be asked, without Ron even signalling he’d woken. It was almost a little creepy, how Draco could read him so easily.

“It looks like rain,” his voice was pensive, “scars hurt when it rains.”

It sounded more like an afterthought than anything else, and Ronald’s eyes automatically flit to the arm where he knew Draco’s scar was hidden. He had never dared to ask the boy about how the magically engraved dark mark had turned into nothing but a lump of mangled flesh in the course of mere months, but then it looked like it had hurt and Ronald was almost completely certain the dark mark had not disappeared without at least some help from the blonde.

To be honest, talking about anything war-related was painful, and they were all just trying to move on – they would be returning to Hogwarts after summer, and if that wasn’t an awkward thought, then uttering the words: “hey didn’t you use to have the dark mark where that big obvious scar is?” sure was.

To add to that Ron had noticed Draco’s effort at hiding it – he wore bandages when he wore short sleeved shirts, and when he had long sleeves he would tug at the left one every now and then, as if to make sure nothing of his bare skin was showing. It took an idiot not to notice that Draco was not willing to share whatever had happened, so why would Ronald ever feel the need to push him into telling?

Except that now Draco was looking a little bit heartbroken and so fragile – Ron rarely saw him like this, despite the fact that he himself would let all his sadness and disappointment show on his face whenever he deemed it fit. The Malfoy however, tried to keep sadness bottled up in a little place inside of him, where even Ronald was usually not allowed to reach.

The redhead softly grabbed onto the pale wrist, searching into the other boy’s eyes for any sign of discomfort.

“How about I redress your bandages for you?” he suggested, hoping he sounded soft and caring – instead of curious and prying, “I have a hunch I could be pretty good at it.”

Draco laughed – and it was light and bubbly too, as if he really meant it and he had never met anyone as funny as Ron in his life – the dimples in his cheeks showing. There was no hesitation when he nodded, and then urged Ron to stand up.

“I wouldn’t want to be caught in the rain,” he waved his wand to clean up their plates and left-overs and sent a glance Ron’s way.

Ron had never seen Draco insecure about anything – and he didn’t expect this to be any different, really. Malfoys had a way of being in control – and if they weren’t they faked it until they made it, which had always seemed to work extremely well for them.

So it was that Draco led Ron back to the house as if nothing scary or bad had ever happened and they were still just having a nice and normal date on a normal day and the sun was still shining. But it wasn’t, and Ronald’s palms had started sweating.

Draco’s father was no longer on the patio, and he was nowhere to be seen even as the boys made their way up to the younger Malfoy’s bedroom. They didn’t say a word, neither of them – not even as they sat down on the chaise longue chair and Draco left momentarily to get new dressings and some lotion. It took him a while to come back, but Ron guessed he needed some time to compose himself – he knew the younger boy was not accustomed to wearing his heart on his sleeve, let alone show any sign of weakness.

They didn’t speak as Ron carefully reached out to roll up the sleeve of the blonde’s thin shirt – apparently Draco had not been wearing bandages to begin with, and Ron had to admit that seeing the scar up close for the first time was a little shocking in the harsh light of the sun. It seemed to bulge out of the pale skin angrily, hissing red and pink and purple. There were even places where the skin had not healed, even though Ron knew the blonde must have had the wound for a while now, and there were still crusts and bloody spots that seemed to be on the verge of opening up again. It stretched out all the way from the pale wrist to the elbow, the edges frayed.

Ron wasn’t per say known for his gentleness, but he tried his utmost to not cause his date any pain as he started lathering the scar with salve.

“It was a mistake,” Draco’s voice was sober and business-like and he was staring resolutely at the window.

“We all make those,” Ron granted.

“I mean,” the blond took a small breath, closed his eyes, and when he opened them again the blue skies outside the window were turning grey. The room darkened and Ron put some more salve on the pale under arm for good measure, “taking it. And then… cutting it. I’d had a discussion with Blaise about it, you see,” he waved the comment off as if it was trivial, “he never minded. But when I realized how rotten his heart was it seemed to remind me that to other people, I am rotten too, because of this,” he gave a dismissive nod toward his arm and Ronald tried to give him a sympathetic look and unravel the bandage at the same time, “suddenly it was more than being ashamed of the decision I had made – suddenly, it seemed as if living with it was just not an option,” he balled his one fist and made eye contact with the redhead next to him. Ron stopped his fumbling momentarily to meet the stern gaze, not expecting what came next: “something had to go, me or the dark mark.”

He made this half snort half laugh kind of sound and shook his head. Big fat drops of rain plopped against the windows, and Draco focused his eyes on the outside world again, “it nearly took me with it too,” his voice turned to a mere whisper, as if he was confessing an embarrassing secret instead of sharing a scarring experience, “my father cried by my bed all through recovery, every time he tried to heal me up the magic of the mark would reject him. He has his own covered up with some magical skin cream you see – couldn’t understand why I didn’t just do the same. He forgave himself so easily for a decision he made as a father protecting his son,” the sound of the rain was almost overwhelming now, thudding against the glass so that Ron had to strain to hear the blond’s voice, “but he doesn’t get it. I was in school with Potter, I took class under Dumbledore. They were more to me than simple assignments and it was not as simple as my family or them.”

Much like the raindrops made their way down the large windows, so did tears make their way down pale cheeks. Ron carefully wrapped the bandage around the boy’s arm and wished he had the courage to reach out and wipe the tears away, but he had a hunch that Draco was not yet finished and that distracting him would only cause him to close down.

“My father lost the love of his life trying to say no, and then I was all that was left and he was afraid of losing me too, you see, and that fear enraged him and consumed him and made him into this hard and cold man and every decision he made was haunted by this scenario the dark Lord had created for him, your lover or the world, and then it became your son or the world and the second time around it was not so easy to be brave–“ he took another deep breath and Ron finished wrapping his arm, letting the words sink in, “and I never wanted to lose him either, but somehow choosing to agree to killing Dumbledore and then helping them get into a castle filled with innocent children should not have been so easy.”

Ron moved his hand to hold onto Draco’s hand and was relieved when the blond didn’t pull back.

“I imagine it wasn’t easy at all,” Ron soothed, hoping to take that look of self-loathing off Draco’s face, “you are not a bad person for the bad things Voldemort made you do.”

A shiver ran through the blond’s body at the mention of the man’s name, and then he shook his head and glanced at Ron momentarily.

“But, this thing was a reminder of the things I did do,” he looked down at their linked hands and a soft smile took over his features – Ron felt a fondness fill his heart at the sight of it. A Draco in pieces was still a gorgeous one, but nothing could beat the look of that smile that was now all Ron’s, “and I couldn’t just let it sit there – not like Blaise would have,” he said with some bite, locked his eyes with Ron’s and continued with no uncertainties: “if I wanted to be a better person, I needed it to go. It seemed like a good idea at the time, the knife, but then a lot of things seemed like a good idea at that time. The thought that I would never be able to become a better person for my father who fought so hard to keep me was crippling until I couldn’t even think and I guess I wanted to do more than just make him proud – I wanted to be able to be proud too. I thought it was the first right decision I made in years, but when I woke up my father was in tears and my arm was throbbing.”

Ron’s thumb drew patterns on Draco’s skin. The blond wiped at his own tears and they let the sound of the rain deafen them for a moment.

“You did what you had to do to protect your father,” Ron hoped he could get through to the other boy – he knew how stubborn Draco could be, but figured that if he just put enough caring in his voice the blond would be able to feel it, “you are a good person, who’s had bad things happen to him. I believe that – and this,” he lifted Draco’s hand to his face and pressed a kiss on top of the bandages, “this is proof of that.”

For a moment it looked as if Draco was going to cry again, but then he just let out a deep sigh and frowned. Ron felt kind of lost – he wasn’t sure what Draco was feeling, and even if he would know, he wouldn’t know how to fix it. How could he undo something that had been festering inside the blond for such a long time – for years, even?

“You remember how I told you about the department of mysteries?” Ron gave Draco a small smile, hoping to convey some of his love through his face, “and I said I was attacked by brains? Except that actually, I was the one that used accio to summon them and…” he rolled up his sleeves, revealing the pale scars running over his underarms, “they don’t hurt when it rains. Maybe yours will stop too, one day.”

Draco’s long fingers reached out to touch at the scarred flesh – he had gripped onto those strong arms many times before, yet he had never taken notice of them. There was a slight discolouring, the skin a little pink, but otherwise the scars were very faint and almost completely gone.

Just when Ron was afraid the blond would start crying again, he started smiling – a broad, all-teeth smile.

“Leave it to you to think accio brain is a good idea,” there was mirth in his voice and then mirth in his eyes and then they were both just laughing, so hard Ron almost fell off the chaise longue.

With the rain beating down on the manor they stayed holed up in the room for the rest of the day, Draco showing Ron his room properly – the redhead was so excited he could finally explore this private space where the blond spent most of his time growing up – especially interested in all the framed pictures scattered between the books. Most of the photos Draco kept in his bedroom were of himself and his father, some were of the late Severus Snape, and some were of Draco’s friends at Hogwarts – there was one of Draco with a boy Ron recognised as Theodore Nott. Then there were a whole array of pictures of Draco at different ages with a chubby blonde girl Ron had never seen.

It seemed that Draco used to travel with his father a lot when he was younger, and there were pictures of a young Draco holding his father’s hand in front of what Ron recognised to be a famous Japanese temple. When Draco talked about his journeys with his father it was with an unadulterated excitement colouring his voice beautifully. Ron was getting lost in how happy the blond looked as he shared his experiences with him, how his smile reached his eyes and his hand absentmindedly stroked Ron’s.

Ron in turn talked about his time spent in Egypt, a country Draco had never been but was dying to visit sometime. It was amazing what a good listener the younger boy was, and it was as if he knew exactly what questions to ask in order to make Ron feel just that tad bit sentimental as he thought back.

There were two pictures that didn’t have Draco in them – one was of his father, and what Ron was sure was the late mister Potter. They were much younger in the photograph, and appeared to be at Hogwarts, wearing their respective house-robes. They were talking, oblivious to the outside world, and James would say something making Lucius laugh and then the scene would replay.

The other one was of Severus Snape and a slightly smaller boy – Ron vaguely felt like he had seen the man’s face before, but couldn’t correctly place it in his mind. The younger boy had his arm swung around the former potions teacher’s neck, and they were grinning at the camera – the picture didn’t move.

When Ron asked him about it, he simply said he liked having pictures of his loved ones in love.

“Those pictures have managed to catch my father and godfather at their happiest – I never want to forget what that looks like.”

That evening Ron left the manor more in love than he had ever imagined he’d been – and he wondered, if he were to take a picture of himself with Draco, would they too, be at their happiest? Would they too, end up on Draco’s shelve as an ever-present reminder of what happiness looks like?

***

Chapter Text

Fireworks (9)

 

It was two days later at breakfast when a big barn owl landed on Harry’s shoulder with a letter from Sirius and Remus.

“It seems like they’ve finally finished moving properly,” Harry said excitedly, “they’re having a house-warming! Everyone’s invited and Remus says to bring friends!”

Ginny perked up at the words, happily munching on her toast as she exclaimed: “brilliant! I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to ask Luna out!”

Next to her the twins frowned, “wait what? Weren’t you into blokes?”

Ginny huffed indignantly, “honestly, never heard of a little thing called bisexuality?”

Bill and Charlie bellowed with laughter as the twins shared a look of befuddlement and Ginny took her plate to the sink, rolling her eyes.

“Good on you Gin,” Ron heard himself saying before realising – he had been thinking about how sweet Draco’s voice had sounded on the phone earlier that morning, and how his sleepy teasing had set lose an army of hippogriffs on Ron’s stomach, “she’d be lucky to have you!”

Ginny gave him a look as if she wasn’t sure he was serious. The twins gave him a rather similar look and Harry continued on reading, undisturbed.

“Thanks Ron,” soon a big smile was taking over her features and she gave him a quick hug on her way to the living room, “I’ll go give her a ring!”

The redhead nearly skipped her way to the next room, and Fred scraped his throat.

“You knew about this?” he asked, a little off-put.

“What does it matter?” Ron just shrugged his shoulders – he was hardly one to judge, was he? “As long as she’s happy. That’s all I want for her.”

It looked as if Bill was about to speak when Harry suddenly perked up – his godfather’s letter had been too engrossing for him to care if the world happened to explode – giving Ron a weird look.

“He says to bring Malfoy,” five words Ron had never expected to come from his best friend’s mouth – he nearly dropped his tea.

“What?” his brows met in confusion and the twins groaned in disbelief.

“Oh come on? Why do people like that sod?”

“He’s not a sod!” Ron replied hot-headedly, “You don’t even know him!”

“Apparently Sirius invited Lucius who had to work, so in order not to make Draco feel uncomfortable by showing up by himself he asks if you could invite him along instead,” Harry blinked stupidly. Then he blinked again, “Who knew they were friends?”

Ron tried not to blush too hard when he thought back to the pictures he had seen on the Malfoy patriarch’s mantelpiece. His ears burned up nonetheless and he coughed, embarrassed, before mumbling: “I think Draco might have mentioned it before.”

Harry stared at him.

“But if he and Sirius are friends, do you think…” he didn’t finish his sentence, but he didn’t need to – growing up without his parents, and a bitter few who remembered them in their younger days, had always been hard for Harry.

Even though Sirius and Remus would often tell him stories about them, Harry was always excited to meet other people who had known his mother or father – he loved listening to new little tidbits about them, and Ron had found him many nights in front of the fire, talking to Sirius intimately about his father’s Hogwarts years.

How was Ron supposed to tell him that Lucius Malfoy, still very much alive and kicking, could probably tell him every intimate detail he wanted to know? Even better, how could he, after he had promised Draco to keep the secret theirs?

He coughed awkwardly.

“I… I’m not sure mate,” he hoped he didn’t sound too awkward, as that would surely give away his lie, “I don’t really talk with him, do I? Draco just mentioned they hung out sometimes.”

“I guess it’s not unlikely…” Harry tried to shrug off his own eagerness, “After all Regulus was a Slytherin, and he was close to my dad at Hogwarts too! And Regulus was close to Snape who was close to Malfoy so…” Ron could see the gears turn inside the raven’s head, and his own brow furrowed – Regulus Black, was that the boy he had seen next to Snape? He remembered seeing a picture of the boy at Grimmauld place, but it was years ago and he could barely remember what his face had looked like, “Brilliant, I’ll ask Malfo— Draco about it at the party!”

This shook Ron from his reverie – he wasn’t sure if Draco would be so willing to talk about a past that had been extremely painful for his father, or that he even knew all the details. He was also relatively sure that the blond would not put up his own father for grabs that easily, and would not like the idea of him being submitted to a series of questions from an over-zealous Harry Potter – and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be responsible for putting Draco in such an awkward spot either. Surely Draco would not be opposed to the idea of accompanying Ronald to the party, but knowing there would be people who would be less than thrilled to see him would make him feel a little uneasy, Ron was sure – the last thing they would need in an already stressful situation was an excited Harry Potter asking about his father’s ex-lover.

“You know what mate,” Ron decided then and there to do the only sensible thing he could think of – he cared about Harry, but the way he cared about Draco was just different and he felt it was his duty to keep the younger blond safe from any possible harm, “how about I ask him? I’ll go ask him now!”

Harry’s eyes widened as Ron jumped off his seat, and he nodded, slightly surprised.

“Yeah sure, that’ll work too!” he grinned, looking back at Sirius’s letter, “Don’t forget to ask him about the party!”

The twins groaned in unison and before Ron could scold them Charlie swatted at their heads.

“Stop being immature twits, Draco is adorable!”

And now adorable was not the exact word Ron would use to describe the youngest Malfoy, but they were close enough.

He was a little apprehensive as he called up Draco – waiting patiently for Ginny to finish her talk with Luna and then receiving another tighter hug and an excited “she said yes!” before the girl left, cheering all the way to her room – and rubbed his sweaty palm against his jeans as the phone rang.

They had talked about pretty sensitive things only recently and Ron was not sure if either of them was eager to drag up the past again so soon. Then again, he knew Draco would appreciate the warning and also knew Draco had heard only fond stories of the late mister Potter, so perhaps asking him about it would not at all be catastrophically.

It turned out to be quite the opposite when first of all, Draco seemed absolutely delighted to have been invited to Sirius’s housewarming, figuring he was not expected since his father could not attend. Then when Ron explained the conversation that had just took place and how Harry was really excited to learn more about his father and that Ron in no way wanted to put Draco or his father on the spot, the other side of the line went silent suddenly. Ron’s palm started sweating again, I’ve done it now, but then Draco just continued easily.

He told Ronald not to worry, and that he was sure his father wouldn’t mind sharing some of the none-intimate details of their relationship, as he knew what it felt like to still feel so intrigued by the past. They continued talking a bit more about the party and about how Ron couldn’t wait to see him again and Draco laughed softly and Ron wished he could hear that sound every day for the rest of his life, not through the static of the phone.

Ron was not sure how he was supposed to tell him that, so instead he just pressed his mouth closer to the receiver as if he’d be able to taste the other boy and then he whispered “I miss you” and then Draco was saying it back and they both hung up a little awkwardly but still very much in love.

Two days later all Weasleys – minus Ginny and Percy – arrived one by one through the fireplace in the Malfoy living room, Hermione and Harry filling in last.

Lucius Malfoy was seated in the canape facing the fireplace, reading a book with his travel cloak already on. He looked as regal as ever, his long hair tied back to rest on his shoulder, his long fingers posed on the back of his book.

He stood, however, as soon as the guests started arriving, greeting Ron with a welcoming nod – Ron was proud to think that the Malfoy patriarch had been warming up to him a lot lately.

“Ah, mister Weasley, Draco told me your friend was—“ he stopped short when Harry stepped out and focused on him instead – if the resemblance with his deceased lover struck him in anyway, he did not let it show, “Mister Potter, I did some digging around in the attic,” Ron had to suppress a snort – he highly doubted the Malfoys had an attic and if they did he was also relatively sure Lucius did not need to search so far to find anything related to James Potter, “I found this and thought you might want it.”

He took a paper from his coat and handed it over to Harry, who looked at it in surprise. Ron looked over his shoulder as he revealed a picture of a boy who looked exactly like him, riding a broom – James Potter was wearing khakis and a green woollen sweater, waving at the camera before leading his broom into a summersault. Harry stared at the photo in awe for several minutes, before raising his eyes to meet the taller blonde’s.

“I’ve never seen a picture of my dad flying before,” he said slowly – as if he wasn’t very sure if he should say anything at all.

“He was very good at it,” Lucius spoke kindly, and after weeks of talking to Draco Ron knew for sure he was trying to stop too much emotion from seeping in, “he used to be a chaser, I believe.”

They were distracted when Hermione arrived next in the fireplace, and just like that Lucius turned to the door to call for his son. Ron slapped Harry’s back – partly to let him know he was there for him, and partly to reduce his own stress slightly. He had never expected to have to greet Draco with his whole family there to watch, and felt a little disheartened knowing that he would not be able to hold the boy in his arms.

“Draco!” Lucius called a second time when there was no answer, and then they heard the sound of heels clacking on marble.

“Honestly father, I’m here, don’t get your panties in a twist!” the blond stopped still in the doorway when he realised they had an audience, suddenly a little embarrassed at his own choice of words.

Lucius merely rolled his eyes, tapping his foot impatiently, “I was hoping your foul mouth would go with mister Zabini.”

At this Draco merely glared, “but father, Mister Zabini is not where I got my foul mouth.”

Ron repressed a chortle – always so sassy. Lucius gave his son a long hard look before relenting: “fair enough. Let me see that.”

Draco stepped fully into the room, handing over the gift he had just finished wrapping to his father – and Ron just wanted to swoon, because he was wearing these really simple black jeans that hugged his waist beautifully, and a dark blue shirt revealing his pale underarms – one diligently wrapped in bandages – and collar bone. There was a black emblem embroidered on his chest, and a dark necklace around his neck. His wand hand was adorned with heavy-set rings, his black travel coat floating around him as he moved gracefully. And all Ron wanted to do was run across the room and hold him tight – this boy that he was just getting to know, this boy that shared his secrets now, this boy that he had learned to trust, with all his heart.

Lucius took the present in his hands, examining it – Ronald saw that Draco had wrapped the gift in a dark red paper and couldn’t help but smile fondly – then clicked his tongue against his teeth.

“Honestly Draco, I thought your godfather taught you how to make a proper bow?” the blond took out his wand and Draco jutted out his under lip just slightly – the Malfoy pout Ron had learned to recognise and love.

“Severus was rubbish at tying bows,” Draco defended himself, “he was the most rubbish bow-tier in Slytherin history!”

Charlie and Bill sniggered and Lucius rolled his eyes. He tapped his wand to the present and the formerly slightly lopsided bow tightened itself and curled itself at the ends.

“Now what do you say when mister Black and mister Lupin announce that they are living together?” the older Malfoy gave the present back to his son, looking at him expectantly.

“Oh wauw, I had no idea you were gay for each other since you were fifteen, you see, my father is excellent at keeping secrets,” drawled Draco, earning another laugh from the Weasleys.

Lucius kissed the crown of his head, “marvellous, I wouldn’t want an enraged Sirius Black on my doorstep.”

The tall blond gave everyone a nod, before leaving the room. When Draco turned to them Ron thought his heart might burst out of his chest – because their eyes met and he fell in love all over again. His wrists – pale hands contrasting with the colour of his gift – seemed to sing to him, hold me they chanted, hold me.

The trip to the cottage Sirius and Remus had moved to was uneventful – except that Ron had some trouble repressing the urge to simply take Draco’s hand in his. When they arrived most guests were already there, gathered in the garden. Everyone was talking and enjoying themselves, and despite Draco’s apprehension no one seemed to be mustering up courage to insult him or anything of the likes.

Sirius and Remus greeted them with the biggest smiles possible, Sirius hugging Harry extra tight as they had not seen each other in a couple of weeks. Sirius’ face was so handsome now, fuller than it had been for a long time, looking more than ever like his younger self. The top buttons of his shirt were undone to show off a little bit of chest and dark ink.

There was a big dog bouncing after them, sniffling at the feet of the newcomers – Draco recognised it as a shiba inu and petted it gently in greeting. It was a reddish colour with a white chest, and listened to the name James – which seemed to amuse the blond to no end.

Remus was the first one to notice Draco and express his delight at seeing him again, and when Sirius elaborated that they were moving in with each other, Draco pretended to be only faintly surprised as he said: “how modern of you,” which had the oldest Black son laughing.

Everyone presented their gifts to the couple as Nymphadora joined their small group, looking on as Sirius and Remus unwrapped utensils they could use in their new home. Ron tried to inexplicitly ooze comfort and support Draco’s way as the boy offered his own gift to the men – he didn’t know what it was, but he knew Draco had made it himself, and was very curious as to what it could be.

It was a beautifully handcrafted frame made of black wood and white, bright flowers, reminding Ron of the night sky. The small specks of white moved slowly through the wood, sometimes disappearing and then re-appearing, mimicking the light of sparkling stars. Inside was a life-like drawing of four men, grinning in the frame – Draco was even better at drawing than Ron had previously guessed, as it looked almost exactly like a picture. In the middle was the happy couple, their face youthful and smiling – Sirius’s hair cut short to just below his chin, as Ron had seen it once in a picture – sharing a Gryffindor scarf, Remus’s nose dotted by a snowflake. Next to Remus was young James Potter, his grin wide – just like Harry’s was – head covered with a red woollen hat. The smaller boy next to Sirius was wearing a Slytherin scarf, sticking out his tongue to catch some of the falling snowflakes – Draco had drawn them all with their arms around each other, emanating friendship and comradery and love.

In it was Sirius, Remus, James and –

“Why is he in there? Regulus was a Death Eater,” Nymphadora frowned, her voice snide.

Sirius hands trembled and Remus shot a look the woman’s way – before anyone could agree or disagree with her though, Draco took Sirius’s hand carefully, helping him hold the frame more securely.

“The world isn’t split in good people and Death Eaters,” he said softly – so soft Ron was sure not everyone had heard him, but Sirius had, and that was what mattered, “your brother was both.”

Remus smiled at that, hugging into Sirius from behind.

“It’s beautiful Draco,” he gave Draco a warm smile, looking back at his lover, “weren’t we just saying how we need more pictures of our loved ones? This will go great on the mantle.”

Just like that the awkwardness kind of dissolved itself, and soon the group was spreading out to talk to other guests. Ron stayed by Draco’s side as Harry talked to Sirius and Hagrid, and they went and talked to the oldest Weasleys for a long time. Then Sirius was coming over saying he wanted to introduce someone to Draco, and Ginny and Luna showed up to talk to Harry, Ron and Hermione. Even as they got separated, Ron made sure to keep an eye on the blonde – the boy was absolutely charming, talking to everyone in a pleasant voice and showing them their undivided attention for as long as they seemed to be in need of it. He played with James so intently, giving him tummy-rubs whenever the dog padded over to him – scratching him behind his ears and near his butt which made the shiba howl with contentment.

Ron couldn’t be happier than he was here, in the presence of his friends and family, knowing that everyone was trying their best to move on and give a chance to people they usually wouldn’t even speak to – it was incredible how far they had come in such a short time. It was incredible how far he had come with Draco in such a short time – he was still often nervous and could not believe his luck, but he could not imagine his younger self, doubting the beautiful blonde had even an ounce of goodness in him. From what Ron had seen of him, he was always just trying to be the best him he could be – and it endeared Ron in a manner most surreal.

He was momentarily distracted when Fred and George joined their group talking about some fireworks they planned to set off later on the evening as a surprise for Sirius and Remus, and when he looked back to where Draco had been talking with Sirius, Seamus, Dean, and Kingsley Shacklebolt, the blonde had disappeared.

Frowning he looked around the garden – nowhere was the shimmer of golden locks to be seen. Minutes ticked by as he looked carefully if he couldn’t see the boy in any of the other groups, Charlie joining them which went unnoticed. Ron felt a slight panic build up in his stomach, and grasped onto Remus’ arm as the man passed them by.

“Remus,” his voice sounded a bit desperate, and Remus looked at him with big eyes at the uncharismatic behaviour, “have you seen Draco?”

“Oh yes,” Remus smiled, seemingly relieved that nothing worrisome was going on, “his friend came by. He used to be in Hogwarts too, what’s his name again…”

“Blaise Zabini?” Ron’s heart filled with dread as Charlie cut in, voice serious.

“That’s the one! He was waiting for Draco in the living and—“ he was cut off when Ron and Charlie both rushed passed him to get to the house, followed by Ginny and Luna, and even the twins.

It didn’t take very long to spot them, as most guests were outside – there was a small group of Bill, Harry, Neville, two witches and Arthur Weasley talking next to the table with the appetizers, and across the room, Draco and Blaise.

They seemed to be arguing, albeit Draco was trying his hardest to keep his voice down. When Blaise grasped onto the pale forearm and raised his voice, Ron drew his wand, ready to step in – however, Bill stopped him.

“Let’s give them a chance to talk and go in if it goes wrong,” his brother said – now Ron didn’t want to agree, but he also knew that Draco would not appreciate having his strength questioned so publically.

Instead the Malfoy pulled himself from the dark boy’s grasp as Blaise bellowed: “I can agree that perhaps my judgement was clouded when I took that other guy to bed, but do you honestly feel such deep hatred for me that you do not only dump me but also decide to socialise with these… these…” he waved around helplessly, his loud voice drawing the attention as Remus and Sirius also entered the house, “traitors!”

“Blaise,” Draco’s voice was calm and composed, but sounded extremely loud in the suddenly too-silent room – the two witches and Arthur had gone completely quiet, and Harry was looking at Bill as if trying to decide whether they needed to intervene, “none of this concerns you. Please leave.”

His tone was harsh, and Ron knew that if he was ever on the receiving end of those cold words, he would probably flee with his tail between his legs – the Malfoy’s voice had this way of breaking one’s heart.

Blaise however, seemed only more enraged.

“None of this concerns me?” he raged, “Baby, for years I stood by you, for years we shared each other’s fear and happiness and worries and secrets,” Blaise shook his head, “we fought side by side and I would have laid down my life for you! Am I supposed to just stand by and watch you betray everything you stood for?”

Draco glared.

“We stood for nothing, which is why we fell,” he bit, “you want to know why they won?” he pointed vaguely in the direction of the garden, “Because they let the loss of their loved ones encourage them, not ground them. They didn’t let the fear of losing more force their hand. We didn’t fight for our own beliefs or convictions, we fought of fear for the consequences if we didn’t.”

Blaise looked as if he was going to go insane – his eyes bulged out of his sockets and his fists balled by his side. Ron felt a fear grip his heart – Draco was a changed man, so much he knew, but was Blaise?

“Babe…” he spoke much more softly this time, desperation seeping through his voice, “we hated these people. We hated the Weasleys and everything they represented! Have you forgotten about that?”

Ron could see the exact moment when Draco’s ever-lasting patience snapped – there was a stern in his jaw and his eyes bore holes in the other Slytherin’s. A shudder went through the entire room.

“You think I’ve forgotten what it feels like to hate them?” his voice was like venom – next to Ron, Harry whimpered at the sound, “I am reminded of it every day. My father used to tell stories,” he drawled, waving his hand around gracefully, his rings flickering in the light, “of this redheaded man and woman, of how they were purebloods with a bunch of redheaded children,” he gave a nod to where the Weasleys were standing, looking on to the Slytherins in shock, “and they knew poverty and hard work but they were happy,” Ron could tell by the sudden crack in his voice that this was not the end of this story he had to tell, and braced himself for what was to come, “and I felt such anger, to know that there were families out there, purebloods meant to answer to the call but except they were just—“ Draco shrugged in distaste, as if it was funny – but it wasn’t and Ron felt not anger, but sadness, “overlooked. Do you think Arthur Weasley would still be smiling if it had been his door the Dark Lord had knocked on? Would he still be considered good if it had been his lover that was killed after he had refused?”

The tension in the room could be cut with a knife when Blaise reached out to touch Draco but instead the blond pulled back as if he had been touched by fire, spitting: “I remember how your mother cried all during fifth year – did you forget how she wailed and screamed at night? Did you forget the stories?” Blaise looked like he was about to cry, but Draco couldn’t stop – it seemed that now that he was finally talking about all these emotions that Ronald knew he had been keeping bottled up, that he had been so unwilling to share during their last date, he couldn’t stop going until he was done, “Severus, the strongest man we knew, writhing on the floor, crying, begging, paying for the crime his lover committed? Regulus Black, bravest man Slytherin has ever seen, left to rot,” next to Ron, Sirius seemed to be close to tears, and Ron could feel Remus shifting behind them to hug the older man, “did you forget third year, where Severus told us being sent to Azkaban would have been a merciful release after experiencing the Dark Lord’s cruciatus? Did you forget about all the hiding spots in the house that our parents taught us since we were children, just in case?” Ron closed his eyes – he wished for a moment that he could un-hear what Draco was saying, because the idea that that had been the boy’s reality since he was a child, was heart breaking, “did you forget what it was like to live in fear before knowing fear itself and how that fear felt like injustice? Because I remember being six and Severus telling me that there were worse things than death – and that the Dark Lord knew them all.”

A sob broke the eerie silence and Ron’s eyes shot open – to his surprise it was not Draco or Blaise, but Luna, who had sobbed into Ginny’s shoulder as they stared on in awe. Draco wrapped his arms around himself for comfort, and Ron just wanted to reach out and hold him – but he was frozen on the spot when the blond opened his mouth again, voice cold as ice.

“My father has to live with that every day – knowing that if he had not refused, the love of his life would still be alive and yes, it used to make me so angry,” he growled the last word, and nodded his chin back to where Neville was standing, stock-still, next to the appetizers, “watching Longbottom and knowing that every summer I got to go home where that woman had walked, where she had spoken dirty lies to my mother, where she would kill for any slip up. Seeing that boy fail over and over again but never giving up,” Neville bit lip at the mention of Bellatrix, his eyes shooting from Draco to Blaise and back, “as if he had not suffered any loss, and I felt angry, but most of all I felt weak,” he spit the word as if it was dirty in his mouth, “and I don’t ever want to have to feel weak again,” he shook his head, and this time when Blaise reached out for him, he allowed the boy to take his hand, “the thing is, we don’t have to anymore.”

“Draco…” Blaise sounded close to tears, his voice thin in the silent room, “How?”

“My father grows flowers and puts them on his lover’s grave and they talk for the longest time about a brighter future,” the blond smiled softly at his own feet, but then Blaise took his other hand as well, and he looked up again, “your mother gets to kiss her mirror image before going to sleep at night knowing that her decisions paid off, that she is still here to support you and that you are still safe by her side,” this time when there was a sob, it was Blaise’s, who made an ugly sound in the back of his throat as tears broke free from his eyes, “and I get to not feel jealousy looking at other’s people’s happiness and bravery. Instead I get to work for my own. And when somebody doesn’t treat me right, I get to say enough, and there is no fear.

“Draco,” Blaise sobbed again – and Ron had to admit despite not feeling any affection for the boy, watching Draco shake his hands off was sad to watch.

“Blaise, I cannot be this scared little version of myself that you would have me be.”

“I never thought of you as scared!” Blaise suddenly yelled through his tears – a big contrast to how calmly Draco had spoken, “Every corner of the room Bellatrix showed you, I remember! Every time you wiped your godfather’s tears! When your mother threw you down the stairs! When Potter hexed you and you almost bled out! I never thought of you as weak! Every insult you threw at that weasel’s face I thought you were brave! I never thought of you as scared until you tried to cut your mark out like that filthy mudblood you now associate with.”

Before anyone could even react to the insult, Draco had slapped the other boy across his face – the sound of it so loud it reverberated through the room – everyone that had been ready to surge forward and yell at the Slytherin was shocked as the boy grabbed at his cheek in shock, Draco’s eyes gleaming with anger.

“Hermione Granger is the brightest witch I have ever met,” Draco snapped, “you thought that was bravery? That was jealousy and hate, a naïve boy’s excuse for intolerance.”

Blaise didn’t say anything for the longest time. Draco wiped off imaginary dust off his clothes, straightening them properly.

“Go home Blaise,” he said finally, nodding his head to the front door, “hug your mother. The war is over, but we are still here. Don’t waste that.”

“Baby…” Blaise dropped his hands to his sides as he gave Draco one last, pleading look.

When the blond just stared him down, his final resolve seemed to crumble. He let out a shuddering breath and wiped at his face. Then, he straightened his back and walked away – he tried not to show the hurt on his face but it was hard to miss, his hands bailed into fists – making sure to slam the door on his way out.

“Draco…” the blond seemed to jump when Sirius spoke his name suddenly – he turned to look at the small crowd that had gathered, as if he had forgotten about them altogether.

When he realised he had just caused a major scene at the house warming party of his relative, he felt his cheek heat slightly in embarrassment. Ron was still shaken by the wave of emotions that had just passed through him – that didn’t stop him from noticing the pink hue and thinking it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

“Mister Black, mister Lupin, I am so sorry—“ Sirius crossed the room in big, quick, strides and gathered the younger boy in his arms, breaking down on his shoulder.

“You remind me of him,” Sirius sobbed, clamping on to the smaller body – Ron wasn’t sure who he meant, but Draco seemed to understand immediately, “So much.”

“It was not my intention to—“ he looked over Sirius’ shoulder at Ron, helplessly trying to make eye contact as Sirius cried a little harder.

Luckily Remus came over quickly, as Bill and Arthur led the people who had gathered in the room back outside so that Sirius could have a moment to himself. Harry looked back over his shoulder, worried, as he too was shooed out the door, followed by Ginny, Luna and Neville. Remus gently pried the crying man off the Malfoy boy, cooing sweet nothings in his ear.

“I apologise,” Draco repeated in a hushed voice to Remus, “I didn’t mean to…”

“Don’t worry Draco,” Remus smiled softly, running a hand through Sirius’ long hair, “it’s good for people to hear the other side of things too.”

His smile turned apologetic, and he winked before leading Sirius to the stairs – presumably to bring him somewhere to rest.

Arthur closed the wooden doors to the garden with a soft click as they had successfully brought the last of the guests outside – and just like that Ron found himself alone in the living room with Draco.

The chatter from outside was nothing more than a soft hum, and Draco seemed to be completely unperturbed by it – he was looking at the staircase where Remus and Sirius had disappeared mere seconds ago. The hot summer sun was streaming inside through the windows, the blinds thrown wide open – the light made Draco’s blonde hair glow, cascading off his rings in bright colours. Ron tried not to startle him as he approached him – except that the wooden floor cracked under his feet and Draco’s head shot up, staring at him like a deer caught in headlights.

“Ronald,” Draco sounded almost breathless, as if he had just seen Ron for the first time, a little bit of emotion seeping through the cracks of his perfectly constructed wall, “I’m so—“

Before Draco could utter the words a second time that day, Ron bridged the space between them and took his hand carefully – the rings felt cool against his sweating skin.

I’m sorry,” Ron threw all caution in the wind as he settled his free hand gently on the pale cheek, drawing the boy’s attention to him, “I know you don’t like sharing personal information and—“

“It’s not your fault Ronald,” Draco pushed his cheek into the palm of the redhead’s hand ever so slightly, “don’t apologise for things that you have no qualm in.”

“Fine,” Ron relented, “but you don’t get to apologise either. You did nothing wrong.”

They stared each other down for a moment, Draco’s eyes forming slits as he glared – as if daring Ron to say anything more. When nothing else came, Draco sighed deeply and gave in, ever so carefully leaning into Ron’s hand. Ron smiled fondly at the movement, and wished he had the guts to kiss the blonde right there in the living room.

The chatter outside continued undisturbed and Ron felt perfectly happy just letting time pass by – the contrast with five minutes ago was amazing, Draco looked perfectly at ease just being there. Ronald wasn’t sure whether he was willing to break that serenity, but he couldn’t just leave Draco to tend to his own wounds when he had been so broken – and Ronald was right there, he was pretty sure he would never forgive himself if he just continued on as if he had not heard every single thing the Malfoy had just revealed.

He let his thumb trace the blond’s cheekbone gently before speaking, “do you want to talk—“ and then being interrupted before he could even finish.

“There’s other things I’d rather be doing with my mouth right now,” Draco basically(nearly,prettymuch?whut) purred, knowing fully well there was no way for them to do what he so lewdly alluded to with what all the blinds in the living room wide open and dozens of people hanging around in the backyard – the chances of being seen were just too big.

Ron thought he felt his knees buckle slightly at the tone of Draco’s voice, but he managed to catch himself before making a fool of himself – he saw the smirk playing in the corner of the pretty pink mouth and hoped he could remember this moment for the rest of his life.

“I know we’re taking it slow,” Ron’s voice was like a low hum, the blonde’s eyelashes fluttering beautifully at the sound of it, warmness soothing his aching heart, “I just want you to know, I’m here for you.”

Draco’s previously cocky smirk morphed into a softer expression at the words. His wrist moved gracefully to cup Ron’s, keeping it safe on his own cheek.

“Ever the Gryffindor,” his voice was teasing and when their eyes looked there were sparks going off – then there was the creek of wood and just like that Draco dropped his hand to the side, taking a step back.

Before Ron could register what had happened the back door opened to reveal Bill’s face – realisation dawned on him that Draco had merely pulled away to save Ron’s ass and he couldn’t help but smile.

“Fred and George are gonna do a small test with the fireworks,” Bill face split into a big grin, “you guys should come watch.”

Ron nodded deftly, and without hesitation or even a look back they both followed the older Weasley back outside.

They stood side by side as the sky filled with lights, seemingly floating around randomly at first, but then coming together to shape a big dog and wolf, running circles around each other playfully. Luna came to stand by Draco’s side and she put her head on his shoulder as if they had been best friends since they were children – he couldn’t find it in his heart to push her away though, knowing fully well she was trying to offer him some comfort.

Ron watched Draco watch the lights burn out and wondered how much more emotion he was hiding behind that mask of indifference and hoped that one day he would share all of them.

***

Chapter Text

Cosy Peacocks (10)

For the next couple of days Harry was driving everyone crazy by constantly talking about Malfoy – and not even the youngest one, either. He seemed to have developed what he himself called an interest – Ron had to fight hard to make any like father like son related jokes – which was more like a borderline obsession if you asked anyone else. He would talk about it over breakfast – “they must have been close friends, I mean, why would he have a picture of my dad on a broom?” and Ron tried really hard not to think about why exactly Lucius Malfoy would have a picture of James Potter riding a broomstick. He would continue talking about it over lunch – “it’s just weird that Sirius and Remus never mentioned it, you know, like were they not close?” – and then while they were degnoming the garden – “because like I would tell people about my Slytherin friends you know, definitely close friends that take pictures of me riding brooms” – and then whilst they were brushing his teeth – “ja yu no it weed cuz the don see clo bu the wer” – but at that point Ron was already just kind of zooming out his friend’s voice.

It was nice to see everyone warming up to the idea of the Malfoys – Ginny didn’t have much of a choice, seeing how she and Luna had gotten official after their second date, and the blonde girl was hard-set on forgiving past enemies in order to move forward. Bill and Charlie were always badgering Ron as to when the younger Malfoy would be coming around their house again, and Fred and George had to begrudgingly admit the boy was not the big bad horror they had made him out to be. Harry’s constant nagging about the subject was driving them crazy however.

It came to the point where Ron would complain to Draco about it during their late-night calls – much to the blond’s amusement – pouting about how it came to be that the Malfoys had apparently successfully lured yet another Potter into their bed of sin. Draco was always laughing as Ron told of their antics, and to be honest Ron was kind of falling in love with the way the otherwise relatively emotionless voice lit up when he laughed.

Draco was very eloquent in the way he would steer clear from any too sensitive subject, and instead he would banter with Ron lightly and make the boy feel at ease and calm again.

It was on the third day that Draco suggested dinner, and he added quite excitedly that there was a place in London he had wanted to take the redhead before. Even if Ronald had wanted to refuse, there was no way he could with the way Draco spoke so gently – his voice sounded so reassuring to Ron, and after a long day of listening to Harry prattle on about Lucius Malfoy and worrying about how he was ever going to tell Harry the truth, he felt soothed and at ease.

This time Ron properly announced that he was going out for dinner with Draco, and to his pleasant surprise the twins managed to keep their comments to themselves for once. Harry however, was far too pleased, immediately demanding Ron ask the younger Malfoy about his father, whilst Hermione simply remarked that she was amazed they were developing such a good friendship.

They met up in downtown London, in a neighbourhood Ron had never been to. The blond was looking as stunning as ever with tight black jeans, a dark blue dress shirt and a grey waistcoat fitted on top – he had forgone a jacket due to the heat, and Ron had never been so happy for the humid weather as he watched the way Draco rolled up his sleeves to reveal his wrist in the hopes of cooling off.

When he spotted the redhead his eyes visibly lit up and Ron felt the hippogriff in his stomach do a summersault – then he blushed as Draco unabashedly greeted him with a kiss to the cheek, taking his hand into his own.

“I’m starving,” the slightly smaller boy exclaimed, “let’s eat!”

He seemed to be more relaxed due to the fact that they were in the muggle world, far from anywhere familiar – and better yet, anyone familiar. Ron kind of let himself be enchanted by how remarkably warm Draco seemed to be around him – he was always kind on the phone, and kind to the eye, but he did still go to extreme lengths to keep most of the emotion out of his voice.

Today however, he seemed to be unable to repress his excitement at showing Ron this restaurant he had been speaking of before.

“I used to come here in winter with my dad,” Draco explained, comfortably fitting Ronald’s fingers in the spaces between his own – Ronald blushed, and Draco ignored it, “but I saw the way you were hoarding all that macaroni and cheese at the party so I thought you might like this place.”

They stopped still suddenly and Draco practically beamed – he didn’t do it quite like most people did, but there was a smile playing on his face and his eyes were gleaming with a certain eagerness.

Ron however, was slightly surprised, as the place they had stopped in front of was not a restaurant at all.

“Draco…” he tried to speak cautiously as to not make the Malfoy think he was displeased in any way, “what is this place?”

He was pretty sure Draco was full-out smirking now.

“Honestly Ronald,” he gave a sigh as if he found the redhead insufferable – and then squeezed his hand to contradict it, “it’s a food truck.”

He said it as if it was the most logical thing on earth – which it wasn’t – and then rolled his eyes when Ron just continued to look at him as if he had grown a second head.

Apparently food trucks were weird muggle contraptions where people make food in cars and then served them through the windows of said cars and Ron was a little bit baffled that Draco knew such a place existed but then they were being handed two big steaming tins of macaroni and cheese with a nice brown cheese crust and bacon on top and he doesn’t care about anything else anymore – just that the smile on Draco’s face was so tiny and soft and hiding in the corner of his mouth, right there, and Ron just wanted to kiss it.

They sat on a nearby bench to have their dinner and Ron had to admit to himself that of all the dates he had fantasized about with Draco back when they first started calling each other, he had never imagined this. Dinner in one of the side streets of London, miles away from home with a pitch black sky and Draco’s pale skin and golden hair gleaming in the light of a nearby street lantern. Macaroni and cheese was perhaps not the most summery dish, but Ron was very partial to it, and the idea that Draco had noticed such a tiny thing about him made his heart swell.

Ron watched as Draco picked at his bacon and after the boy had taken the first bite he started his own dinner. The tin was hot where he balanced it on top of his legs, but his hand fit so snugly into Draco’s that he couldn’t be bothered.

They ate in relative silence – something that would usually worry Ron, but after days of Harry and the twins’ nagging it kind of felt like a relief not to have to fill the calm with words – the food too good to waste time with speech. Draco preferred to communicate through small touches of his thumb against Ron’s wrist, scraping his nails against Ron’s fingers. There was something beautiful in the way the long fingers moved.

Afterwards they spent time sitting there, both full and sated. The sounds of the city filled the night air as Ron watched Draco watch the night sky – his eyes were almost black now, in the dark, a stark contrast to the almost white lashes. Ron was torn between wanting to take the boy closer or just watching his serene expression, like a picture painted against the night sky – but then suddenly the Malfoy’s eyebrow quirked up and he knew he had been caught staring.

Draco turned to him fully, their thighs touching lightly – before Ron could process the movement properly he had a handful of Malfoy nearly sitting in his lap, their lips colliding almost violently. The blonde was all warm and long against Ron’s side, their hands crushed together as Ron allowed the kiss to deepen. The Malfoy still tasted like watermelon.

They made out for what seemed like heavenly ages, the blonde unrelenting in his pursuit. He was addictive in the way that every ounce of affection seemed to radiate from his body, filling Ron with a giddy sense of belonging. It was too hot outside and the body against his own, too, too hot, and he wanted to show some kind of restraint but he couldn’t. At that time Ron was pretty sure he would have just stayed there even as the world happened to burn.

Dating Draco Malfoy was not like anything he had expected it to be, but then Ron knew Draco would hate to think he was anything ordinary and predictable.

Afterwards Draco escorted Ron back to the Burrow as he had done before. This time however, the lights were still on inside, though no bustling sounds were heard – summer evenings were for sitting around with a nice cup of tea in hopes of warding off the heat with heat, reading books, playing chess, doing homework, the sort of lovely calm activities the Weasleys wouldn’t often indulge in.

“Would you like to come in?” Ron asked hopefully, nodding towards the door, “they’re usually quite amiable in the evening,” he was referring to the twins, who would turn uncharacteristically grumpy around Draco, “the heat tires them out you see.”

Though Draco laughed at the joke, he still seemed somewhat hesitant. Ron’s expression softened and he gathered the smaller boy in his arms, lightly bumping his forehead into Draco’s.

“Just one game of chess and a cup of tea,” Ron offered gently – he didn’t want to push the Malfoy, but then he really didn’t want him to say no either.

They were so close Ron could count all of Draco’s lashes, one by one silver and gold. Then Draco gave a curt nod, pressing a kiss to Ron’s lips before taking a step back.

It was just like Ron had said – the heat tired the Weasleys out. They were seemingly scattered at random around the living room – Harry was talking with the twins by the sofa, one of them with his feet propped on the other’s lap, and Bill and Charlie were sipping tea at a table near the thrown open window, flipping through magazines. Hermione was reading a book seated next to a big poof, where Ginny and Luna where braiding each other’s hair – Luna was wearing a big yellow sundress, and was using her wand to braid sunflowers in the vivid red shades of Ginny’s hair and for a moment Draco thought the very sun itself had settled down in the house, her smile was so radiant as Ginny made a silly joke.

He had never really taken the time to examine the Weasley’s living room, not even on the first night that he had visited. The whole room was filled with mismatched fauteuils and sofas, a small table and a fireplace that was old and crooked. There was an old radio set up in the corner that was playing what appeared to be a muggle channel – it must have been mister Weasley’s doing, so Draco imagined.

It was cosy – there was no other word Draco could think of. Even for someone like him, who had grown up in a completely different environment and usually only thought of cosy in relations to his father’s embrace, the black two-people canapé in the lounge, the feeling of the fresh silk sheets of his bed and using his father’s sweater to warm his own body when the man was off on business, this place emanated cosy. There was not a single not-cosy thing about the room, except maybe for the way that the twins frowned up at him as they realised who had just entered.

Ronald ignored it stubbornly and led Draco into the living room – they got halfway before everyone was looking up to greet their brother languidly and then noticing the guest. Charlie and Bill visibly perked up, but most obnoxiously happy was Harry.

“Draco! Splendid! I want to—“ Harry began excitedly – if Draco was surprised at the boy’s demeanour he didn’t show it, simply raising an eyebrow in question.

Ron however, cut his best friend short, “Harry, we all love you very much but if you don’t stop talking about Lucius Malfoy for five minutes I think more than one person here will be fully ready to hex you.”

Everyone nodded – except for Draco and Luna, who seemed kind of lost in the vibrant redness of the Weasley world. Potter looked appalled, his cheeks suddenly colouring a deep pink.

“Honestly though, it’s border-lining obsession now,” Fred agreed with his younger brother – Potter’s face formed what was best described as a pout, and Draco quickly averted his eyes at the sight of the pitifulness of it all.

Ron guided the blonde to a big, comfortable fauteuil placed next to the fireplace – his hand comfortable on the small of Draco’s back. Draco wondered idly if the Weasley’s furniture was designed for giants, as he felt unbearable small in the chair – however the cushions were soft and Ronald was giving him this smile Draco couldn’t quite place – was it fondness?

The boy disappeared in the kitchen and Draco tried not to look too much at a loss – Potter was still staring at him with a bit of disappointment, and Luna was finishing up Ginny’s hair.

“I’m sure it’s not that kind of obsession,” Draco supplied smoothly, as no one else seemed to be willing to help Potter out of his embarrassment, “if you want to ask my father about your father you should just write him a letter. He’s grown rather fond of Ronald, and I’m sure he would be happy to help his friends.”

There was the unmistakable clatter of a cup falling in the kitchen and then a shocked, “your father is fond of me?” as Ron popped his head around the door to look into the living room.

Ginny giggled. Draco rolled his eyes. An ugly cat that had been sitting next to Hermione came over and jumped onto Draco’s lap without explanation.

“Honestly Ronald, he hardly suffers anyone’s presence, and I don’t remember him trying to set his peacocks on you,” he eyed the cat sceptically before giving it a pat – it started purring instantly.

“He sets his peacocks on people?” Fred sounded appalled, and Ron rolled his eyes.

“He would,” he muttered darkly – he no longer had any beef with the older Malfoy, but the man did scare him, and setting peacocks on people sounded exactly like a thing he would do to show people he was displeased.

“Not often. He set them on Theo once but that was just for fun,” Draco shrugged gently and sunk back into the chair, the cat purring in his lap – he was so comfortable now, full with good food, his lips still tingling from Ron’s burning kisses, he felt oddly sentimental.

“I like peacocks,” Luna seemed to have a knack at saying things in a way that should be abrupt but seemed rather natural, “their colours are so vivid.”

Ron came back out of the kitchen carrying two cups of tea a little clumsily.

“Not the one Draco’s father keeps,” he watched his cups careful not to spill any as he set them down on the side table next to his chess board, “they’re all white.”

Luna made a sound in the back of her throat that sounded like excitement and surprise all at once. Ginny used her wand to conjure up some white flowers with small petals and started working on the blonde’s hair.

“Albino peacocks are really rare,” Charlie said from by the couch, pensive.

Draco mere shrugged again – he was not in the mood for making small talk with the Weasleys – all he wanted was to watch Ronald unwind with a cup of tea and see his brow furrow as he thought about his next chess move.

He got his wish soon enough, as Ron seated himself on the fauteuil across from Draco’s.

“It was your win last time,” he remembered with a frown, indicating for Draco to start.

Time seemed to pass so slowly on hot summer eve’s like these. The Weasleys were uncharacteristically quiet, speaking only in hushed voices and mostly just lazing around. Draco wondered if they were always just rowdy in an act of defiance against their parents, as he had never seen them so well-behaved around the older Weasleys. Even the twins appeared to agree that it was not worth fighting with Draco on such a humid night, instead just doing inventory for their shop and speaking with Harry gently.

Bill and Charlie were both reading, and Hermione altered between watching Luna put flowers in Ginny’s braids, and watching Draco and Ron play. Ginny finished braiding the blonde hair and then started on making a crown of the flowers she had conjured but had not used, Luna helping her by showing her how to weave the flowers together without using magic.

Soon enough the Weasleys disappeared upstairs one by one, Draco and Ron too engaged with their game to notice – Draco only vaguely registered the cat leaving his lap to follow Hermione upstairs. Before long only Luna and Ginny were left, finishing up the flower crown with small giggles. When they too stood to go to bed, Luna went over to the stairs first, Ginny lingering behind – Draco noticed her from the corner of his eye as he thought over his next move – hovering behind her brother a little shyly. Then, quite unceremoniously, she plopped the flower crown on Ron’s head – the redhead jumped at the sudden move, his face instantly turning red with embarrassment. Draco tried not to smirk, but he felt the smile tugging at his lips.

“Ginny!” he shrieked indignantly, the red of his cheeks reaching his ears.

“You’ve been so nice,” Ginny said – her voice was remarkably sober in contrast with her previous upbeat demeanour, “the only one who hasn’t said a single snarky thing.”

Ron blinked stupidly.

“Of course Gin,” he soothed gently, reaching out to grasp her hand – Draco didn’t have siblings, but in that moment, watching Ron comfort his little sister with just a touch of his hand, Draco knew that there was possibly no bound stronger than that between Ron and his sister, “I love you, just as you are.”

Ginny hid her awkwardness by lightly thumping her brother’s shoulder. He reached to take off the flower crown, his face betraying how silly he really felt.

Now Draco Malfoy was in no means a sentimental fool, but having never had any siblings he kind of felt his heart do this little extra fast thump thump thump at the sight of Ginny and Ron’s friendship. He had never really thought of them as close before, since he had only ever seen them bickering, but he realised now that much like his own bickering with Ron, their arguments were never meant to be taken too seriously – or at least, not to be taken as a sign that they somehow felt anything but the fondest of feelings for one another. And Draco knew Ginny Weasley as an overly confident woman, comfortable in her own skin with many friends to support her – Ron, was perhaps almost exactly the opposite, a little bit lanky, a little bit self-deprecating, with his two best friends. However, Draco had also noticed that Ginny, as the youngest, would sometimes fake bravura – although as the first and only daughter, she did not feel stress to live up to her brother’s reputation in the same way that Ron did, she did not wish to disappoint her family in any way. And perhaps, just maybe, so Draco thought, she had felt some of their disappointment after she started dating a girl – and of course, Ron, as the loveable idiot he was, would never dream of making his baby sister feel like she somehow fell short.

Perhaps Draco was overthinking things – but then he had been thinking about so many things, all his life. So he swatted at the hand Ron was using to take off the crown, and instead fixed it more properly onto his head – earning a look of surprise from both of the Weasleys, and a faint giggle from Luna by the stairs.

“You should keep it,” Draco said pensively – actually, the white flowers the girls had used contrasted really beautifully with the red of Ron’s hair and the bronze of his skin, and they looked so soft to the touch too, that Draco couldn’t help but brush past them gently, “it suits you.”

In a move of pure adoration Draco let his fingers slide into Ron’s hair for a moment – he wasn’t sure why, at that moment, but he felt such a deep fondness for how big the Weasley’s heart really was, caring unconditionally for everyone and anyone and it was so touching, Draco wanted him to know that he was here with him, now.

When he realised he was fondling the Weasley in front of other people he pulled back abruptly, trying his hardest to morph his face into a mask of faint obliviousness.

He saw Ginny grinning and then she smothered her big brother in a tight hug.

There were some muffled sounds of Ron gasping for breath and Luna giggling some more and then Ginny exclaimed: “you’re adorable Ron! I never would have guessed! No wonder you’re always staring at the phone longingly!”

“I do not stare longingly!” Ron feebly protested, and was promptly ignored.

When Ginny pulled back Ron’s entire face had gone bright red and Ginny was grinning broadly. Draco felt a certain calmness settle in his stomach – he used to feel like an imposter when being faced with such joy, but now he only felt like smiling along.

After Ginny and Luna had disappeared upstairs, Ron glared at Draco playfully. That smile was still hiding in the corner of his mouth – Ron’s eyes flit to his mouth, to his eyes, and back. Before the blonde could properly process what was happening the redhead was towering over him, the flower crown crooked on his head.

“You’re such a tease,” the redhead growled deeply, before attacking Draco’s sides with his fingers – and if there was one thing in the world he was bad at, it was tickles.

Draco felt overwhelmed at first, shrieks and giggles springing freely from his mouth as the taller boy poked at his sides – he was squirming on the fauteuil, helpless. Then, he decided to counter attack quite viciously – he pulled the redhead closer instead of trying to push the stronger body off, and connected their lips rather violently. Their teeth clanked together between their giggles and Draco registered that it kind of hurt but then Ron was leaning into him heavily and he felt good.

Suddenly the fingers in his side were no long overbearing, instead just holding him lightly as Ron craned his neck to kiss him deeper. Draco desperately pulled the redhead closer, his body curving upwards in search for more warmth, more.

That night as he pulled his father’s sweater over his head and crawled into the fresh silk sheets he wondered how on earth Ronald Weasley’s embrace had grown to be so damn cosy to him.

***

Chapter Text

Protective Witches (11)

 

To his surprise, Ron found himself waiting for Harry to join him so they could floo to Malfoy manor, only two days later. What else was a surprise was that Ginny had not teased him, even once, about his affection for the blonde. Instead, she was so understanding – talking about how Draco was quite intriguing now that they weren’t always insulting each other, and how Luna had talked about how Draco used to sneak her bits of food whilst she was being kept in Malfoy manor. Ron didn’t know if it was mostly Luna’s influence, but Ginny seemed to uprightly believe that they were finally seeing the true Draco Malfoy – and that he was not as bad as they had believed him to be. Even though Ron, through weeks of talking and multiple dates, knew this by now, he also knew that some of his siblings would have a bigger problem with accepting that – so he was infinitely grateful for her support.

Harry still seemed to be a little sceptical towards the younger Malfoy, but as the Malfoy patriarch had immediately answered his letter in a most polite manner – suggesting the four of them have brunch and promising to afterwards talk to Harry about his father – Harry was more than willing to oversee the little qualms he still had.

Ron was feeling a little anxious, but he was relatively sure the older Malfoy was not planning on sharing the intimate details of his so-called friendship with James Potter. He knew that he would have to talk to Harry about it eventually, but he would much prefer to talk to Sirius and Remus about it first. He had also promised Draco to keep his father’s secret to himself, so he would also have to consult with the blonde first.

For now, Ron felt most nervous about the fact that he would have to sit through a brunch with Lucius Malfoy and hope the man did not roast him for dating his son. He hadn’t spent that much time with the older man, and the man had never questioned his motives, but he knew that Lucius had one or two things to say – after all this was Malfoy, and he was a Weasley, no way the man was one hundred percent rooting for them.

He had always been afraid of meeting his future partner’s parents, but now that he was dating Draco, that fear had grown more stubborn and settled permanently in the back of his head.

Absentmindedly he checked his clothes in the reflection of the window one last time before Harry joined him. He had never been fashion-conscious before, but knowing Draco had been involved with Hogwarts’ self-proclaimed fashion King, he had a lot to compete with.

He had chosen black slacks that reached just above his ankles today, as Draco had once commented on the way they made his leg look quite appealing. He straightened his white and black checked t-shirt and then Harry showed up and they were flooing to Malfoy manor.

It was a little bit awkward to lead Harry through the house and to the patio – and then it was a whole lot of awkward when they arrived outside and there was not just two blondes waiting for them, but also three raven heads.

The white iron table had been loaded with pans filled with bacon, eggs, sausages, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, and then some. There were also different kinds of pastries, pancakes, and muffins, and scones, French toast and normal toast.

Draco was seated in a pose Ron could so vividly remember from the first time he had visited the manor to return his cell phone – he was wearing washed-off blue jeans with holes at the knees, legs crossed over each other properly. His white shirt was too big and tucked in at the front of his jeans, flowing down his back and made of such fine fabric Ron could see the bandages around his arm and his fine collar bones.

Lucius was seated next to him on one side, his dress robes a deep green, Pansy Parkinson on the other side.

Parkinson was exactly how Ron remembered her – black short hair cut straight below her ears, dark kohl lining her slanted eyes – where Draco seemed to be springing with colours and light outside of Hogwarts, she seemed to have turned even darker. She was wearing a dark shade of red lipstick that was almost black, and her hands were decorated with rings with dark green gems. She was donned in a black tight mini skirt and a see-through black shirt that revealed a black lace top she was wearing underneath. Only her tube socks – pulled up high over her knees – and the soles of her black shoes, creepers, as Ron had heard Draco refer to them before, were white. She had her legs crossed in a similar way to Draco, one hand playing with her wand absentmindedly, the other protectively resting on the pale boy’s – and Ron couldn’t help it, this ungrounded rage filled his belly.

Across from them were what Ron assumed was Blaise Zabini and his mother. He had never met the boy’s mother, but he had heard she was extremely beautiful and had wedded as many as seven times, each of her husbands having passed mysteriously.

He wasn’t sure about the last claim, but as she was seated right in front of him he could at least attest to her beauty. She was a tall and skinny woman with a lightly tanned skin, Italian, so Ron guessed. She had long black hair that she wore in a graceful up-style, and was wearing a long blue dress that flowed onto the floor – the upper part was decorated with lace, her bosom accentuated because of the tighter fit.

As soon as Ron and Harry stepped out on the patio the conversation went quiet, and misses Zabini pursed her reddened lips. Blaise glared daggers at the redhead, but Ron was too busy inwardly fretting over the fact that Pansy Parkinson’s hand was on top of Draco’s.

“Yes, well,” misses Zabini cleared her throat and stood, her dress moving gracefully around her thin body, “I’m sure we can all be civil about this, from now on.”

Blaise sneered, focusing his gaze on the blond in front of him.

“That means you don’t get to ignore my calls anymore Dray,” there was something menacing in his tone – something a little bit cruel, and suddenly Ron felt as if maybe he was directing his anger at the wrong Slytherin.

Before Draco could speak up, Pansy’s chair made a great shrieking noise as it was shoved back as she got to her feet, her hand tightening around her wand.

“Civil, Blaise,” she snarled, “means Draco gets to ignore whoever he wants and you don’t get to put your hands on what isn’t yours.”

“In case there is any confusion,” Lucius folded his hands on top of his lap, “that means that if you do again, in any way, decide that your hands belong on my son, I will have you put away for life.”

Misses Zabini’s lips became impossibly thin, her nose scrunched as if she had smelled something bad.

“Go fetch our coats dear, I’ll be right there,” she spoke to her son gently, and with a last glare at the redhead Zabini disappeared back in the house.

She took her time crossing her hands in front of her, mimicking mister Malfoy’s exact positioning.

“Now I would like you to ask for a little bit of lenience,” she spoke as if the harm of the world had been done to her son – as if he was not the one at fault, “it’s been very rough for him lately.”

She batted her eyelashes – Ron figured she had no idea of the older Malfoy’s tendencies, and tried his best not to laugh as the only one that seemed to be affected by her flirtations was Pansy, who scraped her throat a little bit awkwardly.

“It’s been hard on all of us,” Draco sneered – Ron saw a stubbornness settle in his jaw and in a mere moment the blonde’s eyes flicked to him and back again and he thought his heart might have broken a little because he wasn’t sure what it meant except that Draco was having trouble atoning for his sins and it was showing.

Lucius seemed to notice this as well, because his figure went rigid – before anyone else could speak, he stood, as regally as he did all things, his mouth curled in a smile that was dripping with insincerity.

“Now I would never wish to lecture another parent on how they should raise their children,” his voice was so smooth, Ron was a little amazed. The Malfoy should have become an actor, his face a trained mask of excellence, “but I for one believe in not making the same mistake twice and therefor refuse to force my own into an alliance he is no longer committed to. That being said, if my son were the one that had been out of line, I would make sure he knew not to do it again.”

As his eyes bored into misses Zabini’s there was no room for misunderstanding. She stared back, for a moment unfazed but then visibly deflated, her lips pressed tightly together still. Without a word, she too stood, brushing imaginary dirt off her dress.

“Yes, well…” she didn’t seem to know what to say, which Ron couldn’t blame her for, “Lucius,” she gave a nod at the man and then turned to leave. By the door, she lingered, and turned back one last time – her face had morphed into a brilliant smile, her dark eyes glowing a warm brown as her face seemed to radiate a tricky kind of warmth, “if you’re ever in the market for a new wife.”

She disappeared with a wink – leaving Draco to nearly growl at her back and Pansy to shoot into a fit of laughter. In the midst of the mayhem the Malfoy patriarch indicated at Ron and Harry to sit down – after sharing one hesitant look, they did as they were told, Ron seating himself in front of Draco, who was still glaring in the direction the woman had left.

Harry fidgeted slightly as Lucius fixed him with a look but then Draco was kind of making this little whining sound in the back of his throat and Ron just thought it was adorable.

“Did she just flirt with you,” he made a fake gagging motion that made Harry laugh and Lucius turned to look at his son in disapproval, “How undignified!”

“Please, Draco,” Pansy slapped his arm playfully, “your daddy is fine.”

Ron felt his ears burn – never did he think he would live to see the day where a girl his age described the Malfoy patriarch as fine. Right in front of his face too! How were there people on this planet that did not know how fierce the whole Malfoy family was and how ridiculously easy it would be for them to hex you into oblivion?

“Miss Parkinson,” Lucius’ eyebrow had risen so high it had nearly disappeared into his hairline, “I would like to remind you that I am right here and will not be, ever again, described as daddy.”

Pansy grinned broadly, all her teeth showing as Draco made another throw-up face.

“Don’t worry mister Malfoy,” she gave a big wink, pocketing her wand, “I am still very much taken. Which reminds me, there is a certain blonde dying to see me.”

With that she finished her tea, and Draco finally settled down again. He poured tea for Ron and Harry as Lucius took a scone.

“Is Cassiopeia back from Japan?” Lucius asked – Ron and Harry exchanged a look, Cassiopeia was a girl’s name, wasn’t it? – not looking up as he reached for the butter, “I was wondering where you’d gotten those shoes.”

Pansy did a little dance, shuffling her feet – another thing Ron had never imagined he’d ever see, and he and Harry shared a look of mild confusion – before nodding her head proudly.

“Draco’s got a pair too,” she said in a teasing tone of voice – this immediately drew Lucius’ attention, and he gave his son a pointed look.

“Draco…” he started and Draco glared at his friend before doing that thing where he stuck his bottom lip out ever so slightly.

Father, I was never planning on wearing them in front of you,” he tried to bat his lashes at Lucius like misses Zabini had done earlier – not a completely success, as Harry and Ron couldn’t help but snort – yet Lucius relented, impossible to deny his son.

“Well… who am I to deny you your… eccentricities,” he hesitated on the word as if he wasn’t sure it was the right one.

Pansy bent down to press kisses to Draco’s cheek – except that Draco dodged very professionally and forcibly fought off her attack, narrowly escaping from her lipstick.

“Pansy I’m far too sober to be submitted to such cruelties,” he complained, to which the girl laughed again – a little bit shrilly, not at all a very warm sound.

“Fine fine, I’ll get you tonight!” she pointed a finger almost threateningly at the blonde – then, with a wave to the Gryffindors, she walked off, the clatter of her shoes against the tiles inside reverberating even after she’d left.

Lucius rolled his eyes, offering the Gryffindors some bread rolls.

“So Cassiopeia is back in England? Is she still attending Mahōtokoro?” the question was directed at Draco, but to Ron’s surprise, Harry spoke up before the younger blonde could answer.

“What is Mahōtokoro?” he sounded uprightly confused, and Ron realised that Harry probably didn’t know there were more than three wizarding schools.

Lucius looked at Draco as if he was wondering if he was being made fun of in some way – simply unable to phantom the idea that somehow, Harry Potter, son of James Potter, who had been able to talk for days about how good Mahōtokoro’s Quidditch skills were and how it just wasn’t fair, did not know about the school. Draco, catching his father’s gaze and immediately realising where his train of thought was leading him, shook his head lightly.

“Mister Potter was raised by muggles,” he simply explained – Lucius seemed to relax a bit more, trusting his son not to lie to him.

“I see…” Ron expected some kind of comment or observation, but instead Lucius opted to answer Harry’s question, “Mahōtokoro is the wizarding school in Japan. They are known for their Quidditch and potion skills.”

Harry nodded in understanding – Ron was a little bit envious as how easy his friend made all of this seem. As if Lucius Malfoy was not terrifying. Granted, sitting there in his dark green dress robes, munching on a scone and occasionally glancing over-protectively at his son, he didn’t seem to form much of a threat at all.

“The castle is up in the mountains,” Draco explained further, and the redhead felt a surge of pride at how patient he was being with Harry – how much he had grown, “and they engage in whale shark watching!”

His voice was coloured with excitement – when both Harry and Ron just shared a look of confusion and frowned, however, his face fell slightly.

“Draco likes big fish,” Lucius said before taking a bite of his scone – as if that explained the whole entire universe itself, which obviously, it did not.

“Father!” Draco sounded quite disapproving, “They’re not fish!”

“Likes it so much his patronus is probably one,” Lucius continued unperturbed – and there was a familiar face, Lucius Malfoy, boasting with pride of his only son.

The younger blond went quiet rather abruptly. He focused on his plate, and when Lucius caught sight of his down-cast eye he too stilled. Ron wanted to reach out and take Draco’s hand – however, he refrained.

“We’re not sure,” Draco explained, his voice suddenly small, “I haven’t been able to produce a corporeal patronus.”

Ron wanted to coo – Draco Malfoy, always perfect at everything, bested only by Hermione, was turning a little bit pale with his embarrassment. There was not even anything to be embarrassed about, in Ron’s opinion. It had taken such a long time for Harry to perfect his patronus, and he had had Remus’ personal help – Hermione herself had said that it was very advanced magic. Ron too, was able to create one, but he struggled to produce his patronus when actual Dementors were around, which kind of took away most of the point for him. Though he had to admit he enjoyed watching his patronus waddle around happily every now and then when he was feeling a bit down.

“It took me ages to produce a corporeal one,” Harry shrugged as if it was no big deal – trying to defuse some of the tension, “Ron too, we struggled, didn’t we mate?”

Ron nodded avidly, trying to catch Draco’s gaze. The boy still looked mildly disappointed in himself, an idea that left him a little soul-crushed. So he did the only rational thing he could think of – he took his wand from his jeans and closed his eyes.

He thought about how Draco tasted like watermelon every time they kissed, how he had looked, smiling at the fireworks – so radiant, almost glowing as bright as the sun, his blonde hair like a halo and his pink lips forming a smile and…

“Expecto patronum!” from his wand sprang forth the chipper jack russell terrier and they watched it skip around the table and up to Draco Malfoy, who stared at it, wide-eyed.

The small dog leaped around the table and then bounced back to Draco – circling him excitedly. The blonde’s grin was so wide it took up half his face and Ron couldn’t help it – he felt himself grin along. Harry laughed as Draco reached out to try to touch the patronus – because he had done the exact same thing upon seeing his own corporeal stag – but the dog sniffled his nose and instead hopped into the Malfoy’s lap.

They spent the rest of their time talking about how they had mastered the patronus charm – Harry for the first time willingly sharing information about the DA with Draco – and then about how they would sometimes conjure their patronuses just for fun. Apparently Luna had told Draco that she used her patronus to communicate with Ginny, and that she would sometimes let it hop around her room, as it reminded her of her mother.

It was obvious to Ron that Draco was so much more comfortable in his own house, by his father’s side, then he was coming over to Ron’s home. Even though he and Harry had barely spoken before, here in this safe-haven he was so comfortable and relaxed that they spoke as if they were just starting to know each other. In a way, Ron felt slightly envious of Harry – even now, he made everything seem so easy, like buttering scones at the Malfoy’s breakfast table was what he was born to do.

Before long they had all eaten plenty and Lucius and Harry were making amends to move into the study. Harry was giving Ron a kind of look as if he was expecting him to come with except that Ron was really fond of Harry but not fond enough to sit through another session of reminiscing James Potter – on top of that, Ron also wasn’t sure if everything the Malfoy had to say was for his ears, and he was looking forward to being alone with Draco.

So he just gave an encouraging nod as Lucius’ back was turned and then watched as Harry – suddenly a little nervous-looking – followed the older Malfoy inside.

Draco continued to finish his tea and they sat in silence for a moment. It was a comfortably hot day, and there was a nice sweet scent in the air coming from the Malfoy’s garden. Ron could not get over how radiant Draco was in this light – as if the summer sun was enough to heal old wounds and make the boy shine.

As the blond’s hands lingered on his cup, Ron reached out to take it. Draco smiled at him gently – to be honest Ron had been quite nervous up to that point, as, even though Harry had talked freely, he didn’t want to offend the older Malfoy in any way. Now that Draco was smiling at him so kindly though, he was reassured that he hadn’t done or said anything too bad.

“Are you feeling quite alright?” there was some teasing in his voice, but Ron could also tell that he was genuinely concerned – he could probably sense Ron’s nerves from a mile away, and to be honest Ron hadn’t felt this insecure since their very first date.

“Just… never met the parents before,” he tried to shrug as if it was no big deal, but some of his stress was still tensing up his shoulders.

Draco’s smile widened.

“You’ve met my father plenty of times,” he tried to reason, but Ron was having none of it.

“Not like this!” Ron insisted hot headedly, shaking his red head furiously.

Draco repressed a giggle and disguised it as a cough instead. He folded his hand into Ron’s properly, patiently looping his finger’s between the slightly thicker ones as Ron continued to have a mini breakdown in front of him. When he had managed to successfully mesh his hand against Ron’s completely, he gave a little squeeze – which in turn successfully stopped Ron’s inner rampage.

“Ronald, my father quite likes you,” Draco spoke softly, making sure to put a certain amount of compassion in his voice, “if he disapproved you wouldn’t be here.”

“That doesn’t make him any less scary,” Ron grumbled childishly.

The look Draco gave him was rather pitiful – but then again so was the pout that had appeared on his own face. The pale boy stood up from his chair so that he could bend over the breakfast table gracefully, planting a kiss on Ron’s lips. He tasted like honey this time, Ron noted with surprise, not watermelon.

When the blonde pulled back he had a sly grin on his face.

“Well if you find him to be so scary,” Draco remarked sleekly, “we could always hide in my bedroom.”

And how was Ronald supposed to resist that?

***

Chapter Text

Drink Drank Drunk (12)

They spent most of the afternoon making out on the chaise longue in Draco’s private bedroom, Ron’s hands moving as if addicted to the feel of the milky skin – gliding over his lower back and caressing his hips and seeking refuge on his chest. He had to admit that as tempting as Draco’s flesh was to him, he was finding the feeling of Draco’s lithe fingers on his own skin to be just as addicting.

It kind of reminded Ron of being back at Hogwarts and mapping out star signs and constellations on their star chart – much in a similar way Draco’s pale fingers would glide over his skin, pausing on every freckle before moving on to the next.

Even though Ron knew they were taking it slow, he couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy the attention he was receiving – Draco’s lips on his own and the warmth of his body pushing into him – it was bliss.

Ron also offered to help Draco practice his patronus – he was never one to jump on the opportunity to do homework during the holidays, but it wasn’t official school work and it created space for more snogging so he thought it justified. He helped Draco perfect his wand movement – the speed with which he drew his circles was a little hasty, making them a little sloppy. What appeared to be the difficulty though, was conjuring up a happy memory.

Now Ron was sure that Draco had plenty – from the time he had spent with the boy he had learned that Draco valued every good time he had spent in this house and with his father, so he knew that Draco would not have any trouble remembering what it felt like to be loved and cared for. However, it seemed that the memories were lacking in strength nonetheless, something that frustrated Draco to no end, as he explained with red cheeks that traveling to Japan with his father when he was younger was probably the best thing to have ever happened to him.

Ron didn’t want to doubt him. But then he was also just conjuring smoke.

“Well,” Draco huffed, his foot tapping in an agitated manner, “what was your happy thought then, when you conjured your dog?”

Ron was quite mortified – how was he supposed to tell Draco that his happy thought had actually been…

He decided a pragmatic approach was much more desirable and instead just kissed the blonde, long and soft – it was amazing how Draco could look so cold and uncaring to all the world, but how easily he melted into Ron’s body as he received attention.

With his eyes still closed, he thought of that, and only that, and then his terrier was bouncing around the room in excitement.

It felt like Draco stared at him for ages. It wasn’t even a very special look – Ron was unable to read it at all. It wasn’t any of the basic emotions like anger or sadness or happiness. He was pretty sure it wasn’t disappointment either. It was just this very mundane look that Draco gave him – as if he had grown an extra head but Draco had expected him to and now he was just kind of checking that extra head out. Except he hadn’t and Draco wasn’t.

This time when Draco muttered the spell there was a bit more smoke – and it almost made a shape too, wafting pointedly towards the bed with a certain sort of determination.

It was a little disheartening, Ron secretly thought, how Ron’s happy Draco thought was strong enough, yet Draco’s thought of Ron was found lacking.

He tried not to let it get to him.

There was no time to ponder it, because before long Lucius was popping his head in the room announcing he had to leave for urgent business. Harry was waiting for them in the older man’s study, apparently, and just like that their time ran to an end. Ron left to relieve himself and when he came back into the study Draco appeared to have just finished speaking, and the boys were shaking hands. He wasn’t sure what it meant – and if it meant anything good, either – but then he too, was forced to settle for nothing but a handshake before he returned home with his best friend.

 

***

 

He was rudely awakened at an ungodly hour by the harsh ring of the telephone which he had brought up with him earlier that evening. Ron sat up straight in his bed as the sound reverberated through the house rather creepily – there was only one person who ever called them at such hours, and the last time he had been in horrible trouble.

Somehow he managed to drag himself from the bed and picked up just on the second ring – behind him Harry too had awoken from slumber and turned on the bedside light, rubbing at his eyes tiredly.

“Drake—“ Ron’s voice was a gruff hum – Harry said something illegible and dropped back down to the bed, letting out a grand snore a second later.

Ronny!” that did not sound like Draco at all. Ron blinked at the receiver in confusion – the voice was so shrill and filled with mirth, not like Draco’s usual tone at all, “my baby.”

However the way he emphasized the last word seemed to colour his voice a little and Ron blinked again. Had Draco just referred to him as “Ronny”?

Deducing that yes, this was Draco Malfoy, and no, he was not in any danger, he relaxed visibly. He used his wand to deluminate the lamp by Harry’s side and lazily made his way back to the bed, carrying the phone with him as he went. He flopped down onto his blankets haphazardly and waited for Draco to continue.

“Oh Ronny,” the boy on the other side sighed wistfully, and Ron could make out a dull, steady thumping in the background – it sounded like music, Ron established, and suddenly he connected the dots, “my tongue feels kinda weird.”

Draco Malfoy was drunk.

Ron’s fatigue was suddenly gone as his face split up in a grin. He was Draco Malfoy’s drunk call. If he wasn’t so damn exhausted he would have done a happy dance.

There were other voices on the line and Draco growled.

“Shaddup you twat,” he snapped quite viciously – so uncharacteristically not Draco that Ron couldn’t help but giggle, “can’t you see I’m phoning my boyfriend?”

This had Ron stilling in shock – however it was then continued by a whine and Draco yelling: “why is that broccoli so big?”

He could distinctly make a women’s voice out in the back saying: “Draco, that’s a tree.”

Ron was incredibly confused and equally amused. Draco had never referred to him as his boyfriend – to be honest it was something they hadn’t discussed yet, partly because Ron was too scared to and Draco seemed too dignified to. Of course Ron had thought about it though. He stood in front of his bathroom mirror sometimes, the words rolling off his tongue, my boyfriend, Draco Malfoy, and the first time he tried it he wished it would’ve been hard to swallow but instead the words just came natural to him.

“Ronnie? Why are you still awake?” Draco directed his words at him now, speaking kindly and concern tinging his voice, “You should be sleeping now, it’s very very late and you need beauty rest for all your freckles.”

Ron wanted to point out that Draco was the one that had woken him in the first place – and that he highly doubted his freckles needed any specific resting – but then he had never seen this side of Draco and it was rather endearing how the boy drunkenly cooed at him through the phone.

“Dunno, just couldn’t sleep,” Ron answered none-committedly only to get a deep sorrowful sigh in return.

“My poor Ronnie,” Draco’s voice was soft like marshmallow fluff and the inside of a cauldron cake, “should I sing you a song?”

Ron made himself more comfortable on his bed, tucking an arm under his head. Harry was snoring softly beside him. Draco was yelling at someone again: “excuse you, you horrendous little twink, I already have a boyfriend!”

He was comfortable and warm and Draco had gone silent again.

“Draco,” he spoke softly, immediately getting an over-excited hum in return, “sing me to sleep?”

It was a little bit weird at first, as Draco was trying to sing along to the music that was playing in the background – obviously he was somewhere out partying with Pansy Parkinson and the previously-mentioned Cassiopeia, which Ron found out quick enough as they both tried to lure him back to the party only to be snapped at by a vicious Malfoy. It was also funny how he would be trying to sing one moment and then would growl out, “Cassi you skank I said no!”

He was a little unorganised, altering between enthusiastic humming and then randomly belting out a single word. It was kind of getting to Ron though, because he was dozing off to the sound of Draco’s nonsense singing.

Except suddenly he sounded much clearer – Ron tried to focus on the words but his mind was too far gone already – he continued singing gently.

“I was born sick, but I love it,” Draco hummed, voice but just above a whisper, “command me to be well.”

Ron fell asleep just as Draco set off into the chorus.

 

***

Chapter Text

Belgian Chocolates (13)

When he woke up the next morning Harry had already gotten up and gone down for breakfast. He changed into a pair of sweatpants and a white tank top and brushed his teeth – all the while trying not to think about how the word boyfriend had sounded coming from a certain blond’s lips.

As he made his way down he heard voices coming from the kitchen, indicating that his family was already gathered around the table. He was greeted by Ginny and Harry who had left room for him, but was stopped by his mother before he could sit down.

“Ronald, sweetheart, you have company,” she indicated the living room with her head, “he’s in there.”

The kitchen went oddly quiet at that, and Harry shared a look with Hermione. Ron was sure they’d been looking forward to asking him all about who had called in the middle of the night, and most importantly, why.

When he entered the living room, Draco Malfoy was standing in the middle of it – surrounded by couches and fauteuils and Crookshanks meowing at his feet, looking quite lost – he was wearing black comfortable pants that reached his ankles, black creepers with a white sole and a black and white striped sweatshirt. It was funny how someone could look so relaxed and uncomfortable at the same time, but nonetheless, Ron was immensely pleased to see him. He was holding a big box with colourful wrapping in his hands, and looked up as Ron entered the room.

Ron decided against kissing him as he was relatively sure the people in the next room were listening in on their conversation – added to that Draco was looking remarkably firm, a stubborn set in his jaw. His lips looked pink and plush and his eyes were dark, almost as if had slept with make-up on.

“Draco—“ before Ron could greet him properly he was cut off.

“I have come here to apologise,” Draco said, a little stiffly, “my behaviour was inappropriate and, pardon the pun, completely uncalled for.”

“Oh,” Ron nodded his head as he realised what Draco was talking about, “you mean last night?”

“I’ve never called anyone whilst inebriated before,” Draco went on undisturbed, refusing to meet the redhead’s eye, “my father said I should apologise to those I have inconvenienced with my improper actions. I brought chocolates.”

He offered the box to Ron – still refusing to let their eyes meet, instead resolutely staring at his feet. Ron realised he was probably mortified that he had done such a plain thing as phone someone whilst drunk, but he couldn’t help but be amused. Draco’s behaviour had been endearing to Ron, and he had referred to him as boyfriend and it had been amazing.

Ron felt he owed it to himself to tease Draco at least a little.

“It’s quite a big box,” he remarked as he took the offered present – the wrapping was a mix of greens and blues and yellows and oranges, with a beautiful picture of a picturesque village in some foreign country Ron didn’t recognise.

“You’ve quite a big family,” Draco answered undisturbed, “I’ve been told I can be…” he paused, as if unwilling to continue – then crossed his arms in front of his chest defiantly, “rude when I drink.”

Ron laughed at that – rude was a bit of an understatement. Drunk Draco Malfoy used words sober Draco Malfoy would turn up his nose at.

“Yes, I’ve noticed,” Ron grinned, looking down at the box of chocolates again, “where are these from?”

Draco looked at him as if he had said something incredibly dirty. He looked quite haughty now, more like the old Draco Malfoy Ron remembered.

“Belgium,” he said, irritation tinging his voice, “You’ve noticed?”

“You called Pansy a twat,” Ron opened the box, “Belgium? Are they any good at making chocolates?”

“The best,” Draco snapped, setting his hands in his hips – as if Ron’s ignorance pertaining Belgium and their chocolate-making-skills insulted the Malfoy family personally, “Are you amused by this?”

“Well it is a little funny,” Ron shrugged – the chocolates were shaped like little squares, all with different coloured lac on top – he picked one out with red decorations, “would this be cherry?”

Funny?” Draco fumed, tapping his feet furiously, “Since when does Ronald Weasley enjoy being insulted?”

“What?” Ron frowned at this, and then made a little sound in the back of his throat – the chocolate was filled with cherry cream and quite delicious.

“What?” Draco’s repeated, face morphed into a scowl, “Don’t play dumb, Pansy told me.”

“Told you what?” Ron was feeling a little hurt at how hard Draco was refusing to make eye contact with him and decided to distract himself by picking out another chocolate – green-glazed this time.

“That I called you something horrible, something I’d regret,” Draco sounded slightly frazzled – finally though, their eyes met, and Ron could see the storm raging in the grey at the exact same time that the minty freshness of the chocolate filling hit his pallet. Ron realised belatedly that Draco was frightened – apparently he thought he had insulted Ron, after weeks of finding peace and solace in each other. He was afraid a drunk stupor had sent them back, just like that.

“Draco,” he swallowed his treat hastily, “you didn’t,” he took a step forward, trying to convey some warmth and affection – the grey darkened and when Draco let out a shaky breath it sounded like thunder, “you didn’t call me any names.”

The blond blinked.

“You did call a tree a piece of broccoli,” he tried to lose some of the tension in the air by grinning, “and sang. Quite horribly.”

“Now you’re just being foolish,” Draco rolled his eyes, his shoulders sagging as his body relaxed, “I have a lovely singing voice.”

“Did Pansy tell you that too?” Ron teased quite blatantly – Draco snorted indignantly, his eyes widening in astonishment.

“So cheeky! You’re enjoying this!” he accused the redhead, poking at the taller boy’s chest.

“Yes,” Ron grinned, “And so were you! Draco you’re young, you’re allowed to drink, you’re allowed to get drunk.”

“Honestly Ronald,” Draco snapped, “this isn’t funny. I woke you in the middle of the night and kept you up.”

He was blushing a bit red on his cheeks now. Ron realised he was beyond embarrassed with his own actions, and decided to finally be gentle on him – an outraged Draco was all kinds of amusing, but he didn’t want the boy to look so dejectedly – definitely when he hadn’t actually done anything to deserve the hard treatment he was giving himself.

“Draco, this is unnecessary,” Ron promised, “if you every decide to get sloppy drunk again please let me be your drunk call because it was hilarious. You tried to sing me to sleep whilst insulting random passer-byers, I haven’t had such a good laugh in ages.”

The blond looked like he wanted to protest. Ron wrapped an arm around him in what he hoped wasn’t too amiable, pressing a quick kiss to his cheek.

“Let’s have breakfast, I’m starvin’!” and just like that Ron guided the boy into the kitchen, ignoring his mild reluctance – if there was one thing that would cheer the boy up it was good food and hearing misses Weasley rave about how delicious those chocolates were.

“Mom,” he announced when they entered – noting with a little bit of glee that someone had already magiced a second chair between Ginny and Harry, “Draco brought chocolates.”

Misses Weasley looked utterly pleased as she accepted the box – mission accomplished, Ron thought – except that the lid was askew and Draco’s eyes narrowed to slits when he noticed.

“You ate them already?” he accused as the pair of them sat down, shaking off Ron’s arm harshly.

“Just two!” Ron hastily answered, “you said they were for us!”

“I said they were for people I’ve inconvenienced!” Draco growled, “You were enjoying my suffering!”

“You weren’t suffering!” Ron retaliated briskly.

“They look delicious,” misses Weasley interrupted before Draco could answer, “don’t worry about it mister Malfoy, we’ve had much worse from those two.”

She nodded to her twin sons who were wearing identical grins. Draco’s face morphed into mild displeasure but when Ron touched his thigh under the table their eyes met and there were sparkles.

“So,” Charlie piped up from across the table just as Ron was scooping some eggs and bacon on his plate, “You sing when you’re drunk.”

“You know it’s very impolite to eavesdrop mister Weasley,” Draco looked as if he was repressing the urge to stick out his tongue childishly – something which Charlie seemed to find even more amusing.

They continued eating whilst talking amongst themselves pleasantly, Bill – who was seated next to Ginny – constantly trying to get Draco’s attention. Harry was talking to Ron about Quidditch and sometimes Draco’s thigh would push into his own and he would feel the heat rush through his body.

Bill invited Draco to join them as they had planned to go swimming after breakfast, which the blonde agreed to after only a brief hesitation – there were no immature sounds from the twins and Charlie whooped excitedly and Ron felt happy.

It was just as they were all getting quite full that suddenly Draco’s phone came flying from his pocket, announcing cheerfully: “Cassi calling!”

“I’ll call back later,” Draco said sternly, finishing his toast.

That was supposed to be the end of it, except the phone chirped: “override,” and then suddenly a girl appeared in the middle of the room – floating in the air above the breakfast table, surrounded by furniture that was vaguely blurred as if in an old film. She was blonde and had a curvy body – Ron would have described her as plump, but she appeared to be quite tall – the tips of her hair a shockingly pink colour. She was wearing comfortable pants similar to Draco’s, only hers were higher, resting around her waist, with white lettering on the side. On top she had fitted a white crop top which revealed a little bit of skin under the seam and show casted her chest – her lips were done with a marvellous blue colour. Her feet were, like the background, a little blurry, but it appeared that she was wearing the same shoes as Draco was wearing at the moment, and Pansy had worn the previous day.

There were shrieks of surprise from the girls and Arthur exclaimed loudly, “what is that?!”

The miniature blonde rolled her eyes, “honestly, you British wizards need to get with the times,” she had an accent Ron couldn’t place, “oh, this isn’t the Zabini’s mansion.”

Arthur shared a look with his wife and across the table Charlie was quite blatantly ogling the blonde girl. Draco on the other hand, seemed rather embarrassed as Ron glanced his way.

“Oh no Cassi, Blaise and I, we don’t…” he was at a loss of words momentarily, and Ron felt his blood boil at the mention of the Slytherin, “we don’t do that anymore.”

“You two don’t shag anymore?” she sounded very British in that moment, and it was kind of funny to hear her talk, her accent not like any other Ron had ever heard, “are you at Pansy’s then?”

“I thought you’d gone home with Pansy?” Draco frowned – he noticed Ron’s ears had gone red and reached for his hand under the table.

“I find it very depressing how we both assume the other is getting laid whilst in reality we’re very much starting to look like a sad little married couple except we’re not married and it’s a hot nice summer and we should be fucking every—“ before she could finish her sentence Draco cleared his throat.

“Cassi, please, we’re having breakfast,” he indicated the table – and everyone’s shocked faces, a mix of surprise at the fact that there was a woman floating in their kitchen and the fact that she apparently had a potty-mouth.

“Oh right, I do apologise,” she gave a nod of her head, apparently gazing around the room, “I didn’t know Slytherin had redheads.”

“They’re Gryffindors actually,” Draco corrected lightly.

The girl almost doubled up with laughter – Harry and Ron shared a look of confusion.

“You? Gryffindor friends?” she continued to giggle until she saw Draco’s face and realised he was in fact serious. She blinked a couple of times, long lashes throwing shadows on her cheeks, and then smiled rather kindly, “Draco, you have changed. That’s great, good on you mate!”

“How I dislike it when you try to sound British,” Draco pursed his lips – Ron could tell that he was feeling a bit flustered though, the boy’s hand suddenly remarkably sweaty in his own, “I don’t understand, are you staying at a hotel?”

There was a deep sigh from the other girl and she started pacing the room – it was a strange sight to see, as the image shifted whilst she moved but her position in the kitchen stayed the exact same.

“Pansy’s parents were supposed to have gone to France, but as they haven’t left yet I had no choice but to book a room,” she gestured a little frantically around said room, “they hate me something terrible. As if I turned Pansy lesbian!”

“How silly, Pansy’s been a dyke since we were in diapers,” Draco made a little wave of his hand as if dismissing this fact – under the table, his fingers tightened around Ron’s, “I thought they adored you! Haven’t you gotten your sakura robes?”

“Not yet, but I’m only one set away!” the girl perked up at the mention of robes, smiling widely – Charlie looked impressed, “They’re just angry because you know… I’m, as they said, just a silly white girl and—“

“Just a silly white girl?!” Draco seemed properly outraged, his voice cold as ice, “You’ve done exceedingly well year after year, not to mention that you’re witty and positively gorgeous! A solid catch!”

Ron felt a bit proud that Draco was speaking so kindly – even though his tone was cold, his words were warm – even though he knew the boy was probably uncomfortable at showing the Weasleys this side of him. He gave an encouraging squeeze to the blonde’s hand, hoping to let him know that he was there to help him if needed.

The blonde in the air however gave a sad little pout.

“Yes but Draco,” she spoke in a tone that sounded as if he had forgotten something very obvious and dismantling to his argument – which he had, though no one realised it yet, “I have boobs.

Ginny snickered and the twins snorted loudly at the unexpected comment. Draco nodded with a deep frown in his forehead, mimicking understanding.

“Yes well I do agree they’re my least-favourite feature too,” he agreed.

This time everyone laughed – even the blonde girl, who had looked a little crest-fallen before. She pushed the hair from her face, revealing more skin, and then sighed again.

“It’s just that I’ve tried calling her but her phone’s been switched off and if I owl her, her parents will get upset and—“

“She’s probably still sleeping,” Draco interrupted what was turning into a rant, “or she might be at Miles’s, she makes the best hangover potion since Severus.”

“I thought so too!” Cassiopeia nodded avidly, “I called him first! Have you thought of shagging him? He mentioned he hasn’t gotten any in ages and I’m sure he’d be interested. It’s just that you get grumpy when you haven’t—“

“Cas,” Draco hissed – it was enough to shut her up and she turned a little pink in the face, realising she had again used improper language.

There was silence for a moment.

“It’s still early,” Draco then said, “how about I call her parents if we haven’t heard from her by lunch?”

The girl still seemed a little deflated, her hands playing with her hair a little nervously.

“Are you alright in the hotel?” Draco spoke softly now, using an extra-kind voice to address the other blonde – Ron was a little surprised, since he had only ever heard Draco use that voice to speak to his father, “I’m sure my father wouldn’t mind you staying at the manor. He enjoys your company.”

“Oh no, it’s quite alright,” Cassiopeia smiled, “I like hotels. They feel like adventure.”

She gave a little wave, and then there was a sort of harsh wind and suddenly the picture was being blown away – she faded out fully in a mere couple of seconds, Draco’s phone fluttering down to settle next to his cup of tea.

Arthur started questioning Draco about the mix of magic and technology that they had just witnessed, clearly impressed – then the blonde helped clear the table with Molly, using wandless magic as he joked with Charlie, and Ron was once more reminded of how underrated the boy had been. All this time he had been working hard to become the best wizard he could, and he’d always fallen just a bit short. It was a heart-breaking thought.

But then they were setting out to the hill where they would play Quidditch every now and then – beyond that lay a lake where they could swim without being disturbed – and Luna was joining them and Ginny hooked arms with Draco as they walked. It was a beautiful day and it was turning out to be even better than Ron could have ever imagined.

“So,” Ron heard Ginny asking from where he was walking with Harry and Hermione behind them, “you went to… some place… with Pansy… who is…”

Ron imagined Draco would be tipping up his eyebrows right about then.

“Are you trying to ask me about gay bars?” there was mirth in his voice, and the twins behind Ron shared a look of disapproval.

“It’s just that me and Luna don’t know anyone else like us,” Ginny explained quickly, squeezing her girlfriend’s hand, “and all the girls you hang out with appear to be lesbians.”

“Well of course, that’s half their charm,” Draco laughed and Luna giggled – she was wearing a long white dress that made her give the appearance of an angel, her long blonde hair waving in the wind, a camera in her hands, “Cassi isn’t a lesbian, she ogles boys sometimes.”

“So these… places…” Ron had never heard Ginny so nervous and humble before – she was always so fierce and proud at home, even as her brothers swore to protect her, she never actually needed them to.

“How about you come along next time?” Draco suggested, tucking one hand in his pocket, “I’m sure Pansy won’t mind. Now don’t tell Cassi, but Pansy always found you to be quite dreamy – she has a thing for blondes.”

Ron could see Luna’s face blushing pink as she pushed the hair from her face – Ginny however turned remarkably frigid, her shoulders tensing.

“Don’t be jealous,” Draco scolded lightly, “nobody is trying to steal your girlfriend.”

“But she lives in Japan?” Ginny asked curiously – Luna strayed away from them a bit, picking some flowers that grew by the side of the dirt-road they were walking.

“Her parents started working there when we were nine,” the blonde explained simply, “we grew up together. She came back whenever she could and would always stay at the Parkinson’s. They started dating when they were thirteen or something.”

“That’s really romantic,” Ginny watched Luna as she said it, before turning back to Draco, “I didn’t know Slytherins could be so adorable.”

“There is nothing adorable about Pansy Parkinson,” Draco shook his head, “She will go over bodies if anyone tries to hurt what she considers hers – and cunning too. Besides, Cassi isn’t technically a Slytherin either, though she probably would have been.”

“I’m just surprised that of all the houses Slytherin is the one where all the gay kids are hiding,” Ginny laughed, elbowing Draco in his side playfully, “What about Crabbe and Goyle?”

Ron inwardly shuddered. Draco just smirked.

“Goyle is in the closet. His father is horrid,” he explained simply, “some of us were just lucky. My father loves me quite unconditionally, and misses Zabini probably killed seven people to give her son the happiness she feels he deserves. I don’t think she cares who he spends the rest of his life with.”

Ginny was staring at Luna again.

“I can’t wait. It’d be great to take her someplace where people don’t care.”

Ron wasn’t sure but when Draco turned his head to look at where Luna was picking flowers – now getting a little behind – it felt like their eyes met for just a second and in that second he felt everything the blonde did and it shook him to his core.

They arrived at the lake after another fifteen-minutes’ walk – Ron’s older brothers immediately started magicing their trousers into swim trunks and shrugging off their shirts. Harry and the twins followed suit, and soon half the group was splashing in the water. Ginny was having fun using her wand to change the colour of Luna’s swimsuit – first red, like Ginny’s own bikini, then purple, then yellow with black dots, then blue. The smile on Luna’s face was bright enough that it made Ginny giggle a little childishly.

Hermione had magiced on her swimming suit beneath her clothes and was a little hesitant in removing her jeans. Ron – ever the lanky klutz – nearly fell in the water as he removed his sweatpants, earning jeers and words of encouragement from the twins.

Ron watched as Draco pulled his sweater off over his head, carefully placing it on the branches of a nearby tree so that it wouldn’t get dirty. In the clear morning light Draco’s skin seemed to almost glow – on his chest the faded scars of where Harry had once hit him with sectumsempra were still visible, so obvious now that he was basking in the sun. His arm was left bare, the thick scar still angry and pink – Draco ignored the stares from the others, instead reaching down for his trousers.

What caught Ron’s eyes was not the pale chest and faded scars, not the marred forearm – instead it was the fact that something near Draco’s abdomen was flickering in the light. As Draco turned to place his comfortable pants on top of his shirt, Bill made a whistling sound – something by Draco’s navel had caught the sunlight, breaking it up in a hundred colourful pieces and reflecting it against the trees.

“You have a piercing?” Ron realised with a start that Bill was right – there were three little silver balls lined up, two of them snug in Draco’s navel, and one below it. Above his navel was a small crystal, which was what was catching the light and reflecting it so brightly.

Ron could not take his eyes off it.

“Did you get it recently?” Charlie piped up, “I didn’t see it when your dad healed you.”

“I just take it off sometimes,” Draco shrugged his shoulders lightly, neatly placing his socks on top of his clothes, “you’re not going to swim with your shirt on, I hope?”

Ron blinked stupidly when he realised Draco was addressing him and he was just standing there staring. Ginny hid her smirk behind her hand as he awkwardly cleared his throat.

Breaking through the tension in the air he stuck out his tongue childishly – making Draco smile so broadly, Ron’s heart was suddenly beating double time. He would probably never get over how radiant Draco looked when he smiled like that – for once his lips not twirled up in a mean smirk but instead a big smile that reached his eyes and made the silver swirl with mirth. Ron felt the world was a much lighter burden to carry as long as he was staring at the laughing face of Draco Malfoy.

“You’re daft Weasley,” and just like that it was weeks ago and Draco was smirking at him as his hands stranded on his hips and they were kissing.

Except they couldn’t, now.

So Ron just poked at his side playfully as they made their way to the water, earning another wide smile from the blond.

The water was refreshing after their long walk in the morning sun, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. It had been a long time since Ron had seen his older brothers so uninhibited – he had known them like that when he was younger, but not since they had left the house and started working.

Harry too, seemed more relaxed than Ron had seen him in a long time. These days he was always digging into his parents’ past, and it had taken him a couple of weeks to settle down after the events of the past year. He was still getting used to not waking up in the middle of the night, grabbing his scar, and he seemed to enjoy the company of his friends even more than he used to. He was planning on moving in with Sirius and Remus somewhere soon, and was relishing the time spent at his friends’ house now. Harry had seen what he could have lost, and he was all the more appreciative because of it.

And then there was Draco. Bit by bit he was loosening up around Ron’s family, and though Ron knew he was nowhere near comfortable being around all those redheads, he could tell he was warming up to them. He also particularly seemed fond of Luna, and they spent some time bobbing around just the two of them.

“So, do you think your fish is in here somewhere?” Ron watched as Draco’s pale hands pushed at the leafs in the water.

“My fish?” the blonde was wearing this indescribable smile, paddling a little closer to where Ron was.

“The big one you like so much. Your favourite fish,” Ron grinned and splashed some water Draco’s way, who shook his head with silent laughter.

“Ronald, whale sharks are huge,” Draco emphasised the last word, “haven’t you ever seen one?”

Ron shook his head no, carefully stretching out his body so he was floating on his back.

“Guess you’ll have to perfect that patronus soon,” he teased – as a reward Draco pulled at his leg, effectively making him tip under for a moment.

He spluttered as he got back up, shaking his wet hair from his face – Draco was smirking too smugly for his liking, but then he also found it quite attractive.

“I’ve practiced actually,” Draco explained unperturbed – as if there was no thoroughly wet Weasley glaring daggers at him, “my magic’s quite good when I’m drunk. Couldn’t really focus enough for the memory though.”

“The memory is most important,” Hermione explained from by the riverside, where she was using her wand to dry her hair.

“I think of playing Quidditch,” Ginny quipped, busy fighting Fred and George off – who were in the midst of attacking her with magically produced waves of water – she managed to push both of her brothers under and then rather abruptly blushed as red as her hair, “and that time Luna held my hand after we’d gotten back from the Ministry at the end of fourth year.”

Luna was smiling as whimsically as ever, and she put her wand in her bun as she said, “I think of my mother and Ginny dancing with me at the yule ball.”

Bill whistled lewdly at the comment making everyone laugh. Ginny made eyes at Luna and five minutes later they mysteriously disappeared to a more shrub-infested secluded area of the lake.

The twins and Bill and Charlie were the first to head back to the Burrow – Charlie was going back to Romania soon and Bill was leaving for Egypt next month as well, and the twins still had to do inventory for their shop which would be opening again soon.

Draco hesitated – he was actually supposed to just drop off the chocolates at the Weasley’s house, and though his father was not at home he felt a little guilty that he was staying out when he wasn’t supposed to. However, Ron was pushing wet hair from his face and Draco felt a kind of hunger growling in his stomach that he hadn’t felt in a long time – he was alright, here, now, and there was no reason to break that.

So he gave a nod to the older brothers as they turn and leave the clearing, hair still damp and smiles radiant.

Ginny and Luna had started braiding Hermione’s hair after using a drying spell on it, allowing the sun to warm their wet bodies. They had magiced up some towels and were talking amongst themselves in hushed tones – as if afraid the boys may hear them. It was funny, Draco thought, the way this family worked.

Draco watched as Ron too, heaved himself out of the water and summoned a towel to dry himself off. In the sunlight the dusting of freckles on his shoulders and chest seemed to almost glitter like little diamonds. He averted his eyes before he was caught staring, suddenly feeling a little flustered – he wanted to touch Ronald. But he couldn’t. And wanting things he couldn’t have was not an altogether familiar feeling for him.

He ignored the feeling of disappointment as efficiently as he ignored any other unwanted emotions and instead pushed himself up on the water bank in a sitting position, leaving his legs in the cool water still. There were little petals of different flowers flowing with the stream, different shades of green and yellow and discoloured white gathering around his feet.

Making a simple and precise hand-gesture he summoned his sketch book to him – he had always been fond of the outsides, even though he was generally against getting too dirty or muddy. Being with nature made him feel inspired, and going out into the woods he felt like he could feel his magic flow so much more clearly within himself. It also helped that woods were usually deserted – when he was practicing legilimency and occlumency it would be the only place where he would find release, as he would sometimes hear other’s thoughts without wanting to. Now however, he was able to control it, and even though he no longer needed to comforting silence of the outsides, it was still welcomed.

He opened his book to where he had been sketching last time – a simple tree he had drawn from his balcony – and started on drawing the water and flowers in black coal.

Suddenly there was a shift and then Ron was sitting down next to him, his towel resting sloppily on his head. Before Draco could greet him, the boy was wrapping a second towel around Draco’s shoulders, offering him a big smile.

They sat in silence, and Draco thought about how he had never used legilimency with Ron – and how he didn’t have to, with this boy whose heart he wore on his sleeve and whose eyes were a mirror to his soul.

Chapter Text

Pregame (14)

If he was being completely honest, Ron was jealous.

It seemed like he hadn’t spent alone time with Draco in the longest time – which was hardly fair as they had only just two days ago spent the afternoon together while Harry was in Lucius’ study – yet for some reason the boy had made plans to take Ginny to a club that evening. They still called, and Draco had told Ron right away that he intended to show his sister some places where she could be herself in all her glory without feeling any judgement, but, as if by mere oversight, he had not invited Ron.

Ron was not a total idiot – he realised that Draco had probably not invited him because the blond knew how embarrassing Ron would find it to have to tell the twins he was joining Ginny in her celebration of her sexuality. However, Ron felt that Draco could have at least asked him – after all, it wouldn’t be such a stretch of the imagination that Ron was simply a straight boy joining his sister and his friends, who happened to not be straight, on a night out.

He wasn’t sure why exactly Draco hadn’t asked him – perhaps Draco was merely tired of him. The only explanations Ron could think of were negative ones and instead of straight-out asking Draco he talked a little briskly on the phone and then fumed for the rest of the day by himself, growling at anyone who came near him.

So it was that he was having dinner with his family and trying his hardest not to send angry glares Ginny’s way. It wasn’t her fault that he was a jealous asshole that lacked the sensibility to just communicate his feelings rather than work them out on harmless bystanders.

They were finishing up, the twins disappearing upstairs and Ginny helping her mother with the plates when there was a knock on the door. Arthur was reading the paper and Hermione and Harry were finishing off their tea. Bill and Charlie had been about to go upstairs themselves but, realising who had just arrived, decided against it. Ron fumed some more.

His mother went to open the door, and for a moment everything was just muffled voices and Ron’s stomach burning with anger.

When she returned to the kitchen she was followed by Draco Malfoy and the curvy blonde-pink girl that had been floating above the breakfast table the previous day. She was wearing the most lavishing red satin gown Ron had ever seen – not that he had seen very many. It had a sharp deep V-neck and was tight around her breasts as if to accentuate their size, her shoulders left barren as the sleeves dropped down them gently, running down in a bright red lace fabric to her hands. The front of the dress was short, reaching just above her knees, but the back was long and the red satin was flowing down over the floor in a veil behind her. She was wearing black heels with golden accents, matching her rings – golden with black stones – and earrings. Her hair was done up, some of the pink locks loose and teasing her face, contrasting with her deep-red lips.

She was holding Draco’s hand, and Ron wanted to growl at the mere sight of it.

“Arthur look at that, they’ve brought us Japanese tea,” Molly sounded overjoyed – Ron had noticed how his mother would perk up every time Draco visited and brought gifts.

It wasn’t necessary, but they didn’t get many guests who brought them presents, and his mother did thoroughly appreciate the gesture – Ron was sure that was part of Draco’s intention, really, as he was a Malfoy and this kind of manipulation of social situations ran in his blood. Not only did he know how to make an entrance, he also had managed to convince the family his own had been in disagreement with for years that he was likeable – that had to count for something.

Draco was wearing a three piece suit that was a deep red colour – meant to match the girl’s dress, Ron realised with yet another bout of jealousy – the jacket and pants fitted like a second skin. The waistcoat had a squared pattern, and his shirt was a broken white. Ron figured that despite his jealousy, he was still allowed to notice how handsome the blonde was – and he longed to reach out and take his hand, but he didn’t.

“Hello,” the blonde girl smiled at everyone in the kitchen all at once – it was a warm smile too, ridiculously upright, and Ron remembered seeing that smile before, in one of the pictures Draco kept in his room – suddenly he was not so jealous anymore, “I’m Cassiopeia. You must be Ginny!”

Charlie was quite obviously ogling the blonde, but she only had eyes for Ginny, who had just returned to her seat next to Harry.

“I love your hair,” there was that slight accent again, but an excitement in Cassiopeia’s voice that was undeniable – to Ron’s surprise, Ginny blushed bright red, something he hadn’t seen her do since her first year at Hogwarts when she’d had a crush on Harry, “I hope you don’t mind… Draco told me how you’ve never been clubbing and I was just wondering, would it be okay if we got dressed together?”

If possible Ginny blushed even redder at that, and Ron was now pretty sure her face was about to explode with embarrassment.

“Oh, I don’t… have a dress like that,” Ginny stuttered out a bit awkwardly.

The other girl blinked in surprise, then looked at her dress and Ginny and back at her dress again. Then, she laughed – a very warm sound, her teeth showing.

“Oh no, of course! Draco took me to the opera,” she squeezed the Malfoy’s hand in hers, thumping her shoulder into his side, “I can’t shake my booty in this dress! And how is Draco supposed to shake his booty in that tux? We’ve brought a change of clothes!”

She held up her small clutch purse – Ron, who had seen Hermione’s magic bag filled with books and everything possibly essential for the destruction of horcruxes and any camping that came along with it, was not very surprised – as if that explained everything.

His mother offered them some tea and they discovered that the girl had never had English tea before and was, in fact, not Japanese or British but Belgian, where they didn’t drink tea often. Her parents worked as international correspondence for their government and had been stationed in Japan for the past ten years – Arthur listened to her story with an upright interest, Molly taken in by the fact that despite being separated, the blondes were still so close.

“So how did you two meet?” Ginny looked on between the two – the girl grinned at the question, while Draco’s eyebrows made an escape in his hair.

“It’s a silly story,” Cassiopeia waved her hand as if to dismiss the fact, “the Parkinsons are quite superstitious wizards, and they used to have parties where they would introduce full-blood wizards Pansy’s age, to see if there was some connection. They started when she was just a little baby, and would put some kids together and see if any connection stood out.”

“As you can image,” Draco continued, the room hanging on his every word, “Pansy being my best friend and all, when we first met, we absolutely loathed each other.”

Everyone laughed at that, and the blonde girl playfully poked him – Ron knew it was stupid, obviously they had been friends for a very long time, from before Ron had even met Draco. However, the closeness between the two of them was unsettling him.

“Draco and I got along swimmingly however,” Cassiopeia’s smile made her eyes sparkle, a bit of green mixed in with grey, and Ron thought that despite the fact that he was incorrigibly jealous, she seemed nice enough, “It totally pisses Pansy off, I love teasing her with it, Draco and I could’ve been arranged to be wed you know, I would say, and she would get so jealous! She would ignore both of us for days!”

“As if we’d ever be attracted to each other,” there was nothing fake about the way they both laughed – the idea of taking each other as their lover uprightly amusing, and Ron couldn’t help it, the stomping jealous Hippogriff in his stomach settled down a bit.

“The idea,” Cassiopeia made a gagging noise – Draco looked so offended at that, his face drawn up in a scowl, that it made everyone laugh harder, “don’t give me that look! You find my boobs repulsive! As if I’d be interested in a man like that!”

“Not repulsive,” Draco defended vehemently – as if perhaps he had not used that exact wording but it still proved the jest of the idea.

“Close enough,” Cassiopeia rolled her eyes – Ginny giggled, Draco sighed and then they made eye contact and Ron just kind of tried to convey all the warmth he could with his look.

They talked comfortably for some time, about Luna – who was off camping with her father – and then about Cassiopeia’s school and when Fred and George came back into the kitchen, nothing was awkward. The presence of someone new – completely and utterly new – unrelated to Hogwarts or any troubled past between Draco and Hogwarts was almost relieving. The twins seemed to warm to her almost immediately, and she showed no bias or preference when they talked about Hogwarts houses and their meaning, and instead she just said that such courage was quite enviable and remarked that ambition would take you far too.

After they’d finished their tea Ginny offered to take them upstairs. They heard Cassiopeia giggle as they went up, followed by Ginny’s muffled voice and more giggling.

Ron wasn’t sure how to behave. Hermione and Harry were talking to him and they moved into the living room without him presently realizing it. It felt strange, knowing that Draco was in his house without him – a little bit unsettling. He knew it was stupid to think that he always had to be around Draco to keep him safe, but somehow it didn’t feel good to know that Draco was so close and yet so far away.

He was shaken from his reverie however, when there was another knock to the door and Molly disappeared once again. Hermione and Harry were discussing Harry’s imminent move to Sirius’ cottage and Hermione’s trip to Bulgaria next to him, and Harry was just about to engage Ron in the conversation when Molly appeared again.

She was followed by none other than Pansy Parkinson and Ron thought that she was giving him a sort of judging look, as if disapproving the company he now kept. Ron figured it probably had something to do with the fact that Molly was used to Hermione and Ginny in baggy sweaters and prim jeans and Parkinson was just not like that.

She was wearing a very tight short black leather skirt with two splits over her thighs, and no stockings whatsoever to cover her skin. A Slytherin-green tank top covered her torso and on top of that she was wearing a furry short jacket meant to keep her warm or stylish, Ron didn’t know. Her legs looked much longer than usual as she was wearing lacked black stilettos, and she had cohled thick black liner around her almond-shaped eyes, a golden necklace in the shape of a snake hanging off her neck. Her lips were blood-red.

Bill and Charlie were also quite obviously ogling her, and Charlie went as far as to utter, “damn.”

Pansy was carrying a bouquet of green flowers and if eyes could kill she would have evaporated the oldest Weasley brothers with just a single look.

“Pea said they were almost finished getting ready,” Parkinson said – when she fixed on Ron her eyes softened slightly and he was rather grateful for it.

“Oh, are you Cassiopeia’s friend?” Molly seemed pleased to hear that this girl was only friends with Ronald through other common friends.

“I’m her girlfriend,” said Parkinson briskly – Charlie and Bill shared a knowing look and the raven’s eyes turned to slits as she spotted their look, she snapped, “if you’re thinking about putting us in one of your sick little fantasies I will—“

“Pance? Is that you bitching at your host’s sons?” Cassiopeia’s voice called from upstairs, and they heard the sound of heels as the three came down.

Pansy’s eyes widened almost comically and she straightened her back, rigid, as her hands fiddled with the flowers nervously.

“I wasn’t…” she started snappishly, but then Cassiopeia, Draco and Ginny came down into the living room and she stopped still rather abruptly – Ron’s own heart skipped a beat and he could hear an appreciative whistle from his older brothers.

Cassiopeia’s blonde hair was in an up-do with pink flowers woven through – something Ron suspected was his own sister’s work – and she was wearing a form-fitting simple white dress with long sleeves and almost no cleavage, the cut-out at her back very deep and reaching just above her hips. It reached her thighs, but what Ron expected had been the reason for his brother’s approving sounds were her black boots, with slender heels and made of a soft-looking fabric that went over her knees, turning her outfit more alluring and daring.

Ron was perhaps even more surprised to see his own sister in a skirt – the first time this summer, he was sure – with black stockings and a white t-shirt with lacy accents. She had hiked up her skirt a little higher so that the waist accentuated her figure – something Ron imagined Cassiopeia had advised her to do – and she looked rather dashing, smiling a little shyly and perhaps a little uncomfortable, wearing dark eye make-up for what was probably the first time in her life, but happy nonetheless.

It was Draco however, that earned all of Ron’s attention, for the boy was as handsome as ever. He was wearing ripped blue jeans with tears over his knees and thighs, and a long white shirt on top. There was a second one layered on top of it, grey and a little oversize. He was still wearing his heavy family rings – what really got to Ron though, was his hair. It was all tangled and free, the opposite of how he wore it in school, and even now it was shining so brightly silver, Ron couldn’t help but stare. The other thing were his eyes, dark and stormy and ringed with black eyeliner which only made them appear darker.

“You look stunning,” Pansy sounded a little out of breath – the smile she got in return from Cassiopeia was beautiful, red lips splitting into a grin, “I picked you these flowers because they reminded me of the colour of your eyes.”

She offered the blonde the flowers a little abashedly. Ginny cooed.

“You got her flowers the colour of her eyes?” the redhead winked at Cassiopeia, “How romantic.”

Parkinson looked like she wanted to glare at being teased by a Gryffindor, but Cassiopeia took out her wand and the flowers in her hands floated up and danced around in the air to form a crown – another flick of her wrist and it was landing on Pansy’s dark hair, mimicking the flower crown on top of the blonde’s head. They had matching soft smiles and Ron wasn’t Parkinson’s biggest fan but it was amazing to see her in this way – unguarded, kind, loved.

Cassiopeia and Ginny seated themselves together on the sofa and the older girl started working on Ginny’s hair as Pansy and Draco waited patiently. Molly went into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea and Charlie and Bill exchanged a look, wondering if they could speak to the blonde without enraging the Japanese Slytherin beyond measure.

“So, I saw Theo today,” Pansy said to Draco conversationally – the blond hummed to signify he’d heard her, but they were interrupted when Cassiopeia frowned.

“Theo?” she asked, tongue between her lips as she focussed on Ginny’s hair.

“You know him Pea,” Pansy set her hands on her hips patiently, “you’ve met him, you know, the really grumpy Slytherin,” she explained – Ron and Harry exchanged a look; the really grumpy Slytherin was not a very accurate description at all, since all Slytherins could easily be described as such.

Apparently the blonde girl agreed.

“Oh darling,” she sighed as if she carried the weight of all the world on her shoulders, making the smaller redhead in front of her giggle, “please don’t pretend there’s only one grumpy Slytherin.”

Ginny snorted quite indecently and Cassiopeia winked at her. Pansy’s lips tightened at their interaction but Draco just kind of gave them a look which seemed to say fair enough.

“You called him sandy haired baby doll and the two of you almost skinny-dipped in the fountain at the what a witch club,” Draco said simply – which caused another snort from Ginny and a laugh from the oldest Weasley brothers.

Oh, that grumpy Slytherin!” recognition seemed to reach her and she waved her hand at Pansy gracefully telling her to go on.

“Anyway, he was devastated when he heard you were taken again,” Pansy gave Draco a very pointed look and Ron felt a blush rising to his cheeks – of course no one else could know who Pansy was referring to, but he did and it made him feel a little flustered, “I think he was expecting a courtesy shag or something.”

At this though, he felt his embarrassment be replaced with white hot anger.

What?” Draco stared at his friend in amazement, then continued in annoyance, “A courtesy shag is not a real thing, Pansy.”

The raven seemed undisturbed by his protests – which further angered Ronald, who was suddenly repressing the urge to go for his wand – merely rolling her eyes mockingly.

“I’m just saying, you both get really obnoxious when you haven’t gotten laid,” Pansy said it in a tone that indicated she was talking about the weather – Hermione’s splutter proved that she wasn’t though.

Draco’s eyes turned to vicious slits, both hands resting on his hips.

“Excuse you,” he bit feistily, “I’ll have you know I am always the exact same amount of bitchy.”

Before Pansy could argue as she probably wanted to, there was the sound of a clicking tongue – looking over at his sister and the blonde, Cassiopeia was shaking her head in mirth, laughter in her eyes.

“Now Draco,” her tone was very patient, like she was talking to a toddler – Draco did not look pleased at this, in the least, “I’m not saying you’re not always bitchy,” she made a hand gesture, temporarily releasing Ginny’s red locks, “but you turn into a puddin’ post-coitus. Kind of like a Christmas pudding.”

She ended the statement with a nod – there was general laughter, but Ron remained rigid. This woman had no business knowing whether or not Draco turned into a pudding after any sort of sexual activities, and Ron wished he had the courage to make that clear to her.

“I am not a Christmas pudding!” Draco protested feebly – as if perhaps he himself knew there was some truth to it.

Ginny laughed again, louder this time, her eyes shining brightly as they met Draco’s. Then however, her look turned pensive, and she queried, “wait… how do you know he turns into a pudding?”

Draco spluttered in indignation – Ron knew the Malfoy had not expected such a question from Ginny, of all people – Cassiopeia however just rolled her eyes as she continued to do the other girl’s hair.

“Oh it’s like the worst-kept secret,” Cassiopeia explained plainly, her hand moving in intricate patterns to braid Ginny’s hair, “Draco drew Blaise for seven minutes in heaven at Pansy’s fifteenth birthday party,” Pansy’s grin turned almost lecherous at the words, and she poked Draco playfully into his side – the blonde was unimpressed, “The things we heard… scarring.”

Cassiopeia sounded very dramatic and Pansy was grinning at her unabashedly. Ron was now, on top of being very angry, also very confused. He felt as if half of what Cassiopeia had said had just gone above his head, and he wondered if the rage in his belly was to blame for it.

However, all the Weasleys looked equally confused, and Bill piped up, “what is seven minutes in Heaven?”

“Oh, it’s a muggle game,” Cassiopeia explained with a smile at the redhead, “you basically get to make out in a closet for seven minutes.”

“If I remember correctly you didn’t even leave the closet!” Draco was obviously cross at his friends for having exposed such intimate details of his life to the family, and he looked half-triumphant but also partly like he wanted to stick out his tongue – with that look on his face, Ron couldn’t help but feel a sort of calmness now, knowing that Cassiopeia’s reasons for knowing her friend were just that, the fact that he was her friend.

Pansy whined and poked him a little bit harder, earning a glare and then pouting her red bottom lip out.

“Drake it was my birthday,” she complained in a nagging voice, “if I want to do my girlfriend in a closet on my birthday I’m allowed.”

Draco was unsympathetic to her plea, and Cassiopeia herself looked like she wanted to protest Draco’s accusations – however then Ginny was trying to turn around to see her face, asking, “but you guys are dating! Why would you need a closet? It hardly sounds romantic.”

Draco snorted and Pansy scowled – she was obviously feeling very uncomfortable at how close her girlfriend had gotten to Ginny in only such a short amount of time and Ron could not blame her. The way Pansy was being with Draco made his skin crawl and all he could think was mine mine mine.

“Oh not everything has to be romantic,” Cassiopeia dismissed it with a wave of her hand, using the other to summon a ribbon with her wand, “some things can just be exciting. You should take Luna to the closet, ten out of ten, would recommend.”

“Actually,” Draco interfered pensively, his brow scrunched in thought, “don’t take her to a closet in Hogwarts, Filch will skin you alive.”

Before Ron could feel a sting of jealousy at why Draco would know that, Cassiopeia interjected with a confused face, “what is a filch and why does it skin innocent children?”

“Not innocent children,” Pansy corrected her girlfriend kindly, “naughty children like Draco that befoul his closets!”

“He’s our caretaker,” Ginny explained when Cassiopeia continued to do nothing but stare in confusion as if willing her girlfriend to continue with just a look – no explanation was forthcoming however as Draco and Pansy just looked at each other with unveiled contempt, “he cleans the castle.”

Oh,” Cassiopeia said as if the world made sense again, “so he just didn’t want to clean up your boy-hormones!”

Boy hormones?” Pany made a face and Bill and Charlie snorted.

“Are you really going to make me use dirty words in front of my new friends?” the blonde scolded Pansy with a clack of her tongue and then continued for Ginny, “I’m pretty sure there’s a spell for that.”

“He’s a squib,” Ginny explained further.

Cassiopeia looked confused again – this time however, instead of ignoring her confusion, Pansy and Draco both made a hand-sign that Ron had never seen before. They used their index fingers and thumbs to make a triangle and then crossed their middle fingers in front of the others – it looked uncomfortable but they seemed to be used to it, forming it with ease.

Oh,” Cassiopeia’s eyes widened almost comically and she stared from Ginny to her Slytherin friends and back again, as if asking for confirmation – Ginny however, seemed as confused as everyone else was, “wauw! In that case go easy on him, the poor fellow! No spreading your girl hormones in closets!”

Ginny burst out laughing this time, which in turn caused everyone else to laugh too – the way Cassiopeia was struggling to put in a ribbon as Ginny continued giggling too funny.

“I promise,” she said eventually – in return the blonde stuck out her pinky and then used it to shake Ginny’s as the girl mimicked the move idly, her face back to confusion.

Harry piped up, “it’s a muggle thing, a pinky-promise,” and Ginny seemed confused still. Ron looked over at his friend as the boy stuck out his pinky as Cassiopeia had, “they shake their pinkies instead of hands,” and then he reached over to Ron – he meekly followed Harry’s lead and stuck out his pinky only to have it shaken a little awkwardly, “it seals the promise.”

“Exactly,” Cassiopeia nodded and then finished Ginny’s hair – she had braided it and then put it in a graceful up-do.

“You know a lot about muggles,” Ginny said, finally turning around to fully face the other girls.

“There’s a ton of muggleborns at mahōtokoro,” the blonde explained, getting off her seat and brushing off her dress, “there’s not many pureblood families in Japan, and no…” her brows furrowed and she made the same hand sign Draco and Pansy had before, “either.”

“Wait wait,” Charlie frowned suddenly, holding out his hand, “you don’t use a word to say squib?”

“They don’t have a word for it,” Cassiopeia supplied, “it’s rather taboo in Japan, having magical ancestors but not being able to do magic. We don’t talk about it.”

“What a barbaric way of thinking!” Hermione said furiously besides Harry, her hands going to her sides.

Ron saw the way Draco twitched and realised the blonde wanted to say something – he was holding it in however, and luckily Cassiopeia interjected easily, “they do have some very old-fashioned thinking patterns. You, for example, would be worshipped like a goddess,” she smiled at the brunette kindly and Ron saw how Hermione wilted, taken aback slightly by the kindness in the other girl’s voice, “they say magical children born from non-magical parents come from Izanagi and Izanami themselves! They birthed Japan you know, so it’s quite an honour, though I think it’s rather icky as they were brother and sister.”

Ron was mostly confused by what she had just said but Hermione seemed to be hanging on her every worth, interested. Hermione appeared eager to have the blonde continue her story, but the other girl looked at Ginny’s hair pensively and then hummed, “I feel like something’s missing. What do you think?” she looked over at Pansy in question.

Both Pansy and Draco came over to watch Ginny’s hair – the redhead blinked up at them innocently, not really understanding what the issue was.

“Babe it looks lovely,” Pansy gave a little pinch to Cassiopeia’s waist, nodding at Draco, “you did a great job.”

“I don’t know…” Cassiopeia sighed somewhat remorsefully, crossing her arms in front of her chest and huffing, “it looks a little flat… Draco’s looking kind of flat too, and you, too.”

Both Slytherins looked appalled, Pansy’s hands flying to her hips and her one heel clacking dangerously on the floor as she tapped her foot. Draco snapped, “excuse me, flat?”

“Oh!” the girl suddenly cheered up again, as if Draco had spoken some magical words, and she jumped off her seat to hug the Malfoy boy spontaneously, “I know! We should add glitter!”

“Oh no,” Draco wormed his way out of the girl’s embrace and gave her a stern look, “Cas you always want to add glitter! I think we’re all sufficiently gay without it!”

Cassiopeia pouted as if she entirely disagreed with that statement, but before she could complain Pansy agreed with Draco, saying, “seriously Pea, it took me ages to wash it out last time!”

At this the blonde rolled her eyes, “you’re a witch Pansy,” she said sternly, “if it’s taking you ages to do anything, you’re doing it wrong,” Ginny giggled at that but before Pansy could be too insulted, Cassiopeia leaned into her space and winked, “besides, I can help you wash it out later.”

Pansy’s face said yes but Draco’s face quite clearly said no and before the girls could go at each other in the Weasley’s living room he stepped in, leaning his chin on Cassiopeia’s shoulder.

Alright, ladies,” he interjected, giving Pansy a stern look that said no touching, “we have not had any alcohol yet and we all agreed that we would not mentally scar each other with lewd behaviour while sober,” Cassiopeia made a little shrug motion with her shoulders that indicated that she remembered that promise, and when Pansy too, seemed to agree, Draco hugged into Cassiopeia’s back, making her laugh aloud, “now get the glitter and let’s go! There are some duck-floaties waiting to be drunk!”

“What’s a duck-floatie?” Harry looked over at Ron in confusion as Cassiopeia started rummaging through her purse.

“It’s a magical cocktail with floating sugar ducks,” Draco sounded rather excited as he answered the question, and Ron couldn’t help but smile fondly – he looked so at ease now, surrounded by his own friends, looking over at Ginny like he couldn’t wait to take her out and show her a good time.

It was amazing how a happy Draco just warmed Ron’s heart.

“Wizards have cocktails?” Harry sounded honestly awed, and Cassiopeia looked up from her purse, frowning at the raven.

“Aren’t you Harry Potter?” she looked between Pansy and Draco as if perhaps she had been mistaken – Harry however seemed more surprised at the fact that she was doubtful, since he hadn’t met a wizard who hadn’t recognised him right away.

“I grew up with my aunt and uncle, they’re muggles,” he shrugged as if it was no big deal and Ron figured it wasn’t, anymore.

“Oh that’s brutal, all these magical drinks you’re missing out on!” Cassiopeia sounded honestly saddened for him, giving him a sympathetic look before focusing on her purse again, “You haven’t gone partying as a wizard yet?”

Charlie snorted, “with a friend like Ron? He’s a total virgin!”

Molly entered right at that moment, her face going white as she caught the last few words.

Charlie,” she scolded, “there is no need to talk about your brother’s private life in such detail!”

Mom!’ Ron’s ears burned bright red and there was just general mayhem as the whole living erupted in laughter and Cassiopeia and Pansy tried to keep a straight face as Draco glared daggers at them, daring his friends to laugh at whom they knew to be his boyfriend.

Ron wasn’t making any illusions, he was quite certain Draco knew he had no sexual experience, but then he also really wished his brother hadn’t just confirmed whatever suspicions he might have had.

Then Cassiopeia pulled back her hand from her purse triumphantly and the next moment she just kind of tossed her hand into the air, palm outspread and a million little twinkling lights floated up into the air and then whirled down onto Draco and Pansy and herself. She sprinkled some on Ginny’s hair for good measure and then Ginny was still giggling at the earlier comments and she got up and went to hug Molly before they left.

“Well,” Molly scraped her throat rather awkwardly, “Ginny, dear,” she looked over her daughter’s shoulder at the two Slytherins fussing about, Cassiopeia tutting as they refused more glitter, “I mean, be careful.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Cassiopeia came over and nodded her head in the direction of where Draco was painstakingly trying to get most of the glitter out of Pansy’s hair, “they’re Slytherins. If anyone hurts your daughter their bodies will never be found. No lawsuits!”

She said it in a very cheerful tone that betrayed no macabre subtext and as Molly stood there, flabbergasted, she took Ginny’s hand in her own, tugging her over to the two others. Pansy reached out for her and Draco linked his arm in the raven’s – with a last lingering look at Ron, they disapparated.

***

Chapter Text

High tension (15)

It was two in the morning and Ginny Weasley was drunk.

They had started off with just a couple of drinks and some dancing, but then Cassiopeia had wanted to play a drinking game and they had moved on to the shots. Ginny had seemed fine at first, but now that Pansy and Cassiopeia had taken to the dancefloor again she was leaning very heavily into Draco’s side and slurring her words.

Her hair which had been done up so carefully was a little saggy now, and her eyes would run haphazardly from Cassiopeia to Draco and back.

“Do you love my brother?” she said it quite abruptly, as if they had been talking about it seconds ago – but it had been silent, and Draco had been sipping his cocktail, the duck-floatie, a little sweet with moving miniature sugar ducks inside it.

He didn’t know what to say to that – mostly because he hadn’t talked it over with Ronald, and he wasn’t sure if such confessions should be made to sisters first. Then of course, there was the fact that he’d never loved anyone in the way Ginny was implying, and that made it hard to recognize if this was really that; love.

He took another sip, weighing his words strongly before speaking.

“I feel things about Ronald that I haven’t felt before,” he admitted a bit shyly – he had too much drinks already, and his defences were wavering.

It didn’t help that Ginny was looking at him with those deep hazel eyes and even though Ron’s were blue, the warmth in them was oddly familiar.

“I can see why he likes you,” she tried to shrug, but her tongue seemed to get a little tied and she had to pause and brace herself before she could continue, “you make everything make sense. It’s not effortless, but a struggle, and that is so real.”

Draco wasn’t sure what she was saying and if it was a good thing. He decided to take another sip of his drink and let her prattle on. She grabbed onto his arm, her eyes unfocused.

“You shouldn’t fight with him you know. He’s been moping all day. Did you not invite him because he was naughty before?” the way she said it reminded Draco of a stern mother, and he tried his best not to laugh too obviously – a snort escaped him, and he felt his cheeks pinken at the immature sound.

“Ginny, I am very fond of him, but let’s be honest, he is the most closeted wizard in  the UK,” Draco rolled his eyes at the thought – he trusted Ron’s judgement when it came to outing himself to his siblings, but now that he was sitting here with Ginny Weasley, recently outed to the very same siblings, he was feeling a bit less patient, “I didn’t ask him so he wouldn’t have to say no.”

“Draco,” she made the second syllable too long and it sounded kind of silly, “Ron would’ve been happy to join us! It’s just that Fred and George can be a little bit… mean to him. They love him of course! But he is always the butt of their pranks and they love to scare him and tease him and Ron tries so hard you know? Just… so hard.”

Once again Draco was not entirely sure what she said and meant exactly, but it was easier to guess this time. The twins did always seem to favour Ron when it came to someone they needed for their pranks, and Ron had spent his first and second year at Hogwarts using his brother Charlie’s wand, which didn’t channel his magic as his own wand would’ve, which in turn made it that much easier for the twins to tease him – as he couldn’t even properly protect himself and screwed up in classes often. After that his magic had improved, but that never stopped his brothers.

On top of that, Draco had seen the looks they would give Ginny and Luna – something of confusion, which wasn’t altogether so bad – and he could imagine that Luna was at least liked by the whole family. He however?

“It’s not fair you know, because no matter what great and brave things he did to help Harry he always ends up being compared to him too and then he falls short and that’s just not fair!” she said the last part very fast and the words strung together. Draco noticed tears gathering in her eyes, “he’s really really really great Draco, really really…”

Draco awkwardly pulled her in what he hoped was a kind hug, but the movement was a bit practiced. Nonetheless, Ginny buried her face in his shoulder, her hair tickling his cheek.

“You don’t have to convince me your brother is amazing,” he soothed silently, “I already know.”

It was a bit strange to have a girl sobbing on his shoulder for no apparent reason – really, Ron and he were fine, weren’t they? – but looking over at where Cassiopeia and Pansy were dancing wickedly, he figured he’d seen worse.

He side-apparated her back to the Burrow only half an hour later, when her tears had long-dried but she instead was starting to fall asleep on his shoulder again. The house was quiet and dark when they appeared, but inside the living room was a small light.

Ron was asleep on one of the fauteuils, his wand in his front pocket in a permanent state of lumos. Ginny giggled at the sight, and muttered something under her breath – just like that the flower crown she and Luna had made the other day came appearing from somewhere in the corner. It floated kind of clumsily over to Ron’s head and dropped down promptly – Ginny had started snoring again.

Draco dragged the girl upstairs – she became conscious again after knocking her shin to the first step – and helped her into her room. Hermione was sound asleep in the bed there, and Ginny pressed a sloppy kiss to Draco’s cheek before he could dodge it – alcohol really ruined his fast reflexes – and then unceremoniously flopped down on the mattress next to the bed. She was snoring again before Draco could properly process what had happened.

He hesitated when he went back downstairs. Ron was still fast asleep, still in his jeans and t-shirt, his legs slightly spread and his face mashed in his own shoulder. All in all he didn’t look very comfortable, but the light of his lumos was throwing a blue glow on his tan face and the sprinkle of freckles under his eyes was quite endearing.

Maybe it was the bit of alcohol in his system or maybe he had gone crazy, but for some reason he found himself unable to turn away and just leave, just like that. He wasn’t sure why exactly, but the general jest of it was that Ronald Weasley had tried waiting up for his baby sister to come back home in one piece, and the whole idea was so pure and tender to Draco. No one had ever waited up for him in his life besides his father, and the idea that this was the same boy that held his hands and spoke with him about Quidditch and looked his way, always, was just a little maddening and endearing at the same time.

He couldn’t stop himself – he reached out and pressed a gentle kiss to the other boy’s lips.

Honest to muggle-God he had meant for it to be really brief and chaste and for nothing else to happen, because it was three am and that last drink had been too sweet and what he really wanted was a tall glass of water and his bed.

But then there was that light pressure and his hands had reached out to rest on Ron’s thighs and they were warm underneath his palms – and it was comforting, too, like nothing else ever had been. And then suddenly he would much rather have Ronald Weasley in his bed than a glass of water because really, water was overrated.

Ron was kissing back now, a little bit vaguely at first – as if he wasn’t sure that he was really being kissed – and then with a little bit more fervour. Arms wrapped around his back and then Draco was no longer standing, but instead being pulled into Ron’s lap. He moved his hands from the boy’s thighs to his bared arms, grabbed onto them and then they pulled away, both breathless.

For a quiet moment they just stared at each other. Ron’s eyes were so clear – like summer skies or the water in a freshly drawn bath – boring into his own. His magic felt a little wonky, and he felt his wand very presently in his back pocket.

Ron didn’t ask for any explanation and Draco felt relief wash over him because he didn’t really have an explanation either. Draco was also relatively sure he had done enough talking for the rest of his whole entire life and there was only one thing he wanted to do with his mouth.

And it wasn’t even kissing.

Although, as Ron drew him into another lip lock, he couldn’t find it in himself to complain either. Ron was so warm underneath him, his knees squished into the sides of Ron’s legs, his hands drawing over his arms – and everything was just very pleasant.

He felt the glow of his magic throughout his entire body more than he felt the distinctive tug in his stomach that would usually accompany apparition. It hadn’t been an entirely conscious decision to go anywhere right now, and with his current slightly muddled brain he was all in all impressed he had managed to so beautifully apparate himself and Ron – the redhead didn’t seem aware at first, his mouth growing more fervent in its conquest.

However there was soft music playing, and Ron pulled back when he realized this. Draco was too embarrassed to admit that he had semi-subconsciously apparated them to his bedroom, and tried to draw Ron back in, but the redhead was looking around the room with hazy eyes, his arms forcing some space between them.

The windows were thrown wide-open alongside the drapes, and a cool breeze was coming in. The drapes to Draco’s bed were opened on one side as well, and he had managed to apparate them perfectly onto the edge of it, so that he was still straddling the redhead. He had been playing some music earlier to get in the mood before going out with his friends, and had apparently forgotten to turn it off.

“Draco…” he sounded as if he’d run a mile, out of breath – his hand came up to cup around Draco’s chin, their eyes meeting, “you’re not angry with me?”

There were a lot of things Draco had expected Ron to say; that had not been one of them. He moved a little fidgety in the redhead’s lap, hands running circles on the strong arms.

“Of course not,” he decided, knowing that plain and to the point was the best tactic when it came to Ronald Weasley, “I know we’re taking it slow but there’s this thing with my tongue that I’m really good at and I’d like to show you.”

Ron blinked at him, two times, rather stupidly. Draco could pinpoint the exact moment when Ron’s brain processed the meaning of the words because he could feel something twitch into his thigh. He fought a grin and failed, and then his features were taken over by a smile so lecherous Ron had to swallow thickly to get the lump out of his throat.

Draco thought that that would be the end of it – he would get on his knees and get to business, but then Ron was speaking again, a little hoarsely now.

“Draco, are you… are you drunk? I don’t want you to do anything you’d regret later,” he sounded hesitant, as if not sure how to express his emotions.

It wasn’t funny but still a little funny how Draco’s first time he’d been near to passing out drunk and neither he nor Blaise had ever talked about it. It wasn’t anything he’d ever given any thought, to be honest, as his relationship with Blaise, for lack of a better word, had mostly been about testing limits and instant gratification. It was sex, and sex was meant to feel good, and Draco always felt good when he was drunk.

But here was Ronald Weasley, the boy with stars in his eyes that could light up Draco’s night sky. He should have known that possible intoxication whilst engaging in some debouched activities would be a big no-no for him.

But then Draco also really didn’t want to be told no tonight – not if Ron was only trying to spare Draco’s feelings, at least, since Draco was kind of sick of feeling so much.

“I’m just a little tipsy,” it wasn’t a lie, and it didn’t sound like one either – his voice smooth, “I really want to. But if you don’t want to, we can stop and cuddle instead.”

He realised too late that he had just offered to cuddle and then also realised that he was perhaps a little bit more affected by the alcohol than he had previously thought. Ron was looking at him very intensively though, and it sobered him.

The redhead’s ears were turning red at the tops.

“I want you to,” it was just a tiny little confession, but Ron’s cheeks turned red too and then he pulled the blonde back into his embrace and they were kissing again.

It wasn’t weird, like Draco thought it might have been. He had only ever been with one person like this before and Ron was so different from Blaise it was almost obscene. He had this deep tan skin and those hypnotising freckles everywhere. His collar bone and his hips and below his bellybutton and near the tip of his…

He felt different too, Draco observed. The way Ron’s arms fletched in Draco’s hands, the way his skin pebbled into goosebumps against Draco’s cheek, the way Ron’s own hands felt desperate against Draco’s shoulders. It was not a lacklustre grip that might have fallen away – it was not forceful or selfish, but an offered reassurance and a search for confirmation. Even after Ron’s grip had gone, he felt as if the hands were still there, offering a silent solace.

The taste too – heavy on his tongue and heady in his consciousness – was unlike anything Draco had ever had. He was very particular with his likes and dislikes, but with Ron he knew, undoubtedly, an acquired taste that he would grow addicted to.

Afterwards Ron helped him off his knees and out of his own clothes. He was too tired to feel self-conscious as Ron released him of his jeans and shorts and he was half-hard but he didn’t bother hiding.

The redhead seemed to realise Draco’s unspoken request of sleep, and all in all Draco was very glad he didn’t have to tell Ron there was no need for reciprocation. Ron was looking at him with such big eyes, holding him gently against his body underneath the silk sheets, and he felt a little strange – there were waves and hurricanes in those eyes, but he couldn’t understand what it meant.

Ron left kisses on his head and face and he fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.