Author's Notes: Thank you to Wilderness Guru for the Beta review.

Hagrid's Hut

By Icarus


Harry edged through the door first, barely noticing the fire which had burned comfortably low, his attention fixed on Ron bumping up alongside him. Harry had never realised how close you had to stand to share an Invisibility Cloak. Maybe he could find more excuses to use it. Still, it was nice to find it already warm in Hagrid's.

Harry and Ron stripped off the Cloak and looked about cautiously. Hagrid was supposed to be in Diagon Alley today, or so he'd mentioned, but they were being careful. Really careful. They never wanted to be caught of course, on any of their adventures, but the consequences of being caught today would be a lot worse than detention.

The hut was cheerfully cluttered. Hagrid's over-sized pots and pans dangled from the ceiling. Ron wrinkled his nose at a collection of chicken feet left on the counter. But they weren't here to eat. Ron moved a little stiffly, obviously already imagining their plans.

They jumped suddenly as a smallish bat-like creature rattled and shrieked at them from a cage across the room. Even from the door they could see vicious teeth as it energetically attacked the bars.

"Well at least it's small," Harry observed, as the creature renewed its fury. He flinched and backed away as it lunged again.

"Yeah, but I bet it grows to the size of a train." Ron said. He nibbled an apple and looked at the creature casually. "If even Hagrid locks it up, it must be really nasty."

Harry had to agree. He glanced around and stepped all the way in, and shut the door behind them. Ron hovered nervously in the entryway, dropping a bite of his apple.

"Well," Harry flashed an embarrassed grin, "looks like the coast is clear."

Ron looked at Harry, more than a little nervous. He scanned Hagrid's bed in the far corner, covered with an enormous multicolored quilt and over-sized, over-stuffed pillows. It was nearly two meters off the ground. "Uh-huh. I see that."

"C'mon. It's alright, Ron." Harry waved him into the room.

"Uh-huh," Ron repeated. But he followed anyway, looming over Harry. His face had that gentle vulnerability that made Harry's throat catch.

Sometimes Harry wondered if he did this for the sex, or if it was just to see that look on Ron's face. Oh heck, who was he kidding? But that look was something special, there was no doubt.

"What're you staring at me like that for?" Ron asked.

"Like what?"

Harry hefted the Book of Eros onto the kitchen table with a soft thump, startling the creature into new fury. Ron had all the spells he wanted to try marked. They felt funny about using Hagrid's bed though - it was weird enough using his house - and so Harry glanced around for someplace else... his eyes lit on the fur rug in front of the fire. It looked comfy enough.

Something growled softly. Harry looked over his shoulder and hoped the sound had come from the cage, though it didn't sound like any noise a bird-creature would make. Ron apparently hadn't noticed it.

Harry gave up and shrugged. With a last glance around the warm wooden hut, he sat on the rug and began to pull off his sneakers while Ron goggled at him. Still nibbling his apple, Ron started to scrape and kick off his trainers without untying them, not taking his eyes off Harry.

As Harry dropped his cloak on the floor, Ron set down the apple and swiftly started to strip.

Well. It had been a week after all.

Harry began to unfasten the clasps on his robes, and stopped with a sudden thought, an idea that made him tremble a little. He'd certainly complied with a lot of Ron's requests, some of them pretty strange, or at least unexpected.

Why not? His hands fell.

"You do it," Harry said, breaking the silence.

Ron paused, his pullover still stuck halfway over his head. "What?"

"Take my clothes off."

Ron blinked uncomprehendingly for a moment.

"All right."

Ron yanked off and carelessly dropped the pullover on the floor, and clutched his wand. He held up half-undone trousers as he made his way to the Book of Eros and started flipping pages. "I think I remember that Charm. Hold on, I didn't mark it. I wasn't planning to use it today...."

"No. I want you to do it."

Ron was quiet a moment, still blinking.

"Okay," Ron answered finally, a little breathless.

Ron's eyes were rather wide. His belt, still unbuckled, jangled a little as he knelt in front of Harry and placed warm hands on the front of Harry's robes.

Harry bit his lip and watched under half-lidded eyes as Ron awkwardly worked down the clasps, one by one. Accidental touches came as a thrill down Harry's spine and Harry's reaction was immediate, pressed against his trousers. He moaned to himself and leaned back on his arms, thinking of Ron's response when he saw that - and what would he look like? He couldn't wait to be down to skin, but he was enjoying every touch, bump, and unintended rough caress.

Harry leaned up and brushed closer to Ron. Did Ron know he smelled like apple? And something else... soap maybe. It was a sweet, fresh clean, and that soft vulnerable look was back in Ron's eyes again, half fear, another part awe, as if he couldn't believe he was doing this. But he was. He looked defenseless. The robe slid off Harry's shoulders, a sensual rustling sound.

Ron swallowed as he unbuttoned Harry's shirt next, looking down. Harry felt a purr deep in his chest as the warm hands drew closer to skin, the light touches silky and gentle. Harry wasn't wearing a pullover. Neither was Ron anymore. How fast had he managed to get that off? The thought made Harry smile.

Harry's thoughts focused, and he felt suddenly guilty that Ron was doing all the work: he reached for the waistband of Ron's trousers. But Ron lightly dodged him and avoided his hands. Harry apparently had crossed one of those odd limits that seemed to appear at random with Ron. Harry never knew when he would say no to some small thing. It was never anything important, not anything drastic, just unexpected little things like this. Harry respected Ron's boundaries wherever they appeared, though he was always perplexed by them. Harry eyed a round lump in Ron's trousers and longed to free him. But when Ron backed off like that, no was no. Harry sighed in frustration.

What will you unwrap next, Ron? Harry wondered, as Ron carefully slid Harry's shirt over and off his shoulders. It puddled at Harry's wrists. Harry mentally predicted Ron would take off the most conservative article of clothing possible.

Sure enough, Ron reached down and pulled off Harry's... socks. Nervous Nellie. But Harry could make that a little more interesting. With a quick grin lighting his eyes, Harry ran his bare foot up Ron's calf, a sensitive spot Harry had found by happy accident weeks ago.

"Stop that," Ron said. But there was a little smile, and his lips were parted. That gruff voice would never convince Harry of anything anyway. That was Ron's 'no sir, I don't know who dropped that dungbomb' voice. He was a terrible liar, and no one could read him like Harry in any case. Harry nudged Ron's belt with his knee.

"C'mon, Ron... take off the rest of yours then if you won't let me."

Ron ignored this, but grew bolder and slid his hands to Harry's trousers. Harry arched into him as the zipper slid down with a rasping sound.

"Take my underwear, too," Harry breathed, as Ron pulled his trousers to his ankles. Every nerve from his waist down felt alive. The elastic slipped over his hips, and Harry's cock uncoiled and bumped up into Ron's hands.

Ron paused. Harry was sprawled out on the fur rug, lit by the fire, casually naked but for the button down shirt that still hung off his wrists.

"This would be quite a show if Hagrid came home now," Ron marveled, gazing down at Harry with a dumbfounded expression. "Just how would we explain it? I'm planning to become a Medi-Wizard and needed to learn Anatomy? No, no - I've got it! - we got some very strange homework from Snape - best run and ask him about it, straight away. That would give us time to skip town."

"And leave some persistent rumors about Snape, too," Harry laughed. He squirmed on the rug. "Now this is homework I can get used to."

"Yeah, well, I've already heard those rumors." Ron said. Harry raised his eyebrows but Ron didn't elaborate. "What would be on the final test be I wonder?"

"Hmm. You can never tell. We'd best study hard."

"You're already hard. Very." Ron's eyes were round.

"Oh, you noticed? How about you?" Harry teased and reached for Ron's belt. Ron blushed furiously, pulled away and covered his belt with both hands.

"I can do it - I'll do it myself -!" Ron said anxiously. Harry relented, leaning back onto the rug to watch.

Ron started in on his buttons and efficiently stripped off the remainder of his clothes. Harry privately thought the way Ron stripped, with his shoulder slightly turned away, was sweet. And whether Ron realized it or not, it gave Harry a prime view of some very key anatomy as Ron pulled his underpants down and off, hopping slightly on one foot. Formidable parts, that bounced up cheerfully from a tidy nest of tight red curls. More formidable than it had seemed in fact, groping around in the dark. Harry raised his eyebrows at his first real peek. Even in the room above the Owlry they hadn't much light. Certainly not the broad daylight they had today. Ron looked decidedly embarrassed, as his own reaction increased noticeably. If Harry had ever worried about Ron's persistent hesitation, he at least had that reassurance.

The erotic Book of Eros, with all its intriguing Spells, was still on the table. Supposedly it had been their whole point of doing this, to try out these magical sex aids undisturbed. But Harry was willing to bet they weren't going to need it. Again. Sure, they kept saying that there wasn't enough time, or there wasn't the privacy in case a Spell went wrong (like that first near disaster). But quietly, unnoticeably, their focus had shifted from fooling around with Snape's book, to fooling around with each other. Not that Ron would ever admit it.

Harry on the other hand, didn't mind a bit.

Ron looked distinctly uncomfortable as Harry grinned up at him, and studied him frankly. Approvingly. Ron's flush deepened as the moment stretched on to what could almost be called staring. No. Not almost. Harry was staring.

Ron was a beanpole, tall and lanky, with a slightly concave chest and muscular legs. He had a sprinkling of straight chest hair, not much, but it was lot compared to Harry (who still had none at all). He stood with a kind of hesitant awkwardness, as though he had awakened in the body of a giraffe and wasn't sure how everything worked. His shoulders were still clothed in a sprinkling of freckles, and there was a large brown birthmark on one arm.

To Harry his creamy skin, soft in the fire glow, looked positively edible, and nothing could be sweeter than the way Ron's eyes hit the floor in embarrassment as Harry scanned slowly lower. Ron cringed, and looked back at Harry, taking up the challenge of those eyes.

Harry's skin was translucent, a stark contrast to his black hair - both above and below. Even nearly naked Ron was drawn first to the sparkling eyes framed with long dark lashes. It wasn't that they were, well - pretty. Glittery, like gems. He was just so... present. You looked in those eyes, and there he was: Harry. Disorganized hair flopped down onto his face (Harry always tried to comb it over that scar but it never worked) and his lips seem rather full, though that was probably just from the heated expression on his face at the moment. From looking at... Ron?

That brought Ron's attention back to his own inadequate lean body. Though Harry didn't seem to mind him. Not at all.

Of course he didn't, Ron thought, he's Harry.

Harry, who was annoyingly perfect. Evenly proportioned. He even had a thin layer of muscle on his arms and shoulders, probably from Quidditch. When did he get all that? Ron remembered him as looking kind of weedy. Not that he made a habit of staring in the showers, mind you. Harry had a very nicely curved arse. Now why would his treacherous mind have to notice that just this second?

As if Harry could read his mind, he grinned. Oh, of course he could read it. Ron must have grown an inch longer. Traitor, Ron scowled at his own body.

Worse still, was something undefinable about Harry, that Ron couldn't quite put his finger on but it left Ron feeling annoyed. In fact it was Harry's complete indifference to his body. It was as if Harry either didn't know he was good-looking, didn't believe it, or didn't care one way or another. Even stretched out completely nude, he was as comfortable as he was wearing his class robes in the common room. It was one of those things that unconsciously frustrated Ron, and he fumed a little at Harry for no apparent reason.

"Let's use the book this time, okay?" Ron said irritably.

"Sure," was Harry's careless answer. Then Harry licked his lips. Nervously. "I've got one in mind, in fact."

Oh? Faint surprise cut through Ron's annoyance.

Harry stood up, removing his shirt the rest of the way. It joined the rest of Ron's clothes on the floor. The firelight flickered behind him as he paged through the Book of Eros, with all of its enticing pictures of witches and wizards in various compromising positions. He flipped to a section that featured only photos of wizards, and pointed.

"This one."

Ron snorted. "Lubricus? That's nothing. I knew that one before we found the book."

"You did?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Wish you'd told me. It would've come in handy."

Ron looked at Harry strangely. "Sex tips, just between friends?"

"Oh. Yeah. I suppose there wasn't much chance of it before. Anyway, I meant the rest of Lubricus. Read on." Harry tapped the Book again. He watched Ron carefully as Ron's eyes flicked back and forth, skimming to the bottom of the page. Then turned to the next page. On interesting subjects Ron was a very thorough student Harry noted. Ron's eyes suddenly widened. Okay, he'd found the good part.

Ron's jaw fell. "You're mad!"

"Why not? We have plenty of time. It's just a step further than we've already gone." A big step.

Ron fell suddenly silent. A dozen arguments formed in Harry's mind and quelled. Maybe Harry should have saved it for another day, but hell, they never had opportunities like this! Of course, it had occurred to Harry to bring it up later, once things were hot and heavy. With a hand in the right place, Ron would say yes to anything and have his second thoughts tomorrow. But it seemed like blackmail, or tricking Ron somehow. Harry decided he couldn't do that. Wouldn't do that.

Ron's jaw worked as though he were chewing his thoughts. Harry groaned inwardly and hoped he hadn't ruined the entire day. Finally, Ron spoke, still staring at the floor.

"I suppose it would be good, uh, practice," he said, his voice rather choked.

Practice? Harry wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. But that thought was immediately overwhelmed by the sudden realisation... Ron had said yes!

"You don't expect me to - you know?" Ron began.

Harry shook his head fervently, not trusting his voice at the moment. He wouldn't ask Ron to be on the bottom. Much as he wanted to.

God, he'd said yes!

Harry needed to sit down. He stared up at Ron as he settled back onto the fur rug. Wow. Something growled as he sat, but Harry ignored it.

Ron suddenly aimed his wand at Harry and said: "Stupefy!"

Harry blinked, and then a moment later realised he could. Blink, that was.

"Ron. Did you just Stupefy a rug?"

"I don't trust anything in Hagrid's," Ron nodded. "Besides, it was growling."

Harry suddenly felt a lot less comfortable sitting naked on a rug that was suddenly growling. But Ron seemed perfectly confident in the success of his Spell and plunked down in front of Harry. He wrapped his arms around his knees, rubbed his face on his arm and looked like he didn't quite know what to do next. For that matter, neither did Harry.

"Um," Harry said, sitting up a little. "Maybe we should get warmed up first."

Ron nodded mutely.

Hesitantly, Harry pulled Ron closer, and ran his hands along soft smooth skin. Territory he knew well from midnight cuddles. So warm. Always so warm. Ron's creamy skin glowed and the fire snapped. With a little sigh, Ron settled familiarly against his shoulder. Harry stroked his long thigh gently, teasing a little at the hair. Red everywhere.

It was no good. Harry couldn't stop thinking about what they planned, and Ron kept staring straight down, his face blank - it looked like he couldn't either.

"Maybe we shouldn't... you know... this time," Harry said tentatively, knowing he didn't mean it.

"No," Ron said. His breath was a soft tickle on Harry's chest. "I'll keep thinking about it now." And there weren't a lot of chances, Harry mentally added. That was a kind of torture neither of them needed.

"Don't tell anyone," Ron whispered.

"Of course not. Do you think I want Malfoy to know?"

"Harry," Ron said with serious wide eyes, "if you want me capable of anything, you'd better not mention that name!"

"Sorry," Harry laughed. And he really was sorry, but it all seemed very funny at that moment. He could almost picture Malfoy staring in through Hagrid's window, open-mouthed while they... oh god, that actually was a turn on. Not that Harry would mention it to Ron. Ever.

Ron rose and stirred the fire. Then he stretched out next to Harry, leaning on an elbow. The firelight looked good on him. It picked out red-gold glints in his hair, shadowed his face thoughtfully. It was moving and dancing across the angle of his shoulder.

Ron looked at Harry then, and somehow that made Harry's pulse race. It was not a look Harry had ever imagined on Ron: calculating. It was the gaze of someone who'd just acquired a beautiful painting, and was carefully considering where to hang it. He seemed to decide, and Harry knew even before he moved where he was going to caress. How Ron's hands would slide over his side, down his thigh, and back across the curve of his cheek, and linger, circling.

Harry traced Ron's nipple and lowered his mouth to his chest, as Ron slipped his hand around between them. Harry gasped, paused mid-nibble, and Ron continued with expert hands. He knew by now how Harry liked a steady, firm stroke. This much they'd done a lot, in stolen moments behind the Quidditch showers, or dangerously slipping into each other's beds late at night. Harry didn't know what they would do if they were ever caught, but he tried not to think of that.

Harry suppressed heavy breaths, trying to be... trying to be quiet... just out of habit. Then realized he didn't have to, not this time. Harry leaned back on the rug, fur tickling his ear. Oh, thank you, Hagrid.

Ron's warm weight gently rolled on top of Harry, and Harry's eyebrows flew up as Ron comfortably angled himself between his legs. Already? Ron adjusted Harry's knees, and muttered the Lubricus Charm. Harry blinked at the strange sensation, unexpectedly slick in strange places. He'd never done anything like this. He was suddenly in very unfamiliar territory, and wondered if he were ready for this. Ron pressed himself against Harry's backside while Harry's heart beat thunder against his chest. This was a bit quick, Ron.

Harry burrowed his fingers into the fur beneath him, rocked and scraping against it as Ron thrust, and for a long moment basked in the warm sensation that Ron wanted him, now. This badly. Though this was the first time Ron's size seemed a disadvantage. Oh, but it was starting to give, just a little bit. He could almost feel the tip... Ron stopped, breathing heavily, and Harry almost swore.

"No, no, keep going. You almost have it," Harry urged.

"Harry. We're not even close." Ron said. He swiped sweaty hair off his face. "You've got to relax a little!"


"Ron, I don't know if I..."

"Oh, of course - I'm an idiot! Mum knows a million relaxation charms," Ron said, suddenly picking up his wand. He flicked his wand casually at Harry, just as Harry opened his mouth to protest. "Flaciddeus!"

It was a little like how it felt when Harry had the bones accidentally removed from his arm in his second year. Only this time his whole body was suddenly very heavy, a limp, loose, almost liquid weight, anchored to the floor by gravity. Harry could no more lift his knee than he could pick up Hogwarts. Harry could feel panic rising in his throat.

Ron busied himself rearranging Harry's body comfortably into a convenient position, the sensations coming to Harry as dim echoes. Oh no, he could barely feel anything Harry realised. Ron -!

Distantly, Harry felt Ron over him, then became aware of prodding, and then a smooth entry. Well. At least it worked. Harry tried to squirm, and with a huge effort managed to flop a knee onto Ron. He caught Ron's eyes with a frantic complaint.

"Relax, I was going to take it off... off in a minute," Ron said, shutting his eyes a moment and holding himself in position. "Oh. Right. You've never had anyone put one of these on you, have you? I used to get it every time I needed a haircut. 'Stop squirming, Ron' - Whap! " Ron shifted and picked up his wand. "Here..."

Harry felt first a tremendous wave of relief as he regained control of his body, and then was suddenly aware of something huge, roughly the size and proportions of a railroad tie he thought, inside him. He swore he could feel it rammed all the way to the back of his throat.

He looked up, and saw the most incredible, blissful expression on Ron's face.

"So... tight... oh you feel wonderful... simply amazing..." Ron trailed off in a jumble of curses and began to rock gently.

Harry's world spun. This was Ron. Inside him. Harry was lost in amazement. It hurt, but not more than he could handle, and Harry shoved aside the discomfort to experience every moment of it, willing himself to stop thinking about how crazy this was. He and Ron were having sex. Not just fooling around but really having sex. Harry wanted to laugh.

Ron's peaches and cream skin glowed as he moved, he smelled like soap and undulated, arching into Harry, setting off an aching fire. It increased, as Ron caught fire.

"Go faster... go faster, please..." Harry heard himself say. Ron's eyes blazed above him.

Harry knew he must be gripping Ron's arms bruisingly tight. He couldn't tell if the grunts and moans were his or Ron's, couldn't decide if the fast friction hurt, felt good, or felt incredible. He only knew he needed more. Ron's mouth was open above his, and he was sweating profusely, slick motion against Harry's stomach. It crossed Harry's mind faintly that Ron looked a little ridiculous.

Then Ron changed his rhythm. Something fired in Harry - what did he just do? - and Ron pounded, till Harry was lifted slightly off the rug in swift strokes. Ron gave a shuddering gasp and Harry felt a sudden wet heat.

Did he just -? Oh, wow. An unexpected warm wave of possessiveness flooded Harry as he drew the still sweating, heaving Ron to his chest. He just held Ron protectively. He didn't expect this.


Ron was staring at Harry in a kind of bemused shock, a whirl of confused emotions chasing each other in his amber eyes. Harry's hands were cramped from the death grip he'd had on Ron's arms and he stretched them slightly. Harry didn't want to see the bruises he'd left there, on that perfect skin. Ron slumped to Harry's chest, nestling his head onto Harry's shoulder. They both just breathed. It seemed stupid to think they had not expected it to be so intimate, but there it was.

Harry said finally into Ron's cheek, his voice gentle, "I'm sorry about your arms."

Ron breathed a laugh, "that's all right. I don't need blood to circulate so long as it's still in there." His voice was roughened with sex. Harry chuckled.

"I'm sorry if I... I was a little rough there. Kind of lost my mind," Ron admitted.

"Good." Harry spoke with a finality that surprised even him. He was very glad Ron had lost his mind.

They lay there a moment and listened to the crackle of the fireplace. The creature in the cage was silent, probably awed. No doubt they had just outdone any sounds it could ever make.

"Wow. What a workout," Ron laughed hoarsely, his hair tickling Harry's chin. "Hey, Harry: I've a new training program for the Quidditch team. It's brutal, but everyone walks away with big smiles on their faces." Ron grinned as he sat up.

"Daily practices?" Harry asked.

"Oh, at least. Wake up there, pal," Ron said to his lap, "I want to go again!"

That makes two of us, Harry thought.

"Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'Beater' you know," Harry pointed out.

"Not mention 'Seeker,' " Ron added.

"But you'd better explain 'Quaffle' to me," and Harry chuckled at Ron's blank expression, trying to figure out that one. "Though I can tell you all about 'Bludger'..."

Ron laughed, pounced on Harry and rolled him over on top. The floor was hard but warm from the fire. "I thought I said I was sorry!"

"Hmm." Harry grinned, and ground into Ron slightly. "I say you owe me." And Ron rolled his eyes.

"Seriously. How're you?" Harry realised from Ron's anxious voice he was genuinely concerned he might have hurt Harry. It still kind of burned and felt a little odd, too flexible, but he was okay.

"Strangely enough, I'm suddenly really, really hungry," Harry answered.

Ron cuffed his shoulder. "There's some chicken feet on the counter. Help yourself!" he offered cheerfully. Harry made a disgusted face.

They edged back over onto the rug, curled up together and stared into the fire. Harry thought back to their first meeting when they were eleven, and try as he might, he could find no natural progression that led them here. Either fate didn't exist, or it had a twisted sense of humor. He hadn't even thought of Ron like this before. And Harry was at an age where he had thoughts about everyone and everything. Ron had never occurred to him.

It had been a simple gesture that night above the Owlrey, Ron taking off Harry's glasses. But it had left both of them breathless.

Not that Ron would ever admit it.

Harry was tucked into the curve of Ron's lap, feeling his warmth behind him and the fire in front. Ron's soft fingers wandered over Harry's skin in feathery strokes, almost unconsciously. It struck Harry as odd, how Ron would resist, complain, change his mind a hundred times, and then afterwards it was like he couldn't get enough. Those gentle curious hands wandered, and that long body curled up like a kitten against Harry, needing him. Harry stroked Ron protectively. He thought he understood.

The rest of the afternoon they fooled around, laughed and sometimes just talked, as if talking as lips explored naked flesh was the most natural thing in the world. Much as they wanted to go again, they had to give up that idea for the day. As soon as the initial heat subsided, Harry discovered he was a little sore. It was a good kind of sore, but one that would need a couple days rest at least. So they actually did use the Book this time, much to Harry's surprise. It was fun, if kind of an afterthought. When Harry started his own exploration, Ron was tired and satiated, and didn't shake him off for once.

Harry traced inter-connecting lines between freckles, and ran his fingers down Ron's array of small scars that were the natural result of being the youngest brother, and favorite victim, of Fred and George. Ron had a story for each, which he proudly told. Ron was always so warm, like his temper stored up its own inner magma. He lay back, drinking in Harry's touch.

A sudden thought startled a laugh out of Harry. Ron looked up out of his reverie.

"Do you realise we're each other's first time?" Harry stretched in easy satisfaction.

Ron clearly hadn't. He froze.

Oh shit. Another land mine. Harry winced and waited to see how bad the reaction would be this time. He buried any outward sign of emotion. If he was lucky, Ron would crack a joke, and the tension would pass. Then Harry would never (ever, ever) mention whatever it was again. At worst, Ron would suddenly become anxious and wrap things up, quickly. Then later they'd have that conversation again about "we really ought to cut this out, Harry. It's just... it's not a good idea."

They'd be friends. Friends with subjects they 'didn't talk about.' It would be a week or two of cold showers before Ron came back to his senses.

Then the inevitable comment over Harry's shoulder in Charms, or outside Divination, Ron's breath warm on the back of his neck: "So... long weekend coming up, right?" Weighted with meaning. Yearning. Hopeful. Still striking out with Hermione no doubt.

Harry would sit up with sudden understanding, staring straight ahead, his pulse racing. He would try to ignore the sudden pressure in his trousers as he answered with a husky, "Yeah."

And Ron would have a look of such enormous relief. As if Harry would ever say no after two weeks of cold showers! It was wreaking havoc on their friendship, but somehow that was always easy to ignore when it came down to it. When Ron looked at him with that uncomfortable hunger in his eyes, and Harry just mindlessly thought: Yes!

This time Ron didn't joke. "That... that's pretty weird, Harry."

Well, at least Ron had said something. It wasn't unsalvageable. Harry thought fast.

"Unless there's something I don't know," Harry added. "You seeing Seamus on the sly?"

Ron burst into a slightly hysterical giggle. "No -" he could hardly say it - "Neville Longbottom -!" Ron wheezed out. They both fell over, howling with hysterical laughter.

Several minutes later, Ron was still wiping tears out of his eyes, and Harry's shoulders shook with remaining giggles.

Ron squeezed his shoulder and Harry looked up at him with relief. Ron was smiling.

"Actually, I meant it earlier," Harry said, his throat feeling dry as he looked up at Ron. "I really am hungry."

"Yeah," Ron nodded. "Me, too."

Harry thought he was referring to something else. But it was hard to tell with Ron, because he never said anything that was too personal. Harry supposed there was very little that was private in a house full of seven kids, so Ron kept whatever privacy he could. Harry thought he would too, in Ron's place. But it could be damned inconvenient to not know what was going on in Ron's head half the time.

Ron kicked through clothing scattered about the wooden floor, "I think this is your - no, it's my shirt. Why do these bloody robes all have to look alike?"

He tossed Harry his underwear, looking put upon by Hogwarts and its uniforms.

Harry watched Ron Weasley dress. It was interesting, like layers of his personality went on with each layer of clothing. He looked so gentle and peaceful naked, vulnerable, his eyes soft. Then the T-shirt went on next and he was more comfortable, even without underwear. Harry's eyebrows flicked up in appreciation as he bent to pick up his trousers. Finally, in a pullover and trousers Ron looked every inch the easy-going Quidditch fan, and resolved himself back into the best friend Harry had always known. Harry thought he himself looked the same, dressed or undressed, which in fact he did, though he had no idea why they would be different in this way.

Harry suddenly realised Ron was dressed, while he was barely into his underwear. Too busy with the view. The bird-creature squalled and threw itself at the bars again. He hastily struggled into his T-shirt, and was tying his shoes when Ron said:

"Oh, Merlin's bollocks, you won't believe this, Harry!" Ron pointed to the door to cage off to the side. It had been open the whole time!

"Thank god it's too stupid to know it! Let's get out of here before that thing grows a brain."

Harry studied the creature and shook his head. "I don't think that's happening any time soon."

Nonetheless, Harry quickly threw on his cloak and they hurried out the door. It was cold outside, and already dark. Ron's breath came in a soft puff of smoke.

"Ready?" Ron asked. He panicked about leaving anything, as if one forgotten sock could reveal all. Well, perhaps it could, if Mrs. Weasley used the right spell, but Hagrid didn't have six boys and had no reason to be suspicious.

Harry was suddenly struck by how unready he was for today to end. On impulse he leaned toward Ron in the shadows of the doorway and kissed him, full on the lips, not caring about the consequences. This was the first time he'd ever kissed Ron on the mouth, for all else they'd done. Ron hesitated, than allowed it and let his lips follow Harry's a moment. As they separated, cool air filled the space between them. Hogwarts seemed very far away.

"What was that for?" Ron asked, bewildered.

Harry sighed. "Nothing."


Moments later Harry returned for the Book of Eros, which they had forgotten on the table. If there was anything more incriminating they could have left, Harry was hard pressed to picture it.



Finis. For more, see 'Primer to the Dark Arts.'

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