Disclaimer: Surely no one is silly enough to believe that I own these characters, or this world? JK Rowling does and I'm only playing with them. I promise they'll be happy when I put them back.
Author's notes: This series is supposed to cover the last two years of school for Harry and Ron. It discusses child abuse, underage consensual sex between two people who love each other, and will eventually cover MPREG as well. If any of these topics offend you please turn back now. In addition, I have tried to follow cannon as best as I can, but you know how it goes…I'll have messed something up somewhere along the way. I know their birthdays are wrong, but lets just allow for artistic licence and no one will get hexed.
Further warnings: by now this could probably be called an AU if that would make anyone feel better. And forgive me for the Quidditch match - I'm the shape of a Quaffle and sport just ain't my thing! Also, by now you'll have realised that my Harry ain't a happy carefree lad - though he has his moments. If this is a problem for you, back out gracefully now. There's an exit to the left.
Part 5 - Summer Holidays
"Are you sure you want to do it this way?" Molly Weasley's kind face was a little concerned, and Ron smiled at his mum with affection. Always in the back of his mind he knew that her fussing and worrying was motivated by love for her children and an honest wish to see them happy.
"It's the easiest way, mum. We'll meet Professor Dumbledore in Diagon Alley, get the Muggle tests out of the way and then pick up what we need before going out to the house," he reassured her, and she frowned a little, looking over at Harry. Ron had to admit that Harry just hadn't put on as much weight as the Weasley's would have liked, but he looked heaps better than he had last summer. He understood that his mother was worried about his friends health - Harry was pale despite the sunny days they'd been having.
"I'm not happy about those tests either," she shook her head, "I mean, really, a flying motorcycle? It's not a safe way to travel. What's wrong with brooms?"
"Muggles aren't accustomed to seeing brooms flying about the country side, and it's a little risky to just Apparate to the Muggle areas we want to see during the house building," Ron explained, "Harry and I want to have a real holiday, and not worry about the Ministry or anything."
To be truthful Ron was worried about his partner's health. Harry had been getting paler and quieter as the term wore on, and the news that their potion had cured Remus Lupin had only helped a little. His partner needed a complete break, and some time to make pleasant memories. Ron was determined to give both to him.
"But living like Muggles," Molly protested and Harry laughed lightly, reaching out to put his hand on her arm. Ginny was wandering around in the garden outside, getting Errol to take little flights around the garden after her. He was definitely on his last legs, and Ron would miss the old bird when he finally passed on.
"It's for the best, Aunt Molly," Harry recalled Ron's attention to the kitchen table, "We'll be hiding in plain sight, and it will be fun. Besides we'll charm some of the gear to make things a little easier for us."
"Well, we're only a short Apparate away," Ron's mum sighed, "And I'll see you both on your birthdays - you're to come here for them, no excuses. And if you ever need a real home cooked meal, then you just come home, no advance warning needed."
"Of course we will mum," Ron soothed and put his hand next to Harry's. She got a little dewy eyed and Ron reared back in alarm. His mother sniffed at him dismissively and then sent them upstairs to pack the bags they were planning to take camping tomorrow.
He closed the door to his room and smiled rather foolishly at the bed. His parents hadn't been able to fit a double into his tiny room, but they had widened his old bed a little, which meant he and Harry had a little more room. Harry was bending over the rucksack he'd bought in Hogsmeade on the last weekend trip, and Ron slapped a privacy spell on the door before slipping up behind his partner and goosing him.
"Oi!" Harry yelled and turned, red faced to launch himself at Ron. They landed on the bed and Harry started tickling, his fingers finding all Ron's vulnerable spots. Ron shrieked and fought back, wrestling with his partner and incidentally slipping them both out of their clothes until they were puddled together on the bed, breathless with laughter and stroking bare flesh lightly as they calmed down.
"Is there a reason that I'm starkers?" Harry asked after a moment, lifting his head to look Ron a bit myopically in the eye. Ron shrugged casually. Harry snorted at him and wriggled over on top of Ron, who sighed involuntarily and spread his thighs a little, letting Harry settle in between them.
"No particular one," Ron put a hand on Harry's right arse cheek and rubbed it lightly. Harry arched into the touch - they hadn't had time to 'do the full show' since the end of year exams started and leaned down to kiss Ron demandingly. He pulled back only when they ran out of air and Ron sent his fingers in deeper.
"You'd better not be teasing."
Ron was delighted with that growled response, and the dick he could feel nudging his own. He stretched out a hand and Summoned their jar.
Diagon Alley was busy, and Harry stepped away quickly from the wall he'd Disapparated in front of. Ron popped in behind him, both teens dressed entirely in Muggle clothes. Professor McGonagal had given them a book list to study for the extra lessons they'd have next term, and Harry moved quickly towards Flourish and Blotts. They were going to disguise the books magically so they'd have something to read at night. The rucksack he had on his back was magically expanded inside to allow him to carry his clothes and books in one bag. They'd also be able to fit in the food they were planning to buy in Godrics Hollow once they arrived.
Ron reminded Harry they had to visit Gringotts to change their money over to Muggle notes and coins, and pick up the cards that the bank had organised with one of the Muggle banks so they would be provided with funds. His friend was fascinated by the way Muggles managed their money, and the idea that you could pay without actually having the money sitting in your pocket. The fact that Harry had opened a joint Muggle account in both their names was giving Ron a warm glow that had led to a rather enthusiastic display when Harry had told him about it.
Dumbledore was waiting for them in a room at the Leaky Cauldron. Their Headmaster was wearing a set of bright blue motorcycle leathers, with his long beard tucked inside the jacket, and his hair drawn back in a rather startling plait. Harry nearly dropped his package of books on the floor, and Ron grinned beside him in surprise. There was a helmet tucked under Dumbledore's arm with a gold Phoenix embossed on it.
"Good morning boys," the Headmaster smiled, "I have some items here for you before we go."
They returned his greeting as he turned and picked up a rather large bundle of black, handing it to Harry before handing a similar bundle to Ron. There was a set of knee high boots, leather trousers and jacket, leather gloves and a glossy dark helmet in each bundle, and all the items were humming gently from the charms laid upon them.
"A Growth charm," Harry murmured, "They will expand or contract to fit us... and an Impermeable charm, no heat, cold, wet or dry will get in through them, and they'll keep us the right temperature no matter where we are..."
Dumbledore was nodding in encouragement and Ron took up the litany, his hands running lightly over each item. Harry smiled at his partner, happy for him to join in showing off the skills that they'd learned in the last two terms. Even Snape had encouraged them to use their sense of magic to accurately predict the way their more dangerous ingredients would react in a potion.
"There's a Direction spell on the helmets, so we won't get lost, and there's an Unbreakable charm on the whole lot - in case of accidents, sir?" Ron asked and Dumbledore nodded, the smile growing greater. He held out a set of brown saddlebags to Ron, who grinned and muttered 'Expansion spell' to Harry before opening each flap. There was a set of tools and a motorbike manual with both the Muggle specifications of Sirius' bike as well as the magical spells that had been placed upon it.
Dumbledore had given them several texts on the art of riding and maintaining a motorbike at their meeting just after the first batch of Tears of the Phoenix had been brewed, explaining that as they were used to travelling by broom they would have no trouble controlling the bike. Hogwarts students were trained from their first day to put theoretical knowledge to practical use and neither boy was too worried about their ability to start and ride the bike.
"I'll leave you both to get changed," the Headmaster picked up his helmet again and Harry stepped forward, hugging the elder Wizard quickly, a little embarrassed by the impulse but determined to at least acknowledge how important the gift was to him. A thin yet strong hand patted his back lightly and Dumbledore stepped outside without looking back. Harry took a deep breath and toed off his trainers, biting his lip.
"You ok, mate?" Ron's voice was gentle and ungrudging. Harry nodded, shaking out the leather trousers. He took a deep breath and stooped to put them on over his jeans before pausing. A smile crossed his face and he straightened, undoing his jeans and stepping out of them. Ron gaped and then flushed as Harry pulled the leather up his long legs and fastened the button fly. He bent at the waist to pick up his jeans and Ron groaned lustily, his hands cupping Harry's arse tightly for a moment before letting go.
Harry chuckled as he sat down to pull the boots on, doing up the unfamiliar fastenings carefully and stamping his feet to get comfortable. He stowed his clothes in his rucksack and added his parcel of books. Ron was mimicking his movements, and shrugging into the jacket. Harry's mouth went dry in lust, and he dropped his rucksack to take Ron in his arms, sliding his hands under the leather and tucking his fingers into the back of Ron's waistband.
They pressed together, kissing urgently, hips grinding together, the Growth charm failing to grow in a vital area, leading to the risk of permanent damage. Harry groaned into Ron's mouth, sucking greedily on the tongue in his mouth, moving urgently as desire swept away all other thoughts.
Ron fingered the second piece of hard shiny Muggle card in his pocket. It had his face and name on there, as well as his birthday and address in Godrics Hollow. How Dumbledore had managed to come up with all the bits of paper that the Muggle agency had needed was beyond Ron, though their copies were now safely stored away in a special pouch that Harry had picked up in Diagon Alley years ago. It shrunk whenever someone that wasn't its owner tried to touch it, thus keeping it safe from thieves. Harry had added a locator spell to it so he couldn't lose it, and now it held their Muggle identity papers, the cheques for the house, the legal papers that Harry had been sent from Madam Legales, all the house plans and the Muggle permits they'd needed for building as well as some emergency Muggle and Wizard money.
They had passed the test easily enough - their knowledge of Muggle road laws getting them perfect scores on the theoretical test, and the instructors complimenting them on their riding capabilities as well. The balance and skill that came with riding a broom had stood the test when riding the motorbike for the first time. Dumbledore had congratulated them and very quietly nipped off to Apparate where no one would notice. Harry had driven them through Muggle London to an old building that seemed to have just about everything that Muggles had ever made under one roof, and all for sale.
They were standing in the store that had tents and camping gear on display, and Harry was looking over a primus stove - something that used 'spirits' to cook with. Ron was hoping that 'spirits' meant something different in Muggle, because he didn't fancy trying to burn ghosts. Harry nodded finally to the sales assistant and wandered over to Ron's side.
"You've got the strangest look on your face," Harry murmured and Ron grinned. He'd have to be careful how he phrased this so as not to break their cover altogether - Muggles didn't like being called Muggles, they thought it was an insult. He suspected he was dealing with another Muggle/Wizard conflict, and if he got this right he'd make Harry happy. That was one of Ron's major goals in life at the moment.
"Just wondering what sort of spirits get used for cooking in your world," he replied, and was delighted with the smile he got in response. Harry's little finger linked with his for a moment and he followed when Harry jerked his head at the side wall.
"We need sleeping bags and mattresses," was all Harry said, and Ron nodded, realising that the wall was divided into sections that held rolled up squashy things and flat thin pads also rolled into tubes. The thin pads turned out to be the mattresses that Harry was talking about and they spent some time talking in low voices about the kind of sleeping bags they wanted - summer weight versus winter weight and size and colour until they finally had two they were happy with - making sure that their choices would zip together to form one big bag for the two of them.
Despite his mother's offer, Ron and Harry had declined her offer of cooking utensils, and Ron spent about half an hour browsing through that section, making sure they had enough to cover all eventualities and having fun with some of the stranger things that Muggles came up with. Harry simply trailed along behind his partner carrying whatever Ron picked out. The assistant took that pile of gear away as well and Ron followed Harry to the back of the shop to look at tents.
"We'll expand it of course," Ron murmured and Harry nodded, "But I think we should look for something easy to put up. You remember the World Cup."
That earned him an honest laugh and a fond look from his friend. Harry nodded and started flipping through the information sheets the shop put out for people to look at with Ron leaning over his shoulder. They were both accustomed to researching various topics by now, and Ron quietly started listing the features that he liked best, until Harry pulled out a pencil from inside his jacket and handed it over so Ron could keep track of which tent had what.
By now, the assistant clearly thought she was dealing with connoisseurs, because she stopped trying to sell them what she thought they needed and merely stood to one side to hear what they wanted. Eventually they chose a medium sized dome shaped tent with pockets in the internal walls for storage and a heavy ground sheet. The assistant went to get it and Harry handed over their plastic money card while Ron watched how it worked closely, memorising the code that Harry entered to make it work and realising that it was the date of Ron's birthday.
Their purchases were packed into several bags and they headed out to their bike once again. Harry had managed to find a spot to park that was very unobtrusive, letting them lower their purchases into the saddlebags, which swallowed the bulky items without any difficulty at all. A glance at Harry's watch showed that it was still early - they were the first customers in the store and the car park was only one third full - and Ron climbed up behind Harry, wrapping his arms comfortably around his partners' waist while Harry took them out of the city and towards Godrics Hollow.
Harry stretched as he took off the helmet and ruffled up his hair. Despite the cushioning spell on the seat and rack, he was stiff from sitting on the bike for so long. Ron dropped his helmet on the handlebars and started unscrewing the cap on the petrol tank.
"I'll fill up, you pay," his friend suggested and Harry nodded, opening his jacket and grinning when Ron's eyes glazed over a little. They were both still drooling over each other, and the smell of the leather combined with the smell of Ron was driving Harry a little batty.
"You want a cold drink?" Harry asked. Despite the spell that kept the leathers cool in the hot summer sunshine, he was feeling a little sticky. Ron nodded and Harry wandered into the shop, smiling at the consol operator and heading for the fridge along the back wall. He selected a couple of bottles of ginger beer, and then snagged some snacks as well. They were planning on having a late dinner in Godrics Hollow after they'd set up the tent. They'd use the afternoon to look around the village and lay in some supplies - not too many as they had limited space and didn't want to waste food. Harry had learned a spell that would allow them to keep food cool in a special container - he planned to buy a Muggle box that they used to keep food cool on picnics and enchant it.
One of the customers, a slender young woman in a low cut, short summer dress shadowed Harry to the counter. He paid for everything; including the petrol when Ron waved he'd finished filling the tank, and headed for the door with his good-looking shadow trailing along behind him. He stepped out into the heat and grinned at Ron, who was frowning as he pushed the bike away from the bowser. He didn't have to be a genius to know that Ron was frowning at the girl that Harry could feel staring at him from only a short distance away.
"Hey lover," was Ron's unexpected greeting, "Did you get everything?"
"I did," Harry grinned, hearing the sniff of disdain and watching her swish over to her red sports car, "And later I'll get you."
"Already got me," Ron put the bike on the kickstand and joined Harry on a picnic table. The cold bottles were sweating, and Harry took an appreciative swallow of the tart drink, opening a bag of crisps and passing over a roll of polos. Ron had gotten very fond of this Muggle sweet during the Easter holidays, and his remembrance of that little fact got him a peck on the cheek.
"Are you going to be all sentimental in public all hols?" Harry asked lightly, leaning into Ron's shoulder comfortably.
"Is that a problem?" Ron asked and Harry shook his head. He wasn't going to resist his friend - if Ron wanted to claim him in public then Ron would get his way. The smile he got from his partner was more than reward enough and Harry finished his drink.
Ron drove them the rest of the way to Godrics Hollow and Harry directed Ron through the village with taps and squeezes. The field where the house was going had become overgrown since the sheep had stopped grazing in there. There was a large birch tree in the corner of the field and Ron ran the bike over the rather uneven front yard to park under it. Harry slid off the bike, and stowed his helmet next to the tree before helping Ron pull all their new gear out of the saddlebags, including the rucksacks.
"So, what's first?" Ron asked and Harry grinned, pointing at the tent and groundsheet. Once they got their tent up they could use magic on the rest of the gear without the Muggles seeing. Harry had no intention of spending the summer totally magic less. He'd just make sure that they were careful not to get caught.
"Tent first and then we can work on all the rest of it."
Setting up the tent was hysterical. They sat down to read the instructions carefully, then tried to follow them. They got into difficulties quickly and ended up laughing so hard they had to lie down. Ron grabbed the instructions from Harry and started making changes to them, including several steps like 'swear at inventors', or 'shake heads at Muggles', which had Harry laughing even harder.
They managed eventually, and Ron crawled inside to carefully enlarge it while Harry sorted out their gear and then passed it inside one item at a time. He listened as his partner put a cushioning spell on the mattress pads before laying them out, and zipping up the sleeping bags whilst making lewd comments. Their rucksacks and the primus were tucked away carefully near the front.
When Harry crawled into the tent it had doubled in size. Ron had disguised this by copying the fly and moving the copy halfway down the tent, hiding their sleeping area behind it. They were also able to stand up if they wanted too, not that Harry planned for them to be spending any time in here vertically.
"So, time for dinner?" Ron asked, and Harry grinned. He launched himself at his best friend, knocking him to the ground and unbuttoning his leather trousers quickly. He dipped long fingers inside and fished around in Ron's briefs, coming up with his prize.
"I've got mine," Harry growled and bent his head to his self-appointed task, smiling when Ron moaned and pushed his hips up off the ground in response.
Godrics Hollow boasted a small Tesco, and it didn't take them long to find everything they needed there, including a washing up tin and shaving mirror, which they'd forgotten this morning. Ron was still playing up to Harry, getting his friend to guide him through the Muggle world, teasing with comments that sounded innocent, but weren't given their history together. Harry seemed to be blooming before Ron's eyes, gaining colour in his cheeks and confidence in his movements.
There was also a bookstore in the village and Ron persuaded Harry to come in with him, eventually adding to their collection of Muggle mysteries despite the fact that they'd gotten lost in Flourish and Blotts only this morning and were nearly late to meet their Headmaster. The fact that they were weighed down with twice the number of books they'd gone in to buy may also have had something to do with it. At this rate the first things moved into the new house would be their book collection as the cases in their dorm were already overflowing.
/Not that I'll have time to read/ Ron's fingers told Harry's shoulder. Harry grinned foolishly, and the girl behind the counter blushed, flirting a little with him. That seemed to worry his partner, and Ron steered them out to the motorbike, getting on the back and letting Harry take them home.
"What's wrong?" Ron asked when they had packed the food away, sorted out the bike and were lying on the groundsheet in front of the tent. Harry sighed and rolled to lie on his stomach, propping his chin on one hand and reaching out to tug on the hem of Ron's sleeve with the other. They'd changed into shorts and Ron was hoping to go back to school with a tan.
"It's..." Harry sighed and Ron put up his hand lazily, pushing his fingers up Harry's sleeve to rub against the swell of muscle there. His man was dead sexy, and Ron made a mental note to tell him that every day.
"When those girls flirt with me," Harry shook his head, and green eyes begged Ron to help him out. Ron laughed and shook his head. He knew where this was going, and it stemmed from Harry's image of himself as unlovable.
"Harry you idiot. You're drop dead gorgeous, of course girls are going to flirt with you," he knotted his fingers in Harry's sleeve when his partner flinched and shook his head, "Yes you are, you're sexy and when you're in those leathers... well, I think you know how I feel about you in those."
"But I'm yours," Harry whispered, leaning down to hide in Ron's shoulder, "I don't want them."
"Look, mate, it's a normal thing for you to notice them drooling at you. It's normal for you to be flattered, too. I know you won't cheat and I'm not going to go mad every time a girl looks at my man. It just makes me pity them because I know who you're coming home in... I mean with!"
Harry was laughing now, glasses askew, and Ron concealed a grin. Mission accomplished for today, then, and tomorrow he'd tell his partner again, and keep telling him how loveable he was every day until Harry believed him, for the rest of their lives and beyond.
They were up early the next morning and sluiced each other down in warm water from their wands. They also took the time to add Impermeable and Unbreakable charms to the tent, as well as a few security charms that would allow them to lock the tent when they were away. Summoning their bond, they then laid a very powerful I-am-not-here charm on the tent, so that Wizards and Muggles alike would only be able to find it if they already knew it was there. This would allow them to leave their wands behind when the builders arrived, as both teens were wearing shorts and t-shirts in deference to the hot weather. They had forgotten to get pillows or cushions in London; Harry wanted to wait until they had taken a trip to a Muggle city not far from Godrics Hollow in two days time. His partner was burning with curiosity, but Harry wanted it to be a surprise.
"Harrrreeeeee," Ron whined in a really unattractive tone, and Harry burst into laughter, collapsing to lie on the long grass as he tried to breathe between gales of laughter. From Ron's expression this had been his friends goal and when Harry had caught his breath, wiped his face and gotten up again he gave Ron a passionate kiss.
"Don't do that," Harry stifled a giggle, "We've got to get all those soil samples and the map ready for Neville so Hedwig can take them before the builders arrive. She's not supposed to spend summer with us, it's too risky."
"Ok," Ron pretended to sulk but moved away to start collecting the samples their friend had demanded while Harry drew up a map of the garden as it was now, marking in the existing trees. He and Ron had agreed that the trees should stay where they were, and Harry had an additional request for a hedge out the front that would block the view from the lane into the garden. It would have to bracket the drive, which ran to one side of the garden, and the stile that sat in the middle of the wall. They had changed some of the windows in the front rooms to French doors to let them into the garden, and the conservatory on the back of the house provided another access point. After careful discussion the conservatory ran only along half of the house and was accessed through the laundry, with a door leading outside too. The kitchen door would open onto an open courtyard that they would surround with potted plants.
All of this was detailed in a letter to Neville, including a list of plants they thought their garden should have. Some of these were potion making plants that Harry knew wouldn't look too strange to Muggles. Ron was asking for a good spot to start a vegetable garden - apparently the only type of gardening he enjoyed - and Harry boxed their samples and letters up as Hedwig arrived, landing in the birch tree and hooting softly at him.
"Hello," he held his arm up and she fluttered down to land on it, extending her leg for the harness strap that would let her carry the small box safely. He stroked her feathers gently, and smiled when she seemed to lean into the touch.
"Is it too heavy?" he asked and she bounced lightly on his arm before settling in a way that told him she could carry the parcel easily. He smiled and looked over at Ron rather sadly. Sometimes, Hedwig had been the only thing that seemed to care whether he lived or died. It would seem odd not to see her this summer, unless there was an emergency.
"I need you to take this to Neville at Hogwarts, please, and then you're to go to the Burrow. You'll have to stay there this summer," Harry told her firmly, and bit his lip when she gave him a very hurt look, "Don't, Hedwig. You're too beautiful to stay here. The Muggles will notice you right away, and maybe the word will get back to Wizards. That would mean danger for you and Ron, and I couldn't bear it if you were hurt. Please don't be mad."
Hedwig shuffled up onto his shoulder and extended a wing to touch his cheek. She'd never done that before and Harry felt his eyes sting with tears. He took a deep breath and Ron glanced over at the lane.
"Harry, I think the builder is coming," his friends voice was gentle. Harry could hear the rumble of the lorries that would be carrying their building supplies and twitched Hedwig back to his forearm before launching her into the sky with a whispered farewell. Ron came up behind him and held him close for a moment before going to meet the builder - a man by the name of Owen Walters - to give Harry a moment to compose himself. He watched the last place he'd seen Hedwig for a few moments then got up and followed Ron and the builder around to the entrance of the quarry.
"Now, are you going to tell me?" Ron breathed the words into Harry's ear, his hands moving pleasurably over the body beneath him. They still slept with their hands tangled together, bodies spooned or wrapped around each other, which allowed their mornings to start on a very pleasant note.
"Bath," Harry moaned and Ron kissed his panting partner softly. They'd been at this for a little while now, and Harry was at the puddle stage Ron liked to bring him to before entering his partner.
"Had one last night," Ron reminded him, and Harry started laughing. Ron loved the sound of it, and started tickling, abandoning his massage to encourage further hilarity. Harry shrieked and writhed, his own fingers fighting Ron off, the two of them squirming and struggling together until a fortuitous move on Ron's part had Harry moaning as his body was breached. Ron echoed the moan and pushed his hips slowly forward as Harry moved to give him better access. The warm body beneath him was welcoming, and the green eyes watching his face were shining with an emotion that seemed too big to be contained in one soul.
"The... city of... Bath... oh Ron..." Harry broke off and Ron smiled, moving in and out, striking Harry's prostate with each thrust and reducing them both to speechless and stunned in short order. They lay in a gasping pile, fingers expressing what voices couldn't; sweat cooling on their skin.
Ron stirred first, kissing Harry tenderly then stroking messy hair out of green eyes. Harry smiled at him rather sleepily, and Ron chuckled. His partner would have him hot and bothered in no time at all if he didn't stop with that particular look.
"Come on, we need to clean up and get going if we're going on a trip. And I want to get cushions or something while we're there - I'm getting a crick in my neck," Ron mock grumbled and Harry sighed, stirring reluctantly and waving a languid hand. Their bond hummed and the cleansing spells they preferred to use took care of the mess.
"Your turn to cook," Harry reminded him and Ron grinned, pecking Harry on the temple before sliding off their bed and reaching for some clothes. While he started brewing the morning pot of tea Harry made their bed and generally tidied the tent. Ron was not an untidy person as a rule, but neither was he as tidy as Harry had been trained to be. They had managed to strike a comfortable compromise, living in a kind of organised clutter.
Breakfast over, Ron climbed up behind Harry and settled in for the ride to Bath. Harry was an excellent driver, and Ron had wondered what it would be like to fly on the same broomstick as his friend. They'd had to leave their brooms at the Burrow, so he'd have to keep that little bout of curiosity under control until they got back to school.
Bath turned out to be a bustling Muggle city with buildings that reminded Ron of the Wizard style of architecture. Harry piloted them through the very busy traffic to a small lane that ended in several walled yards. The bike was parked to one side, and they got off, sliding wands, helmets and jackets into the saddlebags before activating the protection wards. Thanks to Professor Flitwick's tutelage they could defend themselves without wands, and the wands themselves were safe enough in the saddlebags as they were enchanted to shrink unless touched by their owners. Ollivander himself had recommended the spell in one of the books the man had written about wands and Ron had read at Flitwick's suggestion. Ron got a good look at the dark blue shirt that Harry had finally chosen to wear and sighed, shaking his head.
"You're asking for it in that get up, mate."
"Will I get it?" Harry smiled over at him, his eyes roaming appreciatively over Ron, and the redhead grinned as his blood stirred in response.
"You sure will," he promised and followed his partner out of the lane. They climbed uphill, following the narrow lanes until they widened out into a large market place, already bustling with people. Ron's eyes lit up and he grabbed Harry in an enthusiastic bear hug. Harry started laughing, and Ron squeezed him so hard he squeaked for a moment before they let go.
"Muggle markets!" the Pureblood crowed, "Brilliant!"
Harry watched his partner as they walked through the main marketplace, heading slowly up the hill. There were bookstores, bookstalls and all sorts of clothing, souvenirs, and oddments all over the place so that Ron was like a child in a sweet shop - not sure which way to run first. The tourists were thronging all over the place as well, and Harry was content to just watch Ron and the crowds around them. He'd heard about Bath in school when they'd studied the Romans and later the Victorians in History. He'd always wanted to go and see the town for himself, and the summer holidays had provided him with an appreciative travel partner and the opportunity to indulge a long held wish.
They found a stall that sold handmade crafts, with various types of embroidered, brocade and patchwork pieces. They found a basket of cushions in the back of the stall and bought five, choosing bright colours and soft textures. It was a moment's work to find a quiet corner and send them off to the tent before turning back into the market place.
Near the baths that Bath was named for there was an old-fashioned sweet shop and Ron disappeared inside for almost half an hour. It gave Harry time to figure out where Sally Lunn's house was. He was planning to go there for tea before heading home. Ron came out with a very large bag of Muggle sweets, laughing at the names of some of them. They found a pub for lunch and spent the afternoon wandering through some of Bath's more famous attractions, learning the Muggle history as they went. Ron nearly got them kicked out of the Costume Museum when he started laughing at the sixteenth century fashions, exclaiming that his grandmother had a dress just like the one in the case - which Harry thought was probably true. Nothing ever truly went out of fashion in the Wizard world. The water in the Pump Room had Ron gagging in disgust and Harry treated them both to an ice cream from the parlour just outside it.
"Hey, Harry, is that Muggle music?" Ron asked him, tilting his head up at the speaker suspended from the lintel of the shop. Harry listened for a moment and then nodded.
"Yep, that's one type," he nodded, and watched Ron's face light up. They ended up traipsing back into the market - no hardship for either of them - and Harry found the shop that was selling Muggle electronics. A few minutes thought later, he and Ron were proud owners of a combination radio/CD player, along with some seriously heavy-duty batteries.
Ron pestered Harry all the way back to the bike and he took advantage of their secluded parking spot to kiss the redhead silent, slipping the box into one of the saddlebags and restoring the wards on it. Ron was panting when they broke for air, and Harry grinned at him. Ron rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Not that I'm complaining," Ron began and Harry laughed, putting an arm around Ron's waist and steering him back towards the main streets. His partners' curiosity had gotten them into a few scrapes over the years, though it didn't match Hermione's. Truth be told, Harry's curiosity was more than a match for the both of them, though his childhood had conditioned him to concealing it.
"It's a Muggle invention that will let us listen to their version of the radio. I think I saw a music store as well, we'll get a few CD's - and yes I'll explain it all to you when we get home - to listen to as well," Harry promised, and was rewarded when Ron simply leaned into him.
"Lead on," was his friend's response and Harry turned his head to kiss the nearest cheek. Ron wouldn't let him let go when they got to a more crowded part of town, and Harry tried not to notice the way some Muggles stared or frowned at them.
The music shop was noisy and crowded. Harry didn't really have much idea of what he and Ron would like, and so he chose a few compilation CD's, that had a mixture of pop, rock, rap and techno. Ron liked the music they could hear at the moment and they managed to find a copy of the album for him.
"Coldplay?" Ron frowned over the name of the band and Harry pointed out that his friend's favourite Wizarding band was called the Weird Sisters. Ron conceded the point and they made their purchases before heading out into the crowd again.
"Teatime?" Ron asked hopefully, drawing Harry into his side again and rubbing the small of Harry's back. Harry melted into him a little and gave his friend an affectionate smile. Even after all this time that touch made Harry's spine melt.
"Come on, there's a famous place I've heard of. You'll love it," Harry pointed off in the direction they needed to head and Ron followed happily.
Ron was fascinated by Muggle music. Harry had managed to come up with a spell that would let them run their radio on the now permanently charged Muggle batteries, and Ron could spend hours listening to it. It went on when they got up and was turned off last thing at night. The sheer variety of moods, styles, accents and rhythms had him laughing and dancing one minute, listening with solemn intensity the next. Harry had found a station that played a great mixture of modern music all day, and Ron was delighted that some of the discs they'd bought contained the songs he'd come to like.
"This should be part of Muggle studies!" Ron said after listening to Eminem, "This is so wicked!"
Harry laughed at him, rolling on his stomach to look Ron in the eye. They were lying on an old blanket they'd bought in the village with the cushions from Bath, reading while the radio played and Owen and his sons worked on setting the foundations of the house. Ron and Harry had found a secluded space on top of the hill behind Potters Field and were watching the slow progress with interest. Once the foundations were set, they expected that the walls would grow rather quickly.
The heat wasn't too bad actually, and they were in the shade of a large oak, and the fresh air and tension free week had put healthy colour into Harry's face. Ron felt a very soppy look take over his face and leaned up to give his friend a kiss.
"You're getting soppy, ya pillock," Harry warned him, and Ron grinned. As endearments went it wasn't Shakespeare, but then they usually weren't given to using terms of endearment for each other.
"Yeah, you make me that way," he agreed, "You're looking much better. Now if I can get some weight on you, mum won't have a heart attack next week at my birthday party."
"You could lie on top of me for a while," Harry laughed, "If you want to put weight on me."
Ron leered and shook his head. Harry didn't take his health, or lack of it, very seriously. It was up to Ron to ensure his partner ate large, healthy meals and rested when he started looking peaky. The strain of being tutored by Snape last term had taken a toll on Harry that Ron had hated to see. The Potions master had given Ron's partner some very strange looks this year, and when Harry had saved the mans life, those looks had increased. It was worrying Ron a little, though he'd done his best not to let Harry know that. If Snape was going off the deep end Harry didn't need to worry about that. They'd had other problems too, with their plan of school unity riding on their ability to publicly uphold it. Malfoy had pressed them both pretty hard to keep their tempers and live up to the school expectations, and as a result Harry's appetite had almost entirely disappeared.
"Maybe later," Ron told his friend and they lay back again.
They waited until the builders left for their dinner and headed back to the tent, stashing their gear inside and munching on the sandwiches they had made after breakfast. The builders came back and Ron persuaded Harry to go for a walk with him. They climbed the stile back into the sheep pasture and walked past the oak tree and down the hill to the trees that clustered at the bottom of the pastures. The sound of running water drew them on and they found a small river flowing along quietly.
"Come on," Harry seemed suddenly energised and Ron watched his friend strip off his trainers and socks and paddle out into the river. Ron grinned and followed, sloshing along behind his partner as Harry pointed to things he found interesting and generally hopped around like a little kid. Ron joined in with a light heart, and they waded for quite some distance, coming eventually to a stone bridge that spanned the river.
They had rounded a bend in the river when the bridge hove into sight, and Ron glanced along the banks, identifying the bridge as the one that he'd driven them over to get into town. If they walked along the road to get back it would be quicker, but Ron wasn't sure that he'd be able to drag his damp and flushed partner away from the river. Harry had found a new toy and Ron was reluctant to take it away from him.
Before Ron could voice his plan, or even call his partner back from where Harry was balancing on a couple of tree roots that were sticking out of the water, there was a movement on the bridge and a loud splash. A car started up and drove away and Ron frowned, looking to see what had been thrown into the river. He spotted the sack floating slowly away from them and shook his head. Muggles and Wizards alike, there was always someone who stuffed up the environment around them. Harry was also looking at the sack and frowning, but there was a tension in his friend's shoulders that said there was more to this than someone dumping their rubbish.
"I think..." Harry trailed off and then chucked his shoes onto the bank. He plunged forward into the water and Ron copied his motions, splashing forward after his partner. Before he could ask what had Harry so upset he realised that the sacks movement was not entirely due to the touch of the water on its sides. There was something living inside it, and as the sack started to sink whatever was inside was slowly drowning.
"Accio sack!" Ron snapped, feeling their bond surge as he drew on it, and the sack zoomed into his outstretched hands. Harry whirled, his eyes wide with relief, the panic in them slowly fading away. Ron was glad that there seemed to have been no witnesses to his sudden use of magic.
"I f-forgot!" his partner stammered as Ron headed for dry land, the contents of the sack squirming in his arms. They stumbled onto the bank, sitting down beside their shoes while Ron carefully undid the knot on the sack. A black pup with huge feet and a skinny body tumbled into his lap, whimpering and shivering despite the heat.
"Oh God," Ron breathed, and cuddled the soaked lump to his chest, staring up at Harry in rage, "What the hell! How could anyone..."
Ron trailed off when the pup started to cry in his arms, and started petting the wet fur gently. When it was finally quiet he looked up again to find Harry and his shoes gone. Ron's trainers had been placed neatly beside him. Muttering under his breath Ron shoved his feet into his trainers and got up, preparing to walk back to the tent. The bank was steep and Ron was puffing when he got to the top, and concentrating on his feet to avoid slipping while his hands were full.
A familiar noise had him looking up and Harry pulled up, Ron's helmet on one arm, a couple of towels on the seat. Together they wrapped the pup in the dry cloth and Ron donned his helmet while Harry held the pup. Ron clambered on the bike in front of his friend and they rode slowly back to Potters Field.
They named the pup Lucky. Despite its rough start in life, the pup had a happy inquisitive nature. They learned to put their shoes away, though Harry accidentally donated a pair of socks as a chew toy to the pup when it got into their dirty laundry while he and Ron were otherwise occupied. They knotted the socks into an interesting bundle that the pup would retrieve if they threw it.
Harry would carry him - it was a dog - along when they hiked through the area, and Lucky rode in a saddlebag when they went to the beach. Ron would talk to it at night when he thought Harry wasn't paying him enough attention, and the pup learned to get out from underfoot when Ron gave a yell and grabbed Harry to dance to one of the songs on the radio. Harry was learning to dance Wizard-style - a sort of jazzy two-step that took energy and some concentration. He didn't mind - he'd found another thing that he loved to do with his partner, and the dance let him express some of his feelings at the time.
Harry was in a bit of a quandary. He had two birthday presents for Ron, one to give him in front of the family, and one that he would give his partner privately when they returned to the house. They were planning to Apparate to the Burrow the night before Ron's birthday and then come back the next night. They were going to put the bike in the tent so as not to arouse any suspicions from the Muggles, and Harry would carry their bag while Ron carried Lucky.
The problem with the second present - the private one - was that Harry wasn't sure it was something Ron wanted. Harry was vacillating about even mentioning it to his friend, but he'd never been a coward before. In the end Harry had simply left it all to Fate. Ron would either ask him about his birthday gift or not. Harry knew Ron had seen both parcels, though he would have been unable to peek at them ahead of time because Harry had put a strong spell on them that would stop anyone from tampering with the gifts.
He didn't have much time to brood, though, as Ron and Lucky would invariably find him and drag him along for a walk or ride or some other activity that demanded Harry's concentration. It was hard to worry that you were about to destroy the most important relationship in your life when you were swimming in a river and trying to fend off your friend who was apparently trying to drown you, or climbing a hill with a pup yapping at your feet and trying to trip you as it chased the field moths.
Ron's mother welcomed them with smiles and hugs, fussed over them both and the pup, then set them to work in her kitchen. Harry had spent a lot of time practicing his Wizard cooking skills in the last two weeks and there was no great mystery in the dinner preparations. Things were only slightly complicated by Hedwig's insistence that she sit on Harry's shoulder while he worked. He was too happy to see her to insist on proper owl manners.
Ginny and her parents were there for dinner, and Molly told them that there would be a family breakfast tomorrow as it was a work day for her eldest sons and husband. Ron would have his celebration then and Harry felt a little sad that his best friend wouldn't have the day with his whole family. Ron didn't seem bothered by all this though, and Harry resolved not to fuss.
They had pudding in the garden, lounging around on the lawn and talking softly. Ron and Harry told everyone about the house, and Lucky's rescue. Ginny told them about her visit to Luna Lovegood's house for a weekend, and Arthur discussed in a vague sort of way the latest intelligence they had on Voldemort's movements. Molly told them about the new Hogwarts Express, and how Fudge was still fielding a lot of criticism in the wake of the destruction of the first one. Apparently Harry and Ron's joint unity plan had redirected the parent's wrath nicely.
It was almost midnight when Molly stirred and sighed. Ron had been lying with his head in Harry's lap, one hand twined in the one that Harry was resting on his chest. Their bond was humming lightly and he felt a sense of peace that had so far been missing from his life.
"Well, I suppose I'd better get the washing up done," she sighed, and Arthur looked a little guilty. Their marriage had evolved several routines to share the burdens of household chores and one of those demanded that if his wife cooked, he cleaned. Harry smiled at his Aunt and Uncle and waved his twined fingers in the air lightly.
"We've already done it, Aunt Molly," Harry ducked his head and Ron laughed at the astonishment on her face. Harry remembered that she had yet to see a true demonstration of their new abilities, and this kind of simple wandless magic was rapidly becoming old hat to them.
"Yeah, mum, we got it done hours ago," Ron chimed in, and sighed when his parents and sister got up to have a look, Ginny sending them a faintly suspicious look as she went. He rolled off Harry and got up, pulling him to his feet. Harry leaned into his partner, letting strong fingers caress the small of his back while Ron simply held him close. He nuzzled Ron's throat, kissing and licking at the warm skin in a way calculated to stir the blood.
"Don't get me started," Ron breathed in his ear, "I want a good shagging on my birthday."
Harry peeled himself off with a mock pout, which Ron tickled, and they headed slowly into the house. This time tomorrow, Harry would know if his second gift had unified them or destroyed them.
Ron stood in the middle of the tent, smiling at Lucky as the pup got settled on their picnic blanket by the tent flap. Harry had indeed given him a good shagging this morning - they were almost late to breakfast and Ron had been worried that they'd breached the privacy spell with their noise. There was a noise outside and Harry came back in from putting the bike back in its usual place. Ron knew that his partner had a second present for him, and he also knew that Harry was worried that he wouldn't like whatever it was. He'd never had a dud present from Harry yet, so Ron wasn't too concerned.
"Right, so where's my other present?" Ron thought it would be best to get straight to the point. Making Harry wait for something he felt ambiguous about was never a good idea. Harry flushed a little and went to get the second envelope of the day. The first had been full of gift vouchers to bookstores - Muggle and Wizard alike. All the Weasley's had been interested in that gift, booklovers that they were, and Ron had hidden them away from the twins - just in case.
"Ron..." Harry was starting to look tense and Ron shook his head. Whatever this was really had his partner's defences screaming. Ron was not unaware that Harry had been panicking about this gift a little, and as curious as that made him he knew that it would be best to give his friend a way out of whatever quandary he thought he was facing.
"Look, Harry," Ron smiled gently, "You don't have to do this. You can tear that up right now and I wouldn't mind."
Harry put his head down to think it over and Ron waited patiently. He knew that his partner would give him whatever was in the envelope sooner or later, but he wanted Harry to be comfortable with it. Which was why it was a surprise when Harry pulled out his wand and destroyed the envelope magically. Ron knew he looked shocked, but he couldn't rearrange his features in time. Harry moved stiffly to stand in front of him and before Ron knew what was going on, his friend was down on one knee.
"Marry me?" Harry blurted and Ron gaped at him. He felt as if all the air in the tent had disappeared and there was a heated ball of something in his chest, whirling and thumping against his ribs. Ron felt Harry take his hand and the contact detonated the feeling in his chest. Suddenly there was enough air and the warmth and sheer joy of the moment enveloped Ron like a blanket.
"Yes," he whispered and pulled Harry up into a full body hug, "Of course. What took you so long?"
Harry was shaking, obviously not in the same warm place that Ron was at the moment. Ron held on tightly, just breathing while Harry's shakes and shivers slowly abated. Eventually his partner was able to put his arms around Ron too, and the hug became mutual. Their skin took on each other's warmth and Ron could feel Harry's breath puffing lightly over his neck.
"What was in the envelope?" Ron asked after a moment and Harry snorted into his shoulder.
"Wedding invitation. Kind of stupid, huh?" the dark head nuzzled in closer, "I knew what I wanted, I just didn't know the right way to ask you."
"I love you Harry," Ron didn't say the actual words often, preferring to use the 'stuck with me' promise that he and Harry had developed a year ago and repeated frequently. He felt Harry's body jolt in his grasp and then he was clutched even closer.
"I love you Ron," Harry replied. Ron decided the rest of this conversation would be better off in a more comfortable place and shuffled them back to their bed. Harry let go long enough for them to lay down fully clothed with Ron on his back, and Harry draped over him, before clutching Ron tightly again and kissing him. Ron stuck his hand under Harry's shirt and rubbed the small of his back while Harry tossed his glasses aside.
"When do you want to get married?" Ron asked idly, and his partner sighed happily. Ron grinned into messy hair and gave his fingers an extra swirl on warm skin.
"I thought... Hermione and I researched this in the library. We have to have been together for a year once past our majority in order to be eligible to marry without parental consent, though I hope your parents would consent for you anyway..."
"You're babbling," Ron broke in, "I know the law, Harry, I looked it up myself. We have to have spent a year together in fidelity in order to qualify for the licence, which we have done. All we have to do is arrange the ceremony and a celebrant from the Ministry. And mum and dad would give their consent, I'm sure of it."
"You're sure?" Harry sounded amazed, and Ron sighed. His friend had never been able to predict the way adults would react to any request or action with any kind of accuracy. He blamed the Dursley's for that. Harry had never had the acceptance or family love that Ron had taken for granted all his life.
"I am," Ron kissed unruly hair and smiled in the darkness, "Now answer the question."
"I thought January the fifth," the voice was hesitant, "Because your family always has a big party on Christmas and New Year, and your mum said something about your grandparents coming this year. We can't do it during school term, and..."
"Sounds perfect," Ron stroked the now relaxed body lying partially on top of him, "Where shall we do this? Here maybe?"
"Could... could we do it at the Burrow? Would your mum mind? I'd... I'd like to do it where your family..."
"Mum would be ecstatic," Ron chuckled when Harry trailed off uncertainly, "She's always on about how she'd love to have her children married in the house where they were born. We could have the ceremony under the big tree in mum and dads garden. There's room to put up some marquees up and we can heat them magically to take some of the strain off the house."
"Could... could your dad be our celebrant? I only want family there," Harry confessed and Ron felt his heart swell. His father would be walking on air when they asked him. As an official at the Ministry - the laws said it didn't matter what you did as long as you held office - his father was definitely eligible to perform the ceremony, and as the small amount of magic involved was cast by the two people being joined, not the celebrant, no one could claim that Arthur had somehow arranged things against his son and partners will.
"He'll do it," Ron confirmed, "Hey, we can ask for furniture for our wedding gifts, and tell them not to bother with Christmas presents. That way we'll get some stuff for the house."
"And your parents won't go broke," Harry agreed, lifting his face up to kiss Ron gently. They shelved all further discussion in order to celebrate their decision.
Ron knew that his mother would roast them alive if they didn't tell her their news the moment they got up - in a rather sticky, sated and very sappy condition - the next morning, so he convinced Harry to hang a 'do not disturb' sign on the tent and Apparate back to the Burrow for breakfast.
At first Mrs Weasley was worried something was wrong, but she called her husband down from the bathroom without hearing what they wanted first, and then pinned her son and adopted son with a look that clearly instructed them to come to the point.
"Harry has asked me to marry him," Ron was well trained to respond to that look. He had been going to say more, but his parents were on them both, hugging and kissing and congratulating. Arthur was smiling so broadly Ron thought his father was going to hurt something, and Molly had gone all dewy eyed again.
"When? Where? Oh, we'll have to organise a celebrant!" Molly finally let Ron's partner go, and Harry turned to look at his adopted uncle. Their reaction had been more than he had hoped for, and he wanted to take his part in the breaking of the news, rather than leaving it all up to his friend.
"We were hoping that Uncle Arthur would do that," he half said, half asked, "In the garden here."
"Oh boys!" Arthur breathed and hugged them all again. He cleared his throat when he could let go and nodded gruff acceptance. Ron grinned at his partner and gave them the rest of the details that had been worked out just last night.
"That sounds fine," Arthur glanced at the clock on the wall, "We'll have to get together to discuss it tonight. I'm sorry, boys, but I'm going to be late."
"That's ok, dad," Ron grinned, "Why don't you and mum come to tea tonight? You can see the new house - or what there is of it - and we can work things out then."
"Shall do," Arthur nodded and went upstairs to finish getting ready. Molly was putting together a rather distracted breakfast for them, and Ron went to help. Knowing his mother was happy about his choice of life partner made it easier for him to deal with her mothering.
"See you tonight, Uncle Arthur," Harry smiled from the table as Ron's dad headed for the door. It was considered rude to Apparate or Disapparate in the middle of a crowd. Arthur paused at the door and fixed Harry with a blue-eyed stare.
"I think, given the circumstances, it would be more appropriate for you to call me dad," he wagged a finger at Harry, kissed his wife goodbye and stepped outside. A moment later he was gone, leaving two happy Weasley's and a stunned Potter behind.
Ron's partner was fairly stunned all the way back to the tent. The builders were raising walls today, and the noise of their arrival went unnoticed in the din. Lucky greeted them enthusiastically and they fed the pup before taking it outside on the old leash they'd picked up from the second hand shop. The couple that ran it were properly indignant about Lucky's narrow escape and had promised to keep their 'ear out' for any gossip that related to his former owner.
"We need groceries," Ron took Harry's elbow and started tugging his friend along towards the village, "Harry? Are you in there?"
/can I really call them mum and dad// Harry's fingers were urgent, worried, and Ron smiled. He'd been a bit worried that his friend the orphan would feel uncomfortable with Arthur's instruction. Obviously this wasn't the case.
"You are their son-in-law," he soothed, "Or at least you will be. Why not?"
Harry sighed happily and relapsed into his dazed state. Ron rolled his eyes a little but didn't mind too much. It wasn't every day you gained a family who understood you. He could put up with a little woolly headedness from his partner.
"Remember, don't shout."
Ron glared at his sniggering partner, and waited for the Muggle telephone to stop making its purring noise and for a voice to speak up. Harry was standing mostly behind Ron in the booth, wedged very nicely along his back and side with his arms around Ron's waist. Ron was holding the phone so that they could both hear it, though he had won the toss over who would do the talking.
"Hello?" the male voice that answered was young and loud. Ron jumped and Harry sniggered, turning his face into Ron's shoulder to muffle the noise.
"Can I speak to Hermione Granger please?" Ron asked politely, and there was a loud clunk, followed by the voice shouting in the background,
"Aunty Alice! Aunty Alice! There's a boy who wants to speak to Hermione!"
Harry was giggling now, and Ron elbowed him lightly. If he started laughing and Hermione heard him she'd be in a terrible mood and they wanted to come and see her to tell her their news. There was a rattle and Hermione picked up the other end, saying hello in a voice that was exasperated to say the least.
"Hello, Hermy, its Ron," Ron identified himself, and Harry leaned over to say hello too.
"Oh! Ron, Harry, hello," Hermione seemed to cheer up a little, "How are you? How's the house?"
"We're fine, thanks, and the house is great! We've got most of the kitchen walls up, and they're starting the next floor today or tomorrow," Ron enthused, "So we thought we'd like to see you."
"Great, I can be there in a flash!" Hermione sounded very eager to get away, and Ron hesitated. They had planned to go to London to visit her. In the background the young voice started chanting something about 'Hermione's got a boy friend', and an older sounding girl joined it.
"Uh, we were going to come to you," Ron hesitated, and felt Harry squeeze him around the middle, "But if you need to get away..."
"I'll ask mum," Hermione promised, "Hang on."
"Hang on to what?" Ron glanced back at Harry, who was laughing hard, shaking his head. Ron grinned - the vibration of the laughter against his chest was a pleasant feeling, which was one of the reasons he loved to tickle Harry. The phone rattled again and a new voice said.
"Mrs Granger?" Ron asked, though he thought it wasn't - the voice sounded like the one that had been chanting in the background.
"Yes, this is she. What are your intentions towards my daughter? Have you slept with her? Why did you call her today?" the voice continued, and Ron scowled. Hermione's mum wouldn't have to ask those questions, because he was fairly sure that Hermione would have told her parents that he was gay, and she was supposedly off speaking to her mum about why they were calling now.
"Very funny," he growled, "Who is this? I recognise the voice from the chanting I heard a minute ago."
There was a loud clunk that had Ron jerking his head away from the earpiece in protest and giggles fading away to silence.
"Sounds like Hermione's relatives are a bit of a pain," Harry sighed, "Maybe we should just let her come here. If she brings a tent then she can stay for a while."
"How will we transport everyone about? I mean it's hard enough with Lucky now that he's getting so big, and Hermione won't have the right gear for the bike, let alone us having the space," Ron frowned, "That's even if her parents are happy to let her go off with two boys they've never met, parents can be funny about things like that when it comes to girls."
"Mmmm," Ron felt his friends shrug and leaned back into him. It was a little stuffy in the phone booth, but his body didn't care about that, happy to be pressed so close to his partner. The now familiar rattle sounded again and Ron stopped paying attention to his body and started listening instead.
"Mum says I can't come," Hermione sounded depressed, "We've got my cousins here, and it's been ages since I saw them."
"Well, can we come to you?" Ron asked, keeping his voice light, "Would your mum mind if you spent a couple of days going out with us around London if you came back home every night? I suppose if we had to we could drag your cousins along one day too."
Harry was nodding his approval behind Ron and went up on tiptoe to add his voice to Ron's until Hermione eventually called her mother over for a four-way conference. Mrs Granger knew that they were Wizards, and gave them permission to 'arrive' in her attic. Ron thanked her profusely, and told Hermione that they'd stop by tomorrow at nine if that weren't too early. Permission was granted and they hung up, collecting the card that slid out of its slot. Harry had told Ron that by purchasing a calling card they wouldn't have to worry about using coins to feed the machine, which was apparently a nuisance.
Lucky would be sent off to the Burrow for a few days, so the pup wouldn't have to spend his time in the tent alone, and they'd hide the motorbike in the tent like they had before, locking it behind them. Hopefully they'd find some time in their quick visit to sit down alone with Hermione and tell her about their wedding plans.
Hermione's attic was well organised, if a little dusty. She was sitting on a couple of old trunks, reading a book when they arrived, and Harry had to grin when she threw the book aside and jumped up to hug them both. They patted her happily and then followed her down the ladder to the second floor landing.
"My cousins Hubert and Natalie are staying for a few weeks," Hermione explained in a low voice as they walked down the stairs, "Hubert's a little pest and Natalie's my age but not much better."
"Are we allowed to go out with you today?" Harry asked, speaking in a low voice too, and Hermione nodded, beaming happily. It seemed strange to see her out of school uniform, though her bright blouse and denim skirt looked nice enough. Ron was peering about with interest, poking the family photos on the wall to see if they would move and picking up Hermione's telephone from its table to examine it. Harry had to keep reaching back and tugging him along.
"Yes, mum said that we can go out with just the three of us today, but Natalie and Hubert have to come with us tomorrow," she pushed open a door at the end of the hall and led the way into the kitchen. Mrs Granger was there - evidently she'd taken off work to mind her niece and nephew - making a pot of tea. Ron and Harry had met her before, mostly at Diagon Alley, and they stepped over to say hello and thank her for letting them come to visit.
Harry could hear a television going somewhere in the house, and supposed that the dreaded cousins were in the front room somewhere. He wasn't that keen to meet them just now, and Hermione obviously felt the same way as she kissed her mother on the cheek and led them back out to the front door, closing it behind her quietly and not seeming to breathe until they were at the end of her street.
"Bus?" Ron asked eagerly, pointing to the bus stop and Hermione agreed. Harry grinned at his friend, and leaned in to speak to Hermione conspiratorially. Ron wouldn't mind a bit of teasing, and Hermione could use the laugh.
"He loves Muggle buses."
"Oi!" Ron protested lightly, but didn't bother to deny it. Hermione laughed and Harry rolled his eyes at his friend. Further conversation was prevented by the bus itself and they climbed up to the top deck straight away, lucky to find seats at the very front, which gave them the best view. Harry let Ron and Hermione sit together, leaning back into his own seat and tuning out Ron's excited talk of the new house.
They ended up in Greenwich, looking at the shops and park there. They walked through the museum, and Ron was able to contribute the Wizards version of the history of clock making and navigation in a low voice. He made sure to keep Harry on one side of him and Hermione on the other, holding the hands of both until Hermione complained that she felt like she was three again, and being led around by her parents. Harry had gone a little quiet at this and Ron had sent loving ripples over the hand that he still held.
The trio bought ice creams in the park and sprawled out under a tree to enjoy them. The conversation was lazy as Harry and Hermione debated their next port of call, while Ron watched the Muggles around them picnicking and playing games. A couple rolled past with wheeled boots on their feet, and Ron shrieked with laughter, pointing them out and asking what they were doing. Harry had to silence him with a kiss, which made Hermione clear her throat and roll her eyes.
"Sorry, Hermy," Ron grinned unapologetically. He loved his partner fiercely and had accustomed Harry to simply reaching out whenever he wanted. They wouldn't be able to do this in school, and Ron was determined they enjoy the freedom while it lasted.
"Actually, Hermione, we've got something to tell you," Harry glanced at Ron, who nodded encouragingly. His best friend straightened his shoulders and took Ron's hand.
"On the fifth of January, Ron and I are getting married. We'd like you to be there," Harry got it all out in a rush, and Hermione blinked in surprise, running what had been said through her mind a few times to work out exactly what Harry meant. Ron watched closely, aware that Harry was waiting for disaster to strike them down. He still couldn't accept that people liked him for himself and that the Wizarding world wouldn't throw him out for daring to love another man.
"Brilliant!" Hermione shrieked and launched herself at them in a wild hug, "Of course I will!"
Ron groaned as he ended up on the bottom of the pile, and bucked them off, sitting up with grass in his hair. Harry grinned up at him from underneath Hermione and pretended to be enjoying himself a lot more than he was. Hermione swatted him and rolled off, sitting up with a mock glare and a flush to her cheeks. Ron rolled his eyes at his partner, who simply wriggled on the grass to get more comfortable.
"We've got a little present for you, Hermy," Ron fished around in his pocket, "You've already seen it, but we want you to have this."
He pulled out the red bundle of cloth that the bracelet he and Harry had spent a term and a half making had been kept in. Hermione's eyes widened and she shook her head.
"Oh Ron, don't you want to give it to your mother, or Ginny?" she protested and Harry put a hand on her back, rubbing it idly. He didn't say anything, and Ron simply held out the bundle to her until she took it. The bracelet gleamed in the sunlight, and Ron was proud of the way the intricately woven band looked. They had placed quite a few different protection charms on this, and as long is it was worn next to her skin, they would always be able to find their friend.
Ron took it from her and placed it on her arm, feeling Harry lean into their bond to help him seal it around her wrist and activate the charms. The metal gave off a slight warmth and Hermione leaned down to peck Harry on the cheek before repeating the gesture with Ron. There were tears in her eyes, but neither boy embarrassed her with them.
They took Ron to the movies the next day, along with Hubert and Natalie. Hermione's cousin spent some time sulking that she couldn't go to the latest romance movie, but Hermione had no intention of trying to control both Ron and Harry while they took the movie off loudly due to boredom. Hubert was sulking that he couldn't go and see the latest horror movie, but Harry knew that Ron and Hermione would spend their time loudly pointing out all the holes in the Muggles perception of demons and the like out of boredom, and refused to get kicked out by irate patrons.
In the end Harry persuaded them all to go to a cartoon called Treasure Planet. There was enough going on for Hubert to be appeased about the 'kids movie' and no one paid any attention to Natalie's ever deepening sulk when it became apparent she was enjoying herself. Harry sat Ron between him and Hermione, and the two who had been raised by Muggles spent the movie dealing with a very captivated Wizard. Ron had seen moving pictures of course, and knew that you could talk to some portraits, but the idea of animating a picture to tell a tale and entertain was new. Wizard children's books had animated pictures above the words, but they still relied on text to tell the tale.
Natalie and Hubert agreed to stop sulking if they could go to the large music store across the street, and Harry stood back while Ron went through the collection almost disc by disc, his tastes wider than that of Natalie, who liked a peculiar mixture of new age and retro music, and his energy greater than Hubert's, who'd had quite a lot of sugar since breakfast. Hermione found a disc she liked, and spent her time watching Ron in astonishment.
"We've got a normal radio at the house," Harry said in a quiet voice after a while, "It's got a CD player too, and it's on day and night."
"Oh," Hermione shook her head as Ron dumped his selection on the counter and grinned at the girl serving him, "He's certainly picked up a wide... range of tastes."
"Tell me about it," Harry chuckled, "And he dances to it all too, the Wiz way of course."
"So that means you dance too?" Hermione's eyes were laughing at him and he ducked his head, nodding in agreement. She giggled and shook her head, watching carefully as Hubert went up to the counter with his selections as well. Harry gave her a dark look - he had improved since the Yule Ball - and grabbed her hand, swinging her around and grasping her waist. He swung his hips and gave a little push to get her moving, dancing in time to the beat of the song playing and ignoring all the rest. After an initially astonished squeak Hermione picked up the steps easily and they swung easily up and down one of the aisles, letting go near the store entrance with a laugh. Harry swept a deep bow to her and Hermione curtsied. Several of the customers clapped and Ron joined them outside grinning at them both.
"If you're quite finished?" there was no censure in his voice and Harry grinned back, reaching out to caress his fingers and take his bag of discs. Hermione was giggling again and ignoring the frankly disbelieving stare from her cousins.
"For now," Harry answered Ron's sarcastic question and his friend snorted at them both, a very fond look on his face. Any further discussion was curtailed by Hubert's demand for some food, and they moved away in search of a café.
Owen Walters and his sons had put in a lot of work over the two days that the teens had been away, and the external walls were almost finished. There were gaps in place for the windows, and the plumbers had been in to run their main pipes through the house. The building debris was unsightly, but Harry knew that an afternoon's work would clear it all away magically. He and Ron had chosen thatch for the roof, and planned to encourage roses and ivy to climb over the house to take away the bare look of the walls.
Lucky escaped from his leash to run into the half built house, giving Ron and Harry the perfect excuse to look the place over in the dark, using their wands to provide the light they needed. Though the interior walls weren't up yet, and the floors were only half laid, they managed to get a very good idea of what their new house would look like. They cornered Lucky in one corner of the laundry and walked him back out to their tent, tying him to one of the bikes wheels before slipping into the tent and sealing it with a privacy charm.
"It's going to be so good, Harry, to have our own house," Ron leaned into Harry's slim body, holding him tenderly, "I know I wasn't too keen at first..."
"Shh," Harry whispered in his ear, "I understand. It's a gift I wanted to give us, something that we can share together."
"I could always work off my debt in other ways," Ron pulled back enough to see Harry's instinctive protest that Ron owed nothing stifled and a very calculating look that he responded to with a suggestive leer. Harry burst into laughter, and the redhead ended up holding his partner on his feet as Harry tried, between bouts of laughter, to figure out a conversion rate for sex.
Ron dropped him on their bed in the end, and started stripping his clothes off, getting the green eyed mans undivided attention. Little riffs of laughter still escaped from glistening lips and Ron moved to straddle slender hips, bending at the waist to kiss those lips lightly, tasting them carefully before slipping inside and stroking over teeth and palate in hypnotic rhythm, feeling Harry's tongue rub slowly over his in reply. They kissed until their lungs cried out for air and Ron sat up slowly, trailing his fingers over Harry's cheeks and down his chest to rest on his belly. The cargo pants Ron had chosen for Harry felt a little rough between his thighs, but the white cotton t-shirt was soft to touch.
"Ron," Harry smiled, reaching his hands up to stroke over his friends thighs, dusted liberally with red hairs, though not as liberally as his groin. Ron smiled gently and pushed the shirt up, stroking over Harry's trim waist and flat belly, tugging on the dark line of hair that arrowed down to Harry's groin. Harry arched at the touch and sat up suddenly, using Ron's weight for ballast. He took off his white shirt and tossed it to lie on top of Ron's clothes, wrapping his arms around Ron's waist and taking the redheads mouth in a demanding kiss. Ron cupped Harry's head in his hands, winding his fingers through messy hair and rubbing the strands together. Harry moaned into Ron's mouth and broke the kiss, letting his head hang heavily into Ron's hands.
"You're a slut for a scalp massage," Ron chuckled, "Rub your hair and you're anyone's."
"Just yours," the throaty voice had bits of Ron tingling very nicely, and he rewarded the comment with another deep kiss, leaning forward to lower Harry back to the bag beneath him. When he had Harry breathless and moaning Ron lifted himself up and undid the cargo pants, tugging down the red briefs underneath as well as Harry lifted his hips helpfully.
Ron climbed back over Harry, centring himself over Harry's dick. Ron loved feeling Harry harden against him, and Harry loved having Ron's weight on him. They kissed again, fingers sneaking over warm skin, rubbing and stroking tenderly, each focussed on making his partner feel good. They were soon moaning into each other's skin, mouths and hands busy as they aroused each other further and further. Harry Summoned their jar suddenly, pressing it into Ron's hand and lifting his leg up, opening himself to Ron's touch and gaze.
Ron kissed his way slowly down Harry's arching, restless body, taking his time to tease dusky nipples and finally settling between Harry's legs to suckle at the straining shaft jutting from it's nest of dark curls. Slowly, tenderly, Ron opened Harry with his fingers, all the while urging his partner to sweet completion with his mouth and tongue. When Harry was boneless and spent, Ron shifted into place, pushing himself inside with tender care. Harry moaned and arched into the feeling he loved best, panting lightly as his dick stirred again.
Ron's light thrusts were hitting his partners' prostate, arousing Harry rapidly while Ron himself clung to his self-control with shaking fingers. Once Harry had returned to full hardness Ron changed the depth and speed of the thrusts, driving them both forward to completion with eager strokes.
The builders were hard at work on the interior of their house, and their school letters were waiting when they returned to the Burrow for Harry's birthday, necessitating a few changes in their plans. The book and equipment lists weren't difficult, but Professor Dumbledore had requested that they return to Hogwarts a week before the new school year started.
"I guess we're not going to be travelling on the Express then," Harry sighed, looking over at Ron sadly. He would miss the traditional beginning of year trip to the school, and the chance to catch up with his friends about their summer, "Or at least I won't."
"I'm sorry mate," his friends understanding meant more to Harry than the realisation that Dumbledore was being forced to treat him as if he was dangerous. Ginny squealed as she opened her letter, earning a glare from her mother when she almost dropped the teapot. Ginny's voice could be particularly shrill when she was excited, and when you added six older brothers who could and often did perform magical tricks for her amusement, her happy squeal was something that had been heard often in her life.
"I've got the captaincy!" Ginny bounced in her seat, "Angelina was going to recommend me, and I made it! I'm Captain for Gryffindor's Quidditch team!"
Gryffindor had been having a bit of a winning streak the past years, which meant that Ginny would have a lot of pressure on her to maintain their recent record. Ron was grinning hard, which meant that he wasn't disappointed in her accomplishment and Harry added his voice to the congratulations whole-heartedly.
"Are you sure you don't mind?" Ginny asked him baldly and Ron groaned, rolling his eyes and shaking his head, wincing when his mother slapped at him lightly. Harry understood her hesitance, though and smiled happily at her. There was a notion floating around the school that he was the star player for his House - not a notion he had ever subscribed to.
"Of course not," he reassured her, "Angelina told me she was recommending you last term. I'm a Seeker, Ginny, and I need to be free to go after the snitch when it shows itself. Chasers and Keepers make better Captains because they are better able to concentrate on the placement of the team."
"Well if you're sure," her smile was relieved and understanding, and Ron winked at him before speaking up himself, evidently feeling it was time to change the direction of the conversation. Harry hated the spotlight and Ron knew it. Ginny and Molly's kindly scrutiny was making him squirm.
"I notice you don't ask me if I mind," he pretended to huff, and his mother rolled her eyes, slapping lightly at his arm again.
"Ronald Weasley, you've got NEWTs coming up this year. In fact, maybe you should resign from the team this year to concentrate on your studies," she scolded, "You too, Harry."
"Mum," Ron and Harry protested at the same time, and Ron paused, letting Harry speak for him.
"Quidditch is an excellent way to avoid the build up of stress, it gets us to exercise muscles other than our brains and ..." Harry petered off, running out of persuasive explanations. Ron sensed this and took over smoothly, finishing the sentence without second thought.
"And it lets us do something that we're good at."
The implication that they weren't good at lessons hung in the air for a moment, but Molly Weasley was kind enough not to point it out, and after she'd glared at her only daughter, neither was Ginny. Ron subsided with a small apologetic grin in Harry's direction and Molly stirred. They were sitting around her kitchen table, waiting for Arthur to come home from work. Lucky was sitting on Ron's lap and Harry tried not to be jealous. The pup would soon grow too big for that, and Harry could be patient.
"Harry, I never asked," she looked over at her adopted son, "What sort of cake do you like? I want to make your birthday cake tonight."
"Uh, I don't know," Harry looked at her, startled. No one had ever worried about what his favourite anything was, other than Ron. He'd never really thought about it. He knew what he liked when it came to more normal meals, but his experience with birthday cakes was very limited.
"He likes chocolate frogs," Ron spoke up helpfully, "And Honeydukes Best."
"Just because you like chocolate," Ginny poked her brother, and Harry sighed, preventing Ron from retaliating as he so obviously wanted to. He shook his head helplessly at Molly who smiled.
"Well, if you think of something let me know, otherwise I'll surprise you," she said comfortably. Harry thanked her quietly, and then hid his face in his hands when Ron opened his big mouth again.
"He likes coffee laced with fire whiskey, mum, maybe you could do that!"
"It's a good thing Harry loves you, Ron," Ginny groaned, as Mrs Weasley fired up into her best 'there will be no underage drinking' speech. Harry grinned across at his flushed partner.
"A very good thing," Harry agreed softly.
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