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A Daft Experiment in Rushing the Inevitable

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It was a rather rude way to wake up, after having slept so obviously well; to be jerked awake by the familiar weight of your best friend, leaping from your bed in a graceless tangle of sheet and freckles as if scalded.

"What the bloody hell?" He half-shouts, looking at you as if at any moment you may grow a second head, and perhaps a third. Perhaps even eight legs and mandibles.

Truthfully, you'd been mostly awake for an indeterminate amount of time enjoying the comfortable spot buried between a sleeping Ronald Weasley and your favorite mashed-up pillow and Weasley afghan. It wasn't something you'd admit to just anyone, but when one has conversations within one's head, some things just are.

Clearing your throat, you finally answer, "Errr-- Dunno. I went to sleep and then..." An inadequate answer delivered in a voice that won't sound nearly as scandalized as it ought, accompanied by a lame shrug seems to be all that you can manage.

"Ended up in my bed?!" Voice crawling up an octave, he looks at you with that utterly confused and almost angry face. But no, not angry. That may, in fact be the source of his confusion.

You, on the other hand, have learned not to push away any show of affection whatsoever. No one will hear you complaining-- you take it where you can get it, however confused or unintentional the source. Another shrug and you point at the bed visible across the small room overhung with a fading, orange-themed Quidditch poster.

Eyebrows threatening to become one with his hairline, he turns back to face you, mouth falling open into an "O" of surprise. "Your bed?! I--" Flushing deeply, uncomprehending, and still pointing forcefully at his bed. "How? I went to bed right there. There! And I didn't..."

Trying not to cackle madly in sheer amusement at his expression and confuse him further, you offer a small smile. "Ron! Calm down. It's alright. Really." Prying your eyes from him, you scrub a hand through your hair and stand, hazarding a hand to his shoulder. "No big deal," you say quietly before patting it companionably and heading to your trunk to find something to wear.

It doesn't matter how he got there. It was nice. In that completely harmless way that cocoa is nice. It isn't as if it will ever happen again, anyway.

By the time you race him to the loo, it's as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred at all. It is for all intents and purposes, another day spent in the relative bliss of The Burrow; away from evil relatives and a shadowy War.

Once in a very long while, it's almost good to be Harry Potter.

###

Four identical eyes peered from behind a door barely cracked open as Harry and Ron raced past before colliding with the door to the toilet, with Ron edging Harry out by a nose this morning. As Harry slid sitting to the floorboards to wait his turn, the eyes disappeared behind the door as it clicked shut and their automatic Imperturbable Charm kicked in.

Fred set up the Quick Quotes Quill as George began to pace, already deep in thought. Falling into step pacing in the opposite direction, Fred began to speak.

"Operation Clueless Guinea Pig- Part Three, Day one."

George seamlessly continued, "Subject appears normal."

"No overt awkwardness or hostility."

"Morning routine appears unchanged."

"No untoward sounds were heard during the night."

"Nor was the subject observed leaving the testing area."

"No evidence of any physical violence...

"...though that may be indiscernible dependent on where contact may have occurred."

"It entirely possible that the compound was a complete dud..."

"...but highly improbable, as we are utterly brilliant..."

"...and have already tested it on both the cat and Ginny."

"In separate instances."

Turning to face each other, mirror-image grins expanding by the moment, the twins concluded simultaneously, "Further testing is obviously necessary."

###

The day slips by in a haze of good food and hot weather and always someone or another smiling and not making you feel like you ought to be back in that tiny closet.

Once this summer before the cavalry came, you went into that closet and sat down on the little shelf that had been your bed for so long and thought to yourself that once this was your whole world... And proceeded to slam the door so hard as you practically flew out that you're pretty sure it's what sent the giant photo of Dudley in his Smeltings uniform flying off of the wall and crashing onto the ground in a pile of shattered glass. Uncle Vernon called the photographer to complain about shoddy framing and bullied him into reframing it at no cost.

The cut you got from cleaning up the glass is only now beginning to fade because you picked at the scab until you couldn't anymore.

Sometime later in the day when you're all lying on the grass near the lake, tired and happy and still drying off in the sunshine, you notice that the last scabby bits are all gone in a detached kind of pleasant stupor. The same heavy languor that permeates your senses and perhaps keeps you from making any leaps of intuition when you notice Ron watching you. Just watching from where he is also sprawled in the rich green grass, not saying or doing or even pulling one of his ridiculously expressive faces. Just watching.

A small smile is all you can manage before you turn your attention to the sky and begin to see shapes in the clouds; shapes that begin to resemble sheep that begin to resemble the insides of your eyelids as you drift off to the sound of Ginny snickering...

...and find yourself suddenly elbow to elbow with Ron. In the grass, heads pillowed on arms such that forearms are pressed together, faces mere inches apart. Your feet are somehow almost tangled around his calves as he's significantly taller than you, and as his impossibly blue eyes open, there's a hint of a content and sleepy grin that begins to form before you both suddenly jump back.

It becomes apparent that the sun has not in fact sunken low enough to account for the lack of light. Fred and George and Ginny are standing around you, snickering; Ginny declaring, "Awwww... that was so sweet!"

He's gone that especially flushed shade of Weasley red again, except now that he's shirtless you notice that it goes all the way down his chest and arms, throwing the omnipresent freckles into high relief, which interest you even more now that you've noticed them.

Except now he's standing and shouting, which is never a good sign. He throws himself at the nearest twin, shoving hard at his chest, saying, "Damn it, leave him alone for once," before turning and stalking back to the house, pleasant mood done for.

Except now they're really staring at you, because he didn't say "me" or "us"; he said "him". And the twins are smirking and Ginny is staring and it's all you can do to pretend to not notice and haul yourself to your feet and not do the same thing that Ron did.

You're not sure what or why, but something here needs to be protected, and that is surely your job. So you resist the urge to scowl, and stand, brushing the grass off from where you can reach and try to smile again and say, "When's dinner, do you suppose?"

###

The twins watched Ginny race Harry back to the house, still smirking with glee. George whispered, "Interesting reaction."

Fred raised any eyebrow, "Not entirely unexpected."

"Not entirely expected, either."

"Expected Harry to jump up and attack, actually."

"Surprising side effects on both the subject and what we now know to be the object."

"We'll need to continue the dosage tonight."

"To ensure accurate results, obviously."

"We've only another day at most to spare from the shop."

"That should be enough to properly gauge the effects."

"My, my."

"Who knew?"

"We did, of course."

With that final happy thought, they Apparated back to their room. It was unclear as to whether the conversation had even occurred out loud.

###

You arrive panting at the back door, Ginny slamming into the screen just as you were about to shove it open. The Burrow seems to be the place for exhuberant youth as much as Privet Drive is the place for... well. Nothing of the kind. Pulling your shirt on as you enter, it's impossible to not notice Ron standing near Mrs. Weasley trying to reach into what ever it is she's got cooking while avoiding her slapping hand.

That is, until you walk in, when his hand slips and he yelps as he really is scalded by the substance in the burbling pot, and Mrs. Weasley yanks his hand up to ensure that it isn't serious before she tosses it at him shoves him bodily away with fond motherly reproach.

Shaking his hand out, he looks at you strangely for only a brief moment before shoving Ginny aside and asking if you want a game of chess before dinner. And before long you're in the sitting room trying hard to concentrate on the surly old chessmen and still being soundly trounced.

It's been a strange day. As if you've been watching it happen from the outside in, and the emotions that should come with it are on hold until you can be sure which ones you're planning on unleashing. Unsettling really.

Ron slides his lanky arm around your shoulders and drags you towards the dining room at his mother's call to dinner, careful to release you before you go through the door. The twins are nowhere to be seen and you set yourself to helping with the table, immediately suspicious. Ginny, on the other hand is meekly setting out glasses and pitchers of water and lemonade. Or at least, in a manner that is as meek as Ginny gets anymore, which only serves to heighten your unease.

Despite your mostly-unbased paranoia, dinner, as well as the remainder of the evening pass without incident, and eventually Mr. and Mrs. Weasley retire without shooing everyone off to bed, likely knowing full well that the summer heat will incite you to do whatever you will anyway.

###

Outside again, the twins bring a case of butterbeer and you don't think to question it, which when you notice their smirks are more pronounced than usual, it seems that may have been ill-advised after all... but it's too late to worry now. The five of you relax, enjoying the temperate weather without having much to say, but it is still near midnight before the slight chill finally forces you all to bed.

Bed but not sleep, apparently, as you lie awake trying to decide what indeed, the bloody hell.

A creaking bedspring alerts you to the fact that Ron is not sleeping either, so you decide you might as well fill the time wisely and speak.

"So. Who do you think Dumbledore got to teach Defense this term?"

He doesn't answer and after a few moments, you're worried. Maybe the strangeness wasn't just you. Or maybe you imagined the noise. At any rate, you decide to try one more time.

"Ron?"

Another creak and you can see that he's risen to his feet, but still not speaking. Now you're beginning to be a little creeped out. You rise to your elbows but say nothing as he approaches and lies down next to you, eyes still completely shut... as opposed to yours which are wide and staring. That familiar lanky arm curls around your waist and pulls you closer and he grins in his sleep, settling his head on the pillow next to yours and becoming still again.

And the extent of your thoughts at this point in time no longer matter, because those feelings you've been holding onto all day seem to have washed over you as easily as that grin spread across his face. It's never occurred to you that this would be how it started, or that it ever would, but it's clear that this, whatever it is, is far more than alright.

Reaching out slowly, you brush a stray bit of fringe from his forehead, amazed that this is the first time that it has ever occurred to you to try it. Your hand traces the lines of his cheek and jaw, and something possesses you to run your thumb along his lips and apparently that does it. His eyes snap open and he executes another comic backpedal, this one sending him over the edge of the bed and onto the floor.

"Harry, what?!" Is all he can manage to say.

This simply cannot be happening. But it has and it's yours, and damned if you'll let it slip away. You lean over the edge of the bed, smiling with more courage than you feel and say, "You came to my bed again. I thought... I think I kind of liked it."

And there it is. He can either run screaming or come back.

Running screaming doesn't sound like too bad an idea at the moment, and you clamp your shaking leg to the wall behind you as discreetly as possible. But he's staring at you with that confused-surprised-what-the-bloody-hell face that you realize now is one of your favorite things in the entire world. And just as you decide you should say something else, he shuts his mouth and looks down and murmurs, "yeah?"

Your leg stops shaking for a fraction of a second before resuming a mad thrum now in tune with your heart. It is apparent that running and screaming is not on the horizon, but you certainly aren't sure if that's an improvement yet. "Yeah." And as your face is threatening to break wide open from the grin that's taken over, you add, "so get off of the floor already."

His hands come off of the floor, one covering his mouth a moment while he looks shocked some more, and then he stands and hovers next to your bed for a minute. You sit back against the wall as he gingerly sets himself down, not quite looking at you-- arm drifting in the air, unsure of what to do with it before finally settling for cramming it up against his chest. It's kind of funny, really. You'd laugh if you weren't busy staring at him, trying to figure out really what was going on in his head.

Actually, you'd laugh if you were capable of any kind of audible sound except a small hissed intake of air as your toes brush against his leg. And then it's inevitable, really; you've caught his attention and now he's returning the look, and dear god-- what is that look? In the six years you've been joined at the hip, you have no idea what that means.

You've no idea. But it occurs to you that his arm looks uncomfortable as well as cartoonish. So you do the only logical thing. you reach out and take it and pull it closer. And you don't remove your own.

It's nice really. How cocoa is nice.

Ok, that's bullshit. This is nice like you've never known. This is fucking brilliant and you're an utter idiot for never having said or done anything earlier.

And of course, now that you'd like to say something, you're all out of brilliant ideas.

"So. Who do you think Dumbledore got to teach Defense this term?"

Sometime as he laughs quietly and buries his face in the pillow before hazarding a response, you find yourself breathing again. Sometime during the answer the tops of your feet find their way against his warm leg, followed by your shins and knees. To your amazement, there's more talking, and you hear stories and opinions you'd never heard and feel stupid that you thought you were an expert in the study of one Ronald Weasley.

Sleep is no longer an option.

###

Fred and George sat outside and on opposite sides of Ron and Harry's door sharing a look of utter disgust. Standing simulaneously, they trudged to their room; half-slamming the door. George landed sprawled on his bed, but began speaking as soon as he knew Fred had set up the Quick Quotes Quill.

"Operation Clueless Guinea Pig, Part Three - Day Two"

Fred sat on his own bed and stared at George. "As previously stated, Dream a Little Dream potion was intended to have effects on the sleeping subject."

"To put them in a situation as they sleep that winds up horribly embarassing when they wake."

"It is Not intended to induce the whispering of sweet nothings to the object of the subject's affection."

"Unfortunately thanks to the wonder of the Extendable Ear, we've discovered that said object of Guinea Pig three, AKA Ronald Weasley's affection unsurprisingly enough put up no resistance."

"As a result, this has been labelled a daft experiment in rushing the inevitable."

"And we shall strive to find better suited test subjects."

After a pause, George sat up. "Oi, Freddy-- When's Granger get here?"

###

Eventually his eyes and yours hang heavy, though you are loathe to stop talking or looking or creeping closer to one another. You finally gather the courage to reach out and touch the cluster of freckles on his right bicep that have mocked you for six years and find that they feel no different from the skin surrounding them, though the idea of tracing them astounds you nonetheless.

You look up as he groans low and gently in approval and find that his eyes have slid shut and he is grinning, his hand sliding closer to touch your chest barely, and before long he's snoring happily in that freight train rhythm you so miss every summer.

Smiling yourself to sleep now, left hand still holding on, it occurs to you that this is one of those times that it's still good to be you.