Conversation 1: The Opening Move.
Ron sat at the bar nervously playing with his pint. He had only recently begun to frequent Muggle bars and restaurants and had discovered that he liked the taste not to mention the easy going buzz that came along with it. Ron was having second thoughts. He couldn’t figure out how Stuart and Leopold had talked him into this; a blind date. Was there anything more pathetic? But they said they knew another gay wizard and the truth was that Ron was a bit curious. He also didn’t like having to pretend to be Muggle just to get some play. Of course his first instinct had been right. It was a gargantuan bad idea.
No fucking way! Ron thought as Draco Malfoy entered the bar and gave him what must have been a mirrored reflection of the look on his own face.
Malfoy paused a long moment and then took up the barstool at the two person table across from Ron. “Weasley.” It was more of a crude greeting than a sneer.
They looked at each other quizzically and then Draco smiled a smug little grin. They hadn’t seen each other since the end of the war almost two years earlier.
“So Stuart and Leo…” Draco began.
“We must be the only other gay wizards they know, otherwise I can’t imagine why they would put us in a room together, let alone set us up.”
“Do you know any other gay wizards?” Draco asked.
Ron thought about it for a moment. “No.”
“Neither do I.” Draco smiled. “I have to stoop to Muggles, can you believe it?”
“No, I can’t believe this,” said Ron, rubbing his face.
“What are the odds?”
“A barjillion to one?”
“That is not a word, Weasley.”
Ron quickly sucked back the rest of his beer and wiped his mouth with his hand. “Well I’ll be going now.” He slid off the barstool and started to walk away.
But then Malfoy said something that stopped him. “Who’d have thought we’d ever have something in common?”
“Not me,” Ron said kindly, and started to laugh.
“I’m kind of hungry. I think I’ll have dinner here anyway.”
Ron looked at Draco and tried to read him. It really wasn’t an invitation, but his stomach was growling. It was always growling.
“Oh join me you stupid prat,” Draco said without any animosity.
“I’m not interested,” Ron said defensively.
Draco rolled his eyes at him. “You are not my type.” Draco stood and headed to the restaurant. Ron followed him.
They sat and ordered a round of ale. Ron kept peering at Malfoy over the menu. The whole thing was a bit surreal.
Draco caught him looking and asked, “So Stuart and Leo… who were you with? You know, before they decided to buy china and play house.”
“Leo,” Ron answered not looking up from his menu.
“Both,” Malfoy answered without Ron asking him the question.
Ron finally looked up and raised an eyebrow.
“Not together,’ Draco clarified. “Although…”
“Spare me, please,” Ron said without any emotion. “I can’t believe they didn’t realise that we knew each other.”
“Or hated each other,” Draco added.
“I used to hate you. You helped Harry. I can’t hate anyone who helped Harry.”
“You live with them, right? I heard that.”
“Didn’t you and Granger…?”
“Yes, sort of. We figured out we should just be friends. It’s funny though. She’s always so careful around me when she brings dates home. She thinks she might be hurting my feelings or something.”
“And what do they think when you bring dates home?”
“They don’t know?” Draco asked somewhat surprised.
“Does Potter bring dates home?”
“Harry’s engaged to Ginny, and I don’t want to talk about him with you.”
“So no one else knows?”
“Really? No one?”
“No, and if you tell anyone, I swear I’ll…”
“Who am I going to tell?”
Draco looked right through Ron and an old familiar smirk came across his face. “You’re in love with him.”
Ron’s face turned a bright shade of red.
“I’m right aren’t I?”
Ron stood to leave.
“Oh, stop being dramatic and sit down. It’s simply intriguing that’s all.”
Ron sat back down.
Draco’s tone softened as he said, “Not that I believe in romance and true love and all that rubbish, but don’t you think he might…”
“He’s straight and very much in love with my sister,” Ron declared.
“I’m sure. Now drop it,” Ron said angrily.
The waitress came and they ordered dinner. Ron kept looking at Draco but couldn’t quite make conversation. “So when did you know? You know?” Ron finally asked.
“After the war, Pansy tried to get back together with me and I realised that I didn’t want to. I figured that if I didn’t want Pansy’s tight arse, then I must be gay.”
Ron gave Draco a look of disbelief.
“Fine then. I knew at school. I had always fancied guys, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it in school or during the war. What about you?”
Ron couldn’t believe that he was actually telling Draco Malfoy about his sexuality. “After the war I started to hang out in bars. I was determined to get some play. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was looking at the blokes and not the women.”
“No. Aside from one date with Leo, I’ve just gone out with Muggles. After a few dates, it would get to the point when they would know I was hiding something and I didn’t want to tell them, so I’d break it off. Otherwise just a pull here and there.”
“I go to the clubs. I’ve never seen you.”
“I don’t go out much.”
“You’re still such a prick.”
“But not a Dark wizard,” Draco said carefully.
“I was there. I know which side you came down on.” Ron paused a respectful moment to think about the last days of the war. “So what do you do now?”
“I am the last of the Malfoy’s. I live a life of leisure. Besides, there aren’t many jobs for ex-Death Eaters. You? There must be all sorts of demand for war heroes.”
“I work with Fred and George.”
“At that joke shop?”
“Three joke shops,” Ron corrected proudly.
“You’re doing well, then?” Draco asked.
“Yeah, I suppose I am.”
After dinner they walked to a secluded alley so they could each Apparate home.
Ron looked at Draco thoughtfully and said, “This was…weird.”
“What? No goodbye kiss?”
Draco smiled and Disapparated.
Conversation 2: Testing the Waters
Harry was lying on the couch reading when Ron arrived back home.
“Hey, did you go out after work?” Harry asked, looking up from his Quidditch magazine.
“Out with some guys from Diagon Alley,” Ron answered nonchalantly. He walked to the couch and sat by Harry’s feet. “Can I ask you something?”
“Do you think that people can change?”
“How many drinks did you have?”
“Two.” Ron thought for a moment and then remembered. ”No, three. Seriously, do you think that people can change?”
“Are you speaking theoretically, or about yourself, or someone specific?”
“Are you sure it was only three drinks?” Harry asked suspiciously.
“Yes. Why can’t we have this conversation?”
“Fine. People can change,” Harry stated, then looked at Ron solemnly. “Have you changed? Has something changed?”
“Me? No. Same old me.”
“Me?” Harry asked curiously.
“No, not you.”
“Ginny?” Harry asked nervously.
“No,” Ron answered exasperated.
“Why are we having this conversation?”
“I just wanted to know if you thought it possible, cause I’m not so sure.”
“Of course people change. We change everyday. We just don’t notice.”
Harry became philosophical. “Think of it this way. Let’s say we met first year at Hogwarts just like we did, then let’s say you moved away and the next seven years you didn’t see me. If we met again today, would you think I had changed?”
“I helped you figure something out without Hermione.”
Ron laughed and threw a pillow at Harry, who ducked just in time.
Harry smiled and asked, “Fancy a game of chess?”
Conversation 3: Setting Up Support
The following week, Leo and Stuart asked Ron over for dinner. Leo immediately brought up the date. “I had no idea you knew Draco at school?”
“Yeah,” Stuart chimed in. “I thought you were three or four years older.”
“You’re thinking of Percy.”
“Oh,” Stuart replied. “Which Weasley was your year?” he asked Leo.
“I vaguely remember him. I was in my fifth year, when you lot started.” Stuart smiled at Ron. “There’s just too many to keep track, how do you do it?”
“We wear name tags,” Ron said dryly.
“Anyway,” Leo sat them all down to dinner with a bottle of wine, “Draco said that you hated him.”
“We used to fight a lot,” Ron admitted.
“Really?” Stuart snickered. “How delicious.”
“No, it wasn’t. He was an elitist prick; still is, I imagine.”
“He’s not so bad now,” Leo replied fondly. “Still stuck up, but he does has his moments.”
“No, he set me up with Stuart.”
“Really?” Ron asked surprised.
“Really. We had each been out with him.” Stuart began to tell the story.
“Only once, of course,” Leo added. “Draco is strict about that rule.”
Stuart continued. “Anyway. He knew us both and figured we’d make a cute couple and that’s why he fixed us up.”
“When was this?” Ron inquired.
“About a year ago,” Leo answered.
“A year next Saturday,” Stuart clarified with a big smile.
“Congrats,” Ron replied. “So only a month after our date?” Ron asked Leo.
“Yeah, well you never called back,” Leo said mockingly. “Or told me your real name.”
“Sorry, I was… very confused then,” Ron replied sheepishly. “But it all worked out.”
“Absolutely,” Leo answered, and gave Stuart a quick kiss on the cheek.
Stuart continued the story. “Yes, and then six months ago, Draco backed the gift shop.”
“Draco?” Ron asked in incredulously.
“Yes, the three of us were walking in Diagon and saw the empty store. We mentioned how it would be brilliant to open a gift shop and be self-employed et cetera. Next thing we knew, he bought the building and we were moving in.”
Leo added to Stuart’s telling of the story, “Yes, and imagine my surprise when I met Ron Weasley at the shop two doors down.”
Ron lowered his eyes to his plate.
Leo continue., “Draco may fuck around like there’s no tomorrow, but he is a good friend. He deserves something more.”
“So that’s why you tried to set us up?” Ron asked.
Leo smiled. “Sort of. It’s not like there are a lot of gay wizards and both of you seemed a bit lonely.”
“I find it hard to believe that Draco Malfoy is lonely.”
After studying Ron for a minute, Leo finally asked, “Why would you say that?”
“He’s always had money, the Malfoy name, a following of Slytherins, and now apparently every Muggle in London.”
Leo clarified, “That’s not what he has now. His family’s dead. He’s all alone in that giant house. Sure he has the money, but the name certainly makes him a pariah, the friends are gone or dead, and I assure you the Muggles are gone by morning.”
Stuart asked Ron, “Do you know what happened to him?”
“Sort of. I know he helped the Order get into the compound for the final battle.”
Stuart replied, “I’m not going to tell you the whole story, because that’s Draco’s business. But just imagine your own father subjecting you to the Cruciatus. Sure Draco likes to act like he’s on top of the world, but I assure you, it’s all an act.”
Ron thought about this solemnly. It was something that he had never had to think about before. After a lull in the conversation, Leo quickly changed the subject so they could enjoy the rest of their dinner.
Conversation 4: Expand into Dangerous Territory
The following Saturday, Draco wanted to take Leo and Stuart out for their anniversary, and Ron agreed to their invitation to join them. It started with drinks and dinner and then moved to a Muggle gay dance club that Ron had only been at once before. Ron was still somewhat uncomfortable around Malfoy so he compensated with immense amounts of alcohol. He had much more fun that way. He actually danced and had a good time. Malfoy turned out to be fun. He was attractive which led to many other attractive men to dance with. Ron noted that Malfoy was a good dancer and that he was witty. He also had an acute sense of observational humor regarding the world as it played around him. It was completely different not being the object of Malfoy’s wrath. Ron was surprised to find that he enjoyed his company.
Unfortunately, by the end of the evening, Ron was virtually incoherent, the side effect of far too much Muggle alcohol. Being that Leo and Stuart deserved to be alone on their anniversary, Draco reluctantly agreed to Apparate Ron home. Only he had no idea where Ron lived so he took him to Malfoy Manor instead. Draco levitated a passed out Ron into a guest room and tucked him in.
When he woke, Ron was in a strange bed. He looked around the room. It was quite lovely. His wand was on a nightstand and his shoes were on the floor. He vaguely remembered Malfoy helping him out of the club. It had to be Malfoy Manor. He got up and looked about the room. There were three doors. The first one he tried was a closet.
“Oh, please be a bathroom,” he said, trying the second door.
It was. Ron relieved himself and washed up prior to exiting through the third door. He walked through the long halls of the Manor. After twenty minutes he realised he was lost. He conjured his Patronus and sent it out to find Malfoy. A few minutes later, Tinker the house-elf showed up to take him to breakfast.
Ron arrived in the dining room to find Malfoy in a black silk dressing gown reading the Daily Prophet. Malfoy barely looked up and motioned for Ron to take a seat.
“Coffee or tea, sir?” Tinker asked.
The house-elf served him coffee and Ron took one of the croissants from the basket on the table and smothered it in jam.
Ron studied Malfoy for a moment then asked, “You really live like this?
“Billionaire playboy,” Malfoy stated as if reminding Ron.
Ron finished his croissant and made as if to leave. “Well, thanks. I had a little too much to drink last night.”
Malfoy snickered. “I think you have an odd definition of little.”
Ron rolled his eyes.
Malfoy stood. “Well I’m going for a swim. Care to join me?”
“It’s a bit cold a outside don’t you think?”
“Inside you twit.”
“I try to swim laps every day. Need to keep my figure.”
“Why not? Besides I need to keep in shape, and I hate those stupid gyms, all that Muggle sweat and BO. I like my sweaty Muggles one at a time thank you.”
Ron smiled and quietly followed Malfoy through the Manor. Malfoy led him to an incredible room containing an Olympic size swimming pool and a hot tub.
“The Muggles must love this.” Ron smiled.
“The Muggles do not come here,” answered an annoyed Malfoy. “I take Muggles to my London flat where there is lager and water in a refrigerator and condoms and lube in a night stand. That is all.”
“Aren’t you the charmer?”
Malfoy ignored the comment and pointed to a door to the left. “You can change in there. I think there should be an extra suit or two.”
Malfoy then pulled off his robe to reveal a dark green Speedo. He tossed the robe over a deck chair, took two long strides and dove into the pool. Ron swore that he had never seen anything that graceful. He watched as Malfoy swam a few laps and then he headed to the dressing room to change. Ron was too tired and hung over for swimming but a soak in the hot tub sounded perfect.
The hot tub was magnificent. Ron sat back and closed his eyes. After a short time, Malfoy joined him. Ron watched him curiously as he entered the tub.
“What?” Malfoy asked.
“You just seem different.”
“Oh.” Malfoy sat and relaxed against the back of the tub for a minute before stretching his right shoulder out and rubbing it.
“Yeah, just a little sore. I think I pushed myself a little too hard this morning.”
“Would you like me to rub it?” Ron couldn’t believe he had just offered. But he had, so he looked at Malfoy in as platonic a way as possible.
“Are you making a pass?” Malfoy teased.
“No,” said Ron defensively.
“Well okay then,” Malfoy said, turning his back to Ron and scooting into his reach.
Ron gently rubbed Malfoy’s neck and shoulders.
“Mmm, that’s nice. Thank you,” Malfoy said with his eyes closed.
“Sure.” Ron kept rubbing as he eyed the Dark Mark on Malfoy’s arm. “Can I ask you something?”
“Is there any possible way I might stop you?”
“I’ve always wondered…” Ron stumbled on how to phrase the question.
“You want to know why I switched sides.”
“Yes. Sorry, I can’t help it.”
“If I tell you, can we be done with it?”
“Meaning, it won’t be hanging over our heads and we can be friends.”
“Sorry, figure of speech.”
“No, I suppose we’re friends,” Ron said slowly.
“Goody for me.”
A silent moment passed and Ron continued to work the knots out of Malfoy’s upper back.
“After I left Hogwarts I was hidden with my mother and Aunt Bellatrix. I didn’t really do much of anything for months. Then one day I was called to go on a mission. It was some silly raid for some old artifacts. Everything went okay. Then I did nothing for another month or two. It was unnerving to say the least. I was called for another raid. Only this time there were Aurors there.” He paused for a moment.
Ron continued to gently rub Malfoy’s shoulder. Malfoy spoke staring straight ahead at the wall.
“I ran. An Auror followed me, but I doubled back and got the jump on her. I had her wand in my hand and my wand at her throat. I had orders to kill.”
Ron gulped and rested his hands on the top of Malfoy’s shoulders.
Malfoy continued without emotion. “I couldn’t do it. She sensed it. She told me she was my cousin.”
“Tonks?” Ron asked incredulously, removing his hands.
“Yeah. You know her?” Malfoy asked, turning to face him.
“Yeah.” Ron answered, and looked Malfoy square in the eyes.
“I lowered my wand and handed hers back. She handed me a Galleon and said that it would get hot when she had a message for me. Then she Disapparated. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I had just been recruited as a spy.”
Malfoy moved across the hot tub and sank in deep to his neck. Ron continued to watch him intently and willed himself to keep his mouth closed.
It was a minute before Malfoy went on. “I put the coin in my pocket and tried not to think about it. Several weeks later, I felt it burning in my pocket. There was a time and coordinates. I had about an hour to debate what I was going to do. I decided that Dumbledore was right and that I was no killer. There was a debt that I owed him. I met her. Professor Lupin was there too. He asked me if I truly wanted to help. I told him that I did. He said the next time the Galleon got hot I had to lower the Wards around the South Tunnels of the compound.”
Ron stared at Malfoy his eyes questioning. “I heard you helped the Order break into Death Eater Headquarters. I had a hard time believing it after what happened at…”
Malfoy cut him off. “Yes, I see the irony.”
“And then?” Ron asked.
Malfoy smiled for the first time since he began his story. “Oh you know the rest. Harry Potter wins. The world is saved. I got a pardon and a hefty fine.”
“Well that’s not what the Ministry called it. They called it an estate transfer tax, since my parents died in the final battle on the wrong side.”
“Still, a 21% tax on 1.3 billion leaves well over a billion,” Malfoy said with a smug grin.
Ron’s mouth was agape. “You’re really worth that much?
“No, that’s what some stupid Muggle magazine published.”
“I’m worth three times that.” Malfoy’s eyes were gleaming.
Years ago Ron would have wanted to hit Malfoy, but now he couldn’t help but laugh. Malfoy made to get out of the hot tub. Ron realized that Malfoy had not mentioned what happened with his father. He decided not to press the issue.
They got dressed and Malfoy walked Ron to the front gates. It was a strange and awkward goodbye.
“So I guess I’ll be seeing you around,” Ron stammered.
“Sure,” Malfoy replied nonchalantly.
“Thanks for last night.”
Malfoy smiled. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that when it wasn’t referring to sex.”
Ron laughed. “Don’t you have friends stay over?”
Malfoy regarded Ron strangely for a minute and then said, “I guess we are friends. I should have nailed you that first night when I had the chance.”
“You mean been nailed by me.”
“I do not bottom,” Malfoy said indignantly.
“Sure you don’t,” Ron replied, then quickly Disapparated proud of the fact that he managed to get the last word.
Conversation 5: Fix a past mistake
Over the next two months, Ron forged a casual friendship with Draco. This typically included drinks with Leo and Stuart after work on Saturday nights and then a club or two. They talked and joked and ogled other guys. Much to his surprise, Ron discovered that their old habit of taunting each other had been replaced by merciless flirting. Of course it wasn’t really a competition, for Ron would even admit that Draco was far superior to him when it came to the art of verbal seduction. As the night wore on Draco would, however, focus his attention on some handsome young thing on the dance floor. The night usually ended with Draco taking some random Muggle to his London flat and Ron returning to his quiet roommates at Grimmauld Place. Ginny usually slept over on Saturdays and she and Harry would be long asleep by the time Ron came home. Even on weekends, Hermione was early to bed and early to rise.
Then one Saturday night Ron had several drinks with the Leo, Stuart and Draco before returning home shortly after midnight. He was surprised to find Hermione and Harry having tea in the kitchen.
“What are you two doing up?” Ron asked them innocently.
“Tea?” Hermione asked Ron.
“Nah, I’ve had a few and really should be getting to bed.”
“Could you talk for a minute?” Hermione asked him.
Ron recognized the tone. It was her “we need to have a serious discussion” tone.
“Okay,” he answered, and took a seat at the table with them. Harry wouldn’t meet his eyes. It was a bit unnerving.
Hermione looked to Harry as if to signal that he should proceed.
“So, umm, tonight,” Harry began, “Bill asked Ginny to baby-sit, so I stopped by Diagon Alley to see if you wanted grab a drink or something. George told me that I should try the gift shop.”
Ron studied Harry’s face, but was unsure where this conversation was headed. Just the same he was nervous.
Harry continued. “I saw you there with Draco Malfoy.”
“Oh,” Ron said almost relieved.
“Oh?” Hermione questioned him. “That’s all… oh.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Ron explained. “You know I’m friends with Stuart and Leo. They happen to be friends with Draco.”
“Draco?” Hermione inquired as to the use of Malfoy’s first name.
“Were they in Slytherin?” Harry asked.
“No, Leo was in Ravenclaw, and Stuart was in Hufflepuff.”
“And Malfoy is friends with them?” Hermione asked in disbelief.
“He’s not so bad.” Ron found it amusing that he was defending Draco Malfoy. “He backed the gift shop for Stuart and Leo, sort of how you helped Fred and George,” Ron directed at Harry.
“Are you dating him?” Hermione asked him point blank.
Ron face went white. He stared from Hermione to Harry and back again. In a panic he responded, “No, why would you ask that?”
Hermione looked at Harry who seemed to be reading his tea dregs. She then looked up at Ron with caring eyes and said, “Because Harry saw Leo and Stuart kissing. You do hang out with them quite a bit…”
“Oh,” was all that Ron could manage.
Hermione put her hand on top of Ron’s across the table. Her eyes were filled with concern. Ron looked over at Harry who briefly met his eyes. They questioned him and somehow willed Ron to tell them. “Yes, they’re gay and so is Malfoy and…” Ron gulped and caught Hermione’s stare. “so am I. I’m sorry I didn’t’ tell you. I just didn’t know what to say.”
Hermione got up from her chair and pulled Ron up and into her arms. Ron looked over to Harry. “I didn’t mean to keep it a secret.” Hermione released him and they sat back down.
Gently Hermione asked Ron, “How long have you known?”
“A little over a year. You had talked about not being so dependent on each other and getting on with our lives. So I started to go out on my own and I just sort of figured it out.” Ron turned his attention to Harry. “Are you okay with this mate?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Harry quickly responded. “I’m not sure why you didn’t think you could tell us.”
“Not sure. There aren’t a lot of queer Wizards.” Ron met Harry’s gaze and tried to discern if there might have been something he missed. It was wishful thinking on Ron’s part, but just the same he had to do it.
“I guess not. I wouldn’t know,” Harry replied. There was an uncomfortable silence then Harry asked the question that Ron had been expecting. ”Ron, you don’t think that I…?”
“No, Harry, I don’t. We’re best mates. You’re in love with Ginny. I get that.”
Harry smiled in relief.
Ron continued. “Look, I’m glad you know now. Only I’m fairly drunk and really want to go to bed. Give me a couple weeks to tell my family, okay?” Ron looked right at Harry. “I’ll tell Ginny first that way you won’t have to lie or anything.”
Ron stood and Hermione got up and hugged him again.
“We love you no matter what,” she said in his ear.
Ron smiled back at the both of them before making his way to his room.
Conversation 6: Opening a Second Front
It was almost noon by the time Ron crawled out of bed. He really didn’t feel like talking to Harry and Hermione. Grabbing his broom, he snuck out and headed to Malfoy’s.
Ron was let in by Tinker and waited for Draco in the entrance hall.
“Up for some flying?” Ron asked cheerfully as Draco approached.
Draco eyed him carefully before asking, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Ron lied.
“You’ve never just shown up here before.”
“I need a reason?”
“No,” answered Draco suspiciously. “Wait here. I’ll get my broom.”
Draco returned ten minutes later with his broom and wearing a Quidditch practice uniform. Ron couldn’t help but eye Draco’s lean physique. Draco led Ron outside and around to the back gardens.
“I lied,” Ron admitted, looking out at the lush gardens and green hillsides. “There is something going on.”
Draco walked over to a stone bench and sat down. He motioned for Ron to join him.
Without looking at Draco, Ron spit out, “I came out to Harry and Hermione last night.”
“Really?” Draco asked honestly surprised.
“Actually, Harry saw us with Stuart and Leo last night just before we went to dinner. He and Hermione were waiting up for me.”
“They confronted you?”
“Sort of,” Ron said softly. “It really wasn’t that bad. They sort of cornered me into it, but they were really good about it.”
“I went to bed.”
“And I avoided them this morning and came here.”
Draco laughed quietly.
“It’s not funny,” Ron snapped at him.
“I’m sorry.” Draco continued to laugh. “You’re avoiding them and coming to see me. If you can’t see the humour in that…”
Ron smiled at him. “Okay, yeah, irony, I get it.”
Draco stopped laughing. “So they were fine with it?”
“Well Hermione was great about it.”
“Of course she was great about it. At this moment, she’s the happiest witch in England.”
“Ex-girlfriends are always thrilled to find their ex is gay. She’s vindicated. It wasn’t her. It was you.” Draco barked an odd laugh. “What about the great Harry Potter?”
“Don’t call him that,” Ron said without any animosity. “He seemed okay, maybe a little nervous. I asked for them to give me a little time to tell my family.”
“You’re going to tell them?”
“Yeah. Ginny will be easy. I’ll tell her first. Mum and dad will be the hardest. My brothers will tease me mercilessly for the rest of my life.” Ron paused a moment then looked at Draco and asked, “Would you have told your parents?” Ron then clarified, “If the world was different?”
“I suppose,” Draco answered, not meeting Ron’s eyes. “It’s easier because they’re dead. But if I’m being truthful, I would have wanted that other world. The one without the Dark Lord, a world where I still get to have Sunday dinners with my parents. Even if it meant I’d have to get married and produce an heir to please them. Even if it meant I’d have to have affairs with men on the side.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
“It’s okay.” Draco looked up at Ron and gave a smile with sad eyes. He then stood and took his broom in hand. “Let’s fly.”
They spent the next hour speeding above the gardens and empty hillsides by Malfoy Manor. Ron had worked up a sweat and was tired when he landed beside Draco. “I’m knackered. We should call it a day.”
“Yeah,” Draco said in between laboured breaths.
“You all right?” Ron asked, noticing that Draco was having trouble breathing.
“Need… a minute…” Draco continued to breath heavy and dropped his broom to the ground.
“Your hands are shaking,” Ron commented.
Draco sat down on the grass and closed his eyes. “I’ll be fine in a minute.”
Sitting beside Draco, Ron gently placed his hand on Draco’s back and could feel the other man’s breathing begin to steady. After a few minutes, Draco stood and picked up his broom.
“Let’s get some dinner,” Draco stated as he walked to the front gates.
“What was that?” Ron called after him.
“Nothing, just overexerted myself.”
Ron grabbed Draco’s arm and spun him around. “That wasn’t nothing.”
“That,” Draco spat angrily, “was my little reminder.”
Draco took a deep breath. “Of the war, of my father, it’s a remnant of Cruciatus curse.”
Ron met Draco’s grey eyed stare. He couldn’t quite figure out what to say.
Draco continued. “You don’t know what happened to me, do you?”
Ron shook his head.
“Come inside.” Draco started to walk towards the front door. “I need a drink. Then I’ll tell you.”
Ron Followed Draco into the study. Draco poured two large glasses of whiskey and handed one to Ron. They sat on the couch facing each other. After a few silent sips, Draco began, “I told you how I helped the Order get into the compound.”
“Well my father found me a few minutes after I had let them in. He could sense something was up and realised that the wards were down. He wanted to know what was going on.”
Ron slowly sipped what was a fine single malt scotch and hung on Draco’s every word.
“I refused to say anything. Before I realised what was happening, he drew his wand and hit me with the Cruciatus curse. Not pleasant. He kept demanding that I tell him what I was up to and kept hitting me with the curse. Moody showed up after the fourth or fifth round and killed him.”
“I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, Draco.”
Draco searched Ron’s eyes and asked him pointedly, “Why are you sorry?”
Ron could feel his temper rise as he spoke. “I’m sorry your father hurt you. I’m sorry he almost killed you. And I’m sorry about the whole fucking war and I’m glad it’s over.”
“Me too,” Draco said resolutely.
After draining the rest of his glass, Draco stood and walked to the hall. “Come on, dinner must be ready by now.”
Dinner was accompanied by a fine bottle of Cabernet and Quidditch talk. Ron purposefully avoided any serious topics. After, Draco asked Ron to play a game of chess. They retired to the salon and had a brandy while they played. It was one the most beautiful sets Ron had ever seen. It was distracting to his game. Still, in the end he beat Draco in a very close game that could have gone either way.
“You’re much better than I thought you’d be.” Draco gave a faint smirk and took a long sip of brandy.
“Is that a compliment?” Ron asked with a dash of sarcasm.
“Fine, yes, you’re a good player.”
Ron grabbed his heart and mimed falling back into his chair. Draco rolled his eyes.
Sitting back up straight to help Draco reset the board, Ron said, “You’re pretty good too. You’re much better than Harry.”
“Oh yes, the love of your life. Imagine that,” Draco said, diverting his eyes from Ron.
Assuming a defensive posture, Ron countered, “I don’t feel that way. Harry is like a brother. In three months he will be my brother. I love him, but it’s not like I want to kiss him… or fuck him.”
Draco’s eyes met Ron’s on those last provocative words. The tension was palpable.
Ron leaned over the chessboard closer to Draco’s face. “You on the other hand….”
Pulling Draco’s face closer by the chin, Ron ghosted a soft kiss over Draco’s lips. Ron then reached around the back of Draco’s neck and pulled him in tighter. For a brief moment Draco returned the kiss, then suddenly pulled away
“Don’t,” whispered Draco.
Ron was perplexed. “I thought… you felt it too.”
Ron leaned in for another kiss only to have Draco stand and back away.
“No,” Draco said softly.
“Why?” Ron asked calmly, then watched the anger swell through Draco’s face.
“I don’t need Harry Potter’s cast offs!” Draco barked.
“Draco? How can you say that?” Ron asked, hurt by the accusation. “I am not Harry’s cast off.”
“Tell yourself that.”
“No, Draco. I was sixteen with a crush on my best friend. I’m no more Harry’s cast off than Hermione’s.”
“You think that’s going to be a selling point with me?” Draco asked snidely.
“Everyone is someone’s cast off. Why are you doing this?” Ron searched Draco’s eyes, but found no answer.
Draco took a deep breath and spoke calmly, “Look, you’ve been through a lot today and so have I. I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Tinker!” The elf appeared with a loud crack. “Please show Mr. Weasley to the guest room overlooking the gardens.”
Incredulously, Ron stared after him. “Draco?”
“Goodnight Ron.” Draco turned and walked out of the parlor.
Ron yelled after him, “You can sleep if you want but this conversation isn’t through.”
Deciding that he was either too drunk or too tired to go home, Ron stayed in the guest room. He woke fairly late in the morning and found that Draco had already had his breakfast and gone for his morning swim. Ron asked Tinker to set up his breakfast by the pool, where he sat at a small patio table and watch Draco’s lithe form cut through the water. After twenty minutes, Draco stopped at Ron’s side of the pool and eyed him curiously.
“Weasley, we’re fine. We’re still friends. Go home,” Draco yelled to Ron.
Ron got up and walked over to the edge of the pool. “I will. I just want you to think about something. You’re wrong about me being Harry’s cast off. He hasn’t been hanging out with us these past few months. He hasn’t been involved at all. My friendship with you and Stuart and Leo has nothing to do with Harry. It’s mine… ours. Whatever hang up you still have about Harry Potter, well that’s your issue. Don’t put me in the middle of it.”
Draco diverted his eyes from Ron’s. “Fine.”
“I’ll think about it,” Draco said evenly, then dove under the water. He resurfaced in the middle of the pool and resumed his laps.
Conversation 7: War
Ron Floo’d home to find Harry waiting for him in the living room.
“I’m glad you’re home. We need to talk,” Harry said in a most serious tone.
“Harry, I told you the other night, I don’t have…”
“No, not that.”
“Then what?” Ron asked, searching Harry’s expression for some clue.
“I don’t want there to be any more secrets,” Harry said nervously.
“What are you talking about?”
“I slept with Hermione,” Harry admitted softly.
“When? Last night?” Ron was confused and horrified.
“No, a long time ago. Ginny knows.”
Ron could feel the anger boiling in his stomach. “While we were dating?”
“No, the summer, just before we left for Godric’s Hollow,” Harry answered with his eyes full of guilt.
“What?” Ron asked incredulously.
“You were at the Burrow one night and we didn’t plan it or anything. I was lonely and scared and it just happened. It was just that one…”
“Hermione!” Ron screamed up the staircase. “Hermione!”
“Ron, it wasn’t her fault. It was mine. I didn’t want to hurt you.”
“Don’t take it out on her! It was me!”
“HERMIONE!” Ron turned back to look at Harry. “It wasn’t you who lied.”
Hermione came down the stairs. “Why are you yelling? What’s going on?”
“Did you sleep with Harry?”
“What?” She studied Ron carefully.
“Answer the fucking question!”
Hermione looked over at Harry. He mouthed to her, “I’m sorry.”
“Yes,” she answered meekly, not meeting Ron’s stern gaze.
She bit her lower lip and tears started to fall down her cheeks.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I DON’T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS.”
“I’m so sorry. I honestly thought it was better that you didn’t know.”
Ron stared at her, his breathing laboured. “It was all a lie.”
“No,” she begged.
“It was just a great big FUCKING LIE!”
“No,” she whispered feebly.
Harry approached them. “Ron, leave her alone.”
“You...” Ron stared Harry down. “...have absolutely no say in this.”
Hermione walked over to Ron and tried to touch his arm.
“Don’t you touch me, “ he commanded as he pulled away. “You knew you were my first. I thought you were mine. It was all a lie.”
“I didn’t lie. I didn’t say…”
“IT WAS A LIE!” Ron took a moment to calm down. “I can’t stay here.” He turned and stormed out the front door without another word.
Conversation 8: Mount a Defense
Ron banged large doorknocker on Malfoy Manor. Tinker let him in to the salon where he waited for her to fetch her Master.
“Back so soon?” Draco asked, strolling in casually.
“Can I stay here again tonight?” Ron asked feeling pathetic. “I don’t think I can go home.”
“Another fight? What else could there be now that they know you like cock?”
“Shut up. That’s not it.” Ron’s temper flared.
“Then what?” Draco asked.
“Harry felt the need to confess his sins.”
“This should be good.” Draco sat in the chair across from Ron.
Ron ran his hand through his hair and try to find the words. He eventually blurted out, “He and Hermione slept together.”
“Before she had slept with me.”
“Before we supposedly lost our virginity to one another.”
“Really?” Draco sounded amazed then he saw how dejected Ron looked. He changed his tone to more sympathetic. “So what are you really mad about? That he slept with her? That she slept with him? Or that she lied about it?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Do you regret losing your virginity to Granger? I mean would you have done it differently if you had known?” Draco asked him pointedly.
Ron thought for a few minutes, then finally answered, “No.”
Draco kindly said, “Shut up and go home.” Then he got up and left Ron alone.
Conversation 9: See the Board
Ron took a walk around Muggle London to calm himself down. At lunchtime, he stopped by the Leaky Cauldron for a bite before stopping by for quick hellos to Fred and George and then Leo and Stuart. It was late afternoon before he finally returned to Grimmauld Place.
The downstairs was quiet, so he headed up to the bedrooms. He looked in Hermione’s first. They were on top of the bed, in their clothes of course. Harry was holding her. She had tear tracks down her face. Ron felt a gnawing in his stomach that could only be the guilt he felt for his harshness that morning. Gently, Ron tapped on the open door. Both his friends turned and caught his eyes. He hoped they could see how horrible he felt.
“Oh Ron, come here,” Hermione sobbed as she motioned for him to join them on the bed. He toed out of his shoes and walked around the bed to sit beside her. She threw herself into his arms.
“I’m so sorry,” Ron whispered into her hair as he stroked her back.
“No, I am. I should have told you.”
“We both should have,” Harry added, and gently clasped Ron’s free hand and joined them in a three-way hug. They lingered like that for several minutes. It was Ron who broke away first.
Then Hermione shifted behind him so that he was in between her and Harry. She lay down and gently pulled him down facing her. Ron closed his eyes as he felt Harry lie down behind him. He felt Hermione brush her lips softly across his mouth and then whisper, “We love you Ron. We’re sorry for hurting you.”
Ron felt Harry kiss the back of his head and then both his friends snaked their arms around him. Ron resisted the urge to cry.
There had been many nights the previous year, when they had comforted each other like this. Many nights they had slept together in small confines. Usually, Hermione was in the middle. There had even been a few times when Harry needed to be consoled and was in the middle. As Ron lay behind him, he held Harry’s upper body and carefully kept his hips away so his body would not betray him. There was even one night when Ron thought to stick a pillow in between him and Harry.
This was the first time that they were comforting him. The first time that he had been in the middle. Ron basked in the warmth of their bodies against him. It occurred to him that this would probably be the last time they would be together like this. Their lives were changing. They fell asleep for the better part of an hour. They woke to the sound of each other’s breathing and snuggled closer.
Hermione broke the silence. “We’re too close,” she explained. “We’ve been so close all these years. And last year, we were together twenty-four seven. We were completely dependent on each other. It’s not healthy.”
Ron smiled at her and then admitted, “I know. That’s why I’ve been trying to make new friends and do my own thing sometimes.”
“I know, Ron,” she said. “I’ve been busy with work and Harry has Ginny and the wedding coming up. I’m glad you’ve found other friends. I’m glad, even if it’s Malfoy.”
Ron could feel his cheeks flush. Hermione eyed him strangely then bolted upright and clasped her hand over her mouth. “Oh god. You like Malfoy.”
Ron didn’t know what to say. So he answered a noncommittal, “Maybe.” Ron sat up and turned to Harry, who looked more in shock than he had during the final battle.
Hermione pulled Ron into another tight hug. “We will always be friends, always.”
Sitting up to join them, Harry wrapped his arms around them and concurred. “Always.”
Conversation 10: Check
The next day Ron sent an owl to Draco. It simply read:
Have you thought about it?
That evening Ron was back in the Malfoy Manor salon.
“I am not your consolation prize,” Draco said as he entered the room.
“Draco, you are nobody’s second choice.”
“Harry is not a choice.”
“And?” Draco asked with his eyebrows raised.
“I want you.”
“Only…I don’t want a one-night-stand.”
“I don’t want a one-night-stand either.”
In two long strides, Ron walked over and captured Draco’s lips in a soft kiss. Wrapping his arms around Draco’s back, Ron pulled him close as he continued to explore Draco’s mouth with his own. After several intense minutes, Draco pulled away to catch his breath.
Ron stared hard into the other man’s eyes and spoke evenly. “I can’t believe I just did that.”
“I can. I’m irresistible.”
“Shut up,” Ron said with just the barest hint of the animosity he used to have for Draco.
“Make me,” Draco responded with a gleam in his eye.
With that, Ron’s mouth closed over Draco’s again. The kiss trembled with the memory of their mutual hatred and then flowed effortlessly into their newfound attraction. Draco took Ron’s hand and led him down the hall and up two flights of stairs. Every few feet they took a break to kiss and touch. It took some time, but they eventually made it to Draco’s stateroom. Both men were in a painful state of arousal.
Silently Draco pulled off his shoes and then began to unbutton his shirt.
“Let me,” Ron whispered, and then began to thumb at the small trail of buttons, all the while kissing Draco’s neck and chest. Draco ran his hands underneath Ron’s shirt and helped to lift it over his head. Two pairs of hands explored each other’s bodies. They caressed, grabbed and pinched. As they kissed Ron realised that for the first time his kisses felt different. Kissing Draco was different from kissing the handful of blokes that he had been with. It hit Ron like a ton of bricks. These kisses had meaning.
The two men removed each other’s trousers and finally a naked Draco pushed an equally naked Ron back onto the bed. Feral eyes stared at Ron, before closing in on his body. The next thing Ron knew, Draco’s lips were on his thighs and slender long fingers were wrapped about his cock.
“Holy fuck,” Ron moaned when Draco licked across his straining erection.
Draco smiled before fully taking Ron in his mouth.
Ron moaned incoherently. The sensation of Draco sucking his cock was euphoric. After several mind blowing minutes, Ron felt Draco release him and his body slide upward. Draco pressed his skin into Ron’s and initiated another steamy kiss.
“What do you want?” Draco asked in a low and breathy voice.
Ron could tell that more than a question, it was permission. Pulling Draco tight to his body, Ron kissed him and rolled them both over onto their sides. Ron slid his cock against Draco’s. They both gasped in excitement.
Ron kissed across Draco’s jaw and down his neck and then over to his ear.
“I’m not sure,” Ron whispered.
“What do you mean?” Draco gasped and then sucked on Ron’s exposed neck.
“I’ve never…” Ron licked at Draco’s ear.
“Either way?” Draco asked incredulously.
When Draco smiled up at Ron, it was like he couldn’t believe his luck.
“There’s time,” Draco said, before reaching down and wrapping his hand around both their cocks.
“Yes,” Ron hissed against Draco’s neck.
Kisses became more frantic as Draco stroked faster and faster. They exchanged a few bites in between moans of pleasure. When Ron came, he surprised himself by calling out Draco’s name. Shortly after Draco came moaning into Ron’s mouth.
A few waves of Draco’s wand and they were clean, sated and snuggled under Draco’s covers.
“Mmmm,” Draco hummed into Ron’s ear.
“I agree,” Ron said sleepily.
The next morning Ron awoke to find Draco’s warm body next to his own. Draco was on his stomach and Ron couldn’t resist tracing his fingers down Draco’s back.
“That’s nice,” Draco sighed.
Ron placed a kiss on Draco’s shoulder and said, “I like waking up with you.”
Draco turned his head to face Ron. “I like waking up to crazy hot sex.”
Nuzzling into Draco’s neck, Ron replied, “There’s time.”