When Harry disappears, Ron does the only think he can think of.Disclaimer:
Angst. Barely counts as slash - preslash? Best mates? You decide.Original Author's Note:
Well, it's not UST, but I hope you like it anyway. Merry Christmas. :)Author's Note 28/05/12:
Well, this is a blast from the past! Way back in late 2008 I participated in bestmates_xmas
. This fic was a gift for my dear friend innibis
, and somehow, when reveals went up, I never got around to reposting this story and the Yule Balls fic I wrote that year to this archive.
I rediscovered the Yule Balls fic almost a year ago. This one had slipped by me until today. And it won a Best Mates Award! I had no idea.
Enjoy it; I really enjoyed writing it, and rediscovering it again. It's not cracky porn, or even shippy, really. It's about loss, healing, and self-discovery in the weeks and months after the Battle of Hogwarts.
Original story post HERE
Any questions or comments welcome, by the way! I don't know how many Potter people still have this blog on their reading filters, but I actually do remember writing this, and I remember some of the ideas I had surrounding this story. For example, I remember Harry's side of things, which isn't said in the story; it's barely hinted at. But I will tell you, if there are any curious folk who want to know. :)
Three days after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry disappears.
Ron wakes in the morning to find the bed next to his empty, and uncharacteristically neat and smooth. Harry’s taken little, if anything, with him besides his wand and his Invisibility Cloak. There’s a note on the pillow, short and unsigned.Don’t follow me. I don’t want to be found.
Harry left off the word ‘please’, but Ron reads it between the lines.~~~~~
If Ron wasn’t so shell-shocked, he’d look for Harry, but the honest truth is that he’s still deep in his own grief, and he doesn’t have the first idea where he’d go anyway. The two places Harry always ran to – The Burrow and Hogwarts – aren’t the safe havens they were. The prospect of him running back to Privet Drive is laughable, and The Leaky Cauldron is far, far too public for the hero of Wizarding Britain to lie low.
After weathering the storm of his mother’s hysterics and his father’s concern, Ron eventually does the only thing he can think of. He writes Harry a letter.We buried Fred today
, he begins, without ceremony. The wizard reading the eulogy sneezed right in the middle of it and his wig fell off. Hay fever, apparently, caused by all the flowers. My first thought was that Fred had put a Wheeze in his Order of Service. Then I remembered he was lying in that bloody box.
He doesn’t sign it. He doesn’t write begging him to come home. He just seals it, ties the letter to Pig’s leg, and trudges downstairs to pick over his dinner.
When Pig returns, two days later, there is no reply.~~~~~Hermione flew out today. I watched the aeroplane take off. And I thought flying a dragon was scary. At least you can see why a dragon stays up. And at least with brooms, you know there’s magic holding you there, keeping you in the air. This enormous thing full of metal and gears and oil and fuel shooting off into the sky just isn’t natural. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.
Ron hesitates, then adds a final line before sealing it.Still, if you were game, I’d go up in one with you.~~~~~Happy Birthday
, he writes, on the last day of July. Mum made you a cake, thinking you might turn up, even though I told her you wouldn’t.
He doesn’t add that his Mum cried when she finally gave up on Harry appearing.
Pig flies out into the night with a slice of birthday cake, wrapped carefully in waxed paper and string, held tightly in his claws. Ron hopes that the stupid bird actually delivers it, rather than dropping it, or stopping halfway to eat it.~~~~~
Sometimes, Ron gets angry. He writes incoherent epistles, spitting with rage and vitriol, venting the fury he feels at Harry, Voldemort, his family, the world, himself.
He doesn’t send them. Sometimes he gets as far as reaching to tie them to Pig’s leg, but he never, ever lets him leave. Instead, he shreds the parchment into tiny pieces, like confetti, and holds it in his palms out of the window, letting the night air carry it away, one fragment at a time.~~~~~I thought maroon was bad
, Ron confides. Magenta is ten times worse. I look like the worst kind of prat, but George says the uniform’s non-negotiable. I’d tell him to shove it, but he’s paying me, and working at the shop’s not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I kind of like it. Gets me out of my head a bit. Stops me brooding.
He’s inching towards too-personal, so he changes subject abruptly.Don’t know if you’re anywhere with news, but the Prophet’s saying that you’re off soaking up sun on one of the Greek islands. Ridiculous, I know, but it’s bloody freezing here already. It’s going to be a hard winter, even in the South. I hope you are somewhere warm.
Then, because he can’t help himself, he ends it with I miss you.
He sends Pig winging out into the night before he can change his mind and tear it up.~~~~~
Two days later, Pig wakes him by landing on his head. The note he carries was written on the back of Ron’s own letter, and the writing is wobbly, as though Harry hasn’t held a quill in some time, or is weak or ill.Frosts are hard here already, though they mostly melt by midday. I go walking at dawn, some mornings, and the grass shatters under my boots like glass.
Ron writes back immediately, asking Where are you???
, but it’s too soon, and Pig comes back without a reply.~~~~~
Hallowe’en is hellish, and Ron grumbles it all out, rationalising that if nothing else, he’ll give Harry a laugh over his misfortune. Someone ought to be able to laugh about it, since he won’t be able to for another few weeks, at least.I’m never having kids. Bloody little monsters, he finishes.
The response is unexpected. Harry’s handwriting seems firmer, this time, steadier, and the words are almost teasing.Won’t Hermione have something to say about that?
Ron hasn’t thought seriously
about Hermione for… well, it must have been months.
Though they exchange regular letters that are friendly and chatty, Hermione seems pretty content half a world away, and from everything she’s said, her parents aren’t in a rush to move back to England. Hermione more or less said a few weeks ago that Australia was easier to live in, because it hadn’t been at war. She was hardly alone, out there, either. Plenty of people had emigrated over the past few years, and she’d been cheerfully forming connections with other ex-pats.
In fact, Ron can’t remember the last time she mentioned coming home.
For once, it’s Ron who doesn’t send a reply.~~~~~
At first, Ron thinks the tapping on his window is sleet. It’s squalling enough out there for it to be, certainly. Then Pig perks up and pays attention, and he realizes that the tapping is far too regular. Opening the window admits a whole lot of snow, icy air and a rather offended looking barn owl, who perches on the footboard of his bed and preens her ruffled feathers back into alignment, before holding out her leg like a queen offering her hand to a subject.
The parchment is damp and ragged at the edges, but the writing is legible.What do you want for Christmas? Don’t say nothing, or I’ll send you a sack of coal.
It’s so normal, so regular. And yet it makes his throat catch. It’s the first unsolicited message from Harry since that morning in May, when Ron woke up alone.
The morning dawns bright, cold and clear. There is a thin layer of snow coating everything like sugar, and it looks slightly unreal, slightly too perfect. Ron knows that by mid-afternoon the snow will be mushy and grey, but right now it’s glittering like crystal.You. Just you
, he writes, then adds, I’ll understand if you can’t stay.
The strange owl flies away with the note, and Ron puts on his garish robes for work.~~~~~
It’s past nine on Christmas Eve when Ron hears the garden gate creak. He’s had a bit to drink, so it takes a few moments for the sound to sink in, and nobody else seems to notice it at all. He makes some vague noises about needing fresh air, and slips out of the house into the dark and freezing night.
The yard is empty and dim, the only illumination coming from the windows. Harry won’t be in the light, he knows. He heads for the shadows over by the fence. His breath fogs in front of him, and his teeth chatter. He should have grabbed his cloak.
There’s a flicker in the corner of his eye, a ripple of movement, and then Harry is standing there, the Invisibility Cloak draped reverently over one arm.He’s taller
, Ron thinks for a moment, and then he realises that Harry isn’t. He’s thinner, even than he was a year ago, and the hollows in his cheeks and the long hair brushing his collar give the illusion of a little extra height. His glasses are different, too; the frames subtler, finer.
“You look good,” Harry says softly, and Ron almost startles at the sound. That voice, so familiar, is rougher, deeper. He wonders for a fleeting second what changes Harry sees in him.
“You look tired,” Ron replies, honestly. “You must be freezing.” Harry’s jacket is nowhere near thick enough for the bite in the air, and though it’s Harry’s size, it’s battered enough to be one of the old cast-offs Harry used to wear. “Will you come in?”
Ron doesn’t miss the panicked widening of Harry’s eyes, nor the slow, shaky breath he takes to steady himself. “Not… not yet. In a bit,” he says.
“All right,” Ron replies gently, careful to keep his voice even. Harry’s like a frightened rabbit, deciding whether or not to bolt, and Ron’s not ready to let him go, not just yet. He takes a step forward, then another, ready to back off at the slightest flinch, but Harry just watches his approach cautiously. Ron lifts his hand, slowly, so slowly, and takes Harry’s hand in his own. Harry’s fingers are like ice.
“You’re real,” Ron murmurs stupidly. “You’re really here.” He feels a hot rush of unexpected tears, and through the blur of them, Harry looks stricken. Ron squeezes Harry’s fingers tightly, as though anchoring him there, stopping him from disappearing.
Harry doesn’t run. He doesn’t pull away. He squeezes Ron’s hand back, finally, the limp, cold fingers returning the pressure, and moves a step closer until they’re chest to chest and Ron’s arm ends up around Harry. Ron takes a deep, shuddering gasp and breathes him in. Harry smells like wood smoke and unfamiliar Muggle shampoo and something that reminds him of broomstick polish; a warm, beeswaxy scent. Harry’s fists are bunched in the back of Ron’s jumper and his face is buried in Ron’s shoulder. He’s not crying, but Ron can feel the tension in those too-thin shoulders, the rigidity in his spine.
“I missed you,” Ron murmurs into Harry’s hair, and he feels some of that anxiety flutter and release. They stand like that for long minutes, just holding each other in the frigid yard. He says it almost too quietly for Ron to hear, but Harry finally replies, in a fervent whisper, “I missed you, too.”
Tags: au, fan fiction, gen, gift!fic, harry potter, pathos, pg
Current Mood: nostalgic