Word Count: 1,603
Warnings: Angst. Hurt Feelings. Lumpy mashed potato. Fighting. A little bit of dirty talk.
Summary: Too many people act or speak based on faulty or biased assumptions.
A/N: Two POVs in this one - first Ron, then Harry. I hope that's clear enough.
The Teapot 'verse Series
Chapter List HERE
Future Fics HERE
Teapot Cookie Fics HERE
With a new scandal to sink their teeth into, people seem to quickly lose interest in the fact that Harry and I are flagrantly queer for each other. In the space of less than a week, the flow of Howlers and vitriolic letters slow to a trickle. Harry takes The Trap back to work, along with a tin of Mum’s shortbread. (The presence of the latter makes Harry the most popular man in the Auror Department for the short space of time it takes the team of hardened professionals to demolish the treat like hungry schoolchildren.)
And of course, first George, then me, are back to working at Wheezes fulltime.
It is almost like nothing has happened. Business is good, and if we have the occasional rude customer, well, that’s just one of the joys of working in customer service. But every so often, something happens that is so jarring that it is impossible to ignore the fact that the world at large knows that I fancy blokes.
Well, one particular bloke, anyway.
Like the day I step out of the Floo to find George Scourgifying the shop front to remove a word I could decipher even with half the letters missing.
“Should have spelled this window to repel graffiti months ago,” George says casually, giving his wand one last little flick. “It used to be, I’m sure. The charms must have worn off.”
Or when parents hastily shepherd their children away when I approach them in Wheezes. That hurts. It doesn’t happen that often, really, but the first time it does, and I realise why she’d dragged the boy out the door so quickly, I hide in the back room for a good ten minutes trying not to bawl my eyes out.
Walking back out into the shop after that is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It must show on my face, because George doesn’t even harangue me for the time he’d had to work alone, as is our custom when one of us disappears for more than a few moments.
“All right, there, Ron?” he asks, almost gently.
“Fine,” I reply, attempting to sound relaxed.
“This order’s just come in, and it really needs processing before the end of the day,” he says, flapping his hand in the direction of a stack of crates near the door. “I’ll keep an eye on things out here, if you go through it.”
He is giving me an escape route and I am more grateful than I can possibly say, but before I can thank him he shoos me away, the crates levitating themselves after me.
I calm down before the first box is even sorted. I still feel horrible, but the mind-numbingly boring monotony of checking an inventory that’s in some weird hodgepodge of English and some Slavic language is soothing in a strange, indefinable way.
Friday night swings around again. The year is getting closer to half over every day, and Ginny will be coming home in two days, before taking off again a week later to travel round Ireland with Seamus.
“Finding a cheap room somewhere in Dublin to shag like bunnies, more like,” Ron sniggers.
Everyone at the Burrow seems to be eating as though it’s their last meal. The table isn’t as full as it could have been, since Bill and Fleur are absent, but it’s still pleasantly crowded. Fleur is now so big that she doesn’t walk, she waddles, and Flooing is too dangerous. Molly has just announced that she is leaving tomorrow to stay at Shell Cottage until after the baby is born, since Apolline Delacour is delayed in France, tending a sick relative.
“You’ll be fine,” Molly says, beaming at the assortment of glum faces. “Ron and George did beautifully when I was running the shop.”
“Great,” Ron says mournfully. “Another two solid weeks of burnt bangers and lumpy mash.”
I pat his arm consolingly. “I’m on early rotation at work for the next month,” I reassure him. “I’ll cook.”
He gives me a pathetic, puppy-like look of eternal gratitude.
I’m cleaning up afterwards when Percy pulls Ron aside. Over the clatter of dirty dishes I catch the phrase “help you with your public relations problem”. I know it’s rude to eavesdrop, but I can’t help myself. They’re not speaking in hushed voices, and I’m not exactly lurking outside a closed door. I’m in the same room, only a handful of feet away.
Percy is looking self-satisfied and smug. Admittedly, that’s common for Percy, but this is his ‘I’ve got a fantastic solution’ variety of smugness. “- function at the Ministry in a weeks’ time,” he continues. “- couple of nice witches in my office...already asked them...more than happy to –”
“No.” Ron’s voice is hard and angry, and it cuts Percy off mid sentence.
“Oh, don’t be obstinate, Ronald,” Percy replies impatiently. “They don’t expect anything. It’d just be for appearances’ sake. You understand, surely.”
“You’re bloody right I do,” Ron snaps. “You want me back in the closet.”
“What? Closet? I don’t-” Percy begins, baffled by the Muggle expression.
“You want me to pretend I’m not with Harry. You want people to think that I’m straight,” Ron says with distaste.
“Don’t you?” Percy responds, clearly stunned that anyone would consider the alternative. “Now that that Skeeter woman has been discredited, a few public appearances here and there by yourself and Harry in the company of some eligible witches your own age and this whole thing could blow over.”
Ron is turning a deep shade of crimson and there is an atmosphere of tension in the room like the pressure of a rising storm. “What if I don’t want it to blow over?” Ron’s voice is quiet, but menacing. “What if I don’t care that people know we’re together?”
Percy has obviously missed the dangerous tone, because he gives a little derisive laugh. “This isn’t all about you, Ronald. Think about Harry. He has a real chance at a good career, and it’d be pretty selfish of you to spoil that for him just because you don’t want to be...discreet about it.”
“Oh, I’m sure this is all about someone’s career!” Ron sneered, moving to stand very close to Percy. “What’s wrong? Does the Ministry not give promotions to the brothers of faggots?”
“Ron-” I say, moving towards the pair, but neither of them even spares me a glance.
Percy winces and reddens at Ron’s blunt aggression, but he seems frustrated now, too. “I am trying to help you! This has nothing to do with my-”
Ron brushes aside Percy’s protest. “Everything has to do with what you think is important! Career first, family second-”
Percy looks annoyed, even a touch hurt. “I have only ever tried to do what’s best for this family-”
“Siding with Death Eaters and trolls like Umbridge?” Ron retorts, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You’d rather I was married to some stupid Pureblooded bint and miserable than be with a man and the happiest I’ve ever been because it’d make you look better!” Ron’s voice is raised, and he is trembling with fury.
“That is not true!” Percy protests hotly, but a telltale expression of guilt flashes briefly across his features.
“A huge embarrassment, that’s all I’ve ever been to you!” Ron shouts.
“Ron, love-” I put my hand on his shoulder, but he shrugs it off.
“Boys?” echoes Arthur’s voice from the sitting room. I can hear the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps.
“I’ll tell you what, Percy,” Ron says, now so close their noses are almost touching and his breath is creating little patches of fog on Percy’s glasses, “you take your fabulous idea and shove it up your arse! You never know, you might just find out you like having something up there.”
“What’s going on here?” Arthur asks sharply. He, Molly and George are clustered in the doorway.
“Nothing,” Ron mutters, shouldering roughly past Percy and out of the room. I follow in his wake, avoiding the faces of the worried Molly and Arthur and the avidly curious George. As I start to climb the stairs, I hear the sharp crack of Percy Disapparating.
I walk slowly into our darkened bedroom and sit down beside Ron on the edge of his bed, my leg pressing against his, my arm slipping around his waist.
“Was he right?” Ron’s voice is small; his anger has given way to his self-doubt. “Is being with me going to stop you being an Auror?”
“No,” I say firmly. “Who you’re fucking doesn’t matter. All they really care about is that you fire your spells in the right direction and take orders. How else do you think I got in?”
It’s not much of a joke, but it’s enough to make him crack a smile. “You might still be in trouble then, mate. You’re not too good at taking orders.”
I feign hurt. “I am very good at taking orders.”
Ron just looks at me, his eyes mocking, an amused twist to his mouth.
“I am!” I insist.
He snorts disbelievingly.
“I seem to remember you thought I was very good at it last night,” I say with a pout, hoping secretly that I look alluring and not petulant, letting my fingers slide lightly up his thigh. “You were all ‘right there, Harry!’ and ‘faster, yes!’ and ‘don’t stop, please!’.”
Ron licks his lips. “Harry?” he says a little roughly.
Then Ron leans in close to brush his lips against mine, and pretty soon we’re doing something far more interesting than talking.
<- 31. Persecution c@r 33. Enlightenment ->