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LONGING (PG) BY IAMSHADOW

Title: Longing
Author: iamshadow
Ship: Ron/Harry, Ron/Hermione
Word Count: 2,990
Rating: PG
Warnings: Post DH. EWE. Angst. Hurt/Comfort. Fluff. (May induce nausea.)
Summary: Gift!fic for mrsquizzical. (Did I say I'd write you a ficlet? Of course what I meant by that is a 3,000 odd word monster that took me about two days.)

I offered to try my hand at trio fic as a thank you and this *is* technically trio, but I sort of cheated by focussing more or less exclusively on the Ron/Harry side of things. So you Ron/Harry shippers should be able to read this without fretting about het.

Stories in the Longing 'verse


When people look at us now, they probably think we were always this way. Or that it started a lot earlier than it really did. They most likely bring up that year during the War when it was just the three of us alone for all that time, and nod their heads with a knowing smile and a raised eyebrow. As if we had nothing better to do than shag like bunnies, and the Horcruxes were just diversions along the way.

They’re wrong, of course, but I guess that on the emotional level, they’re also right. The connection, the bond, was there for a long time before anything physical, romantic or sexual. I can look back now at my school years and moments here and there stand out like shining stars. Not all big moments of course, though there were plenty of those. No, these would be ones you don’t hear about, because they’re only important to me. Like that night back in the dormitory when I caught myself watching Harry sleep, and found I couldn’t look away. Or that moment in the library when I realised I secretly loved studying with Hermione sometimes, purely because of that annoyed crinkle she’d get in her nose when Harry and I were mucking about. She’d be trying her best to radiate disapproval, but that crinkle meant she was hiding a smile behind whatever mouldy old book she had her face buried in.

Ginny said to me not long after it started for real that she should have known she never had a hope. At the time I think I said something empty and conciliatory, that he could have chosen either of us, maybe. She just gave a bitter little laugh.

“He was always yours, before anybody else. Even without the War, even if we’d worked things out and gotten back together, that never would have changed.”

I must have looked as guilty as I felt, because she smiled and kissed my cheek.

“I’m happy for you,” she said, and although we both knew she was lying, from the lack of venom in her voice and the fact that she hadn’t hexed me, I knew that it would be the truth one day.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it did start, but probably the most obvious shift was after the War ended. We were all kind of sleepwalking around in this numb state Hermione and Harry referred to as ‘shell-shocked’ – whatever that means. Hermione had vanished off to Australia to find her parents as soon as the last of the fallen was laid to rest, so it was just the two of us. Me and Harry.

The Burrow was horrible, then. Everyone was locked in their own grief. Mum cried inconsolably at the drop of a hat. Dad was working almost as many hours as Percy, and Percy had seemed to have stopped leaving the Ministry at all to eat or sleep. George was reduced to a pale shadow of his vivacious self. He barely spoke two words together and was disturbingly thin. Even his fiery hair seemed dull. And Ginny – well, Ginny just clung to Harry.

And Harry seemed to be doing everything he could to escape Ginny.

He wasn’t shoving her away or anything. He was just none-too-subtly making himself absent whenever he could get away with it. For instance, at meals he wedged himself between me and George, and every night he went up to bed early.

At first Ginny was confused and hurt. Then I could see her starting to get angry. Though I’d deliberately been avoiding the subject, I thought it wise when I saw her enter that phase to give Harry a bit of a quiet warning.

He grimaced.

“I know,” he mumbled.

A year ago, I might have done the whole big brother posturing crap. I considered it for a moment, but Harry looked so miserable that instead I found myself asking, “What’s going on with you two, anyway?”

Harry stared down at his lap. “She wants to talk too much. She’s at me, all the time, asking questions about the last year. She keeps telling me it’s ‘to help her understand’. I told her some, but it’s never enough. She always wants more.” He plucked at a hole in the knee of his jeans. “It’s easier spending time with you, because I never have to talk to you about it, because you know. You were there.”

And that was the other thing. Since returning to the Burrow, Harry had become a second shadow to me. A shadow with large green eyes and too-long shaggy dark hair that he refused to let Mum cut. And I guess I’d become his. We spent almost every waking moment together.

Why? Because it was comfortable and familiar, and because we had been each other’s companion for the best part of seven years.

And because Harry was right – with each other there were no awkward questions, just understanding silences.

We didn’t have to explain to each other why we woke from nightmares screaming, sobbing, drenched in sweat.

Whenever I was jolted into consciousness after reliving Hermione’s cries as she was tortured or wrestling impotently against some Horcrux vision, all he would ask was a quiet “All right, Ron?” out of the dark, that I could barely hear over the pounding of my own heart. And when he woke, swearing and gasping, from his own terrors, I would do the same for him.

That is, until one night when I heard his soft sniffles and his hitching, uneven breaths, and it drew me from my own creaking bed to perch on the edge of his.

“Harry?” I asked, resting my hand on his shoulder.

“Sorry...” he hiccupped. “I didn’t...didn’t mean...to wake you...”

“Wasn’t asleep,” I replied. “Budge over.”

I slid into bed behind him and snuggled up close. We fit perfectly together; my knees tucking in behind his, his arse nestled between my hips and my torso curving to follow his spine. I gave one last little wriggle, my hand coming to rest lightly on his hip.

“Just try to go back to sleep,” I whispered; my lips only a fraction of an inch from the back of his neck. And after a while, he did.

It began that way; me crossing the room to comfort him, and him doing the same for me. From there it seemed a natural progression, almost, to climbing into the one bed the moment the lights went out. After a week of slipping under the same covers automatically, Harry engorged my bed a little, moved his pillow across and stopped sleeping in his bed altogether.

It wasn’t complicated, and it wasn’t confusing, and there was something so soothing about being curled up in each other’s arms from midnight till dawn that eased the misery of the waking hours.

Harry turned down a job offer from the Aurors, but had no idea what else he might want to do with his life.

“I’m just sick of fighting. I’m sick of death,” he remarked, as the Ministry owl flew back out the window carrying his refusal.

He came to help me get Wheezes back on its feet instead, because George was in no fit state to be running it on his own, yet. Every day there seemed to be a flurry of letters offering better hours, better job security, better prestige. At first he responded politely to each, but soon he just ended up burning them after a cursory glance. No one but me seemed to be able to comprehend that The Chosen One could be happy selling jokes.

“This makes people laugh,” was all he’d say if asked.

For two months we existed like that - during which Ginny dumped Harry in a rather spectacular fit of pique - and then Hermione returned to England.

Yes, Hermione.

She turned up at the Burrow one morning after she’d settled her parents back in, and I fell into her arms.

“I’ve missed you so much,” she whispered into my ear.

“Me too,” I responded, a dull ache in my chest.

Over her shoulder, I saw Harry had a slightly stricken expression on his face, but it was replaced almost immediately by a welcoming smile, and later I wondered if I’d seen that flicker of distress at all or just imagined it.

After kissing Hermione long and languidly goodnight outside Ginny’s bedroom door, I wandered upstairs to find Harry perched awkwardly on the edge of his own bed, his pillow hugged loosely to his chest. I stripped quickly down to my boxers and slid beneath the sheets, but he didn’t follow.

“What are you doing all the way over there?” I asked, confused.

Harry didn’t seem to want to meet my eye. “I figured you wouldn’t want me to, anymore. Now that Hermione’s back.”

I was perplexed. “Don’t be stupid.”

Tentatively he climbed in beside me, but rather than snuggling up, he kept a sizable gap between us. Well, that wouldn’t do, I decided. I reached over and pulled Harry close. His cheek pressed against my bare chest and my hand cradled the back of his head.

“Idiot,” I murmured into his mop of hair, and I felt him let out a deep sigh and relax.

Though Harry didn’t raise the subject of our sleeping arrangements again, and in fact seemed to rely on them more than ever, during the daylight hours he was becoming increasingly distant. Though we were trying to do things together as a trio, as we had before, Harry was hanging back or making excuses. More and more it was becoming just me and Hermione, while Harry hid up in our room or took long solitary walks.

“I’m worried about him,” I confided to Hermione one drowsy summer evening by the pond about a week after she arrived.

“Have you tried actually talking to him?” she asked.

“Yes,” I muttered. “He wouldn’t tell me. Just said to leave him alone and spend more time with you.”

“You really don’t know what’s wrong?”

It was a question, but I could tell from the look on her face that the answer to Harry’s problem something she thought was blindingly obvious, and she was wondering how I couldn’t see it.

“Well, no,” I responded irritably. “I’m not a bloody Legilimens!”

“Oh,” she said softly. “I suppose not.”

It was one of those weighted ‘oh’s. I could see the thoughts buzzing frantically behind her eyes, and I was almost surprised not to hear the whirring sound of hundreds of tiny cogs. I waited to be enlightened but, frustratingly true to form, whatever was bubbling in her brain she kept to herself until the following evening.

Harry had done his customary bolt up to our room after dinner. Hermione got that set to her lips, and I decided not to risk asking what she had planned. After about two minutes, she grabbed my hand.

“Come on,” she said, pulling me towards the stairs. The couple of questions I tried to ask as we ascended were pointedly ignored, and soon she was tapping politely on my bedroom door, letting us both inside at the murmured response then shutting it behind her.

Harry was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring down at his shoes, but he glanced up when Hermione stood directly in front of him.

“We need to talk,” she began. “You’re pushing us away again.”

He shrugged, shifting uncomfortably.

“We don’t want to lose you, so you’re going to have to be honest with us. Honest with Ron,” she continued.

“Nothing to talk about,” Harry said, but he licked his lips a little nervously. Hermione held out her free hand, the one that wasn’t interlaced with mine, and he took it.

“Harry, I know,” she said, gently.

Harry’s face bleached pale and his eyes became wide and frightened. If it wasn’t for Hermione’s hand firmly grasping his, I think he would have run.

I know,” she repeated, “but Ron doesn’t and he should find out from you.”

“Know what?” I couldn’t help but ask.

Neither of them answered. Their eyes were locked intensely on each other.

“I can’t,” Harry mumbled.

Yes, you can,” Hermione reassured him. “It’ll be all right, I promise.”

Harry shook his head, but Hermione tugged him to his feet to stand in front of me. Close. Then she took Harry’s hand and placed it on my waist above my hip. I could feel the damp heat of his palm radiating through my t-shirt.

“Hermione, what’s going...?” I trailed off because Harry looked up at that moment. I stared right into his eyes and could see the pain and the guilt and the raw need there, naked and open, and I knew. And that knowing was so forceful that my heart skipped a beat, and I wondered how I ever could have missed it.

And that’s when he kissed me.

Harry, my best mate in the whole world.

His lips were soft and wet against mine, and it was Harry.

Harry, kissing me tenderly and gently, his hand on my waist.

I was frozen. It felt like I was frozen forever. But then Hermione squeezed my hand reassuringly, and whispered, “It’s okay, Ron.” And that’s when I started kissing him back.

Harry let out a little sound like a sob against my mouth, his fingers pressed into my skin, and my arm wound its way around him to draw him closer. And Hermione leant her head against my shoulder, hugging my arm, as my tongue teased its way between his lips and he stroked it gently with his own.

I felt flushed with heat from head to toe and Harry and I were both panting when we broke the kiss. For a few moments we rested, our foreheads pressed together, our eyes shut, and then I pulled him tight against my chest. I could feel him trembling against me, and his breathing was ragged.

“How long have you known you were gay, Harry?” Hermione asked softly, reaching out and smoothing back his hair.

“A long time,” he answered, in a small broken voice. “I tried not to be. I...I liked girls. But it just didn’t feel right when I was with them.”

“And this feels right?” she queried, still stroking his hair. I felt him nod.

Hermione gave my hand a tight squeeze then asked another question, one that made my pulse jump again. “And how long have you been in love with Ron?”

Harry buried his face a little deeper in my chest, but his words were still audible. “I don’t know. It...it wasn’t really a problem until...until...”

“Until you saw Ron and me together this week,” she finished.

“Yes,” Harry whispered.

Hermione looked up and met my eyes, and it felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. “I love you,” I forced out, my voice choked. Though I didn’t speak it, the ‘but’ that prefaced those three words rang in the air.

“And I love you, and Harry loves you,” Hermione answered, every word soothing. Her fingers were still gently stroking Harry’s face and hair, her other hand giving mine another squeeze. “And you love Harry,” she finished simply.

I didn’t answer. Couldn’t answer. Could barely breathe. But my arm around Harry tightened a fraction, my hand moved up to rest between his shoulder blades. And from the hitch in Harry’s breath and the way his hand slid round from my waist to the small of my back, I knew that he understood.

Eventually, after a long pause, I asked miserably, “What do we do? I can’t...I can’t choose.”

Hermione gave me a little smile. “You don’t have to, Ron. We can make this work, so long as we all look after each other, like we always have.” She kissed Harry on the cheek then rose on tiptoes to gently press her lips against my own, her hand drifting lightly down the side of my face.

“I’m going to bed,” she said softly. “Take care of him, Ron. He needs you.”

With that, she slipped from the room and left Harry and me alone together.

And that was the beginning.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy.

Hermione went back to school not long after that to get her NEWTs, and felt left out and isolated even with long letters from both of us every week.

Telling my and Hermione’s families was like sitting through a small, but very volatile explosion with each disclosure. After the Grangers Harry remarked, not entirely jokingly, that he never felt more grateful being an orphan.

And then there was that whole fuss in the Prophet a while back when Hermione got pregnant. When the article was printed, an elderly witch stopped us in the middle of Diagon Alley when Hermione was pretty big. After glaring at me and Harry so hard that I felt myself blush, she turned to Hermione and said in a loud whisper, “My dear, the baby...do you even know who...?

I braced myself for an angry outburst, but Hermione just laughed. “Even if I didn’t know, don’t you think once it’s born I’d be able to tell?” she said, gesturing between the pair of us. The witch had shuffled off quickly, muttering under her breath.

But that’s all in the past.

Right now, through the kitchen window, I can see Harry playing with our two year old daughter. I’ve just made a pot of tea, and I’m about to take a cup through to Hermione, who is busy working on some big something or other for the Ministry. I’ll rub her shoulders, wipe an ink smudge off her cheek and try to gently remind her that it’s a weekend, the sun is shining, and the paperwork won’t disappear if she leaves it be for an hour.

All the bumps aside, I don’t think we could be more content.


*L* Bedfellows ->
Tags: gift!fic, longing, pg, ron/harry, ron/hermione, trio
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