Author name: kerryblaze
Pairings/Characters: Ron/Neville (main pairing), Ron/Draco and Neville/Terry (both only a light mention). Other secondary pairings: Harry/Ginny, Bill/Fleur, and Charlie/Hermione.
Warnings: Mention of character death
Summary: Ron and Neville find each other, but are reluctant to share it with their families for different reasons.
Author notes: Thank you to Shari for the quick Brit pick and Thevina for the masterful beta.
It's been this way for days. Nothing to do but hide at the Order's Headquarters and wait for Harry's latest wound to heal. Ron looks at Harry and shrugs while Hermione drones on too long about the possible whereabouts of Hufflepuff's Cup.
Ron shrugs a lot lately. Everything, with the exception of not dying, seems so trivial now.
The occupant of the room directly above them bangs on the floor.
Hermione sighs. "It's time for supper."
"Your turn, Ron," Harry says.
"No, it's not!" Ron snaps. "It was my turn last night."
"Fine," Harry says, standing up. "Don't get all shirty about it!"
As Ron watches him leave, he recalls something that his mum had once said, 'People think they might be dead tomorrow, so they're rushing all sorts of decisions they'd normally take time over.'
He doesn't know if he'd call what he had done a decision. And he knows, at least deep down he does, that this war didn't make him gay, but he might never have acted on it last night in a dingy cramped bedroom with Draco Malfoy of all people. Ron doesn't let that bother him though; he reckons that he has no place left to go but up.
Every year they all met at Hermione and Charlie's flat to celebrate the end of the war in a subtle way; their moods changing from sombre to a light-hearted remembrance of the dead, recalling fond memories and banishing the visions of cold unseeing eyes and funerals as the night wears on and the alcohol flows.
"Remember the time Luna wore that goofy lion's head?" Ginny asks and raises her glass in a toast.
"That was funny, but nothing was better than her commentating the Gryffindor match in sixth year. That was dead hilarious!" Ron says and clinks Ginny's glass.
Hermione falls to sleep first with her head in Charlie's lap. Ron remembers without any remorse or jealousy, that a few years ago he had thought it would be his lap that she found comfort in.
Harry and Ginny leave soon after and Charlie offers Ron their spare bedroom for the night, but he declines and follows Neville out the door.
"Fancy a cuppa and a chat?" Ron asks they step out to the street.
Neville looks surprised. "It's late. There's no place open."
"Yeah." Ron tries to think of somewhere and wishes that he wasn't such a wanker still living at home with his mum and dad.
"We could go back to my flat."
"You've got your own flat now?"
"Yeah. Gran wasn't too happy about it," Neville replies with a sly smile and Ron sees something's changed in Neville - something interesting. "If you don't want to –"
"Yeah, I do."
Neville's flat is small, really small, but it's his. Ron feels a twinge of jealousy, but Neville's face, beaming with pride, promptly squelches it.
It's a bit surprising how easily Neville begins to talk about himself once they are settled in the kitchen. They sit across from each other with a tiny table between them; it's barely big enough for two grown men. Ron can't remember Neville ever talking this much. Truth be told, Ron doesn't ever remember giving Neville a chance to talk.
Ron inquires about all the plants in the kitchen and Neville begins to talk ardently about the Herbology shop he recently opened in Diagon Alley. It's refreshing to hear someone talk about their career with so much enthusiasm and Ron begins to wonder just how much passion Neville has hidden under that shy exterior.
When the topic turns to Ron, he shrugs off his current living conditions and lack of a real career.
"Working for Fred and George, mostly. They don't pay well, but I can come and go as I please."
"You should try out for the Cannons," Neville says unexpectedly.
"Nah. I'm not that good and –"
"And what do you have to lose?" Neville asks.
"Nothing, I suppose."
"Exactly!" Neville exclaims, waving his hand. His mug is knocked to the floor, but it bounces and lands back on the table, unscathed. He rolls his eyes and Ron notices for the first time that they're a warm honey brown. "A N.E.W.T. in Charms comes in handy when you're clumsy."
"You're not clumsy," Ron says instinctively, though he knows that's not true.
Neville raises his eyebrow and stares at Ron until Ron laughs.
"Okay, maybe a bit," Ron says.
They laugh for a moment more before silence falls between them and Ron finds himself suddenly struggling for something to talk about, because he doesn't want Neville to suggest that they call it a night. It's the first time since the end of the war, after Harry went off and eloped with Ginny and Hermione moved in with Charlie, that he doesn't felt lonely.
"It was, er, fun tonight, yeah?" he asks.
"Yeah," Neville replies, staring at a spot on the table. "Awful nice of them to include me."
"Why wouldn't they?"
"I shouldn't be there. I didn't do anything important, not really."
Neville flinches, but he looks up to lock his eyes with Ron's and Ron feels a forbidden interest flicker in his chest.
"Don't be so daft. Of course you did something. You and Luna were the only ones that helped defend Hogwarts! And you were right there next to me the night the Burrow was attacked."
"I just happened to be there." Neville shakes his head. "I'm not brave or anything. You're the brave one."
"Neville," Ron says softly and reaches across the table, placing his hand on Neville's wrist. "Neville, you are brave. One of the bravest people that I know. You helped save my home... my family."
Ron realizes that he's sliding his hand gently along Neville's forearm and pulls it away before he scares Neville off.
Neville doesn't look scared; he looks curious and a bit interested, though Ron thinks he's only seeing what he wants to see.
"You... you're..." Neville chuckles. "No. Never mind."
"No! Wait. I-I might be..." Ron hopes that he's right about what Neville thinks he is.
"You? No. You can't be."
"Well, you're Ron Weasley! You play Quidditch and help fight Dark Lords and –"
"Are you gay?" Ron asks and winces at the wounded look on Neville's face.
"And you think that I am because I'm weak and shy and –"
"No! 'Cos when I touched you, you didn't punch me."
Ron waits, holding his breath, praying that he's not wrong. 'Yeah,' Ron thinks. 'Neville, yeah, Neville would certainly be up.'
Finally, Neville smiles and now that spark of interest turns into a raging flame and Ron shivers in anticipation as he reaches out for Neville's hand.
Neville's kisses are like his eyes, warm, soft, and inviting. Ron discovers that he was right about the hidden passion, after they kiss and fondle their way into Neville's bedroom, and Neville abandons his shy exterior once he's naked and pressed underneath Ron's body.
The sun comes up and they're still awake and touching, Neville's leg thrown casually over Ron's and Ron's arm under Neville's neck. They tell each other how and when they knew. Neville admits to a secret relationship with Terry Boot at Hogwarts and Ron doesn't confess knowing what he had believed was just adolescent schoolboy gossip at the time.
"It's why I moved in here," Neville says. "Gran and I had a huge row, but... well, I couldn't bring a bloke home with me while Gran's there!"
"Oh... you've been with other blokes, then?"
"Muggles mostly," Neville says before his eyes widen from understanding. "So... only Malfoy?"
Ron rolls over on his side. "I'm pathetic."
Immediately Neville's touching him with tender long strokes over his side and down his thigh. "I would've never known. You were fantastic."
Neville's tongue begins to perform stimulating manoeuvres on Ron's ear, making Ron's blood flow travel downward and leaving his brain blank enough to forget his insecurities and past relationships, or lack thereof, and focus on the budding relationship happening right now.
"Neville's really good at Charms," Ron says, looking back and forth between Harry and Ginny. "So if you need help charming the house to keep it safe for when the baby arrives, I'm sure he'd be glad to help."
"You and Neville have been spending a lot of time together," Hermione says and Ron notices that she glances at Harry, who is suddenly attacking his lunch violently with his fork.
"Not really," Ron says, trying to sound casual.
"You've mentioned him four times since we've sat down," Hermione says.
"Five," Ginny adds.
Ron glares at her. "What are you doing here anyway?"
"Excuse me," Ginny says. "What does that mean?"
"It means who invited you?" Ron asks venomously. "I can't get together one bloody time with my friends without you tagging along!"
"Harry – my husband – invited me, Ron!"
"Did he actually ask you? Or did you just assume and invite yourself?"
"He – he..." Ginny turns to Harry, who's looking as if he's trying to will himself invisible. She huffs and returns her stare back at Ron. "Don't get Harry involved in this! It's not like you care about him anymore, not since you've been living in Neville's pocket!"
"Ginny!" Harry says finally.
"Fine! I'll leave!" Ginny pushes her chair back, the legs making an angry scraping sound across the floor as she stands, and storms towards the door.
Sighing, Harry gets up from his chair, reaches deep into his pocket, and throws a few coins on the table. "I better..."
"Go, Harry," Hermione says and as soon as Harry is out of sight, glares at Ron.
Ron picks up his fork, intent on finishing his lunch. "You wouldn't understand. She's your friend, she's Harry's wife, but she's still my little sister."
The owl arrives with a letter sealed with the Chudley Cannons' logo early on a Monday morning. Ron's too nervous to read, so his mum opens it, lets out a whoop of joy, and hugs him tightly.
"You did it, Ron! You did it! I knew that you would," she exclaims and runs to the fireplace. "I have to tell everyone."
His dad pats him heartily on the back, beaming with pride. "Congratulations, son."
"Boys!" Molly Weasley yells into the floo. "Ronnie's a professional Quidditch player!"
Ron winces when he hears Fred and George laughing.
"Who'd Harry have to shake hands with for that?"
"You're incorrigible, both of you!" Ron hears him mum holler as he's bounding up the crooked stairs to his room.
He dresses quickly. It's early, but he knows that Neville will be at his shop and Ron wants to celebrate this with him, privately.
As far as funerals go, Ron thinks that Neville's Great Uncle Algie's isn't so bad. It's pleasant in a morbid sort of way to be at a funeral for someone who lived a full rich life and died peacefully in his sleep.
Each time that Ron looks over Harry's head at Neville, Neville's Gran catches his eye and gives him a shrewd look that says, 'I can't put my finger on it, but I don't trust you.'
Ron ignores her and waits for Neville to see him. When he does, Ron offers his lover a comforting smile, then makes sure that Harry or Hermione didn't see. He yearns to tell them about Neville and him; he hates not being able to talk about everything with them anymore and knows that it is driving a wedge between them. But Harry's family now, and if he tells Harry, he'd have to make Harry promise not to tell Ginny, who would tell his mum. Ron knows keeping secrets from your wife isn't wise and he doesn't want to get Harry into trouble. If he can't tell Harry, then he can't tell Hermione. There's a code between them and telling one and not the other just isn't right.
"Your Gran doesn't like me," Ron says as laces up his trainers.
Neville, still naked and warm, reaches over and wraps his arms around Ron's waist and Ron smells the familiar bitter, salty smell of sex. "She doesn't like anyone."
"Do you think she knows about us?"
Ron feels Neville's breath hitch at the mere mention of it. "No," he says unsteadily. "If she knew..."
"I hate lying to everyone." Ron leans back against Neville and sighs. "I hate having to go home every night."
Turning, Ron looks at him, astonished. "You want to live together?"
"I just meant... you could stay... here. Tell your mum that you –"
"I don't have to tell my mum anything!" Ron says angrily and stands up. "I'm a bloody adult!"
"Then why do you go home every night?"
"To avoid having the row when I come home in the morning. She'd be up all night worrying."
Neville grabs his dressing gown and slips it on as he gets out of bed. Ron opens his mouth to protest about Neville's absurd modesty for what was probably the hundredth time, but shuts it promptly. They have never quarrelled over anything this serious before and he decides not to bring up something so minor.
"We could move in together," Ron says instead. "We'll get a two bedroom flat to keep up appearances. Just two mates living together to save a few Galleons."
"Gran wouldn't approve of me moving into a bigger flat."
"Your Gran will never approve of anything that you do!"
Neville whirls around. "What does that mean?"
"You're not your father, Neville. Nothing you ever do will be good enough for her because you're not your father."
"You – you – you..." Neville stammers, furious. Ron doesn't know if he's ever seen Neville so upset. "You don't know what you're talking about! And why do you care how my gran feels about me?"
"Because," Ron says tenderly. He takes a few steps forward and forces an indignant Neville between his arms. "Because I love you."
Neville goes limp and Ron holds him tighter. There is a long silence and Ron fears that he's said it too soon.
"Great big prat," Neville mumbles into his shoulder.
Ron laughs, genuinely. "I just told you that I love you and you're calling me a prat."
"A great big prat."
Augusta Longbottom dies a month after Neville and Ron move in together and Ron really wishes that he could talk to Harry and Hermione about it, so he can say out loud that he believes the old berk planned it to dampen Neville's happiness.
They bury her on a sweltering day in August and Neville asks Ron to stand next to him along her grave. If the Weasleys or any of their friends found this strange, no one acknowledges it.
The following night over supper, Neville asks Ron when they are going to tell his family the truth about their relationship.
Ron swallows his mouthful of stew before he chokes on it. "What?"
"I was thinking about buying a house," Neville says casually as if he had just asked Ron to pass the salt. "I have loads of money now with my inheritance from Uncle Algie and Gran and I want to inquire about a private Healer, so I can bring Mum and Dad home."
"This is sudden."
"Not really. I've been thinking about it for awhile."
"Thanks for letting me in on your secret," Ron mumbles, pushes away his supper, and reaches for his bottle of ale.
"I'm telling you now."
"It's easy for you now, right? Your family is gone. Nobody to disappoint."
"My family is not gone," Neville says slowly. "I still have my parents."
"Well, that's not the same, is it?"
"Just say it, Ron."
"They don't know who you are, Neville. They don't know who they are!"
"Fucking arsehole!" Neville says through gritted teeth.
He's storming out the kitchen door before Ron can stand.
"Don't walk away from me!" Ron shouts. "You know that I'm right!"
Neville halts and turns to face Ron. "Your family isn't like my Gran and Uncle were. They'll understand."
"Ha! We need to spend more time with my family to refresh your memory a bit."
"That's just it, Ron. We don't spend time with your family. You don't spend time with your family, or Harry, or Hermione. You're not just hiding us, you're hiding you too!"
"Bloody insightful, aren't you?" Ron snorts indignantly. "Well, keep it to yourself from now on!"
This time Ron's the one to walk away, muttering to himself that it's Neville who doesn't understand. Percy's been such a disappointment to his mum and dad; he doesn't want to break his mum's heart anymore than it's already been. He's spent his whole life trying to show Bill and Charlie, his oldest brother, his heroes, that he wasn't a little kid – that he wasn't weak. And the twins... the twins would surely take the piss out of him and, even worse, Neville and he'd have to permanently hex them with something debilitating, breaking his mum's heart and causing a permanent riff with his family.
Hiding this way, keeping his family at arm's length, is better than losing them forever.
Neville and Ron arrive at St Mungo's minutes after an owl arrives at their flat to announce the birth of Harry and Ginny's son. The tension between them still growing into something cold and foreboding that Ron fears will never melt away.
As they enter the lift, Neville's finger hovers by the button for the fourth floor.
"Do you mind? I'd like to stop for a visit."
"I'll see you soon, then?" Ron asks as the lift doors open to the third floor and he exits.
"Yeah. I won't be long."
As the doors close, Ron hears the din coming from Ginny's room down the hall and he knows that everyone in the family must be there already. Ron sighs and feels his stomach twist in knots. Each time he's with his family he feels nothing but shame and guilt. Trying to avoid the situation for a bit longer, he walks the other way towards the stairs.
"Ron just became an uncle again," Neville says. Ron stops and lingers outside the door, listening.
"I reckon Harry will ask him to be the godfather. Dad, did I tell you that he got to play an entire match last month? The Cannons' Keeper had a bit of a nasty cold and they let Ron play. He was brilliant! I'm certain he'll have the position by the end of this season."
"Hi, Mr and Mrs Longbottom," Ron says, breezing into the broom, wearing a broad smile. "And I bet that Neville hasn’t told you how well his shop is doing." Ron stops and kisses a shocked Neville before continuing. "Potion Masters from all over Europe are ordering his herbs. Even Snape has placed an order, though he got McGonagall to do it. We all know that it was him though."
"Ron, you don't have to –"
"I think we'll have to paint the walls a brighter colour than this."
"When we buy a house and move your mum and dad in. This room is dreadful. We'll put a Cannons' banner above your dad's bed. You said he was – is a big Quidditch fan, right?"
Neville looks at him with such a fierce look of love that for the first time in his life Ron feels special.
Ron knows that most people would say he's done braver things, but when the words 'I'm gay' are finally released from his mouth, he feels braver than he ever has in his life.
When it's over, Neville squeezes his hand and Ron's heart starts to beat again.
The first person he makes eye contact with is Ginny, who is sitting in the hospital bed with her arms crossed firmly over her chest.
"Is there a problem, Ginny?" he asks, ready to defend his life.
"I don't believe you, Ron!" she snaps. "All this time, we've all been waiting for you to stop being such a bloody coward and tell us about Neville and you and you had to pick today!"
Ron's eyes scan the room, looking to Hermione for an answer.
"We all suspected for a long time, Ron," Hermione says.
"Bloody hell," Ron mutters. "But I don't understand why you're upset, Ginny." He looks at Harry for a clue, but Harry only throws his hands in the air and shrugs.
"She is jealous," Fleur says from behind Ron. "You... what is ze saying, Bill?"
"Stole her thunder."
"Yes. She is vairy selfish."
Ginny glowers at Fleur. "I am not!"
"Then why are you pouting?" Ron asks.
"Because I just had a baby! It's my special day."
"Selfish cow," Ron says. "You're a girl! Every day is Ginny Day in this family!"
All of Ron's brothers laugh, while Ron's mum clucks her tongue and hands Harry the sleeping baby. "That's enough, Ronald," she scolds.
Ginny sniggers and earns a glare from her mother. "That's enough from you too, Ginevra."
The twins, who have been unusually quiet since Ron's announcement, approach Ron, flanking him.
"So, little bro', does this mean you're going to play for the Holyhead Harpies now?" Fred asks, slapping Ron on the back.
"Those birds are better than the Cruddy Cannons," George adds and pokes Ron in the ribs.
"Shut it! Leave him alone!" Ginny shouts. "At least Ron is in a relationship, a lot more than both of you can say and you're going to wake the baby."
Ron smiles at his sister and points to the baby in Harry's arms. "Can I hold him?"
"Here you go, mate," Harry says and carefully hands the baby to Ron
"Aw, he's beautiful."
Harry smoothes his fingers over the baby's brush of red hair. "He's a Weasley."
"Harry, I... I wanted to tell you, but –"
"I understand," Harry says. "Besides Ginny would've hexed me if I'd known and didn't tell her."
"Ginny..." Neville whispers. "Is she angry with you, Ron? Maybe we should've waited."
"Nah." Harry shakes his head. "They fight like that a lot. You'll get used to it. Just try not to get in the middle if they raise their wands."
A short, loud explosion goes off behind Ron and the baby starts to cry. Ginny, Hermione, and Ron's mum all yell at the twins as a Healer rushes into the room, demanding that everyone except Ginny and Harry leave.
Ron's dad enters in the middle of the madness. "Good lord, what's going on?"
"Ron's a poof," Fred says.
George adds, "And in love with Neville!"
"And Ginny, she is jealous," Fleur says as Bill rushes her out the door.
"Oh well, yes, yes, no surprise there," Arthur Weasley says and reaches out to shake Neville's hand. "Welcome to the family."
They're cramped in the small lift, pushed together shoulder to shoulder, and Neville's close to standing on Ron's toes.
Ron grabs Neville's hips. "Sorry," he whispers in his ear.
"Mum," Fred says, pointing at Ron, "Ron just gave Neville a grope."
"I did not!" Ron shouts. "I didn't, Mum, honest."
"Boys, will you please behave?" She looks at Neville and smiles. "I'm sorry, Neville, it's not usually like this."
The entire family starts to laugh, including Neville, and Molly scowls, but as the laughter goes on, she giggles into her hand.
They exit the lift, oblivious of the stares they receive from the people waiting to get on.
Ron grabs Neville, pulling him away from the crowd.
"I'm really sorry. It is always like this! They're barking! If it wasn't for the red hair and freckles, I'd swear that I was adopted."
Neville laughs and cups Ron's face adoringly in his hands. "Ron, I think your family is barking mad, scary, and downright mean sometimes, but they're also warm and funny and loving and I think they suit you just fine."
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