Warnings: mention of past het relationship
Length: 6947 words
Summary: Four elements. Four wizards. Will Ron and Draco be able to let the past go in order to save the future?
Author notes: A huge thanks to aome and magicofisis for their excellent betas, without which the gentle reader would be much abused by an abundance of commas and a general lack of questions marks.
"I want to thank you for all coming here tonight," Harry said anxiously, looking around at the room of uneasy visitors. The room where the Unspeakables worked was colder than expected. Ron thought it downright creepy and hated being there.
It didn't look like Harry enjoyed it much either, and he'd had the past five years to get used to it. "Right," he said, when no one responded to his attempt at a welcome speech. "Um, well, let's get started, shall we? Hermione?"
Hair tied up in one of her little buns, Hermione showed no signs of being uncomfortable at all. Never more at ease than when she was in control of the information, explaining to the dim-witted and slow, both of which Ron assumed he qualified for.
"Most information pertaining to the Marriage of Heaven and Earth ceremony was lost during the first war with Grindelwald." Ron always thought that Hermione rather fancied being a retainer of mysterious knowledge. A wonderful quality in an Unspeakable. Not so much fun when it's your wife (ex-wife, he corrected himself mentally). "We have been able to restore bits and pieces of the records circuitously," she added, glancing at Ron, who rolled his eyes.
"For at least a thousand years, the ceremony was held periodically to allow the barriers between the Wizarding World and the Muggle to be separated, yet allow Wizards the ability to pass between the two." She stopped, looking worried. "We have determined that the energy levels expended in the last twenty years, the time span inclusive of the rise and fall of Voldemort, have significantly weakened the barrier," she concluded.
"But you said the spells were lost," Neville replied. Sitting next to Ron, he looked downright jumpy. Ron was ashamed to admit this made him feel just a bit braver.
"They said they were able to figure it out, Longbottom," a sarcastic voice retorted. Standing in the back, Malfoy tilted his head and looked straight at Hermione. "I certainly hope they haven't wasted my time by asking me here if they didn't have a plan. Isn't that right, Granger?"
"That is correct, Draco," she replied with visibly forced politeness. "Fortunately, with Harry's help, we believe we can duplicate the correct ceremonial spells and stabilize the magical dampers that have kept Wizarding society separated from Mu-"
"Fantastic," Malfoy interrupted, walking toward the front of the room. "Let's get started, then. I've an appointment I'd like to keep tonight."
It was all very simple, Hermione kept telling them. Four elements, four wizards. Air, water, earth, and fire. Potter, Malfoy, Longbottom, and Weasley. They were pureblood. They were male. They, with almost certainty, had ancestors who had participated in this ceremony before. Their elemental magic, cross-referenced against all known members of the Order and anyone else known to be trusted, was analyzed for strengths and weaknesses and found to be acceptable in ways only Hermione understood.
Ron's head swam as she drew charts in midair with her wand, connecting circles with squiggly lines. Each wizard would need to draw upon the energy they best commanded and meld their magic together, first in pairs and finally all together, to seal whatever rift had opened up.
Ron didn't like the word 'meld' at all. He most certainly didn't want to meld anything with Draco Malfoy.
No, not Draco, who most certainly wasn't looking at him. Ignoring him to the point of exaggeration. After all, there were only five people in the room. At some point, they had to acknowledge each other.
Particularly if they had to meld later.
Bollocks Harry for making him do this. Saving their world... wasn't that something Potters did?
Bollocks Hermione for talking to him like he was an idiot. No, he hadn't wanted to join the Aurors, or be a Hitwizard, or any of the Ministry jobs offered to him at the end of the war. He wanted to make broomsticks. That didn't mean he was an idiot.
And bollocks Neville, just for the hell of it.
"I'll be back," Ron said loudly as he marched out of the room.
"You okay?" Harry said, sitting down on the corridor floor next to Ron.
"I'm alright, mate. Just a lot to think about," he said.
You know, I tried to get someone else, I really did. Thought Charlie would be a good match, maybe even Bill." Harry laughed as he shook his head. "Sorry, mate, your magic is just so much purer than theirs, than most people's, really."
Ron turned to Harry, a twisted smile on his face. "Bugger off. I didn't believe you the first time you told me, and I don't believe you now."
"It's true," Harry grinned. He stopped smiling, became more serious-looking. "I wouldn't have asked you, you know, with Malfoy, if I could have helped it."
"No worries, mate," Ron replied coolly. "All in the past, forgotten all about that."
Harry watched Ron's expression quietly, pausing as if he wanted to say more. "Okay," he finally said, "we'll need to get started soon, so don't dilly-dally out here, right?"
Ron nodded. "Sure, be right in."
He sat another few moments, recalling the last time he had been down to the Ministry offices. Dissolution of marriage, the fancy name for divorce. Not that it bothered Ron, he'd always had a feeling that it wouldn't be forever. Rushed into it too fast.
Shaking his head, he closed his eyes and thought about the war. So much pain caused by the war, it was easy to blame it for everything horrid that happened. Times were tough? It was the war. Brothers abandoning their families? The war, of course. Rushing headlong into a bad marriage? Well, he couldn't blame that on the war, not entirely.
They had been together for years, on and off. Getting married seemed to be the next step. Harry would be with Ginny and Ron would be with Hermione and everyone would be happy.
Well, almost everyone.
Ron had a secret. Five foot ten, maybe ten stone soaking wet. Fucking arrogant smirk on his face. That damned soft hair.
It pained Ron greatly that the hair had been his undoing. Draco had joined the Order after his mother was killed, arriving at 12 Grimmauld Place with documents, letters, lists, and a great deal of information. He brought other informants with him, Pansy Parkinson, Greg Goyle, Blaise Zabini, fellow Slytherins who no longer wished to be allied with the Dark Lord.
All past sins forgiven, too quickly for Ron's taste, and so he told the bloody git one night, how much he despised him and wished him dead.
In a way still unclear in Ron's memory, the ensuing scuffle in the kitchen turned into a clinch, which melded (melded, Ron thought with dismay) into an embrace. Embrace, Ron thought bitterly. Rutting like goats in the dark is what they were doing, rubbing against each other roughly, Ron's hands pulling Malfoy closer to him, touching his hair, Malfoy almost growling in his ear.
Ron looked up. Draco stood in the doorway, backlit against the dark hallway. Ron couldn't see his face. "Pardon?" he asked.
"I said we're beginning, and I've been dispatched to bring you inside now. I'd like to get this over and done with, so hurry up," he said, turning back into the room.
"Oh yes," Ron muttered. "You've an appointment to keep."
Draco turned to face Ron, anger flaring in his eyes. "Yes, Weasel, I always keep my appointments. I keep my word, unlike others I can say," he added before storming inside.
Ron began to follow him, to ask what the bloody hell that meant when he felt a tug at his arm. "Ready for you, Ronald," Hermione said. "You'll be after Malfoy."
Ron found his seat next to an exhausted Neville, who had already performed his spells with Harry, and began watching as Harry and Draco faced each other. Draco extended his wand toward Harry, who had not yet moved. Ron's initial feeling of apprehension dissolved as he watched Malfoy close his eyes and tilt his head back. As if someone turned on a spigot, a gentle flow of water poured out of Malfoy's wand, hitting the ground with a splash. Almost immediately, Harry lifted his wand and with a gentle gust of air, caught the water droplets as they fell from Draco's wand. Ron thought that the water was dissolving into the air, until he noticed the little stratus cloud beginning to form. It grew larger until it began to float overhead, threatening them with rain.
"Excellent," Hermione whispered quietly to herself as she opened the door and gently shooed the cloud out into the corridor.
"Okay, Ron," Harry said. "Your turn."
Ron looked at Malfoy, who was pale and a bit worn out. "Need to rest, mate?" he asked Harry.
"No, I'm okay," Harry replied.
Ron stood and turned to face Harry, pulling out his wand and pointing it at Harry. "Gotcha," he laughed quietly.
He saw Harry smile at him before he closing his eyes. He tried to remember everything he'd been told about this, how to channel his energy into fire. Center your magic. Feel it right there at your core. Don't try and make fire, think about becoming fire.
I am fire, Ron thought, pushing the notion of Neville and Malfoy watching him to the back of his mind. I am fire, he repeated to himself, slowly waving his wand. A gasp from Hermione and he opened his eyes. His arm was ablaze, from elbow to the tip of his wand. Harry grinned proudly at him, and then extended his own wand. Ron felt the gentle breeze emit from Harry, mix with his own fire, and stood back just in time to avoid being engulfed by the ensuing inferno.
"Air enhances fire's combustion," he heard Hermione explaining to the others.
"Do tell, Granger," Malfoy scoffed.
All of a sudden, Ron felt himself extinguish. "Good lord," he said to himself before losing his balance and being caught by Neville.
"That was brilliant, Ron," Neville told him, helping him to his seat.
"Sure was," Harry added. "You rest a moment, while Neville and Malfoy go at it, then it will be your turn again."
Ron sat and watched as Harry helped Neville and Malfoy set up in position. Neville's wand coughed out a stream of dirt that was soon joined by Malfoy's water, creating what looked like a large glob of sludge at their feet.
"Mud," Malfoy said contemptuously. Yet, once more, Hermione seemed very pleased at the results.
"What exactly is this going to accomplish?" Ron asked again as Harry came to sit beside him.
"If it works, it will mean everything. The mingling of magical elements is very old magic, back to when the first alchemists created the first spells," he said. "We think that it’s the link between wizards and the world around us, maybe even between each other." He stopped, shrugging. "If it doesn't work, I don't know what will happen. Could be merely inconvenient. Could be really, really bad."
Harry stood. "Having scared the pants off of you, are you ready to go again?"
Ron had been uncertain he and Neville would succeed easily. Forewarned by Harry that earth and fire was a difficult but not impossible combination, Ron was patient as it took several attempts to create something that could only be explained as scorched earth.
Hermione wrote furiously on her clipboard. "Well done. Almost finished, just one more. Fire and water." She looked up into Ron's face. "Are you okay? You look worn out."
A scoff came from Malfoy's direction. "I'm fine," Ron said, shaking his head. "Let's do this," he said to Malfoy.
Several attempts later, Ron was shaking, barely able to hold his arm up. He couldn't understand what was wrong. He was creating fire, hell, he was fire. Plenty of fire. Malfoy was creating plenty of water. That was the problem, they were extinguishing each other.
"Back off, Malfoy, you're giving off too much," Ron yelled angrily after the fifth attempt.
"I can't be blamed if you cannot control your magic, Weasel," Malfoy baited. For a second, Ron detected a flash of concern in his eyes, but quickly dismissed it. "Look, it's obvious he can't do this tonight, and I'm late for an engagement. Can we work on this another time, when he's in better shape?" Malfoy said to Harry and Hermione.
"Once more, you snake," Ron yelled, raising his arm.
"No, he's right," Hermione agreed. "Let's give both of you some time to rest and we'll try it again soon. I'll be in touch," she said to Neville and Ron as Draco barged out of the room. "Can I talk to you?" she said to Harry.
"Catch you later," Ron said, walking out of the room.
"Lunch at Three Broomsticks?" Harry asked before the door closed.
Ron nodded and left, more tired than he had ever felt in his life. He didn't remember the trip home, but somehow he managed to Apparate without splinching himself in exhaustion.
He collapsed on his bed fully clothed, and thought about Draco Malfoy. Bastard, it wasn't fair. He looked good tonight, even better with the sweat beading on his head while he used his magic. Flushed, breathing heavy, it reminded Ron of those secretive times they were together.
When he finally closed his eyes, he slept for hours.
It hadn't been easy keeping it a secret. Harry found out, because Ron and Harry shared a room at 12 Grimmauld Place, and after a while it was less embarrassing to tell your best friend that you might be a poof than it was to make up excuses for why you were always gone. Harry seemed to understand at least, even if he didn't like it, and even provided an alibi once or twice.
Their arguments never ceased, but now they seemed more like foreplay, an indicator of the hunger they felt for each other. They touched, kissed, rubbed, pushed, and pulled on each other, always ending with a breathless completion, fighting to stay quiet in some locked room or empty closet.
Two months, maybe three... Ron was never good with dates, and couldn't tell you when it started or how long it lasted, but he remembered with perfect clarity when it ended.
March 1, 2000. His twentieth birthday.
Voldemort was dead, and all that remained was rounding up the last few Death Eaters. Hermione and his mother were making all kinds of plans for their lives together – what sort of careers they would have, where they would live, good schools for the children. Instead of it being the best time in his life, he'd felt suffocated. He had helped destroy the most evil Wizard ever seen, and he was afraid to tell his family and girlfriend that he might be gay.
It didn't help that he was gay for a git. Draco fucking Malfoy.
"What's the matter, you've been a right arse lately, you know? Even for you," Ron said, while they lay together in his room one afternoon while everyone else was out of the house.
Draco shrugged. "I don't like being here," he said, unbuttoning Ron's shirt.
Ron sat up to take his shirt off. "I don't like being here, either, but I've no choice."
Draco leaned up on his elbow, facing down at Ron. "Yes, you do. Tell them and let's get out of here."
Five of the longest seconds passed before Ron answered. It had never occurred to him that Draco might want to be with him. Really be with him, not just fuck around. "Where would we go?" he asked.
Draco pulled off his shirt and unbuttoned his trousers. "I don't give a fuck, as long as we're away from here. Anywhere." Pulling off his trousers, he lay down next to Ron again. "I've got some money stashed away. You hate this place. They," he pointed at the door, "are planning your life and you sit there, everyday, like a puppet and let them. If you don't want to be here, let's go."
Ron lay back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, feeling Draco next to him. "I didn't think you wanted to..."
"To what – to be with you? I admit it's not the most rational idea I've ever had, but I like you, Ron. I do." Draco looked at Ron for a long moment, looking worried for a moment. "I think we could have fun together. Give it some thought?" he said, the words tinged with a forced casualness.
Ron nodded, not answering. To be away from here. The war was over, really. No one needed him anymore. Hermione... she would understand. Better this happen now than later, when there would be a house and children and...
Draco reached over and began kissing his neck. "I tell you what," he said, his lips still pressed against Ron's neck. "Let's go somewhere for your birthday tomorrow night. Italy, or Greece, or maybe... no," he said smirking. "Let me plan it. Let's just get away from here for a while." He laid his head on Ron's chest. "We don't even have to come back if you don't want to."
Ron lay quietly, running his fingers though Draco's hair. It was so soft, like silk. He couldn't imagine anything crazier than running away with Draco Malfoy.
"Let's do it," he said, kissing the top of Draco's head.
Draco's laugh rumbled against Ron's chest. "A Weasley, can you believe it," he heard Draco say quietly to himself, before pushing himself up and over Ron, their bodies fitting together perfectly for a slow grinding.
The next day, Ron received several owls wishing him a happy birthday, and one with an unsigned note. Shrieking Shack, nine p.m.
A tightness filled Ron's chest for the whole afternoon. He needed to talk to Hermione but he couldn't find her. Harry was off with Remus, looking for someone, or something – Ron didn't even know. He couldn't think about anything else but Shrieking Shack, nine p.m. and Draco. But he needed to let someone know he'd be gone for a while. Where was everyone?
It retrospect, it should have been obvious. Molly wouldn't have let the occasion pass without some sort of celebration, and what better than a surprise party? Ron had just enough time to grab Pig and pen a quick note to Draco to explain why he was late, and could they meet later?
He was almost done with dinner when he received the reply. Midnight it is. I'll be waiting.
He still hadn't a chance to talk to Hermione, who had disappeared, but he did let Harry know that he was taking a birthday holiday, and would keep in touch. Harry seemed to understand, and didn't give him much grief about not telling Hermione or his mother.
When he arrived at Shrieking Shack at half past eleven, Draco hadn't arrived yet. Ron found a clean place to sit, opened a bottle of dragon brandy that Charlie had sent him, and waited for Draco to arrive.
By half-past one, a slightly drunk Ron realized that Draco wasn't coming. He looked down at his letter again. I'll be waiting. He turned the letter around, over and over. Same green sealing wax, same Slytherin insignia on the seal. Draco's fine, slanted writing. I'll be waiting.
By dawn, Ron was very drunk and on his way back to the Burrow. He had made up his mind. Fuck Draco Malfoy and his plans. Ron had plans of his own. He found Hermione, demanded that they go get married at once and find their own house somewhere. The war was over. Time to get started on his own family.
When they returned from their brief wedding trip, Ron learned that Draco left 12 Grimmauld Place the same morning he and Hermione had. He'd taken up residence in London. Two years later, he bought out the makers of the Firebolt and increased his personal fortune by millions.
He and Ron hadn’t spoken again, until last night.
The sun was shining on his face when Ron woke up. He lay in bed for a while, thinking about the previous night. Could the personal animosity between Ron and Draco be disrupting the magic?
Ron decided to try and make some sort of peace with Malfoy. He certainly couldn't allow the Wizarding World to fall into ruin because he was sore about being dumped by a rich git.
It didn't take too long for Ron to find Draco's current address. The house-elf who met him at the door gave him a curtsey and showed him into a well-lit and tastefully decorated sitting room.
"Weasley," he heard. Ron turned and saw Draco, dressed in ordinary working clothes, his shirt grimy with what Ron recognized as wood shavings.
"Malfoy, sorry to barge in like this. I just thought we could talk for a bit, you know. Try and sort out our problem."
Draco looked uneasily at Ron, as if trying to see if he was being honest. Finally, he nodded. "You're right, I suppose. Can't have our world as we know it come to an end because we can't get a stupid spell to work." He motioned for Ron to follow him. "Come to the back with me, I've got a project I'm working on."
They stepped into a small workroom that reminded Ron of his own workshop where he repaired brooms for his customers. But while Ron's own broom repair business was successful enough to pay his bills and give him a bit to save on the side, it was nothing compared to the Firebolt Corporation. Yet here was its owner, covered in wood shavings as he carefully carved intricate rune designs into the broom handle.
"A custom order?" Ron asked.
Draco nodded. "This won't ever see a store shelf. Some people feel they require a bit more security."
They talked for several minutes about recent design changes and flaws in the design Ron saw as he fixed the brooms. "I'm just saying that as long as you don't compensate for the extra weight, the acceleration will not be as fast as you claim it will be.
Draco nodded. "Some of our research staff has indicated the same concern." Draco put down the broom handle he was holding and looked at Ron. "Why didn't you go to work for one of the big companies? With your name and expertise, you could probably have any job you wanted."
"Didn't want to be with a large group. They tell you what to do, when to do it. I like just fixing the ones that aren't working. Besides," he snickered, "have you met some of the arses that run those companies?"
Draco grinned. "Indeed, they are." His smile faded. "So tell me, what do you see as being our problem last night."
"I dunno," Ron answered. "Perhaps our mutual animosity worked against the magic?"
Draco whistled. "Animosity, that's a big word for you Weasley. Why don't you just say we hate each other."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Because I don't hate you, Malfoy. I was very angry, for a long time, but I don't hate you."
Draco turned sullen all of a sudden. "Why the bloody hell were you angry? I was the one who-"
"Draco," a voice called out. "Draco, love, are you down there?" An elegantly dressed witch stepped carefully into the workshop and looked around. "You awful man, standing me up last night. The party was dreadful without you."
"Could not be helped, love," Draco replied. He leaned in to kiss her cheek, but she stepped back. "Draco, you are covered in filth. Go get clean, we're having lunch together."
"Will do. Pansy, do you remember Ronald Weasley?"
Pansy Parkinson's glance at Ron made him feel like he was wearing his horrid old dress robes again. "Weasley, yes, I remember. Good to see you." She turned her attention back to Draco. "Hurry please, you smell like a gnome."
Draco looked at Ron. "Terribly sorry, but I did tell her I would eat with her today." Tossing a glance at Pansy, he asked Ron, "Would you like to join us?"
He wished he could say yes, if only to see the look on Parkinson's face. "I can't, but thanks for asking. I'm meeting a friend for lunch as well."
"Perhaps we can talk later," Draco sighed. "We're going to have to get this problem straightened out, and soon."
"I know. I'll get back to you," Ron answered as he walked out of the workroom, the sounds of Pansy interrogating Draco continuing until he closed the front door behind him.
Harry had grabbed a table in the back and placed a fairly secure silencing spell over them. "You have any ideas?"
Ron took a bite from his sandwich, chewed, and swallowed before answering. "Maybe we were just worn out. You know, we’d each performed the spell with three other people that evening. Perhaps a fresh start would help."
"Yeah, maybe," Harry answered. He looked a bit preoccupied.
"What's wrong?" Ron asked. "Something bothering you?"
"It's started. Magic has begun to seep into the Muggle World, and in some areas we're having to respell almost continuously to keep a rift from forming." He looked at Ron. "We have to get this to work. I don't want to pressure you, but you and Malfoy have to get your magic to flow together."
"That's the thing. We talked earlier today, and it was like two normal people, talking. No fighting, no hatred. Just two blokes talking up broomsticks."
"I don't think you two really hate each other. You both seem so hurt." Harry looked up from his sandwich. "I never told you this, but when he found out that you and Hermione eloped, he didn't believe it. Called me a liar. Said you wouldn't do that." Harry picked at the chips on his plate. "He was really confused by the situation."
"He was confused? He left me, Harry, left me waiting for hours for him to arrive. 'Come on, Ron, let's go away together, Ron, leave all your troubles behind, Ron'." Ron threw down his fork. "Made me look like a fool, he did." Ron stopped. "Then I did something even more foolish. Hermione and I had no business getting married." Ron put his head in his hands. "Oh, what is going on here? I feel like I missed something!"
Harry ran a hand through his own hair. "I don't know, Ron, I'm just as confused. But I do know this," he added. "There is something still between you both. I don't know what, and I don't want to know what. But you two need to figure out what's going on, and get your elemental magic to mix properly, or we are all in trouble."
Ron didn't recognize the owl waiting for him when he arrived back home, but he recognized the fine, slanted handwriting. Sorry for the interruption earlier. Had an epiphany over lunch, though. Can we meet tonight to discuss?
Ron replied that they could meet at his place that evening, gave the address, and a treat for the bird, and sent it on its way. For the next few hours, he tidied up his house as best he could, spelled away some dust and cleaned the kitchen. Before he knew it, there was a knock at the door.
"Malfoy," Ron said as he opened the door. "Welcome."
"Weasley. Thanks for meeting again on such short notice, but Hermione contacted me and-"
"Yes, I heard the same from Harry. We've got to get this to work."
Draco nodded. "I've got an idea, too." He pulled a bottle of Firewhiskey out of his robes. "We need to talk."
Ron desperately hoped he didn't look as scared as he felt, but the idea of talking about what happened, to Malfoy, terrified him. He didn't want to deal with that again.
He followed Malfoy into his living room, and offered him a place on the sofa. He went to the kitchen, found two clean glasses and, sitting in a chair, gave them to Draco.
"Right then," Malfoy said, pouring two generous drinks. "Cheers," he said, taking a sip.
"So," Ron asked, after beginning to feel a bit more relaxed. "You had an idea. What was it?"
"Have another drink," Malfoy said.
Ron shook his head. "Don't want to get drunk. Need to think clearly."
Draco poured more alcohol into his glass. "No, you don't. I promise. You want to be nice and drunk for this." He leaned down into Ron and whispered, "We need to have sex."
Ron stared at Draco, took an enormous drink from his glass, and swallowed, grimacing at the burn. "What did you say?" he asked.
"It's all about controlling our power. Your power, my power. We can't get our elemental magic to balance out." Draco put his glass down and said, Accio candle!. After a few moments, he asked, "You don't have any candles?"
"Why would I have a candle?" Ron asked, beginning to feel a bit pissed.
Draco smiled, and repeated his spell, this time for matches, which flew through the air and landed in his opened palm. He drank the last of his Firewhiskey and refilled his glass with a bit of water from the end of his wand.
"Observe," he said quietly. "When I take the flame and add the water to it," he said, pouring a bit of the water on the match, "the flame is extinguished."
"Thank you, Professor, I already knew that."
"But look," Draco said, ignoring Ron's sarcasm. "We take the same flame, and this time, the flame controls the water," he said, floating the conjured water in the glass midair between them. The flame danced underneath the glass, heating it, until the water began to boil and-
"Steam," Draco said proudly. "That's what's supposed to happen. That's how our magic is supposed to meld."
Ron stared at the wispy tendrils of steam floating in the air. "That's all well and good, Malfoy, but that still doesn't tell me what I am doing wrong!"
"It's not just you, Ron. I'm not controlling my magic well, and I'm a bit more powerful than you, magically speaking," Draco added as Ron's eyes darkened.
"Yes, I agree with that," Ron admitted.
"So we have to increase your magical power in relation to me," Draco said, speaking quickly, "and I think the best way to accomplish this is for you to control our copulation."
"Come again, Malfoy?"
Draco sighed. "You need to fuck me."
Ron was across the floor before the words fully left Draco's lips. He crushed his mouth against Draco's, silencing any more language between the two for the next couple of hours, other than grunts, moans, and the occasional snicker.
They had migrated to Ron's bedroom sometime that evening. Ron couldn't remember exactly when or how, but he knew there were pillows and sheets and rolling around and no hiding from everyone and Draco. Draco, sprawled across his bed, without a stitch of clothes.
"Why didn't we ever do that?" Ron asked, taking deep breaths, trying not to fall asleep.
Draco rolled over to look at him, his face flushed and gorgeous. "We weren’t ready," he said sagely.
"We were ready to run off together but we weren't ready for sex?"
Draco shrugged. An uneasy quiet filled the room. "Weasley, since you brought it up, I feel like I have to ask you." He sat up, propped against a pillow. "Why didn't you show up that night?"
Ron stared. "I was there, I was there all night. I waited for you," he repeated. "Hell, I got there early, before midnight, and waited until dawn."
Draco stared back at Ron. "Nine. I said nine. You were there late?"
Ron shook his head, "No, no, I sent you an owl, telling you I'd be late. You said midnight."
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Draco said, his hands in the air.
Ron rolled off the bed and pulled out a box from underneath it. He began digging through it, tossing aside letters, old photographs, and a yellowed Chudley Cannons schedule until he found the folded piece of parchment. "Here," he said, tossing the letter at Draco. "You responded. You agreed to the change."
Draco shook his head sadly. "No...Ron, I never saw any letter from you. I didn't write this."
Draco fingered the letter, his face frowning in concentration. "I didn't send this, Ron," he said again. He looked at the green sealing wax. "That's a Slytherin signet ring, but mine is different."
Twisting the ring off of his finger, he held it up to Ron. It was silver, probably elven-wrought, Ron thought, making it more expensive than anything Ron owned, and displayed a serpent twined around a large script M.
Draco continued staring at the letter. "I thought you didn't... I thought it was some joke you were pulling on me, making me wait for you. I figured you and Potter were off somewhere, laughing." He shook his head, handing the letter back to Ron. "I didn't send this. I was waiting for you."
"Pansy," Ron said quietly. "She found out, used her ring. She hates me, always has."
Draco shook his head. "I don't think so, Weasley. She knew something was up, but if she ever suspected this," he said, motioning between himself and Ron, "she would have vocalised her objections, if you know what I mean." Draco took a deep breath. "In any event, the next day you were gone and..." Draco didn't finish. He didn't have to. Ron knew what had happened next.
"Draco, I waited there all night," Ron finally answered. "Got royally pissed. I don't know what I was thinking, I was just so angry at you. I wanted to hurt you, show you that I didn't need you. It hadn't taken too much convincing for Hermione to agree to elope." Ron hung his head. "So much wasted time," he said mournfully.
"Not wasted." Draco reached up and lifted Ron's chin. "We were both a mess back then. Who knows what would have happened. But things are better now. You have your business. I have my sanity. We're in a much better place to make a proper start, if you're interested," he said, sounding just a bit nervous.
"But the letter..."
"We'll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight, we need to practice our mingling," Draco whispered between kisses and bites.
"You know," Ron said as he rolled on top of Draco, "I'm almost certain this isn't what Harry meant by melding."
"Ron, Ron, are you there?"
One bleary eye opened up and looked at the clock. Quarter past six. Fucking Harry Potter.
"Coming," he said loudly, as he rolled over Draco's sleeping form, pausing only to wrap a towel around his waist before trodding into the living room.
"Um, everything okay?" Harry asked, his face dancing in the green flames.
"It's six-fifteen, Harry. Is someone dead?"
"No, I just..." Harry somehow managed to look sheepish. "I felt that something had clicked last night, that you and Malfoy might have solved your problem. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, mate, it's fine. No more problems - we 'melded'. You probably don't want to know more than that."
"Right," Harry replied, probably blushing, but it was hard to tell with the green flames and all. "I don't want to rush you, but we've had some more incidents overnight, and..." he nodded his head vigorously, "can we all meet up soon? I can get Neville in here by ten this morning."
"Ten should be fine," Malfoy said, walking into the room, a matching towel around his waist.
"Malfoy," Harry said. He looked at Ron one more time, then sighed. "Right, then. I'll see you both at the Ministry at ten." His head disappeared with a small 'poof'.
After all the build-up, the Marriage of Heaven and Earth ceremony felt rather anti-climatic. The four wizards all held their wands together and said the proper spells. Their individual elements flew from their respective wands, merged together for a brief moment and, in a flash of light, disappeared.
"Was that all?" Neville asked. He turned to Ron. "Seems like there should be more to it than that."
"The hard part was the getting the pairs to mix," Hermione added from the other side of the room. "We should know almost immediately if this worked."
Draco stretched and turned to Ron. "Are we done, or did you want to stay longer to see if this worked?"
Ron shook his head, "No, I'm exhausted. Let's go back home, I need a nap before lunch." He turned to Harry. "Are we excused, Professor?" he asked sarcastically.
"Yeah, go ahead, I'll let you two know if we need you again. That alright, Hermione?"
Ron turned to look at Hermione, who was staring at him as Draco wrapped an arm around him. She looked at Ron with a flash of anger and left the room.
"Um, you guys wait here a minute, okay?" Harry said, following her out of the room.
"You know what's going on?" Draco asked.
"Not a clue, except maybe a gay ex-husband," Ron answered. "But with her, it could be anything."
Not ten minutes had passed before Harry and Hermione returned, her eyes puffy and red. Harry looked as angry as Ron had ever seen him.
"Okay, it's time for all of us to talk. Technically, this isn't my business, but some of you have made it my business," he said, looking at Ron, "so I am including myself in this conversation. Let's begin by talking about the night of Ron's twentieth birthday party." No one said anything.
"Right," Harry said. "So I'll say it. Ron was planning on leaving that night with Draco. I knew that and should have said something, but I didn't, and I'm sorry, Hermione."
She began to cry again, shaking softly.
He turned to her. "But what you did was also unforgivable. "
"What? What did she do?" Ron turned to Harry. "She didn't know what was going on, I couldn't find her to tell her."
"Ron, when have you ever done anything that she hasn't found out about?" Harry spoke harshly. "Of course she knew. You found out, didn't you?" She nodded. "And when Ron sent the letter to Draco, you intercepted it."
Ron looked stunned. "But how?"
This time Draco answered. "She knew what my handwriting looked like. And I'll wager she could transfigure a pretty decent Slytherin signet ring."
Hermione stopped crying. "Ron," she said, "I'm sorry. I was afraid I was going to lose you, and I honestly, truly thought I was doing the right thing." Wiping her cheeks, she continued. "I only wanted what was best for you, Ron, what was best for us. I couldn't let you leave with him," she said, motioning at Draco.
"You knew we were..."
"Oh Ron," she said, "you can't keep a secret, don't you know? It was written all over your face. That's why your Mum and I wanted to speed things up, get us started, on our own, so you would outgrow whatever phase you were going through," she sniffed. "At least that's what I thought I was doing. But we were so young, how could I know..." She looked up at Ron and Draco. "I messed it all up, and I'm so sorry."
She sat quietly as Harry put an arm around her. "I'm taking her back to our place, to let her talk to Ginny for a while. I'll let you guys know if anything else happens."
"Thanks, Harry," Ron said, as Harry led Hermione out the door.
"Thank you, Potter," Draco added. Harry nodded his head, and left.
"Have you spoken with Potter yet?" Draco asked, towelling off his hair.
Ron nodded, sprawled out next to the fireplace. "Yeah, he firecalled while you were in the shower. The barriers have been strengthened, and the magic that separates us from the Muggles appears to be intact."
"Well done," Draco added. "And Granger?"
"Sounds like she and my sister are having a good cry, although I don't know what Ginny would be upset about." Ron rolled his eyes. "Maybe they just like to cry in pairs."
"Well, if she's your sister, I'm sure she has some of your elemental magic, and being fiery as well, feels emotion most keenly."
"You know, I still don't quite understand all this elemental magic stuff. I mean, I know that Harry is a good flier, so he's at home in the air, and Neville loves plants, so he's always in dirt." Ron yawned. "But fire? What does that have to do with me?"
Draco laughed. "Do you even understand why you are fire?" Draco looked at Ron, "Because you burn, Weasley. You are full of fire, of passion. You spill over with life," he said, sitting down next to him.
Ron sat for a moment. "Okay," he said slowly. "Then why water? For you, I mean."
Draco raised his eyebrow. "It means I am deep."
Draco's face fell. "I am deep. I am mysterious and have fathoms, fathoms inside me. You can't understand because you are so busy burning all your emotions up, but some of us hold onto everything. We never let go."
"Get over here, Malfoy," Ron said, pulling him close to him. "I show you never letting go," he whispered quietly in Draco's ear. "You aren't going anywhere without me, ever again."
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