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Notes: Written for Under Lucius, who asked for Harry/Ron with Doxy-infested curtains.
When Ron next saw Harry, before the beginning of their sixth year, it was back on the doorstep of 12 Grimmauld Place. Ron wondered if Dumbledore were mad, bringing Harry back here--so soon after Sirius' death, only a year since their last stay at the house in August 1995. Still, it was all about safety--and Harry didn't seem to be putting up much of an argument when Kingsley Shacklebolt urged him forward.
Lupin was the only one living here now--and when he opened the door his face was much older than Ron remembered it--grayer, thinner, lined not so much with worry as with grief. He tried to embrace Harry when they entered, but Harry stood stiffly in the circle of his arms--eyes vacant, dark, skin pale as though he hadn't once ventured outside of his room at the Dursleys'. He too looked thin, as though he hadn't been eating--but there was no grief in his face--there was nothing at all, really, except for the occasional flash of irritation when someone laid a friendly hand on his shoulder or tried to get him to speak. A pity Hermione wasn't here yet--she might have said something, done something.
He didn't speak to Ron either, apart from a curt 'Hello' and a few casual sentences before he began unpacking his things--and Ron felt a short, quiet surge of anger at that--it wasn't his fault that Sirius had died--no one here was to blame for that at all!
That's why it was a surprise when, during dinner with the Order a week later, when everyone was eating Remus Lupin's plain stew, Harry exploded.
Ron couldn't even remember when exactly, except it had to do with Snape saying something about taking responsibility for one's actions--and suddenly there was the loud screech of a chair being pushed back--and everyone turned to look at Harry, who was panting, face flushed, eyes glittering with rage. 'Fuck you,' he said shakily, 'fuck you all.' And he shoved his chair aside so viciously that it fell, cracking loudly against the edge of the table, and then Harry was running out of the kitchen, footsteps echoing, back up the stairs.
A moment of shocked silence--in which Snape's mouth curled in an expression somewhere between a sneer and a grimace--and Lupin began to rise, somewhat hesitantly, before Ron stood up and said, so quickly he surprised himself: 'I'll go after him.'
And so he went.
He found Harry in the upstairs drawing room, sitting on the floor with his back against the Doxy-infested curtains--well, they weren't infested anymore--and Harry had his face buried in his knees, and his arms wrapped around them, and suddenly he looked so much like a child that the flare of anger Ron had been feeling for him all week died down a little.
Harry didn't pull away when Ron knelt next to him awkwardly, reaching out an arm to sling it warmly across Harry's shoulders--the back of Harry's neck was sweaty against Ron's wrist, and then his palm, and it was only then that Ron realized that he was touching Harry like that, stroking the skin there, soothing Harry as one would a wounded animal.
Ron's pulse was still beating loudly, because Harry was so unpredictable these days--he might turn around and push Ron away, maybe even hit him--but instead Harry only loosened, degree by degree, his body warming as the silence in the room grew more heavy, and Ron's hand couldn't quite seem to pull away from Harry's skin, and he could hear Harry's every breath now, rasping in and out, loud, steady, regular.
It didn't take long then for Harry to uncurl--for him to turn so that their chests were pressed against each other, damp t-shirt to damp t-shirt--and Ron couldn't see his face this close, and now Harry's fingers were curling around the nape of his neck, and on his lips Ron tasted the wet salt of tears, warm from Harry's face. Then Harry moved down so that their legs tangled together and his face was buried in Ron's shoulder--and his mouth was hot and wet and open against the side of Ron's neck, taking gasping, shuddering breaths, and above the roaring of his pulse Ron barely heard Harry whisper: 'Fuck you.' Harry's mouth moved against his skin. His fingers were tight in Ron's hair, cruel. 'Fuck you.'
Ron didn't say anything. He only wrapped his arms around Harry and pulled him closer, and slid one hand down to Harry's waist, to the rough rise of denim, before sliding up again, under Harry's shirt, resting against the flushed heat of Harry's back. Everything seemed to darken slowly, as the curtained light of sunset faded from the room--and the carpet was rough under his legs, and Harry was alive in his arms, and when someone opened the door to let in a crack of light Ron didn't even bother glancing up to see if it was Lupin, because after a long pause the door closed again, leaving them in darkness, Harry's heart beating against his own.
* FIN *