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February 2014

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Birthday fic for hildigunnur: Saving Harry Thing - Part 1

So last Saturday it was hildigunnur's birthday. Now, Hildi is the person who is most likely to be directly responsible for my fic writing - regardless of the fact that she's responsible for introducing me to fanfiction in the first place. So I wrote a story as per her specifications ;)

It's an interesting thing, because during my time in the HP fandom, I've written huge amounts of Ron/Harry stuff, but never anything that I posted. They've either fizzled out and died, or they've been written to scratch a particular itch.

This story was kind of meant to scratch a particular itch, too. Except then it grew a plot. I hate it when fic does that ;)

So, happy birthday hildigunnur! I am proud to be your friend.

Title: Saving Harry Thing, Part 1 of 2 (too many words to fit in one post).
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Ron/Harry. Mentions of past Ron/Hermione.
Word Count: 11.766 words. I just. What?
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K.Rowling and her publishers, as well as Warner Bros. The following story is for my own and other's entertainment; no money is being made.
Author notes: Um. There's quite a few of them, this time around. doctoraicha, second_batgirl, seviet, stereom and vagabondpenguin were all important in helping me nail this particular vat of jello to this particular tree. Then there's salixbabylon, who holds my hand and fixes my punctuation and tells me my smut is hot. They're all the best!

Summary: Ron tried to keep it in the abstract – like, he was allowed to realize that Harry was attractive, as long as he wasn't attracted.
Feedback: Is better than fresh made cookies.



Stunned silence fell over Auror Headquarters as he and Harry came through the double doors at the end of the hall.

The reaction wasn't exactly unanticipated by either of them. Harry was bleeding from one cheek, limping, his expression grim. Ron tenderly held his left arm to his chest, his face bruised, and left bloody footprints wherever he stepped down. They looked a right mess, and they knew it.

They hobbled their way towards the office of the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, neither of them speaking as heads turned to watch them.

Shacklebolt looked up from his desk when they entered his office and stared at them in surprise, taking in the appearance of his two best Aurors, who he hadn't seen look this battered since the end of the war, then stood up to close the door behind them.

"So," he said, once they had some privacy, "It wasn't a griffin, then?"

+++

By the time Harry finally defeated Voldemort, all of them had lost count of how many lives he'd saved. As Hermione put it, even if someone had trailed him twenty-four/seven with an abacus, there was just no calculating how many lives were collaterally spared once the Big Bad was out of the picture.

Ron had always thought that would be that. Voldemort would be dead and apart from throwing scumbags like Malfoy in jail, lives would mostly be gotten on with, endings would generally be happy and sunsets would be ridden into.

Well, to be fair, they had gotten on with their lives. It was just that their lives had occasionally taken them places they hadn't foreseen. Ron, certainly, had not imagined that four years after Harry offed Voldemort he'd be single and living with his gay best friend (and The Saviour Of The Wizarding World, although Ron only used the title when he wanted to annoy Harry into doing the dishes), his ex-fiancée having taken up with his older, more bookish, rule-abiding brother.

And while he always knew he wanted to be an Auror, he hadn't ever thought that Harry would want to pursue that career after the war was over. He'd figured that Harry would go on to fly for England in Quidditch or something. But Harry had turned out to be very serious about wanting to be an Auror, so that was what they were, the both of them.

+++

"It wasn't a griffin," Harry confirmed. "It was a bicorn."

There was a moment of silence in the office as Kingsley blanched – realizing that it was a miracle that they were both alive, that very few of his other Aurors would have made it out alive, figuring out that whatever was going on in that remote bit of Wales was much bigger than a marauding wild beast, and coming to terms with the amount of overtime this would surely call for.

"Are you certain it was a bicorn?" he finally asked.

"Yeah. It couldn't have been anything else," Ron said. "There has to be someone keeping it."

"It was well-fed. And aggressive," Harry added.

"Damn," Shacklebolt sighed. "There's no rational explanation for this, that I know of. We'll have to figure out what the hell is going on."

"Missing males," Harry ticked off on his fingers, "Probably mostly Muggles. Since it must be a Wizard, we can expect them to be from a large area. Magical energy. Apparitions in and out of the area..."

"Unregistered wands," Ron added.

"Right," Harry said, ticking down a fourth finger, then going on. "Recent non-legal activity of any sort. Rumours and whispers in the Dark Arts community. Other sightings of dangerous beasts. Increased communications with known criminals..."

"And known Dark Arts practitioners still at large," Ron finished.

"Damn," Kingsley repeated. "All right. I'll get this started. The two of you get patched up and report back in the morning."

+++

When Ron Apparated into the flat after having his shoulder tended to, he found Harry in the living room, wearing nothing but a towel, digging through the bookshelf, probably for something nice and Quidditch-related. "I thought you were supposed to keep that foot elevated?" he said, alerting Harry to his presence.

"Eh," Harry replied dismissively. "They fix the shoulder?"

"Yeah, no problem. I'm supposed to rest and relax, and preferably do desk duty for a few days. Fat chance; we're on this case if I know Kingsley at all."

"Probably," Harry agreed. "We going out for tea? There's nothing in the icebox."

"There's nothing edible in the icebox," Ron corrected. "That thing on the second shelf is probably sentient by now."

"It's an experiment." Harry grinned. "If we're going out, I'm going to dress," he added, turning around and heading for his bedroom. "You might want to change, too," he threw over his shoulder. "The 'beaten bloody' look isn't your most flattering."

Ron made an assenting noise and tried to refrain from checking out Harry's arse in that towel, but failed utterly.

+++

It wasn't a bad life or anything. He was just lonely, after he broke up with Hermione and moved in with Harry. Ron just didn't particularly like being single, that's all. At least he had his friends – he'd be a lot lonelier if he wasn't living with Harry, that was for certain.

Harry had it easier, he thought. Harry had the liberty to be whoever he wanted, however he wanted; he'd still be the Wizarding World's golden boy, no matter what he did. It was part of his appeal; at some point after the war, Harry had simply decided to make the best of things. Having faced down Voldemort, there just wasn't that much that could rattle him anymore, and he used it to his advantage – turning his 'Saving People Thing' into a career, publicly dating a bloke, and simply having a life regardless of what anybody said. The last time Ron could remember seeing Harry anywhere close to upset, it had been when he broke up with Terry.

Ron, on the other hand, had a family who expected certain things of him – five older brothers, a younger sister who had never quite given up on the dream of Harry, and a mother who had been devastated when his relationship with Hermione fell through. There were expectations that he wanted to meet, things he should at least attempt to live up to. He couldn't just do what he wanted and damn the consequences.

Also, it was probably just that he'd lived with Harry for so long now that they'd gotten used to each other. They really were like an old married couple. Apart from the intimate bits, of course. And Harry was the best friend a bloke could ask for, really. He was neither too messy, nor too tidy. He was a good listener and always willing to help his friends out with anything. When Ron had turned up on Harry's doorstep after breaking up with Hermione – which had been the hardest thing he'd ever done, and possibly the bravest, too – Harry had taken one look at him and said, "You can have the second bedroom."

And that had been that.

Though sometimes – usually when Harry is entertaining company of the kind that makes Ron blush to think about – he can't help but wonder, what if it hadn't been? What if it had been something more?

+++

"You're leaving the house? Wearing that?"

"Oi, shut up, Potter," Ron said, flipping Harry the bird. Harry smirked back at him and Apparated away, leaving Ron to scramble for his wand to follow. There was nothing wrong with his clothes, and they both knew that – Harry just liked pushing his buttons.

The small pub was close to the Ministry and was frequented by Aurors, so it wasn't unusual to have a few people look up and wave at them as they made their way to a table in the back. There was an unspoken agreement that people were allowed to eat in peace, but both of them knew that as soon as their plates were cleared away, they'd be besieged by people asking questions about their case.

They had managed to eat their dinner, field most of the questions, turn down several offers of drinks, and were thinking about going home when someone slid into the chair next to Harry.

His name was Conrad, and Ron despised him. He wasn't precisely sure why, because Conrad was actually a pretty nice guy. As a matter of fact, Ron had gotten along with him just fine until a few weeks ago. Okay, so Ron had gotten along with him just fine until he had asked Harry out.

The asking Harry out bit hadn't been what bothered him. Harry got asked out all the time. No, it was the fact that Harry had actually gone – and enjoyed himself enough to talk about it afterwards. That was unusual. Harry, for all that he could have anybody he desired, didn't really seem to want that. They didn't talk about relationships a lot, but there had been a talk, when Ron moved into Harry's place, about… particular types of etiquette.

Ron mostly remembered blushing furiously and nodding in agreement to everything that Harry said, but he'd also noticed a few things. Harry didn't have flings. He had relationships. He wasn't precisely looking for that special someone to spend the rest of his life with, but he wasn't just in it for the sex, either.

Which meant that Conrad was a problem, because he was clearly nowhere near good enough for Harry.

So when Conrad sat down at their table like it was the most natural thing in the world and touched Harry's cheek where his cut had just been healed, Ron had to grind his teeth and try not to frown. Or burst out with something idiotic.

"… you guys looked pretty beat up," he was saying to Harry, who was – damnit! – leaning into the caress just the tiniest bit. Enough for Ron to see it, at least.

"It was a pretty rough afternoon," Harry replied, smiling. "It's not every day you come across a bicorn where you least expect it."

"Did you kill it?" Conrad asked, finally dropping his hand, after much too long, in Ron's opinion. Then he noticed that Conrad had dropped his hand on top of Harry's, and looked away, trying not to look as murderous as he felt.

"Nah, just got out of its way and ran like hell." Harry wasn't pulling his hand away.

"Sounds like the smart thing to do," Conrad said smiling. "So I guess there's overtime in our futures, eh?"

"I'm getting all the sleep that I can tonight, because I don't anticipate getting any for the next week at least."

Conrad grinned. He was really very attractive, Ron's treacherous brain supplied. Nice smile. Dimples.

"I could help you relax," he suggested coyly, and Ron hastily revised his opinion. Not attractive at all.

Fortunately for his sanity, Harry just chuckled and shook his head. "Thanks for the excellent offer, but I really need the sleep," he replied.

Conrad had the grace to look only mildly disappointed. "Sure thing," he said, giving Harry's hand – which he was still holding – a last squeeze before getting up. "See you in the morning, then."

When he was out of earshot, Ron finally breathed normally again and tried to relax the hands that he'd balled into fists under the table.

"Coming, honey?" Harry asked cheekily, and Ron noticed that he'd stood up and put his jacket on.

"I, er, yeah. Just a minute," he replied, getting all his stuff in order before Apparating back to their flat.

+++

"Oh, Merlin," Ron wailed, slumping against the wall of their shared cubicle, though careful not to spill the tea he'd gone to fetch.

"I was just thinking the same thing," Harry said from behind the tallest stack of parchment.

"What are all those?" Ron asked, delicately picking his way into the small space, trying not to topple anything.

"Thaumaturgical surveys," Harry said, waving his hand at the largest stack. "Apparition listings…" A smaller stack, "… and non-registered wand activity." That one was a pile, not a stack. "We're waiting for more stuff. We'll get some help with this, I think, but we really need to get all this information cross-referenced. Oh, thanks," he added, taking the teacup that Ron handed to him.

"Also, that thin folder on your chair is the missing persons list from the Muggle authorities. Have I mentioned how I wish the information from our lot could be this orderly?"

"At least once a week," Ron replied, picking up the folder and flicking the cover open.

Two hours later he leaned back against the back of his chair, letting his head fall back. "What on earth would possess a culture to name a village 'Froncysyllte'?" he moaned.

"Hmmmm," Harry said without looking up from the scroll he was perusing.

"Find anything?"

"An unregistered Animagus in Wrexham, and what's probably a Muggleborn child somewhere north of there," he replied. "The rest is all just general stuff, nothing that catches my interest on its own."

"We need Hermione," Ron sighed. "Why did she leave us again?"

"Because I hated Auror Academy?" said a light feminine voice from the other side of the parchment stacks, and then Hermione stepped into view.

"Oh, thank Merlin," Ron said. "Talk about good timing. Hermione, what do you want? You can have anything, anything at all, if you help us with this."

Hermione eyed the tower of parchment in the middle of the cubicle curiously. "I heard something about a scuffle?" she asked, and pulled a parchment off the top of a pile, scanning it. "In Wales?" she added.

"We got attacked by a bicorn," Harry said, still seeming to be enamoured of his roll of parchment.

Hermione's head snapped up from her perusal of their paperwork. "A bicorn? That's big."

"Hand me that Ordnance Survey map," Harry said by way of reply, holding out his hand while Ron retrieved the map from a tottering pile of parchment.

Harry unfolded the map and trailed his finger along it until he found what he was looking for. "Huh," he said.

"What?" Ron and Hermione asked at the same time.

"What was going on in Froncysyllte, Ron?"

"An older gent named John went missing. Why?"

"There's something funny going on… here." He pointed towards a small red circle on the map. "Lot of energy going around in the village below. It's a part-Wizarding town, apparently, so you'd expect Magical energy and Apparitions, but there seems to be an increase in the last two months. Of course, with such a small town, a single family moving in would cause that, but… you'd expect to see some energy everywhere, right?" He looked up at Hermione.

"Yeah," she replied. "It's pretty fluid. There's ambient energy all around."

"Well, not right there, there isn't. It's like a blank spot. Doesn't show any reading at all."

"That's very abnormal," Hermione said, frowning. "What is it?"

Harry's finger followed the text attached to the little red dot. "Castell Dinas Bran," he read.

+++

Four hours later, all three of them were sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring agape at the Ordnance survey map, empty take-out boxes scattered around them.

Hermione broke the silence. "Oh, wow. I didn't expect that to work."

"Come off it, Hermione," Ron said slowly. "You do this for a living. Your spells always work."

"Not the first time," she replied.

Hermione had spent hours enspelling all their parchment and being very mysterious about her purposes. "I just want to try something," she said. Once she'd been sure that every last memo had seen the business end of her wand, she'd levitated the entire pile into a hovering mass above their cubicle. Several of their co-workers had come to investigate, but Hermione's reputation was well-established; most people took one look inside, shrugged, and went back to work.

Conrad had shown up and flirted with Harry, to Ron's consternation. Hermione had smirked knowingly at him while Harry's attention was elsewhere, though Ron couldn't figure out what he'd done to earn such a smirk.

Then they'd spread the map out on the floor, stood back and Hermione had done some tricky-looking wandwork, the result of which was the luminescent picture in front of them. Somehow, Hermione had managed to make the contours of the landscape rise from the map like a ghost of the countryside.

And not just that. As if they'd needed any extra proof that Hermione was a genius, somehow she'd managed to translate the information from their mountain of parchment into bright splotches of different colours on the map. The town of Llangollen lit up like a Christmas tree, in stark contrast with the castle ruins above it, which seemed to be encased in a bubble of darkness.

"What's that?" Ron and Harry asked at the same time, pointing towards the same bright yellow spot at the bottom of the castle hill. Their hands brushed slightly and Ron had to fight the impulse to pull back as if burned.

"A common Apparition spot," Hermione replied, frowning at the splotch of brightness.

"These aren't in the village," Harry said, looking at a multitude of yellow specks flecking certain areas of the town. "They don't seem to have a single Apparition point."

"Look," Hermione said and waved her wand again, making all the colours flicker and dim – except red.

"What's red stand for?" Ron asked, eyeing the map – there were several red dots, all over the area.

"Missing men," Hermione whispered.

Harry broke their apprehensive silence after a few moments by sighing. "I guess this can only mean one thing, then. We've got to go speak to Snape."

He said the last word in the same tone a condemned man might name his executioner. Hermione hid a giggle in the palm of her hand, and Ron, managing to squash his amusement, patted Harry's shoulder and said in the most normal voice he could manage, "Awww, Harry, I'll be there to protect you from the evil potions teacher."

Harry sulked anyway.

+++

While the medics at the Auror Headquarters were undoubtedly some of the best in the business, there was unfortunately nothing that they could do about bruised ego. Otherwise, Ron would have taken Harry straight to Intensive Care after they left the Snape residence at Spinner's End.

They had the information they came for. Snape, with his reputation, knew that he was simply best-off working with them, and he also knew that having Harry and Ron show up on his doorstep asking questions was a far better option than having Aurors with less conviction about the location of his loyalties do the same. That did not stop him from taking absolutely every pot-shot in the book at Harry.

And poor Harry, while more self-confident these days, always let the man get under his skin.

"God, I despise him," Harry sighed tiredly after they'd Apparated into their kitchen.

"I know," Ron said.

"He's just so… argh," Harry moaned, leaning his forehead against the cold ice-box door.

"Yeah," Ron agreed.

"I wish we didn't have to deal with him."

"Harry…" Ron burst out, finally getting around to the question he'd been craving to ask for most of the day, "Do you like him? Conrad, I mean, not Snape."

Harry straightened up slowly and looked at Ron through the gloom in their kitchen. "He's nice. He makes me laugh. Also, he doesn't expect too much. I don't know, Ron. Maybe I could like him, once I get to know him properly."

Ron sighed and leaned against the kitchen table. "I don't like him."

Harry smiled at him. "You never like anyone I'm interested in, Ron. If you weren't straight I'd think you were jealous. It's nothing new."

+++

"Anything to report?" Kingsley asked them when they came through the elevator door the next morning.

"Your office?" Harry asked.

Five minutes later they were behind closed doors where they could speak more freely.

"This is an absolute nightmare of a case," Ron started.

"Did you get anything out of Snape?" Kingsley asked.

"Yeah. In between assaults on Harry's… well, everything… he told us a few things he'd heard. And of course he insulted the general intelligence of the Aurors," Ron sighed.

"How on earth are we supposed to be up on 12th century mythology, anyway?" Harry added. "Hermione had never heard of the name of the castle before. If Hermione doesn't know it, it's obscure."

Ron nodded. "Anyway. It turns out that there have been some whispers in the Dark Arts community as of late that someone has come out of hiding. Someone who used to be high up in Voldemort's ranks. Snape suspects, from the rumours, that it's Dolohov."

"Any knowledge of what he's planning?" Kingsley asked.

Harry and Ron shared a look. "We didn't really have any hints about that, no, and neither did Snape. But we think we have a relatively general idea, right now," Harry said. "When we cross-referenced all the information, we found a blank spot in the Thaumaturgical surveys." He held up a hand to stop Kingsley from telling them that there was no such thing and continued. "The spot was centred around a castle called Castell Dinas Bran, not too far from where we were mauled by the bicorn. According to Snape, and evidently 12th century historians, too, Dinas Bran was built to keep the Holy Grail safe. Myth also says that there used to be vaults beneath the castle – on the surface, it's in ruins. While the Holy Grail is long gone, Dinas Bran is apparently some sort of focal point for power."

"Meaning what?"

"That on the right occasion – which is in two nights, actually – and with the right spellwork, a Wizard inside the castle ruins can become the most powerful Wizard in history. With the added bonus of being able to access the vaults, where some pretty valuable stuff is supposed to be stored." Ron grimaced. "And powerful stuff. The blank spots on the surveys are also why we think it's Dolohov. Snape says he was some sort of genius with wards."

Kingsley stared at them. "So, let me get this straight. We have an escaped Death Eater – and one who was high up in their ranks, at that – loose in the Welsh countryside. Where he apparently keeps a bicorn as a guardian?"

"Yeah, we reckon," Harry said. "There are missing males from all over around there."

"Right. And in two nights he's going to attempt some sort of spell…"

"Snape and Hermione are both looking into it," Ron added.

"…okay, we'll know soon what sort of spell – in order to become the most powerful Wizard in history. And I presume he will then use his power to take over England and kill all Muggles and Muggleborns?"

"The usual shtick," Ron confirmed.

Harry smirked. "I wouldn't say so. There's a sinister plot that involves neither the murder nor maiming of yours truly? It's refreshing."

Kingsley shook his head in exasperation. "Does he have any followers?"

"We don't know yet. Snape says that a spell of that magnitude usually requires more than one person, but Dolohov was apparently always a powerful Wizard. Though Snape said that he could be very charismatic when he wanted to be, so he thinks there probably are followers – kids of Death Eaters, the whiners, people who lost out in the war. The regular crowd."

"And you found this out in a day? All this?"

Harry and Ron looked at each other and blushed.

"Am I to presume that Miss Granger is involved?"

"She had a nifty spell," Harry muttered.

Kingsley smirked. "I don't know if I should wish she was still with us – this way she seems to have endless time to invent spells. Well, gentlemen, we all know what to do at this point. Go put together a task force; I will go inform the Wizengamot that we are, yet again, under threat from an evil megalomaniac, and get authorization. You said two nights?" They both nodded. "That gives me time for the paperwork," he said with a sigh.

+++

Ron thinks it probably started one of the times when they went to one of Harry's clubs.

They go to different clubs. That's just the way things are. But once they started going out the same nights, they started making compromises. So occasionally, Ron finds himself dancing in gay clubs.

It's not bad. Ron has discovered that gay clubs make awesome drinks (though they tend to be on the pink and sparkly side) and the music isn't too horrible, and since Harry and Ron usually pretend to be a couple, he doesn't get hit on too much. Not that they pretend too hard, or anything. There was that one time that Harry grabbed his arse to make a point to someone who was annoyingly persistent, but apart from that they've just looked deeply into each others' eyes. That seems to take care of most of them.

But if he had to pick out a time when all his problems started, it was probably on one of those occasions – when he had managed to get way too drunk off of something bright purple and was philosophising with Harry. One of his favourite pastimes had always been to get Harry to explain what he saw in the blokes around them, so in between songs that either of them absolutely had to dance to, they'd be sitting down and Harry would be attempting to explain to Ron what a bloke could see in another bloke.

Ron isn't sure when it happened exactly, but he remembers with crystal clarity that Harry had gotten up to go dance to something he liked while he stayed behind and held their table and saved their drinks and bemusedly watched Harry out on the floor – and then suddenly he Got It.

And it had turned out to be like one of those trick pictures. Once you saw it, you couldn't unsee it.

At first he'd thought it was just Harry. Then he realized that it was just because Harry stood out for him. It wasn't that he didn't find other men attractive – he just found Harry more attractive. He tried to keep it in the abstract – like, he was allowed to realize that Harry was attractive, as long as he wasn't attracted.

Tried being the operative word. Because of course he was attracted to Harry – who wouldn't be?

He wasn't gay, though. He wasn't. It was just Harry. It was probably just a phase. It'd pass and he could go back to chasing birds like he'd… not done since before he dated Hermione.

Bollocks.

+++

Sinister plots always seemed to take place at night, Ron thought as he Apparated into the apartment. This one, too, was destined to take place at midnight, that night. They were as prepared as they would ever be; the task force had been put together, the plans had been made and the details ironed out with the help of Hermione and Snape. They had seven hours before they had to set out to stop Dolohov.

"Why can't we just crash his party right now?" Harry had asked, scarcely half an hour earlier.

Snape had sneered at him. "Do you think you are the only ones with preparations to make? You could thwart his plans if you go now, but if what you really want is to catch him…" He'd let the sentence hang in the air and shrugged.

Harry had gritted his teeth and gone to tell their team to go home and get some sleep. Ron had gone ahead – it was Harry's turn to do the grocery run and they'd need to eat something before they left. He spared a last thought to hope that Harry'd remember to buy some dishwashing liquid before they ran entirely out of glasses, before falling into his bed and into sleep almost in the same instant.

The apartment was dark and silent when he woke up a few hours later. He had a moment of confusion before he remembered that he was supposed to be waking up at ten o'clock at night, and that he'd fallen asleep in his clothes.

He was relieved to find that Harry wasn't occupying the shower, but since he wasn't sure if Harry had already finished or if he had yet to use it, he tried to use the water sparingly. Once he felt more or less human again he plodded into the kitchen, calling out to wake up Harry, just in case.

"Oi, wanker! You got to get awake, we're leaving in twenty minutes!" he shouted in no particular direction.

There was no answer.

Something cold ran down Ron's spine and he hurried to the kitchen, throwing the door to the icebox open.

There was nothing new in there. Harry had never come home.

Battling panic, Ron Apparated to the back alley behind their usual grocery store and ran inside. "Have you seen…"

The girl at the checkout counter was one of those people who always flirted with Harry and she looked up in alarm. "Your partner?"

This was not the moment to correct her, so Ron just nodded, frantic.

"He was in here this afternoon. Around four o'clock!"

"Fuck," Ron said empathically and hurried back out to Apparate to the Ministry of Magic.

+++

"Weasley. WEASLEY. Calm down!"

He was out of breath and trying hard not to become hysterical, and they were trying to tell him to calm down?

"Harry never came home !" he forced out between breaths. "He went to the grocery store at four, but he never got home!"

There was a startled silence and Ron bent double, putting his hands on his knees, and trying hard to get his breathing back to normal. If he panicked, he'd be left behind when they went to straighten this out, and that was not an option.

"I thought that Mr. Potter was not an… ingredient… in this particular plan," Shacklebolt said to Snape, who'd been there with Hermione to give the last-minute briefing.

"That doesn't stop Dolohov from wanting to kill him out of spite," Snape spat. "I know that I certainly…"

"This is not the time for one of your jokes, Snape," Ron said, forcing the words out despite the lump of pure terror in his throat.

Snape stopped and stared at him. Then he turned to Kingsley and said under his breath, "If I know Dolohov at all, he'll wait until after he's more powerful than Potter to even try. That does not mean that Potter is having a comfortable time of it – I'm going with them."

Shacklebolt opened his mouth to disagree when Hermione jumped in. "If Snape and I go, between us we can dismantle the wards. That gives the rest of them more time to do something else. Like saving Harry."

There was a long silence in the room before Shacklebolt nodded tersely. Then everybody turned towards the front of the room as Hermione started the briefing, more businesslike than ever. Ron tuned her out. He'd planned this strike and he knew precisely what he had to do.

+++

The beauty of the surrounding countryside was lost on Ron as they made their way up the hill towards where the wards started. He knew people were moving in on all sides – the original plan had been for him and Harry to lead the attack on the ruins themselves and leave the logistics to other people. He was still leading the attack but he was supposed to focus on getting Harry out of it – Terry Boot and his partner would take over from there. Unless of course Harry turned out to be in fighting shape, which was doubtful if Snape was to be believed, but there was always the possibility.

Ron had discovered in the war that he was a good fighter and a better strategist, and the plans they had put into effect back when they'd been fighting had usually been his. Harry had been the powerful fighter, their fearless leader, the man whom Ron's strategies had centred around, and Hermione – well, if she hadn't been able to find the spell they'd needed, she'd usually just gone and invented it. If Ron could dream it up, Hermione could make it happen, Harry had often said, and then Hermione had reminded him that of all the people she knew, the only one able to take a raw, unpolished spell and make it work was Harry.

Between the three of them, the plans they'd put into effect against the Death Eaters had been both elaborate and often scarily effective. As they advanced up the hill, waiting for Hermione and Snape to trip up the wards, Ron tried to tell himself that this was a plan that they'd concocted together, and surely, it had to be just as efficient.

Then the very air in front of him seemed to shimmer and melt. The wards had gone down, the world was suddenly filled with noise and chaos, and Ron's focus narrowed on his goal. Get to the ruins. Get Harry. Get out.

There were shouts – the ones from his left probably meant that the folks from the Magical Creatures department were grappling with the bicorn, while the ones from his right were standard warnings to shield their eyes against the light globes they were throwing into the air.

There were figures moving through the castle ruins up ahead and Ron saw them briefly in stark contrast against the sky as the globes went into effect, throwing a blaze of light over everything.

Get to the ruins. Get Harry. Get out.

They were running up the hill, zigzagging a bit to avoid being hit by any potential spells. Ron readied his wand and hit a cloaked someone with a stunning spell, then another one with a full-body bind. The hill was steep and long, and the people at the top had a certain advantage, but they had to recognize that they were surrounded.

There was a loud crackling sound that seemed to split the air as temporary anti-Apparition wards snapped up around the hill. And then the shady figures at the top started shooting spells pell-mell in any direction. Ron ducked, then threw himself sideways out of the way, then gained his feet again and kept running.

Get to the ruins. Get Harry. Get out.

Heart thundering in his chest, he ran as hard as he could, uphill, towards the broken archways that were visible, plain as day, in the artificial light. Towards Harry. He had to save Harry.

He made it to the top, and out of the corner of his eyes he could see his compatriots just behind him, so rather than take cover and shoot from behind a broken pillar, he simply jumped through what seemed to have been a window, landing with a roll on the other side. There were five still standing inside, though Ron suspected that at least some of the lumps he could see lying around on the floor had to be people. He shut the thought out and scanned the ruins for Harry, absently firing off a spell towards the first one to try to attack him.

Then Terry and his partner landed inside and Ron didn't have to think about that anymore.

Get Harry. Get out.

Harry had been tied to an iron peg in the wall on the other side of the ruins, hands above his head. Ron was there in an instant, untying the rope that bound his hands, then stepping forward to catch him as Harry slumped against him.

"Seems like…" Harry croaked against his neck, "I spoke too soon. Earlier."

"Apparently they're pissed at you," Ron said, lowering Harry to the floor of the castle, digging through his provisions to find the water bottle. Harry was looking rather beat up – he had two black eyes and his lip was split. He'd be sporting an array of bruises tomorrow, that was for sure.

"Can't… imagine why," Harry said, smiling faintly, then took the drink and chugged down half the bottle.

"Can you walk?" Ron asked.

"No. They cut the ligament in my ankles." Harry grimaced.

"Eurgh," Ron said. "Plan B then."

Harry's invisibility cloak didn't quite reach Ron's ankles, especially as he was carrying Harry, but in the confusion nobody was exactly on the lookout for two seemingly disembodied feet making their way down the hill towards where he knew Hermione and Snape were waiting to let them through the wards.

Get out.

They had to detour around mini-battles, where fellow Aurors were bringing down those who hadn't been caught inside the ruins. Multicoloured sparks flew through the air, making the sharp shadows cast by the light globes waver and flicker. The hill was steep and Ron had to try to hurry and pick his steps carefully at the same time, carrying Harry and hoping that he wouldn't step on something that was loose – he'd just tumble down the rest of the hill and into Hermione's wards.

Hermione must've either seen his feet approach, or noticed some rustling grass, because she just waved them through with an incantation. Once they were on the other side of the wards, the silence was eerie, after all the noise, though Ron barely took a moment to register it; as soon as they were in the clear, he Apparated both of them to the infirmary of the Magical Law Enforcement squad, where there were beds and medics waiting.



Go on to Part 2

Comments

Three words:

Exciting, funny and adorable! That is to say, the plot's exciting, the conversation is funny and the Ron/Harry is adorable. :)

Will there be more? *puppy eyes*
Um... since you commented to Part 1, I have to ask, did you see the link to Part 2?
I saw it like two seconds after I pressed "Post Comment" xD

Have read and commented on part two now. ;)
Heheheh *giggles*
Btw, I got an icon for you. xD
OH MY GOD! I'M GOING TO GO GET A PAID ACCOUNT JUST SO THAT I CAN SNAG THIS ICON!!!
Thought you might like it. xD
  • OK, I found this at five to 8 and my kids wree putting tehir shpes on, but I cut'n'pasted it into a doc and printed it out at 8pt so I could read it on the train, and it still took up 12 pages and we were a little bit late for school, but it was worth it!

  • I order you to write more Harry/Ron - it was utterly lovely!

  • Then he noticed that Conrad had dropped his hand on top of Harry's, and looked away, trying not to look as murderous as he felt

    This is a lovely jealous!Ron.

  • "The spot was centred around a castle called Castell Dinas Bran, not too far from where we were mauled by the bicorn. According to Snape, and evidently 12th century historians, too, Dinas Bran was built to keep the Holy Grail safe. Myth also says that there used to be vaults beneath the castle – on the surface, it's in ruins. While the Holy Grail is long gone, Dinas Bran is apparently some sort of focal point for power."

    *gets very overexcited at history and Welshness and plot and geography*

  • And it had turned out to be like one of those trick pictures. Once you saw it, you couldn't unsee it

    OMG.

    This is one of the most perfect lines I have ever read.

    I would offer to have it's babies, but we have only just met.
  • uh - were putting their shoes on - bugger, I'm a crap typer...
    Eeee, I love getting detailed reviews like these!

    Um. I order you to write more Harry/Ron

    Considering that this story REFUSED to END in my head, um, that just might happen.

    Welshness = awesomeness. I spent some time in Wales last summer, it's gorgeous.

    This is one of the most perfect lines I have ever read.

    *blushes*

    *toes carpet*

    Thank you!
    Yay!
    Very interresting story. I like how you portrayed everyone. And I hope you'll post more of your stories. We all need more Harry/Ron ^_^