Title: A Thoughtful Gift
Challenge: Neville gives Harry and Ron an unusual plant with some aphrodisiac qualities.
Summary: If you want something done right, you’d best do it yourself.
Warnings: Language, sexual situations, mention of past Ron/Hermione
Word Count: 5,325
Notes: Written for the hprwfqf. Many thanks to two of my favorite beta readers, sheepybunbuns and abigail89. You guys rock!
Neville chuckled as he strode the length of the greenhouse. While still a student, he’d often wondered what became of the all plants grown here, but now that he was working with Professor Sprout, he’d learned that the sale of plants from Hogwarts’ greenhouses was the most reliable source of funding the school had. And the order he was filling this morning made it obvious why plants were such a moneymaker – a rare Ugandan Citropsis articulate was on its way to a wealthy middle-aged witch in Godric’s Hollow for a hundred Galleons. Quite honestly, Neville was surprised that Hogwarts was allowed to grow such a potent aphrodisiac, but he supposed it was hidden well enough from the students to avoid causing too much trouble.
He pulled on some gloves and took a small cutting from the plant before carefully wrapping it for transport. The Citropsis articulate was very slow-growing, so it would be a while before the cutting grew into another saleable plant. On his way out of the greenhouse, his eyes landed on a gorgeous Flitterbloom with huge pink blossoms.
“Since I’m going to Godric’s Hollow anyway, this will be the perfect housewarming gift for Harry and Ron,” he said aloud, and he set down the Citropsis and began to box up the Flitterbloom.
“Mr. Longbottom!” shouted a voice.
“Over here,” Neville shouted back.
A tall boy hurried to the spot where Neville was working, breathing heavily and clutching his side. Neville recognized him at once as Herbert Maxwell, a sixth year NEWT student of Professor Sprout’s.
“Madam Pomfrey sent me to fetch you,” he said. “Professor Sprout has fallen ill – she thinks she might have accidentally touched some Screechsnap while they were pollinating and her hand is a swollen mess. Says she can’t teach her class of first years this afternoon and wanted me to ask you to do it.” He said this all very fast, so that Neville had to stop a moment to translate before answering.
“Of course,” Neville nodded. The boy turned to go, and Neville called, “Wait!”
The boy turned back towards Neville. “Do you have a few minutes to do me a favor, Herbert?”
Herbert nodded. “Sure. I don’t have any more classes today.”
“Well, the thing is, I really need to get these two plants to Godric’s Hollow today. Do you think you could bring them up to the Owlery and find a couple of strong birds to deliver them?” asked Neville.
Herbert stood tall and nodded importantly. “Yes, I can do that. Be happy to.”
Neville sighed with relief. He didn’t mind teaching Professor Sprout’s class, but he’d promised the Citropsis articulate to Madam Wintringham by this afternoon, and he didn’t want to break his word.
Neville pulled a sheet of parchment from his robe and tore it in half. On the first half, he wrote instructions for Madam Wintringham to keep the plant in the bedroom and to water it weekly, and he told her that its effects would be gradual, so that it might be a fortnight before she saw any “results”. He sealed the note and addressed the outside. Then, on the other half of the parchment, he wrote, “To Harry Potter and Ron Weasley – best wishes in your new house. Regards, Neville.” He sealed that note as well, and he scribbled their names on it. He tucked the notes into their respective packages and handed them to Herbert.
“Thank you, Herbert. This is a huge help to me.”
Neville hurried out of the greenhouse to find Professor Sprout’s lesson plan for the afternoon.
Herbert followed, carrying a plant in each arm and hardly able to see in front of him, which is why he failed to notice that the Venomous Tentacula had stuck a vine across his path. He tripped spectacularly, causing the plants he was carrying to fly several feet into the air before landing on the greenhouse floor with a loud thump. Fortunately, he rolled forward, so that the Venomous Tentacula just missed him by a few inches.
He crawled out of the way and went to examine the spilled plants. A Reparo spell seemed to fix the broken stems and wrinkled packaging, so he thought there might not be any lasting damage. The notes that Neville had written were missing, however. Herbert searched a minute before finding them halfway across the room.
He panicked when he realized that he had no idea which note went with which plant. Herbert recognized one plant as a Flitterbloom, but he had no idea what the other plant was.
“Ah,” he said to himself, “it’s obvious. What bloke would give his mates a plant with big pink flowers? The Flitterbloom has to be for Madam Wintringham, and this manly-looking one is for Potter and Weasley.” He nodded to himself, satisfied with his logic and replaced the notes accordingly.
The rest of the errand proceeded uneventfully. Madam Wintringham was thrilled to receive her Flitterbloom, and the Citropsis articulate was left at Harry and Ron’s front door by the owl, just as Herbert had instructed.
Harry and Ron Apparated onto the doorstep of their new house and found their way blocked by a large wrapped box.
“Who the bloody hell put that there?” asked Ron, annoyed. “I nearly landed right on it.”
Harry unlocked the front door with his wand and picked up the box. “Look. There’s a note. What does it say?”
Ron recognized the messy scrawl immediately. “To Harry Potter and Ron Weasley – best wishes in your new house. Regards, Neville.”
“Nice of him to think of us,” said Harry as he brought the box inside. He set it on the floor and opened it. “What a surprise. It’s a plant.”
Ron stared at the plant as Harry arranged it on a table next to the couch. “It’s kind of…”
“Ugly?” interrupted Harry.
Ugly was an understatement, but that was Neville, Ron supposed. “Well, yeah. But knowing Neville, it’s probably got some important property that makes it useful.”
Harry said, “Too bad neither of us paid enough attention in Herbology to figure out why it’s a nice gift. We’ll have to invite him around and have him tell us what it is.”
“We could just look it up,” offered Ron. “Do you still have your Herbology book?”
“No. Do you?”
“No.” Ron paused as he felt the familiar sinking in his gut. “I’ll bet Hermione still has her Herbology book,” he said quietly.
“Well, you know she does. She never gets rid of anything. Except, apparently, me.” He blinked twice very hard, to make sure that his eyes wouldn’t pool.
Harry put a comforting hand on Ron’s shoulder. “She didn’t say forever. She just needs some time away from us.”
“You mean me. She wants time away from me,” he sulked.
“Well, I’m not any more welcome in her flat than you are right now.”
Ron glanced at his best mate woefully. “But you weren’t dating her. Admit it, Harry. It’s hard for a bloke to hear, ‘I don’t want to see you,’ and not take it personally.”
“She’s going through a rough time. We always knew she’d end up at University and you know how serious she is about her studies. I bet she’ll get herself admitted to the Wizengamot as soon as she earns her degree.”
Ron slumped onto the couch, not comforted in the least. “Yeah, she will. Still, if I wait for her, it could be years. How do I get along for years without snogging or… you know?”
Harry made a pumping gesture with his right fist. “Same as you did all through Hogwarts, mate.”
Ron’s ears turned bright red. “Speaking of which, do you suppose Robards was joking when he said no sex or wanking for the next two weeks? He can’t really expect that, can he? Seems a bit… unnatural, doesn’t it?”
“Dunno. That thing he said about having a clear and readable magical signature on file to distinguish Auror magic from criminal magic seems to square with something Dumbledore told me.”
“Really? Because I thought it sounded like something Fred and George would have made up to have a laugh at my expense.”
“I don’t think so,” said Harry. “When Dumbledore took me to the cave to get the Horcrux, he said that each wizard leaves behind a magical signature. He used Voldemort’s that night to find the boat.”
“Still sounds fishy, if you ask me. But I suppose if Dumbledore found it useful…”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know why Robards would have told us to abstain if it wasn’t important. It’s not like he cares what we do in our off time as long as we show up to do our jobs. Anyway, I’ve gone longer than that. I’m sure I’ll be fine.” He noticed Ron blushing again and tried not to smile.
“Well, yeah, so have I,” spluttered Ron. “It just seems like a weird thing for him to ask us to do. Or not to do. You know what I mean.”
“Definitely weird, yeah. But at least Hermione won’t be around to tempt you,” said Harry.
“Yeah,” Ron said, nodding somberly. “That’s good.”
“You and I have played more Wizard’s Chess in the past five days than we played our entire last year at Hogwarts,” said Ron as he pondered his next move.
“So I’ve got you worried now, have I?” Harry replied. “You have to admit that I’ve got a lot better recently.”
“Yeah, and I’ve got a lot worse. This isn’t working, Harry. I’m too distracted.”
“But the Chess is supposed to be the distraction. You’re being a bit pathetic.”
“I’m not pathetic,” denied Ron, even though he was feeling rather sorry for himself. “I’m normal. Twenty-year-olds think about sex. I don’t know what is so important about magical signatures that we need to subject ourselves to… to…”
“Yeah. I mean what gives Robards the right—”
“Ron,” interrupted Harry, laughing. “It’s not like he’s doing this to torture us. Geez – if it’s that difficult for you to stop wanking for a couple of weeks, maybe Auror isn’t a good career for you. What are you going to do if you get captured? Give them a nightly show?”
Ron pulled a disgusted face. “God, Harry, that’s just… No, of course not. I assume that if I get captured, I’ll be a bit too worried about getting them hexed off to worry about getting off, you know? And it’s not that I can’t… refrain. It’s just that the more I try not to think about it, the more it becomes the Hippogriff in the room.”
“Well I wish you’d get a grip, Ron. Because I know that you’re thinking about it all the time, which makes me think about it all the time. I haven’t been this horny since Ginny and I…”
“Since Ginny and you what?” asked Ron, eying Harry suspiciously.
“No, you brought it up. What were you two doing?”
“Nothing,” said Harry carefully. “That’s my whole point. We never did anything, all right?”
“This is absurd. I’m going to bed,” huffed Ron.
“You can’t,” said Harry. “We agreed that we’d spend our evenings here in the lounge so that neither one of us would be tempted.”
“I think I’d be better off in a pub full of screaming witches, to tell you the truth,” said Ron. “Even you’re starting to look good to me now.”
“What’s that supposed to mean – even me? What’s wrong with me?”
“Nothing, Harry. Merlin, you’re just as uptight as I am, but at least I can admit it.”
As if to prove his superior self-control, Ron glanced at the chess board again, directed his rook to decapitate Harry’s pawn and announced, “Checkmate.”
Harry glared at him.
Ron levitated his dinner into the lounge and directed it to the coffee table with his wand. He sat far too close to Harry on the couch and almost made Harry spill his mead when their elbows hit. Harry gave him a nasty look.
“Serves you right, Harry,” said Ron. “I can hardly bend my finger because you jammed it. It’s all swollen now.”
Harry set down his glass and held out his palm. “Let me see.”
Ron rested the injured hand in Harry’s palm and wiggled his swollen pinky finger. “See? Why’d you have to fight me so hard? It was just a practice round.”
Harry examined the finger closely. “I said I was sorry. I didn’t think you’d go to your left like that. Hmmm. I can’t remember what the spell is to fix that. Can you?”
“Didn’t know there was one. If it wasn’t bleeding, Mum always just used to kiss it and send me on my way,” Ron said, breaking into a smile.
“Did she?” asked Harry. He pulled Ron’s hand towards his lips and kissed the swollen knuckles. Then he turned it over and continued to kiss the rest of Ron’s fingers, then darted his tongue between them suggestively. Finally, he licked Ron’s index finger and gently sucked it into his mouth.
“Fuck, Harry,” moaned Ron.
Ron’s words seemed to break Harry out of a trance and he quickly pulled Ron’s finger from his mouth.
“I didn’t mean to do that. Sorry…I…God…” Harry’s voice trailed off as he looked up with an expression of shock on his face.
Ron swallowed and tried to ignore the tightening in his trousers. “Well, at least the finger doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Harry didn’t laugh. It was obvious that he was completely mortified. “I don’t know what came over me. I can’t believe I just did that.”
Ron shrugged. He wasn’t the least bit bothered by Harry’s actions. To be honest, he felt relieved to know that Harry was having urges towards him as well. This abstinence thing was clearly getting to both of them, and they still had four days, eighteen hours and about twenty-two minutes to go.
“Must be my animal magnetism. Frankly, I’m surprised it took you this long,” said Ron with a smirk.
Harry furrowed his brows. “Don’t make fun, Ron. Obviously spending night after night here with you not having sex has started to send me round the twist. I think we need to spend some time apart.”
“I think you’re overreacting,” said Ron. “I’m not upset by it. And it’s not like I never thought about kissing you or anything.”
“You have?” asked Harry in surprise. “When?”
Ron’s ears turned beat red. He shouldn’t have said anything. “Earlier this week,” he admitted. “But it doesn’t matter. At this point, I might be willing to kiss a hag. I just don’t want to be alone until this stupid magical signatures test is done. Okay?”
Harry shrugged. “Yeah, okay.” He cast Ron a forlorn look that Ron interpreted to be longing. It was far too fetching to be ignored, so Ron turned away quickly.
“Hey, have you watered this plant? It’s looking kind of sad.”
“No,” said Harry. “I forgot.” He pulled out his wand and silently said “Aguamenti”. A stream of water shot from the end of his wand and he directed it towards the base of the plant.
Ron bit his lip, not knowing what to say to Harry. He should have been repulsed that his best mate would want him that way, but as he watched Harry take care of the plant, his mind wandered to thinking of ways he’d like to take care of Harry. It wasn’t helping to make the evening pass any faster.
“Exploding Snap after dinner, for something completely different?” Ron asked.
“Yeah,” said Harry. “I can use a good distraction.”
Ron practically shoved Harry inside the house as they both Apparated home. He threw his gear on the floor and ripped off his robe.
“What has got you so worked up that you couldn’t even let me finish my conversation with Waverly?”
“You can talk to him all day tomorrow, if you like. I found out something just now and we have to talk about it.”
Ron licked his lips and swallowed hard. “Sanders didn’t make it.”
“What do you mean, he didn’t make it? Didn’t make what?”
Ron made a rude gesture with his hands. “He and his girlfriend…he said she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and she held him down and climbed on top of him…”
“How do you know this?” Harry asked suspiciously.
“He told me! He’s scared to death that Robards is going to find out and he’ll get kicked out of the Aurors. He asked me whether I thought he should confess today or try to get away with it.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I said that if it were me, I’d try to get away with it,” said Ron. “Well, I grew up with Fred and George, and their policy was to never admit to anything.”
“You don’t think they’ll chuck him out of the Aurors just for that, do you? He’s very good. He’s the only one in the group besides you who I’d want as a partner.”
“Thanks, Harry.” Ron smiled. “I was hoping you’d see it that way.”
By this time, Harry had hung his Auror robes on a hook and was sitting on the couch to remove his trainers. Ron plopped himself down beside him and reached out to turn Harry towards him. “Everybody else is having a hard time with this stupid assignment, too. Why don’t we just…you know… do it, and then Sanders won’t be the only one. They’re not going to chuck out everybody.”
Harry started to laugh, but then stopped when he realized that Ron was being sincere. “So you want to just go off into our separate bedrooms and, er, come out when we’re done?” he asked incredulously.
“No!” said Ron, eyes wide. “I want to do it together. With each other.”
“I told you, Ron. I’m not—”
“I know you want to, so don’t even try to deny it, Harry. You want me and I want you and I think we should just admit it and see how it goes.”
Ron was staring at Harry intently, breathing heavily and determined not to be talked out of doing the very thing he’d been trying to deny himself for the past thirteen days.
Harry faltered. “You’re right, Ron. I do want you. And I think I’d be game to, er, mess around and stuff with you. But we should wait one more day, until after the test. Robards will—”
“Well, then he’ll really know that we didn’t wait,” said Harry. Their eyes met and they started laughing.
Ron couldn’t help himself. Harry smiling at him like that was just too tempting. He leaned over and kissed Harry firmly on the lips. Finding no resistance, he kept on kissing.
Neville was in the greenhouse replanting a few particularly feisty Mandrakes. He was wearing a thick pair of earmuffs, so he didn’t notice the owl approaching until it dropped a letter on his head. Startled, he dropped the Mandrake he was holding and had to spend five minutes chasing after it before stuffing it back into its pot.
Hands still shaking, Neville tore open the letter which was from a most displeased Madam Wintringham, who not only had seen no improvement in relations between herself and Mr Wintringham, but also had to put up with his constant rampages about the “damn plant” being in the bedroom. She requested immediate restitution or, at the very least, an inspection of the plant and it’s placement in her home to understand why it was not having the desired effect.
“Oh dear,” muttered Neville.
He considered the two remaining Mandrakes and decided that they could wait one more day before moving to new pots. He put them away, washed his hands and went in search of Professor Sprout.
He found her cutting knotgrass in a small field. She smiled at Neville as he approached her.
“If it’s all right with you, Professor, I’m going to head down to Godric’s Hollow. It seems Madam Wintringham is not getting on well with the Citropsis articulate we sold her, and I’d better see what the problem is.”
Professor Sprout chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll see what the problem is once you meet Mr Wintringham. But I agree. It’s probably best if you try to smooth things out in person. Oh, and you might try some of that new dragon dung fertilizer on the plant. It’s been doing wonders for my asphodels.”
“Good idea,” said Neville. “I hope nothing happened to it in transport. I really should have delivered it myself.”
“Not to worry, Neville. I’m sure you’ll be able to sort it out.”
It was nearly five o’clock when Neville finally reached the Wintringham estate. He’d had to walk in to Hogsmeade, take the Floo from The Three Broomsticks to London, and then another Floo from London to the railway station in Godric’s Hollow. The estate was a twenty-five minute walk from the station. All because of the little mishap he’d had the last time he’d Apparated. Every time he thought about it, he subconsciously ran his hand over the spot where his hair had finally grown back after he’d splinched himself.
Madam Wintringham greeted Neville at the door with an icy stare. “Neville Longbottom, I presume? Yes, I recognize you from your photograph in the Daily Prophet. Come in, then.” She stepped aside to let him through.
Neville reached out to shake her hand, but she ignored the gesture. “Yes, ma’am. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Never mind the formalities,” she said briskly. “Just tell me what the devil is wrong with the plant you sent me.”
Madam Wintringham had undoubtedly been attractive in her youth, but she now had a slightly weathered look brought on by too many years of adopting the latest beauty trends. Neville was sure that the concoction of Stinksap, Bubotuber pus and aloe vera he was developing could make her skin look years younger, but judging from the stern look on her face, he didn’t think she’d be open to hearing about that at the moment.
“I’ll do my best,” Neville said politely. “Why don’t you show me where you’ve been keeping it, if you don’t mind.”
She led the way up a wide staircase lined with portraits and down a long hallway. Halfway, on the right hand side, she opened a door and they entered into an enormous master bedroom. There were French doors along one wall which led to a balcony that overlooked well-tended gardens. The furniture was polished mahogany with ornate carvings of runes that Neville recognized but did not know. And on a stand, right next to the bed, was a thriving Flutterbloom plant.
Madam Wintringham looked at Neville expectantly. “Well?”
“Where is the Citropsis articulate?” he asked tentatively.
“There!” she said crossly, pointing at the Flutterbloom. “Right in front of your eyes, plain as day! I put it right next to the bed like your note instructed.”
Neville’s eyes widened as he realized what had happened. Somehow the Flutterbloom plant that he’d intended for Harry and Ron had ended up here, and since Madam Wintringham hadn’t known what the Citropsis articulate was supposed to look like, she just assumed that she’d received the right plant. Which meant that Harry and Ron…
“Oh dear,” said Neville. “I’m afraid there’s been a terrible mistake.”
Neville nodded. “The day I was to deliver the Citropsis articulate, an emergency came up that I had to attend to. So I sent your plant and another – this one - by owl. Somehow the plants must have gotten mixed up, or else the owls did.”
“So somebody else got my plant? Well, where is it now?”
Neville rubbed his eyes before answering. “It’s with friends of mine, here, in Godric’s Hollow. I should be able to get your plant back from them right away. Don’t worry.”
Finally, a small smile crept across Madam Wintringham’s face. “I hope these friends of yours get along all right.”
“If they didn’t before, they probably do now.”
Neville followed Madam Wintringham out of the bedroom and to the front door. He left promising to return with the Citropsis articulate, delivered in person this time.
Harry looked up at Ron with sated eyes and croaked, “How can you be hard again already?”
“It’s been two weeks since I last had a wank,” said Ron. “I’ve been saving it up.” He grinned at Harry, who grinned back. “Here, mate, I’ll give you a little help.”
Ron knelt over Harry and paused a moment to look around the lounge: clothes were strewn all over, Harry’s wand was sticking out from between the cushions of the couch and there was even a sock draped over the ugly plant. He’d never had frenzied, rip-the-clothes-off-now sex with Hermione. These feelings he had about Harry were like nothing else he’d ever felt before. Ron bent over and laid a trail of kisses across Harry’s belly before taking Harry’s flaccid cock into his mouth. Almost immediately, Harry’s cock went to half-mast, and it didn’t take much effort on Ron’s part to make him breathless and begging for more. Ron was only too happy to oblige, as he was apparently insatiable today.
Ron reached up to entwine his fingers with Harry’s while he continued to drive Harry closer to the brink. Harry’s moan was so loud that he failed to hear the knock on the front door.
Harry stilled and said, “Ron, did you hear that?”
Ron paused, listened for a moment, and then said, “No,” before tracing the line of Harry’s hipbone with his tongue.
The next loud knocking was followed by the doorbell and Neville’s voice calling their names.
“Ron, stop. It’s Neville.”
Ron raised his head and glared at Harry. “It’s Neville. He can wait.”
But the mood had been ruined, so they both stood up and searched for their clothes. Neville called out again, this time claiming it was important.
“Be right there, Nev,” shouted Harry through the door.
As Ron zipped his trousers, he saw the sock hanging from the ugly plant out of the corner of his eye and managed to grab it just as Harry was opening the front door.
“Hello, Neville. Sorry to keep you waiting. We were just—”
“If we’d known you were coming, we would have cleaned up the place,” interrupted Ron. He flicked his wand and the couch cushions straightened themselves. Judging from the look on Neville’s face, it was completely obvious what they had been doing moments before.
“I’m sorry to drop by like this,” said an embarrassed Neville, “but there’s been a mistake and I need your help to sort it out.”
“No problem, Neville,” said Harry. “You’re always welcome here. We were going to invite you over soon anyway. We have a question about that plant you sent us.” He pointed over to the plant as he spoke, and Neville rushed over to look at it.
“This plant is the mistake,” said Neville. “I meant to send you a Flitterbloom, but the owls got mixed up and you got this one instead.”
Ron shrugged. “Oh, that’s all right. We thought it was a little ugly at first, but it’s really grown on me now.”
“Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take it back. You see, it’s very rare and I don’t have another one to give our paying client. Besides, you might have noticed by now that it’s a pretty strong aphrodisiac.”
“Aphrodisiac?” said Ron slowly.
Neville nodded. “A plant whose scent makes you—”
“Yeah, I know what an aphrodisiac is, Neville. I just…” He turned to grin at Harry.
Neville braced himself for the outcry. Instead, Harry and Ron burst into hysterical laughter. Neville didn’t know what to say, so he simply stared at them.
Finally, Harry stopped laughing to catch his breath. “Oh, thank Merlin! We thought we were going out of our minds! All we’ve been able to think about for the past two weeks is sex.”
Ron went on to explain about Robards’ ban on sex and how they’d been worried because they were both having such a hard time abstaining, and Neville was equal parts amused and horrified that he’d made their past fortnight so difficult.
“So you don’t mind if I take this plant back to the lady who is desperately trying to put the spark of romance back in her marriage?” asked Neville.
“Please, take it with our blessing. I don’t know about capturing the spark of romance, but it ought to do wonders for her sex life,” said Ron.
“Any lasting effects from this plant, Neville?” Harry asked.
“No, there shouldn’t be. When I take it away your, er, everything will be back to normal.”
Neville had the uncomfortable feeling that he’d interrupted something between Ron and Harry when he’d shown up, but they didn’t seem to be holding any grudges. Still, they seemed rather anxious to send him on his way, so he left in short order, taking the plant with him.
After Neville left, Harry and Ron spent the evening bursting into spontaneous laughter over the plant mix-up. They agreed that if they were caught out by Robards for not making it the whole two weeks, Neville would give them one hell of a good excuse.
When they went to their separate rooms for the night, they lingered in the hallway. Their eyes met, and neither of them looked away.
“Good night, Ron.”
“Night, Harry. Sleep well.”
They smiled at each other and turned away. The plant was gone.
Ron followed Harry into the house, slamming the door behind him.
“What an arse! I can’t believe it was all a joke! Someday I’m gonna get back at Robards, I swear!” shouted Ron.
Harry stood with crossed arms, chuckling. “You will not,” he said calmly. “You’ll keep quiet and pull the same stunt to next years’ new Aurors, and the class after that and so on. He did say they’ve been pulling the same gag since Neville’s parents were Newbies.”
“If you recall, I’m the one who thought it had to be a joke, but you were all ‘Dumbledore said’ and you talked me into believing it.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. How about if I let you say you told me so?”
“Hmph,” grunted Ron. He busied himself hanging his Auror robes on the hook and slipping out of his shoes.
As Harry leaned in front of him to hang up his robes, their eyes met and an awkward silence followed, one that made them both very uncomfortable.
At the same time Harry said, “About yesterday,” Ron said, “We have to talk.” This made them both laugh nervously.
“You go first, Chosen One.”
Harry gave him a Look, but forged ahead just the same. “Okay. Well, yesterday, when we, er, sort of lost control, there was the plant. And now Neville has taken it away.” Harry paused.
“Right,” acknowledged Ron hesitantly.
“Well, you heard him say there wouldn’t be any lasting effects, right?”
“But there are.” When Ron simply stared at him and said nothing, Harry blustered on. “I mean, for me at least.”
Speaking very slowly, Ron said, “So what does that mean?”
Harry swallowed. “It means I, er, still want to kiss you.”
Ron’s grin spread from ear to ear. “Oh, thank God it’s not just me!” He pulled Harry close and kissed him hard on the lips.
This time there was no frenzy. Each kiss was deliberate and heated, each breath full of anticipation. They were in no hurry; they had all night.
As Harry led Ron into his bedroom, he heard a knock on their door. He stopped to listen, and then heard Neville’s voice calling to them.
“It’s Neville,” said Ron.
“I know. We can invite him back tomorrow. I’ve got plans for you tonight.”