This is another one for the FQF. It's challenge #71: One of the boys realizes his feelings after the other comes out.
Title: Over Breakfast
Author's Note: Warmest thanks go to Lena for her help with the jelly bean flavors.
Ron stumbled sleepily into the kitchen. He sat down at the table to wait for Harry to get out of the shower. Harry was usually awake before he was, therefore got first claim on the loo. That was the price you paid for sharing a flat with someone, and all in all, Harry wasn’t a bad person to share a flat with.
The steady rhythm of the shower running from the next room nearly lulled Ron back to sleep. He had never been much of a morning person.
Then his half-closed eyes landed on the morning’s issue of the Daily Prophet
:Harry Potter Exposed: Boy-Who-Lived Loves Boys
Suddenly, Ron didn’t feel so sleepy anymore. He rubbed his eyes, then began reading the article. Harry had apparently been seen at a pub with Billington, one of the Beaters for the Chudley Cannons. Ron knew that the team often went out for drinks after practise, but he didn’t see how that could lead to rumors about Harry being involved with Billington. The article also named a few other sightings of Harry with random men, but they all seemed easily explained.
Moving his eyes back to the headline, Ron saw the name Rita Skeeter printed underneath. That certainly explained a lot of things. Rita Skeeter was at it again, digging up dirt on Harry just to sell papers. Ron supposed that Harry was used to it by now, but these were complete lies, not a bit of truth to any of it. He knew Harry would be furious when he saw it.
As if on cue, Ron heard the shower cut off.
“Harry?” Ron called loudly. “Hey, Harry, wait until you see what they’ve printed about you this time!”
“Hang on,” Harry called back. “Be there in a minute.”
Ron read over the article again, reading slower this time to see if he missed anything. Harry walked into the kitchen a few minutes later with a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Wait until you see this, Harry. Merlin, they’ll print anything!”
“What is it now?” Harry asked dully. “I’m an alien? A vampire? I have seven illegitimate children by eight different women?”
“No, no, no,” Ron said, waving his hand through the air. “You’re gay.”
“Really, Harry,” Ron continued. “You need to write a rebuttal or something. Issue your own press release. Tell people not to believe everything they read. I mean, this is pure rubbish. It’s not fit to line Pig’s cage. Write the bloody paper and tell them to quit printing lies about you.”
Harry didn’t respond immediately, so Ron prodded him. “Harry?”
“You’re going to write them, aren’t you? Deny the whole article?”
“Why deny the truth?”
Ron folded the paper and slowly turned to look at Harry. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m gay. Skeeter found out about it. Now everyone knows. So what?”
“You’re…so, it’s true?” Ron asked in disbelief.
Harry shrugged, then poured himself a glass of orange juice. “Yeah.”
“Merlin…” Ron muttered. He leaned back in his chair and stared blindly at the headlines. “I can’t believe you’re…”
“Don’t act so surprised,” Harry said dryly.
“Well, it is a bit of a surprise…”
Harry whirled around. “I thought you knew!”
“How could I have known?” Ron spat back. “You never told me! Geez, Harry, I’m not Hermione. I don’t know everything!”
“I thought some things would be obvious, Ron, even to someone as thick as you.”
“Are you calling me thick?” Ron accused.
Harry studied Ron for a minute, trying to decide whether to concede and end the argument, or let out his frustration and make the argument worse. He decided on the latter. “You’re thick and blind!” With that, he stormed off to his bedroom.
Ron stared after him, not sure whether or not he should go after him. Being short-tempered was one of Ron’s not-so-endearing qualities, and with Harry being equally angry, Ron decided that it was best to let Harry go into the bedroom alone and sulk. It would give them both time to cool off, and hopefully put a stop to the argument before it got any worse. Ron didn’t usually take such a diplomatic approach to things, but he found it easier to swallow his pride wherever Harry was concerned.
Ron sat at the table, tapping his finger. Despite Harry’s confession, Ron still found it difficult to believe that he was gay. He never talked about men. Not when Ron was around, anyway. He never talked about girls, either, but he rarely talked about anything other than Quidditch or Ron’s poor attempts at washing the dishes. Harry wasn’t one to get close to people, or to let people get close to him, so Ron never really considered Harry having a romantic relationship with anyone, male or female.
A quarter of an hour passed, and other than Ron’s incessant finger-tapping, the flat was silent. Harry was probably still brooding, pacing the floor in a huff, being stubborn until the very end. Ron decided that Harry had enough to deal with, what with being outted to the entire Wizarding World, so swallowing his pride, he went to make amends.
Ron stepped into the bedroom and looked around for Harry, but he was nowhere to be seen. The towel was lying in a damp heap on the floor, but that was the only sign that Harry had been there.
“Harry?” Ron called. “Hey, Harry, where’d you go?”
He checked the loo, the living room, and the bedroom once again. But Harry wasn’t anywhere to be found.
Not knowing what else to do, Ron went back into the kitchen to make tea. He didn’t really fancy a cup, but it was what his mum always did when someone was upset. He sat down at the table to wait for the water to boil.
There was only a lonely silence, something Ron wasn’t used to and didn’t like one bit. Nothing was the same without Harry around.
Ron didn’t have a problem with Harry being gay. Some of the students they had attended Hogwarts with were gay, including Seamus. The twins had gay friends, and Ron had even been to a gay Muggle club once, though he didn’t know what type of club it was until he saw men dancing with other men.
The spout on the teakettle began to steam and whistle, and Ron got up to pour the boiling water into his mug.
No, Ron didn’t have a problem with Harry being gay. He had a problem with Harry keeping a secret like this from him. Ron never kept secrets from Harry, not about anything. Harry had kept secrets from Ron in the past, but that was only because Harry was trying to protect him. Ron liked to believe that it had been years since Harry kept a secret from him, but in light of this new information, he knew that wasn’t true.
One other thing bothered Ron, though he didn’t know how to put a voice to it. What made Billington so special? He was an all right bloke, Ron supposed, though he was a bit arrogant at times. He didn’t seem like someone Harry would become romantically involved with, and Ron wondered why Harry would want to spend time with Billington and not him. They were best mates, after all.
The tea was cold now, but Ron realised he didn’t really want it anyway. He needed to find Harry and talk to him. He wasn’t sure where Harry had gone, but the Burrow seemed like a good place to start looking.
Leaving the full teacup on the table, Ron Disapparated to the Burrow.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were just sitting down to breakfast. Mrs. Weasley’s face brightened and she smiled when she saw Ron. She motioned for him to take a seat at the table.
“Go on, tuck in. I made plenty,” she said.
Ron was never one to turn down food, no matter what life-changing issues he had on his mind. He took a seat and helped himself to toast, eggs, kippers, and a large bowl of porridge.
“Where’s Harry?” Mrs. Weasley asked, clearly unaccustomed to seeing Ron without him. “There’s plenty for him, too.”
“I hoped he might be here,” Ron said around a mouthful of toast. “You haven’t seen him?” Then he added sheepishly, “We got into a bit of a row.”
“No, but we were a bit concerned after, you know…seeing the headlines in the paper.” Mrs. Weasley looked nervously at her husband.
Ron looked down at his breakfast. He felt like it was Harry’s secret to tell, but since it was already out and had become the topic of conversation around the breakfast table, he decided that his parents and sister deserved to know.
“It’s true,” he said quietly. “What Skeeter printed. It’s true.”
He waited for a shocked gasp from his mum, or a muffled cough from his dad, or even tears from his sister. When there was no reaction, Ron became worried.
“I hope you don’t have a problem with it,” he said defensively. “Harry’s been a part of this family for a long time. We’re the only family he has, and to disown him because of something he can’t help…” Ron paused his tirade when he saw the blank looks on the others’ faces. “Well, say something!”
“Calm down, Ron. We aren’t going to disown him,” Mr. Weasley said. “He’ll always be a part of our family. We’ve know about Harry’s—”
“You knew?” Ron interrupted. He looked quickly around the table as the other three nodded their heads. “Why was I the only one who didn’t know?”
Mr. Weasley choked on a bite of egg before successfully swallowing. “You—you, didn’t know?”
“How was I supposed to know?” Ron gestured wildly with his free hand while the other one held the fork suspended above the plate, a chunk of yellow egg dangling from it. “He never told me!”
“We thought it was rather obvious,” said Mr. Weasley carefully.
“And,” began Mrs. Weasley slowly, “we thought…you and Harry…”
Ron’s eyes grew wide as he set his fork down on his plate. “Me and Harry what?”
Mr. Weasley’s thin face turned a light shade of red. “That the two of you…”
“Why do you think I started dating Michael Corner?” piped in Ginny, speaking for the first time.
“All this time…you knew…and you thought Harry and I…” Ron sat back from the table and crossed his arms. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“We thought you would tell us when the time was right,” said Mrs. Weasley calmly.
“I don’t believe this, I really don’t believe this,” chanted Ron.
“Grow up, Ron,” Ginny said with an annoyed sigh. “No one cares but you.”
“You should find Harry and talk with him,” instructed Mrs. Weasley with a curt look across the table. “I’m sure the two of you can work this out.”
Ron wanted to tell her that there was nothing to work out, that Harry was being stubborn as usual and when he got his head out of his arse, things would go back to normal. But Ron knew better than to argue with his mum. He’d already lost an argument to Harry, and his mum was just as tough and stubborn.
“Fine,” he muttered.
He crumpled up his napkin and threw it down on the table. If Harry wasn’t at the flat or at the Burrow, Ron could only think of one other place to look.
Harry threw himself down on the sofa. Fred handed a copy of the newspaper to George, who had just gotten out of bed and hadn’t had a chance to read it yet.
“I didn’t think that was news,” George said with a yawn, once he read the article.
“Neither did I,” answered Harry, “but apparently Ron thought so.”
“Ron didn’t know that you were gay?” asked Fred, taking the newspaper from George and setting it on the table.
Harry shrugged. “Guess not.”
Fred and George traded looks over Harry’s head. Harry watched the two of them carefully. It seemed as though an entire conversation was going on between the two of them, though they weren’t speaking.
“What is it?” Harry asked when he grew tired of trying to decipher their conversation.
“Well, we always thought that you and Ron…”
“You know, had something going on.”
“What?” asked Harry. “Ron and I are just friends.”
“Er, right,” said George. “I guess we know that now.”
“Besides, Ron’s straight.”
Fred and George seemed surprised by this. “He is?”
“Sure,” said Harry matter-of-factly. “He—”
Harry was interrupted by the sound of someone Apparating in the kitchen. A moment later, Ron emerged.
“There you are!” he said when his eyes landed on Harry. “I’ve been looking for you.”
Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, you found me. Happy now?”
“Er…” Ron gave Fred and George a look that said he wanted to talk to Harry. Alone.
“We’re going, we’re going,” said George. “C’mon, Fred, it’s almost time to open the shop. There are pranks to be pulled and money to be made!”
When the twins left, Ron took a seat next to Harry on the sofa.
“I’m sorry, Harry.” Ron wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for, but Harry was obviously mad at him, and offering an apology seemed like the only thing to do.
“You really didn’t know?” asked Harry in a much softer tone than Ron had heard him use all morning. “About me?”
“Honestly had no idea. Never thought about it much, actually.” Ron shrugged his shoulders. He took a deep breath before continuing, “I guess you were right, though. About me being thick and blind. It seems like everyone knew but me.”
“I wanted to tell you,” Harry admitted, “but…” He looked away from Ron, focusing instead on the pattern in the carpet. He and Ron had been best mates for half their lifetimes, and it bothered him that, despite their closeness, Ron was blind to something that others saw so clearly. “I just thought you knew,” he finished quietly.
For the millionth time that day, Ron wanted to ask Harry how it was possible for him to know when Harry had never told him. But for the sake of calling a truce, Ron simply said, “Right…”
Harry slouched into the cushions, trying to make himself comfortable. Now that he was no longer angry, he realised he’d been unfair to Ron, and grudgingly admitted that he might have overreacted a bit. Luckily for him, Ron was quick to forgive.
Ron had been Harry’s friend long enough to know the pressures Harry was under and all the expectations he was evidently required to live up to. Ron knew that Harry hated always being the hero, but he also knew that it was Harry’s nature to be the hero. To many, that was all he was good for: killing Dark Lords and Death Eaters, saving the world, restoring peace. But Ron appreciated Harry for his efficiency in killing doxies, saving a few galleons on groceries, and restoring a broken plate with a quick spell.
The two of them had lived together at Hogwarts for seven years, and spent the last three years sharing a flat. Harry didn’t think he could’ve ever lived with anyone else that long, and he was sure that no one else would’ve been able to live with him. And Ron never ate the coconut-flavored beans because he knew those were Harry’s favorite.
Harry’s hand fidgeted on his knee, then moved to his lap, and lastly began picking at the upholstery tacks on the arm of the sofa.
Ron looked around the room, first at the leg of the coffee table, then at the joke mirror on the wall, and lastly over to the doorframe of the kitchen. He kept his eyes moving, consciously avoiding any looks in Harry’s direction. He was relieved that Harry wasn’t sore at him anymore, and he hated to rekindle the argument, but there was still something that was bugging him.
“How long have you been seeing Billington?” he blurted out.
Harry sat up quickly, clearly not expecting such a question from Ron. “Billington? I’m not seeing him!”
“The article said you were. Skeeter said you were.”
Harry sighed and shook his head. “Don’t you know by now that the Daily Prophet
rarely prints anything that’s true?”
“Well, yeah,” Ron’s fingers disappeared in his hair as he scratched his head, “but they were right about you being gay.”
“Everyone is right about something sometimes. It’s the law of averages.”
“Oh.” Ron paused before asking, “So, you’re not seeing Billington then?”
“No way. He’s too cocky. Reminds me a bit of Malfoy, to be honest.” Harry curled his lip. With a bit of sarcasm, he asked, “Would it have bothered you if I were seeing Billington?”
“No!” Ron answered quickly. He shifted awkwardly in his seat, and then cleared his throat. “I mean, no. He just, you know, didn’t seem like your type. Like you said.”
“Who do you think is my type, then?” Harry propped up on his elbow to listen to Ron’s answer.
“Well,” said Ron thoughtfully, “he’d have to like Quidditch, right? And he’d have to know that you hate being famous and all that. And he’d have to know when you needed your space, but be around when you needed to talk.” Harry sat back and listened while Ron easily named off every quality he was looking for in a man. “And he’d have to let you win at chess sometimes, because honestly, Harry, you’re not that good. And he’d have to be tall because you can’t reach things on the top shelf. And he’d have to know not to eat the coconut-flavored beans because those are your favorite. And…”
Harry leaned over and quickly pressed his lips to Ron’s. “And he’d have to know when to shut up.”
Ron’s eyebrows shot up into his hair. “You just kissed me!” he gasped.
“You were rambling.”
“Well, maybe,” Ron huffed, “ but still…I mean, it’s not like I…”
Harry leaned in to kiss Ron again.
Ron went rigid, more from sheer surprise than objection, but when the warmth of Harry’s lips spread into his own, he eased into the kiss. It surprised him how readily he accepted the kiss, how kissing another bloke wasn’t really any different than kissing a girl. It wasn’t strange or awkward, or even difficult.
Harry placed his hand on Ron’s hip, though Ron didn’t need the encouragement to move closer. He opened his mouth a little wider, and Harry took the opportunity to slide his tongue between Ron’s lips.
Kissing was definitely a wet business, Ron decided, but Harry’s lips were hot against his, Harry’s tongue was slick in his mouth, and Harry’s breath tasted like those coconut-flavored beans. Ron wondered why he hadn’t kissed Harry sooner.
There was the unmistakable sound of two people Apparating, but Ron was too preoccupied with his kissing discovery to notice.
“Er, Harry,” said Fred slowly, “I thought you said Ron wasn’t gay.”
Surprised by the interruption, Harry sucked in a breath as he pulled his mouth away from Ron’s. He blinked a few times and licked his lips before addressing the twins.
“Well, I didn’t think he—” Harry began, but Ron cut him off.
“I’m not!” Ron defended himself.
George looked from Harry to Ron, then from Ron to Harry. “You’re snogging a bloke on my sofa,” he explained. “You look gay to me.”
“But I’m not!” Ron insisted, though he didn’t budge away from Harry in the slightest. “Just because Harry and I happen to be—”
Fred squared his shoulders and crossed his arms. “There’s only one way to settle this.”
“What’s that?” wondered Ron.
“Did you like it?” asked George.
Ron blushed. “Well…yeah.”
Harry blushed, too, but it was from flattery rather than embarrassment. He licked his lips again, remembering the kiss, and smiled to himself as he gave Ron’s hip a subtle squeeze.
“What do you think, George?”
“I’d say it’s obvious, Fred.”
“I’d have to agree. Most definitely.”
Fred and George traded identical smirks before they insisted, “You’re gay.”