Team: Team Summer
Prompts: Aberforth Dumbledore, animagus
Pairing/Genre: Harry/Ron, fluff
Word Count: 7,128
Warnings: EwE, mention of Harry/Terry (past)
A/N: Thanks to my betas: shocolate and ryogrande
Ron stopped watching the clock and spun around, staring directly into the face of an older woman, who was wearing an annoyed expression.
"I'm sorry," Ron said. "What?"
"I asked you about the WonderWitch line. The sign says ten percent off everything, but does that include love potions too?"
It was difficult to restrain himself from rolling his eyes, but Ron did, and he did it with a smile that he hoped was charming. "Yes. Just like the sign says – everything in the WonderWitch line is ten percent off, including the love potions, which are part of the WonderWitch line."
She eyed him suspiciously for a moment before wandering away and browsing the various pink and red bottles. Ron watched her as she read each label carefully, and he said a silent prayer for the poor sod she planned to use one on.
He looked back at the clock and cursed under his breath. George had promised to be back at the shop by now. It was two minutes before Ron had to leave or he'd be late for his appointment… again.
Five minutes passed before George sauntered through the door with a look on his face that dared Ron to give him a telling off. Ron normally would've ignored the warning, but he was too late to argue.
George yelled at him as Ron stormed past him on his way out the door. "Don't forget to come back here. We have to finish stocking the shelves with the new products!"
"Yeah, yeah," Ron called out over his shoulder as he walked out into the steamy summer evening and took off full-speed down Diagon Alley.
He was sweating by the time he reached the Leaky Cauldron, shouting 'hellos' to the patrons who greeted him as he rushed past them and stepped into the Floo. He inhaled deeply, trying to even out his shaky breathing, and flung the Floo powder out of his fist as he said, "The Three Broomsticks!"
The long trip seemed even longer than usual. He was out of breath, his heart was racing, and, most of all, he was dreading his punishment for being late.
Since the patrons at the Leaky Cauldron were sparse compared to the dinner crowd Ron had run through earlier that evening, he easily spotted Neville sitting at a table in the corner. He checked his watch. It was already late and he decided a quick pint with Neville wouldn't hurt.
Hannah, Neville's girlfriend and the bartender at the Leaky, was already pouring his drink when he approached the bar. It had become a regular thing with Ron and Neville unintentionally meeting late at night here. She smiled at Ron and told him that they were all working too hard. He agreed, paid for his pint, and made his way towards Neville, who looked up from the notebook he was writing in and smiled when he saw Ron.
"Hi, Ron," he said. He shuffled the papers that were scattered on the table, putting them in a pile to clear space for Ron.
Ron sat in the chair across from him and suddenly felt very tired. He realised it was the first time that he had sat down all day. He hadn't even sat down for breakfast. He had gobbled it down while standing over the sink, letting the toast crumbs fall into the basin.
"Professor stuff?" Ron asked, pointing to the papers.
Neville nodded. "Getting ready for the new term. You coming back from the Hogs Head?"
"How's it going?"
"Brilliant, actually," Ron said while trying to suppress a yawn.
"You don't sound very enthusiastic. The old codger giving you a hard time again?"
"I was late again today."
The edges of Neville's lips curved into a sardonic smile. "How are the goats?"
"Git," Ron grumbled, and drank a large gulp of ale. "Dirty beasts." Ron held up the hem of his shirt, showing Neville a chunk of missing fabric. "That's the fifth one this month!"
"Sorry," Neville said, laughing. More seriously, he added, "You do look knackered. How much longer do you think it'll take?"
Ron brightened up at the question, sat up straighter, and placed his elbows on the table, leaning closer to Neville, the only person with whom he had shared his secret plan. "I'm giving it a go tomorrow."
"Yeah. I've studied the theory for fourteen months. The old codger agrees too."
"Are you sure? Aberforth is… well, we owe him a lot, don't we? But he's not exactly sane."
"I don't have time for sane. I'm tired of lying to everyone about where I am three nights a week. And I promised Harry I'd join the Aurors by the end of the summer, and that's only a month away!"
"But you don't have to worry about getting in. That's a guarantee! Kingsley's been waiting for you to join just as much as Harry has."
"I know that. It's not… never mind."
Ron drained his glass and as he put it back on the table, Neville reached over and gripped his wrist. "I understand, Ron. I do. But it's risky – very risky - and if anything happens to you… you don't have to do this just to impress Harry. Take your time and wait until you really feel ready."
"I do feel ready," Ron snapped, pulling his arm away. "And it's not to impress… I just want to bring skills to the Auror team that will help them!"
Neville frowned, pressed his back against the chair, and stared at Ron. "All right. If you're determined to be stubborn about it, I want to be there when you attempt it." Ron opened his mouth to protest, but Neville put his hand up and glared at him. "You have no idea what form you'll take, and if something goes wrong and you get stuck like that or something, who knows… Aberforth may like it and keep you in the pen with his goats!"
"I'm dead serious. If you don't agree… I'll – I'll tell Harry what you're up to."
Ron narrowed his eyes and wondered if Neville had it in him.
"Or worse," Neville said. "I'll tell Hermione."
Yep, Ron decided, Neville had it in him.
A loud unexpected noise startled Harry awake. It took him a moment to recover his awareness and realise that he was home, unlike the night before when he had fallen asleep in his office at the Ministry.
"Ron?" he called out into the dark flat as he scrambled around looking for his glasses, which he eventually found shoved between the sofa cushions. The room lit up just as Harry slipped them on his face. Ron was standing near their kitchen, smiling shyly.
"Sorry, I woke you," he said, whispering as if Harry were still sleeping.
"S'okay," Harry mumbled, wiping drool off the corner of his mouth. "Wha' was that noise?"
"Knocked a chair over. I was making tea and didn't want to turn on the light and disturb you."
The clock on the fireplace mantle began to chime. Harry looked it and frowned. It was three o'clock in the morning. He looked back at Ron, who looked like death warmed up – a sight Harry should've been used to by now. "Did you just get home?"
Ron shrugged. "Yeah."
Harry wanted to give Ron a lecture about how he was working too hard, but it would've been hypocritical of him and Ron wouldn't hesitate to point that out. This Harry knew from first-hand experience. He made a mental note to mention it to Hermione - or worse, Mrs Weasley - and let one of them have the row with Ron. 'On second thought…' Mrs Weasley would go into fierce mum mode and strong-arm Ron in to a haircut as well. Harry looked at the ginger hair curled up slightly at the base of Ron's neck and decided he would let Hermione do the lecturing, since Ron's hair was no longer her concern.
Harry stood, yawned, and stretched his arms high toward the ceiling, trying to work out the kink in his back that the sofa or possibly - and more likely - the stress of the Auror Department had given him.
"George still hasn't hired anyone yet?" Harry asked.
Ron shook his head.
"Didn't you and George have interviews today?"
Ron made an indignant noise. "A bunch of tosspots. Couldn't find their way out of a paper bag."
Any response that Harry could think of would have come out sounding critical, sarcastic, or accusatory as it was becoming increasingly obvious that Ron was having a hard time letting go of his current job. Instead, he simply smiled and said, "Make enough tea for me?"
Ron grinned and Harry's heart skipped a beat. "I didn't, but I will."
It only took Harry a few steps in their tiny flat to reach the kitchen. He brushed past Ron, who was reaching into the cupboard for Harry's mug, stopped, and wrinkled his nose at a peculiar smell.
"Ron, what's that smell?"
Ron turned around. "Huh?"
Harry leaned forward, pulled Ron's shirt away from his chest, and sniffed it. "That smell. It smells like -"
"I dunno what you're talking about," Ron said, turning his back to Harry again. "I don't smell anything," he added when the silence had gone on for enough beats to make it awkward.
It was obvious to Harry that his best mate was trying to hide something, something that involved him coming home smelling like farm animals. Even if Ron's ears hadn't turned a bright pink, Harry would've been able to deduce Ron's deceit by the tension in Ron's shoulders or how Ron kept shuffling his right foot against his left. As far as Harry was concerned, he had indisputable facts that he'd been lied to.
'Ron had sex in a barn,' he thought and slumped into the nearest chair.
Somewhere deep, deep within Harry's mind, he knew that coming up with this hypothesis before even considering any others was not something a normal person would do. But Harry wasn't normal when it came to Ron. Every thought Harry had about Ron these days seemed to revolve around sex. Simple everyday things had Harry's mind wandering to Ron and sex. Like the sound of running water made Harry think of Ron in the shower, naked, wet, and soapy, and probably having the obligatory morning wank before he finished, wrapped a towel around his waist, and sauntered out into the hall where Harry would be waiting, pretending to just happen to walk out of his room at that exact same moment.
Harry's head snapped up. Ron was filling the kettle with water, explaining why Harry's mind had travelled to that particular fantasy and off the topic at hand. Ron had sex in a barn. But with whom did he have sex? The first person to consider was Hermione. Did Ron and Hermione reconcile? Or did Ron meet someone new?
After reviewing a long list of possible shagging partners, Harry decided that Hermione seemed to be the only likely candidate, which depressed Harry even further, certain that if they had reconciled then Ron would ask Hermione to marry him and move out of their flat. Though, the fact that the sex had taken place in a barn was niggling at his brain. It didn't make sense. He tried to work it out and started to imagine Hermione and Ron running off to some unknown farm for a rendezvous and soon Hermione faded away, leaving only the image of Ron, wearing jeans, shirtless and barefoot, lying in the hay waiting to be completely undressed. The vision was striking detailed; Harry could see straw between Ron's toes and the bits of it in his hair. Ron's chest rose and fell in growing excitement, and a bugle begun growing in Harry's jeans to match the one Ron was displaying in his vision.
Harry scooted his chair forward so that the table hid his crotch. He sighed. It was going to be another long, sleepless night.
"Blimey, Ron, you did it! You're a dog just like your Patronus!" Neville exclaimed.
Ron stood very still. Quickly, he went through a list of things in his mind: his name, Harry – what he looked like and what he did to save them all - where they lived, what his parents names were, and who they had lost in the war. Everything was there; he remembered all of the important stuff. Eventually, he looked down and saw two hairy white paws speckled with ginger spots. He turned to see the rest of his body and somehow got caught up in a vicious loop of running in a circle. He heard Neville laughing. He stopped and growled at him.
"Good doggie!" Neville said, putting his hands up in mock defence.
Ron attempted to say something witty and sarcastic back, but all he heard was a loud, snippy bark, which made Neville laugh harder. Aberforth had said nothing since on his nineteenth attempt within a fortnight, Ron had got it right and transformed himself. The old cynical wizard just stood there, his face impassive.
Neville's laughter died down enough to say, "Ab, I think he'd like to see himself."
"Well, there's a mirror right over there," Aberforth said, pointing towards the corner of the sitting room. "This one's not the brightest Galleon in the till, is he?"
Ron huffed. The mirror had never been there before. He ran over to it, and though it felt natural physically to run on four legs, mentally it felt incredibly awkward.
He looked in the mirror and saw a small dog looking back at him. He had done it! Ron was over the moon - a dog form was perfect! This skill could help the Aurors! A dog could be inconspicuous. He could sneak in tight spaces. He could hang around and spy on people, looking like nothing more than a stray dog begging for scraps. He was going to bring more to the Aurors than just being Harry Potter's best friend. If he had evolved vocal chords, he would've let out a whoop of joy; instead, his tail just wagged rapidly. He watched it swaying back and forth until he realised that he wasn't actually doing that on purpose. The tail seemed to be working on its own. It freaked him out and he twirled around trying to make it stop, causing Neville to fall into another fit of laughter.
Ron stopped. He was panting frantically and ready to change back. He looked at this teacher for direction.
"All right, Weasley, that was the easy part," Aberforth said when their eyes locked. "Now, you have to change back."
This was the part that Ron had feared the most. He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to remember everything Aberforth had told him. Nothing happened.
"This is going to be awhile, Nev," Aberforth said. "Why don't you get us something to eat and drink?"
Ron rolled his eyes, or at least he thought he had rolled his eyes. He wasn't certain if they had actually rolled or if dogs could even roll their eyes, or if maybe he could roll them because he wasn't really a dog.
Over an hour later, Aberforth was growing impatient and Neville was looking anxious.
"Weasley, you're not concentrating," Aberforth said. "Remember what I told you. Apply the same principles you do when transforming an object, except pull the magic inward, rather than pushing it outward."
"You can do it, Ron," Neville said firmly.
It took a few more attempts, but Ron finally got it right. He pushed the magic through him. It was a bearable burning sensation that tingled his bones and muscles like the way Firewhisky felt going down his throat. It coursed through him swiftly and when it was over, he was on the floor on his hands and knees. He stood up and his hand instinctively flew to his eyebrows, checking the right and then the left. Relieved that they were both there, he dropped his hand and looked down at himself. He was dressed, except for his shoes and socks.
He looked at Neville. Neville was beaming at him.
"You did it, mate!" Neville said.
Ron grinned back at him. He was an Animagus! He couldn't wait to show Harry.
'Dammit!' His tail was wagging again.
The euphoric feeling of success had Ron feeling like he was levitating as he stepped into Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. George was behind the till collecting money from a teenage girl. Two friends stood beside her giggling and looking towards the Defence Against the Dark Arts products' room.
As Ron approached the group of girls, he heard one of them whispering, "Did you see him?"
The girl, who was paying for the goods, nodded. "Yes. He's shorter than I thought he'd be."
"He's still fit though," the third girl said.
George looked up, saw Ron, and while rolling his eyes, mouthed, 'Harry.'
"What's he doing here?" Ron asked, suddenly feeling very nervous. Neville had warned him to wait until Ron had more practise transforming before sharing it with Harry. Ron had disagreed, too excited to imagine not telling Harry straight away, but now he was beginning to reconsider his position.
"Stocking up. New recruits…" George paused and glared at the girls, who were lounging around the till. "Are you buying anything else?" They all shook their heads and he waved towards the door. "Move it along, then." They blushed and huddled together out the door. "New recruits going into the field in a few weeks. How'd you forget that?"
Ron swallowed hard. What if he couldn't transform again? What if he told Harry and botched the transformation? Would Harry laugh at him? Would he change his mind about wanting Ron to join the Aurors?
He heard laughing coming from behind the curtain and looked quizzically at George.
"That bloke from the D.A. – Terry Boot," George said.
Ron's stomach dropped. The laughter grew louder and a hand emerged from the curtain. Before the curtain was pulled to the side, Ron spun on his heels and sprinted through the doorway with a sign over it declaring 'Staff Only.' He grabbed his magenta robe off a hook just inside the door and hastily put it on, while trying to remember what excuse he had given George for taking the morning off.
'Right. Neville. I told him that I was helping Neville move into the Leaky Cauldron with Hannah.'
"You work too hard, Harry," Ron heard Terry say. He frowned and peeked around the doorframe. He could see Terry and Harry's profiles as they leaned against the counter that was now filled with Defence Against the Dark Arts products. Terry placed a something-a-bit-more-than-friendly hand on Harry's shoulder. Ron's face flushed and his hands balled into fists.
"My mates from the Ministry are having a few pints after work tonight," Terry was saying. "Why don't you join us?"
Ron stood frozen, waiting for Harry's reply. Terry was notorious for his sexual conquests, both male and female, though if the rumour mill was correct, more male than female lately. And it seemed to Ron that Terry had his sights set on Harry.
"I don't know," Harry said. "I've got a lot of paperwork to process and –"
"Aw, mate," Terry said and he squeezed Harry's shoulder. "No excuses. Just one pint?"
Ron felt the familiar flare of anger rush through him. His face felt like he was sitting directly in the sun and his stomach twisted into a knot. For a tick of a moment, he felt something else, something more powerful than his Weasley temper. He looked down and saw furry paws were he had expected to see his old worn trainers.
'Fuck!' he thought. 'Fuck! Fuck! Fuckity-fuck!
"Maybe… I'll ask Ron," Harry said. "I'm sure he'd like to come too."
Ron's tail began to wag.
"Oh, he came in while you were shopping," George said. "Ron!"
Ron concentrated hard, trying to transform back into his animal self, but he heard Harry call out to him - "Ron? Where you at, mate?" – and panicked.
Ron ran around the room, looking for a place to hide, his nails making a clicking noise on the wood floor. Two stacks of boxes in the corner caught his eye. He scrambled behind them and crouched down. The stack was only two small boxes high and wouldn't have come close to hiding him in his human form, but it was perfect for a small dog. There was a crack between the boxes, and Ron looked through it, only able to see the floor.
He stopped breathing when he saw Harry's feet standing in the doorway.
"Ron?" Harry called out into the room as he took a few steps inside. The room was small, if Ron had been in the room, he would have been easily spotted. "George, he's not here."
George's feet appeared next to Harry's. "What the… I saw him go back here! You didn't lend him your cloak – did you?"
"No," Harry said, sounding understandably confused. "And even if I did, why would he be hiding?"
"Ron, what are you playing at?" George shouted.
"He must've Disapparated," Harry said and left.
Ron sighed in relief and had a sudden desire to lick him. 'Wait? What? Hug him. Not lick him.'
"He better not have!" George's feet turned and followed Harry out into the main room, complaining the whole time. "I'll kill him. Takes the morning off then disappears without a word."
Ron waited until he heard Harry and Terry leave the shop. Once the pressure was off, Ron easily transformed back into himself, minus his shop robe. George was going to kill him. He had to remember to ask Aberforth exactly where all the clothes went. He assumed they went to the same pace banished items went. He imagined a huge never-ending room filled with witch and wizards' belongings piled to the ceiling just waiting to be reclaimed from nowhereness.
George's anger at Ron's disappearance hadn't deflated by the time Ron emerged. He threatened to fire Ron for skiving off work again. Ron stupidly let his own anger get the best of him and blurted out what had happened. "I was in the room. I'm an Animagus. I was in my animal form."
"You're joking? Impossible!"
"What? You don't think I could do it?" Ron asked.
George howled with laughter. "No, Ronniekins. I don't."
Ron glared at him before turning himself into his dog form, leaving George standing there with his jaw hanging open. The shop door opened and a woman entered with a young girl. The child pointed at Ron and exclaimed, "Look at the cute dog, Mummy!" She ran over and started to pet Ron with a child’s enthusiasm. He couldn’t hurt her feelings; so he nudged her hand with his nose and looked up at her joyfully.
"Aw, you’re a cute dog," she said as her hand smoothed out the hair down his back. "Is he yours?" she asked George.
"Nope," George replied.
The girl's eyes widened. "Is he for sale?" She gripped Ron around the neck and hugged him. "Can I have him, Mummy? Pleeasseee….."
Terrified, Ron squirmed away from her and sprinted into the back room before remerging a few seconds later as himself.
"Sorry," he said, looking down at the little girl. "But he's mine."
Her lip began to quiver and Ron looked at George for help. But George simply looked amused. "Yeah, sorry, but the dog's a present for his boyfriend."
"W-w-what?" Ron stammered. "He's not – what are you on about? You don’t know what you're talking about!"
"Sure, I do, Ron. I know exactly what I'm talking about."
"You're mental!" Ron yelled.
Without a word, the mother, obviously thinking Ron and George were a pair of nutters, grabbed her daughter by her arm and dragged her out the store.
"Don't try to deny it, Ronnie. You did this to impress Harry." Before Ron could protest further, George continued, "And don't try to change the subject. The subject is that you were lying to me - for how long?"
Ron looked down at his bare feet and cursed. He had transformed back missing clothing yet again. At this rate, he was going to work through his entire wardrobe by the end of the week.
"A while," he responded. George glared at him, waiting for a more specific answer. "Fourteen months."
"I'm hurt," George said not so sincerely while clutching his heart. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"'Cos you've got a big mouth," Ron replied. "You would've taken the piss every chance that you got and it was a surprise for…"
"For your boyfriend," George said, fluttering his eyelashes.
"Stop saying that!"
George rolled his eyes. "Okay, Ronniekins. Then tell me why you changed back there while that git, Terry Boot, was chatting up your - Harry."
"I…" Ron felt himself blushing. "I… it was an accident."
"An accident? How do you… oh!" George laughed madly. "You can't control it! You…"
Ron's embarrassment spiked and, the next thing he knew, he was on all fours looking up at George, who looked down at him with an evil look in his eyes that Ron knew all too well.
Even if Ron had decided to wait to tell Harry, this had clinched it that he had to tell him tonight. Having George hold this over his head for even a day would be pure torture.
Ron waited all afternoon for Harry to send an owl asking him about going to the Leaky with Terry Boot. No message ever came. Instead, Ron spent the afternoon and early evening intermittently transforming as George tested his tolerance for being put into stressful emotional situations, most of which centred around Harry. It only ended when Ron, tired of the emotional torture, found George's favourite leather jacket, lifted his hind leg, and peed on it, in dog form, of course.
On his way home, he walked past the Leaky, sneakily peeking into the windows, looking for Harry and Terry. They weren’t there. Ron couldn’t decide if that was good or bad. He Apparated home, into his bedroom, and immediately heard Harry’s angry voice in the other room.
Ron crept into the hallway, trying to listen without being discovered.
"This has to stop," Harry said firmly.
"You're in denial," a male voice said. From the crackly tone of it, Ron knew whoever Harry was talking to wasn't in the apartment, but just a head in their fireplace.
"I'm not in denial," Harry hissed. "I know exactly what I am. I just don't want to be it with you."
"You didn't say that when we –"
"We were just fooling around. That's all. It wasn't serious."
Ron's heart stopped. Harry had fooled around with someone. A male someone. That was… well, that was something that should've made Ron happy. A door was opened that he had long ago considered locked, but he only felt raging blinding jealousy uncoiling in his gut, the quick fleeting feeling of transforming, and possibly a flea biting at his ear. He sat down and lifted his hind leg to scratch it as Harry's conversation continued.
"You seemed to enjoy it very seriously," the unidentified male voice said.
"I told you when we… after we…"
"The first or the second time?"
"Listen, Terry…" Terry Boot! Ron growled. He had liked that slimy git up until today. "Stop following me around. Stop inviting me for pints. Stop dropping by my office. I've made it very clear that –"
"You're in love with Ron."
Ron stopped scratching and his ears perked up.
"That's none of your business," Harry said in his scary previously the Chosen One, but now a powerful Auror tone. "And irrelevant. I'm not in love with you and that's what you're not getting through that thick skull of yours. This conversation is over. Now get the fuck out of my fireplace!"
Terry must've had the good sense to do exactly what Harry had demanded because he never said another word, and Harry's heavy footsteps echoed through the flat towards the kitchen.
Ron turned and ran back to his room. He attempted to change back, but couldn't, his mind too preoccupied with replaying the most recent events. He started to pace the room, stopping every minute or so to attempt transforming again. He thought he had it once when he felt a surge of magic, but an image of Harry and Terry together filled his head, jealously surged up in him, and the feeling vanished.
The more he thought about the situation – trapped in his own room, unable to communicate with anyone to tell them to help him – the more distraught he become, panic pushing out any common sense that he had left.
And just when he thought things couldn't get worse, he heard Harry say, "Hey, what are you doing in here?"
Harry stormed through the flat, furious at Terry. It had been a stupid impulsive action on Harry's part the first time Terry and he had ended up in Terry's flat, drunk, and snogging, which had led to things that Harry had only imagined doing with Ron up until that point. The second time had been less impulsive but still just as stupid. He had thought he had made it perfectly clear that it was just casual fling, a release of tension.
He tried to eat a sandwich, but his stomach was churning. Annoyed at himself, he threw the sandwich in the rubbish bin and headed for bed. He heard a strange clacking noise coming from Ron's bedroom one door down from his. The door was open. Harry peeked in and saw a small scrappy looking dog wandering around the room.
Ron bringing home a dog wasn't surprising. Ron had talked about buying one when they'd first moved into the flat, but he was still dating Hermione then and she had lectured him about the responsibilities that came along with being a pet owner. Ron had stopped talking about it immediately.
"Hey, what are you doing in here?"
The dog stopped. It looked terrified. Harry took a step forward, holding out his hand. The dog ignored it. It sprinted towards the bed, got down on its belly, and wiggled under it.
"It's okay," Harry said soothingly. "Come on out. Did Ron bring you home?"
The dog went further under the bed, twisted around, and poked its nose out.
"Hey," Harry bent down and ran a finger along his snout, "it's all right. I won't hurt you."
The dog seemed to have sighed. It squirmed out from under the bed, shook itself, and sat down, looking up at Harry with soulful blue eyes.
Harry tilted his head and bent down slightly, looking at the underbelly of the dog and identified it as a him.
"Hey, boy, where'd Ron get you? And why did he leave you here?" Harry silently answered his own question, assuming that Ron found the dog, brought him here because George refused to let him keep it in the shop, and returned to work.
The dog jumped up on the bed and stared intensely at Harry. "What's wrong, boy?" The dog started to roll back and forth on his back. "Aw, you want your belly rubbed?" Harry rubbed the dog's belly and smiled at the adorableness of it.
The dog stopped moving and stayed very still. Harry sat down on the bed and continued running his short nails along the course line of hair that ran straight over the dog's chest and down to his belly as he examined the dog. He was a cute dog with ginger spots sprinkled throughout white wiry fur. His tail was stumpy with longer hair sticking out all around it. Harry coughed and the dog seemed to be broken out of his trance. He jumped up and sat next to Harry. The dog tilted his head and began to lick at a spot on his shoulder that was missing a chuck of flesh and hair. It looked just like Ron’s scar from the splinching incident. Just like the ginger spots looked like Ron’s freck… Harry shot straight up off the bed.
"Ron?" Harry asked and received a silent answer in familiar blue eyes. Or he thought he did. Maybe he was just going mad.
"Ron? Really, is that you?”
The small dog nodded.
“Oh my god, Ron!” Harry stared at him, trying to process what was going on. “How… did someone do this to you?"
Ron shook his head.
"You did this to yourself? Why?"
Ron sighed annoyingly.
"Right," Harry said, running his hand through his hair. "You can't answer me. Are you stuck like that?"
Ron nodded and whined.
Harry panicked. He ran out of the room, yelling, "I'm going to get Hermione!"
Ron followed him, barking and biting at his heels.
"Quit it, Ron! You need help. Hermione will know what to do!"
Harry knelt down in front of the fire. "Hermion-OW!" Ron had bit him in the arse. "That hurt!" He scowled at Ron, turned back towards the fire, and called out for Hermione. Hermione's head appeared a second later.
"Hermione, thank god," Harry said. "I need you to get over to the flat right now."
"Please, Hermione. Now!"
Harry stood up and waited.
A few seconds later, Hermione Apparated into the middle of the room, her wand drawn, looking around wildly. "What's wrong, Harry? Where's Ron?"
Harry pointed at Ron.
"That's a dog, Harry," Hermione said. "Are you pissed? Is this some sort of a joke?"
"That's Ron, Hermione. I don't know how, but that's Ron."
Hermione looked at Ron. "Ron?"
Ron rolled his eyes and nodded.
Hermione started to laugh.
"It's not funny!" Harry snapped. "He's stuck like that!"
"How'd you know it was him?" Hermione asked.
"Shoulder," Harry said, pointing to Ron's Splinching scar.
"Very smart, Harry."
"It doesn't matter. What matters is how did he get like that? Tell me how he got like that!" Harry shouted.
"How am I supposed to know?" Hermione shouted back.
"You – you should know! You two are dating again!"
"No, we're not."
"Yes, you are! You had sex in a barn!"
Hermione snorted a laugh. "We… we what?"
"Had sex in a barn?" Harry said softly, hearing how silly it sounded.
"Why did you think we had sex in a barn?"
Harry looked away from Hermione's scorching glare and turned to Ron, who was scratching at his ear and looking back at him curiously. Harry shrugged, feeling stupid. "Because Ron came home smelling like farm animals."
Hermione clucked her tongue. "Oh, honestly, Harry. You're an idiot. Now, back to the problem at hand - the git and his git brother were probably testing a new product or something." She walked over to the fireplace.
Ron ran over to her and bared his teeth, growling fiercely.
She wagged her finger at him. "Don't you growl at me, Ronald Weasley. I'll put a muzzle on you!" She yelled George's name into the fire.
Ron ran over to the sofa, pulled off a pillow with his teeth, and began shaking his head violently. Harry laughed hard at Ron's fiery personality even as a dog. “I don’t think he wants you to call George. You got off lucky though, Hermione. He bit my arse when he didn’t want me to tell you.”
Hermione shot Ron a murderous glare and went back to yelling George’s name, repeatedly until his face appeared in the fire.
"Oi, Hermione! I was sleeping!"
Harry pushed Hermione out of the way. "What did you do to Ron?"
"Relax, Harry. I didn't do anything to Ron. What's he done? Gone and got stuck in his Animagus form again?"
"Animagus? Don't be ridiculous," Hermione said. "Ron's not an Animagus."
Ron growled again, but stopped when Harry addressed him, "You became an Animagus!” Ron nodded. “That's brilliant, Ron!"
George chuckled. "Not so brilliant when he can't control it. Keeps changing every time he gets angry or embarrassed."
"How'd he…?" Hermione looked at Ron, slightly annoyed, slightly impressed.
"Aberforth Dumbledore," George said. "He's been sneaking off for over a year now, studying with that nutter."
"Oh, Ron," Hermione said, shaking her head. "He's not registered! You were allowing an illegal Animagus train you!"
"Can he change back on his own?" Harry asked.
"Yeah," George said. "Sometimes right away. Sometimes it takes a bit."
"Thank you, George," Hermione said. "I know what to do. Go back to sleep."
George's face vanished, but his voice remained. "Oh, thank you, all-mighty Hermione, for permission to go back to bed!"
"All right, Ron," Hermione said. "Stand still. I'll change you back." She pointed her wand at him. A streak of blue-white light hit Ron straight in the chest, and just like Harry had seen Scrabbers change in to Peter Pettigrew, Ron's dog form turned into the familiar tall, lanky, ginger-haired, freckled body that Harry was so fond of. Actually, there was a lot more of Ron's body there than Harry was used to seeing.
Hermione giggled and covered her mouth. Harry blushed. And Ron looked confused until he glanced down at himself and saw that he was completely naked. He covered his bits with cupped hands, gasped, and turned back into a dog.
"It's okay, Ron," Hermione said through giggles. "Technically, you're naked now too."
"Stop taking the piss, Hermione," Harry said, jumping in to defend his friend. "You can leave now. Ron and I will sort this out on our own."
"Fine. I suggest that you contact Professor McGonagall tomorrow – first thing, Ron. She'll help you work out the kinks in your poorly executed training."
Harry looked at Ron and rolled his eyes. "Goodnight, Hermione," Harry said. He waited until she Disapparated before sitting on the sofa and addressing Ron. "Sorry that I didn't realise straight away." Ron jumped up on the table and sat in front of Harry. Harry looked at Ron's front legs. There were zigzag patterns on them, where the fur looked matted and went in a different direction than the rest. Harry never questioned his strong desire to touch them or think about how he would’ve never done it had Ron been Ron. His index finger slid over the curved lines and Ron visibly shivered.
"Your scars from the brains." Harry grinned. "It's awesome though. Really brilliant, Ron. I can't believe you… why did you…?"
Ron jumped down from the table and transformed back. Harry gulped. Ron wasn't naked this time, but he was wearing only jeans and nothing else. He sat down next to Harry on the sofa.
"I wanted to join the Aurors with a specialised skill."
"You didn't have to –"
"I know I didn't. I wanted to."
Silence fell between them. The risk that Ron had put himself in suddenly struck Harry. Harry wanted to shout at him for being so daft. The Aurors were desperate for someone like Ron, Animagus or not, to join. Harry was desperate for Ron to join, simply because he missed him.
"It's pretty cool though," Harry said, watching Ron blush at the compliment.
Harry nodded. "Yeah. It'd be dead useful to the Aurors."
"That's what I thought!" Ron’s face fell. "Fat load of good it does if I can't get in under control. Right annoying, it is."
"Hermione was right. McGonagall will help. But… but what set you off this time?"
"Oh… that." Ron looked away, nervously chewing at his bottom lip. "I heard you talking to Terry."
'Shite!' Harry's insides twisted. He had been dreading this talk with Ron. Actually, he had been planning to avoid it for the rest of his life, planning to stay asexual and hoping people just thought he was an eccentric old bachelor type. "I –"
"Was he right?"
Harry frowned. "About me being in denial? No. He wasn't right. I know that I'm gay."
"No, you prat," Ron said, turning to face Harry. He looked uncomfortable, but resigned to say something. "About being in love with – with me."
"Oh…" Harry gathered up his courage and looked Ron straight in the eye. "Yes."
One side of Ron's lips arched in to a smile. "Why didn’t you ever…?"
"I didn't want to –"
"Oh, never mind! It really doesn't matter," Ron said, leaned forward, and kissed Harry, taking him completely by surprise.
Their lips met somewhat off-centred at first, until Ron's hands grabbed Harry's head gently, his thumbs sliding along Harry's cheeks. The kiss deepened, both of them opening their mouths at the same time, meeting their tongues together halfway. They moaned simultaneously at the contact. They stopped briefly for Harry to take off his glasses and, a second time, for Ron to pull off Harry’s shirt. Harry scooted forward so their chests rose and fell, bare and unevenly against one another.
Feeling incredibly overwhelmed that he had finally got exactly what he’d always wanted, Harry buried his face in Ron’s neck, shut his eyes tight, and tried to memorise everything about the moment. The smell of Ron’s hair, the heat of his hand pressed against the small of Harry’s back, and Ron’s lips, slightly cracked, pressing into his shoulder with strong kisses.
Ron's hands moved slowly up and down Harry’s back, massaging it. "I'm sorry I didn't catch on earlier."
"Doesn't matter," Harry said. The bulge in Ron’s jeans distracted Harry and his eyes kept wandering to it, feeling proud that he had done that to Ron. "Caught on now, didn't you?"
"Yeah.” Ron’s eyes followed Harry’s, and his already-flushed face reddened.
Harry grinned and ran his finger over it before cupping it in his hand. Ron moaned, "Oh, fuck, Harry." Their eyes met for a brief second before Harry saw a flash of light and Ron was staring back at him with eyes set in a furry face.
Venting his rage, Ron growled, grabbed another pillow, and shook it so violently that it ripped and feathers flew all around. Harry laughed, forgetting his own sexual frustration.
"Obviously, being turned on is an extreme emotional reaction too," Harry said, once he regained his composure. "Come here, Sparky, I'll rub your belly for you."
In the blink of an eye, Ron changed back and glowered at Harry. "Sparky? Sparky? What sort of a name is that? I want to be Killer or Butch. Or how about Thor? Thor's a cool name for a dog."
Harry raised an eyebrow and pointed at Ron's crotch. "You're naked again."
Ron looked at where Harry was pointing. He was not only naked, but naked and sporting an impressive erection.
"Fuck. I don't believe this –" Ron's words stopped dead and were replaced by incessant barking. He chewed down on another pillow, and Harry fell off the sofa laughing, surrounded by falling feathers and the sounds of Ron's growling.