Eyes Wide Open



When Harry fell into bed with its confusion of dreams, Dumbledore was dead. A night-year later, when Harry scrubbed what little sleep he'd gotten out of his eyes, Dumbledore was dead. Breakfast was eaten, or at least looked at and shoved away. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione visited the infirmary, and when they got back to the common room, Dumbledore was still dead.

The place was packed up with students, now all maybe former students. It was so unnaturally quiet Harry could hardly stand it. It settled around him like the mist of breeding Dementors. He slid down into the feeling without a fight. Misery might love company, but everyone in the crowd looked alone, lipless with grief or fright. Who could know what was going to happen next? The girls were all staring at their laps, even Ginny, the better to hide tears if they fell. The boys looked away at anything they could find. In case a sniffle broke out, no boy wanted the others to know it was him.

Only Harry was watching.

Harry wouldn't cry. His eyes were perfectly dry, so dry he could feel the scrape of every blink. It was enough work just to breathe. He pulled air in through his nose very slowly, trying to force it into his reluctant lungs, trying not to make any noise. If they hadn't figured it out yet, then nobody else needed to know the Monster Book Of Monsters wasn't just a book, it was life, and Harry was suffocating between the pages.

It wasn't his fault, but he had to fix it. Close the book and keep the monsters inside. Odds were good he'd disappear inside it with them when it shut.

Everything he'd ever thought or hoped about growing up was squashed into a thin black line leading to The End. There was nothing to the left and nothing to the right, just emptiness as far down as you could fall. He couldn't - wouldn't -- see anything at the end of the line. He didn't want to fill in that blank.

"I can't do this."

The low, anguished words might as well have been boomed out with a Sonorus. The sprogs almost levitated, with most of the others raising their noses suspiciously, sniffing a sudden change in the air. So closely did the words follow Harry's thoughts that he puckered up just so he knew his own mouth was shut. But it was Ron.

"I can't just mope; I have to get out. I'm getting my broom." He uncreased his long body out of the wingback chair by the fireplace and, with a mulish look that Harry thought needed only long waving ears to perfect, looked over his audience. "Anyone with me?"

There was a wail from the far end of the room. "You great oik, how could you?" Harry hadn't heard Lavender say one word to Ron for two weeks, but she was talking loud and clear now.

To his surprise, Ron twisted up a little smile for her. "We're Gryffindors, eh. What do Gryffindors do but fly in the face of danger?"

Harry felt his chest expand just a little.

The game was so wild it bore almost no resemblance to a quidditch match. With everybody who could or would fly -- even Neville looked like he was thinking about it for a minute there -- there were way too many kids in the air for two teams, but that just made it better. Non-combatants egged them on from the sidelines. The noise attracted students from other houses; they wandered up in twos and threes to see what was going on. It was a free-for-all. Somehow, that made Harry feel much better. He wasn't alone; it was like having two teams on your side, plus the whole crowd cheering you on.

No snitch for this game. Winning wasn't the point.

Wind battered his ears and strung his hair out straight. His muscles screamed in protest as he zoomed into a particularly steep dive just for fun. The joy of flying took over and blanked out everything else. He looped back from the fray and watched for a while. They'd never make the All-Stars, this lot, but their relief over doing something, anything, was infectious. He ought to tell Ron what a good thing he'd done. He grinned as Ginny waved him back into the melee.

And there was screaming and laughing instead of screaming and crying, and if he could play this game, maybe he could play the other one, too. So he played. He played hard and crazy, sweat searing his eyes. He was knocking the quaffle toward one goal, then the other, ducking bludgers and brooms, shrieks of glee pushing him forward. There was no protection; most of the players with bats were swinging them with more enthusiasm than skill. A bludger smashed him so hard in the ribs that his stomach turned inside out. He thought he'd eat grass when he spun out, but kept his Firebolt under his bum with sheer determination.

The ragtag lot did what they could do at whichever end they were on at the time. Players dived for the quaffle, barely missing each other. If a bludger came they'd dodge, whack at it if they had a bat, or just get hit. A few younger players didn't last long, but after the first fall, Hermione recruited upper-years to cushion the ground. The two or three keepers at each end didn't have much work to do. They joined in with the cheering and catcalls, changing places with other players when they got bored. Sometimes one or two would even try to defend a hoop, if the quaffle got that far.

After over an hour of roughhousing, only the team members were still flying. Ron, Ginny, Dean, the team's beater, Peakes, and Harry were met by the last handful of hardy spectators when they they spiraled back to the ground. Backs were slapped, players were hailed as conquering heroes, and Harry was left with a warm glow inside that matched his windburned outside. It stayed, glowing quietly, while he and Dean went to pack away the scattered equipment.



"Gotta run, my folks are coming to pick me up this afternoon," said Peakes.

"That's fine," said Harry. "It's really not even a two-person job." Demelza Robins and the other beater were already gone. Ron had wandered off to talk to Hermione, and Ginny sat with Luna on the lower steps of the stands.

"Yeah, but there's more crap laid out here than one team uses, and the pickup crowd didn't know what to do with it." Dean's white teeth were almost dazzling in the sunlight.

Harry couldn't help feeling a little guilty about wanting to kill Dean earlier in the year, even if it was just jealousy.

Harry waved a hand at the pitch. "Thanks for . . . helping. Flying." He tried to put as much genuine friendship into the words as he could. It wasn't Dean's fault Harry'd been such a nutter. Dean's answering squeeze on the arm made the warm glow rise up again. Harry was shocked a few minutes later to find a growl coming from under his ribs as he watched Dean lope over to say hello, and probably goodbye, to Ginny.

Christ, what was wrong with him? One look at the two of them talking and every time he'd seen the couple together came back to him in a whoosh, filling his head with pictures: Dean's arm around Ginny, Dean's long brown fingers sifting through her red hair . . . Dean towering over her, leaning down for a kiss . . . those memories, but also things he'd never seen. Things that made his heart pound and his cock stand up. Naked things.

Soft smooth stretches of bare skin, dark on pale in the moonlight. Dean and Ginny in Dean's four-poster, where he knew they'd never been - not while he was there, anyway. He would have known. Harry licked his dry lips. Ginny said he was such a gentleman; what would she say if she knew he wanted to watch them do it? He wanted to see them naked, all long limbs and broad chest and needy cock and him reaching up and up for a kiss that would set him on fire -- oh, God.

It wasn't Ginny.

Stifling a whimper, Harry ground down on his hard cock with the heel of his hand, then realized what he was doing and snagged a look anxiously over his shoulder. To his enormous relief, no one was even looking his way. This just wasn't the kind of thing a bloke wanted anybody to see. Harry didn't even want to know it himself, now that it was bursting across his sky in bright colors.

He'd been happy with Ginny, hadn't he? Their time was at an end, he knew that already, it had to be over. There wasn't any alternative. But wasn't it good while it lasted? They had done the things he'd always wanted to do, long walks and sweet kisses and holding hands. She had the things that drew him like metal filings to Ron - courage, loyalty, a solid core of strength. She even loved Quidditch. She had everything Ron did, except . . . well. She should have been perfect.

Dean was gone when Harry strode up to Ginny, leaning in to kiss her cheek. She pushed him back with a laugh. "Hit the showers, Harry, you stink!"

"Uh, yeah, sure. I'll be, uh, in the showers." Ginny gave him an odd look, but he couldn't tell her he was losing his mind. "See you at dinner," he said, the words falling over themselves to get out, to get him out of here, away from her sharp eyes. But it wasn't like she could see that.

"Later." Ginny shook her head, turning to call out to Ron. Looks like they made up, he thought, heaving a grateful sigh. There was nothing worse for Harry than when Ron was pissy. It made everything else in life that much harder. Harry needed Ron's good sense. He had a feeling that he'd soon need all the stability he could scratch together. Hermione was great, but she wasn't Ron.

Ron. Shit. What would Ron say? Well, that was one more person who'd never know. Harry glared down at his crotch. Whatever happened, he had to make certain Ron stayed beside him. He wanted, needed Ron to be there. And he thought Ron might not stick so close to a gayarse.

The walk to the showers seemed like forever. Harry let his mind drift. The gentle, dreamy couple of weeks with Ginny were past, and now he knew why they didn't feel quite real. They weren't.

Whatever was missing, it couldn't be her fault; she had a beehive of blokes to prove otherwise. Well . . . if his dick got hard for dick, that would be the obvious problem.

He'd never pushed Ginny for sex, even though he knew in his heart she'd do him any time, anywhere. It wasn't about being a gentleman, either. He did like her, a lot. She was everything he admired about Ron, wrapped up in a nice girly package. Maybe if he didn't care, he would have put on some pressure . . . or at least asked . . . just to see what it was like, but she was Ron's sister . . . and he didn't want to. Not with her.

By the time he pushed the door to the Gryffindor locker room open, he understood the end was nearer than he'd thought - the end of school, the end of his choices. It was all over right now, really, all his time to experiment and date and all those things other people did. It had gone out with a whimper instead of a bang. He hadn't got much of a childhood, and already he was saying goodbye to adolescence. If only he'd known . . . Harry shook his head. It was all water under the bridge now.

Or at least it was until he walked into the Gryffindor locker room.

The lockers had a bit of light coming in the high windows; Harry hadn't felt like lighting up the place for himself. He wasn't in the mood. The main illumination came from the shower room. When he walked in, he'd wondered who left the shower running. Now he had a clear view of Dean, spray beating against the well-defined muscles of his chest, as he scrubbed shampoo into his wild hair. Dean was one of the few boys tall enough to stand right up to the shower head and still have air to breathe. His back was arched, his eyes closed, and he whistled tunelessly through his teeth.

Harry had barely looked at Dean all year, for reasons that made sense . . . until now. He watched Dean's hands slide down his chest in a froth of suds. White suds. Dark, nubbly nipples with a little black hair for decoration. It was like in the theater, with only the performer under the lights.

Harry's dick sprung up so fast it left him lightheaded, or at least that seemed like a good reason. He'd heard talk about Dean and another boy, just after Dean started going out with Ginny, but it came from Michael Corner. That was what Ron said. Corner told Ron that he'd seen Dean out behind Greenhouse Two with one of the fifth year Ravenclaws. But Corner was just jealous. Wasn't he?

What would Dean do if Harry came in and asked to wash his back?

Harry's robe crumpled to the floor. The shirt didn't come off as easily; his hands were spazzing too much to get the buttons undone, so in the end he pulled it over his head. The trouser button popped off, pinging against the tile, but the zipper went down finally. In a few moments he was standing in a pile of clothes while Dean scrubbed a flannel across his back, half-hard cock wobbling invitingly. Harry almost swallowed his tongue when Dean dropped the flannel and stroked long, soapy fingers into the cleft of his arse. He had to be doing that too slowly and too many times just to get clean.

Harry crept silently across the floor, not even breathing when Dean turned round to let the water pound on his back. He'd have died of embarrassment if Dean had looked his way and caught him watching - there was no way he could miss Harry memorising his every move.

With a start, Harry resumed breathing. Then he got distracted from a programme of slow, shallow inhales and exhales when Dean's fingers, so deft and agile around a pencil, proved just as sure on Dean's cock. There was rubbing, lazy and so slow. The upstroke pushed folds of skin up and over the end; the downstroke bared the soft-looking head. Just waiting for the next sight of it made Harry's mouth water.

Dean was pretty big already, and he grew even bigger under Harry's unwavering gaze. It seemed to take a long time, but maybe that was because Harry was only breathing in on the upstroke. Air slid out of him as the hand went down, and sucking it back in got more and more difficult with every slow stroke. His own cock was so hard he thought he might hurt himself.

Could you rupture those blood vessels? Nah, couldn't be. Madame Pomfrey would be swamped every day.

Covered with goosebumps in the sticky heat of the shower, Harry followed his six inches of courage and stepped in. "Dean," he gargled, almost strangling on the one word.

"Shite!" Dean yelled, slipping a little on the tiles and fetching up against the wall with a wet slap, shower spray streaming into his upturned face. Snorting water out of his nose, he wiped his eyes. "Oh, Christ, it's you, Harry." He chuckled weakly. "I almost sprained something, you wanker. Don't sneak up on a bloke when he's --"

"Dean." Harry's voice wouldn't rise above some kind of stage-whisper. "I . . . uh . . ."

Dean looked Harry over, brown eyes worried. When he got below the waist, his lips turned up. Then he looked at Harry's face, where the blush was creeping up from collarbone to hairline, and grinned broadly, white teeth shining. "Looks like you've got a bit of broomstick trouble yourself, mate. Want a hand with the polish?"

Harry could only nod. He was almost ready to explode with want. He wasn't certain what, exactly, he wanted, but it had to be along the lines of touching and kissing and touching and please, God, coming, and he wanted it now.

"Come on in, the water's fine. Let's get you wet."

Funny how a few innocent words in plain English sounded so dirty coming out of Dean's mouth. Unresisting, Harry was pulled in front of the spray, but still back far enough that he wasn't getting a faceful. Unlike his other zillion showers, this time he could feel every drop splash against his skin, a thousand tiny hot fingers tapping. Touching. Trailing down. He couldn't stop a surprised noise of pleasure, nor the gasp when Dean plastered up against Harry's back, one dark arm pulling him snug. It looked exotic and alien against Harry's pale chest.

Harry and Ginny hadn't even got to bare skin.

"Nothing like a nice hot shower after a tough game," Dean said softly into his ear. As loud as the shower seemed, washing away Harry's concentration, the voice was clear and distinct and made Harry shiver. "You need a good wash."

Harry leaned his head back against Dean's shoulder and moaned in earnest as big hands soaped him slowly and carefully. The spread fingers of just one was enough to cup a buttock. When they slid into the crevice of his arse, he jumped a little. Nevertheless, he was disappointed they didn't linger. All the while, Dean's cock slid up and down, up and down against the sensitive skin of his lower back. The roughness of chest hair rubbed between his shoulders. The only thing that kept Harry from just melting like icing in the sun was the unending, now nearly painful, throb of his cock.

"Dean, please . . ." Harry wasn't above begging for it; he just didn't know what to say.

"Oh," that voice was back in his ear, this time just a bit rougher than before. "So you want Doctor Dean's Special Wash, do you?"

"Yes! Oh, yes!" The words came out with a small shriek as one of the big brown hands wrapped around Harry's cock, pulling the last bit of loose skin tight along the shaft.

"Then we'll get you right clean everywhere." The other hand palmed the head of his cock and circled gently.

Harry screamed, and it echoed back from the shower walls. He thought, in what few brain cells that were left, that he was pumping out his spleen, his lungs. Dean's belated grab was useless; there was no purchase on wet skin, and Harry slid a bumpy path past knobby knees to the floor.

"Sorry, mate. Wasn't ready for that."

Harry waved away Dean's apology as best he could with an arm that was completely limp. Dangerous, he thought muzzily. Sex was dangerous, or Dean's version was. It was just as effective as that spell, but at least it wouldn't end him up drinking Skelegro.

Long thin feet moved closer. Dean ruffled his hair, which would have worked better if they both hadn't been soaking wet with the shower still pouring over them, and Harry glanced up. Dean was standing right in front of him, and he was still hard. It shouldn't have been a surprise, but then again, Harry was lucky to have enough brains working to feel surprise.

He'd never seen a hard cock from this angle before, and it was . . . interesting. Not like the mysteries of girl parts - that was downright unnerving. This was something familiar but different, something he wanted to explore. His glasses were covered with mist and droplets, so he took them off and slid them away, hoping they wouldn't get stepped on. This, of course, made it very important to get closer so he could see properly.

He had to get up on his knees to be eye to eye, as it were. Thick, purplish and strong, Dean's cock swayed gently, inviting his touch. With only fingertips at first, he stroked down the shaft's heavy vein. It pulsed gently. A low sound from above encouraged him. It wasn't anything like Harry's own furtive pulls in the shower, or his silent and somehow guilty ones under the covers. It was . . . nicer. Better with somebody else. Good clean fun, his mind supplied, and he knew his face was mostly a goofy grin.

He was doing it. He was touching bare skin, bare cock skin, getting some, he'd just had sex and he was busy getting more sex. He thought his brain might explode. And he was alive, really really alive, so alive he could feel every hair on his body and every spit of water rolling down his backside. Which meant he wasn't going to die before he got his hands on something Really Important that wasn't Really Evil. This was brilliant.

From this angle, it was easier to wrap his hand around Dean's cock and let his thumb ride the underside of the head. And there were nice, rounded, hairy balls in plain view, so why not play with them, too? That brought a full groan. He hoped that if Dean's legs gave out, too, the taller, sturdier boy wouldn't fall on him. But that was academic right now, and Harry was busy studying something else. Like how the eye opened or flattened depending on his grip, and how hard it was in his hand, and how soft and slippery the skin was. Slippery when wet. Yes.

Clutching more firmly, he began to work faster, more confidently, with a little twist the way he liked it, but let the wet, tender head wait its turn. He hoped it appreciated the water drops still pattering down upon it. Glancing up, Harry saw one of Dean's hands splayed across his stomach as if trying to hold himself together, and the other one was busy at a nipple. That would be another thing to experiment with. But for now . . . he left off rolling Dean's balls and used both hands to pull with, like holding a Quidditch bat.

"God, fuck, touch me! Yes, that way! Like that! Oh, oh, ohhhh . . ." Dean's voice trailed off as come spurted over Harry's chest. Good thing they were in the shower. He grinned up at Dean's slack jaw, happy to have done so well. He did it. Dean smiled vaguely down at him, looking like it was stand or fall, nothing in between.

Harry stood up to rinse and swayed a little himself. He felt like an octopus - very wet, probably very wrinkly, all rubbery limbs and changing colors.

"Bloody hell, I'm going to be late!" muttered Dean. "I promised I'd meet Seamus before lunch!"

"Go on, then. You had plenty of shower, anyhow." Harry smirked at Dean, then said, "Uh . . . thanks."

"It was all my pleasure," Dean assured him with a wink. How anyone with such an open face could look roguish, Harry didn't know, but on Dean, it worked.

He took his time getting back to the dorm. He was having a tough enough time walking a straight line, so no point in overexerting himself. It had to be lunchtime, but his bed looked so very good. He wanted a lie down, just for a bit, just to let that wobbly feeling fade. Within two minutes' time, he'd slid into a deep, quiet sleep.



He awoke into a pleasant fog hours later; he could tell by the tilting of shadows that he'd been sacked out all afternoon. That was the best sleep he'd had since what felt like ever. He stretched and yawned and lay flat on his back, and thought about going back to sleep. He was too comfortable even to take his glasses off.

The door opened; it was Ron. "Hi," he said with a sleepy smile.

"Oh, it's you." Ron's reply was brusque, and he turned away before Harry could see the expression on his face. "Thought you'd be at dinner." The words were muffled, and they didn't sound friendly. Ron started throwing balled-up socks and Quidditch gear in the general direction of his trunk, and not any too carefully. Harry winced when an arm guard hit the window with a clank. What was Ron on about? There'd been something up his nose half the school year, and not got over it until just lately. This was the wrong time to be on the outs. Everything they knew was crumbling - he'd be swept away in the debris without Ron.

Maybe he'd better say something. They didn't have much time left. "Ron," he ventured, "what's wrong?" Nope, subtlety was not his strong point.

"Nothing." The flat answer was not meant to encourage talk.

"Then why did you just throw Trevor into your trunk?"

Ron was silent as he rescued the sad-looking toad. Keeping his back to Harry, he deposited the creature on Neville's bed. Harry hated to poke at Ron when he was moody, but given that they'd only be here for another day . . . "Come on, what's the problem?"

Suddenly, Ron turned on him. "You're the problem, aren't you, you sodding arsehole?"

"What?" Harry stared at him open-mouthed. He pushed himelf up to sit on the bed, the better to stand if necessary.

"Yes, you, you fucking bastard. It's true what they say about you; you think you can do anything just because you're the Bloody Boy Who Lived. I never believed it before, but I know it now." Ron wasn't cranky or irritated, he was furious. He raved on, red in the face. "What kind of slag are you? You know how much my sister likes you and yet you have to go let Dean," Ron's voice cracked, "stick his dick in you?"

"You saw . . ." Harry went hot, then cold all over. Stunned, he thumped back against the wall.

"Yes, I saw, goddamn it! I saw you fucking him in the shower! How dare you?" Livid, Ron gasped for breath. " 'S bad enough that you're fucking her. She's been . . . she's been waiting for you . . ." His friend turned to the wall. His voice fell away. ". . . and if you just had to go out and shag a bloke, why him?" Ron dragged a sleeve over his eyes and rounded on Harry. "What's he got, anyway?"

Harry wasn't the most intuitive person in the world, but he'd never seen Ron cry. Two-timing his sister didn't seem like a good enough reason. There had to be something a lot more personal under Ron's anger. He looked up at his best friend, the one who had everything, not knowing whether it was hope or just plain stupidity that made him hold out his hand. "Ron," he said.

"I'm going to tell her! You better sack Dean off, or I'm going to tell her! You can't do this to - to --" He was shouting again, but he looked like he was beginning to understand that Harry wasn't listening any more.

"Ron," Harry said again.

Ron stared at him, his mouth still twitching. "You . . . I will, I swear . . ."

But his feet were already moving toward Harry, toward the bed. They scuffed against the floor, but still Ron moved toward Harry. Ron's hand lifted like a zombie's, slow and absolutely steady. Then Ron closed his eyes. Finger by finger, their hands clasped.

With one pull, Ron was on the bed, on Harry. Their kisses were clumsy and shallow, teeth clacking together and moans smoking the air. Now Harry knew exactly what he'd seen in Ginny, and why he'd never so much as unsnapped her bra. He was harder, if possible, than he'd been in the shower, his hips moving like he could snake himself right inside Ron's clothes. Ron covered him almost completely. He was eleven stone of elbows and knees digging in, but Harry didn't care at all.

They were frenzied and fully dressed and Harry didn't care about that, either; he'd never felt as good about anything as he did about lying here with Ron grinding away at him, panting like he'd run a mile. The feel of Ron's face against his and Ron's breath in his ear was worth anything. He grabbed Ron's bum and pulled him in harder. Ron gave a high-pitched cry, spunk soaking his trousers. Harry managed to roll them over. A breathless grunt forced its way out of him, wetness spreading over his own trousers as he came with a gasp.

It was over in minutes.

Still a little winded, he brushed the hair away from Ron's beautiful, freckled face, holding Ron's cheek in one palm and pressing a soft kiss against his mouth. It was a little bit puffy. Harry's probably looked just the same. Finally, Ron opened his eyes. They'd been closed the whole time.

Ron looked . . . lost. Sad.

"I'm breaking up with Ginny, Ron," Harry whispered into the silence.

"Why?" Ron stared at the ceiling. "You've had your little orgy, and I can't say anything to her now. You might as well go back to her. One of us should be happy." Ron turned his face away. "I know what it feels like to wait for somebody." His tone was more bitter than Harry'd ever heard it.

"I didn't know, before." Harry very gently turned Ron's face back. "She's not the one," he said, softly, urgently, willing Ron to understand.

"Oh, yeah? What about Dean?"

"I wasn't fucking him, and I wasn't fucking Ginny, either. But I'd . . ." he almost chickened out. But he couldn't. Not now. He took a deep breath. "I would, you."

The grief slowly dissolved, leaving behind only his so-familiar face. He wrapped his arms around Harry and squeezed until Harry almost couldn't breathe. When he relaxed again, he asked, "How are you going to tell Ginny?"

"It'll be okay," said Harry firmly, even though he really didn't have any idea. "It just has to be this way. The harder question is, how are we going to tell Hermione? She likes you."

"Sometimes," replied Ron wryly.

"And I know you like her."

"No, I don't!" But Ron blushed. It turned the tips of his ears pink.

Hermione wanted Ron; it was as plain as the nose on her face. That would ruin everything. It could destroy the friendships he needed so badly. They could end up having some horrible kind of love triangle like in the tabloids his aunt favored -- in their case, the front page of the Daily Prophet. With the three of them, though, Harry was the weak side. Whatever Ron thought, Hermione could take Ron away from Harry in a heartbeat.

But . . . maybe there was another answer. He remembered Hermione nattering on about Runes once. "The triangle represents the number three. It also relates to the Past, Present, and Future; Wisdom, Love and Truth; Body, Mind and Soul." It sounded a load of crap at the time, but maybe there was something more in it. Harry was pants at maths as a kid, but even he remembered what the teacher said about triangles: the sides supported each other.

"Let's not talk about it now, but I have an idea about Hermione."

"I should know enough to be afraid when you get ideas," snorted Ron. "Forget about it! I'm starving. You want to get cleaned up and see if there's anything left in the kitchens?"

The first thing they found in the kitchens was Dobby.

"Harry Potter! Harry Potter and his Wheezy has come to say goodbye!" The shrill squeak carried over the bustle of elves cleaning up from dinner. Big ears flapped as the elf ran to his side and then, to Harry's great surprise, clutched him into a hug. "Dobby thanks you, Harry Potter, sir! Dobby thought he might never see Harry Potter again!"

"Why not?" Ron looked more interested in the hovering plates of treacle tart and chocolate cake to his left than in the answer to his question.

"Oh, sirs, they is talking about closing Hogwarts!"

"Who is?"

"The Headmistress." Of course. There was no Headmaster any more. The distraught elf began to wring his ears.

Ron had been startled into paying attention, but Harry was thrown out of the talk so totally he might as well have left the room.

He couldn't even tell Dobby to stop with the ears; he was too busy fighting off a wave of nausea. He knew he wouldn't be back next term; that was already decided. His job was to find the horcruxes and destroy Voldemort. In his blistering determination, he hadn't felt the weight of what he was walking away from. Everything. He was leaving everything he knew, everything he'd ever felt good about, everything and anything that meant security and happiness and . . .

Well, everyone left school, didn't they? They just left knowing it would still be there any time they wanted to go back and look at it. Harry and his classmates wouldn't have the castle at their backs. Harry might not ever find out whether the building survived the war. When he walked away from here, it would likely be for the last time.

Harry had to get hold of himself. He had a chance with Ron; they could have a tie stronger than the friendship they'd forged over the years. No matter where he went or what happened, Ron would be his solid ground in the face of the unknown.

Ron would love his idea. He had to.

By the time his mind circled back into the kitchens, Ron was hefting a huge picnic basket.

"I told him to give us a little of everything, and I guess he took me at my word." Ron hefted the enormous thing with some effort, tilting his head toward the door. "Let's get out of here."

Harry waved him on, then offered a hand to Dobby, who clung to it with skinny, pallid fingers.

"Be safe, Harry Potter, sir. You and your Wheezy." He pronounced each word solemnly. Harry was startled to see a tear drip from one of the bulging eyes.

"Don't worry, Dobby, I'll be back. Sooner than you think," assured Harry, hoping it was true. Hoping he'd someday file out of the Great Hall after taking his NEWTS with a graduating class of his friends. Hoping for the best possible outcome.

He stared at the floor, watching one foot step in front of the other, until he reached the painting-covered entrance where Ron waited.

Things seemed perfectly normal out under the enormous oak, far enough away so no one could hear them - half the student body was gone anyway -- and with a screen of bushes on the castle side. The two tossed their robes on the ground and sat down. Early evening light slanted off the lake, bluing the greens of the rolling lawn. It was still warm, a perfect end to a perfect June day. Turning back the clock, it could have been any other school year's end.

Harry's daydream of normal lasted until Ron raised a chicken leg for Harry's attention. "So, what was your idea about Hermione?"

In this, at least, Harry had firm knowledge. "She likes you. You like her." The more he said it, the more sense it made.

There was more chewing, and a swallow. "So?"

"I was thinking that if we ask her the right way, she might be willing to share you with me."

The living color drained out of Ron's face, his freckles like a scatter of dirt on snow. "Fuck. Harry. What . . ." The words came out slow, like Ron was having a hard time moving his lips. He sounded like there wasn't enough air. "Fuck, we haven't even . . . and now you just . . . you pass me off to Hermione like I'm a frayed shirt?" His eyes hardened abruptly, like gobstones in the white face. "Whatever you're smoking, I don't want any. Fuck you! Fuck this!"

Harry instinctively caught the chicken leg, a handful of lumpy meat and grease, as Ron threw it at him, scrambling sideways like a crab. He dropped it just as fast, reaching for Ron, catching a trouser leg, fingers slipping, bringing Ron back to the ground with a jerk when his feet came out from under him.

"No, no, wait! That's not - listen to me!"


To his shock, Ron kicked at him, but he'd gotten close enough by hauling on Ron's other leg that Ron's trainer only scraped along his ribs. For the first time, Harry felt desperate. What if this didn't work, if Ron wouldn't . . . "Stop! I know how you look at her! I'm not stupid!" Pinning Ron's legs under him, Harry almost managed to duck a set of knuckles. The rap on the head only made him yell louder. "You want her! As soon as she figures that out, you'll be with her and I'll be . . . I'll be . . ." The words ran out. Harry couldn't bear to say them. He slumped across Ron's legs.

"You are stupid!" Ron flopped back onto the ground. "You're as thick as a goddamn brick." His voice was still strained, but he didn't sound hacked off anymore.

"What?" Harry was stung. "I'm not the stupid one! It was never me who wouldn't speak to you for weeks because of . . . well, whatever the reason was last time! And you're going to want kids, a family. I know you. When that happens, she's in. I'm out."

"Yeah, what," scoffed Ron, kneeing Harry's unresisting body over onto the grass. "You think you know so much about what I want? The whole time, this whole time, I . . . ever since you pulled me out of the lake. That was the day I knew I couldn't compete with everybody else. I wanted you to save me. You wanted to save the world."

Harry stared up at the sky. He did want to save the world. That wasn't the problem. The circle of horizon was turning milky to the east.

"You'll never be alone, Harry. I don't know what this bollocks was all about, but it's okay, you know?" Ron sounded tired now, tired and far older than Harry'd ever heard him. "We'll just . . . I'll even Obliviate you if you want. Hell, this is so fucked I want to Obliviate myself." His laugh was forced. "I think I did really well in Charms."

Harry had thought they should talk, but he was wrong. Talking wasn't getting either of them anywhere. With a grunt, he rolled over, an elbow and a knee pushing him up and on top of Ron. He heard the air heave out of Ron's lungs, and decided to put it back himself.

"W -- oof! Getcha - Harr . . ."

"Mmmhmm," Harry answered, settling in for comfort, loving the taste of Ron's mouth. It was good, so good, and Ron's warmth heated Harry all over. No wonder he was so skinny. He had to be burning off half his weight in food every day. It felt like Harry was just getting started on the thin skin over the quickening pulse in Ron's neck when Ron yanked himself away, as away as he could get when he was flat on his back. It didn't take two seconds for Ron to flip him, and he was covered with that long-limbed rangy weight. The soft grass tickled behind his ears. This, he thought, was even better.

"You had three people today!" Ron braced back and glared at him. They were still so close he could feel his eyes cross. "Two before lunch! I don't know what you're trying to prove!"

"I wasn't fucking Ginny, and I didn't fuck Dean, either!" Why couldn't Ron get it?

"Oh, yeah, you said you were going to fuck me." Disbelief narrowed his eyes and thinned his lips, but it didn't stop his cock hardening against Harry's belly, or Harry's own rising to answer it.

Harry reached up with the tip of a finger and connected Castor and Pollux. "You're right, I was stupid. I didn't know, and I'm sorry," he whispered to Ron's freckles. "But it's different now. Everything's different. You don't need me to save you any more. I need you to save me."

Ron made a small noise and gave up, tucking his face into Harry's neck, letting all his weight sink down onto Harry. "It's okay. It's going to be okay now," he soothed, as he pulled at Ron's shirt. Ron had filled out some this year, but Harry could still count ribs as he slid his hands along the warm skin. He wanted to feel that skin all over his own.

"Come on, help me out, here."

But Ron wasn't any help; he looked like his hands and maybe his brains weren't working right, so Harry pulled at the shirt until it was over his head, and then had to undo the cuffs when they both sat up. Ron looked so right sitting there half-naked and a little confused, the sun glowing on one side of his face. He held his hands out for Harry to undo the cuffs, reaching out to touch the front of Harry's own shirt.

"Yeah." This was the way it should be. "Now, let's get this off me." Ron's big hands were clumsy on the buttons, but he took off Harry's shirt like he was unwrapping him and didn't want to tear the paper. "God." And then they were pressed up against each other, bare chests together, holding and touching and so, so warm. Harry ran his hands along Ron's back, scratching gently with his short nails, because there wasn't anything better than to be scratched where it didn't itch.

"I could get in your lap." His own whisper sounded strange and needy.

Ron ignored him. "I just want . . . I want . . ." His voice was hoarse as he began to kiss Harry's neck, his shoulders.

"Me, too." He didn't care what Ron wanted; whatever it was, it was already Ron's. "I want that, too." Harry gasped as Ron's mouth found one of his nipples. It tickled, but it made him so hard. He squirmed. His cock wanted out. The y-fronts were much too tight around his erection, the elastic digging into and rubbing at the sensitive tip. Harry was tense all over. His skin prickled and shivered wherever Ron's lips trailed. He needed Ron's leg, his hand, anything to take this blinding pressure off.

"Ron -" but Ron was busy and didn't answer, his red hair shockingly bright as he rubbed his face against Harry's white stomach.

It didn't take anything for Ron to push him down.

Now Ron was on top of Harry's cock, mouthing it through the fabric, sucking as best he could, making a wet spot on the outside. There already was one on the inside; Harry could feel himself leaking along his belly. His whimpers finally broke Ron's concentration enough to get Ron working on Harry's fly. Up on one elbow, Harry gasped in relief as the strangling pants were pulled down, and then whined when Ron just . . . looked at it. "Shite, do something!"

"I will, I just want to, to . . ." Ron wrapped his big hand around Harry's cock and started to stroke, the skin sliding with his grip. The rapt fascination on Ron's face as he watched, hand cock up down - it was too much, Harry couldn't stop the jolt from his balls, couldn't stop his hips from jerking, couldn't stop the sticky white stuff pumping out. His body trembled with aftershocks, his vision blurry with sky as his head hit the ground.

"Blimey, y'know - next time you could -" but Ron wasn't angry, he could tell. He tried to help Ron wipe the come off his face and neither of them was doing much good, and both of them were grinning.

"C'mere."Harry shifted Ron down and reached for the front of his trousers, but they were already wet. When he glanced back up, Ron's face was redder than his hair.

"Sorry," mumbled Ron.

"We can save something for later. We've got lots of time." For the first time in as long as he could remember, Harry felt like he had time. There was nothing to worry about, no saving the world for tonight, just Ron and how good it felt to be curled up together. A spark struck him. "You'll think about Hermione, though, won't you?"

"I think about her loads, mate," Ron admitted. "But you saw what she did when I was only snogging Lavender. If she knew we were doing this . . . we wouldn't have to hang around waiting on You Know Who to hand out the Unforgiveables."

"I want us all to be together." Harry knew he was being stubborn, but he couldn't stop. "We'll think of a way."

There was a rustle from the bushes and both boys turned toward it. Please, please let it be a squirrel, a rabbit -- suddenly, between the leaves, there was a flash of black. Harry snapped up and scooted away, as far as he could get, as if this little scene could ever look like anything but what it was.

"You two just can't do anything without me, can you?" Hermione's face was pink, but she held her head high. As she walked, she was flicking the clasps at the neck of her robes. Unlike them, she was perfectly uniformed, as usual; as she shrugged off the robes she began to loosen her tie. She pulled that off with a snap and dropped it on the grass. For a moment, it was almost more of a shock to see her throwing her clothes on the ground than it was to have her stripping off right in front of them. Or, it was until she began to unbutton her blouse.

Ron and Harry were both gaping at her, but Ron managed to get his mouth closed long enough to make sounds with it. "Her . . . Hermione?" Harry'd never heard him squeak like that.

"You should take your pants off." Hermione answered in her usual crisp tones, but there was a sly smile behind them.

Ron looked down at his lap, automatically covering the wet spot with his hands.

"That's not at all how to have sex, Ron. No wonder you and Harry didn't get very far. It works so much better with no clothes on. I think I'd better set you to rights, give you a good seeing-to."

Harry stifled a laugh at the mock-scolding, but then, he wasn't the target. Ron burst out, "And you have so much experience!"

"I," she sounded especially prim, "have done my research. There are several chapters about sex on school grounds in Hogwarts: A History."

Ron stared at her, completely gobsmacked. "That's not true!"

"You wouldn't really know, would you?"

Harry couldn't help but burst out laughing at Ron's gormless expression.

"Don't laugh, Harry, you wouldn't know either."

When he looked, she was down to her knee socks and a little pair of white knickers. The last of the sunlight gilded her small breasts and smooth belly. Her wild hair stood out around her shoulders, stray curls moving with the breeze. She had never looked better than this, even at the Yule Ball.

Without thinking, he said, "Hermione. You're beautiful."

"Thanks." She blushed, ducking her head, and hooked her thumbs into her knickers. They both watched, spellbound, as she bent over and drew them down her legs. She was naked. He was looking at his first naked girl. She was naked and beautiful and since this morning he hadn't thought he wanted any girls, but maybe he shouldn't make an important decision like that right away.

"Here, hold these for me, will you?" She tossed the white scrap to Harry. The pants were silky and slippery and . . . his cock came to full attention . . . wet. He could smell them. Without thinking, he put them up to his face and breathed in Hermione. Soft and musky, she was, lighter and not as sharp as the smell of Ron's sweat and his come. He wondered what it was like at the source.

Ron had managed to take his eyes off Hermione long enough to scramble out of his trousers, tangling his y-fronts around his feet until she dropped down and pulled them free. She advanced on him on her hands and knees. Ron looked both thrilled and terrified as Hermione knelt up and kissed him. God, they looked so good together. His cock ached. He was hard again, and he needed them. But what if they didn't really want him to hang around? Sex was suppposed to be private. It wasn't for watching, for drooling over like some kind of pervert.

And then he forgot all about that.

Arousal surged through him as they kissed, open-mouthed and sloppy, Hermione more abandoned than he could have ever imagined. He'd seen Ron kiss Lavender enough times, but it hadn't been anything like this. They were so close together nothing could get in between. They looked like they could do it forever, and like maybe they might, with Ron's hands on her arse and her rubbing against his chest.

"Are you okay for . . . birth control?" Ron whispered.

Any other kind of control, for him, was probably out of the question.

"Already took care of it." Somehow, she managed to look smug even as he lowered her onto his cock. Only a small wince and a gasp of breath showed her discomfort. She looked so small, half his size, like she shouldn't have been able to get that thing inside. She was a virgin, he'd bet anything, and he was seeing her take a cock for the first time. Ron's cock. Hell, he knew he was seeing Ron push into a fanny for the first time. The look on his face would have said everything even if Harry hadn't known.

If he was bold enough, he'd have crept up behind Hermione to watch Ron's cock where they fitted together. As it was, he couldn't close his eyes. He could almost feel Ron's lips on Hermione's breast, her nails in Ron's shoulder. His skin tingled where they touched each other. Their sighs caught in his throat. The intensity of their eyes made Harry burn inside.

And Hermione was going up and down, Ron's hands wrapped around her arse, lifting her with what looked like no effort at all. Hermione's breasts jiggled; Harry wanted to rub the tips to see if they were as hard as they looked. Both were moaning over the wet smack of him in her. His smart, mouthy Hermione was getting her own good seeing-to. Even with her brains, there weren't any words now; she could only beg with her hungry noises.

The sound carried in the now-cool evening air and finally he thought to cast a silencing spell around them which was good because then Hermione was yelling harder, harder, oh God as she hung on with one hand and pushed the other between them, touching herself. Harry's hand was on their rhythm, the satiny knickers a flash of white between his knuckles as they slid along his cock; they were so slick and sweet it was like a kiss -- until his breath caught and his hand stopped and he watched Hermione arch on Ron's cock and cry out. Oh, it was . . . she was . . . and Ron was . . .

Ron just pumped her faster as she held on to his shoulders, but she didn't seem to mind at all. She liked it. He pushed in one last time, hard, coming with a grunt. Hermione bore down on him with a whimper of pure pleasure, tipping her head back and grinding against him until she came again.

Harry's orgasm rolled over him like the Hogwarts Express, stopping for nothing and clanging on and on, and when it was over, when he got done shaking and was sucking the sweet evening air into his starved lungs, he looked up at the other two.

Hermione was lying on top of a spent Ron. Her hair, kinked with sweat, straggled across his chest. Ron's newly-muscular arms held her tight. For the first time, Harry saw them as a man and a woman, not just his best mate and a girl who happened to be his friend. Being together made them different from the two people they'd been before, two adults who knew what they wanted and had found it. Ron and Hermione were special. They were silent, enclosed in their own space and time, and nothing Harry or anybody else did could penetrate it.

He was happy for them. Really, he was. Harry squashed the pathetic whimper that tried to creep out. He'd always known they'd get together, but not like this. Not . . . today. And he never figured he'd have to watch it happen. He was worse off now than he'd been this morning. One person wanking was almost like an invitation compared to this vision of togetherness -- he wouldn't stick his hand into this fire. He'd best tuck away and scarper before they remembered him, remembered they'd been watched, and wondered how much he'd seen.

Hoping not to raise their notice, he reached down to pull his zip. That was when he realized there was a sopping wad of cloth in his hand. Hermione's knickers. He'd watched his friends do it and wanked and they'd know. Shame crawled over his already guilty conscience. Maybe if he never said anything, Ron and Hermione wouldn't either. They had each other now, didn't they? They could never be cruel enough to shut him out completely because of . . .

Panicked, he threw the stained knickers into the bushes. They caught on a twig, almost glowing in the twilight.


When he tried to stand up, his legs didn't want to work. Move, he told them sternly. He'd only just managed a precarious vertical when he heard, "Get over here, you prat." He was so buried under his own thoughts that it took him a few seconds to match that treacle-thick order with Hermione's normal voice.

"We can't wait around all night for you to make up your mind." Harry'd never heard that kind of satisfaction from Ron - it had to be oozing out of his pores.

So much relief swarmed through him that he thumped back onto his knees again, but it didn't stop him from moving over there as fast as he could. As an afterthought, he spelled the robes they were curled on into an enormous fluffy quilt before he let Ron and Hermione tug him down between them. He'd done okay in Transfiguration.

"We expect some participation from you next time," said Ron. "None of this laying about when there's work to be done." His orders were seconded by Hermione's snicker. Warm and groggy in their embrace, he heard Hermione mutter, "I want a full explanation for this . . . in the morning!"

Figured. Only Hermione would want to know the why of something that didn't need any explanation. "Three," Harry yawned. "Has to be three to stand steady." He snuggled down between the two people he loved most. They were joined now, stable, the perfect building block. It was safe to close his eyes.



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