Original Title: Measured Out with Coffee Spoons
Summary: EWE. Ron knew he would be breaking Ginny’s heart, but she’d broken his when she’d first kissed Harry. Now that Harry loved him, Ron knew he could never let him go. Harry/Ron.
Warnings: Hints of Lemonade. Secret Relationship. Suggestion of Homophobia.
He Apparated into Hogsmeade, the wind ruffling his ginger hair as it swallowed up the bang of his traveling. He hadn’t stepped into the village since the Battle of Hogwarts, and found that—at least to him—it seemed haunted, a shadow of its past self. Students were milling about on their day off, the air was crisp, and yet it was all a parody of the innocence they all had lost as they watched their friends die on the battlefield.
He shook his head, dispelling the thought, and pulled his coat more firmly around him. His fringe falling to his eyes, he stepped forward knowing that so much had changed since he was a student himself.
A couple of third years rushed past him in wizarding robes, and he shook his head again. He hadn’t been so small in so long, so carefree, and yet a gentle happiness had now taken residence in his heart and despite the death, the incredible loss, and the pain, he knew he could never wish it otherwise.
Memories of Fidelius, of nights spent within a tent and hands searching out in the dark, the brush of lips when words could not be spoken ran behind his eyelids as if they were an old Muggle moving picture. The first kiss was rushed and full of hatred and jealousy as the locket hung about his neck, poisoning his desire and love. As he pressed Harry beneath him in the blackness, he could see the fear and acceptance in his shadowed eyes, and with a quiet moan that bespoke his heartbreak, he had torn the locket from his neck and left before the horcrux would make him do anything worse.
A smile came to his lips and his bright blue eyes shone with happiness as he entered the Three Broomsticks. He waved sheepishly at Madame Rosmerta when he saw her, blushing when he remembered how he used to fancy her before Hogwarts, but now found her nothing more than a kind and beautiful woman. One taste of Harry’s skin had blotted out everything else. One stifled gasp as they hid at Grimmauld Place, his hand resting possessively on Harry’s stomach as they lay side by side but did little, both too afraid for their lives and knowing the other was too precious to lose their friendship in uncertainties.
Long looks as they walked through Hogwarts, searching for Ravenclaw’s Diadem, a brush of fingers, but nothing more. A comment about house-elves and then lips pressed against him, so soft, so wrong, as feminine hands buried themselves in his hair, pulling him closer, confusing him, as Harry watched on.
His hands shook just at the memory.
“What can I get you?” Rosmerta asked, and he found that he was leaning up against the bar with the other patrons.
He gifted her with a half-smile. “Firewhiskey.” He’d need something strong for the conversation he was having. It was going to be ugly, he’d known it would be ever since the dust settled on the battlefield and Harry had crawled into the bed that had once been Ron’s after that simple spell that had ended it all.
Ron had found him there, wrapped around himself, crying in his sleep, so lost and small and so tragically beautiful that his heart wept. Without a thought, he had slipped off his shoes and pulled his ragged shirt over his head before slipping in beside Harry. He had pulled him against his chest, delighting in the feel of Harry’s frost-kissed skin against his and had just breathed in his scent, hoping when Harry awoke he wouldn’t push Ron from his arms in hurt and anger, that he’d read the subconscious thought correctly, that Harry wanted him to be beside him if Ron came looking.
Kisses placed against Harry’s chapped lips as he continued to sleep, brushing against his scar, his lowered eyelids, Ron’s nose gently tracing his cheek as Harry whimpered in his slumber. This he had almost lost in the war, this he would keep forever if Harry would let him, this he wouldn’t allow his mother, Hermione, or even Ginny to take away from him as long as he held breath.
This he adored. This he craved. This he had loved since he was a small child riding on the Express and found that someone as legendary as the great Harry Potter thought he had worth when no one had bothered much with him before.
The Firewhiskey was pressed into his hand and Madame Rosmerta smiled at him kindly. “Here you are, love,” she whispered and he pressed two Galleons into her hand, four times the worth of a simple glass of Firewhiskey.
She squeezed his hand in appreciation.
“Have you seen my sister? Ginny Weasley?” he inquired quietly. He hadn’t seen her through the mass of students and other patrons, but he knew Rosmerta had a keen eye.
Less than a year ago, as he, Harry, and Hermione had rushed through Hogsmeade to Hogwarts, he had seen her peaking out of her window, her eyes trained on their hands, which Harry and Ron had clasped briefly before rushing onward.
Nothing was said, nothing acknowledged, but he could see the knowing and the acceptance in her deep brown eyes, and it warmed his heart.
“Not yet,” she responded. “She was in here last Hogwarts weekend though with that pretty friend of yours that was always tagging along.”
He grimaced at thoughts of Hermione, but tried to control the twitch of his lips. “Hermione Granger,” he supplied.
Rosmerta nodded sagely, and hesitated briefly. “How’s that young man of yours?”
Ron started at the question and then, slowly, took a sip of his Firewhiskey. His eyes held Rosmerta’s cautiously, understanding passing between them. “I’m telling my sister,” he finally said, little more than a whisper.
Rosmerta eyed him closely, waiting for him to continue but he didn’t. “It’s been my experience, throughout the years, that a truly loving family will eventually accept once the shock has worn off,” she offered. “You have five older brothers.”
“Four,” he murmured. “Only four now.”
She cast her eyes down to the scarred bar, ignoring the other customers. “Four, forgive me. You have older brothers so there isn’t a question of carrying on the line, and the Weasleys have always been a liberal family.”
He shook his head. “It’s not that easy. I—“ He couldn’t continue, his voice catching in his throat as his memory dragged him back to his sixth year.
Ron didn’t know why he did it exactly. Looking back, he assumed that he hadn’t been thinking. He was angry at Hermione. He had fancied her, or at least told her that he did. She was pretty enough and she was there, always berating him and blushing when she asked him to Slughorn’s Christmas party. It had been awkward. He didn’t know what to say. He could feel the tension rolling off from her, and he told himself this was right, this is what he should want.
She was pretty after all.
Still, in the night, he would turn silently toward Harry and watch him as he slept and imagine what never should come to pass.
For a while he convinced himself that he could just transfer his emotions from one best friend to another, told himself that he had done it. Hermione was pretty. McLaggen even fancied her, and Krum had.
He didn’t think about Krum. It was better not to. Watching him dance with Hermione was horrible enough, then seeing his eyes trace over Harry whenever his best mate wasn’t looking made it even worse.
Hermione was pretty, though, ever since she got her teeth fixed and had grown up a bit.
Then she would look at him, and he saw Harry noticed she was looking and became slightly more distant, paining him. He couldn’t stand the thought of Hermione, one of his best friends, coming between him and Harry so when Lavender snogged him in front of everyone, he had snogged her back, his mind focused on Harry and how, if he could never kiss Harry, at least someone wanted him and it would keep Hermione away—for now.
He hadn’t been thinking, and he told himself that Lavender was pretty, prettier than Hermione, but that didn’t really matter in comparison to Harry’s unassuming and ordinary face that still claimed all of Ron’s thoughts in the night when he should have been dreaming of Lavender.
Lavender. He wondered where she was now.
Rosmerta squeezed his hand again and he offered her a half-smile.
“Well, if you see her, could you send her over to whatever booth I manage to find?”
She nodded briefly. “Does she know you’re coming?”
“Yes. No. It’s—“
“Say nothing more,” she murmured before turning to another patron, taking his order with a smile on her face.
Ron pushed his way through the crowd, glancing at faces he half recognized. It had been less than a year since the war ended. He’d been at school with all of them, in another lifetime that was so removed from what his life was now.
After Fred had died, George had imploded in on himself. His grief hung around him and late one night he had left Harry’s side to go to the upstairs flat that Fred and George had once shared above their shop in Diagon Alley. He’d needed a job, needed to get back on his feet, and George needed someone to keep him together, to help fill the void that Fred had left.
George had cried on his shoulder that night, and Ron had promised himself silently that he wouldn’t leave the shop and move on to other things until George could stand alone, and he’d kept that promise.
Hermione, in her many lengthy letters, had berated him on his lack of vision, on doing what he had never wanted to, living in his older brothers’ shadows. In between were platitudes, asking when she would see Ron again, if he wanted to take her out on her next Hogsmeade weekend, if perhaps they could get away together over Christmas, just for a night. She knew her parents would love to meet him.
Her parents—the Grangers. People she rarely saw over the holiday, whom she spoke of with superiority in her voice, whom she Obliviated and sent to Australia, not giving them a choice, preferring that they not remember her so she wouldn’t feel guilty that she didn’t care enough about them to truly fight for them or their safety.
He snorted to himself as he slipped into a recently vacated booth.
Hermione thought she knew everything, but she had been too blind to see what was right in front of her. She thought she knew the meaning of family, but until she stared at a brother and saw his raw pain and knew that only she could try and take it away, one small and excruciating day at a time, then she knew absolutely nothing.
He realized with her letters that she didn’t really know him, that she couldn’t accept it when he told her the summer after the war when they were all staying at the Burrow that the kiss had been a mistake, that she had surprised him, that he felt nothing and would never feel anything.
With her usual logical and hard-headedness she had decided that it meant there was still work to do in winning him over, and she hadn’t given up.
Ron knew that it pained Harry, that he watched anxiously when Ron received an owl from Hermione only to sigh in relief when Ron put it away for later and gave Harry a lingering kiss that spoke more than words ever could.
He drained the last of his Firewhiskey and set the glass on the table with a resounding clink, the glass shivering slightly against his palm.
The door opened and more students entered, none of them his sister. He saw with some trepidation that Luna Lovegood had just waltzed in with Hermione beside her, both looking about for a spot to sit.
Ron looked down at his hands, rough from years of Quiddtich and living on the run.
He shifted back into a memory, breathing in the damp autumn air as if it weren’t winter outside the pub. He’d walked out of King’s Cross with Harry by his side, both looking out at the Muggles who pushed by, none of them realizing that another year was about to begin at Hogwarts, that a train of young witches and wizards had just left their station.
Hermione had been all tears as she hugged them goodbye, kissing Harry on the cheek, her lips lingering against Ron’s when he pulled away, a reproachful look in his eye that she chose to ignore.
Harry had glanced at him once she was gone and they were alone again, a question in his eyes, and Ron had smiled tiredly at him, his fingers brushing against his knuckles, begging for understanding.
A warm hand wrapped around his wrist, pulling him closer as green eyes surveyed him, asking, wanting, hoping, fearing that he wouldn’t receive the answer his heart was praying for. It was the moment Ron knew that Harry loved and needed him as much as Ron adored Harry.
“Ron!” a voice cried and he grimaced as Hermione rushed forward, dragging Luna behind her. “I didn’t know you’d be here. Why didn’t you tell me?”
He glanced over his shoulder and caught Rosmerta’s eye. She nodded discreetly at him before turning back to a table of fifth years she was currently serving.
“I’m here to talk to Ginny,” he supplied and watched as Hermione’s face fell. “There’s something I need to tell her.”
“Oh?” Hermione said, taking a seat.
Ron fought back the urge to tell her the seat was already taken. It was bad enough that he was telling Ginny. There would be an argument, tears, the sense of betrayal even though Harry hadn’t been with her since long before the war ended. She had no claim on him though she had thought since she was a small child that she did. He was telling her now to save her from the heartbreak.
Ginny’s letters to Ron had been full of questions about his friend, and it was apparent that she hadn’t moved on.
Ron didn’t want to tell her, didn’t want the scene, but he couldn’t let her pine away for a childhood love that never really existed except within her mind. Harry didn’t know he had come, of course. He blissfully thought that the only hindrance to their future was Hermione and the Weasleys in general, not Ginny in particular.
Ron didn’t want to burden him. This was his problem to deal with, his sister and her delusions. Harry had been clear when he had broken up with her and hadn’t given her any encouragement.
It was a family matter, and even though everyone acknowledged that Harry was an unofficial Weasley, it was best that he got rid of the problem before it became too much of one.
“Yes,” he responded.
“How intriguing.” She turned to Madame Rosmerta. “Four butterbeers.”
Ron grimaced. “Three butterbeers, and then a Firewhiskey and coffee for me.”
Madame Rosmerta squeezed his shoulder. Hermione, Ron noticed, glared at the action and then slid her foot over his ankle.
He moved his leg quickly away.
Luna, sensing the tension, sat down next to Hermione and stared at him with her large silver eyes. “It’s nice to see you, Ronald.”
“And you. Harry sends his regards.”
She nodded absently, looking out to the crowd.
“So,” Hermione began again. “What’s this news?”
Ron hesitated, searching her face, before leaning back casually. He and Harry weren’t planning on telling anyone until Christmas, if even then. The war was still too new. All of their friends were dating and getting married, glad that the war was ended and that they could move on with their lives, but they knew that it would be a burden that they didn’t want to quite lay on the shoulders of those they loved. His mum always wanted him to marry a nice girl like Hermione and, well, Ginny had spoken so often of how much she admired Harry when she was a child, and then how handsome he was, and then that they were dating but that he broke it off for her safety, that surely some expectations were raised. At the very least, his parents expected Harry to settle down into a nice life and have children.
Little Teddy already adored Harry and Andromeda had begun hinting that she was getting old and that raising a grandson was a handful. Harry was still in his first year of Auror’s training, but late one night when they had lain in each other’s arms, they agreed that if they were still going strong one year after the Battle of Hogwarts, then they would take little Teddy in as their own. Both of them. He was already an integral part of their lives, staying with them on weekends. They went round Andromeda’s at least three times a week for dinner just to see their “nephew.”
Harry would make an excellent father.
Ron cleared his throat and fidgeted. “I—well.” He took a deep breath and was thankful when his Firewiskey and coffee was placed in front of him, his empty glass swept up. He took up his coffee spoon and stirred the warm mixture and put it to his lips, sighing at the explosive yet calming taste. It was perfect for a December afternoon, relaxed and unassuming.
“Yes?” Hermione pried.
He glanced at the door. Ginny still wasn’t there.
“I’m seeing someone,” he responded quietly and Hermione’s dark eyes shot to his in shock. “She needs to know as I don’t think she’s going to be—pleased at first.”
“You-you can’t be serious,” she murmured, as Luna added a gentle, “Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” He grinned at Luna. “I’m happy. We’re happy.”
Hermione glanced down at her Butterbeer as if it held the answers. Ron could see her mind working quickly, running through everyone Ron might be seeing. He saw the quirk of her lips that betrayed that she was wondering if he had met a Muggle girl somehow. She was so easy to read at times. She looked at him, her face serious and pained. “Who?”
“I need to talk to Ginny,” was his only response and he washed his words down with hot liquid and the after-spice of Firewhiskey.
“I think,” she took a deep breath. “I think you owe me an explanation.”
Ron shivered at the coldness of her voice and looked away. “No, Hermione, I don’t. You kissed me, and I told you there was nothing. There’s never been anything.”
“I’m your best friend along with Harry,” she argued, her hair flying about her, and Ron had to force down his burning grief.
He took his coffee spoon and laid it against the table.
“And you used that against me, Hermione. It was beneath you. You made it so that if I rejected your advances then I was rejecting your friendship, and wouldn’t believe me when I said that I didn’t want to be with you.”
“Ron,” she begged. “Ronald, please.”
Her small hand rested on his, and then clasped on to it, a silent supplication, and he stared at it.
“I’m in love with you, Ronald.”
Ron closed his eyes in pain and pulled his hands away.
Whispered words in the half-light, hands running along skin, fingers intertwining briefly before lips sought out lips, gentle, hesitant I love yous that could not be spoken, but were known. Eyelashes fluttering as the deserted house creaked around them, empty for so long and then overrun in war with voices and faces that the portrait screamed at. The world continuing on outside, unseeing, doors closed and hiding their love as clothes were stripped away. Blushes on skin that made Harry even more beautiful as he leaned over Ron, his tongue stroking down his neck as he held Ron’s hands above his head.
Shivers as Ron clasped Harry close to him, slow thrusts as they strained to keep control, sensations Ron never wanted to end running up his spine and through his heart as Harry looked down at him imploringly, asking that this be forever. Ron nodded quietly, no words spoken, before leaning up and kissing Harry’s scarred forehead, both knowing there was no turning back from that moment, their love and quiet passion separating them completely from Ron’s family and their best friend.
“I’m sorry,” Ron whispered, not looking Hermione in the eyes. He couldn’t bear to see the pain there, the accusation, the quiet manipulation. Her shoe ran across his and he pulled away again, wishing she would accept, that she would understand. “I could never have loved you.”
His eyes shot up as he slapped him hard, the sound reverberating through the pub. Her elbow hit his coffee, sending it flying, the spoon falling with a clatter to the floor.
Luna jumped up away from the steaming liquid before quietly excusing herself from the private altercation.
“How could you?” she seethed quietly. “I loved you.”
“No, you didn’t,” Ron denied. “You don’t. Hermione, let it go.”
Tears streamed down her face, haunting him. The war had taken so much from all of them, and he could see the pain etched on her face.
“Who is it? Just tell me who it is, Ronald.”
“It doesn’t matter and it changes nothing,” he whispered, his hand pressed against his throbbing cheek.
Rosmerta bustled over and squeezed his hand in reassurance, a rag in her hand as she mopped up the coffee.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. Hermione offered no apology.
“No, it’s fine. When you told me your errand, I expected it,” she soothed. “I’ll bring you another.”
He nodded his thanks to her, promising himself to generously tip her when this was all over. Ron rather expected that Ginny would at the very least throw her drink in his face and then possibly hex him this side of next Tuesday.
“Who is it? Who replaced me?” she demanded angrily.
“No one replaced you, Hermione. It was always this person—never you. Never you.”
She looked like Ron had slapped her. He sighed. This needed to be done at some point. At least Harry wasn’t here to see, though Ron didn’t doubt Hermione would write a long owl to Harry, begging him to make Ron see sense.
Hermione was never very subtle.
“What does Harry think?”
He sighed again. It came up sooner than he thought it would.
Something cold was pressed against his cheek as his coffee appeared before him. “Thanks,” he murmured, delighting in the icy coldness that dulled the sting of his skin. “Don’t bring Harry into this, Hermione.”
“He doesn’t know then,” she concluded incorrectly.
Ron decided not to answer, instead picking up his coffee spoon and stirring his second coffee. The spoon was so small in his hand and he marveled at the feel of it before setting it down quietly with a simple click.
“Ginny,” she greeted, and Ron breathed out in relief. “Ron is seeing someone and apparently needs to tell you about it.”
Ron glared at her before looking over at Ginny, trying to smile.
“Isn’t that lovely?” she continued, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Oh,” Ginny said, feigning interest. She’d never cared much for his romantic interests. “That’s nice. Anyone I know?”
Ron looked at Hermione expressively, but she refused to move.
“Yes, actually. It’s actually a private matter, and I’m telling you as a courtesy before the family finds out.”
Ginny’s curiosity was peaked and she tapped Hermione on the shoulder, silently asking her to leave.
“Tell me all about it?” Hermione asked audibly. “I have a right to know.”
“You don’t have a right to know,” Ron shot back. “It’s absolutely none of your business, Hermione. I told you last spring I didn’t want to be with you. Just stay out of it—please. You’ll know soon enough.”
Ginny slid into Hermione’s vacated spot and put up a privacy ward. She settled her hands in front of her and looked at him expectantly. She always was one to get to the point, he thought fondly.
He looked her over and remembered the wave of jealousy that had overcome him when she had first snogged Harry in front of everyone. His heart had clenched within his throat and he tried to push back the rage eating away at him. His own little sister had done this to him. Ron had naïvely thought that she liked Dean, that perhaps they needed to grow up a bit more before they continued their relationship or she would catch the fancy of some other nice bloke, but never Harry, never his Harry.
Ron had tried to be supportive for the next few weeks, trying to eat when his stomach recoiled at the sight of his own sister. He put on fake smiles, was mock-cheerful, but every night after Harry went to sleep he would crawl into his best mate’s bed and gently trace his lips, wishing he could kiss them but knowing that only Ginny had the right.
That was love, the silent suffering in the night, crying your tears alone so as not to hurt the one you’d fallen in love with.
She had taken away the dream, the desire, the want, condemned him to suffering alone and always quietly wanting but never taking, until the day Harry broke it off with her, and there was a sliver of hope once again.
“Well?” Ginny asked and he took a deep breath. Her hand wrapped around an unopened Butterbeer, the cold condensation beading on her skin. “You have a girlfriend?”
“Not exactly,” he said, calling up his Gryffindor courage. “I—Ginny, look. They don’t know I’m here. We’re not planning on telling anyone until Christmas at the earliest, but I thought you should know because—“
She looked at him in confusion.
“You’re my sister. My little sister. I would never do anything to hurt you, not intentionally, but I fell in love with—them—so long ago—during my fourth year. I never told anyone, of course I didn’t, so you didn’t know when—when you broke my heart.”
She took a long drink from her Butterbeer, collecting her thoughts. “Ron? I don’t really understand.”
He traced the rim of his cup with his coffee spoon. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m not explaining it well.” He paused. “Ginny, you have to promise that until we tell anyone else that you’ll keep it a secret.”
She laughed, her ginger hair falling around her, reminding Ron of Harry’s seventeenth birthday when he walked in on her kissing him passionately, her hair glinting in the July sun. He’d been so angry, so hurt. It was supposed to be over, and so he lashed out at Harry because he couldn’t kiss away his worries or whisper the three words he wanted to more than anything in the world.
“Is she that ugly?”
He shook his head, his fringe falling into his eyes. “No. Just promise me, Ginny. Please.”
She shrugged. “All right. I promise. Who is it then?”
Ron swallowed nervously. “Harry. It’s always been Harry.”
Ginny breathed in sharply through her nose, her nostrils flaring, reminding Ron a bit of a thestral. “Harry,” she murmured, her large brown eyes cutting him. “You’re taking Harry away from me.”
“No,” he whispered dejectedly, remembering long nights of tears cried alone. “No, Ginny, you took him from me for a little while.”
The smooth spoon pressed against the palm of his hand, anchoring him to reality, to the desperation in her eyes and then the resignation before nothing—and she walked away from him, never looking back.