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TITLE: Fidelius Falsus
SPOILERS: Through DH Epilogue
DISCLAIMER: Harry Pottery universe and characters belong to JK Rowling. This fic was heavily inspired by the James Cameron film True Lies. Some dialogue taken directly from the movie. I am not JK Rowling or James Cameron. I am, however, poor. Do not sue.
WARNING: Adult language
WORD COUNT: 10,500
SUMMARY: When you're married, you think you know everything there is to know about your partner. But do you ever really know someone?
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for [livejournal.com profile] hull1984 as part of the Fall Exchange at [livejournal.com profile] ron_draco. Many thanks to my betas and a shoutout to G for not thinking I was mental for doing this.

"Just hold on a mo, will you, Scorpius?" Exasperated, Ron whirled around to approach the fireplace and nearly tripped over Septimus, the natty, ancient puffskein Rose and Hugo had given Scorpius for Christmas last year.

"I can put icing on Dad's cake by myself," Scorpius said in a bored, drawling voice. "It's not like it's hard. If Muggles can manage it, I certainly can."

"Yes, well," Ron muttered, nicking a bit of powder from the pot by the floo, "mind you don't get any on your new robes."

"I'll do my best," the blithe reply came from behind him, though Ron paid it no mind as suddenly the wrinkly, double-chinned face of Draco's assistant appeared in the fireplace.

"What can I do for you?" asked Elfrida, her spectacles practically slipping off her nose.

"'lo, Elfrida. Is Draco there?"

"He's in a sales meeting. Hold on, Mr Weasley. Give me a moment."

"Thanks." Ron pinched the bridge of his nose and rolled his shoulders, already rather exhausted from preparing foods and decorating for the party they'd be having later that night.

"Well, well. Hullo, there, Ginger. Is everything all right?"

Ron rolled his eyes a bit at the name, though he secretly quite liked it. "Sorry to bother you when you've business, but I need you to promise me that you'll be home by eight. Rose and Hugo are already here, Hermione and Astoria are on the way, Harry and the kids are popping by, Mum's sent treacle, and I rather don't want the lot of us to end up sitting here by ourselves like we were last year."

Smoothing out an invisible wrinkle on his robe, Draco nodded and gave Ron a solemn look. "I said I'd be there and I will. A Malfoy's word is his bond." He turned away quickly, distracted by someone or something behind him, and then back again. "Must be off. Gibbon is calling me."

"All—" Ron's voice trailed off when Draco's visage dissipated from the fireplace and the flames died down. Sighing, he turned around just in time to see Scorpius allowing Septimus to slurp the icing out of the mixing bowl.

"Scorpius, that's dead disgusting!"


Astoria was on her third glass of wine.

Harry and Hermione were playing their fifth game of Exploding Snap.

Rose, Hugo, James, Lily, and Al were digging into the last bit of Molly's treacle.

Septimus was eating bits of bows and ribbons from the gifts piled upon the table.

Scorpius was staring at Ron with eyes that flashed, "I told you so" without so much as saying a word.

Ron scowled and turned to the ancient clock in the corner. Draco's picture was still pointing to Work -- and eight o'clock had long since came and went.

"See?" Scorpius said.

"Oh, go feed your bloody puffskein something proper before I Owl him off to Romania to become nibblies for Uncle Charlie's dragons," he snapped.


The creaking of a floorboard pulled Ron right out of his deep sleep. "Wha?" he mumbled sleepily, pulling his cheek out of a sticky bit of melted ice cream and half-eaten cake on the plate in front of him.

Draco had the grace to look sheepish. "I meant to be home at eight. I came home as quickly as I could, I—"

"It's okay," Ron said, scrubbing half-heartedly at the mess on his cheek with a sleeve cuff. "Don't bother, Draco."

"Here," Draco murmured, touching the tip of his wand to Ron's face. "Let me." There was a faint tingling sensation as the charm did its work and then Ron's face was clean. "Thanks for the party, by the way. I'm sure I would have had a grand time."

Ron shrugged one shoulder. "We'll never know, now will we?"


"Ron. Pssst!"

Leaning back in his chair, Ron spun around and found himself staring at the beaming, smug face of Adama, the only ruddy person in his office he could stomach.

"Something wrong?" he asked, arching a brow.

"No!" Adama said, practically cackling with glee. Then, as if remembering herself, she adjusted the collar of her robe and gave him a cool, albeit meaningful, look. "It's your mystery man. Firechat One."

"Saloman?" Ron nearly shrieked, reduced to a bundle of nerves, excitement, and sweaty palms at just the thought of him.

Adama only got out half a nod before Ron shot out of his chair and positively raced to the floo, ducking behind the privacy screen.

"Hullo, Saloman," he said breathlessly. Gesturing to the screen behind him, Ron added, "It's all right. There isn't anyone else around."

After a few seconds of hushed, hurried conversation, Ron rushed back to Adama, flushed as flushed could be. "I've to duck out for an hour. Will you cover me?"

Smirking, Adama nodded. "You sure you only need an hour? You ought to tell that bloke to take more time."

"Shuddurp!" Ron hissed. "I shouldn't have ever told you about him. Honestly."

Without another word, Ron took up his traveling cloak and rushed out the door.


"How was Diagon Alley today?" Draco asked, gazing expectantly across the table at Scorpius.

Scorpius pushed the beetroots about on his plate, scraping the tines of his fork on the porcelain.

"Fine," he said sullenly.

Sipping his pumpkin juice, Ron watched Draco as he continued to look at Scorpius.

Scorpius said nothing more and Ron cleared his throat. "So, you popped by to see me this afternoon?"

"I wasn't too far off and thought you might like to grab a bite. Adama said you had to dash." Cutting a bit of his fillet, Draco smiled over at Ron.


"Oh," he said quickly, and then kept talking lest Draco start to get suspicious. "It was unexpected. Bloody higher-ups always coming up with crises at the last minute. I had to hand-deliver some very important documents; can't always trust owls to get it straight, you know."

"No," Draco said after a moment's pause, "you can't. So you had an exciting day of it then. Was everything all right?"

"Couldn't have been better!" Ron said more brightly than necessary. Standing up suddenly, he took up the pitcher of juice. "I'll just get more pumpkin juice."

"I'm done," Scorpius announced, Banishing his plate.


"Ron, is it safe to talk?"

"Saloman. Yes, go on."

"I can't talk long. Meet me for lunch tomorrow? I've got to talk to you in person."

"Yes. Where?"

"The same place. One o'clock. I've got to be off now. See you tomorrow. Remember, I need you."


"I thought we might have lunch tomorrow," Draco announced, standing in the doorway of their bedroom.

"What?" Ron asked, lowering Quidditch Weekly a fair few inches.

"I thought we might have lunch tomorrow," Draco repeated, shrugging out of his shirt.

"I can't. I promised Adama I'd help her pick out something for her da's birthday," Ron said, the lie rolling easily off his tongue.

The corners of Draco's mouth tugged slightly. "Some other time, then." Draping his shirt across his arm, he then took Ron's cloak off the bed post. "I'll hang this up for you."

"Thanks," Ron said with a tight smile. Raising the magazine back up to hide his face, Ron's mouth moved in a soundless scream.


As he walked down the street, Ron occasionally looked over his shoulder to make sure he wasn't being followed. Pulling the cloak tighter about his frame, he walked up the steps to the dingy, nondescript curry place.

The lighting was dim, one of the bare bulbs flickering overhead as he made his way to a booth in the back corner. Saloman didn't so much as smile or move to snog Ron when he sat down. Rather, Saloman took pains to glance around the room.

"Are you sure you weren't followed?" he asked, slouching down in his seat.

"I kept looking back and I changed direction often enough." Ron felt confident no one would have been able to tail him anyway; he, Harry, and Hermione had quite a bit of experience as far as that sort of thing went. "I didn't see a bloody soul."

"Right then," Saloman said, tucking a shock of dark hair behind an ear. "It's just—everything's a bit pear-shaped at the moment. If I've got notice…" He indicated a brooch on his lapel. "I'll have to haul arse."

"S'alright," Ron murmured. Not that he'd had much of anything remotely resembling danger in twenty-odd years, but at one time he would have completely empathized.

"Risking my life is all part and parcel of the job, y'know," Saloman continued, sitting up suddenly to lean in and give Ron a pointed look. "I don't like bringing this to your doorstep, Ron, but you're the only one I can trust these days."

"Where were you?" Ron asked eagerly. "On a mission of sorts?"

"Shhh!" Saloman raised a finger to his lips. "We say Sop. Secret Operation." Letting out a whistle through the gaps in his teeth, he shook his head as he seemed to recall an especially nasty piece of work. "This one got a bit dodgy."

"Worse than Majorca?"

"Majorca was a day in the paddling pool compared to this." He took up a newspaper from the bench beside him and slid it across the tabletop. "Read the Prophet yesterday?"

"Yeah, I always read it when I'm having my morning cuppa." Ron's mouth scrunched up, not sure where Saloman was going with this. On the cover, a shady image of two wizards blasting hexes flickered beneath a large headline.

"Sometimes, y'see, a story is covering up a secret operation. Look." He pointed to the headline. "Two wizards killed in a loo, and two unidentified wizards in a running wandfight, ending at London Bridge…."

Ron gaped. "That was you?"

"Very good. You're rather perceptive." Saloman reached out and brushed the pad of his thumb briefly over the tops of Ron's knuckles.

Almost reflexively, Ron leaned forward, eager to hear more. "What happened?"

"I'm sorry," Saloman said gravely. "I can't."

"I can be trusted."

"I know you can. But I respect you too much to risk your safety. The less you know, the better off you'll be."

Though Ron actually hated hearing that (and was immediately reminded of how cross he'd become when Harry would say similar things to him as they made their way through Hogwarts and all that Voldemort nonsense), he nodded in acquiescence. "Right. Right. What is it you need me to do? You wouldn't have asked to meet me if it weren't important."

Taking the newspaper, Saloman snapped it open and raised it to his face, obscuring it from Ron's view. "Not here. I'll send you word and we'll meet again. You have to leave now, so no one sees us together. Be safe. Go…Ron."



I need your help tonight.

Meet me on Wayward Road under the bridge. Eight sharp.



Cramming the scrap of parchment with Saloman's directions on it into a trouser pocket, Ron looked around beneath the bridge. It was terribly deserted and quiet. No sign of Saloman at all.

After a good fifteen minutes, he decided he'd cut across to the Floo station and head home; this was a bust.


He looked up to see an old Muggle junker automobile. Saloman hung out the window. "C'mon. Hurry up!"

After speeding along winding roads for a good while, he turned down a rickety dirt road. "My flat in the city is too hot right now. So's the house in the States. But this ought to be all right."

Putting the car into park, he opened up the door for Ron and ushered him inside a cramped, somewhat untidy building. Strongly reminded of the Shrieking Shack, Ron hung back by the sofa.

"Here," Saloman said, handing Ron a goblet of strong-smelling wine. "To our assignment."

"What do you need me to do?" Curling his fingers around the glass, Ron raised it to his lips and drank.

"I want you to be my husband."

At that, Ron promptly sputtered wine everywhere. "But I'm already married!"

"Just for the job in Cairo. I need to be married. They'll be looking for a wizard traveling alone," Saloman explained quickly, refilling Ron's glass.

"We're going to Cairo? It's bloody hot in Cairo!"

"Ron, I can't trust anyone save for you. Someone in my organization is a double-agent. Do you know how difficult a position I'm in?"

"Yeah, I kind of do, actually," Ron murmured, thinking of Snape and all the hell he'd gone through.

"Can you get away? Can you do it? I'd have you back in two days."

It did sound glorious – two whole days away from work, away from everything that was total crap in his life right then. But there was Scorpius and there was Draco. How could Ron manage to pull this off? Did he really want to pull it off? Despite their problems, Ron was nutters about Draco. It wasn't as though Ron had actually done anything with Saloman either, though he'd certainly thought about the possibility enough…

"I don't know." Stupid bleeding guilty conscience!

"Here, have a seat." Saloman gave Ron a smile that made his insides flip-flop and cleared off a space on the couch for him.

Sinking down onto the cushion, Ron watched the way the dark liquid in his glass sloshed from side to side. Even the damned wine had more ups and downs and bloody variety in its life than he did.

Ron lifted his chin. "Okay. I'll do it."

At once, Saloman set down his glass and sat next to Ron. Taking Ron's hand, he entwined their fingers together. "You're so bloody brave, Ron. I know you haven't lived dangerously in a damned long time, but I'm used to it. Any moment could be my last. I remind myself of that all the time." Raising his other hand to Ron's cheek, he continued, "If we want to pull this off, we've got to look like two blokes in love. The enemy can be really fucking perceptive." His thumb began to move in a slow circle over Ron's skin.

Unsure, Ron froze, staring over at Saloman with wide eyes.

"See?" Saloman whispered, scooting closer. "Something like that could give us away in an instant. Relax."

Clearing his throat, Ron laughed awkwardly. "Sorry. It's just that—it's been years since anyone but Draco touched me. Before that was Hermione and then—"

"Just relax," Saloman repeated, moving closer with every passing second. "Let yourself feel the moment, Ron." Sliding his hand from Ron's cheek to the line of his neck, Saloman swooped in and crushed their lips together. He disentangled their fingers and slipped a hand onto Ron's knee. Fingers skimmed higher and higher still—

"No!" Ron said, pulling back breathlessly.

"C'mon, Ron, we've got to do it for the good of wizardkind," Saloman pleaded.

Then all hell broke loose.

The back wall of the shack blew inward. The force of the blast sent Saloman flying in the air. He landed on top of Ron with an, "oof." Before either of them could upright themselves, five figures clad in black stormed in, brandishing wands. The one on the end shone his wand light in Ron's eyes. Blinking, Ron looked away, spotting the horde.

"Oh, fuck me," he moaned. Beside him, all Saloman did was stare, mouth slackening open.

The figures swarmed on them, pulling both men from the couch by their collars. "Watch it," Ron complained, elbowing the short, stocky one by his side. Beside him, Saloman was utterly compliant, a blank expression firmly etched on his face.

As they marched out of the ramshackled hut, Ron began to panic. If Draco found out about this, it would be bad. Very, very bad. Hell, it looked bad. He had to get home.

Unwilling to risk losing his wand and figuring these blokes wouldn't expect dirty Muggle tactics, Ron whipped around and kneed Stocky right in the bollocks. The wizard screeched and doubled over, and Ron made a run for it.

Unfortunately for Ron, the wizard who took off in pursuit of him was pretty fucking fast. Darting around a smattering of trees, Ron looked back to see how much the fellow was gaining on him.

Bad move. It slowed him down by a few seconds and the wizard grabbed hold of his robes. Ron flailed, waving his arms about wildly. He felt himself get Stunned, though he had too much adrenaline coursing through his veins to be completely out for the count. Pivoting, Ron grabbed hold of the black-clad figure's arm and bit into his hand. The man yelled, wand clattering to the ground. Ron took off again, only to be blasted with a Body-Bind Curse.


Rough hands shoved Ron down onto a hard stool. From somewhere behind him, a person ripped off the hood that had been covering his face. Blinking against the sudden appearance of light, Ron heard a door lock. He wheeled around at the sound and ran to it. Yanking on the handle did nothing.

Breathing heavily, he made a slow sweep of the room, fingers grazing along the wall. His wand was gone, confiscated.

"Sit down."

The voice, strange and mechanical, boomed seemingly from the ceiling. Ron jumped, then craned his neck upwards. "Fuck off!"

"I said sit down."

Defeated, Ron walked over to the stool to follow orders. He kicked one of the legs in a small rebellion and then glared at the cruddy ceiling tiles.

"Who do you work for?" the voice demanded.

"Goblin Liason Office, Ministry of Magic. I'm an assistant," he said, tapping a foot anxiously.

"Of course. Mr Weasley. And what were you doing with the international terrorist, Carmello the Destroyer? Assisting with the in-tray?"

"He said he was an American Unspeakable!"

"How long have you been working with him?"

Ron sputtered, incensed and growing more cross by the moment. "I don't work with him! I barely know Saloman or Carmello or whatever his sodding name is! I've only just met him – barely two weeks ago!"

"That's not what it looked like when we found you," the voice said pointedly. "How did you meet him?"

"I was at the ice cream shoppe on Diagon Alley, having a bit to eat when he just…slid into the seat beside me. He kept looking about, as though he expected someone to pop out and hex him. He gave me a satchel and asked me to keep it for him. He said it was a matter of national security and that he'd contact me."

"Go on."

Shifting uneasily in his seat, Ron inhaled deeply before continuing. "I kept it at my office for a few days. I know I shouldn't have, but I looked inside it. There were all sorts of mad devices – Muggle and wizarding alike. Documents, maps, things that had to be Portkeys." He shrugged. "I likely should have handed it over to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."

"But you didn't. Why?"

"I dunno. I guess I just…wanted to see if anything would come of it."

"Did anything? Come of it?"

"He sent me an owl three days later. Told me to meet him in Knockturn Alley. So I did, and I gave him the satchel back."


"He told me I could call him Saloman and that I'd saved his life. He knew I'd opened the satchel, too. That I knew what he was."

"Why did you keep seeing him?"

"He needed my help," Ron said simply.

"Not because you fancied him?"


"You weren't attracted to him at all?" The voice sounded dubious.

Ron relented. "Well, maybe a wee bit."

"So, you cheat a lot?"


"This was your first time, then."

He stood up so quickly that the stool toppled over. "I wasn't fucking cheating!"

"Tell me about your husband, Mr Weasley. Or do you prefer Mr Malfoy?"

"We kept our names." Ron scratched at his temple, not following what Draco had to do with any of this. "Draco? What do you need to know about Draco? He's a sales wizard for a potions supply company."

"Oh, so he's boring, then?"

"No!" Ron said defensively. Only that was a lie, a bald-faced lie as big as they came. He sighed. "Yeah, he is anymore."

"So, shagging with him isn't exactly making your wand snap to attention anymore, is it?"

"That's none of your bloody fucking business!" Ron bellowed, shaking both fists at the ceiling. "What kind of mental questions are these?!"

"I suggest you start cooperating, Mr Weasley. You're in a tonne of trouble. Whatever we want to know, you had best tell us."

Ron glowered at the ceiling, nostrils flaring. Whoever was talking to him could probably see him and Ron hated that. He hated this. "My husband's a good wizard. I don't give a damn about what he did twenty years ago, either. That doesn't matter. He's good."

"Why did you go with Carmello to his hiding place, then?"

"He needed me! He wanted me to go with him on a mission, act as his husband for a cover."

"Did you agree to this?"

Jutting his chin out defiantly, Ron said, "Yes."


Why, indeed. Having the question posed like that threw Ron for a loop. "I dunno. Maybe I…maybe I just needed something."

"Such as?"

"To feel alive. To do something other than being stuck in some cramped, foul-smelling office. To feel needed, y'know? Like someone depended on me." Sucking in a slow breath, Ron stared down at his feet. Voicing the feelings he'd been holding in for so long didn't make him feel better. If anything, it made him feel worse. Like a dead pathetic oik. "There's so much I wanted to do and it's like I haven't done a lick of it since—since the War was over. I got stuck in this rut and I can't get out. S'like time's running out and I just want to be able to say that I didn't turn out to be a useless lump. To say that there was some mad, dangerous stuff going on and I was right in the fucking middle of it." Clenching his hands into fists, he glared at the room in general. "I don't give a flying shrivelfig if you understand or not."

"Did you sleep with Saloman?"


"You didn't shag him?"

Grinding his teeth together, Ron let out a snort. "Y'know, this is going to take all night if you have to repeat everything – and I've a family to get home to."

"Oh, but you're not going anywhere, Mr Weasley."

That was the last straw for Ron. He flew into a rage, nearly falling on the floor as he stooped down to gather up the stool. "Let me out of here! Now!"

"Answer the question."

Standing up, Ron wielded the stool like a weapon and rushed at one of the walls. He began to swing the stool against the wall, bits of plaster flying everywhere. "I didn't sleep with him!" he roared. "I never even touched him!" He ran to the adjacent wall, smacking it with the seat of the stool.

"It's useless to hit the walls, Mr Weasley. Calm down. We've one last question."

Choking back a sob, frustrated and tired, Ron dropped the stool. It made a clanging sound as it hit the floor. "What?" Panting, he blinked against the wetness stinging his eyes.

"Do you love your husband?"

Swallowing hard against a lump in his throat, Ron nodded. "Yes," he whispered.

"I can't hear you."

"Yes! I love him and I always bloody will. Are you satisfied?!"

"You have just one solution to your problem now, Mr Weasley. You will work for us. In exchange, we will drop all charges and you can return to your family as though none of this has happened. If not, you will go to Azkaban, and your husband and children's reputations will be destroyed. Will you work for us?"

"What do you think, you daft dick? What'll I have to do?" Ron asked, wishing like hell this was already in the past.

"You will be contacted. Say nothing, especially to your husband. Go about your life as usual. Reveal nothing. Britain's safety depends on it. Can you do this?"

"If I can face a castle full of mad Death Eaters, I'm pretty sure I can handle this," Ron said scathingly.

"The code name of your contact will be Beetle. Your code name will be—"

"Bard?" Ron broke in, grinning despite the shite situation.

"No. Dung."

Ron groaned.


Upon hearing the whoosh of a Firecall, Ron excused himself from the dinner table and made a beeline for the drawing room.

"Hullo?" he whispered, dropping to his knees on the floor to peer into the flames.

The face in the fire was obscured by the same sort of hoods he'd seen on the figures in Saloman's shack.

"Dung?" said the voice that had interrogated him only days earlier.

"Yes, it's me."

"Listen carefully, Dung. Go to Hotel Marcellus in one hour. At the front desk will be an envelope marked 'Dung'. And dress sexy."

"What?" Ron asked, not quite hearing that correctly.

"Dress. Sexy. Now go!" The Firechat ended as if turned off by a switch.

Thinking quickly, Ron got to his feet and raised his voice. "Oh, right then! You look bloody horrid, Adama. I'll nip out now and pick up what you need from the apothecary. Be there in a mo. Nooo problem!"

Smiling anxiously, Ron strode back into the kitchen. Scorpius didn't look up, too intent on making a sculpture out of his potatoes and aubergine.

"Adama's come down with something right nasty. I've to run some errands for her."

"Be careful, Ron," Draco said, already waving him in the direction of the Floo again.

"Right," Ron said, and walked out of the kitchen. Once he was no longer in their line of sight, he dashed up the stairs.


The lobby of the hotel was posh, way more posh than any other place Ron had been in his entire life – and that included the Lestranges' Gringotts vault.

As he walked up to the main desk, Ron fidgeted with his clothes. Self-consciously he pulled his cloak more fully around himself, not wanting anyone to see what he was wearing beneath it. He felt out of place and wasn't sure how he was going to pull of whatever it was that mad Beetle was going to ask of him.

Once he rang the bell for service, a hag with blindingly white teeth came over. "How can I help you, sir?"

"Have you got an envelope for Dung?"

The hag nodded and produced an envelope from under the counter.

"Thanks," Ron muttered, heading for the lift. A tiny cloakroom was to the left of the lift; Ron ducked inside it and opened the envelope. Inside was a room key, a Firechat grate number, and a small, lethargic beetle.

He had seen a line of Floos out in the lobby and retraced his steps.

After making sure no one was paying him any mind, Ron tossed powder on the grate.

Beetle had been expecting him. "Listen close. You're a rent wizard named Michels. Go to the room. A wizard will be there. We suspect he's been dealing banned magical items, weapons specifically."

Now Ron wanted to clear his name with these blokes, but he didn't know if he could bring himself to—

"Do I have to…y'know…?"

"No. He only likes to watch. Tell him that Clement, his regular bloke, has spattergoit. If he fancies you, he'll tell you what he wants you to do. Before you leave, you must plant the bug near the fireplace, beside the bed. If you fail to accomplish this mission, our deal is null and void."


Ron walked down the corridor toward the suite, stopping by the mirror to check his reflection.

"I look like a poncy git," he muttered, removing his cloak. His shirt was ridiculously tight, made out of Tebo hide and itchy as all hell. His trousers were another story altogether – shiny and like a second skin. After a moment's thought, he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. Dumping water out of a sad-looking vase of flowers on a small desk, Ron slicked back his hair and forced himself to smile at his reflection.

Double-checking the room number, Ron tucked the beetle in the pocket of his trousers. Unlocking the door, he inhaled deeply, suddenly real fucking nervous.

It was dark in the room; the lights were off.

On the opposite side of the room, there were windows revealing a stunning view of the city. Sitting before them, silhouetted, was a dark figure on a chair.

"Come in," said the man, French accent loud and clear.

Ron complied, shutting the door behind him.

"Step into the light."

He took another step forward. "I—I'm Michels. Clemente is ill. He thought you might fancy me, so—"

The figure held up a hand. "Let me do the talking. You're fit. Start by removing your cloak and unbuttoning your shirt."

Exhaling slowly, Ron discarded the cloak and his fingers began to fumble over the buttons of his dodgy shirt.

"No, no. Slower. Veeeeeeery slowly."

He could do this. He could.

Presenting his back to the bloke, Ron began to get into it, flicking the buttons open one by one. He let the shirt slip down his shoulders and over his arms. The fabric made a soft hissing sound as it pooled on the floor.

"Now undo the belt."

Puzzled, he looked back over his shoulder. "But I'm not wearing one."

"That's all right. Now the trousers."

Carefully extracting the beetle from the trouser pocket, Ron shimmied them down over his arse and down his legs as sexily as he could manage. Somehow he managed not to fall on his face toeing off his shoes and stepping out of the damned trousers.

"Now turn, mon ami. Let me see you."

Concealing the beetle in the palm of his hand, Ron turned toward him.

"Dance for me."

For an instant, Ron became gripped with nearly blinding panic. He was a crap dancer. He'd always been a crap dancer! Now he had to pretend to be a rent wizard who could dance all sexy-like or else it was curtains for Ron and he could kiss his family goodbye.

Bloody. Effing. Hell.

Awkwardly, he began to shuffle his feet. His entire frame moved from side to side, back and forth. Closing his eyes, Ron bit his lower lip. Maybe it was the building panic within him or something else entirely, but he almost felt as though he could hear some sort of music. He nodded his head in time with a silent rhythm. Hands clenching into fists with the thumbs out, Ron shook a hand this way and that, utterly caught up in what he was doing.

"Let your hands be a lover's hands on your skin while you dance. Like that."

With the hand that wasn't clutching the beetle, Ron touched the centre of his chest, fingers trailing lower and lower still. They brushed over the waistband of his y-fronts and he arched his back, rather enjoying this all of a sudden. Inspired, he then grabbed hold of one of the bed's posters and swung himself about, rolling onto the bed. Flinging himself backward, head over the side of the mattress, he saw the fireplace, a bedside table with a Wireless and a pewter candlestick—

And fell right off the bed and onto his arse.

In a flash, Ron popped back up again and gave the silhouette his best come-hither look, swinging his hips in the direction of the fireplace. Bending over, he wiggled his arse to the left and then to the right, pressing a palm on the floor and lowering the upper half of his body. Hips pistoning up and down to go along with the show, he rolled over and lifted one leg—

"Now, lie on the bed and close your eyes."

Ron did as requested, not opening them even a crack when he felt the mattress dip beside him.

Then there was a hand on his face, the touch so delicate that it left a delicious sort of tingling in its wake. It felt brilliant but it shouldn't have – and it wasn't enough for him to tell the bloke to fuck off and abort the damned mission.

"Thought you only watched," he said quietly.


Then there were lips on Ron's, lips soft and warm and then suddenly very insistent.

This was not something he'd expected and he'd be damned if he put up with it.

Recalling the heavy-looking candlestick he'd seen on the bedside table, Ron squirmed and reached for it. Once his fingers wrapped around it, he brought it up and smashed the bloke on the head. The wizard fell onto the floor in a heap, groaning something fierce.

Heart hammering madly in his chest, Ron leapt off the bed and grabbed his clothes. He threw them on, hurriedly doing up zips and buttons.

From his spot on the floor, the wizard groaned again and rolled over to his knees. Ron kicked him squarely in the ribs before rushing to the fireplace, cramming the beetle in a gap he spied in the mortar.

A hand wrapped around Ron's ankle and he wrenched around as best he could, prepared to kick the bastard again.

But then Ron saw who it was— "Draco?"

And the door to the suite was abruptly blasted off its hinges.

Three large wizards plowed their way into the room and yanked both Ron and Draco to their feet.

Confused and desperate, Ron cried, "He's got nothing to do with this. It's me! It's me you want!"

Draco tried to step in front of him. "Let the callboy go. He's not important."

"Draco, shut up! Let me take care of this!"

The wizard in front looked at them both with disgust. "Shut up, the both of you," he said in broken English.

He waved a hand at his companions, who bound Ron and Draco's hands and feet together.

As they were dragged down the hallway, Ron tried his best to plead for Draco's safety. Draco was the innocent party here; Ron was the one who'd buggered up but good.

"Listen," he said wildly. "You don't need him. He's not even important! He's just a sales rep for a potions supply company, for fuck's sa—"

The wizard in charge cuffed Ron across the top of the head.

"Well, that was bloody rude," he muttered, head smarting.

They were forced down a back stairwell, wands poking into the middle of their backs.

"What were you doing there?" Ron whispered.

Draco shook his head. "You wouldn't believe me."

The tip of a wand was jammed hard behind Ron's ear. "Talk again and you die," said one of the wizards.


The thestral-drawn carriage pulled up to a nondescript strip of land with a boarded-up building sitting at the end of it. Ron and Draco were hustled out of the carriage by the wizards from the hotel. Unsure of how he was going to get both of them out of this mess, Ron looked at Draco – who was watching as a tall, slender witch with dangerous curves walked toward them. Her lips were ruby red and her skin pale as cream.

"Hello, Draco," she said. An American.

"Hera," Draco said smoothly. "I wish I could say it's a pleasure to see you again."

Ron's head snapped toward Draco. "You know this witch?"

Hera snapped her fingers and the trio of wizards began to march Ron and Draco toward the building. She fell into step beside them, reaching out to brush a finger against Draco's sleeve. "Who's your little friend, Draco?"

"I'm Ron. Ron Weasley-Malfoy." He and Draco had kept their own names but that was inconsequential at the moment. Ron was feeling fucking territorial. "Draco's my husband. Who the hell are you?"

"Oh," she said, arching a perfectly sculpted brow. "So now it's Malfoy? Not Outridge?"

Where this witch got Outridge from, Ron had no idea. He was beginning to wonder if she wasn't a bit of a nutter. "Look, Draco's not got anything to do with this. He's just a sales rep."

Hera gave Ron a withering smile. "No, luv, he's an Unspeakable. He killed two of my associates the other night."

Ron shook his head vehemently. "Look, you've made a mistake. I've known Draco practically all my life. We've been married for four years and—"

Draco cut in. "Hera, this is just some cheap brasser I picked up at the pub."

As Hera's brutish wizards shoved them inside the building, Ron kept standing on the tips of his toes to peer at Draco over the wizards' shoulders. "Draco, what's gotten into you? Just tell the fucking truth. We're married, you've got custody of Scorpius and Rose and Hugo spend every other weekend with us and—"

Draco's lip curled in a vile sneer. "I don't know what this nancy bastard is on about. Clearly his brains are addled. You should let him go so we can get down to business."

If it was one thing Ron couldn't stand, it was shit like this. He and Draco had been through enough headaches and heartaches to even get together – and now Draco was going to dismiss him as though he was yesterday's rubbish?

Ron didn't think so!

"Right, then," he said sarcastically. "Then where did I get this?" Irate, he waved his left hand about. "Go on, take the ring off!" Glaring at Hera until she gave in and humored him, his expression grew rather smug as she read aloud the inscription inside the gold band:Draco and Ron, 8/8/2018

Draco groaned and Hera smiled as a short witch sidled up to them holding a Portkey.

"Something before we head off?" Hera asked politely. Before Ron could tell her to fuck off, the short witch hit both Draco and him with some sort of hex.


Everything went black.


Ron didn't come to until after the Portkey trip to Godric knew where was over and he was standing in some sort of cavernous room. A hood was removed from his head and it took a few moments to adjust to the light.

Three gigantic stone figures, all in the shape of some sort of primitive dragon that Ron though looked a bit like the Opaleye, lined up in the middle of the cave-like room. Some bits of the figures had eroded away over the course of time.

Hera sauntered back and forth in front of them, her long dark hair swishing enticingly about her shoulders.

Ron hated her.

"Smashing, aren't they? Antipodean Opaleye Dragons from the island of Tasmania, circa 700 BC. I call them 'The Three Terrors'."

A wizard with a pronounced limp approached the dragon on the end nearest Ron, caressing the weathered stone scales.

"No price can be set upon them," Hera said, and then nodded to the wizard.

He brandished his wand and uttered an incantation, which produced a powerful blast from the tip of his wand. Magic slammed right into the body of the dragon, destroying it. Stone rubble flew everywhere, falling away to the floor. As it did so, a solid brass trunk was revealed to be in the belly of the stone beast.

The three wizards who had spent most of their time manhandling Ron and Draco rushed forward, carefully levitating the trunk out and setting it on the ground.

A new, shirty-looking wizard in foreign robes stepped forward, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.

"Open it," he commanded.

At once the wizards set out to work, releasing the latches on the trunk. The lid was flipped open, revealing a strange metal object, one Ron hadn't seen before. It was cylindrical and rather long, with a glass plate running along its belly.

"Mahmood," Hera began, but the shirty-looking wizard held up a hand to silence her. She quieted immediately and he turned his attention to Draco.

"Come closer," he ordered.

Draco advanced to the leader and looked into the trunk at Mahmood's insistence.

"Do you know what this is?"

One side of Draco's mouth crumpled up, giving him the appearance of a confused bowtruckle. "Might I have a hint? It could be a new sort of racing broom for all I know."

In one quick, fluid motion, Mahmood pulled Ron to him. Wrapping one arm around Ron's throat, Mahmood shoved his wand into his side. "Do you know why you're here?" he asked Ron, breath tickling his face.

This was getting very bad very fast.

Ron's eyes bulged out. "N-n-no," he squeaked.

"So this wizard—" Mahmood jerked Ron in the direction of Draco,"—can tell the entire wizarding world that Brothers of Zamir are now in possession of weaponry that makes them the most powerful programme in history."

"How can Draco do that? He works for a sodding potions supply company!"

"If we were mistaken," Mahmood said, spittle hitting Ron's cheek, "then the last thing you'll ever see is the look on his face as we allow Acromantula to feast on your insides."

At the mere mention of the giant fucking spider, Ron began to tremble. He looked wildly over at Draco, whose mouth was set in a thin line.

"This is a Norwegian NJSW-Seven, from a TT-33O projectile chariot. The warhead contains approximately 22.7 kilos of aconite, with a combination of scurvy-grass and wormwood triggers. The nominal yield is fifteen kilotonnes." In some strange tongue Ron didn't understand, he added, "والسماح له بالذهاب حرة وأنا سوف تتعاون معكم."

Mahood removed the wand from Ron's side and released him, turning to yell at the wizards to dig out weapons from the other stone figures. As the figures were broken apart behind them, all Ron could do was turn and gape at Draco. He had no idea what to say or do.

Draco gave him a somewhat sheepish smile and a shrug. "What can I say? I'm an Unspeakable."

Ron moved forward silently, just watching Draco for a long time. The words sank in further and further until, finally, Ron snapped.

Propelling himself forward, he walloped Draco square in his pointy fucking jaw. "You complete and fucking bastard! You secretive, slimy Slytherin!"

Some of Mahmood's wizards rushed over, hauling Ron off of Draco.

"I'm sorry, Ginger."

"Don't you fucking dare! Don't you fucking dare call me that! Never again! Got that through your thick, balding skull?

Hera laughed, swooping in to pat Ron on the cheek. "Temper, temper."


Everyone spun around to stare at the limping wizard, who was holding up Ron's cloak. "Look!"

Out of the hem of the cloak, he produced a small beetle. After making sure everyone had a good look at it, he tossed it on the floor and crushed it with his good leg.

Connecting the dots, Ron turned to Draco. "You fucking bugged me, you wanker!"

"Ah," Hera sighed, "young love."

"Shuddurp!" Ron and Draco bellowed.


"…and I can confirm these wizards have all the means necessary to detonate these weapons. This is not a hoax; I assure you this is a very serious situation," Draco said into the Wireless Recording Device as Mahood stood by, watching.

The recording device operator took the equipment from Draco and approached Mahmood, who took the wand and began to speak into it. "You have oppressed our people for far too long – killing our kind, destroying our city and cultures from afar, and yet you say we are the violent ones, we are the terrorists. But we now have the power to strike back against you, our enemies. Unless the Ministry of Magic removes all of its forces and officials from the Antipodes, Brothers of Zamir will destroy the wizarding population one area at a time until our demands are met. The first weapon will be detonated on an uninhabited isle as a demonstration of our good will. But if you test us, we will fight back with force – and no wizard will be safe."


Lead by Hera, two wizards shoved Ron and Draco into a grimy brick building just beyond the caves. Something that had once upon a time been a fresh strand of fairy lights blinked weakly overhead. A few desperate bugs zipped around them, inexplicably drawn to the pale light.

At Hera's direction, the wizards used a charm to shackle their captives to rusty metal chairs. As they did so, a tall, gaunt wizard with deep-set eyes entered the room carrying a small rucksack. He directed an unsettling smile in Ron and Draco's direction, opening the rucksack to take out various instruments of torture.

"This is Farkas," Hera said. "Can you guess his area of expertise?"

"Dentistry?" Draco guessed.

Between the bint and skull-face with his bag of tricks, Ron was uncomfortable and frankly growing uneasy. "What's going on?" he asked apprehensively.

"Farkas is going to ask Draco a couple of questions. We're not even sure which organization Draco is an Unspeakable for. Fortunately, Farkas is the crème de la crème, but then we also have Draco here, who has managed to lie to the wizard he loves for over four years. I frankly can't wait to see how long he can hold out." Giving Ron a sly smile, Hera approached Draco and ran a long red nail along the line of his jaw.

Hoisting up a phial of shimmering amber liquid, Farkas said, "I'll return when this is in your system."

"What is that?" Ron asked, scooting his chair closer to Draco.

"Veritaserum," Draco said grimly.

"But you've worked up some sort of immunity to it, haven't you?" Ron asked desperately. Since Draco was and had been an Unspeakable for however bloody long, wouldn't it make sense for wizards in that position to do so? It seemed logical to Ron, at any rate!

"Yes," Draco said evenly.

Hera smiled and then grabbed a fistful of Draco's hair, yanking his head straight back. Farkas pried Draco's mouth open, pouring the potion down the hatch.

"Drink up," he said, amused, nodding to Hera as he left the room.

"Why are you helping these mentally deficient berks?" Draco asked, leaning to the other side of his chair in an attempt to avoid Hera's nails.

"Because," she said, crouching down in front of Draco, setting a hand on his knee. "They're disgustingly rich mentally deficient berks and I'm getting scads of money for my troubles. It doesn't matter to me what they're after – or what you think is right. The only thing that matters to me is living the high life and, well, that takes money."

"You're off your broomstick, woman," Draco said, his words slurring a little.

Alarmed, Ron looked sharply over at him.

Hera gave Ron a simpering smile. "Did you tell him about us, Draco?"

"There wasn't any us, you barmy bitch."

"Oh," Hera said with a laugh. "You say that now." Rising up to her knees, she took hold of Draco by the lapels. Pulling him down as much as the shackles would allow, Hera snogged him long and hard.

Ron began to quake with rage, fingers positively itching to touch a wand and hex this slag's tits off or the like.

"Thanks for everything, Draco. It was fantastic," Hera murmured, standing once more.

When they were alone again, Draco's head lolled somewhat dopily toward Ron. "I never touched her. I swear."

Mouth setting into a very thin line, Ron wasn't sure what to believe anymore. Draco had lied to him for so long; how could he be expected to believe anything that came out of his mouth?

"So how's that Veritaserum working out for you?" Ron asked, feeling quite nasty at the moment.

Draco blinked blearily. "It's nothing I've ever come across before. It's strong."

"It's going to make you tell the truth? You're not immune to it?"


"Is it working right now?"

"Ask me something I'd typically lie about."

"Are we going to die?"


This was definitely not good. "Yeah, I think it's working."

Apparently Draco wasn't done being truthful. "They're either gonna get us with the Killing Curse, use poison-tipped weapons, or just leave us here until they set off their bomb capsule."

"All right!" Ron said loudly. "I get the ruddy point. How long have you been doing this shite, Draco?"

"Seventeen years."

Ron's jaw dropped. Draco had an Unspeakable or whatever he was for seventeen years?! "Bloody hell," he breathed. Then an unpleasant thought hit him: "Have you had to…y'know…shag people for the good of wizardkind?"

"I don't do those assignments. Gibbon does."

"Gibbon! He's bloody well in on this, too?" Ron had completely forgotten about Gibbon in all the damned excitement. So not only had Draco been lying to him all this time, but Gibbon too? Was nothing fucking sacred? "What about this Hera?"

"She's really fucking fit, isn't she?"

"Did you shag her?"

"No." Draco paused, a beatific smile lighting up his face. "But I wanted to."

It was a good thing Ron was wandless and rather tied up at the moment, as Draco would have gotten a mighty wallop. "You're nothing but a lying sack of crusty bogeys!"

Draco frowned and then slowly began to nod. "I rather think I am."


"Greetings again, Mr…Malfoy, is it?" Farkas smiled, busying himself with organizing his instruments and talismans.

"Tha's right," Draco murmured, struggling to hold his head aloft.

"Is there anything you'd like to say before we begin?"

"Yes. Ron?"

Ron, who had been rather busy with silently praying to any higher beings that might be listening, jerked his head in Draco's direction. "Yeah?"

"Saloman is nothing more than a pathetic used broom salesman."

Pink flared in his cheeks and Ron stared at the floor, wishing it could swallow him whole. This was his fault. He'd been daft and gullible and look where it had got him.

Holding up a miniature mace, Farkas said, "Are you quite through?"

"No." Draco's chin swung from left to right before he managed to get his head to face forward. "I'm gonna kill you soon."

Examining a point on the mace, Farkas said in a conversational tone, "Do you care to share how exactly you will accomplish this?"

"I figure I'll break your nose, cut a big vein open, use you as a human shield, and walk out the front door."

The smile on Farkas' face grew almost kindly, sympathetic as he approached Draco. "What makes you think you can do any of that?"

"Because I've broken the hex on these chains?"

Raising his now-free hands out in front of him, Draco rotated his wrists so the links rattled. Then he exploded out of the chair and shoved the heel of his palm against Farkas' nose. The move made the other wizard stumble back, releasing his hold on the mace. Grabbing hold of it, Draco swung the device directly into Farkas' neck. Blood began to ooze out of a large gash and Farkas gurgled, clutching at his throat.

"C'mon, Ginger," Draco mumbled, deftly plucking the wand from Farkas' rucksack. The first thing he did was use a Dissolving Charm to free Ron of his bonds. Then he eyed the satchel, contemplating its usefulness. He tossed it to Ron, who nearly fumbled it but recovered at the last moment.

True to his word, Draco did indeed use Farkas as a shield, holding the dying wizard in front of him as he led Ron to the exit. By the time they reached the door, no other wizards had come in. Draco let go of Farkas, watching as he fell unconscious to the ground. "It won't be long now," he said grimly, then gestured for Ron to follow him out into the shadows.

When they were hiding behind a stack of large crates, Ron crouched down and touched Draco's arm.

"I need you to tell me something before that potion wears off and you start lying to me again," he whispered urgently.

"What is it?" Draco asked, holding Farkas' wand at the ready.

"D'you still love me, Draco?" Ron asked, dreading the answer.

"Yes," Draco said.

"As much as you used to? When we first started all of this?"

"No." Ron's chin tucked against his chest and he let out a shaky breath. "Much more."

With a start, Ron jerked his head up and met Draco's grey eyes. It was as though he could see the truth radiating from them and Ron smiled, relieved. "It wore off," he said, somewhat awed.

From the building behind them came loud cries and shouts.

"They've found Farkas' body. Let's keep moving," Draco said, grabbing hold of Ron's hand. They ran for cover at the edge of a manky-looking swamp just as a light shone on them. Two wizards chased after them, wands shooting off streams of violently-coloured light. As Draco and Ron ran in the darkness, tree trunks exploded around them.

The two wizards wove around the trees, scanning the area for either sign of the escapees. Draco leapt out of the shadows, grabbing one from behind. Wrestling the wand away from the wizard, Draco then extended his leg to kick the man's partner squarely in the gut. A wand in both hands, Draco flung out his arms and hexed the two of them unconscious.

Ron stepped out from behind the tree he'd been concealed by, impressed and pretty damned amazed. For as long as he'd known Draco, he would never have expected him to be so…physical. "I married a bloody invincible hero."

Draco's mouth turned up in a self-satisfied smile as he grabbed Ron, snogging him as though the world was about to end.

"Come on."


From the mouth of the cave, Draco and Ron peered inside. There was a lot of activity going on, large carriages being loaded with brass trunks from the Three Terrors and wizards with nasty-looking wands were piling into smaller carriages as Mahmood oversaw everything. Needing to get closer to hear what Mahmood was saying, Draco and Ron crept closer, stooping behind a stone pillar.

Mahmood produced a small octagonal object.

"It's a key," Draco whispered.

Ron nodded, watching as Mahmood placed it into a crevice on one of the large cylinders. The wizard turned around and began to brag loudly to his associates.

"'In sixty minutes this will detonate as a sign of warning to our enemies both near and far'," Draco translated. "'It is done. No wizard or Muggle can stop us. We're unstoppable, we're powerful, blah blah blah.'"

Mahmood raised both fists in the air and began to chant some Brother of Zamir propaganda. Around him, wizards echoed the words, cheering, and blasted off sparks and spells into the air.

Myriad beams of light ricocheted off the cave walls. Lunging to avoid getting crushed by falling rocks, Ron rolled behind another pillar, Draco close behind him.

From the throng of wizards, Mahmood bellowed something and everyone scattered, getting back to work.

"We've got to stop them," Ron said, brushing rubble out of his hair. "How are we gonna do that?"

"Go down there and hex everybody, I guess." Draco reached inside Farkas' rucksack and pressed a large wand with a three-pronged tip into Ron's hand.

"Oh, fuck," he breathed, having never seen a wand like it before.

"Stay here," Draco said firmly. "Don't use it unless you've no choice; these are nasty pieces of work."

Ron nodded mutely and Draco started stealing toward the throng of working wizards. He slipped behind the remnants of The Three Terrors, biding his time before rushing into action. With an intricate swish and flick, he blasted a large crevice in the floor at the other end of the cave. With all the noise and chaos, wizards rushed to see what happened. Draco used the distraction to his advantage, climbing out from behind one of the felled stone figures—

But another wizard came around the corner behind him, shouting and waving his hand. Ron gaped with horror as he saw Draco attempt to dive for cover and trip on a discarded trunk instead, wand flying through the air. Several wizards raced back from the mouth of the cave, wands at the ready.

"Hex them!" Draco shouted, and Ron leaped to his feet, yelling the first incantation that came to mind. Light flared from the tips of the wand, but the kick back was too much for Ron. The force of it sent him flying back against the wall of the cave, the wand falling out of his hands. It cartwheeled over itself, still emitting streams of magic. The bursts hit the smattering of wizards square in their chests, causing them to slump to the ground, unconscious.

From the centre of the throng of prone bodies, Draco stood gawking at Ron for a moment before he remembered himself – and noticed more wizards were streaming into the cave. "Run!"

Not needing to be told twice, Ron dropped the rucksack and ran as fast as he could. Behind him, he heard explosions, shouts, and the zinging sound of a lot of magic performed at once. He ran and ran until he found safe haven behind the same stack of crates he and Draco had hidden behind earlier. Out of the mouth of the cave came Draco, clothes tattered and a determined fucking air about him. Ron smiled to himself, caught up in the moment.

But it was over quickly, replaced with a loud, fiery explosion that engulfed the very place Draco had been standing.

"Bloody fucking hell. Draco."

Something hard and blunt pressed into the back of Ron's head. "My sympathies to the widower."

Gasping, Ron reached for the rucksack, only to remember that he'd stupidly discarded it. Hera twisted one of his ears, pulling him to his feet. "Bint," he spat, slapping her with an open fist. Ron Weasley never hit girls because that was how his mum had raised him, but he expected Molly would make an exception in this case. Enraged, Hera slashed at Ron with her wand, the beginnings of the Killing Curse on her lips. A hand reached out to grab her wrist, stopping her.

"No," Mahmood said. "We may need him."

Scowling, Hera shoved Ron in the direction of a waiting carriage. "Let's go, Mister Mom."

"That's Mister Mum to you, American hag," Ron grumbled.


Crammed into a carriage, Ron sat as far away from Hera as possible. She smiled, wand trained on him. After opening the window in the roof of the carriage, she shook out that damned hair of hers and magicked up a glass of something that smelled like Odgen's. "Like one?" she asked.

"Fuck off," Ron ground out through gritted teeth.

There was a lurch as the thestrals took off from the ground. Ron grabbed hold of the bench seat beneath him, his stomach knotting up. From somewhere in front of their carriage was a succession of explosions, closely followed by massive waves of smoke. Hera stood, placing her hands on the windowsill and attempting to haul herself up to see.

Ron used her distraction to shoot off the seat, grabbing for her wand. Falling off the bench she'd been standing on, Hera jerked her arm. A stream of orange sparks came out of the wand, singeing a large hole in the side of the carriage.

"Knock it off!" Ron yelled, slashing at her hands with his arms. By some grace of Godric, he jostled loose the wand, which dinged off the door and out the window of the left door. Just as he got Hera in a headlock, the carriage lurched harshly, causing Ron to let go of her. They both rushed to one side of the carriage, sticking their heads out.

One of the two thestrals flying the carriage was gone, its leather harness flapping in the wind.

"Fuck!" Hera swore, and shimmied up through the window on the carriage's ceiling. Ron climbed up after her, watching as she carefully edged her way to the remaining thestral.

Just above Ron's head was a sudden burst of very intense heat. He ducked, then rolled over on the roof to see what the hell was going on.

There was Draco, hanging off the side of a fucking dragon, Gibbon seated up near its head.

"'lo, Ron!" Gibbon bellowed, and Ron just laughed from the sodding insanity of it all.

"Grab my hand!" Draco cried.

"Fuck, no!" Ron yelled back. "Levitate me, you stupid arse!"

"I've got it," Gibbon said, waving the wand in his hand.

Ron screwed his eyes shut because he did not want to see this for all the Galleons in Gringotts. He felt himself being pulled up into the air and didn't so much as breathe until he knew he was solidly back on the ground again and nowhere near the big fucking dragon.

"Safe and sound," Gibbon said with a broad grin when Ron opened his eyes again.

"You arse," Ron said fondly, and then caught Draco's eye. He grinned, invigorated. "What was all the fuss back there? I was sort of too busy to stick my head to have a look-see."

"We've got all three of the weapon carriers down." Gibbon frowned, waving over to a wizard Ron recognized from Draco's company Christmas parties. "But the potions are gonna explode any minute now."

"What about Hera?" Ron wanted to know.

"Oh, I took care of her," Draco assured him.

"This has been ace and all, but I've got work to do," Gibbon broke in. "Ta, Ron!" With that, he began to walk toward a gathering of wizards who were also obviously Unspeakables, pressing the tip of his wand to his throat. "Okay, you lot. It's party time. Do not look at the flash. I repeat, do not look at the flash."

"We're okay now," Draco murmured, walking with Ron in the opposite direction from the other wizards. "We'll be home with Scorpius soon. We're okay."

Ron nodded, absolutely trusting him. He reached up, fingertips grazing Draco's receding hairline. "We're okay," he repeated. Wrapping an arm around Draco's shoulders, Ron melted against him, their lips moving slowly and purposely together. In the midst of it all, loud booms from the Brothers of Zamir's weapons shook the earth. Though his eyes were closed, Ron could detect the brightness of the flashes. When it began to fade, so did their kiss. They turned, arm in arm, to watch the glorious aftereffects of the detonations on the horizon – vivid, pastel colours.

"That was a bloody good kiss," Ron said.

Draco leered. "There's more where that came from."
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