This piece was originally performed at Melbourne Writers Festival (‘YA’ll Are Thirsty’) on September 1, 2019, alongside original pieces by Alison Evans, Jes Layton, and CB Mako. Enjoy. And a gentle reminder: my new urban fantasy novel Monuments is out now, signed if you follow that link quickly enough. You don’t need to write fan fiction to experience the boys in that book kissing, but writing thirsty fan fiction about them is totally encouraged. In fact, just by reading this, you are now obligated to.
Ronald Weasley and the Authorial Intrusion
The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The Hogwarts Express rounded a corner, taking Albus, Rose, Hugo and Lily with it. Harry’s hand was still raised in farewell.
‘He’ll be all right,’ murmured Ginny.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absent-mindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
‘I know he will.’
The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.
All was not quite as well for Ron Weasley, who had just extracted a Muggle device from his jeans pocket. He squinted down at its screen. The Author had tweeted. She liked to tweet little retcons. It was her way of reminding them that she was still there, looming. Ron found her posts equally endearing and baffling, mostly because they never seemed to concern him.
Today’s post concerned him. And it … concerned him.
Throughout their time at Hogwarts, Ronald Bilius Weasley harboured an intense crush for Harry James Potter.
He dragged his finger down to refresh the tweet, in case she had posted it by accident and since deleted it. She hadn’t. There had been no mistake.
Harry glanced back at him and smiled. The same Harry from the tweet. He knew because the Author had used their middle names. She only did that when she was serious.
Ron’s heart pounded against his chest. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be.
Somebody seized the back of his shirt and pulled him into a seat. Ron was no longer on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, but in the Great Hall, a glass of pumpkin juice raised to his lips. He had no idea where that had come from.
Hermione spoke sharply. ‘Don’t drink that, Ron!’
Flustered, he followed Harry’s gaze until he too was looking up at her.
‘Why not?’ said Ron. He set down his glass. This was familiar. He remembered this. He had been here before. It was some kind of memory.
Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes. She was about to tell him that –
‘You just put something in that drink.’ Ron mouthed the words as she said them.
‘Excuse me?’ said Harry.
‘You heard me. I saw you. You just tipped something into Ron’s drink. You’ve got the bottle in your hand right now!’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.
‘Ron, I warn you, don’t drink it!’ Hermione said again, alarmed.
Ron knew he should listen to her. She was his wife, after all. But Harry … Ron felt something stir deep inside of him when he looked at the boy who lived. That scar, those spectacles … His heart fluttered. That was a weird thing for it to do. Had it always done that? Throughout their time at Hogwarts, had he harboured an intense crush for Harry James Potter?
Ron told himself that he couldn’t entertain the thought. He was married. He had made a vow. He and Hermione had children together.
Not yet. This was a memory. He was a teenager. Hermione was his future wife.
Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one and said, ‘Stop bossing me around, Hermione!’
She stormed up the table away from them.
Ron’s shirt was seized, and he was pulled back once more. A roar of sound greeted him. He was in the common room, surrounded by his Gryffindor peers. They were celebrating something, someone. He glanced down. He was holding a goblet of Butterbeer and had spilt half of it down his front. A hand gripped his shoulder.
‘Congratulations, bro. Keeper! I can’t believe it.’
Ron recognised the voice immediately and it was difficult to breathe. ‘Fred,’ he gasped.
‘That’s my name,’ his brother, who was very much still alive, said before the crowd swallowed him.
Ron scanned the room, searching for a familiar face. He needed to tell the Harry from his memories what was happening to him. And that he might love him. The Author said so.
The Fat Lady swung forwards and Ron identified the slightly younger Harry. He cleared the distance between them, beaming all over his face and slopping Butterbeer down his front.
‘Harry, I –’ Ron was pulled backwards onto his bed.
‘What d’you mean, congratulations?’ said Harry, staring at Ron. There was something wrong with the way Ron was smiling, it was more like a grimace. Like he’d dropped into the conversation at the midpoint and was trying to figure out when and where he was.
‘Listen,’ added Harry, ‘I didn’t put my name in that Goblet. Someone else must’ve done it.’
Ron raised his eyebrows. He had his bearings. Fourth Year. The Triwizard Tournament. Harry had just been announced as the extra champion. Ron was hurtling through his memories, and he had no way to control it.
He wrenched the hangings shut around his four-poster and attempted to collect himself, leaving Harry standing there by the door, staring at the dark red velvet curtains. The thought made his heart pang.
Ron needed to get a grip. Of his feelings and of time more generally. He couldn’t love the boy who lived, and he couldn’t keep reliving memories. He had to return to the present, to Platform Nine And Three-Quarters.
He was propelled deeper into his memories. He was a Third Year in Professor Lupin’s Defence Against The Dark Arts class.
Hermione put up her hand.
‘It’s a shape-shifter,’ she said. ‘It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.’
‘Couldn’t have said it better myself,’ said Professor Lupin, and Hermione glowed.
Ron’s chest was in a vice. The Boggart. When Professor Lupin let him out, the Boggart would immediately become what Ron feared most: Harry discovering his crush.
He shut his eyes and was forced backwards once more, this time into the hard seat of his father’s Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe, which burst out of the clouds into a blaze of sunlight.
It was a different world. The wheels of the car skimmed the sea of fluffy cloud, the sky a bright, endless blue under the blinding white sun. He couldn’t think of anywhere else he would rather be. And he was here, with Harry. He was speechless.
‘All we’ve got to worry about now are aeroplanes,’ said Harry.
Ron’s brow furrowed. That wasn’t right. If this was a memory, he should’ve been the one to say that. Not Harry. It then dawned on him that he wasn’t simply reliving memories. Harry hadn’t actually laced the pumpkin juice with Felix Felicis, but Ron felt like the luckiest boy alive. He had been thrust into the past, the actual past. He might love the boy who lived, and might have a chance to act on it.
And he wasn’t afraid of Harry discovering his feelings. He wanted him to.
The two of them looked at each other and started to laugh, for a long time, they couldn’t stop.
Ron peered down at the Hogwarts Express below them and was yanked backwards into the seat of one of the train’s compartments. He knew this moment, he had replayed it over and over in his mind for years – the moment he met Harry Potter and his life changed forever.
The Author was tormenting him. She wasn’t going to give him his chance. She was going to dangle the past in front of him, show him what could have been, but shy away from two boys kissing.
Ron just had to fill in the time before she yanked him away.
He went through the motions. ‘Are you really Harry Potter?’ he droned.
‘Oh – well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George’s jokes,’ said Ron mechanically. ‘And have you really got – you know …’
He pointed at Harry’s forehead.
Harry pulled back his fringe to show the lightning scar. Ron stared. His heart fluttered.
He waited for the Author to seize him by the shirt and drag him back to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, but she didn’t. Harry asked Ron if he wanted to sit beside him so that he wasn’t riding backwards.
‘Are you sure?’ Ron stuttered.
‘Yeah, there’s plenty of room. You’ll get sick otherwise.’
Ron didn’t need to be asked twice. He climbed over the table and the two boys spent the journey in nervous conversation. At one point, their hands brushed together. Neither pulled away.
And Ron understood what was happening. The Author was giving him a second chance.
All was well.
This piece was originally performed at Melbourne Writers Festival (‘YA’ll Are Thirsty’) on September 1, 2019, alongside original pieces by Alison Evans, Jes Layton, and CB Mako. Another gentle reminder: my new urban fantasy novel Monuments is out now, signed if you follow that link quickly enough. You don’t need to write fan fiction to experience the boys in that book kissing, but writing thirsty fan fiction about them is totally encouraged. In fact, just by reading this, you are now obligated to.