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Beautiful Shame
By CornishPixie

Disclaimer: Not mine.

“I’m going out,” Hermione announced one morning exactly a week later, “And I won’t be back until I’ve found a job. Or at least have had an interview.”

The others all thought that was a good idea, and even though Harry and Ginny would have liked to live job-free for a while longer they realized that their vacation was over; it was time to face real life head on.

“Where should we start looking?” Ron asked, even though he knew that they wouldn’t be going for the same kinds of jobs anyways. Especially since Harry could probably get any job he fancied in the least, and Ron would probably only need something part-time.

“Oh—well,” Hermione blinked towards Ron, surprised a bit that he was actually quite willing to job search as well, “I thought –with the Chudley Cannon thing…

Her cheeks reddened almost immediately, but Ron shrugged it off quickly, “I need something in the meantime, don’t I? Could take months until they decide I’m actually good enough to be paid.”

The girl hastily apologized, and Ron shrugged it off—his way of forgiving someone. Draco chose that moment to intentionally slurp down a couple gulps of water, and then leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed to raise his eyebrows at the other four expectantly.

“I’ll stay with Malfoy, then,” Harry volunteered when he realized that was the cause of Hermione’s tentativeness and Draco’s slurping.

They had almost forgotten him.

“Oh right,” Ron chastised himself before waving a hand towards Harry, “No, no. You go with your Fiance, I’ll babysit the lug.”

This was mostly why Draco had moved in with them; they were the only ones willing to offer protection to him. All of the Death Eaters that were still roaming around were on the hunt for traitors like Draco, and there had already been one close call when he’d just gone out to pick up a couple groceries. Now they weren’t taking any chances: Draco wasn’t allowed out of the house. And to be safe they had promised that someone would always be at the house with him in case anything did happen.

“But what about job searching?” Ginny asked, her eyebrows narrowed in concern.

“I’ll just go tomorrow,” Ron said, shrugging his shoulders casually and stretching his legs out underneath the table.

“I’ll keep a lookout for jobs for you,” Hermione promised with a smile, and Harry and Ginny promised to do the same and then they were gone through the front door less than two minutes later.

Ron and Draco sat in the kitchen unmoving for five minutes, unaware that they were both thinking about the last time they had been alone in this room together. Finally caving under the stress of not knowing where he was allowed to rest his eyes, Draco pushed his plate from in front of him and crossed his arms on the table before burying his head in them.

Moments later he heard Ron’s chair scraping across the floor, and then the sound of clinking dishes as he picked up the dirty dishes off the table. Draco peeked out from the hiding spot in the crook of his elbow to find that Ron was now depositing the dishes into the kitchen sink and was turning on the tap water.

By the look of it, he was planning to wash the dishes without magic.

“It’s not your day for dishes,” Draco mumbled from somewhere in his arms, his eyebrows narrowing when Ron only made an indistinct noise, “Today’s my dish day.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ron said as he upended the soap bottle and squirted a generous amount of dish soap into the filling sink.

Sitting up, the confused boy proceeded to make this a much bigger deal than it was. Squinting towards the fridge, Draco made mention of what he was looking at, “But Hermione made up those schedules, and—“

Not a second later Ron had stomped over to the fridge and ripped the schedule off of it. Crumpling it, the boy tossed it towards the dustbin where it bounced off the rim and settled on the floor a foot away, “I said don’t worry about it.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed as he sat there and surveyed the back of Ron while the red-head stood there with his head lowered to earnestly scrub the dishes clean. His grey eyes finally wandered away from Ron, and with a sigh he reached for the only dirty plate left on the table before he got up from his spot. Grabbing the frying pan off the stove on the way, Draco deposited them with the other dirty dishes beside Ron before hesitating.

He didn’t know whether to stay or not, but when his hand absently reached for a drying towel he figured it was too late to go back. Walking to the other side of Ron, Draco reached for the first rinsed dish and set to drying it.

“Why did you do it?” Ron asked, chin to chest as he glowered towards the sink.

Draco glanced to the side before gesturing behind him, “You just forgot to bring those things over here, that’s all.”

Instantly Ron gave him a glare, and automatically he understood what the boy had actually been referring too. And all he could think was that it really couldn’t have been him who had initiated that kiss, could it have?

“It was nothing,” he mumbled grumpily, too confused and angry about it to try and make it seem like a logical action.

“Nothing?” Ron repeated. Loudly. “I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t realize that when you were bored at school you and Crabbe or you and Goyle would…just…”

As a rough dramatization Ron raised a glass in one hand and the wet rag in the other and smashed them together ungraciously.

It was Draco’s turn to scowl now, and Ron looked miserable about it.

“Don’t be a dunce, “Draco responded as he slammed the glass he had dried down onto the countertop.

“Careful with that!” Ron warned instantly.

“Stop pouting,” was Draco’s pathetic reply, and Ron ignored the fact that the boy’s tone had been threatening.

“Don’t look at my lips,” the redhead ordered defensively, turning his head away from the blond in the meantime. Draco had enough.

“Holy hell, Ron, forget about the damn kiss!” he roared, breaking whatever sort of taboo there had been on actually voicing what had happened between them.

Neither of them had expected Draco to actually say ‘Ron’ though. Even when they had become tolerant of each other, habit forced them to use their surnames. It had sounded…wrong.

“Weasley,” Draco hissed lowly for good measure. Ron spent a few long moments glaring at the plate in his hands before he shook his head slightly and set the china on the drip tray.

“I can’t,” was what he intensely whispered. Still scowling, the man’s face reddened embarrassingly, and finally he threw down the damp towel in his hands and turned carefully so that he wouldn’t meet Draco’s surprised eyes, “Finish your own damn dishes.”

He’d almost stomped all the way out of the room when he head Draco’s angry confession, “I can’t either.”

Clenching his teeth together as soon as the words escaped him, Draco leaned onto the counter and bowed his head. He shouldn’t have said anything. This whole ordeal could have ended there if he had kept his mouth shut; but instead Ron had frozen in his place and was glancing over his shoulder. After swaying on the spot for a minute, Ron lookwed straight ahead once more.

“Good to know,” and then Ron was out of the room.

Draco’s emotions were so messed up that he didn’t even think to remove his wand from his pocket to finish the work quickly. The Slytherin finished the dishes by hand and then retreated sulkily to his room on the third floor.

When the three job hunters marched back into the house, Ron was sitting is the same spot in the living room and Draco hadn’t moved from his room.

“You look busy,” Hermione was glowing happily as she set down her purse. Both Harry and Ginny chuckled appreciatively at the sarcasm—Ron was staring at the wall opposite him, his legs stretched out in front of him, one foot bouncing restlessly.

“Oh—Hey, there’s nothing to do!” Ron started defensively, and Ginny grinned as she handed Ron a newly acquired mop.

“That should fix your problem,” she nodded helpfully, but Ron looked confused even as he took the mop from his sister.

“The kitchen and hallway need to be mopped, apparently,” Harry explained, and then kicked off his shoes, “and we’re not supposed to be wearing outside shoes inside anymore.”

Pouting for the second time that day, Ron just peered at his bare feet and remained seated as his friends settled in.

“Well?” Hermione impatiently pressed, “aren’t you going to ask us about the job search?”

“That’s right,” he’d actually forgotten that was why they were out, but to try and play it off like he was waiting for them to bring it up, Ron raised his eyebrows, “Did you find anything good for me?”

Hermione closed her open mouth to give Ron a calculating scowl—to which he awarded a silly grin—and then pulled something from her purse. Making sure to hold it close to her chest so that Ron couldn’t peek at it, Hermione opened her mouth once more, “Well, you know how I’ve wanted to work at the ministry since Kingsley’s got it running the right way again…”

Ron nodded, taking the briefest of moments to silently thank Kingsley for accepting the position as Minister for Magic.

“I went and asked about those positions your Dad was talking about. They were very impressed with my resume, of course, and so I’m a Research Assistant in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. They have a hand in archeological digs, you know, and translating runes and things.” Her eyes were bright, face flushed in excitement. Ron congratulated her but eyed the brochure in her hands questioningly.

“Go on, Hermione,” Ginny prompted the girl, who immediately handed the coloured paper to Ron.

“Oxford?” He read, confused, “This is a muggle school.”

“And I’m going to study there for a term or two,” looking absolutely ecstatic about it, Hermione continued to explain while Harry and Ginny were amused by Ron’s mild disgust at the concept of more schooling, “I just need to learn the technicalities of Archeological digging and then they said I would be qualified enough to head up my own digging site.”

Eyebrows raised, Ron nodded and handed the brochure back to his friend, “That’s great, Hermione.”

Positively flouncing, Hermione took the brochure and headed up the stairs, no doubt on her way to study some runes or something of the like. Harry and Ginny having settled on the couch with Ron—who was still clutching the mop—were the next targets for his questions, “What about your jobs?”

“Just that department store down the street for me,” Ginny looked content about this thought, “I still need to finish my time at Hogwarts anyways, plus I get twenty percent off of my purchases: hence, the mop.”

“I was looking into the Wizengamot,” Harry spoke as soon as Ginny was finished, and shrugged, “but I would need to do more studying. So I put my name in on Level Two of the ministry; Magical Law Enforcement.”

“To be an Auror?” Ron was impressed, and had now gladly and completely forgot about the earlier episode with Draco.

But Harry shook his head, “There were a couple openings in Administration Services.”

Ginny’s eyes twinkled, but she stubbornly kept her face serious while Ron laughed, “Good luck sitting down for nine hours a day, Harry.”

The black-haired man gave a good-natured half-smile before stretching into a yawn and then peering at his watch.

“Hey, shouldn’t you be at the Pitch with the Canons?”

A tense pause filled with silence followed, during which Ron checked what time it was, and then he exploded out of his seat in an almost panic, roaring, “I’m late!” and dropping the mop onto the floor carelessly as he did so.

Flying up the stairs, he slipped back down them not even a minute later with his broom tucked under an arm while his hands were busy zipping up his Quidditch bag. Still barefoot, the boy was only able to yell ‘Bye!’ before hurtling to the back yard and apparating away with a reverberating crack!.

Not ten seconds later Harry and Ginny heard hasty stomping, and a narrow-eyed Draco appeared at the top of the staircase, “What was that?”

“Ron,” Ginny gestured towards the back of the house as if that would be enough of an explanation. Draco was unsatisfied, however, and Harry surveyed his hardening face as the boy drew a few steps closer to them.

“Is he alright.” It was demanded, not questioned, and Ginny’s surprised eyes turned to Harry.

“He apparated,” Harry offered clearly, and Draco visibly loosened even though an obvious scowl overtook his face.

“Probably splinched himself,” was what he grumbled meanly before a smooth change of subject occurred, “Hermione told me all about her job, and I’m sure she mentioned something about yours—does this mean I’ll have to find myself a new bodyguard for when everyone’s at work?”

The scowl was gone, and both Ginny and Harry were able to recognize the actual sincere congratulations that Draco was trying to voice through his sarcasm.

“You could learn how to defend yourself,” Ginny was sarcastic in return, and Draco shook his head.

“No on in this house thinks I can hold my own,” the blond sounded rather forlorn, and Ginny tried to look sympathetic while Harry gave a non-committal shrug.

“That’s because you can’t,” Hermione’s voice floated down from the upstairs hallways, but as soon as her brown eyes rested on Draco her smile faded, “Oh—I thought you were Ron.”

Suffice it to say that Hermione’s proclamation left Draco gulping speechlessly as if he were an underwater fish.

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