Witch, 36

Never Underestimate the Power of a Simple Conversation

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“Good morning.”


“Did you sleep well?”

“Yes. Did you?”

“Better than I have in a long time.”

“Me too. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

James smiled, finally opening his eyes and looking up at Ron from his place on Ron’s chest. He laughed suddenly. “There are flower petals everywhere.’

Ron made a little noise, reached up and grabbed a few of them between two fingers. “Guess we’re going to have to get used to those.”

“I guess so.” James smiled. “And here I thought you couldn’t get any prettier.”

“Stop,” Ron chuckled.

“No. Let’s wake up like this every day.”

“At noon?”

“Ideally. But I meant together,” James said, reaching up and taking some flower petals as well.

“I think we can manage that.”

James smiled some more, but eventually yawned, then sat up. Ron sat with him. James’s stomach made a loud noise. “I’m really hungry.”

“That’s because you haven’t eaten properly in a month.”

“Neither have you,” James told him, stretching. “Let’s go make breakfast.”

Ron nodded, and the two of them got out of bed, not bothering to get dressed as they made their way into the kitchen. Ron’s bag of things was still sitting there, on the floor, ignored.

They made breakfast together, Ron frying bacon while James overcooked the eggs, and sat down to eat. “I never thought we’d do this again,” James muttered, eating a lot more enthusiastically than Ron was used to.

“Yeah.” Ron covered James’s hand with his, and the two of them ate in silence.

When they’d put the dishes away, James took a breath, sat back down at the table. “We have to talk.”

“Yeah.” Ron didn’t want to. He just wanted to revel in this, just wanted to have this. But James was right. Not talking had been what had caused their problems before; Ron didn’t want a repeat of that. “You know one of the things that Spike told me is that we had to make sure we always talked about everything.”

James nodded. He was fidgeting his fingers. “Me too. We’re not very good at that.”

“I guess not.” Ron sighed, looked at James. “We should try to get better.”

“We should. We can’t have a relationship if I keep refusing to talk to you every time something happens.”

“We also can’t have a relationship if we both keep blaming ourselves for everything,” Ron added, gently.

“Right.” James looked away. “If both of us refuse to talk when something’s wrong. No more?”

“No more,” Ron promised. “I promise I’ll tell you when something’s bothering me.”

“Me too. I…I won’t decide what’s good for you without talking to you about it first. That wasn’t fair.” James’s expression tightened. “Nothing I did in the last three weeks was fair.”

“No,” Ron shook his head. “It wasn’t. I know you were trying to protect me. I know it was because you care about me. But you were hurting me.” Ron smiled. “And not in a way that I like.”

“We should talk about that too.”

“I know.” Ron nodded. “But first. I wasn’t thinking about how you felt either. I thought you were mad at me. I was being selfish. I’m going to pay more attention to how you’re feeling from now on. Not everything revolves around me.”

James nodded. “Okay. I’m sorry. For hurting you. And for losing control. And for pushing you away. I’m sorry.”

“I know.” Ron squeezed James’s hand on the table. “I forgive you. And I’m sorry for not realizing why you were doing it.”

“I…I forgive you too.” James took a breath. “I’ve never been as scared as I was when I saw you get hurt. Even when my family betrayed us. I could…feel the world falling apart underneath me. I thought…” Another breath. “I thought that if you died, the world had better fall apart.”

Ron shivered a little. “That’s a bit scary,” he admitted.

“I know. I scared myself too.”

“It’s how I would have felt if you’d been hurt, though.”

James smiled. “The difference being that you don’t have the power to make the world fall apart.”

“Do you?” Was James really that powerful?

“I don’t know. I don’t plan to find out. I…” James paused again. “I wasn’t using the stone. Maybe a little, I was resonating with it. But it was in the house. All that, I did almost all of that on my own. And I only stopped because you made me.”

“You’re not allowed to end the world,” Ron told him, to cover his unease. “Even if I die. There are lots of parts of it that we both like.”

“I guess so.” James smiled at him a little. “You’re taking this better than I thought.”

“I’ve had some time to think about it,” Ron said. “You’re scary. But if I was scared of you, you’d know. I could have left…you were right, that I’m afraid to be alone.”

“I shouldn’t have…”

“No, but you were right,” Ron interrupted. “I don’t want to be by myself. But I could be with anyone. There are people everywhere. Julia told me I could live with her. I could go back home and build a house with Owen if he hasn’t run off to be a knight. I’m not with you because you’re the easiest person. I’m with you because I want to be. Okay?”

James closed his eyes, trying to keep his face under control. “Okay. I’m with you because I want to be too. Even if you kill my plants.”

“One plant, and it started it.”

James laughed a little at that. “Okay. We’ll worry about that later. Um. You trusted me to take care of you, and I took advantage of that and used it to hurt you. And you trusted me with your past, and I used that to hurt you too. I understand if you’re not ready to trust me again.”

“Of course I am,” Ron promised, smiling. “I know, I know that part of the problem was that I was too trusting, and that I was too quick to assume you hadn’t done anything wrong. But I do trust you, really.”

James nodded. “I don’t know why.”

“Because you’ve always done your best to keep me safe, even when you were bad at it. You just lost your way a little bit the last few weeks.” Ron looked at him. “I’ll understand if you’re not ready to trust yourself again. But I think you should.”

“Is…” James inhaled, paused for a good minute. “I’ve never asked you this and I should have. The kind of relationship we had. Is that what you want? We don’t have to. I liked it. But if you’d rather be more normal…”

“What wasn’t normal about us?” Ron asked. “We took care of each other. We loved each other, and we both enjoyed it. I was really happy.” It wasn’t the kind of relationship Ron had imagined for himself, but his time with James had been more fulfilling than he could have expected. “We don’t have to keep doing that if you don’t want. But I liked it too.”

“I was kind of worried that I forced you into it.”

“No.” Ron shook his head. “I trust you not to hurt me. And I expect you to trust me not to let myself get hurt. I would tell you if I didn’t like it.”

James watched Ron for a moment as if searching for falsehood. He nodded. “I do, I do trust you to tell me that. Okay. We can stay the way we were if you want. I think that we should talk about it, properly, in a day or two once we’ve had time to think. And have a clear talk about what we want and what we like, and what the rules are going to be. For both of us.”

“Okay.” That sounded like a good idea. “I guess if I’m going to be staying here forever, we should stop making it up as we go along.”

James chuckled. “I agree.”

“We should, um…” Ron bit his lip. “Maybe we should ask Spike to come help us, when we have that talk. He seems to know a lot about this stuff.”

“You’re right.” James coloured a little. “He’ll never stop making fun of me, but you’re right. It would be good to have someone who knew what they were doing, since obviously we don’t.”

“I think we were getting pretty good at it, though.” Ron grinned at James.

“I think so too.” James smiled back, and he took Ron’s hand and kissed it. “And we’re always going to be equals, no matter what the rules say. You have just as much say as I do. More, even, since you’re the one giving up control. You have the right to say what that looks like.”

Ron flushed, but he knew James was right. “We’ll decide together. And for the record, the rules, and the game and everything. I love you without them. They make it more fun, but I don’t need them to love you, James.”

“Me either, Ron. I’ll always love you, rules or no.”

“Rules or no.”

They sat there, the two of them, all day. Talking.

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