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Under the Stairs

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"It's not much," Ron said. "But it's home."

"I think it's brilliant," Harry responded.

He's never stopped thinking that. The instant he came in sight of that lopsided house, riding in the flying car his best friends came and got him in, seeing the knitting needles weaving themselves and nothing hanging straight and lastly but most astounding everyone seeming to like him - well, consider the Burrow Harry's favourite place in the world.

Except for Hogwarts.

When Mrs Weasley waves him upstairs and shows him all the rooms "There's Ginny, and Percy, and Fred and George - honestly could you two put that fire outside, please? Charlie's and Bill's, we've sort of tried to make -"

"This is me office, Harry," Mr Weasley informed him cheerfully, popping out of a room that had a bed and a desk pulled right up to it, along with some suspicious enormous claw marks gouged into the paint "Molly told me to fix it up after Charlie left, he brought home a Kneazle once, but I haven't the heart," he whispers. "Besides, makes for an interesting wall, doesn't it?"

Harry smiles back. "Erm yes sir, it does."

"You'll have to come in and tell me more about your muggles," Arthur adds. "I've certainly got something to write down on, I'd love to learn everything you know. What is the function of a rubber duck, really?"

"Oh, I didn't explain that, did I? Well -"

"Let the boy see where he'll be sleeping, Arthur!" Calls Molly. "Come up, Harry dear, I've just magicked you a bed, you'll be in with Ron."

Harry smiles in thanks and says "I'll be back, Mr Weasley, sorry -"

With a wave of his hand and an easy smile, "No worries, Harry. Go on and see what Molly's got for you. I'll be here." An enormous explosion rattles the room beneath his and he shouts "BOYS! No bombs in the house, please!"

"Sorry Dad!" Fred and George call up the stairs in unison.

"We were trying to drown out the noise from Ginny's room," George adds.

"Yeah I think my ears are bleeding," hollers Fred, and Harry freezes on the stairs to hear some loud, what sort of sounds like punk music, honestly - emanating from Ginny's bedroom.

He manages to get up to the top landing, which is tiny, and Mrs Weasley beckons, beaming. "Loo is just there, and here's Ron. And you, now, whenever you come to stay."

Harry's eyes widen as he looks around Ron's room. It's a bright space, walls a pale yellow, and he has orange posters on the walls. "Chudley Cannons are my quidditch team," his mate explains.

"And they're rubbish!" One of the twins roars upstairs.

"Oi, shut it!" Ron bellows back.

"Ronald Weasley!" His mother raises her eyebrows with a pointed look and as he is about to point down and say something about Fred and George, he deflates.

"...Sorry Mum."

"Good. You had better be. Well now Harry, here's your bed." It looks like Ron's, snug sort with old-fashioned metal head and foot posts, and "Nice comfy mattress, I used a softening spell. Oh and the sheets and blankets can change colour, just let me know what you'd prefer - oh!" Her words stop as Harry puts down his case and flings himself into her for a hug.

"Thanks Mrs Weasley," he gets out. "I, I love it. This is fine, all, well, amazing, actually." He smiles and flushes and lets go right after, not quite looking at her before adding "I'll get my trunk out of the way, sorry -"

"It's fine, dear," she soothes him, blinking a bit and pressing her lips together, motherly instinct putting some things together based on what had just been done. She registers how thin Harry is, almost skin and bones. She'd first noticed when he let Hedwig land on his arm before, and when he and her sons came in that morning. And even more after he gives her a hug. Her eyes twinkle and her cheeks bunch as she smiles at Harry. "Well I'll let you two get settled and I'll go down and make us an enormous brunch, how does that sound? How do you like your kippers, Harry?"

"Oh, erm, any way you cook them, Mrs Weasley, thanks." The boy sounds almost breathless, sitting down on the bed, hand curled round the foot of it as if to anchor himself. "Thanks very much."

"You're very welcome, dear. I'll call up to you when food is ready. Do show Harry the amenities, Ron," she tells her youngest son, and blows a kiss to them as she leaves.

"Okay Mum," Ron replies, and after she leaves he pulls his mouth to the side a little. "Sorry about this, I know it's small."

"It's great," Harry tells him, bouncing a bit as he settles onto the bed. Wow, Mrs Weasley really did make it soft. "I used to sleep in a cupboard, so this is incredible."

He speaks it soft and steady as if it's a statement of fact and not totally mad. There is silence before Harry hears Ron breathing and looks up at his best friend to see wide eyes and an intense stare, Ron leaning forward as if he can't comprehend what Harry just said. His voice snaps loudly, making Harry jump.

"Hang on, you WHAT?"

Ron is breathing hard, not believing what he's just heard. Harry is confused. "Yeah, erm, the Dursleys had me sleep under the stairs until this year. I've got a bedroom now, but it wasn't that bad to kip in the cupboard, just was small. Actually kind of warm, though. I mean, there were some spiders that got into my socks -"

Harry stops speaking, he remains a bit confused. Ron has balled both of his fists and his skin bypasses red and goes maroon alarmingly fast. He doesn't even appear affrighted by the mention of spiders.

"THOSE BLOODY ROTTERS FORCED YOU TO SLEEP IN A CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS FOR TEN YEARS?!?"