"I can't eat," Ron Weasley said in disgust, pushing
his plate away at breakfast for the first time at Hogwarts.
Ron, you have to eat something," Hermione replied, looking up
Arithmancy textbook. "Stuff it, 'Mione," Ron retorted, ignoring the
that always seemed to stretch across her face when he called her by
newly-adopted nickname even though her liking of it usually pleased
Hermione continued to read, but occasionally
shoulders gave a slight lurch as she tried to hold back her
Beside Ron, Harry absently pushed his half-eaten pancakes across his
amazed that so much of the strawberry syrup he had poured on had
absorbed. He cut himself another piece, raised it to his mouth, and
violently sick at the prospect of eating it. Two seconds later he
his plate as far away from him as Ron had and sat staring off into
Arms folded, Ron looked from Harry's abandoned plate to Hermione,
happily reading and nibbling on a muffin, and burst out,
not eating either."
"That doesn't matter. You still should eat,"
answered carelessly, for all the world seeming completely engrossed
Mouth dropping open, Ron looked briefly at
who was already cringing in anticipation and asked, "What's
"Harry's the experienced one," Hermione
in the same careless tone.
All the color drained from Ron's face and he
stared at her, a muscle in his cheek twitching constantly. Realizing
late what she had said, Hermione's cheeks turned as red as Ron's
and she set her book aside as she said, "Ron, I didn't
"Don't even bother. It's the truth, isn't it?" Ron replied in a
that was not his own.
Looking very much like she was going to burst
tears, Hermione tried to speak to him again but Harry quickly shook
head and she fell silent. Rising from his seat, Ron left the Great
without even looking at the two of them, his eyes narrowed and his
clenched at his sides. Lips trembling, Hermione stared after him
after he had left and quickly buried her face in her book again.
Harry unthinkingly took a bite of his syrup-soaked pancakce and
spit it out, it was so sweet. Ron took things too personally
Harry understood how he felt. The morning of his first Quidditch
had not been easy; nor had the night before and from the mutterings
had periodically heard throughout the night, he suspected that Ron
gotten little, if any, sleep. And now Hermione had...turning to look
the girl sitting beside him, Harry smiled grimly to see that she was
on the page...and her book was upside down and said quietly,
know you didn't mean that the way it sounded, Herm."
"I still shouldn't have said it. He's nervous enough without me
he's inexperienced," Hermione moaned, closing her book and burying
face in her arms.
Shaking his head, Harry debated whether or not to put a hand on her
spared from the decision when she continued, "But he's good, he
is. I've seen him practice and Wood...why didn't I think?
Hermione let out a cry of frustration and
to her feet, taking up her Arithmancy book and scurrying out of the
Hall. Left alone, Harry shook his head at his friends and rose to
when a familiar voice spoke from behind him, "Good
luck today, Harry. Where was Hermione going in such a hurry? We were
to get seats together."
Smiling, Harry turned around to see Ginny
a smile on her freckled face, standing behind him. Lately Ginny had
hanging out with the three of them(Ron had grumbled good-naturedly
her being a tag-along for a day and then forgot it completely),
due to her growing friendship with Hermione, who was more than
to have another girl around when harry and Ron were behaving too
like the boys they were. Looking in the directoin that both Hermione
Ron had exited in, Harry's smile became grim as he answered,
Ginny. I don't know where Hermione went."
"Your brother, what else?" Harry joked. "Oh," Ginny said, her eyes
up for an instant and then dying out.
Studying her for a moment, Harry watched as
began to chew on her lip, certain that there was something about Ron
Hermione that she understood and he did not. Oh he knew why Ron
Krum so much, he knew even better than Ron why his friend was able
so perfectly mimic the Bulgarian's accent that the entire Gryffindor
was in stitches listen to it, but this...this was something else
Sighing, Ginny sat down next to Harry and asked, "Who
"Hermione said something she shouldn't have."
"Something about Ron not being experienced at Quidditch."
There it was again. Harry found himself
at her, still wondering what it was she seemed to know that he
Springing to her feet, Ginny threw him a lop-sided smile, so similar
Ron's that it was eerie and said,
"I know she didn't mean it. I'd better find
or all the good seats will be taken. Bye, Harry."
She was gone before he could say anything
and Harry was briefly reminded of the little girl who had let out a
and disappeared every time she saw him during his first visit at the
There was really very little left of that girl now. And what was it
everyone leaving him in a hurry today? Rising to leave himself,
flashed a thumbs up at the Weasley twins and left the Great Hall. He
hoped Ron wouldn't let what Hermione said interfere with his playing
'Harry's the experienced one," Hermione's
echoed in Ron's head despite all his efforts to drown it out. He
that she hadn't meant it that way...he had seen the look on her
but he still couldn't get it out of his head. He hadn't had an easy
either and after one bite of his toast, he had known that anything
entering his stomach had no chance of staying there. It was just a
of Quidditch and yet it wasn't. This time it wouldn't just be his
Gryffindors who were watchign, but all of Hogwarts, including
and the Slytherins. His own desperate need to prove himself was
to be his downfall.
"Weasley's going to fall off his broom the
he sees a Hufflepuff coming. His broom's a disgrace to the sport, I
even know why they're letting him fly..." Malfoy's voice drifted
him and Ron quickly ducked out of the main corridor. The last thing
needed right now was a confrontation with Malfoy.
Draco and his goons passed and Ron cautiously
his head out into the hallway before emerging. Fall off his broom?!
to the sport?! Clenching his fists, Ron bit back a cry of
and resumed his path to the locker rooms. Why did everyone expect
to fail?! From Malfoy it was to be expected, but Hermione, too?!
just have to show them, Weasley. Gritting his teeth, Ron ignored the
asking, what if you can't, and quickened his pace. Wood was the only
besides his brother and Harry who had complete faith in his
Unable to stay away, the former Keeper and
had paid Hogwarts a visit two weeks ago to find out who had replaced
Finding another Weasley on the team had shocked him at first, though
believed it had been pleasantly, and his eyes had bulged when Katie
him about his try-out. *see Quidditch,
Questions, and Quips* Wood hadn't been able to believe in it
however, until he saw Ron fly. Ron performed well in practice and
upon landing, had found himself being enthusiastically dragged by
to Hogsmeade for a drink at the Three Broomsticks. Three hours later
had still been sitting there when a laughing Fred and George came to
him...there was no doubt in his mind even now that Wood could have
on for three hours more had he not been stopped. Ron sincerely hoped
Wood wouldn't be there today...if he played well, he'd never have a
No 'if's,' Weasley. You've wanted to play
in a real field and not against Fred or George or Charlie foir you
life. You can't blow your first chance. Charlie had written him a
of congratulations after hearing he was Keeper. Ron would would have
to have Charlie come today, even if he failed. I'm not going to
He repeated the words under his breath as he started to change into
Quidditch robes. A somber Fred and George arrived a few minutes
Harry hot on their heels. The nerves fluttering in Ron's stomach
intensified at the sight of their confidence and then diminished as
gripped his broom tightly. Strangely, the closer it came to the time
the match, the less nervous he became. He knew the moves of the
chasers as well as he knew Alicia, Katie, and Angelina's, though it
certain that they were going to be harder on him because he was
inexperienced. Would her voice never get out of his
Not inexperienced, just untried...that was
what Hermione had meant. It was one thing to be good in practice
your own teammates were the ones bearing down on you, and another
entirely when it was another team who wanted to win just as badly as
did. A presence at his side jerked Ron out of his thoughts and he
over to find Harry grinning at him.
"You're going to break that broom, Weasley,
you keep gripping it that way," Harry muttered as Ron sheepishly
his hold on the item in question.
"More likely it'll break when I use it on
head," Ron retorted.
Shaking his head, Harry studied Ron for a
clearly checking ot see if he was still upset over breakfast and Ron
him a reassuring lop-sided smile.
"I'm fine, you dolt. I know she didn't mean
Ron muttered as he and Harry joined the others for Katie's pre-game
Harry gave him yet another penetrating stare
Ron poked him in the ribs with his broom. Harry promptly kicked him
the shins and Ron was about to retaliate when a stern look from
prevented him. He didn't listen much to her speech--it was short,
unlike Wood's lengthy orations--instead thinking of the the crowd
was accumulating in the stands. He was going to show them...he was
to show them all that he was more than just another Weasley...more
Harry Potter's best friend. The team smiled grimly at one another
the conclusion of Katie's talk and went out onto the field.
Chapter Two: Ron's Favorite
Ginny had found Hermione hidden in a
of the library, staring down at the same page of her Arithmancy
it was still upside down--and still looking as if she were on the
of tears. How she managed to convince her to go, Ginny never knew
once convinced, Hermione was as eager as she to get to the stands.
they managed to find two of the last available good seats. Hermione
all accounts seemed more nervous than either Ron or Harry and ginny
a hard time not laughing at her as she continuously twisted her
up in her robes. Hermione had told Ginny exactly what and how she
said what she had to Ron and his sister had been more than
that Ron's nerves were the only reason he had taken it so badly.
graciously Ron might re-interpret her words, it still didn't excuse
saying them, and Hermione knew that she was going to keep beating
up about this for a long time. Why on earth did it matter so much,
if she hurt Ron's feelings? He was always saying whatever he liked
he liked without thinking about the consequences. But that was no
for her to do the same. Sighing, Hermione buried her face in her
and prayed that the Quidditch match would start soon so she would
something else to think about than the look on Ron's
"Am I late?"
Beside her Ginny let out a loud
Hermione had never seen anyone so prone to screaming--and flung her
around a stocky figure standing in front of them whose shock of red
could only belong to a Weasley.
"What are you doing here?" Ginny asked a
later, stepping away from her brother to sit back down.
Smiling, Charlie Weasley cheerfully sat
between Ginny and Hermione, clearly amused by his sister's antics.
said nothing but smiled a trifle shakiliy when he said hello. She
know what to make of Charlie. He was such a strange mix of all the
she knew well that she couldn't figure out what to say to
"I came to watch Ron play his first game
Quidditch. I thought it was only fitting, seeing that I am his
Ginny burst into a fit of giggles as he
this and the grin that spread across Charlie's face in response was
wide it nearly split his ears. Hermione looked from one to the other
utter confusion. Ron had a favorite brother among the five brothers
he was always so desperately seeking to outshine? It didn't make any
always seemed as if he despised them...Percy, anyway. Noticing
confusion when her giggles finally abated, Ginny playfully poked
"It's a joke that Bill and Charlie
Hermione nodded but the tilt of her brows
signified that she didn't understand and Ginny laughed again as
tickled her before offering Hermione a better
"It's Perce's fault, actually. He was a
shirt from the time he was three and by the time he was seven, we
to ignore him all together. Similar to everything else he has ever
Percy was ahead of his age, and strutted around the house claiming
since he was closer to the twins, Ron, and Ginny in age, he knew
about them and was their "favorite" brother. Two days of this was
to set us off. Bill sort of adopted the twins and promised them all
of things if they told Percy every day for a week whenever they saw
that Bill was their favorite brother. That left me with Ron, who
irritating Percy so much by saying I was his favorite brother, he
says it whenever someone asks and Perce is in earshot. We left Gin
of it though...we knew she'd blab to Percy it was all a scam. He
Shaking his head at Percy, Charlie
to himself and Hermione couldn't help but smile. The Weasley family
certainly one-of-a-kind. There was a part of her that felt sorry for
but the image of him strutting around as a seven year-old was too
even for her not to see the humor in the situation. Pretending to be
out at Charlie for saying she was a blabbermouth, Ginny winked at
"Don't you have a dragon to tame
"Actually, Gin, I'm on holiday. One of my
charges, come to think of it, it was Harry's Horntail...she got a
too friendly and this was the result," Charlie answered grimly,
up his sleeve to reveal a deep gash running from his shoulder to his
Both girls recoiled at the sight of the
the skin around it inflamed as if burned, and Charlie winced
as he replaced his sleeve, his voice deliberately cheerful as he
"Took a swipe at me and before I could
away, she set it on fire. Not a good combination. Three weeks off
bedrest became my sentence...so I thought I'd come home for some
and quiet. There is no peace, though there certainly is quiet, at
Burrow with Percy living there. I couldn't stand it anymore, so I
I'd come watch Ron. Didn't figure I'd tell him, though. He's got
on his mind without having to worry about impressing me."
"I'm glad you came. Hermione's too much
me to handle on my own," Ginny replied, moving closer to her brother
grinning wickedly at Hermione.
Glaring at her, Hermione flushed as
gave her a lengthy look, his brows drawing together in the same
that Ron's did and he smiled faintly.
"Ron tells me you're in correspondence
Viktor Krum," he said softly.
Hermione blinked, blushed, and nodded,
fighting back the irritation building within her towards ron. What
he doing telling his brother about her personal affairs?! If he was
bragging about his fantastic Krum impersination, she would throttle
even if she had said a cutting thing ot him at breakfast. Charlie
at nothing in particular and said in an even softer tone,
careful, Hermione. Durmstrang is not necessarily the best school to
Now he was catching it too. What had Ron
telling him?! Imagining exactly what she was going to say to the
Mr. Weasley after his silly Quidditch match was overwith, Hermione
to scowl and crossed her arms. Why did everyone except Harry and
think that Viktor was up to no good? They couldn't be more
was really very gentle...at least he had been with her. She couldn't
him doing anything cruel, unless he was mounted on a broomstick and
the midst of a Quidditch game. Sensing Charlie's gaze on her,
tossed her head and said without thinking, "I
think you really are his favorite brother."
"Whatever gave you that idea?" Charlie asked,
"He wouldn't have told you about Viktor otherwise."
"Perhaps," Charlie said mysteriously,
at her before slipping his non-burned arm around Ginny.
Were all the Weasley men aggravating or
it just her imagination?! Hermione bit back a scream of frustration
Charlie's ability to aggravate her as well as Ron even though she
he was well aware of her need to scream. Perhaps she was as bad as
when it came to letting out unnecessary shrieks. Before Charlie had
a jigsaw puzzle of all the Weasleys she knew but now he was all Ron.
didn't believe that his being Ron's favorite brother was a joke...at
not anymore. Charlie knew him too well to simply be carrying out an
joke on Percy. And it would mean a lot to Ron that he had skipped
on time at home to come and watch, considering how little the
family saw either of the elder brothers, especially if he played as
as Hermione knew he was capable of. With a start, she realized that
wasn't mad at Ron anymore for telling Charlie about Viktor's writing
It had probalby only been an off-hand remark--though Ron never
said anything about Viktor "off-hand"--but it meant that he was
worried about the extent of her relationship with Krum. As
as it was for him to still be thinking that Viktor couldn't be
she couldn't help but smile at his caring about it at all. Unaware
the two Weasley siblings in her company were watching her, Hermione
to smile about nothing at all. She didn't even hear them when they
"Definitely too much for you to handle on
own, Gin," Charlie said merrily, waving a hand covered with scars
past burns in front of Hermione's face while Ginny continued to
An impish gleam entered Hermione's eye
she promptly elbowed Charlie in the ribs, careful to avoid jarring
burnt arm. Crying out more in surprise than in pain, Charlie threw
a flabergasted look and Hermione laughed as she said, "That
was for being Ron's favorite brother."
Ginny laughed again, unable to keep from
that this was the most fun she had ever had before a Quidditch
Continuing to look at Hermione with his flabbergasted expression,
slowly began to smile the same lop-side smile that Ron and Ginny had
said softly, "We're going to get along
fine, you and me."
Hermione's brows arched but she did not
with him, which only made him chuckle. It was so unnerving to see
smile on Charlie's face--though Charlie's was the less crooked of
two and Ginny's the least of the three--thank heaven their voices
not the same or she would be in danger of losing her
A cheer rose up from the Hufflepuff
as their team took the field and Hermione straightened unconsciously
she looked towards the Gryffindor side. Ron would show them...he'd
everyone that he was more than just another Weasley...more than
Potter's best friend. He would.
Chapter Three: Carrol of
A groan rippled throughout the Gryffindor
at the sight of the Quidditch field. A mist was hovering over it,
area above the goal posts completely covered in a thick white
"If the Snitch just stays below the
I'll be fine," Harry muttered sarcastically; Ron echoed his
With the fog thickest just at the
he would have a difficult time seeing the Hufflepuff chasers until
were right on top of him. Just peachy. As if it wasn't enough that
was his first Quidditch match, it had to be foggy. Life certainly
stacked up the odds against him. Sixth in a long line of brothers,
friend of famous Harry Potter, poor, playing Quidditch in a fog...it
possibly be any worse, could it? His own thoughts amused him so that
started laughing almost maniacally. It took Harry two kicks in the
to shut him up and even then he still had a dopey grin on his face.
remained there all throughout Lee Jordan's introduction of the two
though his ears tunred a bright red when Lee proclaimed,
"Potter, Bell, Johnson, Spinnet, Weasley,
and Weasley. The third and youngest Weasley taking over for Oliver
as Keeper after a spectacular save in his try-out that..."
Professor McGonagall interrupted as usual and Lee promptly changed
all the jest vanishing from his voice as he said, "Before the
begins, the Hufflepuff team asks for a moment of silence in memory
their former Keeper and Captain, Cedric Diggory, whose many
included being the only Seeker to ever catch the Snitch before Harry
Whether they win or lose, the Hufflepuff team dedicates this match
A heavy silence filled the field in honor
Cedric. Ron saw Harry's gaze drift, along with countless others,
a crying Cho in the stands and smiled wryly. He regretted thinking
Diggory as the enemy while Harry was competing with him during the
Tournament last year. Despite his disgusting level of perfection,
had not deserved to die so young and at the hands of You-Know-Who.
hoped Harry wasn't still blaming himself or the game was lost.
touching Harry's shoulder with his broom, Ron smiled when his friend
to look at him and saw the relief spreading across Harry's face.
was a soft cheer from the Hufflepuffs once the moment was over and
Gryffindor team looked at one another helplessly. They were all
of throwing the match simply to give the Hufflepuffs a victory but
win unfairly would not honor Cedric.
"Captains, shake hands," Madam Hooch
a moment later.
Smiling grimly, Katie went to shake the
of the newly appointed Hufflepuff Captain, saying something kind
Cedric in passing.
"Mount your brooms.
Madam Hooch blew her whistle and the two
rose into the air. Flying towards the goal posts, Ron watched as
disappeared into the mist and began to fly back and forth across
in order to steady his nerves.
"And it's Gryffindor in possesion, Katie
of Gryffindor with the Quaffle...it seems the teams are having a bit
trouble seeing in the fog...there's a Bludger there,
Lee's commentary and the following sigh
relief assured Ron that she had either dodged or his brothers had
there in time and he hovered in front of the center hoop, listening
"Johnson now has the Quaffle, now it's Bell, dodge Katie,
takes it...and it's saved! I don't' believe it. Still tied at zero,
Cursing that the Hufflepuff Keeper was
hindered by the fog, Ron braced himself for the oncoming attack. Two
later he saw Fred and George emerging from the fog, hot on the trail
a Bludger which Fred promptly sent spinning towards a Chaser,
the Quaffle into the hands of a waiting Alicia. Waving good-bye as
headed back down the field, the twins soon disappeared into the fog
Ron continued to fly back and forth across the goal posts. Once
flew past him, shaking his head and looking grim. Time after time,
Gryffindors tried to score, the combination of the fog and
Keeper preventing them from having any success. Every time the
got near enough to score, Fred or George descended and Ron had not
a chance yet to make any saves. Boredom would cause him nothing but
however, and he kept himself moving while Lee continued to comment
the Gryffindor onslaught of the Hufflepuff goal.
"And there's Spinnet making her fifth
and...it narrowly misses. I can't take much more of this. Carrol,
new Captain of Hufflepuff, in possession, zooming towards the
Gryffindor Keeper..." Lee moaned.
Ron started, looking desperately into the
for any sign of Carrol and instead saw Harry and the Hufflepuff
locked in a neck-and-neck dive for the Snitch. For a moment he
that he was a player instead of a spectator and was still watching
when Carrol burst out of the fog, his way to the goal posts
clear. He didn't have time to think. Pushing backwards, Ron flew
towards the goal, analyzing Carrol and realizing which hoop he
to aim for. He veered off, pretending to have the right instead of
middle hoop in mind, and spinning aroudn, zoomed forward in time to
the Quaffle. A cheer rose up among the scarlet supporters and Ron
wondered what had become of Harry when Lee's voice boomed
"Both Bludgers were sent at each of the
causing them to veer off course... meanwhile, Weasley makes the
save of his career during Hufflepuff's first real offensive
Ron grinned even though no one could see
fog was getting better the longer the game went on. Maybe if they
until nightfall they would finally be able to see. He laughed again
his own thoughts and hovered in front of the center hoop as the fog
a little further and he could actually see fuzzy flying figures at
other end of the field. The Quaffle was being thrown rapidly between
and Alicia, Lee was nearly shouting in his excitement...Alicia
The scarlet side of the stadium wasin a frenzy. Now if Harry could
find the Snitch again...
"Carrol of Hufflepuff in possession,
back for his second attempt against Weasley..." Lee's voice
Turning, Ron blinked and saw a Bludger
straight for him. Diving to avoid it, Ron veered to the right and
as Carrol appeared above him...with a straight shot at the goal.
was no possible way that he could get back in time to block it.
knew it, too, for he grinned rather saucily at Ron before throwing
"Hufflepuff scores after a cunning hit by
sending the Gryffindor Keeper away from his post. Nice dodge though,
And it's Bell in possession for Gryffindor..."
Carrol finished circling the Gryffindor
posts and grinned cheekiliy at Ron before flying down-field. Ron
himself with saying only one of the phrases rushing to his mind, his
mood returning when he imagined the scandalized look on Hermione's
if she had heard it. Katie missed again and somehow that snake
should have been in Slytherin--got the Quaffle again. Gripping his
Ron watched for another Bludger, expecting a similar attack, when a
of gold caught his eye instead. There, just above the left goal post
the Snitch...where was Harry?! Cursing again, Ron looked back at
still in possession of the Quaffle, zig-zagging past all the other
and deftly missing the Bludger George hit at him. Desperately Ron
that he were Seeker, just for an instant, and his wish only
when the Hufflepuff Seeker appeared...and saw the Snitch.
Harry was no where to be seen. Ron
grab the Snitch himself but he could knock the Hufflepuff Seeker off
course...and allow Carrol to score again. No one else had seen the
but himself and the Hufflepuff Seeker...where was Harry?! Ron turned
headed for the Seeker, hearing the cries of shock from the crowd as
left Carrol an open shot, but not caring. Intent on his goal, the
didn't even see Ron coming and the two of them collided, Ron veering
to the left where the Snitch had been and finding it gone. Heaving a
of relief, Ron simply smiled back at the astonished looks his
"Carrol scores again, tieing the game at
Penalty shot for Hufflepuff due to the insanity of the Keeper
with the Seeker."
Lee's amazement was only echoed by the
he saw around him but Ron just smiled. Harry appeared from above,
of fog clinging to his robes and he flashed Ron a look of
A bit shaken from his collison, Ron
himself for the penalty shot--that blaggard Carrol was taking it,
he ever let someone else handle the Quaffle? Carrol feinted left and
center, Ron easily blocked it. Lee let out a wild cheer, echoed
by the Gryffindor supporters who seemed to still not understand why
had let Carrol have a free shot. Hufflepuff was only ahead by ten,
was nothing to worry about. Angelina promptly scored, tieing the
and Hufflepuff was back on the offensive. Through the rising fog,
was finally able to understand the Hufflepuff strategy: the other
Chasers were positioned directly behind Carrol, swerving in front of
whenever a Bludger was sent in his direction that the Beaters had
Criminy. Gritting his teeth, Ron glanced at Fred and George, both
engaged in a Bludger war with the Hufflepuff Beaters, and realized
he was on his own. Carrol was grinning again, heading straight
him. Narrowing his eyes, Ron watched for any sign of a feint,
in front of the center hoop. If there was anything he had learned
Carrol today, he favored the center. Swerving from left to right,
pretended to throw a few feet from Ron, fully expecting him to go
it. Ron didn't. Carrol crashed straight into him. Somehow, he never
not even when he played it over and over in his head, in the midst
the collision Ron reached out and knocked the Quaffle out of
hand. He saw it fall and a smile of satisfaction stretched across
face before he wobbled and flipped over on his broom. Dimly he heard
Hooch's whistle and Carrol protesting truthfully,
"I thought he would move!"
Everything looks funny upside-down.
legs are on top of his head...so are George's...so are everyone's.
began to laugh as he continued to hang upside-down on his broom, his
calling a time-out and clustering around him. The twins exchanged a
glance and Fred moved forward towards Ron,
"I'm fine," Ron answered in a
"Why are you still upside-down, then?"
"Am I upside-down? I didn't notice," Ron
flipping himself right side up.
All the blood that had been previously
to his head left it and he wobbled, nearly tipping over again until
shot out a hand to support him.
"He can't keep playing," George said
"Yes...I...can..." Ron muttered, shaking his
to try and clear it.
"No," the twins said together.
Shaking his head a second time, Ron
and pushed them away, stubbornly keeping himself upright as he said,
not letting that Carrol fellow have all the free shots he wants.
my penalty shot and keep playing."
Ron glared fiercely at anyone who tried
protest and the Gryffindor team had no choice but to leave. A loud
rose up across the entire stadium as Ron did a loop around the goal
to show that he was all right and he positioned himself in front of
gripping his broom so tightly his knuckles were as white as the
fog. He still felt dizzy...two hits in a row and both because of his
stupidity...but it had served Carrol right, the Quaffle-hog. Katie
his penalty and scored...the Hufflepuffs seemed a little shaken up.
had never had a reputation for playing rough before, even when Fred
George got a little too Bludger-happy, and now...he was changing all
Going after the Seeker had just been stupid and Carrol...he only
Harry found the Snitch soon...he wouldn't survive another
The Hufflepuffs were in possession once
though the Quaffle-hog had finally elected not to assault him. Ron
a bit unsteadily and squinted ahead at the other two Chasers who
now approaching him. Tossing the Quaffle back and forth while Carrol
decoy, they were obviously trying the same thing, Katie, Angelina
Alicia had during his try-out *see Quidditch,
Questions, and Quips*. Very well, he'd just have to do it again.
were they? Ron drifted towards the far end, the same end that they
heading to, and stopped. No, it was too easy...everyone had heard
his move, they wouldn't deliberately try to get him to do it again
that was the point. Chuckling softly at the ingenuity of the
team-- he'd have to say nicer things about them in the future--Ron
to set up his move, by all appearances bracing himself for a mad
around the goal posts. Pushing off, he watched out of the corner of
eye as the farthest Chaser suddenly passed to the one on the other
who threw it to Carrol.
"Quaffle-hog," Ron muttered, bending low
his broom before turning and flying in-between the two hoops.
Carrol prematurely threw the Quafle and dodged out of reach, lest
collide with him again. The Quaffle flew straight into Ron's
hand and he was about to give it back when Harry, speeding towards
ground in one of his infamous dives, caught the Golden Snitch. It
Ron released the Quaffle and descended.
soon as his feet touched the ground, he flopped off his broom and
lay there with his eyes closed. All around him he could hear the
of the Gryffindors in the stadiaum along with his teammates shouting
Harry. He had survived...he didn't even know how.
"Sorry about that, Weasley." Wearily
opened one eye, seeing a figure hovering over him that looked
like the Quaffle-hog.
"I won't hold it against you," Ron muttered.
you should," Carrol replied, a faint smile on his face before he
Raising his head slightly to watch Carrol
away, Ron wondered what he possibly could have done to tick the guy
so much and fell back on the grass. If he never rode a broom again,
would die a happy man. Through with congratulating Harry, the rest
the team slowly formed a circle around him, the expressions on their
a mixture of amusement and amazement.
"Ron Weasley," Katie said firmly. Ron
sat up to receive his sentence. "Either you're insane or...you're
insane...but good. Are you all right?"
Grinning somewhat foolishly, Ron nodded
Katie simply shook her head. Stepping forward, Harry, too, was
and offered a hand to help Ron up. Taking it, Ron was heftily pulled
his rather wobbly feet.
"I got lost in the fog...I owe you one,"
"No kidding," Ron retorted, gesturing to an
lump on his head that might not be so imaginary in the morning and
a shove from Harry in the process.
Ron grinned again, too tired to even
about retaliation. Wearing similar grins, Fred and George clapped
heartily on the back and gestured behind them. Dazed, Ron looked
the twins and found a pale Ginny, accompanied by an even paler
and a beaming Charlie.
"My favorite brother," Ron said wearily,
a step towards Charlie and falling into the supportive arm he put
"Where is Percy when you need him?" Charlie
firmly supporting Ron even though he was taller by almost a head.
"Answering to the name of Weatherby," George
Ron laughed and swayed slightly on his
"You may have to carry me back to the common room," he murmured
Charlie as he tried to smile reassuringly at Hermione and Ginny.
"Float," Charlie corrected, pulling out his
and pointing it at his little brother.
Ron barely had time to wave before he was
upon his back by invisible little hands and sent zooming back to
Clasping his hands behind his head, Ron closed his eyes, not even
at the astonished expressions of everyone he pased. Next time he'd
the moronic Hufflepuff Seeker get the Snitch, who cared about
and earning points for Gryffindor? He did...but that was
The moment he was set down in one of the armchairs by the fire, he
Four: Too Many Weasleys
"Do it again." Ron swatted absently
whatever it was that kept poking him in the ribs. A burst of
followed his action and he flopped over in his chair. What was it
sleeping people that made those who were awake want to torture them?
was poked again and this time he was quick enough to catch whoever
was, and at the smack of his hand against flesh, laughter broke out
"...you have died after playing your first
only Quidditch match."
"Awake and haunt the Quidditch field."
The twins continued to chant "awake" at
and Ron could tell by the gusts of wind being sent in his direction
they were raising their arms above their heads as they chanted. He
as well play along. Slowly opening his eyes, Ron blinked and looked
as if he did not recognize any of the faces surrounded him. As he
suspected, Fred and George were prostrate on the floor, their faces
of wonder at his "awakening." Charlie stood beside them, his hand
his eyes. Ginny was seated in the chair across from Ron, her
a mixture of relief and amusement as she looked from the kneeling
to the newly-awakened Ron. Harry, standing directly behind the
looked as if he wanted to give both of them a hearty blow upon the
but he grinned when Ron's gaze swept past him. Hermione, her face
incredibly pale, was standing behind Ginny's chair, her hands
the top. Winking at her, Ron struggled to keep a straight face as he
rose to his feet, ignoring the stiffness of his limbs. Fred and
"ahh-ed" in unision and Ron pointed a finger at the two of them and
"Why have you awakened me?"
"He speaks," the twins answered in reverent
sharing a look of amazement before starting to bow down to Ron
Ron's shoulders shook slightly but he
managed not to laugh as he continued, "Do my bidding or I will
you instead of the Hufflepuff team who caused my death."
"What is thy bidding, master?" The twins
in unision, grinning from ear to ear as they bowed a second time.
"Fetch me food from the kitchens, real food.
seem to have slept through dinner and I cannot haunt the Hufflepuffs
a an empty stomach."
As one the twins rose and retreated
the portrait hall, bowing repeatedly at Ron all the way. Watching
they disappeared, Ron lasted a second longer before he collapsed in
chair with laughter.
Removing his hand from his eyes, Charlie
no longer than his little brother and was soon laughing as heartily
he. Harry and Ginny followed in rapid succession until Hermione was
only one not overcome by amusement. Recovering before the rest of
Ron wiped at his eyes and caught Hermione's gaze. Staring at him,
did not smile or even blink, her complexion as pale as it had been
he last saw her on the Quidditch field. He had worried her...and she
still worried. Mouthing the words, "I'm fine," Ron simply smiled at
experimentally moving all of his limbs despite their stiffness.
flooded her face and her grip on the chair lessened as she smiled
at him. Someone should have told her he wasn't worth worrying
might have sprouted a white hair.
"So, you decided not to die on us...what
pity," Charlie said slyly, a gleam in his eye that sent an alarm
pealing in Ron's head.
"Why don't you go get yourself burned?" Ron
determinedly not looking at Hermione as Charlie began to grin.
have," his brother replied, stepping forward and beginning to unroll
sleeve. "Charlie, don't show it again!" Ginny cried, clamping
hands over her eyes. "But, Ginny..."
"No! It's bad enough Ron got smashed into two
without you waving your arm around like it's some sort of trophy!"
retorted, glaring fiercely at her brothers.
Ron and Charlie shared a look before Ron
got to his feet and the two of them moved a few feet away from the
their backs to them as Charlie began to unroll his
"Cut and burned?" Ron murmured, studying
cut along his brother's arm with an accustomed eye. Charlie nodded.
fainted when she saw it. Wants me to get out."
The two brother looked at each other
their conversation conducted in whispers, and Charlie started to
up his sleeve again but Ron stopped him, seizing a hold of his arm
"Let me have a closer look. Oooh, I think
can see your bone."
"Ron!" Ginny shrieked yet again. Ron simply
his study of Charlie's arm.
"She's going to kill you," Charlie muttered
"Oooh! I think it might be
blood's...turned green!" Ron continued, staring down at his
arm in horror.
"Now you've done it," Charlie muttered as
catapulted to her feet and rushed over to them, yanking Charlie's
Staring down at it, she realized almost
that it looked the same, if not better, than it had this morning and
dropped Charlie's arm to glare at a furiously grinning
"Prepare to die," was all she said,
for Ron, who took off at a run, his stiff limbs
Taking the chair Ginny had vacated,
shook his head as his siblings continued to race around the common
"Please tell my favorite little brother
I need to talk to him when he's done being an idiot."
Electing himself the bearer of this news
Ron was either caught or permanently safe from Ginny, Harry saluted
smartly and went off to find a safe place to try and flag down Ron.
down at his arm, Charlie noticed that a portion of it was bleeding
and quickly re-rolled his sleeve. It would not soak through--the
that had been placed on it immediately after he was cut would not
it to bleed for more than five seconds. He would have bled to death
Not even Ron suspected that. Looking up, Charlie caught Hermione's
stare--she had been hovering uncertainly behind his chair for the
minute--and smiled just as his little brother had.
"I'm fine, too, Hermione. You needn't
about us Weasleys. There's too many of us...you'd go mad if you
"But it was bleeding again."
"Dragon wounds often bleed. Any cut this
would open up again after being yanked around as much as it has been
"But..." Hermione began.
Raising his brows warningly, Charlie
looked at her and Hermione heaved a sigh and looked away. Repressing
urge to chuckle, Charlie fidgeted with his sleeve and watched her as
started to scowl. She certain was a stubborn little thing...it was
that there weren't more girls like her...or even wizards. If ever
were an argument for the teaching of Muggle-born wizards, this girl
it...even when she was sulking because he had refused to listen to
He was not Ron...he preferred not to argue over something that
of them would change their minds about.
Picking up her textbook, Hermione hovered
in front of Charlie a second time, her eyes on his wounded arm as
opened her mouth to speak. Flashing her a smile, Charlie nearly
as her face contorted with frustration and she stormed off to the
side of the common room, muttered something like, "just like him,"
she went. Hair the only thing that was the worse for wear after his
with Ginny, Ron passed Hermione on his way to talk to Charlie, his
to talk to her only earning him a frosty look. Bewildered, Ron
down in the chair across from his brother and asked,
"What set her off?"
"I believe it was an overdose of Weasley
Charlie replied with a wry grin, wincing slightly as another pain
through his arm.
Glancing to where Hermione now sat with
and Ginny, Ron shrugged and turned in time to catch the grimace on
brother's face. Meeting his gaze, Charlie forced a smile and
"Bled again." Ron's eyes widened and
looked at the arm in question as he murmured, "No joke?
"I'm fine. I wouldn't have come if I
Charlie retorted, taking a deep breath as the last of the pain ebbed
Ron looked at him skeptically. "Hermione saw?"
Charlie scowled. "Yes. I managed to get
to drop the subject but I don't think she believes me. She worries
much, your 'Mione."
"She is not my 'Mione," Ron muttered, his
turning bright red. Charlie simply looked at him and
Scowling down at the floor, Ron briefly
his brother's gaze, all jesting about Hermione aside and asked,
are you doing here really?"
"I came to watch you play Quidditch."
"No, you didn't," Ron replied, folding his
and attempting to stare Charlie down.
Charlie's brows raised and he leaned back
comfortably in his chair as he asked, "Why else would I come?"
"To check up on me?" Ron suggested, unable to
from laughing at Charlie's skeptical expression.
"Okay, I'll give. Why?" Ron asked after
moment's thought, throwing up his hands in surrender. Smiling,
checked to see that no one was within earshot and leaned towards Ron
he said softly, "Durmstrang." Ron's brows raised.
Reading the same sentence for the third
Hermione slammed her book shut in surrender. Looking up from his
of chess with Ginny, Harry threw her a smile and went back to being
beaten. There seemed to be some unwritten law that he couldn't beat
Weasley at chess. Unable to resist the temptation, Hermione looked
at Ron and Charlie, their red heads still bent towards each other.
were they talking about? It seemed so odd to see Ron in conversation
someone other than Harry or herself...what were they saying?! She
at them again and flushed when she found both of them were looking
her. Staring down at her lap, Hermione waited a few minutes before
up at the two brothers again. Leaning back in their chairs, they
smiling lazily--and in the same way...it was creepy. It didn't
matter what they were talking about...she hadn't seen Ron looking
strained in weeks, even when he was in the company of Harry and
Charlie was good for him... somebody had to be. It certainly wasn't
why that was so disappointing, Hermione didn't dare examine. Most
it was the same reason why she she hadn't been able to breathe while
was hanging upside down on his broom, and to face that reason
a courage that she didn't have the strength to muster.
Luckly, the twins had reappeared, their
laden with food, and Ron was busy shouting at everyone to come and
his food with him. She had never thought before today that she would
the company of the Weasleys to her own thoughts, but she did.
was better than remembering Ron hanging from that broom...or
what exactly he and Charlie had been discussing so
"Hermione!" Ron was waving frantically at
the piece of cake in his hand falling into Ginny's lap. Shrieking,
sister promply launched another attack on him and Hermione slowly
over to the mini-feast before the fire. Ginny was certainly marked
suffer under Ron today...at this rate, it would be a miracle if he
Five: Know Thine Enemy
"...soooo, why does Carrol of Hufflepuff
it in for me?"Ron asked, cheerfully making himself a third sandwich.
on her pumpkin juice, Hermione coughed for three minutes in
earning a look of concern from Ron while their companions exchanged
looks. Ginny turned to Charlie and started whispering furiously in
ear, glancing at Ron all the while. Making a face at her--she was
to take her own sweet time in forgiving him for this afternoon--Ron
a bite of his sandwich and looked to Harry and the twins. Harry only
his head and the twins said not a word.
"Should I already know? Or...you think I
into him on purpose, too? I didn't. I bashed what-is-name, the
but not Mr. You-Should-Hold-it-Against-Me Carrol of Hufflepuff,
known as the Quaffle-hog," Ron replied, waving his sandwich in the
"Quaffle-hog, Ron?" George asked, snickering
"I can count on one hand how many times
let someone else handle it. I didn't crash into him on purpose--he
just as much time as I did to move."
"That isn't it," Harry put
The twins shook their heads in unison.
his sandwich, Ron simply looked at all of them, waiting for someone
enlighten him. "It has to do with your try-out," Fred said
Ron still waited.
"Oh, for heaven's sake. Do you remember
4th year girl who went after you?" Hermione burst out, having
from her coughing fit.
"The sobber? Why?"
"That's Carrol's cousin."
Hermione shook her head and Ron gulped.
more like kissing cousins," Fred put in; Harry and George smacked
at the same time. Ron's eyes widened and he put his hand over his
as he leaned back in his chair.
"I'm going to be sick."
"They spent the entire summer practicing
gather she's supposed to be good when she's not overwhelmed by other
"And after what happened...she couldn't
but be upset. Carrol got upset, too," Ginny concluded, forgetting
she was not talking to Ron.
"He hit me on purpose. He knew I wouldn't
hit me on purpose. That lousy, stinking Quaffle-hog!" Ron said
raising his head and looking fiercely at all of them before leaping
"Easy, little brother," Charlie said,
moving forward and blocking Ron's path. "You rammed into the Seeker
"That's Quidditch! I didn't do it because of
personal vendetta," Ron retorted, looking rather ridiculous being
by someone who only came up to his shoulders. "No, but your'e
going to solve anything by storming around looking to fight him.
now, he looks the bigger fool of the two of you. Do you want to
that?" Charlie asked softly, removing his hands from Ron's
Heaving a sigh, Ron looked anywhere but
his brother, at the ceiling, the floor, his feet, and finally
Patting him on the shoulder, Charlie smiled as Ron fell back into
"Great. This is just great," Ron
running his hands through his hair.
"At least you know," Ginny said helpfully,
extent of Ron's distress wiping away any remembrance of her being
with him. From Ron there was no reply. Looking helplessly at one
his companions shrugged in unison--there was nothing they could
do. "Kissing cousins, two collisions, burned brothers..." Ron
still raking his hands through his hair and making absolutely no
A wry expression on his face, Charlie bent
taking the last cookie from Ron's stash of food and tucking it into
robes as he said, "I'm afraid it's time for me to leave."
four siblings looked at him simultaneously, Ginny being the first to
him, and Charlie obligingly put an arm around her.
"You were going to help us with our
buttons," George accused, marching up to Charlie and standing in
of him with his arms crossed; Fred did the same. Grinning, Charlie
at the twins for several moments, and then his gaze drifted
towards the pile of buttons stacked on a table at the other end of
Common Room. There was a struggle enacted across his feature and he
his head, the twins turning away in disappointment.
"Now I remember why Bill's our favorite
Fred said loudly. Charlie only laughed.
"You're going to be okay?" Ginny asked,
him a hug and sighing in relief when he murmured, "yes." Blinking
tears, the youngest member of the Weasley family smiled briefly at
before dashing off to join Fred and George. Wistfully Charlie looked
her, one hand resting across his wounded arm. Harry went next,
Charlie's hand and responding good-naturedly to Charlie's comment on
flying before scurrying off to join the mournful looking twins now
work on their buttons. When finished, the golden buttons would read:
Hurtful Hufflepuffs or Horrible Hurtful Carrol, depending on the
success. What the Hufflepuffs would do in retaliation, Harry didn't
want to imagine.
Left with only Ron and Hermione to depart
Charlie smiled lop-sidedly and stepped towards his littlest
"Remember what I said, Ron."
"Remember what I said, Char."
Each desperately trying to stare down the
the two brothers gave up after two minutes and Charlie shook his
pointing furiously at Ron as he said, "You would think being
favorite brother would count for something!"
"You certainly would," Ron replied, unable to
from grinning. Charlie shook his head again and offered his hand.
it enthusiastically, Ron cried out when Charlie wrung his hand;
looking on with a decidedly unapproving expression. Chuckling as Ron
shook his hand to regain some feeling in it, Charlie turned to
"Still worrying, Hermione?"
"Yes," she answered, tilting up her chin
The elder Weasley burst out laughing.
or I'll have to shake some sense into you. Or...maybe Ron can do it
"I'd like to see him try," Hermione retorted.
mouth dropped open and Charlie only laughed all the harder.
"Alas, my cue to exit. The perils of Percy
Pity me, please."
"You deserve him," Ron grumbled, shoving
Feigning pain, Charlie threw the pair of them a grin before jogging
of the common room. Ron returned to his seat, fidgeting slightly.
knew too much about Hermione--more than Ron knew himself and it was
to say the least to have to endure his comments. He was glad Charlie
come, however, even if his brother had laid a responsibility on him
he absolutely did not want. Perhaps a part of him did, for it gave
an excuse...an excuse that he couldn't tell anyone, especially
Glancing up, he smiled grimly to see that Hermione was still
in front of him, her amrs crossed and her expression
"You never told me you had a favorite
she said slowly. Ron's brows raised and he shrugged as he
"You never asked. I don't know if you have a favorite sibling."
"I don't have any siblings."
"I didn't know that either," Ron
Hermione fell silent. It was true...he
next to nothing about her life in the Muggle world. She hadn't
that she would want to know, especially after hearing so many of
stories about the Dursleys. She wasn't worried about his thinking
Muggles were bad--she knew better--but it had never seemed
to bring up her life at home. Watching her carefully, Ron kicked
the remnants of his feast and stretched out his legs as he
"Are they really kissing cousins?"
nearly fell over. Catching herself, she looked at him incredulously
stammered, "I..don't...really know."
"Don't tell me Fred and George made it
"No, they didn't. They're just...close,
all. Would you get that upset over your cousins?"
"Heavens, no. My cousins are all
"What?" Hermione asked, her shoulders shaking
Sinking lower in his chair, Ron muttered
that she couldn't decipher and Hermione let the subject drop.
playing with a strand of her hair, she looked at Ron and started to
but thought better of it. Embarrassment gone, Ron looked at her
and said cheerfully,
"Not bad for my first game,
"That's an interesting way of putting
Ron grinned. "Aww, Hermione, is that all
have to say?"
"You expect me to congratulate you on a
well done after you deliberately caused one collision and almost
survive the second?!"
Hermione stared at him. "Congratulations
almost killing yourself."
"Thank you," Ron replied, bowing at her and
to laugh at the indignant look on his face.
"What is so funny?"Hermione demanded, her
on her hips. Recovering, Ron tried desperately to keep a
face as he replied, "It's just...I didn't know you
"I..." Hermione began, taking one look
him and the insufferably cocky grin on his face before she screamed
Shoving him roughly, she aimed a kick at
shins but missed and turned away. Hand shooting out, Ron sobered in
instant as he seized a hold of her arm and pulled her
"I'm sorry if I made you worry about me,"
said softly, the mischief absent from his eyes. Despite her
not to, Hermione found herself smiling at him and she was about to
him when he released her and continued, "Charlie's right, you know.
shouldn't worry about us."
"Someone has to."
"But not you."
"I can't help it." His brows raised and
flushed slightly, her fingers twisting in her robes as she murmured,
what I said this morning..."
"I know you didn't mean it," Ron said
the ever-faithful lop-sided smile stretching across his face. If
had been present, Charlie would have commended him for his ability
win her over.
Relief flooded across Hermione's face and
smiled shakily, saying, "But if you knew..."
"Nerves. And my usual feeling of inadequacy
seems to have been born in me. I don't think I'm ever going to get
it," Ron answered, scowling down at the floor.
"You will," Hermione said. Ron arched an
at her but said nothing in reply as he clambered to his feet and
"So, what did you really think? Idiotic
ramming the Seeker?" He teased, scratching his head and yawning.
Smiling, Hermione shook her head and replied,
Weasley, being too good of a Keeper."
Ron simply stared at her, completely
Laughing, Hermione ran up to the girls' dormitory, throwing him a
over her shoulder as she went. ZONK!
Whirling, Ron gingerly rubbed at the back
his head, the Hufflepuff button the twins had thrown at him lying at
feet. Stooping to pick it up, he grinned briefly at the flashing
Hurtful Hufflepuffs and launched the button back at the twins.
Hermione had said was forgotten as he and Harry teame dup in a
throwing war against the twins. Some things would never change, but
things did. He remembered Hermione's pale and worried face and
suffered another direct hit from the twins. If something did change,
he really mind? Scoring a hit on Fred's now, Ron laughed and quickly
George's retaliation. Thinking and throwing buttons did not