DISCLAIMER: JKRowling owns Harry Potter. All I can do is admire from afar.
"You know, it's pretty funny, when you think about it,"
"What?" Ron asked. He and Harry were taking a study break to walk around by the lake. The sun sparkled off the water, and the squid's tentacles gleamed, the colorful streaks gliding by below the calm surface.
Harry grinned. "That you and Hermione ended up together."
"What, just because at first I thought she was a know-it-all, and she thought I was an ignorant git?" Ron chuckled in response.
"Oh, so things haven't changed, then."
Ron gave his best friend a good-natured punch in the arm. "Thanks a lot."
"Ow!" Harry rubbed the sore spot. It was the same place Ulrika Farnswoggle's broom had hit when she'd collided with Harry during Quidditch practice the previous night. But he grinned back at Ron anyway as they sat on some rocks nearby. "Seriously, though. You two are good for each other. I never would have thought it at first. But I'm happy for you."
Ron raised an eyebrow. "Thanks. But what's with the sudden interest in mushy stuff?"
"I don't know. I guess since next year's our final year, I was just thinking about the future." Harry sighed. "And that depressed me. So I started thinking about someone with a happy future -- you and Hermione."
"Whoa, whoa!" Ron gestured wildly. "You haven't gone and gotten us married with three kids and a pet Kneazle already, have you? I mean, we're having fun, but nothing is certain, you know."
"I dunno," Harry teased. "You looked pretty certain when I caught you guys kissing behind the statue of Giuseppe the Generous Giant yesterday."
Ron blushed enough so that his face and his hair blended into a solid red shade. "Yeah, well, it's a nice big statue to hide behind. "
Ron scoured his brain frantically, looking for a way to get Harry off his case about Hermione. "You know, speaking of things that *are* certain " Ron trailed off enticingly.
"Well, let's just say that I'm pretty damn sure how *you* feel about a certain someone."
"You're repeating yourself, Harry," Ron said sweetly. "Must be all those plant names we've been memorizing for Professor Sprout. You really must work on maintaining the rest of your vocabulary."
"Well, sorry for not being more articulate," Harry retorted. "It's just that I haven't the faintest notion who you're talking about."
"Why, Malfoy, of course."
"Oh, very funny. Ha ha."
Ron turned his gaze to look at Harry. His jesting expression had faded. "I'm serious."
"You can't mean that." Harry gaped. "I *hate* Malfoy."
Ron shrugged. "Maybe yes and maybe no. But I've been watching the two of you for six years now, Harry. Even if you hate each other, there's a lot more going on underneath. And if only you two would stop being so pig-headed about it for one second, I think it's likely I'd be catching *you* snogging behind that statue of Giuseppe one of these days."
"You've gone starkers. Since when have you been such a fan of Malfoy?"
"I'm not. I think he's a royal pain in the arse," Ron replied.
"Well, so do I."
"Ok, fine. But you also follow him with your eyes everywhere he goes, and not just with an 'I-want-to-turn-you-into-a-turnip-as-soon-as-McGonagall-teaches-us-how' sort of way. You look like you want to be with him. Although"--Ron rolled his eyes--"God only knows why. Fleur put me off blonds entirely."
Harry jumped to his feet. "I'd rather do my Potions essay than listen to this!" He turned to leave.
"Potions, eh?" Ron's voice remained calm, with a hint of amusement. "Interesting that you chose to name the one class we share with the ever-charming Malfoy."
Harry turned around. "I didn't." His voice was low, almost menacing. "I chose it because I hate Snape, I hate Potions, I hate Malfoy, and I'm beginning to hate you for suggesting such a ridiculous notion."
"Look, Harry." Ron rose and went to stand before his seething friend. "Why are you getting so worked up over this if you really don't care about him? If I suggested you were in love with Pansy Parkinson, Goyle, Moaning Myrtle, or even Snape, you would probably have just laughed it off and not thought twice."
Harry just stared Ron, his green eyes dark with reflected turmoil. Then, without warning, the anger went out of him and he sat down on the grass with a thump. Ron joined him more gracefully, folding his long limbs to sit cross-legged beside his friend.
"Just shut up for a minute." Harry had drawn his knees up to his chest, and he was staring back out over the lake, apparently lost in thought. Ron waited patiently.
"Ever since I met Malfoy," Harry finally admitted, "I felt there was something about him. He was an arrogant bastard, sure. But there was also a raw " Harry trailed off. "I don't know how to explain it."
"He turned you into a seething tower of lust."
Harry glared at Ron again. "Not when I was eleven, he didn't. But you're right. I *was* attracted to him, despite everything. Attracted in ways so subtle I didn't even notice that's how I saw him."
"I guess I'd gotten so used to the subtlety, that when I started feeling more, I didn't know what to do. So I just "
"Denied the fact that you wanted to have your way with him on the Potions floor?"
"Look," Harry said, "you're not helping."
"Sorry." Ron tried to look repentant. "You know, if it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty certain he feels the same way about you."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh, sure, that makes me feel a lot better."
"I'm serious! He's watching you just as much as you're watching him."
"I never noticed."
Ron shrugged. "You didn't notice how much you were watching *him*, either. Trust me. He's watching you with the same interest -- if not more."
"Even if that were true," Harry replied, resting his chin on his knees, "and I'm not saying I believe you -- but even if it were true, what am I supposed to do about it?"
"Well, you can have your way with him on the Potions floor with a clear conscience now."
"Gee, thanks." Harry rolled his eyes in response. "And how is it that you're so understanding about this whole thing, anyway? If there's anyone who'd rather see Malfoy strung up by his toenails rather than happily paired off, it would be you. He's said some pretty awful things."
Ron shrugged. "Hermione," he said simply. "Not that she's a big fan of your heart's desire either, mind, but we both agreed that you two had something going on. And she pointed out that we should be happy to see you happy. So tell the little twit how you feel and be happy, Harry." Ron grinned mischievously. "At the very least I'll get a good laugh out of seeing you two all acting gooey, instead of trying to kill each other."
Harry sighed as he got to his feet. "You do have a way with words, don't you, Ron?"
"I try." Ron stood up as well, and the two of them started walking back toward the castle. "So," he asked, as they approached the great double doors at the entrance, "what *are* you going to do?"
"For now my Potions essay," Harry replied. "It's due tomorrow, you know."
Draco Malfoy slumped into his seat at the Slytherin table and sleepily poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice. Ugh. Why did Charms class have to meet so early on Monday mornings? What a way to start the week. He helped himself to some cereal -- the wizard version of Lucky Charms -- and automatically picked out the miniature metal horseshoes.
"Hey, Malfoy!" Someone elbowed him.
"Hmmm?" Draco looked up groggily.
Blaise Zabini was pointing at the swarm of owls who were making their regular morning deliveries. "Isn't that your eagle owl? Maybe your mum sent you more Cockroach Clusters." Blaise looked dourly at his own oatmeal. "It'd sure beat this glop."
Despite still being half asleep, Draco straightened up and eagerly held out his hand for the anticipated package as his owl landed. But it wasn't a package. It was a letter. Disappointed and annoyed that he was stuck eating cereal after all, Draco still managed to be curious. He didn't get many letters. He grabbed a table knife and slit the envelope.
Meet me behind the statue of Giuseppe the Generous Giant at 8pm tonight.
Return to Archive | sequel