Disclaimer: Surely no one is silly enough to believe that I own these characters, or this world? JK Rowling does and I'm only playing with them. I promise they'll be happy when I put them back.

Author's notes: This series is supposed to cover the last two years of school for Harry and Ron. It discusses child abuse, underage consensual sex between two people who love each other, and will eventually cover MPREG as well. If any of these topics offend you please turn back now. In addition, I have tried to follow cannon as best as I can, but you know how it goes…I'll have messed something up somewhere along the way. I know their birthdays are wrong, but lets just allow for artistic licence and no one will get hexed.

Further warnings: by now this could probably be called an AU if that would make anyone feel better. And forgive me for the Quidditch match - I'm the shape of a Quaffle and sport just ain't my thing! Also, by now you'll have realised that my Harry ain't a happy carefree lad - though he has his moments. If this is a problem for you, back out gracefully now. There's an exit to the left.

Sympathetic Magic

Part 8 - Seventh Year - Term Two

By Shedoc


"Have you seen my copy of 'Truth in the Tarot'?" Ron asked, squatting in front of their bookcase. Harry's hand came to rest on his shoulder, the other pointing to the book Ron was looking for. Their room had been a welcome haven from the rest of the school these last weeks, as they celebrated their union away from prying eyes. Ron had been interested to hear about the Muggle custom of a honeymoon, and was hoping to take Harry for one in the summer holidays.

"It's right in front of you, dear," Harry murmured and Ron choked, almost losing his balance and pulling out the book for their Divination class this morning.

"Ta, ducks," he replied as he straightened and tucked the book in the bag. Harry's eyes were sparkling with amusement as he opened the window and propped their brooms on the sill. He shivered at the cool air that blasted in, and pulled his robes closer around him.

They had charmed their rings - using the same I-am-not-here charm that they had on the tent - allowing them to wear their bands to school. The first day back no one had noticed at all, except Neville, Hermione and Ginny, who already knew they were there. School life had gone on for them without any noticeable difference; except for the new pet names they had taken to using in private or with their wedding guests. Neville found it particularly funny and had a hard time keeping a straight face when they started up their 'old married couple' routine.

"Come on luv, we'll be late," Ron whispered in his ear and Harry chuckled. He had rarely felt so content. He had Ron and a future together, one that hadn't been prophesised to end in murder and destruction. He was certain of it deep in his heart. If this was the gift of Divination kicking in, Harry didn't want to question it too closely.

"Coming pet," Harry replied, unsealing the door. Today the International Quidditch teams would be arriving, around about dinnertime. As a result the rest of the students - not to mention Ron and Harry - were very excited. Professor Dumbledore was going to let them out early from the lessons just before dinner to let the school welcome them. As Head Girl, Hermione would be showing one team up to the Gryffindor tower. The Fat Lady had been returned to her post, and the room where Dudley had stayed had been removed.

"Harry! Ron! You ready?" Neville called from his place beside the entrance, and Harry grinned, waving good morning. Neville was as excited as anybody, though his skills on a broom were negligible.

"Ready, Nev," Harry agreed, "Calm down."

"But Harry, there's two International Quidditch teams coming here! This is even better than the Tri-Wizard Cup!" Neville grinned, then blanched, remembering just who had competed in the Cup and what had happened to him. Harry laughed, patting Neville's arm as they walked down the corridor to the stairs.

"Its ok, Nev, I understand. And you're right, because there is no way I can get caught up in the middle of it," Harry winked at Ron who made noises like 'better bloody well not either'. Harry shook his head as they headed down the stairs. They had a flying lesson this morning, and he was planning to take the first years for a bit of an obstacle course around the castle in order to develop their agility skills. Their second Monday tutoring session with the Headmaster was scheduled to take place in the school grounds after their final lesson for the afternoon. The first lessons had been very difficult, as Dumbledore tested their ability to shield against powerful spells. They had always known the Headmaster was a powerful Wizard, but the strength of his attacks had left them breathless and drained.

"Harry!" Beth squealed, and slid down the banister to catch them up, "Isn't this exciting!"

"Very!" Harry laughed as he caught her, "You want to be careful though, Beth. If Filch saw that you'd have a detention quicker than you can say Lemon Drops."

"Aw, Harry," Beth shook her head, hugging him and letting go, "He'd have to catch me first."

Harry bit back a laugh and let Ron take over, lecturing her on courtesy and school rules so gently that he doubted it would make a big difference to her behaviour in the future. Neville distracted him with a question about the teams that were coming - by now the school knew that he and Ron were honorary teachers, and most figured they had an inside track to the staff gossip.

The Great Hall was buzzing with chat, and even the teachers looked excited by the days coming attractions. Harry slid into a seat beside Justin Finch-Fletchley and paid the owl that was waiting with their morning paper. Malfoy slid into the seat opposite him and scowled at them all on general principal. Harry could ignore that easily enough now; he had Ron's fingers wrapped around his and Justin's excited talk to listen to instead.


"Today we're going to work on safely using agility and speed. I realise that with the guests we're expecting that you're all eager to shoot off like Quidditch players, but I'll remind you that we're not here to try out for the England team. We're here to learn the skills that will be useful should you ever have to react to an emergency," Harry eyed the boy from Ravenclaw who was fidgeting eagerly, obviously hell bent on getting into the air and showing off his skills as a broom flyer. Roger Whitfield had been boasting about his abilities from day one, and Harry had been forced to ground the boy in several lessons when he insisted on ignoring instructions.

"As you can see I've set up a series of floating blue buoys, marking the course I want you to take around the school. There are also several other buoys in varying colours. Some of these will shoot dye or other substances at you, others will move into your path and some will do nothing at all. And before you start guessing which colour does which, I've mixed them up. One colour does not stand for one particular type of action," Harry glanced at the Slytherin students who looked a bit disappointed. It was their way to try and exploit patterns like that to their advantage, a part of the natural talent for planning that Slytherin House valued. He bit down on a grin and held out the bag with the numbered discs he'd borrowed from the staff room.

"You'll go in the order that your number comes up," he continued and watched as they spent a few minutes pulling out their discs and matching them against their friends. Roger was trying to convince people to swap, to let him go first. Harry put a stop to that by pulling out the lowest number and handing it to the boy with a frown. Roger tossed his red hair at Harry angrily and moved to stand at the back of the class, sulking.

Harry pulled out his wand and aimed it at the first buoy. He murmured the spell that would deactivate it and told everyone to mount their brooms. He led them along the course once so they'd know where to go, and then had them line up on the ground.

"I'll be above you so I can watch the course and you while you wait. Number one," Harry gestured to the girl from Slytherin and mounted his broom, kicking off smoothly and soaring to his vantage point. He had a stopwatch and clipboard to record people's times, and started the watch as she passed the first buoy.

Things progressed well enough. The students waiting were fairly quiet, and cheered their friends on, keeping time on their own watches. Roger was standing back from them all, keeping time and watching them carefully. Several of the buoys acted like limited bludgers, designed to chase you without coming into contact. Harry didn't want anyone actually knocked off their brooms. He would assign a score for each student depending on their ability to avoid getting spattered or bumped, and how quickly they managed the course.

He watched his most nervous flyer - from his own House, sadly - as the boy swerved cautiously from side to side. His was the slowest time, but he also managed to avoid getting splattered with dye completely, and the proud grin he shot his teacher as he went past had Harry grinning back in sympathy. The kid reminded him so much of Neville at that age that it wasn't hard for Harry to put up with the nerves and mistakes, encouraging him gently.

Roger Whitfield was next, and had taken off before the second last student was on the ground. Harry tightened his grip on his wand and watched closely as Roger sent his broom careening carelessly through the first part of the course. He growled in frustration as the student actually bounced off one of the immovable buoys and failed to avoid any of the dye buoys at all. He tightened his grip on his broom when Roger bounced off one of the moving buoys and shot forward when the collision sent the boy into a spin, heading directly for the spire on the north tower.

"Impedimenta!" Harry yelled, but the spell didn't do much to slow the boys out of control movement at all, "Immobilous!"

Roger heard that one being shouted and ducked the spell deliberately, his broom wobbling dangerously. Harry was close to him now and simply reached over, grabbed Roger's robes by the neck and yanked hard, his bond with Ron humming. The Ravenclaw lost his grip and Harry hauled him onto the Firebolt, snarling with effort and pulling up on the handle to get the broom to ascend enough to clear the tower.

"What...!" Roger squeaked as his broom spiralled slowly to the ground below. Harry growled again in his ear and the slender boy fell silent as the badly unbalanced broom sank down to the lawn beside the front steps.

"You're to take yourself to Professor Flitwick's classroom and wait for me there," Harry ordered curtly, "I've been patient, I've tried taking points, I've given you a detention. If you're going to continue to endanger my life and yours then we'll have to try something else."

Roger gulped at the cold fury in his teachers voice and Harry watched him go inside. He took a deep breath, and straightened his robes. He headed back towards the rest of the first years, hoping that the clipboard had hit no one when it fell. Ron and the second years were standing with his class when he returned to them, and Ron looked at him in concern. Harry knew that his temper was still showing on his face, and made an effort to smile for his students.

"Put your broom back in the shed neatly, please," he requested, "Then you may return to the castle for your next lesson. Has anyone seen Mr Whitfield's broom?"

"I have it," the nervous Gryffindor held it up and Harry smiled in thanks. He sent the spell that would put the buoys back in their containers into the sky and waited while Ron finished speaking to his own class. He gave his broom to Ron, and trudged back into the castle to deal with Roger and his stubborn attitude.


"Hey, where's Harry?" Hermione asked as she joined Ron on the front steps. He sighed and turned to look at her, their breath steaming in the cold air.

"He's inside. One of his students tried to impale himself on the North tower, just before Divination. I think Harry's still sorting it all out."

"He was wicked, he grabbed Roger right off his broom!" Beth piped up, from where she was standing, and Ron raised his eyebrows at her. She blushed and scuffed her shoe on the cold stone, unable to meet the censure in his eyes.

"Which I promise not to try and do ever," she added reluctantly and Ron nodded curtly. The last thing they needed was for the second years to go around trying to pull each other off their brooms. Harry had only managed by leaning into the bond to partially levitate Roger. As the second years didn't have that option available to them it would be better that they didn't try at all.

"Oh dear," Hermione sighed. Ron shrugged. It was so important to Harry that he be a good teacher and give his students the best education he could, that this little stunt would have him brooding. Before they could continue the conversation Neville and Seamus arrived. They were talking about the two teams that the school was going to host, and wondering how they'd get here.

"Australia's a long way off, maybe they'll Apparate or something!" Neville was saying quietly. Hermione shook her head and looked at the once fat teen. Ron reflected that Neville had grown into a quietly confident young man. If he hadn't been madly in love with Harry, Ron might have tried it on with Neville.

"It's too far to Apparate," she chastised, recalling Ron's wandering thoughts, "You know that, Neville. They'll probably have something like the Beaubaxton's or the Durmstrang's."

"Or they'll walk up from Hogsmeade," Harry said in an amused tone from behind them. Ron glanced up at his partner and then followed the pointing finger. Sure enough a group of men and women in green and gold robes were walking steadily up the path from Hogsmeade with their gear floating along behind them. The students cheered and waved in welcome, getting smiles and waves in response. The Head Boy from Hufflepuff was already standing beside the Headmaster, waiting to show them up to the Gryffindor tower.

"When did you get here?" Ron asked quietly as Harry's hand pressed into the small of his back.

"A few seconds ago," Harry sighed, "Professor Flitwick has given him two weeks of detention and is sending a letter to his parents. Apparently I'm not the only one he doesn't listen to. He's even mucked Snape about."

"Bloody hell," Ron sounded impressed. They'd opposed Snape a few times themselves, and it had always been nerve wracking. Professor Dumbledore stepped forward to say hello to Madam Hooch, who was leading the Australians. The Head Boy, William Blake of Hufflepuff, stepped forward to walk the team up to Gryffindor Tower. The tanned and mainly tall Witches and Wizards smiled at the students as they walked past, waving when someone shouted hello or waved to them.

"How'd they get here?" Seamus whispered to Harry, who grinned. Most Wizards forgot that there were non-magical ways to travel. From the tingle of the equipment as it passed, the Australians had laid some concealment charms on their gear to avoid attracting the attention of Muggles.

"Probably on a plane," he shrugged, "And then Apparated to Hogsmeade. That would be the easiest way. Muggle transport can be useful at times."

"That's not much fun!" Seamus mock complained and then circulated the idea to the people around them. Harry laughed and Ron shook his head. He was married to a Muggle raised Wizard, which meant that he'd be experiencing a lot of Muggle culture and methods as he coaxed Harry to show him the world beyond Wizardry. It was important to Ron that his spouse felt that his world and experiences were valued. It was one of many ways that Ron could show Harry he was loveable.

"Do you think Fiji came the same way?" Hermione asked quietly and Ron shrugged, looking back at Harry for his opinion. Harry nodded down the path again, and Ron turned to watch the Fiji team hurry along, their breath also steaming in the cold air as the students cheered in welcome. Ron felt a bit sorry for them - they'd come from hot summer to freezing winter, and the shock to the system would not have been pleasant. Hermione slipped through the students to be ready to take the team to the tower they'd be living in. Professor Dumbledore and Madame Hooch and arranged for the teams to have a separate dining room, and another suite of large rooms that would let them practice some skills indoors, as they would have to share the Quidditch pitch for training.

"Well," Harry sighed, "I guess we'd better get indoors."

Ron followed him up the main steps, biting his lip. Harry was brooding already, just as he'd feared. On impulse he grabbed Harry's robes while the rest of the school filed into the Great Hall for dinner, and tugged his partner discreetly along the corridor towards the kitchen. Harry was silent, moving where directed, obviously thinking that Ron had a bracing chat in mind and obviously determined to weather it with patience.

Ron pulled his partner into a handy cupboard, sealed the door and dropped to his knees before Harry could do more than draw a breath to reassure him. That breath was exhaled in a disbelieving whoosh as Ron's fingers surely undid Harry's trousers and fished around in bright yellow briefs for their prize.

"Ron," Harry hissed in a disbelieving tone and Ron took in an intimate mouthful, sucking luxuriously on Harry's rapidly hardening prick and thoroughly enjoying the taste. Harry had gotten a bit sweaty during this morning's activities and the taste added a spice to the skin that Ron was swallowing and releasing in urgent hypnotic rhythm. Harry's fingers found their way into his hair, massaging the scalp tenderly, speaking love and lust as Harry's hips moved hesitantly in Ron's rhythm, his panting breaths exploding from him.

Ron encouraged the movement with one hand, and sent the other searching for Harry's hole, intending to finish his partner off quickly. His own cock was very interested in the proceedings, but it was trapped in his trousers and the denied relief was exquisite. Harry was moving more surely now, muffling his cries of pleasure behind one hand. Ron felt the flesh he was sucking on swell and swallowed it down greedily, humming in approval as Harry gifted him with his release.

He released the softening flesh reluctantly, letting Harry slide down to kneel in front of him, spent and gasping, sweat standing proud on his brow. Ron leaned in to kiss the gasping mouth; freeing himself with an eager whimper and fisting his prick urgently as Harry's tongue licked his mouth clean from the tonsils on out. He moaned his release into that wicked mouth and shifted so they were leaning together, gasping and trembling.

"Bugger me," Harry's voice was awed and immensely satisfied. Any trace of brooding or worry was gone from the green eyes that Ron could just see in the dim cupboard. He smiled in satisfaction and nuzzled his partner before pulling back reluctantly and getting his wand out for the cleanup.

"Tonight," Ron promised, eliciting a laugh and a kiss from his spouse.


How Harry concentrated through the rest of the afternoon lessons was beyond him. He felt like he had a sign above his head that screamed 'I had sex!' to anyone who looked. They'd nipped down to the kitchen for sandwiches rather than appear in the Great Hall after their cupboard escapades, and Dobby had been ecstatic to see them, providing enough sandwiches for four of them.

Tea was spent eating quickly and listening to the gossip circulating the Great Hall about the practice sessions that their guest teams were scheduled for, and how many people were planning to go and watch them. The first Cup match was scheduled for the following weekend, and Harry hoped that he and Ron would have time to see a practice from each team. The match would be held at Hogwarts and was between Fiji and Ireland. There would be no mascots at the match - that would be saved for the final game - and the whole school had been given permission to attend.

The Headmaster was not at the staff table, and that was also a source of gossip. It was rare for Dumbledore to miss the evening meal - he liked to cast an eye over the students and make his presence known. Beth looked a little worried about it until Harry leaned over and whispered that the Headmaster had a meeting. She took the statement at face value, probably because she felt that he knew about it because he was 'almost a teacher'.

He and Ron lingered in the Hall over their desert, determined to outwait the majority of students. Malfoy - who hadn't been able to sit with them because Ron had evidently put the word out and surrounded them with a group of first and second years, peppering them with questions about Quidditch and the teams that had arrived at dinner - came to sit with them, asking some seemingly not so innocent questions of his own that had Ron bristling silently and telling Harry's thigh exactly what he thought of the blonde Prefect. Malfoy seemed to think that something significant had occurred over Christmas to a few members of the staff and wanted to find out what. Harry answered with steady variations of 'we don't know, we weren't here', wondering all the while if Malfoy had gotten wind of his and Ron's wedding from somewhere. Flitwick, McGonagall, Dumbledore and Sprout had all been invited, and Hagrid and Remus came as a matter of course.

They managed to get rid of him when Snape called Malfoy away in a lucky bit of timing, allowing them to slip out into the foyer and collect their winter cloaks from a beaming Dobby. Harry did up the fastenings as they hastened towards Hagrid's hut, spotting the slender form of the Headmaster straight away. Frost and snow crunched underfoot as they moved to meet their Defence tutor, shivering in the crisp, bright air.

"Good evening, boys," Dumbledore's hat was woollen, multicoloured and very bright. Harry smiled at the sight of it and Ron returned the greeting for them both. Hagrid joined them with his crossbow, and Fang slouched around the half-giant to say hello to them both.

"Are we going into the forest?" Harry was surprised, and knew that his tone was less than respectful, but after the centaurs had effectively forbidden the Wizards and Witches around them from entering the forest, he and Ron had both noticed that Hagrid's excursions into the forest had almost stopped altogether. If Hagrid was limiting his visits to the forest, then the rest of them needed to take especial care.

"We are," Dumbledore nodded, "I have managed to negotiate a truce with the centaurs, though they will not tolerate casual excursions into the forest. Hagrid's care of the injured magical creatures in the forest continues, and we have set aside a small clearing for the training of your defensive skills."

Harry nodded, and didn't ask why Hagrid was coming along. The grounds keeper would doubtless reveal his role in their training at some point. Hagrid was not known for his ability to keep a secret from Harry when the Gryffindor boy really wanted to know what was going on. Once shielded from the school by the trees he and Ron openly linked their hands together, exchanging ideas and speculation as they walked. The clearing that the Headmaster had chosen was of medium size and surrounded by tall trees.

"Now," Dumbledore lit the torches around the edge of the clearing, and Hagrid paced through it to disappear into the gloom, "This evening we are going to work on your ability to deflect harmful spells. Your shielding spells are very powerful, but every impact drains your resources. It would be better to deflect the attacks before they strike your shield."

Harry understood immediately why they were out here. Inside the castle there was always the risk that they would deflect the spell too hard and damage the structure around them. Not to mention the fact that this would likely be a very noisy endeavour. The forest offered them space and privacy. Hagrid would watch their backs while they trained, and Dumbledore would be able to concentrate on instructing them in the best use of their bond.

"Ready when you are, sir," Ron spoke up, and Harry smiled at his spouse, nodding to their Headmaster in agreement.


"So, who will you take to the Valentines Ball this year?" Lavender Brown sidled up to Ron. The Ball wasn't until next month, but evidently the girls in Gryffindor were already eyeing off the potential dates. Ron knew for a fact that Lavender had been dating Justin Finch-Fletchley since the beginning of their seventh year, and wondered why she was so interested in who he was planning to take.

"Susan Bones," he didn't bother looking up from his book, turning a page and scratching a few lines on his parchment. The library was full of whispering groups of students, and Madam Pince was floating around re-shelving books, so Ron wasn't too worried that Lavender was going to create a big scene.

"I think Harry is taking Hannah Abbott," he added, closing the book and pulling a new one over. Snape's potions homework was a killer at the moment - a five-foot long essay on the use of living components in potions was not Ron's idea of a good time. Harry had been and gone from the library already, his prep time cut short by a summons to conference with Roger Whitfield's parents, along with Sprout, McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick and Dumbledore. Ron was hoping desperately that his spouse wouldn't be too upset when the meeting was over.

"You took them last time, didn't you?" Lavender asked slyly, and Ron sighed, looking up at her with irritation. Surely she hadn't finished the homework from Snape already? He saw Hermione approaching and made their signal for 'help!' with his quill. She altered her course from the shelves to his table and Ron breathed a silent sigh of relief.

"Yes," he knew his answer was this side of being rude, but couldn't contain his irritation for much longer. He hated that even though he and Harry were married, they were still targets of speculation and unwelcome offers of companionship. Surely after two years of steadily turning down every girl who wanted to date them, the female population of Hogwarts had figured out that they were gay?

"Have you started the potions essay, Ron?" Hermione took a seat opposite and got out her books. Ron nodded and shoved some of his books over at her, letting her get a look at the titles that he'd pulled off the shelves to save her searching for other copies.

"It's not easy," he grumbled. Lavender looked from one to the other for a moment and then frowned. She crossed her arms and glared at Hermione.

"Who are you going to the Valentines Ball with, Hermione?" she asked sweetly, and Hermione rolled her eyes. Unlike Ron, Hermione wasn't constrained by the rules of polite treatment to women. He noticed Lavender bristling even before Hermione opened her mouth to reply, and braced himself for the coming fallout.

"None of your business," Hermione replied, "Shouldn't you be concentrating on your homework?"

Ron put his head down and pretended to be engrossed in the uses of leaping toadstools in sleeping draughts. Lavender and Hermione exchanged a few heated comments and then Lavender stomped off in a huff. He looked up at his friend and she sniffed at him in disdain.

"Coward," she told him with a little smile playing around her lips. Ron grinned and nodded vigorously, getting a reluctant laugh from her.

"Absolutely. She terrifies me. If you hadn't turned up I'd have faked a fainting fit or something," Ron told her, a hand over his heart dramatically. This earned a second, more genuine laugh and Hermione opened the first book.

Harry joined them an hour later, sliding into the seat beside Ron and pulling his own work out with a slight sigh. To Ron's anxious eyes he was a little slumped and pale, but he wasn't shaking or anything, and his movements were assured and purposeful.

"Was it bad?" Hermione asked tentatively. Harry rolled his eyes and shook his head. He glanced around and leaned over the table to whisper in her ear, before settling back beside Ron and reaching a hand into Ron's lap.

/They were pretty reasonable/ his fingers told Ron's thigh /I'm still teaching/

"Good," Ron nodded, "Do you want to see what we've done so far?"

"Sure," Harry nodded, pulling Ron's essay over for a look. Hermione hit Ron with a speculative look and winked when she was sure that Harry couldn't see. Ron's heart lightened. It was a double blessing that Hermione already knew about their relationship and the last two years effect on Harry. She had joined her efforts to his wholeheartedly to cheer Harry up at every opportunity.

"We'd have done more, but I had to rescue Ron from Lavender Brown," she sniped and Ron rolled his eyes theatrically. Harry raised an eyebrow in inquiry and Ron sighed, feigning more irritation than he really felt. Lavender wasn't a bad person. She just couldn't take a hint.

"She wants to know who we're taking to the Valentine Ball," he warned Harry, "I told her you were taking Hannah."

"Great Scott, is she going on about that already?" Harry rolled his eyes, "Well, at least Hermione was here to save you."

Ron elbowed him, getting a sly grin and a little wink in reply. Harry's face regained some colour and Ron let the subject drop. They'd cheered his spouse up and that was good enough for now.


Harry pulled his cloak shut against the cold and huddled into Hermione's side. Ron was pressed into her other side, and Hermione cradled the small portable fire that was her speciality on her lap. The partners had provided her with a small pad that would allow her to cradle the fire without burning herself. The cold wind and the slight rain did not make for the best of spectating conditions. The match between Fiji and Ireland would be starting in about twenty minutes. The whole school was already in their allotted seats, ushered there by the teachers in order to ensure that they wouldn't get caught up in the swirling mass of public that was even now streaming into the newly enlarged stadium. The school seats were along the bottom row in the middle of the pitch. They'd have to crane their necks to see the action, but at least they were allowed to watch. Ron and Harry both had their Omnioculars in order to follow the action more closely.

"Well! What would Susan and Hannah think?" Lavender's voice drifted down towards them and Harry sighed. The girl still hadn't got over their rejection of her and her friends as dates again. He debated responding, but was saved the trouble when Hannah herself responded.

"We'd think they look warm and cuddle up too," she sidled past him to settle beside Ron, and Susan came to cuddle up with Harry. He made room for her and slid an arm around her waist so she could snuggle in comfortably. The fact that they were snuggling up to the wrong person - Hannah was supposedly going to the Ball with Harry - had Lavender muttering indignantly in the background.

"And the best part of this is I get the most benefits," Hermione gloated, and Harry snickered while Susan leant around him to swat at Hermione in a friendly manner. The crowd in the stands opposite ebbed and flowed as they found their own seats, and Harry glanced around, noting the presence of the Aurors and the boxes that were heated for the people who had paid for the privileged seats.

"Who's going to be commentating?" Susan shivered and Harry pulled her a bit closer, sharing his cloak generously. He shrugged and looked over at Ron, who also shrugged.

"Probably Bagman," she sighed, "Despite the fact that he didn't manage to get this organised he'll be up the front taking the credit."

"He's the luckiest, slackest, most idiotic person I've ever heard of," Ron shook his head, rubbing Hannah's arm briskly to warm her up too.

"Yeah when I grow up I want to be just like him," Hannah agreed, and they all laughed at her, the humour warming them as much as the shared body heat. The crowd got a bit quieter when the enhanced voice of the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports welcomed them all to Hogwarts and started introducing the two teams. Hogwarts was supporting the team that they were hosting in order to make them feel welcome, although Seamus had been heard imploring people not to let the Irish supporters see him.

"This is going to be wicked!" Hannah cheered as Fiji came soaring out onto the pitch in their black and white robes. Harry laughed, his spirit soaring with them, cheering as they completed a lap of the pitch and faced off against Ireland.

From then on the action was fast and furious. The Irish Seeker treated them to some brilliant displays of flying, dodging between the Chasers as they disputed the possession of the quaffle. The Fiji Seeker played the game a bit more sedately, going in only to give an advantage to his own team, choosing a vantage point and looking for the snitch from there.

"Fiji plays the way you do Harry!" Susan said in his ear and Harry blushed, shaking his head. He was a good player, but he had no delusions that the game he played was at a level much lower than that of International standards. The school played a good game, but it was still school level Quidditch.


"That was wicked!" Seamus pranced around the common room, still cheering the Irish victory. Fiji had led in the scoring, with a hundred and forty goals to nil, until the Irish Seeker had caught the snitch, ending the game and winning the match for his team by ten points. Ron watched his spouse laugh at the Irishman, a book resting open in his lap. The whole House was still excited by the match, and Ron just knew that he and Hermione were going to have a hard time getting them all to head off to bed.

"Did you see that Sloth Grip Roll?" Neville piped up, "The Keeper did it perfectly!"

Ron mused that things were at a fever pitch if even the normally placid Neville was spouting off at the top of his lungs. Harry grinned over at him and went back to his book. He was reading one of his many books on defence against the Dark Arts - this particular one a volume leant to him by the Headmaster. Ron watched as Dean plopped onto the chair next to Harry, leaned over to get a look at the book, and then frowned. Ron's trouble radar went off, and he shifted uneasily in his seat.

"Hey, Harry?" Dean tapped the corner of the book, "Are you taking remedial Defence Against the Dark Arts this term?"

"Um," Harry looked up in astonishment and then sighed. Ron could actually see his green eyed partner swallow his pride and prepare to tell a lie. The problem was that Harry was a rotten liar and Ron could see that Dean had already spotted his intention too.

"Yeah, I am," he didn't meet Dean's eyes, and therefore didn't see the anger cross their former dorm mates face. Dean slapped the book aside, getting in Harry's face.

"Bollocks," Dean snapped, "I can tell you're lying, Harry. What's really going on? You and Ron have been taking extra lessons for the past four terms, and I know that you're not failing Defence Against the Dark Arts. You might have fooled Malfoy into thinking you were both failing school, but you should at least..."

"That's enough," Ron moved over to back his friend up, glaring at Dean in the suddenly quiet common room. They never had any luck, Dean's little outburst had come during a lull in festivities, and quite a few of their Housemates were openly staring in curiosity.

"Dumbledore is giving us extra lessons in Defence," Ron continued, "We're not lying about that."

He left unsaid the rest of the story, and saw Dean's eyes light up in understanding. Hermione had not been able to get permission to join them for this last term of extra instruction, much to all their disappointment, and Ron guessed that her sudden exclusion from the extra lessons had got Dean's imagination fired up.

"Sorry, Dean," Harry said softly, "We can't tell you more."

Dean nodded and took a deep breath. He let Harry see his regret for his impulsive actions and got up.

"Yeah, me too," he said awkwardly and headed for his dorm room. Conversation started up again softly, and Harry met Ron's eyes in apology. Ron shrugged and settled back into his chair. Beth came to sit with him, asking questions about the unusual grip the Fiji Keeper used on her broom and Ron let himself be diverted. They had been lucky that no one had called them on the extra lessons before, and doubly lucky that the questions had come from in-house. He noticed Hermione slipping into Harry's chair with his partner and tugging the book over so she could read it as well, acting as if nothing had happened. Ron let her comfort Harry for now, knowing that he could complete the task tonight when they were alone together.


The Valentines Ball came up quickly after that. Harry woke on the fourteenth and rolled out of Ron's grip to go look for Hedwig. He felt a little sick this morning, and the thought of breakfast was not very appealing. Unfortunately, his Ron was a bit of a martinet about his eating habits, still trying to get him to put a bit of weight on. Harry had always been thin; it was a fact and didn't bother him.

Hedwig was waiting in the owlry with her package. Harry fed her the treats he'd tucked into his dressing gown and hurried back to the common room, relieved to find it still empty, but not too surprised. Dawn was still staining the sky, and his Housemates were not known for their early rising habits - something that he and Ron had taken advantage of more than once, sneaking into the boys' bathroom for a quick morning treat involving hot water and slippery skins.

Ron was restless in their bed as Harry sealed the door, his arm sweeping over the spot where Harry had been lying. He paused for a moment to admire his partner, before pulling the flat package out from his dressing gown and sliding back into the warm nest of blankets. He put his cold feet firmly on Ron's to wake him up and snickered at the resulting protest and mumbling.

"Sod," Ron heaved himself up and onto Harry, lying on him fully. Harry's stomach protested for a second before settling, and he was glad that Ron wasn't awake enough to have noticed the twinge of discomfort, "How did your feet get so bloody cold? They're like blocks of ice!"

"Went for a walk," Harry replied succinctly, "Got you a present."

"Sneaky bugger," Ron's eyes lit up. Harry loved that his partner was still so childlike in his appreciation of gifts. Harry loved giving presents to Ron, and not just because he had a generous nature. Ron chose to express his gratitude in pleasurable and creative ways. Harry was recalled to the moment by Ron's tongue, which went delving in his ear rather wetly.

"Yuck, I had a bath last night," Harry protested, and Ron snickered at him, wriggling around until he was comfortable and propping his head in his hands. Harry wheezed and complained quietly under his partner's antics, grinning when Ron stilled. He pulled the package out from under his pillow and handed it to Ron. It was wrapped in plain brown paper and string, and Ron pretended to swoon over it.

"Such romantic wrapping," he teased, and slid off Harry to sit up. Harry followed him, snuggling back in to the warm body, softly protesting the loss of contact.

"Hey, I can hug you any time," Ron replied cheekily and ripped the paper off, his hands rubbing curiously over the blue dyed leather book inside, "What's this then?"

"Do you need my glasses?" Harry teased, "What does it look like?"

Ron nudged him and opened the book, his breath catching at the house sigils affixed to the front page with their names written in their new familial script beneath it. The date of their wedding and the celebrants name was also in the book, with spaces below for them to add the names of any children, and their godparents. Harry shifted closer, a little nervous now that Ron would think this was a stupid idea.

"Muggles have a family book - actually it's usually a Bible, a copy of their religious text - and I thought that we should start our own. I talked to Charlie about it and he brought his camera along to the wedding, and I got some pictures from Colin as well," Harry explained. Ron leaned over and kissed him in reply, the wordless gesture reassuring Harry that he hadn't done anything stupid.

The first pages had pictures of them, standing by themselves. Ron was in the kitchen of the Burrow, drying a plate, and Harry was in the garden under the tree they'd been married beneath, snow falling lightly on his hair and shoulders. They wore everyday clothes. Then came the shots of them at school, with friends and together, or by themselves, candid shots where they didn't know the camera was pointing at them. There was a picture of each in their Quidditch robes, with Ron saving a goal, and Harry catching the snitch. The next page showed them with their wrists bound together in their wedding robes, the box with their rings floating above the tied hands. There were pictures of them at their wedding reception with family members and friends, smiling and happy. The pages after that were blank.

"Remind me to thank Charlie and Colin," Ron put the book very carefully aside, and then took Harry's glasses off too. This was becoming a familiar gesture between them, a small intimacy that Harry cherished.

"But first I think I'd better thank you," Ron continued and Harry leaned into the kiss that was being offered, letting his fingers talk to Ron's skin when his mouth was silenced.


Still brooding over Lavender Brown's smug remarks about being stood up, Ron missed the arrival of his partner. Harry had been delayed from coming down when Beth had asked for help with her homework. Ron didn't begrudge the girl Harry's time; he knew how good it felt to have Harry's attention focussed on you and your problems. Then there was the way he focussed on his lover, though Ron was the only person that knew how that felt.

"You awake there?" Harry's voice drew him out of his thoughts and Ron grinned, shrugging. Harry settled in to lean on the wall beside him, looking up the stairs for their dates. Ron went back to his thoughts, and missed Harry's move away to meet Hannah. Susan cleared her throat in a bid for his attention and he jumped, flushing a little and looking up at her.

"Happy Valentines, Ron," Susan snickered and presented him with a rose. She was looking stunning in her new dress robes and Ron laughed, kissing her cheek and pinning the rose to his own robes. Hannah and Harry were engaged in a similar ritual and Ron shook his head at his 'date'.

"How very gallant of you both," Harry was telling Hannah, who dropped a curtsey in reply. Ron offered Susan his arm and led her off towards the school doors, Harry and Hannah a step behind. It felt comfortable to walk with another couple. The expectation of romantic chatter and attention was lifted and no one had to worry about hurting someone else's feelings in the long run. He tuned back in to the conversation around him, making an effort to clear out the wandering thoughts.

"Now promise me that this dance will be different," Susan was saying lightly. Ron glanced back over his shoulder with a grin. Harry was smiling at him conspiratorially. They had anticipated this topic would come up and agreed on a response together. Ron tipped him a wink and turned back to Susan.

"You did bring your wand, didn't you?" he asked, "Because we thought that you two could defend us this time!"

"Oi!" Hannah slapped at his shoulder from behind, not really upset, but playing along anyway, "That's not very gentlemanly of you!"

"He's not very gentlemanly at the best of times," Harry spoke up in a tone of long suffering experience and the girls jeered at Ron while they cooed over 'poor Harry'. He bore it cheerfully; Harry didn't tease him often and wouldn't let things get out of hand.

Susan shivered as the cold air stirred around them and Ron drew her closer. They were not the first couples on the path by any means - the girls had kept them waiting this time, so there were at least ten people ahead of them. Ron felt the tingle that signified the end of Hogwarts protective wards, and rubbed his thumb on Susan's wrist before realising she wouldn't be able to read the gesture the way Harry would. There was something not quite right, despite the cheerful noise of his fellow students breaking the still night air.

"Ron," Harry's voice was a little tense, and Ron turned his head to look back at his partner. Harry evidently felt the same way - something was not right here. Their dates exchanged looks; apparently thinking this was another joke.

"Are you two doing this on purpose?" Hannah asked with asperity. They didn't have the chance to answer her at all, as stunning spells came whizzing out of the trees, striking up and down the line of students. Harry went down soundlessly, Hannah grabbing for him and her wand at the same time. Ron shouted wordlessly, lunging for his partner and not feeling the spell that hit him, knocking him out as well.


Harry woke to pain. His scar was splitting his head open - he half expected to feel the slippery heat of blood on his face when he raised a trembling hand to touch it. The scar was hot and throbbing, the light touch of his shaking fingers was almost unbearable. Dropping his hand, Harry squinted around, trying to remember what had happened. Wherever he was it was cold and dark. There was no glimmer of light anywhere, and cautious, painful movement showed Harry he was lying in a very small space indeed, barely large enough for him to curl into a ball in an attempt to warm up a little. The rose on his lapel was almost overpowering in the small space and he managed to pluck it off with numb fingers.

The action triggered his memory, Beth's homework, Ron's distraction and the girls joking gifts to them. The light teasing of his partner as they walked down the path to Hogsmeade and the tingle of the wards leaving their skin. He thought he'd heard a stunning spell, which meant they'd been under attack, but he couldn't remember fighting back.

"Ron?" the whisper was met with silence. When he lay perfectly still and held his breath there was no other sound that indicated a second presence. His partner was not with him, and Harry could only hope that wherever Ron was he was safe. If Harry were the only one taken then they'd be able to trace the Death Eaters through the ring that nestled warmly around his finger - the only warmth in his prison. The ring was all that kept Harry from battering on the walls of his prison in desperation. As long as the ring was warm Ron was alive.

He was unable to stifle a moan as his scar sent a bolt of agony through his already aching head and his stomach roiled unpleasantly. Wherever Voldemort was he was furious with someone. Harry stuffed a fist into his mouth, determined not to give his captors the pleasure of hearing his pain. He failed as the pain reached a crescendo unlike anything he had ever felt before, and Harry screamed into the freezing, suffocating dark, tasting blood as it pooled at the back of his throat.


Ron glared at Lucius Malfoy. He was chained to a wall, his arms and head aching. The room was well lit, the smoke of the torches drifting up to a high ceiling. The circular room was dominated by a two tiered dais in the middle of the room, upon which rested a large stone chair on the top level, and a stone sarcophagus on the one below it.

He had awakened surrounded by jeering Death Eaters, all pointing their wands at him. The white masks were creepy, but he was able to discern a few identities despite the so-called disguises. Snape was here, standing against the wall next to Crabbe and Goyle's fathers. Ron had thought that he'd even seen Kreacher around here somewhere, and made a mental note to tell the Headmaster that they had definitely been betrayed by the elf.

Voldemort appeared in front of the chair, and the Death Eaters jerked away from Ron immediately, cringing and bowing to the foul creature on the stone throne. Voldemort's red eyes glared down at him, and Ron felt that there was something very snakelike about the most hated Wizard and self styled Dark Lord.

"McNab! Explain this!" Voldemort shrieked and sent the Cruciatus spell at the nearest body. It shrieked and trembled, falling to the floor and thrashing about. Ron felt like he was going to be sick, and bit his lips, the blood draining from his face as Voldemort tortured the Wizard on the floor. The screams echoed oddly in the round chamber, rolling on and on as the torture continued without pause or mercy.

"My Lord! My Lord! You sent us to capture Potter!" Malfoy's voice was thin and scared, and ordinarily Ron would have been very pleased to hear the fear in the senior Malfoy's voice. Now it just frightened him more. If the Death Eaters were that afraid of the man they served, then Ron would have no chance against the Dark Wizard. How had Harry managed to face off against this evil being time and again and not gone mad with fear? His lovers' nightmares were starting to make more sense, and Ron was wishing that they didn't.

The ring around his finger, unnoticed so far by his captors, was the sole point of comfort in this nightmare. Harry was alive, as evinced by the warm weight of the metal against his cold skin. Maybe the Death Eaters had brought Ron to Voldemort because they'd failed to catch Harry. He was bait for his spouse. In their haste to appease their 'master' the Death Eaters had inadvertently picked the one hostage that Harry would rush headlong to protect.

"That is not Potter!" Voldemort's accusation was accompanied by a fresh wave of torture, this time directed at Malfoy. Malfoy's scream was high and thin, and seemed to please his master, because the blonde man wasn't tortured for nearly as long as the unfortunate McNab, who had yet to move from where he had fallen. Again the sound echoed oddly, as if the stones themselves were reacting to the torture.

"My Lord, my son has told us that Potter would do anything for that boy! We thought it best to give you the means to control Potter!" a plump woman spoke up from her place along the wall. She screamed and went down in a painful heap when the Dark Lord turned the Cruciatus curse on her for a moment. Ron wondered who her son was, and why Malfoy hadn't said that about dear old Draco.

"You think that I am unable to control the whelp?" the hissing voice sent tendrils of fear wrapping themselves around Ron's heart. He had always said that Voldemort was insane, but to be confronted with definite proof of the Dark Lord's insanity was almost more than he could bear.

"No my Lord," Malfoy panted, pulling himself up onto his knees, "He is there before you, to do with as you please."

Malfoy had evidently given up on the whole 'give Voldemort the means to torture Potter by torturing someone else' plan, but that didn't make Ron feel any better, because in the first place the only reason for them to keep him alive was to curb Harry's ability to fight, and in the second place, his hope that Harry had somehow gotten away, or been left behind was dashed as Crabbe and Goyle stepped forward and pulled the lid off the stone sarcophagus, reaching in and dragging Harry out.


The sudden incursion of light was more painful than Harry had ever expected, and it stunned him long enough for hard hands to grab him and drag him out. Harry fell to his knees, containing his cries of pain by the slightest margin. He heard a high-pitched laugh and shuddered as his scar throbbed in sympathy. He knew that sound - it had haunted his dreams for years.

"Potter," Voldemort's voice had his skin crawling in revulsion, "We meet once more."

The way Harry saw it he had two choices. He could go out, snivelling on his knees and cowering before the worlds most evil Wizard, or he could stand on his own two feet with dignity. Harry took as deep a breath as he could and made his choice, dragging himself slowly, painfully upright. He had no delusions that there would be a death here today, and it would probably be his. Sympathetic Magic or not, he was in no condition to reach for his bond. The pain was all consuming, as Voldemort probably intended it to be.

The Dark Lord was sitting on a stone throne at the top of a dais, his red eyes glaring down at Harry. The two men who had pulled him out of his prison had let go and moved away quickly, as if afraid of being caught in the crossfire. They were in a round chamber, and the walls were lined with Death Eaters. Voldemort evidently wanted an audience when he killed Harry, and the young man did his best to straighten up proudly.

"So defiant," Voldemort sneered, "Would you beg for your life?"

"Never," the whisper was thin and filled with the pain from his scar, but it was the best Harry could do at short notice. Voldemort cackled, the sound raising the hairs on the back of Harry's neck.

"Would you beg for your companion?" the Cruciatus spell went past Harry, striking someone behind him. Ron's voice shouted in pain and outrage and Harry's legs crumpled, failing to support him as he felt Ron's pain and his own as Voldemort lashed at him through the connection they shared in Harry's scar. Darkness edged Harry's vision and he sobbed for breath, fighting it back, beating back the despair he felt. His partner's torture was almost more than he could bear and Harry fought to think, to come up with some plan to save Ron. He'd give his own life in a heartbeat if it would ensure Ron's safety. He knew better than that though. A familiar pair of shoes caught his eye, and Harry bit his lip until it bled, wondering if Snape would tell Dumbledore how poorly the partnership they had trained these last four terms had fared in their final battle.

Snape's shoes reminded Harry of something else though, and he welcomed the darkness briefly, letting it take him away from the pain for a few brief seconds, just long enough for him to pull the Occlumency in place, drawing it around his battered nerves like an old, worn familiar cloak. He woke when Malfoy and the bitch Bellatrix hauled him back to his feet, and locked his knees. The calm of the Occlumency was a welcome oasis, and Ron's pained cries had stopped. The ring was warm, and Harry took heart in that. As long as they were alive there was a chance.

"Avery," Voldemort hissed, "I want you to torture that thing you've chained to my wall until Potter is begging me to kill it."

Harry took a deep breath and reached deep inside for their bond. He placed a shield around Ron, wishing that they could touch, but not needing it or his wand to protect them both, grateful beyond words that Flitwick had insisted that they learn to protect themselves this way. The shield reflected the spell back at Avery as Dumbledore had taught them, who squealed in pain and fell to the floor. Malfoy and Bellatrix dropped his arms as if he was suddenly burning hot and backed away; feeling the power that suddenly flowed through the 'helpless' teen.

"What is this?" Voldemort roared and sent the Cruciatus curse at Harry.

His hands came up, palm out, instinct guiding him as he caught the spell in his hands, containing the raw energy of the spell, forming it into a ball between his hands. When Dumbledore had tried to teach them to deflect the spells with their bond, they had managed to master the skill. However, it had felt horribly strange to Harry, worse than trying to learn to control their magic without touching each other. This act of catching and containing the spell felt right, and Ron's silent support flooded through him as his partner recovered from the agony of the Cruciatus curse.

"What magic is this?" Bellatrix cried and stumbled to the floor as Harry threw the curse he'd caught at her, taking no pleasure in her pain, merely getting rid of the energy before it tried to overcome him. Malfoy and McNab drew their wands and threw their own curses at Harry. He caught them again, feeling somehow distanced from the action, balling the two different curses up together, and combining them before throwing them away once more. This time he threw the energy at Voldemort, hitting his target dead centre, watching dispassionately as the most evil Wizard in the world hastily ducked behind a shield of his own.

The Magic in Harry swelled and grew, flooding through Harry as the Killing Curse was cast at him from all sides, the Death Eaters rushing to the defence of their cruel master. He caught the evil green light, the power crackling up his arms to his elbows, his hair standing on end in reaction, his torn and filthy dress robes snapping and crackling in a breeze that didn't exist. More and more curses came arrowing through the air at him and he caught them all, gathering their energy, as instinct demanded he do, as Ron's support told him to, while his memory stirred and whispered what he must do next.

In his first year of Hogwarts, Harry had tried to find out what had happened to his parents upon the discovery of their bodies. His Aunt and Uncle had never taken him to see their graves, and Harry had always wondered where his parents' final resting place was. He had discovered that the Wizarding world didn't bury their dead. They used the last vestiges of magic in the body of the deceased to dissolve the body and cast it to the Four Corners of the world, preventing anyone from practicing the Dark Art of Necromancy on the mortal remains.

Harry had memorised the ceremony, whispering the words to himself in a dark corner of the school library, trying to gain some comfort from knowing that wherever his parents were they were together, resting in peace.

That memory stirred to life now and with Ron's silent acquiescence he cast the energy that the Death Eaters were feeding him inadvertently at Voldemort, reciting aloud the beginning of the funeral rites. He watched dispassionately as Voldemort's body shrivelled and died under the onslaught of Harry's combined power, as the body levitated obediently, the arms and legs spread-eagled in a grotesque sprawl.

He watched the red eyes lose the last spark of life and couldn't rejoice that he had finally avenged the deaths of so many innocents, his parents included. Blood sprayed from his mouth as he forced his throat, lacerated by his previous screams, to project the words of the funeral rite into the chamber. Voldemort's body became transparent, despite all the Dark Rites he had forced himself to endure in an effort to prevent this very thing from ever happening.

The Death Eaters ran, their terror fouling the air of the chamber. Ron's serene presence in the bond didn't even falter for a moment as the partners were forced to expend more of their own energies to see Voldemort to his final and permanent resting place. The chamber shook and the walls cracked from the pure potency of their Magic, but Harry was steadfast in his actions, his voice growing smaller and smaller as his abused throat gave out under the strain. The final words were almost soundless, the pain in his body all-consuming as Voldemort's husk was blasted apart and scattered to the Four Corners of the World.

The power receded, draining away in a rush and Harry fell to his knees, black spots taking over his vision, panting harshly for air. He tried to muster the strength to free Ron, but the first attempt at raising his head was too much for his already overtaxed strength and he slumped to the cold stone floor, unconscious.


When Harry fainted to the floor as the Cruciatus spell hit him, Ron thought it was all over for them both, right then and there. If he couldn't control his own pain - let it weaken Harry so dangerously, as it was so obviously doing now - then they were as good as dead, and for a selfish moment Ron wished they were. Then Harry's body shrank a little on the cold stones, even before Malfoy and Bellatrix tried to touch him, and through the pain, Ron felt a kind of triumph. He'd spent the last two years holding Harry extra close while his lovers' body shrank protectively, the Occlumency their only defence of Harry's mind.

He heard the order for his death dispassionately, watching Harry closely as he gasped through the last of the pain. The shield that sprang to life was warm and soothing, and Ron let his head fall back against the stones behind him, watching through slitted eyes as Harry once more rose to the challenge of the battle against Voldemort. He made himself a passive conduit and siphoned as much power from his surroundings as he possibly could as his partner caught the lethal spells flying his way and combined their power to enhance the bond.

He watched in surprise as even the Killing Curse failed to touch Harry, instead it was plucked from the very air and confined, contained to do their joint bidding. A part of him almost laughed when he saw the untameable black hair tinge as red as his own, some instinct telling him that his own hair was now partially black, a sign of their bond manifesting itself physically.

Harry's poor voice rose in the funeral chant as the Death Eaters themselves handed over the power needed to destroy Voldemort once and for all. Ron had to shut his eyes, almost blinded by the spectacle, and only when it was silent in the chamber again did he open them. Harry was swaying on his knees, panting, head bowed. The dais above him was empty, the stone throne cracked in half. As Ron watched the shield around him faded and Harry slumped lifelessly to the floor.

"Harry!" Ron shrieked in panic and fought against the chains that still bound him to the wall, his wrists still shackled above his head, his feet spread uncomfortably apart. After a moment he looked desperately up at his wedding ring, forcing himself to calm down enough to feel the ring finger, sobbing in relief when he felt the warmth of Harry's pulse in it.

"Mr Weasley, calm down," Professor Snape's voice was as cool as ever and shocked Ron back into his right mind. The Potions master stepped out of the alcove where he'd hidden as the Death Eaters fled the room and probably returned to their homes in fear. Ron couldn't wait to help the Aurors track them all down.

Snape was standing in front of him now, and Ron watched as the Professor raised his wand and severed the chains, freeing him from his confinement. Ron staggered and would have fallen if not for Snape's arm sliding around his waist and holding him up. The grey robes of the Death Eater looked so wrong on the Order's spy that Ron shivered and tugged at them fitfully.

"Grey is not your colour," he informed the man holding him up giddily, and giggled at the disgusted look on Snape's face. He pushed off from the other man and wobbled over to Harry, barking his shins on the steps of the dais and crawling to the huddled lump.

Harry's hair had returned to its usual shade of black, except for one lock that fell over his scar. The copper hairs there mingled with the black around them, almost unnoticeable in the mess. He looked up as Snape came to kneel beside them, the grey robes gone, his usual severe frock coat and trousers a comforting point of normality. From the glance Snape directed to his own head, Ron surmised that Harry had left a few of his black hairs behind as well.

"He's cold," his voice was peevish, but Ron was shaking too hard to pick Harry up off the floor - even if he could have gotten his arms securely around his spouse he would have dropped him the moment he tried to move. Snape heaved a sigh and went back for his robes, wrapping Harry in the discarded cloth. Ron hated the sight of the grey uniform against his lovers skin but had nothing better to offer him.

"We must leave before they decide to return and see who has won," Snape picked Harry up with a grunt and Ron dragged himself up with the help of the stone sarcophagus which had imprisoned his partner. He blanched when he saw the date and Harry's name carved onto the lid.

"My wand?" Ron did his best to focus on the matter at hand, not on what might have been. With Harry unconscious - and blood spattered, which was chilling Ron to the marrow - the bond was quiescent. Ron's ability at wand less magic hadn't been as confident as Harry's, Ron was the grounded one in their partnership, and Harry was the elemental one.

"Your wands were not brought with you," Snape's voice recalled Ron's wandering attention again and he grimaced, disappointed with himself.

"I can't defend us," Ron hated admitting weakness to Snape, but he wanted them to get out of there in one piece, and pride would have to take a back seat. Snape gave him an impenetrable look and then nodded curtly.

"With luck," the distaste in that last word spoke volumes, "You won't have to try. I can Apparate back to the school with Harry and return for you."

"No," Ron shook his head, instinct ruling his decision, "We leave here together."

"How?" Snape snapped tartly, "You're in no condition to Apparate alone."

"I won't have to," Ron stumbled to Snape's side and held out the wilted rose from his lapel, "You're going to make a portkey and take us to the hospital wing."

Snape gave him a very long look and then angled the hand that clutched his wand to perform the charm. Ron reached out and clutched Harry about the ankles, then brought the rose into contact with the wand so that Snape could activate the key. He felt the usual tug behind his navel, and crashed to his knees seconds later in the middle of the hospital wing. Snape stepped back and whirled to lay Harry on a bed, calling for Madam Pomfrey as he did. Ron let it all wash over him, slumping to the cool floor and letting go of consciousness.


Harry did not feel at all well. His body ached with a dull persistency. His head throbbed unpleasantly, and his throat was so raw that he didn't even want to think about speaking to anyone for at least the rest of this year. To top it all off he felt like throwing up, an action that he knew deep in his bones would hurt terribly, and the smell of someone's cup of pumpkin juice wasn't helping matters at all.

On the plus side, Ron's arm was wrapped around his waist, and Ron's familiar soft snore was sounding in his ear. That simple contact went a long way to reassuring Harry that wherever they were and whatever was going on they were safe. The place they were laying was soft, and wonderfully warm. It was not terribly large, Harry could sense that he was close to the edge of it, and felt that if Ron rolled away from him he would likely fall off another edge.

To prevent any falls, Harry took Ron's hand in his, holding it tightly despite his aches and pains and considering his next move. His eyes were closed, yet Harry thought that it was daylight, a vague golden glow beyond his eyelids telling him that there was natural light adding warmth to the bed. If they were in bed and someone was drinking that foul smelling pumpkin juice, then the chances were that they were in the hospital wing at Hogwarts.

To confirm this vague conclusion, Harry slowly and carefully opened his eyes, a task that took a lot of effort. They focussed unwillingly on the person sitting beside the bed, sipping the drink that was turning Harry's stomach. She was reading a book on her lap, and not really paying attention to them at all, which was fine because Harry didn't want to be fussed over. Hermione looked tired, and the hand that turned the pages of her book was a little shaky.

Memory returned with a rush, and Harry gasped, attracting Hermione's attention as he stirred in Ron's warm embrace.

"Harry!" Hermione whispered in relief. She put the cup of juice down and leant over to hug him, kissing his cheek and sitting back with moist eyes. She held a hand up, and the expression on her face warned him to listen carefully to what she was about to say.

"Before you start trying to talk, don't. Madam Pomfrey says that your throat needs you to be utterly silent to heal. I know what you're going to ask, so just listen, ok?" the bossy tone was comforting to Harry. She'd been bossing them around since their first year, and the behaviour was as welcome now as it could be annoying when he was feeling one hundred percent.

"First of all, no one was killed. There were some minor injuries, but Madam Pomfrey has it all under control. When we realised that you and Ron were gone... Professor Dumbledore was beside himself. I've never seen him so upset in my life. He called the Order together, of course, and Fudge and the Aurors had to be told as well. Everyone was out looking for you. Tom Riddle had already called Professor Snape, and we could only hope that he could help you out somehow. You returned to the school with him two hours ago. He told us that Tom is dead, and then went down to his dungeon to brew a potion for your throat," Hermione looked up as Madam Pomfrey appeared, beaming at Harry in a most unusual manner. Madam Pomfrey was not dour or unpleasant, but she usually frowned at you a little when you required her skills. Her lectures were legendary, and students went out of their way to avoid them.

"Ah, Mr Potter, you're awake," she patted the hand that was clutching Ron, "I must ask you to step outside, Miss Granger while I look him over."

Ten painful minutes later Harry slumped back against his still sleeping partner. The one attempt he'd made to speak - at her request - had brought tears to his eyes and left him shaking in pain. He felt too weak to deal with anything other than sleeping right now, but had the feeling that he wouldn't have that luxury. On the plus side, Hermione had taken her pumpkin juice away, and Harry's stomach was settling.

There was a small commotion at the door that had Harry wishing for his wand, as Fudge swirled into the room, Rita Skeeter at his heels. Madam Pomfrey bristled and positively leapt down the ward, spitting nails as she headed them off. The Weasley's were the next through the door, and the resulting commotion finally woke Ron.

"Wassup?" the sleepy question was breathed in Harry's ear and he used his fingers to reply, grateful that with Ron awake there was an easy way for him to communicate. Ron sighed and shifted so he could kiss the ear he was breathing into before sitting up a bit and drawing Harry with him. Harry felt his heart wrench, moved beyond words that the precious gift of Ron in his life hadn't been destroyed by Voldemort's evil.

/love you so much/ Harry whispered into Ron's palm//thank you for staying alive and with me/

"It's ok, mate," Ron soothed, "I would never leave you behind. You're stuck with me Potter. Don't you ever forget it."


Ron watched with concern as Harry toyed with his breakfast for the sixth day running. Ever since they'd woken in the hospital wing with Fudge going toe to toe with his mother - Fudge had lost, and Molly had thrown him out of the ward before coming to sit on their bed and rub their knees like she had all through Ron's childhood - Harry had found keeping a meal down in the morning difficult. He'd complained - albeit silently - that even the smell of some types of food and drink made him want to throw up, and whined to Ron - through the medium of their fingers - that he didn't want to eat, he wanted to sleep.

Ron had fully recovered his energy after only three days of almost solid sleep. The fact that Harry had not had him terribly worried.

Life had gone on. With the death of Voldemort, which Fudge had announced to the press as if he himself had directed the battle and fought in single-handed combat, there had been a very large party for the Wizarding world while he and Harry slept. That had seemed a bit unfair, but Harry seemed relieved. Ron wasn't displeased they'd slept through Fudge's tedious speeches and useless hyperbole, but he would have liked to party with Gryffindor. His House threw the best parties, and they'd missed it.

Parents had flocked to the school on the eve of the Ball, demanding to see their children and demanding that Dumbledore do something to end these attacks, only to be silenced by the haggard appearance of Snape on the Great Staircase. The Head of Slytherin House had informed the assembled that Harry and Ron had killed the Dark Lord and then disappeared into his private dungeon to brew up a few potions, one of which was responsible for healing Harry's poor, abused throat. There had been a lot of fuss and bother, and the parents had eventually left, the school remaining open.

Lessons had been suspended for two days, then things had returned to normal, or as normal as possible when the teachers themselves were moving with a lighter step. Several of the Slytherin students had found themselves targets of pitying looks as their Death Eater parents either disappeared entirely, or were arrested by the Aurors. Draco Malfoy had lost his father when Lucius decided to fight the Aurors that were trying to arrest him, bringing part of his own Manor down around his ears. His mother was found a day later, wandering aimlessly, freed from the Imperious Curse that her husband had cast upon their wedding night. School unity had held them together though, and the Slytherins had found a degree of acceptance in their fellow students that eased the burden of worry just a little.

Ron and Harry had been released after four days in bed, spent sleeping for the most part, never more than a few inches apart. Fudge had come back to debrief them himself, with the Headmaster and their Head of House sitting together on the foot of their bed comfortably. The Minister for Magic hadn't been too happy with that development, hoping to have his 'young heroes' to himself. Harry had been able to speak in a whisper by then, though he still relied on their finger speak for the most part.

When Fudge had found out that they were practitioners of Sympathetic Magic, he had been very excited, and started making plans for their state wedding, offering to officiate at the ceremony himself. Harry had been furious and Ron had his hands full calming the green-eyed boy down again, letting Dumbledore tell the Minister that the wedding had taken place already and been properly witnessed by the families of both boys. Fudge looked thwarted and left not long after, muttering under his breath.

"We'll have to keep a close eye on him, Albus," Professor McGonagall had said thoughtfully and the Headmaster had patted her knee absently. Harry stirred out of Ron's arms enough to lean forward and kiss her cheek in thanks, before collapsing against Ron's chest and hiding his face in his partner's neck. Their Head of House had flushed and dimpled like a schoolgirl before hopping down from the bed and heading briskly to the door.

Ron was recalled to the present when Harry pushed away the dry toast on his plate, having only managed to eat half of a piece. Out of the corner of his eye, Ron saw Hermione notice this and make as if to speak. He shook his head at her and she closed her mouth again, a frustrated expression on her face.

"Harry?" Beth asked from opposite the table, "Would you like some of my pancakes?"

"No thanks, Beth," Harry's smile wasn't as bright as it had been, and his hoarse voice had everyone who heard it swallowing in sympathy, "I've got to get going. See you later, ok?"

"Ok," Beth looked at Ron with wide eyes and he smiled for her before abandoning his breakfast and grabbing his school bag. Harry glanced at him as they made their way down to potions and sighed.

"I'm sorry," he apologised, and Ron took his arm, pulling him to a stop. He didn't want Harry to feel responsible for Ron's feelings. His partner had enough on his plate just recovering from Valentines Day.

"Don't be. I worry because I love you," Ron reminded him, "You usually feel a bit better by lunch, so you can make up for it then."

"Sure," Harry nodded dispiritedly, "I just wish I didn't feel so... washed out. Everyone looks at me funny, and when we last saw Hagrid he practically carried me to a chair and refused to let me up."

"That was funny," Ron grinned in remembrance; "I thought he was going to end up carrying you back to our room."

Harry snorted at him in aggravation and swatted his shoulder in response. Ron grinned and gave him a peck on the cheek before heading down the stairs again. Harry was going to be seeing Madam Pomfrey tomorrow for a scheduled check up and if things weren't better he'd make sure his spouse mentioned the nausea.


Harry closed his mouth and cleared his throat uncomfortably, wincing and reaching for the water on the tray by the bed. Madam Pomfrey tutted under her breath and put away the last of her instruments.

"You're still very run down, Potter," she frowned at him, "And I've been watching you at meal times. You haven't been eating enough, especially at breakfast."

"I get sick," Harry confessed, confined to short sentences to save himself a little pain. The teachers would let Ron answer for him, or let Harry write his answer on parchment to be read out. Madam Pomfrey had shut Ron out of her examination of his spouse.

"Do you throw up, or simply feel nauseous?" Pomfrey waved her wand over him, creating a white glow around his chest and stomach.

"Both," Harry rasped, remembering this mornings little episode with the loo, "Only in the morning."

"Hmmm," she waved her wand again, and the white cloud began to take on various colours, shifting around and tingling through Harry's uniform to his skin. It felt kind of nice, and he relaxed, sitting up straighter to give it better access. Before the colours could settle at all the doors opened and Professor Dumbledore entered, a frown on his face and Ron at his heels.

Ron looked half excited, half angry, and Harry slipped off the bed, his muscles tensing in anticipation. Madam Pomfrey was exclaiming in displeasure, and the Headmaster had to spend a few minutes appeasing her wrath. Ron took the hand Harry was holding out, letting him ask what was going on painlessly. The finger talk had been a lifesaver, as Snape's potion was not fast acting.

"Minister Fudge has sent us a... proclamation," Ron tugged on Harry's hand until he was wrapped around his partner, a warm shoulder offering shelter for Harry's head, and a strong body supporting his still tired and aching one. It felt so good to be held and to hold.

"What?" Madam Pomfrey exclaimed, "What does he want from them now, Albus?"

Harry reflected that Madam Pomfrey was not the dullest knife in the drawer. The only reason for Dumbledore and Ron bursting in here like this was because Fudge was planning something. Ron's body was tense, but not battle ready, so Harry took a little comfort in the idea that whatever this was, it wasn't going to be too bad.

"Minister Fudge will be holding an award ceremony tonight in the Quidditch stadium. The whole school is expected to attend, as well as many dignitaries and notables from our world. He plans to confer upon Harry and Ron the Order of Merlin, First Class."

The Headmaster's dry statement had Harry gaping at him in astonishment. He didn't want an award, presented in front of the whole Wizarding world for something that, by the accident of his birth, he was fated to do. He looked at Ron, who was excited, and more than a little overwhelmed by the idea. His partner would finally get the recognition that he craved from those around him. For Ron, then, he could put up with the pomp and circumstance that was about to be inflicted upon him.

"According to Fudge's communication, Madam Malkin will be here shortly to provide the boys with appropriate robes for the occasion," Dumbledore turned to look at Harry. He thought he saw concern and worry in the older Wizards gaze and did his best to radiate well being and vigour while clinging to Ron for comfort and support.

"Will Harry be able to attend the ceremony?" Dumbledore hadn't been fooled by the act, and Harry sighed, running his fingers lightly over Ron's hand in reply.

"He says that he'll be fine if he can rest for a while today. We've got a flying lesson to give this morning before dinner," Ron translated, "Perhaps Madam Pomfrey could recommend a tonic as well?"

"Well..." she sighed and then nodded in agreement, "Just this once, on the understanding that tomorrow he spends the day in the hospital wing with me. I want to check him over from head to toe."

"Agreed," Harry rasped immediately. He had a feeling that the visit would be needed by then anyway, if he were to be a model of health and confidence this evening.

"Professor," Ron hesitated, "Can I invite Mum and Dad?"

"And the rest," Harry insisted, "We'll have as many of the family as we can."

He coughed painfully and sipped at the water that Ron Summoned for him, sitting down and waiting the discomfort out. He listened as Ron and the Headmaster agreed on how to get Ron's family there in time. The Headmaster bent and looked Harry in the eye for a long moment before giving him a gentle hug and pat then strode quickly out to organise the school for the occasion.

"Right," Madam Pomfrey snapped, "When is this lesson? After breakfast? You're to go to bed directly after that, Potter, and someone will bring you dinner. I'll send Professor Snape up with the potions you're to take after that. You're not to stir from your bed until I come and get you, is that understood?"

"Robes?" Harry risked the one word question, and watched the Matron purse her lips in exasperation. He had a feeling that if he didn't stop objecting to her orders right now she'd have him drinking the foulest tasting medicine she could possibly prescribe for him.

"I'll be supervising," she informed him with a sniff and waved him out the door, Ron's supportive arm around his waist. He was able to walk on his own, but it felt so good to be supported, to be simply cared for, that Harry indulged himself in the luxury for the short walk to the stairs.

/you'll spoil me/ he told Ron's wrist and smiled at the redhead as he pulled away. His Ron looked rather dashing with the tiny black streak of hair in his fringe. Mrs Weasley had gone all dewy eyed when she'd seen it and hugged them both fiercely.

"Never in a million years," Ron chuckled, "Do you feel up to a spot of toast?"

/I make no promises/ Harry sighed and Ron nodded. The Great Hall was looming in front of them and Harry could hear the chatter of his fellow students, reaching out of the doors like a welcoming hand.


Madam Malkin arrived in the foyer with colourful bolts of fabric, two assistants and a flurry that even the dullest student couldn't miss. Ron was waiting with Madam Pomfrey to meet her, and take her up to his dorm room. It had been decided that the fitting would take place there, so Harry had the least amount of travelling to do, and could be put straight to bed if necessary.

Wrestler was not best pleased at letting three people that were wholly unconnected with the school into the rooms it protected, but Ron talked the gargoyle around. Madam Malkin stared around at the comfortable quarters that had held Gryffindor for the past two years, and Ron led the way to the room that he and Harry lived in. The door was shut but not locked, and Madam Pomfrey ordered them all to wait outside while she went in to check on Harry and wake him.

"I thought that..." Madam Malkin trailed off and Ron sighed. There were probably hundreds of rumours floating around about his and Harry's health and status and everything else. They'd stopped reading the Daily Prophet last week, when it had told the world that they had died the night before. Ron's rather blistering cancellation of their subscription had gone unacknowledged by the paper, which had none-the-less published a retraction when it was deluged with Howlers from Ron's family and all their friends. Hermione read the paper now for them both, and leant them the Quidditch scores. The Seven Nations Cup had gone on undisturbed by recent events.

"The Daily Prophet needs to be renamed to the Daily Guesser," Ron muttered grumpily, wishing that he was in there waking Harry instead of their school Matron. He could wake his spouse with gentle kisses and strokes, giving him time to orient himself and gather his wits. The school Matron would wake him gently, but not in such a pleasurable fashion. At least... she'd better not!

"Right, lets get this over with," Madam Pomfrey opened the door to let them in, and Ron walked past the snickering assistants to greet Harry with a touch and a smile. His partner was wearing the hideously bright dressing gown that Dobby had given him, which had the advantage of being floor length and warm. Madam Malkin regarded it with a sniff of disapproval, and Harry grinned.

"It was a gift," Ron explained, "And it's warm."

"Well," the seamstress looked around at their plain rooms and then looked back at them, eyebrows raised, "You'll have to tell me what you want, gentlemen."

"We're both partial to something that is plain, simply cut, not too flashy or fussy," Ron told her, "And Harry's voice is too weak for speech at the moment, so I'll answer for him, or he can write answers down for you."

This was a little invention of his own. He had a feeling that Harry would be called upon to speak a bit tonight, so they might as well save his voice as much as possible now. Madam Malkin's eyes lit up and Ron had the feeling that Harry's 'failing health' would be all over the Daily Prophet tomorrow along with whatever hysteria that the paper came up with after tonight. His partner wasn't sick, he was just a little run down after channelling so much raw power to get rid of Tom Riddle once and for all.

Madam Malkin had the assistants measure them both from stem to stern, and started unrolling sample swatches of material while Madam Pomfrey sat in one of their armchairs and watched with an eagle eye. Some of the patterns and colours on offer were interesting, but he could see that Harry was horrified by a few of their choices. His partner was getting restless, and Ron could see the matron was about to interfere rather aggressively on behalf of her patient.

/black brocade// Harry pointed out the fabric he'd spotted//we could look a little like Snape/

Ron laughed, shaking his head and pulling out the material Harry meant. It wasn't actually black, merely a blue so dark that it seemed black. The brocade was something that caught the light, sending little ripples of light along the surface. It felt rather nice to his touch and Harry approved it with a nod. Madam Malkin intervened at that point, asking if they would be dressed alike or differently.

"Alike," Ron looked over at Harry, "We might as well show the partnership in all things, at least for formal occasions."

Harry nodded, and Madam Malkin shifted restlessly, obviously curious, but not willing to risk Madam Pomfrey's wrath by drawing out the session with her questions. The seamstress and her assistants cut the cloth and shaped it into sets of flowing robes, with high necks, deep sleeves and a slightly stiff drape to the under robes. When they tried them on though, it enhanced Harry's pallor to the point he looked like a walking corpse. Ron shook his head vehemently - his Harry was dead sexy, not a walking corpse, and he wouldn't ask the man to wear anything that made him look like one.

"Now, now," the seamstress clucked, "We can change the colour to something that will look better on you both, dear."

Several colour changes later she was starting to look frustrated. No matter which colour they tried, they made one of them look very unhealthy, except for a shade of pink that they both refused to wear. Harry was looking tired and Ron was thoroughly ready to just go to the ceremony in his school uniform. Their dress robes had been thrown away after Madam Pomfrey had removed them, unfortunately torn and stained irreparably, otherwise he'd have worn them. Madam Malkin was twittering about trying patterns and paisley's next, which didn't sound too appealing.

Harry shook his head and sighed, reaching for Ron. The robes rustled as he moved, and framed the sexy body beneath in alluring, teasing lines of light. Ron joined his hands to Harry's willingly and felt the bond come slowly to life.

/Gryffindor colours/ Harry suggested and Ron nodded, concentrating on transfiguring the material, only altering its colour. Their robes fluttered in an invisible breeze and then settled. Harry was walking flame, red and gold swirled through the robes in a dramatic flare that enhanced his skin tone and warmed Ron's heart.

"Perfect!" Madam Malkin exclaimed, "In all my days I've never seen such an inspired pattern!"

"You like?" Harry whispered hoarsely and Ron nodded, admiring the flow of light along his partners' frame, picked up by the brocade itself. He winked at his partner and rubbed his fingers over Harry's wrist.

/you look utterly shaggable in that/ Ron smiled seductively. Harry blushed and ducked his head, grinning at his partner. The moment was broken when Madam Pomfrey insisted that Harry get back into bed and Madam Malkin magicked the robes onto stands by their armchairs. As far as Ron was concerned, that was a step in the right direction - he and Harry were left in their briefs and socks.


Harry took a deep breath and smiled at his excited spouse. They were standing in the Gryffindor players box, waiting for the doors to open. There was a crowd out there - he could hear them talking and moving - and he just knew that he was going to hate the next hour or so. If Fudge tried to drag it out longer than that, Harry was planning on fainting or hexing the Minister, whichever was easiest.

The pattern of flames on the robes they wore mirrored Ron's slender strength and seductive lines, the deep red and gold seeming to flicker and swirl even in the half-light. Harry leaned over and put a hand along Ron's jaw, turning his head enough for a slow chaste kiss.

"You're insatiable," Ron moaned, and Harry smiled, leaning in for one last brush of lips. Madam Pomfrey had left them alone, walking the seamstress and her assistants out, and Harry had lured Ron to their bed with a request to be held. Once horizontal, Harry manoeuvred them until the inevitable had happened and they'd gone to sleep in the afterglow, waking tangled together and content.

/only for you/ Harry promised and straightened when he heard music start and the whispers outside quieten//looks like we're on. Have I ever told you how much I hate the spotlight//

Ron looked at him closely, and Harry regretted the remark. He didn't want to cheapen this experience for his partner. Ron deserved the recognition, and Harry didn't really begrudge him it. Ron's fingers tightened on Harry's as the door opened and the dark haired boy was startled when they sung softly to him. He recognised the first lines from 'Green eyes' by Coldplay - the Muggle group that Ron had come to love over their last summer holidays.

/Harry, you are the rock, upon which I stand, when I come here to talk, I hope you understand, green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you, how could anybody deny you? I came here with a load, and it feels so much lighter, now I've met you, and Harry you should know, that I could never go on without you, green eyes.../

He almost laughed at the changed words, remembering not to at the last moment, squeezing Ron in silent warning of the retribution that was to come if he didn't knock it off. They walked up the hastily built stairs and onto the raised floor of the stadium, the crowd roaring in their ears. Fingers tangled, steps matching, they walked with grace and calm to stand beside the Minister, disengaging only long enough to shake his hand.

/your mum and dad are behind Fudge, to the right. I think I see your grandparents too/ Harry informed his partner, who looked and smiled at his family, his fingers ticking off everyone who had managed to come, pointing them out to Harry without pointing.

The school was also ranged along the stadium, the teachers in front and the students on the benches behind them. Everyone wore their school uniform, though the girls had done their hair up, and the teachers wore the ceremonial robes that were usually only seen at the Seventh Years Leaving Feast.

Harry tuned in to Fudge's speech and froze in disgust. The Minister was relating details of his past in a lead up - he assumed - to the death of Voldemort. The only problem was that Fudge was taking all the credit for his teachers and protectors work. Ron's fingers stroked in a soothing cadence, and Harry shot him a miserable look.

/I have an idea/ Ron promised//we can make it all better with one simple step. Fudge is up for re-election next year; his eight-year contract of service will be up. We can undo all his posturing with just one gesture/

Harry bit down on a grin and caressed his assent warmly over Ron's fingers. Ron was the grounded one, seeing to the heart of other people's actions quickly. The crowd was roaring with approval and he paid attention to Fudge again, noticing that the man was now reading from a double scroll. Harry could feel the magic that had been placed upon the parchments - charms to verify the truth of the contents, prevent tampering and any accidental damage.

The Minister let the scrolls roll back up and returned them to their elaborate holder. Each platinum tube was embossed with precious stones in the Ministry's official Seal. They were returned to the cushion they had been resting on and the Minister picked up the first of the medallions. Harry's fingers told Ron to step forward, to take the first honour, and his partner hesitated.

/I place you above all others/ Harry's fingers tapped firmly for emphasis and withdrew. He folded his hands into his sleeves and Ron sighed, stepping forward smoothly. As the Minister hadn't actually called Harry's name, he couldn't object, and Harry smiled up at his parents-in-law, watching their pride and joy overflow in happy tears as their youngest son received his award.

Then Ron was standing beside him, and Harry stepped forward, bending his head to let Fudge slip the chain over his neck, settling the medallion on his chest. He stepped back and reached for Ron.

/now/ Ron nodded. The Minister was standing to one side, beaming at them hopefully, and Harry paced forward with his partner to the edge of the stage, bringing them both directly in front of their teachers and their school. In one smooth flawless movement they placed their hands over their hearts and bowed deeply, showing the rest of the Wizarding world where their loyalties lay, and to whom they felt the most indebted.

When they stepped back into place, Fudge looked like he was trying to swallow a pineapple, sideways.

/perfect/ Harry's fingers purred//I married a genius/

/yeah, you did/


"... Mortified," Snape was saying as Ron led a drooping Harry towards the side room the teachers had retired to. If the Head of Slytherin meant his spouse, then the man was correct. Harry had hated the fuss and bother around them, only cheering up when they sunk Fudge's little propaganda fest at the award ceremony.

"As you have said many a time, Severus," Dumbledore sounded amused, "Harry and Ron are not saints."

Ron rapped on the open door and smiled when the teachers turned to look at them. The Headmaster's blue eyes were twinkling behind his half-moon glasses, and Ron grinned in response. He and Harry had removed their medallions and boxed them away carefully. The plan was for Dumbledore or McGonagall to keep them safe - a standard practice when a student unexpectedly came into possession of something valuable.

"We were hoping you would keep these for us, Headmaster," Ron said by way of explaining their presence, and held out the boxes. Dumbledore nodded and took the proffered items, opening them to look at the contents. Harry's fingers stroked his wrist in a gentle reminder.

"And we wanted to say thank you. We know who put all the hard work into our training, despite what Fudge seemed to think. Without your lessons we wouldn't have survived."

Harry bent down and hugged Flitwick, in absence of adding his voice to Ron's. The Head of Ravenclaw patted his back affectionately, and Ron smiled. Harry had wanted to do something to indicate his gratitude, but when Ron suggested a handshake his partner had thought it a little impersonal. After all they'd been shaking hands all night until Dumbledore sent the students to bed. He and Harry had gone as a matter of course, much to Fudge's dismay, though the party would probably go on for hours.

Professor McGonagall got a hug and kiss, and Dumbledore embraced Ron's spouse heartily. Snape stiffened when Harry approached him, but it didn't deter the green-eyed young man from hugging their irascible potions master. Snape's arms apparently crept around Harry of their own volition.

"Five points from Gryffindor," Snape muttered when Harry let go and Ron grinned. Professor McGonagall sniffed and muttered under her own breath, probably adding the points back on, and then leaned in to look carefully at the clasps on their outer robes.

"Gryffindor lions?" she touched the silver and gold clasp. Harry nodded and gestured to their robes as well, smiling when comprehension flashed in her eyes. They wore their House colours deliberately.

"You should probably take those magnificent robes off and hand them over to Dobby for cleaning and proper storage," Dumbledore suggested, "Why don't you go into the boys toilet down the hall, and I'll have him meet you there with dressing gowns."

Ron gave the Headmaster a smile of thanks and said goodnight to everyone. Harry trudged along with him, holding Ron's hand. Dobby was already there and five minutes later Ron was supporting Harry up the stairs, ignoring his partners' silent protests of health and independence. Wrestler let them in with a cheerful 'good night' and the common room was still crowded with students.

"About time you two got here," Dean grinned from his comfortable lounge, "Can't have a victory party without the victors."

Ron felt Harry cheer up a bit and grinned back. They could do with a friendly party to wash away the tediousness of the one downstairs. Hermione cut things short, though, not giving them time for more than a quick drink and a few jokes. As the majority of people were already tired and full from the prior party, no one protested too much and went to bed without fuss.

Harry was dead to the world by the time Ron climbed into bed, and he wrapped himself around the other man tenderly. The next thing he knew, Harry was pulling away, sunlight was streaming in through their window, and his partner was rushing for the nearest loo.

Ron climbed out of bed, found their dressing gowns and slippers, grabbed the glass of water they kept on the dresser for Harry's sore throat and a flannel and headed after his partner. Harry was heaving rather vigorously, and Ron sighed in sympathy, wetting the flannel and wiping it over the back of Harry's neck. When the other man had finished hurling, Ron flushed the toilet - the smell wasn't at all pleasant and wouldn't help Harry's stomach to settle - and handed the glass of water over. Once his friend had finished rinsing and spitting Ron washed his face and hands and helped him put on the dressing gown and slippers.

"Come on, we're going straight to Madam Pomfrey," Ron decided, "You can skip breakfast."

"No," the hoarse whisper had Ron wincing in sympathy. He kissed chapped lips and stroked his thumbs over Harry's temples. His glasses were back in the dorm, and would stay there today. He didn't intend for his partner to do any work at all while under the school matrons' care.

"Please," he whispered, putting his forehead to Harry's, "For me?"

Harry nodded reluctantly and Ron helped him up. He murmured words of love and encouragement as they walked slowly to the hospital wing, hoping that whatever Madam Pomfrey had in mind for today would do the trick.


"What did Madam Pomfrey say, Ron?" Hermione asked as Ron joined her at breakfast. He helped himself to kippers and tried to smile for her. He had a pretty good idea that it didn't help when she threw her arms around him and hugged him close.

Last night his mother had pulled him aside while his dad and the twins fussed over Harry and asked what the hell was going on. Her sharp eyes had seen through the front Harry was projecting, and the fact that he really hadn't regained his voice at all hadn't helped. He'd promised to keep her updated and informed her that Harry was spending the next day under Madam Pomfrey's care. She'd nodded and gone to hug her son-in-law, rescuing him from the twins' exuberant questions.

"I can go get him after tea tonight," Ron sighed into her shoulder, "Why won't he get better, Hermy?"

"Give it time," Hermione soothed, "I'm sure Madam Pomfrey will figure something out today."

Malfoy plonked down next to Ron and Lavender and Parvati took the empty seat opposite. Ron let go of his friend and addressed himself to his breakfast before it got cold. Hermione's newspaper arrived, touting itself as a 'Souvenir Issue'. There was a rather good shot of Harry and Ron together, standing at the top of the stairs that led from the Gryffindor players box to the floating stage.

"Two timing Harry already?" Lavender sniffed as Ron leaned into Hermione's space to get a better look. He didn't even bother to answer that. Mistress Brown was approaching a nasty fall if she didn't get her shrewish tendencies under control. Ron raised his head slowly, a scowl on his face. He and Harry had dropped the I-am-not-here charm when they were getting dressed for last night. Their wedding bands were clearly visible to anyone who looked. Obviously she hadn't bothered. He held his left hand up so she could see the warm circle of metal that pulsed along to Harry's life force.

"We were married in January, a few friends and family attended," Ron told her, realising that the whole table was watching avidly, "We'd satisfied the fidelity annum requirement for Wizards in their majority by then."

"Yet you dated Hannah and Susan!" Parvati gaped, "You used them!"

"No we didn't," Ron sighed, "Susan and Hannah are friends of ours. They knew that we were not interested in dating them at all, and they agreed to come to the Ball with us as friends."

He didn't want to out the other couple, it wasn't his place to do that, but if Lavender didn't back off soon, then Hannah and Susan would be facing some rather uncomfortable questions. He was saved from the dilemma of how to steer the questions away from their erstwhile 'dates' when Susan herself came over and leaned down to kiss his cheek. From the look in her eyes, she'd evidently heard what Lavender was whining on about and come over to rescue him. The irony did not escape him - he and Harry could face down the most evil Wizard of their time, but they couldn't bring a gossip in their own House to heel.

"Sod off, Lavender," Susan said over Ron's shoulder, "Hannah and I are a couple and we used the boys as cover."

"It was Harry's idea," Hannah added from just behind Hermione, "They didn't want to hurt the feelings of anyone who thought they had a chance at a romance with them, and we didn't want to run the risk of a couple of guys getting the wrong idea."

Ron could feel Malfoy's fascination with the whole scene and wondered if the blonde Slytherin was going to be reporting this to... Ron's thoughts came to an abrupt halt. Even if Malfoy had been reporting their actions to his father, Lucius was now dead and the Death Eaters reduced to a small rabble hiding in remote locales. It would be disloyal to the school to treat Malfoy as a spy now. There was no one for him to report to, and ingrained habits were hard to break. Besides, Malfoy had not mentioned his son to Voldemort at all - some other woman had talked about her son the spy.

"Let's not argue," Hermione said briskly, recalling Ron to the present. Lavender and Parvati were openly sulking and Ron sighed. They'd just have to get over it in their own time, and meanwhile he would concentrate on getting Harry back to his usual self.

The day seemed three times as long as usual to Ron, who only wanted to see his partner and hear from Madam Pomfrey that he was going to be just fine. If Harry couldn't be cured here then his partner would be sent to St Mungo's, where Petunia Dursley still slept. Ron wouldn't be able to see his partner except on weekends. His fellow students seemed to understand his worry - Harry's absence hadn't gone unnoticed, and Professor Trelawny had made a few predictions during her lesson that afternoon that had Ron itching to hex her. By the time tea rolled around, Ron's appetite was non-existent, and Beth ended up sitting next to him and urging him to eat in a maternal tone. Ginny was on his other side, lending silent support. Harry was her brother now too, and Ron whispered a promise to tell her what was going on the first moment he had free. Hermione walked him to the hospital wing and hugged him outside the doors, before hurrying away.

Madam Pomfrey was waiting, and Harry was curled up asleep in a bed near her office, surrounded by tall screens for privacy. The school matron let him peek at his partner and then ushered him into her office, putting him in a seat and settling opposite. Ron had the worst case of butterflies that he'd ever had in his life, and couldn't work up enough spit to ask her what was wrong with his partner.

"First of all, Professor Snape's potions weren't working effectively because of the vomiting and Harry's current hormonal levels. I was forced to use a more direct series of spells to heal the last of the damage to his throat, but he now has his voice back and all discomfort has ceased. If I'd known he was that uncomfortable to begin with I'd have ignored his wishes to allow Professor Snape's potions more time. You will never, ever, allow him to hide symptoms from a Healer ever again," she glared at him, and Ron nodded, glad that her oaths as a Healer prevented her from acting on her desire to mete out a painful punishment, and relieved he'd be hearing Harry's voice again without having to wince in sympathetic pain.

"Secondly," Madam Pomfrey's glare eased up and she smiled, an expression so unexpected that Ron's head spun in shock, "The reason Harry has been so run down since... you know what... was a very happy bit of news. He informed me of your wedding in January, and tests have proven conclusively to me the cause of Harry's hormonal imbalance."

Ron resisted the urge to shriek at her to just get on with it, his hands turning into fists in his lap. The matron noticed and leaned over to pat them gently, her smile widening even further.

"Harry is seven weeks withchild, Ron, and you are the father."

He puzzled over the strange term that the matron had used, until he remembered that male pregnancies were usually called withchild, the literal combination of the two words with and child.


Harry was woken from a deep sleep by kisses and shaking fingers stroking his face and shoulders. As Ron was the only person that was allowed to kiss him awake, Harry smiled as he opened sleep heavy eyes. The smile turned to a frown when he realised that Ron had tears on his face. He reached up for his partner, tugging to get Ron to climb onto the bed with him. Ron climbed up willingly, hugging Harry to him ecstatically.

"You spoke to Poppy?" Harry murmured sleepily, realising that Ron was happy-upset, not sad. Ron nodded and went back to kissing him, an activity that Harry could participate in wholeheartedly. He felt much better after a day in Madam Pomfrey's care, especially since she had managed to give him a series of treatments that meant that his sleep was actually restful for a change. For the first time in the past fortnight Harry wasn't running hard just to stay in place - or that's how it felt.

"Oh Harry, I can't believe it," Ron pulled away, while still hugging him tightly, "Are you... is it ok? I mean we were going to wait, and I know that...and... are you happy? Do you want them? I mean..."

"Shhh," Harry soothed his spouse tenderly, "I'm happy. The moment she told me I wanted them. You know I wanted us to have a family of our own."

He'd been blown away by the news at first - mainly because the idea of a male pregnancy was so foreign to everything he'd ever learned. Once he'd had a chance to think about it, and the matrons' potions had taken effect, he'd been over the moon. With his voice restored, he'd asked hundreds of questions, exhausting himself in his quest for understanding. The matron had reassured him that he hadn't inadvertently hurt his children in the battle with Voldemort, and then made sure he ate a hearty dinner. Harry had fallen asleep before the empty tray could be removed.

"Them?" Ron blinked, "What...?"

"Didn't she tell you?" Harry wriggled until he had Ron's hand, which he used to shove the blankets down until it could be placed over the warmth in his belly. He'd been feeling that ever since Madam Pomfrey had brought it to his attention, and his hand had basked in that simple sign of the life he carried. Ron was shaking his head, his eyes widening in wonder as Harry used the bond to bring the warmth to his spouse's attention.

"Triplets," Harry laughed as Ron started and almost fell off the bed, grabbing his spouse and hanging on until he'd regained his balance, "Your mum and dad are meeting us in Professor Dumbledore's office tomorrow night so we can tell them."

"Triplets?" Ron gaped at him and then wormed his way down the bed to press his face to the warmth that was bathing his hand, "Three?"

Harry stroked the red hair and let Ron wrap his mind around the idea. He'd had all afternoon between naps to get used to the idea; it was only fair to let Ron have some time as well. Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat and Ron sat up reluctantly, hopping off the bed and letting her wave her wand over Harry.

"Right, Potter," she smiled at him kindly enough, and he began to think she might just forgive him for not giving her the full story the very first time he felt unwell, "You're to come and see me first thing in the morning for the next two weeks until I'm sure that you're back to normal. Then it will be fortnightly check ups. The morning sickness will pass soon, and your teachers already know about your condition, so they'll be sure to keep you out of harms way in lessons. No more Quidditch, though you can fly for as long as you're comfortable astride a broom."

"Yes, ma'am," Harry sat up as she reiterated the instructions she'd given him once the full diagnosis had been made, "Thank you."

"Off you go, and make sure he has a meal, Mr Weasley, he slept through tea. I'll send Dobby along to your room," she started removing the screens and Harry shrugged his dressing gown on. Ron was still floating along in a blissful daze and Harry had to lead him out of the hospital wing. Hermione was lurking beside Wrestler with Ginny, and Harry hugged them, whispering that it was 'good news' in their ears.


Ron came back to his surroundings in their room, and immediately ushered Harry to the bed, glaring sternly when Harry protested quietly.

"You've got the first real colour in cheeks for weeks, and I'm not having it fade out because you're being stubborn," Ron scolded, "I've been too lax about your health, lover, and it's going to change."

"Oh god, he's gone mad," Harry groaned, subsiding onto the pile of pillows Ron had arranged for him and glaring up at his friend. Ron didn't care. They'd been very lucky - both Harry and their unborn children were going to recover from the strain they'd been forced to endure and Ron was not going to let Harry lift so much as a finger for the next seven months.

"Ron," Ginny grabbed him and pulled him away from where he was fussing with a blanket that Harry immediately kicked off, sitting up and frowning at him, "Stop it. What's wrong with you?"

"He's withchild!" Ron yelled at her, "We almost lost him because I can't keep it in my pants!"

The silence that followed that little outburst was startled to say the least and Ron flushed. He hadn't meant to announce their good fortune like this and Ginny was gaping at him in total shock. Hermione had to think about it for a moment to figure out the unusual term, and then flushed red - doubtless from suddenly having more information than she'd ever wanted about their sex lives and Harry lost it, laughing hard and falling back on the pillows.

"It t-takes t-twoooo," the green-eyed maniac spluttered between uncontrolled bouts of laughter. Ginny ducked her head and bit her lips. Harry's laughter was infectious to say the least and it took a stronger person than Ron to resist it. He could feel his own lips twitching and sank down onto the bed, his hand coming to rest on Harry's ankle as chuckles escaped his lips.

Hermione and Ginny joined in, a relieved edge to their laughter. When Harry calmed down he rearranged the pillows and sat up, beckoning for the girls to join them on the bed and tugging to get Ron up to his side, catching a hand and draping it over the warmth that seemed to emanate from his belly. Ron sighed and put his head on Harry's shoulder, basking in the knowledge for a long moment.

"You shit," he mumbled, "If you think you're going to get around me..."

"Pet," Harry sighed, "You know I won't. But you can't put me in a glass bubble on a shelf. Madam Pomfrey knows what she's doing."

"Perhaps you should start again," Hermione suggested from where she lounged with Ginny and Ron turned his head just enough to look at them. Harry was warm and smelled good, and wasn't dying; therefore Ron wasn't inclined to let go.

"There are two ways for a Wizard to get withchild," Ron told her, "One is for their partner to cast a fertility spell on them during... the act, and the other is for a couple to... you know... on something called a ley line."

"I've heard of them! Even Muggles know about ley lines. It's magical energy running in bands around the earth that affects the things around it," Hermione looked relieved to finally hear something that she understood. Ginny was also looking interested, and Ron guessed that their mum hadn't included this information in her little talk about safe sex. His dad had handled the boys' talks, and had been bluntly informative about both methods of coupling, much to Ron's silent embarrassment at the time.

"The ley line picks up on the activity, and the wish of the two people involved, or the two anything actually, for children to come from the... union," Ron continued awkwardly, his face red, "It makes the... one receiving... fertile... and things go on from there."

"On our wedding night, Ron and I consummated the nuptials under the tree where dad bound us," Harry shrugged the shoulder Ron was resting on and he complained softly, "Madam Pomfrey thinks that there is a ley line running beneath the tree. Actually, that explains the twins, Ron. If your parents had sex under there twice in one..."

"I don't want to hear the rest of that!" Ginny clapped her hands over her ears and Harry blushed, subsiding into the pillows and muttering an apology. Ron snickered and leaned up to kiss him, nuzzling his cheek when their lips parted and putting his head back on Harry's shoulder.

"So you're having twins?" Hermione guessed and Ron spluttered, realising just what the answer would tell her about their sex life. Harry stretched sensuously and smiled at her. He must have picked up that expression on his face from the twins, Ron mused, because that was the look they used when they were about to answer a question you shouldn't have asked.

"Triplets," his tone was supremely satisfied, "And we're lucky that we weren't too keen to stay out in the cold..."

"I don't want to hear the rest of that, either!" Ginny squealed and Ron laughed, sitting up as the door to the elf tunnel opened and Dobby emerged with a tray. The elf had included four cups of tea and a plate of scones for them all, as well as fruit and sandwiches for Harry. Once the elf's congratulations had run their course and they were alone again, Hermione cleared her throat a little and shifted her tea from one hand to the other.

"Uh, no offence, but how will you actually..." she trailed off, but Ron understood what she meant. There wouldn't be many books in the library about this, and the few that were there she would have had no reason to read. He had no doubt that she'd be in there first thing tomorrow morning, searching them out, but in the meantime had to rely on what information they could give her.

"Well," Ron sighed, "The magic involved is pretty powerful. It creates a small conduit from the body of the bearer to a pocket of... non-space. Through the conduit the bearer passes all the nutrients and stuff the baby needs to grow, and once the baby is born it disappears immediately. This puts a lot of strain on the bearer though, and the casting we did to get rid of old Tom made things worse. Harry's body was dangerously off balance, which is why he didn't recover properly from the casting. He'll be seeing Madam Pomfrey every day for the next two weeks to take a lot of potions to help balance things out and stop the morning sickness. At the right time the magic will even create a birth canal for the baby to be born."

"How do you know all this stuff?" Ginny asked, gaping at him. He grimaced and rolled his eyes at her, shifting so that Harry could reach the plate of fruit. His spouse had eaten four sandwiches, but the plate kept refilling, so Ron didn't push for him to eat more. The fruit was Harry's favourite thing anyway - when his appetite was poor, Ron could always coax Harry into eating a piece of fruit.

"Dad," he told his sister, "He did the 'safe sex' thing for all of us boys, and when he found out I was marrying Harry he pulled me aside for the baby talk too."

"Yoicks," Ginny shook her head and then grinned, "I'd love to have seen that!"

"Will you get f... a belly?" typically, Hermione ignored the byplay in search of answers, and Harry nodded to her. Ron knew that Madam Pomfrey would have informed him thoroughly, and that Harry probably had a thousand questions for her anyway.

"A little one, not as big as a girl would. And before you ask, no I won't grow breasts," Harry blushed and bit into the banana he held. Hermione laughed, probably at the thought of Harry with breasts, and Ron kissed his partners cheek. His fingers caressed the reassurance that Harry needed to hear onto a hip, and Harry smiled in relief.

/I'll love you no matter what. You're stuck with me, Potter/


His in-laws had been and gone, enthusiastically accepting the good news. He was feeling a lot better too, though that was mainly due to Madam Pomfrey and her medicines. At least he was able to keep his breakfast down now, and Dobby was supplying him with as much fruit as he could possibly eat, as well as other simple foods. Fortunately someone - probably Hermione or Ginny - had circulated the rumour that the different foods were part of a diet set by the school matron. No one had questioned him about it so far, and he hoped that would continue.

Harry watched his first years competently weave in and out of the course he had designed for them. They were nearly at the end of term now, and he was starting to find flying a little uncomfortable, though his belly had expanded only a little. He had hidden that little fact by making his robes bigger. The baggy fabric hid the slight swell, and next term he would use glamour charms that Flitwick had shown him.

Beth Dunn had tried out for the position of Seeker and Harry was helping Ginny and Ron train her in the evenings. Truth told, Harry had the feeling that he would be grateful to have the extra time away from Quidditch practices as the NEWT's approached. Things were already hectic, and he and Ron would be returning to History of Magic next term as their teaching duties would be finished.

"Parker! Mind that tree!" Harry shouted to his hesitant flyer as the boy came a little too close to the Whomping Willow. Parker avoided it gracefully and Harry sighed in relief. He did not want to have to explain to anyone how one of his students had damaged the 'valuable tree that had been on the grounds since before he was born' as Snape had once yelled at him and Ron. Granted, they'd crashed a car into it, but still...

The last of his students cleared the course and Harry sent his broom back to the ground. He dismissed his class and shouldered his own broom, locking the shed door and heading up to the castle.

He spotted Neville and an owl in the foyer and grinned, hurrying to catch up with his friend. Neville was still waiting to hear from his Grandmother if he could accompany Harry and Ron to Potters Field for the Easter holidays to plant the garden that he had designed. With a bit of luck this would be the answer.

"Well?" Harry asked eagerly as Neville looked up from the letter. It was definitely his grandmothers' owl - the bird was spearing him with a very fierce glare, much the way Mrs Longbottom had.

"I can come," Neville said happily, "Gran said she'd send us a hamper, too. She knows I can't cook."

Harry laughed and clapped Neville on the shoulder. He'd learned to cook the Muggle way, but this holiday he was planning to try it the Wizarding way. Molly's gifts to him when he was sixteen were about to get a lot of use.

"I've got some books you can borrow," Harry promised, "In fact, I'll be learning too."

"It will be like old times!" Neville grinned, "Only this time we won't be learning life or death skills."

"Have you tasted Ron's cooking?" Harry shuddered mock seriously, "I think it's worse than Hagrid's. That makes it pretty much life or death as far as I'm concerned."

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