Equal Reaction
by Criss Moody

"Look at that, poor Weasley, without his friends. What, don't want to be caught copying Granger's work?"

Malfoy's voice slid through the air, slick and full of perpetual satisfaction. Ron ignored him, continuing to flip through "1001 Herbs and Fungi Relating to the Dark Arts." He needed to find out how aconite would react when mixed into plumberry juice. With luck, it would kill anything that drank it, plus turn them purple. The way Ron's afternoon had been going, it'd probably just make'm vomit. Either way, Malfoy wouldn't be a bad test subject.

"No answer? Oh, please Weasley, do play along. It's hardly fun to be the cat when the mouse thinks he can ignore you."

Malfoy rapped Ron's freckled knuckles with his wand. Ron rolled his eyes and looked up from his book. Malfoy had the trademark smirk on, pleased to have at least interrupted Ron's work. Stupid git just wanted to get a reaction from Ron, since Harry and Hermione were much harder to provoke.

But Ron was tired. And Ron didn't have the energy to care about Malfoy's tired old recycled sarcasm. Ron'd just thump him later. Right now, he had to somehow keep his eyes open long enough to finish this bit of homework. When Harry and Hermione arrived, he could count on them to kick his legs when he started to fall asleep. Right now, it was all he could do to turn the pages and keep his fingers on his pencil. Aggravating morons would just have to wait.

Malfoy prodded Ron's hand with his wand. "You idiot, do you even realize that I'm insulting you? Why do I bother...." his words cut off as Ron rose from the table, carefully putting his pencil in his book to keep his place. Before Malfoy even closed his mouth, Ron had trapped the other boy between his own body and the table, using his hands to keep Malfoy's on the table.

"You are annoying. I am tired. When I am not tired, we will resume the Ron Reacts to the Least Little Insult play. Until then, slither away like a good Slytherin and play with your broomstick or something."

Ron's eyebrow raised as he felt something thick nudge his hip. Yeah, or something.

"Malfoy, if I'd known a little bit of domination got you going, I might not have thought you were worthless slime from the second we met."

Ron considered his statement for a brief moment. "All right, that's a complete lie. I'd still think you were slime."

He arched into Malfoy and licked a long line up the side of Malfoy's face. A fully body shiver from Malfoy rewarded Ron. He smiled. Malfoy looked...upset. Aroused. His face blushed red and purple, his fingers clenched into tight little fists. Mind you, he still didn't make much of an effort to get away. If only someone else were bothering to use the library, they'd get to see Malfoy all flushed and perturbed. Their loss.

"But you would have been amusing slime."

Ron released Malfoy and stepped away from the desk. "Go on now. I've work to do."

"Cocky, aren't you? If this is what happens when you're not shadowing the great Potter, well, I suppose that's wishfull thinking, isn't it? If he's not around to wind you up, do you eventually wind down?" As Draco fussed with his robe, he spoke but did not look up.

Ron grunted and sat back down at his table. "Malfoy, you're a great bloody git and I'm too busy for you, how many times do I have to tell you we can play later?"

"Weasley, I'm not..."

"What? Used to being dismissed? Interested? You need to be dismissed more often and as for interest, the tenting in your trousers shows your interest."

Malfoy opened his mouth to speak but chose to take a deep breath instead. Probably marshalling his energy for a response but Ron heard the door to the library swoosh open and close. He looked up to see that he was once again alone in the library.

Ron opened his book and started in again on his homework. Every time his eyes started to close, he remembered the hot press of Malfoy's body.

Ron's skin buzzed with the rush of blood and sarcasm. Malfoy had a use after all. Malfoy would have a response eventually. Ron looked forward to it.


Draco rubbed at his jaw, harder and harder, as if trying to erase a black spot from his milky skin, or remove someone's touch.

He didn't like to be touched without permission. Pansy now knew better, after trying just once to express casual affection. Her arm had slid around his shoulders after a Quidditch game and Draco couldn't have moved away faster, leaving Pansy standing alone, arm in the air. The humiliation had clung to her, but she'd rebounded quickly. After all, she was still Draco Malfoy's girlfriend, and that had a certain cache to it that no humiliation could erase.

No one got away with casually touching a Malfoy.

Ron Weasley needed to be taught a lesson. But since Weasley had touched him, humiliated him in a fashion Draco hadn't thought possible, the ratty red-head hadn't been alone even for a second. Everywhere Draco went, he saw Granger, Weasely, and Potter together. Heads touching, the static in their hair making it raise together above them, a mix of ginger and red and black. Laughing and joking, Potter and Granger and Weasley. It was infuriating. Draco barely noticed but noticed all the same that he wasn't exactly easy to get alone either, always surrounded by a crowd of Slytherins, wanting to circle in the Malfoy orbit. He wouldn't have known that sometimes Weasley's head lifted, and looked at Draco, lost in a sea of green and silver and power.

This weekend was a Hogsmeade weekend. To the shock of his girlfriend, his min..uh, friends, and nearly his entire house, Draco Malfoy had stayed behind at Hogwarts. He'd been two minutes from dashing out with the others when he'd seen Potter and Weasley walking down the main corridor. Draco had ducked into a doorway and overheard proof that Fate adored him.

"You sure you don't want to come? You're not feeling sick or anything, are you?"

Weasley'd brushed off Potter's hand on his shoulder.

"Nah, I'm fine. Just tired from work and everything and?" Weasley's voice had trailed off at the look of disbelief on Potter's face. "All right. I have my reasons. If you stop annoying me, go off, and bring me back some Chocolate Frogs, I'll tell you why. Later."

One last look, with Potter's annoying, classically arched eyebrow, and the Boy Wonder had left, and Weasley had turned and whistled a jaunty tune on his way back to Gryffindor tower.

If it hadn't been tacky, Draco would have rubbed his hands together and cackled. This turn of events presented him with a perfect opportunity to turn the tables on Weasley. The aggravating sidekick evidently labored under the erroneous impression that he could do as he liked with a Malfoy.

He'd find out just how wrong he was.


Baiting Malfoy was like baiting Percy. In both cases, it took no effort and felt so satisfying Ron wanted to do it again, and again, and again.

As Ron had thought about what he'd do if Malfoy decided to make a response to Ron's challenge, he remembered one of the more interesting, new items he had in his possession.

Ron was the proud owner of a very nice leather whip. Given to him by Percy for his last birthday, the gift was supposed to be a little nudge along a career path. It had been that kind of birthday. A nicely scribed copy of 'Quidditch and The Ministry of Magic' from Bill, a new chess set from Mum and Dad, and the whip from Perce. Ron liked to think he had more than three options; his family apparently didn't agree. The Ministry, something with chess? (Ron hadn't a clue what), or Auror.

Whips had other uses. For one, it made a handy clothesline. Or a deterrent for anyone eyeing Ron's spot in front of the Gryffindor common room fire. Cheeky bastards had thought they could sneak in when Ron went for his books. They'd soon learned that the attempt would earn them a sharp welt on the hand, or the shoulder, or the buttocks.

Ron had gotten fairly good at using the whip. He liked the way it sat very quietly by his side, unobtrusive, until he chose a moment. Picked it up, and let the intent race down his arm, into the whip, and through the tip as it licked at its target. It was precise. Not to mention rather impressive looking.

So, he had a two-fold reason for not joining his friends at Hogsmeade. Ron hadn't had much chance to practice with the whip lately. He wanted to see how much he could do without Hermione around to criticise his technique. Annoying, that.

Ron also thought he'd give baiting Malfoy another turn. The Slytherin was just so easy. He wouldn't have dared, or bothered, before that encounter in the library. But Malfoy's skin took a blush so well that Ron wanted to experiment. He thought maybe Malfoy's nearly translucent skin might take nicely to the touch of a whip. Yeah, it was probably sick and twisted and all that. Or Malfoy wouldn't rise to the bait and would already be in Hogsmeade, playing at being the most Slippery Slytherin ever.

Ron wasn't sure he'd really tell Harry. He was his best friend, yeah, and Harry wasn't all that strait-laced, but still. Giving him all the details would probably send Harry into shock. And then Ron'd have to explain it to Hermione because she'd be in a snit and Ron would rather cut off his own foot than have to tell Hermione Granger that he wanted to fuck Draco Malfoy. All right, fuck with his head anyway. Ron wasn't sure it would get as far as fucking, but he wouldn't mind too much if it did.

He imagined explaining all that to Harry and Hermione. Honestly, he couldn't dream of anything worse except for explaining it to his parents.

The combined horror of Ron's thoughts distracted him enough as he walked out into the sunlight that he missed the blonde boy hiding in the shadows of the main entrance to the school.

He also missed the smirk on Malfoy's face that he so dearly wished to slap or snap off with one well-aimed flick of his whip.


Ron Weasley was a beautifully stupid boy. He'd made it all so simple for Draco. Not going to Hogsmeade, not staying inside, going out alone, past the Quidditch shed, close enough to the Forbidden Forest that few students would be around until the day was out, and they all returned from the village.

This time, Draco did rub his hand together. He kept the cackle inside for fear that Weasley would hear him and be prepared for what Draco had planned. Perhaps 'plan' was too strong of a word. This was more of a blind rush into proving that no Weasley could ever push a Malfoy around and get away with it.

Or, of a more honest bent, Draco had a morbid need to see if Weasley could again make him feel as he had in the library. If Draco were to be terribly, uncharacteristically, sadly honest, he had to know how much longer he could needle Weasley and what the results would be. Draco very much wanted him to push back.

A verbal tussle wasn't going to satisfy him anymore, though. It didn't even begin to touch what Weasley had sparked in him. That slim, freckled last son of the Weasley clan made Draco want, no need, to drop on his knees. Not always, not everyday, but Weasley had stared at Draco as if he knew exactly what Draco wanted and would give it him if only he would beg. Malfoys did not beg. But Draco thought that perhaps Weasley could make him do something that was very close to begging.

He'd die before he admitted this outside of his own private thoughts, of course. If Weasley wanted the words, he'd have to convince Draco. That would be intriguing.

Weasley stood at the edge of the Quidditch shack, and Draco watched the shift of his shoulder blades as Weasley passed something through his hands. Sometime between First Year and Seventh, Ron Weasley had gotten shoulder muscles. And grown more than a foot.

A crack split the air, and Draco, shocked, jumped backwards, stumbling onto the ground as he lost his footing. Naturally, this alerted Weasley to his presence. Draco rested on the grass, watching as Weasley stalked over to him, whip in hand.

Whip? He had a whip. It was very long, and looked like it was leather, and it was a whip. He had a whip in his hands.

Draco got hard in a flash, and with a blush, he leapt up from the ground and tried to discretely hide his hard-on. This worked about as well as mocking Weasley had in their previous encounter. Weasley eyed him, head to toe, and grinned. Draco tried to meet his eyes but failed as Weasley re-coiled the whip. His thighs clenched as Weasley's guided the whip into a tight circle.

"Hey, Malfoy, nice of you to drop by. I was just getting in a bit of whip practice."

Draco's tongue felt big and heavy in his mouth. That, and he couldn't think of a non-obscene response. "Fuck me" and "Guh" both came to mind but it didn't seem quite like the right time for either response. If Draco had to be desperate, he'd at least goad Weasley into making the first move.

"Oh, come on, Malfoy, it's no fun to torment you if you pretend to not care." Weasley's sing-song voice mocked Draco's earlier words in the library.

Still silent, Draco circled Weasley. The boys kept several feet between them as they circled each other, but they didn't stop looking at each other. Sizing up the competition. Draco dizzily wondered if prey felt like this. And instantly shoved that idle thought way. Malfoys were never prey; perhaps,however, they could turn being the hunted to their own advantage.

Time slowed down. Weasley's whip flicked out and snapped at the air between them. Draco advanced. Weasley raised the whip high into the air, again. And as it fell, it arced across Draco's pure-bred, high cheekbones, cutting a fiery red mark across the expanse of flesh.

Draco came in his trousers.

He felt the wetness seep through his knickers and waited there, barely breathing, as Weasley gathered in his whip and closed the distance between them. There was a short moment, their faces nearly touching, Weasley's face unreading enough that for a moment Draco thought the game might be over, or perhaps there had never been one to start with. But Weasley shoved Draco's arms behind his body, securing them with the whip, and Draco let himself take a deep breath.

This gave 'power' a fresh nuance for Draco. As Weasley licked the traces of blood from his cheek, Draco bit his cheek to keep his smile inside.


Ron sincerely hoped that his whip wasn't hurting Malfoy. He had plans forming in his brain that did not involve hustling Malfoy off to the infirmary to have his arms reattached.

He liked Malfoy right where he was, squirming against Ron, arching and sighing into his body, all his parts attached. Ron had Malfoy's blood on his tongue, and as he cupped Malfoy's dick through the wet trousers with his palm, he just had to take a moment to appreciate the hysterically amusing nature of this.

He had Draco Malfoy, arrogant, elitist, superior, annoying Draco Malfoy in a most compromising position. As he gave Malfoy's wet crotch a final caress with his fingers, Ron stretched Malfoy's arms further back, making his body arch forward into Ron. His eyes drifted over Malfoy as he took shallow breaths, avoiding Ron's stare. But he didn't speak. Didn't call Ron names or sneer at Potter's Pet Weasley.

Ron looked away from Malfoy's face. The pulsing beat in Malfoy's throat came into his sight. His throat was distended, his robe partially undone. His chest rose and fell slowly, deliberately, as if Malfoy were trying to be as good as possible. Good little boy.

This was rich. A Weasley controlling a Malfoy. Malfoy's hips bucked, and Ron nearly lost his grip on Malfoy's arms. As he righted himself, he got a glimpse at Malfoy's eyes. All right, so maybe he wasn't controlling him. So maybe Malfoy got off on being dominated just as much as Ron got off on being the boss for once. It seemed only fair. He'd earned a chance to be more than a loyal companion.

The robe's hooks popped off as Ron ripped the bothersome fabric from Malfoy's body. The shirt beneath quickly followed the robe to the ground. Ron traced each rib with his fingers, thinking about all the times he'd fantasized about ripping Malfoy and his pack to bits. His fantasies had always been richly textured with blood and gore, cries for mercy. Ron hoped that he'd at least get a 'please' from Malfoy. Just one.

The skin underneath his fingers tasted like honey, cream, and cloves. Ron licked down the breastbone, flicking his tongue at each nipple. Malfoy was so warm that Ron hated to move away from him. He rubbed his cheek against the pale, satiny skin of Malfoy's chest. As Malfoy's breath speeded up, Ron heard Malfoy's heartbeat thump harder against his ear pressing into Malfoy's skin.

Ron backed off and released Malfoy's hands. The whip uncoiled, leaving its impression upon Malfoy's seemingly fragile wrists. Ron rubbed at the skin there, bringing blood back into Malfoy's hands. He took Malfoy's face in his hands, his thumb rubbing across the welt his whip had made. Malfoy winced, his mouth opening slightly, sucking Ron's thumb between his lips. Their eyes met and Ron felt blood pulse through his cock.

Then Malfoy went to his knees. Ron dug his hands into the blonde strands on Malfoy's head and held on.


Draco was wrong. He didn't mind admitting that at all. He had believed that the one who got fucked, the one who sucked, the one who submitted had to be a weak, spineless, wretched creature. Not something he would ever be.

He saw the error in his thoughts now. He could submit and still hold the power. A Malfoy was often the exception to rule. He would have shared his thoughts with Weasley if his mouth wasn't presently preoccupied. The afternoon light washed over Weasley's body, highlighting his throat and nipples. Sharp points of pale flesh against the background of trees and sky. He was magnificent and Draco hummed his approval, causing Weasley to keen and tighten his fingers against Draco's scalp.

Draco withdrew a bit, running his tongue along the underside of Weasley's cock, tasting the heat and salt. Weasley panted, his mouth forming words that didn't quite make it from intent to sound. Running his palms around the curve of Weasley's ass, breathing in time with the involuntary flex of muscle, Draco smiled and kissed the tip of the bobbing member before face. Weasley's hands clenched and unclenched as Draco's fingers dipped between the shadows of Weasley's upper thighs. A sound, half-shock, half-pleasure, cracked from Weasley's throat before he spoke.

"Suck it, Malfoy, or leave."

Draco sucked one finger into his mouth before easing it into Weasley's arse. Draco flicked his tongue around the head of Weasley's cock, feeling the shudder run through the pale body as Draco's finger moved inside Weasely. He had power here. He had Ron Weasley in his mouth and right now Weasley would do anything he asked.

This was power and Draco loved it.

Then Weasley suddenly grabbed his hair, yanked his head back, and hissed into his face, spittle spraying onto Draco.

"Malfoy, I thought I said 'suck'. Is there something about that you need explained?"

He ignored Weasley entirely. With a smirk on his face, Draco removed his finger to play along the satiny seam between Weasley's balls and the crinkled hole. And nearly fell forward when Weasley quickly stepped away from Draco.

The bastard was leaving. Draco blinked, and still saw Weasley fastening his trousers, picking up his whip, and heading away from the field. Achy and shocked, Draco stumbled after Weasley on his knees for a bit, hobbled by the pants still around his ankles. Damn Weasley, he couldn't do this to Draco. He wouldn't. No one walked away from a Malfoy.

"No, you can't, I won't....."

His words died as Weasley stopped and turned back to stare at Draco. Except for the bright red flush in his cheeks, he appeared utterly, disgustingly calm. As if a minute ago he hadn't been panting at the feel of Draco's tongue on his cock, Draco's fingers in his ass.

"What, you won't let me? Won't let me leave? And how are you going to stop me?"

Weasley walked slowly back towards Draco as he spoke.

"Tell me why I shouldn't walk back to the school right now. Explain to me how no one does this to a Malfoy and lives. Give me the reasons why I should fuck a whiny, arrogant, ignorant bastard that I don't give a toss about."

His palms cupped on Draco's face. Draco could not let Ron walk away. He could not let Ron treat him like this and just walk away. That wasn't how the game should be played.

"Come on, Draco," Weasley's jaw clenched on the name, "tell me why."

Draco dropped to his knees and took Weasley's cock deep into his throat, eyes tearing as his gag reflex protested. His eyes first raised up to meet Weasley's, then Draco began to suck. He put only one hand on Weasley's hips to steady himself, using the other to press against his own erection. Weasley's hand swept over his forehead and Draco opened his eyes as Weasley spoke.

"Don't touch yourself."

Draco admitted he could have been wrong about who had the power.


The soft, distinct impression of Malfoy's hair on Ron's fingers seemed to sink into Ron's skin so deeply that he'd never forget it. It occurred to Ron that he must be hurting Malfoy, that the other boy's scalp must be on fire, his throat bruised.

Ron deepened his grip on Malfoy's hair, relishing the control, loving how it made Malfoy grunt and suck harder. His fingers tapped out messages on Malfoy's head, more, harder, back off, come closer, yes, there, lick right there.

It also occurred to Ron that he didn't seem to care overly about Malfoy's pain. And that his own lack of concern bothered him about as much as dizzying up a garden gnome. That is to say, not at all. As long as Malfoy got him off, as long as Malfoy didn't pass out from lack of air, not much else mattered right then.

Malfoy began to hum around Ron's cock and Ron shuddered, his breathing hitching as he fought the orgasm. He wanted it to last forever, loved the dizzy glide of light swirling around his head, the way his head and toes and hands tingled with the rush of blood towards his lower torso. But Malfoy took Ron's balls in one hand, rolling them lightly, brushing his thumb over the skin, and Ron came hard, the only warning his hands tightening around Malfoy's head. Malfoy rode the orgasm out, sucking and licking through aftershocks until Ron pushed his head away.

Ron took deep gulping breaths, hoping to clear his eyes of the pinpricks of light dotting his vision. Part of his higher brain functions appeared to have been sucked out his penis. Not that he really needed those higher functions; he had a Hermione.

Oh, now why'd he have to and think of that. He'd promised to tell Harry why he was staying behind. Ron wasn't a good liar. Especially not to Harry and Hermione. Dammit.

Lost in those thoughts, he paid little notice to Malfoy, who had rested his cheek in the curve of Ron's groin. When he did realize that his mortal enemy/person who just sucked his brains out was still there and hadn't conveniently disappeared, Ron grimaced.

"This isn't snuggle time, Malfoy. Get off." He gripped Malfoy's hands and unwrapped them from his body. Malfoy let himself be pulled up and away, but when Ron let go of his hands, Malfoy tried to grip Ron's wrists. Malfoy's hands refused to grip and he fell to the ground, his hands refusing to support his weight, he knelt on his legs.

He met Malfoy's eyes. Ron almost shivered as he tried to keep looking and not turn away from the eerie, maniacal glint in Malfoy's eyes. He kept staring as Malfoy leaned closer, and never breaking the stare, sucked Ron's index finger into his mouth.

Though Ron had already experienced the best orgasm he'd ever had since he'd first discovered the joys of touching himself, he felt his cock painfully attempt to rise to the occasion. His finger left Malfoy's cherry red mouth with a lewd pop as Malfoy bent down to pick something up off the ground.

It was the whip.

Ready to take it from Malfoy's hands, because no way was Malfoy going to use it on him, he almost swallowed his tongue when Malfoy opened his already sex-red lips to blow the handle of the whip.

Bloody fucking hell. His erection continued its valiant efforts to rise again as he stared at fucking Draco Malfoy give his whip a blowjob. Malfoy's pink tongue twisted against the dark brown leather of the handle. His eyes stayed glued to Ron as he drew the thick handle out of his mouth, letting it rest against his cheek. He sighed and Ron felt himself sigh too, as if their bodies had synchronized.

Malfoy handed him the whip and turned around. There was nothing dark about Malfoy's body. The lines were clean and pure and as his back arched, his hands braced against a tree, Ron shook with renewed need to mark him.

Mark? What the hell did he think he was? A Death-Eater? An animal? A low whine came from Malfoy. As Ron watched, his fascination tainted with a feeling that he should be disgusted, Malfoy's body stood still, so very still.

Malfoy wanted this. He'd sought him out, blown him, and was practically begging to be hurt or fucked or something Ron didn't have words to understand. As much as Ron felt as if that should make him want to stop, it didn't. He had a certainly not unattractive boy ready to do whatever Ron wanted and he was hesitating why?

Because he was Harry Potter's best friend and Hermione Granger's best friend and he was supposed to be one of the good guys. And the good guys don't hurt the bad guys to make them feel good.

Perhaps if Ron repeated that over and over, the sight of Malfoy spreading his legs for him wouldn't make him hard again. It was a shame his cock wasn't listening.

He sighed. The whip felt good in his hands. Ron snapped it experimentally at the air above Malfoy's head, nearly breaking bark off the tree. Malfoy trembled but remained silent. The whip's tip whistled within centimeters of Malfoy's ear. Nothing but heavier breathing, his ribcage expanding at a faster rate.

The next fall of the whip arced across Malfoy's buttocks and Malfoy hissed. Ron let two more fly, on one each buttock, before he spoke.

"Do you like that?"

He could hear Malfoy clearing his throat, trying to speak.

"What do you think?"

A sharp crack of the whip licked at Malfoy's balls and he danced on his heels, howling.

"Not the right answer." Ron stepped up and pinched one of the welts he'd just made. Malfoy leaned forward on his arms, trying to shift away, but never trying to stand up.

"Yes, fuck, all right, yes, I like it."

"And do you want more? Or are we done here?"

Ron chanted in his head pleaseplease please, no, don't say yes. He wasn't done here.

"Yes. No. I..." Malfoy hesitated, gasping when Ron squeezes his balls. "Please. Please."

"That's the right answer."

Ron kissed the back of Malfoy's sweaty neck and stepped away. Coiling the whip, he spoke.

"I'm done here. Later, Malfoy." He turned, grabbed his robe, and strode away, ignoring how weak his thighs felt. His entire body felt exhausted, and his muscles trembled as if he'd been running or playing Quidditch for days on end.

As he neared Hogwarts, Ron saw the students returning from Hogsmeade. Nearing the Gryffindor staircase, he heard Hermione call his name. He stopped outside the Portrait and let a crowd of First Years pass.

"Hello, 'Mione, how was the village?" Ron leaned into the wall, his hands, and the whip, hidden in his robes.

"Fine. We brought you back a few things. Why didn't you come? Harry muttered something about being busy, a poor excuse, I say." Hermione gave the password and they quickly walked up to the common room and found some open seats by a window. Dropping her parcels on the windowsill, Hermione settled into her chair and waited for Ron to answer her question.

"I had to prove a point, all right?" Ron thought his grin would break his face if it got any wider. He rubbed his palms where the whip's handle had rubbed the skin red.

"A point? Would this point have anything to do with Draco Malfoy?"

"Er. Well, I.."

A beet-red blush swept over Ron's face. How the bloody hell did she see anything? Was she guessing?

"Next time you're discussing the finer points of Quidditch with a Slytherin, you might want to do it someplace less...obvious." She managed to not laugh for an entire second. Then her laughter echoed through the common room so loudly that everyone turned and looked.

She clapped her hand over her mouth and hiccuped as the giggles subsided.

"Oh, Ron, the look on your face. It's like you swallowed a bagful of Firecracker Sweets."

"Thanks." Ron grumbled, slouching deep into his chair.

"Don't worry. I didn't see much. And Harry missed it entirely. I distracted him as we went by."

"Uh, thanks."

"I hope you know what you're doing."

"I know exactly what I did. Now, I'm enjoying some candy with a friend." He grabbed the bag of treats that Hermione had dropped onto the windowsill.

They sat silently until Harry came through the common room, pulled up a seat, and sat down with a sigh.

"You missed a terrific day, Ron, hope it was worth it." Harry tossed a few Chocolate Frogs into Ron's lap. As he unwrapped his own, Harry's face wrinkled in confusion.

"Strangest thing just happened. I was headed past the Slytherin staircase when I saw Malfoy. He looked right at me like he didn't even see me. Didn't say a word, not even when I called him a stupid git. Weird."

Hermione raised an eyebrow. Ron shrugged his shoulders and hoped his good luck would hold.

"Yeah, everybody has off days. Even the Great Draco Malfoy."


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