Title: Breaking the Stone
Author: Harikari
Pairing: Ron/Draco
Rating: Hard PG-13
Summary: Draco, Ron and their misadventures during Winter Break.
Warnings: Strong language, violence, written before the release of OotP, alternate events, eventual slash.
Disclaimer: Don't own em'. No copyright infringement is intended. I wrote this fic for fun, not profit.
AN: My first fanfic. Feedback is very welcome. This is the first story in the State of the Stone Trilogy.

-----Part One

Ron Weasley sat leaning against a dead tree, watching as the sleds that were carrying those students lucky enough to be going home for the holidays sped across the frozen, snow covered lake and faded from sight. For the first time in five years, Harry was on one of those sleds. Rather than, as usual, being stuck at Hogwarts while the Dursleys celebrated their Christmas countless miles away the Boy Who Lived was off to visit his godfather, Sirius.

Harry had been excited. His friends ought to have been excited for him.

A little too forcefully, Ron tore open a small and funny-shaped box. He grabbed at the Chocolate Frog inside of the box before it could hop away and took a bite. "Some kinda' friend I am," the redhead managed through his teeth. The candy frog's legs were still kicking as he chewed. "But who wouldn't feel this way? I've got no one to hang out with for over two whole weeks!"

It was true. Ron had no one. Harry was gone, Hermione was with her dentist parents as usual. He didn't even have is annoying twin brothers, Fred and George, to keep him busy over Winter Break. Who would've thought those two would actually ever make a friend crazy enough to invite them over for break?

Finally swallowing, Ron shock his head and absently crushed the Chocolate Frog box in his hand. "Fifth year sucks." And it did. There had been no Tri-Wizard tournament, no Harry coming over for the summer before school had started, no unusual series of events that would eventually lead to foiling yet another evil plot. Nothing at all. Even keeping track of Quidditch didn't seem as fun. And when it came to Ron Weasley, that was saying something.

"All right there?" Ron jumped, his heart suddenly hammering in his chest. "Oh. Did I scare you? Sorry."

It was Ginny. She giggled at the sight of her older brother wide eyed and panicky, before composing herself and squatting down beside him. "Mum an' dad sent Errol with some mail this morning. Just a letter." She stopped to stare at his clenched hand. "Got anymore of those frog things for me and Harvey?"

Ron blinked. "Harvey?"

There was a sudden pink tinge to Ginny's cheeks. "Never mind. Doesn't look like you have anymore. Anyway, mum and dad said in the letter that they've decided not to go to Romania, after all. Charlie had some sort of dragon emergency to take care of. They thought we might like to go home but -"

"What!" shouted Ron, eyes bulging. "And you didn't tell me this until just now? The sleds have already left, Ginny! The train is leaving soon! How are we supposed to get home?"

The redheaded fourth year glared. "It's not as if I've had the letter for weeks, Ron. You know how slow Errol can be. It wasn't mum or dad's fault either."

"You couldn't have told me this morning?" asked Ron.

Looking furious (this was something that had been occuring more often as Ginny got older), the girl stood and brushed away the snow that had managed to accumulate at the bottom of her robes. They were fairly new robes, seeing as how she was the only girl in the Weasley family and couldn't fit into her brother's things, and she was extremely careful with them. "Listen. I searched for you all morning, all over campus. I even asked Filch where he thought you might be. Filch! I wasted a big part of the day looking for you, Ron, and all I got when I found you was told off." Again, she brushed at her robes. "And a spot of mud on my clothes!" With that, she turned and walked away.

Fuming himself and thinking fondly of the train he could've been heading home on, Ron uncrumpled the Chocolate Frog box in his hand and looked down at it dully. He was about to crush it again, out of anger and nervousness, when he realized just what it was he was staring at.

In elaborate, golden letters what was left of the collectable wizard card inside of the small box read: AGRIPPA THE WITCH. Sometime during his third year Ron had almost completely given up on collecting cards and on pointedly buying candy frogs in order to collect. He'd done this because he had almost all of them anyway, and the few cards he did need had long failed to show up. Still, over the previous two years the redhead had managed to acquire all but two cards by simply glancing inside of the few Chocolate Frog boxes he did happen to cross paths with. One of those very elusive cards was of Ptolemy, the other was of Agrippa. Agrippa the witch.

"Bugger."

Running slender fingers over the remnants of the Agrippa card, Ron decided it might not be a hopeless case and stuffed the crinkled mess into his pocket. "I can't believe I ruined a rare card," he muttered - a full moment before realizing that he'd also ruined any chance of hanging around with Ginny over break. She'd been such a grump lately. It would be a while before she cooled down. "She'll probably be too busy hanging around with Harvey, anyhow. Whoever that is."

Standing, Ron stretched and mulled over his problems for a bit before deciding that there was nothing he could really do about them. Satisfied with that decision, Ron noted the darkening sky and headed for Hagrid's hut. At least he'd have someone to talk to for a while. Even if it did mean enduring some horrible cooking and a huge boarhound licking at his face.