The Catch

By Passo
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A/N: I just concluded my Harry/Draco fic "We All Burn Sometimes." Now, I've embarked on writing a new one. It's Ron/Sev, as I mentioned before and I'm writing this for a friend who's been bitching about the lack of Ron/Sev pairings in fanficdom. So, I hope you'll like this beginning as much as I do. I know it's short, but it's just the prologue. I'll be posting chapter one soon. =)

Prologue: The Agreement

All fairy tales have a beginning. Usually, they begin with the immortal words "Once upon a time.." and end where the hero and heroine kiss and live happily ever after. This particular fairy tale might not have a heroine, but it certainly has a great store of heroes. After all, even boys need their happy endings. Now, let us begin.

Once upon a time, in Hogwarts, there were five boys in one of Gryffindor tower's dorm rooms. Three boys were reading and avidly discussing the latest issue of Playboy—a muggle magazine smuggled by the one named Dean Thomas into the school. The two others were wizards named Seamus Finnegan and Neville Longbottom. The other two left were embroiled in a chess game that was just about to start. These boys, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, are seated on Harry's bed, the magical chessboard between them.

"Harry, why do you even try?" Ron Weasley smirked as Harry Potter made his first move on the chessboard.

The bespectacled boy did not reply. He just calmly moved his white pawn two squares forward. The pawn gave him a resigned look and moved accordingly. Harry kept his poker face intact, not willing to give Ron the satisfaction of seeing him lose hope. Even his chess pieces didn't trust him. In truth, Ron was right. Since their first year in Hogwarts, he had not won a single chess game against the redhead. They were now in their seventh year and his skills still didn't match his friend's. So, indeed, what's the use of trying? But then, you never know. The stars might fall from the sky and he might win this chess game. Just then, inspiration struck.

"Ron, I have an idea. We could make this game much more interesting." Harry pushed his glasses up his nose and gave his friend a mysterious smile.

"What do you mean?" Ron asked, a little confused.

"We could bet on something." Harry's smile grew wider, naughtier.

"You mean like a few galleons or a pack of chocolate frogs?"

"No, that's boring. I was thinking of something more dangerous."

"Dangerous, hmmm… Oh, I know! If you lose, you'd have to kiss Draco Malfoy in front of everyone in the Great Hall." Ron guffawed at his joke. Surely, Harry would never agree—

"Alright," Harry said calmly.

Ron's laugh died in his throat. "What do you mean 'alright'? You're serious?" he choked out.

"Yes. Of course, you must have a penalty which is just as heavy as mine."

"What do you have in mind?" Ron's eyes narrowed. Harry hid a sneaky brain beneath that calm exterior. Almost seven years of friendship taught him that.

"You have to ask Professor Severus Snape out on a date and—"

"What??? Snape!!! Never!"

Harry held his hand up, stopping Ron from arguing even further. "Wait, hear me out… and, to make sure the bet means something (I mean, after all, you could ask him out anytime and he'd just smack you and give you detention and you'd consider it done) he has to accept. You really have to go out with him."

"Hey, no fair! Kissing Malfoy is a lot easier than what you're making me do."

"Okay, then. I'll have to ask Draco Malfoy out, too. Same conditions. He has to accept. What do you say?"

Ron thought for a while. He really shouldn't worry. He was, after all, Gryffindor's resident chess champion. Harry didn't even remember the difference between a rook and a bishop. Of course he'd win. He grinned as he looked up at Harry.

"Deal!" They shook hands. The deal was agreed upon. No turning back now.

"Hey, Dean, Seamus, could you guys put that in writing?" Harry told their two friends who had been listening avidly to their conversation.

"Why? Don't you trust me?" Ron asked, a little hurt.

"Of course I do, Ron." Harry patted his hand to appease him. "This just makes the agreement more… concrete."

Grinning evilly, Dean Thomas took out a piece of parchment and started writing down the conditions of the bet. Seamus, who looked on, suggested something:

"Hey guys, what if  you add the former condition? Aside from going out with them, you have to kiss them in the Great Hall. That way, everyone will know."

Harry, turned to Ron, eyebrows raised. "I'm all for it. What about you?"

Ron swallowed. This bet was getting more and more dangerous and difficult by the minute. A mental image of himself falling down a chasm entered his head. He was screaming, screaming as fell deeper, deeper… Ron shook his head. He agreed to this nonsense. May as well get this over with.

"I'm okay with it."

Dean finished writing. He passed the parchment and quill first to Harry, who signed his name with a flourish, before passing it to Ron. Ron's hand shook a little as he signed. He mustn't lose this bet. Of course he'd win. Gads! He mustn't even think about losing! Dating Snape, for Pete's sake! He drew deeply from his well of bravado before facing Harry again.

"Well, Harry my boy, you'd have to think of ways to woo your Malfoy as early as now. I will win, you know."

Harry just blinked. "We'll just see about that. Now, where were we?"

The two hours that followed must have been the most tense-filled ones that passed in the history of Gryffindor tower. Dean, Neville, and Seamus felt equally tense as they watched the two players think and sweat over the chessboard. The game felt like it would last forever. But, everything, no matter how good, must come to an end. So, two hours after signing the fateful contract, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley concluded their chess game.

It must have been the tension, or maybe it was the fear of losing. There must have been something… something that made him botch this game. Ron stared with wide, blank eyes as his black king fell as Harry uttered "Checkmate." Everything moved in slow motion. He should have known. There was a first time for everything, and this was his first defeat. He stared at his sweaty hands clenching and unclenching in his lap. Surely, this couldn't be happening. He looked up slowly into Harry's impassive face. His best friend broke into a smile.

"Looks like you'll have to order the flowers, Ron."