Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of its contents, and I'm not making any money off this.

A/N: This isn't properly British.

Fred and George are idiots, and they've ruined everything.

Winter break is over tomorrow, and they're taking that to heart. They've cursed half the first years' hats into teacups and turned half the books in the library into chickens. They somehow got their hands on Mrs. Norris and forced her into a dog costume, which was a surprisingly Muggle prank for them. They were hiding near the dungeons when Ron past them—waiting to transfigure a certain blond, they said. Earlier, they made the Gryffindor common room as snow-laden, icy, and generally uninhabitable as the Hogwarts grounds.

Hermione's inside the castle, so that makes the whole place supremely unsafe. Harry already fell victim to her—Ron managed to sneak past them while she insisted Harry revise for Potions. Now he's hiding at the edge of the forest, strategically behind a tree, because he can't really think of anywhere else to be.

At least it's stopped snowing. It's still cold, but Ron's got his scarf wrapped heavily around his head and his Weasley jumper on under his robes. He's bored as hell, but that's better than studying. Or getting caught in the twins' 'Transfiguration revision.' The grounds are otherwise quiet, or at least, they are around where he is. A bit of steam is drifting out of Hagrid's chimney a little ways away, but Hagrid doesn't come out of his hut. ...And Ron won't go over there, because Hermione could find him in it.

Instead, he jumps when he notices something moving off to his right, heading out from the castle. It isn't tall enough to be a student—nowhere close—and Ron twists out of his hiding spot to peer after it.

It's a small animal, maybe a cat. It's completely white and scurrying over Ron's footsteps, which he realizes too late could totally give him away. Not to the animal, of course, but to Hermione. But then, they could be anyone's footsteps, and there's probably a bunch of others near the castle, heading off to the lake—last he checked, a bunch of students were skating across it.

When the animal gets closer, Ron realizes it isn't a cat. It's a bit smaller, but longer, and sort of has a rat-like head. Ron squints, wondering absently if it's a Jarvey. But then, he's never seen one of those around Hogwarts, and it looks too small.

When it's only a few meters away, Ron realizes it's a ferret. His eyebrows knit together as he stares at it—what's a ferret doing in Hogwarts? That's a weird pet. Better than a rat, maybe, but still weird. The strange animal wonders all the way up to Ron and doesn't stop until it's right in front of him.

Then it halts abruptly and stares at Ron, which is plain creepy and strange for a random animal. On instinct, Ron glowers at it—it has no right to come up here and start being weird on him; he was sitting here being weirdly alone and out-of-place first. At first, it looks taken aback with his reaction, then, if he didn't know better, he'd say the ferret was scowling its beady little grey eyes at him.

Then Ron has to take a second to realize how insane he's being. It probably just finds a human in its forest strange. Rolling his eyes at himself, Ron looks away and grumbles, "Stupid Hermione," because this is logically all her fault. No, wait; "Stupid twins." And then, for good measure, "Stupid castle, being just generally cold and not insulated like it so obviously should be..."

Ron trails off as the ferret comes a little closer to him, hesitating next to his leg. While staring down at it, Ron realizes, "Then again, it's got to be colder down in the dungeons, so at least Malfoy's probably freezing his pompous ass off." Oddly, the ferret doesn't seem too happy about this—it withdraws from Ron's knee and glares up at him. Ron glares back it. He's definitely losing his mind—is insanity a side effect of being cold? Because it doesn't seem to be going away, Ron picks up the ferret and holds it in front of his face, explaining, "Why are you looking at me like that? I know you're just a stupid animal, but trust me—if you'd met Malfoy you'd be just as happy over his suffering as I am." The ferret squeaks indignantly and starts squirming.

Ron drops it with a scowl, expecting it to streak off and leave him in peace.

Instead, it turns around and lifts up on its hind legs, pawing at his chest. Its tiny claws don't actually scratch, but Ron's still annoyed. "Look, you don't understand. He's an asshole, he deserves it." The ferret doesn't look convinced, and Ron can't explain why that bothers him so much. He just feels like he needs this ferret to hate Malfoy as much as he does, because really, everyone should hate Malfoy, and yes, he's vaguely aware of how crazy that sounds. Leaning back against the tree, Ron starts to rattle off to himself, "And he goes out of his way to do it, too. I mean, why does he always have to pester Harry? I know he's jealous, but seriously, it's not like we're first years anymore. And the shit he calls Hermione! It's just not right. And what's he always picking on my family for? What did they ever do to him? ...I hate him."

When he's done, the ferret actually looks taken aback again—it's taken its front paws off Ron's chest. Ron tentatively reaches over to pat its head, wondering if you pet ferrets the same way you pet cats.

Apparently, you do. The ferret sits quite still while Ron smoothes its short fur down, and its little grey eyes are unusually wide, like it's been given a shock. Ron can't fathom why—Malfoy being a shithead shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Taking this as agreement, Ron continues, "Besides, it's not like Malfoy's so great himself. I think he's jealous of all of us, to be honest—his friends are complete morons. I mean, I'm no genius, but at least I can tell a foot from a hand, unlike Crabbe and Goyle. And he's all effeminate and shit."

Here the ferret suddenly bolts upright again, knocking Ron's hand off and squeaking loudly. "What?" Ron mumbles, feeling inordinately defensive. "He is! Always fixing up his stupid pretty hair and bragging about designer robes. Even if they do hug him nicely, he shouldn't be mouthing off about it. And he can't fight worth shit, trust me—he just hides behind his troll bodyguards. He probably weighs less than Ginny does. If we ever got into a real fight, he'd be on the floor in seconds! He'd probably start whimpering and begging for mercy, too. What a fruit—" Here Ron cuts off, because his mind is having fun picturing a weak little Malfoy, struggling on the floor beneath him. Before Ron can either maniacally laugh or moan, both of which would be equally disturbing, the ferret bites his hand right through the mitten.

Ron screams instantly. He jerks his hand away, shaking it out while the ferret hisses angrily at him. Ron would push it off his lap, if he weren't busy nursing his injured hand. He whips the red mitten off to check—the little bugger broke skin. Shoving it into his mouth, Ron sucks at his wound like an injured dog and glares daggers at the ferret.

The ferret glares right back. When the blood's stopped rushing out—it wasn't that big a wound, but still—he mutters, "Fine, I didn't want to talk about that prat anyway. I was only explaining for your benefit, but clearly you're insane and don't want to listen to reason." Even though Ron's the one talking to a wild animal. They have a little staring match for a few minutes before Ron breaks down and continues furiously, "Seriously! You should see the way he struts around! And he sways his ass while he does it, too, and it's like—even if he does have a great ass, it's ridiculous for him to flaunt it like that! I'm not making this shit up, I swear—and the way he mounts a broom! It's like he's doing it on purpose! The way he shifts on it and the way he strokes it... he knows what he's doing; he's evil." The ferret's gone very quiet, now. Its head is oddly tilted to the side, and its eyes are very wide, and Ron takes that to mean it's finally agreeing with him. "I know, right? And sometimes he flips his hair in just this certain way—gah. He's a total fruitcake. On the bottom, too. And not just because I could easily dominate him in a fight. And the other day he spilled a potion in front of me and had to bend down to clean it, and he got down on all fours and—what? Why are you looking at me like that? It's his fault, I'm just an innocent observer here!"

There's a pause in which the ferret blinks at him, and Ron tentatively starts to pet it again. Now that his mitten's off he can appreciate how warm and soft it is, and, he has to admit, when it's not spitting at him or sticking up for his nemesis, it is pretty cute. A lot cuter than Scabbers was even in his prime, anyway.

After a minute, Ron leans forward, adding conspiratorially, "...By the way, you can't tell anyone any of this, obviously. It's our secret." Then Ron leans back against the tree—he's clearly lost his mind.

The ferret slithers out of his grasp, crawling up to paw at his chest again. Ron's grinning at it before he can stop himself. The he hears a shrill, "There he is!" from across the grounds.

Ron looks out from his tree, to where Hermione is storming over to him, dragging a depressed looking Harry by the sleeve. Ron groans—apparently he didn't find a tree with a thick enough trunk. If he didn't know better, he'd swear the ferret snickers at him, and then it scampers off him and jets away, back towards the castle.

Hermione looks at it oddly when it passes her, but then she immediately goes back to shouting at Ron to, "Come finish your essay!"

With another groan, Ron gets to his feet.

Naturally, Ron learned nothing over the break. He zoned out through most of Hermione's speeches, and he's failing at Potions just as much as he normally would. Beside him, Harry's having just as much trouble, and when he tries to pass a questioning note to Hermione, Snape snatches it and takes ten points from Gryffindor.

Naturally, when Malfoy does the exact same thing, chucking a scrunched up piece of parchment at Ron, Snape doesn't say a word. Ron takes a few seconds to stare mutely at the ball that's landed in his lap—since when does Malfoy pass him notes?

When he unrolls it, he immediately blanches.

'When your brothers first cursed me I, being an ingenious Slytherin, automatically knew I'd use the situation to my advantage and uncover some dirt. But I must admit, Weasley, that wasn't what I expected.

I'm glad you like my ass, though. And my hair is rather nice. But I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on the rest.

Obviously, I'm the innocent victim here.

And I would so top.

Meet me tonight in the Divination Tower, eleven o'clock, if you want me to prove it.'

There's a crude drawing of a ferret at the bottom, winking.