Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling.


"Honestly, Ron, it's just Hermione's parents. I can't see what you're so worried about." George Weasley paused and leaned on the kitchen table, staring across at his younger brother, whose face was roughly the the color of mold. "Unless her parents are a pair of extremely well-disguised Blast-Ended Skrewts, of course. Then I completely understand your apprehension."

Ron glared at him and hissed, "Don't call Hermione's parents Blast-Ended Skrewts when she's two rooms away!"

George snorted. "Hermione knows I don't think her parents are Blast-Ended Skrewts." Raising his voice a bit, he called, "Right, Hermione?"

"Hm?" She popped her head into the room. "What am I agreeing to?"

"That I know your parents aren't Blast-Ended Skrewts."

She gave the two of them an odd look and remarked dryly, "Interesting conversation you boys are having." She smiled at Ron. "Are you packed already?"

His stomach flipped over. It was amazing how often that still happened to him around her. "Yeah," he told her, returning the smile.

"I just can't decide which books to bring and which to leave here," she said a little anxiously.

'It's only two days,' he almost said, before substituting it with, "Take your time." There really was no rush. None at all.

Hermione kissed the top of his head. "Thank you, Ron."

He touched her back as she turned and hurried off, then looked back at George, who was watching with an amused expression on his face. "Two days with Hermione's parents." Ron groaned softly. "What was I thinking?"

"Well, I must admit, when I first heard that you were forsaking your own family on Christmas, I wondered the same thing."

"You're not helping."

George laughed. "Hermione's spent -- how many Christmases here? It's about time you returned the favor."

"I know." Ron sighed. "It's just -- ugh, it's stupid." Not as stupid as saying what he just had, though, because now he was sure to have to articulate what, exactly, was bothering him. And to George, of all people, who was not necessarily his most understanding sibling.

"What is?"

Making a face, Ron said, "Nothing. Forget it."

"No, what?" George actually looked somewhat concerned. Genuinely.

"Well..." Ron hesitated for a second, certain he would regret giving voice to this. "I just...what if they decide they don't want me marrying Hermione? After they spend two days with me, I mean. I'm not exactly...I don't know. Good enough for her."

Raising his eyebrows, George asked, "That's the reason you're worried?" Ron nodded miserably, waiting for the ridicule to come. Instead, George said, "Ron. Who cares?"

Ron blinked at him. This definitely wasn't the reaction he'd expected. "What?"

"Even if Hermione's parents did think that -- which, having met them, I doubt they would -- it doesn't matter." Leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest, he went on, "Haven't you worked out by now that it's not worth listening to people who think they're too good for you?"

"But...two days...and they could convince Hermione..." The thought made him feel a bit faint.

George rolled his eyes, got up, and put a hand on Ron's shoulder. "Ron," he said kindly, "quit being a prat."

Glancing up at his brother with a nonplussed expression, Ron asked, "Are you trying to make me feel better or worse?"

"Well, if you'd let me finish, you'd know, wouldn't you?" George said airily, grinning a little.

"Go ahead."

George sat on the table and looked down at Ron. "Hermione loves you, li'l bro, and she's going to marry you no matter what. Two days with your future in-laws isn't going to change a thing." He quirked an eyebrow. "And if you're just upset about missing Mum's Christmas dinner, and this is all a clever cover story, then there isn't really anything I can tell you."

Ron laughed a little gratefully. It felt odd for George to be saying something so...well, sensible. To mask his surprise, he said, "Hermione keeps telling me that everything won't be sugar-free at her parents', but I'm not convinced."

They sat in companionable silence for a second, and then George asked, "What do you think, then -- helpful? Constructive criticism is always welcome."

"Yeah, it was." He pushed his chair out and stood up, commenting, "Maybe I'll go help Hermione pack. She probably wants to go as soon as possible." George nodded, and then, on an impulse, Ron grabbed his brother in a hug. Not really for the advice, though he appreciated that, of course, but just because...well, they were brothers, weren't they? That was reason enough. "See you in a few days, George."

With a bemused smile, George replied, "Yeah. Have a good Christmas."

Ron left the kitchen to find Hermione. He felt certain, suddenly, that it would be a good Christmas.