A/N: I was going to post this as a chapter/interlude after chapter thirteen in the main story, but so many of you couldn't have cared less about Harry and Ron's perspective. I still couldn't decide, so I wrote this up anyways and have posted it for your enjoyment.

Thanks again to Lyr942. She's so amazing.

Harry and Ron: An Interlude

Sunday, 21 September

Anger was safe. If Harry was angry, then he did not have to feel any of the other half dozen emotions that were threatening to consume him completely, given the chance. If he was angry, it could all be someone else's fault. If he was angry, he could put his fist through the wall and delude himself that the physical pain he felt made everything else hurt a bit less.

Anger was easy. Guilt – not so much.

Yes, it was definitely easier to be angry. Ron, on the other hand looked utterly miserable. Harry might have sympathised had he not been so busy keeping himself angry. Angry at Hermione.

Harry had no idea how long they sat side by side on Ron's bed, staring at the hole Harry had punched right through the old plaster as soon as the door had shut behind him. He kept thinking that Hermione would be able to fix it.

But that thought made him remember how Hermione had fixed him, completely and miraculously, which made him recall how she was able to do so in the first place. That inevitably led to memories of Draco bloody Malfoy defending Hermione while he, Harry Potter – one of her best friends – attacked her. Then there was the look on her face as he entered the Floo. Never before had he witnessed such gut-wrenching despair. And it was all his doing.

But he wasn't guilty; he was angry. Right?

"This is a disaster," Ron said, shattering the silence. His voice was flat and dispassionate, and he was still staring at the wall as he spoke.

That was the understatement of the century. Harry didn't say that, though; he merely snorted indelicately. To say that would be admitting that he had had something to do with said disaster, and that just didn't gel with the righteous indignation he wished to feel.

After a long moment Harry said, "I don't understand how this happened." Actually, that was not entirely true. What this was was a stunning example of yet another failed Potter Plan.

"I'll tell you how this happened," Ron said. "This happened because we treated her like a child."

Harry was rather shocked by Ron's insightful observation. He usually needed things spelled out for him. The statement, however, reeked of ownership, so he steered clear of it. Instead he said, "How are you so calm? She's friends with Malfoy. She raised her wand at me! And she's had a perfect stranger following us around for Merlin only knows how long. What's the matter with you? You're the one who goes spare over this sort of thing!"

Harry fairly shouted the last part and he was momentarily grateful that Ron had had the foresight to put Silencing Charms up on the room.

Ron looked down at his hands and replied in a whisper, a vast contrast to Harry's own tone. "But none of that ever would have happened if we had just brought her with us. If I understand correctly, Malfoy wouldn't even be alive if it weren't for Hermione." He paused and then added, almost as an afterthought, "I wonder what happened?"

"I don't rightly give a damn what happened. All I know is that they're far closer than I'm comfortable with, and I don't like it." Harry responded hotly. "She never once let on that she was mad at us."

That, at least, was true. All of her letters had been cordial, if not friendly, and she had never said anything negative. Harry supposed the real insult lie in the fact that they had not expected her to be angry with them. They had, after all, had her best interest at heart. She had been practically a Squib when they'd set out from Hogwarts that night and no-one knew when or if she would be getting her magic back. They did not think that they had the time to delay, and had reasoned that leaving without telling her would have been easier; no long goodbyes, no attempts to talk them out of it.

Hermione hadn't even mentioned their midnight disappearance when they received her first letter. She had accepted the role they'd wanted her to play silently and neither Harry nor Ron had been eager to pursue the topic. Harry had, however, always wondered why Ron would never take any letters from Hermione, and he always made Harry compose the replies.

But Harry was getting off track. Malfoy was what he wanted to focus on. Actually, Malfoy and this bloke, Absalom, were what he wanted to focus on. Harry definitely did not like the idea of someone he had never net following them all over Ireland while they searched for Horcruxes. There was too much at stake; what if the mysterious Scot was not to be trusted?

Harry must have spoken the last aloud, because Ron responded.

"Hermione said that Dumbledore trusted him."

"Dumbledore also trusted Snape, and look where that got him," Harry said. "That doesn't explain the marks, either."

At the mention of the tattoos that both Hermione and Malfoy bore, Ron's face finally coloured itself with some odd mixture of emotions. It was a hybrid of anger, disbelief, and betrayal. Mostly betrayal.

"I drove her to it," Ron said, still staring at his hands. "I never should have…"

Harry's face twisted up in confusion. Leaving Hermione had been Harry's idea, not Ron's. It had actually taken a fair amount of convincing to get Ron to agree to the plan. Harry had been the one that had refused to go back and get her later on in the search, arguing that she was safer and serving a better purpose at Grimmauld Place than she would in the field with them.

After waiting several long moments for Ron to finish the cryptic statement, Harry spoke up. "You never should have what, Ron? What are you talking about?"

Ron blushed deeply and began to literally twiddle his thumbs. Harry had always assumed that was only a figure of speech. "Well, mate," Ron began awkwardly, "you see… Hermione and I, we-" He cleared his throat and began again. "We sort of-"

Harry was about to tell Ron to get the bloody hell on with it, when it dawned on him exactly what it was that Ron was attempting to communicate. His eyebrows shot into his hair line and he could feel his jaw hanging somewhere around his knees, yet another occurrence he had always assumed only happened in badly written Muggle television.


Ron scrubbed his face roughly with his hands before finally facing Harry. "Look, we decided not to tell you because we didn't want you to feel weird about it."

Harry looked at the wall and then back at Ron, who seemed to have braced himself for an explosion. "When? How did it happen? I mean, not how, obviously, but- oh bollocks, you know what I mean."

Ron sighed. "The night before we left for Ipswich, and I'm not really sure. It just did, I guess."

There was a long pause where Harry digested this information.

"Actually, that explains a lot," he said, rather calmly.

The relief on Ron's face was almost comical, had the situation been different. "You're not pissed off?"

"Well, I wouldn't go that far, but not so much with you," Harry responded. Truth be told, he was not entirely sure how he felt about Ron's revelation, but there just was not enough room in his head to deal with the new information so, for sanity's sake, he decided to deal with it at a later time.

"I would like to wrap my hands around Malfoy's scrawny little neck, though." There was another longish pause, during which a truly disturbing thought occurred to Harry. "Oh God, you don't think Hermione and Malfoy…"

Ron's face drained of all colour, leaving his freckles to stand out in stark contrast to his greyish-green complexion. Harry could see the cogs turning in his head.

Again with the poorly conceived clichés. What happens next in the movies?

"I'm going to kill him," Ron said.

Right, that's what happens next.

Ron jumped up and began tugging on the doorknob, having completely forgotten that he'd locked it. Harry took this moment's delay to retrieve his Invisibility cloak from his shrunken trunk and return it to normal size. By the time this was completed, Ron had opened the door and Harry followed him down the stairs and back to the kitchen. Arguing with him about it, Harry knew, would be futile. Ron would never be satisfied until he knew the answer and, he had to admit, even he felt compelled to know the truth. It was one thing to be partners with Malfoy, it was another to be his friend, but it was a completely different animal to be his… Ye Gods, Harry couldn't even think it.

Joining Ron in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place, Harry immediately concluded that Ron had not thought this through at all. He found his friend staring at the counter top where a small pot of sugar sat, along with a pitcher of cream and a spoon that had clearly been used to mix both of the present ingredients with tea. Harry did not know why these objects held Ron's attention so, but he spoke up and broke Ron's concentration.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Hermione thinks tea makes everything better."

Translation: Not really, but I have to.

Harry was curious but at the same time he had a feeling this was one of those answers to which he'd regret asking the question in the first place. But he'd stick by Ron through this. Besides, if their fears were proven legitimate, Ron may actually try to kill Malfoy and that would hardly put them back in Hermione's good graces.

Harry's thought process screeched to a halt at the realisation that he had accepted the fact that it was they who were trying to win Hermione back, not the other way around.

There was that whole issue of whose fault this catastrophe was, again, and Harry had just unconsciously claimed at least a small part. He was ever so slowly losing control over his anger, but not in the usual manner. Ordinarily, he became so mad that he could not control his magic or his tongue, but this experience was quite the opposite. This time he could not seem to keep a hold on the volatile emotion, which left the door wide open for everything else to come and go as it pleased.

"Cloak or no cloak?"

"Cloak. Definitely."

"All right," Harry replied, whipping the Invisibility cloak around their shoulders with a flourish. "Hunker down a bit, mate. You're too tall."

Ron did so without complaint; he had in fact grown quite tall, taller than any in his family, but Harry could remember a time when the three of them – himself, Ron and Hermione – had been able to fit beneath the cloak without any of them budging over or bending down. Now they were lucky just to get the two of them beneath it, and Harry could not stop the morose thoughts… Would it ever be the Trio again, or were they to be forever relegated to Duo status?

He certainly hoped not. A quick glance at Ron's depressed countenance told him that he was more than likely thinking very similar thoughts.

Again with the ownership issues. Harry knew in his heart of hearts that if their number were ever to be reduced permanently to two, that it would be their fault and not hers, not ever hers; Hermione always did the right thing, and deserting your friends because you didn't have the bollocks to own up to your mistakes was never the right thing to do.

Harry, being far more aware than Ron, had the presence of mind to cast a Silencing Charm on them so that they would not be heard climbing the creaky steps. The last thing they needed was to set Mrs. Black off and alert anyone who might be in the house that there was an intruder.

The trip from the ground floor to the first was uneventful. Once they reached the top of the stairs, Harry noticed three things simultaneously: the door to the library was open, but the room was completely dark; Hermione's bedroom door was shut, but no light was shining beneath it, and the spare bedroom next door not only had the door wide open, but occupants and a fully blazing fire illuminating it.

Harry and Ron crept around the banister and positioned themselves just outside the room so that they could hear what was being said quite clearly. There were two twin sized beds in the room with a small table between them, and a chair next to the fire that had a tower of books beside it. Hermione clearly used the room on a regular basis, because Harry seriously doubted that Malfoy and Hermione shared similar reading habits. He very resolutely refused to wonder why there were two beds in one room. The answer was obvious, in actuality, but Harry decided obtuseness was quite often necessary in order to preserve one's sanity.

Hermione and Malfoy were sitting side by side on the far bed, with Hermione turned sideways so that she could face him. Only she wasn't looking at Malfoy, she was staring at her foot looking rather embarrassed.

"Reckless, but brilliant," Malfoy was saying. "You saved our lives, Granger. You have nothing to be embarrassed about; you should be proud of yourself."

Hermione looked up and met Malfoy's gaze. "Too bad Harry and Ron don't share your point of view."

Beside him, Ron flinched.

Then Malfoy brushed his thumb gently across her cheek before running his fingers through Hermione's hair, not allowing her to look away. What he said next was whispered so quietly, Harry almost didn't hear it, but he did and immediately afterwards wished he hadn't.

"Potter and Weasley don't know what they lost when they gave you up."

Then he kissed her. Passionately. Hermione returned the kiss with equal intensity, leaving little doubt in Harry's mind that this was not the first of such occurrences. There was a familiarity about them that only came with practice. He doubted he had ever seen a kiss like it before.

They had proof enough and Harry seriously regretted not trying to talk Ron out of this.

It was, however, safe to say that Harry was no longer angry. His anger was a dead bug triumphantly squashed underneath the shoe of the five year old child that was his guilt. Said child was now enthusiastically attempting to crush Harry's betrayal-bug under his other shoe, with each quaking blow landing closer and closer than the last. Said child was also thrilled at finally being allowed out to play and was now wreaking havoc on Harry's conscience in retribution for his extended internment.

It was all of it his fault and he knew it, and now he had to watch the consequences and do nothing. He had no right to, and he knew that, too. Ron, however, had a different idea.

When Hermione moaned softly and Malfoy pulled her into his lap, Ron made this odd choking noise, like he'd tried to swallow his tongue. He started to move into the room; no doubt intent on breaking them up, but Harry reached out and grabbed his arm, yanking him back into the hallway. Ron fought Harry's grasp, albeit weakly; he was looking rather ill and Harry feared that if the kiss went any further there would be a quite inexplicable mess for someone to clean up in the corridor.

They were still glued together when Malfoy broke away and placed three tender kisses on Hermione's neck. She was breathless and Harry concluded that he and Ron had both seen quite enough for one night. There was absolutely nothing to be gained by staying. Even if they had never done anything more than kiss, it was very obvious that there was some emotional connection binding the two partners.

It was his house, but Harry definitely felt like an interloper. Hermione had made Grimmauld Place her home, into which she had welcomed Malfoy with open arms, and Harry and Ron had yet to be invited inside.

"It's late. You need some sleep."

"Saving lives is hard work."

"Tell me about it."

Hermione laughed - a sound that would forever remind Harry of late nights in the common room and butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks. There was something fundamentally wrong with Hermione sharing that laugh with Malfoy.

With only a small amount of effort, Harry dragged Ron away from the scene, but not in time for him to miss Hermione calling Malfoy by his given name. Harry had always hated Malfoy's name, but it sounded different when Hermione said it. Less… evil.

Harry led the way carefully downstairs so as to not allow any part of them be revealed until they were safely in the kitchen. Once the door was secure behind them, Harry flung the cloak off. They stared at each other for a full minute before the sound of a door shutting on the floor above spurred them into action. They left Grimmauld Place without a word between them.

The Floo spat them out onto the floor of the kitchen at the Burrow. It was very late so they had little fear of being found out, but just as a precaution Harry set yet another Silencing Charm in place while Ron began rooting about in a seemingly random cupboard. After a minute, he withdrew triumphantly with a bottle of Firewhiskey. Harry gladly retrieved two glasses.

Ron poured the drinks and they sat together at the table, a table that Hermione had joined them at so many times before, and nursed their drinks.

"This is a disaster," Ron repeated at last.

This time, Harry had no qualms about agreeing. He did so wholeheartedly. "I'll say. We never should have gone." He feared the image of Hermione kissing Malfoy would be branded onto his brain for all of time. There was a very real chance that it would be all he ever saw whenever he looked at either of them.

"We have to fix this," Ron said, sounding dangerously close to desperate. Harry felt rather stupid for not figuring out just how good of friends Ron and Hermione had been.

"Seems liked we're going to be stuck with a package deal, though, dunnit?"

Ron grimaced at this, looking for all the world like he bit into, well, something that was not as tasty as he'd imagined. For a moment Harry thought, again, that Ron was going to be sick and was therefore rather shocked when Ron stood and threw his glass against the wall where it shattered into a thousand tiny fragments. Apparently, Ron was experiencing his emotional overload in the opposite order that Harry had. For him betrayal and guilt had come first, followed some time later by his fearful and notorious Weasley Fury.

"Bloody fucking Malfoy!" he shouted to no-one in particular. Of all the rotten, evil gits in the world, she just had to pick Malfoy, didn't she?

Harry did not rightly know what he was supposed to say to that. It had already been established that there wouldn't even be a Malfoy if it weren't for their cowardly act of desertion, and it seemed to Harry – and there was a good chance that he was way off base – that Hermione and Malfoy had simply begun existing together. Unfortunately, it also seemed to have turned into something much more than a mutual existence.

Harry was beginning to see things a bit more clearly. Not that seeing the situation clearly made it any easier to deal with. Quite the opposite, actually.

There were, however, certain… security issues that were slowly becoming a great concern for Harry. Hermione and Malfoy were obviously on very close terms; she trusted him, which in and of itself was no great feat; Hermione was quick to trust, but he also trusted her. Malfoy had followed her into Tullynally and, knowing Hermione, she never would have asked him to come without full disclosure. After arriving at Grimmauld Place, Malfoy had not even flinched when Harry had thrown him against the wall, as though there was no doubt in his mind that Hermione would handle the situation.

And Hermione had handled the situation; Harry had spent the next five minutes in a stupor. All of this begged a single question: How much does Malfoy know?

"You don't think she told him about the Horcruxes, do you?" Harry asked, before Ron's tirade could hit the ground running. As callous as it may have sounded, there were more important matters at hand as Ron's jilted love-life.

"Ye Gods, I hope not," Ron said fervently.

Harry was grateful that Ron sensed the gravity of the situation despite his outrage. Hermione may trust Malfoy, but that did not mean that they all had to. He was still his father's son in Harry's eyes and it would take a hell of a lot more than one careless romp through an enchanted castle to convince him otherwise.

Something occurred to Ron. "What about Absalom? He's been tailing us. Do you think he knows too?"

"He must," Harry said, none too pleased with his conclusion. "Why else would a grown man do the bidding of a girl if he didn't understand the importance of what he was doing?"

"You are, well, you," Ron pointed out.

"Yeah, but don't you think it's a little weird that she asked someone we've never met before? If she'd been so concerned, why didn't she just come after us herself?"

"She never did say where she met the bloke," said Ron. "Maybe he's having her on."

Harry was inclined to agree, but that did not make any sense, either. "What was he doing with her in Tullynally, then?" If he'd wanted us all dead, he could have just either done us in himself, or left us there to be eaten."

"Maybe he works for You-Know-Who, and he wanted the Horcrux?" Ron suggested. "If he knows about them, he could just be biding his time until he can get his hands on it." At this Ron pulled the wand of Rowena Ravenclaw from his front pocket and laid it on the table between them.

Harry shook his head. "Then why didn't he try to take it once he was sure we had it?"

For this, Ron had no answer. Instead he mused aloud, "He does remind me of someone, but I'll be buggered if I could tell you who."

There had been a moment, in the castle, right after Absalom had – Harry cringed – disarmed him, that he had also been reminded of someone. There was simply something about the laconic man that Harry did not like, or trust; there were no two ways about it.

"He sort of reminds me of Snape," Ron said offhandedly.

Harry groaned. "He does a bit, doesn't he?" That was most definitely discomfiting. The last thing Harry wanted or needed was to have Snape dragged into this somehow. While his quest for vengeance had been waylaid by his quest to save the world, Harry had not forgotten his vow to avenge Dumbledore's murder. He also still hated the greasy git with a shockingly fierce passion.

"That still doesn't explain how Hermione knows him," Ron said.

"It also doesn't give us any ideas as to what we should do about this," Harry added, bringing the conversation back to its original topic.

"I feel like I don't even know who she is anymore," Ron said, still a little wound up. "We left her here so she'd be safe, and now she's some Super Healer who fancies a snog with out worst enemy from school, who keeps secrets from us and doesn't seem to do any of the things the old Hermione used to do.

"Don't forget she's an Animagus, mate," said Harry.

"I know!" Ron shouted. "It takes ages to learn how to do that, and she never once said a word to us about it. She used to tell us everything!"

"Yeah, and we used to take her everywhere with us, too. You have to admit that none of this would have happened if we'd just waited for her to get her magic back."

Ron stared at Harry incredulously. He was really on a roll, and apparently very done with feeling guilty. "How can you say that? It was your idea! Why are you acting like-"

"Like what, Ron?" Harry demanded.

"Like it doesn't bloody matter!" he replied, throwing his hands up in the air. "Oh well, Hermione and Malfoy are together, and who knows how many people she's told about the Horcruxes; no harm done. Of course not! She's supposed to be our best friend, and she's saved our lives more times than anyone will ever be able to count, but now she's betrayed us to someone we hate. I guess we'll just have to go on like nothing happened!"

"You certainly are picking a great time to be thick," Harry snapped. "Weren't you just saying upstairs that you drove her to it? Just because we caught her snogging Malfoy doesn't give us the right to turn the tables back on her and blame her for everything."

"You've gone insane. Just because we left her – with her safety in mind – doesn't mean she gets to run around blabbing world-endangering secrets!"

Harry could not argue with that, but he did not really want to believe that Hermione had told their secret to begin with. She had never broken a promise before; why would she begin with what was quite possibly the most important secret she had ever kept? However, it seemed highly unlikely that Malfoy and Absalom did not know.

Harry decided to try a different approach. Ron wasn't thinking very clearly, and needed some tangible thing to hold onto before his imagination ran away with his senses.

"All of that aside, Ron, we need her," Harry argued. "Even you can't deny that she's probably one of the smartest people on the planet and we're daft if we think that we will be able to destroy what Horcruxes are left, or even find them, without her help. If we don't make nice, we're doomed."

Tuesday, 23 September

Harry awoke with a start when the door to Ron's room was flung open against the wall by Mrs. Weasley, who let loose a rather unladylike shriek. He stat up as quickly as he could and shoved his glasses on his face just in time to see Ron crushed in one of his mother's infamous hugs. Mrs. Weasley wasted no time giving Harry similar treatment. She was such a matronly woman; it was difficult to believe how easily she could force the air from one's body.

"Oh, my boys," she said happily, "you've finally come back. Come, give us another hug."

"Mum," Ron complained, even as she embraced him again. "Could you at least let us get dressed?"

"Yes, yes, of course, I'm sorry," she said waving a dish towel at them. "Hurry and put some clothes on. I'll have lunch ready in a few minutes. But don't think you won't be explaining yourselves. Minerva tells me you've been home since Sunday night!" Mrs. Weasley exited the room before either Harry or Ron could formulate a response.

"Blimey," Ron said around a yawn.

"I love your mum, Ron, but-"

"I know. Tell me about it."

Harry got out of bed first and began searching for his rucksack. He'd put his trunk in it before he'd gone to bed and he needed a fresh pair of trousers. The jeans he'd had on at Tullynally were more than likely beyond proper repair and were still covered in his blood. That was attention he did not need; Mrs. Weasley would have a kneazle. A whole litter of them.

Ron, too, got out of bed and began dressing. His sack had been left next to the door while Harry had managed to kick his beneath the bed. Right before Harry tugged a tee shirt over his head, he caught Ron staring at his stomach.

"Erm, Ron?" he asked, feeling distinctly uncomfortable.

"You don't have any scars at all, mate," Ron said in awe. "Not even Madam Pomfrey can do that."

Harry looked at his torso and found that Ron was right. Not a single reminder of his near death experience remained on his body. In fact, Harry felt perfectly well, and he knew from previous experiences in the Hospital Wing that broken bones took a while to heal, even magically, and it was usually a fairly painful process. There was a long moment where they started at each other in disbelief.

"What's happened to her?"

Hermione… Now there was a subject Harry was in no rush to get into again. He and Ron had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning discussing her. And Malfoy. And Absalom. Nothing that happened coincided at all with the Hermione they knew, and Harry was admittedly having a very hard time wrapping his head around it. The only decision that he and Ron had come to was that they were both confused, angry, guilt-ridden, and feeling very betrayed by the one person they had trusted unequivocally.

Hermione and Malfoy had this… well, Harry didn't rightly know what the two of them had, but they fairly seemed to be able to read each other's minds. It was creepy. And then there was that kiss. Harry was pretty sure he'd had nightmares about it.

"I don't know, Ron," he said finally. "I really don't know."

"Come on," Ron replied with a sigh. "Everything looks better on a full stomach."

"I still can't believe you're back for two days, in my own house, and I hear about it from Minerva!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as she cleared away the supper dishes.

Harry and Ron, it was safe to say, had been thoroughly chastised for the behaviour on more than one occasion since Mrs. Weasley had come crashing into their bedroom, nearly hysterical, sometime after noon. As punishment for their thoughtlessness, she had ordered them de-gnome the garden one last time before the snows began. The infestation had been atrocious, and even with magic it had taken them the best part of the day. They had literally slept clean through Monday, and the chore gave them ample opportunity to discuss the situation with Hermione in clearer frame of minds.

They were still far from being all right with it.

"Hermione knew we were back," said Ron.

"That's no excuse, Ronald, and you know it. You can't expect her to always take care of your responsibilities," Mrs. Weasley replied, waving a wooden spoon in their general direction. "Oh, and you both forgot her birthday. Shame on you."

Harry and Ron exchanged glances and swore loudly and colourfully.

"Language!" Mrs. Weasley admonished.

"We're just glad to have you back, safe and sound," interjected Mr. Weasley from his seat at the end of the table. It was just the four of them tonight; Fred and George only took meals at the Burrow on week-ends.

"It's good to be back," Harry said graciously. It was extremely nice to be back. Cold meals and sleeping on the ground had become old fairly quickly.

The boys each hurriedly put their plates in the sink and went outside by unspoken agreement. Having forgotten Hermione's birthday had the potential to make their circumstance even more precarious than it already was. They had planned on at least trying to talk to her, maybe call some sort of truce, and their task just became that much more difficult.

"What are we going to do, now?" Ron asked Harry.

Harry shrugged helplessly. Maybe if we don't bring it up, she won't remember."

"Fat chance, that one; Hermione remembers everything." Ron paused. "Are you sure you want to do this tonight?"

"Yes," Harry said firmly. "The longer we wait, the more time Malfoy has to make her hate us."

Ron was uncertain. "I don't know, mate," he said. "I may do something… unpleasant, if I have to see Malfoy. After what we saw – "

Ron shuddered, and Harry could not agree more. Watching Hermione and Malfoy snog had been one of the most painful moments of his life. By the look on his face, it still made Ron a bit queasy.

"Never mind Malfoy," Harry said, "I don't know that I can ever look at Hermione the same way again. Anyways, I have a few questions I'd like to ask her."

"When do you want to go?"

"Now's as good a time as any."

Ron's shoulders slumped. "All right, but let's make it quick. I don't want to be there any longer than I have to be."

After walking to the edge of the wards surrounding the Burrow, Harry and Ron both Apparated to the front porch of Grimmauld Place. Neither were looking forward to what lie ahead.