Chapter One: C'Mere Wife
The sound of Ron Apparating into the kitchen made Harry's head throb. He thought Ron's bright orange jumper just might make his eyes begin to bleed. Harry squinted up at him woozily.
"Morning, Harry. You look dreadful. Really off colour," Ron observed, handing over a bottle of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes Patented Hangover Potion. He took a liberal swig from his own bottle.
"Oh, well spotted," Harry mimicked Hermione grumpily, emptying the potion in one long slug. He belched queasily and rubbed his temples. "I have a troll-sized hangover."
Ron yawned widely and grimaced as he ran his tongue around his mouth. "I like to think I can hold my Ogden's better than most, but it feels like Crookshanks slept in my mouth. Some night though, yeah? Pub crawling's right efficient now that Neville's living above the Leaky. I wonder what made Hannah angrier...how hammered Neville got, or that he kept yelling 'drinks on the house'? I bet she's serving his head on a platter for breakfast." Ron scrubbed at the shadow of stubble on his jaw. "George sure was pissed. Hope he made it through all right." Ron and Harry's eyes met in understanding.
"Hannah made him stay. Said it was far too dangerous for him to go home in that condition. Not that he couldn't have got there safely enough," Harry said ominously. They both shuddered in mock dread. "Angelina's right scary pregnant. She's got so…physical."
Ron snorted before looking at Harry curiously. "What's wrong?"
Harry was gingerly rolling his head around on his shoulders and contorting his upper body, trying unsuccessfully to remove an especially persistent crick from his neck. "Slept in the damn bath," he admitted sheepishly.
Ron hooted. "Had a good row, did you? Ginny still in a strop? Blimey, wives lack a certain sense of humour about lads' nights." Ron glanced at his watch and shrugged. "Potion's working a bit. We've an hour to recuperate, then we're off to see the Cannons. Who'd have believed they'd make it to the finals? And that we'd wangle such good tickets!"
Harry winced. He'd been dreading this moment all morning. He just hoped some of the Deafening Spell he'd cast on himself last night was still working. "Sorry, mate. I can't go," he mumbled, trying hard not to flinch in anticipation.
"Can't go," Ron repeated slowly before his voice skipped an octave. "Can't go? What d'you mean you can't go?" Ron ticked off the essentials on his fingers. "Cannons. Finals. Tickets. Pulse. Hello?"
Harry's muffled response was unintelligible.
"I said 'Ginny's put a House-Arrest hex on me,' all right? I can't Apparate. The Floo's useless. If I even get close to a door or window, I'll get a shock straight to the bollocks."
"You're bloody kidding me!" Ron said in disbelief before bursting into laughter at Harry's expense.
"Oh sod off. I happen to know Hermione went off like an erumpent's horn last time you came home pissed. She shot daggers at me all week and threatened my life if I 'led you astray' again. As if." Harry rolled his eyes and the kitchen took another sickly spin. "Shouldn't've done that," he realized belatedly. He laid his forehead on the table and directed his question into the wood. "How'd you talk her into letting you go?"
"Merlin, you're a right pathetic git. I mean seriously, Harry, we've got to raise the level of your game. I'll have you know not only did I not get yelled at, Hermione never said one word! And she'll be shagging my arse off for the rest of the weekend, so don't bother coming 'round." He couldn't resist another chance to take the mickey. "If you make parole, that is."
Harry was looking at him in clear disbelief. "It's true!" Ron laughed, twirling a chair around and settling down with his arms slung across its back. "So let's have it, then. What'd you do when you got home last night? Didn't you have any sort of strategy at all?"
Harry felt a bit put out, having actually given considerable forethought to his drunken homecoming. "Well," he managed a small grin, "I Apparated down the street instead of straight to the house."
"Uh-huh uh-huh." Ron nodded encouragingly.
"Charmed the door off its hinges and snuck in quiet as a mouse. Undressed in the kitchen."
"I see," said Ron, slowing stroking his chin.
Harry ignored the raised eyebrow, the subtle mocking shift in Ron's tone. "Used a Scouring Charm on myself, mouth included. On account of the Firewhisky, you know?"
Ron's chin was now on his hand, his expression impregnable. Harry pressed on.
"Threw on the Invisibility Cloak. Cast a portable Shield Charm as additional precaution. Thinking ahead, right?" Harry looked at Ron hopefully.
"Tiptoed into the bedroom. In the pitch dark, mind you. Peeled back the covers and then…"
"Oh, let me guess," Ron said wryly.
Harry sighed. "And then all hell broke loose. At first I thought I'd set off a Caterwauling Charm, but no. All Gin. Your lovely sister was shrieking so loudly I had to cast a Deafening Spell on myself just to protect my eardrums. If I hadn't had that Shield Charm up, I'd still be coughing up slugs."
Ron was shaking his head, chuckling heartily. "I'm sorry to say it, Harry, but she had you bang to rights. You went about the thing all wrong. No wonder you're such shite at chess." Ron's voice filled with smug self-satisfaction as he warmed to his topic.
"Now I, on the other hand, Apparated right to the little love nest singing 'Weasley is our King' at the top of my lungs. Made a point to knock over the kitchen table and turned on every light I could get my wand on. Used a touch of the ol' Sonorus to be sure she heard me fake a puke, see? Then I thundered up the stairs yelling 'C'mere Wife! I'm horny as hell! Get on all fours and let's shag!'"
"Did not," said Harry, dumbfounded.
"Did so," grinned Ron. "Stripped naked, bounced into bed, stole her pillow and slept like a baby. She pretended to be asleep through the whole damn show, even faked a little snore!" Ron was brimming with satisfaction. "Tell me Gin wouldn't have done the same."
Harry snorted at the thought, and his face turned an unhealthy shade of green as a slug slid past his lips and down his chin.
"Ugggh! Those are the worst," Ron cringed. "I hope that's the last of them because that is definitely not going to be cool in public. Now where was I? Yeah yeah. So, I snuck out this morning before Hermajesty woke up, picked out some flowers on the way over here and wrote her a note fairly oozing with Weasley charm. Pig's too small for floral post, so I had to borrow Errol again. He should be getting there right about now if he didn't have a coronary."
Harry was, as Ron had hoped, gobsmacked. "That's bloody brilliant!" he exclaimed in utter awe. "Your Chocolate Frog card doesn't lie, Ron. You really are a 'Strategist Extraordinaire.'"
Ron smiled broadly. It was the first time Harry had called him that without taking the mickey. Ron Weasley - Strategist Extraordinaire, he thought proudly, picturing the caption in his head. Merlin, I love that card.
Ron rocked on his heels, brushing off his hands in mid-air. "So there you have it. Mischief managed. Nothing left but for the Cannons to win the finals, and I'm off to another Granger-Weasley weekend shag-a-thon. Piece of cake. Precisely accordingly to plan." Ron was beaming, looking at Harry expectantly.
Harry looked less than convinced. "Yeah, well, I'll be certain to try that out next time," he said dubiously, picking up a slug and moving to the door with the intention of throwing it outside. There was a sizzling sound just before Harry grabbed his crotch and bellowed "Oi! Damn it, Ginny!" He turned to Ron, who was doubled up laughing. "Oh just shut it! I've a pretty good idea you've still got yours coming to you. Just help me figure out how to reverse this hex, would you?"
"Stings, doesn't it? My mum invented that one. Six sons and all. I'll just pop my head over to The Burrow and see what sort of mood she's in."
"Make it quick. We need to be off before Ginny gets back from your place."