Ginny skidded to a halt in the Gryffindor common room, garnering several startled looks at her sudden entrance, but ignored them, looking around frantically for her brother. "Ron?" she called again.
He looked up from the fire he'd been staring moodily at. "What?" he asked grumpily.
She rushed over to him. "Ron, you have to tell Harry-"
"Tell him yourself," he interrupted.
"Don't be silly. He wouldn't believe me. Now listen; this is serious."
He looked back at the fire, but didn't interrupt.
Ginny lowered her voice. "I was heading over to Hagrid's cottage and I heard Charlie."
"Charlie? Who are you-you mean our brother?" He looked over at her. "You're sure?"
"Yes. And he and Hagrid were talking about dragons."
Ron rolled his eyes. "If Charlie was there, and if he was talking to Hagrid, then dragons are bound to come up, Ginny. Think about it."
"What would Charlie be doing here, though? And why'd he visit Hagrid instead of us?"
"Let's go find Fred and George and go see-"
She grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer. "Listen. Their first task is dragons."
"What?" Ron exclaimed.
Again, she was on the receiving end of startled looks.
"Be quiet," she hissed. "Dragons. I don't know exactly what, but that's what they were talking about, so you have to warn him! I mean, he's gonna be facing-"
"Dragons. I caught that." He stared back at the fire, smoothing out his shirt, then shook his head. "I can't."
Ginny stared incredulously at him. "You can't be serious. Swallow your pride and help your friend. Don't be like this."
Ron glared at her. "No, I don't mean that. I would-it's not that. He wouldn't listen to me. You tell him."
"He won't believe me," Ginny scoffed.
"Sure he will."
"You didn't even."
Ron couldn't deny it. "But if I told him, he definitely wouldn't believe me."
"Come on. You're his best friend."
"I was. But he wouldn't make up with me now-that is, if he ever would have."
"What do you mean?" Ginny asked, but she seemed to be almost dreading his answer.
"Harry went off somewhere last night. After a while, I went looking for him. He was, well, right here, actually. Anyway, it ended up with him throwing one of those at me." Ron gestured to one of the POTTER STINKS! badges lying around.
"Why?" she asked.
"I'm really not sure. I didn't start it-that time."
"So you won't even tell him?"
"You aren't listening, Ginny! He won't believe me. If I told him dragons, he'd prepare for...newts or lizards or something."
Ginny bit her lip. "But we have to tell someone. Well, someone who will help him."
They stared at each other a moment, then their eyes widened at the same moment. "Hermione!" they exclaimed together.
"All right, I'll go check in girls' rooms and you check the library," Ginny ordered.
"Yeah, okay," Ron agreed.
They separated. Ron was so intent on getting to the library, he didn't notice the figure in front of him.
He actually stopped breathing when he realized he'd hit Mad-Eye from behind. He only turned Malfoy into a ferrett, he won't do worse to me, right?, he thought hopefully.
"Sounded like an elephant coming down that hall, Weasley," Moody growled. "You can't sneak up on people tromping about like that."
Ron felt weak with relief. "I wasn't trying to. Sneak, that is. I'm trying to find Hermione, actually. Have you seen her, Professor?"
"She and Potter went outside about half an hour ago."
"I'll never find them," Ron groaned.
"Suddenly in a hurry to be friends again?" Moody inquired.
"No-I mean, yes-I mean..." He trailed off. He couldn't tell a teacher he knew about the task.
"Well, boy? Say what you mean."
That eye was very unnerving. "I have to warn him," Ron blurted, then mentally kicked himself.
Moody's eyes narrowed. "Warn him? About what? What do you know?" he asked intently.
"I-I-" Ron couldn't think of a convincing lie, especially not with that eye fixated on him. "I just-I know that-that they have to face dragons. In the First Task. But, I mean, Harry needs to know that little piece of information a lot more than I do."
"Why?" Ron repeated. "Because Hermione's the spell whiz. Harry's just good at Quidditch." One of Moody's eyebrows raised and Ron hastened to elaborate. "Well, he's good at more than that. I just mean...come on. He's a fourth year. And it's not like they're going to play Quidditch against the dragons. Unless there's a Snitch for him to find-Harry's definitely the best Seeker at Hogwarts, but-"
Moody's eyes lit up a little. "Go find Miss Granger," he interrupted and thumped away.
Ron stared at his teacher's back for just a moment before hurrying off, glad to obey.
After an hour of searching, though, he had to give up. He made his way back to the common room, where Ginny nearly tackled him. "She said they already know! They've been working on it. They-well, he, anyway-he found out last night."
"How on-never mind. Good."
"Hermione said thanks."
"Hope you said you're welcome. It was all you, after all."
"And you actually did it."
"Ron..." she started, then, "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to...go be somewhere else."
Ron turned away and headed for the door.
Ginny touched his arm. "I bet he'd be glad to make it up," she said. "If you just apologize...he won't hold a grudge."
Ron rolled his eyes. Lovestruck girls, he thought scornfully as he made his way to the lake. But he couldn't get those dragons out of his mind. Sure, the contestants would be supervised, but he remembered well the consequences of the bite he'd received from Norbert-and Norbert had been only a baby.
He finally went back to the common room, in a completely foul mood.
He was still grumpy by the time Divinations rolled around. Professor Trelawney was rambling on again about Harry's death, but as Ron knew how possible that could now really be, he found it in no way funny.
"Well, that's good," Harry said loudly, making Ron blink. "Just as long as it's not drawn-out. I don't want to suffer."
Ron glanced over at Harry, a small smile on his face, but Harry looked away, intensely preoccupied with something under the table.
Ron supposed he deserved that and kept to himself the rest of the day. But then, all too quickly, it was time for the Champions to face the dragons and Ron just couldn't take anymore.
Hermione threw her arms around him when he nervously asked her if she knew where Harry was. "Well, finally, she said briskly. "But he's already in the tent and really nervous about the dragons. Besides, I don't think we're allowed to talk to him, but then, we wouldn't want to throw his at him right now, anyway. We'll wait until after and then make it right."
Ron felt suddenly nervous. "What if-" he started.
Hermione looked suddenly grim. "If you two want to keep your health, you'll be friends again by dinner," she told him with a voice hard as rock. She turned and glared at him. "What are you laughing at?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all," he assured her. "Let's go watch."
A/N: Okay. At the end of GoF, Moody explains how he tried to help with the merpeople, but it doesn't say anything about how he got the idea to have Harry summon his Firebolt against the dragons. So I had Ron unintentionally slip him the idea. In my world, Moody was going to do something else, but after Ron mentioned the Snitch, Moody decided that would be better. After all, in his good, general advice, he says, You're a damn good flier from what I've heard. So I had Ron be the one who told him that.
Then, before Harry has to face the dragons, Ron tries to catch his eye in Divinations class. Why would he do that unless something had changed his mind about being angry with Harry?
Finally, when Ron does make up with Harry, he says, "I reckon they're trying to do you in!" Ron knows about dragons. He's from a full-fledged wizarding family, Charlie studies them, and he got that dragon bite.
I hope that answers all your questions. Please review!