Title: Ron Weasley and the Adventure of the Dastardly Bastard
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione
Warnings: Profanity, crack, brief violence, and Ron POV.
Word Count: 3900.
Keywords: icing, raspberry, smirk
Dialogue: Happy birthday, sweetheart.
Summary: After Harry collapses at his birthday party, Ron just knows that Draco poisoned him. And he's going to find out how.
Author's Notes: This is a pinch-hit for enchantedjae's request for June in the LJ community hd500. Hope you enjoy!
Ron Weasley and the Adventure of the Dastardly Bastard
"Happy birthday, sweetheart."
That was the first clue Ron received. Even at the time, before he knew the horrible happenings that would follow, it made him sit up and take notice. After all, Draco Malfoy didn't say that kind of thing to people. It was self-evident. He leaned forwards, eyes narrowed, and watched as Malfoy carefully placed the cake on the table in front of Harry.
This could be the moment I've waited for since they started dating, he thought, as Harry turned to smile up at Malfoy, and Malfoy answered with a smirk. The moment when everything finally comes crashing down and Malfoy reveals the real reason he wanted to date Harry.
Of course, Harry saw nothing wrong. He even patted Malfoy's cheek before he turned and cut delicately into the thick chocolate cake, covered with glistening chocolate icing. He didn't seem to notice when Malfoy's hand fell on his shoulder and squeezed, either.
Harry had always been oblivious and had always needed someone to protect him from himself. But there was no reason for Hermione to sit smiling and nodding at Ron's side, even clapping a little when Malfoy whispered that he'd baked the cake himself. She'd made a truce with Malfoy when Harry started dating him for the sake of peace. To take it into friendship was too much. Ron gave her a stern glare, reminding her that they were Gryffindors and had to present a united front against the enemy, but she was too busy staring hungrily at the cake to notice him.
I need to protect two people, then. Ron drew his wand and held it beneath the table so he would be ready when Malfoy made his inevitable move.
"The first piece is only for my darling," Malfoy breathed into Harry's ear. Ron rolled his eyes and resisted the temptation to point out that everyone could hear him.
Harry bit into the cake, smearing the icing across his lips, and sighed. "This is delicious, Draco." Ron sulked for a moment. He would have preferred it if Harry had gone on calling Malfoy by his last name, because then he could have pretended it was just a pity fuck. He'd tried that for a while, right after he'd tried his hardest to believe that Harry was dating someone else. Of course Ron wouldn't attack Malfoy because he wouldn't stand in the way of his best friend's happiness, but he didn't have to like it, either.
Then Harry gasped and grabbed at his throat, his fingers flying frantically over his skin.
"Harry!" Malfoy reached out for him, probably to choke him and finish the job. Ron made a heroic flying leap over the table and knocked Harry to the floor, which prevented Malfoy from touching Harry. It was just too bad that he "accidentally" knocked over the cake on the way and it splattered in a wash of chocolate and evil against the far wall of the flat.
"Mate, can you hear me?" Harry went on making gasping noises as he fought for air, so Ron aimed his wand and cast a useful charm that he'd learned from George. George had had to intervene when Ron had insisted that Ginny go back to dating Harry, and Ginny had got tired of Ron's insistence and cast the Breathless Charm on him. Ron was hopeful that the countercharm would work now, because it wasn't well-known and could probably get around the evil git's poison.
It did work. Harry stopped gasping, smiled in exhaustion up at Ron, and then shut his eyes and passed into sleep.
"Get out of the way, Weasley, I'll take him."
Ron just gaped for a moment, which almost let Malfoy get past him and snatch Harry, to carry him off to certain death in the bedroom. The dastardly bastard!
His wand dug into Malfoy's throat with satisfying viciousness, forcing his head back. Malfoy gaped at him, and didn't manage to find his tongue before Ron said, his voice full of steel he was secretly rather proud of, "And you believe that I'm just going to let you take him, when you tried to poison him? Sod off, Malfoy."
"Ron!" Hermione was at his side, yanking at his arm. Her face was a brilliant red, her eyes rimmed with red. Ron felt a moment's surprise that she'd given in to tears so easily, but then reflected it wasn't every day that you saw one of your best friends almost die in front of you. "For fuck's sake, that wasn't Draco's fault."
"Oh, really?" Ron never took his eyes away from Malfoy and the way he swallowed, the suspicious way he swallowed. "Who baked the cake? Who made the icing? He pointed that out to us how many times this evening, Hermione?"
"It was something else," said Hermione firmly. "You know that Harry doesn't eat chocolate often, he's so worried about staying fit to be an Auror." Her voice had already resumed its steadiness, which Ron was glad to hear, but it had tones of steel like his own under the surface, and they were directed at him. He definitely wasn't glad to hear that. "Maybe he has some allergies that we never knew about, or that have developed in the last year. Allergies can start at any time, Ron, you know that."
And good God, she was about to start lecturing him. Ron loved her, he really did, but she spent too much time blaming him and not enough time apologizing when she did make a mistake. Sometimes he wondered if she had married him so as to go on rowing with him more conveniently.
"I know that I cast a spell that restored Harry's breathing, and he felt better immediately," he said. Malfoy blinked, and Ron narrowed his eyes. "That means his poisoning has to be magical in nature. That's something you didn't count on anyone figuring out, eh, Malfoy?"
"I was just thinking that you managed to save his life," said Malfoy evenly. "Now I owe you for that as well as for putting up with my presence in Harry's life the past few years." He sighed. "I realized when I started dating Harry that I would be constantly surrounded by a pack of Weasleys, but I never expected it to be this bad," he muttered.
"You think this is bad?" Ron grinned at him, because he grinned when he was outraged. "Wait until you see Azkaban for trying to kill the Savior of the Wizarding World. On the other hand, he's my best friend before he's the Savior of the Wizarding World, so maybe I ought to give you justice myself—"
Abruptly, his wand was pulled away from Malfoy's throat. Ron struggled madly, but there were no arms to struggle against. It seemed that Hermione had become tired of listening to him talk and simply cast a spell that yanked him backwards.
"For the last time," she said, stepping up to him and looking as fierce and dangerous and beautiful as a Valkyrie, "Draco did not poison Harry. It was an allergic reaction, and we should focus on isolating the cause and making sure Harry doesn't eat it again."
She turned away and helped Draco levitate Harry into the bedroom they shared. Ron opened his mouth to protest, and then realized that the spell Hermione had cast also stopped his voice. He had to settle for glaring after them instead.
He would be the one to solve this mystery, then, since Hermione didn't realize what kind of snake Harry had taken into his home. He would get a copy of the recipe Malfoy had used for the cake and figure out the poison he'd have to add to those ingredients to produce the effect of stopping Harry's breathing.
And, of course, a few tracking charms and so on on Harry couldn't hurt, just so Malfoy didn't smother him with a pillow whilst Ron was investigating.
Ron stared dubiously up at the shop in front of him, one near the end of Diagon Alley that he'd never entered. The windows were filled with haunting sights, ones he felt less comfortable seeing than he would have with many of the wares displayed in windows in Knockturn Alley. Now and then someone opened the door and a gush of smells came to him. Women moved through the shop as casually as though they came there every day. Ron shuddered.
Needs must. He shoved the door open and entered Madame Barringer's Kitchen Supplies.
He kept his eyes as much as possible away from the ladles, books of household charms, pots, rolling pans, and skillets on display. It felt indecent, looking at all the tools that were used to assemble food in the mysterious world of kitchens, as though he were looking at the parts of a dismembered body. Ron knew that his mother could cook, and therefore she must use things like this, but he was perfectly happy to remain ignorant of how she did it.
A large witch with a long horsey face came to meet him, nodding as though she saw the intrusion of men into her private domain every day. Her hair was long and a brilliant orange, which made Ron wonder if she was a distant cousin. But her eyes were black, like Professor Snape's had been, so he discounted the notion. Her voice was cold and precise when she asked, "Can I help you?"
"Uh, yeah." Ron scrubbed a hand over his face and took a long breath. He could do this, he told himself. It was for Harry, who had awakened yesterday before Ron and Hermione left but had only a scratchy voice and no appetite. And who smiled at Draco entirely too much. "I need to know what sort of ingredients would be needed to bake a—a—"
"Yes?" The witch leaned forwards, dusting her floury hands off on the apron she wore. Her lips were parted slightly, as though she suspected that Ron was about to say something intensely interesting.
"A chocolate cake," Ron finished in a rush. "With chocolate icing."
The witch rocked back on her heels and sighed, and Ron had the feeling he'd disappointed her. "That's simple enough," she muttered, and led him over to a corner where bound books of recipes waited. Ron gave the books a suspicious glance. He thought he could hear them silently snickering at him. Try to use us, they said, and you'll never produce a cake as perfect as the one Malfoy made for Harry.
Ron stuck his nose in the air and ignored them. He had plenty of other things he could do, and most of them involved his wand, which was worth more than having skill with all the things scattered about him. Besides, Malfoy had poisoned Harry, hadn't he? Not such a perfect cake after all.
"Here." The tall witch seized a book and tossed it at him. Ron barely got his hand up to catch it in time. When he stopped fumbling and looked up, the witch had already glided away, presumably to find a patron who wanted to make some dangerous and secret confection.
This is dangerous enough for me, Ron thought, and left, clutching the recipe book tightly, full of newfound determination to make Malfoy pay for this.
Then he had to go back because he'd forgotten to pay for the book and the wards on the shop shrilled an alarm when he tried to pass through the front door, but it was the thought that counted.
Ron glared at the book and slammed it shut with a riffling of its small pages. Hermione, bent over yet another new book on the implications of the Great House-Elf Question, looked up at him with a wrinkled brow.
"What's the matter, Ron?"
"I can't figure out what Malfoy would have used to poison Harry," Ron said, and flopped back so that his head leaned on the back of the couch and he was staring at the ceiling. "All the ingredients in that chocolate cake recipe seem to be perfectly common ones. He was wicked and sly and cunning to poison Harry like that, but I don't know what he actually did."
"Ron," Hermione began, and there was an edge to her voice that made Ron stare at her in wonder, "you're being ridiculous. Malfoy didn't poison him. He admitted there were crushed raspberries in the middle of the cake, and Harry figured out that he hasn't eaten raspberries before. That has to be it."
"I've watched Harry eat raspberries at Hogwarts!" Ron argued, a clear memory springing to mind of Harry laughing over a pile of the glistening fruit. "He only said that because he loves Malfoy, God knows why—"
"I'm glad you can recognize that much, at least," Hermione muttered, and rolled her eyes before she looked down at the book again.
"And he wants to protect him from going to Azkaban," Ron finished, determined. "But I won't let him endanger his life like that. I'm going to find out how Malfoy used the raspberries or the chocolate to poison Harry if it's the last thing I do!"
Hermione said something like, "Merlin help us," but Ron knew it couldn't have been that, really, because she knew the truth about Malfoy as much as he did. She'd probably said, "Merlin help Malfoy," and that was an instance of just how compassionate she was and why he loved her.
Ron tiptoed down Knockturn Alley, his breathing shallow so he wouldn't flutter the Invisibility Cloak. Harry hadn't even asked why he wanted to borrow it, which Ron thought was a sign of a true friend, and maybe a silent cry for help. Harry knew Malfoy was up to no good, but he couldn't say that in front of Malfoy. So he had to plead for help with his eyes and his gestures, and his smiles were false, but Ron was the only one who could see that. Sometimes Hermione was too compassionate. She hadn't yet realized that Malfoy could be evil even if she felt sorry for him.
He reached the front window of the Bat's Belfry, the Dark apothecary, and peered through it for a moment. No one was in sight; the customers in Knockturn Alley during the day usually left as night began to drop, and the tougher crowd who were responsible for many of Ron's headaches as an Auror hadn't arrived yet. The owner was probably in the back. Ron studied the wards hung around the windows and smiled. They were simple for someone with Auror training.
A few passes of his wand and a few murmured words, and the wards had been disrupted. Ron stepped confidently onto the threshold.
Alarms exploded from every direction. Ron swore in startlement and jumped straight through the door, which suddenly contained a swinging line of light that almost decapitated him. He scrambled under it and into a far corner of the shop behind a cabinet filled with restlessly moving shapes, his heart pounding.
The owner of the Bat's Belfry, a huge hag with a hideous lump on the side of her face, came out swiftly and looked around. But she didn't think to look behind the cabinets, which Ron thought was a little stupid of her. She seemed satisfied when she realized no one was on the doorstep anymore, and she carefully shut the door and repaired the wards.
It occurred to Ron that that could present a bit of a problem when he wanted to leave. But he decided he would worry about it later. Right now, he wanted to concentrate on the knowledge he'd come for. If any place knew evil uses for raspberries, it was this one.
He crawled carefully from corner to corner, avoiding the gaze of the hag each time; she was more interested in talking to a large toad squatting on the counter anyway, which sometimes inflated its throat as if answering her. Ron passed tubs of scarab beetles that wouldn't have been out of place in the Apothecary in Diagon Alley, a barrel of jerking spider legs, and a stinking tank containing half a dismembered owl. The owl was brilliant white. Ron frowned. Harry had lost a white owl, and the one Malfoy had bought him to replace Hedwig was tawny. Ron couldn't help but think this dead bird was a bad omen.
Finally he found what he was looking for, a large chest with pictures of succulent yet wretched-looking fruit carved on it; Ron was sure he saw large drops of poison falling from the berries. He quietly cast a Privacy Charm around himself and got to work unlocking the trunk.
He suppressed the impulse to cheer when the lid swung open and the very first thing he saw was a large raspberry with blue leaves and silken skin. Tempting to eat, he knew, but surely deadliest poison. He scooped it out of its bed with a chuckle and enchanted it so that it would stay unbruised as he carried it home. Wait until he showed this to Hermione! She would have to admit that he'd been right, and that Malfoy had poisoned Harry for his own selfish reasons.
Ron shut the trunk again—the locking spells protecting it engaged at once—and then stood up and crept towards the door. The hag hadn't looked up from a dish of water she was placing in front of the toad. Ron reached the door and grinned to himself as he once again went through it, this time without triggering the wards. Really, getting in and out of the Bat's Belfry was dead easy. It was a wonder the hag didn't have thieves crawling out of the woodwork.
"Oh, dearie," said a cracked voice from behind him, followed by an even more cracked laugh. "I let you do it because I have a weakness for redheads, always have. I don't begrudge you one little berry to tempt the lucky man or woman who has you. But don't come back again soon. I've always fancied a little red-haired terrier."
Ron did not bolt, because that would be silly. He walked manfully away from the shop and didn't Apparate until at least a hundred feet from the door.
Ron was very loud when he Flooed into Harry and Malfoy's flat. He coughed, knocked soot out of his robes, pounded on the walls with one fist, and called, "Hello! Is anyone here?"
He had learned to be loud ever since the time when he'd come in quietly during the night, hoping to catch Harry awake and Malfoy sleeping so he could talk to Harry without the ferret overhearing, and caught Harry in the middle of…something else instead. Ron shuddered and shook his head. He had never thought of bananas the same way again.
"Ron? Is that you?"
Harry came out of the bedroom, his smile bright and his hand extended. Ron shook it, and then took the raspberry out of the protective case he'd conjured for it and showed it solemnly to Harry. Harry blinked and looked back and forth from him to the fruit with no sign of recognition.
"Yes, what is it?" he asked, when several moments had passed and Ron hadn't said anything.
Ron sighed. Sometimes he thought Harry's getting regular sex had lowered his intelligence. Or maybe Malfoy had cast a spell that made Harry fitter but dumber. That would be like him. "This is the raspberry that Malfoy put into your birthday cake, the one that made you choke," he said. "I'm certain of it. I found it in the apothecary in Knockturn Alley, and I've talked to a few people who saw him going down the alley last week. So—"
"Yes, he's explained all that," said Harry, with a slight, impatient shrug. "The raspberries made me choke, but he apologized, and he certainly didn't know they would. I'm allergic to them, so I just won't eat them in the future."
"But you've eaten raspberries before!" Ron insisted. "And why would this come from a Dark apothecary unless it was evil, Harry? So we ought to arrest Malfoy. If he really intended to just make you a cake, why wouldn't he use ordinary raspberries?"
Harry sighed and put his head in his hands. Ron nodded triumphantly. "You see? You have to admit he's sneaky and underhanded, Harry."
"Yes, I have to admit that," Harry muttered, and then raised his head and called, "Do you want to tell him, Draco, or should I?"
Malfoy stuck his head out the bedroom door. His hair hung in messy clumps around his face, which wore an expression of dazed satisfaction. His lips were puffy and far too red, and he looked as though someone had punched him several times. Or slammed into him in other ways. Ron averted his gaze, his own face flaming.
"Oh? Yes," said Malfoy breathlessly. "I bought those raspberries because Harry and I have had several arguments lately, Weasel—"
Malfoy actually flinched under the lash of Harry's voice, though he didn't apologize. "And that led to no sex because Harry was sleeping on the couch. I can't survive with no sex. So I chose those raspberries because they're a known aphrodisiac to heighten pleasure. I thought Harry would eat them and have a bout of wild, passionate sex with me before he knew what he was doing." He was definitely enjoying watching Ron flinch when he said the word sex, if the vicious smile on his face was any indication. "But he turned out to be allergic to them. So we fought again and I apologized for almost killing him, and then we had sex."
"And you put up with this?" Ron spun to face Harry. "You're not upset that he was planning to drug and rape you?" He became aware he'd squeezed the raspberry, and the juice was dripping down his fingers now.
Harry shook his head. "I've had to make some allowances for dating someone who never learned what right and wrong mean," he said calmly. Malfoy opened his mouth, but Harry lifted a hand without looking at him. "No, Draco, blood politics have nothing to do with right and wrong. They have to do with crazy."
"Why do you do this?" Ron muttered. He was unhappy; he'd been right about what a dastardly bastard Malfoy was, but Harry planned to go right ahead and date him anyway. "Isn't there any line he could cross that would make you leave him?"
"Oh, of course," said Harry. "But it's my choice what I forgive, and he hasn't crossed that line instead." He put an arm around Ron's shoulders and leaned near enough to whisper into Ron's ear. "And the sex is really good."
Ron put his hands over his ears and ran out the front door of the flat. The door shut behind him, but not before he heard Malfoy laughing. And then he was standing in the middle of the road outside Harry's building with humiliation flushing his cheeks and smashed raspberry dripping down his ear.
Ron took a deep, determined breath and looked back at the flat with a nod. Someday, Malfoy would make a mistake that even Harry and Hermione couldn't forgive, and then Ron would pounce on him like a hawk and deliver him to justice.
In the meantime, he would go home, take a long shower, and hope to scrub several sights and sounds from his mind permanently. He needed those brain cells free for the next time Malfoy tried anything.