Author's Note: This fic was written for Star98hope on livejournal. Yay Harry and Ron, one of my favorite relationships in any fandom.
A Meeting in Hogsmeade
By Everything is Magic
Winter in Hogsmeade would have looked very much like the interior of a snowglobe, or the cover of a Christmas card, to anyone surveying it for the first time. The buildings were old fashioned, their rafters and roofs capped with snow and dripping with icicles. Children bustled about, wrapped up in scarves and cloaks, at their winter best. Christmas trees were visible in the windows of most of the establishments, lit by candles and magic. The snow lined path through the town was covered in footprints, revealing the cobbles below.
For Harry and Ron, this sight was nothing new. But as they stood in the street winding through the town, having just apparated in, they couldn't deny that it still managed to excite them all the same. They may have both been officially of age (for over a year and a half for Harry, almost two for Ron), but the idea of peppermint toads and fizzing whizbees in abundance made them eager nonetheless. Some things never changed.
"Reckon we'd best make it to Honeydukes before we meet up with Ginny and Hermione," Ron quipped. Harry nodded. Having both entered the auror department soon after Voldemort's defeat, Harry and Ron did not go back to school for their missed seventh year. Hermione and Ginny however, had gone back to Hogwarts.
"Good idea, Ron," Harry replied. "Can just imagine Hermione's reaction if she saw us floating in the air after eating a fizzing whizbee."
"I can!" He laughed, envisioning Hermione's first sight of them since the last visit in October being them levitating above her, sticky sweets in their hands. "Honestly you two! Don't you ever grow up?" But Ron smiled as he said this, his fondness for her showing through his light-hearted mockery. Ron smacked Harry on the back and Harry snickered. "Let's go then. Honeydukes it is."
They were lucky to be almost unrecognizable. So swathed in scarves and gloves was he, that Harry's face was hardly visible to any random passerby. The pair was able to easily slip into Honeydukes, with no one any wiser as to the fact that the very famous wizard was traipsing around Hogsmeade.
Honeydukes was as jolly as it had ever been. Third years and up crowded around various displays, laughing amongst each other and spending their knuts and sickles on whatever they fancied. To Harry and Ron, it felt a lifetime away from where they were now. But that didn't mean they didn't want to stock up on all of the goodies themselves, and before they knew it, they'd purchased a cavalcade of one of a kind treats from the best candy shop in the world. Ron commented on how glad he was to finally have his own expendable income, as he had often done since he acquired his position in the department. Far from being annoyed by it, Harry beamed. He could not have been happier for his best friend.
They managed to avoid the temptation of eating a fizzing whizbee (Ron joked about a certain journalist's scandalous report on Harry Potter's wild levitating ruckus in Hogsmeade, and Harry promptly put his sherbet back in the bag), and left the store, the winter chill brightening their cheeks as they walked into the wind.
"To the Three Broomsticks now?" Harry inquired, the taste of Madam Rosemerta's butterbeer and firewhiskey coming to mind.
"Really Harry?" Ron laughed. "No, we'll be going to The Hog's Head of course!"
"But Ginny's owl said to meet them at the Three Broomsticks…"
"Guess you didn't get the update then." He shrugged. "It's The Hog's Head." Ron glanced at his watch. "Gonna be late, c'mon."
Harry followed Ron, watching his back for a moment and then jogging up to stand beside him. It seemed like Ron never stopped growing. He was centimeters taller than he even was the fateful May before. His lanky legs made for long strides, and Harry had to walk briskly to keep up. In the distance he saw The Hog's Head, as dingy as ever. He was quite fond of the place now, but he'd be hard pressed to argue against the fact that it looked like a rubbish bin.
"Ah just a moment." Ron placed his hand on the door once they'd reached the building. "Let me go in first."
"Why?" Harry's eyebrows creased. Ron imagined his expression had changed otherwise as well, but he couldn't see beneath the scarf that protected the rest of Harry's face from the bitter cold.
"Just want to make sure there's not anyone… shady in there or anything, all right?" He reasoned lamely.
Harry rolled his eyes. "C'mon Ron. I think I can protect myself."
"You went in first last time. Now it's your turn to watch my back."
"I can watch your back this time, when we go in at the same time. This isn't an auror mission anyway, unless you think Ginny and Hermione are dangerous." He remarked dryly.
"Well…" Both of them stifled laughter. "Just let me go in first. I'll only be a moment."
"Fine. Whatever." Harry sulked. Ron smiled ruefully and entered, leaving his companion behind. He kicked the snow beneath his feet for a few moments, then heard a POP, the distinct sound of someone apparating in next to him. Harry looked up, recognizing Neville's familiar features and warm smile.
"Ah Harry, so sorry I'm late!" Neville explained, breathless.
"Late… what?" He blinked. "It's nice to see you and all, but what exactly are you late for?"
Neville's eyes widened. "I… you don't know?" He berated himself inwardly for spoiling a potential surprise.
"No… I have no idea what's going on."
Before Neville could reply, Ron peeked his head out the door. "Right Harry, you can come in now--- Neville, there you are! Reckon you didn't spoil the surprise, did you?" He shook his head in the negative.
"What surprise?" Harry huffed. Ron grabbed his hand and pulled him inside. Neville sped in front of them, getting in the door before they did.
The first thing he actually noticed was a table full of rather delicious looking finger sandwiches. They looked to be Kreacher's handiwork. No one else could make sandwiches that brilliant. Next to them were flagons of sumptuous butterbeer. When he looked up beyond the sandwiches, he saw something far better.
The chairs and tables were filled with familiar faces. Some of them had changed since he last saw them, but all were beaming at him. Ginny, Hermione, Neville, and Luna sat up front. A piece of paper he couldn't read was on top of their table. George sat with Lee, Angelina, Seamus and Dean. Scattered throughout were Hannah, Katie, Alicia, the Patil twins, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Ernie, Cho, Lavender, even Dennis Creevey, amongst many others. There was an empty chair at George's table and at Dennis's. It needn't be said who they were for. Everyone knew.
"The original Dumbledore's Army, Harry," Ron finally spoke up. "It's all of us, at the place it all began."
Speechless, Harry approached the front table. The quartet sitting there smiled warmly as he picked up the piece of paper. "It's the roster," Hermione explained. "I thought we'd lost it, but Professor McGonagall found it and gave it to me. The first day… when everyone signed up, this is the very same parchment."
"Thanks for keeping it Hermione," Harry finally spoke, his voice quiet, touched.
Hermione shook her head. "Don't thank me. None of this was my idea."
"Who…"He glanced back at Ron, and Hermione nodded.
"Three years ago exactly would have been the first Hogsmeade visit of the year," Ron shrugged. "But I reckon this is close enough."
Harry placed the parchment back on the table and walked toward Ron, trying to keep moisture from escaping his eyes.
"No need to cry," Ron quipped, attempting to make light of the situation.
"I'm not!" There was laughter and brightness in his intonation. "I just… you know. Thanks Ron."
Harry reached forward, wrapping his arms around Ron. He either didn't mind that everyone was watching him embrace Ron, or he'd forgotten momentarily that there was anyone there but he and him.
Ron grinned, patting Harry on the back. "No problem mate, what else is a best friend for?"
Harry nodded and let go, slapping him on the shoulder. "We should pass around the butterbeer now, then?"
"And we'll have to do cheers, right?" Ron picked up a flagon and the crowd began to pass it around.
"Yes, to Dumbledore's Army!"
"To Dumbledore's Army." Ron echoed, and the pair of them sat down at the table with Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and the parchment that started it all.