A jolt and then a thud.

The slow spread of liquid absorbed by the worn carpet, skimming over balding patches and lingering at coarse, densely woven threads, and the toppled vessel lying empty on its side.

Desperate hands scrabbling at the spill as it is absorbed into the damp patch, then a cloth being pressed down, and finally a failed attempt to wring the moisture back into the upright vessel.

A shiver, like a draught only a worm's width, slithers down from neck to the small of the back and the cloth scrubs at the spill. No salvageable amount left, simply a mess to be removed and cleaned.

Knuckles graze the rough carpet and the shaking hands scour harder at the stain.

The stain fades from memory as it fades from the carpet until...

I woke with a shiver. My eyes opened and I pulled the covers up, tight, beneath my chin. I rolled over, dragging the warm blankets and sheets with me and then drew my knees up to my chest with a deep exhalation.

A warm hand at my waist made me jump.


"Are you feeling all right?" Hermione's voice sounded smooth but rough, like velvet being caressed in the wrong direction, and heavy with sleep.

I hummed my satisfaction and rolled over and into her side. I closed my eyes and buried my face into the side of her neck. My long arms pushed and coiled around her body and an even longer leg draped itself over her thighs.

"Just woke up with a scrap of a dream still on my mind or something. Just weird," I mumbled into her skin.

Her hand stroked my hair and the light pressure of her lips against the top of my head made me smile, lazily.

"You didn't happen to dream you were cold did you?" Hermione whispered. "Because you stole all the covers from me and shivered."

"Don'member." I yawned.

She crushed her body into mine, firmly, and pushed her fingers into my hair to massage my scalp as she spoke with a slight pout.

"You rolled away from me too. You never roll away."


"You turned your back on me when you woke up just now," Hermione said as she prodded me with a persistently ink stained finger.

I snored. Faking sleep was always the best way to get myself out of trouble.

I couldn't get Ron's sudden coldness off my mind. Even listening to Ginny didn't titilate me like it usually did.

"I can't ask mum for any tips on birth control charms," Ginny sighed as he stirred her tea and propped her head up in her cupped palm, "firstly because...well come on, seven children, how good can the charms she uses be?" Ginny snorted and then lazily dropped her teaspoon back into the saucer. "Secondly, my birth control is supposed to be waiting until I'm married."

Ginny rolled her eyes at this and sipped her tea.

"Well..." I began before Ginny continued.

"It's as if I never counted backwards nine months from Bill's birthday and passed her and Dad's wedding day along the way! She's one to lecture me on sex before marriage." Ginny clonked her teacup back down onto the saucer and flipped back her hair. "So I figured you must have a good spell, seeing as Ron's a Weasley, y'know? Care to share?"

"Um," I didn't know what thought to absorb first, "I don't have any spells. I've never looked for one."

Ginny looked at me with great scepticism.

"I've read about them obviously," I quickly added, "but using contraception charms at fourteen would have been a waste of time so I kept on reading."

"Hermione," Ginny began, still unconvinced, "you and Ron were over your main hurdle, that being yourselves, before you went off camping for a year. You can't tell me you were totally unprepared."

"For what, losing my virginity while Harry slept mere feet away?" I exclaimed.

"You spend the night in Ron's bed all the time. Don't tell me all you do is hold hands!"

"If you must know, my mother came with me to the GP and got me a prescription for the pill."

"What pill?" Ginny blinked, blankly.

"The birth control pill."

"This is the Muggle way of doing it, right?"

"Yes it is and don't assume that all we do in Ron's bed is have sex. He's actually very content to just sleep with me. He's been through the crazed hormonal passion stage with Lavender and now..."

"You get the dull passionless Ron," Ginny said with a furrowed brow, "oh lovely."

"He's not passionless; we're just not going at it like rabbits like you and Harry." I said as I swirled my tea in the cup and watched as it dipped in the middle like the brown whirlpool.

"Is there something wrong though?" Ginny said with a frown of genuine concern. "He's Ron, you should be fighting him off."

"He's more thoughtful then you give him credit, thank you, Ginny." I snapped.

"And when have you known Ron's thoughts to lead him anywhere good?" Ginny threw back. "Ron's happiest when he doesn't over think things. He doesn't think too much when he plays chess does he? Ron's best when he's impulsive, instinctive, and spontaneous."

"Ron's at his best when he's not limited by other people's expectations of what he can do. He can be thoughtful and he is, very much so."

"Blimey," Harry said as he padded through to the kitchen, rubbing the back of his head and ruffling the bed hair he was sporting into an even bigger mess, "your brother's away with the fairies this morning."

He dropped down into a chair beside Ginny and yawned as he leaned across to kiss her on the cheek.


"Your breath!" Ginny reeled away from him and held up both hands in self defence.

"What's Ron done?" I asked as I looked over my shoulder and waited for him to appear at the doorway.

"Huh? Oh, just being slow. He's not the sharpest tack this morning. You must have worn him out." Harry smirked.

Ginny met my eyes and we shared a silent exchange that I had to break with a forced cough.

"Well, he had a strange dream last night and it kept him from settling back down."

"Oh yeah?" Harry grinned as he looked up at the doorway. "Wet dreams at your age?"

"What?" Ron said, looking baffled as he pulled up his loose fitting pyjama bottoms and scratched his belly, exposed by a too short t-shirt.

"Last night, you had that dream, remember?" I said as I smiled and reached over to take his hand.

"Oh right, Ron said before picking up a piece of toast and stuffing it into his mouth without butter.

"So have you woken up yet?" Harry asked him.

"I'm 'wake," Ron grunted as he dropped into the chair beside me.

"Got an answer to my question yet?" Harry said with a patient smile.

"Oh, um...Ollivander, yeah. We can take the fragments of wand to him and see if he can identify it this afternoon. He should be able to give us something to go on at least."

"That's good, I thought you were going to tilt your head to the side and think about it for another hour." Harry sniggered.

For a brief time I found myself drawn into another meaningful look with Ginny. It was Ginny who broke first this time as she turned her attention to her brother.

"I bet a full stomach will sharpen you up, eh Ron."

Ron looked at his sister, smiling and chewing at the same time, and then around to address me.

"So did I tell you about the case? I told you about the wand fragments, right? Well anyway, we have specialists and geniuses like you to ask but we figured th-"

"You figured," Harry interrupted before delivering his compliment to me rather than Ron, such a boy thing to do, "he knows the pride Ollivander takes in his job and that he's not been the same since Malfoy Manor so he suggested we make him feel invaluable by asking for his help."

Ron shrugged while I beamed at him.

"He's a skilled craftsman, it makes sense," Ron mumbled.

"And you're the one with the amazing mind who thought of that." I whispered into Ron's hair as my hand slid along his thigh and squeezed his leg.

Ron looked momentarily uncomfortable and swallowed, seemingly painfully.

"Well I just thought because of the wand weighing, they got him for a reason didn't they? Can't take credit for stating the obvious."

I let my hand fall away under the table and tried to hide my disappointment at Ron's response.

"The wand weighing?" Harry frowned. "After everything we went through in that cellar and then at Bill and Fleur's with him you know him well enoug-"

"That wasn't my first thought when I said it okay?" Ron said, looking tense.

I held my tongue and waited. If his temperament changed then he was simply distracted by other things but if he stewed on whatever it was then I'd start to worry.

Ron picked up another slice of dry toast and reached for the butter knife before muttering an apology.

"Sorry, I had a really weird night." His eyes moved sideways to look at me and he chanced a smile. "My amazing mind leaves you with no covers. I'm surprised you put up with it."

His leg nudged mine and I slipped my hand back up his thigh where his met it half way. Fingers interlocked and all was well again.

For now.