Guys, thanks for all your kind words over the years. It turns out, I had a continuation in me, with two more parts after this. I'd love to hear what you think and if you'd like to see the last parts as well or if this was better of as a oneshot.
Ronald Weasley was thinking.
It wouldn't be fair to him to say it wasn't something he did often, because Ron frequently thought about Quidditch, homework, chess, his Mum's latest letters (not that he would admit that to anyone) and Hermione's bum (he wouldn't admit that to anyone either) but he rarely thought in the deep, introspective way he did now.
However, in the instances when he did, the thoughts were nearly always centered around one Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, one-third of the Golden Trio, his best mate.
Sometimes (often) he was jealous of his mate for his fame, his Quidditch skills and his money. Other times he didn't think any bloke could have a better mate. And sometimes, he worried.
Ron Weasley knew he wasn't the most perceptive of men. In fact, he distinctly recalled Hermione accusing him of having "the emotional range of a teaspoon" and he was clever enough to realize that he missed things that Hermione and Harry took for granted. Hermione was a girl, it made sense for her to understand feelings and stuff, but Harry, even though he tried to act normal, picked up a lot of things Ron missed. He was more suspicious than Ron, less trusting… More twitchy-like.
Since Ron didn't understand it, he put it down to Harry simply being a bit different than himself, and accepted it.
However, with the latest developments, Ron wasn't sure he could do that anymore.
See, Harry never complained.
Not about real things, that was. He heartily joined Ron's complaint chorus over homework, Snape and Divination assignments, but when it came to other things… Real things, he was quiet.
Ron could remember Harry's face that first Christmas, as if he couldn't quite believe there were presents for him of all people!
And that time when he, Fred and George had broken him out of prison (the Dursleys) and Harry had refused to say anything about what had happened.
Things like that got a man thinking, it did.
Add to that Umbridge and her detentions and Ron was not quite sure what the picture taking shape before him was showing, but he knew one thing. He didn't like it.
It wasn't normal to be tortured in detention and refuse to tell someone about it. Ron knew that if his mum found out, she'd go spare. She'd rush up to Hogwarts, wand in hand. But Harry didn't seem to think so.
Even now, after Umbridge had mysteriously disappeared, after storming into the Great Hall mumbling about quills, lies and pink kittens, Harry refused to see that the detentions had been wrong. Whenever Hermione tried to bring it up (with Ron standing by as… As moral support. Quiet moral support), Harry changed the topic or simply stormed off.
So Ron sat thinking in the common room, going through the facts, trying to treat it as a complex chess problem. His eyes fell on Harry, who was sprawled in an armchair across from him, feet dangling. More specifically, his eyes fell on Harry's shoes. Harry's threadbare trainers, and the big toe he could almost see peeking out on the right one.
When Ron Weasley played chess, he could sometimes see each move before him, exactly as they would be played over the course of the supposed that was why the Sorting Hat had considered him for Ravenclaw, before deciding he lack the drive. Not that he'd ever tell anyone that.
He did the same now, only he was playing a real life game. First, he needed the library. Then his mum. And Hermione. And finally (he gulped) Snape.