Title: Ron Weasley and the Entropy of the Situation
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Crack, AU, profanity, mentions of sex.
Pairings: Ron/Hermione, Harry/Draco
Summary: Ron has learned a great deal about Muggle physics, and that in turn has opened his eyes to certain facts about Harry's relationship with Malfoy. It's inevitable that it will fall apart and Harry be returned to sanity!
Author's Notes: This is part of my 'Hapless Ron' series, but you don't have to have read the other fics to understand this one, as they all stand alone. Also, this was written in fulfillment of a request from a reviewer called Jolene who gave me "physics" as a prompt.
Ron Weasley and the Entropy of the Situation
Ron picked up the physics book because he was bored.
Hermione was in St. Mungo's interviewing yet another man who claimed to have been ambushed by free-roaming house-elves—a common occurrence since Hermione had started putting pressure on the Ministry to treat house-elves more fairly. Ron didn't want to go to bed, because they're been interrupted in the middle of a deep and thorough snog when the firecall came, and he still hoped that Hermione would return in time to let them resume. And he didn't want to wank because, well, his wife tended to get a bit short about that when she came home with the need for some close attention and found Ron asleep and snoring.
But she couldn't complain about him picking up one of the Muggle "science" books she was always telling him to read. In fact, she should be pleased that he was educating himself some more by reading every tenth word on the pages or so. Besides, a heavy book was excellent to make some blood flow elsewhere in his body rather than to his erection.
Ron turned slowly through the pages, pausing to stare at some of the illustrations and shake his head. Muggles sure had strange ideas about the way the world worked. This one seemed to spend a lot of time worrying about "forces" in a way that made Ron snort. Magical backlash was a minor danger compared to Dark wizards.
Then he saw a word that he knew he had heard Hermione mention more than once.
Ron settled down, because this was something Hermione could ask him about and he could tell her he really had learned, and read.
And didn't even pause to think about how virtuous he was being more than three times.
That was because it was interesting. He was learning something. And he was learning that entropy applied to everything. No one could take an action that wouldn't in some way lead to entropy. There was no way to get outside it. There was no way to escape it.
Ron later had blurred memories of Hermione coming home and shaking him awake, asking him in amazement what he was doing asleep on the couch with a physics book clutched to his chest. Ron shook his head, murmured that she was increasing the entropy of his psyche, and went back to sleep.
He did give her the book so she could put it away on the shelves—Hermione was particular about that—but only just.
"Er, mate," Harry said, "is something wrong? You've been staring at me and grinning for most of the meal. Did George turn my hair green again?" He reached up and felt anxiously along his scalp.
Ron laughed. That was a reasonable fear when they'd spent an hour with his brothers at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, but in this case, the twins had concentrated their efforts on him instead of on Harry. "No," he said. "But you wouldn't believe me if I told you what was making me laugh."
"Er, all right," Harry said, with another stare, before he promptly turned back to wolfing down the shepherd's pie.
Ron sat back and smiled at him. Yes, he could smile, now that he knew Harry's love affair with the horrible, prejudiced, anti-Muggle, anti-Weasley, far too blond Draco Malfoy was coming to an end.
The physics book had explained it all to him. Nothing could escape entropy. That meant that Harry and Malfoy's relationship had to suffer from entropy, too. It would fall slowly apart, and collapse into little tiny particles, and Ron would have his best friend back again without the necessity to think about him shagging Malfoy.
It was simple, brilliant, and, best of all, perfectly natural. No one could accuse him of being anti-Malfoy himself or trying to hasten things along unfairly. After all, it wasn't as though he'd do anything. He was only watching the laws of the universe in action.
Sometimes Ron was so clever that he really wondered how Hermione dealt with being cast into the shade by him.
Harry finished the shepherd's pie and leaned back in his chair. Ron cleared his throat. "So, Harry, are you going to come over to the Burrow for the party next week?" Mum and Dad were holding a sort of general, all-purpose party to celebrate the birth of Dominique, Bill and Fleur's newest daughter, the continuing success of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, and the fact that Percy had finally found a girl who'd tolerate him.
"Can't," Harry said, at least sounding properly regretful. "I promised Draco that we'd go on holiday this year, you know, and this was the weekend he picked for it."
Ron scowled. "On accident, I'm sure," he said sarcastically. Malfoy was always doing things like that. Last year, he'd managed to make Harry miss Ron's birthday, the celebration for the success of one of Hermione's major court cases, and the triumphant release of one of Ginny's articles. The excuses were always for these holidays, or, once, because his mum was in hospital. Ron had believed a lot of bad things about the Malfoys in his time, but slipping one of your parents poison just so that you could cling to your lover like a girl was something Ron thought was pretty bloody low.
(It had to be poison, because Mrs. Malfoy had recovered far too fast the moment her son went home from hospital for the day, to be "comforted" by Harry).
But Harry seemed resolved not to argue with him tonight, because he just rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, Ron, on accident. If anything, I should be the one keeping track of these things, because I'm the only one who cares about both your lives and Draco's life enough to match up the dates." He ducked his head, watching Ron from under his fringe. Ron thought that was unfair. It made him look like the Harry Potter Ron had known in Hogwarts, and that made him think about how they had been inseparable, and that softened him from being angry with Harry the way he should be now.
Everything suffers entropy, even my anger, Ron had to remind himself. "All right," he said. "But you owe us next weekend. We'll go somewhere without the git and then come back to the Burrow and have a big dinner with my family."
Harry smiled at him. "Agreed." Then he looked up and over Ron's shoulder, and his expression froze into a mixture of shyness and pleasure.
Ron didn't bother turning around. There was only one person Harry ever looked like that for. And sure enough, a moment later, Malfoy had stepped around Ron and was dropping a hand on Harry's shoulder, smiling lazily down at him.
"Ready to leave?" he murmured.
"Yes," Harry said, and stood up, kissing Malfoy on the cheek.
Ron caught his breath. There was the entropy, right in front of him! Harry had always kissed Malfoy on the mouth before when he was trying to soothe him or trying to show Ron that he valued his boyfriend. It was new to have just a cheek kiss. It was probably a sign that he was becoming more bored, less affectionate.
"See you next weekend," Harry said, and then paused, looking at him strangely. "Are you all right, Ron?"
Ron shook his head and managed to smooth his expression back into something like normality. "Of course. Fine." He should try not to show that he knew, he told himself sternly. Otherwise, Harry might feel defensive and self-conscious and try to go back to Malfoy for a while, struggling against his impulses, telling himself that he really was happy. He would lose, because nothing could reverse entropy, but at the same time, Ron didn't want his friend to suffer.
"All right," Harry said, though he still looked a little puzzled, and then he and Malfoy left the Leaky Cauldron.
Ron picked a weathered spot on the wall and toasted it, because it seemed like the right thing to do, to make a toast of some kind to entropy.
"And then she said—" Ginny bubbled, waving her arms. She was engaged in telling some story of Luna Lovegood, the way she often was.
Ron rolled his eyes indulgently. Ginny and Luna had shared a flat since the war. They both worked at the Quibbler and spent most of their free time together. Ron was willing to wait until his sister got a boyfriend, since there was no chance that she could pick someone as unsuitable as Malfoy (with Malfoy being already taken, and all), but he did wonder sometimes why she'd waited so long.
He looked around the Burrow, content. Bill and Fleur had been able to come again this weekend, and now Molly was fussing over them and over Victoire, who was almost five. George had dropped by and was chuckling in a corner with Dad over something.
Best of all, Harry had spent the entire day with him and Hermione, hunting down little shops in the alleys off Diagon and going to a Muggle cinema, and now he was smiling down at Dominique, who was in his lap. He hadn't shown any sign that he missed the blond git at all.
That's another sign, Ron thought. Another sign of the entropy, I mean. If he's happy with us, if he doesn't want Malfoy, sooner or later he'll have to start thinking about why that is. And then he'll come back to us, his best friends.
Harry raised his head, as if he could feel Ron's eyes, and smiled at him across the room. Ron waved back, not trying to get through the cluster of bodies that surrounded his friend. It would only annoy people right now.
I'll be supportive when the relationship falls apart, Ron told himself. I'll tell him all sorts of things about how Malfoy wasn't good enough for him anyway. I'll even offer to help him find another boyfriend.
Then Ron frowned thoughtfully. Should he do that? After all, if entropy was at work, then that relationship with only fall apart, and Harry would only be left more miserable, because it would make him more unhappy to lose a decent bloke than a prat like Malfoy.
Once you know about entropy, the world's harder, Ron thought, and wandered outside the Burrow to stare at the stars and ponder eternity and think about whether maybe it was better for Ginny to have a stable friendship with Luna after all than a boyfriend who would only break her heart.
Harry ducked through the door of Ron and Hermione's house. Ron looked up, and then froze, heart banging, when he saw the dark shape on Harry's cheek.
"What is it, mate?" he whispered. He was grateful for the whisper. Harry would have acted all defensive if he'd shouted, but, as it was, he just gave Ron a sheepish look and sat down in a chair next to his.
"A fight with Draco." Harry picked up the mug of Firewhisky that Ron had automatically handed him and swallowed several gulps of it before he talked again. "It's nothing."
"If he punched you, it's not nothing," Ron started, and then stopped.
He knew that sparkle in Harry's eye, the way he turned his chair around as if he was just waiting for Ron to oppose him.
He was hoping for a row. Anything that would take his mind off the fight with Malfoy and convince him that it wasn't such a big deal after all. Then he could decide that it was right to go back to the abusive bastard (how long had he been abusing Harry? Why hadn't Harry ever said anything?) and pretend nothing was wrong.
Ron calmed his temper down by drowning it, and reminded himself forcefully that entropy didn't need any help. It was a natural process. But since fighting against it was futile too, because it would inevitably happen, Ron shouldn't give Harry what he wanted by making his crumbling relationship with Malfoy seem desirable, either.
Slightly breathless from the breadth of that thought, Ron held a hand up and shook his head. "It's nothing, mate, if you say it is," he agreed. "Did you take a pain potion or anything?"
"No," Harry muttered, his eyes fixed on Ron's face as if he thought he had entered a different universe. "It didn't hurt enough to."
Ron shrugged, and then started talking about whether the new Ministerial candidate had any chance in the next election. Meanwhile, Harry sipped his Firewhisky and continued to look stunned.
And then thoughtful.
That's right, mate, Ron thought hopefully. Brood over it. Magnify it in your mind, and then, even if it really was "nothing," it will seem much bigger, and Malfoy's faults that much more unforgivable.
By the end of the evening, Harry had acquired a firm jaw and some of the courage that he often found in Firewhisky, and he stepped out of the house with a promise to have a "talk" with Malfoy. Ron watched him go with a small smile.
I'm going to have my best friend back again. It's really going to happen.
Ron blinked and turned around. He hadn't expected to hear that voice, choked with hate, behind him while he was walking through the middle of Diagon Alley. He firmed up his grip on Hermione's birthday gift, a book on Potions signed by the Potions master who'd written it, in case Malfoy tried to destroy it.
Malfoy stalked towards him and halted less than an inch away, which gave Ron a disturbing look he had never wanted at the flecks of color around the pupil of his eyes. He was snorting like a maddened bull. Ron sheltered the book behind his left arm and got ready to draw his wand.
"I want to know what the fuck you've done to my boyfriend," Malfoy said. "He came home the other night from your house and scolded me for hitting him in a fight where he gave as good as he got." Despite his saying that, Ron noted, he didn't have any bruises on his face. "What are you doing? Encouraging him to break up with me?"
"How could I do that?" Ron said, and complimented himself, because he sounded surprised instead of gleeful. "Every time I tried to warn him against you, it only sent him fleeing back into your loving arms. You know that."
Malfoy chewed on his lip and glared at him a lot, which Ron thought made his life worthwhile for the afternoon. Then he said, "You know nothing about what's going on with Harry and me. We're making some big decisions. The fight was about one of those decisions, not because I just wanted to beat him up."
"I'm certainly glad you're not abusing him," Ron chirped, and felt fully rewarded by some of the glances that came their way. "But you're right, I know nothing about the fight or what you're deciding right now. Harry didn't say."
That got him a glance from head to foot, with the usual wince at his hair. Ron smirked at him. Do whatever you think you need to. It still won't keep Harry with you now that the entropy's begun.
"There's nothing that you can do or say to take Harry away from me," Malfoy said, but he sounded wobbly.
"Then why come up and ask me about it?" Ron said, and did a perfect little eyebrow lift of the kind that Hermione had been trying to teach him for years.
Malfoy whirled around and stalked off. Ron did a private celebration dance in his head, and then Apparated home so that he could do an actual dance in private.
"Where's Hermione?" Harry asked, sitting down at the table and glancing around.
"That's a puzzler, I have to admit," Ron said, bringing over the plate of spaghetti that he'd found made and ready on the counter, under a warming spell. "She's been spending a lot of her evenings out of the house. I think she's trying to prove that this man who claims he was attacked by house-elves doesn't have a case."
"Of course he doesn't have a case," Harry said, and attacked the food in front of him so hungrily that Ron had to duck the flying fragments. "If he did, then others would also claim they'd been attacked by house-elves. In fact, someone would have done it before now. But the elves who want freedom also want to work, they just want to be paid. So…"
And on and on Harry went about house-elves, normally a subject that he never paid attention to, while Ron stared at him in amazement and pity.
He's so desperate to take his mind off Malfoy that he chose house-elves. That's horrible or a miracle, I'm not sure which. Can you have horrible miracles?
"And that's why the whole thing is a sack of nonsense," Harry said, finishing his tirade at the same moment he finished his meal. He sucked up one last noodle and leaned back with a satisfied nod. Ron eyed him, more than a little surprised that he'd escaped from any possible fleck of spaghetti sauce. Harry abruptly let his face fall and gave Ron a searching glance. "Ron, can I talk to you about something important?"
"Of course," Ron said, casually, while his excitement did a jig off the inside of his head. Yes! The entropy worked! He's going to tell me that he and Malfoy are ready to break up. Thank you, entropy!
It was too bad that Ron had no idea how to actually thank entropy. He'd read the physics book more than once, but it didn't say anything about entropy liking biscuits, the way that some of the books about magical creatures did.
"Draco asked me a question the other day," Harry said in a low voice, running his fingers along the edge of his plate. Then he had to pause to spell the spaghetti sauce off them. Ron waited patiently, and Harry went on, his voice even softer. "I wasn't ready for it. I yelled at him. That was when we got into the fight."
Ron frowned. So far, this didn't sound promising for entropy to do its work. "Yeah? And?"
"He asked me the question again," Harry said, and raised his eyes to Ron's face. Ron stared. He looked happy, or sort of. He almost looked as though he wished he could be happy, but wouldn't dare. Or maybe as if he were about to get indigestion. "I walked out the door without answering, because I was already late for dinner with you. But I know that he'll ask me at least once more. I want to know what you think I should reply."
"How can I say that without knowing what the question is?" Ron asked, and then congratulated himself for being sensible.
"In this case, you'll have to." Harry was smiling at him, but his fingers had gone back to their restless rubbing. "You can know it's important to Draco, and to me. Important enough to start a fight over. Important enough that I risked walking away tonight because I didn't want to give the wrong answer, or the right one at the wrong moment."
Ron frowned at him. "I thought you came without answering because you were already late for dinner with me. You said."
Harry sighed. He muttered something that sounded like, "I don't know how Hermione puts up with you," but it couldn't be, because Harry was his friend and wouldn't talk that way. Then he said, "This is really—this is life-changing. What do you think I should do?"
Ron thought hard. He wished he could say the thing that would most increase the entropy in Harry and Malfoy's relationship, but there was no way he could do that for sure without knowing the question. And Harry had the look on his face right now that Ron privately called his "mule" look. If Ron pressed further, then he would end up with Harry walking out the door for a different reason than the one Malfoy had had.
So it had to be something that would serve his goals and at the same time not make Harry think that he was trying to force him away from Malfoy. Something wise and mysterious should just about do the trick, Ron decided.
"I think you should do whatever soothes your heart the most," Ron said. "And soothes your soul at the same time. And makes sense to your mind. If this is life-changing, then you shouldn't leave any part of yourself out of the change, you know?"
Harry sat up and looked at him with sharp respect. "That sounds real, Ron. Did you get that out of a book?"
Ron scowled. For someone who was supposed to be his best friend, Harry thought far too little of Ron's mental abilities. "I'll forget you said that," he said.
"So you didn't, then?" Harry continued, entirely unabashed.
"No," Ron said. "I made it up just now, because it sounded like the right thing to say."
Harry gave him a small, sweet smile, and nodded. "I think I understand you," he said. "And I'm grateful, Ron. I have to make the decision that will make me happy, whether or not it makes Draco happy."
Ron couldn't help smiling back. That sounded promising. Before, Harry had always spoken as though his happiness and Malfoy's happiness were the same thing. But now, they were two separate things. Entropy had already broken them apart that far.
Thank you, entropy, Ron thought. Maybe I'll smash a wineglass in your honor.
"I came here wanting help, and I got it," Harry said happily, standing up. "Thanks again, Ron." He shook his hand and ran out the door, his smile so bright that you could have lit some of the twins' fireworks from it.
A job well done, Ron decided, and then looked around the room.
Hermione came home late at night, and the first thing she wanted to know was why one of her best wineglasses lay in sparkling shards on the floor.
Malfoy was leaning against the wall outside their door when Ron got home that night. Ron rolled his eyes, but walked forwards fearlessly. He reckoned he knew what Malfoy had come about, and he could say honestly that he didn't know what their fight was about and had just given the best advice he could.
"Harry was beaming when he came back from dinner last night," Malfoy said, "but he wouldn't tell me what about."
Ron unlocked the front door and then stuck out his foot so that Malfoy tripped over it when he tried to follow Ron into the house. When he turned around, though, he realized the bastard was still there. "What do you want?" he demanded, baffled. Malfoy never spent more time than he had to in Ron's company, and especially not after an insult like the tripping.
"I want to know what you told him," Malfoy said, and folded his arms. Maybe that was supposed to impress Ron.
"What am I, your spy on Harry now?" Ron sneered, while inwardly he rejoiced. Harry didn't tell him. He's thinking about breaking up with him, I know he is!
"You're the one who has tried to break my relationship with Harry, and never wished me good." Malfoy stepped threateningly towards him, which Ron thought was stupid, with all the wards he could raise around the house just by closing the door. "So you'll tell me what you're doing now."
"And when have I told you my plans for breaking you and Harry up?" Ron laughed in his face. "I won't tell you this one, either—if there even is a plan, which there isn't, but if there was, you couldn't do anything about it, because I'm just encouraging Harry to follow his natural inclinations."
Malfoy studied him instead of storming off in the temper tantrum that Ron had meant to provoke in him. "What inclinations?" he asked at last. "Are you still thinking that he'll be happy with a woman?"
Ron shook his head. "I want him to be happy. I told him so."
Malfoy chuckled. "He didn't tell you what the question I asked him was, did he?"
Ron frowned. What do I do that's so obvious and easy to read? We all know that Malfoy's not a great judge of character. "That's for me to know and you to find out," he said, but Malfoy was already walking away with a smile on his face.
Ron shut the door. Work as fast as you can, entropy. Or that git will spoil it all.
He spent the evening feverishly rereading Hermione's Muggle science book, looking for indications that entropy was too powerful a natural process to be stopped by the likes of one blond ferret. He failed to convince himself.
Someone knocked on their door at the unholy hour of six in the morning. Ron groaned pitifully, and burrowed into the blankets. It was Hermione's job to answer the door if someone knocked before seven.
But she didn't get up, and in fact kicked him so hard when he whined that Ron's foot slid out of its comfortable position and into a horrible patch of cold air. After that, Ron knew, entropy would win, so he stood up and shambled to the door, yawning and trying to cover his nakedness up with a tattered robe that Hermione kept trying to throw away and Ron kept rescuing.
He opened the door—
And Harry leaped at him and wrapped his arms around him, laughing and whooping.
"I've found what will make me happy!" he bellowed, right in Ron's ear.
Ron blinked. "I'm flattered, mate, but I'm married," was all he could think of to say.
Harry laughed, and jumped back, and then began to dance in place, his red robes whipping around him like flames. He looked like he'd been awake all night, and also like he was more alert than Ron. "Not that!" he said. "You told me to listen to what I really wanted, and I did, and I've answered Draco's question, and it's official!" He paused only once to grin at Ron before he started dancing again, as if he couldn't do both at the same time.
"What's official?" Ron scratched behind his ear, and yawned. Yes, entropy was in the room, because both his mood and his ability to go back to bed were steadily deteriorating.
Harry halted again and grinned at him. "Draco and I are getting married!"
Harry, and Hermione, whom he called on to help, could understand why Ron fainted, but not why he woke up screaming curses at entropy and finally collapsing in tears, with a wail that it had promised to help him more than this.