A/N: Continuing the story started in _Delusions of Granger_ by Xelan, and further events documented in additional posts on a mailing list. I've copied one of those short followups in its entirety as this story seemed to work better that way.
Disclaimer: The copied text is Mike's; just as the genesis of this story is Xelan's, and JKR's characters and world are hers. I even stole a line from Douglas Adams.
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Ginny Weasley walked out of the great hall in the middle of a group of friends, continuing towards the central staircase. Their chatter was interrupted by a scream from above.
Jerking her head up, she saw her brother Ron falling, arms waving as if this might somehow save him, while screaming his head off. But before anyone could do more than gasp, Ron collided with Peeves and the largest water balloon she'd even seen. The balloon bulged before Ron burst through, then, falling somewhat more slowly, he proceeded to land directly upon Professor Snape with a loud cracking sound. Followed by enough water to fill several bathtubs, drenching the hapless professor and everyone else nearby. Icy cold water.
Ginny looked up, then down at Ron and Snape again. Her jaw opened and closed a few times. And then she screamed.
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Arthur Weasley settled heavily into his chair at the kitchen table at the Burrow, and looked grimly around at his family.
"Weasleys. I've just come from Hogwarts. Ronald is in the hospital wing, and is expected to make a full recovery from his 3 story fall from the moving staircase. The Headmistress can't explain it; she assures me that nothing like this has happened before.
"Hogwarts is, after all, very safe," Arthur continued wryly. "By some coincidence, Ron's fall was apparently slowed by a huge water balloon Peeves was about to drop on Professor Snape, then further cushioned by landing on Snape himself. Had he not done so, no doubt your brother would be dead now. The professor is somewhat worse off, and has been transferred to St. Mungo's for critical care."
It was a mark of the seriousness of the event that news of Snape's hospitalization didn't bring a smirk on even the twins.
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It is frequently touch and go as to which sense we first become aware of when awaking. Ron's first sensation was olfactory, an antiseptic smell he'd been waking to with disturbing regularity recently. 'Hospital wing,' was his fuzzy first thought.
"Oh no, not again," his second.
Though to be fair, he had to struggle to think of how many times he'd found himself in the hospital wing recently. And how he got here this time. Something about a Howarts staircase turning into a slide, while it was moving, and launching him off the end. He shook his head, once, and then thought better of it. There is nothing like falling 3 stories to a stone floor to give you a headache.
What was the previous accident? Oh yeah, he'd been flying around the quidditch pitch when both hands inexplicably lost their grip and he fell off his broom. He could have sworn that both thumbs had just disappeared, causing him to lose his grip, though they were both still there, or there again, when he woke in hospital. Madame Pomfrey had looked at him with exasperation when he asked about how she'd replaced them, almost as if she thought he'd been making an excuse.
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Fred and George looked at each other, and Fred said "We're sorry, dad. The potion that vanishes thumbs seemed ..." they trailed off.
Arthur shook his head. "I had a visit from the Aurors today, and received a summons to court on charges of enchanting a Muggle car. There's nothing new about this, so clearly someone has dredged up old history and is making a go of taking me, and by extension, all of us, down."
Molly was worried. Charlie too had suddenly lost his job a few days ago, though it was nice to have him back home. If Arthur was found guilty he'd definitely lose his position in the Ministry.
Just more evidence of a vendetta against all things Weasley.
Ginny sighed. "I hate to bring this up, but it may be relevant. Last night at dinner ...".
* FLASHBACK *
Ron stood in the middle of the Great Hall just as the rest of the students where settling in to their dinners.
"I'd like your attention please!" He shouted. Once all eyes were rolled at him, he continued. "I'd like to introduce you to my intended, the future Mrs. Ronald Weasley."
There was a scattering of murmurs through the hall. "Who this time." and "Not again." were heard the most frequently.
Ignoring the not so quite whispering, Ron called out, "Ms. Susan Bones!" As he turned to the Hufflepuff table he saw Susan and Hanna Abbot with their heads together whispering quickly back and forth.
Susan nodded quickly to and stood up, "Ron, you don't have the right bits to keep my interest."
Hanna couldn't keep quiet. "Now if Hermione decided to share..."
The bushy haired witch blushed as red as her former friend but those close to her could see her eyes glass over as she got lost in thought. Harry looked back and forth between Hanna and Susan on one side and Hermione next to him before he grinned and started to ponder the possibilities presented by the three good looking young ladies.
[ficlet posted by Mike to a mailing list, copied in its entirety]
* END FLASHBACK *
Everyone around the table rolled their eyes. "What's that make, 4?"
Molly looked thoughtful. "After her parents were killed, didn't Susan move in with her aunt, Amelia Bones? Head of MLE Amelia Bones?"
Arthur nodded and grimaced. "And so we understand where my summons comes from. If Ron doesn't stop annoying and offending young ladies and their families ..."
Everyone looked around at each other, hoping for a solution. Ginny said firmly, "Harry will save us."
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Ginny walked into the Hospital Wing while Ron was still cataloguing his recent near-death experiences.
She stopped by the side of his bed. "How are you, Ron?", she asked quietly.
"Hi Gin," he muttered distractedly. Ginny waited a moment and he continued. "I'm still trying to figure out who would set a banishing ward to thrown me out the tower window."
"And how you survived the fall," Ginny added bemusedly. "Who could have known Hagrid would have built a pile of cleared brush directly under your window."
"It bloody hurt! I had no idea there were so many nettles and thorns on the grounds!" Ron exclaimed heatedly.
"Maybe we never knew because he clears them." She shook her head briefly. "But how are you feeling? Hermione is so worried."
"It doesn't hurt much any more. I think Pomfrey just wants to keep me here to interfere with my meals or something." Ron's brow furrowed.
Ginny leaned forward. "Well, Hermione will be happy when you get out again. She's been glued to the common room couch, and keeps asking after you," she confided earnestly.
Ron looked hopeful. "Really? I thought she … really?
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Hermione Granger was walking down a corridor to meet Harry. As she passed a disused classroom, she was grabbed, dragged in, and the door slammed shut.
She spun around, but before she could even focus on her attacker, arms wrapped around her and a wet mouth plastered itself to hers, tongue forcing its way into her. A hand grasped her bum, kneading.
All she could see was a flash of red hair. She leapt back. "Ron! What are you doing!" she shrieked, and backed up as Ron advanced, arms outstretched.
"I knew you were distraught about my injury, I knew you loved me, I understand that you have to keep up an appearance when Harry is around, he has you under some Dark Magic, I can protect you … ," Ron gushed earnestly and somewhat disjointedly. Ron was finally able to catch her when Hermione's back hit the wall, one of his hands returning to her bum, the other now overly familiar with a breast, while his lips and persistent tongue muffled her shriek of outrage.
Until his body jerked away, flying across the room to hit the opposite wall, where he fell to the floor somewhat dazed.
There stood Harry. His face a thundercloud, his hair swept erratically as magic pulsed off him.
He turned towards her, "Hermione, are you ok?" he asked gently.
Hermione shuddered once, took one step towards him, then was suddenly in his arms, her face buried in his neck. "Fine, now," she shivered. "Though I'll have to have a very hot shower. Maybe you could obliviate me too."
Harry's face darkened again, and he turned towards Ron, who was at this point getting to his feet, face an angry red rage.
"You're Dark, Harry! You have Hermione under some spell! I'm going to show everyone just how evil you are and get my Hermione back!"
"Ronald Bilius Weasley," Harry said firmly. "You were there when we announced our engagement. That means betrothal. You have attacked my betrothed. You have molested her person. You have stated your intention to break the betrothal of the last scion of a Most Noble House. Potter Head of House rules do not permit me to let these actions stand.
"I challenge you to a duel. 5 PM this afternoon. I'll speak with the Headmistress about where we can hold it, and you will be informed."
Harry and Hermione left a stunned Ron behind as they strode out the door.
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Ron sat with his father and brother, Bill, in a small private room the Headmistress had provided. "Harry's not that great," Ron blustered. "He wouldn't have been able to do any of that stuff without me there to cover his arse."
"Absolutely, Ron!" said Bill. "I know you can take him, and then everyone will know that it was really you all along."
"Right!" Ron continued excitedly. "I can show everyone I'm not to be trifled with, then get my Hermione back."
Arthur patted his back. "I'm proud of you, son. Of course, Potter can be a little tricky. Bill and I have come up with a foolproof plan to make it even easier for you, really show everyone how Dark Harry is.
"You've got to make him really angry, really make him lose control. We think you should attack Hermione. A spell won't get through the dome, so she'll be completely safe, but just trying will enrage Harry, he'll react with something Dark.
"Now, Bill is going to teach you a new spell."
Bill leaned forward. "Ron, I learned this while studying up for my trip to Egypt ..."
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When they left the meeting room, McGonnagal was waiting for them. "Well?" she asked exasperatedly. "Is Mr. Weasley going to apologize to Mr. Potter and Miss Granger? And try to head off this farce?"
Ron blustered. "Apologize? Never! I haven't don't anything wrong. You'll all see just how Dark Potter is!"
Arthur sighed and said, "I don't think we're going to get out of this, Minerva. Unless Harry can be convinced to yield, I cannot see how to avoid the duel."
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Having had most of the day to run its course, knowledge of the upcoming duel had run through the entire school by midafternoon, and everyone had turned out to the quidditch pitch to watch. Three houses were clearly supporting Harry, while the fourth just jeered them both and the whole situation.
Even the Hogwarts ghosts were present. Shocking to many, they were rooting for Ron. Hermione was initially surprised, but Harry had pointed out "Would you want to be stuck in this castle with Ron's ghost for eternity?"
Filius Flitwick stood between the two combatants, "Gentlemen. A final time. Are you sure this situation cannot be resolved peacefully?" Seeing their glares, he concluded, "So be it. I will leave the dueling circle and raise standard dueling wards to protect the spectators. The duel will begin when I sound a whistle, and conclude when one party should yield, or be unable to continue."
He walked away and a silvery translucent dome sprung up over the green. A whistle sounded.
Ron looked triumphant and shouted "I'll show you Potter!" He spun, pointed his wand at Hermione on the sidelines, and yelled "Jisplodu!"
The orange and yellow spell streaked out towards a startled Hermione, struck the dome, and was reflected back directly towards Ron. Ron had only a moment to adopt a stunned expression before the spell struck his chest and exploded violently, throwing him across the green and through the suddenly fallen dome. He landed in a heap. The crowd was stunned silent as Flitwick and Madame Pomfrey hurried over. Madame Pomfrey cast a number of diagnosis spells, then looked sadly at Flitwick.
He stood and walked to Harry who remained in the center of the green. "Sonorous" he muttered.
Looking at the crowd, "Mr. Weasley is dead, killed by his own spell fired at a non-combatant. For benefit of those students who have not yet taken 5th year Defense, and as a reminder for those who have, a dueling dome wards against intent, and a deliberate attack on a non-combatant is reflected back to the caster.
"Mr. Potter prevails."