My Best Friend

By Opopanax

AN: sad little oneshot. Ron bashing. cliches.

It was the middle of December. The temperature had dropped to below fifteen degrees, but the young man sitting in the dark room barely registered the cold and snow blowing against the windows. Tears ran slowly down his face as he cradles the body of his first and best friend against his chest.

The right side of her chest had been pierced with a blasting curse and her head hung limply over his arm, eyes gazing glassily at the ceiling. Never before had she looked so...so dead and so lifeless.

After having sat there for several hours, Harry Potter finally moved. Stiffly, he rose and set the body gently on the table. Pulling out his wand, he conjured a small, velvet lined box and arranged her gently into it. "I'll avenge you, Hedwig," he whispered quietly, green eyes burning with hatred for the one who would murder his defenseless familiar like that. "If it's the last thing I do, I'll make that son of a bitch pay."

Her death had hit particularly hard because Hedwig was not just an owl. For almost twelve years, she had always been there. Locked up at the Dursleys during the summers, surviving on short rations with him; visiting him in the mornings at school; sitting on his shoulder while he did homework and seeming to read with him. Harry remembered that time in fifth year when she had been attacked. He had been on edge all morning, and in his mind he seemed to hear a faint scream just before History of Magic class.

And now, here she lay, dead. Dead by the hand of his former best friend. Because Ronald bloody Weasley just couldn't keep his hands to himself.

It had all started last week when Hermione had walked in on the redheaded fool in bed with, of all people, Pansy Parkinson. She hadn't screamed, she hadn't cried, she hadn't staged a big "from-this-day-forward-I-have-no-husband" scene. She simply walked in quietly, saw what he was doing, or rather whom, took off the wedding ring he had given her, and threw it in his face. Then turned and walked out.

It was only later, when she had come banging on Harry's door, that she broke down crying. It'd always been that way with them. Ron would do something utterly stupid and Harry would be there to comfort her. In the 5 years since the end of the war, Ron hadn't grown up at all. The adulation of the Wizarding world went straight to his head and he began to do stupid things. Yet Hermione always took him back. Finding him in bed with Pansy Parkinson, the Slytherin graduate whom Ron had bad mouthed throughout their years of school and beyond, however, was the straw that broke the hippogriff's back, apparently.

"I can't do this anymore, Harry," Hermione had sobbed on his shoulder. "He keeps right on doing the same old things, tells me he'll change, but then goes right back out and does it again."

Harry had made soothing noises and rubbed her back, debating on telling her what Ginny had done. Finally, reluctantly, he decided she had a right to know.

After the tears had calmed down and Harry and Hermione were sitting in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place with steaming cups of tea, Harry took her hand and spoke.

"Uh, Hermione, I think it's about time I told you what happened with Ginny, and, uh, maybe this might have some bearing on your situation," he said, not meeting her eyes and toying idly with his teaspoon. Randomly, he remembered a moment in their fifth year when Hermione had said something about Ron having the emotional range of a teaspoon, and a tiny smile tugged at his lips, almost against his will.

"Ginny? What's that got to do with anything? I thought you guys just broke up."

For a long moment, Harry didn't answer, but became even more interested in his teaspoon.

"Well?"

Slowly, Harry raised his head and looked directly into her slightly red-rimmed chocolate eyes. "Well, I found out that she had been dosing me with love potions since sixth year. Remember when I broke up with her after Dumbledore's funeral? How she didn't put up much of a fuss. Well, turns out she didn't have to; she could get me back on potions any old time."

Hermione gaped. "But-" she sputtered. "That's illegal! How'd you find out about it?"

"I came to the Burrow unannounced after the final battle. I came in through the kitchen and heard Ginny and Molly discussing when to get me back on the potions. I put on my cloak-I always carry it with me now-and it turns out I was really supposed to die, and the Weasleys were going to get my money. Dumbledore apparently arranged it."

"OH, Harry," Hermione said, rushing around the table and hugging him. "That's terrible. What'd you do?"

Harry smiled sardonically. "I left. Haven't been back there since. But enough about that. we need to find out if you've been potioned as well."

Hermione's lip trembled, before the familiar resolve settled in her eyes. "All right, I want to know."

Harry nodded and pulled his wand. He muttered the revealer spell and Hermione glowed blue. "Guess I was right," he said sadly. "Not Amortentia, but a weaker version. If it'd been Amortentia you'd be a mindless idiot all the time and it couldn't have been hidden for so long."

Harry had expected many things. Fear, tears, sadness. but the look of unbridles fury on Hermione's face made him back up hastily, raising his wand almost unconsciously. "That fucking bastard!" she hissed, sounding almost as if she was about to lapse into Parseltongue. "I'll make him pay for this."

Before Harry could stop her, she had rushed through the fireplace shouting: "The Leaky cauldron!"

And there you have it, a true Gryffindor, Harry thought wryly, before cleaning up their tea service. He only hoped Hermione knew what she was doing.

Ronald Weasley growled and threw his clothes back on, muttering something to Parkinson about having an afternoon appointment. He had an appointment all right; an appointment to teach that snotty mudblood whore her place in the grand scheme of Weasley life. In other words, he was going to cut himself a chunk of prime Granger ass, and you by Merlin better believe it. No stupid bitch was going to throw his wedding ring at him, not at all.

That stupid Potter, he thought venomously to himself as he headed for the floo. I bet he put her up to this. That'd be just like Potter, trying to steal what was his.

Ron staggered out of the fireplace at the Leaky Cauldron, waved sullenly at Tom and looked around for Granger. She was promised to him, dammit, and he would drag her back where she belonged.

She was nowhere to be seen, however. And, in typical Ron Weasley fashion, he decided to put off dragging her back when he saw the dinner special. He was hungry.

An hour later, after having successfully charmed a couple of buxom witches into sharing his table, Ron was feeling, if not happy, then somewhat satisfied, when, lookie here, friends and neighbors. Is that a certain mudblood staggering out of the fireplace? A certain mudblood with hair like a tornado stricken bird nest? Why yes, yes it was.

"Granger you get your ass over here right now!" he bellowed, showing his usual tact and subtlety.

Granger jumped and spun to face him, a look of homicidal fury on her face. Even Ron, as dense as he was, took a step back, suddenly remembering that she had been hailed the brightest witch of the age for a reason. Her wand was out and it was glowing ominously. The pub had gone totally silent, all its patrons sitting like birds on telephone wires, waiting for a juicy bit of scandal.

"How could you do this to me, Ronald Bilius Weasley!" Granger screamed, her wand jabbing at him and sending purple sparks into the air. "You dose me with love potions and sleep around with any witch that'll have you. Did you dose all your little floozies with potions too?"

Ron stood there, gaping like a fish, before his brain caught up to what she had said. With a roar, he lunged at her. "You keep your mouth shut, bitch!" he screamed, hands reaching to throttle her. "I'll-"

But what he was going to do was never found out, because he was hit with a stunner, a body bind, and a silencing charm before he'd taken three steps. The two witches he'd charmed were looking furious as well, and they had hit him with the bind and silencer. It took all of Hermione's self control to not castrate him on the spot.

"Bastard," she muttered, suddenly seeming to deflate. She sank into a chair and sobbed.

"There there, now, dear," one of the witches at the table said. "I'm glad you told us what he was like."

Hermione only nodded sadly and continued to cry. "I was going to marry him," she choked out finally. "I found him in bed earlier with another woman and threw his ring back at him."

"Good for you, dearie," the other witch said. "Serves him right."

Just then, Harry Potter opened the door to the pub and strode in, eyes crackling with power. "Hermione, come home with me," he said gently, taking her hand and tugging her into an embrace. "Let's leave this son of a bitch to himself." Harry kicked Ron in the side before enervating him and leading Hermione out the door to side-along her back to Grimmauld Place.

Within a couple of days, Hermione had moved back to her own flat. She was working for the Department of Mysteries and thus couldn't take too many days off. After the first day, she had gone from sad, to angry, back to sad, before finally seeming to come to grips with the betrayal of their former best friend. Mrs. Weasley had sent them howlers, but Harry quickly and neatly burned them before they could explode; neither of them was interested in what she had to say. Ron hadn't bothered to contact them at all, for which they were grateful.

But Ron had something much worse than howlers in mind, apparently. This morning, while Harry had gone out to get more groceries, Ron had flooed into Grimmauld Place, murdered Hedwig with a blasting curse, and left a note that simply said: You'll get yours, Potter.

Ron knew, from all his years as Harry's best friend, how tenderly he felt about Hedwig, and this single act almost more than any other would cut him deeply. Shuffling sadly out to the back garden, Harry buried his first and best friend and vowed vengeance on Ronald Bilius Weasley. Murdering a wizard's familiar was a high crime, but he wouldn't report it to his superiors at the DMLE. No, Harry vowed as he tamped the last bit of earth over Hedwig's grave. I will handle this myself. And Merlin help anyone who got in his way.