Brewing Up a Little Love

Chapter Nine

Ron and Pansy quickly made their way to Slughorn's office, Pansy nervously glancing around every corner for fear someone might see her. One of her hands covered her forehead despite how absurd it probably looked it had to be better than people reading her emotions.

Fortunately not too many people wanted to wander around in the cold dungeons so they made it to the office with no trouble.

But the trouble started when they realized Slughorn wasn't in.

"He probably went to his own quarters," Ron said, leaning against the door. "I'd want to grade papers by a warm fireplace too."

"This is ridiculous," she muttered, 'peeved' appearing on her forehead. "He should be here. It's not even seven yet!"

"Warmth," Ron reminded her, shivering himself. "Slughorn's got the right idea."

"Okay, I get it," she said, exasperated. "But that doesn't help us, now does it?"

"We'll just have to keep it quiet until tomorrow and see him then," Ron said, already inching some of his bandages down to cover up the word that read 'calm.' "Did you want my tie? You can probably charm it to another color or something."

"Fine," she snapped, holding her hand out. "Give me the bloody thing."

Ron smirked as her word changed to 'annoyed' while she mumbled a charm, turning the red and gold tie to a solid black. She tied it around her forehead and tried to flatten out her bangs as much as possible to hide it. "Is it horribly obvious?" she asked, making sure her hair in the back flowed smoothly over the bump.

"I don't think anyone will notice on first glance," Ron said honestly. It helped that the tie blended in with her hair, but there was a dark black band where her normally pale skin was. But he supposed she preferred that over her emotions being broadcasted to everyone. Everyone in Gryffindor might tease and poke fun at him, but in Slytherin he bet that sort of thing could be used as blackmail.

"Do you want to go see Slughorn tomorrow morning?" she asked. "Meet by his office at like seven?"

Ron resisted groaning. He didn't have class until nine on Tuesday mornings, but Slughorn's first class started at 7:30 and if they didn't see him before they wouldn't have a chance until almost dinner. And he wouldn't make her go by herself. Even though he hated to admit it, it was his fault they were both stuck in this mess. He was just thankful Pansy was being this understanding about it. He'd honestly expected her to hex him in anger.

"Yeah, sounds good," he said. "I'll see you tomorrow then?"

She nodded. "Well, good night."

"Good night," he called after as she turned away and headed towards Slytherin, which he knew from his second year was up a flight of stairs and then down the right hand corridor. He let her get a bit ahead and then started climbing up himself, wondering what Harry and Hermione would say if they knew Pansy had the same charm on her. He blushed, already picturing their teasing.

He'd always had a bit of a crush on Parkinson since their fourth year when he'd seen her out of her black robes and actually wearing a pink dress. He hadn't believed Slytherins even knew what pink was.

But also at the Yule Ball he'd seen a whole different side to Hermione as well, and felt the beginnings of attraction stir for her. He'd sat on those feelings all through the year and fifth year, until eventually he realized they were dying away. Hermione would always be his friend first and he loved her for it. He still admired her, still personally thought she was one of the prettiest girls at Hogwarts, but he realized she was too good for him. She was incredibly smart and clever while he scraped by – she needed someone who could match her on that level. And that was fine with him; he would always be her best friend and be there to beat up her boyfriend (when she had one) if he was an arse.

He smiled wryly as he realized his own thoughts had gotten off track. How does that even happen? He'd been thinking about Pansy, that's right. After that night at the Yule Ball he'd started to see her more and more. He felt his gaze drawn to her in class sometimes or he'd seek her form out at dinner. She really was very pretty, with her pale skin that even gave Malfoy's porcelain look a run, and dark hair and dark eyes. She was taller in stature than most of the girls in Gryffindor – he'd guess she was almost 5'7".

But Slytherins were off limits to Gryffindors. He was sure if he ever even did say "hi" she'd laugh at him and make fun of how a Weasley thought he was permitted in her presence. So he never acted on what he thought could maybe have turned into a relationship of some sort. It was the one thing he truly despised about the house system. Yes, it made you close with your housemates, but it tended to alienate you from making friends in other houses. And the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin was legendary and no one dared break those boundaries.

Ron often, in moments of deep thought and contemplation, what Tom Riddle might have been like if he'd had people like the friendly Gryffindors or the loyal Hufflepuffs he knew to hang out with rather than just Slytherins. Would Lord Voldemort even exist then? Would a little inter-house unity have stopped a boy from becoming a mass murderer and monster?

And there he was, getting off track again.

Since the love potion incident Ron had been noticing Pansy more and more. It was hard not to, as every time his head twinged he was firmly reminded of her and her love of his hair. Despite the fact he'd been under the influence of a potion, he'd had fun dancing with her and when she had collapsed in his arms and he'd carried her back to Potions he'd felt kind of like a knight returning from battle after rescuing the damsel (a word now forbidden around Harry).

And now, he discovered, she had another side to her other two sides. That girl could catch! There were no girls on the Slytherin Quidditch team, and Ron now wondered if that was because it was deemed improper because so many of them came from high ranking Pureblood families. But the way she'd moved to catch that bottle… he was impressed. Maybe if she were the Slytherin keeper the game might actually be more fun without relying on just the battle between Harry and Malfoy chasing the snitch for entertainment.

If she joined the Quidditch team… well, that would be just totally awesome. Now he just had to somehow convince her.

But before that… his face darkened as he approached Gryffindor, hoping that Hermione wouldn't be observant as always and notice the bandage wrapped around his head. Maybe if he just snuck in real quick and headed up to his bed he could put it off for at least a few hours.

"Ron? Did you injure yourself again?"

Ron swore silently from his ninja-crouch position at the bottom of the boy's staircase. He'd been so close!

"Er, no," he said, trying to get to his feet without seeming suspicious. But of course he managed to step on his pants again and pitched forward, ending up in a somersault and coming to a stop by Hermione's feet.

She looked amused and Harry snickered behind his Charms book. "Then why do you have a bandage around your forehead?"

"Oh, I bumped it when I fell earlier," Ron said. "I just thought I'd cover it, you know?"

Hermione took on a concerned expression. "Are you all right? You didn't hit your head on stone, did you? That's awfully dangerous. Let me see it." She reached forward and Ron scuttled backwards like a crab. She raised an eyebrow, smile tugging at her lips. "Is there something you aren't telling me, Ronald?"

"Of course not," he said, backpedaling even further until his back hit the wall. Bollocks!

"Ron, whatever it is you're hiding, you're doing a horrible job. Since you've now made it obvious there's something there I'm not letting you leave until you satisfy my curiosity. Take off the bandage."

Harry had abandoned his Charms book and now stood next to Hermione, both of them seeming like looming giants to Ron, who felt like a poor little rabbit about to be eaten. But, he figured, so long as they didn't take a good look at Pansy (or follow him tomorrow morning) they had no reason to suspect she had any part in this.

So with minor trepidation he unwound the bandage, his forehead happily reading 'nervous.'

"What on earth is that?" Hermione asked, reaching out to touch the cursive letters, which morphed beneath her fingers to 'anxious.'

"I sort of spilled a potion on myself," Ron said, the words changing to 'calm' as he forced his breathing rate to go back to normal. "It was a dud and shows the user's emotions… I was going to go to Slughorn but he wasn't in his office." Ron gave himself a mental pat on the back for not saying "we," but unfortunately the word changed to 'proud.'

"Why are you proud now?" Hermione asked, raising another eyebrow. "There's more to this story, isn't there?"

"Of course not!" 'Panicked.'

"Your forehead is giving you away."

"Argh!" Ron yelled, before burying his head in his knees. "Now you can't see it," came his muffled voice.

"Ron, we're just looking out for you," Hermione said, placing a hand on his shoulder and then squeezing it tightly. "You don't want us to think you're hiding something from us, do you?"

Ron mumbled something into his knees.

"What was that?" Harry asked, kneeling next to him.

Mumble.

"We can't understand you Ron."

He pulled his mouth away from his trousers but kept his forehead hidden. "Pansy was with me."

"Well this is interesting, isn't it Harry? Ron was with Pansy? What could this mean?"

"Oh, shut it," Ron muttered, although as he looked up at them 'embarrassed' on his forehead. "I like her, okay? Can we drop it now?"

For one of the first times in his life, Ron had left Hermione speechless. She merely gaped at him, mouth trying to form words and only little puffs of air coming out.

"Are you going to tell her?" Harry asked, regaining his own vocal cords first.

"Are you crazy? You never tell a girl you like her. It makes you look stupid," Ron said vehemently. "Besides… she'd probably hex me."

"Well, you don't know till you try, right?" Harry suggested helpfully.

"Just leave it," the redhead said, climbing to his feet. "I'm tired so I'm going to turn in. Good night, everyone."

"Ron, it's only nine," Hermione said, finding her voice.

"Early to bed, early to rise, right?" he said, letting out a loud and obviously fake yawn while he stretched.

"You and Parkinson are going to see Slughorn early tomorrow, aren't you?" she asked.

Ron only groaned.

"Go get some sleep, Ronald," she said, mussing his hair. "You have to make sure you're well rested for your date tomorrow."

"'s not a date," he mumbled, but gave a small wave and started up the staircase.

"I'm going to head up too," Harry said, grabbing his abandoned Charms book.

"I feel like the world is going backwards or something," Hermione muttered, placing a hand on her head to check her temperature. "Why are both of you going to bed before me?"

"Uh, it's a guy thing," Harry said, inching towards the staircase. "Night, Hermione."

"Guy thing?" she repeated once both boys were out of her sight. She glanced around the common room, to see it almost completely empty.

"IT'S ONLY NINE O'CLOCK!" she bellowed. "WHY IS EVERYONE GOING TO BED?"

The few that were still awake backed their chairs nervously away from the suddenly crazy looking witch. She huffed and sat down in her armchair with a thud, making it scoot back a few paces. What was with everyone tonight? Was she the only one still normal?

Scowling and realizing she actually didn't feel like doing homework right now, Hermione gathered up her books and parchment and stomped up to her dormitory to curl up with Crookshanks – at least he understood her.

Over in the boys' dormitory Ron and Harry had both changed into pajamas and were in their respective beds, the only light coming from Neville's small nightlight across the room. He was already sound asleep in bed, while Dean and Seamus were downstairs playing gobstones.

It was all quiet… peaceful… tranquil… nice…

Ron took a nice, deep, calming breath and felt his heart slowdown, relaxing in the soft blankets and squishy pillow. His face didn't feel like it was on fire anymore; more like it had been gently kissed by the sun and he felt all warm and happy of having finally admitted his growing feelings aloud.

He took another deep breath, relishing the serene silence and prepared to go to sleep, so happy it was so beautifully quiet and noiseless and he could just relax and sleep peaceful, wonderful dreams in the silence of his quiet –

"Ron?"

Room. His once beautiful, quiet room.

Maybe if he just lied still Harry would think he'd already fallen asleep.

"I know you're awake."

Or not. It had been worth a try.

With a grumpy sounding "what?" Ron rolled over to face his friend, who was staring at him, slightly unfocused due to his lack of glasses.

"I need to ask you something."

"I sort of figured that."

Harry flushed slightly, before saying quietly, "Well, since you admitted to liking Parkinson I thought I should tell you about who I like. And… and see if it would be all right if we dated. Maybe."

Ron raised an eyebrow, forehead reading 'confused.' "You like someone?"

"Er, yeah. I have for a while now, actually."

"It's Hermione, isn't it?"

"What? No! Not that I don't love Hermione," he quickly added as even with his poor eyesight he saw Ron's eyes narrow. "It's just I think of us as having a more… platonic relationship."

"Well, if it's not Hermione why do you want my permission? You're free to date whoever you want. You're Harry freaking Potter after all, right?"

"Well yeah, but—"

"Who exactly are we talking about here?" Ron asked. "Wait, I want to guess."

Harry had a feeling this wasn't going to end well.

"Is it Lavender?"

Harry resisted the urge to shudder. Lavender was a nice friend, but definitely, definitely not. "Nope."

"Parvati?"

"No again."

"Luna?"

Again, he liked her very much as a friend but not a girlfriend. "Definitely no."

"Bulstrode?"

"What? No! She broke my ribs!"

"You never know," Ron said with a chuckle. "Greengrass?"

"No to both of them."

"Davis?"

"No."

"Hannah Abbot?"

"No."

This line of questioning went on for nearly fifteen minutes as Ron named every female at Hogwarts (including, to Harry's revulsion both McGonagall and Trelawney) except the one Harry actually liked.

"I have no idea, mate," Ron said honestly. "I don't think there are any more girls here." Ron's eyes then widened to the size of galleons. "It's a bloke, isn't it? How could I not have seen this?"

"It's Ginny, you idiot!" Harry all but screamed, his face now bright red.

"It was the panda's fault!" Neville did scream, shooting up in bed. "I swear I didn't eat your pink bamboo!"

He blinked and the three of them all stared at one another awkwardly.

"Sorry, Neville," Harry apologized after a few seconds. "Didn't mean to wake you up."

"Is everything okay?"

Ron said "no" at the same time Harry said "yes." Neville only looked more confused.

"What's on your head?" he asked Ron, watching as the word 'angry' turned to 'embarrassment.'

"Potions accident," he grumbled. "But the important thing here," he turned back to Harry, "is what did you just say?"

Harry was sitting up now too and licked his lips nervously. "That I want to date Ginny."

"No no no no no! Absolutely not! That's my baby sister!"

"Your baby sister who was flirting with Dean," Harry said.

"What? That bloke is on this too? Let me at him! I'll beat both of you up!"

Neville, strangely enough, was the voice of reason. "Ron, sit back down," he all but commanded, as Ron was stomping angrily towards the door. "Now."

Ron saw something scary in Neville's eyes and complied, still muttering.

"Now, what I see here," Neville said, "is some missed communication between you two. Harry, it sounds like, is asking you permission to date your sister. Technically he doesn't have to do that, but Harry saw it as the polite thing to do. You, instead of acknowledging his request, immediately dismiss it without any reason. Why?"

"She's my baby sister," Ron pouted. "She's not supposed to date. Ever."

Neville sent Ron a comforting smile. "Ron, everyone grows up. Your sister can't remain under your wing forever. And besides, what better choice in a boyfriend than Harry? He's your best friend, you know he'd never hurt her and always be loyal, and you could always kill him if he did do something."

Ron was slowly nodding along, forehead even going as far to say 'accepting.' Better Harry than Dean where he could keep an eye on the two of them more and not worry about them snogging for hours in some broom closet. He knew Harry would never purposefully hurt his sister… who could be a better choice if Ginny had to date?

"Very well," he said, "I give my permission. However," he said, cutting off Harry's whoop of joy, "you must ask her out tomorrow. In the Great Hall during lunch."

"Okay…"

"In front of everyone. While singing. Loudly." His forehead now read 'mischievous.'

"What? You can't be serious!"

"I just want to make sure you're willing to do anything for my sister, Harry. And that includes being a part of potentially embarrassing situations."

"But I can't sing!"

"I've heard you in the shower," Neville said, chuckling. "You actually have a very nice voice."

"What am I supposed to sing?"

"You're Harry Potter," Ron said with a grin. "You'll think of something." A pause. "And I'm off to bed. G'night all, pleasant dreams." Within seconds his snores filled the room. Harry was insanely curious how one could just shut off like that while his blood was pumping and face still glowing red.

"You'll do fine, Harry," Neville said, already snuggling back down in his covers. "You always come up with something."

"Yeah," Harry said, lying down as well. "Right."

xxx

Morning dawned much too quickly in Ron's mind, but he dutifully got out of bed, brushed his death, got dressed, and tied a bandage over his forehead. With a last look at the room's sleeping occupants (although Harry appeared to be in the throes of a partial nightmare muttering 'but I can't sing… no, no, please Professor Snape, I didn't mean it. That song wasn't for you!') he left to go meet Pansy at Slughorn's office.

She was waiting for him on the landing before his office, a long sleeved robe and what looked like leggings underneath her skirt helping against the cold. He noticed his tie was still wrapped around her forehead.

"So how'd explaining that go?" he asked in way of greeting.

She grimaced. "So far no one knows. I went straight up to my dormitory and went to bed. I'm hoping to get it solved before they even figure anything is amiss. You have the potion?"

Ron patted his pocket. "Right here."

Nodding, she started towards Slughorn's office and Ron followed. They found their portly professor humming as he restocked the basic potion cabinets in the background for his incoming class of first years.

"Professor?" Ron said, trying not to startle him, "can we talk to you?"

Slughorn looked up, face still jolly if a bit confused by the pair addressing him. "Of course, of course," he said, putting down the spider legs. "What can I do for you two?"

"You know how I delivered some potions to the storeroom last night?" Ron said.

"Saw them there this morning. Thank you very much for making sure they got their safely."

"Well… Pan— er, Parkinson, ended up helping me. And when we were down there I accidently upset a shelf and this potion fell on us." Ron pulled the vial out of his pocket along with the label and handed it to Slughorn.

"We have these now," Pansy said, gingerly untying her headband and pointing to her forehead which read 'upset' and Ron's read 'hopeful.' "We hoped you might know of a solution."

"Hmmm," Slughorn said, turning the bottle in his hands. "What shelf did you say it fell from?"

"The very top one… maybe seven high?"

"That places it as at least ten years old… I'm afraid to say I don't know of an antidote right now, but I'm sure I could probably figure something out in the next few days."

"Days?" Pansy repeated, eyes glinting dangerously.

"These things take time, my dear," Slughorn chuckled. "It was up there for a reason, you know. But I'm sure I'll be able to come up with an antidote. There's not much a student can do that we teachers can't undo."

"Thanks very much for your help, Sir," Ron said, tugging his bandage back down. "Just… do you think you could try to make it a top priority? Please?"

"I'll do my best," he promised, as both thanked him again (Pansy's sounded much more forced) and they left. He chuckled to himself once they were out of earshot. My my, what had he done? First his success with not just Malfoy and his darling Hermione, but between Hermione and Zabini, and now between Mr. Weasley and Miss Parkinson. He was developing inter-house unity like none had before.

He deserved a gold star.

xxx

The day passed by in agonizing slowness for one Harry Potter. He'd had horrible, horrible dreams all night where his voice shattered windows, he was booed at, Ginny turned him down, he sang to Snape, and for some reason Millicent Bulstrode was his girlfriend instead.

He had an inkling of what song he might sing. It had come to him in the one positive dream he'd had last night. The problem was he was pretty sure he was meant to accompany himself on guitar and he had no clue how to play. So he was going to have to brave this task with just his voice and hope Ginny didn't go deaf.

He did think he had a decent voice and had felt a bit more reassured when Neville said he sounded nice. But singing in the shower was one thing… singing in front of the entire Great Hall was something else. He'd really rather go face Voldemort in some aspects than admit his feelings to a girl he had a major crush on.

The whole morning had passed in a blur as he mechanically moved through Charms class and Defense Against the Dark Arts. He kept repeating the lyrics in his head, so afraid he was going to screw something up when he sang. What if he accidently insulted her? Or she hated him afterwards and refused to talk to him? What then?

During DADA he made the mistake of catching Snape's eye and immediately had a horrible flashback to his dream. He'd flushed and paled at the same time and Snape had been giving him a wide berth since then, giving him odd looks whenever he glanced in his direction.

As they were dismissed from Charms Ron caught up to him, a wide, shark-like grin on his face. "Ready for your musical debut?" he asked. Harry was sure Ron's forehead, if he could see it, had something like 'evilly excited' on it or something.

"I'm going to be sick," he mumbled, feeling like there were kangaroos in his stomach that were having a jumping contest.

"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, having overheard the last bit. "Is everything okay, Harry?"

"My life is flashing before my eyes."

She turned her gaze to Ron. She'd spoken to him briefly during Charms to inquire about his and Pansy's situation, but other than that she hadn't been able to see what had made Harry look so positively green.

"You'll see," he said in a sing-song voice. "Just pay close attention during lunch."

They'd made it to the Great Hall now, where Harry easily spotted Ginny due to her hair. She was sitting by herself at least. That was good. He didn't want to interrupt her conversations with anyone after all. Although he sort of wished she wasn't here because then he wouldn't have to do this!

Ron pulled Hermione to some seats about three spaces down from Ginny, where he knew they would have a good view. Hermione was torn between amusement and concern, as Harry looked like he were going to faint at any minute while Ron kept chuckling.

He approached her like one would a Basilisk and gently slid himself partway on to the bench next to her, one foot propped up on it.

"Why, hello there Harry," she said, slurping up some chicken noodle soup. Her eyes sparkled up at him and Harry felt his stomach unclench just a little bit. He could do this. At least his lyrics made sense, as compared to the awful singing Valentine she'd sent him during his second year.

"Harry?" she asked, as he continued to just stare at her, admiring the way her red hair gently lay on her back and matched so well to her Gryffindor tie.

"I… I need to ask you something," he said, taking a deep breath.

"Okay…"

"Unfortunately, due to someone who I shall not mention I have to ask you a little, er, differently."

She just looked beyond confused at his point.

"Okay, here I go," he mumbled. "Just please, please don't laugh."

He began to tap his foot on the bench, building up a nice rhythm all the while wishing he knew how to play guitar. Several people were now looking over, attracted by the noise.

And then Harry opened his mouth, singing to the song he'd heard in his dreams with a few modified changes.

"You're tall and fun and skinny
And really, really pretty – Gin-ny…"

The girl blushed, her face now rivaling her hair. Several people "awwwed" and slowly a crowd began to form around the impromptu song. Harry paid them no need and continued staring directly into Ginny's eyes.

"I'm the Mickey to your Minnie
You're the Tigger to my Winnie – Gin-ny..." Never mind she probably had no idea who those characters were, they rhymed and were adorable.

"You're the sugar in my tea
You mean the world to me – Gin-ny!"

His voice then took on a different tone, a bit more teasing as a playful, shy smile passed over his lips.

"You're cuter than a guinea pig…
I wanna take you up to Winnipeg –That's in Canada!" he added, almost as an afterthought.

Then, softer once more he sang:

"But I'll settle for Hogsmeade,
Ginny… will you go out with me?"

She was still blushing violently, but a smile was bursting on her features as she reached forward and grabbed Harry's tie.

"Does this answer your question?" she asked, pulling him down for a kiss to a loud symphony of catcalls, hooting, and all the girls cooing.

Harry only grinned and thought he was the luckiest guy in the world.

Author's Notes:

How many Very Potter Musical/A Very Potter Sequel references can you find? On that note, some of the song lyrics are copyrighted to them, I only borrow their brilliance.

Fun note. As of yesterday I am now a college graduate! Graduated from Elmhurst College with a degree in English writing, Magna Cum Laude and Honors Scholar :D So excited! As such, I'm now looking for a job, so although I have "free" time I'm not sure how much will be for fanfiction. I will do my best though to try and update BULL every 2-3 weeks again. If any of you know any PR companies or some type of writing/magazine job in the Chicagoland area please give me a shout! :D

Would love to hear your thoughts on the chapter, it was one of my favorites to write so far :)

Updated on: May 29, 2011