Chapter 22: Pugs and Weasels

Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing with Ronikins today, he's such a good boy *pats his head*

Warnings: Language, uncomfortable moments, fluff-ish?

A/N: I'm not going to waste your time with a long winded apology because you're really here for the story. Basically life is requiring more attention and as time does not stretch, I run out of it quite often. As said before, I will not abandon my baby, but time between posts will be long. Sorry loves. Special thanks to my Beta LR Earl, without you, this would not make any sense and have no direction. Happy late birthday girly! Thank you to all who read, reviewed, and favorited. *tosses cookies at you all*

-HP-

"I wonder how Parkinson is doing," Harry said to Ron as they walked towards the Hog's Head. Ron stumbled beside him and Harry quirked an eyebrow at him. "Been walking long?" he ribbed.

"Shove off," Ron said sourly. Odd, Ron was in a great mood until Harry had mentioned Parkinson.

"So no word on how she's doing, then?" he pressed.

"How the bloody hell should I know? I'm not her keeper," Ron snarled. Harry raised an eyebrow.

"Sorry I asked. Jeez, what crawled up your arse?" Harry looked his friend over. They had been having a great time in Hogsmeade; more fun than if they'd been with Hermione. They'd managed to skip the bookstore entirely.

"Sorry, mate. Didn't sleep well last night, must be getting to me. As for Parkinson, I don't know how she is; I haven't seen her since last- er…after taking her to Pomfrey." Ron averted his eyes and kept walking down the alley.

Was he going to say last night? Why would he have seen her last night?

"Anyway, I can't wait to get some food, not the best place in town but I'm starved! I think I need a Butterbeer or two as well, you?" Ron changed the subject and Harry allowed him the illusion that he had succeeded.

The Hog's Head was its normal damp, dark and empty place. Harry nodded politely to the Barkeep and headed to the trio's normal table. Only then did he realize that they sat in a booth, which could not hold additional people. He changed direction and brought a few chairs over to the long table at the back of the pub.

He and Ron sat and talked Quidditch until Blaise and Amelia showed up. They both seemed out of breath, and Amelia a bit flushed. Harry smiled into his drink. They all waited for Draco and Hermione.

And waited.

A quarter after, he began worrying. Had something happened to them? Draco was with her right? What if she didn't find a wand? We should go look for her…

Just as Harry scooted his chair back, the bell chimed, signally someone entering the pub. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief to see Hermione and Draco smiling and unharmed. They too, looking a bit flushed.

Thank the gods she's alright.

"Bit more than fashionably late, eh Draco?" Blaise smirked and put his arm around Amelia. Harry had to admit, they looked good together. Relaxed, which was right more than he could say for himself. He never relaxed around females, other than Hermione of course. But she was like a sister; she didn't count.

"We were…occupied," Draco smirked and Harry chanced a peek at Ron. Oh good, only a slight angry flush to his face. Hermione swatted Draco on the chest.

"Hush you," she whispered to him which only made Draco's smirk grow and Ron's face glow. Yea, this will take some getting use to.

"So, Hermione," Harry started after they had placed their order and sat down. "We're all dying, new wand?"

Hermione bounced like a child. Harry's heart laughed, it was good to see her happy again. This week had been torture for him, being unable to take the sadness, fear and emptiness away for her. But she'd found someone to help her through, for that Harry would be eternally grateful to ferret face.

"I did. Look!" Hermione waved it and Harry's bottle began singing and dancing on the table, Butterbeer threatening to spill out. It was a beautiful wand. He eyed it cautiously, as it had an aura about it that wasn't quite…normal.

"It's very old. Look, it even has quartz stones! It's a…"

They all listened as Hermione gave the back story on the wand, its attributes and its shortfalls. Harry worried the wand was too much for Hermione, but she seemed stronger holding onto that bit of wood than she'd seemed, well ever. Not powerful, just…stronger. More sure of herself. The inner beauty and strength he and Ron saw finally showed on the outside, instead of hiding behind the mask she'd placed on herself for so long.

Harry was happy for her.

For the next hour they ate, drank and laughed more than any of them had in a very long time. The world seemed right again. Normal. Harry nearly snorted into his drink. Looking around the table, everything was far from normal. The ironic group that sat around the table were in fact, the very opposite of normal. Slytherins with Gryffindors. Ravenclaws with Slytherins. Harry and Ron, the only ones not cuddling someone.

Who would he cuddle anyway? Ginny was always ready for him, leaving him little reminders that she'd wait forever if she had to. Gentle touches, soft, whispered wishes for sweet dreams. If he were honest with himself, he would tell her to stop waiting for him. He may never allow someone close to him, to mark them as a target for both enemies and tabloids alike. He couldn't subject anyone to the craziness that came with the title "the boy who lived".

But he deserved to be happy too, right? If anyone knew how crazy his life was, and remained, Ginny did. Maybe he'd go find her after lunch. Maybe, after seeing how fucked up life can get, he should grab onto what made him happy, and let them decide if they wanted the strain of being with "the Chosen One".

"Ron, did Ginny come to Hogsmeade today?" Harry asked quietly, his blood surging with adrenalin and fear. What if he screwed this up?

Don't be ridiculous. She loves you already, how could you screw this up? Said a voice sounding too much like Hermione.

"Yeah, went with Luna I believe. Said they wanted to go dress shopping." Ron wrinkled his nose and shuddered dramatically.

"Fancy getting one for yourself, eh Potter?" Malfoy ribbed, making everyone else around the table snicker. Hermione hit Draco on the chest again.

"Nah, just looking to get away from you three ugly mugs. No offense ladies, you're both lovely. I'll see you guys later." Harry gave a quick kiss to Hermione's cheek. "Congrats Hermione, see you at dinner?" She returned his kiss and confirmed she would be down for dinner that night.

Everyone waved goodbye and Hermione winked at him as he left the pub.

Here goes nothing. Or everything.

-RW-

Ron lingered a while longer, not entirely sure what to do with the rest of his time in Hogsmeade. Everyone seemed to be nicely paired off.

"We really need to find Pansy," Zabini said seriously to Malfoy. Ron nearly choked on his drink at the mention of Parkinson's name. He hadn't yet dealt with whatever last night had been between them.

"We do…but…" Malfoy looked to Hermione and grazed his fingers along her arm. Their open affection was still awkward for Ron, but seeing Hermione content at his touch helped calm his unease.

"You can tell her what she can handle. At least on my end…" Hermione looked to Amelia and they shared a moment of silent conversation.

"Mine as well. You two know her better than us. It would probably be best if she trusted the source of information. Just be…well gentle I guess." Amelia shrugged her shoulders. Ron could see Zabini and Malfoy having their own silent conversation. He felt every bit of the fifth wheel at the moment.

He stood and kissed Hermione on the cheek. "I'm going to go wander around, Hermione. I'll see you at dinner." Hermione kissed his cheek back and gave him grief about spending his money at the Quidditch Shoppe. She was probably correct.

"Weasley, if you happen to see Pansy, let her know we want to talk to her before she goes back to the common room," Malfoy said as he turned to leave.

"Why would I see Parkinson?" Ron barely held his panic in check. They couldn't possibly know he went to see her last night. He'd told no one. Harry had been asleep.

Zabini shrugged. "You're off to go wandering about Hogsmeade, yeah? There's a chance you'll see her. She wasn't in the hospital wing when we went to see her this morning. We figured she'd come to town to stock up on all her girly shite like she always does." Zabini and Malfoy studied him. He swallowed hard.

"Right…er, I'll keep an eye out for her though. I'll tell her you're looking for her." Ron nearly ran out the door. Parkinson was a topic his mind couldn't process, and definitely couldn't process while in the same room as Parkinson's two best mates, let alone Hermione, who could read him like an open book.

Emotional range of a teaspoon, Hermione had said to him. Later on she would point out that his 'small range of emotions' were worn on his sleeves. His mood now completely soured by his internal musings, he shut the pub's door behind him, harder than necessary, and squinted in the afternoon sun.

Too bright, he glared and flipped his cloak hood up. He stalked through Hogsmeade barely seeing what was in front of him due to the oversized hood of his cloak; a hand-me-down from Bill his mother gave him at the start of term. It was another used item to add to the plethora of used items he currently owned. At least it was nice and warm and didn't have any holes, like his last cloak.

Ron criticized his misfortunes as he hurried down what he thought to be an empty street. As if running from your own problems will solve anything, he chided. He didn't see the figure off to his right and plowed straight into them.

"Hey! What the hell? Watch where you're going! Ah!" As he tried to right himself, he tripped on the length of the cloak, causing him to fall into the girl as she berated him for his clumsiness. Losing the battle for balance, he took himself and the girl down to the ground.

"You idiot! Who the hell do you think you are!? Get off me!" The girl pounded on Ron's chest as he tried to find a grip somewhere that wasn't her body.

"I'm sor-" A punch landed to his ribs, knocking the wind out of him.

"No! No you bastard, you will not get me!" Whoever it was tried to connect with her fist again, but missed. The panic in her voice reached Ron's ears. Another moment or two and his brain and lungs started functioning again. Frustrated with the lack of visibility, he ripped off his hood so he could see who...

Un-fucking-believable.

"Parkinson, it's me, Ron." He tried to get off her but her screeching and clawing made it damn near impossible. After another attempt at raising himself off her, he realized she'd landed on his cloak, effectively pinning his right arm to the ground and his body against hers.

"Get off me, Theo! Get off!" Parkinson screamed and Ron's heart double timed.

Fuck, she thinks I'm...

"Parkinson, look at me!" Ron struggled again to untangle the cloak but she was in a full-on panic attack. She probably was not even seeing him anymore, but rather Nott and his fucking bastard face.

"I fucking hate you Theo! Get off me! You can't have me!" Pansy cried out.

"Pansy!" Ron pleaded; he didn't know what to do to bring her back to the real world. Yelling wasn't working. She walloped him again on his side. There would be a bruise later for sure. Fearing for his safety as well as her own, he racked his brain on how to bring her back? Shocking her would do the trick. What if…no…but it was worth a shot. He really didn't see any other choice. How horrible could it be?

Ron rested himself as best he could on his right arm, pulling as much weight off her as possible. He hesitated a second. Her panic was deep; he doubted anything would bring her back.

Please don't hex me for this. Ron leaned down, aiming as best he could with her frantic movements. His lips touched hers gently and her body froze. His heart stopped. So soft, he thought, before quickly pulling himself away. She wasn't moving anymore.

Did it work?

"Pansy?" he whispered, afraid to speak too loudly and send her reeling again.

"W-Weasley?" Pansy blinked and looked around, as if realizing for the first time where she was and who she was with. "Where's Theo?"

"He's not here. You thought I was him. I didn't…you wouldn't calm down…I didn't know what else to do. I tried to get you to come to. I tried yelling, that didn't work so I thought…you know, they don't teach you this stuff in school. I did the best I could. It was in your head. But you're safe now." Ron rambled until he ran out of words. He wasn't sure how much sense he was making. If any at all.

He noticed for the first time how light colored her eyes were. He'd never taken the time to look. They were very pretty.

They are what?

"If I'm so safe, why are you laying on top of me?" Pansy glared at him. The normal malice and fire between them wasn't there though.

"Oh uh…you're on my cloak. I can't…I can't get up." He demonstrated and without her punching him and flailing about, they were able to coordinate untangling themselves. They dusted themselves off.

"I'm sorry; I wasn't watching where I was going. New- well new-ish cloak is too big and I didn't see you." He was rambling again.

"It's fine; I wasn't watching where I was going either. Did you kiss me, or was that imagined too?" Pansy looked shocked, but not disgusted like he thought he would see.

"Er…yea. I figured, well I figured it would bring you out of it. It was a long shot but nothing else was working. You were getting frantic…" He shrugged. "I guess I know how to pull a woman back from a panic attack now."

Pansy glared at him again. "Don't make a habit of it."

"Right. So, are you okay? I didn't hurt you did I?" Ron checked her over to see if he'd hit her head or if during her flailing, she had injured herself.

"I'm fine; I just need to get back to the castle. My clothes are ruined and I need a shower." She wrinkled her nose, making it somehow more pug-like, but he found he didn't mind it. Whoa, no way am I checking out Parkinson. No way. He needed to steer this back into comfortable territory.

"Yes well, make sure you scrub your lips hard, wouldn't want my germs on you," he shot at her, shaking out his cloak and putting it back on. "Probably should burn your clothes as well. My filth will have rubbed off on them." For some reason he felt more dirty himself by snapping at her.

Instead of the desired affect of her reciprocating insults at him, or at the very least agreeing with the insults he'd thrown at himself, Pansy appeared wounded. What the hell?

"That wasn't…never mind. See you around Ro- er…Weasley." Pansy took off down the road.

Fuck.

He screwed up. Hermione had taught him enough over the years to know that 'never mind' never meant, 'leave it alone'. Fucking Merlin, what was he doing?

"Parkinson, wait!" To his surprise, she stopped. He went after her, and ignored his first thought to touch her. Definitely not!

"What, Weasley?" Pansy didn't turn around. He wanted to see her eyes again. No, I don't!

"Turn around," he said roughly.

"Or what? You'll force me to?" She shot back, not turning at all. Instead, she crossed her arms and turned her head even further away.

"Of course not, I'm not like that bastard. I just don't like talking to your back. Turn around." Ron argued.

"No."

"Damn-it, Pansy, just turn around." Ron hesitated a moment. He didn't know what alternate universe he'd entered into, everything was completely backwards. Friends with Slytherins, Hermione dating one, Harry and his sister…okay that one he saw coming. But still. One week and his life had turned upside down. "Please?"

Pansy groaned and rubbed her hands over her face before turning around. Fuck, fucking bloody fuck! She was crying! Way to go moron, you made her cry.

So what? I don't LIKE her. I should be happy about seeing her cry. But for some crazy reason, he wasn't.

"What do you want, Weasley?" Pansy ground out, still not making eye contact. He wished she would.

"You're crying," he stated dumbly.

Pansy rolled her eyes and looked up to the sky. "Well spotted, I can see you're using the few brain cells you possess to their limit today."

"I'm sorry. Fuck, I'm saying that a lot to you lately. What I mean is…" Walk away Ronald Weasley. Walk. Away. His subconscious had the right idea. He should walk away. Leave her to her own problems. Merlin knew he had enough of his own.

"Do you want me to walk you back? You know, in case Nott is hiding somewhere?" What part of walk away didn't you understand? Walk. Away. WITHOUT her, you twat! Ron ignored his inner self. What was life without a few fuck up moment's right?

"I…er…I suppose that would be…that'd be alright." Pansy chewed her lip, much like Hermione would do. He nearly laughed at the idea of Hermione and Pansy having the same bad habit.

"After you, then?" Ron gestured to the opening to the main throughway. Pansy eyed him another moment before giving in and they walked back towards the castle together.

-PP-

I cannot believe I'm being escorted by a Weasley.

The silence was awkward and she had to keep herself from shying away from him at every moment, as if he would jump out and attack her. It was so unlike her to be rattled and feel weak. She was a strong witch; she didn't take shit from anyone and gave out even more. To feel so vulnerable was foreign to her.

Silence strained her ears. She was use to chatting her company's ear off. How had she gotten herself into this mess in the first place? Oh, right…the alley. Before that? Nott. She shuddered at the memory. Think of something else, Pansy, she scolded for the umpteenth time that day.

"Why are you wearing such a large cloak, Weasley?" Pansy asked, finally able to redirect her thoughts. Didn't he know how to shorten it with magic?

Weasley flushed and turned away from her for a moment. "It's uh…my older brother Bill's old cloak. He's quite a bit larger than I am so…" He trailed off and Pansy nearly laughed at the red tips of his ears. It was nearly cute. Nearly. Funny, the usual insults didn't spring to her tongue. She found herself almost…sad. What?

"You know…you can always shrink it to fit you. Don't you know how to do that?" Pansy cocked her head to the side, observing him for possibly the first time. Aside from the hand-me-down clothes, he was a tall and lean wizard. His Quidditch practices kept his body fit and his flaming red hair had grown just past the nape of his neck. She already knew he had a temper, one she strived to set off. Aside from his short fuse and lack of motivation when it came to studies, he wasn't any different than Draco or Blaise. Oh how they would flay her alive at that thought.

"Er…no. Never had an interest in clothing alteration spells. That's what mum is for and eventually, I'll be married so my wife do it. Charms isn't one of my strengths." As he spoke, his ears turned redder and Pansy had to suppress her laughter. He really wouldn't appreciate it.

"I could teach you," Pansy said without thinking. She stopped walking, realizing what she just said. To her amazement, he didn't start laughing or sneer at her. Instead he just looked at her, studying her.

"Serious?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Am I serious?

"Sure. No harm in it, plus there's a bonus in it for me. You won't be tripping into me every time you wear it. So really, it's for my benefit." Pansy shrugged. It really wasn't a hard spell. No one needed to know. Ever.

"It's really simple but you have to concentrate on what you want to alter. See if you wanted to shorten the sleeves…"

Pansy pointed her wand at Weasley's sleeves. He jerked away for a second before bringing his hand back to her wand.

"Sorry, habit," he muttered.

"Understandable. Okay so you just concentrate on what you're lengthening or shortening and say 'MutareVestes'" Pansy concentrated on bringing the sleeve up to the proper level of his wrist and then released the spell.

"You try on the the other one." Pansy coached him until he was able to get the sleeve relatively the same length as hers. She decided to take pity on him and altered the hood for him, as that was a bit more complicated. Pansy made him shorten the length though. After a few more tries, they both were satisfied with the results.

"Thanks, Parkinson. This should help me out loads more than just rolling up the sleeves." Weasley gave her a smile she'd only seen him give his friends. It was strange being on the receiving end of one. It made her...warm inside. Get a grip Parkinson! She scolded herself.

"No problem. Just keep this between us/ No need for the school to start rumors that we actually spent more than ten seconds together without killing each other." She smiled back at him before walking the rest of the way to the school in comfortable silence.

When they reached the doors she was about to wish him a good day before he grabbed her arm. She tensed for only a second.

"I almost forgot. Malfoy and Zabini are looking for you. They don't want you going back to your common room before they see you. Cause of...well anyway, just stay somewhere they can find you. And try not to be alone. Nott is...well he's not himself and I don't...just be careful, yeah?" Ron was rambling again. He was kind of cute when he rambled.

Come again?!

Thoughts like that didn't belong in her head. Even if she were allowed to think along those lines, he would never see her that way. She will always be 'pug-faced Parkinson' to him. No matter how nice he was being now. History demanded it.

"I'll go to the library then. Thank you. I will be careful and I always have my wand on me. Goodnight, Weasley." Pansy walked through the doors. Before they closed she heard a quiet, "Goodnight, Parkinson."

-PP-

Pansy couldn't believe what she'd just been told. What Theo had done, was planning to do to her. She didn't want to know the gory details. Her imagination was already on overdrive. This had all happened in a week? How had she not noticed his downward spiral? Granted, she knew what he liked in bed, just from that one drunken night. Sadistic was puting it lightly, and she'd told him as much the next morning. A serious mistake on her part.

And then Draco was with Granger? Holy baby Merlin sucking on a bottle!

If anyone besides Draco and Blaise had told her that, she'd have shipped them off to Mungo's that day. Draco seemed smitten though. Blaise spoke fondly of this 'Amelia' girl, and she knew something was going on there as well. Time for digging later.

She needed to process. Now. Where could she go though? The Slytherin common room was no longer safe for her. She wasn't the head girl or even friends with the head girl to stay in her room.

"It's not a perfect solution Pansy but we've been thinking, maybe you should stay in the Prefect common room. There is a small bedroom and bathroom in there. It's nothing elaborate but...we'd know you were safe," Blaise spoke softly, as he had learned his many times of speaking to his sister after another abuse session. She never thought she'd be on the receiving end of that tone though.

"That will be fine, for now. I'll still need to go to my dorm though, get my stuff, tell the girls where I am and to...watch their back. I can't let them..." she trailed off. By the solem look on her two best friend's faces, they knew what she meant.

"Just be discrete. No names and don't tell them who is behind it. We need the element of surprise to catch him. If he's tipped off, Merlin only knows what he'll do." Draco ran his hand through his hair. Once upon a time, she'd dreamed of them together. They'd lost their virginity to each other. But ever since then, he was more of a brother than a love interest.

"I need time to...process." Pansy said standing from her seat in the library. The silencing charm around them still in place.

"We understand. We'll follow you back to your dorm after dinner, pack light and then get you up to the common room. We had to add security, so Draco will need to grant you access," Blaise explained. Pansy felt like she'd entered another world. Her head hurt and her foundation was cracked.

"You alright, Pans?" Draco asked, putting an arm around her shoulder and pulling her in for a rare hug. Gods she hoped their notice-me-not charm was still in affect. Slytherins hugging, the world would collapse.

"No, but I will be," she mumbled into his shirt.

"We'll keep an eye on Theo, and you, just in case. He won't hurt you again, I promise. I'm sorry he was able to even try. I'm glad Weasley was there. Merlin, I can't believe I just said that." Draco chuckled and she could relate.

"So he knows then, about everything?" she asked, pulling away from Draco.

"And Potter," Blaise said, giving her his own hug, though shorter than the one she shared with Draco.

"And since when are we chummy with Gryffindors?" Pansy poked them both in the chest. They laughed at the absurdity of it all.

Draco sobered and grimly stated, "When our own friend turned on us."

The next day went by in a blur for Pansy. She stayed mostly in the common room, making a change here and there where she just couldn't stand the gawdyness of the room any longer.

This was her home now. She'd warned Daphne and the other girls in her dorm to watch their back. They seemed to take her warning as honest and Daphne said she would make sure Astoria kept an eye on her friends as well. It wasn't uncommon for Slytherins to turn on each other, especially when it came to death eater families and non-deatheater families.

It wasn't until Monday during Herbology that she came up with a brilliant idea. It made her sad that Granger had missed class, but she knew why Granger couldn't face the greenhouses just yet. Pansy couldn't blame her. Who knew what kind of wreck she'd be in Granger's situation. Draco was taking care of Granger's Coltsfoot as well as his, trying to be as discrete as possible.

The Coltsfoot was nearly ready to be harvested. If one of them were able to get the perfect harvest...maybe they could use it to see the best way to catch Theo? It was worth running past 'the group' has Blaise and Draco had called it. There really wasn't any other name for the hodgepodge group.

Pansy continued to coo and care for her little plant. It really was like taking care of a baby sometimes. She was looking forward to no longer caring for it. Mothering...not her thing.

Pansy's eyes travelled to a particular red head across the table from her. He and Potter were tickling their seedling. Whatever good that would do. The plant kept swating them away with its leaves.

"If it had teeth, it would bite you, Weasley," she shot at him, smirking at how quickly his ears turned red. He didn't look upset though, just...was he embarrased?

Well that was new.

What could he possibly be embarrased about?

-RW-

No.

No he did not just think that.

No way.

If it had teeth, it would bite you, Weasley, Pansy had said.

Come over here and I'll let you bite me instead, is what his very confused mind had thought. He felt his ears grow hot and he burried his head into his book. What the bloody hell was wrong with him?

She was all he could think about the past 48 hours. How did she take the news? Was she safe from bastard-face at night? Did she know that he knew?

Bugger. Why did he give two knuts about whether or not she was safe? She was none of his concern.

None.

"You alright, mate?"

"Fine. Why?"

"Because you've torn your page...crumpled it." Ron looked down. Indeed he had clenched his fist around the open page and torn it. Hermione would kill him if she were here now.

But she wasn't here. She was missing Herbology because that fucking twat at the end of the table raped her and left her for dead in the next greenhouse over. Ron's stomach roiled and his blood pounded in his head. How can he just get away with it? He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted justice for his friend. He didn't want anyone else getting hurt. Why couldn't they just kill the fucker and get it over with. They could feed him to those overgrown spiders; no one would be the wiser.

"Oi, Ron, you feeling okay?" Neville asked from his other side. Ron felt ready to combust. No he was most certainly not okay.

"No, I need to go." Ron scooped up his plant and put it back in its sunning spot. Plenty of inadvertent sunlight, as the book stated.

"Mr. Weasley! Class is not over for another thirty minutes. Where do you think you're going?" Professor Sprout asked, astounded at his outburst.

"I'm not feeling well Professor. I'm headed up to the hospital wing to get checked out," Ron explained, feigning ill. Sprout narrowed her eyes before nodding with her head.

"Off you go then. Now, as I was saying, Coltsfoot does indeed have prophetic powers…" but Ron didn't hear the rest as the door shut behind him. Instead of going to the hospital wing, he found himself standing outside the third greenhouse. He stared at the door. He wasn't sure how long he stared at it.

"If you keep staring, perhaps it will open by mere suggestion?" Parkinson's voice came from behind, startling him.

"What are you doing out here?" He asked, curious as to why she'd followed him. She shrugged.

"Sprout sent me after you, said it probably wasn't a good idea for you to go off on your own, not feeling well and all." She took a step forward, now shoulder to shoulder with him. "This where Granger…"

"Yeah, I can't bring myself to go in there," Ron said stoically.

"It's been cleaned up." Ron turned towards Pans- No. Parkinson. Parkinson! No first names. "My sister Astoria has Herbology in this greenhouse. She said there was a mess the other day, they'd had to clean it up after a fight broke out between and Slytherin and a Hufflepuff. Of all houses to fight with." Pansy shook her head.

Ron didn't care about some spat between houses. Had the students known? Known what had happened hours prior to Hermione? No, they had no idea. No one but the seven of them did. Well eight, if you include fuck-face.

"Just go in. I can go in, if you want me to?" offered Pansy- NO! Parkinson!

"Would you?" He found himself saying. After standing for another moment without moving to open the door, Pansy -oh to hell with it- opened it for him. She stepped inside and he numbly followed.

It was hard to differentiate between the memory and now. Everything was still in its place, tables holding the same materials, as if no tragic, evil act had happened there. It was near impossible for him to accept.

"I don't know the details, and I don't want to, but if you need to talk…" Pansy offered again.

"Why?" Ron asked. "Why are you being nice to me?" It suddenly became the one thing he wanted to know. Perhaps it would explain at least one insane turn of events. He couldn't explain what happened to the girls or what had made Nott so twisted. He couldn't find a good reason not to kill Nott, but he knew he'd never be able to follow through. Too much weight to carry, killing another person. He didn't do well with baggage on his shoulders. But that didn't stop the ache inside him to see justice served.

Pansy hesitated, perhaps she didn't know either. It wouldn't surprise him. Three days ago, they hated each other. Perhaps something was in the pumpkin juice and causing inter-house unity or something.

"I don't know. Because not being nice doesn't feel right anymore. After you saved me… I just don't feel right goading you and picking on you anymore. Does that make sense?" Pansy was biting her lip again.

"More sense than you know. I'm the same way. I hated all three of you a week ago. Now I think I've spent more time with Malfoy and Zabini than I have with Seamus or Dean. And we share a dorm room. Then you tumbled, quite literally, into my life." Ron shrugged; he didn't know where he was going with that train of thought. He was just so tired.

"Sorry about that," she mumbled. He waved her off. Wasn't her fault after all.

"I don't need to be in here anymore. It's just a greenhouse, right?" Ron shrugged. It didn't feel as overwhelming as it first had been. Perhaps he could help Hermione get over her fear.

No, that was Malfoy's department. The only one who could reach Hermione when she panicked was him, sad as it was to admit. They walked in silence back to the castle. When she didn't turn towards the dungeons, he asked why.

"I'm staying in the common room until we figure out what to do about Theo." Pansy turned down a corridor, then another, until they reached the unicorn. She muttered the password and went to step inside. Ron was about to turn around and go back to Gryffindor common room when she surprised him again.

"Would you like to come in for some tea?" she asked nervously.

Every neuron in his brain said no, but he still walked into the room quietly. After all, it wasn't her private room, just where she was bunking for now.

-PP-

Why the hell did I invite him in? Did someone slip me something in my morning pumpkin juice?

She searched, trying to find teacups in the tiny little kitchenette.

"Second from the top, right hand cupboard. Hermione is predictable, if nothing else," he said nonchalantly. She heard him chuckle when she found them, precisely where he said they would be, the sod.

"So, we're in new territory here. Anything I should know about being civil to Pansy Parkinson?" Ron asked after sampling his tea. Pansy cocked her head at the picture. How…domestic of him, drinking tea on a quiet afternoon after skipping out on class. Something she never thought she'd see from a Weasley, much less this particular one.

"Other than I'll still kick your arse if you mess with me?" Pansy said pointedly, shrugging her shoulders "I don't think we are quite to sharing life stories and inside jokes or secret handshakes. But I can't honestly say I hate you. Know what I mean?" She sure hoped he did. She didn't need any more complications in her life at the moment. This…whatever it was…between them was confusing enough for the both of them.

Honestly, it was unnatural for Slytherin and Gryffindor to get along, let alone enjoy spending time together, or date as Draco and Granger were doing. Salazar had to be turning over in his grave. She nearly snickered at the thought.

"I s'pose I do…I don't hate you either. Crazy week, eh?" Pansy chuckled. Crazy didn't even begin to describe the week they'd all had.

Despite both agreeing that they were not to deep secret sharing status, they talked for nearly an hour. Pansy found herself enjoying stories about his family, as shocking as that sounded. She was an only child, like Draco. They had been each other's 'sibling'. Both had wanted large families with lots of brothers and sisters, probably due to the fact that they didn't have anyone to share their life with growing up.

It horrified her to think of how little he grew up with but hearing about his brothers, how some he liked (Charlie) and some he didn't (Percy) was a foreign concept to Pansy. There was much more to the red-haired Weasel besides his temper, as much as she loved to strike a match at it.

Even as her brain shouted at her all the things wrong with having afternoon tea with a Weasley, she found herself enjoying his company. He was so different from Slytherin men, as open as book with his emotions, honest, so very Gryffindor. All things you never dare do in the snake pit. Self preservation demanded you to be sneaky, cunning, and self aware all the time. It was exhausting, if she were to be honest with herself.

So long as there was food and drink, Weasley seemed to be just fine talking about his life. Perhaps he liked having someone to listen for a change. While she wanted siblings, six may have been too many. Seemed the thing Weasley needed was…to feel needed.

She knew that feeling more than she cared to admit.

A/N: So as I'm sure you guessed by the title of this chapter, Ron and Pansy was my focus. I do hope it came over well. We are nearing the started of the end, while I cannot say how many more chapters, I can say that things will not remain so happy in the coming chapters. Draco and Hermione come back to us in the next chapter. *tosses naked Dracos and Hermiones to all who review!*

PS. Happy Birthday Draco! *muah* Sorry you weren't the star in this chapter. I'll make it up to you next time.