Ron the prat
One Wizard Too Many Ch 5
Sorting Out Loose Ends
Harry and Hermione spent the next two weeks following the Wand Weighing in a flurry of intensive studying. General defensive spells and hexes were examined and practiced in an effort to get Harry ready for whatever the first task was to be. The hints dropped from the Ministry indicated an event based on ‘air and fire’, and would probably take place in an arena specially built near the forest; if the great amount of activity from the Ministry workers on the site was of any indication. In lieu of any hard information, the guessing continued.
“Fire… How about a flamethrower battle?” Harry ventured, lounging against a boulder near the Black Lake.
“Nope. First, it’s not magical enough. Second, you’re missing the ‘air’ element. Third, and I could be wrong, but wouldn’t that be a bit messy for a school tournament?” Hermione replied from her post against a tree.
“Ok, I see your points, except the ‘messy’ part. Don’t you think wizards would love to see someone get charbroiled in a sporting event?”
“Sadly, yes. Probably make the front page of the Prophet. Especially if the ‘Boy Who Lived’ was involved.”
“Eh, sadistic jerks. Most likely try to paint it as my fault, too.” Harry continued. “Well, we can probably count out something delightful and safe like ‘Hot Air Balloon races’, or ‘Fireworks Demonstration’.”
“Yeah, magicals do like to see blood; it’s a bit like Ancient Rome and their Gladiators, really. Same sick fascination with their champions and their need to see them get hurt.” Hermione looked thoughtful, not an uncommon appearance for her. “One could also point to the stratified society, possession of slaves, and shameful farce of a democracy as being very ‘Roman’ too.”
“Ave Hermione! We who are about to die, salute you!” Harry gave the movie version of a gladiator salute.
“That’s not funny, Harry.” Hermione said quietly. The jest hit a little too close to home.
“Yeah, sorry. Just trying to lighten things up a bit.” Harry was also very aware of his own mortality.
Just then, Harry spied a pair of Gryffindors approaching from the direction of the school. His gaze prompted Hermione to follow as it alit upon Neville and a trailing Ron making their way over to the lakeshore and their location.
Neville approached them, as Ron stood off trying to give off an air of disinterest.
“Hi guys! How’s the studying going?” Neville asked. Everyone knew why he was there, having obviously been goaded into it by the ginger prat. Polite to a fault though, the lad tried to push as much earnestness into his small talk as he could.
“Not too badly, actually. Hermione’s come up with some pretty good general strategies to cover a few possibilities.” Harry wasn’t really in the mood, but he couldn’t bring himself to be rude to the nervous boy. “But you aren’t really here to ask about our studying, are you Neville?” He asked gently.
“No, not really; Ron asked me to pass along a message.” Neville blushed a bit; he personally did not agree with the redhead’s position. “He said he’d forgive you and Hermione if you’d just admit to entering the contest. He also wants to have you let him hex Malfoy and say you did it.”
Hermione gasped. “What? How dare he be so childish! You tell…”
Harry placed a hand on her arm gently, cutting her off from a full rant.
“Neville; I respect you for trying to play the mediator here. I know you didn’t want to inject yourself into this dispute, and are only here because ‘Ickle Ronniekins’ asked you to be. But I’m going to have to ask you to step aside for a moment so I can have a word directly with the instigator of our little meeting.”
Harry got up and walked over to where Ron was trying his best not to appear to be eavesdropping. His best was very poor indeed, as his face was still flushed from the ‘Ickle Ronniekins’ remark.
“Weasley, a word please.”
“I’m not talking to you, cheater!” Ron said, managing to reiterate his vow and break it at the same time.
“I just want to talk this out, like adults. We used to talk all the time, you know.”
"That was before you turned into a rotten glory-hound! Not satisfied with all the money or all the fame? Had to have a little more, didn’t you?”
“Ron, you do realize that whatever ‘glory’ or ‘riches’ I seem to have were as a result of Voldemort brutally murdering my parents, don’t you?”
“Whatever, you always get all the good stuff! You even got your own little homework helper!”
Harry did not like where this tantrum was going. When Ron would whinge about Harry’s apparent ‘good luck’, it usually petered out after a time. Now that he brought up Hermione, Ron’s favorite verbal chew toy, he could go on for hours. Add to this the fact that Harry felt certain ‘protectiveness’ toward the studious girl…
“You’re in love with her, you dolt!” His subconscious decided to make itself heard.
Ron’s rant continued. “Hermy used to do my work for me, but now you have her all to yourself! Probably shagging her too! That’s what mudblood girls do, isn’t it?”
Harry felt the familiar tinge of madness hit his brain, usually accompanied by a red curtain of rage that would color his vision whenever he’d get really angry.
“Ron. Let’s take a little walk, shall we?” Harry tried not to wear his crazy smile as he gripped the taller redhead by the shoulder and led him toward the water’s edge.
“Now, you know me pretty well, right?” Harry asked.
Ron was getting a bit nervous. Harry seemed a bit too cheerful for the situation.
“Sure Harry, known you for three years and a bit. Why?”
“Well Ron, I’ve always been a pretty easygoing guy, right? Never took anything too seriously, never held a grudge, hmm?”
“Nno… No you always seemed pretty easygoing to me.”
Harry smiled. “Never yelled when you’d say all sorts of mean things about me in the common room every year, right?”
Ron didn’t know he’d heard any of that.
“I’m sorry, Harry! I was just jealous and stuff!”
“Shhh, easy now, easy. I never got too mad at you for it. Wanna know why?”
“Ssure, Harry.” Ron was practically in tears.
Harry gently gripped Ron by the jaw with both hands as he looked at him closely.
“Because, when you were spouting your shit to everyone who’d listen, it was only about me.”
Harry looked meaningfully at Ron from close range for a minute. He then head butted him very hard in the nose.
Ron reached up to grab his now bloody face, grunting hard in pain. Harry then put his knee solidly into the redhead’s crotch, doubling him over. A strong grip on a hank of ginger hair, Harry then pushed Ron’s face into the lake water.
Harry looked over to the advancing Hermione and Neville and held up a hand. They were obviously concerned about the sudden violence they’d just witnessed, and maybe try to stop it.
“Sorry guys, this is champions business.” He said, with a significant look toward Hermione.
“No killing! That includes Ron!” Hermione chastised “Let the idiot breathe!”
“Right.” Harry said, half to himself. Ron’s blood and mucus was mixing with the lake water and creating an interesting oily pattern on the surface, and the struggles of the drowning boy did cause a fascinating ripple effect. But, no killing was the rule.
Harry yanked back, and Ron drew in a huge gasp. Since Harry was still mad, he gave Ron a moment to breathe, and then shoved his head into the water again.
“Harry…” Hermione called from where she and Neville had halted in their mad dash toward the struggling pair.
“Just letting him cool off a bit, dear.”
“If he dies, I swear to God…”
“He won’t die. Unless he breathes. Then he might die.”
Hermione huffed and pinched the bridge of her nose. Neville just looked very nervous, and wondered if this sort of thing was normal when hanging around with Harry Potter.
Harry pulled back again and allowed the ginger prat to draw in oxygen. He gave Ron a moment as before to gasp a few times, and then pushed down hard. He was still a little mad.
“Harry, how long are we going to do this?” Hermione asked tiredly.
“Not much longer. I think I can hear from his gurgles that he’s sorry.”
Harry pulled Ron out of the murky water and pushed him to the ground. He allowed the now soaked boy to collect himself.
“Okay Ron, I’m going to make this short. I don’t have the time and you don’t have the attention span: so listen up.” He told the dripping and terrified boy.
“Say whatever you want about me, I don’t give a toss. Better people than you have slandered me, and I can’t bring myself to care about your petty jealousies. But if you ever say those things about Hermione again, I’ll feed you to the fucking squid.”
“Harry! Language!” Hermione scolded from her vantage point.
He turned back to Ron. “She’s a better person than either you or I, and I’ll not stand to hear her be abused. Clear?”
Ron nodded nervously, then got up and ran away quickly.
Harry puffed out a breath, and walked over to the rather surprised Hermione and Neville.
“That went well, I think. I was really able to get through to him.” Harry said cheerfully.
“Harry,” Hermione said, “I heard what he said, and I really don’t want you hurt anyone on my account. It was sweet though.”
She kissed him on the cheek, causing a big blush to appear.
She took his hand and they started to stroll back towards the castle.
Their movement snapped Neville out of whatever stupefaction he was in. He wasn’t used to seeing fellow students try to kill each other yet, but felt it may be a new trend in Harry’s life.
“Uh, guys?” He addressed the retreating couple. “I have a message, from Hagrid.”
Hermione stopped. “Oh?” Pulling her companion to a stop as well. Apparently Harry was temporarily out of circulation due to Hermione’s kiss.
“He wants to see Harry after dinner at his hut, with his invisibility cloak.”
“Hmm, interesting.” Hermione said.
Harry just grinned stupidly.