After the second trial, Harry starts re-evaluating his relationship with his best friend. Fluffishness. House Elf Warning.
Fields of green lake weed stretched eerily in front of him, waving gently in the push
and pull of the water. If he looked hard enough, Harry could see eyes scowling evilly out
at him between the clumping strands. They were unlike any grindylow eyes he'd ever
seen, but for some reason that was what his mind labeled them.
"What am I doing?"
The answer came to him riding a wave of panic. He was looking for Ron. He only
had an hour to look before he'd fail the second task and the other boy would drown. The
image of Ron's corpse floating to the surface of the lake swam before him and he
redoubled his efforts, searching desperately over the fields of weed and eyes.
"How long have I been down here?"
He didn't know. There was no way to tell time in the hazy green twilight of the lake.
The weeds stretched in all directions and no matter how far he swam, they refused to end.
Every once in awhile a grindylow - for some reason visible as nothing more than a
shadow with glowing red eyes - reached up and grabbed for him. He dodged them,
kicked them, whatever it took to free himself and kept swimming, kept looking. The
panic was beginning to take hold of him in earnest. It felt like he'd been down there for
"Ron, where are you? How much time do I have? Doesn't this damn lake weed
His arms and legs were beginning to burn, the low, intense burning of muscles that
have been overtaxed. Breathing was becoming difficult. Suddenly laying down in the
middle of the lake's bottom and taking a long nap seemed like a good idea.
Can't...have to find...find...
The water in front of him started to grow hazier, as if he were swimming into a
fog bank. Frowning, Harry squinted ahead of him, trying to see through the darkening
murk. He thought he could faintly see something, maybe five feet ahead of him?
It looked about the right size and shape. Harry closed his eyes briefly, collecting
himself, calling upon what little energy he had left for one, last sprint through the water.
Opening them again he judged the distance.
Three good strokes should get me there.
The third stroke overshot its mark, sending Harry crashing into his goal. He
shook his head quickly to clear it, then turned his attention to the floating shape. It was,
indeed a body, familiar red hair waving like lake weed, eyes rolled back, mouth gaping.
The dark cloud Harry had been swimming from originated from the wide slit in the
body's throat, seeping out in little clouds.
Ron...dear God, no, RON!
"No!" With a sharp yelp, Harry sat bolt upright, staring into the surrounding
darkness. Green eyes blinked, momentarily fixated on the phantom image of blood
clouds, then blinked again as the surrounding cold seeped in to Harry's brain, bringing
reality with it. The covers slipped slowly down his body to puddle in his lap. Someone
on the other side of the room mumbled and rolled over, and Trevor was snoring. With a
relieved sigh, Harry flopped back down, his head making a soft fwumping noise as it hit
God what a nightmare!
One hand fumbled around on his nightstand, searching for his glasses. After a
couple minutes he found them and brought them to his face, peering through the glass up
at the ceiling of his dorm room. He'd never been so happy to see the neatly ordered
stones before in his life. He lay there for a few minutes, his mind numbly replaying the
dream despite his best intentions not to think about it. The moonlight slid in through the
window, bringing the night chill in with it. Absently, Harry noticed it was making him
shiver, the hair on his arms standing at full attention.
Grabbing the covers he pulled them up to his chin, at the same time rolling over to
stare across the room. The light was weaker over there, but still bright enough to catch
Ron's face as he lay sprawled in his own bed, lips parted slightly. The image of him
floating dead in the water juxtaposed itself over reality with sudden clarity, causing Harry
to shudder sharply as something in his chest seized up. He didn't close his eyes though,
rather fixed them on his friend, trying to memorize the way the freckles fell across Ron's
nose, the way his sleep tousled hair swept across his forehead.
That way if I ever do lose him...
That thought was killed, quickly. It didn't bear thinking about. And yet...
I'm /not going to get back to sleep anytime soon!/
With a resigned sigh, Harry sat up again, pulling the blankets around him. Not
really certain of what he was doing, he propped his pillows up against the stone wall and
leaned back against them. With his legs tightly hugged to his chest, draped tent-like over
them, he stared moodily out the window.
It had snowed the day before, odd for March but not unheard of. The schoolyard
lay beneath a thick icing of white and the lake was still, its surface dark and glassy.
Small rainbows glimmered on the wall where the moonbeams fractured through the
icicles hanging from the windowpane. The advanced Astrology students would be
having a ball given that ever star in the sky seemed to have decided it was a good night to
be seen. It was really a lovely night, and it was completely lost on Harry.
The lake held his complete attention. It hadn't even been a month since the
Second Task. He'd done well enough, would have come in first if he'd simply gotten
Ron and returned to shore instead of waiting to make certain the other contestant's
hostages were rescued.
How was I supposed to know they wouldn't drown? The clue said they would.
Harry lightly gnawed the inside of his cheek, fitfully ran his fingers through his unruly
black hair, anything to keep himself grounded in reality instead of losing himself to the
dream again. Besides, Hermione's my friend too. If she'd drowned...
A brief stab of guilt went through him. If Hermione'd died he'd have been,
horrified, grief stricken, guilt wracked...and yet somehow not as upset as he'd be if he
lost Ron. The thought of the energetic, red-haired boy who'd been with him ever since
his introduction into the wizarding world - the first wizard he'd met actually, if one
didn't include Hagrid - dying...the very thought made him feel like he was being gutted,
slowly, with something very dull.
Why Ron? Why did they have to use Ron? Why couldn't they have used
Hermione as my hostage? Or Cho? The question had been inexplicably nagging at him
ever since the task. Of course, the answer was fairly obvious - Hermione had been
Viktor's hostage, Cho had been Cedric's. It made perfect sense as the clue had said that
something 'you will sorely miss' had been taken and any boy worth giving a second
glance would miss the girl they liked! But Harry liked Cho too, and Hermione was his
/And having them use Ron seems oddly...intimate, even if he /is my best
friend. Turning from the window Harry shifted his gaze back to Ron. The other boy
had rolled in his sleep so that now he was curled comfortably on his side, face fully
visible in the moonlight, fingers curled in front of his mouth. His hair was falling into his
closed eyes and Harry had a vague impulse to stand up, walk over and smooth it back.
He didn't. It would be weird...he's just a friend, after all. That's they only reason they
used him. After all, they used Fleur's little sister, it's not as if they were dating! I
didn't have any family, so they used my best friend. That's all.
That wasn't all. They could have used Cedric's family, or Viktor's. Why
The whole affair probably wouldn't have bugged him so much if it weren't for the
dreams. They'd started just after he was named the second Hogwarts champion, when he
and Ron had stopped talking to each other. Hermione had been right, he'd missed the
other boy terribly. He'd thought that had been the cause of the dreams and that they'd go
away once he and Ron made up, but they hadn't. They persisted in semi-regular
intervals, as disturbing in their own way as his earlier nightmare, and all clung to his
memory with the same tenacity...
...He and Ron, somewhere deep in the woods...
...on an island beach...
...in the cupboard under the stairs on Privet Drive...
...once in the potions room, sprawled out across Professor Snape's desk, nude, at least
from the waist up (the dream had been fuzzy enough Harry couldn't tell if they'd had
pants or not). There had been a small voice in the back of his head, warning him that
Snape could walk in at any moment, but he'd ignored it. He'd been too busy kissing
Ron, being kissed by Ron, tangling his fingers in the short strands of the other boy's hair.
He could vaguely remembered that is had felt good, right up until the door to the
classroom had banged open, scaring both of them out of their wits. It hadn't been Snape
though. It hadn't even been Filch, the ever-disgruntled caretaker. No, no, it had been
Dobby the House Elf. For once his clothing matched - shiny black shoes, a miniature
black tuxedo, complete with miniature rose bud - and he was smiling, large eyes a-glitter.
"We are getting the things, Harry Potter sir!" He'd announced, obviously pleased
with himself as two other house elves pushed in dress forms, one bearing a full, human
sized tuxedo, the other a wedding dress and veil. One of the elves pulled the veil off the
form and started trying to shove it on Ron's head. Other elves bustled in with food and
Champaign, and one was pushing an organ. Dobby stood in the middle of the room,
seemingly oblivious to it all. "Now that we have the things, Harry Potter and his Wheezy
can be getting married!"
The memory made Harry smile, although he wasn't quite certain why. At the
time, he'd simply woken with a start and promptly swore never to have butter beer and
chocolate frogs before bed again.
The chill from the wall was starting to work its way through the pillows to
Harry's back, but he didn't really notice. He was too busy watching - watching Ron
sleep, watching the dust motes swirl through the moonlight and, in the back of his mind,
watching half a dozen house elves bustle around preparing for a wedding.
"Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy," Dobby's voice seemed to echo in the empty
darkness in the middle of the room, trying to coax him into making a mad dash to the
Second Task. "Wheezy who is giving Dobby his sweater!"
"My Wheezy." Harry whispered, still smiling softly. For some reason the
overexcited, presumptuous house elf name made him feel strangely warm. My
Ron shifted again, yawning slightly in his sleep, pulling Harry's eyes back to
focus on him.
"Are you really my Wheezy, Ron?" After all, what was a 'Wheezy'? A
friend? Something more?
Ah, I need /sleep/! Harry shook his head and pulled the pillows out from
behind his back, returning them to their proper place at the head of the bed. The cold air
rushed in where it had been and he winced slightly at the shock. He lifted his hand to
remove his glasses, then paused, looking at Ron one last time. It was late, he had a lot to
do the next day, should be preparing for the Third Task...
Don't you /dare let anything happen to you, Ron,/ With a stifled yawn Harry
put his glasses back on the nightstand and snuggled back down under the covers, I don't
know where to find another Wheezy.