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Darkgenerallord Mar 26th, 2019 71 Never
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  1. "Ready?" he said to Ron.
  2.  
  3. He was halfway to the dormitory door when he realised that Ron had not moved, but was leaning on his bedpost, staring out of the rain-washed window with a strangely unfocused look on his face.
  4.  
  5. "Ron? Breakfast. "
  6.  
  7. "I'm not hungry. "
  8.  
  9. Harry stared at him.
  10.  
  11. "I thought you just said--?"
  12.  
  13. "--Well, all right, I'll come down with you," sighed Ron, "but I don't want to eat. "
  14.  
  15. Harry scrutinised him suspiciously.
  16.  
  17. "You've just eaten half a box of Chocolate Cauldrons, haven't you?"
  18.  
  19. "It's not that," Ron sighed again. "You . . . you wouldn't understand. "
  20.  
  21. "Fair enough," said Harry, albeit puzzled, as he turned to open the door.
  22.  
  23. "Harry!" said Ron suddenly.
  24.  
  25. "What?"
  26.  
  27. "Harry, I can't stand it!"
  28.  
  29. "You can't stand what?" asked Harry, now starling to feel definitely alarmed. Ron was rather pale and looked as though he was about to be sick.
  30.  
  31. "I can't stop thinking about her!" said Ron hoarsely.
  32.  
  33. Harry gaped at him. He had not expected this and was not sure he wanted to hear it. Friends they might be, but if Ron started calling Lavender 'Lav-Lav', he would have to pui his foot down.
  34.  
  35. "Why does that stop you having breakfast?" Harry asked, trying to inject a note of common sense into the proceedings.
  36.  
  37. "I don't think she knows I exist," said Ron with a desperate gesture.
  38.  
  39. "She definitely knows you exist," said Harry, bewildered. "She keeps snogging you, doesn't she?"
  40.  
  41. Ron blinked.
  42.  
  43. "Who are you talking about?"
  44.  
  45. "Who are you talking about?" said Harry, with an increasing sense that all reason had dropped out of the conversation.
  46.  
  47. "Romilda Vane," said Ron softly, and his whole face seemed to illuminate as he said it, as though hit by a ray of purest sunlight.
  48.  
  49. They stared at each other for almost a whole minute, before Harry said, "This is a joke, right? You're joking. "
  50.  
  51. "I think . . . Harry, I think I love her," said Ron in a strangled voice.
  52.  
  53. "Okay," said Harry, walking up to Ron to get a better look at the glazed eyes and the pallid complexion, "okay . . . say that again with a straight face. "
  54.  
  55. "I love her," repeated Ron breathlessly. "Have you seen her hair, it's all black and shiny and silky . . . and her eyes? Her big dark eyes? And her--"
  56.  
  57. "This is really funny and everything," said Harry impatiently, "but joke's over, all right? Drop it. "
  58.  
  59. He turned to leave; he had got two steps towards the door when a crashing blow hit him on the right ear. Staggering, he looked round. Ron's fist was drawn right back, his face was contorted with rage; he was about to strike again.
  60.  
  61. Harry reacted instinctively; his wand was out of his pocket and the incantation sprang to mind without conscious thought: Levicorpus!
  62.  
  63. Ron yelled as his heel was wrenched upwards once more; he dangled helplessly, upside-down, his robes hanging off him.
  64.  
  65. "What was that for?" Harry bellowed.
  66.  
  67. "You insulted her, Harry! You said it was a joke!" shouted Ron, who was slowly turning purple in the face as all the blood rushed to his head.
  68.  
  69. "This is insane!" said Harry. "What's got into--?"
  70.  
  71. And then he saw the box lying open on Ron's bed and the truth hit him with the force of a stampeding troll.
  72.  
  73. "Where did you get those Chocolate Cauldrons?"
  74.  
  75.  
  76.  
  77.  
  78. "They were a birthday present!" shouted Ron, revolving slowly in midair as he struggled to get free. "I offered you one, didn't I?"
  79.  
  80. "You just picked them up off the floor, didn't you?"
  81.  
  82. "They'd fallen off my bed, all right? Let me go!"
  83.  
  84. "They didn't fall off your bed, you prat, don't you understand? They were mine, I chucked them out of my trunk when I was looking for the map. They're the Chocolate Cauldrons Romilda gave me before Christmas and they're all spiked with love potion!"
  85.  
  86. But only one word of this seemed to have registered with Ron.
  87.  
  88. "Romilda?" he repeated. "Did you say Romilda? Harry--do you know her? Can you introduce me?"
  89.  
  90. Harry stared at the dangling Ron, whose face now looked tremendously hopeful, and fought a strong desire to laugh. A part of him--the part closest to his throbbing right ear--was quite keen on the idea of letting Ron down and watching him run amok until the effects of the potion wore off . . . but on the other hand, they were supposed to be friends, Ron had not been himself when he had attacked, and Harry thought that he would deserve another punching if he permitted Ron to declare undying love for Romilda Vane.
  91.  
  92. "Yeah, I'll introduce you," said Harry, thinking fast. "I'm going to let you down now, okay?"
  93.  
  94. He sent Ron crashing back to the floor (his ear did hurt quite a lot), but Ron simply bounded to his feet again, grinning.
  95.  
  96. "She'll be in Slughorn's office," said Harry confidently, leading the way to the door.
  97.  
  98. "Why will she be in there?" asked Ron anxiously, hurrying to keep up.
  99.  
  100. "Oh, she has extra Potions lessons with him," said Harry, inventing wildly.
  101.  
  102. "Maybe I could ask if I can have them with her?" said Ron eagerly.
  103.  
  104. "Great idea," said Harry.
  105.  
  106. Lavender was waiting beside the portrait hole, a complication Harry had not foreseen.
  107.  
  108. "You're late, Won-Won!" she pouted. "I've got you a birthday--"
  109.  
  110. "Leave me alone" said Ron impatiently, "Harry's going to introduce me to Romilda Vane. "
  111.  
  112. And without another word to her, he pushed his way out of the portrait hole. Harry tried to make an apologetic face to Lavender, but it might have turned out simply amused, because she looked more offended than ever as the Fat Lady swung shut behind them.
  113.  
  114. Harry had been slightly worried that Slughorn might be at breakfast, but he answered his office door at the first knock, wearing a green velvet dressing-gown and matching nightcap and looking rather bleary-eyed.
  115.  
  116. "Harry," he mumbled. "This is very early for a call . . . I generally sleep late on a Saturday . . . "
  117.  
  118. "Professor, I'm really sorry to disturb you," said Harry as quietly as possible, while Ron stood on tiptoe, attempting to see past Slughorn into his room, "but my friend Ron's swallowed a love potion by mistake. You couldn't make him an antidote, could you? I'd take him to Madam Pomfrey, but we're not supposed to have anything from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and, you know . . . awkward questions . . . "
  119.  
  120. "I'd have thought you could have whipped him up a remedy, Harry, an expert potioneer like you?" asked Slughorn.
  121.  
  122. "Er," said Harry, somewhat distracted by the fact that Ron was now elbowing him in the ribs in an attempt to force his way into the room, "well, I've never mixed an antidote for a love potion, sir, and by the time I get it right Ron might've done something serious--"
  123.  
  124. Helpfully, Ron chose this moment to moan, "I can't see her. Harry--is he hiding her?"
  125.  
  126. "Was this potion within date?" asked Slughorn, now eyeing Ron with professional interest. "They can strengthen, you know, the longer they're kept. "
  127.  
  128. "That would explain a lot," panted Harry, now positively wrestling with Ron to keep him from knocking Slughorn over. "It's his birthday, Professor," he added imploringly.
  129.  
  130. "Oh, all right, come in, then, come in," said Slughorn, relenting. "I've got the necessary here in my bag, it's not a difficult antidote . . . "
  131.  
  132. Ron burst through the door into Slughorn's overheated, crowded study, tripped over a tasselled footstool, regained his balance by seizing Harry around the neck and muttered, "She didn't see that, did she?"
  133.  
  134. "She's not here yet," said Harry, watching Slughorn opening his potion kit and adding a few pinches of this and that to a small crystal bottle.
  135.  
  136. "That's good," said Ron fervently. "How do I look?"
  137.  
  138. "Very handsome," said Slughorn smoothly, handing Ron a glass of clear liquid. "Now drink that up, it's a tonic for the nerves, keep you calm when she arrives, you know,"
  139.  
  140. "Brilliant," said Ron eagerly, and he gulped the antidote down noisily.
  141.  
  142.  
  143. Chapter 18
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