"You do realize Ron, that I still haven't forgiven for what you and your demon-spawned brothers did to me the morning after the Yule Ball that year."
"Aw c'mon Harry – what's a little prank between friends? Actually, now that you're going to become family, Fred and George are going to have even more fun with you!"
"Oh ruddy hell – that's all I need. A mystery box appearing from owl post that starts eating the furniture!"
With a laugh, Ron clapped him on the shoulder. "Harry, the only way it'd start eating the furniture is if it came from Hagrid. Any gifts from the twins would just turn you into something with 2 heads and 3 arms. What's wrong with that?"
"Would it be possible for me to just marry Ginny and NOT be related to Fred and George?" Harry moaned as he sunk his head into his hands again.
The Morning After the Yule Ball, Harry's Fifth Year
The water that drenched him was ice cold. Cold enough to where he wanted to roll out of the bed to find out who the unthinking prat was who had just soaked him. The problem was, he found he couldn't move a muscle.
"Now Mr. Potter. You have some explaining to do. Exactly what, pray tell, are your intentions towards our beloved baby sister?" came the voice of Fred Weasley.
"And be quick about your explanations Mr. Potter. We wouldn't have to start using dirty tricks now would we?" This time it was George Weasley speaking and he came into Harry's view holding a bucket. Something in the bucket made a sloshing noise and Harry immediately began thinking that getting kicked out of Hogwarts for hexing someone into next week wasn't nearly as bad as it used to be. Those thoughts only intensified as a drop of water fell from the bucket and landed right between Harry's eyes.
"Now now my dear brothers." the chuckling voice of Ron Weasley said. "Don't you think that we ought to release the estimable Mr. Potter from the Full Body Bind so that he is actually able to answer our questions. I too share your desire to hear the explanation that Mr. Potter comes up with as to his actions with our beautiful and angelic baby sister, but I fear even the great Harry Potter would experience some difficulty answering ANY questions in his current state." The mischievous gleam in Ron's eyes gave Harry all the answers he needed as to who had set up his predicament.
"Why certainly Mr. Weasley. Capital idea, simply capital!" Fred said as he gave Ron a florid bow. With a glance at George, he extended his hand towards Harry.
"Mr. Weasley, if you'd be so kind."
"Oh thank you Mr. Weasley. You are too kind!" George said, an ear-to-ear grin threatening to split his head in half as he removed the hex from Harry.
Gasping and shivering from the rather cold awakening he had just been given,
Harry rolled out of his bed and lay on his hands and knees on the floor. He struggled between his desire to warm himself up and his desire to throw each one of the Weasley brothers out the nearest window. Deciding that he couldn't exact his revenge until he stopped shaking, he reached into his trunk and grabbed out a warm, dry blanket to wrap around himself.
Still gasping from the cold, he fixed a baleful gaze upon his roommate. "Ron, what the bloody hell do you think you're trying to do - kill me before Voldemort has another go at it?"
Flinching slightly at hearing that name, Ron looked on at him and gave him an apologetic smile, "Harry, what kind of big brother would I be if I didn't stand here and defend Ginny's honor?" The look on Ron's face though showed that he was enjoying Harry's soaked state far too much.
"Oi, Harry - and what kind of Howler would our Mum send to us if we let sweet, innocent Ginny become the topic of House gossip?" Fred's face became almost angelic as he spoke.
"You'd be the kind of big brothers that weren't about to get fed to one of
Charlie's dragons that'd what you'd be!" Harry growled at the three.
Unable to control themselves any longer, Fred, George, and Ron all collapsed into a heap of laughter with the rest of the Gryffindor fifth years joining in. Blushing furiously still, but unable to stay mad at them, Harry soon joined them, even as he silently planned out how he was going to hex the practice Bludgers to get back at Fred and George. He'd have to come up with a rather special spot of revenge for Ron – something that involved turning his robes transparent during the next feast in the Great Hall.
Pulling himself off the floor once more and shaking off the last of the laughter that had seized him, Harry looked at the room full of laughing boys. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a hot shower before I change from the Boy Who Lived into the Boy Who Became an Ice Cube!". Grabbing a quick change of clothes and slipping on his bathrobe, he headed out of the room.
When he came back into the dormitory, he found that his soaked bedding had been changed and Ron was sitting on the edge of his bed, looking mildly worried.
"You're still not hot about that prank that we pulled on you earlier, are you Harry? Oh, and in case you're wondering, Fred and George asked Dobby to help get your things back to normal."
"Great. Knowing those two, in the middle of the night the bed will change into one of those fly-eating plants that Professor Sprout was telling us about."
"Harry, before you head down for breakfast - can I talk to you about Ginny? Friend to friend, not just as the big-brother-acting-like-an-overbearing-git?"
Sitting down on his own bed across from Ron, Harry looked over at his friend and noticed the concerned look in his eyes. "Sure Ron. I'm not sure I even understand what happened last night, but if it'll make you feel better then we can talk about it."
"Harry, you know that Ginny had that crush on you for the longest time." Seeing his friend nod, Ron continued. "And you also know that ... well ... that you're pretty much family as far as me, my Mum, and the rest of the family is concerned."
Harry flushed slightly and lowered his head at that.
"I guess what it is I'm getting at is this: what ARE you feeling about Ginny? You're my best mate, but you do realize that if you hurt her that you'd have a group of very unhappy brothers to contend with. And let's not even talk about what my Mum would do!"
Taking a deep breath to organize his thoughts, Harry looked up and looked his friend straight in the eye. "I really don't know what my feelings are about Ginny. Last night with her, it just felt so right. The dancing, the fun, the laughter, the way she smacked Malfoy, the.. "
"She did WHAT?!? Where was I when this was going on?" Ron's face had become a mask of shock and amazement.
"You were out on the dance floor, lost with Hermione, that's where!" Quickly he relayed the story to Ron, noting that Ron's face also took on a dark cloud when Malfoy had referred to Hermione with the vile name of 'Mudblood'.
"I'm sad I missed seeing her slap the ruddy ferret. Maybe that'll teach him to go around talking like that."
"After 4 and 1/2 years Ron? Not likely. Still, it was magnificent. And when she did that, something clicked in my mind. Something up there said 'This isn't just Ron's little sister. This is a young woman, strong, proud, and not afraid to step up to defend herself or those that she loves. And that young woman is going to grow up soon to become an incredible lady.' I've seen it before, hints and flashes this year, but last night it all just came together. I was so amazed and so happy for her, I guess I just kissed her before I had a chance to think about it."
Ron took a second to look over at his best friend. Quietly, he got to his feet and approached Harry. Sticking his hand out to him, he said, "Mate, if you had said anything else, I think I would've punched you in the nose. I know that look on your face and in your eyes though. It's the same one I have on my face every morning when I'm thinking about Hermione. And that gives me all I need to know about how you'll treat her."
A grin crept across his face while his eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth.
"Still, I think I'll let you tell Mum that you're seeing my sister."
Stifling a groan Harry clasped Ron's hand in his own. "Thanks mate. For understanding about Ginny I mean. As for your Mum, do you think I could just go face a Hungarian Horntail instead? It'd be safer and I'd definitely stand a better chance of walking out alive!"
With a laugh, Ron pulled Harry to his feet. "C'mon now Harry - let's go get breakfast. Even a condemned man needs a last meal."
"Erm Ron – after last night, do you think it'd be appropriate for me to get her something for Christmas?"
"I think if you don't, then not even Professor Dumbledore will be able to save you from her wrath! I haven't gotten anything for Hermione yet either, so let's go head down to Hogsmeade after we grab a spot of toast."
With a laugh, they turned and left for the Great Hall together.
A/N – This was a lot of fun to write. Thanks to Jim, Kelly-Anne, and Amy for their reviews. Thanks also to my beta Jack and to Imogen for the guidance. Hope everyone's enjoying the ride so far.