Harry dunked his scrub brush in the soapy water, sloshed it onto the stairs and began to scrub moodily.
"Snape's a—," he began, looking sidelong at Ginny who was scrubbing also.
Ginny stopped for a moment and faced him, her brown eyes were narrowed slightly, rather like a tiger poised to attack, and Harry got the impression that this was not a topic she wished to discuss. Harry shut up and went back to his stair. Ginny was probably royally ticked off at him since it was really his fault they were doing this.
Ginny's ponytail bobbed as she vigorously scrubbed the stairs. Harry had to hand it to her, she was taking this more seriously than he had ever intended to. Snape's detention was probably the worst one Harry had had yet. He had told them to scrub each and every staircase in Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny had only finished about a dozen and half staircases and Harry's back was already starting to hurt. He was sure Ginny had to be tired also, but she didn't show any signs of being fatigued, just annoyed. They weren't even close to being a quarter done --each staircase had, at the very least, thirty steps.
They cleaned in silence for another half hour until Ginny finally spoke up.
"There's no way we can get all of it finished in one day. We'll be doing this for the entire week!"
"I'm really sorry I got us into this," Harry apologized, "I mean, it was my idea. I'll go talk to Snape later and tell him it was my fault. He's really just doing this to see me miserable."
"You will not," snapped Ginny. Harry shut his mouth again, startled. "I was the one that agreed to go with you. Stop trying to be noble, it's irritating." She picked up her scrub brush and started attacking the stairs again.
"I wasn't," Harry turned her words over in his mind for a second, "being noble." Ginny smiled slightly at the stairs as she cleaned. "You don't even realize you do it."
"I'll, um, try to stop." Harry bent closer to the stair he was cleaning and puzzled over her comment.
"I can clean a couple of stairs," scoffed Ginny, "I'm not made of porcelain, for heavens sake."
"A couple?" echoed Harry.
"Harry," sighed Ginny, "I have been plotting Snape's demise this entire time, trying to make this at the very least a bit constructive. If you're going to ruin my train of thought…."
"You're not mad at me then?" asked Harry, brightening considerably.
"No," said Ginny sounding surprised, "Why on earth would I be mad at you?"
Ginny's laughter echoed in the staircase. Harry was quite glad to hear it. "You," she laughed shaking her head at him, "have been hanging around my brothers too long."
"Six hundred," said Ginny, stretching her arms. She pushed the finer pieces of her hair, too short to go into her ponytail, behind her ears.
"What?" asked Harry.
"This is the six hundredth stair we've cleaned," she said with a yawn.
"You've been counting?!" gaped Harry, staring at her.
"Among other things," said Ginny lightly, "like plotting Snape's de—"
"We've really cleaned six hundred," Harry said incredulously.
"Look out the window, Harry, it's dark. We've been doing this since after breakfast, of course we've done six hundred."
Harry swung around to look out the window, not believing her. Sure enough, it was dark outside. "It's supper time," he said automatically. "They can't just not feed us. That's going way too far."
Ginny shrugged. "And what did you have for lunch today, Mr. Potter?" she said pointedly.
"Nothing," said Harry moodily realizing this.
"Great," muttered Ginny looking upwards.
"Why is that great?" said Harry furrowing his brow.
"Peeves," responded Ginny quietly, "above your head."
Harry looked upwards and sure enough Peeves was floating above them, looking delighted.
"Go away," said Harry flatly. "I'll hex you." "Scrubby, scrubby, my naughty naughties!" sang Peeves happily.
"I'm not kidding," warned Harry.
"No magic in the corridors," reminded Peeves with an evil grin. He floated just above a banister pretending to walk along it, humming loudly.
Harry grit his teeth and resisted the urge to do anything that would surely land him another detention.
"You knoooow," said Peeves gliding down the banister to their level, "it would be a shame if all these stairs got dirty again. Professor Snape would be furio-uuuuuus." "Don't you—," began Harry hotly.
"Especially if they got dirty with a jar of pickled sheep brain from his classroom."
"Dare," finished Ginny.
Peeves delicately balanced a large glass canister on his finger. Harry felt his stomach lurch, Peeves wasn't kidding. Peeves began humming a circus tune and tossing the canister and catching it.
"Peeves," said Harry desperately, "really, that isn't fair."
"Please, don't," Ginny said hurriedly.
Peeves was now tossing the canister very high and doing a back flip before he caught it again.
"Summon it," whispered Ginny, nervously.
"No magic in the…."
"Do you really want to pick up sheep's brain?" hissed Ginny.
Harry took her point and fumbled for his wand.
"Whooooopsies!" shouted Peeves suddenly.
Harry felt pickled sheeps brain juice splatter on his face.
Ginny shrieked with fury and immediately leapt to her feet, screaming at Peeves.
Peeves dodged the scrub brush she flung at him along with a few choice profanities that Harry thought were very well worded for a girl…. Before he could hex Peeves, he had disappeared through the ceiling.
"Excuse me," said Ginny sharply, sitting on a step. She wrinkled her nose at the rising smell of formaldehyde and bits of sheep brain now oozing down the stair banister.
"No…problem," said Harry slowly, "I didn't know girls could…insult like that."
"I live with—," sighed Ginny.
"Six older brothers," nodded Harry.
"Sometimes I have a little bit of a temper…. It rarely happens that it gets the better of me. Ron's got the worst temper, really."
A piece of sheep brain plopped next to Harry's foot. "Yes…well."
"Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley," said McGonagall appearing at the top of the staircase, a good hour later.
Harry looked up and stopped scrubbing. Ginny leaned back on her heels and gazed at McGonagall hopefully.
"That will be quite enough," said McGonagall.
"We'll have to work tomorrow too," said Harry sorely, tossing his brush into the bucket.
Much to their surprise, McGonagall shook her head. "I spoke with Professor Snape just now, after I learned how he punished you. As your head of house, I feel that one day of detention is quite enough."
Ginny smiled slowly. "Really, Professor…all the staircases are a lot…."
"It's not for you to question how Professor Snape punishes his students," said Professor McGonagall firmly, "but you are in my house, and Professor Snape will consult me from now on."
"Thanks, Professor," said Harry getting to his feet.
"Go down to supper," said McGonagall. She sniffed the air as Harry walked by and frowned. "Might I also recommend a bath, you smell like…. preservative, Mr. Potter."
"Katie Bell's an excellent captain, but she's got it easy, compared to what the captain'll have to do next year."
"What are you calling easy?" asked Ginny as she spooned some more shepherd's pie on her plate.
Harry took a drink of pumpkin juice and continued talking enthusiastically. "Well, we only needed a new Keeper this year. Everyone else on the team has worked together for at the very least, four years, we know each others styles. It shouldn't be hard to win the cup this year. But, next year we're getting two Beaters and three new Chasers, that's more than half the team! Whoever gets captain will really have to train the new players."
"You're going to make captain," said Ginny spearing a carrot, "there's no question of that." Harry shook his head. "It really depends on if there are really talented new players or not. Plus, Ron's got a shot too."
"Ron's been on the team for a year. You're the youngest Seeker in a century."
"Being a good Seeker has nothing to do with becoming a Quidditch captain. It's all about strategy, which Ron is very good at."
"Chess strategy," corrected Ginny, "Ron's Quidditch strategies are a little more shaky than you think. Charlie can outsmart him on a field quicker than Ron can think to open his mouth to protest."
"Charlie must be fantastic then," said Harry, "because I've seen some of Ron's strategies on paper."
"Exactly my point," smiled Ginny.
"They look wonderful on paper, but when you put them on the field they fall to pieces. Ron doesn't factor things in that are unexpected. He writes them like his chess strategies, thinking he can predict each and every thing. You and I both know that rarely happens in a Quidditch match."
Harry stopped chewing and stared at her for a good thirty seconds. He swallowed hard and wiped his mouth. "Uh…wow."
"Thank you," said Ginny, with a small smile. "I've had more than enough practice watching my brothers play, not to mention playing when I got old enough."
"But," said Harry suddenly, "how do you know I'm the better strategist? I've never shown you any of my Quidditch…."
"I've seen you play." She set her fork down at two o' clock on her plate and watched the plate vanish into the table. She then stood up, smiled at him and turned to leave the Great Hall.
Harry hastily gulped down the rest of his pumpkin juice and threw his napkin on his plate. "Wait!" he shouted. "You aren't going to explain? Where are you going?"
"We'll talk later," called Ginny over her shoulder.
Harry frowned as the door closed her red curls from his view. Why did she do that? He suspiciously drew the corner of his sweater to his nose.
Ugh. He did smell like preservative.
Harry pulled a clean sweater over his head and smeared the steam off the mirror with his hand.
"Such lovely eyes, my boy," said the mirror with a fond tone.
Harry tried to flatten his hair. "Uh, thanks." "Oh yes, they're some of the nicest in the school," continued the mirror.
Harry stopped combing. "I…um…you really think they're nice?"
"Why, yes, I'm sure the girls just adore you…." "Girls...notice eyes?"
The mirror laughed in a very maternal fashion. "Yes, dear. You've got a very sweet face, I wouldn't worry about the girls noticing you."
Harry ran a hand through his hair and walked off, a little distractedly.
"Sweet face," mimicked Harry with a snort, "stupid mirror doesn't know what she's talking about. I'm not six years old…."
"BRIGHT COPPER KETTLES!" shouted Harry. Did everyone see the need to call him ‘Dear'?
"Well!" huffed the Fat Lady swinging open.
"Harry!" Ron hopped off the couch arm and grinned. "Check out this book I got today!"
Harry glanced around the common room and saw Ginny sitting with Hermione at the table, they were both laughing at something.
"You willingly bought a book?" Harry turned his attention back to Ron. "You've really got it bad for Hermione, haven't you."
Ron's ears went pink and he thrust the book in Harry's hands. "Shut up, it's a Quidditch book."
He flipped through it after taking a seat in one of the chairs. "Katie would like to use some of these plays," said Harry.
"Check out the Cannons' new Seeker. She looks like your type, Harry," grinned Ron.
Harry studied the picture. "She's blonde…she's okay I guess."
"Oh that's right," said Ron rolling his eyes, "you go for the girls with the dark hair, like Cho Chang."
"No," said Harry a little too sharply. "Not necessarily."
"I heard Snape nearly killed you and Ginny with that detention," said Ron after he gave Harry a funny look.
"Lets go sit with the girls," Harry interrupted.
"All right," Ron said, "I figured you'd want to talk about Quidditch or something, after hanging around my sister for another entire day."
"She knows about Quidditch, did you know that?" "Yes, but she really—."
"Well, then we don't have to sit across the room from them."
"So Ron would blame me for almost everything he got in trouble for. I had to sit in the corner all day because of when he colored on the wall," said Ginny with an evil look in her brother's direction. "Did he fess up to mum that he did it? Noooo…not even a peep." "You helped me do that!" Ron said loudly. "Who was the one handing me the crayons?" "Because you told me I could play with your bear if I did! Then when you ran to go get more crayons, Mum caught me with the bucket."
Harry and Hermione laughed at them. Ginny and Ron had been sharing childhood stories for about an hour now. It seemed like they had been partners in crime for most of their childhood.
"But I let you have the bear for a whole week." "Because I cried all day, while I was facing the wall," laughed Ginny.
Ron tossed a quill at her with a grin. "Get over it! I was five!" He looked at Harry and Hermione for some pity. "She doesn't forgive me for anything."
"It must be fun having such a large family," smiled Hermione. "It's always just been me and my parents."
"No!" shouted Ron and Ginny together. "It's not fun." "Well, sometimes it's all right," said Ginny thoughtfully.
"Yeah, it was nice to have Bill around when Fred and George tried to beat me up," added Ron.
"And Percy saved me from breaking my neck when I fell out of that one tree. He didn't even tell mum on me, healed my scrapes and everything, I didn't mind hearing him brag about his first year at Hogwarts after that."
"Ginny's fallen out of one too many trees," Ron smirked, "that's why she's a bit daft."
"Daft!? I wasn't the one who nearly flunked nursery school!"
"What?" laughed Hermione.
"He didn't want to learn his alphabet because he was going to grow up to be a famous broom racer. Apparently famous broom racers don't have to learn how to read," said Ginny.
"My Muggle cousin almost got kicked out of his nursery school class because he sat on another kid," said Harry.
"Ouch," said Ron.
"The kid he sat on was in year four," Harry added.
"What about you, Hermione?" Ron said looking over at her. "What did you do when you were little? Were you the perfect child?"
"I'll have you know," said Hermione curtly, "that I got in a fight at school once."
"You were in a fight?!" Ron doubled over with laughter. "Over what? A correct answer?"
"I was in year three and this really immature boy took my library book and played keep-away with it on the playground." "A book," sighed Ron, "that figures."
"I asked him to give it back politely, but he wouldn't listen."
"What did you do?" asked Ginny.
"Well, I had to hit him…because he wouldn't listen and there weren't any teachers around."
"Did you punch him in the face?" laughed Ron.
"I did not punch anyone in the face. My mother would have been furious if I did that."
"That's right," remembered Harry, "you're related to dentists."
"Oh no," said Hermione, "they didn't care about me knocking someone's teeth out…that'd actually be drumming up business, but it wasn't ladylike for me to punch people."
"Did you kick him?"
"Nooo, I smacked him in the face with my other library book." Hermione smiled at her hands. "He got a bloody nose and cried until his mum came to pick him up."
"She's proud of herself!" Ron hooted, obviously very pleased about hearing Hermione losing her temper
"It was special circumstances," Hermione said nonchalantly, "I most certainly did not fight all the time."
"Yeah, right," teased Harry. "You were the terror with the library books."
"I was not!"
"Ginny was a terror period!" laughed Ron. "Everyone thought she was the most adorable little girl, boy did she have them fooled."
"When you're small for your age, you have to learn how to defend yourself," said Ginny simply.
"Girls never get in trouble for being bad, either," said Ron, "they just squirt a few tears and all is forgiven. Ginny had dad wrapped around her finger, still does actually." "Every girl can do that," Hermione said pointedly. "Wrapping boys around our fingers that is." "Ron's blushing!" giggled Ginny.
Ginny put her arm around her brother's shoulder and giggled. Ron rumpled her curls and slung his arm around her shoulder also.
Disclaimer: The chapter title is from : "Nuttin' for Christmas" with Smash Mouth and Rosie O'Donnell. The words are a bit different so that I could make it a little more grammatically correct.