Back at Headquarters, Harry and Ron were finally crawling into their beds. It was decided that they should stay there for safety reasons until more information could be gathered on the whereabouts of Ginny and Hermione.
They were actually glad to stay. If anything new was discovered, they knew the Order would assemble and then they would immediately know exactly what was happening.
Their first meeting as members of the Order had been far from what they had expected. Oh, they were definitely now privy to more information, but with all the discussing and debating… nothing actually seemed to be settled, which was very frustrating for Ron and Harry.
The Order had taken a ‘wait and see’ approach to formulating a plan to extract the girls from their captors… an approach not at all like the ones that Harry and Ron were accustomed to… and not at all what they had expected from the Order.
Harry and Ron were never ones to wait for the Calvary in the past, but instead charged head on into the unknown on several occasions. Being part of the Order meant they were now under Order rules as well. It was almost causing them to regret their decision to join the Order of the Phoenix at all.
As the meeting was coming to a close a few hours earlier, Harry had asked what he could do to help, but he and Ron were told to stay put for now. Harry now knew how his godfather, Sirius, must have felt when he had been cooped up there all those months and he hated it already.
At meeting’s end, Dumbledore had decided, with the consensus of the other Order members, that more information was needed to formulate a rescue plan.
Snape was sent to see if he could find out more of the details. Most of the other’s were sent out on various patrol missions.
Dumbledore and McGonagall had returned to Hogwarts to close the school for the Christmas holidays which left Harry and Ron as the only ones left at Grimwald place other than Mrs. Weasley.
Ron was giving his mum a wide berth and trying to avoid her at all costs. In fact, Ron had suggested a hasty retreat to their room shortly after the meeting had ended, in the hopes of escaping any further embarrassing rows with Mrs. Weasley.
She could still be heard downstairs banging around in the kitchen and it was quite obvious that she had not gotten over her son’s indiscretion yet.
Harry and Ron had been going over the meeting in their room when Fred and George popped in to pat Ron on the back for his ‘prowess’.
“Way to go, lover boy!” they teased.
Ron was not exactly in a joking mood on the subject and shot back, “Shut up and get out before mum hears you! Oh… and if you do ANYTHING to embarrass Hermione about this after she’s found, I’ll make sure you regret it! That was personal… and now it’s public knowledge. I’m sure that’s going to be embarrassment enough for her.”
George acting hurt said, “Don’t worry little brother. We’ve been there before… not quite as publicly as you I guess, but mum’s caught us both at different times… It wasn’t pretty… Why do you think we knew the contraceptive charm we taught you in the first place?”
Ron and Harry just stared at them absorbing their admissions, then Ron asked, “Both of you?… With who?… And why didn’t I ever hear about any of this?”
George answered with a mischievous grin, “Well, a gentleman never kisses and tells, does one?”
Then, considering the events that had just taken place in the kitchen, he added, “At least, not unless they have to that is. You know, you’d think mum would be a bit more receptive. After all, she and dad did have 7 of us…”
Turning to Fred he asked, “Do you remember when Bill got caught the first time?”
Fred gazed off into space as if remembering a horrible flash from the past, “Yeah… I think that was the most devastating revelation of all for her… being as he was her first born and all… Well… the most devastating until now that is… you’re her baby boy after all.”
He said returning his attention to Ron, “I’m sure that has to sting a bit… At least mum knows Ginny is still a virgin…obviously…”
He added looking at Harry with a wink of approval, causing Harry to flush.
“Anyway, we’re on your side Ron. You know we like Hermione. She’s a great girl and we’re happy for you. We promise not to make it worse.”
Then, seeing Ron’s disbelieving expression, George added, “No, really… we mean it…consider it off limits…Besides, we’re family aren’t we? We’ll always have your back… you know bonds of brotherhood and all. Well, anyway, we’re off to check Hogsmeade for evidence of other kidnappings.
We need to make sure that there’s no one else involved. See you in the morning.”
With that they disapparated with two loud cracks.
After the twins popped back out, Harry and Ron began discussing the meeting again and how they couldn’t believe that nothing had been settled.
Ron had continued to feel Hermione’s presence, but it didn’t feel quite as desperate, which comforted him. He was sure that if Hermione or Ginny were in immediate danger, he’d know it. He said he could feel her at that moment, trying to let him know she was okay… at least for now.
Then Ron suddenly sat up in bed at practically yelled at Harry, “It has something to do with New Year’s Eve… and the full moon!”
Harry jumped and looked at Ron, “What do you mean?”
Ron answered, “I keep getting images of a New Year’s Ball and a full moon overhead. She’s trying to tell me something… but what? We’ve got to tell Dumbledore in the morning when he returns. Maybe he’ll know what it means. At least this will give a little time to figure things out if it’s not happening until New Year’s.”
Ron then began trying to send her his love and let her know that they were trying to find her and Ginny. He hoped that feeling his presence would give her some comfort too. The emotional exchange between Ron and Hermione also gave Harry a little bit of peace that Ginny was safe for now.
Ginny and Hermione were two of the most important people in Harry’s life and he couldn’t stand the thought of losing either one of them. He and Ron were definitely united in their love of those two girls.
After an hour or so of talking, they finally got ‘round to the subject that Ron knew he couldn’t avoid forever.
After a bit of a silence, Harry began, “So, um…you and Hermione, huh?” flushing a bit again.
He answered with a sigh, “Yes Harry, I think that fact has been well established now.”
Harry was sitting up on his bed looking over at Ron and continued, “For how long? When did this happen?”
Ron decided Harry wasn’t going to let this go until he told him the whole story, not specific details of course, but how it all started at least.
He began by telling him more about their first date in the Room of Requirement and how the four-poster had materialized there… and the rest was pretty obvious he thought.
“We’ve been sneaking out of the dorms ever since… a couple of times a week… She’s amazing Harry, I’m so lucky.”
Harry was stunned a little…a couple of times a week? he thought.
Then Harry remembered something else that the twins had said earlier and he asked, “What’s this contraceptive charm that Fred and George were talking about?”
Ron answered, “Well, it’s a spell that my brother’s have passed down to one another over the years, and apparently, it’s been rather well used as well. I guess it’s only fitting that I pass it on to you now, too.”
He taught Harry the words to the spell and when it needed to be performed.
Harry starting thinking about Ron’s fight with his mum. There was something that Ron said that had surprised him at the time, but when he heard it, it wasn’t exactly a good time to ask about it.
Now that they were alone, his curiosity was getting the better of him.
“Ron, can I ask you something?”
Ron just looked over at him giving Harry the okay to go ahead, “Um…have you asked Hermione to…to marry you? It’s just that you said something about marriage earlier, I was just wondering…”
Ron rolled on his side to look directly at Harry, “Of course I haven’t asked her…not yet. If I did, you’d be the first to know mate. You should know that. What I meant was, I love her… and someday… I’m hoping she’ll agree to be my wife. I really can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. We’ve known each other for years… and we pretty much know everything there is to know about each other.
We can be ourselves with each other. You know, we’re completely at ease with each other, at least now that our feelings are out in the open.
Actually, I think our friendship is what allowed us to become so…so close, so quickly. When I told her how I really felt about her that night, I had never expected anything like that to happen, but it just seemed like a natural step when it came down to it.
We just… knew it felt right.”
Harry was looking at Ron somewhat surprised, “I had no idea that you two had gotten that close. It’s great Ron and I’m really happy for you two.”
Then looking up at the ceiling again, Ron asked, “I guess this means that you and Ginny… haven’t… well, not yet anyway.”
Harry answered quietly, “No, I wouldn’t have…we didn’t because…Well, it’s not as though I haven’t wanted to, but she just wasn’t ready.”
Forgetting that Ron was actually Ginny’s big brother, he plowed on speaking to him as a best mate would, “We’ve actually come close on several occasions… but when she wanted to stop, I stopped. Ron, there’s something you should know... I think I’ve fallen in love with your sister… I love her strength and her independence… and the fact that she can be a bit unpredictable.
She makes me happier than I’ve ever been and I feel like there’s this deep bond that I have with her. A bond that I don’t think that I could ever have with anyone else… because of everything we’ve been through together.
The fact is, I would never try to make her do something that I wanted… that she wasn’t sure that she was ready for… I just wouldn’t.”
Ron continued to look at the ceiling, but was smiling at Harry’s answer, “Yeah…you’ve definitely got it bad mate…and I knew I could trust you with my baby sister. Not every guy would care about what she wanted… and it’s no less than I’d expect from my best mate. After a short silence Ron added, “Thanks Harry... Thanks for taking such good care of her.”
He considered Ron’s comments then said, “Well, I didn’t do such a smashing job of taking care of her after all, did I? She’s been kidnapped hasn’t she?… and it sounds as though if I hadn’t been… such a gentleman, she wouldn’t have been a target at all.”
Ron was looking at Harry again who was quickly becoming angry at the thought of what could happen to Ginny.
Harry continued through gritted teeth, “They need a virgin remember. If she and I had given in to each other… even once…none of this would be happening right now.”
Ron was quiet for a second then said, “I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way before…but I still think that you did the right thing… and I’m sure Ginny loves you for it… We’ll get them back Harry… I’m sure of it.
There’s no bloody way that you and I will let Malfoy win after all these years…no way in hell.”
With that they both fell quiet. They lay there thinking about their girls’ until sleep finally claimed them.
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