Harry and Malfoy were arguing.
The Leaky Cauldron on a Friday night was rammed and they were lucky to get a table, Ron reminded himself. For the 17th time. Stuck between the path to the toilets and the path to the Floo, the four Hogwarts alumni had to drag their seats so close to the table that Parkinson was almost sitting in Malfoy's lap and Ron's cuff kept catching Harry's glasses. Every time Ron apologised for this Harry would turn a bright smile to him, chirp out "no worries, mate", give Ron's shoulder a squeeze and shoot Malfoy a meaningful look as if to say; "see, this right here is common courtesy". Or loyalty. Or Gryfindorishness. Or whatever the fuck else they were arguing about tonight.
After five weeks of being dragged out to The Leaky so Harry could carry on sputtering and huffing and smirking at Malfoy, Ron was done. He shifted, getting ready to escape, and sent the table wobbling. Neither Harry or Draco noticed. Their noses were nearly touching, Harry's finger stabbing into the table as he made An Extremely Important Point and Malfoy's mouth twitching as he readied A Cutting Retort. The only person to look up was Parkinson, who sent Ron a weary eye-roll that almost, almost, contained a hint of sympathy, and went back to staring at the ragged piece of paper in her lap.
Realising that he still had half a pint left, Ron shifted to get a better look at the paper. It had been torn from a book and was covered in a 3 by 3 grid. Some of the boxes of the grid contained numbers, some were blank. Arithmancy? Ron asked himself, watching as Parkinson penciled a 6 into one of the empty boxes. No, he'd seen this in the Muggle newspapers his dad hoarded (no one had yet been able to dissuade Arthur Weasley from the belief that Muggle newspapers could only increase in value as the years went by).
Gesturing with his pint, Ron asked; "why don't you put a 4 there?"
"Where?" Parkinson scanned the boxes, pencil poised.
"Next to where you put that 3".
"But there's already a 4 in both those boxes".
"Yeah but it makes sense, 1,2,3,4".
She smiled. No, she grinned. "That's not how it works".
"Why not?" He grinned back at her. "You're in charge here, those numbers have to go where you tell them."
"Yes but then I will finish the game far too quickly and have nothing to do but watch this travesty unfold" she gestured to Harry and Malfoy, both of whom remained oblivious, green eyes locked on grey eyes.
Parkinson shook her head and returned to the paper, tucking a loose curl of hair behind one ear. Her hair looked nice like that, twisted up. Ron wondered if he should point that out but quickly dismissed the thought. She probably knew that her hair looked nice and would hardly need him to confirm it.
"Right" he said instead, finishing his pint and standing up to address the table, "that's me done for the night. Harry, Malfoy" He nodded to both men. "Parkinson, leave the squares at home next time and we'll play a real game."
"Chess", Ron smacked his travel chess set down in front of Parkinson, indignant cries echoed from the box. Parkinson raised an eyebrow. What was it with Slytherins and eyebrows? Malfoy was always waggling his around. Not that Harry seemed to mind. The two of them were laughing at the bar, bumping shoulders and arguing over who would pay for the drinks. Ron sighed, at least they'd got a booth this time. Turning back to Parkinson he opened the box and began coaxing the ruffled chess pieces into position.
"I'm rubbish at chess" red fingernails toyed with a pawn, dodging it's flailing sword to bop it on the nose.
"You were in Slytherin, right?"
She looked up in confusion, "you know I was".
"So you can play chess" he carried on setting up the pieces, only to hear an indignant squeak. Distracted by his question, Parkinson had taken her eyes off the pawn, giving the small figure ample opportunity to lunge forward and stab her in the finger. Examining the tiny bead of blood that had appeared, she sucked the finger into her mouth and prodded the pawn back into line with the edge of a coaster. Distracted by the gratuitous finger sucking, Ron nearly missed her next remark.
"Being Slytherin doesn't mean that I'm good at chess. Just ask Draco. He spent all of 4th year trying to coach me before I paid Goyle to melt his set in a tragic potions accident".
"Brutal" he grinned, "but I'm a better teacher than Malfoy and you've got sneaky instincts on your side. Just treat the game as if it were the Slytherin common room".
"Alright" she lent forward and tapped her queen on the shoulder. The 2 inch monarch turned and raised an ebony eyebrow. Not just Slytherins, then. "Good evening your majesty" Parkinson murmured, "are you aware that the white queen is spreading rumours that you are having an affair with one of her pawns?" The black queen recoiled in horror, shooting a murderous glance at Ron's queen. "Oh yes," Parkinson continued, eyes flitting to Ron's gobsmacked face.
"She said that you always go for him and that he seems rather too keen to lay down arms for you, if you know what I mean". The black queen obviously did know what Parkinson meant as, with a shrill cry, she bounded over the line of her own pawns and made a beeline for the white queen. The white pawns tried to intercept her, only to anger the black pawns who charged to their sovereign's defense.
As the board descended into an all out brawl, Parkinson's eyes flitted back to Ron. Chewing the left side of her bottom lip she finally asked, "is that what you had in mind?" Ron opened his mouth to respond but all that came out was a hiccuping giggle. The giggling turned into a proper belly laugh, which set Parkinson off so that by the time Harry and Malfoy came back with the drinks, the two would-be chess players were doubled over, tears streaming down their cheeks and chess pieces earnestly hacking each other apart.
Harry and Draco were not speaking to each other. They were not speaking to each other at such a volume that it was actually starting to disturb Ron and Pansy's backgammon game. Pansy had brought the set with her, sliding into the now regular booth opposite Ron and pushing a pint over to him. This, he assumed, was the closest he was going to get to an apology for the destruction of his chess set.
Three hours later Ron was on his 4th pint and struggling to decide between taking one of Pansy's unguarded counters, or starting the race to the finish when a deep sigh gusted it's way across his neck. Turning, he caught Harry refolding his arms for the umpteenth time. Draco ignored the sigh, choosing instead to examine his nails before going back to tapping them on the table.
Catching Pansy's eye, Ron raised an eyebrow. It had taken three hours in front of the mirror to perfect that eyebrow but he was fairly confident that he'd managed to convey that, for now, backgammon would have to be put on hold. Pansy rolled her eyes and put a freeze charm on the pieces before shoving the board back into her handbag.
"So" Ron said, rubbing his hands together, "let's talk about sex". Three incredulous sets of eyes landed on him.
"What about it?" Draco asked.
"Dunno" Ron replied, leaning back in his chair and turning to Harry with a sunny smile, "what about you Harry? Still shagging Oliver Wood?" Harry blinked rapidly, rubbed his scar, blinked some more.
"Umm no, not really. No. Not so much" he mumbled, staring fixedly at his empty pint glass.
"Oh really?" Pansy asked. "So you're free, single and ready to mingle?" Harry blinked some more, darting a glance at Draco.
"Umm... umm..." the table held it's collective breath. "I suppose so but umm... no, not so much. Or, well I am. But there's one particular person" he chanced another glance at Draco. "One particular person who I would like to mingle with... sort of..."
Silence fell. Harry glared at his pint, Pansy glared at Draco, Draco glared at Harry, Ron began pulling the backgammon board back out of Pansy's handbag. With a long suffering sigh, Draco stood.
"Well I think I will call it a night" he said, gathering up his work robes. "Ron, Pansy, lovely to see you both as always." He left without speaking to Harry. The Boy Wonder lasted an entire 30 seconds before pelting after Draco.
This would probably, Ron reflected, be the last Friday night at The Leaky for a while. Harry and Draco had been draped over each other all evening. Draco was now murmuring into Harry's ear, nimble fingers playing with the sleeve of his robe. Harry laughed quietly and bit his lip, only for Draco to sigh and take over the job for him.
Averting his eyes, Ron turned back to Pansy, who was watching the display with a kind of wistful disdain. How did one face manage to fit both those emotions in at the same time? It must be the eyes. She had very big eyes. Long eyelashes too. Not that those were particularly expressive, just fluttery. Forcing his mind off emotionally agile eyelashes, Ron stood to buy the next round.
Pansy joined him, shaking her head and glancing back at the two men still sucking face in the booth.
"Revolting display" she grinned.
"Repulsive" Ron cheerfully agreed.
"A disgrace to his house colours".
"Oh, really?" Ron turned back to her. "Aren't all you Slytherins complete deviants, then? Exhibitionists every last one of you, is what I heard."
"Oh we are" she nodded, "utterly depraved, but there's a time and a place."
"Well clearly the old rules of discretion are out the window tonight" Ron nodded towards the booth. "So go on, show me your best moves."
"Yes" his shoulder bumped hers, "your moves, you were just talking about how depraved you are, show me".
"Alright" she said, catching the barwoman's eyes, gesturing to something behind her and holding up three fingers. "This little move" she continued, "was always very popular in the Slytherin girls' dormitory." Three packets of crisps appeared in front of them. One packet of cheese and onion, one of roast chicken, one prawn cocktail. Ron's eyes bulged.
"Dare I ask?"
"Just give me a minute" taking an empty pint glass from behind the bar, she emptied all three packets into it, clapped a hand on the opening and shook the glass until the crisps were thoroughly mingled. Ron started laughing. Holding the glass out to him she raised an eyebrow. Those sodding eyebrows.
Still laughing, Ron took a handful, shaking his head and muttering "filthy".
Laughing back, she took a handful herself, cramming them into her mouth and laughing again as he pretended to wipe a bead of sweat from his forehead.
It was around the time that Draco slide his hand between the 3rd and 4th button of Harry's shirt that Ron decided shots were in order. Now, as they stumbled towards the Floo, Ron wondered if that was really the brainwave it had seemed at the start of the night. His head was spinning, his knee cracked off a table and a small arm tightened around his waist.
Pansy Parkinson. Covered in crisp crumbs and looking absolutely delightful. Gazing down at her, Ron felt his face stretch into what he hoped was a fond grin. Or at least not an outright leer. Harry and Draco were already waiting at the Floo, mouths and hands busy doing all kinds of things Ron would rather not think about.
"Are you going to miss it?" he asked Pansy. She stopped, grinning back at him.
"This", he waved at the nearly empty pub, when had it got so late? "Us" he gestured between the two of them. "Playing games and waiting for these sorry excuses to make a move on each other."
"I don't think so" she was still smiling. Why was she smiling when he suddenly felt so terrible? Fucking Slytherins. "I'm happy for them and it will be nice to have my Friday nights back."
"Right". He didn't know what else to say, turning back to the Floo. Her arm dropped away from around his waist.
"Earth to Pansy" Draco called as Harry snuggled into his shoulder. "You're up first" she stepped forward into the Floo, giggling. "Where to, m'love?" Draco asked, doing a passable impression of Albert, the new Nightbus driver.
"The moon!" She laughed back, eyes bright. Before Draco could respond with the next line, there was a green flash and a puff of smoke. When it cleared, Pansy was gone. The three men stared at the empty fireplace.
"She..." Draco stuttered, "she must have accidentally dropped the powder and... she... oh shit!" He turned a panicked face towards Harry and Ron. "Where the fuck did she go? The fucking Moon?!? There's no Floo on the Moon!"
"No Floo on the Moon?" Ron faltered, feeling a wave of sickly heat rush through him. "No Floo on the Moon, Malfoy? There's no fucking oxygen on the Moon! She could be anywhere! She could be dead! It's like that film" he hit Harry on the shoulder and started pacing, running his hands through his hair. "Fucking Gravity. She's George fucking Clooney. The fucking Moon? What the fuck? How..." He was interrupted by another flash of green light and Pansy stumbled back out of the Floo, coughing and covered in soot.
"Ended up at the Honey Moon Inn" she muttered, wiping soot off her chin. They stared at her.
"Fucking hell, Pans!" Whatever Draco was going to say next was interrupted as Ron shoved past him, gathering Pansy up his arms and shoving his face into the crook of her neck.
"You are such a fucking wanker" he muttered, lifting her off the ground. A rather dirty, greasy, hand came up to pat the back of his head.
"It's ok, I'm ok" Pansy whispered, a small kiss landed on his temple. "Put me down, ok Ron? Stop being such a dick, I'm fine." She smiled up at him as he pulled back, staring down at her with suspiciously shiny eyes. "See" she murmured, kissing the tip of his nose "all fine. Not on the Moon anymore". He took a deep breath and started to step back, blinking.
"Good" his voice was hoarse. "That's good, I was worried".
"I can see that". She smiled up at him, keeping a firm hold of his forearms so he couldn't move too far away and kissing his cheek, then the corner of his mouth, then her lips hovered over his lips. He blinked down at her, closed the distance between them. Her lips were soft, parting slightly to let him taste tequila and soot. Slowly, slowly, his hand moved up to tangle in her hair, his other arm wrapping around her waist. Just as slowly, her hands moved from his forearms to around his neck, pulling him closer, pressing her body against him.
A small cough interrupted them.
Turning, arms still wrapped around each other, Ron and Pansy looked at Harry and Draco. Harry coughed again, shuffled his feet. "Um..."
"So" beamed Draco, grabbing Harry's hand and marching into the Floo. "This has been completely delightful but it is getting rather late" he paused to give Pansy's shoulder a squeeze before reaching for the Floo powder "Must do it again soon but for now, goodnight, bon chance, sweet dreams, etc etc, see you next Friday!" They had just enough time to see him clamp both hands onto Harry's arse before the familiar green cloud billowed up around them.