“Promises may get friends, but 'tis performances that keep them.” - Solomon
It was Christmas time once again and the grounds at Hogwarts were covered in glistening snow. The atmosphere was peaceful and quiet, as all but fifteen students had gone home for the holidays. Ron Weasley looking out on all this beauty was suddenly struck by an idea. Turning he ran to the Gryffindor Common Room in search of the two people he would need to help him.
'Plum Pudding,' he gasped to the Fat Lady who was chatting to a neighbouring picture. The door opened and Ron stepped into the room.
He at once knew he had found the two people when he heard loud bangs and funny noises coming from the direction of the fireplace. There, setting off firecrackers and trying to make them float over towards other people in the room, were Fred and George Weasley.
'Fred, George, can you come over here?' he called.
People in the room looked at him in gratitude and relief. Obviously they had been hoping someone would stop the twins from trying to set fire to everything, plus they were tired of dodging all the drifting firecrackers.
'What is it, Ron?' Fred called just as a cracker went off over Angelina Johnson's head. 'Sorry Angelina, I was trying to get Lee.'
'Fred, George, could you help me with something. I really need your help with this.'
'Sure. What is it? Setting off Dungbombs in Snape's office, kicking Filch's cat – oh, hang on we did that this morning – what about putting exploding toilet seats in the girls' bathroom or –?'
'No, nothing like that,' Ron interrupted trying hard not to smile. 'I need you to help me with Harry.'
'Harry?' They both exclaimed in surprise. 'What's happened to him?'
'He's not hurt or anything,' Ron said quickly. 'It's just that – well you know what happened to him last year with You-Know-Who?' They both nodded, their expressions now deadly serious. 'Well I think it really affected him more than he's saying. He doesn't laugh a lot anymore and he's quieter and when he thinks no one is looking he gets this really haunted look on his face. Hermione's really worried about him and so am I. He really seems to be shutting himself off a bit.'
'How do you need us then?' asked George, looking worried at what his brother had told him. 'We're not exactly brilliant or anything you know.'
'It's nothing like that. I need you two to go outside into the grounds and....' He told them his plan and when he had finished they both looked at him.
'Um, Ron, how does this help Harry?' George asked puzzled.
'Well all this business with You-Know-Who I think he's been worrying about it too much. He needs to relax and forget it for a while and remember that he's only fifteen.'
Fred and George nodded, looked at their watches and then said, 'give us ten minutes before you bring him out.'
Ron beamed at them, picked up a scarf, turned and ran to the door. Before going out he turned his head back to face them and said, 'thanks for doing this,' then he opened the door and was gone.
As the door shut behind him Fred and George grinned at each other.
'If we're going to help we may as well do it properly,' Fred said mischievously.
'Hey Lee, Angelina, come here for a second will you please.' Lee and Angelina looked at them with half a mind not to go but then saw that despite the grins the look in their eyes was serious.
'What's wrong?' Lee asked.
Fred explained to them everything Ron had said and then told them the plan.
'So you want to help?' George said looking at their faces.
'Of course we will. Poor Harry, no wonder he's been so worried but he really needs to remember he's only a kid,' Angelina said, her face filled with sympathy at Harry's plight.
'Great, now we better get down there, we've only got five minutes left.'
With that Fred grabbed his scarf and wrapped it round his throat and hurried to the door, the others close behind him.
* * * *
'Come on, Harry, you need some exercise, just a short walk outside okay.'
Ron was pulling on Harry's arm. They were in the Great Hall and Harry was sitting on a bench staring into the fire in front of him.
He finally dragged his gaze away and stared at Ron. 'All right. Where's Hermione?'
The question was casually said but Ron sensed the anxiety behind it.
'Outside somewhere I imagine. Said she was going to practice some spells or something.'
'She's not by herself is she?'
Again Ron was puzzled by the worry he could sense in Harry. 'No she went out with two Hufflepuff girls. Why?'
'It's just that I...after last year...I mean you and Hermione are....' he sighed. 'I'm just worried about both of you I guess.'
'Well don't be, we can look after ourselves. Besides anyone who messes with Hermione would come out second best every time.'
Harry gave a small smile remembering certain times when Hermione had proved herself as a worthy opponent, especially with Malfoy and the Skeeter cow.
Harry got up and walked towards the entrance to the Great Hall, Ron behind him.
'Is it still snowing Ron?' Harry asked.
'No, so you'll just need a scarf,' Ron replied his mouth now full with a muffin he had taken off the table, much to Ginny Weasley's outrage. 'I brought one down for you,' and held out the scarf he had picked up.
Walking through the doorway they saw that Peeves was up to his old tricks and was trying to shove pieces of gum up a statues nose, besides having thrown water all over the floor.
'Peeves, you better get out of here before the Bloody Baron sees you,' Harry warned him.
Peeves turned and blew an extremely rude raspberry at him. Before he could say anything, however, Harry saw the Bloody Baron come through a wall and float angrily over to Peeves.
'Peeves, what do you think you are doing?' the Baron asked coldly. Peeves immediately became sickeningly polite.
'Oh, your ghostliness, I meant no offence, no offence at all.'
Harry and Ron looked at each other and quickly got out of there, Peeves' voice, still apologetic, following them.
Walking out into the grounds Harry saw that the snowfall last night had left the ground blanketed in snow. He took a few deep breaths and walked towards the edge of the bushes.
Turning to Ron he said, 'thanks for making me come Ron, I really needed some fresh air.'
He was about to say something else when suddenly a large, wet ball hit him smack in the face.
'Ouch, who did that?' he cried, wiping snow from his face.
Opening his eyes Harry saw the two devilish grins on the two Weasley twins' faces, just before another snowball hit him in the arm. Turning he saw Lee and Angelina grinning at him. Grabbing Ron, he hurried behind a statue and gathered up some snow.
'Come on, Ron, you take on Angelina and Lee, and I'll take Fred and George.'
Grinning, Ron picked up some snow and soon a full-fledged war broke out.
Lee and Angelina soon decided that the twins would also make a good target and started attacking them; the twins had the same idea and started attacking them in return. Soon the once peaceful ground was filled with the cries and shouts of the six students trying to outmanoeuvre each other.
After a while it became full on war when Fred and George managed to grab hold of Ron and duck him in the snow. Not to be outdone, Harry, Lee and Angelina did the same to them and then to each other.
Harry lying in the snow, attempting to get his breath back, caught a glimpse through the trees of a frizzy head of hair between two others. Glancing at the other snowballers and seeing that they were now trying to bury each other in the snow, he went to the hedge and peeped through.
He saw Hermione with two Hufflepuff girls he vaguely remembered talking amongst themselves. Obviously they had not wanted to know what all the shouting was about.
Suddenly, a thought came to him.
Grinning, he took out his wand and seeing the snow that had gathered on top of a ledge, pointed his want at it, whispered, 'Wingardium Leviosa' then watched as the pile of snow rose in the air and floated. Concentrating hard he slowly moved it forward until it was right over Hermione's head, then he released it.
When it landed Harry thought that surely everyone in the world could hear Hermione's scream of surprise and horror. Certainly everyone at Hogwarts must have.
Professors' Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall who had been walking in the upstairs corridor came running; Professors' Sprout and Flitwick came hurrying out of their offices and Hagrid came quickly from his hut followed by Fang. Students from their various places in the school hurried there as well.
Nothing could have prepared them for what they saw.
Lee and Angelina were covered in snow and throwing snowballs at anyone near them.
Fred and George were in the middle of turning Ron into the first live snowman and Harry, the famous Harry Potter and Hermione Granger (who was shouting, 'I'll get you for that, Harry!') were grabbing handfuls of snow and were trying to rub it into each other’s face and hair, unfortunately both tripping over the other's foot and landing face first in the snow.
Professor McGonagall who, when she arrived, had been prepared to perform some counter-curse, looked at the scene in front of her with her mouth open, though a smile could be seen twitching at the edges. Dumbledore was smiling quite cheerfully and looked as though he would quite enjoy getting involved himself. Snape, meanwhile, was looking at the fight as though he couldn't understand why people would make such idiots of themselves.
Suddenly, the students who had just arrived started running onto the grounds and were making their own battles with other students. Soon fifteen students were either throwing snowballs, getting hit by them or were wrestling each other in the snow.
The teachers from their various positions gazed at them, many of them smiling now at the antics of the children in front of them.
'Minerva? Severus? I don't suppose either of you would like to join in the excitement?' Dumbledore said, his blue eyes twinkling behind his glasses.
McGonagall looked at him, her mouth twitching. 'Albus, I rather think I am a bit old for such games, especially if the Weasley twins are involved.' This last piece was said as Fred and George dropped a gigantic snowball on top of a second year Ravenclaw.
Dumbledore laughed and turned to Snape. 'Come, Severus, how about you?'
Snape turned to look at him, and, with an almost normal smile, said, 'Headmaster, were I to appear I believe the students would either think they were all in trouble, or would soon have me buried under the snow.'
Dumbledore smiled and looked back down again on the scene below. Then quietly, almost to himself though the others heard him, said 'he really needed this. He has had too much to deal with lately.' Then with a last smile he turned back to them and said, 'Shall we go?'' and walked towards the corridor entrance, the sounds of laughter following him.
* * * *
That night after a huge dinner, Ron, Hermione and Harry sat in front of the Gryffindor Common Room fire. Fred and George had gone to the kitchens saying they were still hungry, taking Angelina, Lee and Ginny with them, Ginny having wanting to go as she had never been there before.
Harry was the first one to speak.
'Ron, Hermione, there's something I have to tell you. I don't know how but I have to. After what happened last year with Voldemort I know that I've seemed less – well different than I usually am. I'm sorry that I've seemed to have shut you out at times. I just worry that knowing how I feel about both of you that if anything ever happened to either of you I would – I couldn't...'
Harry's voice seemed to seize up and he swallowed hard before continuing.
'You both mean everything to me. You're the only real family I can remember. I need you both so much. Ron, you always make me laugh and in class, especially in Divination, when I need something to laugh at you're there, and Hermione you...'
He stopped and looked at Hermione, his face showing how deeply he cared about them both.
'You always give me the support I need to get through things. Last year you helped me get past that dragon. Without you I'd have been lost. You keep Ron and I on track and you've saved my life, I don't know how many times.'
He stopped and smiled at her, then at Ron and they were shocked to see a sheen of tears in his eyes.
'I love you both. You're the reason I'm here today and the thought of losing either of you drove me to try and shut myself off from you to lessen the pain, but it didn't work. Ron, I know you organised that little incident this afternoon and I want to thank you for it. It's made me realise that if I let Voldemort consume my thoughts I'll forget what's most important. Living my life, however long it is, with you two. What will happen will happen and I'll meet it when it does and until then I will not let the thought of Voldemort ruin my life.'
Hermione had tears streaming down her cheeks, Ron was very pale and a muscle was twitching in his cheek.
Suddenly, Hermione threw herself at Harry and hugged him.
'Harry, we've been so worried about you. We didn't know what we could do. We love you too and we'll always be there for you,' she sobbed into his shoulder.
Harry put his arms around her and hugged her, then reached out an arm and enclosed Ron, who had walked over to them, into the hug. The three stood like that in silence, their heads resting on each other's, until they heard a voice.
'Aw, isn't that sweet. Little Ronnikins is getting a hug from someone who isn't mummy.'
It was George. He and the others were back.
'Sorry to break up the romantic atmosphere,' Fred teased gently, his and George's faces showing that they were quite touched by what they had just seen. They and the others went over to a table to put all the food they had got onto it, thus giving Harry, Hermione and Ron a chance to wipe their faces and recover.
When they had all sat down Fred and George pulled out their set of cards.
'Exploding Snap anyone?' asked George cheerfully, his mouth full of chocolate pudding.
As the game progressed and the food eaten Harry looked at the seven people around him. They were his friends; his family and he loved each and every one of them. His gaze stopped on Hermione who was next to him and Ron who was on her other side. His two best friends. They were the people he shared his life with and he cared about them. He would do anything for them. He would love them always, no matter what happened and they would always love him. Then, Harry Potter, the boy whose death Voldemort was planning at that very moment, smiled a bright, carefree, happy smile at the two people he loved the most.
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN THE CHARACTERS MENTIONED IN THIS STORY. THEY BY RIGHT BELONG TO J.K. ROWLING, CREATOR OF THE HARRY POTTER SERIES. THE SITUATIONS MENTIONED, HOWEVER, ARE MY OWN IDEAS. I AM NOT MAKING ANY PROFIT OUT OF THIS STORY.