Cocoa and Mocha, a snow white and charcoal black colored cat, respectively, chased one another down the stairs from the girls' dormitories into the common room, and across to the boys' dormitories. Ronald Billius Weasley was awoken moments later by the two quarreling felines, and let out an angry bellow.
"Wha' is ih?" Harry rasped groggily, peering through the curtains of his four-poster.
"Vance's god damned cats again!" Ron raged, waking Neville, Seamus and Dean, now.
Ron took a cat under each arm and pounded down the stairs, then up the next set that lead to the girls' dorms. He barged loudly into the room that Isaiah Vance shared with one of his best friends, Hermione Granger, along with Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and some girl Ron hadn't bothered meeting in his last six years at Hogwarts.
"VANCE!" Ron growled loudly and viciously.
"Ronald Weasley!" Hermione shrieked a moment later, pulling back enough of her curtain to reveal her embarrassingly frilly night gown. "Boys are NOT allowed in the girls' dormitories!"
Lavender Brown, whom Ron had spent much of his last term snogging, had been silently watching and now announced her presence with a squeal and the pulling back of her curtain to conceal herself from Ron's view once again.
"I'm not here to deal with you, Hermione. Your bloody dormmate here lets her cats run free. They come running across and up to MY dorm where they wake me up at," Ron paused, throwing a glance out the partially covered window to gauge the time of day, "Merlin's beard! It's not even dawn!" he roared.
With a roll of her eyes, Hermione said, "Just hurry up. Some of us would like to get back to our beauty sleep." She drew her curtains shut again and Ron mumbled, "Yeah, you could definitely use some of that."
"I heard that!" she snapped.
Ron took the moment he was yanking Isaiah's curtains open to ponder the trouble he would be in later, but when he snatched back her blankets, all rational thought flew from his mind. She lay -still stone cold out- in a thin, cotton tank top and a pair of boy shorts that Ron quickly noted were her undergarments, as he found himself staring at her slightly over exposed bum. THAT was what her robes were hiding?
"Bloody hell..." Ron whispered. He quickly came to his senses -something he'd been practicing since the days of the veela during fourth year- and cleared his throat.
"What?" she mumbled fiercely.
"Your, uhm, over-sized rats," he stammered, depositing them, sharp claws and all, on to her small, sleepy figure.
Cocoa dug her claws deep into the side of Isaiah's shoulder, eliciting a sharp cry from her. "You ruddy git!"
Scantily clad, she jumped from her bed and pushed Ron hard in the chest. "You arse!" The cats ran once more out of the room, chasing one another.
Ron stumbled back a few steps, then nudged her shoulder lightly, not wanting to actually put his hands on a girl. She shoved him again, and her grabbed her shoulders. She bit her lip and winced in pain from the shallow gash just below her left shoulder.
He stared into her eyes, feeling like the veela were back again. "Sorry," he muttered.
She nodded her head almost imperceptibly, bringing their lips close to touching.
"Mister Weasley!" a shrill, unmistakable voice sounded from behind him.
Ron, clad no more than Isaiah was, in a shirt with the sleeves cut off and his boxers, turned to the face of Professor Minerva McGonagall, Head of Gryffindor House. "What in Merlin's name are you doing in here?"
Ron stuttered, stumbling over any words that found their way to his lips. How had she even known he was here?
"Detention, both of you! For-for," she was at such a lost for words, she left the room, then, throwing over her shoulder that she would have to consult Dumbledore to find an appropriate length of time for their punishment.
Ron sat with his chair several feet from Isaiah's, early the following morning. It was Sunday, and was the first of four weekends of which the two would spend the entirety of cleaning Professor Snape's filthy dungeon room of despair. Or, as the staff referred to it, his classroom.
His knee bounced restlessly, his jeans making this incessant rustling noise that grated against every one of Isaiah's nerves.
Snape walked in and took his spot standing before the two. "You, Miss Vance...and you, Mister Weasley, will spend today polishing and cleaning every one of my spare cauldrons. I even took the liberty of having years one through seven set out their cauldrons for the weekend, so you wouldn't have any shortage of work," he explained slowly. "Every single one of these cauldrons will be spotless without even the slightest use of magic or you will tack on another weekend to your punishment," he added severely. It was like he'd planned on that very punishment being needed on that very weekend.
They both nodded and he took his leave. Ron, who was wearing a gray shirt beneath a leather jacket, slipped off the jacket and hung it on the back of a nearby chair and took a sponge and cauldron, setting quickly to work. He wanted to be gone from Isaiah as soon as was possible.
An hour into their work, they had actually managed to speed through year one's cauldrons, mainly because Snape had made them clean their own cauldrons earlier in the week after an incident where a student managed to morph herself into a lemur. They were banned from potion work for two weeks and stuck in book mode for the time being.
"It's Ice," she cut him off.
"It's Ice. I like to go by Ice." She shrugged her shoulders.
"Why? Because your heart is made of it? Or because of that icey stare of yours?"
She glared at him. "Because Isaiah is a boy name. Pretty sure these," she slapped her hands over her breasts, "make me a girl."
Ron felt his cheeks heat up. "Fine. ICE. Will you PLEASE hand me a second year cauldron?"
"Fine." Ice chucked the cauldron at his head. Ron ducked just before it pegged him in the forehead.
"Watch it, you bloody psycho!" Ron yelled.
"I'm not the one who came barging into a dorm they aren't allowed in! I'm stuck here because McGonagall doesn't believe the truth! She clearly can't see how much I hate you."
"I only went up to your room because of your damn furballs! If you could learn to control the damn things!"
"Get back to work!" Snape snapped loudly over the both of them. Each jumped in turn, surprised by the sudden addition to the conversation.
Ron and Ice went back to their work again, not speaking until they reached the fifth year cauldrons nearly as many hours later. It was pushing noon, and they'd made significant progress.
"How are you two coming along?" McGonagall asked, standing in the doorway of the dungeon.
"Fine," came an angry chorus from the two.
"We've gotten to the fifth year cauldrons, ma'am," Ice said politely and respectfully.
"I must say I am astounded! I did wonder if sticking the two of you together was such a wonderful idea considering your conduct and the nature of the infraction you two took part in together, but it seems Professor Dumbledore was right to assume you would work well together."
Ron nodded stiffly.
"Well...continue with the good work, then," she told them with a nod before leaving them alone again.
When finally they finished cleaning and polishing all the cauldrons, Ron having cleaned and Ice polished, it was dark out and the dinner feast was well underway. Both stood up and stretched out their bodies. Ice took note of how puberty had treated him, and it has treated him well. His was fairly muscular now, far more so than the day they had arrived at Hogwarts for the first time. That now seemed like ages ago.
"Suppose we should head down to dinner, should we?" Ron suggested.
As Ice dragged her eyes up his body from his toned arms, she noticed him giving her a once over as well. "Sure," she agreed, walking to the doorway. She looked over her shoulder and threw at him, "Just don't check me out too much on the way. Someone might get the wrong idea." She slapped her arse for emphasis, then turned to start up the staircase.
Ron huffed, jogged across the room and leapt for his jacket, then sprinted after her.
In the dining hall, they found students to be clearing out, so they headed for the passage to the kitchen instead. Ice tickled the pear in the painting, then they climbed into the kitchen to find a swarm of house elves.
"Dobby! Where are you?" Ron called.
"Sir! Hello! Uh, if I may ask, why are you visiting Dobby without Mister Harry Potter, Sir? You've never visited without him before," the large-eyed creature said after scurrying over to them.
"We missed dinner, and were hoping you guys could spare some for us, if you don't mind," Ron explained.
Ice studied Ron, having rarely viewed this more friendly side of him.
"Of course, Sir! Dobby will get right on that, Sir!" Dobby's large round eyes turned to Ice. "And a good evening to you, too, Miss!" he greeted cheerfully. Dobby then retreated, barking in a high pitched voice to the other elves to scrounge up some of the extra food for the two.
They stood awkwardly, Ron with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans, and Ice with her fingers hooked through the belt loops of her short shorts. Ron found himself admiring her legs, his eyes slowly traveling up. They passed the hem of her fitted baby doll tee and continued until the reached her breasts.
Ice crossed her arms over her chest and cleared her throat all embarrassed like. Ron, his face flushed, shrugged. "Well, what do you expect? I am a sixteen year old guy, after all."
She didn't reply, but he avoided looking in her direction after that. Soon after, Dobby hurried back to them with a tray full of roast beef, a decent-sized bowl of fruit salad, and treacle pudding.
"Treacle pudding!" Ron cried joyously, grabbing the bowl of it, a spoon, and digging in before they'd even left. They both thanked Dobby and the other elves and exited the kitchen. They made it about as far as the staircase in the entry hall when the cry of food calling to them became too much to resist.
Half way up the steps, they gave in and sat, tearing at the food ferociously. "I'm starved!" Ron exclaimed with a mouth full of treacle pudding and roast beef.
"Yes, gorgeous. What manners you have, Ronald," Ice mock complimented.
"Oh, well, you know, I do try," he said, before shoving a slice of apple into his mouth from the fruit salad.
Suddenly, as they do, the staircase began to move, throwing a surprised Ice into Ron. He opened his arms to catch her, hoping to avoid being knocked over as well. Things didn't go as Ron planned, though.
Ice flew into him with such an impact that he was brought to his back on the stone steps. Ice lay awkwardly on top of Ron in the middle of the empty staircase. No one was around. Not a soul.
Something kept Ice from moving off of him; something in his eyes kept her there, where she was. "Ron, I-"
Ron cut her off by grabbing her shoulders and kissing her hard on the mouth.
"Miss Vance! Mister Weasley! I should say, you two doing such a thing in public? I'm horrified!" McGonagall's voice burst forth through their sudden haze of attraction.
"That's it, you two! I am extending your punishment another six weeks! Up to bed -your OWN beds- before I am forced to take more serious action!"
The two pulled away and sat several inches apart, smiling broadly and deeply flushed. McGonagall, a look of utter disapproval and minor disgust on her face, magicked the tray of food away, then turned and fled the scene of the indecency.
Ron and Ice started their way back up the staircase, headed for the Gryffindor common room. They didn't hold hands, didn't discuss getting together, hardly even spoke as they walked. But at the same moment, without looking at each other, their knuckles grazed, passing each other as they slid their hand into the others' back pocket.