Title: Laughing

Author: tarotgal
Harry Potter

Rating: G-PG

Pairings: Ron/Hermione

Disclaimer: They're so not mine it's not even funny
Set the winter after their last year at Hogwarts, the trio spend the holidays in the Alps trying to cheer Harry up a little. Plans, however, have a way of not working out, especially for Harry.

Notes: This started as a plot idea I gave Hermione along with a few others... but I very rudely took it back (just as I did with that Hyacinth story a while back)

More Notes: Written for the Sneezefic Winter Celebration Challenge using bunny #14: write a story using the words/phrases: icicles, hot cocoa, scarf, mittens, "Don't feel well"

Feedback: Sure :-)





     His friends had had the best intentions in arranging this holiday. Harry knew that. He knew that it was a chance to start enjoying things again, the way he once did. A celebration, Ron had called it even as he and Harry had packed for the trip. But, even alive and through it all, Harry didn't feel much like celebrating. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd laughed. Sure, he'd saved the world, defeated Voldemort, gotten on with his life, been accepted to auror training. But all the people lost over the years from the battle. All the people who hadn't needed to die if he could have just faced Voldemort sooner. All the people he loved whom he would never see again...


     Harry shivered, lifting his head up from behind his legs. They were bent and his arms wrapped around them in security. He sat like this on many nights, simply reflecting, missing, letting the world go by without him. There was no reason to think he'd be any different just because there was a different bed or a different house this time.


     They were somewhere in Switzerland, in the most charming muggle cabin Harry could imagine nestled up in the snow-covered mountains. Hermione called it a chalet. Whatever it was, it was wonderful. Two stories, with its own large kitchen and even larger living area. There were five bedrooms, which were more than enough for the three of them especially since Ron and Hermione would probably end up sharing a room anyway, and fireplaces and private baths for each one. The wood molding in each room had been carved with intricate designs, from animals to flowers to symbols. And art hung on every wall, depicting some snowy scene of the world around them. The picture over the bed in the room Harry had chosen was of animals playing together in the forest, under the light of the moon. He liked the thoughts the painting made him think. Would have been even nicer if it moved.


     The problem was, no matter how lovely the house or his room was, he still felt a bit sad and he still felt terribly cold. "hahChoo!" Harry sniffed miserably, rubbing a finger under his nose and leaning closer to the fire. He had pulled the covers off the bed and sat down on the hearth rug with them to get as close to the fire as possible. Neither the blankets nor the fire warmed him as much as he'd have liked, and the pressure in his head, coupled with the congestion, was rapidly reaching the limits of what he could take. He wished that he'd been able to fall asleep when he'd tried. It was almost an hour past midnight now and at this rate, he'd never fall asleep. "heh-hah-CHUH!" The prospect of sleep seemed even less likely with all the sneezing he was doing as well. Something had to be done.


     Wearily, he pulled himself up, taking a blanket with him around his shoulders. And he trudged downstairs as quietly as possible. He practically tip-toed past the bedrooms Ron and Hermione were staying in, on his way down the hall, to the stairs. He decended the stairs slowly, willing each one not to squeak, and luckily none of them did. His nose was running now, in the cold of the house, away from the fireplace. And it was all he could do to hold a corner of the blanket up to his nose and mouth to keep from breathing too heavily or sniffling loudly. Merlin forbid he actually sneeze for the sound, he knew, would echo up the stairs at once and wake the others. So he worked hard at controlling his nose as he headed down the stairs.


     But as he approached the base of the stairs, he realized there was a different reason not to make noise. Apparently there had been no need to sneak past the doors of his friends for they were both still awake and down in the living room. They sat in a large, plush armchair in front of the fire, legs and arms entwined, bodies pressed close, snogging their hearts out. Harry rolled his eyes. He should have expected as much. Ever since they'd started going out, they'd been good at making Harry feel as though he wasn't a third wheel. But Harry knew they had their moments alone to make up for that. He just hadn't ever really wanted to see them during one of their moments alone. And right now, he sure as heck didn't want them to see him.


     Harry made his way slowly but silently across the living room, towards the hall which led to the kitchen. The sounds Ron and Hermione were making as they kissed and felt each other up filled the room, making his way stealthily across. He felt the warmth of the fire against him as he walked, too close for his own taste. Things didn't get much easier as his nose started tickling. He pinched it closed, his breath racing along without him. The sounds from his two friends was growing worse, full of slurps and snuffles and smacks. And then there were muffled moans. Harry glanced over to make sure they were all right and saw Ron's hand snake up beneath Hermione's shirt. With a shudder, he turned his gaze away and held his hand up, blocking the lovebirds from his sight. His nose tickled in his other hand and he sniffled softly, trying to hold the sneezes back. But all the sniffles only made it tickle more. His breath caught, and he clamped his hand over his nose and mouth to muffle the sound. "kah-Chuhfffff!" He cringed, hoping they hadn't heard.


     "Harry?" came Hermione's voice.


     No such luck. He tightened the blanket around his shoulders, sniffling, but keeping his hand raised so he couldn't see them. "I'm fine. Just keep, uh, doing whatever it was you were doing. I'm not watching."


     "What are you doing up?" Ron asked, pulling away from Hermione and looking over as well. "We thought you were asleep."


     "I just came down for some hot cocoa. Thought you were both asleep, too." His hand covering his nose and mouth, he snapped forward. "hah-KShfff! hehChufff!" He sniffed hard. "Sorry to have disturbed you."


     Hermione pulled back as well, kneeling on the chair, leaning on the back of it to look over it at Harry. She crossed her arms on the top of the chair and rested her chin on them. "Sounds like your sniffles are getting worse."


     "He's sick?" Ron asked as though it had only just dawned on him, sitting up and looking back at Harry as well. "Hey, Mate. You can look at us. We're fully clothed and all."


     Harry smirked and lowered his hand. "Sorry. And no. It's just a sniffle, like I said. The cold... temp... temperatures..." Both hands shot back up, cupped to his face. "hahKtchoo! ahhKshooo!"


     Hermione stole a quick kiss from Ron, then climbed off the chair. "Go over to the fire where it's warm. I'll make the hot cocoa." She passed Harry, spun him to the side, and pushed him towards the fireplace. "Marshmallows, everyone?" Harry and Ron both nodded.


     Harry took a seat in the living room couch, the seat closest to the fire. He pulled the blanket closer around himself and shivered. The need to sneeze was already settling back in his nose. It was amazing how much more sneezing he seemed to be doing down here in front of the others than he had been up in the privacy of his own room. But he supposed it had to do with the cold room and the slow progression of his cold. "heh...hahChooo!" He sniffled and rubbed the back of his hand against his nose.


     With a sigh, Ron hopped down from the chair and joined Harry on the couch. He put an arm around Harry's shoulders. Harry tensed at the touch for an instant. It was much easier to sulk and feel miserable when you didn't have your best friend hugging you in concern. "You really are sick though, aren't you?"


     Harry shrugged. "It's just a little sniffle. It really is."


     "Well, don't tell Hermione it's that bad. She worries about you enough already."


     "It's not bad!" Harry protested. "I'm not sick ... heh...hahChuhhh! hahChooo!" He sniffled to prove it. "It's just a sniffle. Just the temperatures making my nose run."


     "Course it is," Ron said, smirking.


     Hermione came out with the hot cocoa and handed over theirs. She settled in the chair across from them, sitting sideways with her back against one of the arms and her legs over the other arm. "So I thought tomorrow we could start out on a few beginners' slopes, just so you two can get used to it first."


     "Yeah, that's fine." Ron shook his head, smiling. "If you'd told me three years ago that I'd actually be doing this muggle skiing thing, I would have laughed myself silly."


     "You practically did laugh yourself silly when I mentioned it three years ago," Hermione retorted. But Harry knew his friends well enough to know they weren't really serious when they threw little jabs at each other like this.


     "Yeah, well, strapping planks of wood to your feet to zoom down a hill? Who wouldn't laugh?"


     Harry smiled as he sipped his hot cocoa. Three years ago they probably would have laughed themselves silly if Harry had told them he'd walk in on them snogging in the middle of the night in a cabin in the Swiss Alps. In fact, three years ago he probably would have joined in on that laughter. But nowadays he just wasn't in much of a laughing mood. And this sniffle in his nose wasn't much of a help. The hot cocoa was wonderful, though. He hadn't really realized how much he wanted it until he had it now. The warmth was soothing, the liquid coated the back of his throat nicely. And the marshmallows were certainly a nice, sweet bonus. He liked to watch them melting slowly on the surface of the drink, so it was a close tie between eating them and leaving them. In the end he ate enough to allow him to drink the hot cocoa easily and still have a few leftover at the end.




     Harry looked up. "Hmm?"


     "Hermione asked what you thought about going over to the mountain-top café for breakfast," Ron explained.


     "Oh, sure. Sounds... sounds great." He rubbed his knuckles against his nose and sniffled. The tickles in his nose were getting worse by the minute. "hah...hah-Hah-Choo! hahShahh! ahhhChuhhh!" He blushed. "Excuse me."


     Hermione started looking overly worried again, but Ron calmed her. "You know, all this cold air up in the mountains is making my nose tickle a little bit, too. You, Hermione?"


     "Maybe a little bit," she said, nodding. Then, getting back to business quickly, "We'll have an early morning tomorrow so I think we should all get to bed as soon as possible."


     Thinking that he'd already been in bed and failed at falling asleep, Harry wasn't too excited about the prospect of trying again. But the hot cocoa had done its part in soothing him. Perhaps now he could relax a little bit more this time. "hahhCHUH! hehChooo! Sniff!" And perhaps not.




     Ron, his mittens clenched between his teeth, wrapped a scarf around Hermione's neck. Finishing, he used it to pull her closer, then kissed her gently on the lips. The dawn was breaking outside their cabin windows, the sunlight glinting off the icicles hanging down in front of the frosted panes. It was quiet, serine, romantic. Ron slipped his hands into his mittens, wiggling his fingers into them properly. He took an equally bundled up Hermione in his arms, feeling suave and invigorated, and kissed her even more passionately. As he pulled away, he couldn't help but grin at her smile.


     She brushed her bushy brown hair over her shoulder to compose herself. "Well, ah... do you think we should we call Harry again?"


     Coming back to his senses, and remembering this wasn't exactly the honeymoon-like holiday it had seemed this morning, Ron nodded. He was getting hungry for breakfast and the ride up the rest of the mountain to the café was a good twenty minutes at the least. He turned and called up the stairs. "Oy, Harry! You coming down?"


     "Cobig!" Harry called, and appeared at the top of the stairs only a few seconds later. He looked even more disheveled than usual. Hair sticking out as though he hadn't even tried to comb it, shirt half-tucked into his jeans, jumper askew, shoes on but not yet tied, and a fistful of tissues in his hand.


     All Harry wanted to do was stay in bed all day, all week really. He knew they'd planned this trip for it to be fun... but the problem was that he wasn't really interested in having fun. He'd been planning on putting on a smile and a happy face, however. And he'd practiced so long and hard that, even sick, he had wonderful results with it. "Sorry. Took a few more secods to get ready this bordig."


     "Looks like you took a few less seconds, actually," Ron said, eyeing him.


     "Harry... you look awful," said Hermione. She held her hands out and Ron pulled her mittens off for her, without needing to be asked. Then she stepped over and felt Harry's forehead. "How do you feel this morning?"


     "Oh, I'm..." He lifted his hand to his nose with a deep gasp, burying it in the tissues. "ahh-hahCHIHHH! hahCHOO!" He snuffled. "Just fih...fine..." and he gasped again. "hah... hahCHEHH! ahhhCHOO! hahCHOO!" He balled the tissues up more in his hands and snuffled into them. Then lifted his head. His face was pale, green eyes tired and bloodshot, nose a light pink at the nostrils. "No," he sighed. "Don't feel well." Harry rubbed at his nose. "Don't feel very well at all, actually." Unfortunately, his sniffles were only half of the problem.


     Ron pulled off his own mittens and felt Harry's forehead as well. He and Hermione exchanged looks. "Maybe you shouldn't go out with us to breakfast?" Ron suggested. "We could bring you back something, if you like."


     Harry shrugged. He wasn't really very hungry. More tired than anything else. And maybe a little thirsty. But certainly not hungry enough to want to get all bundled up and go eat breakfast at the top of the mountain. No matter how spectacular a view, he wouldn't be interested in eating much.


     "You really should rest, Harry," Hermione insisted. "We can all go skiing later when you're feeling better."


     Harry nodded, though he doubted very much he'd be going skiing later. This cold, and there was no mistaking now it was a cold, was getting worse yet. Last night it really had been just a sniffle. And it was true he didn't want them worrying about him any more, especially Hermione. He was supposed to be having fun on their holiday. They'd brought decorations to hang up for Christmas, and bought tons of food yesterday so they could make themselves a proper feast as well. Catching a cold just wasn't very festive at all. "ehhhChihhh! hahhCHAHH!" Harry rubbed miserably at his nose. Right now he didn't feel like being festive, or like skiing. He just wanted to lie back down and go to sleep.


     She led him over to the couch and plopped him down on it, wrapping the throw around his shoulders. He shivered and curled up under it. Hermione kissed his forehead and started a fire in the fireplace to keep him warm while he slept. By the time the fire was finished or Ron slipped Harry's shoes off for him, Harry was fast asleep again.




     "Ow! Ow! Ow!"


     The noise woke Harry from his sleep. He lifted his head off the couch cushion to look around. Neither Ron nor Hermione were there, but Harry could have sworn he'd heard one of them. They were most likely back from breakfast and preparing to talk him into pulling out of his rather depressed mood to go skiing with them. And then he'd have to spend the whole day with Ron making fun of the sport and Hermione trying to talk Ron into it, and Harry falling on his rear repeatedly. Sniffling, Harry put his head back down and pulled the blanket over his head.


     "Oww! Ow!"


     Yes, that was definitely Ron. And it sounded as though it were coming from outside. Harry threw off the blanket and started across the cabin.


     "Ron! Stop complaining. It's not going to get any better if you keep complaining."


     "Ow! But it makes me-Ow! Makes me feel a heck of a lot better."


     Harry opened the door just in time to find Ron and Hermione stopping in front of it. Hermione was supporting Ron, who was standing with one leg bent and off the ground. "What's wrog?" He'd been sleeping pretty steadily since they left. He was still a bit groggy and unsure about how long he'd been asleep.


     "Hurt his ankle," explained Hermione, nudging Ron inside.


     "Ow!" Ron called at each jumping step he made.


     "It's all right, you'll be sitting down soon," Hermione said, grunting with relief as Harry flanked Ron's other side and helped support him in. "Been complaining all the way back, this one," Hermione said as an aside to Harry.


     "Well, it's hurt all the way back, hasn't it?" Ron justified. Harry nodded as he saw Ron wink. Ron was brave about everything he had to be brave about. From giant spiders to facing down death eaters. It was just the simple things that were much more fun to complain about. Plus the added compassion from Hermione couldn't be too hard to put up with.


     Harry and Hermione took him to the couch and propped his leg up on the far arm of the couch. "Owwww!" he whined as Hermione pulled the cuff of his pants up to inspect the injury.


     She took a good look, and touched it tenderly. All the bones seemed to be in the right place, and nothing looked suspicious. Ron still whimpered, but seemed eager for a verdict, biting his lip. Apparently it really did hurt, no matter how much he was playing it up. "I think it might just be sprained, actually. Let me get you an ice pack. That'll keep the swelling down at least until we can figure out what else to do." She bent and kissed Ron's cheek before heading to the kitchen again.


     Ron sighed and lay back on the couch. Harry helped him off with his things, placing the snow-damp boots, hat, scarf, mittens, and jacket in front of the fire to dry out. "So what habbed?" Harry asked, sitting down on the other end of the couch, just beside Ron's head. So much moving around was making him feel tired and breathless. He almost wanted to ask Ron to move over so that he could curl up again. "Were you... skiig subwhere dagerous? Or, let be guess, showig off whed you wered't subbosed to?"


     Ron closed his eyes, sighed, and started to explain.


     "Harry?" Hermione called from the kitchen before Ron could say a single word. "Could you come in here and help me for a moment?"


     Harry patted Ron's head, then headed to the kitchen. Hermione was trying to pour a tray of ice cubes into a small bag, which was slipping out of her reach. She managed to hold it against the counter with an elbow, but was much relieved with Harry scooped it up before it could fall. They set to work filling it with ice cubes, and Harry refilled the trays. He had to abandon them for a few moments in order to get rid of the tickle in his nose. His nose itched and ran and even though he rubbed at it, it still tickled. "hah... hahCHIHH! hahChoo!" He sniffled and pulled a paper towel from the holder over the sink to blow his nose.


     "I'm so sorry you got sick here, Harry" she said sympathetically.


     Harry nodded in appreciation. He was sure a good sleep would have done him well, but after waking up he didn't feel much better. "I feel sorry for Rod," Harry said, rubbing his nose into his shoulder to get rid of the rest of the itches. "Sbraidig his akle the first day he's od skis."


     "Skis?" she laughed, sealing the bag. "Is that what he told you?"


     Harry thought a moment. "Well, cub to thik of it, dot id so bady words. But I assubed he--"


     Hermione set the bag down on the counter and shook her head. "Harry, we haven't been gone more than fifteen minutes. Probably more like ten, really. We didn't get to skiing. We didn't even get up to breakfast."


     Harry looked stunned. "Well thed how...?"


     "He fell trying to get into the cable car," Hermione told him. "Slipped and twisted his ankle as he fell down about a foot from it. They had to shut the whole system down to get him out of the way before the next car came up and hit him from behind. He was utterly embarrassed and insisted on walking out on his own, then fell against me the moment we were out of the operators' sights." She smirked and motioned for them to start back to the living room. "He kept saying how much it hurt and that it was broken, but I think he'll be fine. Might not even have to use magic to heal it."


     "I doubt he'd let you," Harry said, holding the kitchen door for Hermione. "He's enjoying this attention a little too much."


     This was true. Even though Ron grimaced when Hermione placed the cold pack on his ankle, he smiled up at her dreamily. "Thanks," he told her. "I'll try to be brave and bear the pain." He draped his wrist over his eyes dramatically, but moved his hand and winked again at Harry when Hermione wasn't looking.


     Harry smiled back and lifted his own hand. "hah-EHChooo! hahChuhhh! hahChihhhh! Chushhh!" He sniffled and apologized. Then he pulled the ottoman over and sat down on it to hold the ice pack in place against Ron's ankle.


     "Well," Hermione said, sitting down where Harry had been before and running her fingers through Ron's hair. "Looks like I'm going to be taking care of both of you now." She sighed, resting back against the couch.. "So much for spending the holiday swooshing down the snowy slopes."


     Sniffling, Harry volunteered, "Hey, I'll take care of Rod. We'll take care of each other, right?" Harry said, eyeing Ron. Ron followed his lead and nodded. "We do't wadt you to biss out od skiig just because of us."


     She smiled. That was Harry. Always thinking of the others before himself. "Thanks, but it won't be much fun out there without you. Besides... skiing's not really my thing you know."


     "Skiing's not your thing. Then why are we here?" Ron asked, waving his arm out in another dramatic gesture.


     "Because, Silly," she said, her hands moving from his hair to his cheek. "You and Harry are my thing. And the point was to get away and have a good time. Remember?"


     "Yeah, and what did it get us? I've got a broken--"


     "Sprained!" Hermione interjected.


     "--ankle and Harry's got a cold. What's good about this? We're stuck here together on a snowy mountain for a week."


     Hermione smiled. The ski trip had never been about the skiing. "You just answered your own question, Darling." She gave him another kiss and rose. Walking over to Harry, she draped the throw back over his shoulders and gave the shoulders a few good rubs. "Now I don't know about you but I'm in the mood for some breakfast. If no one's going to stop me, I think I'll try to make some waffles." She spun around and headed into the kitchen.


     Ron rolled his eyes, looking quite concerned. "Help me up, Harry."


     "What? Why?" He'd just gotten settled in, what with the warm blanket and a nice place to rest.


     "Well we've got to go after her."


     Harry looked from Ron to the kitchen door and back again. "Why? She's dot bad at us or adythig." Even in love, Ron and Hermione still bickered as much as ever, but the apologies and making up happened much more quickly than it used to. And most of the time the bickering was just for fun, anyway.


     Ron laughed. "I know she's not mad. But you, my friend, have obviously never tried her waffles. We've gotta get in there before she destroys all those groceries we got yesterday. She'll spill the eggs all over the counter or cover the kitchen in flour or something. I'm talking disaster area, here!"


     Harry couldn't remember the last time he had laughed, but it broke out of him now. The thought of bushy brown haired Hermione covered in flour from head to toe would, he was sure, make anyone laugh. And he was sure Hermione was a much more capable cook than Ron gave her credit for, especially as they didn't have house elves at home to cook for them. But he appreciated Ron's humor all the same. And he knew Hermione's last words to them had been a sort of invitation. Harry was sure she wanted to keep a close watch on them both. Laughing lightly, even Harry's sick and tired face glowed. It suited him. And Harry knew that. But, sick and depressed, apparently he was still able to laugh. That was a start. Harry took the ice pack, lifted Ron to his feet, and helped him over to the kitchen.