They stared at each other for almost a whole minute, before Harry said, “This is a joke, right? You're joking.”
“I think ... Harry, I think I love her,” said Ron in a strangled voice.
“Okay,” said Harry, walking up to Ron to get a better look at the glazed eyes and the pallid complexion, “okay ... say that again with a straight face.”
“I love her,” repeated Ron breathlessly. “Have you seen her hair, it's all black and shiny and silky ... and her eyes? Her big dark eyes? And her—”
“This is really funny and everything,” said Harry impatiently, “but joke's over, all right? Drop it.”
He turned to leave; he had got two steps towards the door when a crashing blow hit him on the right ear. Staggering, he looked round. Ron's fist was drawn right back,
his face was contorted with rage; he was about to strike again.
Harry reacted instinctively; his wand was out of his pocket and the incantation sprang to mind without conscious thought: Levicorpus!
Ron yelled as his heel was wrenched upwards once more; he dangled helplessly, upside-down, his robes hanging off him.
“What was that for?” Harry bellowed.
“You insulted her, Harry! You said it was a joke!” shouted Ron, who was slowly turning purple in the face as all the blood rushed to his head.
“This is insane!” said Harry. “What's got into—?”
And then he saw the box lying open on Ron's bed and the truth hit him with the force of a stampeding troll.
“Where did you get those Chocolate Cauldrons?”
“They were a birthday present!” shouted Ron, revolving slowly in midair as he struggled to get free. “I offered you one, didn't I?”
“You just picked them up off the floor, didn't you?”
“They'd fallen off my bed, all right? Let me go!”
“They didn't fall off your bed, you prat, don't you understand? They were mine, I chucked them out of my trunk when I was looking for the map. They're the Chocolate
Cauldrons Romilda gave me before Christmas and they're all spiked with love potion!”
But only one word of this seemed to have registered with Ron.
“Romilda?” he repeated. “Did you say Romilda? Harry—do you know her? Can you introduce me?”
Harry stared at the dangling Ron, whose face now looked tremendously hopeful, and fought a strong desire to laugh. A part of him—the part closest to his throbbing
right ear—was quite keen on the idea of letting Ron down and watching him run amok until the effects of the potion wore off ... but on the other hand, they were
supposed to be friends, Ron had not been himself when he had attacked, and Harry thought that he would deserve another punching if he permitted Ron to declare undying
love for Romilda Vane.
“Yeah, I'll introduce you,” said Harry, thinking fast. “I'm going to let you down now, okay?”
He sent Ron crashing back to the floor (his ear did hurt quite a lot), but Ron simply bounded to his feet again, grinning.