Chapter 1 : Beginning to Heal
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Ron was sitting on the floor of his bedroom with his head against the wall. Fred was gone, and there was no way he was coming back. His eyes stung with tears and he willed himself not to cry. Ron banged his head against the wall behind him and clenched his fists in anger. Voldemort may have been defeated, but if he had to loose Fred in the process, who had really won? He heard a soft knock at the door. He pretended not to hear it and stared out the nearby window.
“Ron? I know you’re in there. Can I come in?” came Hermione’s soft voice.
Ron closed his eyes and brushed his red hair out of his face. He couldn’t face her. He couldn’t face anyone. As much as he loved her, he wasn’t ready to share his pain. A knock sounded again.
“Listen. You haven’t eaten anything. Your mother is worried. Please Ron, come out of there,” Hermione pleaded, her voice breaking.
Ron couldn’t stand to hear her upset. He placed his hands over his ears and tried to ignore her. A few minutes later, he uncovered them as Hermione walked dejectedly back down the stairs. Ron stood up and began to pace. As he walked, he glanced at himself in the mirror beside his bed. He traced the scars along his arms and wished they would disappear, as they were constant reminders about a war he never wanted to fight. His stubbornness had taken over as he forgot his reasons for helping Harry in the first place. Helping Harry had only gotten his brother killed. He just needed time to think. Time to figure out what he wanted. Because all he wanted now, was to trade places with his dead brother so that he would not have to live with the pain. He sat down on his narrow bed and placed his head in his hands, feeling absolutely helpless.
Hermione scolded herself as a tear rolled down her cheek. Of course he wasn’t going to talk to her. He wasn’t talking to anyone, so why should she consider herself special? She turned away from Ron’s room for the fifth time that day and descended the stairs. Part of her thought she should try harder, but she also felt she should give him space. She wanted to be there for him but she was unsure how to do that. Hermione opened the door to the room she was currently sharing with Ginny and crossed over to the bed situated near the window. She sat down and pulled her legs to her chest as the tears spilled out of her eyes. How was she supposed to get through this without him? They had won the war, but there were still unresolved issues. She missed him, and she needed him, just as she knew he needed her. People had died, and now more than ever was not the time to fall into isolation. Hermione closed her eyes. Images flashed across her mind. She saw Bellatrix holding the knife to her throat. Images shifted and Bellatrix was hitting her repeatedly with the unforgettable curse. How was she ever going to forget? And how could she move on when the only person she wanted to talk to wouldn’t let anyone in his room? She longed to feel his strong arms around her, embracing her in his chest in a way that only he could. Hermione lowered her head to her knees with a sigh.
“Hermione? Any luck?” she heard Ginny ask as she entered the room.
“I’m sorry Ginny. I can’t get him to talk. He won’t open the bloody door.”
“When has that ever stopped you before? You’re the brightest witch of your age. Surely a door isn’t much of a struggle for you,” Ginny replied.
“He doesn’t want to talk to me Ginny. I’m not just going to barge in there and demand that he explain himself.”
“Hermione he loves-“
“I know he loves me but he has a funny way of showing it. He’s been treating me like absolute crap since we left the school a week ago. He probably doesn’t even remember that I kissed him,” Hermione spat angrily.
“But he does love you Hermione. He’s just going through a tough time since we lost our brother so just…stay with him. He’ll sort it out,” Ginny said, trying to be encouraging.
“How’s Harry?” Hermione asked.
“He’s fine. Beating himself up about making Ron upset. But we’re all going to pull through this. The funerals are over and it’s time to start putting our lives back together,” Ginny said softly, her eyes moving to the floor at the last part.
There had been an enormous ceremony in the days following immediately after the war for those who had fallen. Many people were honored, and Harry shared his story with those who wanted to hear it, omitting the parts he deemed unnecessary to tell. It had been an incredibly emotional ordeal for them all and everything had gone by so quickly. Hogwarts had put up a good fight and repairs would be finished before the new term started. Headmistress McGonagall had decided to reopen the school, just as Dumbledore would have wanted.
“Ron still holed up in his room?” Harry asked as he entered the room and walked up behind Ginny who was standing next to her bed looking at Hermione.
“Yeah. Hermione says she just tried to talk to him,” Ginny replied. Harry nodded knowingly and slipped his arms around her waist. She laced her fingers together with his and relaxed against his chest. Harry bent down to kiss her neck before looking up at Hermione.
“Look. I’ll sort his arse out. Don’t worry about it Hermione.”
Hermione nodded. She wiped her face with her sleeve and stood up.
“I think I’ll see if your Mum needs any help with cleaning up the kitchen,” she murmured as she left the room.
“What can we do Harry? She misses him. They only just got together and he won’t even talk to her,” Ginny said.
“You know Ron. He’s stubborn. He just needs more time,” Harry told her. “I just hope he realizes how important it is that we become Aurors after this. We’ll have to get to work on taking out the death eaters before this can truly be over.”
Ginny turned around to face Harry and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I understand. But can’t you let the people who are already Auror’s deal with it? You saved the entire wizarding world from Voldemort. Don’t you think that’s enough?”
“Gin, you know all of these deaths were my fault. I have to do it for them. And for their families.”
Ginny pressed a kiss to his chest and leaned her forehead against the soft fabric of his T-shirt.
“Harry. This isn’t your fault. You don’t have make saving the world your responsibility. Just be here. Be with me. Be with your family and your friends.”
“I am here Ginny. But I can’t help but wonder. How can I get past this? Why do I get to have you and move on like nothing changed, when people died for me? When my best mate won’t talk to anyone?”
“Harry. We’ve all suffered. But everyone suffers in his or her own way. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Besides, we’re just kids. Let the adults handle things for a while. You get to have me because we belong together. And you can get past this because you deserve it. It’s been seventeen years coming.”
“I don’t know Gin. I love that I feel free of him for the first time in my life. I feel like this is the wrong time to be happy but I can’t help it. I don’t have to worry that I’ll never see you again or live in a tent in the middle of the forest hunting some object in some unknown place. And while there are hard things happening…I feel like things are finally going right for me. It’s better for all of us. Why can’t he see that?”
“Harry you know how Ron is-”
“I know Gin, but he’s my best mate. And he probably hates me right now. I reckon he thinks things have just gotten too complicated by being friends with me,” Harry said, pressing his face into Ginny’s hair.
“Harry, he could never hate you. He’ll come around, you’ll see,” Ginny told him. Her thoughts wandered to her other brothers. Bill, Charlie, and Percy had all stayed at Hogwarts to help sort things out and clean up. Mr. Weasley had stayed as well. Mrs. Weasley had taken Ron, Harry, Hermione, and Ginny back to the Burrow to get them out of the way, figuring they’d had enough adventures and needed time to rest. George had thrown all his energy into working at the store. It had been a week since the final battle, but she still hadn’t seen him. Mrs. Weasley had told her when he’s ready to mourn he will, but right now all he could do was work and keep himself busy. Ginny was most surprised at Ron. It was a rarity for him not to argue something and to just sit silently, but he hadn’t come out of his room since they’d returned home.
“I wish he would talk. I wish he’d tell us what he’s feeling,” Ginny whispered. Harry pulled her into a hug.
“I know Gin. So do I.”
“I’m glad you’re here Harry. I missed you so much. I really thought we’d lost you.”
“You were all I thought about. Only you,” Harry told her. He thought back to the moments after the war…
Harry quickened his pace as his determination to reach her escalated. During the war he couldn’t have her. Before the war there just wasn’t enough time. He realized that her brother had just died and he should probably give the family space, but hadn’t he suffered enough? Didn’t he deserve to have the one person who meant the most to him? He approached the girls’ staircase and thundered up the steps only to fall back down when the steps became a slide.
“Bloody hell,” Harry murmured. He’d forgotten about that rule. He tried again, rendering the same results. Another attempt, in which he tried to blast the stairs away, also didn’t work. Frustrated, he kicked the bottom step and turned around to go to his own dormitory. He pushed open the door and stopped short when he noticed fiery red hair sprawled across his pillow. As he approached his four-poster bed, his eyes slid along the slender frame lying upon the mattress. Her face was tear-stained. Harry stopped walking when he noticed her eyes were open, eyes faced towards the ceiling. He was suddenly at a loss for words. He didn’t know if he should embrace her, stare at her, snog her senseless, or just stay where he was. Harry opened his mouth then closed it again.
“Hello Harry,” Ginny said. She sat up slowly, throwing her legs across the bed to face him. “You know, I wasn’t actually sure if you would come find me,” Ginny said, swinging her legs back and forth. Harry continued to stare at her. He missed her. He missed touching her, kissing her, spending time with her. Yet he couldn’t find appropriate words for this moment.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Ginny asked him. He opened his mouth but closed it yet again. Her eyes bore into his with an incredible intensity. He wanted to look away but was unable to turn his face.
“I guess it’s good I came up here then, wouldn’t you think so? Considering I seem to be the last person you care about these days. I knew you wouldn’t come to me and that I would have to-“
“That’s not true Ginny. I couldn’t get into the girls dormitory and you weren’t with your parents,” Harry told her. He didn’t feel like arguing with her. His eyes traveled to her lips. He longed to touch her, to have what he had been deprived of for too long.
“Ah, got you to talk.” Ginny stood up next to the bed. Harry took a step towards her.
“I don’t really want to talk,” Harry replied softly, almost a whisper. He reached for her hand and pulled her body towards his. Running his other hand up her arm, he stepped closer, closing the space between them. His eyes never left hers as their lips met with a blazing intensity that they had never been able to experience before. Harry took Ginny’s face gently in his hands and began to kiss her harder. His hands fell to her waist. Harry pulled her closer to him as Ginny’s hands went around his neck. A soft moan left her lips as she pulled herself closer still, kissing him hungrily, parting her lips. As their tongues began to battle, Harry walked forward, pushing Ginny down on his four-poster bed. All at once, he began to feel. He felt anger towards Voldemort for keeping him from Ginny for almost a year. He felt pain for all those who had died and all who were wounded. And for the first time, he felt love, more than he could ever remember feeling, as his hands moved down Ginny’s body. He wanted her to know how much he loved her, and to know how much he cared. Ginny tasted tears as they rolled down Harry’s cheeks. She pulled back and wiped his face with her thumbs. Harry moved so he was lying next to her.
“I want to be angry with you,” Ginny told him. “But I can’t. Tell me it’s over. Tell me you want me again.”
“I always wanted you Ginny. It’s over. He’s gone. I’m yours.”
“Ok,” she whispered.
“Do you believe me?”
“I want to.”
“I wrote you. Everyday. About what we were doing, about how much I missed you, about how much I love you.” Harry pulled a small notebook from his pocket and enlarged it with his wand. “You can read it later,” Harry said, placing the notebook on his nightstand.
“Everyday? You wrote me everyday?” Ginny asked sounding surprised.
“Of course. I thought of you. How we could be together after I ended it. Do you still want me? I promise never to hurt you again,” Harry said, pressing his nose to her hair and taking in her scent. Ginny smiled through her tears and laced their hands together.
“Ginny?” Harry began, tears leaking from his eyes, “I’m so sorry about Fred,” Harry choked out.
“I know. Me too.”
She put her arms around him as he cried, and tears slowly began to fall from her eyes as her heart broke for herself and for Harry. They had a long way to go before either of them would truly be healed, but at least now they had each other. They felt complete.
“I love you Ginny. Nothing is ever going to change that,” Harry said, running his fingers through her hair. Ginny smiled at him and pulled away.
“I know. Same to you.”
“Ginny? I’m going to head up to bed. I’ve left Ron a plate on the counter,” Mrs. Weasley said from the doorway.
“Mum?” Ginny looked at her mother. She looked exhausted. Her eyes didn’t hold the happiness they once had. Ginny wondered why her mother hadn’t broken Ron’s door down yet and demanded that he eat, but she decided her mother had lost her strength. She didn’t want to fight with any of her children.
“I’m alright Ginny, stop looking at me like that. Your father and the boys are due back tomorrow. Goodnight Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said. She left the door open as she continued to her room.
“She doesn’t look good,” Ginny stated.
“No. She really doesn’t,” Harry replied sadly. “Well you should get some rest. I’ll see you in the morning, yeah?”
“Right. Are you-“
“Sleeping on the sofa again? Yeah. I think it’s best to give Ron his space.”
“Alright,” Ginny sighed. “Guess we can try again tomorrow.”
Harry pressed a kiss to Ginny’s temple and exited the room. He went down to the living room and saw Hermione sitting on his makeshift bed. He sat down next to her and placed an arm around her shoulders. She cried as held her, and the two spoke in hush whispers of Ron until Harry fell asleep.
Ron was sitting at the kitchen table eating leftovers from dinner. His sweatpants were a bit short on him and he’d thrown on a Chudley Cannons shirt before going to eat. It was dark outside and the only light was from the moon shining in the window. It was sometime around three in the morning. He finished his last bite and sat his dishes in the sink. With a wave of his wand, he set the dishes to work on washing themselves. He started to go up the stairs when he heard a sound coming from the living room. Poking his head around the corner, Ron saw Harry sitting on the couch with Hermione’s head resting on his shoulder. He crept slowly into the room. Hermione’s hand was in Harry’s and her face was stained with tears. Ron looked at the two of them with disgust and turned away.
“Ron?” Hermione said, lifting her head. He froze in his place. He murmured a curse under his breath.
“Ron would you please just talk to me?” Hermione asked, getting up slowly so that she wouldn’t wake Harry. As she walked towards him he took a step back.
“Why are you doing this? I know you like to close yourself off but…I thought things were different. Will you please talk to me?”
“No. I don’t have anything to say,” Ron replied, bitterly.
“Then I’ll talk, and you can listen,” Hermione told him, taking another step forward. This time Ron didn’t move.
“I said I didn’t want to talk. And I don’t want to listen.”
“But if you’d only just-“
“Still think you know everything don’t you? You don’t. You haven’t got a clue what’s going on. So just leave me alone, and go back into Harry’s arms like always,” Ron said in a harsh whisper, malice dripping from his every word.
“Why are you so angry? Ron it’s going to be ok, if you would just-“
“Stop trying to act like you can help me Hermione! You can’t!”
Hermione reached out a hand and slapped him clear across the face. Ron brought his hand to his cheek and glared at her angrily. He opened his mouth to speak but Hermione interrupted.
“Ronald Billius Weasley, you insufferable prat, if you can’t get it through your thick skull that you’re not the only one suffering here and that now is clearly not the time to be behaving as you are, then you’re much more daft that I thought you were. Your mother has just lost a son and feels she’s loosing another. Ginny needs you to be there for her while the rest of your brothers are helping to take care of other things after this disaster, but you can’t see how much she needs you because you’re always stewing in your room. Harry just defeated Voldemort Ron. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? He just defeated the worst dark wizard of time and can’t talk to his best mate about it. And although you won’t admit it you need them too. They’re your family and they love you. You have to let them in!”
Harry shifted on the sofa. He was awake, but he feigned sleep, knowing his two friends needed to talk. Hermione pushed Ron backwards through the kitchen door. He shoved her away and walked a few steps back. His eyes hurt and he was tired. He hadn’t been sleeping much since the war, afraid of what he’d see if he closed his eyes. He didn’t know Hermione had been having the same problems, because he’d been too wrapped up in himself. Hermione looked longingly at him.
“Muffiliato,” Hermione murmured, pointing her wand at the kitchen door.
“They don’t need me Hermione. They have Harry. It’s always about Harry. My mum loves him best. Ginny has Harry to get her through this. And he’s your best mate as well; he can just talk to you about whatever his issues are. “ Ron turned his eyes towards the floor. His eyes burned with tears, but he refused to let them fall.
“Stop acting like you don’t matter. You have to stop being jealous of Harry or it’s going to ruin your relationship. You think Harry fancies having to talk to me all the time when you’re not around? He doesn’t. You should know this, we’ve already been here-“
“You two were just curled up on the sofa together Hermione! That doesn’t look like he needs me!”
“You’re such a stubborn arse Ronald! We were talking about you! About how Harry needs you!” Hermione exclaimed. “And about how I need you,” she said softly.
“What would you need me for? I’m just the stupid sidekick who lost his brother because I just had to be friends with Harry Potter, involving my family in all sorts of danger. I may have well just killed Fred myself,” Ron said, his voice cracking.
Tears rolled down Hermione’s cheeks as her heart broke at his words. How as she going to change his mind, when it was so set in the wrong way? She knew he didn’t regret becoming Harry’s friend back in their first year one bit, and she would bet that if he had to do it all over again, he would. Hermione ran a hand through her hair as she sighed.
“Ron, you didn’t kill Fred. You’re family would’ve been a part of this war, Harry or no Harry. They wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Hermione said quietly, taking a few steps towards Ron. She reached out and took one of his hands in both of hers. “Please, look at me,” Hermione asked him as she reached up a hand to pull his face towards her until their eyes locked. He flinched at the touch of her cold fingers.
“Hermione, I miss him. It’s not fair. He didn’t deserve this,” Ron said. “I don’t know how to put my family back together. I know I’m being selfish, but I’m angry with myself. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“I know. I’m so sorry Ron. But we’re all here for you. We’re all coping with the losses together, don’t you know that?”
“I don’t want to be here if Fred isn’t. It will never be the same. I reckon George is in a right state.”
“So you’d rather die? After all we’ve been through, you think Fred would be ok with you just offing yourself because you can’t handle the fact that he’s dead?” Hermione asked angrily. “You think anyone would be ok with that? Why are you doing this to yourself? You’re right, you’re acting incredibly selfish,” Hermione continued.
“I’m tired Hermione. I’m tired of dealing with the pain and of living with the jealousy. Everything is broken and I’m not keen on figuring out how to fix it,” Ron told her, taking his hand out of hers.
“I guess that makes you a coward then Ron. Man up and stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
“Yeah Hermione, I’m just one big, stupid, daft, cowardly person. Thank you for clearing that up.”
Ron stormed out of the kitchen and up to his room. When was the fighting going to end? Hermione infuriated him but he knew she was right. And as much as he loved her, it didn’t know if it would be enough to overpower his unhappiness with life at the time. Ron felt himself breaking. He didn’t want Hermione to be upset because of him. Thinking about her tear-stained face and knowing he was the cause of it made him feel sick. He wished he could kiss away the pain, but Hermione was angry, and he couldn’t bring himself to go back to her. Already, he missed the touch of his hand in hers. He sat down on his bed but jolted up again when the door banged open.
“If you think I’m going to let you keep running from me, you’re wrong,” Hermione told him. This was the last straw. She wasn’t going to let him pull away any more.
She walked over to him, pulled his face down to hers, and pressed their lips together. It was soft and gentle, and Ron took a few seconds but eventually began to move his lips with hers. He’d missed her touch, and until this moment had not remembered just how much. Ron moved one of his hands to the small of Hermione’s back and the other he brought up to cup her neck. Hermione deepened the kiss, wanting to be closer to him. Ron traced Hermione’s lower lip with his tongue, making her toes curl. She parted her lips and allowed their tongues to collide in a passionate snog. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close so that their bodies were touching.
“Merlin, Hermione,” Ron murmured between kisses. If she had been trying to make him forget about his anger, she was definitely succeeding.
He bit her lip accidentally as he kissed her eagerly, feeling as though she’d be gone in the next minute. Hermione pulled back.
“Relax Ronald, I’m not going anywhere,” she told him.
Ron moved his thumb in circles where he was holding her neck and pulled back to look at her. Her lips were a bit swollen and she had a look of anticipation on her face. Ron moved his eyes to where his hand was and noticed he’d been tracing a scar without realizing it.
“Where did you get this?”
“Bellatrix. I don’t want to think about it.”
Ron nodded and brought his lips to her neck.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve been there. I tired. I should have tried harder.”
“No, I don’t want you to focus on what could’ve have happened. It’s over. Focus on what is now, and what could be tomorrow,” Hermione told him.
Ron brought his lips to Hermione’s neck and gently kissed the place at which Bellatrix had held a knife. He lavished kisses across her face until their lips met again, causing Hermione to whimper with pleasure.
She reluctantly pulled away for air and took Ron’s hand leading him to his bed.
“Talk to me,” she told him. He gave her a questioning look. “I want you talk to me. Let’s talk about anything. It doesn’t have to be about what’s been bothering you if you don’t want to tell me.”
“Hermione, I really don’t-“
“Please? We need to talk. We need to be there for each other,” she said. Ron sat back against his pillows and pulled Hermione against him. She held his hands as he began to speak. They talked into the morning, sharing stories, fears, memories, and other things that came to mind. Hermione fell asleep first. Her head fell easily against Ron’s chest, and her steady breathing told him she was asleep. He felt exhausted and a few moments later allowed his eyes to succumb to the sleep they’d been craving since he returned home.
A/N: Please review, it'd be great to get some feedback on this first chapter. I would appreciate it and I'd love to know what people think!