A/N Ok, firstly... sorry x 1,000,000. I have been the absolute worst updater ever and I am so sorry. I feel horrible about how rubbish I've been especially after all the support I have got for this story.
I have just been so busy with my masters course and a new relationship that I simply haven't had time to write a thing. It's in no way a good excuse but it's an explanation at least.
I just hope that people are still interested in the story and here's the next chapter.
Oh boy, thought Ron as he quickly shut the door to Charlie’s room and tried to retreat from it. He should have seen this coming. When would his mother learn that he was an adult now, that he was of age, and that she didn’t have the right to demand he be places just because she wanted him to be?
Sure he wanted to see Charlie wake up but it wasn’t like he’d gone to see Hermione when Charlie’s condition had been critical. They knew he was going to be ok. So what if he was a little late? The whole family was at the hospital. Charlie probably wouldn’t even get the chance to notice that he wasn’t there.
But no, his mum had to make everything into a drama...
‘GET BACK IN HERE THIS INSTANT!’ Ron heard his mother shout as she pushed open the door to face him.
Molly Weasley was standing, hands on hip, red faced and breathing heavily.
‘Where have you been?’ she demanded, and Ron could see his family and Harry, some sitting, some standing, behind her, looking on nervously from inside the room. They had all seen Mrs Weasley in full flow before and knew that it could be about to get very ugly.
‘Nowhere,’ Ron mumbled pushing his hands down into his pockets.
He wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to mention his reunion with Hermione just yet, or at least not in this setting. He didn’t want certain members of his family to see him not being around for Charlie as Hermione’s fault and to blame her even more or as a suggestion that he cared about Hermione more than Charlie which wasn’t true. He cared about them both equally, just in different ways.
Ginny for one thing he was certain was not going to be over the moon about the way in which things had developed with Hermione after she and Harry and left them alone.
‘Well you were clearly somewhere,’ pointed out Mrs Weasley, ‘because otherwise you would have been here. Do I need to remind you that your brother has been in a coma?’
Ron caught sound of his mother’s voice quaver slightly on that last word and he suddenly felt guilty.
Yes, he’d known that Charlie was going to be fine but being around wasn’t just about being there for Charlie. It was about being a family supporting each other.
He still however was not quite ready to spill the beans about where he had been and what he had been doing. “Up until five minutes ago I was snogging the face off Hermione” probably wouldn’t go down that well.
‘Ok, I’m sorry I wasn’t here but I’m here now right?’ Ron tried hoping to appease his mother. ‘I mean, are you actually going to let me in seeming that you’re annoyed with me for not being here earlier?’
Ron thought it was a fair point. If his mum was so angry with him for not being there to see Charlie shouldn’t she let him in the room now he was here?
Mrs Weasley frowned.
‘I’m going to ignore that tone Ronald,’ she said sternly, ‘but yes, you can go in and see your brother. And try not to upset him or overexcite him. He needs rest.’
‘Oh yeah, because I’m the one shouting,’ Ron muttered under his breath as he passed his mother and entered the room.
He caught Ginny’s eye and she raised an eyebrow, folding her arms across her chest and leaning back in her chair. She was staring him out. She knew exactly where he had been.
Ron was not the only person to notice her suddenly stony attitude. Harry, who was sitting next to her had recognised the change too and placed his hand lightly on her thigh to try and relax her.
Ron turned to face the bed and saw Charlie, face badly burnt still with his eyes barely able to open, attempting to smile back at him.
‘Alright Ron,’ he croaked out.
‘Yeah,’ Ron replied, matching his brother’s smile
It was so good to see Charlie awake and talking. It lifted much of the guilt Ron was carrying about not being to help in the attack by reassuring him that things would be ok.
‘How are you doing?’ Ron asked moving to stand next to him, Bill taking a step backwards to allow him closer to Charlie.
‘I’ve been better,’ Charlie admitted in a broken voice, ‘but the healers say I should be out of bed in maybe a week.’
Ron knew how much Charlie loved the outdoors and knew how much it must be hurting him, on top of the physical pain of his burns and wounds, to be confined to a hospital bed.
‘It’ll go quicker than you think,’ Mrs Weasley interjected taking hold of Charlie’s hand on the opposite side to which Ron was standing.
She also knew how much the week was going to drag for her second eldest son, but she wanted him to try and remain positive.
‘Yeah,’ agreed Charlie unenthusiastically.
‘Well I can empathise,’ said Harry speaking up. ‘The amount of time I’ve spent locked in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, I’m surprised they never reserved a specific bed just for me,’ he joked. ‘I hated it, missing quidditch matches and things going on around school. It’s rubbish, but – ’
‘It goes quicker than you think?’ Charlie interrupted, repeating Mrs Weasley’s earlier statement. ‘Yeah, so I’ve been told.’
Ron was starting to feel his guilt returning. Charlie might be alive but thanks to his inability to help his brother out, Charlie was going to be stuck in bed for an entire week going crazy.
He wanted to say something but Charlie just looked so despondent that he didn’t know what words would do it.
An uncomfortable silence filled the room.
‘Right,’ said Bill all of a sudden. ‘If it’s ok I’m going to head off. I told Fleur I’d pick up some things at the shop as her department’s swamped with work right now and she wasn’t going to have time.’ He looked down at Charlie. ‘It’s good to have you back with us,’ he said grasping Charlie’s hand that rested near where Ron stood. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ve got the day off and maybe if we can persuade a nurse to lend us a wheelchair I can take you out into that garden area here.’
‘Whoopee,’ grumbled Charlie sarcastically.
Bill smiled. He knew his brother wasn’t being ungrateful or rude on purpose.
‘Well, we’ll see. After a few more hours spent in here that garden is going to feel like a forest,’ he said. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ then turning to his mum and dad he continued, ‘I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow as well if you’re here at some point but if not I’ll floo you tomorrow night to talk about dinner later this week. Guys,’ he said finally looking at Ron, George, Percy, Ginny and Harry, ‘I’ll see you whenever.’
‘Yeah, bye Bill,’ said Ron.
His words were echoed around the room as each family member bid Bill goodbye.
‘I think I had better be heading off too,’ said Percy, picking up his briefcase. ‘I have a lot of work from the office today that I need to complete before a very important meeting tomorrow. We’ve got an issue with – ’
‘It’s alright Percy, we get the idea,’ said George cutting him off mid-sentence. ‘We’ll see you around.’
‘Oh, well...yes,’ agreed Percy, slightly put out that his family were not going to get the chance to hear about his exciting new plans for standardising portkey administration across the Ministry’s regional branches. ‘Mother, father, I shall be in touch about seeing you later this week. Charlie, I may pop in tomorrow morning on my way in to work.’
Charlie tried to smile but an early morning wakeup call from Percy didn’t exactly fill him with excitement, knowing full well that Percy religiously arrived at work every day at 7:30am despite not being paid until 9:00. “Showing a willingness to go the extra mile is what counts in this line of work. It never goes unnoticed if you put in that extra effort” he would always say.
Mrs Weasley reached up and kissed Percy goodbye on the cheek.
‘Well if Bill and Percy get to leave I know I’m leaving,’ George piped up, he too making his way towards the door.
‘George Weasley, you will do no such thing. You will stay here and keep your brother company!’ Mrs Weasley ordered, but Charlie interrupted.
‘Mum, it’s fine,’ he sighed. ‘There’s no point in us all being cooped up in this room bored stiff. Let him leave if he wants.’
George stared back at his mother with a satisfied smirk on his face.
‘See,’ he said, ‘Charlie’s fine with it. Plus I have work to be doing at the shop. Don’t forget it’s the grand re-opening next week.’
‘What?!’ said Ron suddenly.
He was supposed to be helping with the re-launch of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. How did he not know about this?
‘Just because some of us chose to swan off to Romania doesn’t mean the rest of us haven’t been working. Harry and Ginny have been helping me out, and Angelina. We’re making good progress,’ George explained. ‘The offer does still stand though,’ he added, seeing Ron’s face fall as he once again felt himself to have been eclipsed by his best friend and sister. ‘I’d love your help at the shop this week, and once we’re back up and running.’
‘Really?’ said Ron eagerly, perking up.
‘Yes, though mum will probably kill me if I make you work today. Ickle Ronnikins is still recovering from his dragon attack.’
Mrs Weasley frowned back at her son. She didn’t enjoy it when her children chose to mimic her but she was grateful that George wasn’t going to make Ron work today. Like he had said, Ron was still recovering and his burns which despite his reassurances still looked painful.
‘Wicked, well I’ll see you guys later. I’ll pop round for tea. I’d hate to deprive you mum of being able to cook for an extra mouth,’ he grinned cheekily.
‘Well thank you George. You’re so thoughtful,’ she replied sarcastically, before turning to her husband. ‘Arthur, the nurse said we would need to talk to the healer about when we can bring Charlie home.’
‘Righteo,’ said Mr Weasley. ‘Charlie son, we won’t be long. Kids,’ he added, turning to Ron, Ginny and Harry, ‘try not to overexcite him.’
Charlie rolled his eyes.
‘I’m stuck in a hospital bed. I don’t think there’s any chance of me getting overexcited. Just go and talk to the healer ok. See if you can get me out of here pronto.’
After Molly, Arthur, George and Percy had left the room Ron’s attention turned back to Charlie.
‘You alright mate?’ asked Ron quietly. ‘I mean, really alright?’
He was nervous. What if Charlie hated him for not being a better fighter? If Bill had been there he’d have been able to do something useful. So would George. Even Percy and Ginny would have probably managed to get the dragon away, and he knew Harry could fight dragons.
‘Seriously Ron, I’m fine,’ replied Charlie gratefully. ‘I should be thanking you anyway. You got help and sorted out this transfer. I’ve lived in Romania for Merlin knows how many years now and I still struggle to communicate with the locals. You did really well and if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be sitting here right now talking to you so... thanks.’
‘And if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t have been out in the forest in the middle of the night trying to cheer me up with a distraction,’ Ron muttered gloomily, and under his breath to keep his words hidden from his mother and father.
‘Mate, you know that’s not true. I can’t help myself sometimes. I’d have been out in that forest whether you’d been there or not so stop blaming yourself,’ Charlie comforted. He paused. ‘Is that why you weren’t here earlier, when I woke up?’ he asked thoughtfully. ‘Did you think I’d hate you or something?’
‘Err...umm,’ Ron stuttered nervously looking down at the floor.
He heard a loud ‘tut’ from Ginny behind him.
‘Yes?’ he said turning on her. ‘Something to say Ginny?’
‘Well I was just wondering if you were going to tell us where you’ve been Ron,’ Ginny rounded back. ‘Were you really feeling guilty about Charlie’s attack or did you actually forget that Charlie was even in hospital while you were busy with other things?’
‘Ginny,’ Harry warned quietly taking hold of her hand.
He didn’t know what was worse; seeing Ron fight with Hermione, his two best friends, or seeing Ron fight with Ginny, his best friend and his girlfriend?
‘I’m sorry, can someone please explain what’s going on here?’ interjected Charlie as Ron and Ginny stared each other out. ‘How long was I out for?’
‘Your brother,’ Ginny started switching her glare from Ron to Charlie, ‘wasn’t sitting at home feeling guilty. He was off with Hermione! Admit it Ron! When your brother was in a hospital bed you were just trying to get some action, weren’t you?’
‘Alright, yeah, I was with Hermione,’ Ron admitted, ‘not that it’s any of your business!’
‘Not my business?!’ laughed Ginny letting go of Harry’s hand and standing up to meet her brother. She might be smaller than him in real terms but she could be just as physically imposing. ‘Are you forgetting what that bitch said to me? How she insulted me? Are you forgetting how she made you feel about yourself? How she tried to dictate your life?’
‘Ginny, I don’t care anymore! It doesn’t matter what happened! She’s really sorry,’ Ron defended.
‘So she says she’s sorry and you just go crawling back to her?’
‘No,’ answered Ron. ‘She said she loves me.’
He delivered his words so simply that Ginny didn’t know how to respond.
‘And I love her,’ Ron continued, ‘so I’m sorry Ginny if you still have issues with Hermione but you’re going to have to get used to the fact that she’s my girlfriend.’
Surprisingly Ron wasn’t embarrassed by what he was saying, though the tops of his ears still turned a little pink.
There was an awkward silence in the room, Charlie and Harry just looking on as Ginny and Ron stood with their eyes locked in battle.
Finally Ginny spoke.
‘I’m happy for you Ron,’ she admitted and even managed a half smile, ‘but I’m not sure I can forgive Hermione as easily as you. What she said really hurt me and I’m going to have to think about this.’
‘Ginny, she’s your best friend,’ Harry began in his most supportive voice possible.
‘Not now Harry,’ Ginny said sternly, though not harshly. She knew Harry was only trying to help but this was something she would have to figure out for herself. After all, she had never told him about what Hermione had said about their relationship. He couldn’t truly understand how she was feeling. ‘Can we just go home?’
‘Sure,’ agreed Harry taking hold of her hand once again. ‘It’s good to see you back Charlie,’ he smiled turning towards the bed. ‘I’ll speak to you later Ron,’ he said with hints of apology in his voice.
‘Bye Charlie,’ added Ginny quietly. ‘Bye Ron.’
Charlie waited for the door to close behind Harry and Ginny before he spoke.
‘You alright Ron?’ he asked.
‘Yeah,’ Ron replied. ‘I just wish Ginny wasn’t so...’
‘I know. Our little sister can be a bit fiery sometimes can’t she? She’s a stubborn little thing too, but she’ll come round.’
‘Yeah,’ agreed Ron but without much conviction.
‘But you and Hermione though?’ continued Charlie grinning. ‘You two are...you’re back on?’
Suddenly his fight with Ginny seemed to disappear and Ron beamed.
‘We’re back on. We talked things through and... well, there are still things we probably need to talk about but we’re going to try.’
‘I’m really happy for you mate. You deserve it, though I must say I’m still not tempted to settle down. I’m not really a one woman type of guy.’
‘Don’t we know it,’ Ron chuckled. ‘I think you’ve had more girls than the rest of us put together.’
‘What can I say?’ Charlie laughed. ‘I like having fun...and what mum doesn’t know won’t hurt her.’
‘I’m glad you’re ok Charlie,’ said Ron.
‘Me too, but look, I’m fine and sure, I’m going to be bored but the nurse who cleaned my wounds straight after I woke up...well I’m sure she’ll keep me entertained if you know what I mean. You should get back to Hermione,’ Charlie encouraged. ‘And don’t worry, I’ll tell mum and dad that you had somewhere urgent to be and that you didn’t just leave me. Seriously, it’s like mum thinks I’ll try and slit my wrists if I don’t have you lot around.’
‘Thanks Charlie. I’ll see you later...or tomorrow...or...I’ll see you later,’ he said finally.
A/N Sorry there wasn't a whole lot of Hermione in this one which is a shame following the declarations of love in the previous chapter but I felt this one was needed if only as a filler. I hope people still enjoyed it though.
I don't know when the next update will be up I'm afraid. Don't want to make any promises as I think I broke all the promises with when this would be up. Once again I am so sorry xx