Originally validated 21 August 2011, revised 22 March 2012, submitted to the queue 26 March 2012. Grammatical corrections, rewrites AND additions to the chapter. I would recommend, if you've read this chapter before, to reread it now.
The two Weasley men sat at the small table in George's kitchen. Ron preoccupied himself with the glass of water in his hands while George sat sullenly across from him, hands in his lap. It had taken Ron nearly a week of showing up and sitting in George's room to convince the empty man to leave it. Now, as they sat in silence, Ron couldn't help but feel awkward and out of place.
Lifting the glass to his lips, Ron jerked in surprise at finding George's cold eyes staring darkly at him. He sputtered, spilling water down the front of his shirt and slammed the glass back on the table. Ron cringed at the sound; George didn't even blink.
"Ron," George's voice was raspy and quiet due to disuse. Ron hesitantly met his older brother's gaze. He paused, and Ron could tell he was biting on his tongue, almost as if he didn't know what to say. Ron's mouth turned up at the edges, a small smile. He certainly didn't know what to say either, and they sat in silent contemplation.
George's eyes flicked to the papers in front of Ron. The papers that Ron had drawn up weeks ago, that detailed the reopening of the Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.
"We're going to do it, George," Ron said quietly, drawing his brother's attention back to himself.
"No," George protested harshly, turning away from Ron's quiet stare.
"It's not too soon," Ron whispered, as if he were unsure of himself. Many had told him that it was, in fact, too soon for anything of the sort. They had told him to leave George alone, let him deal with things on his own. His family. "It's been four months, George. It's time to move on."
"No," George said again, louder. He stood, fists clenched and glared down at his youngest brother, anger radiating out of every pore on his body. "It's not bloody time! I won't forget about him, Ron. I can't."
Ron fidgeted with glass, his courage faltering under the pressure of his brother's anger. "I didn't say forget. We'll never forget, George. But don't you see? We need to continue with our lives, and everyone sitting about wallowing and getting drunk -"
"How can you say that?" George yelled, slamming his fists on the table. "What right do you have to judge how I live my life? He's gone, Ron! Dead, my brother is dead."
"He was my brother too," Ron said, rising from his seat as well. His throat was sore, constricted from withholding tears, and his face flushed pink.
"You don't know anything about him!" George's voice cracked under the volume of the scream. He was shaking and pale, barely able to hold himself up.
"I know I can't handle losing another brother!" Ron proclaimed, leaning across the table. "I know that our mum won't leave her room, unable to bear the thought that two of her baby boys are gone. That's what she sees, George, that's what we all see. We all but lost you the moment we lost Fred!"
The two men stood in silence, staring at one another. Ron's breath was heavy, tears rolling freely down his face. George nodded just the slightest bit, and the two slumped back into their seats.
"You got him to agree?" Hermione asked, not attempting to hide her surprise. Ron glanced over at her from his spot on the bed. She was leaning against the windowsill, her body tilted forward and a slight frown on her face.
"Why are you frowning, Hermione?"
She shook her head, as if ridding her mind of thought, causing her hair to bounce around her face. Absentmindedly, she pulled her hair out of her face and sighed, looking towards Ron. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"No," Ron answered without hesitation, completely honest. "But it's the only idea I have. I can't just sit by and watch everyone ignore this, it's killing me."
Ron walked towards Hermione, her wide eyes watched his movements. Wrapping his arms around her waist, Ron rested his chin on the top of her head. She relaxed in his embrace and wound her hands around his neck.
"I don't know how you do it," she whispered into his chest, her tears evident in the waver of her voice. Ron held her closer, his hand rubbing circles across her back.
"Everything will sort out, Hermione," he reassured her, and himself. He hoped everything would; that they'd get George back, that his family would heal, that the only girl he'll ever love will get her parents back, that life will move on. "We'll be okay, I promise."
The next few days followed the same pattern: Ron sat across from George and read him the plans for the reopening. He knew he couldn't follow through on any final plans without his brother's sign off, so he waited and hoped. The first day, George sat silently in the seat across from Ron, refusing to say a word or even look at his little brother. Ron knew he was listening, however much George might be against his plans.
Ron gave George a copy of the plans on the third day. He didn't touch them.
The fourth day found Ron surprised to find George out of his room before he arrived. He smiled warily and greeted his brother, receiving a curt nod in response. "Would you like some coffee? Hermione's been trying new brews, this one's rather good," Ron asked as he pulled a large thermos out of his bag. He poured himself a cup after sliding one over to George.
When Ron arrived the next day, George stopped him at the door. Handing over a stack of papers riddled with markings and corrections, George said, his voice still raspy, "We'll start cleaning next week."
Ron looked at the papers in his hands. They were the reopening plans - or, what was left of them. George's messy penmanship littered the pages, detailing changes he wanted made. Looking up, Ron could tell George wanted him to leave. "Would you mind if Harry helped? We could use the extra hands..."
George visibly tensed, his hands balled into fists inside his pockets. "Just Harry," he demanded harshly before turning back to his room, effectively dismissing Ron. The younger redhead stared after him a moment before releasing the breath he'd been holding and closing the door behind himself as he left.
Original Author's Notes
There! Second chapter :) I know this one is short, but I really enjoyed writing it, even though it gave me some trouble. Next chapter should (hopefully) hold the fated day - the grand reopening of WWW. Sorry this took so long, hopefully you'll all forgive me and leave reviews ;)