Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 13 of 45

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

There were only two Portkeys left to finalize now. His dad left earlier than usual Wednesday morning to meet with a bloke who knew the Russian ambassador and Percy left just as early, though not before sending Hermes out with three thick rolls of parchment tied to his leg. The two in Russia were appearing to be the most difficult of the seven to secure. Ron didn't understand why they had to go through Russia to get to Australia, but he kept quiet. Both his dad and Percy seemed to be working extremely hard to get all seven set up. Every time Ron asked if he could help with anything, they both just told him all he had to do was wait. He felt like all they did at the Burrow was wait. They waited for confirmation that all the Portkeys had been set up. They waited for their official documentation to arrive. They waited to hear when they were allowed back into Gringotts. They waited around for the next meal. Most of all, they just waited for Thursday to get here.

Ron was grateful his family had pushed the funeral up on the calendar. He didn't think he could take one more day of waiting around like they were. He knew that was the only reason Charlie, Bill and Fleur were still here. They did a good job making themselves scarce, inventing reasons to go for a walk or disappearing for a few hours. Ron wondered if they felt as trapped as he did. The Burrow was beginning to feel like a prison.

Things that had amused him in previous years - Quidditch in the orchard or charming frogs by the pond - all seemed terribly dull now. Even Wizard's Chess no longer held its allure. Ron wasn't sure if it meant he was growing up or was just being randy, wanting to disappear up the stairs with Hermione every minute. Perhaps it was a bit of both. He stayed downstairs after breakfast, which Percy had again made. He'd fried up eggs, tomatoes, and prepared a side of bacon this morning before scurrying off to the Ministry after his father. His brother seemed to be trying very hard to make up for his years of estrangement. Ron wasn't complaining about the breakfasts, or the Portkeys for that matter, but he wondered if his brother knew they'd all forgiven him. He supposed nobody had actually ever said anything outright to him. Maybe that was a trait the Weasleys had in common. They needed to hear things out loud to really believe them.

Ron was still spinning over Hermione's words yesterday in regard to his desertion. He couldn't really understand why she'd chosen to lie for him and why she seemed to have forgiven him when he hadn't even forgiven himself. He reckoned he and Percy had that in common as well.

Ron picked at the leftover bacon as he sat at the kitchen table playing Wizard's Chess with Hermione, Harry, and Ginny. He knew Hermione was well aware this wasn't what he would choose to be doing and she kept a hand on his while he ordered the pieces around. It wasn't that he didn't like Wizard's Chess and it wasn't that he didn't like being with Harry, he just wanted to do something else more. They all took turns having a try at Ron, seeing who could defeat him. Ginny had finally gone to seek out Bill, and he knocked Ron off his throne. His sister looked as triumphant as if she had defeated Ron herself. Ron took solace in the fact that it had taken a professional codebreaker to defeat him and used the defeat as an excuse to retire upstairs.

Now, he lay stretched out on his bed, his shoes kicked off with Hermione sprawled across his chest. There was something lazy and familiar about their actions now, something that Ron thoroughly enjoyed. It had only been four days, but it was no big deal now, retreating behind his bedroom door with Hermione. They hadn't exchanged anything more than a few tender kisses since they'd withdrawn to his room. She was resting at an angle, almost lying on top of him, with her lower body nestled against his leg and her head resting on his chest. She'd been the one who climbed atop him like this when he'd collapsed on the bed and the surprising intimacy of the position almost made up for the general lack of snogging.

"What do we do if we can't get money out of Gringotts?" he inquired, tracing circles on the small of her back with his long fingers.

"I took out all my Building Society savings last year," she murmured against him and walked two fingers across his broad chest. "I suppose that'll have to do."

"And you're going to get maps and stuff, right?"

"Yes, your dad said the Muggle library here is quite good.

"And we'll be able to talk to dad and Percy tonight about where exactly we catch all the Portkeys and what they look like."

"Then we can see about contacting the Ministry in Australia."

"Friday I'll go with you to your house." He went over their agenda for the next few days for the umpteenth time. "We'll get it in order for your parents." She took in a deep breath at his words as if to settle herself at his words. He knew there was a possibility her house wasn't even standing anymore.

"Then we pack."

"Then we leave."

The plan sounded so simple. Ron wondered if they could really accomplish all that in three days time. He knew Hermione was eager to locate her parents and he was eager to leave himself, but he wondered how difficult it all would be. They hadn't really done that much preparation. All she had really done was warn him that they would have to travel in highly populated Muggle areas, which Ron wasn't all that keen on. He always felt exposed in Muggle areas. Even when Hermione made sure he was dressed all right and blended in just fine, he felt like they always knew he was different.

Nonetheless, he couldn't wait to embark on their journey together. As they lay together on his bed, he couldn't help but wonder what their sleeping arrangements would be on the trip. He'd been so reluctant to part from her last night and the long lingering kiss she'd left him outside Ginny's door left little to the imagination. Each time they bid each other goodnight their lips would meet again and again and again until his sister finally groaned through the door to stop.

Ron was loath to return downstairs later this afternoon, though he knew he must. The household was full of anticipation awaiting Kingsley's arrival. His mum had been busy tidying up the kitchen all morning and it was her nervous energy that had kept him and Hermione upstairs. He promised Hermione when they disappeared behind the door hours ago that they would emerge for lunch though and he was displeased to see lunchtime was drawing ever closer. He hoped perhaps she would forget about his promise and stay upstairs, but he could see her eyeing the clock on the table.

"Do you…want to go down and eat?" she proposed innocently. Ron recalled the way he'd snapped at her yesterday when she'd tried to get him downstairs. He hoped the careful way she spoke to him wasn't due to that. The last thing he wanted was for Hermione to be fearful of his temper the way they'd both been afraid of Harry's back in fifth year. He shrugged in an effort to be nonchalant, even though every part of him wanted to just stay like this with his hand on her back and her head on his chest. His hand was so close to her bum. He glanced down, wondering how she'd react if one of the circles he traced just happened to graze her backside. Would she slap him upside the head and call him an insensitive wart? "Let's eat something," she proposed before he could even try.

"Yeah, all right." He withdrew his hand abruptly, half afraid she had somehow read his mind. "But we'll come back up later?" He tried not to sound too anxious, even though all he could think about was her hand atop his the other day when he'd dared to touch her breast, the way she'd put her hand on his leg in Ginny's room, and the way she settled against him this morning. He was eager to explore the boundaries of their new physical relationship. He felt like they were finally starting to settle into a rhythm when they were together, finally getting used to kissing each other, really kissing each other, and feeling each other and moving against each other. He wanted to keep exploring. He wanted more. He wanted Hermione.

"If you want." Ron tried not to be discouraged by Hermione's less than enthusiastic reply. That was how she usually replied whenever he asked if she wanted to go upstairs. Hell, that's how she'd replied to just about everything he'd suggested the past five days. He tried not to trouble himself with how very un-Hermione the behavior was. He knew she wasn't the type of girl who just did what people said and he knew perfectly well she had no problem disagreeing with him. Yet, this entire week she'd agreed with almost everything he wanted to do. She peeled herself off his chest and slowly got to her feet. "Ginny was talking about going for a fly while Harry was with Kingsley," she informed. "Want to join her?"

"Or maybe we could go without Ginny." He raised his eyes suggestively and made no effort to get up from the bed, indicating with little subtlety that being alone with her was the only thing he wanted. She just dismissed him with a laugh and grabbed both his hands to help haul him to his feet.

He resisted at first, but then jumped to his feet and allowed his weight to crash into her as she hoisted him up. She staggered backwards several steps, taking him with her and he grabbed her hips in a playful attempt to steady himself. This might be the only time they had alone together until tonight. He was determined to make it last. She laughed at the indiscreet maneuver, especially as his lips suddenly crushed against hers and his hands dropped even lower. She didn't withdraw in the slightest. In fact, she wrapped her own hands around his head, and moved her whole body closer to his when he actually dared to give her bum a squeeze.

It was a completely different kind of closeness to the lazy way they'd just been resting on the bed. She clung to him, to his lips, to his shoulders. Even her hips, God help him, seemed to press against him urgently. He suddenly felt like a tit for trying to be a gentleman for the last hour when her entire body seemed to indicate this was exactly what she'd wanted.

"We have to go downstairs." Hermione's sense of propriety finally won over as she dragged her lips from his and managed to turn her head ninety degree. It seemed all she could manage.

"Forget lunch." He was content to cover the side of her face with wet sloppy kisses.

"We'll come back up later," she assured breathlessly. Ron could only smile at the definite, almost desperate, way she said it as she placed a hand on his chest and stepped backward. It reminded him somehow of those times out in the common room when he convinced her to ditch homework or skip prefect rounds in favor of something else less productive.

He was thoroughly pleased with himself as he sauntered back down the stairs, thinking for some reason of the stupid bet his brothers and half of Hogwarts Castle had made. She wanted him. Not just in an 'I like to kiss you' or a 'snogging you is fun' way, but in an eager and desperate manner that made his head spin. Why had they just wasted the last two hours lying on his bed doing nothing? That kiss clearly showed it was not just him who was eager for more. He knew the secret smiles on both their faces looked entirely too guilty to appear in front of his family. She even halted them both on the second floor to compose themselves.

"We've got to…" She waved her hand in front of her face, like she could magically wipe away the pleased expression and rosy tint to her cheeks from their previous embrace. "We've got to-"

"Get it together?"

"Yes!" she whispered urgently. Ron thoroughly enjoyed how agitated she looked. He liked that she was so anxious and it was because of him and how much she wanted him. "I can't even believe your mother lets me go upstairs with you. We can't come down looking like - "

Then he was kissing her again, forcefully, passionately, uncontrollably, and she wasn't resisting. So this is what people meant when they talked about not being able to keep their hands off each other. He genuinely didn't feel like he could tear himself away from her. He couldn't imagine a time when they wouldn't have to steal away for these greedy, breathless kisses.

"Oh, Ron, we can't!" Hermione wrenched herself away, but there was little force behind the words.

"We can." His voice had a low teasing tone to it as he leaned down to work at her neck.

"We have to…stop." Her voice, on the other hand, sounded shameful and uncertain. She attempted to take a step back from him then and Ron relented only because of the wavering tone of her voice. He knew Hermione Granger prided herself on being polite and proper and doing the right thing. She knew they should be downstairs. Being with his family was the right thing to do. Standing here and stealing kisses was not.

"Okay." He couldn't help but think about Australia then, of the unknown days they would have alone together on the other side of the world. "You all right?" He still couldn't hide his amusement at how flustered she looked and he moved a hand to her waist teasingly. She just swatted it away, ran a hand through her hair and, taking in a deep composing breath, climbed down the stairs.

His mum was, of course, scrubbing the counters, in preparation for Kingsley's arrival. She didn't give the two of them so much as a sideward glance she was so busy working at a spot on the counter. Harry was seated on a stool and looked rather pale. Charlie was trying to wrangle up a trip to Ottery St. Catchpole, but Bill declined on account of Fleur not having 'walking shoes', and Ginny wanted to be here to support Harry. Charlie dropped a heavy hand onto Ron's shoulder then.

"What do you say then, Ron? Fancy a trip into the village with me?"

The opportunity was one Ron would normally jump at. His brother Charlie was so rarely home from Romania that Ron treasured any chance to spend time with him one on one and hear all about dragons and his occasional encounters with vampires in Transylvania. He cast an obvious glance to Hermione, which only made Charlie roar with laughter.

"Come on, loverboy, you can spend a couple hours apart." He muscled Ron into a headlock and all but dragged him out the door.

"But what about lunch?" Ron protested, looking back into the kitchen.

"You hate corned beef anyway," Charlie laughed, his step so light and bouncy it almost looked like he was skipping past the chicken coop.

"I haven't got any Muggle money," Ron stammered again in protest, knowing most of the shops in the village, save one, were Muggle owned and operated.

"I've got some, it's all right," Charlie jingled a bit of change in his pocket and set off down the path towards the main road to the village. Ron struggled to keep up with his brother's brisk pace, even though his long strides were equal to almost two of Charlie's. "I expect you'd better get used to carrying around some Muggle money now, eh?" Charlie raised his eyebrows and looked to Ron.

"Why's that?" Ron huffed. He didn't bother to ask why they didn't just Apparate to the big field outside Ottery St. Catchpole as his family usually did on the rare occasion they journeyed into town. He knew Charlie liked being outside and enjoyed traveling these familiar roads that he so rarely saw.

"Well, you've got a Muggle-born girlfriend now," he looked to his little brother with a twinkle. "She'll be wanting you to take her to the cinema and out to all kinds of posh restaurants."

"Maybe the girls you date, Charlie," Ron laughed, not even bothering to ask what the cinema was, "but not -"

"Oh, yes, even your lovely Hermione," Charlie stated matter-of-factly. "And the sooner you catch on to that, the better."

Ron frowned, finding it hard to imagine Hermione ever behaving like the silly girls Charlie always dated. He wagered Hermione had more sense in her pinky finger than the lot of them together. He grumbled something under his breath as he walked down the two-track lane, he in one track and Charlie in the other.

"She is lovely," Charlie affirmed. The unexpected comment caused Ron's ears to redden slightly. "Turned into quite the attractive witch, really."

Ron grunted again, unsure how to take the compliment. He'd never noticed Hermione turning into anything. She'd always just been Hermione.

"Look, I won't beat around the bush. Dad asked me to talk to you." Ron had more than idea where this conversation was headed and he suddenly wished he were back at the Burrow. He wanted to tell Charlie to belt up, but he seemed to have temporarily lost his voice. "You know dad, poor bloke hasn't got a clue. He sat down with me fourth year and, well, I think we're both still a bit damaged to say the least."

"Charlie - " Ron's voice finally sounded in weak protest. "Honestly, you don't have to - "

"He just wants to make sure you're being smart and, well, that you're being safe - "

"We're not shagging!" Ron replied in mortification. "I don't know why everyone seems to think that!"

"Well, 'cause you're eighteen years old - "

"But we're not, I swear!"

" - you two disappear into your room for hours at a time and we all know you've been in love with her for years." Charlie continued with a laugh, taking note of Ron's thoroughly humiliated expression. Both Ron's eyes were fixed on the dirt path, keeping an eye out for roots and divots in the earth and most definitely not looking over at his brother. "Come off it, you know you have been. I'm not even here and I know it."

"How do you know?" Ron inquired quietly.

"Well, on the rare occasion that you'd write me - no matter how short the letter was - Hermione always managed to be in it. I could just tell…the way you talked about her and how - "

"No, not how did you know - I mean how does a person - how are you supposed to know when you're, well, you know…"

"You're asking the wrong person there," Charlie laughed, "unless you want to hear what it's like to fall in love with a Ukrainian Ironbelly, I think you best save that for our dear brother, William." Ron didn't look too pleased with Charlie's answer and kicked at a rock in the lane. "Even he wouldn't have an answer, Ron," Charlie sighed. "I'm sorry and I know it sounds trite, but you just know when you know."

"That doesn't help at all," Ron grumbled.

"Don't think about it too hard," Charlie laughed. "That was never your strong suit."

"Hey!" Ron jerked his head up and punched his brother hard in the arm at the remark.

"I just mean you're not a look before you leap guy." Charlie returned the punch. "Come on, you never have been, and you're the first to admit it."

"But shouldn't I look?" Ron looked to his brother hesitantly. "I mean…I could make a right mess of things, let's face it."

"You'll be all right." Charlie gave his brother an encouraging nod and then smiled. "You made it this far, right?"

They talked dragons for much of the walk into the village. Ron heard a bit more than he cared to about the mating habits and courting rituals of Romanian Longhorns, but the tale of the Hebridean Black that had bitten off half its own tail was a story Ron knew he'd be telling for years. Charlie seemed to enjoy the conversation as much as the walk and by the time they arrived at the village Ron half expected him to just keep walking. He didn't seem to have much of a destination in mind as his eyes scanned the quaint shops and sidestreets of Ottery St. Catchpole.

Ron rarely came into the village. All he knew was the location of the sweet shop and the sole wizard run establishment, which was in the alley to the left of the old grey church at the center of the village. The witch who owned the shop advertised herself as a seamstress, which none of the Muggles seemed to need, but she was in fact an apothecary whose backroom shelves were full of an assortment of powders, herbs, roots, and dragon scales.

"Where should we go then?" Ron looked around the village uncomfortably, hardly imagining they'd walked all this way for a trip to the apothecary.

"You know, I think the last time you and I were here together I bought you an ice lolly. It melted and you cried all the way home." Ron scowled at the memory, which his brother seemed to find much too amusing. "How about an ale?" Charlie pointed to a dilapidated building designated as the River Otter Pub. "It'd be a far cry from ice lollies, eh?"

Ron agreed hesitantly and followed him across the street and into the small pub. He had to adjust his eyes as he walked through the door as it was dimly lit and a stark contrast to the bright sunlight outside. It smelled a bit too much like Mundungus Fletcher for Ron's liking and the clientele reminded him very much of that at the Hog's Head, but Charlie seemed pleased at his selection.

"Don't think they'll have any of Ogden's Old Firewhiskey, but I'd wager you can get a good enough pint here," he whispered out the corner of his mouth, plopping down on a bar stool. Ron joined his brother, his eyes taking in the foreign sights of the bar. There were posters on the walls similar to the ones Dean Thomas had put up in their Hogwarts dormitory and a television set was fixed to the wall. Harry and Hermione had described the Muggle invention to him before, but he'd only ever seen them before when passing through London and then it had been briefly and never at such a close distance. He watched the barman push a button on the black box and the noise coming from the box increased tremendously. He wondered if it could pause, rewind, and zoom in and out like a pair of Omnoculars.

"Who you pullin' for?" the barman noted Ron's keen interest in the television.

"Oh – erm – I, uh - " Ron panicked. The only Muggle team of any kind he knew was West Ham and that was just because he had to listen to Dean prattle on about them for six years.

"More of a rugby league fan, this one," Charlie intervened coolly and clapped Ron on the back. Ron wondered how his brother always knew what to do and what to say.

The barman eyed the two of them curiously, as if to take measure of whether or not he'd seen them around before. He was a lanky man, built quite a bit like Ron, with dark curly hair and thick bushy eyebrows. He appeared to readily accept Charlie's story and promptly placed two dimpled glass jugs full of dark amber liquid in front of them. Ron fidgeted uncomfortably, but Charlie seemed at ease. Charlie was confident in any situation.

He lifted his glass into the air as if in silent toast to Ron before taking a deep drink. Ron hesitated slightly. He'd never tasted plain old Muggle beer before. He knew it couldn't be much different from what they drank in the wizarding world, but he felt strangely uneasy. It was almost like when he'd sampled all the grape leaves and mashed up fava beans when his family had gone to Egypt. He'd been afraid at twelve years old that by eating them he would suddenly start to become like an Egyptian. He stupidly felt like drinking the Muggle ale would somehow make him lose his magical abilities and be more like a Muggle. Nonetheless, he raised the glass to his lips and took a tentative sip. The ale was surprisingly bitter and Ron couldn't help but pucker slightly, no matter how much he tried not to.

"Haven't gone out drinking much, have you?" Charlie chuckled.

"Not unless you count a bit of elderberry wine and some mulled mead," Ron admitted sheepishly. "They don't really set it out for dinner at Hogwarts."

"Well, here's to you then," Charlie raised his glass again. "And to Hermione," he added with a twinkle.

"Don't you start that again," Ron hid his face behind the full glass of ale and took a long sip, grimacing less this time as the liquid passed over his tongue.

"You know how pleased mum and dad are, right?"

"Hardly," Ron scoffed. "Mum won't even let us alone."

"Oh yeah? And where exactly were you and Hermione all morning?" Charlie countered with an inquiring raise of his eyebrows. Ron squirmed on the barstool and looked down into his dimpled glass. "I'd say she's been quite liberal the past few days, letting you two go off whenever you want."

"She makes Hermione uncomfortable."

"Oh, she'll get over it."

"Who? Hermione or Mum?"

"Both," Charlie replied simply. "You have to think, Ron, Hermione's practically been part of the family for years, living under mum and dad's roof, practically like a daughter… now she's off snogging you every chance she gets. It's a bit odd for her I'd imagine and for mum and dad as well."

"I suppose," Ron muttered. "Still, mum doesn't need to give her such a hard time. We're not doing anything wrong." He slurped angrily from his mug and all but slammed it onto the wooden bar.

"Oh please. You know why mum's acting this way, right?" Ron's vacant expression told Charlie he didn't have the faintest notion why his mother seemed to be treating the girl who had been his best friend for seven years like a completely different person. "You're telling me you haven't reasoned it out?"


For the first time all afternoon Charlie looked a bit uncomfortable and he fidgeted with the paper napkin on the countertop for a moment.

"She doesn't want to lose another son," he spoke softly. "That's all."

"Lose me?" Ron spluttered. "That's mad. I'm not leaving."

"Aren't you?" Charlie challenged with raised eyebrows. "Haven't you already?"

"Yes, but - "

"I know it's different, just…." Charlie licked his lips thoughtfully as his voice tailed away. "It's hard enough for mum to admit that you're not her little boy anymore. Y'know, the stuff you've done…it's hard for her to accept. It's hard for all of us to accept," Charlie admitted. "Little Ron being assigned a secret mission, taking on the darkest wizard of all time." Ron knew his brother was referring to page three in the Daily Prophet and for some reason it only made him more uncomfortable. "And then Hermione - you've got to know mum loves Hermione. She always has. If you saw the letters she sent me…I think she always in her heart hoped it would turn out this way. She just wasn't quite ready for it when it did. It's hard to imagine ickle Ronnie in love."

"Would you quit with the ickle Ronnie business?" Ron did not look amused at his brother's constant need to remind Ron he was younger than him. He took a long drink as if to remind his brother he was of age.

"Oh, you know that's how mum will always think of you. She loves you and she loves Hermione. She's just…scared she'll take you away from her."

"But she's my mum! No one could ever take her away."

"But you will move away. You'll get married one day, start a family of your own," Charlie stated and Ron just fidgeted uncomfortably at the matter-of-fact way he said the words. "To mum that all starts here. One day you're sneaking up the stairs to have a snog the next…you're walking down the aisle."

"Bloody hell, Charlie, don't marry me off already!" Ron laughed at the absurd statement.

"I know it sounds mental, but just realize that's how mum sees things."

"I bloody well hope that's not how Hermione sees things!" Ron managed a laugh. "Walking down the aisle," he snorted to himself and threw back what was left of the Muggle ale in a particularly long gulp.

"It looks like you're already ready for another." Charlie thumped Ron on the back, appearing quite impressed at how quickly his brother had put away the drink, and jovially ordered another round.

Ron felt the world slowly slipping away the more he drank. He puckered less when the bitter liquid touched his lips and began to drink it in larger and greedier gulps. He realised, somewhere around his third jug of dark amber ale and his second glass of whatever else it was Charlie placed in front of him, that Charlie was the first person he'd talked to – really talked to - outside of Harry and Hermione for months. It was an odd thing to become aware of and he found his words came looser and more freely than they had in a long time. He was telling Charlie all about his time at Hogwarts, everything from Quidditch to Potions class. Mostly though, the more ale he drank the more he talked about Hermione. He told Charlie all about Lavender Brown and about his mistakes last year. He talked about the canaries Hermione had sent after him and his pitiful attempt to show his feelings fifth year with a bottle of perfume.

"I thought it smelled nice. A bit like the laundry right after mum's folded it." Ron got a dreamy expression on his face.

"You got Hermione perfume that smelled like laundry?" Charlie laughed.

"I like the smell of the laundry!" Ron replied defensively. He paused a moment and the dreamy expression returned to his face. "Not as much as I like the smell of Hermione though," he remarked fondly. "She's's like…like a vanilla ice cream cone…."

"Merlin, you're pissed," Charlie remarked with a laugh.

"And flowers," Ron added.

"Ice cream and flowers, eh?"

"Yeah, like Professor Orchid's Eternal Sprouts," he slurred.

"You mean Professor Sprout's Eternal Orchids?"

"That's what I said." Charlie snorted at Ron's ramblings and pulled a handful of money out of his wallet to leave on the bar. "That's what we are, you know?. Eternal. Me and Hermione."

"You're completely legless," Charlie laughed again at his brother and rose to his feet slowly. "Mum'll have my head for this."

"Why?" Ron got to his feet and, rather wobbly, followed Charlie toward the door. "I'm eighteen! I can get pissed if I like!" he thumped his chest. "I can snog my girl if I like!" he slurred the words slightly, "I can go to Awe-stray-lee if I like!"

"Right you are," Charlie looked to his little brother in amusement as the two slowly made their way back outside. "You can take full responsibility for this one then."

"I've destroyed effing Horcruxes!" Ron continued and he puffed his chest out triumphantly.

"Destroyed what now?" Charlie screwed up his face.

"Broken into Gringotts! Battled You-Know-Who! Killed Greyback!" Ron rattled on boisterously, oblivious to the fact that many Muggles in the street were looking to him and his drunken rambling a bit oddly.

"Shhhhhhh," Charlie scolded, quieting him down. His eyebrows sloped into a frown at the last revelation however. "That was you that offed Greyback?

"Yeah, it was me," Ron raised his shoulders a bit taller. "What? Didn't think ickle Ronnie had it in him? I'd do it again." He thrust his chest out. "Right now! Anythin' threaten Hermione like that - "

"Oi!" Charlie slapped his forehead. "I haven't told you about the charms."

"What charms?"

"The charms to make sure we don't end up with lots of little Weasleys running around by accident."

"We're noooooooot shagging!" Ron all but shouted as he drew out the words long and slow, the effects of the alcohol now more evident than ever. "Charlie, she doesn't even take her fucking shoes off!"

"Well, good," Charlie appeared pleased to hear the report. "That's good." He eyed Ron warily, seeming to detect a slight frustration in his last confession. "Don't you go pushing her either."

"Says the man who's probably gotten in the knickers of every witch in Romania," Ron scoffed.

"That's a bit low, don't you think?"

"True, innit?" Ron laughed and gave a careless shrug as he continued sauntering down the road.

The return walk to the Burrow was not nearly as talkative as the walk there had been. There were no tales about dragon tails and no further ribbing of Ron and his romantic pursuits. Ron would whirl around every now and then and deliver a lovesick declaration about how long he'd fancied Hermione or another boisterous reminder that he'd smashed in Fenrir Greyback's head, but then he'd turn back around and continue marching onward. Only when they reached the two-track road that led to the Burrow did his gait slow considerably.

"I don't wanna go back," he announced when the outline of their ramshackle house came into view. Smoke was rising from two of the five chimneys and Ron imagined his family all gathered around the main fireplace, looking over photo albums and deciding what picture of Fred to turn into the Prophet. He had no inclination to return to the house where his brother's absence haunted every nook and cranny. He wanted to leave for Australia.

"But your Hermione's there," Charlie teased playfully, but Ron's feet were planted firmly in the earth. As much as he liked how Charlie had referred to Hermione as 'his Hermione' he would not move forward. He shook his head and looked at Charlie through bleary eyes.

"No, tell Her-my-knee, tell her to come here."

"Why don't you come on and tell her yourself," Charlie tried to lure, but Ron shook his head firmly.

"No, go get her – tell her to come here and we can leave! We can go right now for Awe-stray-lee."

"You can't leave for Australia yet, Ron," Charlie explained kindly to his inebriated brother. "You've got to say goodbye to Fred tomorrow."

"Say goodbye?" Ron snorted. "Say goodbye?" He threw back his head suddenly, staring up at the darkening sky. "Bye bye, Fred!" he waved to the sky and to the trees and to the rabbit that had just popped its head out from behind a log. "Bye bye!" he continued to wave wildly. "Say goodbye," he spat, the contempt in his voice was obvious. "Bit late for that, eh?"

He pulled out his wand then and for reasons he couldn't even begin to explain he slowly aimed it at the rabbit. His bleary eyes tried to focus on the frightened creature.

"What are you doing?" Charlie's voice suddenly grew serious. He stepped toward Ron, but Ron was too quick and blue sparks flew towards the rabbit before he could even react. After an afternoon of drinking he was fortunately not as accurate as he was fast and the blast hit a tree and sent bark and wood chips flying through the air at them. Charlie ducked to avoid them, but Ron hardly flinched. "What the hell did you do that for?" Charlie wrenched the wand away from his brother and gave him a hard shove.

"Hare today, gone tomorrow," Ron sniggered at his own joke.

"What's wrong with you?"

"That's life, get it? Hare today, gone tomorrow?"

"We were having a good time." Charlie looked to his brother suddenly as if he were a stranger.

"What? Getting pissed? Telling stories?" Ron scoffed, his voice growing increasingly louder. "Acting like he's not dead?" he thundered and the words echoed down the country lane. It was the first time he'd said it, the word dead, and it felt good for some reason to shout it. "Forgetting all about him?"

"No one's forgetting, Ron, we're just…getting by."

"Yeah, you're really having a time with it," Ron accused. "You'll get by just fine."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Charlie challenged. The friendly air that had been present all afternoon quickly vanished.

"It means you'll put in your time at home and then bugger off back to Romania with your bloody dragons."

"That's not fair!"

"Bill was here! Bill left Egypt to come help, but you – you - "

"I was working in the Order - "

"You don't care!"

"Ron - "

"You don't care at all - "

"That's enough - "

"You'll go back and shag half of Europe before you even think about him!"

"Enough." There was a definite edge to Charlie's voice now.

"You're not even going to miss him!"

"I said, that's enough!" Charlie seized him suddenly by the shirt collar. Ron laughed at the action. He wasn't ickle Ronniekins who could be bullied around anymore. He dwarfed his brother by over a foot now. He threw his arms up forcefully and shoved Charlie back several feet.

"You're not even here enough to miss him!" he launched another barb Charlie's way.

He could taste the blood that immediately started to pool in his mouth before he could even realize that his brother had struck him. He raised his hand to his mouth in disbelief.

"You hit me." His voice sounded numbly.

"You're not the only one who lost a brother," Charlie pointed at him, still seething and his hands still balled into fists.

"You hit me," Ron repeated, his numbness quickly giving way to anger.

"You asked for it."

"Oh, I asked for it?" Ron growled. "Ask for this, then!" he flew at Charlie, wrestling his brother's short and stocky frame to the ground. It was a clear mismatch. Ron was tall and his lanky frame had muscled up over the years, but he was no match for the man who climbed mountains and handled dragons on a daily basis.

"You really want to do this?" Charlie muttered through clinched teeth as they scuffled about in the mud. Ron swung wildly at his brother, who was easily able to evade most of his drunken jabs. "Why are you doing this, Ron?" Charlie inquired breathlessly, muscling him away. Each time he threw him off Ron just came diving back with fists flying. It was like he needed to hit something, anything, the rabbit, the tree, his brother, whatever was there. "Enough!" Charlie finally managed to reach for his own wand and throw up a shield charm. "Just because you're hurting doesn't give you the right to act this way! Grow up!"

"Says the man who ran away to chase dragons and skirts!" Ron shot back, touching his hand again to his bleeding lip.

"Come inside, Ron," Charlie spoke coolly, ignoring the gibe and reaching for his him one last time.

"No!" Ron shoved him away harshly.

"Come inside."

"No, I won't! I'm leavin' for Awe-stray-lee," Ron shouted defiantly, but he was speaking to Charlie's shadow. His brother had turned sharply on his heel and was marching off to the Burrow, leaving Ron standing in the path, bloodied, wandless and alone.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 13 of 45

<< Previous     Home     Next >>