Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 15 of 45

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His father was huddled over the workbench in his garage and tinkering with a small black contraption when Ron walked inside. He was oblivious to Ron's entrance and was intently focused on a blinking red light that he seemed to be able to switch off and on with his hand. The workbench was crammed with similar pieces, many of which had been opened up and had multicolored wires exposed. The piece his dad was looking at was intact however and, judging by the blinking light, seemed to be functional. It was small enough to fit in his dad's hand and looked like it had two eyepieces, one looking quite like that on his set of omnoculars and the other more like a great big eye.

"What's that?" Ron spoke, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. His head was still spinning and he was grateful for the dim lighting inside the garage.

"This!" His father scrunched up his face as he switched the light from red to green and held one of the eyepieces up to his own eye. "This is something Muggles use to save their memories," he announced.

"Like a Pensieve?" Ron drew a bit closer and peered at the object curiously.

"Not exactly." His dad reached out and flipped the device open. Ron took a step back, thoroughly intrigued by what was revealed. His dad's garage suddenly appeared on the tiny flat piece that had opened up, like an exact replica of what was in front of him. His dad waved his hand in front of the other end of the screen and his hand too appeared on the flat canvas.

"It's like a camera then?"

"Indeed. Muggles call it a camera recorder," his dad informed proudly. "Or just a cam-recorder, I think. You press this button here." He motioned to the button that had changed the light from red to green. "And it will save exactly what you're looking at. Not just the picture, but the sounds as well. Then you can watch it again and again! Quite a brilliant invention, really." He turned the camcorder on Ron, who abhorred having his photograph taken and instinctively moved away. Still, he was intrigued by the device. It seemed to be quite convenient and though he wouldn't want to appear on it, he knew he thought it would be fun to play with.

"How are you feeling?" His dad turned the contraption off and set it down on the workbench, looking to Ron kindly.

"Rotten," Ron admitted sheepishly.

"Well, that's to be expected. Spend all afternoon in a pub, you'd be some kind of a champion not to feel at least some of the effects." Ron was unable to muster a reply. "Still, it's better ale than anything else," his dad dismissed in a surprisingly cavalier manner. "My first time it was with a bit of Greenfairy."

"Greenfairy!" Ron looked aghast that his father had ingested a drink so notorious. "I thought that stuff was banned!"

"Not when I was at Hogwarts. Your uncle, Bilius, he got a hold of some in Hogsmeade and brought it back to the dormitories."

"Uncle Bilius did?"

"I don't remember how much I drank, but I ended up in the prefects' bathroom in nothing more than my Y-fronts and a Gryffindor scarf!"

"You're joking me!" Ron laughed, equal parts repulsed and amused at the thought of his father naked and pissed after a night of drinking.

"Can't remember a thing about that night," his dad chuckled to himself.

"I don't like it," Ron confessed. "Not remembering anything, I mean."

"I wouldn't make a habit out of it."

"Did Charlie say anything about…did he say - " Ron stammered curiously.

"He told us you were angry and talking about leaving, refusing to come inside."

"And Hermione?" Ron wondered when it was she had decided to go out to him without her shoes.

"Once he mentioned you leaving she ran out after you in quite a hurry." Ron cast his eyes downward at the confession. "We all knew if she couldn't get you back inside then nobody could." His father's statement made him more uncomfortable for some reason.

He wondered if his face had been buried so close to Hermione's fly when his dad had passed them by on the sofa. Seeming to answer his question, his dad plopped down on a bench then and motioned for Ron to do the same.

"Your mother and I couldn't be happier for you, you know that, right?" Ron squirmed on the bench, finding it difficult to look his father in the eye. "With all that's happened…" His voice drifted and Ron knew to what he was referring. That's how his family talked about Fred. He had been reduced to an event, a euphemism his family referred to in order to avoid saying exactly what Hermione had up in his bedroom Wednesday: that Fred was dead. "With all that's happened there haven't been many reasons to smile, but you and Hermione." His dad smiled broadly then, the kind of smile Ron couldn't recall seeing on him all week. "It makes us so happy. I hope you know that." Ron still found it difficult to look his father in the eye. "She is everything we have ever wanted for you and more."

"Then how come mum's so weird about her?" Ron blurted out finally. "She's still the same Hermione. She's just…my girlfriend now," he added sheepishly. "Mum treats her like she's done something wrong."

"It's not been easy for her, Ron," his dad spoke calmly. "You have to understand for your mother and myself this is a bit like déjà vu." He licked his lips and paused thoughtfully. "You forget your mother lost both her brothers in the last war."

Ron immediately felt a wave of guilt wash over him. He knew very little about his mother's two brothers, Fabian and Gideon, aside from the fact that they'd died well before he was born. He hadn't even stopped in the events of the past week to remember they hadn't died in an accidental fire or a spell gone wrong, but had been killed by Death Eaters just like Fred had.

"It's hard enough for her to have to go through it all again, but to watch her sons go through what she did too…"

"But…" Ron fidgeted with a thick black cord on his dad's workbench. "What's that got to do with Hermione?"

"Well, it's just hard not to notice that she's…who you're taking comfort in these days." The delicate phrasing sounded very much like a hint to his frequent disappearances up in his bedroom. Ron knew what he was inferring, but for the first time he didn't flush and look away. "Back when your mum lost her brothers…" His dad was suddenly the one who looked embarrassed. "Back then that person was me." He cleared his throat suddenly, as if to carry the conversation in another direction. "Your mum took it badly. She hid for a long time. 'Twas nearly a year before she could even talk about them again. She just doesn't…she doesn't want to see you go through the same thing. And hiding the way you are - "

"I'm not hiding," Ron replied defensively.

"It's hard for her to see. We just want to see you happy."

"She makes me happy." The words tumbled instinctively from his lips.

"I know that." His dad smiled and put a hand on Ron's shoulder then. "We just don't want her to be the only thing that does." Ron was reminded of Hermione's constant urging that they go downstairs and hang out with Harry and Ginny, of Harry's frequent suggestions that he go have a fly.

He scratched his head and fixed his eyes on an odd device hanging on the wall that he thought his father had told him Muggles used to suck up dirt. It had a small motor, a large hose like an elephant's trunk out one end and a thin cord like the one he was playing with coming out the other end. Before he could ask the name of the awkward device, his father spoke. Suddenly, it was his dad's turn to be uncomfortable.

"So did uh…did Charlie talk to you about…uh…well…I asked him to talk to you about you and…er Hermione and – well – whether or not you're- you know, using - "

"Dad, don't – honestly - no – just stop." Ron tried to talk over his dad to keep from hearing the conversation he'd been lucky enough to avoid his entire adolescence. He could hardly believe that now, at age eighteen, after everything he'd been through this year, his dad was trying to discuss this with him.

"I just - we need to know you're being safe, Ron." His dad spoke over his loud protests. Ron wanted to shout that he had no business knowing what exactly he and Hermione did or didn't do up in his bedroom, but somehow he didn't think secrecy was the best approach.

"Look, when we go upstairs…it's not what you think." He mumbled in mortification, his cheeks a deep shade of scarlet. The admission was hardly audible, but he could see from the relieved expression on his dad's face that he had heard him.

"Well, you should still know -"

"I know the spell, Dad. Fred and George taught it to me ages ago." Ron tried to shut his dad up with a white lie. The twins had jokingly told him about a spell last Christmas holiday when he'd been dating Lavender. There had been no teaching of how exactly to do it.

"It's really quite tricky. There's two incantations in fact, one for you and one for her- "

"Just stop!" Ron held up is hands in protest. He knew it was immature, but he could not allow himself to hear his dad reference Hermione the way he was, to even allude to the precautions that they would have to take when their relationship progressed past rubbing up against each other on his bed.

"I just want you to be prepared when the time comes -"

"Stop talking!"

"Sexual intimacy is a…well, it's a big deal, but the more prepared you are - "

"Dad!" Ron sprang to his feet at the words and turned away abruptly, hardly believing he had let his dad say as much as he had.

"No need to be embarrassed about it." The words were entirely unconvincing considering his dad's own discomfort at saying them was obvious. Neither looked eager to continue talking and the conversation was clearly at an end.

"I'm going to go have a wash," Ron announced, but his stomach fell as soon as he realised what would take place after his shower. Blame it on his raging headache, but this morning was actually the first time all week he'd awoken and Fred hadn't been the first thing on his mind. "What time does it start?" Ron asked suddenly, hardly believing today was the day that had once seemed so far off.

"I expect people will start to arrive in a few hours."

"Right." Suddenly his dad's pitiful attempt at a sex talk felt like the last thing on his mind. Soon the Burrow would be filled with all the people he had said goodbye to back at Hogwarts and King's Cross. Hagrid would be there and Lee Jordan and Oliver Wood and Professor McGonagall and Madame Hooch. His stomach lurched at the thought of so many people flooding his home to do nothing more than offer the same kind of pity that had set him on edge that morning with Hermione.

He noted her obvious absence from the sofa as he returned to the sitting room. She had fluffed the pillows back up and neatly folded the blanket so there was no evidence anybody had slept on the sofa. He glanced at Ginny's first floor bedroom as he climbed the stairs, reckoning his sister had probably been enraged last night when Hermione hadn't returned to the camp bed and she figured out their mother had allowed her to spend the night with him. He wondered if she and Harry both thought the same thing his dad did about their activities. Did the whole house think they were shagging?

He moved slowly as he climbed up the stairs, his head still raging and a general feeling of queasiness overwhelming him. He wasn't sure whether the queasiness was the effects of the alcohol or the thought of what the day held. The door to the third floor bathroom was closed when he finally reached it and he gave a couple loud raps on the door with his knuckles. Growing up in a family his size he'd learned the hard way to always knock before entering anywhere.

"I'm in here." Hermione's voice sounded from behind the door.

Ron stiffened upon hearing her voice. He wasn't sure how to address her after his abrupt departure this morning. He hated how his bloody pride had gotten in the way when all she'd been trying to do was be kind to him. He still couldn't remember what exactly he'd said to her last night. He did remember that she'd run out to see him with her shoes off and, at one point, put her fingers in his mouth. He remembered she'd taken his trainers off and accidentally hit him in the nose. He remembered falling asleep with his head in her lap and waking up at one point with her face inches from his own.

"It's me." He waited to hear her voice on the other end of the door, but was met with silence. He knew he deserved it so he kept talking. "I was – erm – I just wanted to – well, I was wondering if I could use the loo after you," he stammered.

"Sure," she replied shortly.

"Will you come help me get dressed after?" he blurted out the first thing that came to him. Hermione snorted at the bizarre request. She deserved an apology he knew, for his behaviour last night and the way he'd left her this morning. It was there, buried deep in his throat, yet he could not force the words from his lips. He stammered over an explanation instead. "I just – I don't have any idea what I'm supposed to wear today and, well, I was hoping – maybe if you – er, maybe you could help me." The thought of standing in front of his wardrobe and having to choose an outfit to wear to his brother's funeral made him want to throw up. It was the kind of thing he knew he couldn't do alone. He needed Hermione.

"Sure." She spoke after a long pause, her voice not sounding nearly as brusque as before. The door opened up a crack and Ron looked hopefully to it, hoping he'd get a chance to actually speak to her instead of having to talk through the door. Instead, she just walked past him, a pale blue towel wrapped tightly around her body and her wet hair falling down her back. Ron's eyes couldn't help but be distracted by the sudden sight.

Had her legs always been that long or was the towel, like so many things at the Burrow, just not the right size? Whenever she wore skirts at Hogwarts it was always accompanied with a thick pair of stockings. He didn't think he'd ever seen so much of her leg before. Ron could only stand and watch her scurry down the stairs to Ginny's room. She didn't so much as glance behind her.

The door beside the bathroom opened up suddenly and Harry climbed out of his cave-like room. His hair was sticking up at all kinds of different angles and he didn't have his glasses on yet so he squinted at Ron.

"Are you using the loo?" He rubbed his eyes groggily.

"Yeah," Ron replied weakly. He knew nodding his head would not help the pounding headache that still raged in his temples.

"Feeling any better?"

"Bit worse, to be honest," Ron mumbled uncomfortably. He wondered how much of a spectacle he had been.

"Did you get sick?"

"No. Least I don't think so."

"You don't remember?"

"No, I don't remember much of anything." Ron was as humiliated to admit the words to Harry as much as he had been to Hermione.

"Charlie said you drank more than he did," Harry remarked, looking a bit impressed.

"Yeah? What else did he say?" Ron inquired, curious if he could glean any more information from the night.

"That you said kissing Hermione is the best thing you've ever done in your life." Harry gave a teasing grin. Ron groaned at the revelation and covered his face with his hands. "That her lips taste like strawberry pie."


"That she smells like ice cream and flowers," Harry rattled on.

"Please stop," Ron protested weakly.

"That you once stole my Invisibility Cloak to spy on her in the Prefect's Bathroom." Harry laughed and he stepped back down into his room.

"That wasn't – that was only – I didn't!" Ron followed after Harry, stammering protest.

"Oh, it keeps going," his friend grinned. "But don't worry, your secrets are safe for now."

"I don't remember saying anything," Ron admitted wearily.

"Well, I don't reckon Charlie would make it up. Seeing as he doesn't even know I have an Invisibility Cloak," Harry teased.

"I didn't steal it!" Ron clarified. "I mean, I just borrowed it and I – I didn't really see anything."

Harry sputtered with laughter at the confession and, for some reason, it made Ron smile too.

"She was already in the bath and there were too many fucking bubbles." He recalled the fifth year memory and how all he'd been able to see was her head and her toes. He'd chickened out and ran before Myrtle gave him away. Harry kept laughing. "She'd still kill me if she ever found out." Ron grinned just imagining her fury at his randy sixteen year old self.

"I'll take it to the grave."

Their laughter hung in the air a moment, but then Ron could see something else weighing on Harry. He wished he wouldn't say anything. He just wanted to keep laughing with his friend, even if it was at his own expense.

"He said…er...he said you were talking about leaving," Harry admitted finally.

"Just to Australia." Ron recalled his conversation with Hermione on the sofa, in which she'd revealed the same thing. "That's all."

"Right, but he said…he said you wanted to leave last night. That you didn't want to come home."

Ron looked just as uncomfortable as Harry then. The words didn't ring a bell, but the sentiment behind him wasn't something he needed to sit in a pub for five hours to feel. He didn't want to come home because he didn't like being home. The only pleasant part of being home so far had been yesterday when Hermione had let him cop a feel., even if it had been over her shirt

"I don't – I don't remember," he stumbled.

"Promise me you won't leave, mate," Harry blurted out then.

"Leave?" Ron blinked twice and frowned at his friend's sudden seriousness.


"Well, I am." He gave a casual shrug. "I mean, Hermione and I are leaving Sunday - "

"I just mean today. Ginny's, well…just don't go running off to snog Hermione. She needs you, Ginny does."

"She's got you," Ron replied curtly.

"She needs her big brother," Harry implored. "It's like she didn't just lose one brother. She lost three." Ron felt a pang of guilt as he thought about Harry's words and of George shut up in his room.

"She's had a go at me every sodding chance she's got," he recalled all the snide comments Ginny had made in four short days at home.

"Come on, that's how you two have always been," Harry dismissed. "She misses you. She's missed you all year." Ron said nothing. For some reason, he felt like Charlie had talked about this with him yesterday as well. That marked three people, if he included Hermione's words this morning about not letting his family fracture.

He couldn't help but feel like he was somehow being admonished by his best friend for spending time alone with Hermione.

"Just stay close today, yeah?" Harry tried to sound casual, but Ron felt suddenly annoyed at the thought that Harry was telling him what to do.

What nerve did he have telling him not to run off with Hermione? He'd had three weeks of uninterrupted bliss where he and Ginny had gotten to tuck away and be alone doing things Ron would prefer not to ever think about. Who was he to tell him not to be with Hermione today of all days? Didn't he know she was the only thing that could possibly get him through it? No sooner did the anger wash over him then it quickly passed and he realised his best mate was only speaking as somebody who cared. For some reason, it made him think about Hermione.

"I yelled at her," Ron confessed suddenly. Harry seemed to sense he was talking about Hermione and not Ginny as Ron looked at the floor shamefully. "I mean, I think I did."

"You did," Harry confirmed. Ron felt like an idiot. Of course Hermione would talk to Harry.

"When did you talk to her?"

"She came up this morning before she washed up," Harry explained.

"Was she upset?" Ron inquired glumly. Harry simply nodded. "Was she crying?" The sober expression on Harry's face answered his question. The queasiness returned in Ron's stomach. He didn't want to look at Harry. He didn't even want to try to explain himself. He just rose to his feet. "I'll let you know when I'm out of the shower." He heard Harry call after him, but he just climbed out of the room and into the tiny bathroom that served all eight Weasleys.

His gaze drifted down to the hook where Fred's towel would normally hang as he grabbed his own from the topmost hook. Though neither of the twins had lived at the Burrow for years, his mum still left things in the house just the same. Whenever they came for an evening their things were always just as they left them. He tried hard to remember the last time before the wedding Fred and George had even come home. Staring at the towel hooks, Ron couldn't keep his thoughts from wandering to the sight of Hermione in that pale blue towel moments ago. His brain was all over the place. What was wrong with him for thinking about things like this on the day of his brother's funeral? What was wrong with him for thinking about that when he just learned she'd run to Harry crying.

He stepped into the shower and let the water cascade down his body. He thought about the things his dad had said, about how he took comfort in Hermione, and how his mum had done the same with his dad. What was wrong with focusing on the positives he had in his life? What was wrong with taking pleasure in these moments that he and Hermione had put off for so many months and years? He didn't feel like sitting around with a family that conveniently seemed to ignore the fact that George never joined them. He didn't care to come back down for pudding when he knew at some point somebody would bring him up. They'd mention one of the twins and the whole room would lock up. Ron's eyes would rest on his picture on the mantle and all he could think about was how unfair and cruel the world was to take his brother away. But when he was with Hermione, all he thought about was her. The way she ran her fingers through his hair, the tiny gasps that sounded when he kissed her neck, the desperate way she had clung to him on the landing yesterday.

He turned off the water and wrapped a towel loosely around his waist to make his way up the stairs, shouting through Harry's door that he was finished like he'd promised. He was glad his parents had decided to schedule the funeral in the morning. Though it was only a few hours away he already hated the hours between now and then. He couldn't imagine the thought of waiting around all day for it. He closed the door behind him and quickly pulled on a pair of shorts from the neatly folded pile of laundry Hermione and Ginny had brought up yesterday. He couldn't help but think about how flustered Hermione had been when her undergarments had tumbled out all over the floor, but how she seemed to have no problem handling his.

He stood in front of his wardrobe, toweling off his hair and wondering what one was even supposed to wear to a funeral. They'd all just worn their school robes to Dumbledore's funeral and that was the only one he'd been to that he could remember. He'd been too young at Uncle Bilius' to remember anything aside from the feast afterward. He knew you weren't supposed to wear bright colors, but he suddenly seemed to have an abundance of bright red and orange clothing. And everything else was either striped or checkered and he reckoned one didn't wear patterns to a funeral either. He rifled through his wardrobe in exasperation, desperately wishing he had Hermione's opinion.

He didn't have anything nice to wear aside from the dress robes he'd worn to Bill and Fleur's wedding. Somehow he thought wearing the same thing to a funeral would be highly inappropriate.

He looked over clothes he hadn't touched in over a year, pausing as he lifted up a handsome black woolen jumper that Hermione had bought him for his sixteenth birthday. He remembered she wouldn't say whether it had come from Madame Malkin's or a Muggle clothing store and she wouldn't tell him how much it had cost, but it was nicer than any heavy hand-knitted Weasley jumper he had ever owned.

The memory of the jumper was a pleasant distraction. As unenthused as he'd appeared to be when he opened it up, owning such a fashionable piece of clothing had excited him tremendously. Whether it was her intention or not, the jumper had shown to him that she paid attention when he complained about his hand-me-down clothes and she took note when he grumbled about never owning anything new. It was the nicest gift she'd ever gotten him. He remembered that all he'd gotten her that year was ten feet of brand new parchment and different colored inks he'd bought in Diagon Alley over the summer. He had written her a note though, which had been a first for him. Happy Birthday! Try not to use this all up before October! The note had read. She had appeared to appreciate the gesture and it certainly went over better than his perfume later on at Christmas. She'd even given him a hug.

He lost himself in comforting thoughts about fifth year. That year had been the year he thought they might happen. Many a night they'd been alone on their prefect rounds and the thought had crossed his mind about what it might be like to kiss her. He had been so unsure how she felt. He was quite sure normal friends didn't give each other clothes and then she'd kissed him on the cheek before his first Quidditch match and there had been all those D.A meetings where they had partnered up. If he'd only had Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches then he might have had a chance to move forward then. He felt now that they'd wasted so much precious time and so many opportunities.

Shaking his head, he returned his attention to the jumper. It was classy and formal and definitely not bright. Would it be too depressing if he wore it with a pair of grey trousers? Then he'd just be this drab colored bloke in black and grey. He would depress everybody. He also had a grey jumper he could wear with black trousers, but his chest tightened as he recalled the grey jumper had once belonged to Fred and he couldn't bring himself to wear that. He turned to his dress robes then, the nice navy blue ones Fred and George had bought him two summers ago. Perhaps more traditional robes were the way to go.

He collapsed down onto the bed, still wearing nothing but his boxer shorts. He could hear the rest of the house slowly waking up. He wondered if anyone else was struggling with what to wear as much as he was. This was just stupid. Nobody would remember what he was wearing. Nobody would even be looking at him. Why did there even have to be a funeral anyway? The whole idea just seemed stupid. Getting together to be depressed and cry and watch a body be lowered into the ground. This was all just a formality. That body wouldn't even be Fred. There was nothing they could do. There was no magical spell to say goodbye, nothing that would allow him to talk to his brother one last time. There was the Resurrection Stone, of course, but Harry had dropped it in the forest and Ron hadn't dared ask where, even though he'd been tempted to on more than one occasion.

He thought he could hear his Great Aunt Muriel's shrill voice downstairs, which meant people were already arriving. Still he made no effort to move. His thoughts returned to the Resurrection Stone. Maybe he could find it. Maybe he could Apparate to Hogsmeade and walk over to the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid had carried Harry out of the forest and his enormous tracks would be easy to follow. Plus there had been a whole host of Death Eaters that had trailed behind Hagrid and those tracks couldn't be hard to find either. If he could just locate the trail, he remembered Hermione telling him about a tracking spell that could follow it for him. Then maybe he could find it. He could bring the stone back here and he could bring Fred back.

He glanced over at his clock and realised he'd been staring at his wardrobe for over an hour. He wondered if Hermione had forgotten her promise to help him. Maybe she'd just lied to him and had no intention of helping him after how he'd walked out on her this morning. Maybe she was eating breakfast. He guessed going to a funeral on an empty stomach might not be the greatest idea. He knew he should probably eat something too as most of what he'd ingested yesterday had been a liquid.

The commotion downstairs grew louder and louder and the pit in his stomach just felt heavier and heavier. He wondered if anyone would even notice if he just stayed upstairs for the rest of the day. He bet if he just disappeared nobody would even notice his absence from the funeral.

"Ron?" Hermione's voice sounded suddenly outside the door. Nobody except Hermione, that is. "Ron, are you ready?" He heard the door handle turn and he leapt to his feet, mortified for some reason at the possibility of Hermione walking in on him as he lay on his bed in just his boxer shorts and knowing he'd been doing nothing the past hour.

He scrambled about his room, searching for a pair of trousers and a shirt. "One minute!" He called frantically, hurriedly jerking on whatever clothing was closest to him. The door opened up and Hermione frowned at him as she glanced at his out of breath expression.

"What were you doing?"

"Nothing, just…getting dressed," he stammered, trying to pick his jaw up off the floor as he looked to her. She was wearing a simple black dress with thin straps he was quite sure was Ginny's and her hair looked surprisingly sleek and shiny like it had for Bill and Fleur's wedding. Ron couldn't make any words as he looked to the dress that looked a bit too large for Hermione in places he rather enjoyed.

"Sorry it took me so long. I had to wear something of your sister's and, well, it didn't fit quite right in places." She looked self-consciously down to her chest and pulled the dress up. Ron noticed she still wore a bandage on her left arm, but he didn't comment on it. "Your Great Aunt Muriel said it was inappropriate to wear to a funeral and that I looked like a strumpet, but it was all we could find." She waved a black cardigan around in her hands. "Fleur's given me this to wear over it so hopefully I look all right."

"Never mind Muriel," Ron dismissed.

"She told me I had skinny ankles and bad posture again." Ron remembered his mother's aunt had told her the same thing at the wedding.

"She's a crazy old bat," he scoffed. "You look…you look…"

"I know. I look nice."

"You look beautiful," Ron whispered.

He had never been so frank in an assessment of her appearance before. He had told her she looked "nice", "great", and "good", which is clearly what she'd expected him to say. There was no tone of surprise to his assertion either. He'd said the words as nothing less than a confident statement of fact. She blushed and bowed her head, clearly unsure how to take the brazen compliment.

"What are you going to wear, then?" Hermione again looked to the clothes he had on. He was wearing the trousers he'd cleaned the broomshed in and a striped shirt with a frayed collar and sleeves. "Obviously not that."

"I have no idea." Ron collapsed back onto the bed. He was grateful that she didn't seem to want to dwell on his behaviour last night or this morning for that matter. Far from her curt replies downstairs outside the bathroom, she was doing a fine job at pretending none of it had ever happened. He didn't want to ruin all that by telling her that the more he sat up here and thought about what to wear the less he wanted to attend the funeral at all. He was just pleased she seemed to be making nothing of his stormy exit from the sofa that morning.

"Is Fred here yet?" he inquired suddenly. He wasn't sure why his getting dressed was at all dependent upon whether his brother had arrived inside his coffin yet, but he somehow needed to hear it. Ginny's room was on the second floor and he knew if Hermione had been getting dressed in there she had likely heard more than he did up here in his fifth floor fortress.

"Yes." She spoke quietly after a long pause.

"And mum and dad?"

"They're up at the gravesite. They said we should be outside to let people know where to go."

"I don't even know where to go," Ron sighed, dropping down on the bed.

"I can show you. It's just past the orchard. At the base of that big buckthorn bush where you said you all used to play."


"It's really nice. Ginny and I went up there yesterday while Harry was talking to Kingsley." Though he knew she hadn't intended them to, the words sounded almost like an accusation to Ron. They'd been visiting Fred's future grave while he'd been getting pissed at the pub with Charlie.


"Come on then, let's figure out what you can wear." She turned toward his wardrobe then. Ron was impressed at her attempt at cheerfulness, especially considering how short he'd been with her this morning. He admired her effort, really he did, but it would take more than a beautiful dress and a smile to wash away the sudden urge he had to stay up here in his room for the rest of the day.

"I don't…" He started to mumble the words he'd been thinking about all morning. "I don't think I'm going to go."

"Don't be silly, we'll find something for you." She handed him two sets of possible trousers to wear and continued to rifle through his clothing.

"Hermione - "

"We'll find something for you to wear and you'll - "

"Hermione, I'm not going to go."

"Of course you're going to go to your brother's funeral." She laughed at the absurdity of the statement and continued to pull out wardrobe options.

"No. I'm not." She turned around slowly, two neatly folded Weasley sweaters in her hand, and stared at him curiously, seeming to sense he was serious.

"Why on earth wouldn't you go?"

" 'Cause I don't want to." He shrugged simply.

"But Ron -"

"I don't want to go and watch them put him in the ground, Hermione." He spoke with an edge to his voice that he knew Hermione could detect. Her brow wrinkled as he spoke the words. "I don't want to sit there and listen to them talk about him and watch everybody cry and say goodbye to him when it's obviously too late for that."

"But Ron - "

"It is too late! Don't tell me it's not," he scoffed, the anger now taking hold of him. "The time to say goodbye to him was five days ago before he went to go guard the passageways with George." Ron hoped she couldn't detect the twinge of regret in his voice. "He's gone and I don't need a bloody funeral to tell me that. I just don't see the effing point to it all."

"You'll regret not going to his funeral, Ron, you'll regret it your whole life. Please."

"I'm not going."

"Your family needs you there."

"I'm not going." He felt more confident each time he said the words.

"I need you there," she pleaded and pressed her hands to her chest. "Please."

"I'm not going."

"You're being silly - "

"Maybe I am."

"And you're being selfish."

"You're probably right," he admitted quietly.

"Please, just get dressed. You'll feel better once you're dressed. You can put on this." She held up the black jumper she'd bought him years ago. "Look, you've never even worn it! And you can wear these." She held up the grey trousers he had already selected as well. "And you can meet me downstairs and we'll do this – we'll do this together, Ron." She took his hand, but he let it fall back to his side limply.

"I'm not doing it."

"You're acting just like you did last night!" She folded her arms across her chest crossly, her frustration clearly growing.

"Well, then maybe you're right and it wasn't the ale after all."

"Would you stop being so stubborn?"

"Would you stop telling me what to do?" he fired back.

"I'm not telling you what to do." She lowered her voice and collected herself. "I'm just telling you the truth and that is you will regret not coming to your brother's funeral."

"You have no idea what I'll regret!" he attacked. This was like last night when he'd swung back and forth between anger and sadness so drastically. "You don't know what it's like!"

"You're right." She pressed her hands to her chest. "But I do know the longer you hide from this…the harder it is going to be."

"I'm not hiding," Ron challenged, the same way he'd challenged his dad when he had accused him of the same thing out in the garage.

"You are hiding! Everything you've done since it happened has been hiding, Ron!" Ron's eyes flicked about the room in annoyance, refusing to rest on Hermione. He could hear her starting to come undone as she spoke the words and he knew the floodgates were now open. "Since we went up to the common room that morning, you've been hiding! Every time we come up here, you've been hiding!"

"Well, if you think I'm hiding so much why do you even stay with me?"

"Because I care about you, you idiot, and I hate seeing you hurting!" she cried and the tears that had been threatening fell freely from her face now.

"So it's 'cause you feel bad for me then." His feelings downstairs on the sofa when he'd correctly placed the look on her face to be one of pity suddenly returned. "That's the reason you come up here and - "

"No, Ron, please, don't be like this!" she sighed. "Obviously, that's not the only reason I - "

"But it's one of the reasons," he scowled.

"Did you hear nothing I said to you the other day?" Hermione managed a laugh. "About being with you and how it's - "

"You think I've been hiding," Ron cut her off.

Hermione sucked in a deep breath and finally seemed to regain her composure.

"Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me you're not?" she inquired simply. "You tell me that part of the reason you don't…love coming up here is because it makes you forget." Ron's eyes scanned the room, avoiding hers as much as possible so she couldn't see that it felt like she'd just read his mind. "I know when I…" She paused momentarily and licked her lips, suddenly looking very embarrassed. "I know when I kiss you that I forget about everything else in the world and everything that's happened. I almost forget where I am." Ron tried to look unmoved at her heartfelt confession. "All I think about is you and me and it's like everything else just melts away." She took in a deep breath and pressed her hands to her chest. "I love that feeling. I love being with you," she confessed and Ron shifted uncomfortably at her casual use of such heavy words they had yet to exchange. "I don't know what else I can tell you to make you believe that." She sounded utterly exasperated at her need to defend herself. He felt guilty for questioning her, but could not muster a reply.

The more she talked the more he realised he was rubbish at the whole relationship thing. This was for people like his brother, Bill, even Harry, who now seemed to be quite the expert. He didn't know what he was doing. One minute he was in the shower fantasizing about tearing her towel off and doing things that would make her blush, the next he was arguing and attacking her motivations for even being with him in the first place. Hermione touched his arm softly and this time he didn't withdraw. He opened up his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He fidgeted uncomfortably, thinking back to the past five glorious days he already seemed to have messed up. He knew he would screw up their relationship in the first week, just like he had told both Harry and Charlie he would. He blew out a loud, frustrated sigh.

"Talk to me, Ron," she requested softly, reaching out for his hand. "I hate not knowing what to do for you."

"Just…stay with me." He shrugged simply. "That's all, just stay up here with me and - "

"I'm going to the funeral," she stated firmly.

"Please, stay here with me. I can't do it, Hermione. I need you to stay."

"You can do it." She took both his hands then and squeezed them. "We can do it together."


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 15 of 45

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