Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 16 of 45

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He told her he would, at the very least, change into the clothes she had picked out for him and meet her at the bottom of the stairs. He made no promises that he would change his mind about attending the funeral. She looked hopeful however and when he saw her standing at the landing he knew she was still holding out that something inside him had changed. The house was surprisingly empty save for her. Ron wondered if everybody was already gathered around the buckthorn bush.

"You look handsome." Hermione offered quietly as he slowly made his way down the stairs. He wondered if she was simply repaying the compliment he'd bestowed upon her earlier. The grey trousers, which he hadn't worn in years, were too short and exposed his ankle more than they should.

"Thanks." He decided to accept the compliment as he tugged at the sleeves of the black jumper, which being two years old was also a bit too small for him. "The jumper fits nicely," he lied and smiled at her in thanks before saying what he knew would cause the smile to fall from her face. "I'm not going."

She didn't flinch at his words, didn't cry or complain. She looked almost as if she expected it.

"I need you there with me," she implored one last time.

He just touched her arm softly in a weak attempt to apologise. "I'm sorry. I just can't." Then he turned on his heel and walked out the front door.

He exited to the north so he wouldn't have to watch her make the lonely walk to the gravesite on her own. He wondered what his family would do when she showed up without him. They'd probably be as disappointed as she was. He turned west sharply at the chicken coop and walked into the neighboring cornfield, where he enjoyed how easy it was to get lost and forget about everything else amid the identical rows of corn.

He thought about her words of warning - the longer he hid the worse it would be. He kicked at a clod of dirt between the rows. She wasn't always right about everything. Hiding could make it all easier to deal with eventually; accepting it after he was numb to the pain could help. And what was wrong with wanting to escape in her embrace for a couple of hours a day?

Every other moment in his house he had to look at things that reminded him of Fred. There was his picture on the mantle, his broom resting by the fireplace, and his conspicuous absence from his mother's clock in the kitchen. He had noticed that yesterday. He wondered if the clock just knew to take him down or if his mother had gotten rid of it. Either way, he hated it. Removing him from the clock felt like removing him from the family. People would soon forget about Fred, the same way he never remembered his uncles Fabian and Gideon.

Ron kicked at another dirt clod and was happy when he saw it disintegrate at the force of his blow. Then there was George. Everyone in the family treated George like he was one step away from St. Mungo's. They rapped on his door five times a day, imploring him to come out, but on the rare occasion he did nobody seemed quite sure how to speak to him. They didn't seem to notice his habit of removing himself from conversation by sitting with his earless side facing them. They almost seemed grateful for his self-imposed seclusion. Ron wondered if it was because every time they looked at George they could, of course, see Fred. He wondered if maybe that was the reason George was hiding in the first place. Maybe he just didn't want to make people more miserable than they already were. That's all the funeral would do anyway - make people more depressed, and that's why he wasn't going.

All they were going to do was state the obvious. Fred was gone. Sure, they'd commemorate his life and people would stand up and offer tribute like they had at Dumbledore's, but all they were really doing was putting him in the ground. He thought about the ancient funeral preparations he'd learned about when his family had vacationed in Egypt among the pyramids. When he'd been thirteen years old, the thought of removing organs from a dead body and pulling someone's brains out through their nose with a hook had been cool. He and the twins had told the stories over and over to the rest of the boys in Gryffindor tower.

He wondered what they'd done to prepare his brother to be buried. Was there a spell to make sure he didn't start to rot? Did they have to magically drain his blood and remove his organs like the Egyptians did? Was there a spell for that too? He wondered if Fred had gone all stiff and if his eyes had sunk back into his eye sockets yet.

A wave of nausea swept through Ron and he collapsed to his knees at the thought, retching uncontrollably.

His brother had been prepared. His body was lying in a coffin outside the orchard next to the buckthorn bush he'd used to hide in when they'd played as kids. Great dry heaves wracked his body and Ron vomited into the grass.

Sticky saliva dripped from his mouth as Ron slowly got to his feet and wiped his face with the back of his sleeve, forgetting it was Hermione's fancy jumper. He willed the morbid thoughts out of his head as best he could and continued to wander about the cornfield, cutting across the rows at random. He gave little thought to where he was going and every now and again he'd stagger through wet swampy areas that required him to wade in past his ankles. He made his way around the swampy fields and eventually began to climb a small hill that he knew bordered the orchard. The hill was not very large, but it was steep and he had to hike up his trousers, which were now dripping wet. He knew where the hill would lead him and what it would overlook. He wasn't entirely sure why he kept traveling up it. He would be able to see the hole in the ground, the coffin, the mourners, and his entire grieving family.

What he didn't expect to see was George sitting at the top of the hill too watching it all. He was dressed quite like Ron, in an outfit that indicated at one point he had possibly intended to go to the funeral himself. If he was at all surprised to see Ron he did not let on, he simply gave a silent nod of the head and slowly turned his head back to the funeral.

Ron said nothing either. He just walked over and sat down on the hard-packed earth beside his brother. Down below, he could see a sea of dark shades of grey, green, blue, and of course, black. He could make out his family huddled together in the first row of chairs. He could see Hermione seated up with them in the seat where he would have sat and Harry was there beside Ginny as well. The smiling picture of Fred his family had picked out to display grinned out and winked at the reception. The Cleansweep Ron had pulled out of the broomshed was propped up beside it. The sight made Ron's stomach churn. The photo was flanked by two large white lilies that swayed back and forth in a decidedly melancholy manner. He wasn't sure whose idea the dancing lilies had been, but they seemed unbelievably out of place. Nothing about the funeral, aside from the picture of him and his old Cleansweep, reminded him of his brother.

He was quite confident the old wizard who was speaking had never even met Fred and even though he couldn't hear what he was saying he was annoyed by his presence. He watched as his two oldest brothers got up to speak in front of the congregation. He couldn't hear anything either said, but they looked solemn and serious. Percy got up to say a few words next, but he appeared too overcome with grief to continue. Ron remembered how brief his reunion with Fred had been. He didn't envy the feeling of regret Percy must now have of all the years he had wasted. Bill helped escort Percy back down the aisle and Ron could see people look around as if awaiting another Weasley brother to come up and speak. The conspicuous absence of the two youngest brothers was quickly absolved by Lee Jordan who, with his two newly mended arms, rose to his feet and made the crowd chuckle on more than one occasion. Professor McGonagall came then and Ron was curious what the Headmistress could possibly have to say about a student who concentrated more on pulling pranks than studying.

Ron thought the whole thing seemed false. It was like when Harry would tell him he had done well at Quidditch practice when he knew he'd done terribly. Fred wasn't the kind of person you could summarize in a brief speech or even one of Lee's funny stories. Fred Weasley was just Fred Weasley.


The word echoed in Ron's head the same way it had when all the visitors had stopped by and shared stories about his brother three days ago. Fred was a story now. That was all.

He watched as each of his family members approached the coffin. Bill was the first to come up and touch the top of the pine box. Percy lay a Gryffindor tie atop it and Ginny Fred's Beaters bat, before she turned away to bury her head into Harry's shoulder. Ron could see, even from his faraway spot atop the hill, that despite her apparent composure as she approached the coffin, Hermione was crying just like Ginny was. He watched her touch the coffin briefly with her fingers and turn away sharply. His eyes followed her as she returned to her chair and he saw her wipe away tears with the back of her hand.

Everybody shuffled slowly toward the pine box one at a time. Several, like Percy and Ginny, left items atop of it to rest with Fred. Most of them were products from Weasley Wizard Wheezes, but he saw Angelina Johnson place what looked to be a piece of jewelry atop the coffin. Ron wondered if perhaps it was something Fred had given her.

His parents were last. His mum was openly weeping and making no effort to hide. Ron couldn't help but remember his conversation with his dad that morning about his mum and her brothers. Anger rose up inside him then, anger not toward his mother, but to the people that had taken so much from her. It wasn't fair. His mum didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to lose her brothers and her son. His family didn't deserve this. Fred didn't deserve this.

The old wizard delivered a few final words then that seemed to reduce nearly everyone to tears and then he began magically lowering Fred's coffin into the earth. There was no great burst of flame like at Dumbledore's funeral. No hail of arrows or serenade from the merpeople. Just the plain wooden box slowly sinking into the ground.

He heard a sniffle beside him and he knew George was crying, but he couldn't make himself look. George had never wept before him in his life. The very foreign sound grew louder the lower the coffin went into the ground. Ron felt the familiar stinging in his nose that came when he tried to fight away tears. Something told him now was the moment to release it all, but just like he had refused to last night in front of Hermione, he would not allow himself to come undone beside his brother.

Slowly, the party of mourners left the gravesite and shuffled along to the Weasley household to eat up the Diggory ham and drink the butterbeer and all the other foods that had tempted Ron over the course of the week. Ron and George simply sat atop the hill staring at the hole in the ground, which quickly filled with dirt after a magical flick of the tufty-haired wizard's wand. The morning sun was high in the sky and the buckthorn bush cast a tall shadow across the spot, but neither made an attempt to move. Soon all that remained was a fresh mound of earth that their brother now lay beneath.

Fred was in the ground.

Ron felt like retching again.

He tried to picture his brother inside the wooden box beneath all that dirt. He still didn't know what outfit his parents had chosen to bury him in. For some reason Ron pictured him in his Quidditch uniform, his Beater bat still clutched in his hand. That's how he remembered his big brother. Starting Beater for four years on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, someone he looked up to and envied for most of his life, someone he was so proud to call his brother, someone he admired. He was a fighter until the end.

The end.

Ron stared hard at the mound of dirt. This really was the end. His brother wasn't simply "gone", he was dead. Dead like Dumbledore, dead like Dobby, dead like Sirius Black. Dead the same way Jack Sloper had been when Ron had stared at him that morning after the battle. He was a corpse like all the other corpses he'd walked by in the Great Hall, a carcass now lying there beneath the ground.

Ron had never thought much on death before. Considering how many people had died in his time at Hogwarts, it was surprising he'd never really reflected on the matter much. He hadn't been there for Cedric's death though, he'd only heard about it and seen the body, and Harry said Sirius had just floated behind a veil. When Dumbledore had been killed, he'd been angrier at Snape's apparent betrayal than he was sad at Dumbledore's passing. Then Mad-Eye and Dobby had fallen this year and he heard about so many disappearances on the Wireless that he'd become almost immune to it. But then the world ripped his brother away and for the first time he wanted to know what happened after you died.

He figured there were really two options out there. The first is that this was it. There was no life afterwards, no hope for anything more. You were just dead and became worm food. The other was that there was something else. You died, but your soul somehow moved on. That's what everyone said to him when they tried to comfort him. They talked about death like it was a best friend to be welcomed, something to be happy about because somehow the dead really kept on living. But that was just dumb because Ron knew they were dead and death wasn't a best friend. Death tore people apart. He'd never see his brother again.

Harry told him not long ago his parents' headstone said something about how death was the one enemy they had to defeat. He hadn't understood at the time, but it made sense the more Ron thought about it. Death was really the only certain thing in all their lives. It was one thing they all had in common. They would all die one day. His parents would die, Harry would die, Hermione would die, he would die. And then what happened? Did your soul just float around and check in on people? Could you still see the people you loved? What if he died before Harry and Hermione? Could he come back and see them and make sure they were fine without him? Could Fred come and see that they were all right? Where was Fred? Was he still there underneath all that dirt? Or was he floating up above somewhere watching them all, laughing at them? This was the question he most desperately wanted to know. If he was floating around somewhere, if people were right and his soul was still alive, could he call him back?

Slowly, Ron rose to his feet, hoping his brother would choose to do so as well so they no longer had to stare at the mound of earth, but George made no effort to get up. Ron wanted to say something, but everything he said in his head just sounded too simple. He wanted to tell him he was here for him, that he understood why he hadn't gone to the funeral and why he didn't want to go back to the Burrow, but instead he simply dropped a hand onto his brother's shoulder and gave a supportive squeeze.

At first, George didn't react. He continued to stare out numbly as he had for the past hour, barely even recognising Ron's presence. But just as Ron loosened his grip, in preparation to depart, George reached backwards with his own hand and moved it on top of his brother's. He didn't say a word, but Ron knew he was asking him to stay. After five days of self-imposed solitude, he didn't want to be alone anymore.

Ron tightened his grip again in acknowledgement. He could hear George trying valiantly to keep himself from weeping openly again as Ron stood over him. The sound of him stifling back the cries in his throat haunted Ron, but he remained over him, protectively clutching his shoulder. Ron thought again about the Resurrection Stone. He thought about asking Harry where it was. Surely, he, of all people, would understand that he just wanted to say goodbye; that he and George needed to say goodbye. If he found it and he could just see his brother one last time that would be enough. Everybody today had said goodbye to a wooden box and a photograph. He needed more. He needed the Stone. George needed the Stone.

Ron's knees soon ached from standing there. At one point he almost felt like he was going to pass out he felt like he had been standing so long, but as long as George kept his hand on top of his he remained. He didn't know how much time passed, but the shadows grew longer. Finally, after what felt like hours, George released his hand, rose to his feet and dusted off his trousers.

"He'd hate all this, you know?" he finally cleared his throat and spoke. "Everyone crying over him, he'd hate it."

"You're probably right."

"Oh, I know I'm right," George stated matter-of-factly and gave a crooked grin. He slowly began to climb down the hill. "And those dancing lilies?" he scoffed.

"I know."

"He'd want fireworks or something."

"Probably," Ron murmured, falling in line beside him. "Reckon anyone's pissed yet?" He made a lame attempt to talk about something aside from their dead brother, the funeral they'd just witnessed, or the fact that he'd just seen George cry.

"Wouldn't be a Weasley family gathering if not," George laughed weakly. "I heard you filled in Uncle Bilius' shoes last night." George grinned, the news seeming to make him immensely happy. "On Muggle spirits, no less."

"Yeah, Charlie took me out. Felt like rubbish this morning."

"You should have come to me," George grinned. "Fred and I made an antidote that helps with the after effects. We call it Hair of the Dragon."

"But dragons don't have hair," Ron pointed out stupidly.

"It's just a name, Ron," George scowled. "Comes from an old Muggle saying we got from one of dad's books."

There was a long pause and Ron tried not to let the conversation die as they continued to pick their way down the hill.

"Did you know dad and Uncle Bilius got loaded on Greenfairy when they were at Hogwarts?" He wasn't sure why he'd chosen to share the random story from his dad's childhood. He just knew he wanted to keep talking.

"Greenfairy's illegal," George remarked just the same way Ron had when he'd heard the story from his dad.

"Apparently not when they went to school."

"I had no idea dad had it in him," George looked floored at the revelation and quite pleased with his father. "How'd you find out?"

"He was telling me all about it. I went out to see him in the garage this morning. He was saying all kinds of things."

"Like what?"

"Oh, mostly stuff about me and Hermione. It was fucking awful," Ron groaned as he recalled the conversation.

"He didn't try to have 'the talk' with you, did he?" George managed another laugh. "Poor old dad. He tried to have that talk with me and Fred back in fourth year. Didn't go well for either party."

"How come he had this talk with everyone but me until now?" Ron, feeling rather indignant, recalled Charlie's confession about having had a similar talk with his dad.

"Reckon he never thought you'd find a girl crazy enough to want to shag you."

"Sod off!" Ron shoved George in the arm playfully.

"Fred and I had a bet, you know," George grinned as they drew closer to the Burrow.

"Oh, I heard all about your effing bet."

"We couldn't believe how daft you were," George grinned. "We were embarrassed for the good name of Weasley. Especially that whole mess fourth year with the Yule Ball!"

"She was snogging an international Quidditch star, what was I supposed to do?" For the first time in his life, Ron managed to laugh at the mention of Krum. George just sighed and gave an incredulous shake of the head in reply.

"And I hear that was quite the cock up last year with you and Lav-Lav." Ron was silent as his brother continued to list his blunders. "Now you've done a nice job at getting mum all hacked off, I notice."

"What? About the Australia thing?" Ron looked down at the path before them in embarrassment.


"It's all right now, I think." He recalled the calm conversation yesterday at breakfast about the Portkeys. His mum still didn't seem to love the idea of he and Hermione trekking across the globe, but she certainly seemed to be more accepting of the fact that he was an adult and could make these decisions without their approval.

His mind suddenly turned to the six Portkeys his dad said they'd have to catch and the possible countries they might travel to. He couldn't wait to get out of the Burrow and leave all this behind for a few days. He turned to George. A couple of days away from their family, away from the Burrow and England and everything that reminded him of Fred was exactly what he needed. "You should go."

"Go where, to Australia?" George laughed. "No thanks. I wouldn't want to crash the honeymoon."

"It's no honeymoon!" Ron turned a furious shade of scarlet, unable to shake the fact that Charlie then his father and now George had all married him and Hermione off already after just five days. "We're going to fetch her parents."

"Right, I gotcha, it's just a business errand." George winked at him.

"That's not what – I mean, I'm not saying – it's just - "

"Come on, we all know you two'll be shacking up in some chateau in the south of France first chance you get. That's why mum doesn't want you to go!"

"We're fetching her parents."

"You're going to shag her brains out," George maintained with a grin. Ron didn't even have the strength to bother protesting. He knew any of his attempts to deny the statement would only be met with more harassment and prodding. Despite the wanderings of his mind that morning in the shower, Ron genuinely couldn't see anything further from the truth than what George was suggesting. Sure, he and Hermione shut themselves up in his room for hours at a time, but she never even did so much as take her shoes off. His hands, no matter how much he'd thought about it, hadn't strayed below the belt. Shagging her brains out seemed about the least likely thing to happen on their trip.

He was just glad his brother was joking again though so he played along.

"Try not to sound so jealous, George, it doesn't suit you." He recalled the best way to deal with his brothers' harassment was to dish it out in turn. George just grinned, looking impressed at Ron's rebuttal.

"You know the charms, right?" He seemed a bit more serious despite the way he laughed when he asked the question. Ron thought about the uncomfortable conversations he'd already had with Charlie and his dad about the infamous charms. He considered brushing George off the same way he had them.

"Er – I mean – yeah, you told me them last year."

"But you know how to do them?"

"Well, no," Ron admitted.

"You mean you and Lavender never…"

"No." He figured the moment he confessed to his brother he'd never had sex would be mortifying. They didn't have many heart-to-hearts. He'd never been close to the twins like that. Mostly, all they did was take the piss. He figured admitting he was a virgin would just invite merciless teasing. Talking to George now felt somehow natural though.

"Ginny reckoned you had." George's eyebrows were raised in surprise.

"We got close," Ron felt strangely relieved to confess what he'd never even talked to Harry about. "I mean, I think she wanted to, but by then I was kind of desperate to be shot of her."

"Sex is sex." George gave a cavalier shrug and looked at Ron dubiously.

"I just – I didn't - " Ron stammered over an explanation for why he'd passed up the opportunity, but George spoke before he could.

"You're in love with her, aren't you?" He grinned knowingly as they picked their way through the tuffetts of grass. "Hermione, I mean." George said it more as a statement than a question and Ron was silent. He didn't even know what it meant to love someone like that. He just knew he wanted to be with Hermione all the time in a way he'd never wanted to be with anyone. Did that mean being in love? Was it possible he'd been in love with her as long as George was suggesting? "You passed up sex because you wanted to save yourself for her!" George cackled then, as if reading Ron's own thoughts.

"Piss off!" He shoved his brother so hard he staggered to the left and almost stepped in a rabbit hole.

"Never figured you for such a romantic!" George snorted with laughter. Ron didn't bother trying to explain why he hadn't shagged Lavender when he had the chance. He'd felt wrong about it all by then, about snogging her one minute and avoiding her every bleeding minute the next. He felt suddenly shameful as he thought about the things Lavender had done with him in dark empty classrooms.

"It felt wrong," he finally spoke.

"You ought to have done it." George shook his head in disagreement. "Now you'll be rubbish your first time with Hermione. You'll cum the minute you're inside her." He continued to tease. Ron felt his face grow hot at the graphic way George was talking, not to mention the mere thought of actually being inside Hermione. He knew George was probably right; he would be rubbish. He was tempted for a moment to ask his big brother what sex was really like, but he wasn't sure he could handle any more ribbing. "They're really easy, the charms." George spoke then, and the teasing tone was suddenly gone from his voice.

"Dad said they're tricky." Ron recalled the conversation that morning.

"Maybe the first couple times. You definitely ought to practice them first. Don't want to end up turning your cock yellow or something," George snorted with laughter.

"When do you…I mean how early do you have to do them?" Ron couldn't help but inquire curiously.

"You don't have to, y'know, stop things if that's what you mean. You can do them way before. They last a couple hours."

"So after a couple hours you have to do them again?"

"I think lasting a couple hours is about the last thing you have to worry about," George smirked.

"Piss off." Ron just pushed him again. George staggered forward at the weight of the shove and suddenly they were in the garden. They both went silent. The jokes and banter about Ron's love life immediately fell away. It had been a nice distraction while they were walking. Ron had even forgotten the way George had been crying atop the hill. He had known, of course, they were walking to the Burrow this whole time. Being here finally still filled him with dread though.

"What did you really mean before?" George asked then, finally breaking the silence. "About me going with you and Hermione?"

"I didn't mean I want you to come with us."

"Of course you didn't," George grinned.

"I just meant that you ought to get out for a couple of days, that's all. Get away from here."

"Why would I want to get away from here?" George screwed up his face, looking toward the Burrow with an odd smile. The response made Ron feel guilty for apparently being the only person who wanted to flee. He had thought George, at least, would understand. George seemed to sense something else at work in his brain and fortunately chose not to dwell on it. "Thanks for the sandwich yesterday," he remarked then, slowly moving toward the back door. The noise from inside grew louder with each step. "It really wasn't all that bad."

"It was the best I could do. Mum was saving everything for the – well - for today."


"I am pretty hungry." Ron recalled all he'd really eaten in the past twenty-four hours had been at the River Otter Pub and he took a brave step toward the door.

He looked through an open window, trying to make out silhouettes and the backs of people's head. He knew all that would greet him were condolences and hugs from people he'd only met once in his life. He knew once he went inside, he couldn't run away. Looking to George, he took in a deep breath.

"Fireworks, right?" Ron recalled his brother's words back atop the hill. George just grinned and Ron tried to pretend like he wasn't looking at Fred when he smiled back at him.



A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 16 of 45

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