Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 4 of 45

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He drifted in and out of sleep throughout the morning, never resting his eyes for very long. Each time he closed his eyes he saw Colin Creevey's pale skin and Lavender Brown's maimed body. He saw the explosion and recalled, with more than the slightest bit of guilt, that Harry and Hermione had been the first people he'd looked for after the smoke cleared. Fred had been an afterthought. Now the sight of his brother lying there on the floor seemed to be permanently imprinted on the back of his eyelids. So he spent most of the time with his eyes open watching Hermione sleep and turning over the events of the past year in his head.

The more he thought about it all being over, the more worried he became about what the future now held for him. For the past seven years, summer holiday had meant Quidditch in the garden, trips to Diagon Alley and biding his time at the Burrow until it was time to return and board the train to Hogwarts. Now there was nothing to look forward to at the end of the summer. The summer would just keep on going without any place to be or any idea what came next. All he knew for certain about his future was that he wanted Hermione to be a part of it.

She was still fast asleep, wrapped around him in a way he doubted he'd ever get used to. Her arm was draped around his waist, reminiscent of the way she'd been clinging to him earlier, and one of her legs had tangled itself between his so that it was difficult to break away without disturbing her. She shifted slightly as he carefully slid out from underneath her embrace and climbed off the bed. He couldn't help but smile as he watched her instinctively nestle toward the warm spot where he had just been resting. She looked somehow smaller than normal in the big four-poster bed. They were safe here, of course, but after a year of being hunted by Snatchers and Death Eaters, he felt a slight pang in his chest at the thought of leaving her alone. He was restless in the bed though and knew if he remained there that his constant fidgeting would probably wake her. Unless it was to entwine herself further around him, she had hardly moved since speaking the word that had sounded like his name. He paused as he left the bed, hoping she wouldn't be upset when she woke up without him there, before closing the bed curtains and tiptoeing across the floor.

He had not heard Harry leave the dormitory at any point in the morning and was surprised to find his bed vacant as he walked past it. Ron wondered for a moment if perhaps he'd left Gryffindor tower completely and had returned to Dumbledore's office. He thought for a moment about going to the Headmaster's office himself and asking the many questions he still had rattling around his own head. Once he reached the bottom of the stairs however, he saw that Harry had simply sought out the solitude of the common room. He was seated in an armchair, staring into the dormant fireplace with a school robe resting on his lap. Ron knew only one person who the robe could belong to.

"I don't think she'd take it well if you resorted to thieving," he teased from behind the chair. Harry jumped back in surprise at the sound of his voice, but quickly relaxed as Ron plopped down on the couch beside him.

"No, probably not." Harry glanced down at Ginny's school robe, but made no effort to move it. "It was over there by the window. Think she knows she left it here?"

"Probably not." Ron shrugged his shoulders, quite confident from the story he had heard from his brother Bill that his family's decision not to allow Ginny to return to Hogwarts after Easter holiday had been quite abrupt and unexpected. "You should bring it to her," he offered. He knew the last time he'd spoken to Harry about his sister he had been less than encouraging and he hoped Harry would see the remark as the olive branch he intended it to be.

"Yeah?" Harry raised his head and looked to Ron then. Ron knew how much Harry had worried about her this year. He could only imagine how much Ginny had worried for him. His little sister had proved last night that she wasn't so little anymore. If she could take on Bellatrix Lestrange, he knew she was old enough to take care of her own heart. So Ron just shrugged and gave a simple nod of the head.


"You know, I didn't think I'd see you for a while." Harry abruptly changed the conversation and gave Ron a knowing grin as he glanced back up the stairs. Ron ignored Harry's teasing, which he was confident there would be more of, and plopped down onto the couch.

"Couldn't sleep. Too much…here." He pointed to his head, knowing Harry of all people would understand.

"That's a first." Harry snorted good-naturedly.

"Right?" Ron simply smiled in agreement, well aware how Hermione would respond when she'd heard his own thoughts and feelings had kept him awake.

"I don't know if I'll ever quite…believe it's really over, y'know?" Harry's fingers toyed absentmindedly with the robe lying in his lap. The knowledge that Harry was still overwhelmed by the enormity of the events of the past twenty-four hours comforted Ron. "I woke up and the first thing I thought was…where's the next Horcrux?" Harry laughed at himself.

"First thing I thought was where that bloody dragon got to," Ron chuckled softly, but his laughter soon faded. "I wager it'll take a while before we get used to waking up and not having to do anything."

"I'm surprised you woke up at all," Harry teased. "I saw those curtains were closed."

"We weren't doing anything." Ron shook his head, but Harry just raised his eyebrows suggestively. "We weren't! That shagging bit was completely uncalled for."

"Just establishing ground rules."

"Not funny."

"It's bound to come up sooner or later." Harry shrugged, hardly able to stifle the grin on his face.

"Blimey, we just kissed last night, Harry!"

"But you've wanted to for how long?"

If it had been anyone but Harry, Ron knew he would have turned crimson. Instead, he just turned his gaze awkwardly onto a corner of the rug beneath his toes. He was eighteen years old. The thought of doing more than just kissing Hermione Granger had obviously crossed his mind more than a few times, but he couldn't even pluck up the courage to kiss her a second time, nevermind do anything even close to what Harry was suggesting. Besides, he and Harry didn't talk about these things. They never had. The closest Ron had ever come to talking about his feelings for Hermione had been after he'd destroyed the locket and even then, the Horcrux had done all the talking for him.

"I'm happy for you," Harry finally stated simply. "I'm just trying to take the piss."

Ron nodded his head, resigned to the fact that he and Hermione's new coupling was likely to be the butt of many of Harry's jokes for quite a while. The mere fact that his friend was joking, even if it was at his expense, pleased Ron though so he said nothing. He could put up with a bit of ribbing he knew he probably deserved. Leaning his head back against the cushions, he blew out a deep breath, perfectly content to rest there in silence. He was suddenly very aware of his growling stomach however and he thought back to the breakfast trays down in the Great Hall.

"You think Kreacher could bring us a bacon sandwich or two?"

"I don't even know if Kreacher survived." Harry remarked passively, his calm voice disguising any distress the prospect might cause him.

"Only one way to find out," Ron shrugged. Harry hesitated, looking very much like he couldn't handle the thought of learning of somebody else who had not survived the battle. "I'm sure he made it," Ron assured. "It'd take a lot more than a couple of Death Eaters to kill that old codger."

The comment made Harry chuckle and he commanded the house elf to the common room. They both waited in anticipation for what felt like a very long time before Kreacher appeared with a very loud crack in front of the fireplace. He was still proudly wearing Regulus' fake locket around his neck and sported a deep cut above his right eye, but other than that the ancient house elf appeared none too worse for the wear. Ron smiled, knowing Hermione would be pleased he had survived.

"Does the young master require Kreacher's assistance?" the elf croaked.

"Yes – er – if you don't mind." Harry tried to remain polite about ordering the elf around, almost as if Hermione was right over his shoulder watching. "Could you bring us a bacon sandwich?"

"Two," Ron cut in, knowing how quickly a single sandwich would disappear in front of him. "And some porridge," he added and Harry gave him an inquiring look at the random request. "Hermione likes porridge," he explained, glancing up the stairs to where she was still resting. "With honey."


"And toast," Ron interjected yet again. Harry just continued to glare at him. "If she doesn't want the porridge."

"She's really got you by the short hairs!"

"It's not like we won't eat it all." Ron ignored the comment and instead reminded Harry that the last food they'd had had been a mere bit of cheese and bread at the Hog's Head.

"Right, bring us the lot of it, Kreacher. Whatever you've got in the kitchen!"

"Anything for Master Harry." Kreacher gave a low, but most genuine, bow and disappeared with another loud crack. Ron shifted on the couch and glanced back up the stairs, hoping the sound of Kreacher Disapparating hadn't woken Hermione. Ron knew Harry saw the concerned look, but he said nothing. He simply smiled and eased back into his chair, clearly relieved the old house elf had made it through the final fight.

"You think there's a chess set somewhere in here?" Ron glanced around the room hopefully. "Or you reckon all things fun were forbidden under Snape?"

"I don't know." Harry joined Ron in scanning the room, but Ron couldn't help but notice he hadn't laughed at the mention of Snape. There was a long and heavy silence as Harry looked down at the tops of his shoes, a deep look of shame suddenly crossing his face. "Nobody knows he's there," he finally mumbled, "up in the Shrieking Shack, no one knows Snape's there."

Ron shifted uncomfortably on the couch as he thought about the gurgling noises that had sounded from Snape as he lay dying in the decrepit shack. Then he thought of the mint humbugs and the full inkwell up in the Headmaster's office.

"Someone will find him." He hoped Harry would believe his lame assurance.

"In the Shrieking Shack?" Harry looked to Ron skeptically. Ron just gave an unconvincing shrug.


"We have to get him."

"We'll tell McGonagall this afternoon. The professors can get him," Ron again attempted to dismiss.

"No, we have to do it," Harry maintained, his jaw set firmly and a familiar steely resolve in his eye. Ron knew his friend had formed some kind of attachment to their fallen potions master since watching him die and seeing inside his head, but he still didn't fancy going back and hauling Snape's cold and lifeless body across the grounds. He didn't dare say that to Harry though.

"I'm not going back there." Ron shivered. The mere thought of returning to the blood-splattered old building set him on edge.

"Then I'll go get him." Harry's eyes flashed suddenly at Ron's hesitation. "We can't just leave him there." Ron could hear the shame in his best friend's voice. More than six hours had now passed since Nagini had lunged at Snape and he'd bled out on the dusty old floorboards. Ron still couldn't quite make himself feel remorse for Snape, but the thought of his broken body lying there all alone amidst dried puddles of his own blood did make him feel uncomfortable somehow.

"We won't," he assured after a beat. "We won't leave him."

Harry was silent. The weight of the dead potions master and their varying opinions of him seemed to weigh on both their shoulders. Ron wished Harry could just go back to making fun of him and Hermione.

"Erm, do you still want to play chess?" he proposed hopefully. Harry shrugged and said nothing. "I bet we can find a board." Ron tried to sound convincing and offer a smile. Again, Harry didn't offer a verbal reply so Ron just rolled up his sleeves and pulled out Pettigrew's wand from his back pocket.

"No, wait." Harry grabbed Ron's wrist before he could summon the chess board. At first, Ron was afraid he no longer wanted to play, but then he saw him hold his newly repaired Phoenix wand aloft.

"Right then, give it a go," Ron grinned. "Let's see if the Elder Wand really fixed it." At his mention of the Elder Wand, Ron couldn't help but wonder for a brief moment where exactly Harry had left the wand. His mind quickly strayed to the thought of the other Hallow he'd left in the forest, but before he could dwell on it Harry summoned a chess board.

They both waited expectantly until a series of large thumps sounded from upstairs in the girls' dormitories and a plain wooden box came whizzing down the stairs. Harry looked pleased that the first spell he'd attempted with his old wand had been a success. He lifted up the box containing the board and pieces, looking for the name of the owner.

"Think they'll mind us borrowing?" Ron hesitated only for a moment before answering his own question and tearing open the box. He felt like he was unwrapping a present on Christmas morning as he set up the pieces in a hurry. Years had passed, it felt like, since he and Harry had sat down to a simple game of Wizard's Chess. Harry seemed to be thinking the same thing as he scrambled to set up the board as well. The thought of a game of chess just to pass the time suddenly seemed like the greatest idea in the world.

"I hope Kreacher brings some tomatoes," Ron remarked wistfully as white moved first. "I feel like I haven't had tomatoes in forever."

"Milk. I can't remember the last time I had a glass of milk," Harry chimed in.

"Roast turkey."

"Lamp chops."

"Jam donuts."


The boys traded the foods and feasts they'd missed most in their year away from Hogwarts as the game went on. Over a year without playing hadn't seemed to diminish Ron's chess skills much, a fact which seemed to disappoint Harry.

"The trifle at the Welcome Feast. That was always the best." Ron's mouth was practically watering as he said the words.

"What about Christmas pudding? I love Christmas pudding here."

"No way! Mum's Christmas pudding is way better than the Hogwarts one," Ron remarked fondly. "She used to put a knut in it and whoever bit into it could open up their presents first." He deftly moved his rook to capture one of Harry's pieces. "One year nobody found it. Fred said he reckoned he swallowed it and everybody had to wait until he shit it out before anyone could open their presents." He laughed as he told the story, but the smile quickly faded just like it had upstairs talking about the initials in the bedposts. Harry said nothing. He merely looked to Ron sadly, almost like he was waiting for him to break or something.

"It was the Resurrection Stone that came out of the Snitch, wasn't it?" Ron ignored the way Harry was looking at him and asked the question he had wanted to since they were upstairs in Dumbledore's office. "That's what Dumbledore left you in his will?" He hoped Harry couldn't detect the glimmer of hope in his eye as he spoke. He seemed a bit caught off guard at Ron's question, but nodded his head. "So you saw your parents?"

"And Sirius and Remus."

"What did they look like?" Ron asked eagerly. "Were they ghosts or were they like regular people?" He hoped his inquisitiveness would not give him away.

"Somewhere in between," Harry remarked wistfully. "They were there though. They were real. They stayed with me until the end."

"And what…what did it feel like, the end?" Ron stammered, unable to keep himself from asking. He reckoned Harry might be the only person in the world who could answer the question about what it felt like to die.

"Like getting knocked out." Harry shrugged his shoulders simply. Ron tried to think of the last time he'd been knocked out and recalled a particularly miserable Quidditch practice sixth year.

"Like getting hit with a Bludger?"

"Probably more like when you were knocked out first year on that chess set."

"So it didn't really hurt?"

"No," Harry replied immediately, "it didn't hurt at all."

Ron let out a loud and grateful sigh as he thought about his brother. Dying was painless.

His thoughts quickly returned to Harry and his "death", however temporary.

"You know -" He cleared his throat. "When I thought - when I saw - when Hagrid …" He stumbled over words, recalling once more that horrible moment when he'd seen Harry's limp body in Hagrid's arms. "I got so effing angry with you." Ron's voice broke uncharacteristically at the recollection. "You know I would have gone with you, right?"

"I do." Harry nodded his head and gave a shrug. "That's why I went alone."

"I was so hacked off," Ron repeated as he thought back to the moment that seemed like it had been days ago and not mere hours. He thought about how tightly he'd gripped Hermione's hand and how livid he was at his friend for leaving him and Hermione alone. "I don't know what we'd have done without you."

"You'd take care of each other." Harry gave an assuring smile. "You both destroyed a Horcrux all on your own, after all."

"Yeah," Ron laughed to himself, quickly getting lost in the memory of his venture with Hermione into the Chamber of Secrets. "I wish you could have seen the Chamber. It was even dirtier than when we were there. Now that the Basilisk is gone there were rats everywhere. You should have seen them all run when the water came."

"The water?"

"Yeah, the Horcrux tried to drown us. Nearly took me under," Ron replied casually, glossing over the part where the powerful current had ripped him away from Hermione and submerged him beneath the waves for what felt like minutes. "There was this huge wave and I could hear his voice. I reckon he was talking to Hermione since she's the one who was trying to destroy it." Ron recalled the brief look of torment and fear on her face as the water had swirled around both of them and dragged him away. He was oddly curious about what the Horcrux had said to Hermione. The force with which she had stabbed the cup had thoroughly surprised him as had the exhausted rage in her eyes. "You should have seen her when she destroyed it. She looked mental! I'd hate to be that Horcrux." Ron realised as soon as he said the words that they were probably the wrong thing to say to someone who had actually been a Horcrux. He glanced across the board to his friend uncertainly. Harry simply smiled.

"She's brilliant. You're both brilliant."

"And you're…you're okay with it, then?" Ron stumbled awkwardly, avoiding Harry's eyes as he swept another one of his crushed black rooks off the board. Harry's teasing comments and knowing glances were one thing, but Ron couldn't help but wonder if they were a mask for a certain amount of discomfort his friend had about being around them now that they had kissed.

"Of course!" Harry appeared to be mildly offended by the question. "Certainly been a long enough time coming."

"Right." Ron grinned, fingering a broken Knight in his hands. "I suppose I didn't help things much last year."

"Or fifth year," Harry teased, "or fourth year for that matter." The tips of Ron's ears reddened slightly. He wondered if it been that obvious to everyone but him.

"Did Ginny ever say anything?" he inquired suddenly, but Harry's teasing laughter faded away at the mention of Ginny's name. Ron doubted he was pondering his next move as he stared at the chess board intently. "I reckon she wants to see you, you know," he offered encouragement.

"She's with her family," Harry replied immediately before Ron could continue, "I didn't want to pull her away."

"They're my family too," Ron reminded him, a guilty look washing over his face that he wasn't downstairs with them at this very moment. "Sometimes it's not family you want to be with." The words hung in the air for a beat, but Harry seemed to pay them no mind.

"I really am impressed you're not still up there with her." His eyes glanced up the stairwell where Hermione rested and grinned widely. "I reckon this is the first time you've left her side since…" Harry's voice quickly faded as both he and Ron realised it was probably one of only a few times Ron hadn't been in the same room as Hermione since being forcibly dragged away from her back at the Malfoy's.

"Yeah, I reckon she's quite sick of me by now." Ron intended the comment to be a joke, but even Harry could detect some uncertainty behind the loud sigh that accompanied his words.

"Hardly," Harry scoffed. Ron just murmured in half-hearted agreement, the doubt only too obvious for Harry to detect. "Are you mad, Ron?" His voice had more of an edge to it than Ron expected. "You think after all this? After last night that she doesn't want you? The girl who's been wrapped around you like a Flitterbloom all day?" Ron managed a laugh at the comparison of Hermione's arms and legs to the tentacles of the magical plant.

"That's just it, see," he sighed. "What if after all this….now that it's over…she realises – "

"Realises what? That she hasn't carried a torch for you for the past who-knows-how-many years?" Ron's ears turned their darkest shade of red that morning at Harry's words. It sounded silly when he said it, that a person could just magically stop feeling a certain way. But the fear that had coursed through him as he'd lain there beside Hermione's resting body was that now that all the excitement and adventure that had surrounded their relationship for seven years was over, she'd somehow tire of him and anything she might have felt, or thought she felt, in the heat of a battle would pass.

"The only reason we even became friends is because I helped save her from a Troll," he offered lamely. "What if now that things are…normal." He almost didn't dare speak the words for fear he'd jinx them. "What if now things are normal, I won't have anything to save her from and she won't fancy me?" Ron's voice was hardly audible as he spoke the last words. "I know it sounds dumb," he admitted, "but sometimes I wonder if that's the only thing - that all the adventure and the danger – what if that's the only thing that ever really brought us together?" The game of chess before them was all but forgotten. "And now it's all over and - "

"And now you don't worry about saving her anymore," Harry offered simply, "now you just worry about…being together and making her happy."

The words sounded like the kind of thing Ron would expect from his mum or dad or Bill or Remus, anyone but his best friend. Ron wondered if death had brought his friend a new understanding of women and the world. The words made sense when Harry said them, but somehow when they entered Ron's head they got all mixed up.

He was about to suggest that maybe Harry heed his own advice and go down to see Ginny, but a loud crack suddenly sounded and Kreacher appeared before them holding a tray piled high with food. There was toast and crumpets, eggs and kipper, porridge with honey, sausage, marmalade, tomatoes and beans. It was the kind of feast Ron had dreamed about for months.

"Think I should wake Hermione?" He chewed his bottom lip thoughtfully.

"I'm awake." Her voice rang out clearly from the top of the stairs. Ron whirled around, horrified by the possibility that she had overheard his conversation with Harry.

"Kreacher brought us some breakfast." Harry laughed at the understatement as he looked to the heaping tray that was almost taller than the tiny elf.

"You sleep all right?" Ron was on his feet and at her side by the time she reached the bottom of the stairs. Hermione raised her head to look up at him and nodded with a dreamy smile that seemed to convey the words "all right" didn't even do it justice.

"Would you like to join us, Kreacher?" Hermione turned to the house elf suddenly. Kreacher's bloodshot eyes widened in horror at the invitation to dine with Wizards.

"Yeah, you were bloody brilliant last night, Kreacher! Come have a spot," Ron joined in unexpectedly, recalling all too well the incredible sight of Kreacher leading the charge of the Hogwarts house elves. Hermione looked pleased at both his invitation and compliment. "That was incredible how you took that carving knife to Yaxley's knee! I thought you were going to cut his whole leg off!" Hermione's smile turned into a slightly horrified frown at Ron's enthusiasm for the violent attack, but she turned her attention back to Kreacher.

"Won't you join us?" she invited again a bit more forcefully.

"If his master commands it, Kreacher will dine with you," Kreacher's bullfrog voice finally croaked as he peered over at Harry, making it clear that his command was the only thing that would cause him to stay. Harry shrugged, well aware that forcing niceties on a house elf would accomplish nothing.

"Only if you want to."

"Master is giving Kreacher a choice?"

"If you want to eat, then stay and eat," Harry shrugged. "If you don't, you don't."

"Kreacher would like to eat, yes," the elf spoke after a long pause, "but Kreacher must help with the dead." His blunt words jarred all three back to reality quite suddenly. In the hours since they had disappeared behind the portrait hole, the rest of the world had slowly but surely seemed to melt away. Here they could talk and laugh and eat and play and they didn't have to look at all the carnage and destruction around them. Here they were kids at school again, celebrating their victory the same way they would celebrate the end of exams. "There are many dead," Kreacher croaked and then disappeared from the common room, leaving Harry, Ron, and Hermione with the tremendous pile of food, but his last words echoing in their head.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 4 of 45

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