Pairings/Characters: Ron Weasley. Percy Weasley.
Length: 2652 words.
Summary: There's no such thing as a happy ending, but small steps are better than nothing.
The slightly hesitant voice was lost amidst the battle as instructions were screamed to people mere feet away. The chaos of the scene around him was making conversation all but impossible. Ron refused to allow himself to be overwhelmed by the situation; he had to stay focused. There was no other option.
Ron stopped for a second, sure that he had heard the briefest whisper of a voice carried on the wind. He shook his head and met the eyes of a terrified young man. He wasn't completely sure of his name, but knew that he had recently joined the DA. He was doing his best to keep track of the DA members, both old and new.
"Keep your head down, and your eyes open, okay mate?" he said, painfully aware that it wasn't the best advice in the world, but it was all he had to offer. The young man in front of him drew a shaky breath and nodded his head. Then, the chaos swallowed him, as he threw himself into the battle.
The voice grew louder and time passed by in a rapid blur.
He fell to the ground as a spell whizzed past his head, spun around in the mud and threw back a hurried response. He didn't even have time to see his attacker fall, as his attention was focused firmly on the two figures in the centre of the battlefield. He knew the battle strategy like the back of his hand. He knew the plans and the back up plans. He had even helped to create and devise a number of them.
He knew exactly where he was supposed to be...where he needed to be.
He quickly made his way towards the two figures everyone else was trying to protect in one way or the other.
"Harry" Ron whispered as he scanned the area, searching for any Death Eaters who intended trying to take out his friend. He was poised and ready to protect Harry and allow him to do what he needed to do. He knew that Hermione was doing the same on the opposite side of the battlefield.
But, something wasn't right.
He fought to catch his breath and realised that his hands were shaking.
Something wasn't right.
He searched the battlefield for the familiar faces he knew it held, but found that the colours of the scene were fading to a dull grey. The hectic scene around him became muted and the colours faded to grey.
The only colour that remained was red.
He could see the vivid red that drenched the grass at his feet. He could see angry gashes that cut across the faces of his friends. The blood remained vibrant and red in a world that had suddenly become grey.
The voice became louder and the battlefield began to fade away, but Ron's attention was drawn to his hands. His hands were streaked with disturbing shades of red, but he refused to drop his wand. He followed the pattern of red as it wound its way around his hands and disappeared up the sleeve of his jumper. The pain that followed began in his fingertips and raced its way to his shoulders. Old wounds mixed with new as the pain intensified, but his hand remained clenched around his wand.
He sat up suddenly in his bed. His eyes swept across the moon lit room, as he tried to return his breathing to normal.
His hand was still clenched and he forced himself to relax and flex his fingers, wincing as he did so. He was grateful to realise that the pain was quickly fading this time.
While the dreams were not new, he didn't think he'd ever get used to them. He stumbled out of the bed and made his way over to the small window he always left open. Taking deep breaths of the cool night air helped to steady him a bit and he was able to make some sense of things. He realised that once again he had fallen into bed still wearing his jumper and jeans. He had just about managed to remove his shoes when he had arrived home last night, and had fallen completely dressed on top of his bed.
It wasn't the first or last time that would ever happen, so he wasn't all that worried about that. But there was something else...
There was a voice. Some one had been calling for him, he realised just before he heard the same voice coming through the open bedroom door.
"Ron? Are you there?"
There was an undeniable worried tone to the familiar voice.
He quickly threw himself across the room, through the door and towards the living room of his small flat, stubbing his toe on the doorframe along the way.
He half hobbled and hopped over to the fireplace, saw the familiar face hovering there and dropped to his knees.
"Sorry...didn't hear you...was asleep...what time is it anyway?"
The young woman in the embers looked hesitantly over her shoulder for a moment before she responded.
"It's nearly 3am. Ron, I'm so sorry to have to call you like this again, but you said I should let you know..." her voice trailed away, but Ron didn't need to hear any more.
"He's there again, isn't he?" he said, "Don't worry about it, I'll be there as soon as I can"
He quickly jumped to his feet and missed the slightly hesitant look the face held before it disappeared.
After retrieving his shoes from the corners of the room where they had been flung only a few hours previously, he quickly found a coat and his keys and was halfway out the door before he realised that he'd forgotten something. He stormed back into the living room, and began to search again. This time, for the always elusive gloves. They weren't essential, but he'd quickly learned that they made things more manageable. He flexed the fingers of his right hand almost experimentally and winced. The gloves definitely made things more controllable. His eyes scanned the room.
"Don't have time for this," he muttered as he drew his wand from the back pocket of his jeans and aimed it towards the dilapidated sofa beside the window.
A small smile crept across his face as a deluge of gloves emerged from within, under and behind the sofa. He stepped over the main bulk of material, snatched two black gloves and put them on as he headed out the door.
The pub was quiet as he pushed open the heavy door and made his way inside. It was a strange, anonymous type of place, nestled between the magical and muggle worlds. Ron knew it well. He had been here often enough in the past few months. There were only one or two people left in the pub. He knew however that the customers were long gone. The bar staff were eager to close the pub and get home and that's why he was here in the early hours of the morning. He made his way over to the young woman, who was wiping down the bar,
"I'm sorry about this Lavender"
She raised her head and smiled at him before she responded,
"It's not your fault Ron, haven't I been telling you that for months now?"
"Yeah, I know" Ron said as he leaned against the bar "It's just, I really appreciate you doing this. I know it'd be a lot easier on you if you just threw him out"
"Don't worry about it Ron" she said as she threw the cloth under the counter, "Besides, what are old friends for?"
"I know...but still...Thanks" Ron said as he began to look around the bar.
"He's over there in the corner," Lavender said quietly as she nodded towards the far end of the bar. She watched him for a moment, before she whispered something to her colleague and disappeared out a back door.
Ron quickly made his way over to the darkened corner, the unmistakable stench of fire whiskey hitting him as he walked. He ran a gloved hand across his face and sighed,
"C'mon Charlie, let's go home, yeah?"
Uncharacteristic silence greeted him, and it wasn't until he got closer that he realised why. It was the wrong brother.
Ron stumbled through the doorway, staggering slightly as he struggled to get his swaying brother into his flat. It turned out that Percy was a quiet drunk, unlike Charlie who would alternate between singing and sobbing. There had been a moment when Ron had been tempted to leave Percy in that darkened corner, but it quickly disappeared. He didn't want his mum getting a floo call in the middle of the night. She had had enough of those over the last year or so.
Besides, he may not like Percy, but he was still his brother. He was family.
He kicked the small mountain of gloves out of the way and threw his brother onto the sofa.
"You can stay here tonight" he instructed the drunken figure as he walked back out of the room.
"Ron, I'm sorry about all this"
He stopped in the doorway,
"Yeah, I'm sure you are Percy" he said, having heard many elaborate variations of this line over the past few months. His eyes quickly scanned the room and he made his way towards a slightly shrivelled pot plant. It had been a flat warming present from Hermione, but he realised quickly that she'd understand. He unceremoniously removed the plant from its pot before setting it on the ground beside Percy.
"If you're going to throw up, try and at least aim for the pot"
The next morning found Ron warming his hands on a large mug of tea and flicking through the paper. His gaze however kept drifting towards the living room door. He really wasn't sure how to deal with Percy. Retrieving a drunken Charlie from the pub had became all too familiar.... but Percy? That was a different matter entirely. He had spent very little time with his brother over the past few months. Even when Percy had apologised and finally realised what side he should have been fighting with all along, it was difficult to forget the words and actions that had wounded his family in more ways than one.
They had all had to deal with things their own way. His mum had once told him that it was all about getting a balance between forgetting what he had done, and forgiving him for it. She had said that while she could never forget, she would always forgive. Ron wasn't so sure about how he felt about things. Everything had been so crazy for so long, it was hard to figure things out now.
A sharp pain raced through his hand and up his arm, wounds and scars both old and new creating pain to remind him of the time of the day. The morning routine still caught him somewhat unaware at times. The tea was sat quickly in the table as he moved to the cupboard above the sink and quickly retrieved the familiar jar. He rolled up his sleeves and forced himself to look at his arms and hands as he quickly applied the analgesic cream.
"It's true then," Percy whispered as he stood in the kitchen doorway, hair dishevelled and glasses sitting crookedly on his nose. "I didn't realise it was so bad Ron"
Ron jumped at the voice, rolled his sleeves back down and threw the jar back in the cupboard shutting the door quickly.
"Mind your own bloody business Percy" Ron muttered as he retrieved his mug of tea and began to make himself some toast. The silence was almost stifling for a few moments before Percy hesitantly came into the kitchen and sat down in a chair near the door.
"I'm sorry they called you last night Ron" he said as he rested his head in his hands, "I really didn't mean to turn up on your doorstep like this"
Ron focused on buttering his toast before he glanced over at his brother.
Percy covered his face with his hands. "It feels as if that old ghoul from the Burrow has moved into my head and is refusing to leave. Would it be asking too much for some of that Hangover potion?"
"Sorry" Ron said as he returned to the table and took a slice of toast from the plate in front of him "I haven't got any more since the last time Charlie was here"
Percy let out a rather uncharacteristic and completely pathetic moan.
"Besides..." Ron added sadly, "According to Hermione that potion just postpones the inevitable and perpetuates the cycle"
Percy looked up and raised his eyebrows in a silent question.
Ron had to smile,
"Her words, not mine. Believe me" he said as he pushed the plate of toast towards his brother "I just haven't got a chance to get some more in, what with drunken brothers turning up in my flat on a weekly basis"
"About that Ron...."
"Percy, just stop okay?" Ron said, "Water under the bridge and all...."
Percy cast his eyes about the small kitchen,
"This is the first time I've seen your flat. It's nice"
"Percy, at least be honest, it's a mess" Ron said as he waved an arm around the room. "But it's my mess"
The elder Weasley eventually nodded his head, "Yes, it's a mess. But, it is a nice flat"
There was an awkward moment as both young men realised that they really didn't know what to say to each other. Neither wanted to broach the more serious subjects this early in the morning...if ever. And they were not really ready for the small talk side of things. Percy, however, wasn't quite ready to give up. He hesitantly reached for a piece of toast, moving a red jumper carefully out of the way.
"Looks a bit small for you Ron" he said as he sat the jumper carefully on a nearby chair, and took a cautious bite of toast.
Ron ran a hand across his face and roughly through his hair, debating with himself as to whether or not to tell Percy the truth.
"It's not mine," he said as he watched Percy's reaction carefully, "It's Harry's"
Silence once again returned to the kitchen. It was the one thing they had never talked about since that infamous letter. Ron tapped his foot on the floor, suddenly anxious for more of a response from his brother and angry with himself for wanting it.
He was tired of waiting. Tired of being angry.
For months now he had been listening to overly elaborate apologies from his brother, and he was tired of it. All he wanted to hear was that Percy was sorry. Instead he got recitals of the many different ways Percy had tried to do good but had gotten swept along in the other direction.
He was tired of it.
"Help yourself to whatever" he said as he waved a hand towards the kitchen and headed towards the door. Slamming the kitchen door shut on his hung-over brother was starting to seem like a good idea.
Once again Ron found himself hovering in a doorway at the sound of his brother's voice. But this time he refused to turn around.
"I am sorry" Percy said. The determination was clearly evident in his voice; it was however tinged with hope. "Things were never meant to be this way"
A sad smile ghosted across Ron's face as he sighed,
"There's no such thing as a happy ending Percy. You must have figured that out by now"
He continued his walk out of the kitchen, making sure to leave the door wide open as he went.
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