Pairings/Characters: Ron, Harry, Hermione, Remus
Warnings: Character Death
Length: 1835 words
Summary: Midsummer's Day – the day of judgement
Morning came early to Scotland in late June. Ron leaned against the battlements on the top of the Astronomy Tower and watched the sky to the east fade from black to cobalt to silver. And finally to deep red, the colour of dried blood.
He sincerely hoped that it wasn't a sign of things to come.
He could still see the fires burning in Hogsmeade. Voldemort and his Death Eaters had overrun the village the previous day. Hogwarts had opened its gates at dusk to refugees from the village, many of whom were in shock.
But many of whom were prepared to fight with them in their last stand. The Ministry had been destroyed several months before, and there was quite literally nowhere left for them to go.
He felt rather than heard someone behind him and turned to see Harry. "It's Midsummer's Day," Harry murmured.
"Yeah." Ron looked towards the ruins of Hogsmeade, then back at Harry. "Are you ready for this?"
"No, but I have to be." Harry turned his back on Hogsmeade. "Tonight it'll all be over – one way or the other."
"I don't like the way that sounds."
Harry shrugged. "It's the truth, isn't it?" He looked up at the sun, just beginning to emerge from behind the hills. "When the sun goes down tonight either me or Voldemort will be dead."
"What if you die?"
Harry's reply was chilling. "Then I die."
"I told you what the prophecy said - neither can live while the other survives. One of us will die. Ron, I don't want it to be me, but if it is, then so be it."
"I don't know how you do it – I would've run away and hidden a long time ago."
Harry laughed. "No, you wouldn't." He turned and faced Ron for the first time. "You'll be standing beside me, the way you always have."
Ron looked at him and nodded. "I'll be there."
"Thanks, Ron." Harry was silent for a long minute. "I haven't said that to you enough – thanks for everything."
"Nothing to thank me for, Harry." Ron was definitely uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking.
Harry was looking past him. "Looks like they're on the move," he commented. "We'd better go and join the others."
The Great Hall was full of people preparing for battle. Ron absently noticed the usual suspects – Neville, Ginny, Fred and George, Luna, Dean and Seamus – had been joined by Lupin. At the front of the room, just by the Staff Table, McGonagall was involved in an animated discussion with Flitwick, Sprout and Slughorn. They moved to join her.
The room fell silent as Harry entered. "What do they expect – some kind of speech?" Harry muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
"Hardly." Ron jumped; he hadn't realised Hermione had joined them. "We just need reassurance that we're going to come out of this."
"Hermione, I don't do speeches," Harry protested.
"I don't think we need a speech," Ron said. "We all know what we have to do – and beside they're on their way. We don't have the time to wait for a speech."
Harry nodded and stepped forward. "We need to move out," he said loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the Great Hall. "They're on their way."
Ron stood beside Harry and looked towards the gates. "No sign of them yet," he said.
"We know they're coming," Harry said. "They'll be here soon."
Just as Harry finished speaking they heard the sound of many feet marching toward them.
Ron felt rather than saw Harry looking towards him and looked over. "You scared?" Harry asked.
"Absolutely bloody terrified," Ron replied. "What if we don't win?"
Harry shrugged. "Dunno. If he wins then..."
"Then we're dead." Ron glanced behind him at the castle. "There are worse places that we could've ended up, I suppose."
Harry grinned, the first genuine smile Ron had seen on his face in several weeks. "Thanks."
Ron nodded, but before he could say anything, someone called out a warning. The Death Eaters were within sight of the castle.
"Let's go and meet them, people," Harry called as he began walking forward.
It was a disparate army that followed him – one which included students, teachers, members of the Order among many others. Out of the corner of his eye, Ron saw Kingsley moving forward at the head of a small phalanx of Aurors. Beside him was... Neville?
He shook his head. In all the hours of planning he'd done with Kingsley, Hermione, Remus and Harry, this definitely wasn't something they'd planned for. He took a step towards Neville, but stopped. There wasn't the time to remind Neville where he should be.
For some reason it was completely silent. He could hear birds singing and, from the Forbidden Forest, the sounds of something being hunted down and eaten.
Harry had heard it too. "You know, Ron, I really hope that's not a sign of things to come," he muttered.
"You've been to far too many Divination lessons, mate," Ron told him. He took one more look around.
The sun was completely up now, and somehow he could smell the vaguely alcoholic scent of overripe fruit. "It's going to be a warm day," he muttered.
Behind him he heard a sharp crack and turned to see the Astronomy Tower leaning. Slowly it began to fall. "Watch the Death Eaters," he yelled, knowing it was in vain. Everyone was staring at the tower as it reached an impossible angle and then...
He flinched as the tower hit the ground. It was immediately followed by another, smaller, boom as the Death Eaters brought down the gates. They were now on the grounds of Hogwarts itself.
For the rest of his life, Ron would only remember brief snatches of the battle – Hermione, her hair wild and a streak of blood on her cheek, catching Dean Thomas as he fell, and the expression on her face as she realised that there was nothing she could do for him; Remus, expressionless, standing over the body of Fenrir Greyback. And Neville, making a beeline straight for Bellatrix Black. When the smoke cleared, Ron noticed him standing over her body in with an expression of grim satisfaction on his round face.
Ron had to admit there was a certain justice in that.
The battle raged all day until finally it came down to Harry and Voldemort as they knew it would. Ron knew his role – he was to keep as many of the other Death Eaters from attacking Harry as he could. Hermione stepped forward on Harry's other side. Without looking, he knew that Remus stood just behind Harry.
Harry hadn't stood back during the battle so far – there was blood slowly seeping through a bandage on his arm. Ron had vague memories of him rushing from one place to another along their line, but couldn't recall how he'd been injured.
"When it starts, you know what you have to do," Harry muttered. "Just make sure we're not interrupted."
Ron nodded. "We will," he said. "I promise."
Harry nodded and stepped forward.
He never saw the moment when it all ended. Ron was too concerned with making sure Lucius Malfoy didn't attack Harry. He heard a crack and boom and lost consciousness as he was flung to the ground.
He regained consciousness slowly to find the smoke starting to clear. About fifteen yards away, he saw Harry sitting slumped against a tree and couldn't tell whether he was alive or not.
Ron crawled over to him just as Harry opened his eyes. "We did it?" he asked
Harry nodded. "We did it," he confirmed tiredly. "I just – I just don't know who else we've lost today." He tried to stand but couldn't.
"Stay there, I'll see what I can find out." Ron got carefully to his feet and swayed. "Mind, it's probably going to take me some time."
Harry smiled and nodded. "That's fine," he said, closing his eyes. "I'll stay here till you get back."
Ron slowly staggered towards the gates and nearly tripped over the body of Lucius Malfoy. He assumed he'd had something to do with his death, but was damned if he could remember what happened. Through the rapidly clearing smoke, he saw the tall spare figure of Remus Lupin making his way towards him. "Remus!"
"Ron, are you all right?" Remus asked. "Where's Harry?"
"Yeah, mostly. Harry's over there leaning against a tree." Ron vaguely pointed behind him. "He's still alive," he added hastily, seeing the frightened expression on Remus's face. "Been better, but I think we all have been. He wants to know how everyone else is – who's lived and who ... who hasn't."
"I can tell him about most people," Remus commented. "And you – you can barely stand, Ron." He slung Ron's arm over his shoulder. "Come on, I'll help you back to Harry and tell you what's happened."
Ron leaned most of his weight on Remus as they slowly went back to Harry. Hermione had already joined him and was also leaning against a tree.
Remus eased Ron down onto the ground and shook his head. "Look at you all," he said. "I'll go and get Madam Pomfrey."
"We're fine – or will be," Harry said, opening his eyes. "What about everyone else." He frowned. "I thought I saw Neville attack Bellatrix."
"You did – he killed her," Remus said bluntly. "He's fine – injured, of course, but he'll live. Ginny's alive as well." He sat down beside them.
"Who didn't make it?" Harry asked.
"Dean Thomas," Hermione said softly.
"Professor Sprout," Ron answered, remembering seeing her fall.
Remus hesitated. "Severus Snape," he said finally. "I watched as he was killed by Voldemort just after the battle started. Looks as if he was on our side after all."
"Maybe," Harry grunted. "I'll believe it when I see the evidence."
They sat under the tree and watched the sun slowly go down. Hermione checked her watch. "Do you know it's after ten o'clock?" she asked in disbelief. "We were fighting all day."
"Doesn't surprise me," Ron said closing his eyes. "It's not like we had anything else to do today."
"I've been meaning to ask you something," Harry said in a completely different tone of voice than Ron could ever remember hearing from him before. "Do you regret this?"
"Regret what?" Hermione asked. "Standing beside you? Absolutely not." She reached out and took hold of Harry's hand. "That's what friends do."
Ron took hold of Harry's other hand. "If it had been the other way around – if it had been Hermione or me that had to take on V-Voldemort, you would have stood beside us."
"Of course I would've," Harry said, looking surprised they had to ask.
"Exactly." Ron grasped Hermione's free hand in his other hand. "As Hermione said, that's what friends do."
Hand in hand they sat and watched the sun disappear behind the horizon.
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