Title: The Aftermath
Summary: Ron hides after Fred' funeral.
A/N: This has no plot and no purpose, but it was just a little scene that I had to get out of my head. It's not going anywhere, but the sadness of it was just bugging me. My apologies.
Hermione didn’t know when Ron had disappeared; one moment he’d been by her side, listening to Bill tell Fleur and Ginny a story about the twins when they were younger, everyone laughing through tears, and the next moment he was gone. She looked around the room: he wasn’t sitting with George and Harry, who were both staring miserably into space; he wasn’t with his parents, who were fussing over baby Teddy, a pleasant distraction against the devastation evident in their eyes.
When Ron didn’t appear to be in the kitchen or outside the house, Hermione sneaked out of the packed first floor of the Burrow, edging her way through those who had come to pay their respects for Fred, and climbed several flights of stairs. The door to Ron’s attic bedroom was open just a crack, and Hermione knocked hesitantly.
“Who is it?” Ron said gruffly, his voice muffled.
“It’s me,” she said quietly. “Can I – er – come in?”
“Um… er, yeah,” Ron said, and Hermione pushed the door open.
Ron was sitting on his bed, leaning against the wall. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy, his face streaked with tears, his hair mussed. Hermione bit her lip, feeling like she was intruding on something intensely personal. She hated to see Ron such a mess, but she knew there was nothing she could do to alleviate his grief.
“Oh, Ron,” she said, feeling tears well in her own eyes. Ron sniffled loudly and looked away.
“Do you need something?” he asked, his voice strained.
“I was just wondering where you’d gone.” She edged between his bed and the camp bed that was set up for Harry and sat down tentatively on the edge of his. “Do you want to – er – talk?”
Ron refused to look at her. “About what?”
“About… well, anything, I suppose,” she said slowly.
“There’s nothing to say about anything,” Ron said, a little harshly. “Fred is gone.” He took a deep, shuddering breath. “I feel like I could have done something.”
Hermione’s eyes widened. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I was there, Hermione,” he barked. “I should have helped him, I should have pulled him out of the way – but instead he just died, right in front of me, don’t you get it? And now my Mum can’t stop crying, and George doesn’t even talk anymore, he barely even moves, and I could have done something, I should have done something…” he trailed off, dropping his head into his hands, looking defeated.
Tears spilled down Hermione’s face as she grabbed Ron around the shoulders and pulled him close to her. “There was nothing you could have done, there was nothing anyone could have done,” she whispered as her reached his arms around her and clung to her as if for his life. “It’s not your fault, not any of it, you were incredible, and I’m so, so sorry that Fred is gone, but please, you have to understand that you did everything you could.” She kissed him softly on the top of the head, letting him fall against her, his shoulders shaking with sobs.
When his tears quieted, he wiped his face on his robes and cleared his throat, keeping his face averted. She reached down and gently took his chin, turning his face up to hers, and then she kissed him softly, earnestly, trying to tell him too many things all at once. He kissed her back, wrapping his arms around her, and when he pulled away there was a hint – just a hint, no more – of light in his eyes that hadn’t been there for along time.
“I don’t think I want to go back down there,” he said brusquely. “It’s… really tough to watch.”
“I know,” Hermione said. “Let’s just stay here, then.”
They talked very little over the next few hours; they watched the sun set out the small window and watched the stars come out and held each other closer than they ever had before.
When Mrs. Weasley found them a few hours later, curled up asleep together in the dark room, she smiled sadly and kissed them both, glad that they had finally found each other.