|If It's Love
Author: thosefadedlights PM
From the minute he is born, Ron Weasley is second-rate. One-shot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Tragedy - Ron W. - Words: 2,812 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-26-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7220099
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter; I wish I had that much creative talent!
From the minute he is born, Ron Weasley is second-rate. He is a week late and slightly too large, coming out with his face red, his eyes squeezed shut, his small head hairless and his fists balled up, punching the air. He is also the sixth son to a mother who craves a daughter. The moment he is placed in her arms, a tired, tight smile appears on her face. It is a smile he will see many times during his life.
All through his childhood, Ron knows that he is not favoured. He is fed, he is clothed, he is healthy, but there is never anything he can do that will make his mother acknowledge that he is good. He de-gnomes the garden voluntarily when he smashes one of the plates- Charlie de-gnomed the garden without any reason. He babysits Ginny when the other brothers are out; Bill once cancelled a date to look after her. He does anything, and another brother has done it already, has done it better, has done it more frequently than him. There is no way to win, and, by the time he is eleven years old, Ron has already decided to run away.
He does it the day after he graduates from Hogwarts. He has all his belongings packed up in his trunk, and all he needs to do is collect his precious Chudley Cannons bed sheets and posters before he apparates to his new apartment. He has secretly been saving up money since he was eleven, from part-time jobs he has done over the summers, when he has claimed to be at Harry's place. Harry knows what Ron is planning, but he is Ron's best friend and although he disapproves, he understands. So he agrees to become Ron's secret keeper.
And then, one day, as Ron is preparing dinner, Harry Floos in, his face grim. "Your mother has died. Her funeral is in two weeks." He seems to understand the struggle going on inside Ron's head, so he hands him a piece of paper with the details of the funeral on it. "You might decide to go," he says with a shrug, when Ron looks at the paper questioningly. "Just think about it."
After he leaves, Ron stares at the piece of paper for a long time. Then he shreds it into small pieces and throws the pieces into the fire.
Bill has already started his speech when Ron slips into the hall. He can see the rest of his family seated at the front, a row of red heads, bowed down in grief. What is he even doing here, anyway? He has not seen any of his family for nearly thirty years, and he doesn't plan on doing so now. Perhaps he still feels some obligation to attend an important ceremony for the woman who fed and clothed him for the first seventeen years of his life. He settles into the shadows to listen.
"…tried to fatten me up, because she said I was too skinny for a man, but of course I never complained when I was given an extra slice of ham in my sandwich." There is a ripple of subdued laughter through the crowd, but Ron's face is impassive. "But her cooking was more than just that. She cooked because she loved us, because she wanted us to be well fed, healthy and happy no matter what kind of lifestyle we had. She liked to joke that food was the way to a man's heart, and I think that's why all six of us males were tied to her even after we left home to pursue our own careers."
All six of us. To the outsider, it seems as if Bill is talking about only the six male children, but Ron knows that he is the seventh who has been excluded, and it is a sudden reminder to him that he did this to himself, that he excluded himself when he left so dramatically, without any word or warning, and with no further contact with his family since. Again, he wonders what he is doing at the funeral.
Charlie unfolds the checked cloth slowly, laying it flat on the grass to reveal the packed sandwiches inside. Six faces break into grins, twelve hands reach out to take out the food, but Ron's do not. He already knows what he is going to have.
The six Weasley children are picnicking on a hill near the Burrow, as is the tradition every time that Bill and Charlie both come home. On each occasion, their mother packs individual sandwiches for the children; each child has something different in their sandwich according to their tastes, and Mrs. Weasley knows exactly what they like and don't like to eat. So Bill never has cheese in his sandwiches, Charlie always has something spicy, Percy always has exactly six slices of cucumber in his perfectly cut bread, Fred and George always have the same strange combinations, Ginny always has jam. And Ron, who detests corned beef, has three lumpy packages of corned beef sandwiches every single time. He has tried telling his mother that he dislikes it, but she is always involved in talking to one of the other children, and never pays attention. And so after too many rejections, he has stopped trying and takes his sandwiches in silence.
The sound of approving munches from all round, and the satisfied burps of Fred and George, make his stomach constrict with something akin to anger, and suddenly he is not hungry at all. He puts down his sandwich. He can manage without lunch for one day.
Charlie is the next to speak, and his voice is oddly tight and formal as he begins what sounds to be a well-rehearsed and scripted speech. Charlie was never intellectual or eloquent, but it didn't matter because he was the active child, the fit and healthy child, the one who could be depended on to de-gnome the garden thoroughly if ever required, the one who 'could have played for England if he hadn't gone off chasing dragons'.
"My mother was always loving, concerned primarily with the health and happiness of her children. She wanted us to succeed, because she cared for us all individually, without exception, and she wanted us all to have a good future. I can definitely say, personally, that her encouragement and support in my endeavours as I was growing up, particularly in Quidditch and physical activity, have helped me to reach this point in my life, and I owe her my sincerest thanks and love, for being the best mother I could ever have…"
Ron is sitting on the ground playing wizard chess with Harry, completely involved in thrashing his best friend for the fourth time that day. His brow furrows, then clears, and he moves his bishop diagonally three spaces.
He grins as Harry's face screws up in temporary annoyance, but then feels guilty and tries to make it up to him. He knows how it feels to fail constantly. "You wanna go outside and play Quidditch for a while?" They leap to their feet and make for the door, stopping only to assure Ron's mother that no they won't fly too far away and yes they will be back before lunch and yes they will be safe and so on until Ron thinks he will go wild, and finally they are outside.
They play for only half an hour but by that time Ron feels sufficiently paid back for the chess games. Although they've taken turns riding Harry's Nimbus 2000, Harry is still a much better flier, and Ron is sweaty, muddy and covered in bruises from his multiple times of solid contact with both the ground and the ball. Harry, like the best friend he is, makes no comment but only smiles encouragingly at him as they walk back inside to clean up for lunch. Again, they are stopped at the door by Mrs. Weasley. She beams at Harry, briefly commenting on his wonderful flying skills, and then turns to Ron with that familiar tired, tight smile. "Are you okay, Ronnie?" she asks, pointing her wand at several of his most prominent bruises, healing them with the skill and efficiency of a practised action. "This is why I've always discouraged sport for you, you're just not made for it. You just have to keep looking into different fields until you find what you're good at. I've always said you could try going into debating…"
Ron turns away. "I'm fine, mum, seriously. Just let me and Harry go get cleaned up." He ignores the fact that Harry is hardly dirty at all, and starts walking up the stairs after Harry, who is used to this scene and normally tries to leave inconspicuously, before his mother can say any more. But they both don't miss the slightly disappointed tone in her voice as she continues to talk to their retreating backs.
"Charlie used to be Quidditch captain."
And then it is Percy's turn. His horn-rimmed glasses perch snobbishly on his nose and his voice is a monotone as he drones on about his own achievements. Even as a child he was supremely dull to be around, and yet he was the pride of his mother's life, with his collection of OWLs, NEWTs, and then his position in the Ministry of Magic which he was offered right from the outset. Ron had not received any Outstandings in his OWLs, and he had worked as a dishwasher at the Leaky Cauldron for three years before being offered a position training security trolls.
"My mother assisted me in my journey to becoming a Ministry of Magic official. I am now one of the most high-ranking officials in the ministry, except the Minister himself, Kingsley Shacklebolt. The expectations of my job are extremely demanding and I must work rigorously; however, I am completely capable of fulfilling all that is required of me to the highest level. This is because of my training all through my years in Hogwarts, always doing what was expected of me and more. That is why I became a prefect and eventually Head Boy. In my studies, I was able to score top marks for both my OWLs and my NEWTs. Of course, none of this could have been done without the support of my mother behind the scenes. She definitely gave me all praise that was due, and I was very grateful for her presence over the years…"
OWL results have arrived, and Ron is sitting at the dinner table holding his sealed envelope. He desperately wants to open it, but his body seems to have become irresponsive and he can do nothing but stare at his trembling fingers. Just as he has mustered up enough will-power to break the seal, his mother rushes in from the garden, tired and sweaty from a morning of de-gnoming.
"What's that you've got there, Ronnie?" she asks, prying the envelope from his hand until she sees the official seal. Suddenly, she tenses. "Oh my goodness!" she cries, tearing it open, and pulling out the pieces of parchment inside. "Oh, Ronnie, I forgot results would be coming today. Your marks are extremely important- they can decide your future. Now Bill and Percy, they both received twelve OWLs, and of course I don't expect you to perform up to their standard, but we'll see, won't we?"
Even as she lifts up the parchment to read it, Ron cringes inwardly. He already knows that he failed Divination, and he doesn't have high hopes for the rest of his subjects either. He tries to gauge her reaction. His heart sinks when he sees that same tight smile on her face. She hands him the parchment.
He has received six OWLs, but even most of these are Acceptables, and there is not a sign of an Outstanding anywhere on the page. He has passed- he would otherwise be satisfied, but when he looks at his mother he cannot help but think that somehow he has let her down once again.
By the time Fred and George come up to speak, Ron doesn't want to listen any more. Fred and George were perhaps the only other brothers in his family who didn't please his mother, but they have always had each other, and he has always been alone. Sometimes he wishes he had a twin as well. Perhaps then he could have coped, as Fred and George coped, and not run away. There are so many possibilities that he thinks of all the time, if only things had been different for him. If only.
He hears only a few sentences of their speech, and it is enough to tell him that even Fred and George were closer to his mother than he had thought.
"…would get mad at us, but there were times when she would truly laugh, and it was those times we knew she loved us, because her eyes would crinkle slowly- you could count them slowly gathering and suddenly there would just be a mass of wrinkles along her eyes as she smiled and shook her head in defeat. It's such a small detail, but we remember it because when she did that we knew that she was truly happy."
Ron has never seen his mother smile like that.
Finally, Ginny steps up, and he wants to start forward, wants to push her off the podium, because it is his turn, he is the next child, not her. And he wonders why suddenly he cares, because he can't even remember the last time he wanted to do something for his mother. He stands still for one moment, contemplating this, and then he cannot stand it any longer; he does not want to hear Ginny talk- it will only bring up more bitterness and more hatred- so he turns, and silently, leaves the hall.
He apparates home and heads straight for the kitchen. He eats when he is upset, and this is the most distressed he has been in a long time. Why does he suddenly care so much about his mother? Why is everything rushing back to him so suddenly, as if the door that he has kept firmly shut has suddenly opened, its contents spilling out into his life? He opens the fridge to retrieve a large leg of ham, and starts cutting it into thick slices. Everything that his brothers said cut straight into him, and as he chops the ham, he seems to be stabbing at his own heart, opening up the old wound. He had never been praised for his ability in chess. He had the same figure as Bill, and yet his mother had never tried to 'fatten him up'. He had never been able to count the wrinkles beside his mother's eyes, because she had never smiled at him in that way. He had only ever seen that tired, tight smile- the one reserved especially for him, he thinks sardonically. And so, deep in thought, his fingers slip, and the knife flies out. Reflexively, he reaches out his arm to catch it.
For a moment the knife glitters in the air, and then it falls as if in slow motion, slicing him cleanly where his thumb and forefinger are connected. Liquid red globes spray outwards, glistening in the light. The knife clatters to the ground. An accident - or is it?
He does not reach for his wand as his blood gushes onto the floor. He does not reach for his wand as his vision blurs. He does not reach for his wand even when he is forced onto the floor, weak from lack of blood, and realises he is dying. He does not reach for his wand because he sees something that keeps him still. Bright brown eyes are staring into his, distant as if behind a glass wall, yet so close and so clear that he can see the tiny blood vessels, count the eyelashes, inspect the wrinkles and the eye bags. They crinkle as if smiling, and he can count the faint wrinkles on the sides of the eyes. One- two- three- four – then there are a million and he cannot tell where one leads onto the next, and suddenly he understands, and the eyes are glittering, and tears leak out, and Ron realises that they are tears of love, tears of forgiveness, and of acceptance. And he is home.