written for the hogwarts forum challenge 9
Iv. tea leaves: Write about someone falling down (be creative here).
Object: bottle of wine
a/n: i just was so inspired for this one. i was planning to do harry but i felt like it was better for ron. he's like the forgotten sibling, and then this is where he's the one trying to forget everything.
i'm so sorry in advance; tissue warning because holy crap i brought myself feels with this
. . .
Funerals are a nasty thing. Ronald Bilius Weasley has been to quite a few. He's been to the funerals of all the Weasleys — one by one, he watches, each funeral killing the family.
Fred is first to go. He dies in the Battle of Hogwarts, by a Death Eater's hand.
His mother dies two months later, unable to take the grief. Then his father goes soon after and they are together in the afterlife.
Percy's next — he has always loved his parents, who are now gone. His body cannot take it anymore, and then he is dead.
Then it is George, who kills himself, unable to bear the breaking of his family. The note reads, I don't want to live to watch everyone die.
Charlie is gone soon after — he is sluggish after all the deaths and all the drink and all the grief, and a dragon burns him when he is too slow.
Fleur dies when a man tries to violate her on the street; she is a beautiful girl, but the strain of that man kills her anyway. Bill is next, and he kills the man who laid hands on his Fleur before getting shot with an Avada Kedavra by the Auror squad, who deems him unstable and volatile.
Harry and Ginny are consumed by grief together — they are both Aurors, and they are both murdered on the same mission.
None of them have any children, because someone is always dying in the family, and no one can bring themselves to birth more.
Then it is just Ron and Hermione for a few years. They find solace in each other, but Hermione is so saddened and so reclusive after everything that she just shuts down.
Yesterday she died. Today Ron stands at her funeral. He is the only one of the Weasleys left to be there. He's the only one alive for her last rites.
And Ron sinks to the ground, whispering, "Hermione, 'Mione, you can't be dead...come back...come back, I can't live without you…"
There is no reply, of course. But Ron thinks he can hear a little chuckle, humorless — it sounds like her laugh, tinkling and bitter, sending chills down his spine.
. . .
She is there the next day, when Ron has himself buried in a bottle of wine and sorrow.
"Forgotten me already?"
Her voice is exactly as he remembers it except that it twists in a way it hadn't before. It takes him a while to realize that it's a bitter twist, a bitter note in her voice. Hermione has never been bitter. Sad, yes, but never bitter.
Ron stands to face her.
"'M — Mione?"
She walks toward him, slow, deliberate, and she takes his hands in hers — she is cold, so cold.
"Are you really here?" he asks.
She leans in, mouth at his ear, whispering, "Are you really here?"
Ron opens his mouth to answer, but he's cut off by her cold lips on his.
And yeah, everything's different now — she's all cold and she looks a little bit translucent, but that's just the wine there, right? This is really his Hermione, Ron's wife, Ron's everything, in the flesh with her wonderfully callous dark eyes and her bushy — now flatter, but still bushy hair, and the curving lips. It's her, he feels it, and he can smell it, that rosy lavender perfume she wears, and Ron snakes his hands around her neck and consumes the moment, because It's Hermione, and she's back, and as their tongues swirl in tandem and their breathing becomes in sync, Ron feels at home.
She pulls away for a moment, and their noses are touching.
"Do you know," Ron breathes in between kisses, "how much you scared me? How much I miss you?"
She does not reply, simply dragging his mouth in, kissing him, his neck, his forehead, taking him in. And Ron complies, because This is her, it's Hermione, and she doesn't know how much he missed her in the day she's been gone, and she doesn't know how hungry he is for her presence.
But at the end, they separate, breathing labored, and she tells him again, "Forgotten me already?"
Ron opens his mouth to speak, but she is gone.
"Hermione?" he calls to the empty home. No one answers but the echo of the walls.
Funny thing, he can still feel her hands on him and he can still smell her scent in the air, that distinct smell of roses and lavender in her perfume.
. . .
She is back the next night.
"Did you think you could forget?"
Ron jumps at her voice as she seems to materialize in front of him. Hermione prowls toward him, asking again, "Did you?" The same scent, the one of roses and lavender, permeates the air again.
"I could never," Ron tells her truthfully.
"Good," she replies, "because you never will."
And then she is upon him, and their lips are touching, tongues are swirling, and their souls are connected.
She is dictating the meeting. Hermione pulls back from Ron, and he tries to hold her hand.
"Hermione, please," he begs, "stay."
She turns back to him at that. She leans in again, and Ron does too, waiting, waiting, for that feeling of her lips on his again, because he needs her, he needs Hermione —
"My darling," she whispers in his ear instead, "I'm always here — otherwise, you'd forget me."
Her words hang in the air; Ron works up the courage to speak, but she is gone, the ghosts of her breath on his cheeks and of her perfume in the air.
. . .
He holds the bottle at its neck, taking long drags from it. It's red wine, the only alcohol he has, and Ron needs something stronger to curb the pain, something stronger so that he can forget.
And he does, for a while, after a few more bottles and a few more hiccups.
At his last one, something breaks inside him. Ron's all alone, and he seems to realize it now, because Hermione isn't here, and she comes but she leaves, and You're alone, pathetic, everyone's gone —
Ron smashes the bottle of wine, half full, against the wall; it's stained red, red like her blood and red like his hair and red like Gryffindor and his family and —
Then for a moment, nothing is there. For one moment, just one, Ron forgets.
"Forgotten me already?" chimes her voice then, right then as he forgets, and he can feel how cold the room has gotten now that he can see Hermione, and there's that smell of her perfume in the air, too, but he doesn't mind.
"No," he tells her, resigned to this fate, "almost, but not really."
"Good," she says back. "Because you won't, sorry — not really."
There's a pause stretching between them, a silence. Ron doesn't know if he wants to break it, but then he does as he asks, "Why are you here?"
"Why are you?" she whispers. "Maybe, I'm here because you want me to be, maybe I'm here because I want to be — I don't know. But I'm here."
"If you're here, really here," Ron suggests, "then will you do things with me? Like the way we used to, you know — how we would make music that was all weird and probably wouldn't even sell and how we'd read even though I hate those books you read — will you?"
"I'm always here," she replies. "And I'm Hermione, your Hermione, aren't I?"
She laughs after that, a bittersweet tinkling sound that chills Ron to the bone, but then she is gone — he knows better than to call back out after her.
He can still feel her in the room, after all, and that will have to be enough.
. . .
He wakes to a soft melody of the piano they used to share — she's not here for them to share it anymore. Ron can visualize her fingers threading across the keys, nimble and free like her soul.
And so Ron tumbles out of the soft covers, not even remembering how he got there in the first place, and pads toward the living room. There's a red stain on the walls. He doesn't remember how it got there.
Then Ron sees the glass, and he remembers the wine.
He remembers Hermione.
She's there, already, and there's that memory, and that rosy lavender scent, and then she laughs.
Her fingers are gliding across the piano — Ron had never learned how to play, but Hermione knew, and she would play for him and he would sing for her because she was tone-deaf, and they'd laugh…
He recognizes the tune — "Happy Birthday." A classic song, the same for Muggles and for wizards. Ron can feel the music, feel her there, see her hair weaving across her shoulders.
"Happy birthday to you…" he begins. Hermione doesn't falter, but she plays louder. "Happy birthday...to you…happy birthday —" He's breaking down, a little bit, tears welling up in his eyes because of course that's what today is, of course it's her birthday today... "— dear Her — Mione...happy birthday to you…"
And he can't think, he can't, because it's her — so dearly he wants her back, not in these increments where she holds onto him and whispers in his ears, "Forgotten me already?"
Ron slides into the large seat, right next to her. She starts up the tune again, and Ron clears his throat, sidling next to her subconsciously.
This is her, but she's so cold and so different but still the same.
"Happy — birthday — to you — happy birthday — to you —"
He can't finish. He can't. It's too much, because it's her birthday, and this is just it because he's all alone.
Somewhere along the line, the tune stops, as she presses the last key. It seems to echo around the room — Ron doesn't know if that's what he's hearing or not.
And he can feel her, a ghost of a person next to him: hands on his hips and breaths on his lips. He can feel her, this ghost of his Hermione, this ghost, his downfall.
She's gone, but he can still feel her presence lingering in the room.
Ron allows himself to cry — to really break down and just die from the grief of it all. He doesn't die that night.
But the next day, she's still gone, and he is, too — a year later, there's an Auror in the house, and he finds the stain on the wall and the piano and the body right next to it, and he witnesses that rabbit hole Ronald Bilius Weasley fell through.
Despite the old, rotting corpse, the Auror swears he can smell the pungent scent of roses and lavender.