Harry Potter was not Albus Dumbledore.
Ron Weasley was well aware of this. Out of everyone in the world, he was probably the one who was most aware of this. Ron should be, he was even the one that had shown Harry his first image of Dumbledore on a chocolate frog card, on the day they met. He was one of Harry's two best friends. He had grown with him through ups and downs, caused by people trying to kill Harry, or even Ron's own youthful immaturity at times.
He had been there for Harry's first magic classes, first spell, first broom ride, and first venture into intentional rule breaking, the one that could have gotten them killed or expelled. He was there for Harry's first heartbreak, and the subsequent ones... including the break up with his own sister, amicable as it might have been at least on Harry's side. Ron was there through Harry's first break into the Ministry of Magic and the one after that too. The first time Harry broke into, and subsequently out of, Gringotts bank on the back of the dragon, Ron was there. He was there for the destruction of the Horcruxes.
Ron was there the night Harry had died, and had come back to face one of the worst Dark Lords that had ever lived.
He was there, along with most of his generation, when Harry vanquished the Dark Lord. Nearly the entire Wizarding World had celebrated. They had hailed Harry Potter as the next Albus Dumbledore.
But Harry Potter was not Albus Dumbledore.
Oh sure. For the most part the similarities were so easy for the public to see, and regularly reinforced. Harry was a humble guy. He didn't go tooting the horn of his own accomplishments. He spent time with his friends.
Harry didn't seem to blame anyone for what happened, even the public that had at times felt like it turned on him, although a large part of it could be laid at the feet of the Daily Prophet. How much the readers actually believed the rag was always in doubt. For Harry's part, he tolerated the public that seemed to deify him.
The way the public gave respectful nods, waves, or even bows, along with their greetings when people called out to Harry whenever he would make his way through Diagon Alley, or any wizarding space. The way most storekeepers would fall over themselves to help him, or provide him whatever assistance they could. The way they offered him free wares, or tried let him take any of his meals on the house. Harry insisted on paying. He always did. It just endeared him even more to the public.
More than once Ron had seen one child or another come barrelling up to Harry to hug him, or to ask him for an autograph. Ron was the only one who noticed Harry tense up at the physical contact. It was something Harry still wasn't fond of.
The child would usually be followed by an an embarrassed parent, who looked torn between scolding the child for being so overt, about their admiration and bothering the man, and apologetic to Harry for the same. Harry never minded. He would kneel down, say a few words to the child, occasionally even sign an autograph on a chocolate frog card with his likeness, and remember the child's name if they met again, which would never fail to make the child's day. The child and parent would go away with positive impressions of the Boy Who Lived.
The Man Who Conquered.
The next Albus Dumbledore.
It was in the way of how Harry accepted a position to teach at Hogwarts, as the Defence against the Dark Arts professor a little more than a year after the fall of Voldemort. The majority of the wizarding world accepted this almost as if it was expected. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that Harry had found a love for teaching his fifth year, or that he had instructed a group of fourth through seventh years to some of the best test scored in Hogwarts history.
Albus Dumbledore had defeated Gellert Grindelwald and then had gone back to teaching at Hogwarts. Dumbledore had gone from that teaching position to the position of Headmaster, the position he had held for nearly five decades.
Now Harry was teaching at Hogwarts. Instructing young minds. When McGonagall retired, (not that Ron was ever convinced McGonagall would retire. She hadn't aged a day, and he was convinced she was born old.) The wizarding world seemed to accept, even expect, Harry would ascend to the position of Headmaster.
Just like Albus Dumbledore.
No matter that Harry was just now out of his teens, thus a good deal younger, and that Dumbledore had taught at Hogwarts for years before he'd defeated Grindelwald. To the public he was following in Dumbledore's footsteps. Harry's relationship with the old man one that Harry would only ever describe as complicated, added to it as well, as in the eyes of many, he was Dumbledore's unstated apprentice.
And it wasn't that Ron thought Harry would make a bad headmaster. He wasn't sure if Harry would accept the position or not. Maybe he would. Maybe he wouldn't. Harry loved teaching. Ron was sure if it was offered and Harry turned it down there would be other comparisons. Comparisons about how Harry thought he needed more experience, or about Dumbledore being such big shoes to fill, as if McGonagall wasn't even capable, a good headmistress.
Everyone knew Harry Potter was the next Albus Dumbledore.
Ron couldn't quite blame him for Fawkes. The phoenix had reappeared not long after the Battle of Hogwarts and had taken up residence with Harry. Most days the bird could be found on it's perch in Harry's classroom or flying about the skies around Hogwarts. No one was even much surprised. Dumbledore had a phoenix, it was only natural that Harry had a phoenix companion as well.
The comparisons didn't quite stop there. Harry's slow involvement in the Wizengamot and the politics there, something he generally didn't much enjoy, but made a point to do, was said to parallel Dumbledore's own entrance to the wizarding body. No one said anything about Harry's involvement seeming necessary, in order to advocate for certain issues that were important to him, such as werewolf rights in order to protect his godson.
Harry's advocacy, for those issues, had also been seen as possible steps toward being named Chief Warlock. There were rumors the Minister had already offered the position to him, privately, but that he'd turned it down.
There was also the way in which Harry had vouched for a former Death Eater and his family.
Okay, Ron admitted, he totally laid the blame for those comparisons on Harry. Standing up for Narcissa and Draco Malfoy, and by extension their father, by stating that their help had been instrumental in the downfall of the Dark Lord had kept them out of prison, and had so many people remembering when Albus Dumbledore had done the same for a young Severus Snape.
Harry did not like that comparison. Ron never missed an opportunity to tease him about it.
But it wasn't really a surprise to many people. Harry was forgiving, honest and loyal. He had never held it against the students in school who had called him the 'Heir of Slytherin', who wore the 'Potter Stinks' badges, or who thought him an attention seeking liar the Prophet painted him as when he claimed Voldemort was back. Even after he had been vindicated. Harry didn't try to demand that the trials for Death Eaters went a certain way. Maybe he didn't want to be responsible for another Sirius Black. Maybe he was too trusting and assuming the government had gotten it's head out of it's arse.
Harry really could be a naive git at times.
Unsurprising as he was, after all, the next Albus Dumbledore.
Only… Harry Potter was not Albus Dumbledore.
Sometimes Ron wondered if he was the only one in the entirety of the wizarding world that realized that.
It was obvious to him at times.
Times when Harry, very slightly, tensed up and flexed in a crowd, ready to draw his wand and fire when he felt too crowded.
Times when they would be talking with George in the shop. It happened regularly there. George would say something, and flinch, clearly reminded of something to do with his deceased twin. A look would flitter across George's face and then a brief look would flash in Harry's eyes. Brief. Only a flicker. But intense. Even those closest to him had no idea.
Times when they would see former schoolmates. Or when conversation would mention classmates who were no longer with them, when a brow would furrow, or a hand would flex around a cup.
Times when he would be reading the Prophet and see mention of a Death Eater who avoided punishment for one reason or another, or their sentences being up after a few months, or a year, after all the crimes committed. Harry's eyes would trail over the paper skimming articles in a disinterested manner. But he wasn't. He was picking out every single detail, the only sign of anything more than bland disinterest a very slight clenching of his jaw.
Those were the times that Ron knew.
And those… those had almost inevitably lead to a time like this.
Ron was standing around looking at the sight surrounding him. He was located in a room, in a wing of one of the oldest, and largest manors in the wizarding world. A stately mansion, surrounded by sprawling grounds, expensive art, and hundreds of years of history.
Or at least it had been. Now, part of the manor was collapsed, and another large portion damaged by a fire that had gotten out of control, that even the normal anti-flame charms on a house hadn't stopped.
"What've we got, Ron?" A bass voice asked over his shoulder.
Ron turned around to face the man that had spoken, adjusting his coat out of habit as he did so, "Director Shacklebolt, we were alerted to a disturbance on the premises from an anonymous tip through the Floo network. We arrived about four minutes later. Upon entering we had to extinguish the fires through the house."
"Upon entering?" Kingsley asked, looking at Ron sharply.
"No wards were up to stop us entering," Ron answered Kingsley's unasked question.
"Just like the others," Kingsley muttered, nodding his head for Ron to continue.
"Just like the others. Thus far we've found Theodore Nott Senior and Junior, as well as Selwyn," Ron gestured toward the two bodies laying on the ground and then pointed at a third stuck in a wall corner and hanging there, impaled on a stake.
"And there's that." Ron pointed to the wall. There, standing out on the section of wall, was a skull with the snake coming out of its mouth in the shape of infinite. The mark was more than enough to make most of the aurors nervous, which is why they were more than happy to let Ron make the report to Kingsley. Next to the mark were the words, "Death to Traitors".
The entire panorama was written in blood, and with the state of the three men, there was no bets as to whose blood it was.
"Judging by the damage, we're guessing a larger force assaulted the manor." Ron said quietly, while Kingsley tried to study the wall with an impartial eye. And it was true, the entire place looked like quite the pitched battle had occurred.
"They're infighting," Kingsley muttered, "But why? Why would Death Eaters be killing other suspected Death Eaters now?"
"I don't know," Ron answered, sounding dissatisfied.
That wasn't hard for the man to fake, as in the end, he was rather dissatisfied, only it was with the man beside him. He didn't like the situation at all. He had no problem deceiving or misleading his boss. Especially one like Kingsley who had been a bit of a disappointment to him over the past few years.
No, Ron knew exactly why this was happening. It had nothing to do with death eaters and everything to do with the fact that Harry Potter was not Albus Dumbledore.
He even knew why it was happening now.
Three weeks ago he had been home in his apartment, in the morning. He had the weekend shift, so he had mornings off. He was slightly startled by the crack of apparition announcing a visitor. He saw the figure of his fiance at their entrance way and he looked up. "Hermione? Did you forge-" his voice trailed off when she had spun to look at him.
He was instantly on his feet. He hadn't seen that expression on her face in a while. Oh it appeared like anger. But Ron had known Hermione almost as long as he had known Harry. He knew her, and could see that she was frightened in the way her eyes were slightly wider. He could feel the fear in the way she trembled slightly when he got close enough to pull her into his embrace.
"What happened?" He demanded even as her face crumpled and tears overwhelmed her. It was brief. Only a matter of seconds before she composed herself. But it made Ron's temper boil.
Hermione had taken a few deep breaths and then she had shown him.
She didn't say anything as she side apparated them both to the Ministry. She hadn't said anything when she had pulled him along the now familiar path to her office. Hermione had been so proud of that office the day she got it, a few months ago. It was not far from the minister's office. A nice stately office, containing an antique desk she had inherited from her grandmother. One that stubbornly resisted any shrinking charms and thus had to be maneuvered in there by himself and Harry.
She didn't say anything as she opened the door to her office but didn't look inside, instead she kept her face deliberately looking away and her eyes closed. He could see the tears she was trying to hold back.
It took him only a moment stepping inside to realize why.
Her office had been ransacked. Books and parchment were torn and thrown everywhere around the place. All the little knick knacks and trinkets she collected, that he would tease her about, were broken and scattered. That desk was smashed right in the middle. And on the wall. Burnt in dark letters to the wall. "Mudblood Whore". And the Dark Mark.
A few years earlier, Ron may have sworn up a storm, may have invented new curse words on the spot. He would have been damn near frothing at the mouth in rage that anyone would do something like that to anyone. Much less the woman he loved. He would have had his wand out and gone directly for Malfoy or some other target. The first convenient 'former' death eater he could find.
This Ron had taken a breath, turned and stepped back out, closing the door. He had put his hands on her arms, which were crossed over her stomach, as she tried to remain stoic but was biting her lip to keep from crying. Ron's voice was gentle but firm, "I want you to go home. Take a nice hot bath. Read a couple of the books you've got piled up. I'll take care of this."
"Ron, I can help with the cleanup I just…" Hermione started to protest and the hurt in her tone, from what someone had done to her office, was as clear as day.
"No." Ron had cut her off, "You shouldn't have to clean this up. Let me. I'll take care of it. I promise. Please."
Hermione had resisted for a moment but he could tell by the minute slump of her shoulders, and her nod, that she needed time to breath after such a violation. She had taken a steadying breath and then nodded a little bit. He slid his arm around her waist and had walked her back to the apparition point, since the wards made apparating in and out of the Ministry.
She had even kissed him briefly and murmured a 'thank you' before she had apparated away.
Ron had stared at the space she had vacated for a few moments before walking back to her office with deceptive slowness.
He entered the office and closed the door behind him as he looked around once more before his wand was in hand. He cast a spell, but it wasn't a repairing spell. It was one taught to him by his best friend during their fifth year. A jack russell terrier patronus emerged. Ron didn't hesitate. "I need you in Hermione's office, now. It's an emergency."
The patronus had faded away to send the message to its recipient, long distance.
Thirty seconds later, there was a flicker and Harry Potter was there. There was no pop that accompanied all but the most skilled people with apparition.
Ron didn't even bat an eye or waste time asking how he had gotten through both Hogwarts wards and those of the Ministry's. He had known Harry could do it but hadn't shared it with anyone. He had no doubt Harry would come. Just like he would drop everything he was doing if Harry said it was an emergency. There would be no hesitation.
Harry had looked at Ron preparing to ask the obvious question before his eyes took in the rest of the room in an instant. In that instant, all the signs that Harry hid, all the little tells Ron had become familiar with, came to the fore, all at once.
His eyes flared and jawline flexed in anger. His wand was clenched in his hand as he looked around with a furrowed brow.
"Where's Hermione?" Harry demanded immediately.
"At home in our apartment, hopefully taking a bath and trying not to cry or to remember." Ron answered instantly. "She's safe… for the moment."
Harry looked around once more, his eyes falling on the desk briefly, and Ron knew he was remembering the same thing he had upon seeing it. Then Harry's eyes settled on the message on the wall. Harry just looked at it. He had obviously seen it the first time, but now he really seemed to be taking it in. It was nearly half a minute later. "No."
"No?" Ron asked.
"No." Harry's voice had shifted and he turned to look at Ron with flashing eyes. "She's not safe. Not with scum willing to do things like this."
"I know." Ron said, his voice tired as he rubbed a hand over his face. "I'll contact the office to file the-
"No," Harry cut him off, his voice flat.
Ron looked up at him, "Mate?"
"No Ron." Harry said again, "This isn't going anywhere near your office, or Kingsley or anyone else."
For a moment, Ron was also reminded of Dumbledore. Dumbledore who didn't trust the Ministry, who was responsible for Harry growing up where he did. Dumbledore who let Harry, and Hermione be slandered in the papers. Dumbledore who let the Ministry install Umbridge and became a fugitive.
Then Harry shifted to look at him and raised his hand, his wand in hand, he slowly waved it around the room, the room which righted itself as Harry turned in a circle. He fixed all the various knickknacks, books, and parchment. The desk resisted his charm for only a few moments before it snapped back into place. Then Harry turned to look at the wall. The last signal that anything had happened at all.
Harry stared up at the mark. "They've had their chance. I'm not willing to risk giving them another."
"Harry, what are you…" Ron trailed off slowly as Harry turned to look at him. He didn't have to ask. Harry had simply looked at him and then turned his wand on the wall. The entire wall reverted to its previously pristine condition with a wave.
"I'll see you soon, Ron. Dinner at your parents, next week, right?" Harry stated, more than asked, as he disappeared.
Ron stared at the space Harry left, before he too had left, the more normal way of returning to the apparition point before heading home to comfort Hermione.
The attacks had begun three nights later.
This was the fifth manor to be attacked in those three weeks. All were attacked in the same way. Lots of destruction, lots of spellfire. Always purebloods either suspected of being Death Eaters or supporting them. Always the Dark Mark and the statement 'Death to Traitors'.
The Aurors had all come to the conclusion that the former Death Eaters had turned on each other and the infighting was killing them.
There was no one even thinking it was anything but a coincidence when a bar in Knockturn had burned down after an all out spell fight between a number of its patrons, leaving a number dead or unaccounted for.
Or the accidental deaths of two other Death Eaters. One from overdosing on dreamless sleep potion and the other from a potions accident. Or the disappearance of two others, without family, who just stopped showing up to work.
None of the Aurors make the connection.
Ron certainly did not say anything to help them.
The formerly lanky redhead, whose height now matched Bill's and whose muscle mass equalled Charlie's, went to the scenes, does his best to support the prevailing theories put forth for each individual case. Some of the theories thrown out there were worthy of something only Xenophilius could've written in his heyday, but Ron doesn't say a word to correct them. He fills out the paperwork required. He listens when one or another Wizengamot member storms in to speak with Kingsley who is always polite and more than happy to ask them if they have any leads in the case which could help them… but his hands are tied by law. He can't investigate the unaffected houses without an invitation and can't offer a body guard without some sort of credible threat being delivered.
Part of those laws were passed by the pureblood, during the last war, to protect themselves from being investigated by the Ministry for supporting the Dark Lord. Funny that.
The person complaining almost always leaves in a storming huff. Ron always wonders about the brief smirk that crosses Kingsley's face after each meeting.
Ron never asks.
He finishes his paperwork, and then goes home.
He comforts his fiance in the darkest hours of the night, when he's forced to wake her up in the midst of a nightmare, or when he himself wakes to find Hermione curled close, staring at the scars Bellatrix cut into her arm. He reassures her wordlessly, knowing the next day she'll be out there once more, with a brave face, and the full force of her personality, and indomitable will, to make the magical world a better place. Ron always wishes he could do more than just comfort her in those moments.
But he knows.
Ron knows that soon Hermione will be able to go into work and not be worried about her office being vandalized in the worst way. He knows Hermione will be safe. He knows his children, when they get to that point, will get to grow up with both of their parents. He knows other parents won't lose their children to those spouting pureblood dogma. He knows no other twin will mourn the loss of their other half because of those same pureblood supremacists.
He knows. Because soon, the few left who believe in such nonsense will be too afraid to even mention it. He knows the conflict started in his parents', and grandparents' time, which they failed to complete, was now being taken care of.
Just as Ron knows that no one would suspect Harry Potter, destroyer of Voldemort, of all of the killings. After all, that's not the sort of thing the next Albus Dumbledore could ever be suspected of doing.
Ron knows Hogwarts already is safe. Like Albus Dumbledore before him, Harry Potter walks the halls. Unlike the headmaster, and just as Harry Potter did growing up during their time there, Harry prioritizes the safety and protection of the students above all else.
He knows that no one else will have to fight being possessed by an item cursed by a dark wizard, for an entire year, by themselves. No child will face a basilisk roaming the school. No one will face Dementors in anything but a controlled setting. No student will have to deal with a Death Eater abusing them as a teacher. Ron knows that no child will ever be tortured with a blood quill.
Ron also knows a war won't be fought in the hallways of a school where children should be free to learn, to make friends, to have fun and, above all, be safe. A generation of children won't be robbed of their childhood, or their lives.
Ron Weasley knows this, because Harry Potter is not Albus Dumbledore.
Author's Notes- Pretty much a one shot. Also... my first completed story :P Which I find amusing.
1)This was inspired by the short "It was Easy to Forget" by Argyle.S (who is writing a fantastic Supergirl story!) Update: It's no longer on Fanfiction dot net, you can find the story on AO3, under the writing name Socketeer. (That fic was not, but some of their stories are slash, so just as a warning)
2) No it was not intended to 'bash' Dumbledore. It was an idea that came to me after that story and I just needed to get it out in writing. No I don't plan on there being any followup or sequel. At the moment it's a one shot. But given that I didn't plan the story, my muse might decide to wander off with this concept again.
Plums - She wrote this literally start to finish in about 2-3 hours in 2 sessions. We're on a weird kick now… Good!Ron is decidedly odd to write sometimes. I blame Chilord for it. Some of his last works (not found on FF .net) contain very well written "Good Rons". If you haven't looked them up, I highly recommend you search around a bit if possible and do so. "Secret Project" specifically.