HIDDEN SCARS, by Rennynev

Type of story: Summer after 5th year

A/N - Well hello, everyone. Thanks so much to all the people who left such positive reviews! I think the first chapter went a little too fast, and I didn't cover things I wanted to, so I touched it up. Sorry to have to make you read some things a second time, but I like it better now. Please review!

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The wind ran its hundreds of cool fingers through his bright red hair; he soared straight into a cloud, moisture enveloping him. Seconds later he emerged from its moist depths, kissed by the sun and dried almost immediately. For a few moments, the boy didn't even remember the thin, sleek piece of wood he was sitting on. He soared through the air, the grin on his face the most genuine anyone could ever encounter. But inevitably, he slowly began to drop, nearing the ground, until the tips of his toes skimmed startlingly green grass. He looked back into the purely blue sky, which was almost as blue as his own eyes, and then climbed off his broom with unmatched agility, turning to look at the humble leaning house, where a solitary figure waited in the doorway –

"Ron! Get up!"

The door slammed, and the sleeping boy jerked out of his peaceful dream and opened one weary eye.

"Ginny!" he moaned. "Why d'you have to..."

He rolled over, getting further entangled in his frighteningly orange bedspread, finally finding the edge and extending one foot to stand gingerly on the wooden floor, which creaked noisily. He got up and slouched over to the mirror, where the sight of himself drove any fatigue out of his body.

His reflection was tall and lanky; he had pale skin, with freckles dotting every conceivable part of his body. His eyes were the blue of washed denim, and on his arms were horrifying rips in his flesh that looked only half healed. He fought to retch in disgust at the sight of them, and instead took a small bottle off his dresser marked "THOUGHT-WOUND SALVE," and began applying liberal amounts of the salve to his injuries.

When he was sufficiently treated, Ron Weasley put his clothes on haphazardly and began his descent down the stairs of his home. He walked down one flight, swerved, then walked down another flight, turned at the landing and finally found himself in the warm kitchen.

"Morning, Ronnie," said his mother, and placed a plate of scrambled eggs with bacon in front of the chair that Ron usually sat in.

"Thanks, Mum," said Ron, and began heartily wolfing down the provided meal.

Ginny came down the stairs. "Hey Mum," she said, giving her mother a quick peck on the cheek.

"Good morning, dear," said Mrs. Weasley, handing Ginny a plate identical to Ron's.

"Oh, Mum," Ginny pleaded. "You know I don't like scrambled eggs!"

"Must have slipped my mind, dear," said Mrs. Weasley distractedly. Ron and Ginny exchanged glances. Ever since the night at the Department of Mysteries, Mrs. Weasley hadn't seemed herself. Even though they had left Grimmauld Place in favor of the Burrow, Ron's mother didn't seem quite in her element.

"So, what's the plan for today?" Ginny asked, heaping her eggs onto Ron's plate, then rolling her eyes as Ron gave her a grateful "Fanks" through a mouthful of food.

"Well, Fred and George are coming home for dinner," said Mrs. Weasley, her expression hard. "Honestly, I don't know what went wrong with those two..." She involuntarily flicked the switch on the Wizarding Wireless, which crackled to life.

"Nothing wrong with them," Ron protested.

"Oh, I know, love," said Mrs. Weasley affectionately. "I wouldn't want them working as anything else right now...it's simply not safe for a wizard anymore."

Ron and Ginny exchanged another glance, before Ron broke the eye contact and expected one of his twin brothers to make a jovial remark right about now. With an odd feeling, he realized that the kitchen was devoid of anyone but himself, his mother and his sister. He was so used to a full table of loud, conversing Weasleys discussing any and all subjects, and now he was left as the oldest male in the house.

Ginny seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "It's really odd, having just the two of us here," she said, spearing her bacon.

"Oh, not really," said Mrs. Weasley. "Have you forgotten all those years it was just you two at home when Fred and George went to Hogwarts?"

"That's different," said Ron immediately.

"Very different," Ginny added.

Mrs. Weasley stopped her bustling around the kitchen. "Oh, if only those days were back," she murmured, wiping her face with her apron.

Ron stared determinedly at his plate, refusing to meet Ginny's worried gaze.

"Mum…we've got a good hold on things, hasn't Dumbledore said so?" Ginny attempted consolation while biting her lip and twirling a long strand of her straight, red hair.

Ron's eyes sloped off his mother's back as she turned to the sink without an answer. His gaze fell instead on the ancient grandfather clock. At present, three hands were pointed at "home," five had stopped at "work," and one was indicating "traveling." Apparently, Charlie was en route to spreading the word to more foreign wizards.

Ron suddenly became much more aware of the radio. "…In light of the new state of crisis, we ask any willing wizards to report for Auror training…"

Ron frowned. "What station is this?"

"What? Oh, it's your father's special frequency," said Mrs. Weasley.

"What special frequency?"

"Oh, only certain people are authorized to receive radios with this station on them," Mrs. Weasley said absently. "Ministry workers and the like. You haven't noticed it before?"

"No, never," said Ron, baffled.

"Me neither," said Ginny perplexedly. Since when were the Weasleys authorized for special privileges?

"Well we never listen to it, anyway," Mrs. Weasley explained.

The three of them fell silent once more. Ron chanced a glance at Ginny, who was picking at her eggs, seemingly unwilling to ask her mother for something else.

It was odd, but Ginny had changed since the last summer. Ron wasn't sure what to make of having his sister as friend and ally; they had never experienced this type of ordeal in equal positions. For years, Ron had treated her like a little sister that always needed his protection; now, they had undergone a dreadful experience that seriously shattered their reality, and suddenly Ginny was on the same ground as he was. It made him uneasy, knowing that everyone was at the same place; from innocent little sisters to wizened old men.

And above all, it drove Ron crazy that he was kept as in the dark about the situation as both the former and the latter.

"I've got to write Hermione," he said brusquely, before standing and depositing his plate in the sink. Mrs. Weasley made no comment, but Ron could feel Ginny's eyes following his progress up the beaten stairway. His eyes were assailed by sunlight the moment he opened the door to his top-floor room, but after he adjusted for a moment, he walked over to his desk, found a stray piece of parchment and dipped his quill in the ink, then setting it to the parchment.

Hermione,

Talked to Dad about it, and he went to Dumbledore to ask. Dumbledore's saying two things, either you go into some Protection Program and stay with some full wizards, or you and your parents take a holiday somewhere away from all this. It's up to you and your parents. Do what's safer.

Ron

He put his quill down and looked at the brief letter, inwardly kicking himself as he realized how impersonal it sounded. But what more was their to say?

How about, Do what's safer because I don't know what I'd do if I lost you?

Ron frowned, scratching his nose. "Well that's that," he said finally, rolling up the extremely short letter and turning to the twittering minuscule owl in its cage. "Pig, I've got something for Hermione," he said shortly.

Pigwidgeon hooted excitedly as Ron opened his cage, then flew out so exuberantly that he crashed straight into the Chudley Cannon-clad wall. Ron hardly noticed.

There's no sense in trying to get her attention, Ron thought gloomily, his red hair falling softly into his eyes. You've lost your chance…and what would a smart girl like her want a prat like you for, anyway?

But for some reason, he was compelled to unroll the parchment and add a different signature.

It now read, "Love, Ron."

"Here, go," said Ron embarrassedly, as if he were ashamed in front of the owl. Pigwidgeon looked at him with round eyes.

"What are you looking at?" he demanded. Pigwidgeon hooted bracingly and careened out the window. Ron followed him until his form became a dot above the horizon, at which point he heard a yell from downstairs.

"Ron! Mum says we've got to degnome the garden!"

Ron sighed, but did not put up a fight: there was something wrong with Mum these days. He donned his sneakers and proceeded down the stairs.

The day had not yet quite begun as he opened the door to find a deep yellow sunlight skim over his eyes. Ron brought one hand to his forehead and walked around the house to the side, where the vegetable garden patch was located.

One week into the summer and already I'm degnoming. It just doesn't seem right.

And it didn't. Ron had come home from school to find his mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, insisting that she had to return to her own house right away. Ron was all for being at his comfortable home instead of the musty gloom of Grimmauld Place, but having his mother so distant and reminiscent made him more than uncomfortable. Was this what it was like back in the days before Harry nearly defeated You-Know-Who?

At once, Hermione's voice filled his head, exasperated. "Ron! Why can't you say his name? It's only a NAME!"

"Ron! Stop standing around, we've got to work on our homework after this, Mum says." Ginny stared as if daring him to object. He said nothing.

"All right, then," said Ginny. "I'll work on the other side of the house. We'll meet in the middle, I suppose."

"Sounds fine, Gin." Ron turned to cast his eyes around the garden. He spotted a knobbly-looking creature and attacked it. When he'd swung it out of the way, Ginny had vanished.

It was a wonderful way to forget things. "Get over here, you little blighter," Ron growled at the fifth gnome who was unfortunate enough to have come across him. He seized the gnome by the ankles and began swinging it in circles zealously.

This isn't as hard as it used to be, he thought to himself gleefully. I guess all that Quidditch practice is paying off…

And suddenly, he released the wailing gnome and made a visor out of his hand to keep the sun out of his eyes as he watched the gnome's progress in the air.

"I'm getting a lot better at that," he decided, and crouched low into the shrubbery as he located another unsuspecting gnome. Creeping along silently, he found himself in the perfect position to dive.

"Gotcha!" he cried triumphantly as he grabbed the small, brown creature roughly by the scruff of its neck. "Thought you were going to get away, didn't y – AHH!"

The gnome had sunk its vicious teeth right into one of the thought wounds on Ron's arms.

He was blinded by a dazzlingly white flash. His vision was clouded…and he looked around to find himself in an unfamiliar house. Walking forward, he threw open the door and saw a young woman with dark red hair, clutching a black-crowned baby to herself.

"Ginny?" Ron said in wonder, but what came out of his mouth was a voice not his own, and it said, "Move away, Mudblood." He felt his arm rise – a wand was inside it –

"Not Harry!" the woman who resembled Ginny shrieked. "Please not Harry! Take me instead, take me!"

FLASH.

Eyes wide, Ron looked around himself. The room had vanished – he was back in his front yard. A little knobbly creature was sprinting away, chuckling to himself. Ron stared at his hand in disbelief – a hand devoid of any wand whatsoever.

"Ron!" He heard his sister calling frantically. "Ron, did you scream? Why?"

Is that…was that…Harry? And his…mum? Ron felt numb. He stood still for a moment, but suddenly felt something stir restlessly within him. Horrified, he let out a yelp, but the unknown presence subsided. Thoroughly shaken, he stood staring at the grass, mystified, ignoring Ginny's presence.

He felt Ginny shaking him. "Ron!" she cried. "What's the matter? What happened?"

"Ron! Ginny!" came Mrs. Weasley's voice. "I've got some biscuits for you." Her plump figure appeared in the doorway. "What's the matter, dears?"

"Nothing, Mum," Ron managed. His mother turned to go inside once more.

"What is it?" Ginny whispered urgently.

"I'll tell you…when we're alone," he answered in a low voice.

Ginny watched him carefully. He paid her no attention as he walked dazedly into his home, so consumed in his own disbelief that he didn't notice the brown owl soaring toward him.

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More interesting stuff to come in the next chapter, i PROMISE. this was kind of a lead-in, I suppose. So I beg of you, REVIEW. I need all the help I can get. I love it so much when people leave encouraging reviews. And it takes so little! Just click the button...the one right there, in the lower-left corner...thaaaat's it...maneuver your mouse a little more...thanks!

Love,

Renny B