There were assumptions one could make - and in fact many assumptions most people chose not to make - regarding the end of the second Dark War. An easy assumption was that Voldemort would be dead. Another possible assumption was that many magic peoples (both good and evil) would die with him. With these assumptions came the what ifs questioning them: what if Voldemort's death didn't end the war? What if there simply wasn't a way to rid the world of him and his evil? The wizard grew less and less human with each day that passed; could something not human, could something not anything at all, die?
The Order, of course, had considered this, and for a while it had seemed very likely. They'd had a million different plans to kill or capture Voldemort, but he was always a step ahead of them. The questions had begun then, tensely, no longer of how? but of what if? That time had been the worst. The idea that Avada Kedavra wasn't even enough...
But one balmy, sticky July evening had put a stop to any of the questions. Voldemort was killed, and quickly - although it had taken a spell of such lethal force that it damn near took everything within a mile radius of it with him. Scorched! the reports had said. Total ruin! Ron kept the news clippings in a box under the shabby green couch in his flat.
It wasn't as bad as all that, but it had been frightening. Not for the danger or the uncertainty, but for the unknown. No one at the battlefield that day, including the victor and the vanquished, knew what the fuck was going on. Total ruin, sure. Fear, though. Everything had been saturated in fear, and that feeling only intensified for them when the fear hadn't died with their enemy.
Ron should know. He'd seen Voldemort die with his own eyes. Ron should know. He'd fought alongside the Order, and insisted on going with the mission, although at the time he'd had no idea that it would be the Order's last. Ron should know, especially, because it was his best friend, Harry Potter, who'd obliterated Voldemort with a single curse.
What Ron - or anyone else for that matter - hadn't known at the time was the fact that Harry had gone to that particular battle certain of his own death. He'd, in fact, been planning it.
He supposed now, with calmness and an understanding he'd been severely lacking when he'd found out what had happened, that it wouldn't have been something Harry could have told anyone, not even his best friend. There were lives to think of back then, and nameless innocents to protect, and because of this, there was no argument to be had. Harry loved blindly and selflessly, and he could no longer count the number of people that depended on him, on the Order. Ron had felt that pressure as well, even if he hadn't had a prophecy hanging over his head. There were expectations, and they had to be answered quickly before people lost faith, or worse yet, before there were no people left to lose faith.
That's how it was. You either saved your own hide or saved the hides of the ones you loved.
A week after the end of the War, when Ron had woken up in St. Mungo's with a throbbing, blazing ache in his gut, he'd finally understood the look of certainty and acceptance on Harry's face when he'd mumbled the curse that had destroyed Voldemort. Even then, the meaning behind the look of shock in Harry's eyes when the curse was over and he was still standing had dawned on Ron. The huge blast of yellow light that immediately followed, as well as the long stretch of nothing after that, had still been a bit of a mystery to Ron at that time, but he'd understood the rest.
Harry had accepted death, and had been confused and scared when it hadn't come. Ron could have strangled the bastard if he'd been able to get out of bed and find him. But the doctor had told him, in a scathingly cheerful voice, that Ron's insides had practically been burned out by the backlash of an extremely lethal curse, so he mustn't leave his bed. And, he'd added with gusto, that Harry was still in a coma trying to recover from his own, much worse injuries, and was in no condition to be scolded.
Ron had seethed in anger and confusion until his family had shown up later that day; then his frustration had melted into a combination of relief and embarrassment. They were alive, but Mum was talking to him as if he was twelve years old, and Ginny keep snipping at him for nearly getting himself killed.
In short, the Weasleys were as usual: exasperating.
Later, Hermione, Draco and Dumbledore had come to visit, and that was much more important (and pleasant). Hermione had kissed his forehead and said softly, "thank God." Dumbledore had smiled in his usual way, although even then it had seemed a bit strained. And Draco had grudgingly admitted that he was glad Ron was still alive. Very grudgingly, but he'd said it just the same.
They had settled down and talked for what had seemed only minutes but was likely quite a few hours, during which the nurse kept clucking her tongue at Ron's group of visitors. He'd ignored her.
"But Harry. Is he okay? My family barely told me anything. Is he all right?" Ron had insisted, struggling to sit up even as Hermione tried to push him back down.
"He's fine, now would you lay down? You're not fully recovered yet, you know," Hermione had said, giving him a look that made Ron wonder fleetingly whether he'd done his homework. Somethings never did change, and Hermione's glare was one of them.
"I'm fine, now get off. What happened? Professor?"
"Ron, if you don't lay down--"
"Harry," Dumbledore had injected, prying Hermione's firm grip from Ron's shaking shoulders, "Is still in a coma, but expected to awaken within the next few days to a week. I'm afraid Harry had taken it upon himself to put an end to Voldemort's reign once and for all and--"
"Decided to blow himself up along with Voldemort, the raving git," Draco had drawled, although there was a hint of worry somewhere around the black rings under his eyes; very well hidden, naturally, but Ron hadn't missed it entirely.
He'd frowned, twisting the sheets into his fists. "He used a kamikazi spell?"
Hermione had glanced worriedly at Ron's tightened fists, but Draco had appeared downright amused. "Terribly heroic of him, wasn't it?"
"Shut up," Ron had snapped, his eyes searching Dumbledore's face, who, to his credit, was trying his best to keep a straight face.
"It would seem so." Long, spindly fingers had played with Dumbledore's equally long white beard. "Developed by himself, and untested for all that. But I gather he must have been fairly sure of his success, to risk it while so many of you were with him."
Hermione had pursed her lips, but kept her tone as nuetral as she could manage; she'd been angry with Harry too, but always took more effort to hide her rage than Ron ever bothered to. "And I'm to assume he had no idea the spell would echo."
"In normal circumstances, it would not have," Dumbledore had conceded with a tilt of his head, and Ron's stomach had lurched a little at those words. "I dare say that Harry did not expect to survive the spell long enough to feel any echo. Nor did he truly seem to understand his own power, concerning that particular spell."
And there, inherently, was another assumption, and one that Ron bitterly resented even now, five years after it had all taken place, and that people made constantly.
The completely idiotic assumption that Harry - or any of them - had ever understood anything about his power at all.