This is just a little outtake from Chasing Rainbows that occurred to me today... Enjoy.

I do plan on doing several other "outtakes" from this story... there are a couple that are brewing... but this one was the first.


The Others: Ron

He couldn't truly remember the time before knowing him. Certainly there had been the years before Hogwarts, but those seemed distant... like a dream, often forgotten, but occasionally recalled, the details smudged and indistinct... only the fact of it remaining a true memory.

He'd heard stories... well, all his life, actually. For seventeen years, the children of his world had been lulled to sleep with comforting bedtime tales; tales of the Boy Who Lived, as though he was some sort of all-powerful being who would protect them from the darkness through the night. Ron knew better, now, of course. Ron knew who this boy... this man... really was. Ron had witnessed the nightmares, he'd witnessed Harry in the foulest of moods, the most towering of tempers. He knew what Harry's own miserable childhood had been, and he'd seen Harry look at Ron's own sister with need in his eyes... for longer than even Harry had realized.

He'd seen the human being, the person that was his friend. Not the legend.

And now, he sat quietly, his hands clasped between his knees, watching that person, his friend, sleep. But it wasn't true sleep. Harry would not suddenly wake, and turn, grinning as he put on his glasses, perhaps suggesting an early-morning fly over the Quidditch pitch. As much as Ron would give for that, it wasn't going to happen, and he knew it. Not after what they'd been through. Not now.

Ron looked at the pale face, the black hair, of the boy he'd known for seven years, called best friend for nearly that long... the person who had seen how he'd felt about a certain bushy-haired, know-it-all witch, and not let him get away with acting like a prat for too long.

Harry loved him as a brother, he knew that. But Hermione was Harry's sister... or something like it. Ron wasn't quite sure what they were after the blood-letting in the forest, but Harry and Hermione were willing enough to call themselves siblings, and it was close enough for Ron.

Ron had always known that Harry was special. Even before he'd known of the prophecy, before Harry had told him what he was destined for, Ron had known that this wizard, his friend, was destined for greatness. He'd felt it from their first meeting on the Hogwart's Express, all those years ago. Over the years, he'd made some really stupid moves, considering how lucky he now felt he'd been. He'd allowed jealousy and a debilitating lack of self-confidence to rule him at times, and endangered that friendship. But Harry... Harry had stood by him, as he had stood by Harry when he was being a complete and utter pillock.

That's what friends did.

Ron sighed and looked back down at his hands, still clasped between his knees. It was four o'clock in the morning, the others had gone to bed hours ago. He'd had to force Ginny to go with Hermione, and couldn't convince her to go until he'd told her that he would not leave, that he would stand guard. He'd made Hermione promise to stay with the younger witch... his sister and Harry's girlfriend. Ron knew how she felt about him, how she would exhaust herself...

But at his promise to stay at Harry's bedside, to send for her immediately should anything change, she'd finally agreed to try and get a few hours sleep.

Ron glanced at the tall windows. There was a faint glow on the horizon, and he felt his heart flutter...

No. It was only dawn, not the light of another attack. The long-awaited dawn of the first day after the final battle...

And Harry still lived.

Last night, when Harry had returned to the school, yelling for Dumbledore, and telling him that his Aunt Daisy had come to warn them, Ron had thought it must all be a dream. He had thought, just for a moment, that he must really be a muggle... one who had dreamt this world and everything in it... that it couldn't be possible that they were about to face down the darkest of wizards and his supporters with an army where the eldest among them, for the most part, were no more than seventeen.

Ron had not been ready to die.

And then, he'd seen the fear in Harry's eyes, realized that the much-lauded Gryffindor courage was just courage... just the ability to feel terror, yet move ahead in spite of it. He'd seen Harry's fear, and it had given him courage.

By far, the worst moment had been when he'd turned to see Hermione jump in front of that Incendiere curse meant for Dumbledore. He had nearly fallen then, he'd been so stunned, so terrified, to see...

But the second worst moment was when he saw Harry, his wand levelled at Voldemort...

You wand doesn't work against him... Ron had wanted to scream. But it had been too late, Harry had already fired the spell. And to Ron's utter disbelief, it had worked. It wasn't until later that he'd learned that it hadn't been Harry's own wand that he had used to dispatch the Dark Lord.

By the time the dust had cleared, Ron had lost sight of Harry. There were dozens of Order members and Aurors looking around in wonder as the Death Eaters had dropped like flies around them. Harry had done something...

Or perhaps it was Voldemort who had. In any case, they had all dropped. There were no more to fight.

Fred and George had been seen, Fred with his arm about Ginny, who looked around wildly, obviously trying to find Harry. George had carried the limp form of Pansy Parkinson in his arms.

Ron had supported Seamus Finnegan with an arm about his waist. The other boy had taken a cutting curse low on his right leg. Ron had felt something dripping into his eyes as he half-held and half-carried the Irish boy back towards the school. He'd thought it was sweat, and had tried to brush it away with the back of his hand, only to have his hand come away bright red with his own blood.

As he was relieved of the weight of Seamus by two Aurors he turned, intent on finding Harry, only to see him being carried from the field by Remus Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Remus had looked up at his yell, and nodded, smiling worriedly.

Injured, but okay, Ron thought, then began looking for Hermione.

He'd known she was okay after the Incendiere curse... he'd seen her fighting hard, like a bald Boadicea... his own personal warrior queen. He had smiled sadly as he found her, helping Madame Pomfrey set someone's broken leg. His gaze had skimmed over her twice as he'd been searching for her, only realizing once he'd spotted her that he'd been looking for her mane of wild hair.

Ron smiled at the memory as he turned back to Harry's bedside. The night had been long, but it was over now. They could rest. They had defeated the Dark Lord at eleven-thirty the night before. It was over.

Many had died. Ron shuddered at the memory of Colin Creevy's face, waxy and grey in death... and the bloody remains of others he'd identified. Susan Bones' blank stare, Ernie MacMillian's body, so badly damaged...

He shuddered again, looking out the windows. Dawn was glittering now on the eastern horizon, and he wondered what this first day of freedom would bring... how it would feel. Ron had never known a world without Darkness in it.

It will still be there, a stray thought entered his mind. We destroyed THIS evil, but it isn't the only evil in the world. Ron knew that.

"Constant Vigilance," Moody's words came back to him, and for the first time, Ron truly understood what those words meant. Voldemort might be gone. Harry may well have fulfilled his prophecy, but there were others... there would always be others.

Sighing, he acknowledged that there would still be work to do. Their world would need them even more now, as they reached into the future. They would be needed to be constantly vigilant, so that others, people like his parents, might live in peace. Ron began to have an inkling of understanding of what his true role in this had been, what Harry's had been, and what they would continue to be.

"Wake up, Harry," he said softly, standing at the bedside of his best friend. "Wake up. We're not done, Harry... we need to take our NEWT's, we need to train to become Aurors... we have work to do, and I don't want to do it alone."