There came a moment, breathless, blue and black and yellow, when Ronald Weasley thought he would die. He woke suspended in the lonely hour beetween saturday and sunday - draped with linen that smelt of sweat, gasping, gathering fistfuls of blanket as if to hold himself to earth. With this, he held his breath and counted ten before letting it go, breaking the pregnant stillness of the room - lighting fingertips gingerly over rough skin, places where ribs could be counted and hip bones jutted. The Quidditch sores and scars and bruises greeted him in their familiar way, limbs rising from the spell of sleep to begin their perpetual ache.

It was dark. There came no sound, no restless murmur from Seamus, nothing of Harry's creaking bed. No sound - and he breathed in, wetting his lips, biting them deeply, tasting blood. He didn't curse or wince, but whistled - a low note - and turned onto his side, away from the bedstand.

The bedstand, with Hermione's picture, her soft hair melding with the rough of his Quidditch robes, her curves and his wiry gauntness. In the frame they stood smiling and looking at each other, bright and immortal in the green of a day that could never be relived.

He faced the direction in which Harry lay - where Harry woke and dressed and sat thinking. Where Harry's lips moved as he whispered; where his hair lighted on the pillow and his limbs sprawled in linen that smelt not of sweat but of soap and broom polish.

Blood trickled onto his chin, bitter and unsettling - and he wiped at his wounded mouth with the back of a hand, unable to breathe for the shock of it.

When he woke, his fingertips were still soiled with blood, arms reaching through oceans of linen toward where Harry lay, where Harry lay under sheets that hid no broken boy.