"I really don't think this is such a good idea."
Hermione's words fell on deaf ears as the people around her continued their preparations. Harry ducked quickly out of the way as a comfy chair was levitated courtesy of Bill across the crowded room.
"Honestly, have any of you thought this through?" Hermione tried again and was relieved to see that she'd gotten their attention.
"Course we have Hermione." Charlie said quietly as he fell gratefully onto the chair, pushing it onto the floor. "He's been through so much, it's about time there was a proper Weasley welcome home party."
"Oh, I don't think that's what's worrying Hermione." George chimed in from his position at the door as he directed the flow of traffic in the flat. "I think she's afraid that we'll all get drunk and riotous , what with Bill being allowed out for a while and all that!"
"Hermione," Harry pushed George as he walked past him towards the box of various bottles which rested in the doorway, "Don't worry, it'll all happen this evening after dinner, we've got it all sorted out, we have a plan"
She rolled her eyes "Well, that's so reassuring."
Ron had found himself pushed unceremoniously towards the kitchen sink and put in sole charge of a large sack of potatoes. He'd actually grinned as his mother handed him the muggle potato peeler his father had presented her with just the previous day. His mother had taken every chance to have a moment alone with him and the preparation of dinner provided too good an opportunity to miss…in more ways than one.
"Ron, you've put all your energy for so long into simply surviving, now it's time to start living again. You need to accept that your life has changed, it'll never go back to what it was…"
"Well, I feel so much better." he smiled in an attempt to avoid the topic he knew there would be no avoiding.
"Ron…" as her tone grew more serious, so did he. "Your life has changed, but it's up to you if it's for the better or not, you have the power now."
"Yeah, right." he moved sluggishly to his feet and made his way over to the familiar spot by the window. The sight from the large window on the top floor of the clinic always helped to calm him, and today was no exception. The sight of the numerous houses, a patchwork of buildings and the spontaneous sprinkling of city gardens eased the pressure, He took a deep breath, "Maybe."
"There's no 'maybe' about it Ron, you have the power now, not him." There was an expectant silence and he turned to face the small woman who was perched on a soft chair by the fireplace. There was no notebook, no clock, all her attention was on him and that was what made it possible for Ron to talk to her. Percy's recommendation had been, surprisingly, successful.
"You have the power now, not him."
"So, what now?"
"Now Ron, you have to start talking to the people who care for you."
"I want to stuff my face."
The sound of a saucepan clattering to the ground echoing through the kitchen and Molly instantly started to open the cupboards, starting to prepare something for Ron to eat. He hopped over to her and laid a hand upon hers, instantly stilling the almost frantic action.
"Not right now Mum." he smiled slightly before making his way quickly back to the sink. He focused on the potatoes and the hypnotic action of the peeler as he continued talking. "Every time I see food I'm starved all over again and I just want to eat everything in front of me."
"Nothing wrong with that Ron." Molly said as she gently touched his arm before heading back to her previous tasks, giving her son the distance he needed. "You always used to eat like a hippogriff."
"Yeah, but then it didn't cause everyone to look at me like I was a mess."
The only sound for precious moments was the slicing of the peeler and the splash of the potatoes back into the water as Ron focused on the job at hand and tried to forget that he was taking the first step in baring his soul.
He smiled as a pair of warm hands pulled him down into a bone crushing hug and a soft voice whispered in his ear.
"Thank you Ronnie."
Dinner was the normal raucous and riotous affair, discussion interspersed with laughter, teasing and concerned glances. Ron was doing his very best to fight against his instincts and ignore the glances sent his way. He had to smile however at the various dishes and bowls full of food which found their way to his plate.
"Honestly Arthur, anyone would think you didn't like my food."
"Look at all the food that is left on your plate, it's a good thing I don't take these thing personally."
"It's superb as usual Molly." the sentiment was somewhat lost however, as the occupants around the table started laughing at Arthur's attempts to talk with his mouth full. It wasn't long before everyone joined in.
"Delicious, as usual Mum." came Charlie's dramatic announcement complete with a very convincing spray of potato.
"Mouth watering mum!" Ginny joined in with a grin as she battled with George for the large bowl of peas in front of them.
"Honestly." Molly stood with her hands on her hips, looking at her family as they laughed and ate, "Talking with your mouths full, anyone would think you were never taught manners."
As she made her way away from the table she smiled at the chorus of voices that followed her.
Ron ate all he could and smiled at the antics around him as everyone became preoccupied with the game and forgot to glance at him. The relief of no longer being watched was like a weight had been lifted and he reached for the tray of chicken with a smile on his face. He saw his mother sneaking a glance around the kitchen door and sent her a grateful smile.
His cane had been placed in his hand and his cloak thrown towards before he'd even realised he'd been pulled to his feet. The dinner had disintegrated into cheerful chaos and had happily turned into lounging around the house for a few hours. There'd been an undeniable sense that there was something being plotted and Ron had been amused to see the warning glances sent towards his brothers from Hermione as she sat by his side. But, the sense of being pulled and hurdled towards something unknown and unfamiliar was not something that could amuse him in any way.
"Stop." his voice had not risen in volume but the threat behind the words was clear to all.
"Where are we going?"
"Ron, don't worry about it, it's a surprise." Bill was pulling on his own cloak as he spoke and missed the warning glances his father was attempting to send him.
"Tell me what's going on."
"Ah Ron, you don't want to spoil the surprise do you?"
"Tell me where the hell we are going right now!"
Silence descended onto the once relaxed room as everybody tried not to startle the fuming man in the centre of the room who was now holding his cane defensively in front of him.
"Ron, it's okay really." Bill, realising that no-one else was going to approach him, raised his hands and took a cautious step towards Ron. The panic and anger in his eyes demanded a careful approach. "We're just going to take you out for a drink, a bit of a break for a while."
The cane was lowered but the element of panic remained in Ron's eyes, "Out?"
"Nothing major." Charlie finally found his voice and moved to reassure Ron "We're just going to go to the flat above the shop for a bit, thought you might like a change of scenery that's all."
The cane rested easily back in Ron's hand, "Well, I guess that's alright then." he could feel the heat on his face and knew that the tips of his ears were now turning a very bright red as all attention was on him. "You just have to tell me these things, y'know?"
He looked everywhere to avoid the gaze of those around him and when his eyes rested on his hand on top of the cane, he smiled. Another hand rested on top of his own and gave his a squeeze.
He smiled as he lifted his gaze and met Hermione's eyes.
"Are you sure you'll be okay Ron?"
"Absolutely." He smiled and found himself surprised that it was a real smile. "What can possibly go wrong?"
Harry sighed and Ginny tried to stifle a laugh as Hermione gave him a gentle slap on the arm,
"Who knows what can happen when you lot get together? Don't tempt fate Ron."
The next morning found Ron walking slowly into the kitchen, his ever present cane in his hand, muttering various intricate curses towards his brothers.
Ron glared at his too cheerful father as he fell into a seat and let his head rest upon the table.
"They're evil, the lot of them."
He lifted his head enough to see the cup of tea and plate of toast placed in front of him.
"A good night then?"
He smiled, "Absolutely."
Being landed with babysitting duties was not something that he'd planned for on a dreary rainy Saturday afternoon, but then again there were worst ways to spend the day.
His two year old niece had been sleeping since Bill had dropped her off at the Burrow and asked him to look after her for a while. She had him wrapped around her little finger and everyone knew it. He didn't care. The little girl saw him as her uncle who made her laugh and would take care of her, nothing more…nothing less and it was a refreshing change. At this very moment however she had just woken up from her sleep and was crying the house down.
He lifted her onto one knee while stretching the other leg out in front of him. He smiled as she instantly calmed down.
"Oh, now you're quiet, is that it?"
She looked up at him, reached for his nose with one hand and put the thumb of her other hand into her mouth.
He pulled a face that startled her into releasing her hold on his nose and sent her into fits of giggles.
He expertly translated the stream of babble that fell from her mouth as she pulled at his right hand and felt calmer that he had done in a long time. Things had changed there was no doubt about it , but he'd made a choice to change things for the better, his magic included. Emotions fuelled his magic, he'd suspected it for a while and it had been recently confirmed. Something about how the combination of the suppression of his magic and the ways he had coped emotionally with his imprisonment had left a lasting effect on his magic. A 'tentative diagnosis' they'd said….an 'educated guess' Percy had surmised….a 'wild stab in the dark' had been his own conclusion. Just like his physical injuries, they were all figuring things out as they went along, but he had decided to stop worrying and just let things happen. Hermione had told him that sometimes life is what happens when you stop worrying about it…he'd decided that she may have had a point.
The sense of calm and a tentative hope of happiness surged through him and he smiled as his niece saw the beginnings of the fireworks show she'd requested. Just as the more destructive emotions negatively affected his magic, he'd found that positive led to positive.
The sparks of colour focused in the palm of his right hand sent his niece into another fit of giggles and he watched as the spectrum of colours manifested themselves in this small show of peace.
Things had changed.
Now, he would start living once again.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who has stayed with this story, I am sorry for such a delay. For anyone new to the story, I hope you've enjoyed it. Every review has been a joy and this final chapter is dedicated to solsticemuse, magnolialane and BOO for their support, encouragement and reminders. Thank you to everyone who has read the story or is reading it for the first time now, your time and attention is very much appreciated.