A/N 25th May 2006 - NEW ADDITION TO AUTHOR's NOTE AT END OF THIS FIC!
"So there have been no rough patches at all?"
"Well there was a bit of a thing the other night when Tonks came over and she'd changed her hair colour."
"She changed it to purple, dark purple, me and Dee...well we didn't expect it and it kind of took us by surprise. Dee was really shaken-up for a while afterwards."
"Yeah me too. She changed it as soon as she realised though, she felt really bad, I think we pulled ourselves together just to stop her from beating herself up over it."
"She dyed her hair there and then?"
"Oh, no I mean...she'd changed it by the time we saw her next, to blonde. She's blonde now...because of dye."
The two of them stared at each other for a few seconds before changing the subject.
"So you're living away from home now?" Dr Rayner asked, that characteristic little whistle at the beginning of her sentence.
Ron nodded as he sat back in the familiar chair across from her,
"Yeah, me and some friends from school are sharing a house together."
Rayner raised her eyebrows, seemingly impressed,
"Nice. How many of you are there?"
"Well there's Dee obviously..."
Rayner's eyes nearly bulged out of her head,
"Wait, you went to school with Dee?"
"Yeah, didn't I tell you that? That's how we knew each other."
Rayner shook her head, Ron realised that he kept forgetting she originally knew them when they thought of each other as strangers.
"Go on then, who else?"
"Harry, who you've met, and Hermione you know too, and Neville who was here but he was pretty quiet so you might not have noticed him."
"I think I remember him. That sounds great, must be a big house."
Ron's eyes widened,
"You have no idea."
"So are you all getting along alright?"
"Great, well I've shared with Harry and Neville all through school and me and Dee lived here together so there's not a hell of a lot to get used to really is there?"
"Wait a moment, four guys and one girl? Well Hermione's a braver woman than I am to be sharing a house with all of you."
Ron grinned sheepishly,
"Well she's not...really...just sharing the house...really...sort of."
Rayner sat forward and leaned over her desk,
"Spit it out."
Ron's couldn't shake off the damn grin as he got to the point,
"She's kind of sharing...with me...my room...our room."
Rayner looked amazingly pleased with herself for some reason,
"Ah so you're not just living together; you're living together."
Ron felt like a total prat with that dopey grin still plastered over his face as he nodded.
"Harriet owes me a fiver." Rayner muttered under her breath.
"I wondered why she kept on asking all those questions!" Ron exclaimed, the revelation that his love life had become the source of intra-nuthouse betting finally wiping the grin away.
Rayner looked smug as she sat back in her chair,
"She thought she had the inside information because of you having breakfast together before your sessions but I knew you weren't the type to go yammering on about being in love."
Ron sat bolt upright in his seat,
"Wait, I never said anything about being in love!"
Rayner looked even smugger now,
"You didn't have to."
Ron slouched back down in his seat and folded his arms across his chest,
"What kind of therapy d'you call this?"
"Oh your session's over Ron, this is my time."
"I don't remember you being as jovial as this before" Ron said as he narrowed his eyes and tried not to smile.
"Pfft! Well we all know what your memory's like."
Ron couldn't stop himself from laughing at that, she almost sounded like Fred and George.
"Right," she said, getting back to business, "so I'll see you same time next week then yes?"
"Yep," Ron clapped his hands together as he prepared to get out of his seat, "make sure the tea's ready, two sugars."
"You don't take sugar" Rayner frowned.
"Oh yes I do."
"He's back!" Neville gasped as he scampered away from the window and down the hallway of Grimmauld Place, tripping as he went.
"Calm down Neville," Harry said with amusement, "it's brilliant we've told you, he'll love it."
"He might be cross...he might think it's none of my business...he might..." Neville panicked.
"He won't be cross, don't worry" Dee said despite looking slightly anxious himself.
This was probably because he had been working with Neville on this for a month now and he had really felt as if he was doing something useful to help Ron with his ongoing treatment. Every Saturday morning Ron would apparate back to Eastbourne and go for a session with his doctor and Neville and Dee would dash to the door at the bottom of the stairs where the abusive portrait had been to get to work on the new room.
Hermione was pretty proud of her contribution herself, the obliterating of Mrs Black's portrait and the surrounding wall, making way for the door in the first place. It had been this that planted the idea into Neville's head to begin with. He had been so proud of himself after transfiguring his grandmother that climate-changing extra room and, after hearing some of Dee's stories about their lazy days at the beach during the days and nights in Eastbourne, became incredibly motivated to convert the new room in the house into something special for Ron. Neville had been at a loss to understand how to treat Ron regarding his depression to begin with and that was why, Hermione thought, he had embraced this opportunity with gusto. He could finally do something to help him.
The front door opened and Neville and Dee stood rigid in front of the battered-looking door, a sandy coloured wood with sea shells carved into it here and there courtesy of Dee, while Harry beamed as he watched a relaxed Ron come in and close the door behind him. Hermione was watching all this from the doorway to the living room, knowing how much Ron was going to love this and wanting to be able to see his reaction as well as the looks of satisfaction on Dee and Neville's faces, and she glanced at Harry who wasn't standing back with her due to the need for somebody to be there to calm Neville's nerves. Ron frowned at his welcoming party and stood in front of the closed door.
"Hello" he said suspiciously.
Hermione tried not to laugh at the anxious twosome as they answered, trying and failing to appear nonchalant. Ron was still staring at them the same way he looked at Fred and George when they were being nice to him.
"What are you doing?" he smiled but with great caution.
Both Neville and Dee had begun to speak at the same time, then stopped and nodded for the other to continue, then stared back at Ron utterly dumbfounded. Harry took pity on them.
"They've got a present for you."
Ron's suspicion evaporated into intrigue,
"Yeah," Dee nodded with enthusiasm, "Neville did it, he made the whole thing, it's really good."
Ron cast an amused glance Neville's way.
"Dee helped!" Neville yelped, almost as if not wanting to take all of the blame for the inevitable offence he was about to cause Ron, "He told me about everything that makes you relaxed and happy."
Ron's face dropped and his wide eyes darted to Hermione.
"No not that," Neville waved his hands as if trying to wipe away what he had said from the air before him, "other stuff!"
Harry was gripping his sides and howling with laughter at this. Ron was looking completely confused now.
"What the hell are you talking about Neville?" he said with exasperation as he approached the two of them, still standing in front of the closed door, "Is this about the spare room? You've finished it?"
Neville nodded excitedly,
"Except it's not a spare room, it's your room."
Ron blinked, his face blank,
"I have a room, it's upstairs."
Neville nudged Dee to take over for him with the presentation of Ron's 'gift'.
"What he's saying is we...well Neville..."
"No, we" Neville nodded with encouragement to Dee.
"We transfigured you a place to go when you needed it. Y'know, so you didn't have to apparate or floo anywhere, so you could still be here with us."
Hermione looked at Ron and watched him try to understand exactly what was going on.
"Did you make me a padded cell?" he asked them eventually.
Hermione let out a loud laugh on hearing that. Ron shook his head and looked at his four friends with a bemused grin. Harry seemed to have finally had enough.
"Just open the door and let him see" he huffed with impatience.
It was as if Harry's words had shoved Dee and Neville aside and Ron looked at the carved door as if trying to figure something out. Before he could get there Neville reached out and turned the door handle and pushed the door wide. Then Ron saw it.
Hermione took a step forward to see the look of amazement on his face.
"You...did this?" he gasped.
Neville nodded nervously. Dee tried to read Ron's shock, obviously hoping it was a positive kind of surprise, as he began to explain what they had done.
"We were worried you might think we did it because we didn't trust you enough to let you go to the actual beach. That's not why we made this for you. We just thought that..."
Dee glanced to Neville for a little help.
"We just thought we'd bring the beach to you," Neville finished Dee's sentence, "so it would be there whenever you needed it."
Ron was still taken aback by the sight before him. A room he had last seen as a dark and empty space of about three feet deep by four feet wide was now going on forever into the horizon.
"How big is this?" he managed to say as he took another step closer to the room.
Neville seemed very proud as he spoke now,
"It's an illusion, you obviously can't go as far as you can see but, "Neville stepped inside the room and walked across the soft sand about thirty feet before pressing gently against an invisible barrier that would let him go no further, "you can go this far in and just a little bit more to either side."
Ron looked very impressed. He bent down and picked up a handful of sand from the floor of the new room. He let it sieve between his fingers before looking back at the returning Neville.
"You built me a beach" he said with an amazed chuckle.
Neville looked overjoyed at how well Ron seemed to be taking this,
"Yeah we did" he nodded.
Dee was suddenly taken with a burst of proud energy as he dragged Ron through the door and pointed out to the ocean,
"See we couldn't get you any sea yet but we're working on it so in the meantime you've got the illusion of the sea and we've got different kinds for you. Low tide, high tide, smooth, choppy..."
Ron inhaled deeply before turning to Dee with amazement,
"It even smells like our beach."
Dee almost exploded with pride and Hermione took off her shoes and stepped onto the sand behind the three of them,
"That's all down to Dee," she said, "he worked on that for a very long time."
"He said it had to smell exactly right."
Dee shrugged as if it was no big deal but he couldn't wipe the look of satisfaction that Ron had noticed his efforts almost straight away.
Neville became strangely serious all of a sudden,
"You see Ron, I wanted to give you something to give you some peace when you need it. It'll be there all the time waiting for you. It gets dark at night and the sand gets cold and if you come in early enough you can watch the sunrise and sometimes the skies are blue and sometimes there are clouds and...and... and it's yours."
Ron was speechless. He looked at the ceiling, white fluffy clouds slowly drifting by in different shapes, perfect for cloud watching. He looked back out at the sea and listened to the magical sound of the crashing waves. Then he looked back at Neville and swallowed.
"This is the best thing I have ever been given in my life" he said with deep but awe-filled sincerity.
Neville smiled and looked across at Dee, who was also smiling, and then nodded back towards the door and they left the beach room without another word. Ron reached out and grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her down onto the sand with him as he sat down and lay back on his elbows. She had always declined the invitation to come into the room and have a look around while Dee and Neville had been working on it. She had wanted to see it for the first time at the same moment Ron had seen it. She lay back on her own elbows beside him and rested her head on his shoulder and sighed. They heard the door creaking behind them and turned to see a grinning Harry pushing the door closed.
"Hey mate, don't you want to come and watch the clouds with us?" Ron asked.
"Maybe tomorrow, I quite fancy a Sunday afternoon at the seaside, I said I'd meet Natasha and Mario at the pub tonight. They're missing me and I told them I'd introduce them to Ginny."
Ron narrowed his eyes at Harry and said in a very authoritative manner,
"Well I don't want you coming home drunk and throwing up on my beach young man."
Harry rolled his eyes and gave a snort of amusement
Ron was frowning and he turned to Hermione,
"Y'know that's probably the strangest sentence I've ever said in my life?"
"And you've said a lot of strange stuff over the years."
"Well I'll be off then, have a nice day at the beach, bye" Harry waved as he closed the door.
Hermione watched as Ron lay flat on his back and looked at the passing clouds.
"I wonder if they transfigured any of them to make a rude shape," he pondered aloud.
She smiled and settled down with him, her head nestled into the crook of his shoulder and her arm draping across his torso,
"Can we stay here 'till sunset?" she sighed.
"I could stay here forever."
A/N Ok so before all the gushing I have one favour to ask of you all. If you don't mind could you not only review my final chapter and epilogue but also give me an overview of the whole story? I do have ideas for some other fics (nothing as long as this one...yet!) and I'd really like to know what you thought were my strengths and weaknesses are.
Ok now to the gushing...
I cannot express how grateful I am to the wonderful Scrib and Greenpluff who were with me from the very start. They both posted reviews on my introduction within 15 minutes of me posting it and have stuck with me. I will be writing a one-shot Christmas Ron and Hermione treat for you both so keep your eyes open during December!
Oh my word bograt, what can I say, ego a-go-go for me as far as what you told me goes. I hope you get a kick out of working with the Samaritans when you turn eighteen and if nothing else happens to me for the rest of my writing (so called) career I can take comfort in knowing that I made a difference to at least you. I can't believe I put the idea to do voluntary work into someone's head...it was entirely an accident but I am very pleased that that's happened. It really does people like us (and Jo) a power of good. I've been a volunteer at a local children's charity for over a year now and I am in such a better state than I was before I found myself an emotional outlet. Good luck!
Happy belated birthday unknownspecies, I didn't forget I swear, I just couldn't post these chapters because my cockatiel died on the same day I walked out on my job and I've kind of been caught up in other things. On the plus side I did buy a plane ticket to Thailand and am off there for my own birthday in January!
Narsissistic Molly, yes I do have some form of depression...how on earth could you tell? I get S.A.D. too so this time of year can be particularly tough at times but I've been doing quite well so far. I am also (in my group of friends) 'the funny one' and fortunately they all know that I sometimes need my quiet time and let me have it. I think the biggest problem people face isn't living up to the act they put on but finding people who will accept them when they eventually drop it.
There are loads of you to thank and this'll go on forever if I tried so thanks to all but here's some of my regulars who I hope to entertain again very soon:
Regulus Arturus Caesar
Kani1 (LOVE that you challenge me!)
Snowflake Ginny (the gal who had my Draco/Dee twist sussed from the moment she read it!)
BookSmartBrilliance (Hi again)
harryp123 (always the exact same review but always there!)
So that's all from this story, I got a lot of requests for a sequel but I really don't like to ruin a good thing by dragging out an inferior follow-up, I have a one-off Christmas fic and then an idea for something a few chapters long but no epics on the horizon for the time being. You never know though...I may watch another movie while taking a break from reading a Potter book and then get drunk and come upon another idea that turns out as well as this!
Oh and to the person who told me off for spelling apologise with an 's' and not a 'z'...I'M ENGLISH, I SPELL THINGS THE ENGLISH WAY!
Sorry but that guy really pissed me off!
ADDITION ! - There is now a 'one year later' follow-up one-shot set in this universe due to several demands and a particular loyal reviewer's birthday so please check my profile for 'Solitary Confinement' if you want to read it! Thanks.