Ginny had been trying every unlocking charm she knew on her bedroom door. She had beaten on it with her fists, she had screamed threats through it, and she had tried to send her bat bogey hex into the room via the crack beneath the door. All that had accomplished was an airtight seal of snot all the way around it.
"I mean it Ron, open this door now!" she screeched.
The door opened with a sickening squelch and Ron threw her trunk out at her, shrunken to the size of a petite travelling case, and folded his arms across his chest defiantly.
"You're going," he said before casting a revolted eye around the dripping door frame, "and you think I'm the one who's sick!"
Ginny threw the shrunken trunk to the floor and barged into her room to raise her arms as if she was going to pound on her obnoxious brother's chest. She froze in her pose of rage when she realised that he was in no fit state to be beaten up and he looked very smug about that fact too.
"Well there you go," Ginny roared, "if you're not well enough to wrestle me out the door then you're not well enough to take care of yourself for three months without me, so I'm staying!"
Ron arched an eyebrow at this and his lips curled into the biggest smug-git smile she had seen on his face in a very long time.
"I'm not well enough to look after myself, you're right."
Ginny was dumbfounded. She had been prepared for many things, but not Ron's agreement.
"Hermione's going to look after me."
"Oh right," Ginny snorted," like you'd let her nursemaid you for three months without putting your great fat foot in it again like last time!"
"I'm going to take Luke to his baby prison," Ron began before Hermione bellowed up the stairs in exasperation.
"Same difference," Ron shrugged, and Ginny had to nod her own agreement, "anyway, they run it at this centre next door to the Diagon Alley entrance to St Mungo's and they have this thing there for people that won't die when they're supposed to."
"It's a rehabilitation programme, Ronald!" Hermione yelled wearily.
Ron grinned, and Ginny knew that he was doing this on purpose because he knew that Hermione was eavesdropping on them. She smiled back at him.
"So what's a rehabilitation programme when it's at home?" Ginny asked grudgingly.
"It's something about making yourself useful when you get better and finding a job and stuff, but that comes later on. You and Harry will be back by then."
"We're not going!" Ginny snarled, her frustration threatening to turn her face purple.
"Yeah, yeah, as if you have a say in this, woman," Ron waved a dismissive hand and Ginny could have sworn she heard Hermione literally spitting chips at the bottom of the stairs, "Anyway, while Luke's terrorising the other babies and Bill's enjoying having…well, a life, I'll be getting on this special diet thing that's supposed to bulk me up without making me sick."
Ginny opened her mouth and then closed it again. She took a step towards Ron and stared into his eyes suspiciously to determine whether he was telling her the truth.
Ron's smug grin melted into a softer smile.
Ginny swallowed and took Ron's hands in her own.
"So you're going to start eating properly again…if I go, y'mean?"
"I'll do it whether you're here or not, thank you very much," Ron tutted. "The people there work with people with Nex Ultionis all the time, and they've come up with foods that don't react so badly with the potions. As soon as I've got the extra stuff I had to take for the pneumonia out of my system and built up my resilience against the treatment again, Hermione's compassionate leave will be up, and I can go into this not dying thing."
Ron and Ginny paused to listen to Hermione muttering at the bottom of the stairs before Ron kicked the bedroom door closed behind him. The bat bogeys sealed the door again with a 'schloop'. Ron shuddered and Ginny laughed. They swung their connected arms in a way they hadn't done since they were little. After a moment Ginny stepped in towards Ron and hugged him.
She didn't tend to do that very often, not just because she and Ron weren't much for sibling cuddling but because it broke her heart to be able to feel just how bony Ron was, and she sighed into his chest.
"I've been looking after you for so long now, I don't want anybody else taking over," she sighed.
"Taking the credit for when I get better, y'mean?" Ron said as he gave her a slight squeeze.
"Of course," Ginny chuckled.
She had to let him go, it really was like clinging on to a bag of broomstick handles, and she pulled him over to sit down with her on the bed.
"You wouldn't go if it was me," she said.
"You wouldn't let me stay if it was you," Ron threw back.
"That's not fair," Ginny grumbled.
"None of this is, Gin," Ron smiled as he put his finger beneath her chin and lifted it so she had no choice but to look him in the eye, "You want to know what you'll come back to in three months? The exact same bloody situation. I won't be any worse…"
"You don't know that," she began but Ron continued on with his speech.
"…Luke will still be a baby…"
"He might be walking by th-"
"…and Fleur will still be dead."
Ginny felt her words jam in her throat and back up all the way down, deep inside of her. She couldn't believe he'd just said that.
"You need to take a break, Ginny," Ron said sadly, "You need to do this, because I can't take three months off being ill, and Bill can't take three months out of being a single parent, and Luke can't take time off his busy shitting-himself schedule!" Ron had broken into a smile as he said the last part.
Ginny felt her eyes burning and she took hold of Ron's large hands once again.
"When did you get so wise, you git?"
Ron's smile widened into that infuriating, exasperating, infectiously lovable grin of his.
"It's amazing how profound a bloke feels with his head down a toilet!"
"I'll send postcards and we'll take pictures and," Ginny paused to give Luke a big sloppy kiss, "I'll check the bracelet every day."
She flung herself at Hermione and whispered a thank-you into her bushy brown hair for the wonderful idea of the bracelet.
It worked in the same way as the contact Galleons the D.A. had used to use. Every day Hermione would send Ginny a status report on the boys and she had sworn not to withhold anything from her, no matter how upsetting it might be.
'If it's something you'd want to know, then I want to know it too,' Ginny had informed Hermione.
"Come on, Ginny," Harry called, "Fred and George have to get us to the international portkey site by noon or we're buggered!" Harry called back from the front gate, where he stood with Ron.
"I'm coming!" she snapped back at him with annoyance.
"You're buggered, mate," Ron sniggered.
Ginny watched as Hermione turned and took Luke from his father's arms before she jumped up at Bill and hugged him for all she was worth.
"Look after 'em for me, yeah?" she said before dropping down to the ground.
"When have I not?" Bill smiled before ruffling her hair like the git he was.
Ginny batted his hand away and flattened down her hair once more.
"And you get out and have some fun while Luke's in baby prison, you deserve it," she instructed, ignoring Hermione's grumble at the family's insistence that outside child care was some form of punishment for being difficult.
"I'll try," Bill shrugged.
Ginny was about to shove her brother in the chest when Fred hooted the car horn and George leaned out of the window to holler at her to get a move on.
She rolled her eyes and waved to Bill, Hermione and Luke as she rushed down the path to see Harry slapping Ron on the shoulder and ordering him to look after himself. She reached up and grabbed Ron around the neck to kiss him on the cheek.
"You promise to do as your told, do what the healers tell you and what Hermione and Bill tell you," she yammered before pulling Ron's jacket tightly around him, "and keep warm? It's getting colder now."
"Ginny we've been over this…" Ron huffed.
"And promise to eat properly, eat what the people at the place tell you, and don't be a pain to everyone who tries to help you," Ron opened his mouth to protest that last statement but Ginny was on a roll, "And you promise me that you'll still be here when I get back, you promise!"
Ron's annoyance faded immediately and he hugged her and told her not to be stupid.
"Promise, Ron, please?" she said as they broke away.
Ron looked her hard in the eye.
"I promise. I'll see you in three months. I want a present."
Ginny broke into laughter at Ron's sincerity and soon he was teasing her and messing up her hair again in the same way Bill had just done.
"What is it with you prats? Just 'cause your hair is a mess doesn't mean you have to mess mine up as well!"
She waved as Harry dragged her away towards the car.
"I'm bringing you back chocolate, Weasley, so you'd better be able to eat it by then," Harry warned.
"I'm working on it!" Ron laughed.
Hermione and Bill wandered down the path to stand with Ron at the front gate and wave them off. Ginny stared through the back window until the street was swallowed up and she couldn't see them anymore.
She turned back and saw Fred and George arguing about the quickest way through the Muggle streets before looking at Harry and smiling.
"Where are we going first, then?" she asked him.
Harry pulled her along the seat towards him and put his arm around her.
"Where nobody knows us."