Pictures of the Past

AN. A fic I wrote at the prompt of a plot-bunny I found by Emmy, which I shall say at the end of this story. Hehe... I hope you enjoy the idea I came up with in response :D

A tall, thin shadow cast itself along the floor as the door slowly swung open. The man who entered was even taller than his shadow revealed, and was so skinny that he was on the verge of being a walking skeleton. His red hair was long and thin, and fell around his sallow face in wisps. He entered the room slowly, a muttered word sending light spilling through the room.

His blue eyes skimmed over the walls, before fixing on a framed portrait in front of him. He smiled, and walked towards it.

"Art lessons? You?" Ginny asked incredulously. "You've never painted a thing in your life."

"Maybe that's why I want to learn," Ron replied, poking his tongue out and snatching back the sheet of paper she was holding. She raised her eyebrows and looked at him.

"Why? You've never wanted to paint before."

"I want to paint portraits," Ron admitted, his ears turning pink. "I saw Harry getting his portrait done for the Order's halls last month, and I want to paint one now."

Ginny said nothing, but Ron caught the small, proud smile that touched her lips. She left his room and he got down on his knees beside his bed. There was a small, hollowed out section in the back of the leg of the bed. The paper fluttered to the floor beside him. On it there was a moving picture of a paintbrush skimming over the paper regularly, each time revealing the words: 'Painting Classes. No experience is required. Bring your own materials'.

Ron pulled a sock out of the alcove and tipped a handful of coins onto his palm. There was 59 little bronze coins, 23 silver coins and 2 large gold coins. He counted them three times, before nodded and stashing them in his pocket.

"Mum," he called out, starting to walk out of the door. "I need to go to Diagon Alley!"

Ron's fingers brushed softly against the frame of the portrait. In the picture there were two people standing side by side. They waved happily at him. He waved back slightly, staring hard at the image of his parents.

According to a strange magical twist which he had learned on the first lesson of his class, portraits could only talk if they were painted from life, and even then only when the person in the painting had died. This was one of the main reasons Ron was glad that this portrait was silent.

His mother's smiling face gazed lovingly at him from the painting, her blue eyes sparkling. Arthur Weasley gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up, grinning.

Ron blew their images a kiss, and moved on through the hallway. The next portrait he came to did greet him verbally.

"Hello, Weasley."

"Morning, Moody," Ron said, smiling slightly.

Moody shifted slightly in the frame, his magical blue eye spinning in its socket. The real Mad-eye Moody had died in a retaliation by the Death Eaters after Voldemort's death. Ron had finished his portrait only two days before hand.

"You're looking too skinny, Weasley," Moody grunted. He pulled out his familiar flask and took a swig, the swirls of paint that composed his hand shifting. "You must go back and visit Molly."

Ron's smile died away.

"I'll do that, Moody. Thanks for the advice."

"No problem." Moody saluted with one gnarled finger. Ron turned and continued down the hall.

"Ron, you keep staring at that picture. Everyone is getting worried about you."

Ron didn't look up. He had been in his room for weeks, only moving when his mother bought up his meals. She had been getting more and more worried about him, but hadn't said anything. In the end it had been Harry to come up and actually talk.

"I don't care," Ron muttered, his voice hoarse. "Go away."

"I'm not just going to leave this time, Ron," Harry said. He came forward and grabbed Ron's shoulders, forcing him to look away from the painting. "Everyone is wondering if you're going to pull through this. Snap out of it." He shook Ron back and forth. Ron paid no attention. Already his eyes were training to the side so he could see the painting. It was the only thing that was important in his life, not matter what Harry or his mother or his friends said.

Ron wandered along the hall. His brothers were there, of course. Bill and Charlie had separate portraits, but Fred and George had insisted on sharing a portrait just in case. He reached them just as they were pulling on the other's sweaters.

"Hey, Fred. Hey, George," Ron said, smiling and waving. They both remained silent, but waved enthusiastically and jumped up and down. The one with the F on his shirt reached into his pocket and pulled out a sign that said 'Hi Ron!!!'. Ron laughed. "That's sweet, guys," he said. He then poked the frame and raised his eyebrows. "You'd better swap sweaters again. I know what you're up to."

The painted replicas of his brothers looked incredibly disappointed. Ron smiled and moved on from them. Ginny also had a portrait to herself, and she smiled and blew a kiss to Ron as he walked past. He returned the favour and quickly moved on. He was nearing the end of the corridor; the place where The Picture remained.

"Oh, Ron, dear," Molly Weasley said, She gathered her youngest son up into her arms and pressed numerous kisses to his red hair. "Oh my poor darling."

Ron made no move to stop her. He didn't deserve her pity. He didn't deserve anything but a long slow death. He had done nothing at all to help. Nothing.

"You mustn't blame yourself, Ron," Arthur said softly, putting a heavy hand on his shoulder. "You did all you could."

"That's a lie, Dad," Ron shouted suddenly. He pulled away from his parents and raced up the stairs of the Burrow. He ran straight into his room and slammed the door, sitting on his bed and staring at the portrait that rested above his bed. "Move, damn you," he muttered as tears began to track down his face. "Move!'

Ron approached the last portrait in the place. It was the only life-sized one he had ever attempted, and everyone had commented on what a success it was. "It's a perfect likeness," he remembered his mother saying. He smiled sadly and walked closer. It was the perfect height so he could run his fingers over the paint. There was a protection spell on it, to insure that it lived long after he did. The dips and rivets in the paint caught at his fingers, but he slid them onwards anyway. Over the hair, over the face. Each detail as firmly fixed in his mind as his own name.

He leaned forward and brushed a kiss to the curved lips of the woman in the painting. He pulled back a little and thought, She's so still. So goddamn still.

He stepped back a few paces and wiped one eye as he stared even harder. The painting showed a woman standing in the living room of the Burrow (he could recognise the furniture and raggedy wallpaper) with a generous smile on her face. She was so beautiful, so perfect. Her brown eyes sparkled and danced, even without motion. Her long, brown hair fell down her back almost to her waist.

Ron stood silently beside the grave, his cheeks wet. His hands were held stiffly to his side and his head was bowed. Harry and Ginny were standing beside him, their arms around each other. Their marriage was just a few weeks away, but he doubted they'd have it so soon now. Ginny would have to find a new maid of honour.

He stopped himself on this train of thought, trying to focus on what the wizard at the front of the group was saying. He couldn't though; his thoughts kept going back to the numerous memories that kept running through his head.

"- taken from us too soon," the wizard was droning. "We shall always remember her for her work against Voldemort. We pass on our dearest grievances to her family and friends. She was a passionate woman –"

You know it, Ron thought and barely controlled a hysterical laugh. Tears were tracking their way slowly down his cheeks, and he closed his eyes for a moment. He clasped his hands in front of him and stared at the simple band of gold that circled his left ring finger.

Tears burned in his eyes as he stared at the painting. She was so beautiful. Why did she have to leave? Why did the portrait refuse to move? Why wouldn't it talk to him? He reached out and gripped the side of the frame to stop himself from falling over.

"I love you," he whispered over and over to the motionless woman in the painting. "I love you so much."

And all the while Hermione looked out of her portrait, still and silent, her hands clasped over her pregnant belly, a loving smile on her lips and a wedding ring on her left ring finger.

Well there we go then. Finished. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The challenge was as follows:

"Ron learns to paint and paints Hermione beautifully…the only problem is that the painting of Hermione cannot talk because paintings don't until the person dies…but when Hermione dies…her painting remains silent and Ron is left to stare at the silent painting."

Please review. Reviews make me smile, constructive criticism is appreciated, flames shall be ignored. Thank you XD