Sun is shinin' in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin'; ev'rybody's in a play
And don't you know--
It's a beautiful new day, hey, hey...
(Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long?)
--"Mr Blue Sky" by ELO
Not mine, yo.
In which Ron and Hermione try to get some alone time in a broom cubpoard, Harry and Ginny have the exact same idea, and everyone begins to realize the war is finally over. [RHr with a side of HG, fluffyness and DH spoilers abound
I don't know how to categorize this piece. It starts of angsty, then gets light, then goes kinda angsty again, then goes back to being pure fluff...and yeah. It's all about love, mostly of the Ron and Hermione flavor, but there's plenty of Harry/Ginny as well as platonic family love thrown in there for good measure. There is a lot of kissing. This is at once completely different from what I normally write, and at the same time, quite familiar--and I spend a lot of time juggling the grief and, simultaneously, the joy everyone must be feeling now that Voldemort is gone. Sorry if it got too cheesy; I actually started crying while I was writing it for no reason in particular (I think Fred's death only just hit me); that is the first time I have ever cried while writing a story, so I suppose that says something. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think.
The day of Fred's funeral, it started to rain—and then, it never seemed to stop.
Two solid weeks had passed since then, and yet it was like the world didn't know how to stop crying, as though it had forgotten how to smile, how to breathe. The sorrow had at first seemed to envelope everything and everybody so completley that the rain had seemed fitting: now, it was merely depressing. When everything was dreary and gray and wet, it was hard to remember the war was over, that even while they mourned, they could feel safe for the first time in years. It was hard to do anything but drink hot tea, bite back tears, and dwell on the memory of a joking, quick-witted redheaded man who died laughing, and the empty shell of a twin he'd left behind.
Ron considered all this as he sat cross-legged on his bed, drinking his tea and staring up at the ceiling, the loss of Fred and George heavy as a Hippogriff sitting on his chest.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be, he thought bitterly, taking an angry slurp of tea. Ron had always imagined that when the war ended, his family would be happy and whole again, Percy back with them, everyone safe, unscathed…He'd never dreamed how death would carve a rift through the Weasley family, or how much it would hurt to even be alive some days. It was just more proof that even victory could not mend broken hearts, not even the defeat of the darkest wizard of the age could replace Fred and George Weasley and the exuberance and life and joy they had brought to everyone and everything around them.
Of course, Ron mused rather sadly, it was Fred who had actually died—at least he was at peace, somewhere. In some ways, losing him was a little easier, because Ron knew Fred must be happy, that he suffered no pain. It was how Fred's death had destroyed George that really wrenched at Ron's heart: George had not spoken a word since the night his twin had died; Ron rather thought that with no one to finish his sentences, George did not see the merit of starting them to begin with. He walked around with vacant eyes, he had wordlessly shut down Weasley's Wizard Wheezes for good and come back to live at the Burrow in his and Fred's old room, he barely ate, and whenever he looked in a mirror, his face crumpled with soundless grief at the sight of Fred's face blinking back at him.
Outside, the rain seemed to pound the tiniest bit harder, and an angry wind whistled through the trees. Ron closed his eyes and swallowed against the lump in his throat, desperately reminding himself that the war was over, he must remember that Fred had not died in vain…
"Ron?" He glanced up as Hermione entered the room, carrying tea of her own. Her brown, curly hair was frizzy from the humidity, she was too pale and far too skinny, and there were dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep— but even then, she was still the most beautiful girl Ron had ever seen.
"Hey," he said softly, scooching over to make room for her beside him on the bed. "You doing ok?"
"Nobody's doing ok, Ron," she murmured back, sliding into place beside him, automatically leaning in against him, "but it's you I'm worried about."
"Don't worry about me," he told her, looping a free arm across her shoulders and drawing her in even closer. "I'm tough, I am. Harry says it'll start hurting less with time, and everything…that soon, we'll feel like smiling when we think about him instead of crying."
"He's probably right," Hermione agreed, but even so, she reached up to touch his cheek in an almost motherly, comforting gesture. "I cant help wishing I knew what to say to make your eyes stop looking like that." Because he could think of no response, he closed said eyes, and drew a slightly shaky breath.
"You help more than you know, Hermione," Ron said after a moment. "I'd be a mess if it wasn't for you." He opened his eyes again, and could tell by her faint blush this had pleased her, but she didn't withdraw her hand.
This, Ron thought, as some of the grief seemed to slide away, this is what makes the hell we went through worth it.
She was the only thing that made sense, Hermione, the only beauty, the only light; she was his best friend and his love and everything else he did not know how to name, and it felt so good to finally, finally have her. After everything, after denial and confusion and abandonment and seven year's worth of friendship (and something a little more), he could finally say to her, every single day: "I love you."
And in return, she'd tell him: "I love you, too."
So he whispered that endearment to her then, smiled as she said it back, and leaned into kiss her because he could not think of a single thing he would like to do more. She fumbled to take his tea cup from him, casting it aside with her own, and almost immediately rolled on top of him in the bed, her hands on his face, in his hair, her lips on his. Heart pumping, he moved a hand to her waist, and her skin was warm beneath the softness of her t-shirt—
"Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger! Do I need to remind you of the house rules?" At precisely the worst moment, the shrill of Mum's voice carried up the stairs, startling Hermione so badly she nearly broke her neck falling off the bed.
"We're not doing anything, Mum!" Ron roared back, trying to mask his embarrassment and slight panic with indignation. "We're just talking!"
"I thought I'd made it clear," Mum's voice carried on, drawing ever closer, "that you two were not to be alone in your bedroom, Ron." Hurriedly, Hermione shot to the opposite side of the room, and tried to make it look as though she had been sitting against the far left-hand wall the entire time. Ron couldn't help but smirk as he saw her attempting to smooth her already disheveled hair down; he made an effort to straighten the sheets of his bed and gave his own suspiciously messy hair a quick finger-comb.
"Like I say, we were just talking," Ron repeated as his mother entered his bedroom. Mum did not look especially pleased; she looked quite irritated, and her hands were on her hips.
"Don't insult my intelligence, Ron," Mum snapped. "I was a teenager once myself, and I understand how young love can be—"
"Mum!" Ron said loudly, ears turning scarlet as Hermione's face now was. "C'mon, don't start."
"Don't give me a reason to, then," Mum suggested coolly. "If you want to talk, you can do it downstairs, do you understand?"
"We're of age—"
"—but you live under this roof," Mum interjected. "And I will not have any…any funny business in my home!"
"Of course, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said meekly, jumping to her feet. "We'll go downstairs."
For a moment, Mum's expression softened.
"Don't think I don't approve now," she added as Ron jumped off the bed and moved to join Hermione, who was on her way out the door. "It's lovely that the two of you are together…however—"
"We get it, Mum!" Ron groaned, sidling out of his room. "Look, don't you have other people to be…er, reminding? I haven't seen Ginny orHarry in ages." Hermione bit back a snort of laughter as Mum sucked in an indignant breath.
"If I have to separate those two again…for the sake of Merlin, I won't have it in my house!" She nearly shoved Ron out of her way in her determination to find her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, shrieking their names.
"That was horrible, Ron," Hermione told him in between giggles as they set off down the stairs. "They're going to be so—"
"Yeah, well," Ron said, glancing both ways and then pressing her against the wall of the narrow, dark stairwell, "I had to say something to get her to leave us alone." Hermione giggled again and put her arms around his neck as he leaned down to kiss her once more. Ron had barely brought his mouth to hers before they heard a door one floor up slam, and footsteps headed their way. "Damn," Ron muttered as he drew away quickly. Glancing back the way they had came, he grabbed her hand and added, "C'mon, we'll find someplace…"
But that turned out to be far more difficult than anticipated. Every time the thought they had at last found a private spot, somebody came along upon them; twice, it was Mum, once it was Bill, and when they had tried the orchard in desperation, making use of a Repelling Charm to keep off the rain, Crookshanks had appeared and set up such a racket yowling with indignation that Percy, Bill, Charlie, and Kingsley (who was over for tea) had come running outside to see what was the matter.
Ron was frustrated beyond belief: all he wanted to do was properly snog his girlfriend. Was that so much to ask for? He and Hermione had been damn well patient enough, and one would think would one's own family might be more understanding of bottled-up passion.
"I've got an idea," Hermione said when they had at last managed to slip away from everyone. They were walking down the narrow corridor that led towards the sitting room, on the pretense of going to play chess. She paused as soon as she seemed to be quite sure they were well-out of earshot and added, "Look, we'll go to the broom cupboard off the kitchen, how's that?"
"The broom cupboard?" Ron demanded, smirking at Hermione. "You aren't serious."
"Do you have a better idea?" Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron. "It's the best place we've got—we'll put a Silencing Charm on the door and I'll use Colloportus. It's not your room, so even if your mum did catch us—"
"—she'd still throttle me, yeah," Ron interjected pessimistically, but he grinned when Hermione looked disappointed. "Don't worry, I'm all for it. I like the way your brain works, 'Mione—"
"What have I told you about calling me that?" Hermione cut in sharply, scowling fiercely at Ron.
"Well, you won't let me call you love, darling, or sweetheart—"
"That's because pet names are positively saccharine!"
"…Yeah, whatever that means. And anyway, calling you Hermione all the time sounds so formal—"
"Hermione," Hermione said through gritted teeth, "is my name."
"That's besides the point!" Ron grinned at Hermione's ire; her eyes had gotten ferocious and bright, her hands were on her hips. "I've always called you Hermione when we were just friends. We're not just friends anymore…it sort of feels like I should…I dunno…don't couples do this sort of stuff? Come up with nicknames for each other?"
"As I have mentioned, it's disgustingly sappy to do so," Hermione said coolly. "Quite honestly, I'm surprised at you, Ron. I thought after Lav-Lav you would have learned your lesson about how hideous these so-called 'nicknames' can be—" Ron clapped his hands over his ears and groaned loudly,
"God, why do you always have to bring that up?"
"Well, it rather gets the point across, doesn't it, Won-Won?"
"Ok, ok!" Ron cringed in disgust. "I just don't understand what's so bloody awful about me calling you 'Mione, for Merlin's sake…" Hermione studied him for a quiet moment, a different expression entirely replacing her amusement and indignation.
"It's not awful, " she murmured at long last, and she let her gaze drop to her feet. "I'm just…I'm not used to it. That's all." A blush seemed to be coloring her cheeks.
"It's ok," Ron said, understanding at once and failing to mask his pleased smile. "Soon, you will be." Hermione, if possible, seemed to blush even harder; Ron took the opportunity to clear his throat and run his hand through his hair. "So—erm—the broom cupboard?"
"Oh, yes!" Hermione cried, sounding rather flustered. "Of course. Let's go…" Together, they set off back the way they had came, creeping quietly past the door of the kitchen (they could hear Kingsley's deep voice calmly listing off the names of the last of the escaped Death Eaters, all now re-captured) and slipping as discreetly as they could into the broom cupboard.
"Blimey, I forgot how cramped it is in here," Ron remarked in hushed tones, igniting the lamp above their heads with his wand so that a dim light illuminated the cupboard's interior. There was barely enough room for the both of them and all the various Wellingtons, brooms, cauldrons, and extra cloaks that had been stuffed inside; Ron had to stoop a little to avoid hitting his head on a low wooden shelf that held a large amount of used Quidditch supplies.
"Silencio," Hermione murmured, putting her wand to the door. Immediately after that, she murmured both the spell for sealing the door, as well as a more complex one Ron didn't recognize. At first, he thought the second spell hadn't had any effect, but then Hermione said, "Well, we'll have a bit more…erm…room, now, won't we?" and he realized that she had managed to enlarge the closet so that he could now stand up straight and move about more freely.
"You're brilliant, you are," he told her, reaching down and brushing a stray curl away from her face.
"And you're sweet," she murmured back, her voice soft despite the Silencing Charm. "Lovely, in fact."
"Not as lovely as you." A pause. "Am I being soccer-ring again?" Hermione giggled.
"It's not soccer-ring, Ron, it's saccharine. And no, you're not; in fact, I quite like the direction this is going. Keep talking."
"If it's all the same to you," Ron said, leaning down, "I'd rather we do this instead." And finally, he kissed her, hands on either side of her face, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, and this, this was the memory he thought he would always call up when he needed to produce a Patronus, because for the first time in what felt like years, Ron Weasley was honestly, completely, totally happy, like the weight of that Hippogriff had finally been snatched from his chest.
After the raging of the war, the days without food or laughter, the cold nights filled with silence, the Horcruxes that whispered unwelcome and bitter truths, the pain and the grief and the fear—there was Mum yelling, there was hot tea, there was peace and normalcy and the luxury to grieve, there was this broom cupboard that he and Hermione had had to sneak into for a moment alone together. After everything they had faced that had forced them to grow up too quickly and far too harshly, it was so bloody wonderful to feel like a normal, hormonal teenager, Ron didn't think mere words could ever express it.
A sudden slamming against the door of the cupboard caused Ron not only to be ripped from his pleasant reverie, but for both he and Hermione to topple over and screech with fright; thanks to the Silencing Charm, whoever had banged on the door couldn't hear them.
"What the bloody hell now?" Ron demanded loudly as he helped a disheveled Hermione to her feet.
"Maybe whoever it is will go away?" Hermione suggested hopefully. "I mean—" She cut off suddenly, leaning forward and frowning sharply. "Who is that?" she added softly, pressing her ear against the door. "Ron, come listen…" Ron followed her lead, leaning forward with his ear to the door. He could hear what sounded like two people wrestling against the door and some very strange noises…noises that sounded vaguely familiar—
"Oh Merlin," he and Hermione cried together, springing as far away from the door as it was possible to go in the magically expanded closet.
"This is just sad," Ron murmured, wincing in embarrassment. "How are we going to—?" Hermione had held up a hand, motioning in the direction of the door.
"…because now my back is going to have a huge bruise on it," said Harry's disgruntled voice from just outside the door, though he sounded quietly amused.
"You," came Ginny's voice, "are whinging, which, if I may be so bold, is completely unattractive in a man, Harry. Whatever will Rita Skeeter say when I tell her about the Boy Who Lived's latest emotional development?"
"That's not even funny!" Harry cried. "For Merlin's—mmph, Ginny!" Harry's voice was suspiciously muffled, Ron thought with a scowl. There were several moments of relative silence (Ron hummed "Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" softly to himself to try to block out what little noise there was) and then Harry said, almost too softly to be heard, "Weren't we supposed to be looking for the spare cauldrons for your mum?"
"No," Ginny corrected him rather breathlessly, "I was supposed to be looking for the cauldrons and you were supposed to be going to find Ron and Hermione." Harry snorted.
"Oh yeah, they'd thank me for that," he said rather sarcastically. "They've been going as mental as us these past few weeks, they'd kill me if I barged in on them."
"We have all got to get out of here," Ginny declared. "I mean, I like being around my family as much as the next girl, but really…"
"You're not of age yet," Harry reminded her. "Plus you've got another year of school—"
"Oh yes, silly me. However could I forget?" Ginny's voice was laced with the biting sarcasm of which she was so fond. "Honestly, Harry, I'll be seventeen in just a few months, and I don't even know if I want to go to Hogwarts for the last year—"
"Of course you do!" Harry sounded horrified. "Ginny, look, let's talk about this—"
"Maybe later," Ginny said. "Right now, I'd rather we do less of that and more of this." Once again, there was more silence (Ron was humming even louder than before now, and Hermione was laughing rather unabashedly at him) until after a few moments, Harry murmured,
"Why don't we just go into the closet? If your mum catches us—"
"Yes, I know, we're in for another telling-off."
"Ron!" Hermione whispered in a high-pitched, rather panicked voice. "Ron, they can't catch us, please, it'll be so embarrassing--!"
"What's wrong with this door?" From outside, Ginny rattled at the handle. "I didn't think there was a lock on this."
"Here, I'll open it—let me get my wand—"
"We'll Disapparate," Ron suggested quickly, extinguishing the lamp with his wand and grabbing Hermione's hand. "C'mon, one, two—"
"Alohamora!" Harry's voice commanded from outside, and the door swung open with a squelching noise of release.
Luckily, Harry backed inside, blocking Ginny's view, and Ron and Hermione had time to dive behind the rows of hanging cloaks, though Ron knew, with a rather uncomfortable certainty, that they were quite doomed.
"Did it get roomier in here or is that just me?" Ginny asked as Harry shut the door. From between the cloaks, Ron resisted the urge to swear.
"Yeah," Harry said, sounding a little bemused. He lit the lamp. "Last time we were in here, we barely had room to…" He trailed off, and Ron realized, with faint horror, that Harry had seen something between the many cloaks. "Hang on!"
"What is it?"
"Hermione, I can see your hair," Harry said impatiently, "and Ron, your foot is sticking out."
"You two," Ron said loudly, abandoning all pretenses and sticking his head out from his hiding place, "are bloody ridiculous!"
"Ron!" Hermione squeaked, sounding mortified.
"You're joking," Ginny cried, seeing Ron and giving a delighted laugh. "Good Merlin, we thought you were outside or something—"
"Yeah, well we were here first," Ron said grumpily. "So go somewhere else, if you don't mind." He took Hermione's hand, yanking her from out behind the cloaks, and sidled out into the open. Harry looked as though he were just barely keeping his hilarity in check, Ginny kept coughing loudly, Hermione's cheeks were as red as ever as she stared down at the floor, and Ron made an attempt to glare menacingly at his best mate and little sister.
Then, Hermione (of all people) started to giggle, followed closely by Ginny. After the two girls started, it became contagious, and before anyone could make sense of it all, they were all of them screaming with laughter—for what seemed like the first time in eons, the tears rolling down their cheeks were not from sorrow.
Something about the entire situation was ridiculous; the normalcy of their emotions, the typicality of snogging in broom cupboards, Hermione's silly embarrassment and Ron's indignation—everything seemed to lend itself to letting the four teens forget that the weight of the world was supposed to be resting on their shoulders, and laugh.
Ron was clutching his sides and shaking with mirth as Ginny clung to Harry's arm to stop herself from falling over in her merriment when the door to the closet banged open.
Shocked out of their laughter, the four collectively drew a breath. Standing in front of them, mouth hanging open slightly in bemusement, was George.
"G-George," Ginny managed to hiccup, "we…we were just…" She trailed off helplessly, folded her arms, and stared down at her feet. Ron thought he knew how she might be feeling—for some reason, guilt had coiled in his stomach where relief and happiness had been merely moments ago.
How could he have forgotten for a moment that Fred was gone? How could he have laughed?
And then, quite suddenly, a miracle happened.
"Next time you're all playing Spin the Wand," George said solemnly, in a voice soft and hoarse from disuse, "y'might want to consider locking the door."
There was a moment of stunned silence to rival the one only seconds earlier, and then Ron managed incredulously,
George raised a brow.
"I need to get the spare cauldrons for Mum. Funny, she seemed to have this notion that Ginny was supposed to be retrieving them. Said something about Ron and Hermione going missing as well. But, seeing how I've found you two and the cauldrons to boot, I'll just be on my merry way. Carry on!" Leaning down to scoop the cauldrons up, he gave them a wry smile and knowing wink that Ron hadn't seen for a solid month.
Without thinking, Ron lunged forward and hugged his brother at precisely the same moment Ginny did (Hermione and Harry weren't far behind).
"Oi!" George cried as Hermione knocked the cauldrons out of his hands. "No need for a fuss…that's enough—ouch, Harry, that's my foot, if you don't mind—"
"You git," Ron accused him in a choked tone. "We thought we'd never have you back."
Ginny, who was crying too hard to even speak, visibly tightened her grip around George's neck.
"Well, littlest and dearest siblings of mine, it's been a long time coming." George patted Ginny comfortingly on the top of the head. "Don't reckon Fred would ever speak to me again if I showed up in the Great Beyond and he found out I had found all four of you in a broom cupboard at the same time and missed the chance to tear the mickey out of you."
All of them were tearing up by then (or, in Ginny's case, crying ever harder), but hearing Fred's name didn't bring the normal gut-wrenching pain to Ron it had for so long. Instead, he felt affection, aching and lingering, but wonderfully warm, and he could smile a little through the sadness.
As the family and friends (was there even a difference anymore?) held one another, as broken hearts began to remember what it was to be whole, as more laughter filled the Weasley house and people slowly began to forget what the war had made them, the clouds outside parted ever so slightly to reveal, at long last, the blinding light of the faintest sliver of sun as it struggled to shine through the rain.