Summary: What would happen if Harry hadn't lost the Resurrection Stone? DH spoilers.
Disclaimer: All characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
Harry sat very still, feeling slightly numb. Ron was on one side of him, Hermione on the other—the way it's supposed to be, Harry thought. But no one was happy, smiling, laughing, joking. . . .
They were inside the Burrow, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. Harry glanced at the special Weasley clock hanging on the wall—Ron's, Bill's, Charlie's, and Fred's hands were all pointed to "Home." Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was too much, just sitting there, waiting for "everyone" when "everyone" wasn't coming back. He felt tears well up in his eyes and Ron wrapped his arm around Harry's shoulders. They leaned into each other, and Harry realized he was crying too, silently.
Harry reached for Hermione's hand and held it tightly. Fred was gone. So was Lupin, Tonks . . . too many lives had been lost in the battle.
But the battle had happened two days ago. Things were trying desperately to go back to normal, but it was too rushed—far too rushed.
Harry heard a slight whirling, and looked at the clock again. The hands for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, George, and Percy had moved to "Traveling" and then slid to join the others at "Home." Then the kitchen door opened. Harry only saw George for a second, as he rushed through the room and headed upstairs. They heard his bedroom door slam.
Ginny entered the room looking downcast, and Harry stood to meet her. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. She was crying, too. Her parents and Percy came in a moment later—Harry didn't let go.
"Hi," Percy whispered, to no one in particular. Harry extended his hand, and Percy shook it before going to sit next to Ron.
"Hello, Harry dear," Mrs. Weasley said, hardly any louder than Percy. She wasn't crying—but her eyes looked very red and she didn't smile. Slowly, she and her husband left the room, Mr. Weasley muttering about needing to talk to Charlie, who was in another part of the house. Harry lead Ginny to a chair, and she sat down. He sat on the arm and held her hand. No one spoke.
After a few more days, the Burrow forced its occupants into an almost-routine. Mrs. Weasley spent most of her time cooking, and soon the kitchen was full to bursting point with food it would take weeks to eat. Bill and Fleur did all they could to cheer up Ginny, or at least keep her busy enough to not think about Fred. Mr. Weasley and Percy sat in the living room a lot, forcing conversation with each other, trying to get caught up after the years they had missed. Charlie had gone back to work with the dragons. George had not come out of his room.
Harry and Hermione were staying at the Burrow as well. They and Ron spent a lot of time outside, rarely talking, but then, nothing really needed to be said. Sometimes, Harry could tell the other two wanted to be left alone, so he would go find Ginny and Bill or else go sit in the kitchen—Mrs. Weasley seemed to appreciate his company, even if there was hardly anything new to say.
One morning, Hermione announced to the breakfast table (everyone except George was there) that she would be leaving to go get her parents. "It seems cruel to just leave them there any longer," she said.
"Where did you say they were, again? Africa?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"Australia, dear," Mrs. Weasley corrected.
"Right, okay. I think it best you not go alone, Hermione. Would you mind if I tagged along?"
"I'd really appreciate it if you did, Mr. Weasley, thanks." Hermione turned to Harry and Ron. "Do you two want to come?"
"Sure," Ron said, "I'd like to see your parents again."
"I should probably stay here," Harry said. "If I get too far away from the Burrow, I'd be more of a hindrance than a help, I suppose."
"Are you sure?" Hermione said.
"Yeah—you don't need a horde of reporters slowing you down."
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Then Bill spoke up, but rather softly.
"I tried to get George to come eat this morning. He wouldn't open the door."
Tension rose around the table.
"Did he at least say anything?" Ginny asked. "Last I spoke with him, all he said was, 'Go away.' I could get him to say nothing else."
"Yeah, he talked all right. Sounded exhausted. Probably still in bed. Just said he didn't feel like eating. I asked him how he was feeling, though, and he wouldn't answer."
"He's going to need a lot of time," Mr. Weasley said slowly. "We just have to let him know we're here for him, whenever he's ready to talk."
Tears were rolling down Mrs. Weasley's cheeks, and when Bill noticed, he dropped the topic.
A few hours later, Harry was hugging Hermione good-bye as she, Ron, and Mr. Weasley got ready to leave.
"Be safe," Harry told her. "Keep Ron out of trouble."
"That's why I'm here," she told him and she smiled; Harry couldn't help but smile back.
"Now, Hermione, are you going to go on and get them settled at your house, or would it be easier to bring them back here first?" Mrs. Weasley asked, stepping out into the garden.
"I guess it depends on how easy it is to lift the enchantment. I've never done it before—would it be all right to bring them back here? If I can't get it right away?" Hermione asked.
"That would be just fine, dear, I'd love to have them here," Mrs. Weasley said, and though she looked sincere, she didn't smile.
"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said.
"See you later, mate," Ron said, and he threw his arm around Harry's shoulders.
"Yeah, all right. Be careful," Harry said.
Ron turned to give his mother a hug. Then he, Hermione, and Mr. Weasley held hands and Disapparated.
Mrs. Weasley returned to the kitchen. Harry found Ginny in the living room, playing Exploding Snap with Percy, who was losing spectacularly. Bill and Fleur sat on the couch, talking quietly to each other.
Harry sat next to Ginny on the floor and laid his hand on her shoulder. She glanced around at him, forced a smile, and then returned to the game. She had been unusually cold towards him for the past few days, but he tried not to question it. She had been through a lot, after all. He knew it had to be hard on her.
Suddenly, Bill raised his voice slightly and addressed Percy. "Have you spoken to George?"
"Oh—no sir, not in a few days."
"D'you think we should go see him soon? Maybe if you and I went together—"
"I don't know, Bill. He probably just wants to be left alone."
"And we've respected that. But frankly, he's been shut up in that room long enough. I know it's hardest on him, but it's not healthy—"
Ginny stood up abruptly. Without a word, she practically ran from the room. Bill stared after her, his mouth slightly open, shocked by her action. Harry stood up slowly and followed her—he felt the others watching him.
By the time he reached the stairs, she was no where to be seen. Harry went up the first flight, and knocked on her bedroom door. It opened almost immediately.
"What?" she asked harshly.
"Can I talk to you?" he said.
She glared at him for a moment, but then stepped aside to let him enter. She slammed the door behind him and then crossed her arms, waiting.
"What's going on, Gin?" Harry asked, but realized a second too late it was the wrong thing to say.
"Going on? Going on?" she exploded. "My brother is dead, Harry! He's gone, I've lost him! I'm about a week away from losing another too, we're in the same house, but I haven't seen him in days! And now my other brothers are going to go force him to come out, but he's not ready, he's still grieving and they can't understand that! That's just how he handles grief—"
"They aren't going to force him to do anything. They're just worried about him."
"I'm worried too! But didn't you hear him? 'Maybe if you and I went together'!"
"Ginny, please, try to calm down. Just talk to me, come on," Harry said.
She kept glaring at him, but stopped shouting.
"What do you want to happen?" Harry asked.
Her glare fell. A tear ran down her cheek. "I want to see him again," Ginny said, "I really miss him. But not like this, I don't want him to come out when he isn't ready, you know? It would just make him even more miserable."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, I know."
And then he was struck with an idea—and he knew what he could do.
A/N: Warning: very short chapter coming up!