All Your Fault

by cloneserpents

Standard Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all characters are property of J K Rowling, Warner Brothers, Bloomsbury Books, Arthur A. Levine Books, Raincoast Books and Scholastic publishing, and are used without permission. This work was written purely for noncommercial entertainment; no money is being made.

Note: this is one of my serious pieces. Character Death.

With a scream, Harry awoke from his nightmare. He'd waken the same way every night, shouting out the same name, as if a part of Harry was still desperate to save him. The young wizard's two dorm mates who were still in the room barely stirred at his cry – they had become accustomed to this, for it was a regular occurrence every night since Harry and his friends had returned from that debacle at the department of mysteries.

Harry scanned the darken dorm room. In a few days time, he'd leave this place and return to his relatives' home for the summer holiday. This was the first time since arriving at Hogwarts five years previously that Harry didn't dread the idea of leaving for the Dursleys'. At least when he was at his aunt and uncle's home, Harry wouldn't have to wake up and see the two empty beds in his dorm everyday.

One of these empty bed's occupants was out – aimlessly wandering around the castle with a guilt-ridden mind, as he had done ever since that fateful night. The other's occupant never returned that horrible night, and never would.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Harry slid his glasses on. There was no point trying to sleep. Even if the nightmare had not sent his heart racing and he was somehow able to calm himself enough to fall back asleep, that dreadful memory would just plague his dreams and he'd wake up screaming in a few minutes' time. He swung his legs off of the bed, stood, and silently walked out of the room.

Harry slowly made his way to the Common Room, hoping to find it empty so he would not have to bear the awkward silence of his fellow students. Since he returned, all his peers seemed capable of doing was to look at him silently, in odd and awkward ways. It was clear that none of them knew what to say to the wizard anymore. Some tried to offer their condolences or words of support, but every time they approached Harry, their voices left them and all they could do was look at him sadly. Thankfully, being the middle of the night, there was only a slight chance of someone being in the Common Room forcing another clumsy attempt at stilted conversation.

Unfortunately, Harry found that there were two people in the Common Room that evening. They were huddled together in front of the dying fire, whispering to each other. The two witches had been crying, obviously over the fateful events that had recently occurred. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Harry made to move back up the stairs. He'd rather sit on his bed, alone in the darkness than face these two witches and their shared pain.

However, before he could make his escape, pink-rimmed brown eyes framed by flaming red hair looked up and saw Harry. Just as quickly as she had turned to notice Harry, Ginny turned away – obviously upset by his presence.

Hermione looked at Harry with her own tearful eyes that told him she, too, was struggling with the loss and that she was trying to help Ginny to do the same. But things were progressing poorly, to say the least.

"I'm sorry," muttered Harry guiltily over the pain that he had inadvertently caused his friends.

His words, meant as an apology, sent Ginny into a rage. The short witch sprung up and dashed at Harry. Desperately, Hermione tried to restrain the red haired witch, but Ginny tugged herself free and lunged at the wizard. Harry hung his head low and waited for the blow he knew was coming.

Ginny's small fist slammed into his chest and she screamed, "IT'S YOUR FAULT!" She struck again and again. "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"

Harry stood there, as Ginny's fists continued to beat at him. He winced with each blow; not from any physical pain from the slight girl's punches, but rather from the pain that sprung from Ginny's heart – the same pain that riddled his own soul. He stood there, letting Ginny hit him. Because he felt as if she was justified in her accusations; he deserved to be punished.

In order to stem Ginny's assault, Hermione tried to take hold of her shoulders. The younger witch all but ignored Hermione's efforts, continuing to swing her fists.

Her final blow gracelessly landed on Harry's shoulder which caused Ginny's wrist to bent and twist painfully. Pulling back with a yelp, Ginny looked at Harry with pain and anger in her eyes. She cradled her sore wrist to her chest and said, "You should've been the one to die." Her voice was marred with a combination of venom and sorrow.

"Ginny!" Hermione screeched. She too had been crying, but the thought of what Ginny had just said had clearly cut her to the core and angered her. "How dare you say that? We're hurting, too. There's no reason-"

"Hurting? What do you know about hurting? You lost your friend!" snapped Ginny viciously. "I lost my brother! And it's all his fault!"

The younger witch turned back to Harry and jabbed a finger in his chest and accused, "It's your fault we went into an obvious trap. You were the one they were after, not Ron. You should've been the one to die, not him!"

All Harry could do was look at Ginny sadly. He couldn't defend himself, because he felt that she was right; the truth of the matter was undeniable.

"You were the one they wanted," Ginny repeated. The anger dissolved away from her voice, replaced by grief and agony. With new tears cascading down her cheeks, Ginny looked up into Harry's eyes, asking with a pathetic and sad waver, "Why'd it have to be him?"

The only answer he could reply with was, "I don't know."

With a sob, Ginny threw her arms around Harry's neck. She cried pitifully into his chest.

The unending pain and anguish tore through Harry, ripping him apart. Before he had met Ron, Harry had no real concept of friendship or what it was like to even be a child. Thanks to his relatives – his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and his cousin Dudley – Harry never had any friends or even a real childhood. All potential friends were either scared away by the false stories of his criminal and vicious nature that his relatives propagated or for fear of being beaten by Dudley for associating with Harry. It wasn't until Harry met Ron on that first train ride to Hogwarts that he had made his first friend.

And it wasn't just friendship that Ron had offered. He had shown Harry what it meant to be a wizarding child by introducing him to Chocolate Frogs with their Famous Wizards Cards, exploding snap, and wizards' chess. He even helped sparked the love of Quidditch in Harry.

And now that Ron was gone, Harry felt as if those things no longer mattered. Without Ron to share these simple activities with, it just wouldn't mean as much to him. They would always be a painful reminder of his best friend's untimely death. Ron would no longer suggest a game of chess instead of schoolwork, nor would he cheer loudly when Harry dove for the Snitch, nor would he help make up false predictions for Divination. The times the two friends played and joked together with mock duels and many other fashions as boys do were now taken away from Harry.

Crying as well, Hermione joined the embrace. The brunette threw her arms around Ginny and reached for Harry. Hesitantly, he wrapped his arms around the two witches and tried to tell Ginny that he wished that it would've been him instead of Ron. Harry, unlike Ron, had no real family to mourn for him, and he felt it would've been better if he had died that night instead of Ron. That way, the Weasleys wouldn't have known the pain and anguish of Ron's death. Harry felt that his own death wouldn't have such a painful effect on his friends. But the words got stuck in his throat. With a whimper and a sob that tore at his throat, tears flowed and stung Harry's eyes. They dripped in great globs into Ginny's hair.

The three stood in the corner of the Common Room, crying for their lost friend and brother for a long time before they moved as a group over to the couch. Harry sat with his friends held tightly to his chest as they all vented their suffering. One by one, exhaustion claimed them and they slowly drifted off to sleep.

The moment Harry closed his eyes, the terrible memory of that dreadful night began to play out in his head once more.

Shortly after he, Hermione, and Neville had split off from Ron, Ginny, and Luna in the attempt to lose the Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries, Hermione was knocked unconscious by some unknown hex. Carrying the witch between them, Harry and Neville reentered the room housing the odd, brain-like creatures. The dream skipped forward a few moments and their other three friends joined them. In a rapid motion, like he was watching the memory on a fast playback, Harry witnessed a group of Death Eaters try to attack. Harry and his friends were able to hold their assailants back.

Time slowed to normal and Ginny hobbled to a table. Ron said some nonsensical gibberish to Harry before the red haired wizard drunkenly turned his attention to the tank. With a mad gleam in his eyes, Ron pulled out his wand and pointed it at one of the unknown creatures that swam in the large container.

"Accio-" Ron began to incant.

Like a shot, Harry swung his arm and knocked Ron's wand out of his hand before he could do anything foolish.

"What's wrong with him?" Harry asked Ron's sister.

Ginny's explanation of the curse that made Ron act intoxicated replayed in the dream. Time began to speed up again. Harry told Neville, Luna, and Ginny to keep an eye on Ron so that he wouldn't do anything to harm himself like he had almost done with the brain creatures. He also asked them to watch over Hermione, as she still had not regained consciousness. Harry added that he'd try to lead the Death Eaters away by himself. After all, Harry and the prophesy he held were their target, not his friends.

But before he could lead the group of Death Eaters away, they broke through the barricades the teens had erected. Luna was thrown against a table and knocked unconscious. Hoping that Neville and Ginny could handle the magically addled Ron, and tend to both Hermione and Luna, Harry showed the glass ball containing the prophesy to the Death Eaters before leading the villains from the room. His friends would be safe as long as the Death Eaters were after him.

Like a blur, the memory of Harry running through the various rooms in the Department of Mysteries played out. Spells and hexes rocketed by him as he dashed and dodged. Once again, time snapped back to normal as a group of Death Eaters approached Harry in the room that had the strange archway and veil on a stone dais.

"You see, there are ten of us and only one of you," Malfoy mocked as he and his fellow Death Eaters encroached upon Harry. "Or hasn't Dumbledore ever taught you how to count?"

"He's dot alone!" Neville said defiantly through his broken nose. "He's still god be!"

Brandishing Hermione's wand, Neville struggled down the stone benches toward Harry and the group of Death Eaters.

"Neville – no – go back to Ron –" Harry pleaded. Ginny, with her broken ankle, was in no shape to watch her brother. And without Neville to keep an eye on Ron, there was no telling what the addled wizard would do in his inebriated-like state.

As before, time sped up. Suddenly, members of the Order of the Phoenix bolted into the room. At one point in the chaos of the witches and wizards fighting, the glass ball containing the prophesy broke and whatever secret it held was lost, seemingly forever.

Time slowed again and Harry felt his heart skip a beat as he watched Ron stagger and bumbled into the room. With a cheeky, lopsided grin, the gangly red head bounded into the fray between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters.

Harry tried to scream, to warn Ron to get out of there. But Ron, with his actions deluded by the unknown spell he had been hit with, had obviously tossed caution to the wind and scrambled toward Bellatrix Lestrange.

Bellatrix barely gave Ron a glance before she halfheartedly launched a jet of red light at him. Clearly, she did not want to bother with a nuisance like Ron and that a simple spell would rid her of this bothersome pest. Despite her weak attempt, Harry knew that Ron was no match for Bellatrix and feared the worst as the bolt of red soared at his friend. It was simply a miracle that Ron was able to cast a Protego Charm in time. The hex crashed into Ron's shield with a deafening clang. Silently, Harry prayed that the shock of a spell being cast at Ron would snap him out of his intoxicated-like stupor.

"Come on, you can do better than that!" Ron yelled, brimming with false confidence, at Bellatrix.

Bellatrix turned to her heckler and Harry's blood ran cold. It was clear that Ron's drunken taunt had angered Bellatrix. This time she would not go so easy on him. Harry began to run to his friend.

With a cocky smile, Ron conjured another shield charm. His drunken state had muddled his common sense, making him think that he was a match for the deadly witch.

Snarling like a mad dog, Bellatrix sent another jet of red light at Ron – this one far more powerful and intense than the previous one. The bolt struck Ron's shield and smashed it to smithereens before colliding into his chest.

From across the room, Harry could see Ron's eyes widen in surprise, as if this had not even entered his mind as a possible outcome. The tall red-haired wizard reeled back and pitched toward the veil.

"NOOOO!" screamed Harry. He bolted to the veil, desperately hoping to grab his friend before he fell through it. It was as if Ron was falling in slow motion – his eyes still looked surprised and the confident smile seemed frozen on his lips. Harry clambered up the steps of the dais as quickly as he could.

But it was too late. Ron fell through the veil and disappeared. The fabric of the veil moved as if in a gentle breeze, but there was no sign of Ron.

"RON!" he screamed. "RON!"

Frantically, Harry lunged at the veil. Hoping against hope to be able to reach through and pull his friend back from wherever he had gone. As he reached toward the decaying fabric of the veil, Lupin and Sirius both grabbed hold of Harry around his chest.

"LET ME GO!" he hollered, trying to pull free from the two wizards' grasp. "I have to save him!"

"No, Harry, it's too late," Sirius said sadly as he and Remus pulled Harry away from the mysterious veil. "He's gone!"

"NO! RON!"

This time, when Harry woke, he didn't scream out his best mate's name. It seemed the part of Harry that was still clinging on to the hope of saving Ron had finally admitted that his friend was gone, and there would be no point in calling out his name.

The two witches were still asleep in his arms. Neither Hermione nor Ginny appeared to be restless. Perhaps Ginny's breakdown had been beneficial for all three – she had vented her own guilt, frustration, and sorrow with each blow. Somehow this action had a cleansing effect on them all. For that, Harry was grateful.

As he watched his friends sleep, Harry recalled how he chased Bellatrix and had unsuccessfully cast the Cruciatus Curse on her. And then after Voldemort dueled Dumbledore, the headmaster sent the injured survivors to the Hospital Ward at Hogwarts while sending Harry to the Headmaster's office. There, Harry destroyed many of the old wizard's things in a fit of rage over Ron's death and had heard the fateful prophesy. He remembered how Dumbledore had said that Harry had lost in Ron "a friend and a brother..."

It hurt him; there was a hollow space in Harry – deep down inside his chest. It felt as if someone had punched a hole in him and tore a vital part out of his very essence. And Harry knew that that part would never come back. The hole would always be there.

Harry knew that both Hermione and Ginny were suffering just as much as he was. They too would always miss Ron. Out of all the friends that accompanied Harry to the Department of Mysteries, only Luna seemed to be handling the loss in stride. The odd witch's outlook was almost pious in that she believed that she, and everyone, would one day meet Ron in the "next world."

But poor Neville was suffering, perhaps more than anyone else. He felt guilty for abandoning Ron, thinking that the red head was well enough to leave alone. Neville was constantly punishing himself over this fatal mistake. Harry, too, had blamed Neville for Ron's death for a while. If he had stayed as Harry had commanded, Neville may have been able to have prevented Ron from his foolhardy action and thereby saving his life. However, Harry came to realize that the blame did not rest solely on Neville. Harry had, after all, walked right into a blatant trap. Then Dumbledore accepted blame also, for if he had simply told Harry about the prophesy, the young wizard would've never had gone to the Department of Mysteries that night. And then there was Bellatrix, who had killed Ron, and her master, Voldemort; both of whom the fault truly laid with.

Harry thought how he wanted to talk to Neville – to tell him that the blame and guilt was not his to bear. But like his fellow students, Harry didn't know the proper words to express this and all he'd end up doing was staring at Neville silently. Perhaps he'd have Hermione and Ginny help him ease Neville's guilt and pain.

As he sat there on the couch, Harry came to the conclusion that to lament Ron forever, to let the guilt eat him up, would not only be an insult to his friend's memory, but also hinder Harry's destiny. He hated the idea of having a destiny, of having some force control his life, but Harry had to face up to it. People had died, and according to the prophesy, Harry was the only one who could stop it.

The young wizard took in a long, slow breath, and steeled himself. He would have to train, and train hard. He'd have to learn as much, and as fast as he could, in order to face Voldemort. Not only did he decide to do this to accept his destiny, he did it to seek justice for Ron's death and to stop anyone else from losing a loved one.

Author Notes: Special thanks to Homer from Potter's Place 3 for suggesting this fic and to my beta, Sasqch. This is a stand alone one shot that has been bugging me. Hopefully, I'll be able to write another chapter for SoG soon.

If you'd like to read my theory that is the basis of this one-shot, please check out my forum www(DOT)fanfiction(DOT)net/topic/44491/6018669/1/ or go to my bio page and to my forums. It's under The Theory of Ron's Death.

Obviously, some lines in this piece are used without permission from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapters thirty-five and thirty-seven.