In the DH when Ron walked out on Harry and Hermione during their Horcrux hunt, what if he didn't go to Shell Cottage? What if he had been brave enough to return to the Burrow? What would be his parent's reactions? More importantly, what would be Ginny's?

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any part of the Harry Potter series and I never will. J.K. Rowling does and she always will. I'm only writing this because I'm bored and I have wondered what would happen if Ron did go to the Burrow.

Ron's Return

All was silent. Not a thing moved in the cold and dark landscape. Then, all of a sudden with a loud crack, a tall figure appeared out of thin air. He remained still for a moment or two, gazing out at a distant house he knew so well. He started walking towards the building with a sense that he couldn't reach it fast enough. This house with its several crooked levels upon the first and the overgrown garden. The scene of all his childhood memories and the home for nearly everyone he loved. But as Ron reached the light from the windows of the Burrow, he slowed to a halt. An anxious look appeared on his face as he felt a stomach wrenching sensation in his gut. He knew what awaited him inside. Disappointment, anger and something much worse. Regret. Which he had momentarily forgotten when he saw the building that he had missed and longed to be in for months.

After taking a deep breath and with gritted teeth he walked the final steps to the front door and knocked. At once he heard his beloved mother's shaky voice from the other side of the door.

"Who-Who is it?"

"Mum, it's me, Ron", he said clearly though he was trying hard to hold in the emotions he felt at hearing his mothers comforting voice once again.

The door was flung open and Mrs Weasley embraced her son. Tears streaming down her face. For a moment it seemed as though she would never let go, but she reluctantly released him and held him at arms length clearly examining him.

"Ron, I've missed you so much. I've been so worried. Where have you been? And where are Harry and Hermione? Are they coming?" she asked in a rush still trying to control her tears.

"Umm, Mum, Harry and Hermione aren't coming', Ron said slowly whilst wondering how on earth he was going to reveal the horrible thing he had done to his two best friends to his parents.

"Why not? Has something happened? Are they alright? Please tell me they are alright!" Mrs Weasley shouted at once, her tears once again flowing down her face.

"They're fine as far as I know. I'll explain inside to you and Dad at the same time. I only want to do it once."Ron said quietly whilst looking down at his own shoes.

"I........alright." Mrs Weasley replied, startled. She led the way into the kitchen then went to get Mr Weasley. At the sight of his son, Mr Weasley's face looked shocked but that left almost as soon as it came and was replaced with relief. He ran over smiling and hugged him tightly.

"I'm so glad you're safe. Your mother and I have been worried sick about you. Harry and Hermione too. But, where are they?" Mr Weasley asked.

"That's what I want to talk to you two about", Ron began not able to make eye contact with either of his parents. "You better sit down. Please don't interrupt, it will be easier for me to say it if you don't."

His parents exchanged worried looks and sat down at the dining table. Ron sat down opposite them and after a moment or two, began to speak.

"Well, as you know, Harry, Hermione and I have been out on a mission that Dumbledore left Harry. Well, these past few months have been......hard for us. It's become much harder than we expected it to be. We've hit dead end after dead end and experienced some, unpleasant to say the least things. And we have been getting angry and frustrated and tired of putting in so much effort and getting no results. And tonight, I lost it. I and Harry had a fight and I said some horrible things to him..........about his parents and him not caring about my family. So, I.....I left. Walked out on them. I disaparated. Now I'm here and I don't know where they are. I regret it. I......", but he couldn't say anymore. His parents were looking at him in such a disappointed and astonished way that he faltered under their gaze. Mrs Weasley burst into tears and ran from the room. Mr Weasley however stayed, continuing to gaze at his son.

"I'm very disappointed in you, Ron. I thought your mother and I taught you better than to abandon your friends. Especially when they need you most."His tone was cold and unpleasant. A tone that Ron wasn't used to hearing from his father, that made him wish he was anywhere but there. Mr Weasley slowly stood and walked to the door but stopped just as his hand was on the door knob and turned back to face Ron.

"I want you to go and tell Ginny that Harry and Hermione are ok. She has been....greatly distressed since you three left. But don't expect her to show you any sympathy. Hermione is her best friend and Harry, well is Harry." With that he left the room to follow in his wife's footsteps. Leaving Ron sitting there alone feeling worse than he had ever felt before.

With the dread of telling his parents he had completely forgotten that there was one other person he dreaded telling even more than them. And now that he had to face her. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach as he sat there readying himself to break the news to his little sister. He was not looking forward to telling her that he had abandoned her best friend and Harry, who she had had a crush on since she was 10. Maybe even loved him. That did not help the sinking feeling.

After a while he climbed the stairs to Ginny's room where he found his baby sister with bruises and cuts but otherwise unharmed, sitting on her bed looking through a photo album. He took a deep breath and gently knocked on the door.

"RON! Oh my god! You're home!" she shouted with surprise, she ran to him and after hugging him tightly, she looked around expectedly. "Where's Harry and Hermione? Are they in the kitchen?" she asked happily. Ron could hardly bring himself to do it but remembering his father's words, he said what he knew he would regret.

"Ginny, they're not here", he began watching Ginny's smile vanish from her face and bitterly thinking it could have been the first for some time. "You see, I had a fight with Harry and after, I was just so angry, I walked out." Ron continued feeling worse every second at the sight of Ginny's face. When he started she looked panic stricken; now her face was contorted with rage. Her flaming red hair making her look even angrier.

"What?" she said in a deadly whisper. "WHAT? You abandoned them? Just left? Because you had a fight with Harry? I suppose it was because of lack of food or something knowing you, you coward! How could you do this? I thought you were their best friend! But you can't be because friends don't walk out when you need them! HOW COULD YOU? ESPECIALLY TO HARRY! HE SAVED YOUR LIFE! HE SAVED MY LIFE! AND HE SAVED DAD'S! YOU OWE HIM SO MUCH! THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS TO STAND BY HIM WHEN HE NEEDS HIS FRIENDS!" she screamed. Ginny stood still for a moment with her chest rising and falling from her yelling. Ron expected her to whip out her wand and hex or to start hitting him. He would prefer that over more screaming. Each word had gone through him like a knife, and the worst part was that he knew every single one was true.

But what she did next both surprised and horrified him. Ginny collapsed to her knees and started crying her heart out. Her whole body shaking from the force of her crying as all the emotions she had kept locked inside her the past months flooded out of her.

Ron gazed down at his grieving sister feeling empty inside. He looked at the photo album lying on the bed and picked it up; he looked at the page she had been staring at. There were two photos on each page. One was of him, Harry, Hermione and Ginny in the garden of the Burrow, waving. Another was of the same four playing Quidditch, the third of Hermione and Ginny laughing in the Gryffindor Common Room and the fourth was of Harry and Ginny by the deserted lake at Hogwarts, they were locked in a tight embrace, Ginny smiling at the camera and Harry smiling then kissing her cheek.

Ron felt emptier than before and suddenly regretted his argument with Harry about kissing Ginny in the summer. He closed the album and put it on Ginny's bedside table. He gazed at Ginny for a moment then said quietly: "Ginny, I really am sorry for what I've done to Harry and Hermione, and to you. If I could undo it I would. And just so you know, they are safe. They have protection that has been working months now so they are alright. He walked out of the room but paused in the door way and said, "Ginny, I want you to know that Harry misses you just as much as you miss him." Ginny didn't look up, but she stopped crying and wiped her face with her sleeve.

"I'm sorry." Ron repeated, "Goodnight."He then continued up the stairs for his bedroom, his anxiety now gone but replaced with a strong and deep regret and a loneliness that made him feel isolated. He had never before missed his friends as much as he did now.