A/N-This was inspired by a brief shot of Ron and Hermione in one of the "Deathly Hallows" ABC sneak peeks; it's a shot of them sitting on a set of stairs, holding hands. For me, this story is a lesson in communication through gestures and silence alone; there is no dialogue in this piece. I wanted to make this oneshot quiet and contemplative to fit the mood I was trying to create. This takes place right after Ron sees Fred's body lying in the Great Hall during the Battle of Hogwarts. This may be a bit of a dark piece, but I wanted to show how utterly desperate and damaging this event was for both Ron and Hermione. These two characters are only eighteen-years-old at the time, yet they have all this emotional weight hefted onto them. This was an opportunity to show them in their rawest form. Still, just like "A Beautiful Complexity", this piece is about beauty amid chaos, only far more potent. So please enjoy :)

She was the only one that noticed. Staring horror-struck at his brother's broken body, Ron slowly backed out of the Great Hall, his arms hanging limp at his sides. Hermione wiped her hands across her face as she retraced his steps, passing through the bodies of the dead and the soft cries of those left to mourn them. As she reached what was left of the enormous doors, she looked around for any sign of Ron.

And there he was.

His head in his hands, he sat on the steps of the great marble staircase, unmoving. Hermione carefully stowed her wand in her jacket pocket and cautiously walked toward him through the debris. When she reached him, he still had not lifted his head. He did not greet her. He did not say anything. He gave no indication that he even realized she was there. After looking sorrowfully down upon him, she took up a vigil next to him on the step. They sat there for a while, him completely immobile, her simply staring at his hunched profile.

It was instinct that told her to do it. It was instinct that told her he shouldn't have to deal with this in silence, alone. She reached for his hand and slowly pulled it into her own. Simultaneously, she reached for his shoulder and brought him to her, their heads bowed together. And he did not resist. Ron did nothing but look at their clasped hands, a blank expression on his face.

It wasn't until a few moments later that he finally brought his eyes to hers. The briefest look of surprise passed between them as they saw that both sets were inexplicably dry. They had not cried. They had not shed a tear. But when these eyes met, something shattered. The level silence that ruled them both cracked and fell like the great castle around them.

Ron sobbed as he brought his head to rest upon their grasped hands. Tears rolled down Hermione's face as she bent her head to lay upon his own. All she could hear was Ron's repetition of his dead brother's name. She closed her eyes and silently cried with him, the death's of those they loved pushing on them, weighing them down. It seemed the combined mass of the world's suffering and their own had finally collapsed fully on top of them.

Suddenly, there was a swift movement, and Ron grasped her to him with a strength that surprised them both. Abandoning all restraint, he cried into her shoulder, the smell of death and mortar filling his nostrils. Throughout their entire journey, everything, every horrific and painful thing they had endured together, he had not shed a tear in front of her. He had cried for her and about her, but he had not done so in her presence. He had needed to prove to her that he could be strong. That he could carry the weight that must be carried.

But he broke now. And he did not care. Because there was nothing left to prove. No more shows of strength, no more feigned confidence in moments of sheer panic and fear. They were only two small people in this ruined world.

So she held him tightly to her, allowing her tears to mix with his own. And these joined the dust, the sweat, and the blood not only their own, but of countless others that was caked to their bodies as if it were a second skin. They cried for the innocent dead, for themselves, and for each other. And they clung to one-and-other, life vests in the ocean of sorrow that threatened to swallow them.

Ron lowered himself to embrace her around her middle as the cries continued to wrack his body. And it seemed they would never stop. As he buried his head in her stomach, Hermione placed her arms to encircle his shoulders, hugging him to her tighter than she had ever done. She held onto him as if there was no time left in the world. As if this gesture were the last act she would ever perform. And, secretly, she wasn't so sure how far from the truth this notion was.

As their tears continued to flow fourth, she took in the wreckage around them. Sections of the once beautiful castle, now mere piles of rubble, blood pooled and drying where bodies had previously lain. It was chaos, destruction all that surrounded them now. But it was nothing compared to the devastation that shook in her arms. The quiet sounds that had emanated from the Great Hall were drowned out, and nothing else existed in the world besides the two mourners on the cracked and broken steps.

A/N-Comments, criticisms, and reviews are always very much appreciated. I hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time, happy reading :)