I do not own Harry Potter, I do however own this story.

Chapter Three


It's a blissfully beautiful sunny day, this is what he thinks as he wakes the morning they're going to bury his brother. He rolls onto his side, looking out the window of his attic room, Pig's cage sits on the sill, he flaps his wings and preens his feathers. The bird let's out a squawk in greeting or annoyance that he'd forgotten to put a cover over his cage for the night. He rolls to his back breathing in through his nose, and letting it out of his mouth slowly.

This day won't be easy, he knows that, he can already feel the tightness and apprehension taking hold in his chest, but he thinks he won't have an episode like he did on the Astronomy Tower, actually- he prays that nothing like that happens again, or at least not in front of any body except maybe Hermione. She knows how to handle him, but he doesn't know if he can handle himself.

It's been two days since they'd come back to the Burrow, two days of awkward meals, unplanned crying jags from his mother, a broken dish, a smashed cup, and three raw eggs on the floor.

He and Hermione had had little to no time alone as well, and even though whatever they were now was still very new and not yet defined, he was starting to feel antsy. Not antsy to break things off, but antsy to simply be over this hump, this grief that was currently the barometer for everyone's out look on life.

He always thought that when they won this bleeding war there would be more of an air of accomplishment. He's never been naive enough to not think that people would die in the process, but he always hoped his family would fair well. His hope was misplaced.

Pig squawks again, he stares at the bird, and wonders if his tiny mind has any idea what's been happening around him for a year. The poor bird's been dispatched to carry messages for the Order down to the seaside to Shell Cottage, the Lake District to secreted allies, as far north as the Shetlands even. Poor bird indeed.

He reaches into his bedside table and finds some seeds and dried fruit he'd stashed there, he figures since it's dehydrated it can't hurt him, then shifts up and out of bed walking to the bird's cage. He puts his hand out flat, and waits for Pig to realise he's being offered something better than his usual plain morning breakfast.

"Right, Pig... have at it." He puts his hand right against the wires of the cage, and waits.

Reluctantly Pig creeps along his perch, and gently pecks at a dried bilberry, at least he thinks it's a bilberry. He watches the bird crack open a seed and deftly pick out the meat. His other hand comes up, and amazingly Pig allows him to gently run his finger tips over the top of his head. His feathers are soft of course, but not like human hair.

"Ron?" He looks up and sees Hermione standing in his door only open half way.

He continues to let Pig eat out of his hand.


"Your dad's needing you." He wishes she'd come in, sit with him, talk with him, but he knows she feels that now's not the time.

The first night they were back, they stood in the garden for a half hour and listened to the bustle of the house, the garden gnomes playing in the vegetable patch, and the subtly awakening insects. After being called in for tea and sandwiches, they sat next to each other at the table, they watched each other eat out of the corners of their eyes, and when no one was looking he'd reached under the table and took her hand up again.

Later that night, after mum had been tucked up in bed, his dad had arrived exhausted and dusty. He and Hermione had sat on the sofa, and listened to him munch down on left over sandwiches, occasionally letting out stifled breathes that verged on sobs. He felt helpless and dumb, but they just sat there, not wanting to leave the bottom level of the house, because for one, propriety dictated that even though for the last year they'd essentially slept in the same room, back at the Burrow those habits had to die. He also didn't want to leave, because even though he didn't know how to comfort his dad, just being there in the same space made him feel like he was doing something.

"Well, kids..." Dad trailed off standing in front of them looking wrinkled and drained.

Hermione and him still were holding hands, and sat close to one another, a new development for them, but even more so for Arthur to see.

"Don't stay up too late." He finally finished, then in an awkwardly tired state turned and walked up the steps away from them.

So there they sat.

Harry had sat with them for awhile after his dad had arrived, Ginny too. George had decided to watch over mum until dad arrived, and Fleur and Bill had gone to bed. Percy, he didn't care where Percy was, and Charlie was out in the garden de-gnoming in the middle of the night. Ron preferred not to dwell on Charlie's new nocturnal habit however.

He assumed that Harry and Ginny had not gone their separate ways when they'd said good night a good fifteen minutes apart from each other, but to conjure up enough brotherly concern was proving to be difficult, especially when he'd just spent twenty minutes listening to his father try and hold himself back from breaking down at the kitchen table.

Necessity dictated his next move though, in other words he really had to wee.

He stood up with her hand still in his. She stayed seated, but pulled him forward a little.

"Hermione?" She looked up into his face, her expression soft and open.

"Yes?" She waited.

"I have to take a wee." No one ever said subtlety or tact was his specialty.

She didn't drop his hand, in fact she squeezed it, then leant forward and put her forehead to it, laughing.

"By all means, Ron... go to the loo, I'm not stopping you!"

He gratefully dropped her hand, smiled down at her, and walked quickly to the loo.

After washing his hands (of course he washes his hands), he finds Hermione standing on the landing outside the door.

"I think..." She's wringing her hands, looking tired and a little nervous.

"Yeah?" Fantastic, now he's worried about her, again.

"I'm going to take a bath, and go to sleep." She looks at him, her face expressing her disappointment. Not in him he hoped, but in the situation.

"That's, that's fine... I should probably go let the Ghoul out, and straighten up my room." He looks up the stairs, thinking if he looks hard enough he'll be able to see up all the flights to his door. "Bill said some of Yaxley's people were up there not long ago after word got out we were at Mal..." He trails off, the memory of Malfoy Manor flashing behind his eyes.

Hermione blinks, and steels her expression. The memories flooding her mind as well, she unconsciously rubs at her arm where the unfortunate wound is now scarring over. They'd tried to heal it at Shell Cottage, but the knife was Goblin made, and that meant that once wounds made by it healed, they could not be affected or concealed by magic. She shivers into her self, and he steps closer, taking her hand from her arm, kissing her palm, then placing it on his cheek.

"We'll get through this." He whispers.

She looks up at him, her eyes wet, but she sheds no tears. He feels her hand on his face lightly brushing the stubble on his cheek, then her thumb running ever so gently across his bottom lip. He leans in and kisses her on the lips, nothing too overt, just a caressing of lips and the tiniest bit of tongue.

They both pull away realising where they are.

"Take a bath, Hermione. I'll see you in the morning, yeah?"

"You will." She lets go of his face, and passes him going into the bathroom. She turns in the doorway, holding onto the jamb and looking up at him.

"Good night, Ron." She takes a deep breath, then smiles at him.

He stands putting his hands in his pockets.

"Good night, Hermione." He smiles down at her as well, and keeps smiling even after she's shut the door, and he can hear her starting the water for her bath.

He closes his eyes listening to the sound of water on porcelain, and imagines her testing the temperature with her finger tips. The images come fast to his mind, her slipping off her trainers, unbuckling her belt, tugging her jeans down her hips, over her bottom, letting them slide off her legs, then the puddle of them around her ankles. He sees her standing in his mind not 2 meters from him, stepping out of the circle of her jeans in her socks and knickers, pulling her jumper and cotton vest off over her head. He imagines the skin of her stomach, and the swell of her breasts encased in her probably conservative bra, he decides it's white, as well as her knickers. He opens his eyes, and stares at the subtle changes if colour in the wood of the bathroom door, the only thing separating himself from a nearly naked Hermione.

He shakes his head, trying to shake out the images of Hermione's creamy exposed skin. Then he hears the soft sound of her submerging herself in the tub, and he groans, biting his lip, hoping that she didn't hear him. He quickly turns and starts taking the stairs up to his room as quietly as possible.

Inside his room, he leans against the closed door breathing heavily from his controlled sprint. He looks down and sees the tale tell bulge in his jeans, leaning his head back and laughing, because the situation is truly ridiculous. He stops laughing abruptly, covering his mouth with his hands. He looks about the darkened room, trying to make out the shape of Harry in the bed closest to the window that he always sleeps in, but the bed's empty. He drops his hands, and sighs, recognising that if Harry's not here, he's with Ginny.

Okay, now that feeling he remembers from last year is coming back full force. Trepidation, irritation, the subtle urge to maim but not kill, this is brotherly concern and protectiveness. He knows it's useless, he knows his sister is her own person, always has been, always had to be. And Harry, his best mate, he's been through hell. Honestly, he thinks, what's wrong with a little snogging? At least he's letting himself only imagine them snogging and nothing- wait there's the image of them doing much more than snogging! He shivers, then shakes his head trying to dislodge the image of his sister and his best mate shagging.

Out of nowhere he's flung forward. He stumbles and catches himself on the corner of his dresser, and let's out a yelp of pain. His forearm getting a good graze against the corner and side of the dresser.

Harry stands in the door, the light from the landing back lighting and turning him into a silhouette.

"Ahhh, mate I'm sorry!" He comes forward into the room with his hands up in concern. "I should've knocked, but I thought you were already asleep!"

Ron sits down on his bed, and holds his forearm up to get a better look as Harry turns and switches on the overhead light and shuts the door. Ron winces as he takes in the fully lit view of his knew injury. An angry cut slices down his arm from elbow to halfway down his forearm. It's luckily not bleeding heavily, and can probably be easily healed with Dittany, but in that moment, the throbbing pain is all he can think of. That and the fact that Harry had just maimed him after probably shagging his sister.

"It's not that bad, is it?" Harry asks, shuffling closer to Ron's bed.

"Fuckin' hell." Falls from his mouth, as he leans down and start blowing on the now stinging cut. "You shag my sister, then you shove me into my furniture, is that it?" He bites out.

Harry just stands in the middle of the floor, then bursts out laughing.

"Mate, I did not shag your sister, not even close." He takes out his wand, grabs his arm which has stopped bleeding. "Tergeo!" All the dried blood is siphoned away, leaving the cut clean. "Episkey!" The wound closes and heals before their eyes. He drops Ron's arm, turns and drops his wand on his own bed.

"You didn't?" Ron asks, still looking at his arm, his brain not yet catching up that the cut's now gone.

Harry sits down on his bed, careful not to sit on his wand.

"Ron, I haven't seen her in almost a year, you think I'd jump into bed with her just like that?" He snaps his fingers for emphasis.

"Well... I, um... I don't know?" He manages to get out.

"You're barking, you know that?" Harry, picks up his wand, and shoves it under his pillow, lying back, arms behind his head, his shooed feet crossed at his ankles.

Ron lies back too, but first picks up one of his pillows and throws it at Harry.

"No, I'm not... just have an active imagination, that's all." He looks over at Harry, who's caught the pillow as it harshly hit him in the face skewing his glasses. Harry takes the extra pillow and puts it behind his head, then instead of straightening his glasses he simply takes them off and drops them on the old packing crate that's his bedside table.

"Get the lights will you?" Harry says, leaning forward toeing his trainers off, starting in on his belt, he pulls off his jeans and throws them to the floor with a muffled thud.

Ron reaches into his pocket searching for his Deluminator. He fishes it out, clicks it and all the light sucks up into the long cylindrical device. Putting it back in his pocket, he too takes off his trainers and jeans, then shoves up and climbs under his covers.

"Harry?" He quietly calls out into the darkened room.

"Yeah?" Harry answers.

"Don't shag my sister." He rolls onto his side, and burrows into his pillow.

"Whatever you say, mate." Harry says, his voice filled with the traces of laughter. "Like I'd tell you if I did, anyway." He could hear him moving under his covers, adjusting his pillows.

"Reckon I'd be able to tell just by looking at your face, you'd be smiling like an idiot." He says laughing a little bit.

"Shut it, go to sleep." Harry's voice is muffled, he's probably on his stomach or side.

Ron lies on his side letting his mind wander.

"Harry?" He calls out again.

"Yeah?" Harry answers back again, his voice thick with the need for sleep.

"Do ya' think, Hermione will be mad if we didn't clean our teeth?"

"Speak for your self." Harry says after a beat.

"Fuck it." Ron sighs.

"Maybe later." Harry mutters quietly.

Ron snorts, then turns onto his back, and resigns himself to sleep.

Author's Notes: Thank you all who have signed up for story alerts for this story, favourited the story, or left a review.

I promise that the story will soon earn back it's M rating, and not simply for language and conversation subject matter.

If anyone is at all curious, all chapter titles are from song titles by varying bands and/or artists, including the title of the story.