Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I make any profit from this story.

A/N: The first several lines kept swimming through my mind last night and I had to get it down. It was just so poignant.


It was Ron who held him in the dead of night.

Ron who wrapped him up in his arms and let him cry.

Only Ron understood that the tears were not a sign of weakened masculinity or severe emotional damage. These nightly tears were a means of expressing all that Harry found impossible to put into words. In the violent, wet, sobbing expulsion from his faded green eyes, Harry could explain the empty space in his heart, the blank spots within his mind, and the bleached places on his soul.

During the day, Hermione attempted to bully and wrangle these explanations verbally from Harry. She was not trying to hurt him. He knew that, of course. She was only worried for him. She was afraid he was keeping everything locked away so tightly that he would end up combusting at some point. Maybe he would. Who knew?

Hermione didn't know about the nights or the tears or the holding. Harry never really talked at all anymore and Ron had never told. There was no reason. The dark, silent hours were when Ron helped Harry in his own way. And in the daylight hours, Hermione, in her own way, helped Harry as best she knew how.

It was just that her way would take much, much longer. She didn't know Harry's emotional situation like Ron did. Because – although Hermione was typically so much better able to notice feelings – when Ron applied his personal understanding of the human condition, he came away with a deeper set of realizations than most. Where Hermione recognized emotion with a clinical, academic approach, Ron came up with personal, informal reasoning with which he could comprehend emotion and help others comprehend it in turn.

And it wasn't that Hermione totally misunderstood what Harry was feeling and thinking about. She knew that he was grieving his many losses.

Young, loyal, courageous Colin Creevey. Cedric, whose only crime was to be bravely standing beside Harry when it mattered most. Fred, whose last laugh would be forever etched into his freckled features. Quiet, troubled Remus and bubbly Tonks, whose son was left behind just as Harry had once been. Dumbledore, somehow proving his capability to love even beyond all the manipulation. Beloved Sirius, hardly aware that death had claimed him for its own as he passed through the veil. Long-gone James and Lily, both prepared to die for their family. Even Snape who, despite long bitterness and hatred for one person, risked and lost his life for love of another.

And Ginny. Always Ginny. Forever and ever Ginevra Molly Weasley.

No one could convince Molly that she was blameless. She was moments away from dueling Bellatrix… and moments away from saving her only daughter's life. Harry finally told her that if she was guilty for being late to arrive, then he himself was guilty as sin for being late to aim. She stopped blaming herself after that.

Out loud, at least.

Harry held no naïve notions that she would forgive herself just like that. No, ultimately he understood that she only wanted he, Harry, to stop blaming himself. He had been that much closer to saving Ginny, after all.

Hermione thought this guilt was why Harry was so lost and unresponsive. She tried to come up with ways to reroute the guilt into positive thought and therefore positive living.

And that was what she always did. Hermione came up with solutions to emotional troubles and sentimental backlash. But Ron came up with coping techniques that would eventually – in the long run – allow Harry to actually utilize Hermione's solutions with genuine, honest results. Until Harry was able to grapple with the emotions themselves, he would never be able to solve the problems they created.

So Ron held him at night in Ginny's old room, let him cry until sleep claimed him, and shot Hermione down the next day when her pushiness began to undo the amount of coping Harry had done the night before. She eventually did find out about the nights and tears and holding, not that it changed much of anything.

Hermione then thought that maybe the distraught behavior was why Harry had yet to save his sorry self from emotional breakdown.

Was it?


In the end, it certainly could be considered a large factor. But Hermione, who – rather than admit to her regrets – often created a whole host of reasons for whatever wrongs she had done, did not quite comprehend the larger problem underlying the guilt. Ron, who had plenty of regrets and admitted them if given half-a-chance, knew very well what this larger problem was. It was yet another way in which Ron found his methods of help more useful to Harry than Hermione found hers. Ron knew (as did Molly, come to that), the biggest problem Harry had was his intense regret.

He had wasted the last few weeks he'd had with Ginny by avoiding a relationship that made them both incredibly happy. He had made Ginny's sixth year a lonely, miserable place. He had killed himself and her emotionally, all to keep her safe. He failed in that. And when Ginny died, Harry could not even claim that special and irreplaceable spot as her boyfriend. He could not, upon attending her funeral days later, stand up and tell the assembled mourners that this girl had been the love of his life. What man in his right mind would have made the last living days of the woman he loved so miserable?

For that atrocity, Harry could not allow himself to claim Ginny's love. It would have mocked her memory in unspeakable ways.

Ron knew all of this and – dare Harry say it – shared it all. Because Ron regretted every time he had ever interrupted, every ounce of brotherly concern which he'd allowed to mar Ginny and Harry's moment in the sun.

Hermione hated Harry for letting Ron torture himself this way.

Ron hated Harry for leaving Ginny.

Molly hated Harry for losing Ginny.

Harry hated Molly for being too late, and Ron for understanding despite his resentment, and Hermione for not understanding at all.

But what Harry really hated was himself.

Harry hated Harry for ever loving Ginny in the first place.

A/N: After I came up with the first line, I immediately knew that this would be a story about what Harry would do if Ginny had died at the hand of Bellatrix.

Something about one-shots turns me into nice little abyss of depression, I think. But I like this piece nevertheless.

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