In The Time Before The End.

By alloy.

His brother lies lifeless. The living twin shattered.

Percy tries to compensate by being everything to everyone revisiting his role as headboy and frustrating his mother who's desperately trying to keep all her family in sight.

Ginny sits alone trapped between her sibling and the love, the man who's gone out to die.

Ron takes my face in his hands and kisses me. His lips are salty from his tears and I wonder briefly is this is what it was like for Harry kissing Cho Chang.

Ron's lips linger, as if he's savouring the moment, yet the passion of earlier is gone, and his kisses are bittersweet. I've known the idiot long enough to know he's kissing me goodbye.

"You need to go now." He says. "Make yourself a portkey, go to Australia, find your parents. I'll..."

He wants to say he'll follow, that he'll find me, but he won't make a promise he doesn't know he can keep. My response is simple.

"No."

"Hermione please, You don't have to live in this world, you can leave it, you..."

"No."

Ron favours me with his wry smile.

"They won't let you live." He says.

"Don't make that their choice."

The tears roll down his freckled cheeks. "I wish..." He begins.

"Promise me."

"I promise." He whispers. "It won't be their choice."

He won't make a promise he doesn't know he can keep.

Satisfied I lower my head to chest and he wraps his arm around me.

"Tell me about Australia." He says in a choppy gruff voice.

That's how we passed the time before the end.

Fin.