First, I want to say thank you to all of you patient, lovely readers! I know its been a long time, but I still get reviews and favs and follows, and that is awesome! It's made me want to complete this story once and for all so thank you so so much!
I know I wrote somewhere that this story will have 20 chapters, but we all know you'd be waiting another year for chapter 20. It was going to be an epilogue anyway, so this chapter here is really the last one. This story is now complete! Enjoy!
Look at Me
His shoulders are slumped and his eyes are toward the ground where his leaded feet force tattered trainers to scrape and kick the rubble that is strewn about. Ron turns a corner, his listless fingers reach out to brush the wall and small pieces of stone crumble from his hand. This wall, like many others, was clearly taken apart by a hex or spell.
He hasn't spoken a word since he left the Great Hall; not once has he glanced behind him, though I know he can hear me. I miss his eyes that, when locked into mine, give away every feeling he has, concealing nothing to me. But right now they're faced the other way, and he hasn't spoken, and he hasn't looked at me, and I struggle with whether or not I have the strength to look at him, to take in all that I know he must be feeling. I fear I might break. So I follow him down this corridor and that one, all of them darkened by the lack of lamps and the cloud covered night sky so that hardly any moonlight shines through the shattered windows. As I'm sidestepping gaping holes in the floor and looking out for falling debris, I feel selfish for being grateful for the silence.
However, I know I cannot leave him alone like this, but I can't find the courage to be strong enough to tell him it's okay, to even speak, because is it really okay? Will it ever be? A fact I do know is that we will never be the same.
So, for now he walks, and I follow.
I heard someone say, "We've won!"
I heard others cry out, "Why?!"
I heard murmurs of grief and whispers of excitement. And words like "hero" and " victory"... and "dead".
All around me were people, talking and whispering and muttering and I felt hands on my shoulders and hands squeezing mine as they said thanks, but also sorry. Great news, but sucks to be you.
I hadn't seen Harry come back from Dumbledore's office, where Hermione and I left him. He chose to stay away from all this, and I don't blame him.
The voices, the touching, the flashes of images of the battle and of Fred being thrown on his back, of him disappearing from view for that one second, the sound of his laughter before he got hit, Percy's words, the crashing sound… all of it was pressing in on me and I couldn't take it. I needed to follow Harry's example and get the fuck out of there.
I left my family sobbing around Fred's body. I left Hermione sitting, her hands clasping Ginny's who was staring straight ahead, a haunted look on her face. I knew I should stay, but that wasn't where I was supposed to be. Not yet.
When I got to my feet I saw Hermione out of the corner of my eye snap her head up and felt her eyes following me out of the Great Hall, its doors hanging off its hinges and blasted through with holes of every size and shape.
I can feel and hear her behind me now, following at a close distance. She's not speaking, not touching me, not giving any indication of stopping me.
I am so focused on Ron that I don't recognize where we're headed until he disappears through the open door to the bathroom on the 3rd floor. The bathroom where just hours ago he and I entered the Chamber of Secrets and together vanquished the horcrux.
Inside the faucets are still open, the tunnel leading down into the Chamber gaping and dark. It no longer holds a threat, but still a chill runs through my spine and I remember Voldemort's face looming over us before I stabbed the cup with the Basilisk fang. Somehow, I don't think that image or the ominous feeling that comes along with it, will ever go away.
Ron is sitting on the windowsill at the far side of the bathroom. No fighting was done here so it is just as we left it: dim and filthy, but with enough light from the lamp overhead to see clearly enough. His head is resting back on the glass and he is staring at the ceiling with a scowl, as if it is the cause for every suffrage in the world. He's angry and sad, and I don't know what to say or do. My breath is taken away from seeing him like this. My heart is beating like mad, the urge to grab him is so intense.
I stop directly in front of him. I can feel his heat and I'm trembling from the effort to keep it together. He let me come after him. I followed. I waited. He's stopped now, and so have I, because he wants me here. I force myself to look at his face, so should he finally look at me I won't break down. I bite my lip and take a deep breath as my own grief washes over me, trickles of sadness grow into heaping waves of nausea and I'm afraid it's going to bubble over before I can show him he can lean on me, that it's okay. He needs me, but I need him, too. I need him to let me say those words so that I can start to believe it.
I can't let it be true, and to remember it makes it true, so I can't think. Not about anything. Because everything reminds me. Especially Hermione, shaking like a leaf in front of me. I can feel her staring, but to see her, that pity in her eyes, the sorrow, the helplessness... I can't take it. It's all too real. Time just keeps going, not stopping to correct itself. Not bothering to go back or stand still so it can't ever be. And looking at Hermione right now will mean that it happened, that it can't be changed.
My sigh must have made Hermione feel she had to do something, because her hand is on my arm. It was like a lightning bolt went through me, from my arm to my heart to my groin. And suddenly I know what will make time stand still. I know how to distract my mind from the lies it wants to convince me are the truth. My body feels like a betrayal to my heart and I'm reminded all over again why I'm sat here in his dingy bathroom, wanting to punch my fist through the window behind me. I want to hear glass shatter. I thought I wanted silence, but it's deafening. The silence is filled with my thoughts that bounce from Fred to Hermione to nothing and back again.
This has to be the worst I have ever felt in my life.
"Ron?" Hermione whispers.
No, I can't let her talk about it. I can't listen to it said out loud. I can't say it. I won't.
I close my eyes and grab her hand as I pull her to me, my arms going around her waist to her back. My face is tucked into her belly and I'm crying stupid bloody tears and bogies all over her shirt. I'm mumbling and words are getting caught in my throat, and I have no idea what I'm trying to say. I feel myself spiraling down into a hole of grief with the rushing sounds of the battle and Fred's face coming in and out. I can feel my body shaking and somehow I'm sat on the floor, still clinging to cloth and body, and trying harder to cling to my sanity.
"Oh, Ron. I'm sorry..." I hear a broken voice through my sobs and can now feel Hermione's hands through my hair and smoothing down my back, and her breath on my hair, and her hair on my ears...
Then I am pushing away from her, scrambling backwards til the wall is able to keep me sitting up, so I no longer have to be cradled and held. I let myself get swept into feeling weak and helpless and I'm embarrassed that she saw me like that.
"'M alright," I say, angrily brushing traitorous tears from my face and sniffling back snot. "'M fine," I repeat and when I glance at her she doesn't look hurt, but shocked.
"You're clearly not, Ron," she says, shaking her head. "It's perfectly understandable given what's happened. You-"
"I don't anything, Hermione," I cut her off. I can't hear it; I know that for sure now that she almost said it. I'd rather die. "Just leave it, Hermione." I stagger to my feet and sit back on the window sill, hunched over with my arms on my knees, trying desperately just to fucking breathe. Why is it so hard to breathe?
"All I'm saying is… I understand. I mean, I… I get it. Why you jumped away like that." I hang my head lower and she continues quickly, "Not to say, well... I mean, it's okay to… not… be okay. It's nothing to be ashamed of." I rub my face with my hands, willing her to shut it. After a moment I hear her sniff and then move closer. "I'm going to sit next to you now," she explains calmly and her arm and thigh are now pressed against mine. "I won't say anything else, I promise. Unless you want me to. Not that I even know what to say… just that I'm here."
She keeps her word and the silence threatens to surround me again. I think about what she said and I want to let myself go again, to let it all out because in those moments of blubbering mess I can't deny a temporary relief. But knowing Hermione like I do, she'd only absorb it and give herself to it, and I couldn't let her. This is my grief, my guilt, my loss, my brother. This is my burden and I'd never ever want her to feel any bit of what I do right now.
I know I said I'd stay quiet, but I don't believe he's thinking clearly and while I am not as well at the moment I feel I can break that promise.
"Ron," I whisper, "Can I ask you something?"
He looks as if he knew I was going to say something and nods.
"Can you look at me?"
He turns his head and our eyes lock. He is confused, but determined, as if he is working hard not to give something away. It is breaking my heart having him so close, but far off in a place of despair. When he pushed away from me I understood why, but it still hurt. There's no protocol to this aftermath, no step-by-step process, no timeline of when and how things are supposed to happen on the other side of this… I'm terrified of making it worse.
"What am I supposed to do?" Ron asks, his tone defeated. His eyes, now stripped of that former wall of being "alright" and "fine", are pleading with me for an answer to make it better.
"I… I have no idea." He closes his eyes and I'm shut out again. I place my hand on his cheek and say, "You can kiss me."
I don't know what made me say it. Perhaps it was selfish, or in a desperate attempt to see something other than darkness in his eyes. I thought he'd hesitate or ask why, but then his lips are quickly pressed against mine as he lets a long breath out from his nose. The tension in his body dissipates and he sags into me. I hold his head in both my hands to keep it level with mine. He lets go for a breath, keeping our foreheads touching and says, "I reckon I needed that."
I can only murmur a response as he licks his lips and kisses me again. His mouth moves swiftly over mine, and he turns his head slightly to deepen the kiss.
I wrap my arms around her and suddenly we can't seem to get close enough to one another. I need Hermione to take over my mind and fill it with her taste, and smell, and touch; to leave no room for anything else but Hermione.
Hermione, as if hearing my thoughts, climbs into my lap and slips her hands underneath my shirt. Up my stomach to my chest and around to my back, her hands take a journey as we try harder to become one person through layers of clothes and dirt and anger and sadness.
I move to the front of her jumper and pull the zipper down. Her chest is rising and falling rapidly as we watch it go down. And then the jumper is off, and her fingers are working the buttons of her blouse.
"Hermione," I say and am forced to look at her face when she stops at the last button.
"It's okay," she says and caresses my face is the palm of her hand. I see the pity in her eyes that I knew would be there and embarrassment creeps in. But there is also understanding and warmth as she nods her consent.
"I don't want you to think-"
"I don't think anything, Ron. I don't want to think anything... Do you?"
My throat is locked up and I'm finding it hard to focus on her features. I blink and her stare is now so full of love and knowing and I just want to stay here, right here on this dirty windowsill in this awful bathroom, with her forever. I just want time to stop, and she knows that. Her thumb slides across my cheek and I realize I have tears on my face. I sniff and the sound wakes me to the fact that I'm crying and why, and once again I attempt to shut my mind off to nothing but Hermione, so I pull her back in for another searing kiss.
My jumper is on the floor, along with my blouse, and my bra soon follows. Ron's hands are dry and hard on my breasts, his thumbs press hard and sweep over my nipples. I groan into his mouth and he does the same while thrusting his hips upwards into my pelvis. He holds onto my hips, pressing me down onto him as he does it again. My mind is lost, forgotten and abandoned in a sea of lust that has washed over a bunch of other emotions that are now muddled together into a soup of nothing. There is nothing but Ron, and he wants nothing but me. I know because he's whispering it to me in my ear with each twist of his hips and with every swivel of mine. We catch a rhythm and he lets go as I continue where his hands left off so he can splay his hands across my back and his mouth covers my breast, sucking and biting and pulling with his teeth and lips.
It's all happening so fast, and we know it. We're avoiding the desperate undertones of each of our moves. How frantically he's going at the clasp of my jeans, how quickly I stand up to let him take them off. He has his trousers down around his ankles in an instant, and then I'm back on him again, not leaving a second to reconsider, to question our intentions, or reconsider.
He slides into me so abruptly and easily that we both cry out. I have him in so deep there is barely any room to move. I jerk my hips and Ron sucks air through his teeth. He takes a moment to run his hands down my body to my waist, where he holds me tight and swears under his breath. He then pulls back far enough so that when he thrusts again I can feel him go deeper. I brace myself with my arms locked around his neck, and he does it again. And again, and again. We are never apart more than a centimetre, but I can feel him moving inside me as I squeeze and release him, and my hips take on a rhythm of their own.
Nothing but Hermione.
Nothing but her kiss. Her body. Her smell in my nose, her touch on my skin, her moans in my ear. Nothing else is allowed in. Hermione is everything there is and was. I know nothing but her.
I'm moving so hard and fast I'm grunting loudly. My shirt that I didn't bother taking off is now clinging to my sweaty chest. But I don't care. My head is in the clouds and the clouds are made of Hermione. She's moving along with me, squeezing my dick every time I go in hard and it's making it impossible to think of anything else, whether I wanted to or not.
Her face is in my neck and I hold her to me, our upper halves quite still while our lower halves are bouncing and thrusting and doing all kinds of fucking fantastic things. Until it's all too much and I'm convulsing and spilling into her spasm after spasm. She is shuddering in my arms and I'm finding it hard to keep her upright.
I struggle to remain in this higher level of consciousness. I don't want to let go of her so I keep her limp body on mine and we hug tightly. I feel moisture on my neck and think it's sweat until I hear her sniffle. I hug her tighter, but I don't ask what's the matter; we both know. I don't want to know the truth to be spoken out loud, not yet.
She hugs me back tighter around my neck and I hear sobbing, and I know it was stupid to think this would make everything else go away. Reality is setting in, and the weight of it all is coming back to sit in the pit of my stomach and on my shoulders, and I can't help but cry along with her. But I'm finding it hard to push her away this time.
When we finally part Hermione looks at me: her hair is in every direction, her cheeks flushed, lips swollen from our hungry kisses, and she looks every bit of sexy and lovely as she says to me, "It's not okay, Ron. One day it may be, but… I'll always be here, no matter what. If I can help even one percent then that's okay... Right?"
"Yeah, same here," I manage to say, because I don't trust myself not to become a blubbering sobbing mess for a third time in one night. I won't allow it.
I dunno what's gonna happen next or how to deal with all this shite going on in my head, the rebuilding of our world, my family, Hermione, Harry,… Fred. But I know that this day will hold another memory and image that'll shine bright amongst the horrible ones: Hermione's blushing face after being thoroughly shagged and being certain of at least one thing: that we can get through anything, together.
Cheesy ending is cheesy, I know.
And please, before I get reviews saying how can hey shag at a time like this, just know that it does happen. Traumatic experiences and elevated emotions can cause all kinds of things to happen. It's life.
Thanks so reading and sticking with this story! I appreciate it more than you know.
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