Final Disclaimer for Stay Standing: I do not own Harry Potter.
"The scars are like empty eye sockets now, pockets waiting for memories or magic to fill them," Healer Oort explained, eyeing the papers in front of him with apprehension. "It's permanent. There's no getting around it."
Hermione squeezed Ron's hand.
"Isn't there a way to… fill it? But with good magic? Magic that won't become infected," Hermione urged.
Both Harry and Hermione were beside Ron as the Healer eyed them in uncertainty. They'd insisted on coming for the 'big news' in concerns to what was left of the magical infection. The good news was 'nothing.' The bad news was that Ron's scars still had the potential to take things in. The gaping magical pockets along his skin left by the infection could still cause problems in the future.
"What about the patronus charm?" Harry suggested.
"I'm sorry, but whatever do you mean by that? What about it?" Healer Oort asked, blinking skeptically at the boy who lived.
"What if we put good memories, like what we would use to make a patronus, into his scars? Filled them. Almost like a living pensive."
"It's dangerous," Healer Oort said hesitantly. "I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if a contaminated or dark memory were placed in him."
"But it's possible?" Hermione jumped onto the rope. "What if we we're to do it. Put our most positive, pure memories into those scars?"
Healer Oort swallowed.
"That would require a great deal of trust. Those memories, your feelings and thoughts, would be able to be seen by him. He might even dream of those memories. It would be quite the invasion of privacy on your part, Miss. Granger. And as much as I hate to bring up such a delicate, intimate topic… there is always the possibility that you two might split up. Then those fond memories would turn dark, no matter how positive."
Hermione squeezed Ron's hand, the hand that had always been larger than hers, the one that, no matter how terrible the times were or how angry they were at each other, could always be trusted to carry her through to the end of the day. Ron always came back and perhaps she'd taken that for granted before, but never again.
"It would be both of us," Harry interrupted the Healer. Hermione smiled, reaching out for Harry's much smaller, but no less reliable hand. Harry's fingers were warm, something that Ron still wasn't capable of, what with the many medicines the Healers still had him on fore the residue ache and pain.
"Both of you?" Healer Oort said, eyeing the three of them. "It would only increase the risk of at least one of the memories turning bitter or dark. I wouldn't recommend one none the less two."
"I trust them," Ron spoke up for the first time. "Unconditionally. I'm afraid, for good or bad, these two idiots have my heart. No one else."
Harry smacked Ron on the shoulder, but Hermione just moved closer, squeezing with all of her might, rubbing at his shoulder to try to give him warmth. Healer Oort pursed his lips, tapping his papers into an orderly fashion.
"I am highly against such a plan, Mr. Weasley, but as all other options are far more likely to cause him to relapse, it is the best course of action. I do ask that you take the time to consider all of the memories you wish to use. I want to go over them with you and discuss possible repercussions. I want a written summary of each memory. If I suspect the memory has any ability to turn over time then I will veto it."
Despite herself, Hermione was impressed.
"But…" Harry said, sounding irritated.
"This is one homework that you will not get out of doing, Harry James Potter," Hermione said lowly, eyeing him in challenge.
"Not what I was protesting!" Harry said, both hands up. "But don't you think Ron should be the judge of this?"
Beside her, Ron shook his head.
"I don't think so, mate, this is one thing I'm more than admitting is way out of my depth. Pick away. Like I said, I trust you guys."
"Alright then, I'll give you a week to decide and bring your decisions forward to me," Healer Oort announced. "Don't take this the wrong way, Mr. Weasley, but if this is one of the last appointments I have with you, I will be a much happier man. Your treatment has been the stuff of nightmares."
"I will happily spend the rest of my life avoiding any and all hospitals," Ron agreed.
"Yah understand why I'm so unhappy, boyo?" A voice growled from just outside the front door of their apartment. Ron grinned as he walked over to the front door, shooting Hermione a 'come here' gesture as he opened the door. Antea stood on the other side of it. The black Irish woman pursing her lips and arms crossed.
"I have an idea," Ron said.
"Oh, yeah have an idea?" Antea mocked. "Ya got a little idea inside that fat red head of yours, do ya?"
"Just a little one," Ron agreed easily, exchanging bemused looks with Hermione.
"Stark ravin' naked! In the feckin' nude! Up a tree they found me! And where are my clothes, ya ask? In the teeth of a feckin' Inferi! That's how an entire league of bloody Aurors found me! And where was my knight? Not in the tree with me, noooo, boyo was too busy killin' himself fer a feckin' lunatic. Jumps off a cursed building, they tell me, fights against two Death Eaters, they tell me. And when I finally find ya, there's only a corpse on the ground with a bunch o' bloody feckers' crying their god damn eyes out! Wailing!"
"I didn't die," Ron points out.
"No yeah didn't, but I thought ya did."
Ron's not entirely sure he deserves the hit he gets.
"I only just got out of the hospital!" Ron protests, touching his head.
"Well, so did I! I 'ave to make up for lost times, now don't' I? Who visits me, yeah ask? Traux. Anybody eles?"
"I was in the room next to yours for a week. Unconscious," Ron protests.
"Yet here I am and where's the introductions?" Antea demanded, marching into the room and giving the place a once over. "Been here nearly five minutes and I still haven't heard nothin' proper from you. A lady standing here, having to introduce herself, did your mother not teach you anything?" Not waiting for Ron's reply, Antea stretched her hand out to Hermione, giving a small dramatic bow. "Antea Sissily. At your service, lass."
"Pleasure," Hermione said, not quite fighting a grin, "Hermione Granger."
"Not a lass, then, but the lass," Antea says in satisfaction, looking her up and down. "And your lad, boyo, where is he?"
Ron opened his mouth when said 'lad' came stumbling out of the bedroom.
"Was all the racket about?" Harry grumbled.
"Save yourself!" Ron yelled.
"Never did I think you'd get lucky to have two nice lookin' ones," Antea said thoughtfully. "Thought fer sure one of them be a nasty blighter. Good on you, Ron!"
"He has a girlfriend," Ron called out in exasperation.
"Ai! But I'm bettin' thirteen gallons that won't be lastin' long."
"Against who?!" Ron demanded aghast.
"I'm never introducing either of you to any of my family," Ron decided.
"Fair enough, I've met the important ones."
"Thank you?" Harry said, turning around and wandering back to bed.
"Where did you find her?" Hermione whispered.
"In the pits of hell, apparently," Ron muttered back.
The day his scars turned a vivid blue with Harry and Hermione's memories, he felt more complete than before it all began, back in that horrible department of mysteries. The memories his confidence with their views of him. They lent to the idea of forgiving himself for leaving him, because he felt their forgiveness. They gave him strength through the power of their love and fondness of him.
The scars still whispered small things to him, but it was of small moments shared between the three of them in front of the fire or huddled in a room or studying over their homework. When he needed warmth, it provided a fire that seemed inextinguishable.
The day his scars turned blue, Ron felt prepared to use the red jacket in Bill's home. Tucked safely away in a box under the guest bedroom's bed.
"Ready to be parents?" Ron asked Harry and Hermione.
"I'm already a great godfather, this is just one more step," Harry answered.
"Not read in the least," Hermione answered, "but I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than right here," Hermione answered. She'd prepared a baby bag, stacked to the brim with everything but the crib, which Harry had put his foot down on bringing with them.
Ron was too excited and terrified to the reasonable one.
What if she'd been adopted? Could Ron really take her from a happy home? No, he couldn't. He would be forced to leave her with them until she turned eleven. Maybe he could convince McGonagal to let him go instead of a teacher. Introduce himself as her godfather and tell her about the wizarding world.
What if he'd messed up the port key? What if it didn't go to her at all? What if they just stayed in the room and weren't transported anywhere? The thought had been running in his mind since they'd discussed it in the hospital. What if Rose had been adopted by bad people and Ron wouldn't know until she turned eleven?
Ron looked at Harry and shuddered. He would never know unless he tried.
"Alright, on the count of three," Ron said.
"One," Harry counted.
"Two," Hermione added.
They grabbed the jacket. The familiar sickening tug enveloped them. Harry had him around the waist, as he still wasn't quite strong enough to travel by himself. He felt his fingers slacken the tiniest bit, but Hermione's other hand reached out and covered it.
They landed on their feet.
They also startled the living daylights out of a muggle woman. She shrieked, but before she could make another sound, Hermione already had her wand out and pointing. Ron spun around, looking at the room they were in, and sighing in relief. It wasn't a home and the muggle woman wasn't the adopted mother of Rose. It was large, hosting six or seven young toddlers.
Ron turned, searching for Rose, and found her staring at him with the biggest blue eyes. Eyes he hadn't seen in over a year. The one year old sported Mary's brown locks of hair, but the eyes belonged to her wizard father, a man Ron had never met.
"Is that her?" Harry asked.
Ron nodded, bending down and scooping the one year old up.
"Hi," Ron said.
Rose instantly grabbed onto his finger, still staring up at him with that intense focus. He felt Hermione's hand loop through his, saw her fingers gently reach out and cup the toddlers face. When he dared to break eye contact with Rose, it was to find Hermione Granger in love.
"She's beautiful," Hermione whispered.
"She's ours," Ron told her. "Our very own Rose Mary Weasley."
"Teddy is going to be thrilled," Harry announced.
After a long moment Ron pulled them into his arms. Holding them both there, with Rose between them. His family. His lad and lass and his little girl.
"Let's go home."