Chapter Eighteen

Going Home

Worse than feeling defeated, even though he had won, were the O.W.L.S that they had to take the next month.  Ron thought the final exams were hard, well they were nothing compared to the O.W.L.S.  He swore he wouldn't take the N.E.W.T.S.

Meanwhile, Hermione hadn't said anything to him at all, in a while… to be exact; she hadn't spoken to him, since the Americans arrived.

He sat down next to her in Potions, in an attempt to make peace with her, for whatever he had done to upset her, because he had upset her, he just hadn't known how.

"Hey."  Ron says trying to distract her from her notes.

"Hello."  Hermione says without looking at him.

"Are you mad at me?"  Ron asks.

"You should be quiet and take down notes, before Snape comes over here."  Hermione whispers urgently.

"I'll take that as a yes."  Ron says.  "Why?"

"I'm not mad at you, but I will be if he comes over here, so be quiet!"  Hermione says.

"Well then why haven't you spoken to me in the last few weeks?"  Ron asks.

"I just needed some space.  Please shut up already."  Hermione says in barely a whisper.

"You needed some space, from me?"  Ron asks.  "I thought we were friends.  Friends don't push each other away for anything.  Now what did I do?"

"I'm sure Ms. Granger would be happy to explain it to you in detention after class.  That's twenty points from Gryffindor… each.  Your house should be proud to have a prefect losing them points.  I'm sure Professor McGonagall will be."  Professor Snape, who had walked over to them, said in a taunting voice.

Hermione turned red, as she kept quiet and continued to copy down her notes, and for once… Ron held his tongue and kept quiet.

In detention with Snape, Ron finally got his answer.  Ron was mopping the floors, while Hermione was polishing some jars.

Snape was watching them closely.  They didn't dare talk while they cleaned, but Ron saw his opportunity, when Professor Dumbledore asked to see Professor Snape outside the classroom.

"Besides the fact that I got you into trouble, why aren't you talking to me?"  Ron asks.

"Because there's nothing to talk to you about."  Hermione says not looking at him.

Ron walked over to the front of the classroom, dragging the mop over his own footsteps, to get to the front of the classroom.  He wrapped his arms around Hermione's waist, and she put down the jar she was polishing as not to hit him with it.

"We used to be able to talk to each other about anything and everything.  I was able to get this close to you without you getting annoyed.  I thought you liked me."  Ron says.

"Yeah, and I thought I was your girlfriend."  Hermione says, not actually meaning to have said it out loud.

"What do you mean?  You are my girlfriend." Ron says confused.

"Let go of me."  Hermione demanded.

"Not until you answer me.  Why are you acting all cold towards me if you're my girlfriend?"  Ron asks.

"Why do you call me your girlfriend, when that Roxanne girl says she's yours?"  Hermione asks.

"What?  Roxanne lives across the Atlantic.  I danced with her in America.  I was trying to make my friends feel as welcome here as they made me feel there."  Ron says.

"Are you ever going to see her again?"  Hermione asks.

"No!  I love you.  I saw her twice that's it.  She lives across the Atlantic, I can't go back again, and even if I could, I wouldn't."  Ron says not thinking about what he had actually said, as he was just trying to please Hermione.

Hermione sat down on a desk.  "You love me?"  Hermione asks.

"Yes, and nobody comes close to you at stealing my heart."  Ron says honestly.

Hermione jumped off the desk, hearing the latch of the door click open, slipping on the wet floor.  Ron caught her and they both fell back on to the floor, only Hermione landed on Ron.  Professor Snape opened the door, and both Professors looked at the pair.

"Yes, Ron, the floor is way too slippery, in this particular spot."  Hermione says as if answering a question as she got off of him.  She went back to polishing a jar.

"Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger, you're done for today."  Professor Snape says icily.

"Mr. Weasley I do need a word with you before you retire to bed."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"Yes sir.  I'll be right there."  Ron says putting the mop back in the bucket.

In Dumbledore's office, Ron sat patiently, wondering what he could've done now.  Then he realized the obvious.  He had been caught on the floor with Hermione.  It looked suspicious enough.

"Look Professor, Hermione and me on the floor wasn't what it looked like… She slipped, and I tried to catch her, but I also slipped and that's all that happened."  Ron tried to explain.

"Mr. Weasley, rest assured, you aren't in any trouble.  In fact this has nothing to do with that compromising situation, which I believe to be a complete accident."  Professor Dumbledore said his eyes twinkled behind his half moon spectacles.

"Oh all right then… So what is this about… if I'm not in trouble?"  Ron asks.

"Mr. Weasley, I'm concerned about how you might cope with your summer holidays at home."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"I'll be fine."  Ron lies quickly, knowing that he wouldn't be fine once he actually got home, but not wanting to discuss what happened… again. 

"Are you sure?  It's not just my concern.  Your parents know you'll never be comfortable at home again, at least not as comfortable as you were before."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"I'll be fine."  Ron says quickly again, this time he was avoiding Dumbledore's eyes.

"Mr. Weasley, you have every reason to feel uncomfortable about going home.  After being tortured there; after having the dark side, invade your home where you grew up knowing the safety around you was impenetrable… You can honestly tell me you wouldn't feel the least bit uncomfortable?"  Professor Dumbledore asks.

"I'll deal with it, when the time comes.  I've dealt with situations that have been worse than just feeling uncomfortable.  I'm going to feel weird, definitely, but it would be scarier if I didn't.  I mean I've grown up worrying about what pranks Fred and George would try.  I've grown up protecting Ginny from what were supposed to be innocuous pranks by Fred and George, I'll just have to be more careful, and I'll worry more about Ginny.  I just know that there's more out there to worry about, and I'll worry when the time comes, but there's no real reason to get me worked up, before I have to be…  I mean it's still my home."  Ron says nonchalantly.

"I must say you are a very strong and stubborn young man.  If your stubbornness ever relents, and allows you to have doubts or worries, don't hesitate to come to me."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"Professor?"  Ron asks.

"Yes Mr. Weasley?"  Professor Dumbledore asks.

"I suppose after everything that's happened, Harry won't be allowed to the burrow even for the last day of the summer holidays?"  Ron asks.

"Actually, Mr. Weasley, come August, Mr. Potter has the option to stay at the burrow.  Safety measures at the burrow are even better than at his relatives' house now."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"All right then, thank you."  Ron says leaving the Headmaster's office.

Ron entered the Great Hall as everybody was well into his or her dinners.  Ron made a plate for himself and sat next to Hermione across from Harry. 

"What did Professor Dumbledore say to you?"  Harry asks, making it apparent that Hermione had told him where Ron was.

"Nothing really.  He was a bit concerned about how I felt towards going home."  Ron says, taking a bite of chicken.  "But I told him that it wasn't a big deal.  I mean considering all I've been through, I can handle a bit of discomfort in my home."

Harry and Hermione exchanged worried glances that Ron chose to ignore as he continued to eat.

"You know Ron, you're more than welcome to stay at my house if you're not ready to go back."  Hermione says gently.

"So we can be the cause of World War Three?"  Ron asks.  "Have you gone mad?"

"It's two months compared to the ten we already spend together.  I was just offering so you wouldn't have to be afraid in your own home.  I mean right now alone, you can't think of anything that happened without getting sick, and once you leave Hogwarts you won't have calming potions or sleeping potions to keep you somewhat sane."  Hermione says.

"So you'd want me to embarrass myself in front of your family rather than my own?  Because I'd be without the potions there too Hermione."  Ron says in what sounded an irritated tone.

"Of course not, it's just you're bound to have the nightmares at the burrow, because that's where you were attacked.  I figure since you've never seen my home before, you'd be more interested in learning about muggles and such that you wouldn't be reminded every minute of what happened."  Hermione says.

"You don't think me having to go around your house looking at you and your parents wouldn't remind me of what happened?  I told you what I risked.  I told you how much it hurts me to try and look at you!"  Ron says angrily.  He left the great hall before he could do anymore damage to anybody.

"I swear he's bipolar.  I mean he's all calm one minute and the next he's raging mad."  Hermione says annoyed.  "His behavior's so impulsive.  It's scary sometimes.  I mean, I was just trying to help him, and you saw how he acted."

"He's said the same thing about you… being scary that is."  Harry says.  "I don't think he wanted to have that talk with Dumbledore, and I think he's worried about going home.  He was probably just annoyed and didn't want to persist the conversation any longer.  You told me yourself, he acted defensive when he got scared."

"You know I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been in denial all along.  Maybe he thought if he could pretend it never happened, he wouldn't have to deal with it.  I mean sure, he could talk about it, but as long as he wasn't in danger of it happening again, he could just shrug it off."  Hermione says.

"Then again, he could've just been hungry."  Harry says thoughtfully.

Hermione rolled her eyes.  "I wonder if he's gotten a new journal… then maybe I could make some sense of what's going on in his head so I could keep from getting mad at him.  Or maybe he's going back into his old ways… I mean if he wanted to be normal again he might try to change himself to being the person he used to be, before the attack."  Hermione says contemplatively.

"No, Hermione, I still think he just needs sugar."  Harry says earning himself a glare from Hermione.  "No, no… I meant sugar as in food…"

"I know you meant food… I have no clue as to what other sugar…" Hermione smacked him.  "Quit picking up the jargon that Seamus and Dean drop… and try to think about Ron's needs right now.  He's going through a rough time… and if he's not now, wait until we get to King's Cross!"

"You think enough for the both of us, and I'm sure you're thinking more than enough about Ron's mind."  Harry says causing Hermione to sigh exasperatedly.  "Hermione, rest assured… Ron won't change back to the way he was before… If so history's bound to repeat itself, and Ron knows what could happen, not that it should've, but he knows all those terrible consequences.  He definitely didn't deserve them, but he sure won't go trying his luck again after everything's that happened.  I think he's just hungry and tired, and just a bit frustrated.  So I'm going to go bring him a plate of food, and lose to him in a game of chess to make him happy.  I reckon I'll see you later."  Harry says as he takes a plate filled with all Ron's favorite foods out of the Great Hall.

Harry walked into the common room to find only a few students there, studying, none of which were Ron.  Harry went up to the dorm to find that completely empty of students.  Harry set the plate down on Ron's bedside table and left Gryffindor tower searching for Ron.  He checked in the infirmary, and was informed that Ron hadn't been in there, but if Harry saw him, he was to send him immediately to Madam Pomfrey so he could get his potions.

Harry wondered if Ron could have possibly been in the library, and although he knew he wasn't in there, as it was Ron's nature to avoid studying and books at all times possible, he still checked.  Sure enough, Ron wasn't to be found there either.

Finally, Harry found himself wandering into Professor McGonagall's office, where he found her writing something.

"Excuse me, Professor?"  Harry says, causing the Professor to look up and realize there was a student in the room.

"Good evening, Mr. Potter.  How may I help you?"  Professor McGonagall asks skeptically.

"Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could have the password to Professor Dumbledore's office.  I just want to know if Ron's there, because I searched the castle, and he isn't anywhere else."  Harry says.

"Well, Mr. Potter, if he is with the Headmaster, they're speaking right now, and he'll be sure to return for bed.  However, you might want to consider the possibility outside of the castle."  Professor McGonagall says.

"You mean Hagrid's?"  Harry asks.

"Yes, he might be at Hagrid's, and if he isn't, you'll do better to wait for him in the common room, as he should be heading there soon."  Professor McGonagall says firmly.

"Yes Professor.  Thank you."  Harry says leaving the classroom.

Harry walked back into the Great Hall to see Hermione just gathering her things to leave.

"Well, did the food help him?"  Hermione asks.

"It might if I could find him.  He's disappeared.  I searched everywhere including the library."  Harry says.

"Have you been to Hagrid's, and have you checked the kitchens?"  Hermione asks.

"I was coming to get you to go with me to Hagrid's, and I didn't even think about the kitchens.  I'll stop there first."  Harry says.

Harry and Hermione entered the kitchens to find the house elves washing dishes and such.  Harry grinned as he found the one he wanted to speak to.

"Dobby!"  Harry says.

"Harry Potter sir, what can Dobby do for you sir?"  Dobby asks.

"I was wondering if my friend Ron, the one who gave you the sweater, had been down here at all?"  Harry asks.

"No sir, Dobby has not seen him, sir."  Dobby answers.

"Thanks Dobby, I'll visit you tomorrow.  Right now I have to find Ron."  Harry says waving to him as he and Hermione left the kitchens.

They were just about to cross the grounds to Hagrid's when the front doors opened, and Hagrid entered smiling as he saw two of his favorite students.

"'Ello there Harry!  Hermione!  How 'ave you too been?"  Hagrid asks beaming.

"All right… Hagrid, has Ron been over to see you?"  Harry asks.

"Harry can't find him anywhere."  Hermione explains.

"No, I can't say that I 'ave.  But if I do see him, I'll send him your way."  Hagrid says leaving them for the Great Hall.

"I guess we'll just have to wait."  Hermione says shrugging.

They made their way up to the common room and found more students there than before, however Ron still wasn't there.

Harry went to check in his dorm, while Hermione made her way to wash up.  Harry entered his door, and saw Neville, Dean, and Seamus talking to somebody out the window.

"What's going on?"  Harry asks causing the three of them to jump.

"Ron's on the roof… he says he's not going to jump, but he shouldn't be on the roof in the first place.  He could fall!"  Neville says.

"If I fell, it'd be into the lake, and I'm not going to fall.  I'm just getting an awesome view from up here."  Ron's voice shouted from outside.

"It won't be an awesome view if you fall!  Get in here, or I'll get McGonagall.  I'm serious Ron!"  Seamus warned.

Out of the sky it appeared, legs came flying into the common room, followed by the rest of Ron's body, kicking Seamus hard in the chest as he flung himself in.

"Have you lost your bloody mind?"  Harry asks helping Seamus off the floor.

"That's a dumb question Harry."  Ron says raising his eyebrows.

"What were you doing on the roof Ron?"  Harry asks seriously.

"Let's see I wasn't standing, because I'd fall… I was sitting on the roof Harry."  Ron says flashing him a grin.

"Were you planning on jumping Ron?"  Harry asks.

"No, not really.  I'm kind of tired, so jumping isn't on the top of my to-do-list, but for your sake, I'll jump."  Ron says jumping up and down on the floor.  "Satisfied?"

"Ron if Dean, Seamus, and Neville hadn't been here, would you have ended your life?"  Harry asks seriously.

"No Harry, I was offered the choice to die months ago, but I chose to live."  Ron says.

"Things are different between then and now.  You could've died at the price of somebody's life… my life, but you fought them, and you lived… Now you're not insane, though you are acting like it.  You have some problems Ron, everybody knows it, but you can't just end your life!  You could talk to Dumbledore or McGonagall…" Harry tries desperately.

"Ooh, food."  Ron says excitedly seeing the plate on his bedside table.

"Ron!"  Harry says.

"For your information Harry, I have no intentions of taking my own life.  I was just trying to calm down and work on Astrology at the same time.  There's supposed to be an eclipse tonight.  I wanted to see it without the interference of the light, and being outside, while on school grounds.  If I had slipped, accidentally, I would've fallen into the lake, and I wouldn't have died.  But as there are so many people concerned about my well-being, I will stay inside."  Ron says picking at his plate.

"Look Ron, I'm sorry, but before all this ever happened you never went on the roof, and after everything happened… I thought you were getting fed up with everybody making assumptions, and the roof is a tower, it's rather steep, and I didn't want you to get hurt."  Neville apologizes.

"You made the assumption that I was getting upset with everybody making assumptions?"  Ron laughs.  "No, Neville, I'm fine… really.  I just wish everybody would stop acting like what happened was a big deal!  It was months ago!  Everything's better now, or it's starting to be, but then everybody brings that up again, and it's bad again!  I am perfectly fine!  Why can't we talk about Quidditch or anything else?"

"What happened to your knuckles Ron?"  Harry asks raising his eyebrows as he spotted the dry blood on his friend's red hands.  "Everything's fine, right?  That's what you keep saying… then why do you have to beat up a wall every time somebody tries to help you?"

"Because nobody is helping me!  They're only making it worse, and everybody's starting to piss me off!"  Ron yells.

"You don't like people confronting you, because you're not okay!"  Harry says.

"No I'm not okay.  I have a billion things racing through my mind right now… You can't understand!  Nobody can understand… You don't know what it's like to be bored.  I go crazy trying to think about anything that's good, but all I'm reminded of is that night… No… it was during the day… but it was so dark… That makes no sense… Bloody hell, I'm haunted by something I can't forget, yet I can't remember!"  Ron yells frustratingly taking his anger out on the wall with his already messed up fists.

Harry grabbed his wrists and forced him down to the ground, where he broke down sobbing.

"Everything was good with Quidditch, and studying… As long as I didn't get bored, because then my mind wouldn't pay attention, and I had to struggle to read and block out the memories at the same time.  Everything was really getting better, between the potions and Hermione, and just keeping myself busy… everything keeps getting better, but then everybody's got to keep reminding me of what happened, when I consistently try to forget!  I was accepting it, but that doesn't do anything to stop those demons in my mind!  Now everybody's telling me that I'm going home… I was attacked in my home!  Everything's just going to be worse… I wasn't going to kill myself; I just can't deal with my mind struggling between the insanity and sanity that constantly fights to take over.  I just can't deal with it anymore!  I can't!"  Ron sobs into his arms.

"Ron…" Harry tried.  His voice struggled to hide the pain he was feeling for his friend.  He reached down to touch Ron's shoulder, anything to comfort him, but Ron pulled away.

"Don't touch me!  Just leave me alone!  Go away!  Please just go away!  I'm sorry!  Just leave me alone!  Please!" Ron sobs uncontrollably.  He couldn't believe he was breaking down in front of his classmates.

Seamus at this point had left the dorm, and Ron hadn't noticed as his face was buried in his arms.

"Why can't I just be normal?"  Ron sobs.

"Because there's no such thing."  Harry says.

"I just want to go back to the way things were."  Ron cries.

Harry, Neville, and Dean could only watch sympathetically as Ron cried uncontrollably.

Finally, Seamus came back only Professor McGonagall entered the dorm with Professor Dumbledore just behind her.  Seamus shrugged his shoulder looking guilty, for having gotten help.

"Mr. Weasley…" Professor McGonagall said softly.

"Great."  Harry heard Ron mutter between sobs.  Seamus backed off feeling rather guilty for bringing the professors when Ron was so upset, but he didn't know what else to do, and he couldn't just let his friend cry… it may have seemed right, but Seamus was afraid he'd flip out again.

"Ron…" Professor McGonagall tried again.

"I'm sorry, I'm fine…" Ron says without bringing his face up from his arms.  He was quickly trying to dry his tears on the sleeve of his robes.

"No, you're not all right…" Professor McGonagall corrects him gently.

"Yes, you can tell I'm messed up, because I'm a sixteen-year-old boy and crying."  Ron says.

"No, you are allowed to cry… but your knuckles are…" Professor McGonagall touched his knuckles, and he pulled away in pain.  "Broken."

"They're fine."  Ron says.

"Come down to the infirmary Ron."  Professor Dumbledore says.

Ron seemed to still in shock as he heard the Headmaster's voice.  He hadn't known he was in the room.

"No, I'm fine…" Ron says obstinately.

"Ron, you know you're not…" Professor Dumbledore says.

"FINE!"  Ron yelled standing up so abruptly he nearly knocked McGonagall over.  Wiping his face with his sleeves he brushed passed everybody as he ran out of his dorm and quickly through the common room.  If it weren't for his red hair, nobody would've been able to recognize him, but everybody did.

Ron made his way down to the infirmary.

"Well, Mr. Weasley it's about time.  You haven't taken your potions in two days."  Madam Pomfrey says bringing two large goblets over to Ron.

"I'm not taking them tonight either.  I just need you to fix my hands, so McGonagall and Dumbledore will stop bugging me."  Ron says.

"Mr. Weasley, this is why you can't stop taking your potions!  You have to ease off it gradually.  If you stop abruptly, your brain and body will work against you.  I can see what it's done to you already."  Madam Pomfrey says.

"This isn't from the bloody potions!  I won't be able to take them at home, and I'm not taking them now!  Please fix my hands already, or I'll be off."  Ron says angrily.

"Mr. Weasley, calm down!  Take this potion… you'll feel much better."  Madam Pomfrey says.

Ron turned around to find two concerned professors watching him.

"Ron… please cooperate… we're only trying to help."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"No."  Ron says.

Professor Dumbledore pointed his wand at Ron and then at a bed behind him, and slowly and carefully Ron was floating in the air backwards toward the bed.  Ron was lowered on to the bed, where Professor Dumbledore than muttered a spell to restrain him.

Ron's legs were free, and he kicked the table with the two potions on to the floor.  The goblets fell over and spilled their contents to the floor.

"Mr. Weasley, please!"  Professor McGonagall cried exasperatedly as she cleaned up the mess with a flick of her wand.

Madam Pomfrey had no trouble bringing two more goblets back.  Only now, Ron was under full restraint.

"Mr. Weasley, you better drink this, or we'll do this the muggle way."  Madam Pomfrey warns.

Ron wasn't sure what the muggle way was, but he was so determined not to drink these potions.

"Open your mouth."  Madam Pomfrey says.

Ron thought a second before complying.  Madam Pomfrey tilted the potion into Ron's mouth, and every last drop of it went into Ron's mouth, before being spit out, spraying Madam Pomfrey with the liquids.

The mess didn't seem to bother Madam Pomfrey as she cleaned herself up with a flick of her own wand.

"My, my… skipping six doses… what should we expect?"  Madam Pomfrey asks shaking her head.

"I'm fine, just let me out of this bed!"  Ron cried angrily.

"Not a chance… Ron, will you actually drink the potion, or do we have to do this the muggle way?"  Madam Pomfrey asks.

"That potion is not going in me!  I won't drink it."  Ron yells with rage.

"You won't drink it, but it's getting in you.  The muggle way will get it in your system, and I can assure you, you won't like it."  Madam Pomfrey says.

"Ron, what is wrong with that potion?"  Professor McGonagall asks.

"Nothing's wrong with it.  He stopped taking it three days in a row now… It left his system abruptly rather than gradually; therefore the side effects are terrible.  If you stop a calming potion abruptly, you're going to receive just the opposite of what that potion does… It's going to work against him, building him up with rage and anger and even depression.  It will make him a bit unstable in the mind…" Madam Pomfrey says.

"Ron, if you'd just drink the potion, and come to my office, we could talk… as it is, if you don't drink the potion, Madam Pomfrey will give you an injection, and it will be a bit of discomfort.  Then you will be calm and come to my office.  Please drink this potion, before you regret it."  Professor Dumbledore says.

"That potion is only making me worse… you're making me worse… I'm trying so hard to forget about everything that happened, and you keep making me talk about it!  I'm going insane, and it's your fault, because you won't let me be!"  Ron cries.  "Ow!  What are you doing?"

Madam Pomfrey had transfigured the Goblet into a syringe and come up on his left side and injected him with the needle into his left shoulder.  Ron could only let tears of frustration fall down his cheeks.

A week later, Ron sat on his bed in the dorm, writing in his journal that he and Harry managed to steal back from Hermione when Harry wanted to know what Sirius had said.

That was when a black dog entered the dorm turning the door handle with his paw to open it.

"Harry's down in the Great Hall… I think."  Ron says calmly.  He was finally able to stop taking the potions through smaller doses, as he gradually eased himself off.  In all honesty Madam Pomfrey didn't think it wise for Ron to be off the potion, but as he was leaving for the burrow tomorrow, he needed to be off of it, or he'd be worse there.

Sirius transfigured himself into his wizard form.  "Yes I saw him."  Sirius said evenly.

"Okay."  Ron says with bewilderment.

"So I came to talk to you."  Sirius says shoving his hands in his pockets.

"I didn't tell Harry you told me to stay away from him… he found that out accidentally."  Ron says.

"That's not why I've come to talk to you."  Sirius says.

"All right then, what is it?"  Ron asks.

"I wanted to apologize for that though… I reckon you might not have been suspended if you were able to hang with Harry."  Sirius says.  "I was er… wrong.  I'm just trying to be a guardian to him… that means protecting him… but I reckon I might've crossed a line in doing so."

"No, I reckon you were right… If I had still been talking to Harry, he could've been fighting with me, and then he'd be suspended too."  Ron says.

"That's what I was thinking…" Sirius says.

"But all the professors have a soft spot for Harry, so I reckon he could've gotten both him and me out of trouble, had we been talking…" Ron says.

"That's what he said.  So… I was wrong.  And I'm sorry, and I don't know why you listened to me, but I'm sorry you did…" Sirius says.

"You didn't have to apologize… you're an adult… and the closest person Harry's got to a parent, so you were right."  Ron says.  "As that wasn't your main reason for risking getting caught, what is?"

"Harry's in the common room, he's not letting anybody near here.  He's even more worried about me than I am of him, and that's scary considering how worried I get about him."  Sirius says.  "Anyway, I wanted to apologize for that, and for being so terrible to you when you came back… I assumed the worst… and after losing James, because of somebody we thought was a friend made me think anybody could betray Harry."

"I understand, and again you don't have to apologize."  Ron says.

"Well I also wanted to thank you for risking everything you did for Harry's life.  I know you're a true friend to him, and just so you'd know, he'd do the same thing for you."  Sirius says.

"Your welcome…" Ron says.

"So how are you doing?"  Sirius says.

"I'm better now."  Ron says.

"Harry told me about last week."  Sirius says.  "He's been worried about you."

"Yea, I apologized."  Ron says.

"No, you shouldn't have… I was just wondering if you wanted to talk about anything?  I was driven mad once as well…" Sirius says.

"No… no, I'm okay… Madam Pomfrey said it was a consequence of not taking the potion."  Ron says.

"Okay, well I better go then… Harry's got to be getting worried by now."  Sirius says.

"All right."  Ron says.

"Just so you know, Harry is always going to be there for you when you need to talk.  Take care of yourself."  Sirius says giving Ron an encouraging grin.

"You too."  Ron says.

Ron didn't seem to falter or hesitate as he got on the Hogwarts Express.  He actually had a few good laughs from Fred and George.  He'd miss having them around next year.  He played several games of chess and beat everybody, from the twins who paired up to try and beat him to Hermione.

The only time Harry saw him pale was when the Hogwarts Express arrived at Platform 9¾.  He thought he'd pass out, but Ron pulled himself together and made his way off of the train where he hugged and kissed both of his parents.  Harry waited with the Weasley's as everybody got off the train.

"Have a great summer weasels… after all, it might very well be your last."  Malfoy taunted as he exited the platform.

"Ron are you all right?"  Harry asks.

"Yea, I'm fine."  Ron says nonchalantly.  Harry noticed Ron regained most of his coloring.

"Well, I'd better go… Write to me as often as you can!  I hope to see you in August."  Harry says sincerely to Ron.

"I will."  Ron says.

"Hermione, you're more than welcome to come any time you want…" Mrs. Weasley assures her.

"Thanks.  I'll see about August as well.  Have a good holiday."  Hermione says hugging Ron tightly before giving him a quick kiss.  She too departed.

Ron entered his home, and Mr. Weasley was ready to catch him if he did pass out.  To everybody's surprise, Bill, Charlie, and Percy were at home.

"Hey, we changed things around a bit."  Percy says looking hopefully at Ron.

Ron was looking paler than ever, and he stared at the kitchen.

He stared at the kitchen where everybody else saw new curtains, the refrigerator moved to the other side of the kitchen, and a new table. 

Ron saw shattered glass… smoke… red evil eyes staring at him… the chair he was bound to (even though that was replaced with a new chair).  Ron closed his eyes hard and opened them up.

Ron smiled.  He saw the rearrangements made to the house.  The repaired windows with curtains, his mum must've made.  It was a better kitchen… Ron walked slowly over to the clock with the faces and places.  All nine hands with nine smiley faces were pointed to home.  Ron walked over to the kitchen window and pulled back the curtains, sighing deeply in relief as there was nobody out there.  Ron turned around, happy to see eight anxious faces watching him, rather than seeing the death eaters.  Ron walked up the stairs slowly and found his room straightened, but the same.  He looked out his bedroom window.  Nobody was there.

Ron walked downstairs again and watched as the eight hopeful faces watched his.

"Ron, are you all right?"  Percy asks.

"Of course I am… I'm home."  Ron says smiling.

The End

Thanks for reading.  Sorry if it was corny or not to your liking.  I finally finished it though!  Thanks so much for all your reviews.  I really hope you enjoyed it.  ~*Carey*~