A/N: I'm a bit new to this. Forgive me if there are mistakes. I highly suggest "Runaway" by the National to listen to while reading. Happy reading and please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own nor profit from Harry Potter. All rights to JK Rowling, the goddess of the quill.
You struggle to get up, wincing once you realize you've put too much weight on your wrist-the wrist. You almost crumble back down as your other wrist, the lucky one, slides on a piece of jagged stone. Pain shoots up that arm, red flashes before your eyes before something lifts you up.
Not something, someone. They put their hands under your arms and bring you closer to their chest. You haven't opened your eyes since the pain, but you know. Spearmint toothpaste and fresh grass. It brings back a whirlwind of memories: stolen glances in the Gryffindor common room that ended in flushed faces; angry shouts across the very same room about who should ask who what, and more importantly, when; the Quidditch pitch on Saturday mornings, catching his eye across the sea of determined red and brave gold.
You could lose every sense but scent, and you would be able to recognize who this-this saviour is. You chuckle darkly inside your head. How you wish the only thing you could sense was scents! To be free of pain, of misery!
He gently lifts your chin with his finger, the other hand clutching your too slight waist.
"Ron," you barely whisper, your voice thick with emotion. You see him. The salty wind blowing his hair-longer than ever-into his concerned blue eyes. When people describe Ron as "ginger" automatically they think of orange hair and light eyelashes. That is not the case with Ron. His hair is a dark, deep red with thick, brown lashes. His mouth, outlined by barely-used laugh-lines, slightly pursed into concentration. His lightly freckled face strewn with cuts and the bruise...she gave him. Anger swells into your body, grasping every rib-both intact and broken-every blood cell.
Sadness overtakes you, when you see familiar pain in his eyes, replacing the rage. You know you've lost very much; in fact, statistically speaking-which you do quite a bit-you shouldn't be alive. You momentarily mourn the independence you fought for, the sense of responsibility.
The word grips you like vines. You think of your parents. Monica and Wendell Wilkins, you correct yourself miserably. Their safety was (was) your responsibility and you had to take the initiative. Studying Ron's worrisome face a memory bubbles past all the pain, anger and sadness.
You creep along the edge of the wall, past the pencilled marks of your growing height, towards the door. Your parents, disoriented from your spells, scramble on the couch. Your breathing hitches-they can't see you. Many logical reasons come to mind as to why they must not see you. You latch on to the fear that they might think of you as an intruder. This is a facade, however, and you know it. What really hurts is the lack of recognition, of love, that would be present in their eyes when they look at you. You choke back a sob, almost knocking over the bookshelf by the front door.
"We-Wendell?" You hear your mother's soft voice inquire. That is not his name! Your brain screams back.
"Wendell, I think someone is here, in the house." She whispers. You hear the familiar creak of someone getting off the sofa. You hear metal clank as your father picks up the cast iron pick that has stood next to the fireplace since your parents discovered you had your wits about you and knew that you would not to touch them.
"It's a bit scary, especially without any children, dear," you hear your father say gently, and immediately you know this is the loving voice that always belonged behind your bedroom's door.
"...To be living alone, yeah?"
Pain grips your chest and you feel empty. The unknowing rejection of your parents-the people who are supposed to love and nurture you-holds your heart and squeezes unmercifully.
Of course, the logical part of your brain reminds you, it is the spells, Hermione. You cast them, after all. You prepared yourself, didn't you?
You whip open the door, feel the heat of July slap you in the face, and run out. Past the garden you played in as a child, past the car you just learned how to drive in, past the mailbox you got your Hogwart's letter in. You run to the end of the street, panting against the oak tree you've hid behind for years.
Ironically, you can almost feel the lack of emotion inside of you. You push back the grief and remind yourself one of your best friend's parents didn't even get to know him. The thought humbles you, almost.
But you know your parents, and they know-knew you, that's what makes it harder, your brain argues against your heart. Or was it the other way around?
You compose yourself, straightening your T-shirt and tugging your now-loose shorts up. You've lost quite a bit of weight worrying yourself.
You focus on sending a Patronus. You scramble, out of emotion, to figure out where to send it.
The Burrow. Ron.
Immediately, you know.
"Expecto Patronum!" You say weakly, thinking of eating dinner as friends with Harry and Ron for the first time. You'd never admit it, but they were quite literally your first friends.
The otter bounces around weakly, sensing your distress.
"To the Burrow," you all but whimper.
"Ron-" You choke up momentarily. "Ron, it's me...I-I need you right now." You realize he might hear this surrounded by family members and you blush despite the circumstances.
"What I mean is-uh-" You catch a sob in your throat, thinking of Ron and his perfect family.
"I just really need you. I'll be there soon." You finish, and with a swipe of your wand, the otter prances into the darkness.
You don't know this, but Ron was in the kitchen, seated at the table, surrounded by all of his family members-minus Percy, sadly-when your otter appeared in the center of the table. You don't know, but he stood up abruptly, knocking his chair backwards and practically throwing his fork in Charlie's direction.
"I'm back for three-" You don't know Charlie laughs.
"Sh," Ron demands, his hand towards his older brother. Many raise their eyebrows at his brazenness, but you don't know that.
"This is Hermione's Patronus," he says, blushing slightly at Ginny's scoff.
"Ron-Ron, it's me," he hears your broken voice, his head swimming with fears. You don't know, but his family shifts in their seats, uncomfortable with a Hermione that is anything but composed. "I-I need you right now." He hears you, ignoring Fred's catcall and his mother's concerned questions.
His heart beats so quickly, he doesn't know how he's alive.
"What I mean is-uh-" your voice cuts off in a strangled cry and he blanches.
"Is this the girl?" Charlie whispers to Bill, who nods with a curious look on his face.
"I just really need you," he hears your voice again. It is tender, thick with held-back tears and the dependency he knows you hate. George, Fred, Ginny and Bill stand, joining the fidgeting Molly, alarmed at Hermione's vulnerability.
"I'll be there soon." You finish, your Patronus bouncing towards Ron at full speed and disappearing into his hands.
You don't know this, but he is out of the door before anyone could say "Accio". He ignores his mother's shouts, Charlie's questions and Ginny's confused mutterings.
You Apparate to the Burrow, feeling your knees about to crumble at the loss of your parents.
This could be forever, your masochistic side sneers.
He is running towards you and you barely register his family huddled at the door and on the porch. He pulls you into a bone-crushing hug, his hands helping you stand as they run over your hair, your face, your shoulders. He makes a noise of relief and pulls you closer.
Spearmint and freshly mowed grass.
He is holding you up. You cry heart-wrenching sobs. He smooths down your hair as you claw at his back, angry at the world for punishing certain breeds. You shake your head, mumbling about spells, sofas and markings of your height. He holds your face as you clutch his arms. He is searching your face for any sort of abrasions. His thumb swipes a large tear and he makes another sound, one you think best not to look into at the moment. Over his shoulder, a blinding light hits you. It illuminates your face and you realize not only do you have an audience, you probably look horrid.
"Ron-" You scarcely manage. He looks behind him briefly, his ears turning pink.
"Hermione," he says thickly, pulling you close again. You instantly forget about the audience and your looks. You melt into sadness in his arms and you cry some more. Your knees begin to give out and he gently lowers you both to the ground. He rocks you back and forth.
"Let's give them a moment, yeah?" He hears Bill feebly tell his family. The once-illuminating light disappears. You cry even harder at the thought of them seeing you weak.
It could have been hours later when you finally stop crying and hear his voice.
"Family," he begins, his voice softer than before. It is strange to hear Ron use this tone, especially since Harry is not here.
"Family is a different sort of magic, Hermione," he reiterates. You whimper at the mention of family. "This magic can't be broken. They love you, deep down. No amount of magic is able to stop that, you know. Blimey, Hermione!" Ron chuckles mirthlessly.
"My family is your family, what are you mumbling about you're alone? I'm here. Here. My whole family is probably peaking out of everything bloody window-"
You chuckle into his neck.
"-Waitng to see if you're okay. I-we-Merlin, 'Mione, we all love you." He grazes your forehead with his mouth so softly you freeze the moment into your mind.
You let him hold for a while, allowing yourself the moment to grieve the loss of your parents.
It is only when Fleur Apparates in front of you do they go back inside to your family.
"Hermione," Ron says brokenly, putting his arm around your shoulder. He leads you to a boulder, overlooking the sea. You lean into him, allowing him to see you vulnerable yet again.
"Thank you," you whisper. He looks at you so tenderly, it hurts.
It's a good pain, a great aching. You regret your wish to be unfeeling.
Immediately, you know.
You'll never forget Shell Cottage and the growing bond between you and Ron it represents.
You'll never forget the magic of family Ron taught you.
You'll never forget spearmint and fresh grass.
The love you have for these memories empowers you.
Certainly, with a new strength stemmed out of a dull aching deep inside of the pit of your stomach, you certainly know what you'll never forget.
You'll never forget the eight-letter word etched into your pale skin and the hate it represents.
And you never forget.