Ron had been at Shell Cottage for four days. Four miserable days, during which the guilt he had first felt upon walking out on Harry and Hermione had grew and grew until there was a constant nagging feeling in his stomach that he could not shake, even when he forced himself to remember the hateful argument between Harry and himself. Yes, a part of him had been angry at Harry. But that part was now overridden by the part that felt guilty. How could he have accused Harry of not caring about his family, when the Weasleys were Harry's family too, had been for years? Ron could not get rid of the feeling in his heart when he had seen the hate glistening clearly in Harry's eyes as he had spoken the words: "it's alright for you, with your parents safely out of the way!" The words haunted him in his sleep, repeated over and over again in nightmares that involved Harry dying at the hands of Voldemort while Ron stood among the Death Eaters, smirking. What kind of best friend was he? Hermione didn't have this problem. They had discussed their disappointment in the way the mission was going, yes, but Hermione hadn't walked out on Harry. How could he have asked her to choose between them? Now with the absence of the locket he realized how insignificant his relationship with Hermione was compared to Harry's mission. If Voldemort wasn't killed, there would be no chance for love, ever again.
He wished there was a way he could help Harry without physically being on the run with him. He had tried getting back, of course, but their protective enchantments were simply too well done. He supposed he could go on the run himself, but where would he go? Where would he look? He, Harry and Hermione had already gone over all the other possible places. The only place he hadn't looked was Hogwarts.
Ron snorted. Yeah, breaking into Hogwarts was sure to be a success. He could just imagine being caught and brought to Snape's office… and from there he would be brought straight to Voldemort.
Ron looked up. He had been staring at his soup while he mused, twirling the spoon in his right hand while the nails of his left dug angry patterns into Bill and Fleur's wooden kitchen table. Bill was looking at him in slight annoyance; Ron gathered his snort had been ill-placed in the conversation. His eyes met Bill's and his brother sighed.
"Ron, did you hear any of that?"
"No," he said, and returned his gaze to his soup.
"Ronald, look up 'ere!" This time it was Fleur who spoke, and in a surprisingly commanding tone. "We have no problem letting you stay 'ere but zis is geeting out of 'and!" she exclaimed. "If you cannot show respect for your brother–"
"Honey, it's alright," Bill interrupted quietly.
"No, eet is not!" Fleur said indignantly. "'E 'as been moping for four days. Enough already!"
Bill opened his mouth to calm her, but Ron spoke first.
"No, Bill, she's right," he said. "I'm sorry. I'll try to be more… interested in what you have to say."
Bill almost chuckled a little, but Ron was being completely honest. He would try to act more interested, but he could not guarantee actual interest. Not when he knew Harry and Hermione were still out there, probably freezing and starving… he pushed away his soup, feeling disgusted with himself.
"Ron, you 'aven't eaten in days!" admonished Fleur.
"I'm fine. What were you saying, Bill?" he asked politely.
Fleur continued to gaze at him pitifully.
"I was telling you about Potterwatch
," Bill said.
?" Ron repeated. "What–"
"It's a radio program Lee Jordan started up. He basically talks to the general public about the Order's cause. Advises people on how to protect themselves, discusses rumors surrounding You-Know-Who and Harry, stuff like that. Gives people hope."
"But wouldn't Vold–"
"You-Know-Who!" Bill said quickly. "Merlin, Ron, are you insane?"
"What?" Ron said angrily. "You used to speak his name, Bill, what happened?"
"It's Taboo!" Bill said anxiously. "You mean to tell me the three of you didn't know? It's a ploy to catch Order members. If you say it, they can immediately trace your location."
"The Ministry, the Death Eaters–it's all the same now, isn't it?"
"Oh bloody hell," Ron whispered. "That must've been how they got us on Tottingham Court road."
"When we Apparated, right after the wedding. We were in a little muggle coffeeshop and all the sudden, two Death Eaters stroll right in…."
"And you haven't said it since?"
"No," Ron said. "Pure luck, that." The ever-present knot in his stomach tightened a little as he imagined Harry and Hermione discussing the Horcruxes. They would say it, surely they would, in time, they would be caught….
"Anyway," Bill said, bringing Ron back to the conversation, "there's nothing we can do about that, except maybe tell Lee to keep advertising it in Potterwatch
. But he does that anyway. What I was really going to ask you, Ron, is if you'd be willing to do a segment on Lee's program."
"You mean… talk on the radio? About Harry?"
"Yeah," Bill said. "Nothing too direct, of course. Hope is the biggest thing we can give the public right now, and if you give an idea of what he's been up to–"
"I'm not exposing his mission over the radio, Bill, when no one in the Order even knows," Ron said darkly.
"I wasn't saying that–I just meant–just let everyone know he's okay and working against Voldemort–whatever that may mean…."
Bill looked very uncomfortable under Ron's glare.
"How is it that Lee hasn't been caught yet?" he asked suspiciously. "I'm supposed to be in bed with Spattergroit, remember?"
"He switches stations every time, and there's always a password to tune in. And they have code names."
Ron sat back in his chair. This would be a way to help Harry, indirectly. If he could do it without exposing himself or Harry and Hermione, it could be very helpful to the Order.
"Alright," he said, letting a small smile slip through his lips, the first one in months, it seemed. "I'm in."