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I fall as hard as I try, so don’t be blind.
See me as I really am.
I’ve got flaws, and sometimes I can’t even stand.

“Ron… Hermione,” Ginny greeted them as they returned to the Burrow much later that night. “How did… everything go?”

“Well, it went,” Hermione shrugged wearily. “I’m just so tired… Ron was a big help,” she added, giving him an appreciative smile. Looking around she noted, “So Dobby and Winky have returned to Hogwarts?”

Ginny nodded. “We already had dinner, but Mum saved you something if you’re hungry.”

“Thanks, but we already ate,” Ron replied, turning to Harry, who was sitting beside her at the table with a roll of parchment, twirling his quill absently. “How’s it going with you?”

“Dreadful,” he replied. “Why on earth did I think I could do this?”

“You can, Harry,” Ginny assured him, turning back to face him. “I’m sure you can, if you start off in the right place… Like I’m sure the readers would like to know about the time you turned your teacher’s wig blue.”

Ron gave a small laugh, too distracted to join in with a witty comment. Looking carefully over at Hermione, who was still standing with that same, listless expression, he decided it was time for them to retire.

“Why don’t you go up to bed, Hermione? I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morning.”

She nodded silently, making her way slowly towards the stairs.

When she was gone, Ginny looked up at her brother.

“What did you do with all the stuff at the house?”

“Donated… most of it. Her books and other things she kept and sent up to Percy’s old room,” he answered with a yawn. “I think I’m going up, too… But first… where did you say Mum left the food?”

“Maybe we should just call it a night,” Ginny sighed, after another hour of fruitlessly trying to help Harry along.

Ron cleared up his mess with a wave of his wand, standing up and stretching.

Harry followed suit, rolling up his parchment and chucking the quill back in a drawer.

“So how’d it go with Hermione, mate?” Harry asked in a low tone as Ginny led them up the stairs.

“Oh, we didn’t speak much about… that,” he answered, getting uneasy. “She already had a lot on her mind… Do you hear that?”

For they were beginning to hear a pair of tense voices as they reached the first landing, and the level of volume was increasing with every second. And then Mrs. Weasley’s voice exploded from behind the closed door of her bedroom.

“You can’t live like this, Arthur! Neither of them would have wanted it, especially George… You can’t go on blaming yourself!”

“How can you tell me such a thing?” her husband asked earnestly. “My sons… Just in their prime… It should have been me!”

“Don’t… Don’t say that, Arthur,” Ron’s mum sighed, suddenly sounding teary-eyed. “I don’t… I don’t know what I’d do if-”

“Don’t be selfish-”

“I’m not being selfish!” she shrieked, sounding hysterical. “Do you think I’m pleased that they died? But they died honorably, and are being remembered as heroes now… Now it is time… we must… pick ourselves up and move on! And the rest of our children won’t be able to do that if you remain in this state of mind.”

“I behave perfectly well in front of them,” he muttered, lowering his voice. “We’ve kept the atmosphere as light and calm as we could, and they’re comfortable here… safe.”

“Yes well if you truly think that’s helping them out, then so be it, but they can’t all just stay here for the rest of their lives. Think about Bill. Do you think he truly enjoys living with his new wife under his parents’ roof? And Charlie… he’s been staying here because he feels guilty about going back to Romania, even though I can tell he misses it most definitely.”

“He can go whenever he wants to,” Arthur replied in an even tone. “But I am not going to just toss him out before he is ready.”

“Well what about Fred?” she demanded suddenly. “He and George had been living on their own for quite a while before all this happened… It kills him to be cooped up in here, Arthur; it just kills him!”

“He won’t go back to the shop! I’ve already spoken to him about it!”

“Harry and Ginny should be looking into getting a place for themselves as well,” Molly said quietly.

“For heaven’s sakes, Molly, they’re both so young –and have gone through so much. Let them take a breath before sending them out.”

Ron glanced nervously at his friend and sister, who had both gone unusually rigid at the mention of their futures together. He swallowed hard, still not daring to move, as he knew that his name would be cropping up shortly.

“And I suppose you’re thinking about Hermione, as well?” his father asked in an almost sardonic manner. “She just went to her parents’ graves today, Molly… She and Ron had less of a chance than even Ginny and Harry to toy with the idea themselves together; they’ve been so involved in the War. They are not ready… Everyone else, possibly even Fred… but not our daughter, or Harry, or Ron, or Hermione… and that is final.”

Feeling a new weight being placed upon his shoulders, Ron wanted more than ever to just fall into his bed and sleep for a very long time. It seemed like his parents’ discussion had abated, and both Harry and Ginny were fidgeting to get a move on.

“Come on, then,” Ginny whispered, finally unable to bear it and starting off again up the stairs. She disappeared into her room, tugging Harry in after her for their goodnight kiss, and Ron continued up the steps alone.

He was surprised to see Fred standing inside his doorway, and with one glance Ron knew that he had been listening to his parents’ argument.

Ron was about to say something, though he still hadn’t yet figured out what, when Fred turned his back on him and disappeared into his room, shutting the door with a slam.

Sighing, Ron took the last set up and opened the door of his room, squinting in the dark to see Hermione’s figure lying across his bed. Stepping closer, he could see that she was awake, and had been staring up at the ceiling.

“Could you hear from up here?” he asked quietly, as she sat up and moved over to give him room.

She nodded, resting her head on his shoulder and bringing her arms up around his neck, completely vulnerable. He wrapped his arms around her tight, breathing in the sweet smell of her hair and wishing her tears away.

“I don’t want to sleep in Percy’s bedroom,” she muttered weakly, and he fought the urge to continue the conversation he knew that they desperately needed.

“Okay,” he said simply, slipping out from under her and settling her back into the bed, closer to the wall. He undressed quickly and took a quick trip to the bathroom, returning to lie down by her side.

He hesitated, before slipping his arm around her waist and moving in closer. He heard her give a little sigh as she relaxed against his chest.

It was all he needed to fall asleep.

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