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Loyalty

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Ronald Weasley is not particularly special, except in the company he keeps. He is a friend to Harry Potter, seventeen-year-old Best Hope Of Defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and to Hermione Granger, the best student Hogwarts has in decades. He is a friend to Neville Longbottom, who is a reluctant poster-child for the Anti-Voldemort movement, the son of heroes who remain a living reminder in their living death. He passed his classes at Hogwarts, and was briefly a hero - for Quidditch, of all things.

He is not his brother Bill, dashing adventurer and explorer-of-tombs, with dueling scars and a stunningly beautiful fiancée. He is not his brother Charlie, master and friend to the most dangerous beasts on the planet. He is not Fred or George, who manage to bring laughter to a people with not much to laugh about. He is not Ginny, who survived being possessed by the Dark Lord himself.

Ron Weasley knows this, and wishes to be greater in himself. This worries him, because he knows that Peter Pettigrew, too, wished to be greater and to match the company he kept.

The Dark Lord seeks out ambition. Death Eaters are made up of Macbeth and his Lady, the whispers in the ear of ‘you could be great.’ One night, they come to whisper in the ear of Ron Weasley. Here, they say, is your chance to be remembered for a very long time. You could be a hero, they say, leaning in close as he stands against the wall, expressionless.

No, he says. No.

You are nothing, they say, nothing right now. How does it feel to be in the shadow of greatness all the time, Ronald? Such a little thing, it would be, to tell us one tiny secret. Harry doesn’t need you, Ronald. He is stealing your sister away from you. Tell us where he is.

No, says Ron. No, and he wonders how it is that they can make him, who is tall for his age, long and gangling, feel so tiny and impotent.

A finger comes up to stroke his cheek, and he represses a shudder. The finger’s owner speaks with a very soft voice, almost motherly. The war could be over, Ronald. It could be finished, all the dying and all the being afraid, and you would be remembered as the one who made peace possible. You could save them all. You could save Tonks, and Shacklebolt, and Lupin... oh yes, we know about them. Your mother and father, Ronald. Don’t you want to keep them safe?

YES, cries Ron. Yes... but not like this. No. He wants to cringe away from the flutter of the breath on his ear, but does not.

No, says Ron. I will not.

CRUCIO. It lasts slightly longer than forever, and Ron does not see them leave, though he has vague memories of them warning him of their return.

Ron doesn’t mind, so much, after he has been found and settled in a soft bed, and his mother is fussing around him. Ronald Weasley is not Peter Pettigrew, to be measured by the company he keeps. He knows this now.

Ronald Weasley is Ronald Weasley, to be measured by the keeping of his company.