“ Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy. The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don't know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.”
― C. JoyBell C.
“Are you ready?”
Hermione peered up at her husband from where she was bent over pages and pages of notes scattered across the floor. Her long, bushy brown hair was in more of a disarray than usual, fluffy strands tumbling down in front of her eyes. There were heavy black bags under her eyes and crinkles in her forehead from a frown she had been wearing for days now. She met the familiar blue eyes of her husband before returning her gaze to her notes and shaking her head. “Not yet. Give me a minute.”
“Hermione, I gave you a minute ten minutes ago.” Ron was standing in the center of a magic circle, arms resting at his side, watching his wife with eager eyes and a knowing smile. “You've been over your notes a million times.”
She sighed. “It has not been a million times, Ronald .”
“Nearly,” he murmured and listened to her huff. “I trust you. I trust your gigantic brain. You know what you're doing so stop worrying.”
“I can't!” She stood up quickly, her hands jittering with nerves. “If I do this wrong... if I mess up, this is it. You're dead and I'm stuck here alone and maybe I'm selfish, but I can't take that! I cannot stay here alone!” She sniffed and brushed the tears from her face.
Ron wished he could go over and hug her, wipe her eyes, kiss away her fears, but he dared not leave the circle. This was the final part of the ritual and they had to get it right.
“Hermione.” Ron waited until she looked up at him. “I love you.”
She drew in a shuddering breath. “I love you,” she whispered back. Stepping over her notes and right up to the circle, she held her wand in one hand and Ron's in the other.
They leaned forward, their lips meeting over the lines of the ritual circle. Ron tasted lemon tea and salty tears. It was a kiss he would remember forever.
Hermione stepped back. The tears were falling freely down her cheeks and she did nothing to wipe them away. This was the last time she would see her husband. She had a right to her tears.
“Come and find me?”
Ron felt his own eyes give in, tears sliding down his cheeks. He would never seen this Hermione again. His wife. The love of his life.
“Always,” he whispered.
Hermione let out a sob and, before either of them could procrastinate any longer with a more painful goodbye, she slashed both wands down in a V, their tips meeting between her and her husband.
There was a blinding flash of light and the world that had become became the one that never was.
“Ron? Ron!” Someone was shaking him.
“Stop, stop. Fred, go get Mum. Hurry.”
Someone was crouched down next to him. Ron could feel hands pressing against his neck, down his shoulders and arms, moving carefully. His mind was racing and lagging at the same time, trying to make sense of things. He'd been playing Quidditch with his brothers, but he'd been standing in front of his wife. His family was all home at the Burrow for the holidays, but half of his family had died in the war. He was ten, but he was twenty-three.
Somebody's hand pressed on his chest and Ron heard his name called but his mind was trying to make sense of Hermione's lips pressed up against his when he was ten and kissing was gross and
“Ow!” Ron shouted, though it came out more as a garbled groan as he rolled away from the knuckles that had been digging into his ribs. He buried his face in the tall grass of a meadow he knew so well and whined out a painful breath.
“Easy,” he heard, the voice at his ear, and it actually took him a moment to recognize it. “Easy.”
“Hey.” Long, calloused fingers gripped his arm and slid behind his neck, helping him roll over and lie back in the ground. His chest ached, but the pain from his brother’s ministrations was long gone. He could scarcely breathe through the pain in his heart and he felt the tears slide down from the corners of his eyes and drop in his ears.
“What hurts, Ron?” Bill asked, his voice anxious.
Ron wasn't paying attention to what he was saying, though. He was staring up at the rest of his siblings. Charlie was there too, his eyes narrowed into a concerned glare. Percy’s lips were pursed, but his face was pale and his eyes pinched. Ginny’s every freckle stood out stark in her white face and there were tear tracks down her face. George stood behind her, his wild hair in disarray, a bruise forming on his face, and no twin in sight.
Ron sat up abruptly. “Where’s Fred?”
“Lie back down!”
“What do you mean?”
“Ron, easy !”
“Don't move, Ron!”
Ron ignored the myriad of voices. Had they gotten it wrong? Had something happened and somehow Fred wasn't brought back? Was he erased from history? Was this an alternate universe, like Hermione had spoken about, instead of his own?
He felt the panic building in his chest, his breathing picking up, and before Bill could force him back down, he screwed up his face and screamed “FRED!” as loud as he could.
His head whipped around to see Fred jogging over, his mum just behind, her face white with fear.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley, lie back down this instant.”
Ron obeyed. With his brother - all of his brothers - in sight, the panic receded and he suddenly realized he wasp dizzy. He laid down on the grass and watched his mother wave her wand over him and discern something from the flashes of light.
“Percy, go inside and floo call your father. Let him known I'm taking Ron to St. Mungo’s.”
This caused a whole new uproar, everyone trying to talk over each other, but Ron didn't pay attention. The dizziness had brought with it a shadow that creeped on the edges of his vision and brought a release from the growing ache in his head. His mother’s strident tone was a lullaby of relief that carried him into blackness. He went willingly.