Ron was terrified.
He was trying to hide it, but in truth he was trembling at the thought of arriving at Hogwarts.
Nothing seemed to be going right, either. They’d almost been late for the train, he’d nearly lost Scabbers twice, Fred and George had been poking fun at him all day and all the compartments on the train were full, so he had to lug his baggage up and down the whole train three times, looking for seats.
Just when he thought he was going to have to sit on the floor for however many hours it took to get to Scotland, picking at his sandwiches and trying to persuade Scabbers to eat the worst bits, he found a compartment with one small, skinny boy with messy black hair, clothes about four sizes too big for him and broken glasses sitting all by himself.
He smiled at Ron, and somewhere in his subconsciousness, Ron felt an overwhelming feeling of loyalty to this boy, that he must protect him at all costs. “Anyone sitting here?” he pointed to the seat opposite. “Everywhere else is full.”
The boy shook his head and Ron sat down.
Ron hated Draco Malfoy from day one. The threat of a duel made him hate him even more.
“I’ll be your second.” Ron promised. “If he tries to curse you, you’d better dodge it, because I can’t remember how to block them. And if your wand breaks, just give him a jolly good thump.”
“What if I’m dead?”
“Don’t worry. Malfoy couldn’t kill you if he tried. He’s nowhere near as good at spells as he pretends.” Ron paused, then added cheerily, “if he does kill you, I’ll thump him for you.”
At half past 11, they crept their way down to the common room, encountered Hermione in verbal combat and left the tower, sneaking down the corridors as quietly as they could.
They didn’t get caught- just- but Ron wouldn’t have let Harry get caught anyway. He would have caused a distraction so he got caught but Harry got away.
He wasn’t sure what he’d do if Harry got expelled.
And besides, Malfoy- and Hermione- would be even harder to live with if Harry got kicked out.
Ron stood on the chessboard and surveyed the pieces. “Yes.” he said softly, after the white queen turned her face towards him. “It’s the only way… I’ve got to be taken.”
“NO!” Harry and Hermione shouted.
Ron didn’t care. He knew why they didn’t want him to be sacrificed, knew full well that it could be dangerous, could leave him injured or unconscious or even dead. But- “That leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry.”
He was scared. He didn’t want to do it, but Harry had to get to the stone before Snape and if this was what it took, so be it.
“Ready?” Ron called, his face pale but determined. “Here I go- now, don’t hang around once you’ve won.”
(It would be worth it, it would be worth it, it would be worth it.)
He stepped forward and the white queen pounced.
Ron looked at the map and then out of the window. “This had got to be the right place.”
“It does look very Muggle.” Fred said.
“There are bars on that window.” George said suddenly.
“Going there now.” Fred turned the car and Ron rattled the bars.
“Oi! Harry! Get up!” he carried on rattling the bars. He could see Harry behind the bars and he was filled with fury that someone would do such a thing to his best friend.
Harry opened his eyes. “Ron!”
“Why haven’t you been answering my letters? I asked you to stay about 12 times and then Dad came home and said you’d had an official warning for using magic outside school! You know we’re not supposed to do that!”
“Bit rich coming from you.” Harry had crawled up to the bars.
“Well we’re allowed to use magic if it’s an emergency, aren’t we?” Ron nodded to the bars. “And this clearly is. Get your stuff, we’re getting you out of here.”
There was a mad man who wanted to kill Harry standing on the other side of the room.
Ron had a broken leg, his wand had been taken, he was feeling bruised and battered all over and the only thought going through his mind was Don’t you dare.
He pulled himself up, agony searing through his leg. His face contorted with pain and he felt a desperate urge to vomit. “If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us too!”
Only bad things ever happened when Fred and George showed up in the library.
Even worse things happened when they showed up at the library because they’d been sent to fetch Ron and he was not comforted by that fact that they’d been sent to collect Hermione too. “McGonagall wants you.”
Hermione and Ron got up, leaving Harry desperately trawling through books in search of something that might help him with the second task.
Ron knew that whatever McGonagall wanted them for, it would be something to do with Harry, and it would be something to do with the second task.
In that moment he knew he would be willing to do it all for Harry, if that was what was required of him.
“You’re not coming with me.”
“Yes we are.”
Harry glared at them.
“You can’t face down Voldemort by yourself.” Ron said.
“It’s too dangerous.” Harry argued.
“Has that ever stopped us before?” Hermione pointed out.
“And what about the DA?” Neville prompted.
“We’re going with you.” Ron said firmly. “We’ve been friends with you for five years; we know what we’re getting ourselves in for. And we did just get ourselves caught by Umbridge for you.”
Harry scowled. “Fine. You can come.”
“We weren’t waiting for your permission.” Hermione assured him.
“I’ll get the Thestrals.” Luna offered.
Harry had just kissed Ginny.
In front of rather a lot of people.
Harry and Ginny broke apart and Harry made eye contact with Ron. Ron nodded. He was happy for them. Really, he was.
And he was only slightly jealous that Harry started spending all his time with Ginny.
When they first told Ron what they were going to do to break Harry out of Four Privet Drive, he had stood in silence for a moment. Everyone else had reservations, hesitations, concerns and fears.
Ron simply knew that if that was what it took to protect his friend, he would do it.
He wished he hadn’t stormed out.
He’d never felt worse about anything than the moment when he found himself at Shell Cottage and realised he’d left Harry and Hermione and the tent and had no way of getting back to them.
He’d walked numbly into the house and told Bill and Fleur roughly what had happened.
They were both angry, but Fleur was angry in French so it was only half as bad as it could have been.
He’d never felt worse.
Then the light came, and the doe, and his best friend was half-drowning, half being choked to death in a frozen lake.
He jumped in after Harry, sword in hand and clothes be-damned.
Hagrid placed Harry on the ground.
Ron didn’t know what to do.
“You see?” Voldemort strode back and forth next to Harry’s body. “Harry Potter is dead! Do you understand now, deluded ones? He was nothing, ever, but a boy who relied on others to sacrifice themselves for him!”
Ron had never felt such anger boiling through his veins, bunching in his fists and giving him the strength and courage to break a Silencing charm set by one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time. “He beat you!”
Ron never stuck by anyone in the same way that he stuck by Harry. it wasn’t because he was the Chosen One, Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
It was because he was Harry, his best mate, who loved Quidditch and was always breaking his glasses and grumbling about potions; Harry who’d been a small scared boy in a train and let Ron sit next to him.