Ron Weasley, sixth son. Smallest boy in the Weasley house, which was already straining at the seams. Sixth, not seventh: that was left for Ginny, firecracker girl, first daughter and so twice as special.
Ron Weasley, running after his brothers through long grass in need of mowing, facing them down on his broom in childish games of Quidditch, bullheadedly stubborn. His mother remembered, later, how he withdrew into himself when he felt hurt or insulted, turning stony, sullen eyes on his brothers and refusing to talk to them, till they coaxed him back out again. A boy needs to protect himself against having too many siblings, Arthur used to say, who had been mild and obsessed with Muggle gadgets, called a boffin, good-naturedly, by his own brothers.
He was curious, delighted and affronted, at Ginny’s birth. She was the youngest now and not him, but as she grew, they came to team up against the older ones, when they weren’t bickering. They’d plot together, Ron as the strategist, Ginny full of wit. Ginny played all her brothers against each other when she had to, but she always had a soft spot for Ron, youngest brother, the closest to her own junior position.
Ron Weasley, who went to Hogwarts knowing what it was like to hear your family dismissed as nothing special by all and sundry, and knowing that the problem was exactly the opposite. How could he want to defend them so fiercely, even as he had to protect himself against them, how special they were, to save his sense of self? The Weasley family were always warm, suffocatingly so. They could burn you, when you were only a small child.
Ron Weasley, loyal beyond imagining. Ron Weasley, with that quiet strength, born of the fear of never being enough. Those stony eyes.
Ron Weasley, best friend. Ron Weasley, who had never been liked by anyone as much as by this boy he met for the first time on a train. Harry Potter was a short, scrawny boy, and he did kindness like other people did breathing.
Ron-and-Harry against the world. Ron, eleven-year-old Ron, as a bodyguard against Malfoy and a comedian against school in general. They ran the length and breadth of the school in the dark. Rattling armour, a cackling Peeves, promises of retribution, pounding feet. Cold winter air. Harry’s voice just ahead.
Ron’s bed was next to Harry’s in the boys’ dormitory and all was right with the world. They’d collapse onto the sheets near midnight, exhausted, still laughing a little.
They did their homework together in the common room and Ron watched Harry’s quill scratch at the parchment and felt okay about not knowing that much about Charms.
Ron, who stayed up late with Harry and heard him say Voldemort’s name with a tone Ron had never heard before in anyone’s voice. Ron under the invisibility cloak in the dark, creeping towards the third-floor corridor with Harry, even his breathing loud in the silent night. He thought: This is the most important thing I’ve ever done, the most important thing I’ll ever do.
It was important because it was Voldemort, but also, mostly, because it was Harry.
Ron Weasley, student. Ron with his face in his hands, hunched over books, staying late in the library. Ron meeting Harry and Hermione’s eyes over the table, seeing Harry’s tired half-grin, the dark indents under Hermione’s eyes and the way she bit her lip when she was having trouble concentrating.
Ron in a first-floor bathroom, passing Hermione ingredients when she asked, taking his turn to stir: twelve-year-old arms get tired.
The three of them sat in the common room with the fire sending flickering shadows over the pages of books, trying to find any example of a time when the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures had ever let an animal go free, and kept half-falling-asleep on each other. Harry looked very small when he slept.
Ron Weasley blatantly making up his Divination homework, declaiming it aloud, and listening to Harry’s laugh and Hermione’s sound of disapproval, which sounded perilously similar. Writing it all out in his biggest, loopiest handwriting.
Hogwarts corridors were cold, and sometimes when they ran around under the Cloak, darting about the corridors in the dark, they could see their own breath come out of nowhere.
Ron Weasley, running about solving mysteries, making people laugh, keeping them going. How many times he told Hermione to go to bed as she seemed to sink into her own hair, exhausted. Ron at Harry’s back, a steady presence. Ron breaking silence over the breakfast table with a bad joke, lightening things. He just kept going, writing essays, going on midnight escapades, throwing in black humour, playing chess.
Ron Weasley, balancing.
Ron Weasley, soldier. In later years he said he always had been one. He was one in fifth year, learning to throw a hex faster and with better aim, surrounded by other scared kids; he was one in third year when he chose to raise his wand against Snape, lying in a shack with a broken leg. He was a soldier at eleven when he climbed onto a stone horse in the dead of night and said, I’m going to be a knight.
Ron Weasley, who offered to be Harry’s second in a duel without even thinking about it. Moving like a shot, years later, shoving Hermione out of the way of a curse in a café on Tottenham Court Road. Ron older, with the tight lines on his face, his stony eyes.
I wanna help – I wanna kill Death Eaters –
A basilisk fang in his hand, or a wand, or just a fist.
(Watching Hermione and the sharp twist of her mouth. Hermione’s wits had always been sharp, but now they were sharp like a knife. He wondered when all her excitement for knowledge had turned into this careful hoarding of resources.
He kept a supply of bad jokes for times like these. Ron Weasley, soldier, was a good companion to have in a fight.)
Cold, wet and tired, he kept moving. He lied through his teeth and snatched wands; he pounded against cellar walls and threw spells in the dark. He threw them as he moved, natural as breathing. Ron Weasley, blood traitor. Ron Weasley, born for this.
Ron, gaunt and tired, unforgiving. (Later his children rarely, if ever, saw him like this: it took them a long time to realise why the Auror Department looked at their father, just occasionally, with a touch of fear.)
What are we going to do with them? Kill them? They’d kill us. They had a good go just now.
Ron Weasley had grown up in the shadow of a war: he wondered sometimes whether that had built him for it.
Ron Weasley, after the end.
He still wakes in his sleep sometimes, gasping, scrambling for his wand. Hermione doesn’t question it when he holds her a little tighter in the dark, in the small hours, close enough to hear her heartbeat.
But he plays Quidditch with Harry on dew-fresh mornings before the world is awake, with the sun sending slants of light over the green below them, like it’s holy ground. He sits sleep-warm in the kitchen with a cup of tea and a rough old blanket pulled around him, the Daily Prophet in his hand, and roundly curses journalists, except of course for the one honest journo in the business, he adds, and Ginny says who are you calling honest.
He catches Hermione at lunchtime when they’re both on break, and they go out into London and try new foods, and the sky has never looked so big – and Hermione’s nose scrunches when she tastes something she doesn’t like, it’s the best thing.
Ron Weasley, sitting on an old sofa with his two best friends half-asleep on his shoulder, just like the old days. Ron in the garden, pulling up weeds – he’s taken an interest now, and knows the names of flowers, can point to the cuckoo-flowers when they come.
He was the one who suggested Harry should take up knitting after the war, to settle his shakes, and they both went to Molly and he ended up learning too. Some people might be better at delicate work, but Ron is good for scarves. Always in for the long haul.
Ron on his broom high above the waking world, watching the sunlight cross the trees and glitter on the far-off sea, catching his breath.
Ron Weasley, who made it.