Disclaimers: No one here is mine.
Spoilers: Big ones for OotP, minor ones for the rest.
Summary: Ron's spending a lot of time alone.
Ratings Note: R.
Author's Note: First line from Deb. We luf her.
Acknowledgments: To Deb, for audiencing. We luf
her even more.
Feedback: Craved. firstname.lastname@example.org
The lights never came on and the door was always
Not that there was anything particularly weird about
that -- wizarding houses always had their little
quirks -- but, somehow, it was just a little bit extra
ominous at Grimmauld Place.
Ron understood that they had to spend a certain
amount of time there, that his parents didn't have
the resources to keep the Burrow open *and*
keep Order headquarters habitable, but...
He really didn't want to be there.
It was bad enough when Sirius was around to
stomp through the halls and have screaming
matches with the portraits -- and he would never,
ever, repeat that thought to Harry -- but now it
It was like one of those places you'd read about
in the better textbooks. Houses that were
waiting to be haunted, old fields where battles
were once fought and now nothing ever grew
*quite* right. Something like living in a story that
his mum would say he was too young to watch.
Which was more than a little disturbing, and he
didn't mind saying *that* -- even though there was
really no one to say it to. Hermione was off on
holiday with her folks, and all the adults were too
busy doing important things about You-Know-Who,
or pretending not to grieve when anyone was
He was alone a lot.
And even that wasn't *too* out of the ordinary --
there were always ways to hide from his brothers
and sister even at the Burrow, but he was always
used to having to *work* at it.
Sometimes, he wondered if Percy missed the
noise. The *good* kind of noise that meant that
everybody was home and healthy.
Most of the time, he read his Quidditch magazines
and daydreamed about being good enough next
year (even though he probably wouldn't get to
play) that no one but the other Gryffindors sang
about him, and Harry would clap him on the
back, and Hermione would do that thing where
she pretended not to care about sports but
gave him those funny, wonderful little looks over
whatever tome she was memorizing.
And he watched the door.
No one ever really *said* anything about it, or
said bad things about the house at all, even
though there were always infestations to clear
out and all of the portraits were bad-tempered,
and nobody's wireless ever *quite* worked
right, and Kreacher's eyes followed you wherever
you went despite the fact that he'd somehow
managed to get himself nailed to the wall with
the other house-elves.
It was like... he thought maybe people were
afraid that if they said anything about what an
*awful* house it was, they'd have to also talk
about Sirius, and how he was dead, and how
they were fighting a war where other people
would probably die, too.
Like it was all interconnected somehow, and if
anyone said the wrong thing, all those other
wrong things would have to be true, too.
Which didn't make any sense, as far as he was
concerned. It wasn't like you could *be* in
this house and not be all serious-minded and
This wasn't the kind of house you could just
*live* in. You had to be about something, or
Sometimes, he thought he could see a light
under the door.
There wasn't that much of a crack -- the house
was put together far too well for that, but there
was a *little* one. Like maybe there'd been a
rug in the hallway at some point.
And it wasn't that much of a *light*, either. Not
warm and buttery and flickering like a torch,
and not like moonlight or sunlight when he was
looking during the day.
But a light just the same.
It was also really hard to keep track of time.
Sometimes it just sort of *felt* like May, even
though it'd been years since he'd not been in
school in May. Something about the quality of
the light, or the smell of the air.
Or something else entirely, because Grimmauld
place had more shadows than Snape's
dungeon, and the air always, *always* smelled
Like the whole house was just an attic waiting to
happen, only without the cool stuff and waving
photographs or extra beds for when your brothers
came back for a visit.
The house was *huge*, really, and Ron was used
to that, too. The way wizarding houses could
sort of fold in and on themselves like great, cozy
He didn't want to know what sort of flower
Grimmauld place would be.
Something like what Snape would use to poison
them all when the war was over, probably.
And it was funny how Snape never stayed long.
It wasn't as though Ron really thought of him
as the social type, even if he had sort of gotten
used to the idea that the man wasn't *actually*
evil. And he wouldn't have *wanted* the greasy
old bastard to stick around.
It just seemed like the sort of place he'd be
comfortable in, what with all the gloom and
mean-spiritedness and hatred for everything
Ron and his family stood for.
*He* could probably make the house feel less
empty, just by sneering the portraits into
submission and generally fitting in with the
"What are you doing?"
Ginny was looking at him curiously, and Ron
realized he was standing in the hallway with his
hand on the door. Funny, that.
"Oh, I was... um."
"That door never opens," she said, and wandered
Sometimes, he dreamed about walking through the
door. Nothing ever really happened in those
dreams. There were no ghosts or anything, and
there weren't even any spelled windows looking
out on cemeteries or scenes of unspeakable
He was never alone in those dreams, though.
He spent most of a day (in July? It was probably
July) helping his mum and Shacklebolt renew
the wards. It was interesting, in that way where
he thought it might be cool to be an Auror one
day, or something else useful. The old wards,
the ones that were there before any of them
were, were a lot nastier, and self-renewing.
By accident, they found one on the front door
that would hex any muggles that touched it,
and then spent at least half their time carefully
undoing traps and tricks all over the house.
The twins came by to help, and by the end of
the day they were pale as milk under their
Ron thought that some of the traps probably
weren't all that different from things they'd
done in the name of practical joking.
Nobody ever liked to think that the things they
did could be evil.
There wasn't anything on the door -- *that*
door. Just a lock that didn't respond to any of
the unlocking charms Shacklebolt used.
"Aren't there other ones?" he'd asked.
Shacklebolt frowned and tapped the door with
his wand. "There are, but there would be a
kind of resonance to the door, a sense of
several powerful wards. This... is just a door."
He frowned again.
His mother said there was probably a reason
for the door to be locked, and that she *knew*
none of her children would go poking about
where there could be danger. And then she'd
given them all a look that suggested that
Shacklebolt was maybe one of her children, too,
and that Molly Weasley's children just *better*
know what's good for them or else she'd have
to teach them.
And then they'd done the rest of the house,
and had a stuffed turkey for dinner, despite it
Was school about to start?
He thought he should probably do something
useful like figure out what classes to take,
and which to drop for electives that would
maybe help him with his career as a...
whatever the hell he would be, but he wasn't
sure if the owls had arrived with any school
And that was definitely strange, but it wasn't
as if his mum would let him forget anything
important he had to do, and besides, he was
Or not really tired so much as...
There was an odd kind of feeling in his head,
like he had dreamed something important the
night before, and if he looked at his bed in
just the right way, or rested his head on the
pillow in just the right position, he'd remember
what it was.
There'd be a resonance, like Shacklebolt said,
and his head would hum with knowledge and
everything would make sense. More sense than
it ever had.
He fell asleep with a smile on his face, and
dreamed himself into the room. The light was
silver-blue, like moonlight drawn by a child, and
there was no furniture, but the rugs were clean
He sat down, and then lay down and stretched
out like he was on a great, soft hill of grass
instead of on a carpet depicting some battle or
There was something important about that,
about the way the soldiers' swords and lances
seemed to almost, but not quite, cut through
the nap of the rug and stab him. But really, it
was like sitting in one of Dumbledore's
massaging chairs, only better, because he never,
ever had to leave.
Hermione rolled over onto her side, pushing a
mass of messy, sweet-smelling hair over her
She smiled at him. "You came back."
"Was I gone, then?"
She nodded solemnly, though her eyes were
sparkling like he'd told a wonderful joke. "A
long time. It's a long, long time in here."
"Well, I'm here now," he said, and felt stupid
because, well, *that* was obvious, but
Hermione just giggled and kissed him.
Soft and soft and it filled him up inside, made
him hard, yes, but also made him feel wide
open. Like Hermione could tumble right inside
him and he'd never be alone again.
And then there was pain, and Hermione pulled
away, blood shining on her lip.
"What... you bit me?"
She smiled, blood shining in spots on her teeth.
"The oldest magic, the *truest* magic, is in the
blood. Don't you ever pay attention?"
And then she ruffled his hair, and he rolled her
over and tickled her, and the light was blue and
the battle raged and Ron woke up with a sore
mouth and more than a little confused.
It wasn't as though he hadn't dreamed of
snogging Hermione before. He did that rather a
lot, actually, whether or not he was asleep. It
was just... it felt like there was something he
was forgetting, even with all the details he
remembered. Cartoon light and the smell of
It was like when someone wakes you up in the
middle of a dream, and you spend the whole
day trying to make all the pieces fit.
He had all the pieces, and they *did* all fit,
but... He shook it off and went down to
Tonks was there, which was always great,
because she was so ridiculous. She was a
*walking* Riddikulus counter-curse, and the
house was just a particularly large boggart when
she was there. She floo'ed Ron and Ginny out
to the countryside, and Ron got to fly.
Ginny had some good ideas about Quidditch,
By the time they got home, Ron was exhausted
and absolutely convinced he'd be the best
keeper Gryffindor ever had, and Ginny was
smiling so wide that everyone just sort of
ignored Mrs. Black and let them babble about
And yeah, maybe it was a little childish, all "look,
mum, I found a three-legged toad!" but it also
kind of wasn't. Even Lupin looked a little less
gloomy by the time they sat down to dinner,
and Ron felt like he could maybe understand how
They all needed proof that life went on, that
children laughed, that disaster wasn't looming
over *every* good time.
He could play that role.
He only spared a single look for the door when
he went up to bed. There was no light, and the
door itself was as solid and blank as ever, and
he curled up under the sheets and thought
about ways he could maybe get in there.
Experiment like the twins, or like Hermione when
she made those amazing *leaps* of
comprehension that left the rest of them feeling
like village idiots.
Except, all he really wanted to do was open the
door. See what was inside.
He fell asleep and dreamed, and when he found
himself in the room, it was something like day.
It was strange, but he thought he *knew* what
time it was. It was late afternoon, on a pretty
fall day where it was still warm and the breezes
were gentle with their messages of impending
winter, and everyone you loved was outside,
cooking out and making messes, and there
was something loud and bright on the wireless.
Except that the light was still very crude, and
he wondered if the magic that made this
room had ever really been outside at all.
"You think too much." And Harry thumped him
on the back before sitting down beside him on
the churning rug. He was grinning.
"Yeah, tell the profs that, why don't you?"
And then they were grinning at each other, and
Harry was looking at him, really *looking* at
him, like Ron didn't think he had all year. Like
there was nothing more important than their
friendship, and even if there was, it wasn't like Ron
couldn't come along.
He looked happy.
That was new, too.
"You know I need you, right, Ron?"
It squeezes something inside. He knows what
dreams are. Not the Divinations crap, but the
real ones. The ones that bubble up inside you
and make you spill all your secrets to yourself,
even if you don't want to hear them. Especially
Another thump, more of a push, really, and
Harry was on top of him, staring into his eyes
and it was like he was trying to hypnotize Ron,
that those green eyes were used for more than
just looking at things. "You're still thinking too
"Yeah, well, give me something else to think
And Harry smiled like it was their first Christmas
at Hogwarts again, and Ron had given him
something stupid that nonetheless made Harry
light up like a little person-shaped sun.
And the kiss is a surprise, and definitely weird,
but it's also *Harry*. Harry who should always
be happy, and Harry who kisses like he knows
what he's doing, even though Ron has no idea
who might have taught him. Slick heat in his
mouth, and the rug undulating beneath him
like the world's most violent controlled sea.
Ron spread his legs and Harry's thigh was
between his own and Harry kissed him and
kissed him. The pain was just another part of it,
heating him up even more somehow, and then
Harry pulled away.
Blood on his swollen, red mouth.
Ron blinked. "The truest, most important magic,"
he said, and it wasn't a question, because
something in Ron that didn't have anything to do
with books and school *understood*.
"The blood is the way," Harry said, and picked
up Ron's hand and kissed blood all over the
fingertips. Hot and strange and it was making
him hard. Harder.
When he opened his eyes, Harry was fading
away, and the light was no more special than
the sunlight in Ron's room. "Harry?"
"We need you," he said, and was gone.
Ron woke up with blood on his fingers.
And in the warm light of day, with the sounds
of his mum and whoever else she'd enlisted
getting breakfast done, it was definitely creepy.
But he didn't even know what day it was, and
the house was more like a fly-trap than a flower,
and there was something behind that door.
He wanted to *see*.
He eased out of bed, careful not to smear the
blood on his sheets, and waited until he couldn't
hear anyone out in the hall. His mum would be
calling for him soon.
He walked across the hall in his pajama bottoms,
and touched the door with his clean hand.
Nothing happened, but he thought...
He thought he could hear voices.
Ron swallowed hard and touched the doorknob
with his bloody fingertips, and there was a jolt of
power that he felt in his toes, and he thought his
hair was standing on end, but none of that was
important when the door swung open.
Or, not nothing, because no matter how dark a
room was, there was never a wall of *solid* black
when you opened a door from a lighted hallway.
"I just want to see," he said to himself, and
pushed his way through the black.
He drew the light as he remembered it. Something
like the inside of a lemon, only sweet and inviting.
He pushed it into the black.
And joined his new friends.