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Old 07-04-2005, 02:56 PM   #1950 (permalink)
r+h4ever1
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Harry shrugged hopelessly. He scanned his surroundings. The sky was forming odd shapes with its crimson and gold colors. Unconscious and dead bodies were spread in places across the dark, cool grass as the breeze ran past them, in a terrified state. Fawkes had flown off in the distance, and there was no sign of Ron or Hermione. George on the ground, his knees brought up to his chest as his chin balanced on his knees, his hands folded on the back of his head, breathing deeply. Fred stood with his feet apart, his hands behind his back as he scanned the sky intently. He, too, was determined to avoid looking at Kingsley and distracting himself, losing himself in the wonder of the night sky. Ginny was watching him carefully. He stared back at her blankly. Her blue eyes had grown dull and lost because of this war. He usual vibrant red hair hung at her shoulders plainly, her arms wrapped protectively around Rosie.

He felt a sudden urge to break something. This war was too real. He had never stopped to wonder how it would happen. He honestly didn’t think he would suffer any more losses. It was foolish. He knew it. He naively thought that someway, somehow, they would all be spared. But he soon realized that with love came those who wanted to destroy it. What better way to destroy a man than to take away the love he had…the ones he loved? The war had made him hard. He saw as the blue eyes drowned him that the war had made her small. He now saw her as a human. Flesh and blood, no more a golden idol to be worshipped who could do no wrong. Before the war, he had seen Ginny through the eyes of love…eyes that graced no one with faults. He saw a small, scared but determined girl, no longer that indestructible goddess princess he had once seen and praised her as. She was human…she didn’t want to be worshipped. She wanted to be loved. Those eyes said it all.

She was asking him to go on, to lead, to save her. She was pleading with his emerald eyes to be strong. How could he go on? How could he lead? How could he save her? How could he be strong? But those eyes told him. How could he disappoint her?

He broke the connection with difficulty. He looked into her arms to see Rosaline. Unlike those around her, Rosie’s eyes were alight with a curious flame that nothing could quench. She was in awe of the world around her as she played with Ginny’s damp locks. One bounced when the child’s tiny grip released the little one gasped in delighted surprise.

Harry was jealous. He had become so guarded and suspicious. He found it hard to trust not only others, but even himself. But not Rosie. She was so willing to trust, to see the best in people. She relied on that to keep her alive. Once she felt safe, as she did in Ginny’s care, she let that guard down. How innocent she was! How simple the world appeared through those angelic eyes. The baby yawned briefly, letting her drool of joy stream from her toothless smile, and she looked at Harry and grinned. It made Harry’s heart hurt.

Tonk’s suddenly let out a gasp of surprise. The moment passed. “LOOK!”

~~~~~

“Hermione?” Ron said, sinking to his knees beside her.



Hermione could not bear to look at her mother any longer. She set her mother’s body down and turned away. She looked up at Ron with lost, sad, brown eyes. “She’s gone, Ron,” she squeaked through her tears.



“I know,” he said in a soothing whisper. She propped herself up all the way on her knees and put her arms around his middle, resting her head on his chest. He closed his arms around her small shoulders, holding her close, his cheek on top of her head. “I know. I’m so sorry.”



“I didn’t get to say goodbye,” she whispered into him.



“I know,” Ron said again as she tightened her hold on him. Her arms squeezed her small frame closer into him as though trying to get inside of him.



“It hurts,” she confessed. She truly sounded as though she were in agonizing physical pain. “It hurts so much.” Ron felt tears well up in his eyes. He squinted to empty them, kissing the top of her head. “When will it stop hurting?” she asked to no one, a fistful of his shirt gathering in her fist. She sniffed, swallowing excess amounts of saliva and grief as he rocked her back and forth. Ron did not know what to say. He wanted to give her an answer. He wanted to take away the pain himself, but he knew all too well he had no such power.



She sniffed again, drying her face on his robes before lifting her chin to look at him. She put a hand up to cradle his cheek. He nuzzled against it, closing his eyes and kissing her fingers. “I’m so glad I have you, Ron. I’m glad you’re here.” He smiled slightly, holding her closer still. She made her way so that her face was the crook of his freckled neck and sighed mournfully. “Promise me that you don’t leave me, Ron. Promise me.”



Ron opened his eyes and looked down at her. Her eyes were closed, teardrops clinging to her soft brown eyelashes. Her lovely face was cringing in heartache. He knew such a promise would be fated to be broken, and be the death of both of them. In nearly five hours, he had seen so many people he knew and loved die. He knew he should not make such a pact. If he broke it, he would burn in hell for the heat of her further agony. But somehow, through his tears, he found himself promising, “I promise. For you, I promise.”



She nodded, stroking him with a weak touch. He trembled at the gentleness. It was the kiss of a butterfly’s wing against him. The frailty filled him, and it made him wonder. How could she still be gentle after what happened? How come she wasn’t hard and cold?



She let out a shaky sigh and sob and said, “Thank you for saving my life in the lake…and the Shack.”



He smiled kindly at her, blushing modestly. “Yes. That’s two times, isn’t it?”



She opened her eyes and looked at him curiously. He’s amazing hazel eyes were thoughtful. “Yes,” she breathed.



“You owe me,” he said, still deep in thought. She said nothing, partly because she didn’t know how to respond, and partly because the statement surprised her. She just watched him. “You owe me the rest of your life.”



Hermione’s heart slammed against her chest. Did he mean what she thought he meant? Was he really be asking what she thought he asking? She could hardly find her voice. “Ron…a…are you propo…” she began.



He put a finger to her mouth to stop her. “Not yet. I’m just asking you to give us a fighting chance…no matter what.” She looked at him in wonder. He was looking off toward her father, blushing fit to burst. “You owe me the rest of your life,” he repeated softly.



“It’s yours,” she barely whispered, her nose stinging as she fought back more tears.



Before anymore was said, something landed next to Hermione. Instinctively, they both broke their embrace and whipped around, alert. But all they found was an elegant, crimson bird. Hermione gasped. She had never met Fawkes before, but she knew it was a phoenix. Ron, who only saw him once before, watched the bird carefully.



“Tears of healing powers,” Hermione whispered.



They watched as the bird waddled on over to Mr. Granger. The man was still unconscious, his body covered in bruises and scars. Fawkes inspected him before crying into his scrapes. When the task was finished, the bird went to Hermione. No inspection was needed for her.



Hermione felt her wounds seal themselves shut; the tears cool on the dull burns of blood. The bird backed away from her and watched her a moment. She looked at her mother once again. Fawkes didn’t even bother to cry over Mrs. Grangers many wounds. Hermione looked at him and smiled sadly. “Thank you, but some cuts can’t be healed.”



Ron gripped her shoulder, but not for comfort. It was a warning signal. Somewhere in the distance, Tonks’s voice rang out. “LOOK!” Hermione looked over at Ron whose eyes were glued to the sky above. The phoenix was gone, but the crimson remained. The smoky clouds had taken the shape of words…riddles.
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