An excerpt from Transmission by EruditeWitch

Summary: An immediately post-war fic centered on Hermione and Harry’s friendship and Ron and Ginny’s relationship as they cope with all of the sudden changes and losses.
Lyrics by The Nixons

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Hermione Granger attempted to stifle her racing heart as chaos erupted around her in the Hospital Wing. Injured witches and wizards, injured friends reaching out for her help were flowing in. Madam Pomfrey was an effective leader, commanding the still standing to aid the ill. She was currently trying to piece together and heal the large bloody wound overtaking Lavender Brown as Parvati held her hand in worry.

“Hermione!” Neville shouted, drawing her attentions back to the task at hand. Dean Thomas was levitating Seamus Finnigan, a torn rag doing nothing to stop the blood gushing out of a wound on his leg. Hermione rushed over and directed him to an open cot.

“I’ll be fine, help the others first,” Seamus groaned, though his face was sweating and screwed up in pain.

“No!” shouted Dean sternly, immediately taking Seamus’ hand. “You need help, f*ck’s sake I will not lose you…not after I’ve finally found my way back.”

“Dittany, please, Neville,” she said quietly, a knot in her throat affecting her vocal chords. She was struck by the open affection and concern between Dean and Seamus, but quickly let it go. She knew she would act the same way toward Ron. She was diverted away from the question that thought raised about Seamus and Dean as Neville placed a freshly made dish of dittany in her hand.

“I must clean this before I can heal it, Seamus,” Hermione said, studying the long, oozing wound that stretched down the length of Seamus’ shin and partially exposed the bone. “This will hurt.”

Dean took Seamus’ bloody hand more tightly in his and leaned in, whispering in his ear. Hermione swept her wand over his leg, casting a Cleansing Spell. Seamus tried to hold back a scream as tears ran down his face, but eventually he yelled out. Hermione felt her own tears shed in empathy for her housemate. She dug her fingers generously into the cool dittany and swathed it over the bloody gash, sealing it almost instantly. Seamus’ breathing slowed.

“Can you bandage this just in case? Also, find Slughorn and get some Blood-Replenishing Potion. Seamus looks deathly pale,” she said to Neville, shaking. He put a hand on her back.

“Sure. Will you be okay?” he asked, looking very concerned.

Hermione nodded, moving quickly to the next person waiting for help. She knew she was useful here. She had a textbook awareness of general Healing Spells, but she ached to be near Ron. She had stood there in the Great Hall on the edge, wanting to grab him, hold him tightly, and comfort him. But she felt like an intruder on the Weasley family’s sadness, so she did nothing. Now, all she wanted to do was make his hurt lessen in any way she could.

She finished up her tasks and Madame Pomfrey suggested she get some rest in Gryffindor Tower. Hermione hoped she could find Ron, Harry, and all of the Weasleys resting there too. She walked briskly away from the Hospital Wing, cleaning the blood off of her clothes as she went. However, she suddenly felt very sick. Everything she had done, seen, and felt on this day seemed to invade her mind.

Overwhelmed, she leaned over a bin in the deserted hallway and vomited, shaking violently.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Harry was unsure of what to do. He knew he was hungry and should eat, but after handing the bodies of Lupin and Tonks over to The Newly Established Interim Slap Dash Ministry, he didn’t feel like summoning Kreacher and getting food. Yes, he was relieved and felt better than he had in ages, but he wanted to find his friends … he wanted to find Ginny. Harry felt he didn’t have much to offer in the category of comfort, but he still wanted to be there for the Weasleys if they needed anything. He knew Hermione would chastise him for thinking so, but Harry couldn’t help but feel slightly responsible for the horrible loss of Fred Weasley.

As Harry padded thoughtfully through the halls, he heard someone coughing. He rounded the corner to find Hermione bent over a bin, her bushy hair falling around her face. Harry was slightly shocked at seeing her so ill composed, but rushed over and gathered her hair into his hands, casting a cleaning spell as he did so. He couldn’t begin to imagine what was going through her complicated mind.

Thoughts of what we were invade
The miles that stand between
We can’t separate
You’re all I hoped you’d become

Harry sat on his knees next to her and ran comforting circles down her back with his free hand. He marveled at how brave and compassionate she was, even now in the aftermath of war. He thought back to the rules-obsessed know-it-all of their first year and smiled at how different she had become … yet still she remained Hermione. He couldn’t ask for a better friend. She had fought bravely, and now they had the rest of their lives to get back to some semblance of normality. Hermione finally sat back against the wall, shaking and catching her breath.

“Harry, there were so many,” she cried, tears falling down her face. Harry put an arm around her and let her rest her head on his shoulder. Harry felt useful in this new role. No longer was he the beleaguered and reluctant hero…right now he was just Harry: Hermione’s friend. It felt good that he could finally support her instead of the other way around.

“Poor Fred. I want to comfort them, but I’m not sure how,” she cried.

“I know how you feel,” he muttered. She backed away and met his eyes, that familiar all-knowing glance dancing in her dark brown irises.

“Have you spoken with Ginny yet?” she asked. Harry shook his head. Though she was sitting, she had still managed to put her hands on her hips and look at him sternly, puffy eyes and all.

Harry had to laugh to himself. She looked just like good old Hermione, despite all the pain she had suffered. It gave him endless contentment to know his best friend was still there and relatively unscathed. She returned his smile and giggled a little at her own demeanor.

Sister I see you
Dancing on the stage
Of memory
Sister I miss you

“Remember when we were about to go through the trap door during our first year and you were convinced you weren’t going to get expelled because Flitwick told you that you scored 112 percent on your exam?”

Hermione laughed and nodded. “My priorities are a little better now,” she said, rising to her feet. She winced a little as she rose. Harry felt guilt surge further through him. She might always be sore from that horrible night. Harry took her hand, and turned her attention to him. She looked concerned and confused.

“I’m so sorry,” he started.

Hermione went to question him, but he stopped her. He tried to hold back his own tears as he attempted to say what he had wanted to say for weeks now.

“I’m sorry I said his name. I’m sorry we were caught. I’m sorry for what they did to you…what she did. It should have been me,” he said, a tear falling down his cheek. “You’ve always been family to me, you and Ron. I should have…” Harry tried to finish, but couldn’t find his words. Thoughts he had been holding back while he tried to destroy Voldemort were invading his head at an alarming pace. This was just one of many.

Hermione flung her arms around him in her characteristic way and pulled him close.

“That’s nothing compared to the moment I thought you were dead,” she whispered.

Harry lingered there, holding her tightly until she pulled away.

“Come on, let’s go to the common room and get some rest. I’m sure the Weasleys will be staying tonight,” she said gently.

As they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower, Hermione indicated her plans to go to Australia in two days to retrieve her parents. She would spend the next day in London getting their affairs in order, and then she would organize Portkeys to get her to them as soon as possible.

Harry wanted to go with her, but she insisted on doing this on her own, and he expected nothing less.

Fleeting visits pass
Still they satisfy
Reminders of the next
Overshadow goodbye
Our flames burn as one

Harry was impressed at her brilliance and a little shocked at the lengths she went to protect her family. Then again, Ron said it best: Hermione Granger was scary; brilliant, but scary. He had forgotten those little things that made her so brilliant throughout the past year, just taking for granted she would be there. Now that the dust had cleared, he could get a good look at all she did. Harry knew he owed Hermione and Ron more than he could ever repay, not that they would let him repay it anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ron Weasley straightened his back and attempted to remain stalwart, even amidst his family’s overwhelming grief. He stood next to the table holding Fred, touching sides with Bill and Charlie to create a wall of protection between Fred’s lifeless form and the rest of the Great Hall. Ron struggled to keep himself from crying as his mother wept, her head on Fred’s chest. No tears fell when his father began weeping as well, as he hastily comforted her. Ron kept his delicate composure when he noticed the blank look on George’s face as he held Fred’s head in his lap. Ron even held it together when Fleur walked up and put her arms around Bill’s waist, and he cried on her shoulder. Ron began to falter when Charlie broke down and took Fred’s cold hand, crying into it. At last tears welled in Ron’s eyes as he took in the vision of Percy, who was wiping droplets of tears from his horn-rimmed glasses.

As the pressure of their grief mounted, the only ones left standing in the Weasley family were Ron and Ginny, both of whom were fighting against the desire to fall victim to their anguish. He looked over at his sister, defiant with her jaw clenched as tightly as her fists. She looked torn between wanting to fall next to their parents and her need to stay strong. Ron knew how she was feeling, and he sympathized with the little girl that used to run barefoot through the high grass of their fields. What was going to happen to the fire that had always burned so brightly in her? What was going to happen to their whole family?

Sister I see you
Dancing on the stage
Of memory
Sister I miss you

Percy placed his glasses back on his head and put a tentative arm around Ginny, obviously still unsure of his place in the family…despite their grief. Ron watched in horror as her lips quivered and her brown eyes began to water. She spun her body around, fiery hair flying like a wave, and buried her face into Percy’s chest. She looked more like a little girl than she had in years.

Bill placed his free hand on Ron’s shoulder while Charlie joined him again on the other side. Ron felt safer than he had felt since that awful snake attacked his father. He was with his family, and there was no more danger to threaten them all. Ron finally allowed himself to cry, pushing down the anger and the need for vengeance. He stood there, immersed in the silent vigil of his family until minutes…maybe hours later, Bill cleared his throat and walked over to his father.

“We need to begin arrangements for a funeral,” Bill whispered gently.

“Next to Gideon and Fabian,” said his mother, wiping her tears on a handkerchief Arthur had provided for her.

“I will see to it,” Bill said, rising and taking Fleur’s hand as he walked toward the exit of the hall.

Ron watched his mother stand up slowly, trembling as she did, and clutching his father’s arm.

Ron was finding it hard to move, as if leaving that small corner would prove this was real, that Fred was truly gone. Molly looked as though she was about to speak, but it took a few moments before she found her words.

“We should all try and get some rest. Minerva has offered to put your father and me in one of the staff quarters…” she started, surveying all of her children.

“Fleur and I are going to sleep in Ravenclaw Tower,” said Bill. “Flitwick plans to be awake for a while to do the repairs, and he asked if I would watch over the students who are still here.”

He hugged his father, followed by Fleur, and then kissed his mother on the cheek. She pulled him into a full hug, causing Ron to think that she looked afraid to let him go. Bill obliged by lingering until, at last, she pulled away.

“Charlie, Percy, Ginny, Ron…” Molly started, stopping to look at George, who had not moved from his spot at Fred’s head, “…and George, why don’t you lot go to the Gryffindor common room and try to rest? We’ll head home tomorrow morning when we can be assured everything is safe,” she said, her normally strong voice nothing more than a weak whisper. She threw a sheet over Fred, kissed him softly, and covered his face. Only then did George stand.

Ron walked slowly to his parents, and into the arms of his mother who hugged him tightly.

“My brave boy,” she whispered, causing Ron to feel a wave of something indescribable rush over him. He was simultaneously comforted and sad.

Percy walked beside George, monitoring him, but giving him space as the remaining Weasleys made their way to the tower. Ron followed, listening to the plodding of his large feet along the ruins of the hallway. He could hear Ginny walking next to him, but did little to acknowledge she was there. When they reached the portrait, the Fat Lady simply smiled and swung open. Charlie mumbled a thank you.

“I’m going to the pub,” he said, Disapparating, taking advantage of the lack of wards in the aftermath of the victory. No one protested, too tired, numb, relieved, stricken…too many things to admonish Charlie for drinking.

Ron didn’t know what to expect upon entering the familiar confines of the common room, but to find it empty and cold wasn’t on the list. The morning light was starting to peek through the stained glass, and Ron assumed those who remained were well into sleep. Percy went through all the dormitories to take inventory, and came back stating that the first through fourth years boys’ dorms were empty. He then immediately followed George to the first year boy’s dorm, keeping an unspoken watch on the remaining twin.

Ron knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he saw Harry and Hermione, just to be sure. After months of sharing a small sleeping quarter and depending on each other for safety, he wouldn’t feel completely settled until he saw those two. Ron noticed Ginny still standing in the common room and figured she wasn’t ready to sleep either, though her reasoning was most likely slightly different. Ron set about making a fire to quell the draft of the spring morning.

The radio in the common room flicked on, and Lee Jordan’s voice came rolling out and filling up the room. He was recapping the events of last night. Ron let the words go in one ear and out the other, not wanting to dwell on the good or the bad any more that night. Then, Lee started listing off those that had lost their lives. Ron tried not to listen. He didn’t want Fred’s death to become any more real than it already was.

He silently gathered wood and carefully placed the logs on the hearth. He watched Ginny from the corner of his eye as she sat on the sofa, pulling her legs up so that her chin rested on her knees. She seemed so small, much smaller than normal. Ron flashed back yet again to their early childhood, when Ginny had been literally small, but full of vigor and curiosity. She still maintained some of that youthful spark despite the weight on all their shoulders.

All I am begins with you
Thoughts of hope understood
Half of me breathes in you
Thoughts of love remain true

Being only a year apart, Ron and Ginny were forced to live their young lives out at the same time. Their mother even dressed them in similar clothes, much to their dismay. But seeing his sister, his first friend in his short life, looking so lost, reminded him of every bruised knee and bedtime story, of every bit of mischief and teasing. This hurt was even more visceral that her Harry-inspired heartbreak. His powerfully strong little sister was hurt, just like he was. He took a seat near her on the opposite side of the sofa. They sat in silence, watching the fire crackle wildly against the bone-dry wood.

“Remember when you left for Hogwarts?” Ginny asked, her voice piercing the silence of the nearly vacant room. Ron started at the sudden words and nodded. “Fred said he would send me a toilet seat.”

Ron chuckled slightly at the memory.

“I never told anyone this, but he actually sent one,” she said, smiling through her wet eyes.

“Blimey! Those buggers!” Ron said, a tearful, sad sort of happiness coursing through him. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Well, it became our inside joke. I would leave it in the weirdest places with messages, and he or George would write back. When they left Hogwarts, I sent the seat to the shop with the words ‘your education’ emblazoned on it and an arrow pointing at the hole.”

Ron laughed, a mirthful, nostalgic laugh, and moved closer to her on the couch. She snuggled next to him like they had done when they were little and she became frightened. He was glad to have her there at that moment.

Entwined, you and I
Our souls speak from across the miles
Intertwined, you and I
Our blood flows from the same inside
Half of me, breathes in you
Thoughts of love remain true

“You knew Fred slept with a stuffed duck, right?” Ron asked, and she nodded. “Well, I got my revenge for the spider incident the summer after third year. I switched it with a live duck. Mum blamed him for all the poo on his pillow!”

“That’s why he chucked Duckworth!” she giggled, growing silent again as the fire crackled even more loudly.

“He didn’t F*CKING deserve it!” Ginny yelled, giving into her sobs. Ron rubbed her back, trying to comfort her and hold in his own pain. He couldn’t, however, and his cries soon mirrored hers. He pulled her close, seeking solace as much as giving it. Eventually, she pulled away.

“I’m such a bloody woman!” she exclaimed, wiping her eyes.

“’S okay,” Ron said, unsure of how to respond. He sat there for a long time, just waiting for their sadness to subside. It would likely be inevitable that their sadness would ebb and flow as they carried on with their lives. Ron could only hope he would always be there when she needed him.

“Hermione kissed me,” he said, hoping his confession might cheer her slightly. When he was younger and she was sad, he’d just pull faces until she couldn’t stop laughing. But now that seemed unlikely, so he proceeded to regale her with the tale.

When he finished talking, she whispered, “About time,” and fell asleep leaning against him. He summoned a blanket, laid it over them both, put his arm around her, and drifted off.

I see you, I feel you
When I close my eyes
I see walking there…
I see you dancing in my mind

A gentle prodding at his shoulder awakened Ron. He opened his eyes to find Harry looking down at him, still dirty, cut, and bruised from battle. Ron shifted slightly and a sleepy groan emanated from Ginny. He placed his fingers on his lips and indicated to Harry that he should do something about Ginny without waking her. With surprising strength for someone of a much smaller stature who hadn’t slept well in almost a year, he scooped Ginny into his arms, tilting his body so her head could rest on his shoulder. He pointed at the stairwell that wouldn’t collapse on them and began walking slowly towards it.

Ron felt delicate fingers curl around his arm to help him up, and looked to see Hermione gazing down at him, concern etched on her face. She looked tired. Her hair was hastily tied up in an unimaginable way, with frizzes and strands falling out unceremoniously around her face. She was thin and pale, months of meager food, running, and fear taking its toll on her physique. But as Ron rose up and stood near her, the faint smell of grass and dirt coming from her, he felt overwhelmed by a barrage of emotions that wanted to all escape him at the same time.

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to him, her small form fitting perfectly against his broad and bony chest. He couldn’t help but think about how close it all came to ending, how close he had been to losing her. Her screams from the night she was tortured still rang in his mind, and while he knew she had recovered, he still wasn’t accustomed to how fragile and delicate their lives had become in that final month. When she sighed a tired and mildly contented sigh, Ron pulled away, leading her to where Harry and Ginny had gone to rest.

When they got to the door with the number 4 on it, they heard low and anxious voices coming from the other side. Hermione looked up at him, almost as if pleading with him to not interrupt them and just go to bed. He loved how her eyes could communicate so much without saying anything.

Ron took her hand and walked back down the steps to the doorway marked 3. He flicked his wand at the heater to activate it, radiating gentle warmth through his old dorm. Hermione readied the bedclothes of the one that used to be his, so Ron began to do the same to Neville’s. However, Hermione placed her hand on his arm, lowered his wand, and crawled into the open bed. She patted the area beside her, a nervous blush creeping from beyond the dirt and blood smeared on her face. He took off his shoes and socks and climbed next to her.

Without a word she turned to him and pulled him close to her, so that his face was buried in the warmth of her neck. Ron gripped her tightly, so happy she was alive in the same moment that he felt so empty with loss. He let out a few more shaking sobs as her sniffles could be heard above his head. Among the symphony of gentle crying, he drifted into sleep in her arms.

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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