An excerpt from Potterwatch by EruditeWitch

Summary: A missing moment from Deathly Hallows during and after Malfoy Manor.
Lyrics by The Spill Canvas

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“No!”

The word echoed in Ron Weasley’s mind. It moved through his veins like a razorblade, cutting him with every agonizing thought. He tried to yell, to let his anguish out, but he was frozen, unable to commit to the simplest motion. The pain was exhaustive. Her pain was his, and being separated by a wall of dark rock only served to drive Ron further into a pit. He felt as though he was ceasing to exist with each of her screams.

Everything else happened in a blur. Dobby arrived, though Ron didn’t know how. The only thing going through Ron’s mind was her. The screaming had stopped, which was even more disconcerting. He had no guarantee that she was still alive, and he wanted to vomit. He told the elf where to take everyone. He hoped that somehow he could take Hermione away from this … hopefully alive and well.

Scabbers – no, Wormtail – was on his way down. The door opened, which gave him hope of seeing Hermione again, and Ron’s arms and legs burned to burst forth … to touch her … to feel that she was indeed still there, still alive, still with him in some way. He was desperate, and he would stop at nothing. When Harry suggested a fight, Ron almost leapt out of his skin in anticipation of beating any one of the f*ckers that had hurt her. In what seemed like a flash to Ron’s numbed mind, Wormtail was dying. Then he heard her scream, and nothing else mattered.

Ron moved beside Harry up the stairs. There she was. She wasn’t moving. There was chatter amongst the Death Eaters, and it was probably important, but Ron was zeroed in on her face, unmoving, and at her chest, not rising and falling in the way he had come to memorize.

“And I think,” said Bellatrix’s voice, “we can dispose of the Mudblood. Greyback, take her if you want her.”

He felt Harry’s arm reach out across his chest and it snapped him back to reality. Harry wanted him to stay back, but the next words from above caused his entire being to combust, and he couldn’t hold on, not even for Harry.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” He screamed. That feral rage … that sense of limitless desperation … was finally freeing itself from his lips in a wave of fury. He ran up the stairs, the numbness and darkness he had felt only a moment before now replaced with a sharpness and clarity that was almost unbearable.

He could feel the warmth as he left the cold and dark hallway and moved into the grandness of the great room of Malfoy Manor. He could smell the filthy reeking of a dying dog wafting off of Greyback. He could taste the salt and dried blood that flowed down his face. He could see the light reflecting off the chandelier and he moved quickly into battle. He could hear her…even in the midst of disarming his opponents. He could hear her tiny breaths, and it moved him forward.

Despite his clarity, time slowed. He saw Harry obviously bounding up the steps just behind him, but he took an agonizingly long time to arrive on the scene. He disarmed her – that offensive, sorry excuse for a woman. He took that vile wand from her and took aim at the Malfoys with Wormtail’s wand. Hermione’s still form remained on the floor, and there was murder in his heart.

The sureness and the clarity disappeared as Bellatrix took Hermione and pressed a knife to the soft skin on her throat. The blood that fell from her neck hypnotized him, and he dropped the wands robotically. He was going to die. He wanted to die. Life without her was a hell he didn’t even want to think about.

How does it feel to know you’re everything I need
The butterflies in my stomach
They could bring me to my knees
How does it feel to know you’re everything I want
I’ve got a hard time saying this
So I’ll sing it in a song

Ron prepared to die. There was no point in fighting. He was a coward, and without her, he was even less than that. The blood dripped down her shirt like macabre sand in an eternal hourglass, ticking away to their deaths. He shook as he fought his despair. He still had Harry. Harry needed him and he couldn’t leave his best mate again. As Harry’s shoulder pressed against him, Ron closed his mind to his fear and thought only of Harry’s need.

As his will strengthened, Ron saw a glimmer of hope out of the corner of his eye. Dobby was back. He came though for them in a more heroic way than the Ron of yesterday would have scarcely imagined. Then came an ominous creaking sound from above.

Bellatrix cast her prey aside as if the whole world didn’t depend on that brilliant young witch waking up. Ron wanted to run to her, but a crash snapped him from determination. The massive structure of glass and light fell from the ceiling and was covering all but Hermione’s delicate left hand. He ran to her, ignoring the shards of glass piercing his face. He dug for her, paying no attention as his fingers dripped blood on the pristine crystal.

He got to her, and his clarity returned. The pain from the glass felt good, it made him feel alive. He pulled her close to him, pressed his chest against hers and felt the faint beating of her heart. The drumming restored life to every inch of him.

“Ron, catch- and GO!”

Harry’s determined face swam in Ron’s eyes as a small wand flew through the air toward him. He looked at Harry, grateful for not giving in. Now, the world consisted only of his need to gaze into her eyes again as he apparated to Bill and Fleur’s cottage by the sea.

He landed on his feet, the spongy ground keeping his ankles from giving out from the force of his Apparition. He held her close to him and ran toward the back door of the cottage on the cliff. He pounded on the door with his foot, not wanting to let loose his grip on the broken Hermione. His brother answered the door, wand drawn. He looked horrified at the sight of them.

“What position did I play in quidditch?”

“You didn’t play. There were too many girls to snog…”

“What the hell happened?” Bill asked, moving aside to let Ron in. Fleur stood a few feet behind, a menacing look marring her beautiful features – a look that faded into worry as Ron sprinted up the stairs to lay Hermione in the room with the blue curtains. He barely even registered the presence of Luna on the settee and the sight of Dean leaning over her.

She let out a quiet groan as her laid her down on the narrow bed. She felt so small in his arms, so fragile. Hermione had never before seemed so breakable to him. Instead, she had always seemed larger than life, radiating a strength that would positively influence anyone around her. Now, she lay weak, limp, and barely breathing.

Oh I adore the way you carry yourself
With the grace of a thousand angels overhead
I love the way the galaxy starts to melt
When we become one
When we become one

“What happened, Ron?” asked Bill quietly as he walked into the room and placed a hand on his youngest brother’s shoulder.

“Harry is on his way. I think the goblin is hurt,” Ron answered, and Bill rushed out of the room. Ron sat on the end table and began to fish glass from the cuts on her face, careful not to cause her additional pain. He flinched which each sliver of glass he took from her skin, but continued.

“Ron, I need to know what ‘appened, so zat I can ‘elp,” Fleur whispered, catching him off guard.

“I can’t tell you,” he said distractedly, moving his wand over each wound carefully, still removing glass.

Fleur swooped down next to him and put a soft hand on his bleeding arm. He didn’t look up from his task.

“You can trust me. I won’t tell Beel if you don’t want me too…”

At this, Ron looked up at her. Her ice blue eyes were gazing at him with affection and understanding, the same way Hermione had always looked at him in their rare moments of levity. Ron had no choice but to trust Fleur. The world be damned, Hermione needed help.

“She may have been tortured,” Ron said, running his hands lightly along her nose, the one area of her face that had not been cut. He couldn’t keep his hands from her, for fear she might vanish, and he would find himself somehow back in that awful dungeon. Fleur’s bare feet padded delicately into the room as she re-entered, holding some bottles filled with various potions.

“Okay. First, we need to get all of zis glass out of ze way,” she lifted her wand and Ron stood in front of Hermione.

“You’ll hurt her!”

“It needs to be done…”

Ron gave up, already cringing over what it would feel like.

“Zis will hurt you too…Accio glass!”

And before he could heed her warning, the shards of the chandelier were pulled from his flesh. He watched as the blood-dotted crystal flew to the ceiling and towards Fleur’s wand. He felt burning and piercing as Fleur guided the shards of glass to a bowl she had placed on the floor next to her. As he was about to let his body take over and cry out in pain, Hermione let out a whimper. Flushed with relief at her ability to vocalize, Ron suppressed his own pain and ran to her side.

Tiny stains of blood were appearing on the sleeves of her jacket, the front of her shirt, and along her legs. He tried to comfort her as she slowly woke, tears streaming down her scratched and bloodied face.

“Ron?” she eeked out. He went to answer, but Fleur interrupted.

“First, we ‘ave to heal zees cuts. Ron, take off her jacket. I’ll get her socks and jeans,” she said, immediately pulling off her socks and unbuttoning Hermione’s jeans.

Ron turned his back and tried to focus on sitting her up carefully and sliding the jacket over her shoulders, leaving her in only a tattered sleeveless top. Her arms seemed in even worse condition than her face, for the cuts were deeper. He laid her carefully back on the pillow, but when she groaned, he clasped her hand between his, trying to comfort her as she slowly became alert. He could hear Fleur whispering spells that would mend her broken skin, but Ron was terrified at what else might be broken inside her. He thought back to Neville’s parents in the hospital and moved closer to Hermione and gently pulled her arm to his chest. She started to cry as Fleur’s wand continued to seal the small wounds on her face, leaving behind what looked like mild burns that slowly faded.

“Shhhhh, Hermione. You’re okay. You’re safe,” he whispered, smoothing her hair back so he could better see her eyes, but they were still closed. He fought back the horrific lump that was rising in his throat, and kissed her forehead.

“It hurts,” she whispered, gripping his hand. Fleur handed him a bottle of blue liquid he knew to be pain potion.

“Drink this, love, it’ll help,” he said, brining a shaking hand to her lips as he guided her to sit up with his other. Fleur quickly stacked pillows behind her to hold Hermione’s weak form upright.

She swallowed greedily, causing herself to cough. The look of pain on her face told Ron that the simple act of coughing was exceedingly difficult for her. It ripped Ron up to see the tears in her eyes, especially since he still did not know how the ordeal had affected her emotionally. He barely got a half open glimpse from her as she cringed in pain.

“Fleur! I need some skelegro!” Bill’s panicked voice came from the bottom of the stairs. She shuffled out of the room quickly and quietly.

Ron was completely at a loss. He ran his hands over her shaking back, pulling her toward him and attempting to calm and comfort her in any way he could. She just sobbed, and the sound of her choked cries tore through him once again. Sure, she was safe and he was there, but he couldn’t do anything more to help her. He closed his eyes to keep from crying himself, and silently resolved to be there when his Hermione fully returned.

“Oh ‘Mione! I’m sorry.” He whispered between her quiet gasps for breath, letting his warm hands run over the chilled skin on her arms.

“None of this is your fault. It’s unfathomable that you should apologize for what she…” Hermione spoke weakly, choking on her words. He was never so happy to hear her slightly condescending tone in all of his life. She gazed at him with pain, but also with affection and understanding.

He sat there, watching the light of a candle flicking in her glassy eyes. Then, forgetting any fear or misgiving, he moved to the bed and pulled her into his arms, resting his head in her hair and crying with her.

How does it feel when we get locked into a stare?
Please don’t come looking for me
When I get lost in the mess of your hair
How do you feel when everything you’ve known
Gets thrown aside
Never fear, my dear, ’cause we have nothing left to hide

“I thought I had lost you. I couldn’t…I can’t…” he said into her hair.

“I was scared. I wanted to die. I never wanted to get out of that alive. I didn’t intend to,” she said, her warm breath grazing his shoulder as she spoke. “The pain was too much. I didn’t want to live if it meant having to feel that.”

“Oh Hermione! No. I can’t go on with all of this without you here,” he said, his heart pounding at the thought of her giving up.

“I heard you yelling and I stayed strong. I lied, knowing you and Harry needed me to,” she said, her voice gaining some strength in the process.

“It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever heard,” he whispered, moving his hands to her face. He wasn’t shocked at his own open actions, for he simply craved feeling her and knowing she was real.

There was so much more to say. He wanted to tell her how they made it out, how Dobby saved them all in the nick of time. He wanted to show her what Harry had seen in the mirror, but as her breathing began to slow, all he wanted to do was hold onto her until for as long as he could.

“I promise, Hermione, I’ll always be there.”

“You kept that promise, Ron,” she said, pulling back and looking into his eyes. The relief at feeling her there faded, and it left him with an urge to kiss every inch of her face. Those feelings made him feel guilty for being so insensitive, so he settled for crawling into the bed next to her, laying down and letting her rest her head on his chest.

Hold on to me girl
If you feel your grip getting loose
Just know that I’m right next to you
Hold on to me girl
If you feel your grip getting loose
Just know that I won’t let you down

Approximately an hour later, Fleur came in, accompanied by Bill, and Ron couldn’t hold back the blush at them finding him like that with Hermione.

“The elf is dead. Harry doesn’t seem to be taking it well,” Bill said. Ron gasped and carefully laid Hermione’s sleeping form back on her pillow as Bill walked back out of the room. Fleur walked forward with a bundle of clothing. She set it on the nightstand and conjured a patronus.

“Ron ees ‘ere. We are safe. Molly and Geeny are at Muriel’s. I will keep in touch,” she said, sending her dove on its way.

“What was that for?” he asked, wondering which member of his family she would feel compelled to notify. Fleur looked reluctant to say, and that’s all the answer Ron needed.

“That git…” but Ron didn’t’ finish his rant as he looked out the window and saw Harry digging a hole in the yard. He looked back at Hermione and felt torn.

“I weel wake ‘er shortly. I must check for any more injuries anyway,” Fleur said gently. Ron raced down the stairs and out the door.

He found Harry digging furiously, unaware of the world around him. Dean was just watching, almost mesmerized by Harry’s pain. He saw the small bundle wrapped in Harry’s coat, its feet sticking out of the bottom. He could hear the slap of the metal shovel in the dirt. Ron tasted the salt on his lips form the sea below them.

“How’s Hermione?”

“Better,” said Ron. “Fleur’s looking after her.”

He didn’t need to ask Harry why he wasn’t just casting a spell. Harry needed to vent, needed to think, needed to grieve. Ron wouldn’t stop that, but he would help. The dirt that Harry flung out of the expanding hole smelled so visceral that Ron was compelled to go in and help him dig. Soon, Dean followed, digging out of honor and respect for the elf that got them out of that dungeon, and away from death.

The cold breeze ran across the back of his neck, and he shuddered. This brave elf had kept them all from death for one more day. He had risked his life, and because of that, Hermione was still with them. Ron looked again at his tiny bare feet as Harry wrapped him more tightly in the coat, and felt struck by the memory of Dobby receiving socks with gusto at Christmas. He took his own socks and put them on his feet as Hermione hobbled over to the makeshift funeral. He put his arm around her, pulling her close to him and away from the cold uncertainty of their tomorrow.

If I had to choose a way to die
It’d be with you
In a goosebump infested embrace
With my overanxious hands cupping your face
In a goosebump infested embrace
With my overanxious hands cupping your cherub face

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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