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Author's Chapter Notes:
disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I make no profit from this piece of entertainment.

spoilers: through Order of the Phoenix.

inspiration: "if I was twice the man i could be / I'd still be half of what you need" - "Ringfinger" - Nine Inch Nails, assigned by Muses Fool
"if I was twice the man i could be / I'd still be half of what you need" - "Ringfinger" - Nine Inch Nails

Ron thinks, sometimes, that he should be more like Charlie or Bill, steadfast and brave facing dragons, or too cool to be afraid of perishing in the pits of pyramids, or more like the twins, handing out laughter, and a release from tension, when it was needed the most, or more like his father, smart but still in awe of every new thing in the world.

Never, not one single time, has he wanted to be more like Percy, too intelligent and pompous and pushy. Even before Percy turned his back on his family, and grasped at his glory with all of his two hands, leaving nothing left for loyalty and love, Ron wanted to be nothing like perfect prefect Percy.

But when Ron sees Percy again, he’s alone, disgraced by the Ministry and dirty, disheveled in a way the perfect prefect never would have allowed himself to become. His forehead is bleeding, and there’s an old bandage on his left arm, and everything stinks of rot and dried blood and some bog-standard stench.

And Ron isn’t Charlie or Bill, or the twins, or his father. He’s not even Ginny, and she’s already seen Lord Voldemort in one form and another, and he knows she’s everything the others are, steadfast and brave and too cool to show her fear but smart enough to temper her impetuousness.

He kneels next to Percy, ignoring the battle that has moved on into another room of this ancient and noble house of Black. Percy still holds his wand in his good right hand, but it’s cracked, and Ron thinks it will snap in half if too much air brushes over it. Somewhere overhead, Professor Lupin has been released from his room and his chains, and he’s rampaging through the house. Ron’s parents are there, and his brothers, and he should be there, too, but a horde of Death Eaters came through the front door, and he and Hermione and Harry had tried to hold them off.

He doesn’t know when Percy arrived, or why, or even what side he’s on. All he knows is that it’s hot here, and hard to think, and his wand was broken in the last rush of battle before it moved away from him, up the stairs and down.

Ron touches Percy’s head, and he’s feverish, and he touches his throat, and his pulse is too fast, quite like a hummingbird trapped in flesh. Percy opens his eyes, and his mouth, but doesn’t speak, or can’t, and Ron can’t think of one single thing to say. He wishes Dumbledore was here, or even Snape, but no one has heard from either of them in weeks, not since Hagrid disappeared, and half their first line of defense with him.

Why don’t you love us? Ron wants to ask, and, why won’t you just say hello to mum and dad? And maybe, don’t you even care that our people are dying and your precious government was wrong? But he says nothing, and instead of standing and walking away, he strokes Percy’s forehead and his cheeks, and hopes that he’s not hurting his brother.

“Ron,” Percy whispers. His voice cracks in his throat, and Ron has to lean down to hear what he says. He bends over, pushes his ear right down against Percy’s mouth, and doesn’t see Percy’s hand lift, the wand still in one piece, despite the tight fist around it.

Ron can only just hear the spell, and doesn’t realize it works until his body hits the wall. He closes his eyes and waits for the killing spell, but all he can hear is the growl of his stomach, and what a time to be hungry, for the first time in days.

Except he doesn’t feel hungry, and the growling is accompanied by a tearing sound, and something like slurping. Ron opens his eyes, and wishes he hadn’t, because Professor Lupin is there, at least part of him, and the wolf is bent over Percy’s body, muzzle buried in his stomach, and Ron can see what’s left of Percy’s wand, bloody and broken, pieces scattered on the floor just past his outflung hand.

Ron thinks, sometimes, that he should be more like his brothers, steadfast and brave and loyal.

end


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