A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Harry Potter quite obviously belongs to JK Rowling and her publishers. I should also point out that the structure of this fic is inspired by, "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Album. Which also doesn't belong to me
The First Person Ron Meets In Heaven
"Hello, Ron," said Percy. "I've been waiting for you."
"Y-you...?" replied Ron, reeling backwards slightly and resting against the door frame to support himself. "W-why? W-what are you doing here?"
"I was chosen to be," Percy replied simply.
"Chosen?" Ron was struggling under a torrent of emotions, switching from confusion to the urge to knock Percy's teeth out. Reflecting that they were both dead anyway, and the effort probably wouldn't have the desired effect, he instead chose to ignore the outstretched hand.
"Ron, please don't be angry..." Percy's voice was calm and reasoning, and only served to anger Ron even more.
"ANGRY? DON'T BE ANGRY? AFTER WHAT YOU DID TO OUR FAMILY - SORRY, MY FAMILY." Percy flinched at Ron's tirade. "Just what did you expect me to do? Shake your hand and say all is forgiven? I'm sorry, Percy, but it just doesn't work like that. Now try again, what the bloody hell are you doing here?"
"I was chosen to meet you." Percy replied with un-natural calmness.
"You've said that once, already."
"It's where it starts. Please, Ron, sit down." Percy stepped back to let Ron through to the old leather chairs placed either side of a low table.
Moving to take the chair nearest to him, Ron stopped as he was about to put his feet up on the table. "Hey, isn't this the one that the twins broke...?"
"Yes, Ron it is, and the chair that you are sitting on?" Percy asked.
"Is the one Bill broke, that summer when he brought...." He stopped mid sentence. "No, I'm not doing this, you have no right to be playing happy families."
"I'm not trying to play happy families, Ron; I'm trying to explain, if you'll let me," Percy pleaded.
Ron said nothing but just stared at his brother. He clasped the arms of his chair; the feel was instantly familiar and oddly calming. He had spent a lot of time in this chair; he knew every patch, every spot where the leather was wearing away. His picking at them had driven his mother mad on many an occasion, at least until Bill managed to finally break it.
"Ronald, how do you feel?" asked Percy.
"How do expect me to feel, Percy?" Ron's patience was wearing thin now and if Percy kept up like this, dead or not, he would knock the git's teeth out.
"Perhaps I should have asked, how old do you feel?" Eager to explain himself further, Percy continued, "Do you feel one hundred and twenty two?"
Ron huffed impatiently, "What are you wittering on about? So what if I don't feel my age - I'm dead aren't I? Now will you hurry up, I don't have all day to listen to this."
"Actually you do, time isn't relevant here. I thought you would have noticed that at least."
"That's as maybe, but I'll still be damned if I'm going to spend it sitting here listening to you!"
Percy, wisely, did not press the issue, but continued with his explanation. "Ron, when did the twins break that table? When did Bill break that chair? And when did you last go swimming in the river?"
"It was the summer before my fifth year, during the week before we moved to head-quarters, and you..." Ron stopped speaking, unwilling to take the conversation to where it was once again going.
"Yes, Ron before..." Percy shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "However, we're not here to talk about that, not yet anyway. All this is here... And you feel young again, because this is how it starts. This is how it was when you knew me – or, in my case at least - when you last knew me."
"Yes, my case. You see there are four more people waiting to see you."
Ron's anger had now been replaced by confusion, and he rubbed his temples as his brother continued.
"This is where you find out what your purpose in life was, Ron. Myself and the four others you will meet are all part of that purpose; even if you didn't know it at the time you knew them. It is important you find this out. Then you can complete your last task, before moving on to the next great adventure.
I am your first person, Ron. When I died my life was explained to me in much the same way as yours will be to you, by five different people. Then I came to wait for you, to help you start your journey. To explain your part in my life, my story will become part of yours, then I'll move on and let the next person lead you."
Ron pushed himself up from his chair and walked wordlessly into the kitchen without looking at Percy. After spending what seemed like hours staring out of the window, he poured himself another cup of tea, returned to the living room and re-took his place opposite Percy.
"What do you gain from all this?" Ron asked coolly.
"Nothing. I am here to help you understand, nothing more, nothing less, whatever you choose to do won't effect the outcome."
"Choose to do?"
"When we have finished, you will be able to make a choice."
"If it will have no effect, then why make it?"
"That will be for you to decide."
"Do I get to know what my choices are?" asked Ron.
"Yes, I can tell you now if you wish," Percy replied.
"I-I think I should know, if you do." Ron found himself suddenly very nervous, about what Percy was going to ask him to do.
"Your choice," Percy replied, "will be whether to forgive me or not."
Friday September 1st 2102
Back at the station, the mediwizards stood by their fallen kits, unable to completely take in the scene in front of them. They could see they were too late. There was no life left in the old wizard's eyes.
Lying next to him was a frail looking witch who they could help. So they hurried over, knelt at her side, and busied themselves by doing what they could to assist her - all the while doing their best to ignore the body lying just a few feet away. Hoping against hope that they were wrong. That it wasn't who it looked like. Because if it was, what would they do now?
Bad news soon travels, and it wasn't long before the first whispers started.
"Have you heard..."
"It can't be..."
"It happened at Hogsmeade Station..."
"I heard it was a curse..."
"He was hit by the Hogwarts Express..."
When the gossip stopped however, and the reality hit, a lull spread over the wizarding world; it was as if some sort of detachment charm had been cast over everybody. Nothing felt real.
In Diagon Alley, shoppers stopped in the street and read in shocked silence the special edition of the Daily Prophet, wordlessly passing the single sheet amongst them. Its simple headline read,
Ronald Weasley Dead.
The article contained little information regarding the whys and wherefores. The simple confirmation from the head Auror in attendance, Adrienne Reible, stated, "I regret to inform you that Ronald Bilius Weasley (Order of Merlin, First Class, Chief Warlock, Honorary President of the Chudley Cannons, and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) died today at Four thirty-three pm. May he rest in peace."
The older witches placed hands over their mouths, whilst their daughters and granddaughters clasped their partners and friends until the tears stopped flowing. Wizards old and young stood open-mouthed staring into space, unsure of what to do or say.
Nobody was sure who made the first move, but every witch, wizard, shopkeeper, and Ministry employee who could, made their way to the war memorial that stood in the small public square directly outside Gringotts Bank. As the day went on more and more of them arrived. As darkness descended almost the whole wizarding community of London stood in silent homage to one of the greatest wizards of all time.
At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Sorting Hat sat untouched and alone in the Great Hall. The news had reached the castle ahead of the carriages, and the students had been ushered straight to their respective common rooms or the infirmary, where the news was broken by their Head of House.
Down at the station, a team of four black-robed wizards went about their work with a practiced precision, completing each task in absolute silence. The tallest of them knelt down and touched the covered stretcher with his wand, which then rose into the air and stopped a few feet off the ground. As he stood back up, his colleagues moved along side and they slowly proceeded out of the station and into the silence of the night. The only sound was that of hats being removed as the bier passed by, as those nearby paid tribute and their respects.
Ron's Sixteenth Summer.
It was the summer of 1995, and Ron had been back at The Burrow less than a week when Dumbledore came to visit. At the end of the Headmaster's visit, his mum and dad called a family meeting, to which everybody was asked to attend.
Standing behind her husband at the head of the table, Molly Weasley was glaring at the family clock. Despite the fact that everybody should have been here ten minutes ago, Percy Weasley's hand was stuck firmly on 'At Work' and showed no signs of moving any time soon.
"What does he think he is doing? You did tell him, dear, didn't you?"
"Yes, dear, Flooed him as soon as Albus left. He must have a good reason not to be here," replied her husband, with little conviction behind his words.
"Yeah, I bet he does," piped up Ron from the far end of the table, "the fact, that he's a selfish ar-"
"Ronald Bilius Weasley! Don't you dare finish that sentence," yelled his mother, "I will not have you speaking about your brother like that."
"But Muuum..." replied Ron standing up.
"No, buts Ron, whatever his faults, he's still your brother."
Ron didn't say anything as he threw himself back down, but exchanged glances with his brothers that clearly said that when and if Percy arrived, he would be getting his own talk about what it meant to be a brother.
"You better be including me in whatever you're planning," whispered a voice in his ear.
"Ssshh! Ginny, I don't know what you're talking about, and even if I did, you're too young. Now shut it before Mum hears you," hissed Ron in reply.
"Hrpmhh!" grunted his sister in reply as she moved in her chair and folded her arms over her chest.
"Now, everybody, as you probably know, Professor Dumbledore has just been round and after talking with him we agree and think it's best that we move out for the time being..." The rest of his dad's words were drowned out by everybody talking at once.
"You must be joking!"
"Well, we're not going anywhere!"
"QUIET!" His mother's voice rose above the cacophony, "NOW LISTEN! Tomorrow, we will be moving out of The Burrow to stay at a safe house Professor Dumbledore has found, and yes, that does include you, Fred and George."
"But why?" asked Ron.
"Because Professor Dumbledore asked us to, and your father and I decided it would be for the best, that's why." Normally, her family would note the tone in her voice and not continue to argue with her, for some reason, Fred either didn't notice her tone or chose to ignore it.
"But... What do we have to move for? What's happening? This is to do with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and what happened with Harry at the end of term isn't it?" Fred demanded.
"You don't need to worry about that, Fred, as it most certainly does not concern you. Just do as you're told and be ready to move out, by tomorrow."
The meeting broke up soon afterwards, but not before Fred, George, Ron and Ginny, tried unsuccessfully to wheedle information out of their parents as well as both Bill and Charlie, who had remained unusually quiet all evening.
"That's enough, you lot." Ron's father spoke up, "Now, I'm going to try and talk to Percy, and I don't want you hassling your mother while I'm gone. Our decision has been made. Now perhaps you should go and pack, we may not have much notice before we leave."
His father then stood up, spoke to Bill and Charlie, and left with them to go to the Ministry to try and talk with Percy.
A few weeks later and Ron could be found cleaning one of the upper bedrooms of Grimmauld Place with his school friend, Hermione Granger, who had arrived the day after the Weasley's moved in.
"Ron! If you keep scrubbing at it like that, there won't be anything left." Hermione said reprovingly.
"And, that would be a problem, why, Hermione?" replied Ron, throwing his cloth and the engraved plate he had been cleaning on the bed. "I don't know why we have to clean this stuff anyway," Ron whined.
"We're cleaning because your mother is busy with the Order, and we have to do our bit," replied Hermione.
"Yeah right, like this is going to help defeat Y-You-Know-Who," replied Ron, as he sat on the bed and picked the plate back up. "Really useful, don't you think?"
"Ron, that's not the point and you know it," said Hermione as she sat down next to Ron.
Her presence seemed to calm Ron slightly, "Yeah, I know that, Hermione." he sighed. "Perhaps if Percy wasn't being such an utter git about things, Mum wouldn't be in such a foul mood and leave us alone a bit."
"I'm sure Percy's only doing what he thinks is right, Ron."
"Haven't you taken anything in since you arrived, Hermione," said Ron, incredulously. "Percy won't even talk to Dad any more, he thinks we’re all nutcases and troublemakers for believing Dumbledore and Harry over the great all-knowing, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic. You would think that he'd believe his own family over that useless pr-"
"Ron!" said a shocked Hermione.
"Well, he is - but oh no, not perfect, prefect Percy! Just because the Minister says something, he has to jump, doesn't he. It must be sodding dark up there."
"Dark? Up where?" asked Hermione a note of confusion in her voice.
"Well, his head is so far up the Ministers ar..." Ron seeing the look on his friend's face, changed what he was going to say and continued, "err... backside, it's bound to be dark, isn't it?"
"Oh, I see, right," stuttered Hermione in reply, "Erm, I'm sure if you give him time, he'll come round Ron, when he sees all the evidence."
"Yeah, well, I'm not holding my breath," said Ron as he picked his cloth back up and started polishing again. Hermione, for once, wisely held her tongue, and joined him in finishing the silverware.
Ron Begins to Understand
"Why would I forgive you, Percy?" Ron's words were measured and quiet. "After all you did to our family, after the choices you made, why on earth would I do that?"
"Because we're not on earth any more and because you need to."
"Because I need to? You egotistical little-" Ron's was cut off by his brother.
"Ronald, you lived to one hundred and twenty-two years old! Do try to show some signs of maturity." Percy’s pompous reply only served to inflame Ron further.
"Just how do you expect me to react, Percy? You never said sorry, even after we all risked our lives to help Harry defeat Voldemort. After everything we told you was proved right. You broke Mum's heart you know; she was never the same again.” Ron thought he caught a flicker of emotion on Percy’s face as he looked at him, but disregarded it and continued speaking, “And you want me to forgive you? Well, you can go and get stuffed!"
Ron got up and stormed from the house, grabbing a broom by the door. Before he was even outside, he mounted it and shot off; making a fast turn and still climbing, he passed over the roof of his old house, his feet just clearing the tiles.
As he flew, his mind went over his conversation with Percy. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. As his anger grew, he became more reckless and the steeper and faster he dived - each time getting closer and closer to the ground. After all, he was already dead, what damage could he do?
Why Percy expected forgiveness after all this time, he just couldn't work out. It was typically selfish of him, though. Ever since his family had sided with Dumbledore in the war against Voldemort, Percy had made decisions that benefited him and him alone.
His blind loyalty to Fudge had more to do with his career than anything else; he just couldn't be seen disagreeing with the Minister of Magic could he? He blindly followed him even after Voldemort's return was confirmed, because, of course, the Minister was the best person to defend everybody. It wasn't as if Dumbledore had ever defeated a dark wizard before, was it?
He never even bothered to contact the family after their father disappeared, or when his youngest brother was captured. Even after the war was over, he couldn't be bothered to make contact even when invitations were sent for the various marriages and christenings. But not coming to their mother's funeral was the last straw.
Yet now Percy expected forgiveness. There was just too much water under the bridge for that to happen, too many years of hurt, and what difference would it make now? They were both dead, in fact everybody was now dead, it just didn't matter. Did it?
It was with this thought in mind that he turned his broom around and flew back towards the Burrow, noticing for the first time the heavy rain of a summer storm pouring down, and the dark clouds drawing in ever closer. As he landed in the garden, the first roll of thunder sounded in the distance.
Stepping back into the kitchen he shook his head, spraying water everywhere. Grabbing a towel, he rubbed himself dry as he kicked off his wet shoes and headed off to find Percy and tell him that it was just too little, too late.
A quick walk round the house found no sign of his brother, but a hot pot of tea and a pile of hot buttered crumpets sat on a table by the fireplace, in which Percy had lit a fire. Taking a seat in the chair nearest to the fire, to dry out properly, Ron sighed heavily and started to eat.
Just as he leant over to pick up the last crumpet, the door to the kitchen swung open and Percy stepped into the room, removing his wet cloak as he did so, and hanging it up on the row of hooks by the door. He turned round and finally saw Ron had returned.
"I lit the fire for your return."
"I'd noticed, thank-you. Would you like to sit by it? I'm dry enough now." Ron decided a little civility wouldn’t hurt, despite still seething inside.
"If you don't mind. Thanks."
They sat in silence for a while before Percy spoke, "Ron, I want to thank you."
"What for? I've not told you my decision yet."
"I know, but that's not what I'm thanking you for."
"Then what would you want to thank me for? What have I done for you?"
"You saved me, Ron."
"Saved you? What in Merlin's name are you talking about?"
"If it wasn't for you, Ron, I could have made, no, would have made, some very stupid decisions."
"You did make stupid decisions, Percy, or has death really addled your brain?"
"You think I don't know that, Ron? I had to live with the consequences of those choices for the rest of my life, and now I have all eternity to think about them, but it could have been a lot worse, Ron. A lot worse."
Percy sighed and slumped back into his chair. Reliving these events even after death was more difficult than he expected.
"Ron, you have to understand, I believed what Minister Fudge and his staff told me. I believed it was impossible that Voldemort had returned, because Voldemort had died years ago, when he attacked Harry and his parents. That was what we were all told.
When Harry and Dumbledore started talking about his return, it just sounded to far-fetched, and what could they possibly know that the Minister of Magic didn't? He was our leader and had professionals helping him, not a bunch of amateurs led by a slightly barmy old man who trusted the word of an obviously deranged teenage boy." To head off, what Percy knew would be, Ron’s angry response, he quickly added, "The Ministers words, not mine, Ron."
"But you knew Harry, you knew Dumbledore. Blimey, Percy, we were your family, you should have trusted us."
"I know that now, but at the time I was young and ambitious. All I could see was that you were harming my career, insisting something was true that quite obviously couldn't be.
And then even after the truth came out, I still trusted that Fudge could lead us better than Dumbledore, it was his job after all to defend us...”
Percy stopped speaking for a moment, to take a sip of tea and compose himself.
“...It was during this time that some high up members of the Ministry started making me highly tempting offers. If I would agree to spy on my family, there could be a big future for me in the Ministry."
"I knew you had stooped low, but you considered spying on your own family!"
"Yes, Ron, I did. I considered doing much, much, worse though."
"What could be worse?"
"I was asked if I had any ideas how to neuter the Potter effect."
"Neuter?" Ron said with an edge of suspicion. He had the feeling he knew where this was going.
"They meant, could I help to eliminate Harry, for the good of the War effort, Ron."
"They asked you to kill Harry! Why didn't you let someone know?"
"Would you have believed me, Ron? And I could hardly report the Minister to himself, could I? Anyway, I did think about it, but one thing stopped me and brought me to my senses."
"Yeah, and what was that, then?" Ron replied scornfully. Leaning back in his seat, away from Percy.
"You, Ron. You and your utter conviction in Harry and the Order. That was what made the difference, Ron. Every time I tried to bring you to your senses and see the Minister was right, you told me where to stick my advice, and in what direction.
That's what eventually worked Ron. It was your principles and the fact you stood up for them that eventually showed me where I was going wrong. I left the Ministry during your seventh year at Hogwarts, but by that point it was too late for me to come back to you all. I had burnt my bridges. All I had left was Penelope, and I didn't have her for much longer; she left me just before Harry killed Voldemort and ended the war."
After his brother finished speaking, Ron closed his eyes and leant forward, and rested his face in the palm of his hands. He had a lot to think about and couldn't do it while he could see his brother.
"What are you thinking, Ron?" asked Percy, sometime later.
"I'm not sure, Percy. I'm not sure I can ever forgive you for never being man enough to return and fix what you broke, but as for thinking you had to make those choices in the first place..."
Ron looked at his brother properly for the first time since he was a teenager, and he just couldn't see the treacherous face he had imagined there for over a century.
"... I just don't know, Percy, I just don't know. I've lived for so long with this image of you, and now I just don't know what is the truth. I'm not sure I can do that for you, Percy, it's been too long."
"Ron, don't you think I know that, but the choice is up to you. Our time is nearly up though. When you're ready, I'll be in the kitchen." Nodding at his brother, he rose and walked into the kitchen, silently closing the door behind him.
Ron wasn't sure how long he sat there thinking about what he and Percy had talked about. While he still disagreed vehemently with his brother's choices, he now understood why he made them and the question was, whether he could forgive him or not.
As the flames of the fire finally fizzled out and the embers started to cool, he made his decision, stood, and walked quickly into the kitchen.
As he entered, Percy, who was by the sink, turned and looked at him carefully, trying to obtain some idea of what was going through his brother’s mind. He had never been very good at reading people, however, so as Ron walked towards him he had no idea what choice his brother had made.
So he was taken by surprise when Ron grasped him in a bone-crushing hug, clasping his shoulders and with tears running down his face. Ron spoke with a slightly stuttering voice, "Percy... Brother... It's been too long, but it's good to have you back."
A/N Okay, with Christmas and New Year coming up, the next update will be on the flip-side, see you then!