During the darkness, the fear would sometimes catch him unawares.

In the muted light of day, it lay dormant in his shadow, petulant and hidden while Ron stayed busy. He hadn't known how exhausting it could be to stay alive, and yet the nighttime brought no relief, no nourishing sleep. There were only fits and starts, torments of muddled dreams and visions before he would jerk awake again.

Ron was scared to death to die.

Knowing how many familiar others would meet his soul on the other side was no consolation in the freezing nights. George would coax and plead for him to take a potion; Fred would remind him of just how desperately he was needed and with his full faculties, soggy personality aside. Even in the bleakest moments of the War, Fred and George tried to nudge at Ron's spirits, but he was immune despite how close they'd become.

Raw, untamed rage chased away most other emotions, though it was tempered with the constant, insistent drumming of self-preservation. The twins had each other, and he had them, and that was all he was sure of after the Burrow had been Marked and obliterated. No warnings, no bodies, no closure. No updates from Bill and Charlie. George tethered him to sanity, restrained him when he became reckless. How odd, Ron thought as he sat, teeth chattering, that the former experts in doling out mayhem would now bring such comfort.

"It's not over, Ron."
"We're in this together."
"For Mum, and Dad."
"And Ginny, and Hermione."
"Even Percy, on a good day."
"We won't let you die on our watch."
And then, for a little while, Ron would rest, before fear snatched one of them away; an owl from the front lines (please, sweet Merlin not Harry too); a new casualty report (no, no, not Dean- he's too young. I'm too young.)

Over time, Ron sank into surrender. Sheltered by chaos and twilight he made his way to the perimeter of the camp, a small mirror in hand. He propped the disc against a tree and pointed his wand unwaveringly at it, heady with the words of the killing curse as they crouched, waiting on his tongue.


The voice was oddly singular.

"RON!" The dirty red mane of hair shook around his face as the figure ran and approached him, gasping.

Ron stared into bloodshot brown eyes.

"No, Ron," Fred choked, and pulled Ron's wand from his hand. "No. Not on my watch."

As he looked at Fred's filthy, tear-streaked face, Ron suddenly knew the fear was forever banished. He clasped Fred around the waist, supporting him as they slowly walked back to the camp.

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