0010 - So the springtime_gen masterlist has been posted. Thank you to cjmarlowe for The War At Home! ♥
The fic I wrote was:
Title: Vivere Disce, Cogita Mori
Character(s): Ron, Hermione, Harry.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 2100 words
Summary: After a war, there were always heroes to either mourn or idolise. The most important people were those who picked up the pieces and rebuilt life as it had been. Ron could live with being one of them.
Note: Written for _almagitana as part of the springtime_gen fic exchange.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
The Great Hall looked just as it usually did for as long as Ron could remember. Bright May sunlight from the enchanted ceiling flooded the house tables, the students chattering over eggs and kippers. The school year was drawing to a close and in only a month's time, Ron and his friends would sit their NEWT examinations. After that, the world outside waited -- a new life.
Ron glanced at Harry, who was stirring coffee in his mug, an absent-minded look on his face. Anyone who did not know him would never have been able to tell that this was Harry Potter, the boy responsible for ridding the wizarding world of Voldemort. Ron stumbled over the name even in his thoughts, still. Just looking at Harry, you couldn't tell that he had withstood a Killing Curse not once but twice. The first had given him a lightning bolt-shaped scar; the second had erased it. Ron shuddered, remembering as Harry had stood facing Voldemort, barely over a year ago.
Ron never had seen what had happened; he had been too busy trying to shake Ginny awake, heedless of the warm, sticky blood running from her opened throat over his fingers. Ron shut his eyes tightly. The piece of toast he'd been in the midst of swallowing was heavy as lead. Ginny had died to save Harry, just like Harry's mother had died once. Her sacrifice had meant Harry's victory, but that mattered little to either of the boys. As much as Ron wanted to blame someone living for Ginny's death, Harry would be the very last person he blamed.
"This should interest you," said Hermione's voice in his ear.
Frowning, Ron rubbed his side where she'd poked him and turned to look at her. She was holding the Daily Prophet's sports section, top heading bright and bold.
CHUDLEY CANNONS TO SCOUT HOGWARTS FOR KEEPER TALENT
Ron read the short article quickly through, trying to remind himself the whole time that he was rubbish at Quidditch anyway. One of the last Death Eater attacks had happened during a Chudley Cannons versus the Holyhead Harpies game. The Quidditch league had been openly defying Voldemort, refusing to give in to fear and stop the scheduled games. The Exmoor Stadium had been overrun by Death Eaters and werewolves, their fires blazing through the supporter stands.
Ron had been in Albania with Harry and Hermione at the time, but he still remembered the shock of learning that Gwenog Jones was dead. The Holyhead Harpies had lost their captain and Quidditch had lost an icon. There had been no more games after that one. Ron had not known that the Cannons had lost someone, too. He tried to remember Strahan Sullivan, but could not recall much beyond vague recognition of the black-framed photograph smiling up at him from the sea of newsprint. When had remembering these faces stopped being important?
Since the war was won, the Quidditch league had regrouped and the Cannons were hoping to find a new Keeper at Hogwarts. Sullivan was dead, but the team would play on, just like Ginny's death had not stopped the world from turning, though it should have.
He blinked at Hermione, tearing his eyes away from the article. Since the war's end, Ron had become prone to becoming lost in thought, something he'd always avoided. Thinking too much only got you into trouble, it did. Hermione didn't seem to know whether she should like this new contemplative Ron or to box his ears and tell him to snap out of it.
"Yeah," he said. "This is... interesting."
"Are you going to try out, then?"
"Try out for what?" asked Harry, leaning over Ron's shoulder. "Cannons to scout Hogwarts?"
"They must be getting desperate," remarked Seamus, who was sitting across from them. "I heard that they've announced six tryouts and no one came."
Ron narrowed his eyes at him. "What are you trying to say?"
Seamus held his hands up, palms out. "Nothing, nothing. Professional players don't seem to be very interested in playing for the Cannons, that's all."
Standing by the window in the Gryffindor common room, Ron stared out at the vast Hogwarts grounds. Students were milling about on the lawns, talking in voices sometimes loud enough to carry on the wind. Many were sitting in circles, their books open, stacks of parchment held down with rocks to keep them from flying away. The OWL and NEWT examinations were in full force, and the last exam was only a week away, one day before the Cannons tryouts. Ron rubbed the back of his neck, feeling the familiar flush starting to rise there. He wasn't sure when he'd begun to think of time passing in terms of the Cannons tryouts, but there it was.
He had not given his future much thought, truth be told. Since fourth year, he'd been sure that he would be an Auror one day but now he thought he would die happy if he never had to hear the words "dark wizard" ever again. He had not brought this up with Harry, who was as close-mouthed about his plans for the future as a merchant selling faulty goods. To Ron, a career in Quidditch -- especially as part of the Chudley Cannons -- would be a boyhood dream come true, but he knew it was just a fancy.
He walked back to the sofa and flopped down beside Harry, picking up his copy of Flying With the Cannons again. He'd been leafing through it absently at regular intervals; neither Harry nor Hermione said anything about it, but Ron knew they were exchanging glances when they thought he wasn't looking.
"Are you going to try out, then?" asked Harry, looking up from his Charms notes.
Ron peered at Hermione, who was obviously pretending not to be listening, her nose in a thick Arithmancy tome. She wore a pensive look that he would have called sour if not for the shadow of worry around her eyes.
"I dunno," said Ron, letting the book fall back onto the sofa. "I can't say I'm burning with the desire to make a prat of myself in front of Ragmar Dorkins."
"You won't make a prat of yourself," said Harry firmly. "You're a good Keeper."
Ron shook his head, rolling his eyes a little. "Yeah, if no one's watching. Come on, Harry, you know better than I do that--"
"So just imagine that they're all doing something embarrassing. I dunno, imagine that everyone in the audience is naked."
"That's so crude," said Hermione, her face unreadable. "Why don't you try meditation instead? You won't be able to learn everything but you've got enough time to practise--"
"Medi-what? Is that a Muggle medicine?" interrupted Ron, furrowing his brow. Hermione had the stupidest ideas sometimes. A man could get disqualified for taking anything to help him play!
"Me-di-ta-tion," said Hermione very slowly, accentuating each syllable. "It's a concentrating technique. My mum, for example, hates public speaking, but sometimes she has to give talks at those dentist seminars she goes to. She uses meditation to calm herself before each talk, imagining herself as a perfect pink rosebud soaking up the sun. It relaxes her long enough to give the talk."
Ron blinked at her in confusion. "But I'm not a rosebud."
Harry slapped his shoulder with a short laugh. "That you aren't, mate."
Hermione gave an exasperated sigh. "So think of yourself as a lily blossom, or--"
"Or a pair of underpants," Harry finished for her. "Hanging on a clothesline, flapping in the breeze without a care in the world..." He closed his mouth quickly as soon as he noticed Hermione's murderous scowl.
Ron sighed. If he didn't make a decision himself, his friends were going to make it for him.
Ron fussed with his Gryffindor Quidditch robes unnecessarily as he waited his turn in the low tent they'd set up for those trying out. He was not allowed to see how everyone else was doing; something about keeping up morale. Harry and Hermione were in the stands somewhere, and Ron was beginning to think this had been a really bad idea.
With the last NEWT behind him, though, he began to feel apprehension at the thought of a summer with no prospect of returning to Hogwarts. Did everyone leaving school feel this way at first? That life had ended, somehow? That whatever waited outside the doors of the Hogwarts Express was a different life, a stranger's life? He had nothing to look forward to, but at the same time, he was afraid to let himself hope for succeeding today. All the same, he found himself setting aside thoughts of being an Auror or training security trolls as something "just in case this doesn't work out."
God, but he was going to make a prat of himself.
"Weasley, Ronald!" shouted the team manager's -- Ragmar Dorkins's -- booming voice outside the tent, and muffled cheers rose up from the direction of the Gryffindor stands. Ron got to his feet unsteadily, trying to focus his mind the way Hermione had been teaching him.
I am a lily blossom. A perfect, white, translucent lily blossom, unfurling under the sun, and not a care in the world beyond the sun's rays reaching me...
Knees wobbling, he walked out of the tent, grunted a response to Dorkins's "All right, son?" and picked up the Firebolt that stood leaning against a low shed just before the pitch opened. Harry had decided that lily blossoms or no, a better broom would improve Ron's chances significantly. Ron wasn't sure whether to be grateful for the loan or exasperated for the way his friends fussed over him.
Holding the broom level with his hip, he marched out onto the pitch, which was bathed in afternoon sunlight. Ron's pulse began to race as he took in all the people around him -- with the exams over, no one was going to pass up a chance to watch professional players zoom about in their brightly coloured robes, even if they were the Chudley Cannons of the "Let's all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best" motto. A surge of indignation rose up inside him at that; the Cannons would win the league. And Ron was going to help them do it.
With a start, he realised that the quivering worm of anxiety had all but disappeared from the pit of his belly. He didn't need lily blossoms or other tricks of the imagination anymore; the surge of pride had clamped down on his uneasiness. All he could see in his mind's eye was a smiling face looking up at him from a newspaper page. He would win the position today and he would make his team proud.
After a war, there were always heroes to either mourn or idolise. Ron had escaped death, and he was too much in Harry's shadow to be called a hero by anyone but his best friends. The most important people were those who picked up the pieces and rebuilt life as it had been. Ron could live with being one of them.
"For Sullivan," he muttered, and kicked off into the sunlight.
The sitting room at the Burrow was quiet, which was a marked difference from the usual.
Ron's mum and dad sat on the sofa facing him, with the twins flanking them on both sides. Harry and Hermione were staring at him expectantly from armchairs, looking for all the world as though they were pretending to be twins, at least if facial expressions could make people look the same.
"Go on, open it," said Fred, his expression eager. "The way Harry tells it, you wiped the floor with everyone else, this can't be bad news."
Ron bit down on his bottom lip, frowning as he ran his fingers over the official-looking seal on the parchment, tinged faintly orange. A harried barn owl had brought the letter just minutes ago. Ron's future was under that seal, try as he might not to hope or tell himself it had all been useless in the first place. Wiped the floor with them? He'd been awful. He'd let in not one but two Quaffles. From what he'd heard, Zacharias Smith had let nothing in, and he wasn't even a Keeper by training!
Sighing, he broke the seal. Might as well get it over with.
To Mr Ronald Weasley
We are delighted to inform you that you have been chosen as the new Keeper for the Chudley Cannons. Please report to the team's headquarters in Devon at your earliest convenience, with two witnesses of your choosing to supervise the signing of your contract. We are very glad that our search is over and the team is pleased to have you.
Ron looked up from the parchment, letting it fall to his knees. "Harry? Hermione? Will you come along as witnesses to the signing of my contract?"