liptonrm_fic: (hp trio-desdemona_x)
[personal profile] liptonrm_fic
Title: Burn My Sins Away
Fandom: Harry Potter (AU Future-fic, Ron-centric) with a slight BtVS crossover.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: The End has come and gone and Ron will never be the same.

The last owl found him in Kinshasa. He’d been expecting it for days, a prickling on the back of his neck warning him that the past was still dogging his path. Even so, the solid thump on his shoulder sent his heart racing. He stopped suddenly, various curses thrown his way by the people he’d disrupted in the midday human rapids. Without a word he turned and went crashing through the crowd unaware of the chaos he left in his wake.

Ron crouched by a tired, sloping wall, his heart still thumping. The world came back into focus with a start and the impatient nip of the exhausted bird. He grabbed the hanging scroll, slightly battered from the long flight, and weighed it absently in the palm of his hand. He knew who it was from and what it would say. Some people never knew when to leave well enough alone.

A moment and a whispered command later and a sprinkling of ash floated down through the still air. His wand had broken in Johannesburg, shattered by the strain of adapting to Africa and the chaos of her magic. African magic was alive in a way that Ron had never experienced in his old life and he had been more than happy to lose himself in the ebbs and swirls of this new world. He sighed, rubbing his hand through his hair, kicking up a residue of dust that was never completely banished. He stood and silently slipped back into the crowd, the momentary chaos already forgotten. Yet he couldn’t stop scanning the empty blue sky or make his tired shoulders relax. Everything was too loud, too real, the shriek of a mechanical horn making his breath hitch and the sun still so bright that his eyes hurt just by being open. The world spun and spun and spun around him.

“Wizard.” The world stilled. A hand grabbed his arm, fingers like steel in his flesh. Ron was strangely calm, his breath booming in his ears as he turned, following the echoes in the air to a woman seated on the ground. She was ageless with dark, dark skin and even darker eyes that bore into him, knew him.

“Excuse me?” Ron’s voice sounded harsh in his own ears, strange and deeper than he remembered.

“Like calls to like, wizard.” The woman smiled, a web of wrinkles appearing around her eyes. Her grip tightened, pulling him closer until he was squatting before her, his eyes on a level with her own. He wondered, vaguely, if this was what drowning was like.

“Your life is not your own. Darkness before and Darkness behind.” She laughed, a hoarse, intoxicating noise. “And you thought it couldn’t touch you.”

He pulled his arm away, the marks of her fingers burned an angry red on his wrist. “What are you talking about?” he demanded, not sure whether his voice shook with anger or fear.

“He sleeps, now, sunning himself on his hill and content to let you go your way but awake he will.” She began to rock, backwards and forwards, the beads of her necklaces clicking together in a bewitching rhythm. “You’ll never be the same, wizard.”

Ron tore his eyes away and stood, his whole body shaking now. He stumbled backwards through the crowd, panting, blinking tears and dust out of his eyes. Finally he turned and ran, the sound of the woman’s voice still chanting in his ears. never be the same never be the same never be the same

He left Kinshasa that night.


He spent his days wandering away from cities, away from everything. He burned and peeled and burned again. Days melted away under the searing blue sky. He walked and walked and wondered sometimes, vaguely, if African wizards flew, if they played quidditch on brooms or soared away alone on any slight puff of air. He would close his yes and feel the wind brush against his face and imagine himself floating free above the world, never tiring, never needing to come down. He was always surprised, somehow, to open his eyes and find himself with his feet planted deep in the mud.

There were mundane dangers as he trudged aimlessly across untrodden lands but he found that he enjoyed dealing with the scorpions and the snakes and the spiders, with repelling mosquitos and sanitizing water. There was nothing personal about these dangers, nothing overtly malevolent only nature doing what nature did and Ron could respect that—even understand it in a way. At least they had a reason for hating him.

For the most part he avoided villages, avoided people, but one day he spent ages watching aid workers digging a well near some nameless village deep in the bush. He sat and watched as they dug down into the dark earth, faces glowing with sweat and exertion. He was enthralled by the rhythm of their work, the easy way that they talked and laughed and argued, comfortable with each other and pleased with the work they were doing. He couldn’t tear his eyes away.

At the end of the day he saw one man stop and look up at him, eyes shielded against the glare of the pregnant red sun. He smiled and waved and Ron’s heart skipped a beat, his loneliness a sudden, sharp pain. He rose and went down, his fear of what he would find swallowed up in his desperation to be seen.

He spent the night with the aid workers, eating their food and silently drinking in their camaraderie and conversation. He caught a glimpse of Luna’s knotted hair in the flip of a woman’s head and an echo of Dean’s smile in the man sitting beside him. The conversation flowed around him, the strange peaks and valleys of a language he didn’t know more comforting thean alien. He closed his eyes and leaned back, hearing Fred’s laugh across the room and Parvati's giggle in response.

He laid down that night surrounded by a chorus of breaths and snores and dreamt of Hermione’s long, soft hair matted with blood. He was gone the next morning before dawn.


He soon found himself on the edge of another city, creeping in with dusk’s shadows. It was smaller, more squalid than Kinshasa had been but perversely similar; the same dogs sniffing around in the garbage, the same ghostly stares from the children hidden behind walls and fences and trash bins, bright eyes peering out.

Ron traversed the streets, silently slipping past drunks and ignored by wandering gangs; too red to be a ghost, too white to be safe. The buildings towered over him menacingly, their brick and steel still burning with the sun’s heat.

He stopped in an alley, claustrophobia clawing at his throat, making every breath a struggle. He fell against a slowly cooling brick wall, every rough centimeter scratching against his back as he slid to the ground. He sat there, his head supported by his arched knees as he fought for calm, the rush of his blood the only sound he could hear.

Without warning the hairs on the back of his neck prickled. His head shot up. The feeling was unmistakable, unforgettable. Something was coming. He pulled his legs in closer and let his eyes roam in a vain effort to see from where the threat might come. He heard the din of a pub door opening, the raucous noise of drunken songs and shouts cut off with the bang of metal against wood.

A drunk stumbled in smelling of tobacco smoke and cheap liquor. Ron quickly lowered his head and surreptitiously peered from beneath a fringe of hair. He watched the drunk stagger by, his unsteady steps weaving a strange dance to music that only he could hear. His only peculiarities seemed to be his tanned white skin and the eye patch that sliced across the left side of his face. He staggered to the far wall and slumped, boneless and rejected.

Ron stared, waiting.

All of his senses exploded when a figure followed the drunk in from the street, somehow darker then the surrounding shadows. It soundlessly stalked the drunk, its yellow eyes glowing in the dark, focused only on its prey

Everything slowed and Ron remembered. He could see those feverish last days play out in his mind, the days when they weren’t safe by day or by night. He remembered Voldemort’s new allies and the things they had done to those who were unable or unwilling to protect themselves. He remembered the desperate research and arguments and experiments that had finally led to an answer and an attack. He remembered.

Ron stood up, stepping forward just as the drunk stirred. He stood in one fluid motion and rushed the vampire, throwing himself against it as the air crackled and Ron gathered his thoughts. He whispered a single word. The alley exploded into day.

They stared at each other through the drifting ash as day rapidly sank back into night.

“That was nifty,” the former drunk remarked, his words flat and strangely American. There was just enough fading light for Ron to make out the wry half smile on his face. “That’s quite the voodoo that you do.”

His grin faded as he took Ron in. Ron shivered and felt a tightening of fear in his chest. For having only one eye this stranger’s gaze was oddly piercing, something in it making Ron want to turn and run as fast as he could. Perversely, he was frozen to the ground as drops of sweat began to bead on the back of his neck.

The stranger reached into his back pocket and Ron stiffened and stepped back, his hands coming up in a defensive position. The Yank’s hands flew up. “Hey, it’s okay,” he said soothingly, his words slow and calm, his tone reminding Ron so strongly of Hagrid that he suddenly felt close to tears.

The stranger stepped forward cautiously, his hands slowly coming up, a white business card prominent in the right. “When you’re done doing what you’ve gotta do, you should give me a call.” He held out the card and Ron took it automatically. “We can always use a helping hand.” The dark-haired man nodded and stepped around him, put his hands into his pockets and was suddenly transformed from vampire hunter to carefree American in a single instant.

Ron stepped forward, a strange impulse driving him to not just let this other man go. He stood for a moment, his mouth working soundlessly, at a loss for what to say. “Thanks,” he finally said, his voice strange in his own ears.

The other man turned and Ron could just make out a flash of white teeth as he grinned. “Not a problem,” he replied and with a shrug stepped out of the alley.


That night Ron dreamed about the end of the world. He was in that hallway again, Hermione unconscious on the floor, the room shaking down around them. He could feel everything he felt then, the same trapped panic, the anger, and the stubborn calm that assured him that no matter what they would get out of this just like every time before.

Harry was there of course, inevitably, blood dripping from that damned scar. Ron could see his mouth moving, knew that he was yelling at him to go, to take Hermione and get out while there was still time but Ron didn’t want to hear him, didn’t want to fail him again, inevitably.

“No, mate, not this time!” Ron heard himself saying but could hardly hear it over the rumbling. “I’m in it with you till the absolute end.” He stumbled as the floor shook, his eyes never once breaking contact with Harry’s.

“Don’t you get it?” Harry screamed, the words echoing through every moment after. “I’m the last horcrux! If I don’t die then Voldemort wins!” Harry grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. “I can’t do this if I have to watch both of you die too. Don’t make me do it.” His voice broke then with the strain of either grief or rage, Ron was never sure.

He and Harry stood like that for an eternity until Ron felt something break deep inside. He dropped his gaze only to find himself enveloped in a quick, bone-crushing embrace and then Harry was gone. With a strangled sob he bent and picked up Hermione. He turned and stumbled down the endless hallways never looking back.

Ron woke with a start to the piercing sun and infinite dust of Africa. He stared blindly at a nondescript wall, the dream still playing out in front of his eyes. He felt something loosen and he laid his head in his arms and sobbed, his tears cleaving rivers in the dirt.


The air of Cairo’s Wizarding Quarter sparkled with an energy that Ron hardly remembered, more focused and structured than the energy that ebbed and flowed through the African hinterland. It prickled on his skin and had him constantly peering over his shoulder, certain that someone was watching.

The sun hadn’t yet risen over the tops of the buildings, the shadows still cool and quiet. The street was obscenely still but as he walked down it he saw illusive movement out of the corner of his eyes; the twirl of a skirt here, the glint of a bauble there. The silence was more unnerving than anything he had faced in a long time.

Ron stopped, doubly uncertain as he stared at the garish door that was slightly recessed from the street proper. He thought it was the right door, vague memories flickering through his mind that were difficult to catch and even harder to retain, but couldn’t double-check to be sure. He couldn’t even ring the bell with his wand still buried somewhere in the Johannesburg dirt.

He knocked and waited, so nervous that his palms were sweating and his heart was in his throat. He very nearly turned and ran when he heard steps behind the door and a bolt being turned.

The door opened and everything stilled. Bill looked the same, a little bit older but still the picture of everything Ron had ever wanted to be.

“Hullo,” Ron said, unsure.

Bill looked at him cautiously, his eyes flitting through the shadows behind him, his stance guarded and tight. Ron caught a glimpse of a wand in his right hand, hidden behind the line of his leg, and felt a quick bolt of fear knife through his stomach. After a moment Bill relaxed and grinned that same, confident grin. Ron felt every muscle loosen as tension drained out of him, a small spring of hope swelling up to take its place.

“Hullo, little brother.” The sound of Bill’s voice still able to make all the nightmares go away. Ron looked into his eyes, really looked, and saw there a love and acceptance that he never thought he’d see again.

Ron smiled.


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September 2013

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