Sometimes, Ron thought, he was useless. Not overtly, of course – he was the second in command of the entire Auror department.
But… with friends like his, was it any wonder that he thought so low of himself? It wasn’t their fault. Hell, if they knew, Ron would be getting lectures from Hermione, extremely guilty but-not-really-needed-because-it-wasn’t-true ‘Sorry’s from Harry and a glare from Ginny, who would of course, butt in. And that was just the ones he hung around on a regular basis.
But Hermione was fast on her way to becoming the next Minister, even if she never acknowledged it – Ron was pretty sure Kingsley was grooming her for the job – and she had the brains to bring the wizarding world to a new era of prosperity. Or at least that’s what all the papers said.
Ginny was his younger sister, but she had been- er, was a famous Quidditch players and had helped the Harpies win the international quidditch games.
And Harry… Well, Harry was Harry. Defeater of dark lords and Auror head extraordinaire.
Ron knew he wasn’t less than them. Of course he wasn’t – everyone had their own ways of shining.
He just… didn’t.
He sighed and smiled at the burning stove, Lily and Hugo laughing in the background. They were definitely up to something, Ron decided, and he needed to get his mood up from that pit anyway.
He lowered the flame so the stew wouldn’t overcook while he went to terrorize the kiddos, and swept out of the rom with large, exaggeratingly heavy steps so Lily and Hugo would know he was coming.
When they saw his smirking form in the entrance to the lounge, where Hermione had insisted on having the ‘television’ installed (And nagged him enough times about the pronunciation), they began to squeal. Well, Hugo squealed in mock terror, and Lily just laughed. She was a lion in bravery and yet a mixture of other houses as well. Everyone was having fun betting where she would end up.
Ron had bet Slytherin.
The old him definitely wouldn’t have. But he wasn’t the old him anymore. And seeing Al end up in Slytherin when Lily was much more devious? It was a no-brainer.
“I’ll come and eat you alive!” He roared, letting loose the illusion spell of flames he used to play with the little ones. It was so much fun pretending to be a dragon.
Lily and Hugo leapt up and ran out the other doorway, rushing outside, where they would get on brooms and then have a real dragon battle.
Ron was all up for it.
He ran outside.
He would end up regretting it so, so much.
The wall, Ron noticed as he opened his eyes, was rocky; like the dungeon they used to stow away the criminals after they stopped using Azkaban – or more specifically, the dementors,
And of course it was, he realized, as he was chained to a wall with rusting manacles that reeked of magic with the way they weren’t falling apart.
He shifted. The chains clattered.
His hands didn’t budge.
He frowned. What was he doing in a prison cell? The last he remembered, he was with…. His eyes widened. Lily and Hugo!
“Hey!” He shouted. “Let me out of here!”
There was no reply.
“Who the bloody hell are you guys?!”
Drip. Drip. Drip.
But no human voice.
“Harry won’t stand for this, you know? You’ll have the entire Auror department at your heels!”
Another silence. But this time, Ron heard someone breath in.
“Hey!” He shouted with much more vigour. “I can hear you!” Hermione would be so mad at him for trying to antagonize the enemy.
Footsteps clicked against the floor, and the door to his cell was suddenly pushed open with a creak.
A woman walked in, black hair and dark eyes. On her feet, following was another woman, a blonde with steely eyes and tapping feet, her mouth set in a straight, hard line.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley,” The first woman said, her voice light and floating and yet so familiar…
Where had he heard that voice, seen that face before?
“We finally caught you,” The other snarled, and that voice registered as fast a nargle could have bit him.
“Luna?!” He sputtered without grace.
The woman’s face flew through a look of shock and right towards disgust. “Stop saying my name,” She hissed. “You have no right!”
The other woman laid a hand on her shoulder even as Ron kept gaping.
Luna – but how could it be Luna? Luna was on a trip with James and Rolf, and she was not and never had been this- this person! – calmed, her lips pursed and she glared at Ron. “Sorry, Ms. Bellatrix,” She murmured.
That, of course, took Ron a second to comprehend.
Luna, okay. At least she was still alive.
The cell grew silent.
The black-haired woman raised an eyebrow. “I assumed your people knew about my divorce, but it seems I was mistaken.” She smirked, and for a second, the Bellatrix Ron had known flashed before his eyes. “And why, Mr. Weasley, do you insist on pretending to be so surprised? It mustn’t be a shock. We were bound to catch you sometime.”
Ron’s mouth fell open and not a sound came out.
Luna seemed to scoff. “Ha! And people assume you’re the strategic force behind the Supremacy. As if.” She spun on her heels and flew through the door.
Bellatrix shook her head and spared one last glance for the befuddled Auror. “We merely wanted to inform you of your future audience with the Lord.”
She followed and the cell door shut behind her, the sound echoing across Ron’s confused countenance. “What the bloody hell?” He muttered.
Luna was… what? And Bellatrix. Or someone who definitely didn’t know Bellatrix acting as her?
“What the bloody hell.” He repeated.
From beside him, from a cell Ron hadn’t bothered looking into, someone laughed dryly. “Never thought I would see the great Ron Weasley captured.” The man said in a scratchy voice, as if he hadn’t drunk water in days.
Ron frowned and craned his neck. “Who are you?”
There was a short silence. “I thought you would know your boyfriend from his voice, even if I haven’t been… free to spend time with you in a while.”
Ron choked. “What the bloody hell?”
The voice stilled and the man owning it began to move until he was pressed far away from the wall and against the bars. In Ron’s sight.
Ron almost wished he hadn’t.
“You okay?” Draco Malfoy asked with a worried expression that should have had nothing to do with Ronald Weasley.
Ron continued gaping.
Malfoy frowned. “Okay. What’s going on?” He asked. “You’re acting weirdly. Did the Prince do something to you?”
Ron blinked. “What…?” He asked weakly, mind finally starting to catch up. Or trying to, anyway.
Malfoy’s grip tightened around the bars. “They did, didn’t they? Or you’d already be out. Or planning something.”
Ron inhaled. Maybe this was an illusion. Something to embarrass him. Maybe George one of the kids did. “Okay. Okay, enough of the act. Can you let me out of here?! If it’s one’s of you kids, I’m definitely grounding you!” He yelled up at the ceiling.
Malfoy looked at him as if he was crazy. “Okay. Now I’m definitely sure they did something to you,” He muttered.
“Look, whoever you are,” Ron finally snapped. “Stop trying to make fun of me, okay? Malfoy would never act the way you are. Hell, he’s married to Astoria, so I’m pretty sure he’s straight!”
Malfoy flinched back as if slapped.
Ron sighed. “So lose the disguise already.”
Malfoy stared at him with wide eyes. “You’re not… my Ron.”
Ron furrowed his brow. “’Course I’m not. What do you think I’ve been saying all this while?’
Malfoy bit his lip. “Oh shit. Bloody hell. I never thought he’d actually do it. That bloody idiot!”
“What?” Ron asked as expletives kept pouring out of Malfoy’s mouth – something Ron was pretty sure the prick he knew would never do. Not in company, and especially not in Ron’s. Something about social polish and rubbing it in his face. Ron rolled his eyes.
Malfoy looked at him again, though this time, his gaze was more guarded than before. “Percy summoned you from an alternate dimension.”
Ron stilled. “Stop making fun of me,” He growled, but the bite was out of his words and his mind was visiting and revisiting everything that had happened ever since he had opened his eyes in that dank version of a cell.
“I’m not,” Malfoy said, and there was a thin finality in his voice that convinced Ron in a way that nothing else did. Well, that and the fact that Draco Malfoy was his counterpart’s boyfriend.
He gagged internally.
“Okay,” He said, after composing himself. Mostly. “Why in bloody hell would Percy summon me? It seems like you have a perfectly good Ron Weasley Running around.” ‘A better one than me,’ He added silently. ‘If their reactions are any indication.’
Draco sighed, seemingly reluctant to say anything. “You seem to hate me,” He said instead. “Why is that?”
Ron shrugged. “Childhood rivalry. You sided with Voldemort for a while, and I did not. Plus,” He added bluntly. “I don’t like you.”
Malfoy flinched and Ron winced. Hermione would be nattering on about his emotional range of a tablespoon right about now. Well. At least it was no longer a teaspoon.
“It’s hard hearing someone who looks like my boyfriend say that,” Malfoy hummed.
Ron made a face. “Don’t say that. Makes me…” He shuddered.
Malfoy snorted. “Definitely Ron, even if not exactly like him.”
Ron shrugged. “So why did Percy summon me?” He persisted.
Malfoy shook his head. “Walls have ears. The lord or his subjects may hear.”
Ron frowned. “Bellatrix said that too. Who’s this lord fellow? He a Dark Lord, or something?”
“Why do you assume the Lord is a dark one?”
“The only one I’ve ever heard being called a Lord is Voldemort, and he was this evil guy back home.”
Malfoy scratched his neck. “Voldemort?” He shook his head. “Never mind. You mean you don’t have Royalty in your time?”
“Royalty?” Ron’s eyes widened. “As in, Monarchy? The ministry abolished that centuries ago!”
Malfoy blinked. “Might account for the differences…” He sighed. “Well, the Lord is the King. And you have an attendance with him.”
“Why? What the hell did my counterpart do?”
Malfoy sneered. “Merely protest for our rightful place in the world. We campaign for what is ours, and you, my lo- sorry, your counterpart, is the centre point of our revolution.
Ron blinked. “I am? He is?”
“Woah.” Ron mumbled. Then he frowned. “Why not Harry, though?”
A confused look crossed the other man’s face. “Who’s-”
The door flung open and Luna entered again, this time alone, with a cross expression and a key in her hands. “Come on,” She told him, unlocking his binds. “The Prince wants to meet you.”
Malfoy yelled from the other cell. “Don’t listen to them, Ron!”
Luna scowled. “Oh, shut up, Malfoy!”
She marched him out, grip tight on Ron’s arms and eyes sparking.
“Look, Luna-” He tried to reason.
Luna growled. “You have no right to call me by my name!”
“I’m not Ron!” Ron replied instantly.
Luna jerked to a stop. “Excuse me?” Her voice was deathly quiet.
“I mean,” Ron fumbled. “I am Ron, just not your world’s Ron.”
Luna scoffed and kept walking. “You’re not getting out of this one with talking, Weasley. II won’t let you.”
She was silent the rest of the way.
They walked through halls that Ron finally noticed were halls of a castle. Not Hogwarts, but someplace just as beautiful. At one point, they twisted through a few turns and entered a room as large as the transfiguration classroom back at Hogwarts.
Ron observed the people sitting there in interest, starting with a compilation of people he didn’t know.
Luna pushed him down on a chair in the middle of the room and chains sprung around his limbs, binding his to the chair. Luna knelt beside him. “My Prince.”
A familiar laugh echoed across the room. “You know you don’t need to call me that in private, Luna,” The prince said warmly. “You’re one of my closest friends.”
Ron gaped. “Harry?”
The room stilled, and the Prince, Harry, rose – taller than he was in Ron’s real world, and much more regal looking.
Ron preferred his best friend.
“My name is not Harry,” The man said mildly. “After all our confrontations, I’d have expected you to memorize that.”
Yeah, he definitely preferred his Harry. “Er, like I’ve said, I’m not the one you’re looking for.”
Harry- The Prince raised an eyebrow. “You look like Ronald Weasley,” He answered. “And your magic is that belonging to Ronald Weasley. How are you not Ronald Weasley?”
Ron struggled. “Look, the Malfoy of your world explained it. I am Ron Weasley, just not your Ron Weasley. I’m from another dimension. So, I’m not the one you’re looking for.”
Luna scoffed again. “This is Ronald Weasley, Prince. I doubt he’s telling the truth.”
The door opened behind them and someone slipped in, heeled shoes clicking on the floor. “He’s telling the truth,” Hermione said, and Ron’s breath caught in his throat. “The Schemer- Ronald Weasley just attacked Hogsmeade and took it under control.”
Pandemonium broke loose in a flutter of voices and sounds.
Harry raised his hand and the sound shuttered. “So there are two Ronald Weasleys,” He said, voice suddenly tired and dead. “What does he want?”
Hermione walked to his side and handed him a folder. “Draco Malfoy’s unconditional release.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, motioning to Ron. “Not his counterpart?”
Hermione shook her head. “I think… I think he doesn’t even know about him. I mean, I may be wrong, but…” She glanced at Ron, then flinched in fear and turned back, making Ron feel worse than he had been feeling since he realized he’d been separated from Hugo and Lily and had no idea where he was. At least the little kids would be back home. “I think it was Percy who summoned him. He was toying with a research project, and…”
Ron perked up. “Malfoy said that too. That Percy summoned me.” He frowned. “Why’d he summon me, anyway? And what’s going on? Why am I not on your side or whatever?” And they hate him?
Harry and Hermione exchanged looks.
Luna hissed. “Because you’re a bastard who only cares about himself.”
Ron leant back. Definitely hated him.
Harry shook his head and motioned for Luna. “Take the command of a platoon and try to resolve the Hogsmeade issue?” He asked. “Take any of the free generals.”
Luna nodded stiffly and left.
Ron stared after her. “And why does she hate me?” He muttered confusedly.
Harry inched forward and stared into Ron’s eyes, seemingly staring at his soul. “Who in your world do you owe your allegiance to, Ronald Weasley? The King or the Supremacy?”
Ron shrugged uncomfortably. “Neither exists in my world,” He revealed. “The ministry runs things.” He frowned. “I get the king thing, but what’s the supremacy?”
Harry and Hermione exchanged another look.
Ron stared curiously.
Hermione sighed. “The supremacy is a group of blood purists who want to cleanse the wizarding world of the taint of muggle blood.”
“Wait,” Ron muttered. “That means… I’m a bloody blood purist?!”
Hermione frowned. “Aren’t you in your world?”
Ron shook his head. “No. The Weasleys are the biggest blood traitors you’ll find, actually.” He shook his head. “They’re all going to laughing their asses off,” He muttered.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Who is going to… ‘laugh’?” He asked, an amused smile slipping onto his face.
Ron huffed. “You- well, my world’s Harry, for one.”
Harry frowned. “Harry? That is why you called me that? My counterpart’s name is Harry? Not Hadrian?”
Ron blinked. “Yeah, it’s... your name’s Hadrian?”
Hadrian nodded, and this time much more warmly. “There was already a muggle Prince named Harry, so Mum and Dad chose to name me Hadrian instead.”
Ron ‘Ah’ed. “Anyway, Hermione will laugh next, though she’ll try to hide it. Then Ginny won’t try to hide it and probably mention it in her next article. Mum’s going to try and lecture me, even though it isn’t even me, and George…” Ron shuddered. “Let’s just say even the kids are going to laugh.”
Hermione perked up. Till now, she had been lurking in the shadows, but now, wisps of longing hung in her eyes. “Kids? You have kids?” She hesitated. “… Do I, in your world?”
Ron frowned. “Of course you do, I mean-” He stopped. “Oh. I’m evil in this world. And apparently not straight.”
Harry frowned as well. “You mean…” He trailed off.
Hermione’s eyes were wide and disbelieving. “I marry… you?” She squeaked, as if it was the most repulsive thing in the world.
Ron blushed. “Well, yeah…” He mumbled. “Can we talk about something else?”
Hermione blushed darkly. “I’m so sorry,” She said instantly. “I didn’t mean to say that!”
Ron smiled tightly. “It’s fine.” He needed to get home. This was getting really bad for his nerves. And him in general. “Can I ask which side Percy is on?”
Hermione nodded. “Ours, which is why I believed you. Percy hypothesized that the summoned version of ourselves would be psychologically and morally opposite to the version found in this world. It seems to be true enough.”
Ron frowned. “But why did he summon me? ‘m not some amazing person if you need help defeating your Ron.”
Hadrian raised an eyebrow at Hermione. “I concur. Why did Percy summon him? Duke Longbottom’s on his way from the Americas with help. I believe we can take down the opposition with that.”
Hermione bit her lip. “I’m not sure. Percy didn’t exactly tell me.”
Ron groaned. “Well, can you at least tell him to send me back? Harry’s going to end up here if I don’t go back soon.”
Hadrian laughed. “And how will he do that? I will be the first to admit that I am not as intelligent as to accomplish such a task.”
Ron smirked. “Harry’s my best mate and he would die before giving up on saving someone, especially his friends. Plus, Hermione’ll be right next to him with all the resources of the wizarding world. I’m pretty sure those guys can do it, together.”
Hadrian raised an eyebrow. “Impressive.” Then his eyes twinkled, though his remained impassive. “And if they are such a perfect pair, how come they did not end up together? It seems there was no obligations to the crown holding him back?”
Hermione turned beet red. “Your highness!”
Hadrian grinned at her.
Ron shrugged. “They’re like siblings,” He explained. “Besides, Harry only has eyes for Ginny.” He made a face. “Strangely enough.”
“You know,” Ginny said, walking up to him, the door opening just seconds ago. “I should hit you for that.”
Ron scowled. “Same Ginny.”
She smiled brightly and walked over and kissed Hadrian. “I should think so.”
“And same Harry. Huh. Seems Harry likes you in every universe.”
“Of course,” She retorted, but there was a hint of hope and relief in her eyes that Ron thought was probably because of his stupid counterpart. “I am incredible.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I have a question?” He asked after Ginny stopped grinning.
Hadrian raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“Why does Luna hate me?”
The trio’s faces darkened. “I don’t think it’s wise of you to mention that in her presence,” Harry warned. “Ever. You may not be this world’s Ronald Weasley, but you still wear the face of the man who destroyed her family.
The room fell into a damning silence, and Ron closed his eyes as a flash of anger rushed through him. Damn that version of him. He may be much stronger, much more important than himself, but Ron never, ever wanted to be him.
Ginny walked up to him and squeezed his shoulder. “You’re not him,” She said quietly, firmly.
Ron nodded and shifted. “Can I get out of this chair now?” He asked instead.
Ginny huffed a laugh and backed away.
Hermione, however, hesitated. “What if you’re just pretending?” She asked quietly, fear colouring her voice once again.
Ron sighed. “We just had a long conversation about that,” He cajoled. “Plus,” He added, making a face. “Why would I want to support a side with Malfoy on it?”
Ginny raised her eyebrows. “Because you’re dating?”
Ron mock gagged. “Definitely not in my world.”
The three laughed.
Hadrian waved a wand and the chains faded away. Ron stood up and stretched. “Now. Where’s Percy? I need to get home.”
Hermione looked down. “Percy has been captured,” She said, and Ron’s hope fell down the drain.
He clenched his fists. “Seriously?” He closed his eyes. “And how am I supposed to get home?”
Ginny started to smile and a shiver went down Ron’s spine. “I have just the perfect idea.”