The Sugar Quill
Author: Abigail (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Outside the Hospital Wing  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: I own neither Ron nor Hermione nor the hospital wing. But I do own this story, since it was all a product of my R/Hness and my imagination.

Author's Note: This happens during the first time Harry falls into a dreamless sleep, thanks to the potion Madam Pomfrey gave him. It is, of course, a completely R/H fic. Read ahead, and enjoyJ.....

Outside the Hospital Wing

By Abigail

"Do you think he will be alright?" Hermione asked. "Harry, I mean."

Ron looked at her in surprise. They were sitting in the corridor outside the

hospital wing, waiting. Ron wasn't sure what they were waiting for. Harry was inside, in a dreamless sleep, and Ron knew he wouldn't wake for quite a while.

But still, they were there, sitting on the floor, neither of them speaking

very much. It was understandable, of course. Many things had happened that

night. He and Hermione had followed every step Harry took inside the maze,

sitting in the stands, biting their nails. And then, Harry had disappeared. So

suddenly it seemed unreal. Suddenly he wasn't there. And neither was Cedric.

They had reappeared just as suddenly. Ron remembered Harry's face falling flat onto the ground, holding the Triwizard Cup in one hand, and a lifeless Cedric in the other.

Then, the confusion had begun. Mad-Eye Moody had dragged Harry out of sight, and Ron only expected it was for the best. But apparently, it hadn' t been for the best. Harry had returned looking dreadful, and Ron wondered what had really happened since he had left them to enter the maze. He

was worried. And by the look on Hermione's face, he could tell she was just as worried as he was.

"You heard him," Ron replied uncomfortably. "He's fine. He's just tired."

Hermione sighed hard. "He only said that because he doesn't want us to worry about him."

Ron looked down. It was true. Harry wasn't fine. When he had entered the hospital wing, hours before, Ron had known, with only one look at him, that he was terribly... bad. His eyes were watering, and his gaze seemed empty, as though he was trying hard not to remember anything. As though he was trying hard to make his mind go blank.

"I think he will be alright," Ron said. "Harry's made out of strong stuff."

There was silence again. Hermione was looking down, her knees pressed against

her chest. Ron stared at her for a while, trying hard not to imagine what had happened to his friend, but it was hopeless.

"What do you reckon happened to him?" Ron asked. He was dying to know what Hermione thought about this. He was dying to tell her what he

thought.

"I don't know," Hermione said, suddenly stern . "You heard Dumbledore, we

can't ask him until he is ready to tell."

That wasn't quite the reaction Ron had been expecting. "I won't ask him, Hermione, I'm not that thick!" He felt offended somehow. He knew he couldn't ask Harry, he didn't need reminding of that.

"Oh Ron," Hermione said, kneeling and turning turn to look at him . "That's not

what I meant."

"I just want to know..." Ron began, but he trailed off. Maybe it wasn't the right time to speak about it

"I want to know too," she replied, looking away. "But we need to wait."

Ron nodded. He was still a bit offended. But he wasn't angry. It was impossible to be mad at Hermione now. Not now that Harry was inside, and they were outside, together. Alone.

He looked at Hermione again. She was gazing across the corridor absentmindedly. Her hair was bushier than ever, and Ron remembered how pretty she had looked at the Yule Ball. His stomach jumped slightly. He remembered how stupid he had been.

" You're...You're fraternizing with the enemy."

Of all the things he could have said, he had come up with the stupidest one.

But why Krum? He wanted to know that. Why, of all the boys she could have gone with, had she picked Krum? The dumbest and ugliest one of the whole lot. The prat that was competing against Harry in the tournament. The git who played for Bulgaria. The bloody one from Dumstrang. Of all the boys... why hadn't she picked him? Ron Weasley?

He realized what he was thinking and shook his head roughly. That wasn't the point. The point was, she had dated Krum. And he had invited her to Bulgaria.

Ron wondered if Hermione had accepted the invitation. She had avoided the

question that day, in Potions, and they had never spoken about it again.

"I was thinking about inviting you and Harry to come over for the holidays. To the Burrow I mean..." he said, blushing. Don't blush, you idiot, don't blush.

"That would be great," Hermione said, to Ron's delight.

"Really?" Ron said in a low tone. "But are you sure you're going to have time? I mean... with your trip to Bulgaria and..." Blushing again. Why? Why do you always have to blush?

"I'm not sure about going to Bulgaria," Hermione cut him off.

Ron opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish out of water several times,

before finding the words and blurting them out. "But I thought you told Krum you would go..."

"I never told you that ," she replied uncomfortably. "Viktor invited me, and I said I would think about it."

"And have you..."

"Yes. But I still need a bit more time."

Ron nodded. Hermione had said the last words in a tone that told him the

conversation was over.

So she wasn't sure if she wanted to go. Ron held back a smile. Maybe she

preferred to go over to Ron's and be with him the whole summer. Maybe he

could talk her into moving over to his house the whole summer, that way she

wouldn't find time to go to Bulgaria.

"Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!"

He shook his head again, but stopped quickly, afraid that Hermione would think he was going nuts or something, shaking his head to himself all the time. Quotes from their terrible fight about the Yule Ball were coming to his head more often than he could stand.

But Hermione had missed the point, of course. If it had been somebody else, not Krum, then Ron wouldn't have been so mad. If it had been another one... who wasn't competing against Harry, who wasn't from Dumstrang, who wasn't the enemy... Someone who was Harry's friend... someone who was Harry's best friend. Ron Weasley, perhaps?

You're being stupid again, Ron, he thought. Just plain stupid!

"I hope Harry's fine," Hermione said, and Ron jumped a little, as he was pulled out of his thoughts. "He must've gone through a great deal. Cedric even...er... died... thank God the same thing didn't happen to... to... him."

Ron shivered to think about Cedric's face. The look of terror imprinted in his very eyes. His body stiff and cold. His mouth open wide. The whole thing seemed too familiar. He had seen that reaction before... he closed his eyes, remembering hard. The look of terror... mouth wide open... stiff and cold...

Then, the pieces of the puzzle fell right into place inside Ron's head.

"It was Avada Kedavra," Ron said suddenly. Hermione flinched at the words, then turned to look at him, confused. "What?" she asked.

"Cedric died because of Avada Kedavra," Ron said again.

Hermione stared at him in amazement. Ron was beginning to feel uncomfortable when she finally spoke, her voice quivering slightly. "But, Ron, that's...illegal."

Ron nodded apprehensively, "Yeah, I know. But he seemed petrified... like that spider in Moody's class..."

"That's awful," Hermione said slowly. "I mean... when I saw that spider just

die like that, I never thought it could actually happen to..."

"Cedric," Ron said.

"To anyone. It seemed so distant, so..."

"Unreal," Ron finished for her, and she nodded.

"But, if he did died because of that," she went on, "Who... who..?"

"I don't know," Ron said, "and I prefer not to think about it."

There was silence again. Ron could hear his mother talking in a hushed whisper inside the hospital wing. She was talking to Bill. But Bill seemed to be awfully quiet. Just like they were.

"Harry must be terribly distressed," Hermione said, shaking her head slowly.

Distressed wasn't the word to describe how Harry must be feeling. Ron somehow knew Harry felt just like he did. Afraid, confused, painfully useless. But Harry was probably feeling a thousand times more scared than he did. Because he knew what had actually happened when he had touched the Cup. He saw whatever it was that killed Cedric. He saw Cedric dying. And Ron shuddered to think what else he had seen...

"I think he's afraid. Terribly afraid," Ron replied.

And, to his enormous surprise, Hermione began to cry.

Ron looked at her, not knowing what to do. Tears were coming down her cheeks. He was feeling more useless every minute. He wanted to comfort her, to hug her, to kiss her... Kiss her?

Pull yourself together, Ron Weasley. She's your friend. Hug her and be

done with...

He approached her slowly, with caution, in a graceless sort of way. He placed an arm awkwardly around her, before he got a chance to think about what he was doing. His whole body went terribly tense, as he reached for her hand and took it in his. He felt the adrenaline rushing throughout his body in a flash.

And, to his great relief, she rested her head on his shoulder. He could feel his robes going wet with her tears, but he didn't mind.

In this moment, in which he was holding Hermione tightly in his arms, nothing mattered.

They stayed like this, for a long time. Soon, Ron realized Hermione had stopped crying. But she made no effort to go away, so it didn't matter. Ron felt incredibly warm, and he felt like staying like this forever, feeling Hermione's hair under his chin, with that sweet smell that he had noticed so many times before. When she had hugged him after the first task. When she had hugged him last year. But this time, he was hugging her, and it felt nice.

Just then, something made both Ron and Hermione jump. They could hear hurried footsteps coming near, and voices, yelling at each other.

"HOW DARE YOU BRING THAT THING INTO THE CASTLE?" It was Professor McGonagall. Hermione immediately pushed herself away from Ron, and Ron gave a small grunt, which was drowned out by another voice yelling back.

"IT WAS A GOOD THING I DID!" Ron recognized Fudge's voice. "THAT MAN WAS A MURDERER!" The footsteps stopped, as though they had suddenly stopped walking.

Ron looked at Hermione, puzzled. She shrugged in response, and Ron was about to say that it was Fudge and McGonagall, when they heard more screaming.

"YOU SHOULD HAVE CONSULTED DUMBLEDORE FIRST!" screamed Professor McGonagall. "YOU SHOULD'VE TOLD HIM!"

"FOR GOODNESS SAKE, WOMAN!" Fudge replied irritably. "I AM GOING TO."

"THE DAMAGE IS DONE NOW, CORNELIUS!" McGonagall told him, apparently stomping her foot on the ground.

"Come on Minerva, Cornelius." They heard a voice far too familiar. "Let's go and look for Dumbledore and see what he thinks of this." It was Snape.

They immediately begun to walk again, the footsteps drawing even closer.

"Maybe we should go inside," Ron said hurriedly.

Hermione nodded. "Harry must be waking up any minute now, anyway."

Ron stood up, feeling slightly dizzy. He held his hand out, to help Hermione stand up. She took it awkwardly and grinned slightly at him. He grinned back, and stepped into the hospital wing, closing the door behind them.

The End

P.S. The rest, is history...

//
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