The Sugar Quill
Author: That H.P. Guy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Getting It Right  Chapter: Chapter Two: Catch Me, I'm Falling
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Chapter 2 ~ Catch Me, I'm Falling

 

“Ron, you’re awfully quiet,” said Hermione, glancing back over her shoulder at him.

Ron was walking behind Harry and Hermione, lost in thought, letting them lead. “I’m alright,” he said, putting on a happier face and closing the gap between them, “just thinking a bit, I guess. So, where are we going on this walk?”

“It’s your town,” said Harry. “Is there anything worth seeing?”

Hermione turned to speak to Ron, but at that moment she tripped on a loose paving stone and fell, hard. “Ow!” she cried as she rolled into a sitting position, displaying a bloodied knee.

Ron immediately knelt next to her, and Harry moved behind her, to help prop her up.

“Oh, I feel so stupid! Tripping over my feet like that. I feel like Neville!” Her hand immediately flew to her mouth, “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that! That was terribly mean…” Ron saw that the palms of her hands were chafed up a bit from breaking the fall, but not bleeding.

Suppressing a chuckle, Ron pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed gently at the wound on Hermione’s leg. “Time like this, it's okay. You are hurt, after all. Why, you could probably even curse a bit, if you think it might make you feel better?” He glanced up with a forced innocent look and she rolled her eyes at him.

“No, thank you, I’ll be fine without resorting to foul language,” she retorted, but Ron noticed tears starting in her eyes and realised he'd guessed right about it hurting.

“Suit yourself,” continued Ron, still wiping away the blood. “I don’t think you’ve done anything too bad to yourself, and I’ll bet Mum can fix this in a jiff.” Without further thought, he moved closer to Hermione and put one arm under her bent knees and the other around her back, under her arm. “Upsie-daisy!” he grunted as he lifted her up. Harry raised a very pointed eyebrow, but Ron chose to ignore him.

Ron started walking back towards The Burrow, and Hermione was looking up at him, her expression one of wonder, her eyes wide and innocent and unfathomable. He found himself wilting under that gaze, and averted his eyes, but that left him staring at her chest, which just would not do. He also didn’t want to look down at her knee any more—though he’d never admit it, the blood was making him a little queasy. So he looked straight ahead.

He almost dropped her, perversely, when she put her arms up around his neck. “Just in case I’m getting too heavy,” she whispered, clasping her chafed hands over his shoulder. He risked a glance back down at her face. She was still wide-eyed and a little pale. ‘Shock,’ Ron thought to himself. “Don’t worry, ‘Mione, you’re not heavy at all.” She nestled her head against his bicep and stayed quiet the rest of the way back home.

Harry rushed ahead, and held the door for them until they arrived. He called out, “Mrs. Weasley, come quick!”

Molly bustled out of the kitchen and stopped with a hand over her mouth when she saw Ron carrying Hermione. “What on earth has happened?” she yelled, pulling her wand and approaching.

Hermione seemed to have her voice back. “Mrs. Weasley, I feel like a fool. I tripped and tore up my knee.”

“Put her on the sofa, Ron, I’ll look into this,” said Molly, taking charge. “Do you think it’s broken, dear?” she asked Hermione.

Ron and Harry moved away to give them the space they needed, and Ginny joined them, having bolted down the stairs at the commotion. Ron stretched and put his hands against the small of his back. Hermione may not have been too heavy, but carrying an entire person several blocks was no easy feat; his back was beginning to twinge. Ginny noticed right away.

“Ron, did you hurt yourself too?” she asked. Molly looked pointedly over her shoulder at him.

“No, no, I’m fine. Just a little stiff from carrying her, that’s all.”

“Why on earth didn’t you use mobilicorpus?” asked Ginny.

“Er, uhm,” stammered Ron. Why hadn’t he? Because he’d thought of nothing more complex than getting Hermione back to the help she needed. His own words to Hermione, years before, haunted him now. “Are you a witch or not?” he’d yelled at her. Some wizard he was turning out to be.

“He couldn’t,” Hermione answered for him, through clenched teeth, while Molly ministered to her wound. “No magic outside of the school. You know that, Ginny…”

“Oh, tosh,” said Molly. “They’d have made an exception. This was an emergency!”

“I suppose,” said Hermione quietly, “but aren’t you proud of him for following the rules?”

Molly smiled at her. “That I am, dear, that and for taking such good care of you.” Hermione’s face took on a reddish cast, but Ron was sure it was nothing to the blush on his own. He beat a hasty retreat into the kitchen, claiming dire thirst.

He poured himself some pumpkin juice and drained the entire glass in one pull. It did nothing for the heat in his ears, but he felt like he could speak again. He’d not have trusted his voice at all after being heaped with such praise. Harry and Ginny joined him in the kitchen.

“Well, Ron, looks like you’re the hero this time. And am I ever glad of it!” said Harry, pouring himself some juice.

Ginny shook her head ruefully, saying, “You're just terrible.” She turned to Ron and beamed at him. “Mum may be proud of you, and so am I, but I think Hermione’s the proudest of all.”

Ron gaped at her, “What do you mean?”

Ginny just smiled cryptically at him, but wouldn’t say any more. She poured another glass of juice and handed it to Ron. “I’ll bet she’s thirsty, too.”

Ron took the glass, looked over at Harry who was wearing his best straight face, the one that made it obvious he was hiding a smile, and turned to go back to the living room where Hermione lay. He passed his mother, who smiled at him and briefly squeezed his upper arm before walking into the kitchen.

“How are you, Hermione?” he asked, tentatively, as Hermione still lay on the sofa.

“I’m fine,” she said, “the leg’s just a little stiff. Your mum says that I won’t even have a scar.”

“Oh, that’s too bad! It might have served you as well as Harry’s does him,” Ron joked.

Hermione pulled a face. “What would it do? Twinge when I’m about to fall over again?”

“Oh, leave off with that, would you?” Ron approached the sofa. “No need to get up. Can you lift up your legs a bit?”

Hermione lifted them up off the arm of the sofa most of a foot. Ron snuck underneath them to sit beside her. “And down again,” he said, pushing them gently down onto his lap. “For you,” he said, handing her the pumpkin juice. She took it, and he turned to inspect her knee. His mother had been right: there were no marks left whatsoever.

“A little stiff, you say?” asked Ron, as he started to massage her leg above the knee with his thumb and forefinger.

Hermione took a sip of the juice. “Yes, but it’ll be fine. I should probably walk on it a bit, to loosen it up.”

Ron made no move to let go of her leg. Hermione made no move to get up. It was finally Ron that broke the silence, “I was really worried about you out there, ‘Mione. I’m just glad it was your knee and not something more important.”

Hermione looked up at him and her face took on an expression much like the one she’d worn while he was carrying her. “I was never worried, Ron.”

“You…you weren’t? Why not? It was your knee that got pulverized!” Ron assumed he must have been wearing the same befuddled expression.

“Because,” Hermione whispered, “I knew you’d take care of me, and never let anything bad happen to me. Ever.”

“’Mione, I…” Ron began, but his voice broke and the words caught in his throat.

Hermione set down her juice and moved her hand down to where Ron’s had come to rest above her knee, the massage forgotten. Her fingers curled over his hand and squeezed gently. Her hand was cool from the glass she’d been holding, but his own felt like it was on fire.

“I know, Ron. Me too.”

//
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