Midnight Conversation: Hermione and Ron
Midnight Conversation: Hermione and Ron
Madam Pomfrey left the hospital ward quietly, murmuring “Nox
,” as she closed and locked the door behind her. The darkness in which Hermione found herself when she opened her eyes was almost total. Only a trickle of moonlight through the heavy curtains softened the black. Hermione stared at it and strained to identify the shapes it glanced across. The matron had instructed her to sleep, and because she had lacked the strength to argue she had promised to try, but she had lied. Her ribs still hurt too much for her to get comfortable, and the things she had learned about what had happened after she’d been struck unconscious by Dolohov’s spell cluttered her brain and chased away any possibility of sleep.
In the bed beside hers, Ron moved restlessly. So, he couldn’t sleep, either. She wanted him to say something. She needed the distraction, needed something besides her pain and disquieting thoughts for company.
Presently, Ron whispered, “Oi, Hermione… You awake?”
“Yes,” she whispered back, grateful.
“Er…how do you feel?”
“Still a bit sore,” she admitted.
For a few moments all Hermione could hear was her heart hammering painfully against her ribs. Then, quietly, “What do you reckon…the others are doing?”
“Sleeping, I should think,” Hermione replied. “It must be after midnight.”
She waited for him to say more, but he did not, and after a few more minutes during which he was completely quiet and still, she wondered if he had fallen asleep.
So, “Ron…” she whispered hesitantly.
“Yeah?” to her relief, he replied at once.
“I’m--” She was not ready to talk about what had happened at the Department of Mysteries so she turned to another, older concern. Glad he could not see her burning cheeks, she said hurriedly, “I’m--I’m sorry about…you know. Missing your last match. Against Ravenclaw.”
“You’re just saying that ‘cause we won.”
Stunned by the accusation, Hermione protested, “No--no I’m not.”
“Yeah, you are.” Ron did not sound bitter, only tired and maybe, faintly amused. “You hate Quidditch.”
“I do not!” The unfairness rankled. She was quite certain she had never said that. It was untrue. Mostly. She thought about what might have given him that impression. “Well, all right,” she added quickly after a moment’s reflection, “I don’t really see why you and Harry and Ginny find it so fascinating, and I really do think it divides the houses even further, but it--can be exciting.”
His voice thick with sarcasm, Ron said, “Like when Vicky plays?”
This time Hermione’s cheeks burned with anger. “I did not say anything about Viktor,” she informed him crossly. “I was sorry I didn’t get to see you play.”
“Oh. Well. That’s all right.” Ron sounded contrite. “You were doing other stuff. Important stuff.”
His tone soothed her. And reminded her that she really was sorry. “I know,” she said softly. “But if I had to choose between teaching English to Grawp and watching the match, I’d much rather have watched you.” By you she had meant him and Ginny and the other Gryffindors. Or at least, that was what she hoped he thought she meant. She realised, belatedly and to her dismay, that he might take you to mean--only him. He wouldn’t, she told herself. This was Ron. Subtlety was wasted on him. And if he had managed to catch what she’d implied--he wouldn’t say anything. Flushing deeper still, she added hurriedly, “It would have been nice to see Ginny catch the Snitch right under Cho’s--”
Something in his tone made her pause. Frowning, and realising she should have asked it earlier, “Are you feeling all right?”
“What--happened, exactly? I didn’t see--”
“Oh,” said Ron. “One of the Death Eaters hit me with a Dementus jinx, and then one of those brain things tried to choke me. That broke the spell. Not that you could tell.”
He’d said it jokingly, but Hermione was truly shocked. “Are you saying I think you’re stupid?” she demanded.
“No,” Ron said at once. Then, gruffly, “Well…okay, maybe. You must think I’m pretty dim sometimes, huh?”
“No, I don’t,” she insisted, hurt. She’d have been angry again, had he not sounded so solemn. “I don’t.” The silence, this time, was stony. “Well, all right,” she admitted, “sometimes I think some of your ideas are a little farfetched, but I don’t think you’re at all dim. Really.”
“Really. I’m--” the words came with difficulty, “--proud of you.” How patronising that sounded! He deserved better than that. He might have absolved her, but she did not feel any better. She could not leave him thinking she did not value him as a friend. So long as she avoided revealing too much. “I’m--proud you’re my--my friend.” He did not say anything, so she plunged on. “You keep me from taking myself too seriously. No, I didn’t say that correctly. Our friendship isn’t--I mean it’s not--not…frivolous.” Oh, that was not the right word! “Sometimes I think--I think you know me better than I know myself. I mean--” She was floundering. She stopped trying, turned away from the window and stared at the ceiling. Her ribs throbbed, and her breath hitched painfully in her chest.
“Hermione?” Ron said a little while later, in a pale voice. “What do we say to Harry? I mean about Sirius? D’you think he’ll blame himself?”
Hermione closed her eyes. What had she been doing a minute ago? Trying to explain something? Or trying not to? She could not remember. For this question, at least, the answer came easily. “Yes.”
“What should we say…?”
She opened her eyes. “I don’t know,” she gasped and turned, finally, to look at him. His eyes were as wide as her own, and dull white in the scant moonlight. Wordlessly, thoughtlessly, she extended her hand toward him, wincing as pain shot up and down her side.
Ron caught her fingers and held them crushingly. They clung together in the darkness.