The Sugar Quill
Author: Abigail (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Inside 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.

The poor kids, look at them

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter… …

 

 

 

Inside the Hospital Wing

By Abigail

 

 

 

“The poor kids, look at them. I’ve never seen such things in my hospital wing before, and that’s telling you a lot.” Ron was pulled out of his dreams by Madam Pomfrey’s voice, but found himself afraid to open his eyes. Where he was, he didn’t know. He didn’t remember why he was lying in that cold bed; he had no recollection of what had happened to him. “Well, they are lucky not to be dead. It’s an amazing achievement, to have gotten out of there alive.” A second voice spoke and a flash of light seared across Ron’s empty head.

 

A curse had hit him, yes, he remembered. Right over his heart. And he had felt so drunk, he couldn’t speak coherently, he couldn’t even walk straight. And he had laughed as he ran hand in hand with someone, dodging planets all around. He remembered blonde, unkempt hair, swaying in front of him. Luna’s hair, as she steered him out of the room. There had been an explosion… and a cry of pain… and… Ron tried to hold on to the memory, as he shut his eyes painfully. C’mon, c’mon! he thought desperately as he stirred in the cold bed. There had been a tank, and it glittered. And then there had been a brain. It was closing in on him. Ron could feel the tentacles all over him. He could hardly breathe. 

 

“Get off!” he cried.

 

“Mr. Weasley?” a soothing voice called him, and he opened his eyes. Madam Pomfrey was looking down at him, and he blushed. He had been fighting with an invisible brain, for the third time in an hour. “Bad dreams again? This potion just doesn’t work with you, does it?” she said, pouring more of the familiar blue liquid into Ron’s glass, and placing it again on the bedside table. Ron stared at her. He just couldn’t bring himself to admit that he wasn’t dreaming about the brains, he was remembering them. The dreamless sleep potion worked exaggeratedly well, considering the fact he had drunk  it three times by now.

 

“Are you okay, Weasley?” the familiar voice of Professor McGonagall asked from behind Madam Pomfrey. Ron nodded, but stopped quickly. It made his head hurt.

 

Professor McGonagall smiled at him with terse lips and then sighed. “Well, then I’ll tell Dumbledore you are awake,” she said, her face quite unemotional. “He wants to have a word with you.”

 

Ron stared at her from his bed as she exited the hospital wing, before he could gather up the strength to say something else. He didn’t dwell too much on what Dumbledore had to tell him, but he expected it to be about Harry. He knew Harry was okay - Madam Pomfrey had answered that when he woke up for the first time, screaming ”Where’s Harry?”, crying and sweating like mad. He was grateful that all of the others were fast asleep when this happened. But, from what he remembered, something had made Harry scream Sirius’ name quite a few times, and chase Bellatrix Lestrange out of sight. Yes, he remembered that, drunk as he might have felt. He just hoped nothing serious happened to Sirius, because Harry certainly didn’t need that. He smiled. Something serious to Sirius. He made a mental note to tell that joke the next time he had the chance. And what was even funnier was that there was nothing serious in Sirius.  Ron really liked that. He was like a breath of fresh air, when you had Molly Weasley for a mother.

 

Madam Pomfrey walked up to his bed again, carrying a pot of something labeled Dr. Ubbly’s Oblivion Unction, and placed it on his bedside table, right next to the un-drunken dreamless sleep potion.

 

“Okay, now you sit up, Mr. Weasley,” she said, holding his arm and helping him lift his own weight. “This is very important for your recovery.”

 

“What is it?” Ron asked, staring at the half-liquid, half-solid substance in the pot.

 

“It’s for those marks, the nasty brain marks you’ve got on your arms,” she answered, sinking one finger into the pot and pulling it out again, the gray substance attached to it. “The scars will disappear with time, but it’s the thoughts what could really harm you.”

 

The thoughts?” Ron asked, frowning at the smell coming from inside the pot, while she rubbed the substance on his arms.

 

“The thoughts,” Madam Pomfrey said plainly, as she walked to the back of the room carrying the pot with her. Ron shrugged. Well, she knows what she is doing, after all, he thought, as he noticed he immediately felt less tired and less heavy. 

 

He turned to look at Hermione, who lay in the bed at his left. His eyes dwelled on her for a few moments, and he sighed. The first time he had woken up, he had turned to look and had believed her dead. Her limp body had seemed lifeless, and her chest hadn’t been rising and falling like Neville’s - well, Neville had been snoring, actually, and still was. Ron didn’t even want to remember what it felt like to think for a brief moment that she was gone forever. The mere thought made him shudder.

 

“She hasn’t woken up yet, has she?” he asked in a tiny voice, unconsciously rubbing the scars in his arms.

 

Madam Pomfrey clicked her tongue twice, as if to say “no”, but as she did, he heard a shriek and turned sharply to look. He was impressed to see Umbridge, sitting up in her bed, looking around wildly with a mad expression on her face. He hadn’t noticed her before. He wondered dully why she was there. Her hair was all messed up, and the expression on her face made her look quite mental. More mental than usual. Madam Pomfrey, wearing a look of pity, soothed her into sleeping again, and then shook her head with disapproval. Ron cast an inquiring look at her.

 

 “Poor woman,” she said grimly, as she moved around to check on Hermione. “I wonder what those centaurs did to her.”

 

Of course - the centaurs!

 

“Who found her?” Ron asked at once, trying his best to conceal how amusing he found the whole situation.

 

“Dumbledore did,” Madam Pomfrey said, not looking at him, as she took Hermione’s pulse. “It’s a cruel thing to leave someone alone in a forest full of wild centaurs. They don’t like humans, you know,” she added, but she didn’t appear upset at all. Actually, Ron noticed a tiny smile forming on her mouth.

 

“They bloody well don’t,” Ron whispered to himself, suppressing a laugh.

 

And then, just as Madam Pomfrey opened Hermione’s mouth and forced her to drink some white horrible-looking potion, the hospital wing’s door flew open and in came Dumbledore, apparently immersed in his own thoughts. He was wearing a sulky expression, something Ron had never seen on him before. He walked up to Madam Pomfrey and smiled at her, rather forcedly in Ron’s opinion.

 

“Madam Pomfrey,” he said. “How are they?”

 

Madam Pomfrey looked at him carefully, examining every inch of him with her piercing eyes. “They’re better,” she replied, turning back to Hermione and forcing her to drink from another potion. “Mr. Longbottom just needs a couple more touches and his nose will be perfect, Miss Granger is still unconscious.”  She took a deep breath before continuing. “I seriously doubt she will wake soon. Miss Weasley is ready, she just needs to rest. And Mr. Weasley has already woken,” she added, a twinge of pride in her voice, nodding in Ron’s direction and beaming at him. Dumbledore turned to look at him, and his expression became more cheerful.

 

“Ah, Ron, yes,” he said, looking down at him from behind his half-moon spectacles. “I wanted a word with you. Accio Chair!” he cried as he waved his hand, and a chair came flying past Ron’s bed. Dumbledore caught it and sat down. He gave Madam Pomfrey a significant look; she nodded and made her way towards the back of the room again.

 

There was silence for a few seconds and then Ron broke it. “Is Harry okay?” he asked politely, not wanting to sound as if he was pressing the conversation on. He just really wanted to know how his best friend was.

 

Dumbledore turned to look sharply at him, and Ron couldn’t read his expression. Then he looked down. Ron was almost certain tears were starting to wet his eyes. His heart dropped painfully. Answer! Ron thought savagely, giving Dumbledore a stern look. Answer me!

 

After what seemed to be a terribly long time, Dumbledore finally spoke, his voice unsteady. “Harry’s physical condition is fine, Ron. He didn’t suffer from any injuries, and he is now resting in Gryffindor Tower.” He paused, and took a very deep breath. “But I am afraid he is not well.”

 

Ron’s hands began to sweat. He looked over at Hermione, not wanting to meet the Headmaster’s eyes. “What d’you mean, he is not well?” he asked, the politeness wearing off. He didn’t care about anything right now; all he wanted to know was what had happened to his friend. “I want to talk to him,” he demanded stubbornly.

 

“There was an unfortunate incident that you should know about, before you are able to talk to Harry,” Dumbledore continued, quickly, maybe afraid to be interrupted. No, no! Ron didn’t want to know anymore. Don’t tell me, please don’t tell me, he thought frantically as he tried to fix his mind on Hermione too, trying his best not to listen to Dumbledore’s unsteady voice.  “Today, just a few hours ago, Mr. Sirius Black was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange, at the Department of Mysteries.”

 

It took a few moments for the words to sink in, but, once they did, Ron’s whole body went numb, and a feeling of desolation enclosed upon him. He was still looking at Hermione, but only half aware of it. He was only half aware of everything that was going on around him. He completely forgot Dumbledore was sitting on a chair right next to his bed. Completely forgot the searing pain in his head, and the uncomfortable feeling in his arms, the disgusting smell of the unguent, the sound of Neville’s exaggerated snoring… Sirius was dead, he thought savagely.

 

He stayed there, sitting upright in his tiny bed, trying to swallow the complete meaning of those words. How could Sirius be dead? It just couldn’t be happening.

 

Dumbledore was still talking, probably explaining the whole thing to him, but Ron’s mind had gone blank. He couldn’t listen to him right now. All he could think about was Sirius’ face and the thought of never seeing it again. And the pain increased when he thought about Harry. Harry, who was now alone. Harry, who was probably going to blame the whole thing on himself. Harry, who didn’t deserve this. He felt an awful fury towards everyone and everything. Why was life so unfair to Harry?

 

“Voldemort escaped after that, but thanks to all of you, the Ministry was able to catch a series of Death Eaters at the. Of course, Azkaban isn’t as safe as it once was, so we can’t expect to have seen the last of them.” 

 

He found himself wishing Dumbledore would leave and give him a chance to think, to scream, to sleep. He glared at him, but Dumbledore didn’t notice. He was looking out of the window right above Ron’s bed.

 

“It’s something awful, what happened last night,” Ron heard him say, and he was snapped out of his thoughts, becoming fully aware of the world around him. “I ask you to treat Harry carefully, and give him your full support, because you are now all he has. You and Miss Granger.” Having said this, he stood up and walked out of the room without adding a single word. Ron watched him go, feeling empty inside.

****

 

 

“In theory you shouldn’t be eating candy, you know,” said Madam Pomfrey, as she rubbed a considerable amount of unguent into the brain welts once more.

 

Ron unwrapped the Chocolate Frog the quickest way he could with his free hand. “In theory, I shouldn’t be awake still,” Ron replied, beaming at himself, and thrusting the Chocolate Frog into his mouth.

 

Madam Pomfrey gave him a stern look. “Now, do not overreact, Mr. Weasley. It’d be unusual if you weren’t awake by now,” she said. And then added, “Besides, in this particular situation, candy doesn’t do anything good for you.”

 

“It tastes good,” Ron said, his mouth so full that he sent bits of chocolate flying onto Madam Pomfrey’s clean white robes. “I’m sorry,” he said, when she glared dangerously at him.

 

Neville and Ginny had already left the hospital wing, completely cured. The only ones still in there were Ron and Hermione, and a very mental Umbridge. Hermione was sleeping for the moment, but Madam Pomfrey had told Ron that she had already woken a few times, when Ron had been sleeping. Wrong luck, Ron thought miserably, since he was dying to talk to her. About what, he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk to her about Sirius, and even if he did, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to. Just like earlier that morning, when Harry came after breakfast, and Ron just hadn’t been able to summon the subject into the conversation. He knew it hurt Harry to think about it. And the truth was, it hurt him too.

 

He looked at Hermione with longing eyes, and then looked hopefully at Madam Pomfrey. “Can I shake her a little, so that she wakes up?” Ron asked, in the most innocent way he could.

 

“No, Mr. Weasley, you may not do that,” Madam Pomfrey said. “But it’s time for her to drink her potions, so I guess I’ll wake her up.” She gave him a faint smile, and Ron’s heart began to pound in his ribs, completely to his surprise. You are going to talk to her at least, he found himself thinking.  You are going to hear her voice again.

 

“Miss Granger,” Madam Pomfrey said in a mellow tone, as she shook Hermione carefully. “It’s time to wake up.”

 

Ron rolled his eyes. “Can I do it?” he asked politely, since Hermione gave no signs of waking up.

 

Madam Pomfrey considered it before replying. “Well, alright. But don’t scare her,” she said, moving aside. Ron scrambled out of his bed for the first time since they had returned from the Department of Mysteries, and felt strangely weak. His legs shook for a moment, and he had to hold on to Hermione’s bed in order not to fall down.

 

“Hermione,” he said, approaching her ear. He checked on Madam Pomfrey, but she apparently was in her office again. “For Merlin’s sake, wake up!” he yelled, making Hermione flinch and seat bolt upright in bed. Ron beamed at her.

 

“What’s wrong with you, Ronald Weasley!” she bellowed at him as he scrambled back into his own bed, gigging quietly.

 

“Oh cheer up, Hermione!” he said, fighting back a fit of laughter. She glared at him for a few moments, clearly trying to keep her composure, but then giggled nervously.

 

Ron smiled cheerfully at her. “Finally,” he said.

 

“Finally what?” Hermione replied, still giggling a little. “I’ve woken up so many times, and you’ve been sleeping!”

 

“Well, yeah, me too,” he said, shrugging. Madam Pomfrey, who had clearly heard the whole commotion, slid between the two beds, carrying a bunch of potions in her arms, her eyes flashing dangerously in Ron’s direction.

 

“I told you not to scare her,” she told him, as Hermione opened her mouth wide and the nurse started to pour tiny drops of potion into it.

 

Ron served himself another Chocolate Frog while he waited for Madam Pomfrey to finish. Once she had walked into the back of the room again, giving Ron one last disapproving look, Hermione spoke, in a more careful tone.

                                 

“Have you seen Harry?” she asked, and Ron turned to look sharply at her. She spoke as though she knew about Sirius. Maybe Dumbledore had come in and talked to her while he was asleep.

 

“Yeah,” Ron said. “Yeah, I did. This morning.” He felt a knot forming in his throat, and immediately fixed his eyes on his overlarge hands. “But we didn’t, you know - ” Tears were threatening to come out. “We didn’t talk that much.”

 

He could feel Hermione looking at him. “Dumbledore came in last night, when you were asleep,” she started, and Ron lifted his gaze at once. “He came in to tell me that…”

 

“I know, Hermione, he told me too,” Ron said, not wanting to speak about Sirius for the moment.

 

“So you know,” she said, quietly. “And did you and Harry…”

 

“No, Hermione, I don’t think he needs that right now,” Ron cut her off again.

 

She glared at him from her bed, and shook her head disapprovingly.

 

“What?” Ron asked sternly, anger bubbling up inside him. “What did I do wrong this time?”

 

“Oh, Ron,” Hermione said, in an almost hysterical tone. “Of course Harry needs to talk about it!”

 

“So suddenly you’ve become a mind reader, have you? You know exactly what Harry wants?” Ron half-yelled, not bothering to hold back his tears anymore. He knew Harry needed to talk about it, he knew it. And he also knew that he, himself, needed to talk about it too. But how? How could he screw up the courage to talk about something so painful?

 

Hermione was staring at him while his tears sprayed all over his front, and her expression softened. “Ron, don’t cry,” she said, starting to cry too. “I didn’t mean to… I just…”

 

“It’s not that… it’s just that… I wanted to talk about it, but I wasn’t strong enough… you know, seeing Harry all messed up… it’s not nice!” he finished, drying up his tears with the back of his hand.

 

“I know, I know! I’m sorry!” Hermione replied. This was followed by a very long silence. A very awkward silence, in Ron’s opinion. Ron fixed his eyes on his hands again, blushing. He couldn’t believe he had cried, that openly, in front of her. In front of her, out of everyone. Her. Maybe now she thought he was this weak boy, who couldn’t manage to stand up to things, who cracked over nothing. But no, this was something. This was something horrible, yes it was, Ron thought, trying to make himself feel better. And after all, she had cried in front of him too. He looked over at her shyly, and noticed she too seemed to be doing some quick thinking. 

 

“Ron?” she blurted out, breaking the long silence, and making Ron jump a little.

 

“Yes?” he replied in a tiny voice, fixing his eyes on his hands once more.

 

“I was wondering,” she said, looking like she was about to say something terribly difficult. “Do you remember, last year? When we were outside this same hospital wing, wondering what had happened to Harry? Just after Cedric died?”

 

Ron nodded apprehensively. “Yes, I remember,” he said shortly, still not looking at her, wondering why she was bringing up the subject.

 

“I thought I could never feel worse,” she continued, drawing a deep breath. “I thought that was the worst things could get.”

 

Ron finally turned to look at her with quizzical eyes. “Why…” he started, but she cut him off.

 

“But you know what made me feel better?” she said.

 

Ron shook his head.

 

“Knowing you were there. You and Harry. Knowing, you know, that I… I could cry in front of you, and you wouldn’t mind. Knowing that you would always have a hug for me when I asked for it,” she said very fast. “And that night you proved it to me,” she finished, smiling faintly at him.

 

Ron looked at her in amazement. That was by far the most beautiful thing anyone had ever told him. They sat there looking at each other for a very long time. Ron wanted to say so many things. He wanted to say he loved her and Harry so much, he wanted to say they were family to him, he wanted to say how good it had felt to cry in front of her, and how good it felt to hug her. But he couldn’t. He was in shock, and the only thing he could do was stare at her, amazed. She was such a perfect person. She may have been a little maniac at times… but she was such a good friend. He felt the urge to hug her so much that she was left without air… a terrible impulse to kiss every inch of her face and make her laugh… Kiss her? Yes, kiss her, Ron thought. Maybe it was about time to kiss her. Everything he felt for her exploded inside of him with such violence that it hurt. Everything he had felt for a very long time.

 

Hermione scrambled out of bed in a hurry, and over to Ron’s. Ron looked at her startled, but he knew what to do. He awkwardly moved over, to give her space, and she slowly sat at his side, not taking her eyes off his. Then, suddenly, she winced painfully, and clutched her hips with both of her hands, breathing shallowly.

 

Ron sat up at once and looked at her in concern. “What’s wrong?” he asked, putting both of his hands over her shoulders. “Are you okay?”

 

Hermione nodded, her face screwed up in pain. Ron did some quick thinking, but, deciding he couldn’t resist much longer, pulled her towards him and embraced her gently. Hermione hugged him back, and Ron realized it was just what he needed. A hug. And he was glad to notice that this was by far the least awkward hug he had ever given her. “It still hurts sometimes,” she said, and Ron nodded gently.

 

“I can imagine,” he replied. “C’mon, lay down,” he said, giving her all the space he could without falling from the tiny bed. She did as she was told, and Ron lay down at her side. It wasn’t awkward at all, Ron thought happily as he felt Hermione’s warmth at his side. Yes, they were cramped, but they were together, and that was all that mattered

 

Of course, it wasn’t long before Madam Pomfrey told them off and commanded Hermione to sleep in her own bed.

 

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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