A/N: My version of the "Never
better" scene from the movie. Big
thanks to Sneakoscope for the inspiration.
For the purposes of this fic, you must assume that Hermione did
hug Harry during the "You’re a great wizard" speech. Cheers!
Hermione approached Ron cautiously.
He was leaning over the railing of the staircase overlooking the
entrance to the hospital wing. He
hadn’t heard her approach. Before
she spoke, she ran a hand over her hair one final time.
She had tried to control her hair by putting a plastic hair band
in it. It had worked somewhat. She cleared her throat loudly, startling Ron.
He spun around.
"Is he out yet?"
Hermione inclined her head towards the hospital wing door.
grimaced. "Nope. I suppose Madam Pomfrey’s giving him the once
over," he rolled his eyes, "again. Hope she lets him out in time for the feast. Is it almost time?"
Hermione glanced down
at her watch. "Just about."
Ron turned back to lean
on the railing, placing his chin on his hand.
"Not that it matters if we’re late or not. Slytherin won anyway," he said gloomily.
reached to pat his back, but stopped herself quickly remembering Harry’s
discomfort when she had hugged him before he faced Voldemort. "Ron," she said, her brisk tone causing him to turn back
to her. "We may have lost
the Cup, but just think about what we accomplished! You helped stop You-Know-Who from returning to power. You helped save the wizarding world. And what you did down in the giant chess chamber,
that was…that was…" She struggled to find the words that would properly
express the enormity of Ron’s deed as his ears flushed scarlet. "That was amazing!"
Ron’s face suddenly
matched his ears. "You weren’t
so bad yourself," he said gruffly, turning away slightly.
Hermione felt her face
grow hot as well. "I wasn’t
nearly as brave as you. The way
you let yourself get taken so that Harry could go on…" Hermione trailed
off and swallowed hard. Now she
turned to lean over the railing, avoiding Ron’s eyes.
"And when the queen walloped you, I…I mean…we thought you
were…dead." She shuddered at the memory. For a moment, neither of them spoke.
Ron snickered self-consciously
breaking the awkward silence. "Truth
be told, I though I’d had it myself. Almost told Harry to look after Scabbers for
me, just in case."
Hermione turned towards
him with an exasperated sigh. "Oh
Ron, honestly!" They contemplated
each other before looking away quickly.
"Your eye looks much better."
He touched the bruised
skin around his eye gingerly. "Yeah,
I reckon I’ll have a shiner for a while."
He cocked his head to the side, scrutinizing Hermione. "Say, your hair…"
"What about it?"
snapped Hermione defensively, smoothing her hands over the hair band to
make sure it was still in place.
just…you look different is all."
A crimson flush crept
over Hermione’s face. "Well
I had to restrain it somehow as we have to wear our hats for the feast." She pulled her own hat from her pocket. "I suppose you forgot to bring yours didn’t
you?" she asked sternly.
He gave her a withering
look. "No I didn’t, Miss
Know-it-all. I even remembered
to bring Harry’s down for him."
Hermione smiled approvingly.
A sly grin lit Ron’s
face. "Yes, I reckon you’re
getting to be a bad influence on me, making me responsible and all."
Hermione tried to retain
a stern look but failed to smother her pleased grin.
The sound of footsteps and a familiar voice made them
tear their gaze from each other. They
looked down to see Harry emerging from the hospital wing. Harry’s hand was bandaged, there were multiple
scratches and wounds on his face, but he contemplated them with concern.
He called up to Ron, “All right?”
him with a grin, “All right. You?”
some of the tension leaving his anxious face.
“All right. Hermione?”
of scenes flashed before Hermione’s eyes.
Facing Fluffy. The giant
mountain troll. Setting fire to
Snape to save Harry. The devastation
of losing one hundred and fifty points in one night. Ron, astride a metal horse, determined to help Harry save the Sorcerer’s
Stone, even if it cost him his life. They had faced it all together.
They had come through everything together. More than all the knowledge she had acquired that year, more than
the top marks she had received, she valued the friendship she had gained. She felt more than ‘all right’. A small smile started at the corners of her
mouth, and she answered Harry’s question, "Never better."
Hermione started down the staircase with Ron close behind her. They may have lost the House Cup, but Hermione was eternally grateful
for all that she had gained in her first memorable year at Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This
thought comforted her as she sat down in the Great Hall amid the Slytherin
colors and Malfoy’s derisive sneer. With
Ron and Harry at her side, she could even bear that.