Chapter 2 : While Harry Was Sleeping
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Chapter Two: While Harry Was Sleeping
The hospital wing had gotten cold so gradually that Hermione didn’t realise that she was shaking until Ron handed her an extra blanket that was folded up beneath Harry’s bed. He gave it to her without making eye contact, as if he didn’t want it to be acknowledged that he was doing something nice for a change.
They were sitting on opposite sides of Harry’s bed. Harry had been out for a whole day now, and they were beginning to worry that he’d never wake up. Madam Pomfrey assured them that Harry would be fine, and that they shouldn’t spend all their time in the hospital wing, disturbing other patients, but Ron and Hermione ignored her. Harry was their best friend, and if it was either of them lying unconscious in the hospital wing, he would be right there at their side too.
It was strange; although Ron and Hermione were both friends with Harry, it was rare that they considered themselves friends with each other too. Obviously they were friends, and they knew that, but they didn’t really think of it until times like these when Harry wasn’t with them. Harry was like the glue holding the three of them together, and without him, there was a certain awkwardness between Ron and Hermione that neither could explain. When they sat together at Quidditch matches, they were both there for Harry, and the awkwardness got lost in the tension of the matches themselves. It was only when they were alone together that they struggled to talk to one another, leading them both to believe that maybe they weren’t as good friends as everybody thought. After all, if it wasn’t for Harry, they probably wouldn’t speak to each other at all.
It was hard to believe that their first year at Hogwarts was drawing to a close, and an eventful year at that. It seemed like the encounter with the troll was just yesterday, and that incident seemed so trivial compared to what had happened the night before last. Neither Ron nor Hermione nor anyone else for that matter knew what had happened with the Philosopher’s Stone, except for Harry himself and Dumbledore. Ron and Hermione had their theories, but they were just as wild and unrealistic as the ridiculous rumours that were beginning to circulate around the school, such as Harry had been expelled and Harry had killed Professor Quirrell, who hadn’t been spotted since the day before. They would just have to wait for Harry to wake up to find out the real truth.
Their theories also proved useful for making conversation to fill the awkward silence that sometimes ensued between the two best friends, but if Harry didn’t awaken soon, they would be repeating themselves and would have to resort back to their usual bickering. They were only comfortable when they were fighting.
“He will wake up, won’t he?” Hermione asked fearfully, looking at Harry who looked to be sleeping soundly.
“Yeah,” said Ron, but he didn’t sound very sure of it, “Course he will.”
Hermione seemed to relax at Ron’s words. She often wondered why both she and Ron were placed in Gryffindor. With Harry, his loyalty and bravery were as plain as the scar on his forehead. But she wasn’t brave. She was clever, and more suited to Ravenclaw. And Ron was selfish, stubborn and rude – he almost seemed to have the personality of a Slytherin, if he didn’t hate them all so much.
Then, in one moment, her opinion of Ron Weasley changed completely. He could have died on that giant chess board. In fact, it was a miracle he didn’t. It was a miracle that he was sitting before her, chewing his fingernails annoyingly, as if he hadn’t just sacrificed himself for the good of the wizarding world. There was definitely more to him than Hermione had first thought. Harry sacrificed himself too, and the two boys survived. Hermione hadn’t risked her life, not really. She had no right to judge Ron harshly anymore, which was why she wasn’t scolding him for biting his nails – he was far braver than she ever would be. He was a true Gryffindor. And the moment he was knocked unconscious by the giant chess piece, Hermione knew she cared for him just as much as she cared for Harry, and was absolutely terrified of losing him.
Ron had woken up a few minutes after being knocked out by the white queen chess piece. He was completely disorientated, with a very sore head, and had to try to adjust to his surroundings for a moment before realising what had happened. His vision was blurred, and he couldn’t hear a thing. The last thing he remembered was coming face to face with the giant queen, his heart throbbing and his blood rushing. He was absolutely terrified. Harry and Hermione could always keep such cool heads in crisis situations, particularly Hermione. He was useless with stuff like that. He ended up getting himself knocked out half way through the journey. They had probably proceeded on, happy to have lost him on the way – he was just holding them back with his cowardice and stupidity. If he’d just listened to Hermione and kept still in the Devil’s Snare, they would have stopped Snape twice as quickly...
Then it occurred to him – what if they didn’t stop Snape? What if the next protective spell was even worse than those before? What if they were dead?
“Hermione! Harry!” Ron began shouting groggily, “Harry! Hermione!”
“Ron!” He could hear Hermione yelling his name from some distant place. Brown bushy hair was coming into focus, and then Hermione’s brown eyes. She was kneeling beside him, in tears and crying out his name. “Can you hear me?”
“Hermione?” he sighed in relief. At least she was still alive. “Where’s Harry?”
“He’s gone on ahead. There was only enough potion for one – I’ll explain later!” she cried frantically, “We have to send an owl to Dumbledore now!”
Hermione helped Ron to his feet and he stumbled a bit, rubbing his head and cursing. She rolled her eyes at him and grabbed his arm, leading him from the room with the giant chess board into the previous one with the flying keys. They grabbed a broom each and ran to the next room with the half-burnt Devil’s Snare.
“We’ll have to fly up,” said Hermione nervously. She was never any good at flying.
“Fluffy’s still awake,” Ron observed, listening to the loud growls from the gigantic three-headed dog overhead, “We’ll have to be fast.” He mounted his broom, ready to take off.
“I can’t!” Hermione cried, “I can’t fly properly, Ron, not past that thing!”
Ron looked at her. She was shaking, crying and frowning all at once. “Er, right.” He took a deep breath and pushed off from the ground, ignoring Hermione’s angry yells at him.
“RON! COME BACK!” she cried.
“Oh, come and stir my cauldron!” he began to sing loudly as he approached the open trapdoor. He had heard the Celestina Warbeck song being sung by his mother so many times that he knew most of the lyrics at this stage. He just hoped that his singing could be classified as music that would put Fluffy the three-headed dog to sleep. “A-and if you do it right, I’ll boil you up some h-hot, strong love...FLY HERMIONE!...to keep you warm tonight...” It was working. Fluffy was falling asleep, but Ron knew he would have to keep the music going as he flew straight past the beast. “I said come and stir my cauldron, baby, and if you do it right, I’ll boil you up some HOT, STRONG love to keep you warm tonight....”
Ron dismounted his broom and waited for Hermione to appear. He could hear her half-crying as she flew up through the trapdoor.
“Yes, I’ll boil you some hot, strong love...I’ll boil you some hot strong love baby...and I’ll keep you warm to-niiiiiiiiiiight!”
Hermione landed and the two ran from the room and locked the door as fast as they could before Fluffy woke up. They kept on running in the direction of the owlery to send a letter to Dumbledore, explaining what had happened.
“Thanks Ron,” Hermione panted.
“D-don’t mention...it,” Ron panted back, “Seriously...don’t ever mention it again.”
Hermione laughed through tears as they raced through the castle, down the moving staircases, eventually reaching the entrance hall, where they came across the very man they were looking for – Professor Dumbledore.
“Harry’s gone after him, hasn’t he?” Dumbledore asked them gravely. They nodded back. With that, Dumbledore fled up the stairs faster than they had ever seen him move. And just like that, it was out of their hands. Both still trying to catch their breath, Ron and Hermione looked at each other.
“He knew!” they both cried at the same time.
“He knew Snape was evil!” Ron gasped, “And he still hired the git anyway!”
“He knew that Harry would go after him,” Hermione added, “And he knew that Snape would go after the stone tonight!”
“Blimey,” Ron sighed, shaking his head, “Dumbledore knows everything.”
Ron and Hermione were ushered out of the hospital wing by Madam Pomfrey after sitting by Harry’s bed all day. They were told that Harry would come around in a few days, and that there was really nothing to worry about. They still stopped by there on their way to classes the next day, however, in the hopes that they might catch a glance of an awoken Harry, but they were disappointed to see him still sleeping peacefully. They were even more disappointed to discover that Harry would not be awake to play the final Quidditch match of the year against Ravenclaw, and were therefore destined to suffer an embarrassingly dreadful defeat. However, they were both shocked and supremely disappointed to see Professor Snape sitting at the teachers’ table in the Great Hall a few days after the incident, acting extremely cavalier, as if nothing had ever happened.
“I don’t understand,” Hermione shook her head, “I thought Snape would be gone by now.”
“Yeah, me too,” Ron agreed. Dumbledore looked down from the top table at the two of them, nodded and looked away again before getting up and leaving the table. “I wonder where Quirrell is.”
Hermione’s eyes widened in realisation and she slapped herself on the forehead, making Ron jump in surprise. “Of course! It was Quirrell all along! Quirrell was after the stone!”
“What?” Ron asked blankly.
“Think about it Ron; Quirrell hasn’t been seen since the other night,” Hermione said excitedly, happy that one of her theories was finally starting to make sense.
“So? Maybe he took his holidays early,” Ron shrugged, still desperate to believe that Snape was to blame, “Snape was trying to kill Harry all year – he tried to curse him off his broom, remember?”
Hermione frowned. “Of course!” she gasped after a few moments, making Ron jump again. “Don’t you remember? I knocked Quirrell over when we were rushing to stop Snape – he was the one jinxing Harry’s broom!”
Ron still looked sceptical. “I don’t know, Hermione. Quirrell always seemed like a bit of a pansy to me. And Snape was the one who let the troll in on Hallo....” he trailed off, and the truth suddenly dawned on him, “Quirrell let the troll in! Of course, he was the one who announced it!”
“We’ve been blaming the wrong person!” Hermione concluded, “We just have to wait for Harry to wake up to confirm it!”
“Pity,” Ron sighed, “I was looking forward to Potions without Snape...”
As it turned out, they hadn’t long to wait for confirmation that it was indeed Professor Quirrell who was trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone. Harry woke up the day before the end of term feast and told them the entire story. They were right about the culprit, but pretended that they hadn’t figured everything out while Harry recounted what happened. Of course the reality of the situation was far worse than Ron and Hermione had imagined (the fact that Voldemort’s face had been imprinted on Quirrell’s head was too stomach-churning to think about). Still, they had to admit, they made a great team, despite the awkward tension that lingered between them. They’d just have to learn to overcome it – some day.
A/N - The 'Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love' lyrics don't belong to me either by the way, it's all JK Rowling. I hope you enjoyed this second chapter, please review! I also took some liberties with this story - I know that Ron and Hermione probably didn't figure it all out like this, but it might be cute if they did. I'm trying to keep this as close to canon as possible, but it's quite hard!