Disclaimer: Not mine. Damn. But having fun at least.
Thanks go to CocoaChristy for looking this over for me—I made the poor dear read it in our messenger windows! Hahaha!
Harry walked into the darkened room and pulled back the heavy curtains on the windows, wanting Hermione to get a little sunshine on her pale flesh. It was still a bit too cool out to open the window, but he felt that the light would do her well enough. With a sigh, he sat down next to her bed and propped up his feet on the windowsill, leaning back into his chair and staring at her slackened face.
“Today was a bit boring,” he began. “I just don’t enjoy going over to the Burrow as much as I used to, not since everything went wrong.” He dropped his feet quickly and reached for her hand to give it a squeeze. “I wish you were here, Hermione.” A small snort sounded. “I mean, yeah, you’re here, but not really, eh?”
He frowned slightly as he saw the bruise on her forearm. “Oi, what’s this? Thrashed about, did you?”
“Harry? Are you here?” called a feminine voice from the stairway.
“I’m in the room, Madam Pomfrey,” he said, rising to meet her at the doorway.
“Any change with her today?” she asked hopefully.
“No, but there’s a new bruise. Must have moved about while I was gone.”
“Only for a half hour at the most,” he said abashedly. “I didn’t want to leave, but Ron swore that if I didn’t, his mum would bring the whole lot here to have dinner.”
“Well, I suppose some time without you is better than too much time with a houseful of people who are accidentally inconsiderate to her condition,” she said with disapproval.
“Ron didn’t know any better,” Harry pointed out.
“He was there when Healer Goodwin explained the nature of this condition. Everything we say or do around her can possibly influence the outcome of her treatments. Each time we start her treatments, it seems something always happens to put things behind.” She looked over at Hermione and smiled softly. “I can only hope this session will be the best yet. She does seem stronger, doesn’t she? And she has more lucid periods than ever before.”
Harry’s face reddened, remembering her moaning erotically the day before. “Lucid—I wouldn’t call it that exactly.”
“Well,” she said with a huff, “you know what I mean. Ah, let me just check her vitals and give her tonight’s dose before I check on my other patient.”
Making a noncommittal grunt, Harry moved over to the window again, not wanting to watch, not daring to hope. Since he’d defeated Voldemort and had lost Ginny in the final battle, things had changed for him. He’d stopped going out in public, as many people didn’t find it rude to pester him for a chat or an autograph at every turn. The worst part of it all was that Hermione had been hexed with something that had them struggling to cure her.
He smirked at the irony that this situation would be the first time he truly wished he could ask Snape for help. Snape’s expertise in Dark magic and potions could move things along more quickly, he was certain. The only problem was that Snape, too, had been struck by the same hex, having been with Hermione at the time Bellatrix Lestrange came across her. The haughty bitch had refused to confess exactly what she’d done to them, even until her last breath. Her husband, however, had given them what information he knew in exchange for a lesser sentence. It hadn’t been much, but it had given them something to start with, and despite all he setbacks, they were truly finally making progress. Mostly.
“She’s all right. Her heart rate’s accelerated, but her eyes are quite clear. See her pupils, eh?” Pomfrey grinned. “And how’s Severus?”
Harry shrugged. “Don’t know. Didn’t look in on him.”
“Harry Potter! What have I told you? He needs the same amount of care as Hermione. You should talk to him as well.”
“Oh, I do talk to him,” Harry said softly, feeling slightly guilty and refusing to confess he’d not been as kind to Snape.
“Hmph.” She quickly turned and went to the other side of the room where she pulled back a curtain that kept Snape’s bed closed off from Hermione’s part of the room. “And not a spot of sunlight coming in!” She flicked her wand to blast the thick curtains away from the windows and turned to glare at Harry before going about checking him over.
After checking his vitals and giving him his dose of potion, she held his hand and softly said, “You’re looking better all the time, lad. Let the potion do its work and come back to us.” Once she’d fretted over his pillows and cover, she made her way towards the door and brusquely said, “A word,” before walking out.
Following quickly, Harry went to her, eager to hear what she thought about Hermione’s progress and knowing they shouldn’t speak of it in front of the patients. “Well?”
“If I come here one more time and find Severus neglected, I will make certain neither of them remain here.”
“I don’t purposely—”
“Yes, you do. I know how you still feel about him, but the fact of the matter is that they both seem to not thrive well apart, so if you want her here, you’ll have to deal with his presence and treat him fairly.”
“That was never even proven!” he said heatedly.
“You saw it for yourself when we first separated them!” she retorted just as hotly. “Both of them did worse, wouldn’t respond to any of their doses…. Why, if Minerva hadn’t thought of testing the theory that them being hexed together had given them a further bond, we might have lost them both by now.” She pursed her lips. “It would do well for you to show him more respect, albeit grudgingly.”
“All right,” he said, holding his hands up in surrender. “So, what do you think then?”
“I think things aren’t as well as they could be,” she said honestly. “It’s taking so long. Are you careful in whom you allow in?” He nodded. “In what you say to her?” He nodded, though blushed. “What’s that about? Haven’t been filling their heads with war tales, have you?”
“No, I haven’t!” he denied. “I just talk to her. Not everything’s about the weather, you know, but I don’t think it’s anything comparable to what Ron said.”
“Yes, graphically describing things he saw and speculated on did set her back.” She shook her head. “I still remember coming in to find her shaking and eyes open in ho—” Her voice cracked. “In horror.”
Harry snickered slightly. “He deserved to be hexed for that, good show, but I can say he didn’t do it on purpose. He was just trying to find something to talk about, and the recent battles being fresh on his mind, that’s what came out.”
“Never did pay much mind to rules or details, that one,” she groused, gazing at Harry. “Nor did you. Be certain that you heed my warnings, else she may continue to have setbacks, fighting the potion’s effects and not being able to find her way back to us.”
Nodding, he asked, “Will you be round in the morning?”
“No, I’ve things to do, but Minerva will come in my stead.”
“Floo me if you need anything or if something changes.”
She patted his shoulder affectionately and left. After he was certain she was gone, Harry went back to sit by Hermione’s bed without sparing Snape a glance. He supposed he’d go talk to the git later. For now, he felt the need to talk to Hermione.
“Well, looks like all will be well soon. Pomfrey says you’re getting better,” he said, adding, “Snape too,” as an afterthought. “Ginny wanted to be a Healer. She’d have been good—caring and thorough. Bet she’d be helping out right now.” He sighed. “I miss her so much these days. I’d always had a fear that I’d be the one to die, never thinking she would.”
Voice turning bitter, he said, “She wasn’t even supposed to be there! Never listened, that one.” Kicking his trainers off, he got comfortable and brought his feet up onto his chair. “I’ll never forget the last time we made love—the only time. Will I ever feel anything like that again, you think? You're probably tired of hearing about this, but... So warm and hot, like she was made for me.” He smiled and stared at the ceiling. “Each time I moved against her, her breasts would jiggle and bounce.” He laughed out loud. “You know she even had freckles on them, right?”
His smile faded. “What did you see in Snape, Hermione? What made you turn to him and leave off with Ron? I just don't understand that. Well, I only found out right before, but I just don’t get it. How did you know that you could trust him implicitly even after all he’d done?” He snorted. “Hell, I still wonder about where his loyalties truly lie, sometimes thinking he’s on his own side.” Shrugging, he added, “He did help us win though.”
Darkly, he gazed over at Snape. “Hear that, do you, Snape? That's right. I just admitted you helped us win.” Looking back at Hermione, he reached for her hand. “I remember when Draco came round with his injured mother. You were so upset when she’d revealed that she had been the one to give Snape information, implying they’d done some shagging or snogging. I never fully realized why you were so hurt, and when Snape ran after you when you took off like that, I was still too thick to add it together. Ron’s the one who figured it out, you know.” He squeezed her hand. “I wish you hadn’t taken off like that, wish you would have confided in me.” Sighing, he murmured, “Guess I wouldn’t have responded too happily, huh? I’m sorry… so sorry.”
He felt a twitch in her hand. “Hermione? Can you hear me?”
When her eyes opened, he nearly jumped for joy, but then he noticed that although she was looking at him, she wasn’t truly seeing him, as was the case most of the time. Disappointment flooded him. Why wouldn’t the bloody potion work? Why wouldn’t she come back to him?
“Stay back,” she said, voice thick and nearly inaudible.
“It’s me. It’s Harry, love. Hold on, okay? Come back to me.”
“Dead is better.”
Harry flinched. “No, don’t say that. Anything is better than that. Why are you saying that?”
“Ron… he said dead is better.” She frowned, and a couple of tears leaked from her eyes. “The things they did… so horrible.”
Harry silently vowed that Pomfrey was right and that he’d kick Ron’s arse for putting that shite into her head. He'd make the hex she'd put on him seem like a first year's curse. “Ron’s a git. You shouldn’t pay attention to what he says. You know how he is when he’s rambling.” Harry had nearly hexed Ron when he’d loudly proclaimed that “maybe death would be better” because seeing her in such a state was too hard. It seemed she’d latched onto that and wouldn’t let it go.
“Slipping… want to fall…”
“No! Don’t fall back into it, baby. Fight it. Come back to me. I need you here, Hermione. Please!” He pulled her other hand into his, gripping and squeezing it as well, trying to make her feel him, but he felt her grip fade and knew—from many past experiences—that she was falling back into her unconscious state.
When her eyes closed and her hands went limp, he nearly wanted to cry. Was it him who was harming her? Was he talking about the wrong things? Should he read something to her instead?
“Shite,” he muttered disappointedly. “I swear, I’ll do better. Hey, I'll read Hogwarts: A History to you. You'd like that, eh?”
Eyes wide, he looked up and over towards Snape’s bed. The man was sitting up and gazing at him in confusion. “Snape!”
At first he’d thought it was just another outburst, but from the way the man was looking at him—truly seeing him—he could tell that he was awake. Hurrying over to his side, he couldn’t help grinning.
He summoned a glass of water and helped Snape take a small sip. “All right?”
“Still out,” he said sadly. “But that’s going to change. If the potion worked for you, it can work for her, too.”
Harry truly believed those words, and he’d never been happier to see Snape, knowing it meant that his Hermione was on the road to recovery as well. Perhaps if they joined forces, she’d be all right sooner.
“Potter, what’s happened?”
Harry sat down in the chair next to Snape’s bed and said, “It’s a long story, but seeing as you and I have all the time in the world, I’ll tell it to you.” Snape nodded and looked towards Hermione’s bed. “She’s resting just now.” To make certain she didn’t hear anything he was about to say, he cast a charm to keep their words private, smiling genuinely as he turned back to Snape, feeling hope building within once again.
Southern’s Notes: I hope that this chapter has cleared some things up for everyone. I know I didn’t answer each question, but I’ve added enough here so that everyone can draw his or her own conclusions. Hats off to Selened who figured out exactly what Hermione was going through in previous chapters.