Jude's Recalcitrant Lover (sue_bridehead) wrote in tensionresolved,
Jude's Recalcitrant Lover

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Author: sue_bridehead
Title: You're My Best Friend
Rating: PG (maybe)
Genre: Romance/Drama with a twist ;)
Word Count: 5165
Beta: fyrechild3x3
Notes: I wrote this for a challenge for the Boring Weekends Anonymous group. The challenge was to tell what happened when Hermione visited Ron in the hospital during "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." It assumes you know the story up to that point, so spoilers abound. It is written in two parts and is complete. Enjoy!

Author’s Notes: This is the first part of my challenge fic for the Boring Weekenders Anonymous group. The challenge I took was to tell what really happened when Hermione visited Ron in the hospital during “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, aka Book 6. It assumes you know the story up to that point. :-)

Any sentences in italics are Hermione’s thoughts, whether indicated or not. The other italics are for emphasis.

Disclaimer: I own none of these characters or their world or any rights to them. I think we all know who does. Once again, I borrowed a song title to name this fic. The song is by John Deacon, the bass player for Queen. Thank you, Fyrechild and Damkina, for beta reading it!

* * * * *

You’re My Best Friend – Part I

Hermione sat up in her bed and peeked out the narrow slit between her maroon bed hangings. The dormitory was still somewhat dark, as the morning sunlight had not had time to make it around to that side of the tower. When her eyes had adjusted to the dimly-lit room, she could tell that the other sixth-year girls were still asleep, and for this, she was grateful. She had no desire or patience to face a barrage of questions from her silly roommates.

Her bare feet touched down on the chilly floor, causing her to shiver slightly and to wish she had worn socks to bed the night before. She proceeded to get ready so she could go visit her best friend, Ron. The poor boy was still in hospital after he’d been accidentally poisoned while accompanying Harry to Professor Slughorn’s office. Although he was expected to make a full recovery, at present, he remained unconscious.

As far as she was concerned, none of her roommates could begin to understand the complicated feelings she had for Ron Weasley. Obviously, they knew that the two of them had been friends for years – even they weren’t that obtuse. Still, she didn’t want to have to justify herself to any of them, least of all, Ron’s empty-headed girlfriend, Lavender Brown. Those blasted ‘scarlet woman’ rumors from her fourth year, however groundless, still hurt.

Besides, Hermione knew in her heart that her friendship with Ron went far deeper than any fleeting school romance, especially one that was sure to end the minute Ron realized what a ninny Lavender was. She was surprised that he had chosen her to be his girlfriend in the first place.

Pulling her hair back over her shoulders and brushing it in a feeble attempt to get the frizz out of it, she rolled her eyes and scoffed silently to herself. If Lavender wasn’t such a flirt, he would never have given her the time of day. She practically threw herself into his arms!

Not that she was jealous or anything.

Hermione performed a Silencing Charm and stowed a few books and other items she would need into her rucksack. She flung the heavy pack over her shoulder then slipped across the hallway to brush her teeth. Ready to face her day, she went toward the stairs that led to the Gryffindor Common Room.

As she descended the darkened stairwell, she thought of things she would like to say to Ron if he were here right now.

Honestly, Ron – Lavender? her mind chided. Couldn’t you have picked someone better? I mean, anyone who thinks that Professor Trelawney is ‘the most gift instructor at Hogwarts’ is obviously mental!

But, if the boy was really that dense, she thought a sniff, then maybe this will be a good lesson for him. She stepped out through the portrait hole, accidentally waking the Fat Lady when her bag thumped against the baroque frame. “Hmmph!” the portrait snorted at her. Hermione looked around and gave her an apologetic smile.

As she moved along the lonely corridor, she felt that thick lump slowly forming in her throat once more. She could still picture Ginny, her eyes swimming with tears and her voice cracking, when she first told her that Ron had been poisoned. It was all very surreal, like being in a dream she wanted to get out of – but even if she could, she knew that it wouldn’t just fade away. She realized then, quite unexpectedly, that the prospect of losing him absolutely terrified her.

The idea of Ron ever being in any real danger – dangers the likes of which Harry constantly faced – had never crossed her mind before. Since Harry had no family who cared for him, she had always taken it upon herself to worry about him and for him.

But Ron did have family behind him. So she’d decided long ago that he already had enough people worrying about him. It had never occurred to her that Ron would ever . . well, naturally, she’d always assumed that he didn’t . . need her as much as Harry did. Which was slightly off-putting, as she saw it, since Ron was more important to her than Harry was.

But when had that happened?

Never mind, she told herself. Instead, she focused on the poisoning and wondered how it could have happened. If it wasn’t an accident, then who could have committed such a cruel act?

Who would ever want to hurt Ron, other than maybe McLaggen, or—

Her eyes narrowed and her strides picked up a bit. Well, I can think of one other person – or should I say ‘ferret’? She scoffed to herself as she pictured a certain snotty, pointy-faced prat who was, incredibly, a school prefect.

Probably had one of his brainless lackies do it for him. That little worm wouldn’t have the courage to do it himself!

After barely making it down the last staircase before it changed, she adjusted her bulky rucksack. When she finally reached the main corridor, Hermione thought about that stupid argument she’d had with Ron two days before the accident. He was being his normal, obnoxious self, which meant following a pattern of annoying her, teasing and infuriating her, laughing with her, and at her – and then, like always, he would make up and apologize, usually just in time to copy her notes for an important essay or for a crucial exam. His inattention to his studies was really starting to irritate her. “No, Ronald,” she’d said flatly, “you can’t have my notes,” then walked away, ignoring him as he bellowed at her back.

But none of that school stuff mattered now. All she could think of as he lay languishing in a hospital bed was that he had to live. He just had to. Hogwarts wouldn’t be the same without him.

She wouldn’t be the same without him – and neither would Harry.

They were three parts of one inseparable team, better together than they were alone, and each of them needed the other two. They understood each other, especially Ron and Hermione, for they knew something that most people did not: that being Harry Potter’s best friend was not always easy. He was already a great wizard, capable of performing magic that should have been well beyond his years. But he was also moody, temperamental, and doggedly stubborn.

Like this Malfoy obsession, for instance. Or this so-called ‘prince’.

The three of them had been through so much together and faced many battles, both physical and mental. Time and again, their friendship had been put under almost unbearable strain. How many times had they faced unspeakable danger, together? And in that time, when had Ron ever turned his back on her? Sure, he frustrated her, disappointed her . . disagreed vehemently with her. At times, he seemed to thrive on it. But give up on her?

Never, she thought as her heart swelled with pride and love.

At last, she reached her destination. She entered the hospital wing and quietly tip-toed over to where Ron lay, unmoving, just as she had left him late last night. Placing her rucksack on the floor beside her, she sat in his bedside chair. She looked down at him and wondered pensively if this was how Ginny had looked to Harry when he had found her, unconscious and very near death, in the Chamber of Secrets, all those years ago. Or during that same time, how she herself had looked to the boys when she had been petrified, her eyes completely devoid of life.

And if this horrible feeling that was ripping at her heart was what they had felt.

Her voice slightly shaky, Hermione greeted, “Good morning, Ron,” as cheerfully as she could manage. Placing a hand on his, she gave it a gentle squeeze, and for a moment, she thought she felt a slight twitch. But then she decided it was just wishful thinking on her part. He hadn’t really moved at all. She felt helpless; this was a problem that couldn’t be solved by studying ancient runes or by reading a book, searching some long-forgotten spell or potion.

Slowly, she removed her hand and sighed in frustration. She vowed to herself that she wouldn’t cry this morning. But she sniffed and wiped away the lone tear that betrayed her. Gathering her composure, she swallowed hard and tried to think positive thoughts.

Ron is going to live. How’s that for a happy thought?

She smiled to herself. Just thinking it did make her feel a bit happier.

Hermione leaned to one side and fiddled with the drawstring of her pack. Opening it wide, she withdrew a large book and set it in her lap. She began speaking.

“Ron, I know you don’t hold with many muggle psychology views – or for that matter, know what psychology even is – but some people believe that when we are unconscious or asleep, if something is read to us or played on a radio or tape, we can learn it, just as if we ourselves had actually read it. It’s called subliminal or subconscious learning.”

The room screamed with silence; she began to doubt herself.

It had sounded like such a good idea. But now that she said it out loud, the whole thing was starting to sound a little . . . well, bonkers. She chuckled softly to herself and said, “Pretty crazy, huh?”

Be that as it may, there was still no one else in the room. So she bravely decided to pursue her plan: for Ron to read – subconsciously, if need be – Hogwarts: A History.

~End of Part One~
* * * * *

Author’s Notes: Here is the rest of my challenge fic. This part starts with Hermione preparing to read to Ron (who is still unconscious) from “Hogwarts: A History.” Hope you like it.

Disclaimer: Same as above. Thank you, Fyrechild, for the beta read and your input on the ending. :-)

You’re My Best Friend – Part II

Although there were now long ribbons of sunlight streaming in through the windows, they didn’t make it
nearly light enough for her to read by. So Hermione charmed the candle on Ron’s bedside table to glow a smidgen or two brighter. The lighting now sufficient, she ran her hands lovingly over the well-worn cover of Hogwarts: A History and then opened it with care.

Adjusting its weight in her lap, she turned to the first page with writing on it, cleared her throat, and read aloud about the humble beginnings of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. The book outlined, in meticulous detail, the ingenious design of the castle, how it remained hidden from prying muggle eyes, and the purpose for each quirk and oddity found within it.

One by one, the text introduced each of the four founders. It explained why they believed establishing a school for young witches and wizards was an absolute necessity. It also described the qualities each of the founders sought in his or her students, for in the beginning, only those students who were handpicked by one of them were to be trained personally by the one who chose them. These students were sorted into one of four houses; once named a Gryffindor, a Ravenclaw, a Slytherin, or a Hufflepuff, he or she wore the house name with pride.

But as the student body grew, Hermione read on, this arrangement was no longer practical. Eventually, more staff members were added. After years of operating as individual houses and training in separate parts of the expansive castle, with its changing floorplan, shifting staircases, and enchanted ceilings, it was decided that all students who exhibited magical abilities – the purebloods, the halfbloods, and the muggleborns – should learn together, in cooperation. After all, Helga Hufflepuff contended, they had much to teach each another. They would still be sorted into the individual houses for their living quarters (Godric had insisted on that), but they would come together for classes, meals, and school functions.

Hermione heaved a tired sigh and licked her lips. The effects of not having had her morning tea by now, or even a fresh glass of water, were starting to show. She glanced around the room and sniffed the air, curious if Madam Pomfrey might have prepared some tea and wondering how she might garner herself a cuppa. But she was fairly certain that the Healer hadn’t even woken up yet; her quarters were far too quiet.

She returned her attention to the tome in her lap. Even though this was all rather rudimentary, she went on with as much enthusiasm as she could muster before seven in the morning. “After much debate on who should be allowed to enter Hogwarts and how this new ‘interhouse’ learning would be conducted, the school’s four founders seemed to be approaching an agreement. However, it was not entirely without hard feelings between Salazar Slytherin and the other thr—”

Hermione’s eyes started to cross once more. Oddly, she was having a hard time staying focused on the material; she normally found this section incredibly fascinating. Still, she pressed on, telling her unconscious friend why Slytherin finally left the school. The magical training of anyone less than pureblood wizard or witch, said he, was an abomination to the name ‘wizard’.

Slytherin’s harsh words, and his eventual departure, created an even deeper rift between his house and the others. Some of his students even left with him. But there were enough who remained at Hogwarts that Rowena, Helga, and Godric decided not to absorb those students into the other houses. They also agreed to keep the name “Slytherin House” for all that Salazar had done for the school.

In Hermione’s opinion, the legendary argument and the ensuing split between the founders were among the most exciting parts of the whole book. Just reading it again brought an involuntary smile to her face, and without really giving it much thought, she reached out for Ron’s hand and placed hers over it. She stroked it absently with her thumb as she read. He flinched slightly, but instead of pulling away, he relaxed; his subtle reaction surprised her so much that she paused in mid-sentence. She blushed and squeezed his warm, lightly-calloused hand.

Intrigued, she turned it over and looked at his palm as if she was seeing it for the first time. Then she slowly turned it to the other way and examined the back of it as she wondered silently, When had they grown so manly? She had never really noticed Ron’s hands before, the details in them: their light freckles, the golden hairs on the back, the small dents worn into the sides of his fingers from seemingly endless hours of Quidditch practice. They were so different from her own smaller, softer hands – even his fingernails were a bit longer than hers, if not quite as clean. As she was studying them, he inhaled deeply and mumbled something unintelligible that vaguely sounded like a name . . her name.

What?!! she thought sharply as her hand flew to her open mouth. Oh, God. Does he know I’m here? I mean, if he were to wake up, that would be great, but I don’t what I’d . . . would he see the way I—

She coughed once in nervous anticipation. “Yes, Ronald,” she said, her throat dry, her heart thumping loudly in her chest. “It’s me. Hermione.”

But to her disappointment, Ron didn’t move, much less reply. Never taking her eyes off him, she carefully closed the book and grasped it firmly with her right hand. She leaned down to set it on the floor beside her and sighed in resignation.

Her logical side tried to piece together what had just happened. He did say her name – she was certain of that – so at least, subconsciously, he was aware of her presence. Or maybe he was thinking about her just then . .

“Well, at least you’re not thinking of her, are you, ‘Won-Won’?” she scoffed. She rolled her eyes and suppressed a grin at the ridiculous pet names her roommate had come up with. Honestly, it was all rather comical. She snickered and murmured, “Won-Won; how widiculous it that?”

Thinking a hint of a smile had crossed his lips, she had to look twice to be sure she’d seen what she thought she had.

The early morning light that spilled in through the windows gave the room an ethereal glow. Hermione gazed at Ron’s face. He looked so peaceful just now. She raised her hand and lightly touched his copper hair. Just the fringe – the part that nearly reached his eyebrows. She sighed to herself; it was as soft as it looked. “I’m here, Ron,” she whispered.

Hermione wondered briefly what would happen if Lavender Brown herself were to come storming in here at this inopportune time. The two girls’ relationship had always been tenuous at best, and this year, it had only gotten worse. Let her come, I don’t care! Ronald and I are just friends, anyway, she thought, ignoring the painful tug at her heart.

“Besides, if he really wanted a girlfriend who cared for him, and looked after him, saw him as a real person and not just someone to hang all over and give stupid gifts to and snog—”

Her eyes teared up a bit as she blushed. Had she spoken that last part out loud? She wasn’t sure. As if the last several minutes had only been something she had dreamed, she snapped out of it. Once more, she was ‘all business’.

“No,” she said firmly as she picked up her book, “I’m going to read to you, whether you like it or not, Ronald Weasley. I need to leave soon, or it’ll be too late to get anything resembling breakfast – and I don’t want to have to pester Dobby for something later on.” As she said this, she flipped the page to where she had stopped before. Just before she’d touched his hand.

She tried to continue with her project, but her heart wasn’t in it anymore. How could it be, when her mind was so distracted?

Knowing he couldn’t hear her anyway, Hermione asked aloud, “Ron, how could you actually think of dating Lavender? You’ve never even liked her! Remember how we used to joke about her in Divination class?” Pausing only a moment, she continued to tell him off in a low voice.

“Besides, how could you go out with that stupid cow, when you’ve bloody well known since fourth year that . . ” She paused as a tear rolled down her cheek. “I would have gone with you to the Yule Ball. I was only waiting for you to ask me. I’d have said yes.

“What about all we’ve been through together – the prefect meetings we’ve been to, supporting Harry in everything, our time at Grimmauld Place, before Harry got there . . where were you? Wasn’t it obvious? Do I have to hit you on the head with an anvil?”

She asked him wryly, “Or do I just have to say it?” She shrugged and laughed to herself. “All right, I guess I do . . I love you, Ronald Weasley. There. I’ve said it.”

But her confession was met with stone silence.

“I know exactly what you’ve been up to, Ron . . always trying to push other boys away from me – first Viktor, and then conveniently guiding Harry to fall for Ginny, so he and I would never – as if I would ever date Harry! There’s no . . spark between us. He’s more like a brother to me.”

So she was a girl, after all – even Ron had noticed that. True, it had taken him over three years to realize it; he was incredibly thick at times. Still, she enjoyed his company and the way he made her laugh, even when he was driving her barking mad with his Devil-may-care attitude about studying or taking his O.W.L.s or preparing for their Apparition lessons.

At least he took the Quidditch try-outs seriously, she thought mundanely.

Hermione checked her watch. It was getting dreadfully late. She reached out once more and squeezed Ron’s hand. Getting no further response from him, she stowed her things with a wave of her wand then headed toward the Great Hall to grab a quick bite before her first class.

“See you, Ron.”

He never knew she was there. She felt dejected but somehow vindicated – like she had done the right thing, even if he would never know it or remember her being there. She knew she had made a difference.

The oversized door to the hospital wing fell closed behind her with a hollow thud, causing Ron to stir. His head felt heavy and achy, and his throat felt like it had been rubbed raw with sandpaper. He croaked weakly, “Hrrminey?” When he managed to pry his eyes open, he surveyed the room as best he could through the blur.

But there was no one there.

“Thasss strange,” he slurred, his voice and tongue refusing to cooperate. He rubbed his tired eyes and coughed to clear the frog that had recently established residence in his throat. Giving up on his voice returning anytime soon, he wondered silently, Did I just dream she was here?

“Welcome back, Mr. Weasley,” Madam Pomfrey greeted him cheerily as she scuttled into view. “You gave us all quite a scare, young man. How are you feeling today?”

“Dunno,” he answered, his voice still raspy.

“Oh, that doesn’t sound good at all. Let me fix it up for you.” She waved her wand and conjured an ice-cold glass of pumpkin juice, but Ron winced at the thought of having to try to swallow anything. She clicked her tongue then murmured, “Episkey Trachea!” When he didn’t start drinking his juice right away, she urged, “Go on, your throat’s fine now.”

He drained the glass in no time, surprised to find that she was right; he did feel better. “Thanks. Could I please have some breakfast?” The healer clapped her hands, and a house-elf was there within moments holding a tray heaped with a variety of delicious breakfast items.

“Hope you’re hungry, Mr. Weasley,” the witch said with a smirk on her face. He nodded and tucked in straight away. “Well then, I’ll go take care of some of my morning duties and then come back to check on you.” But Ron barely noticed; he was ravenous, having been incapacitated for . .

What day is it, anyway? he wondered vaguely.

“Mumm-m Pmfffrey?” he gurgled through the food in his mouth. When she eyed him with mild disgust, he looked back at her sheepishly then swallowed his food. “Sorry – what day is it?”

“It’s Tuesday.”

“Have any of my friends been here?”

“Oh, yes – your entire family, Mr. Potter, Miss Brown, Miss Granger – she was here earlier this morning, but she had to leave for class.”

“Miss . . Brown was?” Ron asked cautiously, not sure if he really wanted to know.

“No, Miss Granger.”

His face lit up as he thought, So she was here! But . . why?

“Was Harry with her? Or my sister?” he asked, shoveling another spoonful of eggs into his mouth.

“No, I don’t think so. Oh! That reminds me. I must contact your family; your mother and father have been absolutely sick with worry.”

Not that he wanted them to worry, but somehow, knowing that they did warmed Ron’s heart.

The healer stopped once more at the foot of his bed and wrote another note on his chart. “Is the food agreeing with you? Not making you feel funny, is it?” He shook his head then downed three more bites in quick succession, washing them down with his second glass of pumpkin juice. With a wave of her wand, she refilled it again then added a wry smile, “Please try not to eat so fast. I know you feel like you’re starving, but we have been feeding you. Just call me when you’re through, and I’ll see to the clean-up.”

Ron nodded mutely. I should be sick more often. She’s never this nice to me.

* * * * *

That evening, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione were all sitting on Ron’s hospital bed. He was in good spirits, and the others were happy to see him up and alert. The four of them were joking and laughing about the time Colin Creevey had jumped onto a staircase that was just about to change. He ended up on the wrong level at another side of the castle and was extremely late for Potions.

“The poor boy had detention for the next three days!” Ginny laughed. “It wasn’t exactly fair, if you ask me.”

Harry grinned and remarked, “What I’ve never understood is why those bloody staircases even have to change. What is the point in that?”

“We can thank Rowena Ravenclaw’s wicked sense of humor for that. She was concerned what would happen if muggles somehow accidentally did get in, and she wanted to deter them from poking about. She figured a staircase changing under their feet would do the trick. It’s in Hogwarts: A History.”

Everyone fell absolutely silent. For it wasn’t Hermione who had shared this bit of school trivia with them – but Ron.

Harry blinked and gave a slight chuckle of disbelief. “And how would you know that, Ron? You’ve never read so much as one word of it.”

His friend stared back at him blankly, his mouth hanging open. “I-I don’t know,” he replied dumbly as he shrugged his shoulders. “I just do.”

His dormmate shook his head in amazement. Ginny, who had been fighting the urge to burst out laughing at her brother, noticed that Hermione was acting rather odd. She nudged Harry and quietly pointed at her, but the older witch had turned away, pretending to glance around the room nonchalantly.

Ginny couldn’t decide whether the girl was blushing or beaming; for some reason, she seemed determined to hide her expression from them. The fifth-year decided to let it go for now. She could ask her later on, in private.

At length, Hermione said, “Well, what does it matter how he knows it? The point is, he does. And I, for one, think it’s positively great.” She gave Ron a nervous smile that made him do a double-take. She didn’t know exactly what was going through his mind, but she could venture a guess. And if he had heard her reading the book . . then what else had he heard? Her confession, perhaps?

She might never know.

Just then, Ron stretched and let out a long, loud yawn. “Guys, I’m getting a little tired. Come back tomorrow, eh?”

“Sure thing, Ron,” Harry said, wearing a baffled look on his face. “Still don’t know how you—”

Ginny rolled her eyes and patted Harry on the shoulder. “Forget it, Harry. Let’s go. Good night, Ron.” She hugged her brother and whispered something that no one else could hear. Whatever it was, it made him gawk at her and blush at the same time. The three of them started to head back for Gryffindor Tower.

“Hermione, err – wait a minute.” Her heart nearly stopped at Ron’s words. She looked at the others hesitantly, but he suggested that they go on without her. “It’s just prefects business. Bloody dull.” Harry, who was thrilled by Ron’s suggestion, left with Ginny; as he did, the monster in his chest purred contentedly.

When Hermione turned back to Ron, his eyes narrowed slightly. He asked her accusingly, “What did you do to me?”

“Me?! What are you talking about?” she replied indignantly.

“Madam Pomfrey told me you were here early this morning – and that they didn’t come with you,” he added, waving his arm toward the door that Harry and Ginny had just gone through. “And all of a sudden, I’m quoting Hogwarts: A History – a book I’ve done very well to avoid for over six years now. What happened?”

Annoyed, she decided it would be best to evade the actual issue. “What does it matter?”

“Well, I suppose it doesn’t, really. But I want to know: what were you doing here, early in the morning, all by yourself?”

A light blush crept across her cheeks as she scoffed, “Do I need a reason to visit you, or an escort?” She paused. “I just came to see you on the off-chance you would wake up today.”

Gazing into her eyes, he whispered ambiguously, “And I did.”

There was a heavy silence between them that seemed to last for several minutes. He broke it by saying, “Well, even though I seemed to have missed it, I . . I appreciate your coming to visit me.” Before he said the last few words, he cleared his throat and tightened his lips.

“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I should be going now, too.” Hermione leaned forward and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. “Glad you’re feeling better, Ron.” She left him lying there, beside himself with confusion.

He touched his cheek lightly where she’d kissed it. Leaning back onto the bed, he sighed and thought, Yeah, I definitely need to break up with Lavender.

~The End~

Notes: Thanks for reading. Feedback is appreciated! :D
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