A stream of sunlight cascaded upon the Infirmary. Within the wing, several patients roused in their sleep. Surrendering to the bold light of the sun, they awoke and sat in their beds waiting to be tended to or checked by Pomfrey and other nurses of the ward.
This group of rising students included Ronald Weasley. Though as his eyes flickered open, he didn't dare get up. It had taken the poor boy hours to fall asleep the past night. Thoughts had been flowing through his weary mind. Memories of the days when his friends loved him as he loved them haunted him. Reminiscences of the times they worked together to fight for what was right. Times when they were an inseparable team lurked the corners of his mind.
They all had parts on the team when they were younger. Harry was the brave, fearless leader and Hermione was the brilliant brain of all the operations. Didn't Ron have a part in it? He had always considered himself the trusty sidekick, with loyalty that never faltered. Of course there were times when their friendships had suffered from rows and petty arguments, but hadn't they always patched things up at the end? But it was different now. Hermione had taken but two positions of the team as well started another. The title girlfriend, or lover for all he'd known, was what she had now. Ron was now the member who was kicked off the island and became unstable, trapped in the hospital wing, until they could deport him to St. Mungos. Not only that, but his sister had suffered from some either sort of attack or self-inflicted mutilation. Shit! Ginny, he realized.
All traces of the sadness his memoirs of past relationships with his friends left him, as a new sort of traumatic pain encompassed his soul and body. Quietly, he slipped off his bed and slid his bare feet into his beaten shoes to protect them from the chill floor. Without bothering to lace the shoes up, or even put them on properly, Ron stepped out from his curtained bedding area, and looked around the wing for any evidence of his sister and her well-being.
The other nurses and occupants of the wing were too busy fretting over the conditions of everyone else to care for what Ron needed. It was either for this or the fact that his sister was teetering between life and death that they left him alone to do as he pleased. As Ron searched the bedsides, an occasional few would glance at him with mournful look on their faces. And they would be met with an impassive, inexpressive stare. And each time he turned to move further on, Ron would let out a sigh, and sometimes a yawn.
Finally, at the end of the wards, there was a closed off bed Ron found. Intuition told him that Ginny was resting in there, recovering. None of that divination crap, he mused. Much to his chagrin, as he neared the drawn curtains and tried to open, the area was shut with a spell. Letting out another sigh. Perhaps it wasn't Ginny's bed. Giving into the growing propositions in his head, he decided he would just ask Pomfrey if he could see her.
Finding Pomfrey was indeed easy, as she seemed to be waiting for him to say something. She was waiting for him by his bed, he saw, with a tray of more concoctions in her hands. Wearing a sympathetic expression, for once, the old woman gestured for him to sit back down on his bed. Setting the tray on his side table, she began mixing the liquids into a goblet. Silence seemed to settle as the nurse worked and Ron just sat staring off into space.
"So you've been up, I see," she stated nonchalantly, gazing at the pained boy.
Ron didn't bother to speak at all, nor did he want to see the woman in the face. For a few moments his mind was devoid of activity. It was still shock to him that everything was happening. And so fast was it going on. One moment he wanted to hurt himself, and the next, his sister's nearly murdered by herself or someone else. His hands were fidgeting in his lap as reality registered in his mind. Life was agonizing when one was constantly walking on shards of glass with a trail of blood behind, only to end scarred. Even more so when the people that were once considered friends leave you for abandonment. Only when Pomfrey shoved a cold goblet into his hands did he notice her talking to him.
"…. are visiting Ginny, even though I told them there was no point, seeing as she's out like a lamp, poor dear—"
Drinking the goblet of God knew what, he allowed the old woman to talk some more. Rambler, he mocked. Ron knew she was talking about Ginny, and it would be important to find out as much information as possibly could, but it annoyed him when people would never get to the point. As soon as the liquid was drained, he looked down at the inside of the goblet. Realizing how utterly disgusting the lumps left on the bottom were, he made a face. At this motion, the nurse finally stopped her blathering.
It was almost as though they said it simultaneously. Ron had finally looked up, but seeing the almost amused look on Pomfrey's face, he lowered his head. I don't feel like getting a scolding for my attitude, thank you very much.
"Yes, Mr. Weasley, I am done. I was only stating that your sister had been severely injured, but after some procedures, we're quite certain that she should be coming around soon. Ms. Granger and Mr. Potter are seeing her at the moment. They had first come to see you, but I would not allow them to wake you, as you are—"
"You're rambling again," Ron interrupted. "Can I see her or what? I'm tired of this damn place—"
"Watch your tongue, boy!"
"Yeah, alright. I have things to do and… err… Classes to attend. Let me go," he finished. Not to mention a life to end, he thought sulkily.
Madam Pomfrey's snippy, strict attitude was returning to her. It was most amusing as Ron watched the flaps of her nose flared. "I will not let you leave this wing until I have Dumbledore's consent. In my opinion, you're fine and you would be free to go, but as Dumbledore has his say in this matter… You take up a lot of space, Weasley. But I will let you go see your sister and your friends."
"You mean they're still here?" he asked. He heard her say that Harry and Hermione had stopped by, but he had not the idea that they'd stayed.
"They wanted to wake you to see how you were. I told them off for even suggesting, so they asked to see Ginny. I believe they were hoping to stay long enough for you to wake up on your own."
Well in that case, no, I don't need to see Ginny right now. He didn't know how to approach the couple. The thought of them acting like newly weds made him sick, and it was painful. Best friend… Love of my life…With each time the thought would return to his mind, the more depressed it made him. Each time, his heart would grow heavier in his chest and there was no telling when it would finally explode. Seeing them in his sad state was something that Ron did not need. He did not want sympathy. He wanted a way out and a fast one at that.
Nevertheless, the thought of Ginny's frail body lying on a hospital bed, white from blood loss, haunted Ron. As much as the redhead did not want to see his dating friends, there was nothing that could hold him back from seeing a hurt family member. Ginny was his only sister and he loved her dearly. If there were anything wrong, she would see it. She would try to help. How could Ron forsake her like he did? How could he have taken her for granted? No one could hold him back from seeing his younger sister.
"Where is she?" he asked, sliding off the bed, brushing off his pajamas. He gave the area above the bridge of his nose a squeeze to ease the pressure and pain of his racing mind. It did not help. Running a hand through his hair, he looked up expectantly at the nurse, waiting for an answer.
She seemed to hesitate slightly. "Are you sure you're alright? You're beginning to look rather sick again… Maybe you should rest a little more. It's possibly a side effect of the potion you just took."
"No, I'm fine! I just have a lot on my mind… I only want to see my sister," he practically pleaded. And claim my life… Funny how that thought never seems to go away, he mused.
"Very well. Follow me. But if at all, you feel any kind of… light headedness, nausea, anything, you come find me."
And with those words, Pomfrey lead the way back to the exact bedding area Ron found locked. It was a short, silent walk to the area, but to Ron it lasted hours. All that went through his mind was not of Ginny, but of what Hermione and Harry would be found doing as soon as the curtains were drawn. Standing by a lifeless body could get boring he was reluctant to admit. He remembered in his second year, when Hermione was petrified, Ron and Harry went to see her. It was not their original plan to visit her, but when McGonagall found them out and about when they shouldn't have been, they had no choice. Of course their visit was quite useful in finding out what was the monster of the Chamber that was attacking everyone, but even after a few minutes of standing and watching her, things got slightly boring, as Ron hated to admit to himself. Only God knew what they'd be up to in the ward alone and next to a limp Ginny.
They stopped in front of the curtain. Pomfrey took out her wand and muttered some words. In a split second, the once still curtains showed signs of faint movement. They were regular curtains again. And Ron finally heard noise coming from within. Someone was sobbing and crying loudly. He looked at the nurse beside him. She seemed to be surprised of the loud cries. Turning back to him, she whispered to him, "This is why I put a silence charm on the area… Don't want the girl to awake all my patients!"
Sure enough, as Ron helped draw back the curtains, there was Hermione howling into Harry's arms. Ron watched as his sweater was soaking up the tears from Hermione's eyes. Harry too seemed to look glum and sorrowed as he absentmindedly patted her back, with his attention focused on Ginny. Ron could've sworn that Golden Boy Harry had tears forming in his eyes. Hermione was just hysterical. "Oh Harry, why didn't I just go with her last night? Why, oh why?"
"It's not your fault, Hermione," Ron said when he found his voice. He was surprised at the sight before him, and a bit relieved as well. What astonished him though was Hermione's reaction to when she realized Ron standing there.
"Ron! I'm so sorry!" she shrieked, letting go of her mate.
Without any reluctance, Hermione practically dove at Ron. It was an act with such force that if Ron were any smaller, he would've been knocked onto his back. And she held onto him tightly with her arms almost strangling his neck and her face buried in his chest. Ron again couldn't help but feel lighter in the heart. But he dared not show it. Harry was right there; he didn't want him getting any ideas. Still, he relished every moment of her compassion, as it was rare she showed such emotion. Her mousy brown hair was unruly and he could tell she didn't take any time that morning to tame it, though it smelled sweet like a flower of some sort. He could feel her tears being taken in by his flannel pajamas; the moisture was warm against his skin. Ron felt his heart beginning to race. He didn't want to let her go for it felt like their bodies fit together perfectly like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But perhaps he thought too soon, as she pulled away.
"Oh, Ron, I'm so sorry you have to go through this all. I know how much you love Ginny. I know how passionate you are about your family. I'm so sorry, Ron, really I am. We both are!" Hermione managed to say between her heavy sobs. She was looking right into Ron's eyes. Her wet, glassy amber brown eyes surrounded by puffy eyelids were piercing into his own eyes that were tearing as his heart pounded like a series of cannon blasts.
"We really should've been there for you more," Harry began. "Both of us should've realized that you were going through a lot to begin with."
Harry looked at Hermione. Ron was most disappointed when she broke their eye contact to gaze back at him. However, he continued to look at her. When did he let this girl get away? He had always figured that it would be her and him one day. But a series of pictures passed through his mind, like Krum, the Firebolt and Scabbers incident, and loads more. He had to shake his head to return to the present. Back on earth, Hermione turned her head to Ron again, still gripping him in a hug. Harry came over and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Ron, we know why we found you in such a horrible state the other day. I was so hard on myself when I realized that it was so obvious…" Harry continued.
Hermione continued to watch Ron's face. He felt himself go red. No, he really doesn't know… It can't be that obvious… He doesn't know that I love Hermione… He doesn't know it, he tried to convince himself. Turning to look at Harry for once, out of shame to look at Hermione, he extracted himself from her embrace, though most unwillingly.
"You feel lonely because Hermione and I are always together. We didn't know you felt that way. You should've said—"
Ron's face was getting redder as Harry talked. It was always a bad sign when his face and hair clashed terribly color wise. Of course Harry was right that he was lonely, but it was more anger from the loneliness. It was also the feeling of being uncared for and shunned aside all the time. But could he tell this to them? At one time he thought he could, but not now.
"How dare you think I brought this upon myself by not telling you? Who am I to step between you two up by proclaiming my insecurities on your relationship? I want to see you happy. I don't care if it kills me," Ron nearly yelled, but was surprised by the things he had just said.
It seemed to surprise Hermione and Harry as well. They looked at him with their mouths slightly open with apprehension and shock. A few moments of silent tension building alarm passed. Harry seemed as though he were about to say something, but then shut his mouth closed. Never actually saying anything, his mouth and closed like a fish. Hermione on the other hand, shut her mouth and kept it shut. She then walked over to an empty chair and sat down, never taking her eyes off the two boys she knew as her best friends.
Ron decided it was time to forget the two. He turned his attention to Ginny and walked over to the bed. Sitting on the edge, he took in the image of his kid sister, white skinned that contrasted highly with her fiery red hair. Fiery like her spirit, he mused, but gentle and warm like the air on summer morning. He couldn't help but let out a sigh.
Harry seemed to finally find something to say. "You were trying to kill yourself… For us?"
Ron didn't say anything. He was tired of lying. By not answering, perhaps they would drop the subject. The true reason he came into the ward was to see Ginny, and not discuss the friendship between the three of them that seemed to be hanging by a thread. But Hermione seemed to find her own voice in the matter as she got up from her chair to sit next to Ron.
"He would never do something so stupid! Ron, look at me. I said to look at me, Ron. Good. Now tell me you didn't even consider something so… so… Selfish! Suicide, Ron? Suicide? If we didn't find you when we did, and if we hadn't brought you here, you would've died. Please don't tell me you really meant it when you told me to leave you that day. If you were gone, I don't know what I'd have done! Without you… Ron!" Hermione broke down crying again. "It's enough with Ginny in such a bad condition, and here you are telling us you wanted to die! It's so selfish!"
Ron turned and let his focus fall back on Ginny as his own tears deceived him and slowly streamed along his face one by one. It wasn't a selfish idea. They didn't understand the things he went through. Well aware he was, of Hermione who was crying into his shoulder. Damn it, she's gotten so emotional. Harry was rubbing her shoulder as she wept. Ron continued to look at Ginny's pale face. Maybe it wasn't a good idea, suicide. As appealing as it had sounded, maybe it wasn't as right as he had first thought.
"Ron, please, tell us you haven't been thinking so thick like that…" Harry spoke with his voice breaking mid-sentence.
"Drop it. I'm not here to talk about this," Ron said with a firm and strong attitude, though his composure was the complete opposite.
Harry fell silent and Hermione stopped crying. "How did it all get to be like this?" she said, with sharp gasps of breathe between every other word.
And no one answered. In fact, no one spoke for about a quarter to a third of an hour. For those several minutes Ron just grazed his sister's face lightly with his fingers, wit silent tears flowing steadily from his eyes. Hermione and Harry no longer existed, though they were standing by the bed as well, just watching Ginny. He had never imagined it to add so much more anguish and torment to his heart just to see her like that. And the fact that his two former best friends were standing by him, added more. Ron felt their pain as well.
For those fifteen to twenty minutes, they were in silence. It was only until Madam Pomfrey had ordered them to retreat so that she could check on Ginny and how she was recovering. They all left together, with Ron depressed to leave her side. Ron was to stay in the infirmary, which he did not mind much anymore, but he decided to walk the to the door. The walk was silent as well; there wasn't much they could discuss anymore. As they neared the door, Harry stopped and turned.
"Listen, I left something back by Ginny's bed, I'll be back soon. Hermione, you go ahead, and Ron, get some rest, you need it."
Hermione retaliated though. "I'll wait. It's really alright."
"No, go ahead, I know you can find the common room on your own."
They stopped walking. There was an awkward pause. Ron, who was walking to the side, could feel tension building. "Hermione, he'll be fine alone, as will you. You don't have to be near each other all the time," Ron said with a sigh of irritation.
Hermione huffed. "Fine."
Harry turned to walk back to Ginny, but looked back to say a quick, "bye, see you in a minute." And it left Hermione with Ron alone. Turning to him, he noticed a confused expression on her face.
"It's funny because I don't remember him bringing anything."
Ron shrugged. "Eh, search me. I don't know what he'd want with an unconscious body."
Hermione glanced toward Ginny's ward, then turned to look back at Ron. Her eyes were still puffy from all her howling and crying, but all the same, she was beautiful to him. Not many people thought chipmunk faces were attractive, but what did it matter? She was beautiful in her own way, the way that Ron loved her to be. They stared into each other for another awkward moment. Letting out a weary smile, Hermione pulled Ron into another crushing hug. With a tender kiss on the cheek, she pushed back.
"Don't ever think about stupid things, Ron. We love you. I love you," she said, flashing another weary smile that was nonetheless warm and kind.
The door to the wing opened and closed as Hermione left. Ron watched her go, his heart pounding madly, but with the most aching feeling. As the door shut with a bang, he thought, I love you, too.
Note: Hey readers, faithful, kind, forgiving readers… I'm so incredibly sorry it took me more than a month to get this chapter up! I had midterms at school, and so much work along with studying. I swear I couldn't find a decent lot of time to sit down and write. I really have to thank my reviewers for waiting so long for a new chapter! I hope you liked it… The truth finally surfaces… Or begins to, I guess you could say… I get a 5 day weekend next week, so I'm hoping I'll get at least one more chapter up during then. Stay safe!