When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy you've got a friend in me
- You've Got A Friend In Me, by Randy Newman
Her bottom lip trembled as she remembered Katie's face after she had touched that cursed necklace. It was all her fault, they should have gone to the bathroom together as they usually did but she had wanted a bit more time talking to that Ravenclaw boy. Her friend was more important than some boy, and now she could lose Katie because she had been selfish.
Sight blurring again, she scrubbed furiously at her red-rimmed eyes. It had only been a day, a day since Katie had been sent to St. Mungo's, a day since they had been told that there was a possibility of Katie dying.
She refused to believe that.
Katie, who soared through the clouds on her broomstick at terrific speeds, could not possibly die.
She knew they were only trying to help, but the rest of her house treating her like she was brittle glass didn't help her. Their pitying looks, and soft, careful voices only reminded her of the fact that it was her fault.
Their gentle questions, and understanding eyes only annoyed her. How could they possibly understand? None of them had ever risked the life of their best friend with a careless lack of judgement. She was the only one who had done that.
The air in the courtyard was cold, but the untainted white of the gently falling snow calmed her. It reminded her of when they were in first year, realising that they weren't allowed into Hogsmeade and causing a snowball fight that quickly turned into a Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff match of strength and aim.
"What are you doing out in the cold like this?" the faint, but familiar, voice of their house ghost reached her ears. "You'll catch a cold!"
"I would deserve much worse," she muttered self-depreciatingly, "especially after everything I've done."
"You haven't done anything."
"And that's the problem! I should have gone with Katie!"
"And get cursed as well? Of course not. You didn't know, and lack of knowledge can never be blamed on you," the ghost said softly, gliding to float near her. "I don't think your friend would have wanted that. I don't think you have to imagine how she would have felt if it were you who had been cursed instead of her, or even if you both had been cursed."
"You don't understand!"
Frustration was filling her now. No one could hope to understand, unless they had experienced it for themselves. Even Harry hadn't put Ron or Hermione in mortal danger with all the adventures they managed to get caught up in.
"Don't I?" the sad smile the ghost spotted made her consider the possibility of being wrong. "I understand a bit more than you would think, my dear Leanne. My circumstances may not have been the same, but the result still was."
The tone of the ghost's voice made her relax slightly, like calm music in her raging mind, as memories of cold nights near the Hufflepuff fireplace with only the Fat Friar to talk with floated to the surface of her mind. She remembered the conversations they had, his calming voice every time she was upset, and his calm logic despite every problem.
All those years, and she had never thought to ask him about his own life. Their every conversation had revolved around her, and what happened in her life. Looking back, it seemed like he had been keeping his past from her, almost inconspicuously, and for a reason she had obviously never considered, or even thought of, before.
"It isn't important, my dear. I made a mistake, just as you did, and paid the price. Besides, I wouldn't want to force you to Madame Pomfrey's office again this year," the ghost jibed. "I may just have to ask Peeves for some help. I've been holding off doing that for a while now…"
A cold gust of wind tore through the courtyard, forcing previously motionless snow to twirl around in a blinding haze. She shivered as the cold sank into her body like a second skin, but far less comfortable. The heating charm she had cast on herself earlier faded, and she shivered violently as the true cold of the air hit her and her thoughts returned to Katie.
"Your friend will be fine. She's in well-trained hands in St. Mungo's. They will do everything they can to save her. You just need to take care of yourself right now, so you can help your friend when she gets back," the Fat Friar said kindly. "I would think she'd need some laughter and joy, not a whole lot of guilt, coming from you."
"I should be guilty though. It's my fault," to her horror, there were hot tears in her eyes again. They stung as they filled up the already worn, and half frozen, tear ducts in her eyes.
"No, you're not. You weren't the one to curse that necklace, or give the necklace to her. The fault does not lie with you, but with that foolish person," the Friar's voice turned sharp, startling her with its strangeness.
The Friar sighed, seeing her shocked expression, "I simply cannot allow you to ruin your life and continue being unhappy because of this mistake."
A determined feeling came over her at the unyielding expression in the, usually jovial, ghost's face.
"I'll stop, or try to, if you tell me your story."
The Friar stilled, eyes widening slightly as he opened and closed his mouth in an attempt to reply.
"Perhaps I shall, but not today. I wouldn't want to burden you with my sorrows, and I wish to be here for as long as you need me to. I'm afraid, if I tell my story, Hogwarts may need to begin looking for a replacement Hufflepuff ghost."
The Friar laughed, and she joined in.
Written for Little League: Gryffindor
Beater 2: Hufflepuff/Hufflepuff friendship [Leanne and Fat Friar]
Prompts: You've Got A Friend In Me (Song), holding (word)
Written for Game of Life - music