After the Dragon

Missing moment by the lake after Harry, Ron, and Hermione drop off the dragon they used to escape Gringott's in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Ron crawled out of the muck on the edges of the shallow lake and joined Harry and Hermione on the shore. Harry pulled his wand from his robes and started casting the protection charms. Hermione had collapsed coughing and shuddering on the ground. She struggled to her feet and pulled the beaded bag from the inside pocket of her robes. She scrounged around and came up with a couple of bottles of Essense of Dittany that she and Fleur had brewed to replenish their supplies.

Ron took a bottle and began dabbing at the burns all over his face and hands. For the most part, his clothes had protected him, but there were some thin spots on his jeans and one on his shoe where the hot metal had burned through. Hermione was still digging around in the bag. He thought she seemed to be standing funny and wondered if she'd hurt herself in the fall from the dragon. She pulled three bottles of pumpkin juice from the bag and tossed them to the ground.

Harry came back over to them and Ron handed him the bottle of Dittany. Harry began addressing his own burns and Hermione took dry clothes for them out of the bag and left them in a pile on the ground. Ron pulled his sopping wet jumper over his head and tossed it aside. They were all shivering in the cold air. He noticed again that Hermione was moving funny, she seemed to be walking with a particularly wide stance. Before he could say anything, she had pulled out the walnut wand and had a blanket levitating in the air, so she could change behind it. Now out of sight, he could hear her whimpering. She was clearly trying to be quiet about it, but Ron had become very sensitive to signs of pain from her ever since they'd escaped from Malfoy Manor. He looked over to see that Harry had already finished changing and was staring out over the lake where the dragon was resting on the other side.

Ron pulled off the rest of his clothes and changed into dry things. Hermione was still making the same noises. She must have hurt herself falling, he thought. Her burns hadn't looked that bad, no worse than his and Harry's at least. She'd managed to cast the Impervious charm and that had helped some. What was taking her so long?

"Hermione?" he said. "What's wrong? Did you hurt yourself in the fall?"

"I'm fine," she said tightly. "I'm just trying to clear up all these burns."

"You're not done yet?" Ron said. "What's taking so long? Harry and I are both done."

"Neither of you were wearing a skirt," she snapped back at him, followed by another shallow whimper.

Realizing the implications of what she said, Ron rose to his feet. "I'm coming back there."

"What?" Hermione shouted with alarm. "Don't!"

Ron grabbed the bottle of Dittany that Harry had tossed to the ground. He hesitated for a moment and then stepped behind the enchanted blanket acting as a curtain.

"Ron!" she squealed. "Go away!"

Ron looked at her burned legs. She clearly hadn't had tights on under the dress or if she had, they'd burned away. He opened the bottle of Dittany in his hand. She'd already taken off the dress and shoes and put on a dry jumper, but her legs were bare and she was only in her knickers. She stood with her legs spread apart.

"Get out!" she shouted.

Ron frowned at her. "Don't be like that. You're hurt," he said. "Besides, I've seen your legs. This is no different than when we go swimming in the pond at home." He knew that wasn't exactly true, but he'd already seen her completely naked, although now was not the time to bring up that.

She blinked at him.

"I'll get the back," he said, stepping behind her and dropping to his knees. "Bloody hell, Hermione," he said softly now that he had a closer look.

She looked down at her burned legs. "That's pretty accurate," she said faintly, but she didn't protest his assistance anymore. She leaned forward and continued dabbing at the front of her legs while he worked on the back. He tried to stay focused on the burns and not look at her tight little bum in those black silk knickers. Why did she have such fabulous knickers? It didn't seem like her, at least not like the her he was most familiar with. Hidden depths, he thought, and oh, how he'd like to plumb those depths. He shook his head and continued dabbing at the burns. The skin started to grow back immediately as the Dittany did its work. At last, there was only one wound left just at the edge of where her bum met her thigh. The burning cup must have pushed up the edge of her knickers because part of the burn was underneath. He pushed up the bit of silk with his other thumb as he touched the little mop inside the stopper to the burn and heard Hermione gasp.

"That's got it," Ron said, getting to his feet.

Hermione didn't look at him, but instead reached for her jeans. "Thanks," she muttered.

"Right," Ron said, and stepped back out from behind the curtain. He picked up a bottle of pumpkin juice and began to drink it while he watched the skin on his hands continue to regrow.

A moment later, the enchanted blanket collapsed and began to fold itself. Hermione stuffed it into the beaded bag and took out her boots and began pulling them on. She didn't say anything. Her cheeks were very red and he was pretty sure it wasn't just from the burns.

Eager to break the tension, Ron said, "On the upside, we got the Horcrux."