Considering that Madame Pomfrey had been horrified to learn what Hermione did, they were all quite surprised when she allowed Harry and Ron to stay for a few minutes to say goodnight.

They'd brought her to the hospital wing immediately after her recovery, and once Pomfrey had gotten past the shock and disbelief over what she'd done, she'd insisted that Hermione stay overnight for observation. It seemed that no one had ingested the Phlogiston Cure and lived for over a century, and the healer wanted to keep a very close eye on her.

"She probably just wants to make sure you don't start guzzling bottles of Flesh-Eating Slug Repellant, next," Ron said flippantly.

He glanced up and caught Madame Pomfrey looking at them meaningfully, indicating that their time was almost up. "Looks like she wants us out of here," he said.

Hermione held out a hand to Harry, and he obliged her by taking it. "I know you don't think you did anything special, Harry," she said. "And things did get rather rough there for a few minutes. I hate knowing that you would have blamed yourself if it had gone the other way, but…I just wanted you to know that it means a lot to me, what you did."

"What's that, managing to smash two bottles of the Excido Remedy?" he joked.

Hermione gave him her trademark, admonishing look. "No. I mean helping me, even though you didn't think it was a good idea. I wouldn't have gotten through it if it weren't for you. And," she added, smiling widely, "I'm very proud of you for mixing up the Excido Remedy correctly, all alone, after having only seen it done twice!"

Harry blushed at the praise, sort of embarrassed, but pleased nonetheless. "Perhaps there's hope for me yet," he said lightly. "Next thing you know, I'll be paying attention in class and turning in extra credit assignments."

"One can only hope," Hermione said, very seriously. Then the joke got to be too much for her, and they all three burst out laughing.

"Speaking of the unbelievable," Ron said, "I can't believe Snape came all the way up here to give you detention for using the Potions classroom without permission. I mean, honestly, you almost died!"

"Well, but she almost got detention for that, too," Harry reminded him, "when Madame Pomfrey discovered that she'd gotten herself poisoned again on purpose."

"I don't care," Hermione said resolutely. "I'd do it all again. And I can get through any amount of detentions, as long as I can remember that day in the forest."

She smiled up at Ron, and he grinned back at her, turning red.

Harry coughed discreetly. "Well, uh…I guess I'll head up to the dormitory. I'm glad you're all right, Hermione, really," he said, planting a kiss on the top of her head. "I'll see you in a few," he said to Ron, and then walked out.

They watched after Harry for a moment, and then Ron sat on the bed facing Hermione. He stared at her silently for a long time, finally shaking his head. "I still can't believe the risk you took to get that memory back," he said, half in wonder, half in disbelief.

Hermione smiled, reaching out to grasp his hand. It felt right, there, holding hers. "Well, it's a really good memory," she said, watching him.

She expected a blush, and he didn't disappoint her. But it was a mild one, not enough to hide his freckles, and he met her gaze directly. When he smiled back at her shyly, she felt her breath hitch…in a good way, this time.

"Yeah, it is," he said. And then he kissed her.