A/N: The usual boring author's notes and thanks at the bottom.
Sun fell through the curtain to land on a head of brilliant red hair bent over the bed of an emaciated witch, her hair neatly braided. Ron read out loud from a huge tome, reading the words slowly and carefully—often consulting another book to discover how to pronounce something especially difficult. Beside his chair was another stack of books nearly as high as he was tall—a collection of Merlin's Magical Encyclopedias.
Magical stasis charms occasionally flashed vitals in the air above the bed, and on the other side of the room a nurse snored and snorked quietly in her sleep—sometimes repeating a word or two of what Ron had just read. He smiled softly as she murmured,
"Last…last of the line of…spell for synapse…" and trailed off into a snore.
Ron laughed lightly. "That's right Nurse Mayer," he whispered, "It's by Snell, last of the line of Termerand. A spell for magical synapse and nerve response." He glanced over at the nurse and spoke to her sleeping form. "Do you know, he used it on unicorns with great success…"
Ron sighed. He had been reading to Hermione from magical medical texts, curse texts, ancient healing texts, anything he could think of really—and he had finally had to resort to reading her veterinary texts.
It had been a brilliant idea of Crabbe's actually, to read Hermione research about her condition. Crabbe had suggested it one day when Ron had once again lamented that Hermione was probably the only one who would be able to figure out how to bring her out of her condition. Unfortunately, it had so far been fruitless. On the plus side—Ron had decided to become a healer. He had done more than the required reading and was apprenticed to Madam Pomfrey for the fall. In just a few years with a couple more classes, he would be certified—but still essentially useless to Hermione. He hung his head and laid it on her belly so that he could feel the rise and fall of her breath; this was his favorite way to sleep.
He didn't know precisely what he'd been hoping, perhaps that she would one day open her eyes and say 'Finally, Ron. I thought you'd never bring the right book.' It would have been nice. Since the day that Crabbe suggested it, Ron had been coming every other day with a new book. It had been almost two years now. Hermione had been in stasis since the war, which made it almost three years now. Ron idly wondered how long stasis could be maintained without brain damage, and then brought the figure up in his mind from past reading. Five years, was their best guess. Oddly, it didn't give Ron any hope that he might be here two years from now reading her who-knows-what. He had decided to start the botanical books Neville leant him next week. Veterinary medicine was getting tedious and irrelevant; if he had to read one more word about taking care of hags to the woman he loved—he was going to go mad.
Tired of reading, Ron started to mumble on about school and what he had been studying lately. He spoke it into the soft material of her nightgown over her stomach and hoped that he wasn't drooling on it again. For some reason, it really upset Nurse Mayer when he did that.
He told Hermione about the wandless magic they had been experimenting with in his healing class, the way that they learned to cast the spells without speaking them. He was really getting very good at it.
He told her about Harry and Draco and how happy they were at Hogwarts, teacher's aids in potions and defense.
That Sirius and Remus were haunting the halls, happily playing tricks and making students get in trouble, and most of all tormenting/loving Snape. Ron's lips curled into a smile when he told her about how happy Snape was; happy was certainly a relative term with that man.
He told her of Dumbledore's illness, and the prognosis that he hadn't long to live. He apologized for the time he had spent researching cures for the headmaster, when she should have been his biggest concern. He apologized for being useless, and weak, and braiding her hair crookedly, and being unable to help her even when it was what he most desperately wanted. He cried finally, soaking the cloth of her nightgown after all.
Ron absently noted the hand that had begun to stroke the back of his head. Sometimes the nurse did this when she heard him bawling, and it had long ago ceased to be embarrassing at all.
"My hair isn't crooked, I can tell," a raspy voice said.
Ron sniffed hard.
"You've," Hermione coughed hard and spoke again carefully, her eyes watering, "done a wonderful job with it, Ron."
Ron looked up. "Hermione?" he whispered.
She raised her eyebrows.
Ron stared at her for what felt like hours, taking in the slightly healthier hue of her skin, the tilt of her raised brows, the beautiful magic of her open brown eyes. He buried his face in her gown again and wept. "Hermione," he said, over and over—as quietly as if he whispered to the dead, but she was alive. She was back.
Hermione's hand had stopped petting the back of Ron's head and merely rested there now. "Ron, can I have some water?" she croaked.
Ron nodded blindly and filled a glass beside her bed. He lifted her head reverently and tipped the glass carefully, until she huffed in irritation.
"Honestly, Ron, I'm not going to break. I want to actually drink the water not just see it."
Ron barked out a laugh and came to his senses a bit more. He called for the nurse and she exclaimed over Hermione as if she were her own daughter. Hermione looked confused.
"What's happened?" she asked. "How long have I been out?"
Ron hung his head. He glanced at her out of the side of his eye.
"How long?" she asked again, calmly.
"Three years almost, Sweetie," Nurse Mayer answered for him. "Ron has been terribly worried about you."
Hermione smiled at Ron and reached up to touch his cheek. "I knew it had been some time," she said, "but I'd no idea…"
Ron choked, and Hermione weakly patted his hand were it lay on her bed.
"Ron?" Hermione asked, looking troubled. "You didn't seriously say that Harry and Malfoy are together did you?"
Six months later...
"Harry, get off your bloody arse," Draco whined. "We've got to be there by six, and you know that if we're late we'll get a howler from Ron. That whole fucking family is way too fond of howlers; it's totally classless."
"Shuuupppppppppp—p," Harry groaned.
Draco stamped his foot. "I will not! Get up you useless prat!"
"Shhhhh…" Harry hissed.
"Harry Potter, if you don't get up I'll tell your godghosts every detail of what we did last night."
Harry opened one eye. "You wouldn't," he said.
Draco raised one eyebrow. "I would," he said.
"You'd blush and stammer, they'd not even understand you," Harry said confidently.
"I'll draw diagrams."
Draco picked up his wand and began drawing in the air.
Harry opened his other eye, he lifted his head, his face turned crimson, then calmed to pink, and he got an excited expression. "Did we really…" he asked.
Harry sighed, defeated. "I'm up, I'm up," he said. "I don't know what the big bloody deal is anyway. They can't start without me, I've got the rings."
Draco sighed. "Potter..."
"Well it's our first real Christmas together. I don't want to go anywhere," Harry whined.
Draco snorted. "It's just downstairs—not Timbuktu, and if we make Muggle-Mione's wedding start late she'll have your balls," he said, walking out of the room.
"Why not yours?" Harry called after him.
Fifteen years later...
"Professor Potter?" a tiny voice asked.
Harry smiled down at the little redheaded girl. "Clarissa, you know you can call me Uncle Harry. I don't care about school rules," he said, winking.
Clarissa wore a very prim look as she said, "Mummy said I mustn't do that, it makes it look like I'm getting favoritism."
"That's because you are Weasel-bait," Draco said, walking up behind them.
"Professor Malfoy," she said. "Uncle Sirius told me that you had something shoved up your butt, you don't do you?"
Harry spit his coffee back into his cup.
Draco glanced over his shoulder, seemingly searching for the ghost. "I do not!" he said hotly, then leaned over to Harry and whispered something in his ear.
Harry turned bright red and pinched Draco's arm.
Clarissa had a knowing look on her face. "Uncle Moony said I shouldn't ask you about your butt at my age."
"At any age, Miss Weasley," Snape said, slinking down the corridor.
Clarissa shot him a glare and stuck out her tongue. "Uncle Sirius said you'd say that, and he said that if you did then I should say that you've no room to talk about butts."
Snape scowled while Harry and Draco snickered.
"You should get to class Clarissa," Harry said. "I heard a girl in my second class say that the potions professor was a real git. You wouldn't want to anger him right away would you?"
Draco scowled at Harry. "You're a git," he muttered.
Clarissa smiled. "Uncle Draco, you won't be angry with me will you?" She batted her eyes hugged him, and Harry noticed that she covertly slipped something into the pocket of Draco's robes.
Draco beamed at her. "That's the spirit 'Lissa, manipulation is key to success!"
She nodded seriously.
"Come on luv," he said. "You can walk in with Professor Git himself, that way they will all know who's the favorite."
Clarissa winked at Harry and grabbed Draco's hand. Draco pecked Harry on the cheek and gave Snape a half-wave as they walked away. Snape started to say something to Harry, but Harry held up his hand in the universal signal for 'wait'. Harry counted, three, two, one...
There was a loud bang and Draco screamed, "Clarissa!" in a strained voice.
Clarissa squealed with glee and they heard her little feet running away down the corridor. Harry smiled.
Snape scoffed. "That child," he said. "Is going to be worse than the twins. I fear she'll have Miss Granger's brains and their mischievousness. I suppose we can only be grateful that she didn't get any of her father's traits—beyond the hair."
Harry smiled, Snape certainly knew how to hold a grudge. "Yes, Headmaster," he said smarmily.
Snape sneered. "Go and teach your bloody class you twit," he snarked.
Harry bowed low and turned to sweep out of the hall. "You'll be over tonight for dinner with everyone, Severus?" he asked.
"Yes, yes," Snape grumped. "Have I ever missed theglorious occasion?"
"You'll bring Vin?" Harry asked, grinning.
Snape blushed and nodded curtly, before turning on his heel and fleeing the corridor.
Harry laughed out loud.
"Finally got the old bag to admit his affair did you?" Sirius asked, floating through the wall.
"Honestly, Padfoot, will you ever stop torturing the man? Last night he floated in on them at exactly the wrong minute—if you know what I mean, Harry," Lupin said, his ghostly eyes twinkling.
Harry covered his mouth to hold back his spew. "I—I know…" he said, and he too fled.
Sirius smirked at Remus. "I'm rather proud of us," he said.
"Why's that, Shaggy?"
"Well, there was all this drama, but all we really had to do was die. I'm chuffed."
"Ugh, no. I'll have you remember that I had to deal with the fallout from their first little snogging session. You try asking that prude if his bits got caught in his zipper."
Sirius winced. "Are we going to dinner tonight?"
"Why would we miss it this week?"
"Oh I dunno," Sirius said. "There's so many of us now, I feel like we don't really have to be there."
"Don't be ridiculous, Dogbreath, we're all part of the package. Every single one of us is needed."
Sirius smirked. "And what do they need us for, Moony?" he asked.
Remus grinned. "Why, the floor show—what else?"
Sirius cackled, and the two ghosts floated down the corridor. "Hey," Sirius said, "let's go check on Snape. I'm afraid the old bugger won't be able to keep up with that youngster of his—we should give him some pointers."
"Ah, Sirius my love, that is so thoughtful of you."
Sooo... there it is! This is absolutely the last time that I write anything without having a very clear idea where it's going before I start. I can't recall if I've tied up all the ends or not. And honestly, did it make any sense at all? I think not.;)
There is one loose end that I know I've neglected. But, as Potion's Master--we must all assume that Draco has cured his own back problems. Though, I choose to think that Snape probably did it long ago.
I feel like Siri and Remus needed rimshots during some of their dialogue in this...I'm quite bad at writing them.
Right, well, on with the thanks...
Which I've removed because... well... they're boring. Anyone who was on them has read it by now. Thank you all for reading and reviewing.