Essential Medicine for the Ordinary Witch
Ginny had known where Hermione was from the second Parvati had told her about today's argument with Ron. It was getting to her that would be difficult. Every frightened part of her was saying that she wasn't that good friends with Hermione, that she didn't have to go talk to her, but she ignored them as best she could.
She had avoided that bathroom since the beginning of the year, and she really didn't want to go back. But if Hermione was upset…that settled it. It was only when she rounded the corner on the second floor that she realised it was going to be so much worse than she had imagined.
Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.
Her stomach dropped and she actually felt the blood drain from her face. For one horrible moment she felt as if Tom Riddle was still in her mind, lifting her arms to write with blood on the wall. Slowly she approached the writing, lifting one hand to trace the letters with a finger. She noted absently that it was shaking.
She stood there for a moment or two before coming to herself as an inner voice screamed, "Don't think about it." This wasn't the first time this had happened since Harry had rescued her from the Chamber – it was just the worst. But she couldn't think about this now – it was too soon. When she could look at that writing without trembling then she could think about it. Until then…she would set it to one side.
She took a deep breath, still somewhat transfixed by the writing on the wall. Hermione needed her. Well, perhaps that wasn't exactly true, but she was crying and lonely, and Ginny was the nearest person. She squared her shoulders and opened the door.
It was so unfair. She'd had a horrible two months and now this on top of everything else. It wasn't as if she didn't know all about the changes she was supposed to be going through, she had read all about them, but it wasn't the same when it was actually happening. She didn't know what to do – she definitely didn't want Madam Pomfrey fussing over her, or Lavender and Parvati to try and cheer her up via giggling. She wanted her Mum, she wanted Crookshanks, and Ron to make her laugh, and Harry to look at her as though she could figure anything out.
She sat in a small heap of misery, crying and nursing her unhappy stomach. Even Myrtle had abandoned her, which meant she must be really depressing company. And what was worse was that she shouldn't even be here – she had translation to do for Ancient Runes, and charms to practise, and that stupid Divination homework to do. She didn't have time to be wailing on the bathroom floor.
She'd been feeling like such a pariah lately that it came as something of a shock when the door of the bathroom creaked open and a timid voice said, "Hermione?"
Ginny Weasley edged through the door, her hands twisting in the folds of her robe. Hermione wiped at the tears on her face, and said, "What is it Ginny? Do you need anything?"
"What? No. Parvati said you were here, and I thought…"
Hermione nodded – that made sense. Parvati wasn't much good at actually dealing with people who were upset, but she always made sure to find someone who was and send them to deal with it. Ginny however, looked so nervous that Hermione wondered why she had bothered coming.
It came as something of a surprise when Ginny sat down beside her and crossed her legs, saying "So, what's wrong?"
"How do you know something's wrong?"
"Hermione it's kind of…obvious."
Ginny shook her hair out, and Hermione restrained an envious sigh – she wished she could have hair that fell just so, like Ginny's. Her's got into her face at every opportunity, and it was almost impossible to tie it down for longer than half an hour or so. Ginny rested her elbows on her knees, and her chin on her hands, before blowing her cheeks out comically. "So," she siad, "What's the problem?"
Hermione blushed – she didn't want to talk about this, she hadn't ever spoken to Ginny about things that were personal. When she said nothing Ginny guessed, "Is it Ron and Harry? Did they say something?"
"No." Hermione bit back a sob. "They're still not talking to me."
She hugged herself and Ginny looked outraged. "They're just gits – both of them."
"Even Harry?" Hermione said slyly, expecting Ginny to flush. She didn't disappoint.
"You should just ignore them Hermione. I know what Ron's like – he's just being all stupid."
"Ron's not stupid!"
"Yes he is! And he doesn't like Crookshanks. I mean come on Hermione, I know he's your friend, but he can be a bit dense."
Hermione wanted to argue with her – but Ginny was Ron's sister. If anyone had the right to call him stupid, she did. "It's not about Ron and Harry," she said, "I mean – that doesn't exactly help but…"
Ginny looked sympathetic, and she said, "Well, what is it then?"
Hermione felt a lump rise in her throat again. "It's…I just got my…my first…"
Ginny started smiling. "That's fantastic Hermione!"
"I know, but…" Tears started to fall down her cheeks. "I don't feel fantastic. I want my Mum."
Ginny put an arm around her, and Hermione had a sudden flshback to their encounter with Dementors on the train. "Of course you do," she said.
Hermione hiccuped a little, and Ginny started to search through her schoolbag. It took a moment or two but she found what she was looking for, and pressed a Chocolate Frog into Hermione's hand. "What's this for?" Hermione asked.
"Mum says chocolate makes her feel better. She ate a whole cake once."
"It's all right – Fred got them for me." Hermione raised an eyebrow, and Ginny added, "There's nothing in it – I had a few and they're fine."
"Okay. Thanks Ginny."
Hermione munched on her chocolate, and Ginny waited a few moments before saying. "Hermione…do you, know the charms?"
"Yeah. Madam Pomfrey got all of us together at the beginning of the year to make sure we knew how to handle things, and then I read up a bit in Essential Medicinal Charms for the Ordinary Witch, so I'm fine."
Her voice had broken a little over the last word, but Ginny looked relieved. "Good. I'm not much good a teaching."
"Do you know them?"
"Yeah – Mum made sure to teach them all to me. I mean, who else was I going to learn them from – Percy?"
Hermione snorted with laughter, and Ginny smiled at her. "Are you feeling a bit better now?"
"Yeah – I just didn't have anyone I could talk to about this stuff."
"Even if he wasn't being useless, Ron's head would probably explode."
"And Harry wouldn't know where to look."
Ginny snorted and pulled Hermione off the floor. "Come on," she said, "We're going to the Owlery."
"Well you want your Mum don't you? You can send her a note telling her what happened, and you'll get a lovely fat letter full of sympathy in a day or two."
Hermione smiled – it did sound nice. "It'll have to be a short note," she warned, "I've got homework to do."
"I know – you always have homework to do. Now come on!"
Ginny pulled Hermione's robes straight as they made their way out of the toilets, and Hermione had to stifle a laugh – it felt strange to be mothered by someone nearly two years younger and several inches smaller than her.
She hadn't expected Ginny to come to a stop as soon as they left the bathroom. She was staring at the wall with the Heir of Slytherin's message on it – Filch had never figured out how to get rid of the writing – and she looked quite scared.
Hermione took Ginny's elbow and pulled her away, saying "Don't look at it Ginny – we won't get back down in time of dinner if we hang around."
Ginny nodded, and let Hermione drag her back down the corridor. It was only when they had started going up the stairs that the colour started to come back into her face. It reminded Hermione of the way Harry looked when he was around Dementors, and she made a note to keep an eye on Ginny from now on.