Author – Chibi / Warlordess
Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter of the two worlds he exists in. I'm just an active pawn in JKR's plans for creative world domination. Also, I'm sorry that there was no humor whatsoever in that disclaimer; unfortunately, I'm not a very funny person for those over the age of six.
Notes – Okay, quite a few warnings and notes in this chapter. First off, I know that some people are expecting hints of things placed in the HBP book to be in here, but seeing as that seems a bit like plagiarism to me, I'm going to stick to the good old-fashioned fandom stuffs. Snape will still be teaching Potions, which plays a role in this chapter and a bit of Malfoy-bashing type of stuff. Not really bashing… But he does get pulled out of class by the ear for something… So, yea, things are happening. Also, please note the fluffiness and the newly revitalized Ron/Luna ship hinting!
Harry Potter – Blind
Harry couldn't help the anxiety he felt as he watched the two girls stare at each other, both of their expressions lacking any dictation of emotion they were feeling towards one another. He really wasn't sure why there would be any ill will between them, except for that very small fact that his relationship with Cho ended over his friendship and constant defense for Hermione. Yet the bushy-haired Prefect looked just as stiff, and there was no denying that less than fond expression on her face.
"Of course," the girl said, holding out her hand for Harry's ex to shake it and, for once, it wavered in the right direction, "Er, Cho, I guess that I should be thanking you for agreeing to help me. I mean, I know that your relationship with Harry didn't end on the best of terms, and so. . . Thanks, I guess. That's all I can really say."
Cho gave a tinkling laugh and turned to Harry, slightly red in the face, "Right; but after our conversation the other day," Hermione's head snapped questioningly in the direction of Harry's indistinct figure as well at this point, "I dind't think he'd ever accept my offer to help you both out. I'm glad that I was wrong."
"Hmm," was all Hermione seemed able to reply.
"So, I suppose that I'll see you tomorrow evening in the library." Cho said, sensing that the discussion had started to turn cold, "around six. Harry can drop you off with me and we can work for up to three hours, alright?"
"Oh, hold on a moment!" Harry suddenly intervened, "Maybe Ginny should know about this; she is the only way for you to get up to your dormitory, unfortunately." He took a moment to run down the table to Ginny's side and the two of them exchanged a few words. Hermione couldn't help staring at Cho during these few seconds that the two of them were alone (besides Ron, who had decided that it was better not to get involved) and she couldn't help thinking that the Ravenclaw girl looked so. . . positively chipper about being able to assist Harry that it was almost frightening, ". . .go. . . Did you hear me, Mione?" Her attention snapped back to Harry, who was sitting back in his seat again, "I said that everything's a go. Now we just have to make it through today and tomorrow's classes."
"Well, anyway, I'll see you both tomorrow night." Cho stated, giving Harry a lingering grin before walking back to the Ravenclaw table to finish her breakfast. It was something that Ron noticed and he nudged Harry humorously in the arm as Hermione turned back to her food and stared at the depths of the porridge in her bowl, as though hoping to drown herself in it.
"Looks like she isn't over you yet, mate. . . Maybe that's why she's offering to help you with Hermione. They never seemed to care much for each other before, did they?"
"Well, yea, but. . ." Harry looked back at Hermione, but she seemed to be focusing completely on her food and ignoring them the best that she could, ". . .But Hermione was perfectly civil and friendly last year, and the only reason Cho was so antsy while we were together was because she thought Hermione was some sort of romantic rival or something," Harry proceeded to absentmindedly stuff a bite of toast into his mouth.
"Really?" Something about Ron's demeanor seemed to mysteriously brighten and he said, "Hmm. . . how interesting." He too finally got the chance to continue eating.
"Is it? Actually, I always considered it slightly annoying. And, not to mention how funny this is, but her vendetta against Hermione is why we broke up to begin with. . . Er, both times." Harry sighed as Ron let out a chuckle, "First Cho thought I was meeting Mione at the Three Broomsticks for in Hogsmeade for a date because I had the interview for The Quibbler that day and then there was her hex on the D.A. Member List that Marietta got caught with."
"Sounds like Cho felt that she didn't have much of a chance against 'Mione; then again, not many do," Ron continued to laugh as the trio rose from their seats and walked out of the Great Hall, Harry cautiously leading a still silent Hermione behind them. She was still determinedly ignoring both boys in their conversation.
Harry joined in with Ron's humor, appreciating the redheads cool attitude after all that had happened the day before. . . There was no doubt in his personal agreement that there weren't many girls who could compete with Hermione in whatever she set out to do.
Monday had hardly ever been the best day of the week. First of all, it was the beginning of their classes so, naturally, it wasn't bound to be excitedly anticipated, but Monday usually held the worst combination of classes. Indeed, the only Professor they had to worry about was Snape, as Harry and Ron had gotten rid of Divination, and Care of Magical Creatures wasn't until the end of the week, but there was also Malfoy in Potions. . . And it would be their first time seeing him since he'd ended up blinding Hermione on Friday.
"Don't try anything. . ." Hermione murmured as the trio walked into the dungeon classroom. Malfoy, Pansy, and a few others were sitting in their seats already, smirking and muttering. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked past, their snide expressions brightened ominously, giving Harry a sense of foreboding.
"We might not be able to help it. I can guarantee that they're going to do something. . . I just know it. . ." Ron whispered scathingly, sitting beside the others and glaring up at the front of the class.
"Well, if they do, Snape will stop it." Hermione replied firmly, eyeing Ron's wand as he slowly pulled it from the pocket of his robes, "I won't let you get a detention because you were thick enough to take Malfoy's bait."
"Are you kidding, Mione? Snape's never stood up for a Gryffindor! And I doubt that he'll start now, seeing as it's Malfoy who'd be provoking it! Besides, it's a detention well-earned if I can make that dung-head crawl on the floor like a slug!" Ron's tone was slightly dreamy at the thought of this vengeance.
"As brilliant as that is, maybe Hermione has a point, Ron. Given, Snape hates us all--"
"--Ah, and let it be known just how mutual the feeling is--!"
"--but, well/ Madam Pomfrey said that she told the entire staff about Mione's condition. If anything, we have McGonagall and Dumbledore on our side. . ."
"--Yea, but it's Snape. . . !" Ron moaned, just in time for the Professor to enter the dungeon, snarling in his usual unanimated way as he strode to the front of the room. He didn't glance once at Harry and the others, and completely ignored Draco as he pulled a small container of something from his schoolbag. Upon reaching the front of the class, Snape turned and began speaking.
"Quiet," he started simply, "Well, it has come to my attention that some of us are not at our best as of late, while others have not been keeping up with the workload I've been assigning you the past few weeks. . ." His gaze finally slid over the trio sitting in the back of the room and the Slytherins took this chance to give a small chorus of laughter, "Therefore, the Headmaster has instructed that I give you a simpler list of things to do. Today you'll be following a series of instructions for a generic concoction known as a Determination Draught. Hopefully, you all are bright enough to read them through and carry them out correctly. I can only pity those who fail, as this is Fourth Year work." He turned and flicked his wand at the board, as always producing a proper line of perfectly similar measurements. Snape seemed to be finished with his daily lecture, but at the last moment, he turned back and said, "Oh, yes, and be careful of Miss Granger, who seems to be less than healthy." Truth be told, he definitely didn't sound all that worried about Hermione's condition, but Harry and Ron held back the strength of that angry feeling boiling in the pits of their stomachs and, conceding to her advice of not to do anything, took out their ingredients and got ready to work.
Harry had already pulled out his potions kit, removed the measured items and his cutting knife from within, and set his cauldron with water to begin boiling when he realized that something seemed to be missing. He just couldn't put his finger on it, however. . . until Hermione let out a tiny hiss. He felt like sneaking one of the Beaters' bats and knocking himself over the head with it for forgetting that he was supposed to help her get through class, and he turned to ask her if she needed him. . . but he faltered when he noticed why she'd suddenly made herself known that way.
She had pricked herself on one of her snake fangs, and Harry sighed, grateful that they were the non-poisonous kind. But a moment later, the frown returned as he noticed a rogue beetle-eye laying on the table in front of her, which was strange, since they weren't part of the ingredients needed for the Determination Draught.
He heard a laugh from up front of the classroom and turned to see Malfoy as he used his wand to propel five more beetle eyes at the group, one of them unluckily hitting Hermione upside the head. Snape, of course, refused to notice any of this.
As Hermione pulled the random ingredient from her hair and Harry and Ron pulled their wands from their cloaks and held them under the table, a knock resounded at the door leading into the corridor and Madam Pomfrey entered.
"I'm here to give Hermione Granger a quick check-up. It'll just take a moment." She stated briskly, and Snape waved her onward. Malfoy turned back to his work in temporary ceasefire as the nurse strode between him and his target and Harry and Ron glanced at each other, an idea forming in their minds.
"On the count of three. . ." Harry mouthed silently, ". . .One. . ."
"Ah, beautiful work, Miss Granger; I see you've been refraining from overworking them. . ."
". . .Two. . ." He continued, and Ron nodded affirmatively.
"A bit of mucus here; come to me later and I'll give you some medicine for that. . ."
". . .Three. . . !" The two boys chorused without a sound and they flicked their wands from under the table, muttered something, and caused about twenty beetles' eyes from the rather large pile on Malfoy's table to rise into the air and seiftly soar into Madam Pomfrey's direction, all of them hitting her square in the back.
"Other than that, I see that you're improv – what the--!" She jumped and rose to her feet, turning to see what had come at her and stepping on the items, slipping to her knees again. Snape turned, his nostrils flared, and he strode forward to help the woman to her feet.
"Who's indecent mind considered the assault of the school attendant a proper waste of time?" He stated in a tone of unbearable calm. Harry and Ron managed to keep straight faces as he turned to stare suspiciously at them, but Madam Pomfrey was up at the Slytherins table in an instant.
"Well, Severus, I'd say that this boy might have made a hobby out of it by now. . ." She bent to pick up a beetle eye before Malfoy could make the lot on his desk disappear and she stared closely at it for a moment, "So, this is your idea of fun, is it?" She asked coldly, turning to him.
"What? I. . . no; wait!" He tried to defend himself as Madam Pomfrey pulled him up by the ear and lead him towards the door she'd entered from only minutes before.
"Severus, may I suggest a couple of fresh detentions at the top of Mr. Malfoy's list? As for him, well, two assaults in a single week. . . The Headmaster shall find that very interesting. . ." And the woman dragged the boy from the room, slamming the door closed behind them.
Snape gave Harry one last suspicious glance before turning and walking back to the front of the room, ignoring Pansy, who'd taken the pile of beetles eyes and returned to flinging them at the trio in just as much of a horrendous vigor as the time when Malfoy had been attack by Buckbeak in Third Year.
"What. . . did. . . you. . . do!" Hermione muttered almost immediately afterward. She'd been paying attention to Madam Pomfrey's analysis of her recovery and so she'd missed the spectacle that her two friends had caused. When they looked away innocently and continued to work as though they hadn't heard her, she prodded them both annoyingly in the ribs, "I swear, if you get yourselves in trouble because of Malfoy, well, just – just don't come wailing to me when your detentions keep you from turning in your homework on time!"
"Hey. . . !" Ron moaned, "We were defending you! Give us just a bit of credit for that! Even you had to have been getting distracted by that display the git was putting on! You're telling us that, after all of that, you wouldn't have wanted to stick up for one of us if we'd been getting stung with potions ingredients while we were blinded?"
The boys grinned at each other as Hermione mulled over those thoughts, nodded, and muttered something that sounded like, "You're just lucky that that excuse made sense. . ."
And, though they'd been reprimanded by Hermione so ferociously for that small time-gap, and through the onslaught of beetles eyes that was now being flung at them by Pansy, Harry and Ron felt a great sense of pride at their handiwork. By the time all three of them were finished with their work and they'd proceeded to cap their flask-sampled, the two male Gryffindors were sure that it had been the best Potions lesson yet that year.
Of course, later on, Harry would being kicking himself for forgetting to ask Hermione if she needed his help, but she didn't bring it up in any of the other classes they shared that morning and, as they were currently working extra hard in their N.E.W.T. subjects, he didn't have much time to dwell on it.
"Oh, right; Harry, I know this might be a bit uncomfortably fitting to your schedule, but I have Arithmancy this afternoon during one of your free periods and I was wondering if you had enough time to help me up to the classroom." Hermione said in a rather brisk tone as the trio found their way to the Great Hall again for lunch.
Harry couldn't help but notice the way she was speaking and, finally, he realized that this was probably the third time she'd said anything directly to him since he introduced Cho as her new tutor that morning.
"Of course I can, Mione. Why wouldn't I be able to?" He replied in curiosity as the group sat in their usual order and Ron began busying himself with pouring some beef casserole onto his plate.
"Well, seeing as you had to ask other people to assist me with everything, I can only assume that it's because I'm getting to too much for you to handle." She too began to pull some potatoes towards her after this simple statement.
"Hang on! I told you that I was making it my responsibility to take care of you--"
"And yet Ginny helps me in the dormitory, Cho's going to be helping me with my studies, and I can finally manage to make my own plate of food. Really, Harry, what have you done to help me out lately?"
"--Well, I didn't think it'd be exactly okay to help you get undressed for bed," the two of them ignored Ron, who, upon hearing this part of the conversation, couldn't help spewing bits of beef and vegetables onto the table, "but if you're fine with it, I'll try and find some way up into the dormitory, alright? Maybe I'll fly my Firebolt through one of the windows or something. . . As for your studies, I thought you'd be pleased. After all, you weren't exactly making much progress with me. . ." Harry took a moment to massage his head at the thought of that first painful attempt of a study session, ". . .Cho's a Ravenclaw, and she'd already offered to help you on Saturday, so I thought--"
"You thought it'd be okay to just pass my on like that? Nevermind what I might think; it's not like I have feelings. . ." Hermione was now slightly hysterical as tears gathered in her eyes and began to fall, "And Cho, well, she was obviously the best choice, especially since she was just oh-so fond of me last year. . ."
"Well, I - I mean. . ." Harry sputtered, "So, wait. . . Are you just mad because it's her, then. . . ?" Why would that have been?
"I. . . I - of course not!" Hermione replied, but she was looking around desperately for something else to say, "But I don't know her very well, and she never seemed to like me much before and. . . I don't know. . ." By now, she seemed to be calming down quite a bit, ". . .It doesn't seem like she's just trying to win you back. . . ?"
Quirking an eyebrow and remembering Ron's comment from this morning, Harry replied, "What do you mean. . . ?"
"Oh, c'mon. . . Harry, you said that you two broke up over me last year--"
"--You were listening this morning? You heard that?" His eyes widened.
"Of course I did. . . I may have been determinedly ignoring you but it's not like I don't pay attention to what you say, especially if I hear my name. Anyway, you said that you broke up because she kept getting angry about how much I was involved with you, and while I'm flattered about your defending me, I can't help thinking that she might be trying to make up with you by showing that she's overgrown that obstacle, meaning me. . . And while I don't mind giving you advice to try and keep your relationships from going awry, I don't want to be caught in the middle of this thing you have going on with Cho."
"There's nothing going on, really, believe me! It'd have ended without your help. . ." Harry started, but he shook his head and continued on, "But I'll make sure that she knows that nothings going to happen tomorrow night when we got to the library. So, until then, can you just bear in mind that by doing this, I'm trying to help you out? I'm sorry it didn't seem that way to begin with, but, believe me, Mione, you're on my mind practically twenty-four hours a day." Catching how obsessive that comment sounded, he tried to revise it, "I - I mean. . . Other than when I'm sleeping. No! Er, just in the sense of my trying to help you get better! Not, you know, like, all of the time, or in that way. . . Just. . . You know what? Forget the last ten seconds of this conversation, okay. . . ?" He ended wearily.
"Forgotten," Hermione smiled at him in reply for the first time that day and Harry suddenly understood that his stomach had made that familiar flop as it had when he'd fawned over Cho previously.
Uncomfortably aware of what that could possibly mean, he gulped and ignored Ron's inquisitive glance, pulling some food towards him and hoping that he was just awkwardly hungry.
Ten minutes later, after managing to put something away during lunch, Harry and Hermione waved Ron off to the common room and took off to the fifth floor, where she was to have her final subject of the day. After making sure that Hermione was comfortably set in her chair and her books, quill, and parchment were out, she and Harry reminded Professor Vector of her condition and then Harry managed his way back out onto the landing and down a certain staircase that would meet with a passageway leading straight to the Gryffindor house.
The fifteen minute walk gave him time to think about that strangely familiar loopy feeling he'd inconveniently felt during lunch. Even though he'd had a good fill of food during the time afterward, he was still feeling the after-affects of that winded knotted-ness, even now. Something about that seemed very. . . well. . . bad, for lack of a better word. After all, him and Hermione? Together? How bizarre, not to mention what Ron's reaction would be if he were to find out. . . Then again, maybe he already knew. . .
Harry shook his head. There was no way Ron could know. If he, Harry, had taken this long to figure it out, then how could Ron have been able to guess so easily? Besides, he wasn't even sure that he did fancy Hermione. She'd been there for so long; why would something like this hit him so suddenly? It just didn't make any sense, even though their partnership had become a bit of a dependence for him, and her opinions about him and his actions meant a lot, and, well, he hadn't told anyone of course, but it was always Hermione's voice that held him back when he was thinking of doing something "reckless. . ."
But, no, it just didn't make any sense at all.
Looking up, Harry realized that he'd reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, who was staring down at him, awaiting the password. After he gave it to her, she swung open to admit him and he entered the common room, spotting Ron almost immediately and, with a note of guilt , walked over to join him next to the fire.
"Saved you a place," Ron grinned, pulling his bag from a soft and comfy armchair and nodding Harry to it. Harry sat with a crooked grin, that jumpy, boiling guilt he'd been feeling earlier intensifying.
And suddenly, he realized that it didn't really matter how he felt for Hermione because, not only did he doubt the thought of her reciprocating those feelings, but there was Ron, who was currently trying to get over her. There was no way he'd just let himself swoop down and do something so stupid as intrude upon that recovery. What right did he have?
"So, Ron, what're you up to?" Harry asked, noticing that the redhead was staring intently at a piece of parchment with unfamiliar handwriting scrawled all over it.
"You wouldn't believe it, mate. Luna Lovegood's just invited me to Hogsmeade on Saturday. . . !" Upon seeing Harry's confused glance, Ron scoffed, "You do remember, don't you? This weekend's the first Hogsmeade visit of the year. . . And Loony wants to spend it with me!" Evidently this was funny, because he broke out into a bout of laughter.
"Well," Harry could only curse himself as he said this, "why don't you accept her offer?"
Ron's jaw went slack in horror. It was like he expected Luna to ask him to be a ritual sacrifice for one of her strange hobbies if he did. Gulping, he asked, "But. . . why?"
Why? Well, frankly, I think I've fallen for Hermione, you know, that girl that you're trying to forget about ever fancying, and so I was just hoping to have some time with her alone on Saturday, which is hard to do when your best friend is tagging along. . . But wait, Harry wanted to remain friends with Ron, didn't he?
"Well, why not?" He countered instead and, realizing that Ron had opened his mouth to say something, he continued, "Luna's a nice girl, Ron, no matter what type of vegetable she wears on her ears or how many non-existent creatures she plans to spend her life and family savings trying to catch. What's so wrong about her? Think about it, she and Mione have a bit in common; both of them tend to drive you a bit batty, don't they?"
Scoffing again, Ron turned up his nose a bit, ". . .Maybe. . ." He admitted, "But that doesn't mean that I'd want to spend all of my life learning to tolerate them. Anyway, Luna might be a bit easier to stand, seeing as she's funnier. . ."
And now, that urge to curse himself into oblivion returning, Harry dealt the final blow, "All the more reason to get to know her better!"
"Well. . . I mean, I guess I could, you know, give her a shot. . ." Ron gave in, turning over the parchment Luna's note was on and scribbling something along the lines of a 'Yes; thank you' down with his quill, "She used a school owl to deliver it and so I've gotta go up to the owlery to find Pig. You have to go get Hermione from Arithmancy soon, right? Why not tell her when you do that I'm not going to be able to join you two this weekend, alright?"
"Er, sure. . . I can do that, I guess. . ." Harry said as Ron shoved a couple of second years out of his way in his haste to get out of the common room.
"Well, wasn't he just a bit excited about something?" Ginny said as she pulled a bashful Neville over by the hand and claimed the seat that her brother had abandoned.
"Yea. . ." Harry murmured, although he had no idea as to why, "So," he started, shaking himself out of his reverie, "how're you two doing?"
"Pretty well, thanks, considering we've only been together for about twenty-four hours." She allowed him a smile, "How about you and Hermione?"
Obviously taking this the wrong way, he sputtered, "I – what do you mean? We're not – not in that way, at least. . ." He said, feeling very hot all of a sudden.
Ginny laughed, "No; I mean, this was her first day in lessons since Malfoy blinded her, right? How's she doing?"
"Oh. . . well, I don't really know."
"Hmm. . ." Ginny's smile faded almost instantly, making her resemblance to her mother almost uncanny, "Shouldn't you be making it your point to know? You're supposed to be helping her recovery, after all. Didn't you say that if she tries too hard to do things and strains her eyes, it could leave permanent damage?"
Oh. . . yea. . . But she started getting her vision back today and she didn't really ask for my help in class. . ." Harry attempted to defend himself, remembering how, while Hermione hadn't asked for his assistance at the time, she'd still been very sore with him about Cho.
"Well, if you were really taking her in as your responsibility, then you shouldn't wait for her to ask, should you?"
"I. . . No, I guess not. . ." Not wanting to argue for much longer, Harry checked his watch and quickly rose from his seat, "Well, would you look at the time? I've gotta go pick up Mione from class; I'll see you two later!" And he made his exit through the portrait hole and down the corridor before either Ginny or Neville had a chance to reply, slowing down next to the familiar hidden passage that would take him straight to the floor below the classroom.
Given, he still had about ten minutes before he had to be outside the Arithmancy corridor and so he leisurely made his way upstairs, heading in the direction of the Arithmancy class doorway and standing there until the door opened for the class to be dismissed. Hermione exited last, groping at the walls and stumbling slowly into the hallway.
Harry sighed and calmly grasped at her hand and she gave a small squeal.
"It's okay, Mione; it's me."
"Oh. . . Oh, Harry, don't do that! Why are you here anyway?" Hermione asked, continuing down the hall with him just managing to keep a hold on her.
"Wasn't I supposed to come get you?" He asked, confused.
"I never asked you to. I only wanted you to drop me off. I need to go to the Hospital Wing in any case," she said, turning a corner.
"Oh, well, that's fine; but you have a problem. You're going the wrong way." He told her, pointing over his shoulder and letting a small grin grace his features, but then it vanished as she turned, nearly ran into him, and continued the opposite of the way she'd started, "Why do you need to go to the Hospital Wing? Is something wrong?"
"No, not really. I just have some mucus, I suppose from all of the crying, and Madam Pomfrey has something that can help. She said so in Potions. . . Which you'd have heard, if you hadn't been taking revenge on Malfoy. . ." Hermione ended in a grunt, squinting as she saw the staircase that would lead her down to the Hospital Wing and made her way towards it, Harry following closely behind her.
"Are you still angry with me?" He asked suddenly, making her stop just short of the first drop.
"Don't be silly, Harry, why would you think I was still mad?"
"Because you're being thick, not asking me to help you," he told her, ignoring the glare he got two seconds later.
"I'm not asking for your help because I'm not totally blind anymore! I can help myself, alright? At least let me try before you label me incapacitated; it's just right down there. . ." She finished, taking her first shaky step.
Harry leapt forward and grabbed her hand again, wearily holding her back from anymore individual movement, "Hermione, you have barely twenty-five percent of your vision back; you're not ready to handle staircases just yet, so stop acting like you are and just let me help you. . . !"
She shook herself from his grip, "Look; I don't mind you following me around and keeping an eye on me, but you can't keep me from working alone, without your hand on my shoulder. I'm seventeen and perfectly capable of understanding my limitations. Just give me a chance to see what those are!" And she took a second, third, and fourth set of successful steps away from him.
"I'm only treating you like this because I care. . . I just wish you'd see that. . ." He murmured, slowly following after her.
She turned and glanced up at him, her expression faintly readable. Her eyes, normally such a rich almost brown, were painted misty silver, the physical affliction of her blindness.
"I do see that, and I'm trusting you with me, otherwise I'd take the little bit of sight I have back and use it to target you and hex you across the hall. I can't help wanting to try living on my own, however. You're free to follow me and supervise my mobility."
"Fine," Harry sighed and started down the stairs watching her like a hawk, and it was a good thing he did, too, because next moment, her foot had caught on the hem of her robes and she fell forwards, heading for the stone of the staircase, "Hermione!" he shouted, holding out his arms and catching her around the waist.
He twisted back in hopes of catching the railing like he had on the marble staircase the other day, but he couldn't reach it, and so he and Hermione, tangled in the strap of her schoolbag and with his arms tightly around her middle, went tumbling down the stairs, ending in a heap with Hermione on top, her face buried in the crook of his neck.
"Oh. . ." She moaned, slowly raising herself up a bit and feeling her head, and then she noticed Harry beneath her, "Ah, I'm so sorry, Harry! Are you okay?" She leaned in to inspect him as closely as possible since he had yet to make any indication that he was even conscious and she couldn't tell from a distance with her partial vision, "Harry. . . ?"
Harry was indeed awake, and staring wide-eyed at his reflection in Hermione's dulled eyes; she was so close that it made it hard for him to breathe, and so close that their noses were a mere inch apart, her lips. . . Just so far away, too far away. . . And his arms were still so tightly around her. He couldn't seem to loosen his hold and neither of them noticed, Hermione too worked up in whether she'd accidentally killed him and Harry too worked up in her, in every sense of the word.
And then Harry gulped down the stone that had been lodged in his throat and found his voice, "Hey. . . Well, Mione, we've gotta stop meeting like this. . ."
"Oh, goodness, I'm just so glad you're okay!" She looked like she sorely wanted to hug him, but as she still wasn't sure if the fall had hurt him, she chose to just neatly tear herself away from him and wait for him to get up, dust himself off, and readjust her glasses, "You are, aren't you?"
"Me? Are you mad? I'm the boy who lived. If I can escape Lord Voldemort five times and live to talk about it then a fall down a rough stone staircase is no problem." He joked feebly, his throat still dry from what had happened before and his mind partially numb, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, but I guess that's mostly thanks to you." She said.
Harry gave a small laugh and the two stood there in silence, not really aware of the empty reality around them. Then, as if nothing had happened, Hermione took him by the hand and pulled him down the corridor leading to the infirmary. She walked right inside and up to Madam Pomfrey's office door, knocking casually.
"Right, I'm coming! And just when I was about to sit down to lunch. . ." The nurse grumbled, still miffed about the beetle-attack from Potions this morning. She opened her door and spotted Harry and Hermione standing there, "Ah, so it's you. . . Well, just a moment." She turned back into her personal room and rummaged around on a shelf of small bottles, picking a certain one filled with green fluid and returning back to the door, "Take a seat on that bed over there." She nodded, following the two out.
"So, what exactly is it supposed to do?" Harry asked, watching Madam Pomfrey as she held Hermione's head back and applied three drops of liquid to each of her eyes.
"Well, the combination of the antidote for the Sensual Hex and the body's sodium from tears or eye allergies often causes a build-up of mucus in the tear duct and the iris. Since there seems to be a rather large amount in your eyes, Miss Granger, I'm ordering that you report here every night for medicinal assistance. Not only can too much build-up affect your recovery, but it's highly irritating. . . You stay there, now. We'll need to give the drops ten minutes to set and then I want you to softly dab at your eyes with this," she finished, handing Hermione an ordinary handkerchief, "I'll be back in a few moments. And you keep watch, alright?" Harry nodded and Madam Pomfrey went back to her office, closing the door behind her.
Now it was just the two of them again, and Harry was having difficulty looking at Hermione. Searching for something to say, he looked outside the window and caught the glow of the shop and house lights from Hogsmeade village.
"Oh, that's right!" Hermione looked at him quizzically, her eyes blurred from the eye-drops, and Harry continued, "Ron got invited to Hogsmeade by Luna this weekend, so it's going to just be the two of us. He wanted to make sure you knew that."
". . .Did he?" If she had found any part of Harry's knowledge about Ron and Luna together in Hogsmeade interesting, she didn't show it. Actually, she seemed slightly put out, upset. . . And this was something that didn't please Harry in the lease, "Well, I hope that they have a nice time together. . . I think that I might just stay behind this weekend and try to do something educationally involved with myself, though. . ."
What. How he was feeling more than slightly off; he was downright miserable, and it wasn't necessarily about Hermione wanting to stay at the school when Hogsmeade held so many possible ways to cheer her up, either.
No, that misery he'd felt at her turning down a day with him at the village, coupled with that anxious excitement back in the corridor when they'd fallen on top of one another only allowed that bubbly, guilty feeling to arise in him even stronger than before, because Hermione's not wanting to spend the day with him, her uneasy attitude towards Ron and Luna going to Hogsmeade together. . . It only proved once and for all what he'd been dreading all day long. . .
. . .He truly did fancy Hermione, and it seemed that she didn't feel the same way.
Notes – Yes, I finally finished chapter six, and it only took me about a month longer than necessary! Hooray for me! Anyway, lesse, oh. . . Um, sorry to those who expected me to add in bits and pieces from HBP to fit the profile of this fic, but I won't be because, well, I'm just no that creative. Hopefully the woohoo(!) Harmony bits I have planned for later on will make up for that.
I guess that's all, then. . . Hmm, lesse. . . Yea, that should be it. Hopefully the Writer's Block I had for the duration of this chapter is gone, and, if so, I hope to have the next one up by mid-September. It'll be my birthday present to myself. Lol.