Here is the next chapter. Here, things seem to be looking up, and getting better.

Well, I hope you enjoy!


Chapter Four: One Step Further

Ron stepped out of the door, as it slammed behind him in an unwelcoming fashion, all on its own.

He looked at the floor, his eyes suddenly beginning to study the grain of the oak wood, though his thoughts did not lie with it.

'She doesn't want me… I – why can't she – why can't she love me…?' Ron thought, sorrow weighing down his heart, his usually playful blue eyes cloudy.

"Hey Ron…" George offered, placing a hand on his shoulder.

The twins were always humorous, even during the most horrid of situations. But this was extreme – the world's key to getting rid of the darkest wizard alive was in a coma, and had a high chance of death. Obviously, the rich redheads realized the gravity of the situation this once.

Ron looked up at his brother, with pleading eyes, not so sure of what he was pleading for.

'Why can't somebody just love me for once?' he thought, knowing he was being selfish.

"You should go get something to eat… I know Harry wouldn't want you to starve yourself," George finished, giving him a small slap on the back.

Neither knew he had just been at Diagon Alley, eating with Hermione, but Ron did not inform them of that.

"Yeah… I think I'll go… tell mum for me, will you?" he asked, unsure of where he was going.

"Yeah, sure," his brother offered helpfully, nodding.

Ginny just stood there, his hands balled into fists at her sides, her eyes glassy, holding back unshed tears.

'I know where you all… where all of your thoughts lie,' Ron thought, angrily. 'With Harry! Always Harry! My own girlfriend… I've lost her to Harry! It's not supposed to be this way!' he thought, selfishly, his knuckles turning white.

"Thanks," he said, his head facing the ground, as he braced himself for a moment of no air, not sure of where he was going.

The redhead finally arrived in the street packed with people, the sound completely tuned out of his head, as he looked at the stony, pebble implanted, ground.

He had begun to realize his selfishness, thinking over, knowing what a disaster it would be, and how the world would be without Harry, the world's savior, and most importantly his best friend.

He looked up, to see where his wandering thoughts had taken him.

While disapparating, his mind had been set on one thing.

'Take me anywhere… take me to where I can find someone… that someone I need…' and with a soft pop, he had ended up in the noisy streets of Diagon Alley.

"Rogue Merlin's," Ron mumbled to himself, blinking.

'I was just here with Hermione earlier on! Couldn't I have gone to somewhere with more girls?' he thought irritably, his brow furrowing. 'Well, I must have a damn good reason for dragging me here!'

He brought himself to the door, and pushed it open with one strong and forceful push of his hand.

The door hit the wall, once he stepped inside, rattling violently, the glass cracking a little.

He'd caught the attention of everyone in the restaurant, all the music and talk halting.

'At least some people are paying attention to me,' he thought, though out of annoyance.

All faces were towards him, except for one of which was staring outside, through the window, their chin in their hand.

"My bad. Sorry 'bout that," he continued, casting a Reparo on the cracked glass.

The life in the place resumed, the clatter of beer mugs and serving continuing on.

The girl that had not paid notice to him turned a little, taking a sip from her drink. She also had a bottle cap necklace on…

Ron strode over to the booth, standing before the table, seeing if Luna would pay heed to his presence.

"I'll have another round of Rogue Butterbeer please," the soft and far away voice calmly said, without a look up.

When Ron did not answer, she then did look at him.

"Another Butterbeer please– oh, Ronald," she said rather dully, staring at the empty glass before her. She then looked back at him, staring into his glazed over eyes for a long time.

"Please. Have a seat," she said, a little livelier than before.

The blonde's warm eyes seemed to comfort him, as he stared into them longer.

"Now tell me, Ronald, what is the problem," she finished, as if she were a professional psychologist, examining him in any and every way, her eyes searching his face.

"I – there is no problem."

He looked shifty and uneasy, trying to escape her eyes, but there was a magnetic force pulling his eyes to her's.

"Yes there is."

"No – no, no, there is not," he replied, shaking his head like a toddler.

"If you don't tell me I'm going to have to tell you," she simply stated.

"I won't – what?"

He looked at her confusedly.

She sighed, as if about to explain many things to a little child – which was not far from what she was actually doing.

"Well, you've got a problem going on with Hermione," she said that a little happier than she meant to, "and, Harry's out cold, and stealing her from you in some form or way – while he's out cold of course. That Harry Potter can do anything, can't he? Anyways, care to open up further?" she finished casually as Ron gaped at her.

He looked reluctant before who spoke, but forced his jaw back up.

"How'd you- "

"Long story, dearest Ronald," she had that telltale glint in her eyes of which the Weasley did not catch (of course), "But I believe you should be the first to explain."

He looked down in defeat.

Giving in to the mystical powers of Luna Lovegood, he began.

"Well, you – you saw Hermione and I today, right? Well…"

His face was cold.

Just looking at it, she could tell, without having to make any sort of contact with him.

"How long will Harry be –"

"Miss Granger, I thought we went over this already. I'm sorry… I haven't a clue of what the antidote could be, but right now, the best thing to do is prevent the bleeding," the young Healer said patiently.

Hermione gripped the arms of her chair until her knuckles turned white, but stayed silent.

"I know this is hard for you, being his girlfriend and all-"

Hermione flushed a little, the only color that'd come to her cheeks in hours.

"Oh, we're not-"

"-But," he interrupted, "We're just going to have to rely on time, and on the technology of the wizarding world. You're just going to have to be strong for him right now," he finished with a sincere smile.

Hermione took this badly.

The color had gone from her cheeks again, and she was frowning, gripping the chair again.

"I – time? We haven't any more time! Who knows what will happen while he's like this? Voldemort," the healer winced, "could very well do as he pleases without the one person that's been putting a stopper on his – his evil! We don't even know if he'll ever wake up again! You cannot rely on time, Mr. Kingsford, and you need to find a cure now!" she exclaimed, emotion bursting out of every syllable in the sentence.

Kingsford looked at her, comprehending what she said slowly.

A short silence met the room, steam almost coming out of Hermione's ears.

"You need to calm down, and relax," he said, once again, with the patience of a Kindergartener's teacher.

Hermione shook her head of bushy hair in frustration.

"I can't-!"

"You can," the healer said, his voice deep and loud, yet the fullest of patience still resting within it.

Hermione sat in her seat, looking at the doctor with eyes of confusion. She opened her mouth to say something, but he beat her to it.

"I'm going to go and floo back to St. Mungos for a few potions, and see if they have anything on the Sectum Kedevero. You just stay there right now, and if anything happens again, you know what to do. You're training for healing, aren't you?"

She nodded, remembering that was the excuse that she'd used to allow her to stay with Harry.

Kingsford smiled warmly at her, nodding.

"I'll be back in a bit."

He walked out of the room, quietly closing it behind him.

After the door closed, only the sound of Hermione's heavy breathing was present.

She'd gotten used to the fact of Harry's disfigured torso, no longer about to faint at the sight of it. She stared for a while, when she heard him.

Harry groaned a little, wriggling around in the bed, his eyelids squeezed together tight. He gripped the bed sheets with his hands, his upper body beginning to move on its own accord.

Hermione was a little scared.

'What's going on now…?'

"Harry…" she let his name escape her lips, softly.

His eyelids relaxed a little, his grip on the sheet still tight.

Hermione reached out a hand to touch his cold and strained face.

Deciding to soothe him, she began to murmur sweet words.

"I… Harry, come back to us… we've still… we're all waiting for you… I'm waiting for you…"

It was then she realized the tears that'd slowly begin to roll down her face, as she blinked the coming ones away. Seeing Harry like this never brought satisfaction to her.

"I've failed you again… I've failed you haven't I? I should've… I should've been with you… I should've known Voldemort would make a move like that… and you… you shouldn't have… I should've been…" she was completely lost for words, as she stroked his cheek.

"Thank you… for saving my parents… you've got such a saving people thing," she laughed a little, sniffling along with it.

"You still have so many things to do, Harry… so don't you think of leaving-!" she was chocked back b a hiccup. "You've got a dark wizard to defeat and so many things to do after…" she said.

"Just – I – I'm still waiting for you Harry… I'll be here – we'll all be here when you wake up.

"You've got a whole family who loves you waiting for you Harry… Don't forget how much Ron, and Lupin, and I –", her cheeks went pink for a while. "-I love you…" her voice cracked a little at the last sentence.

"So please… come back… we're – I'm not going anywhere."

Her hand hadn't left his face.

His whole face looked calmer, and his hands had released their grip from the bed sheets.

Harry's hand began to move, up to her's, sliding along the sheet, making a rustling noise.

It reached up and gripped her wrist forcefully, stunning Hermione.

'I trust you… you won't hurt me… I trust you…'

The grip loosened, and slipped to the back of her hand, his cold and hard hand gliding over her's.

In one quick motion, his hand slumped down to the bed, and he was completely unmoving, though the slow rise and fall of his chest assured some kind of life, even if very little.

She ran a hand through Harry's long shaggy hair, which was now damp and hot.

'What are you seeing now…?'

She sat back down; placing her hand on Harry's stroking the back of his hand with her thumb.

Absent mindedly, she thought of ways to feel guilty about why Harry had taken the fall.

'Why couldn't I have been there with you…?'

"Its – he's in a really horrible condition really… I don't even know what I'm doing here… I should be there, with him and Hermione, you know?" Ron said, on his eighth tall glass of Rogue Butterbeer.

"Yes, I see. I believe you're feeling guilt of being jealous of him, because of Hermione. But, the thing is, Harry's really only ever needed love. I think it would be wise to give him that. You know, the chance to love, and be loved by a significant other," Luna finished, now digging into a chicken potpie, a cold glass of Fizzley Pop next to her.

"Yeah but, I had her first! And, he's already got fame and glory and y'know everything any other guy would – hey, another Rogue Butterbeer please – Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, anything any other guy would want – he's got it," Ron finished, his words slurred.

"Yes, but Harry isn't just "any other guy". He's – well, he's Harry Potter! And what he needs now is the kind of love that wants to be given to him. It'd be wise to let Hermione go, Ronald, and let him have what he wants – for once."

Ron looked at the thighs of his jeans, sighing. Another bottle of Rogue Butterbeer appeared at his side, and he began to down it.

"Yeah, yeah, I guess you're right. Harry hasn't had the experience of love of a significant other… yeah, yeah," Ron said nodding, waving his hand in the air dismissively. "What – wait – Rogue Butterbeer is alcoholic?"

He lifted the bottle, rolling the glass under his thumb, blinking several times.

"Rogue Butterbeer, warlock brewed since 1003. 95.5 percent alcoholic. Oh," he finished, nodding, blinking his blue eyes several times again.

"Yes, it has quite an amount of alcohol. You seem – what do those Americans say? Oh, yes, wasted. You should go home. They're probably all waiting for you," Luna finished, standing after she slid out of the booth.

"Yeah, right. Still waiting for Harry probably. Hey, wait, what happened to that blonde cousin of yours over here? That was over here, I mean. The one that was waiting for you," he finally finished, tapping the table lazily.

"Oh yes, she met some boy in the few minutes she was waiting for me, and left," she said, in a bored tone. "Well, that happens usually. But, it was nice having someone to talk to, for once."

She smiled at Ron prettily, and he gave the most handsome, and charming smile he could muster up while he was drunk – which was really not all that great.

"Yeah, well, you know, thanks for listening to me. We should do this another time! Does tomorrow-", he burped, "-does tomorrow sound cool?"

Luna smiled at him as he stood up.

Ron almost fell back into the booth, when Luna grabbed his hand.

"Tomorrow sounds lovely," she said, before planting a light kiss on his cheek.

"Oh, and say hi to Harry for me?" she requested casually.

"Uh, yeah, yeah sure. Mmhmm," he nodded quickly again, smiling at Luna dreamily, like a dumb donkey.

'I shouldn't be so happy! Harry's out cold and… oh well, I'm giving him Hermione, aren't I?' he thought reluctantly, forgetting he had even had feelings for the girl.

"See you tomorrow then," she said.

He winked at her before he apparated back to Grimmauld place.

She swore she heard a hushed, yet satisfied whisper of, "wicked!", just before he left.

"I'm not quite sure… he's just lost so much blood. That alone could be the cause," the old healer nodded, running his fingers up and down his pointed beard.

"It couldn't've been the cause, sir, because a Sectum Kedevero was placed on him. I'm not quite sure, but it does sound similar to the Avada Kedavra," Hermione said, nodding to herself, the doctor smacking himself upside the head nodding.

"Right, right! That's what young Kingsford here paged all of St. Mungos about - If anyone new of the spell that was performed that young Mr. Potter here endured. He didn't tell me it was on the 'Chosen One' though. Right, I know of that curse," the old healer, known as Healer Edward Wingsley said.

He took his bowler hat off, exposing what hair he had left on his head, which was little, since they were on the edges, exposing a bald top. He had light, fatherly, friendly, and wise eyes, and a long pointed beard, gaining little resemblance to the late headmaster of Hogwarts.

His light green eyes darkened a little.

"Yes… the Sectum Kedevero… very powerful. I've seen it done a few times, during these past twenty years. I believe it's a combination of the Avada Kedavra, as you said, but also another curse, of which I'm not sure of," he said, absentmindedly twirling the bowler hat.

"Sectum…" whispered Hermione. "Sectum… sempra. Sectumsempra!" she exclaimed, nodding, in revelation. The year she'd nagged Harry of that darned 'Prince Book', she'd learned of the deadly curse.

"Go on, dear," the old doctor said, urging her to explain.

"It's a curse that very badly wounds a person, takes large slashes at the body which that would make them bleed quite an amount… almost to death…" Hermione spoke.

"Oh, well, there is a cure for that bit of the curse, other than the Episkey. But the other half… I know of what the other half does…" Wingsley said cautiously.

Hermione's breath caught in her throat, her heart pumping fast, her eyes glazing over.

"Yes… it puts one in a deep sleep, with many a dream… not only that… but within those dreams, one's worst fears are realized… even death in the dream could impact their physicality. I've seen it done… few survive. Those faint of heart do not stand through the dreams, but there are few who have strong character, and the will to fight back," the old man finished, nodding to himself.

Kingsford rolled a cart of potions next to Harry's bed just then, and then quieted.

"Harry's strong… he will make it. He will," Hermione reassured herself, nodding, gripping Harry's hand tightly.

"Yes… but sometimes… the will to fight isn't enough. Sometimes, the strength of two is needed," he said, that mysterious twinkle that Dumbledore had appearing in this man's eyes. It was probably a usual thing for old men to have.

Hermione opened her mouth to talk, but was interrupted, the second time that day.

"We won't work on anything until these scars stop bursting open. Then we can focus on the mental problem. Healer Kingsford, please connect the IV," he said, looking at the healer, nodding.

The younger doctor connected at least four tubes to Harry's arms, swiftly, but accurately. They were connected to four vials, containing two dark red solutions, and two dark green ones.

"Those potions should stop the bleeding permanently. When that effect is over with, we'll begin to work more on him. Of course, only if that is okay with you, Miss Granger," the old man said kindly, a teasing, but sincere twinkle in his eyes.

"Yes. Of course. Anything for Harry," she said, swiftly.

The old healer smiled, finally allowing other family members to come in.

Ron arrived at the foot of the stairs, staring up at it.

'Do I really want to go up now that I'm drunk? I mean, I just let Hermione go, and everyone will see me, and…' he thought, placing a hand under his chin thoughtfully. 'Yeah, whatever,' he finished, shrugging.

He hopped up the stairs, meeting his family, which looked more colored, and less pale than before.

The Grangers were walking in along with the family, Jonathan with his arm draped around his wife's shoulder.

They were walking into the bedroom that Harry was in, so Ron followed behind the sea of red hair.

"His physical wounds should be fine and healed in a matter of minutes, and for that one gash," he pointed at the long diagonal one that ran from his shoulder to his hip, "a few hours, or days. It's what's going on in his head that my take a well to fix," he heard the plump, old doctor said.

"What can we do? To fix it?" asked Mr. Granger, looking determined, his clothes consisting of dried blood stains.

"That is where we must do some research I'm afraid. Harry's full recovery is possible, but will take a while. It's either he wakes himself up, or we must do something about it," he finished, Kingsford handing him the clipboard he'd been jotting notes down on.

Wingsley's eyes rolled back and forth across the clipboard, nodding all the while.

Everyone's attention was towards him, as he thumbed through the other papers on the thin piece of wood.

"Okay, I'd give Mr. Potter a few days to wake up. According to these conditions, I'd give about four to six days. If he doesn't wake up then, then we'll have to go and delve deeper into the situation."

Everyone nodded but Hermione, her eyes fixed on Harry's motionless face, her hand gripping his, her fingers pressed securely against the back of his palm.

Ron only looked at this, wondering why his heart hadn't hit the floor.

It'd always been pulled at when Hermione spoke of Harry in some way that made him feel jealous, and useless.

Now, he felt near to nothing, but confusion.

"… So, not to worry, I'm sure we'll have Mr. Potter up and going within a few days."

'How do you know for sure…?' Hermione pondered, though the healer's reassurance was all the others needed to sigh in relief.

Hermione remained glued to her chair, as the others walked out, Ginny out last, after stealing a last glance at Harry, then nodding at Hermione. She shut the door behind her, softly.

A silence greeted the room, only the scribble of pen on parchment heard.

"Mr. Wingsley… I – Harry reacted to me – when – when I was talking to him a while ago…"

The old man looked up, his eyes urging her to continue.

"I was touching his face - with my hand," the healers' eyes flew to their still entwined hands, Hermione's face turning a shade of pink, "and then, his hand, it gripped my wrist. Then it just – fell again, and he went back to how he is now," she finally finished, leaving the softer part out.

Wingsley smiled.

"Yes, this is a good sign, I believe. It's either he's responding to you, or he's thinking about you, or someone else, in his dreams. We know, at least, he can still move. Some effects of that spell are permanent immobility after the first hour," he said, thinking of another reason that Harry could've possibly responded in his head.

Hermione had hoped that of all reasons, that it was the first.

After a short while, silence had continued on, the healers working, Hermione just staying immobile in her chair, her brown eyes just searching Harry's face, again.

"Miss Granger, I reckon you should grab a bite to eat. You've been here for a while," Kingsford said, the older Healer taking down more notes as he watched Harry's body.

She shook her head with a small smile.

"No, I'm fine. I want to be with him – through – through the whole thing," she said, subconsciously thinking, 'and the rest of my life'.

The young, handsome healer smiled a little.

"I'm sure Harry's not going anywhere. You should relax and take a breather, if only for a small while," he suggested, walking over to the cart that contained the potions for Harry's wounds.

"No, no, it's okay. I want to be here when he wakes up – I promised him I'd be here – when he woke up – when I was talking to him," she finished, looking at Harry's face again.

It looked so peaceful, as if nothing evil could ever be going on inside of his head, and in his dreams.

Another warm smile came to Kingsford's face.

"He's in a coma. How are you sure he heard you?" he asked not unkindly, pouring the last contents of a bottle filled with an identical potion that was in the vials, into the now half empty vials.

It didn't take one second for Hermione to answer the question.

"I just know he did – and does. He hears me all the time – even when no one else hears me…" she trailed off, a distance in her eyes.

Wingsley looked up and let out a kindhearted chuckle, while Kingsford's smile widened.

The old man shook his head.

"Ah, yes… young love…"

Hermione's head jerked up, her cheeks gaining a nice shade of pink, though she didn't rebuttal – though she should've because she and Ron were still technically going out.

She was deep in thought, when Wingsley spoke again.

"Ah, marvelous! The potion is working!" he said happily, watching Harry's torso.

Hermione looked at Harry's well toned body, restoring to its smoothness, the scars slowly receding and changing back into skin.

The large gash across his body began to move back into his skin, though slower than all the others.

Within a few minutes, just the mark of the large scar was there, still working to disappear.

"Wonderful. Now, we can work on the second half of the curse. Miss Granger, in order to rise Mr. Potter earlier than the set due date, I believe it is research time," the old healer said, challengingly.

Hermione nodded back, determined, giving a squeeze to Harry's hand.

She could've sworn she'd felt him squeeze her hand back as well.

To Be Continued…

I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and please, please, please leave a review on your way out. It would be greatly appreciated.