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"Hospital wing, hospital wing, hospital wing." That thought pounded through her head and kept her pace as she rushed through the halls of Hogwarts. She hadn't thought of anything else since she had heard about Ron, she didn't care about anything or anyone else. All she wanted to was get to him and all other coherent thought had left her. It had seemed ages ago, though in reality only a few minutes that she and Ginny had been ensconced in a corner of the library. They had been talking and she had been trying to convince Ginny to give Ron the birthday present she had so carefully selected over the summer when Collin Creevey, a fellow prefect, told them that Ron was in the hospital wing and McGonagall suggested that Ginny get there as soon as possible. All rational thought had seemed to abandon her at that moment and she didn't care what was left behind.
Hermione tore down the stairs trying to find the fastest way to Ron. The walls of the castle that had been her home the past years now seemed to close on her as staircases blocked the easiest routes and students trying to get to Hogsmede. As she tried to politely move her way though the masses of students a new thought hit her- What if Ron died. That thought spurred her to action as she no longer cared about being polite. Dashing down the halls of Hogwarts she didn't care who got in her way, though she did spare a moment to imagine knocking into Lavender. The small pleasure that thought brought her was dulled by the thought of Ron dying. "He can't be dying; he just CAN'T not now, not when we haven't spoken civilly in months. I have to get to the hospital wing. I can't even remember the last thing that I said to him. I can't loose him, not now." Her pace increased and she felt something knock into her.
Hermione pushed what ever it was that seemed to stand in between her and Ron and once the obstacle was removed she carried on. From behind her she heard Ginny's voice, "Sorry." Came a quick breathless apology. Hermione wondered who Ginny was apologizing to and how Ginny had caught up with her. But it really didn't matter. All that mattered was that blasted hospital wing. She had to be almost there, her side was starting to hurt and she was pushing herself to keep up the pace. Ginny was now along side her reaching for her hand as if she would pull Hermione the rest of the way to the hospital wing. Hermione swatted her hand away as she recognized the form not 200 yards ahead of her. With one last push of speed that she didn't even know she had. Hermione overtook Ginny and threw herself at Harry.
Harry turned just in time to catch her as she slid to a halt, grasping at him. "Where is he? What's wrong? What's happened? He isn't going to die is he?" she started spitting the questions at Harry as he tried to steady himself and her so they wouldn't fall. He took in her face and the look that he gave her made Hermione feel like a mad woman. She could feel her hair coming out of its bun and she tried to move it back behind her ear. She was breathing heavily and clutched at the stitch in her side. Hermione was sure the blood had drained from her face and now that she was here she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. She knew she looked a mess but she didn't care anymore. Choking back tears she asked, "Please say he's ok, please tell me I'm not late."
Harry looked to make sure Ginny was there and then he started. Hermione tried to listen. Her mind put at some ease that if Ron was dead or was going to die he would have told them first right? Her mind seemed to be going over a hundred miles an hour and she was trying to process what Harry was telling her and at the same time trying to reign in her feelings. She heard the words Slughorn, poison, bezoar, and then the ones she hadn't known she had been waiting for, "But Madame Pomfrey says he'll be fine."
Hermione let out the breath she had been holding but wouldn't let herself sink into a state of complete relief quite yet. She had to get into that room and see him for herself. She still stood in front of the door where she had slid to a stop in front of Harry almost willing it to open. She knew that words really couldn't assure her for too long. She had to see him. She had to know for herself. The sound of footsteps behind her was the only thing that made her turn away from the door. What if Lavender had heard and was now making her way to the door where Hermione kept her vigil? Bracing herself she turned to see who the footsteps belonged to and was relieved when she saw Professor Snape striding towards them.
"Potter, is this the bottle Professor Slughorn poured your drinks from?" Snape asked while scowling down at them.
"Yes." Was Harry's only response.
"Yes, Sir, Potter. Miss Granger move aside you are not allowed in there."
Hermione reluctantly moved away from the door she had started staring at again. She walked across the hall and leaned against the wall slowly sliding down it to sit on the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest and started when she felt Harry touch her arm gently. She shuddered and pulled away from him not wanting any physical comfort. Harry didn't understand though he reached for her again and was stopped when she turned and gave him a look that clearly said "touch me again and you'll see exactly how scary I am with a wand."
Harry drew back and seemed content to start up a conversation with Ginny, leaving Hermione to what others thought she did best-thinking.