Lost For Words
We knew the way off by heart now but the nurse still led us anyway. I think she's got a thing for Ron, or maybe its just pity I don't know, and the wonderful thing about it is that he doesn't even notice her flirtation. He just holds my hand and gives me a smile as I let out an audible sigh without realising it.
Harry's room is in a secure area, too many well-wishers and reporters wanting a scoop or a photograph with the boy who defeated Voldemort.
It made me queasy just to think of the name. After breaking through the taboo of calling him you-know-who and calling him Voldemort to prove a point it became annoying how Ron would continue to cringe whenever anyone said it. I would scowl or tease or just get frustrated by it, I kept telling him to get over it and call him by his name, now I shudder when I hear it. I hear it the way it sounded when Ron had eventually said it. It was the first and last time he ever did and that hateful man's name now sends me flinching and wincing in the same way it used to with Ron. Funnily enough, Ron's completely over that now and has been trying to get me to go back to my nonchalant ' It's only a name' state of mind.
I never will.
"I know this isn't you, this isn't your fault Harry, whatever happens I forgive you ok? This isn't you it's Voldemort..."
I shuddered as the nurse who let her hand linger on Ron's arm for a little longer than was absolutely necessary if you ask me left us alone. It's this whole myth of the strong and silent type that gets all the girls going I know but it still doesn't make it any easier to watch. I just want to scream at them all, ' He's my boyfriend bitches. Back off!', of course I don't do that at all. That's not Hermione Granger, that's Lavender Brown and I would never become that kind of girlfriend.
Ron holds the door open for me and I walk in ahead of him. Harry is sitting at the table in the centre of the room. His bed is on the left, not made as ever and bathed in sunlight, and the large open windows allow the breeze to billow the curtains on the left side of the room. Apart from these features the room is mostly empty.
There are two chairs across from Harry, I assume he put them there for us, he always makes an effort when he knows Ron's coming. When the other Weasley's come, especially Mrs Weasley and Ginny, he draws the curtains around his bed and refuses to face them. The guilt gets on top of him sometimes. Even the twins have tried to explain to him over and over again that nobody blames him, nobody hates him, not even Ron and he of all people is the one who would have a problem with Harry if he really did deserve punishment for that awful day.
"Hello Harry, how are you today?" I smile as I cross the room in fewer steps than usual and embrace him into a warm hug.
Harry had a bad night last night, so the nurse told Ron while staring at his scar in that infuriatingly un-subtle way people have when they meet him, and had put his fist through the bathroom mirror. The doctors at St Mungo's all knew that when Harry was really suffering or withdrawn that Ron was the best person to come and visit him. Ron and I come and visit together once a week and once each separately ordinarily, the other Weasleys and Neville take the other visiting hours, but George had given up his visit today so we could come in his place and help him get through this latest bout of destructive guilt.
Harry hugs me back and smiles a slight, but genuine, smile before looking over my shoulder and pointing at one of the chairs for Ron to sit down. Ron moves forward and pulls out the other chair for me, I sit and watch the routine begin.
Ron summons the chess set from Harry's bedside table, the two of them have become stunningly proficient at non verbal magic, but of course they would have to be wouldn't they? Moody tells us every time we see him that Ron and Harry's childhood dreams of becoming aurors could be fulfilled in an instant simply for that ability alone. Neither of them is interested in that anymore though. I have to say I'm relieved.
Ron sets up the board and Harry watches with a sad smile. He enjoys Ron's company so much but it also reminds him of what he did. What he was made to do. Harry looks over at me and waggles his fingers in that way that had become the signal for ' I want to write something down' and I pull out the pad and quill for him. Ron's eyes watch him write for a second before looking back to the board and completing the set-up of the pieces. Harry is scribbling frantically before sliding the pad over to Ron who takes it and reads. He smiles and shakes his head before taking the quill and writing something himself.
I lean over to read over Ron's shoulder.
Is that nurse still making eyes at you? Hermione looked a bit jealous when she came in.
I don't know where you lot are getting this from, I'm not picking up any signals from her at all, she's just being friendly you dirty minded sod!
Ron slides the pad back to Harry who reads it and laughs out loud. That's the difference between Ron and Harry when they talk like this, you can hear it when Harry laughs. I can feel my throat constrict and my eyes well-up and struggle to stop myself getting emotional, it doesn't help Harry and it makes Ron annoyed, I can't help the way I feel though. I miss his laughter so much.
Harry plays with the quill between his fingers and seems to be thinking of something else to write to wind Ron up but Ron's ready to play and bangs his hand on the table. Harry jumps; I know the feeling actually, I hate it when Ron does that to get my attention; and pushes the pad and quill aside when Ron points down at the board. Harry makes his first move and Ron scans the entire board rapidly with a great deal of thought before smirking and looking back at Harry. I know exactly what he's doing, it's his new thing to challenge himself during games seeing as there's no suspense over who will win, and Harry knows too. He sits back in his chair and folds his arms, feigning annoyance. He raises his eyebrows as if asking Ron 'What'?
Ron holds up both his hands, fingers splayed, then lowers one and splays the remaining one again before lowering three fingers and looking smug.
"Seventeen moves, are you kidding?" I ask him while tearing off a scrap of paper from the pad and grabbing the quill.
He nods and points at the paper, he's so bossy these days, making sure I'm ready to start counting the moves before he defeats Harry. That's the challenge you see? Not to beat him at chess but to try and make more moves than Ron predicts the game will end in. The rule changed to more moves than the prediction after Harry decided to start losing on purpose just to be defeated in fewer moves and Ron accused him of cheating. They had had quite an argument about the ethics of deliberately throwing one game in order to win another. It had been the funniest thing I had ever seen and Harry had laughed until he cried. Then he had cried and cried and cried with the guilt of finding so much amusement in their situation. Finding something funny about Ron having to argue without making a sound.
You see Harry can talk. He can but he won't, it's his penance I think, he won't talk because Ron can't ever talk again. He blames himself, not even Ron can get him to let the guilt go, and I think the main reason Ron tries so hard to make him laugh is because that's the one sound Harry can not suppress. He can't laugh silently as Ron has to, when he's amused the sound pours out of him and it reminds us all that Harry is still Harry.
Not that Ron is no longer Ron but he is silent because of the irreversible damage to his vocal chords. Harry is silent because he forces himself to be. It is a psychological problem and Ron and I won't rest until we get him to let the guilt go and let himself speak. It's not as if Ron hates him for still having that ability.
They play on and I record the moves, I can see Ron's strategy now and can see Harry playing right into his hands, I smile as I write down Ron's sixteenth move on the scrap of paper. He's got him and Harry knows it.
Harry drums his fingers on the table as he spends nearly ten minutes desperately searching the board for a way to delay the inevitable. As I stare at the board, waiting for the move, I jump as Ron's watch lands in the middle of the board. Harry looks up with a start and Ron pretends to yawn. I giggle.
"I think he wants you to hurry up."
Harry rolls his eyes and Ron strokes his chin and looks over to the bathroom before taking the pad and slipping the quill from between my fingers and writing.
Mind if I use your razor Harry? I think I'm growing a beard.
He tosses the pad into Harry's hands and he reads it and laughs aloud again before giving Ron a two fingered salute and making the only move he could. Ron leans forward and tapped his knight on the head, it turned and Ron signs the letter 'G' and then holds up three fingers. The knight salutes and proceeds; victory is Ron's...in seventeen moves.
Ron grins and his pieces jump up and down, victorious, theyare always so enthusiastic when Ron wins these games.I've had never felt so proud ofmyself whenI taught every chess set in the Weasley family to learn how to finger spell so Ron could still instruct them himself rather than have to move them the muggle way. The pieces also had grown quite affectionate for their speechless owner. When he had been playing against Ginny a few weeks back one of her pawns kept cupping it's hand to its ear and asking Ron to speak up. Ginny had been so disgusted at the behaviour of the new set she had just bought for herself that she deliberately sacrificed the pawn to Ron's queen who promptly gave the nastiest beatingI had ever witnessed on a chess board since Ron was taken out by McGonagall's.
The pieces were gathered up and put away and I pour the three of us a drink from Harry's jug of water.
"So I hear you got yourself all upset again last night." I say, never one to beat around the bush.
Harry shrugs and Ron slams his hand on the table again. Harry jumps and looks up at him. Ron points at me with a stern look penetrating Harry and making him feel ashamed of himself for avoiding the question. Harry looks back at me and nods.
"I see they healed your hand nicely," I saay as I take Harry's hand and look at his knuckles, I would never have known if they hadn't toldme what he'd done, "so was it attention seeking or frustration or something else?"
Sometimes I hate being the only one who spoke. Times like these I hate the sound of my own voice.
Harry takes his hand back from me and looks down at the table. Ron tosses the pad and the quill under his nose and points at it firmly with his index finger and then points at me. I told you he was bossier didn't I?
Harry picks up the quill and writes. He writes for quite some time before handing the pad to me and then staring at Ron across the table who is giving him a curious smile. I start to read.
I knew I wouldn't see Ron for another four days and I knew that if I did something like that they'd ask him to come sooner. I just missed him that's all. He's the only person who doesn't seem to blame me.
"Oh Harry this is getting silly, none of us blame you, you know that none of us hold you at fault for what that evil man made you do that night." I'm gettingsick of the same old crap every single visit.
Harry huffs and takes the pad back. He writes again and thrusts the pad back at me with hard eyes.
I could throw off the curse when it was Barty Crouch Jr telling me to jump onto a desk but when it's Voldemort telling me to kill my best mate I just went right ahead and did it. I didn't even put up a fight. I fought not to jump on a desk but I let myself slash my best friend's throat. What kind of a person does that make me Hermione?
Ron had been watching my face as I read and my eyes leave the paper to meet his. He points to Harry and then back to his own head and twirls his finger in small circles at his temple.
"Yes Ron he is being mental again, he's being a stupid bloody idiot!" I had taken it upon myself to do the swearing for Ron to a certain degree.
Harry growls under his breath and folds his arms. Ron leans forward and cups his hand to his ear, much in the same way the spiteful pawn of Ginny's had done, and I know exactly what he is getting at.
"You can laugh at us and you can groan at us why can't you talk to us?" I say as I sit beside Ron who sits back and nods.
Harry drops his head into his hands and sighs. Ron slams his palm onto the table again, very hard this time, and he is obviously angry with him. Harry picks up the quill and Ron tears it out of his hand and throws it aside. He begins to do that thing that almost makes me forget, the thing that makes me feel that I've gone deaf rather than Ron having gone quiet, he begins to mouth what he wants to say and gesticulate with his hand to illustrate his point. He only does that when he's really angry, I think it's his substitute for shouting, and we both know that Ron is livid with his best friend.
'What is your problem?' Ron mouths while shrugging, pointing at Harry and then pointing at his own head again.
Harry sniffs and wipes at his face, he had obviously started to cry while he was looking down, and Ron stands up and begins to pace back and forth in a huff. His ears are bright red and his shoulders are tense.
Ron and I had had this discussion on the way to St Mungo's and I knew how frustrating he found it not to be able to get it out when he was in as bad a mood as this so I take the risk of speaking his words for him. This sometimes causes Ron to get angry with me before storming out but as I begin I see his look of relief that his point is being made.
"Do you have any idea how frustrating this is for Ron? Of course you do because you're doing it to yourself aren't you? Punishing yourself for talking his voice from him. But you're not doing this thing right Harry. If you really wanted to go through exactly what he's going through then you would have to want to talk so desperately, want to scream and shout and explain yourself so badly, that the last thing you would ever need is to have to try to explain that feeling to somebody who can do all those things that he would love to do but chooses not to. You don't just chose not to though do you Harry? This isn't making him feel better about his own frustrations, this is just reminding him of them. You are making it ten times worse!" I find myself screeching at my tormented best friend as he bows his head so as not to look me in the eye.
Ron grabs the pad from the floor and flicks back several pages, back to the conversation we had had in the cab on the way, and slams it before Harry in fury and points down at the top of the page. Harry swallows and reads.
But this is selfish Hermione, this is worse than if he had slit my throat of his own free will, he's making me feel bloody guilty for not being able to talk to him any more. I didn't do anything bloody wrong and neither did he and we're both making each other feel guilty. I HATE THIS SHIT!
Sorry. This isn't your fault babe. I'm really sorry. Doesn't he get that as painful as it is for him not to hear me it's just as bad for me not to hear him? I just want to talk to him for Merlin's sake. Maybe this is all my fault after all. Maybe me visiting so frequently is just a reminder that he couldn't do as much as he wanted to stop himself in time.
He did stop himself though, I could've died if he had put the full pressure on that blade but he fought it and I only lost my voice. My voice for crying out loud! Not my life, my vocal chords, big deal. Is that all I was to him, a never-ending source of chatter?
Yeah well you can say that but he's not making me think anything otherwise is he? Unless he tells me it's not my fault that he's not getting any better then I'm going to have to stop coming. I can't keep making him feel guilty. I've tried everything and he's just the same as he was when they first admitted him.
I'll try but I mean it Hermione. If we can't get through to him this time I'm going to stop visiting altogether.
Harry's eyes look frantic and he stares up at Ron and shakes his head desperately.
Ron sighs a silent sigh and grabs his cloak from the back of his chair and turns to leave. Harry's chair scrapes on the hard floor and he slams his own palm onto the top of the table. Ron doesn't stop walking for the exit. Harry bangs the table again. I can't take this, he looks so devastated, if he could have his way he would have Ron visit him every single day and now he has convinced Ron that the halt in his progress is because of his visits being too regular.
I see Harry grab his chair and throw it after Ron, I scream and that causes Ron to stop and turn around. He watches the chair hit the floor several feet away from him and skid another few inches further. He stares at Harry for a moment. Harry's eyes are shining with tears and he begins to open and close his mouth but no sound comes out. He lookes down at the pad and grabs the quill to begin writing. Ron scowls and turns away again, pushing the doors open and storming out with a face like thunder.
Harry lets out a sound that is similar to that of an animal caught in a trap and starts to punch the tabletop repeatedly. I find myself getting tearful again and run out after Ron. That hadn't gone well at all. As I push the doors I hear more crashes as Harry attempts to make as much noise as possible so Ron could hear wherever he was in the hospital right now and come back to hear Harry's side of things...or at least read it.
Harry couldn't bear to think he had been upsetting Ron all this time, I knew that, I also knew that Ron was probably right about his visits doing more harm than good. I let the doors close behind me and run after Ron, who is a little way down the corridor by now.
"Imperio!" Voldemort's twisted voice had snarled as he hit Harry with the unforgivable curse.
Harry stood between myself and Ron, we were all about to enact the plan we had been working on for months, Harry suddenly went blank and Ron leaned forward to look into his eyes.
"Harry what's...? No come on mate, this is nothing for you is it? You can shake this off like it's nothing, I've seen you," Ron began to plead with him.
"He's right Harry, don't let him do this to you, you're stronger than he is you know you are," I said as I tried to ignore the evil laugh from Voldemort across the other side of the great hall of Hogwarts.
"You know I have had the most wonderful idea Mr Potter. Why don't we let you rid me of the pests before I finish you off for good?"
Ron and I stared at the snake-like wizard with dread before looking back at Harry, his eye's seemed cloudy, and I heard Voldemort bellowing.
"Harry, kill the blood traitor first."
I screamed as Harry grabbed Ron's hair and pulled him back, exposing his long pale neck to the enchanted ceiling above.
"Harry don't, you know you can fight this, I've seen you beat this mate, please don't," Ron gasped.
"Harry don't do it!" I cried, "Let him go. Please let him go."
Harry reached out for a knife from one of the dining tables and lifted it to Ron's exposed throat. I began to tug at Harry's arm, and then tried to pull Ron free from his grip but Harry's hold on him was incredible. He jerked Ron's head back even further, his fisttugging Ron's red hair with a vice like grip and the knife rising to rest upon the pale skin beneath Ron's jaw line.
I was sobbing and pleading with Harry, begging him to overcome the imperius curse, and Ron tried in vain to wriggle out of his grip. Harry began to apply pressure on the blade as Ron struggled and he broke the skin in several places.
"Hold him still boy, one deep slice should do the trick," Voldemort demanded with sickening amusement.
The blade began to cut deeper and Ron yelped with pain before the pressure decreased a little.
"That's it Harry you can beat it, you don't want to hurt him, you don't. It's Ron. Let him go Harry please. Drop the knife."
"End it now!" Voldemort demanded with furious blood lust.
"Harry, can you hear me?" Ron, his voice strained by the angle of his neck and the pressure of the blade against his throat, "I know this isn't you, this isn't your fault Harry. Whatever happens I forgive you ok? This isn't you it's Voldemort..."
"Kill him!" Voldemort commanded just as Ron had spoken his name for the very first time.
Harry sliced across Ron's throat and I screamed until I felt as if my own throat was ripped open. As Harry cut and Ron made the most awful gurgling sound and went limp Harry screamed and dropped the knife to the floor.
"No!" he had shaken the curse just as the knife was about to sever major arteries in Ron's neck, "Ron no, I'm so sorry, please don't be dead."
Harry fell to his knees and looked at Ron's unconscious bleeding body. He thought he had killed him. That was all the hate he had needed to pull off the string of powerful curses that eventually killed Voldemort that day. We were rid of him forever.
Harry fell exhausted at Ron's side and passed out. When he woke he was told that his fight had been enough to save Ron's life but not in time to save his voice. Ron would never speak again. Harry never said a word. He shoved his way through the concerned friends and Weasleys at his bedside to Ron who was still unconscious and recovering with me at his side.
"Harry thank you so much," I managed to say through the tears, "you saved him. You fought back and saved his life just in time. Thank you so much."
Harry had a total breakdown right then and there and hadn't spoken since. I heard neither of them speak since that day.
The voice was so familiar but so raw. I turn and see Harry standing at the end of the corridor, just outside the doors to his room. I gasp and look back at Ron who is still walking away.
"Come back!" Harry yells after him.
Ron turns around and stares at his best friend in shock.
"Please come back Ron."
Harry's eyes are streaming with tears now and his voice is ragged and shaky but it's there and it makes my heart do a little dance inside my chest.
Ron takes a step back toward Harry, but only one, and holds out his arms and shrugs...the universal language of 'why?'.
"I want to talk to you," Harry barely whispers the words and I can't be sure that even I had really heard it.
Ron blinks and puts his hand to his ear again.
"I want to talk to you," he says loud and clear the second time around.
Ron smiles and takes another step back down the corridor towards Harry. I begin to cry like a baby as I throw myself at Harry and give him a great big hug. Ron is watching us and signing something to Harry. Harry isn't very good at sign language as he and Ron nearly always converse by quill and paper so I ask him to repeat himself for me. Ron looks stern and signs a warning for me to pass on to Harry. I chuckle and turn to face my anxious looking friend.
"Ron wants me to tell you not to go enjoying that hug too much, I'm spoken for."
Harry lets out a grateful shuddering laugh and calls back down to Ron.
"I'll keep my hands to myself if you come back and talk to me."
Ron signs again, this time there doesn't need to be any translation provided, he points at Harry and then makes a talking gesture with his hand followed by his finger pointing at himself and cupping his hand to his ear again.
"I talk and you listen."
Ron walks back down the corridor toward us. Wego into Harry's room and I close the doors behind us. We have a lot to talk about.
A/N So I'm back from Thailand people!
Did a lot of writing in my jet lagged state so that's why I'm back today with something of a vengence. I read all the reviews I got since I've been away and have noticed that there is a lot of traffic back at ESSM again, it's got it's second wind somehow so hello to any new reviewers of mine and welcome to the world of almost daily updates in my long fics!
Speaking of which I have been given several offers to beta my work. I would give that some serious thought but you guys know just how prolific I am and I really don't have the patience to wait a week for a chapter to be looked over so I can post it...I can write five chapters in that time! If any of you guys who offered are really serious think first about just how much work I'll be giving you and just how fast I write and if you still want to have a go then send me a message and I'll try to sort something out with you. I've never had a beta before...I'm not sure if I'll be helped or hindered, any of you lot had one?
So anyway, this is the one shot I promised you and I'm also posting quite a soppy one (for me anyway) and the first couplea chapters of my companion piece to Lost in Parasomnia so I've given you quite a lot to read for now. I already have an idea for my next long fic! I TOLD you I'm fast!
Bye for now and remember you can find me on my forum if there's anything else you wanna know.