A/N: Final chapter! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing... especially not Harry Potter
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I heard the ice crack, and my heart skipped a beat. Hermione whipped around, looking for the source of the break in the ice, but I knew that she was standing right on top of it. The ice cracked right underneath her, and I had already removed excess clothing such as my scarf and sweater to jump in after her, for I knew that she would be pulled under with that jacket of hers.
"Hermione!" Harry and I screamed in unison as she let out a shriek and plunged into the water.
Without thinking, I whipped out my wand and transfigured my skates into socks and started running for her.
"Ron!" Harry yelled, but I ignored his confused plea.
"Get something, a big branch!" I yelled over my shoulder, and Harry was off.
I reached the edge of the water, where Hermione was nowhere to be seen. The water was swirling and rushing threateningly, and I knew that she had been pulled with the currant. Knowing how dumb it was to do it, knowing I might not live to tell the tale about it, I dove right into the icy depths of the raging river.
My first thought as I hit the water was that I had been stabbed with a thousand knives. The water was so cold that I was paralyzed for a moment before remembering what I had to do. I forced my eyes open, and was glad for the brightness of the sun, which sent a little light into the water. I fought with the currant and broke to the surface to take a deep breath before plunging back into the abyss.
Using the light from the sun, I swam deeper into the river, all the while feeling as id my skin was being whipped by trained torture artists. I knew if I didn't hurry, my time would run out, and so would Hermione's. The next sequence of underwater events happened quickly, but it felt like a lifetime had passed me by.
I saw Hermione a little ways below and away from me, thrashing weakly in the water. Then without warning, she stopped moving all together and succumbed, which scared me. She was slowly being dragged to the bottom by her coat, and all the while being pushed along with the currant. I swam over to her and grabbed her around the waist in an attempt to rescue her. She was too heavy to carry up, and I was quickly losing oxygen. Her face was ghostly pale, and her eyes were closed. Her hair was floating eerily around her face. She was unconscious, as well as being pulled slowly away from me.
I tried to pull her up again, but the jacket was too damn heavy, so I did something I thought I would only do in my dry, safe daydreams – I unzipped her jacked and pulled it off. Without watching the coat float away, I grabbed her around the waist again and started to swim off to the hole in the ice.
At this point, I was wondering whether I could make it back before I passed out from lack of oxygen. My thoughts were becoming fuzzy, and my soaked socks were weighing me down. I thought briefly of Harry, who was probably pacing nervously at the edge of the water, and of the creatures that inhabited the river. My cheeks were filled with air, but I was still running on dangerously low amounts of oxygen.
My legs felt like blocks of led, weighing me down as the water froze them, and kicking them became more difficult. I was almost about to give up when I saw the hole in the ice, and Harry standing there, holding something in his hand. My lungs were about to burst when I reached the surface and gasped for air. The freezing air entered my lungs, and I coughed heavily as I struggled against the courant, which was stronger at the surface.
"Ron! Grab on!" Harry yelled, brandishing a large branch.
I grabbed it with my free hand, and Harry pulled me close enough for me to reach the edge. He grabbed Hermione out of my arms and dragged her over to safety before coming back to me. Harry took hold of my arm and pulled me out of the water.
On land, I sputtered and gasped for air, soaking wet. I must have been down there for a minute – the most I had ever held my breath for.
"She's not breathing!" Harry exclaimed, rushing back to Hermione's side.
I scooped her up and carried her over to the solid ground, where I laid her down carefully. She was, of course, soaked, but she wasn't breathing. Harry pointed his wand at her throat, muttered something, and all the water emptied from her lungs. She gagged and coughed violently without regaining awareness or consciousness. I sat her up, but she went limp as her coughing fit deceased. She opened her eyes for a moment, but only let out a groan before shaking, and finally falling back into unconsciousness. I sighed and looked up at Harry, who was pale as death.
"Should we start walking?" I asked him, and he gave me a strange look.
"Walking? Cant we apparate?" he asked, and I coughed again.
"Ministry protection," I wheezed, "Can't apparate on the property, and we're on the property."
Harry sighed, pushed a lock of frozen hair away from Hermione's face, and stood up. He picked up Hermione and hoisted her onto his shoulder. I fumbled in my pocket for a moment, but then let out an agonized cry.
"My wand!" I exclaimed in my cold, raspy voice, "I must have dropped it in the water! Mum's going to kill me! Oh bloody hell!"
"She'll be glad you're alive, mate," Harry said pointedly as we began walking back to the house, "After what we tell her."
I shrugged and pulled on my sweatshirt; it didn't help me to get warm. I hadn't realized up until this point just how freezing I was. I hugged myself to keep warm, but the coldness was penetrating every inch of me. I could see that my hair was frozen, and when I touched a piece of it, it made a cracking sound as the ice broke. I looked at my hand and saw that it was almost as white as the snow.
I thought that everything was going well besides that, so I didn't say anything to Harry. In fact, I offered to carry Hermione for a while, and when Harry asked if I was sure, I told him I was fine and not to fuss. I took Hermione in my arms and carried her as if she were my bride. She might have looked as if she was if her head weren't rolling lamely on her shoulders. She was shaking vigorously, and Harry wrapped her up in his sweatshirt and scarf, so that he was wearing only a long-sleeved shirt. He was alright though – he wasn't soaked to the core.
Everything was going fine and dandy, and then the convulsions started. Small at first, like a shiver here and there. Harry looked at me, concerned.
"You alright, mate? You look dreadfully pale. I'd dry you, but I don't know the charm for it."
I nodded, but I was unable to think straight now. I had become sort of drowsy and confused. Where was I, anyway? I held tighter to Hermione, although at the moment, I had lost perspective. Then I really started convulsing. Unable to stand any longer, I fell to the ground and dropped Hermione in the snow. I put my head between my knees for a second, and then rolled over and retched.
"Ron!" Harry yelled, falling to his knees and rolling me back over.
I moaned and felt my body shudder and my heart rate slow. With one last semi-unconscious look at Harry, I shuddered again and blacked out.
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When I woke up, Harry was sitting on a chair beside me, his hands clasped together and his elbows on his knees. When he saw me, his face changed to one of relief.
"Hermione!" Harry said breathlessly, standing up quickly, "How do you feel?"
I sat up slowly and shook my head to wake myself up. I was in Ron's room, laying on a couch that had apparently been summoned. I looked over at the bed, but the curtains were drawn around it, blocking my view. I felt oddly congested.
"Fine," I replied slowly, looking around the obnoxiously orange room, "I feel fine. I little shaken, kind of ill, but I'm alright."
"Brilliant," Harry said, picking up a large, steaming cup on the bedside table.
He handed it to me and I took a sip. Immediately, I recognized it as the pepperup potion. I drained it in one long gulp, and steam gushed out of my ears. I sighed.
"What happened?" I asked Harry softly, and he sucked in a deep breath.
"Well, after you fell in," Harry started and I winced, "Ron dove in after you."
I felt a pang of gratitude towards Ron, and I vaguely wondered where he was before focusing on the story again.
"I swore he must have drowned, because he was under water for a minute at least. Then, he came up with you, and I pulled them onto the ice."
"Ron must have been freezing, but I didn't know the charm to dry clothing so he had to stay wet. About halfway there, and it was a long walk, you know, he asked to carry you. I let him, thinking that it might warm him up a little. And then he kind of went rigid, and he fell over and retched." Harry continued, "Then he went into shock."
I gasped and covered my mouth, eyes wide.
"Where is he? Is he okay? Harry, shock can be fatal? What did you do?" I was yelling all of this at him, but fell silent as he tried to quiet me.
"I'll tell you if you just sit for a second!" Harry said, and I leaned back apprehensively, "I should have known he was experiencing hypothermia; he was showing a ton of the signs. Confusion, for one, and weakness… and he was colorless. So when he passed out, I knew. I grabbed him and ran with him to the Burrow, and dropped him off in Mrs. Weasley's care. Then, Mr. Weasley and I went out and got you. And that's all there is to it. You've been asleep all day – it's been about 24 hours since it happened."
"Where is he? Ron, that is," I said, peering out at Harry from between my fingers.
Harry stood up and gestured me to do the same. He walked over to the bed and pulled the hangings open. I gasped, and tears filled my eyes.
Ron lay in the bed with his feet propped up in the normal position for someone that was in shock. He was shirtless, but covered in so many blankets that it didn't matter.
"He hasn't stirred yet," Harry said, "he might take a while longer… maybe by tonight he'll be awake."
I nodded, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the redhead. He had risked his life to save mine, and almost died in the process. I suddenly felt a strange feeling that I had not felt until now. It was something unconditional… love.
I watched Ron in his deep sleep for a few moments longer before turning back to Harry.
"Where'd you sleep last night?" I asked.
"Well, seeing as –" he started, but I sneezed violently, "seeing as we figured you both would be ill, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley decided it would be best to quarantine you two to the same room for the remainder of the time."
I raised my eyebrows at him, and he returned the look.
"Yes, I did do some persuading," Harry said, reading my mind.
I smiled at him.
"Responsible," I said quietly, now watching Ron, "I am responsible, as are my actions."
"Right," Harry said in a strangely mechanical tone, his eyes also fixed upon the sleeping Ron.
That night, I snuggled up on the couch in Ron's room with a book and a cup of hot cocoa. It was nearly eleven, and everyone else had retired to their beds – Harry in Fred and George's old room, Ginny in hers, and the parents in theirs. Ron was still asleep, and I eyed him before beginning to read. Unfortunately, my mind would not focus. I set the book down on the bedside table and looked at him, sleeping in the bed. Sipping my cocoa with my hands wrapped around the mug, I wondered what his thoughts had been when he had willingly plunged into the freezing water. He stirred, and I realized that I had been making a loud sipping noise as I enjoyed my cocoa. I set the mug down on the table and let my curiosity get the better of me. Picking up my wand from the table, I slid noiselessly out of the bed and crept over to Ron's side. I pointed my wand at the door and it clicked as it locked, but I was not sure why I had locked it. I got down on my knees in front of the bed and watched him sleep. He was lying on his back, but his head was turned, facing me. Ron's mouth was slightly ajar and his jaw was slightly crooked, and I could smell the scent of pepperup potion coming from his mouth. I smiled.
Suddenly, Ron gave a sudden intake of breath and stirred, and I nearly fell backwards. I got up and backed away a pace just as he opened his eyes. He looked around, sat up, and coughed. The blankets fell away from him, and I could see his less-than-muscular abs. I blushed.
"Wuzzgoinon?" Ron asked softly, curiously, looking at me, "Why are you in my room, wearing a sleeping gown?"
I looked down at my apparel and blushed again.
"Er," I started, but he decided he didn't need to know.
He swung his feet onto the floor and groaned, massaging his foot.
"Why are my feet asleep? Lack of blood flow?" he asked.
"You went into shock," I said quietly, and he jumped at the sound of my voice; he had apparently been asking rhetorical questions to himself.
"Oh," he replied quietly, "I guess I was cold."
I smiled in spite of myself.
"I'm not now though," he said, and my smile widened.
I walked over to him and gently forced him to lie down again. I covered him up to his waist with the blankets, and then sat on the edge of his bed.
"You saved my life," I said in a whisper, tears forming in my eyes, "you could have died."
"It would have been worth it," he said, "your brains are worth more than mine."
"Don't say that!" I said, shocked, "You have plenty of good qualities."
"Oh yeah," he said looking up at me glumly, "what are they?"
"Well," I started, "You're a fun person, and loyal to the core. And, you've got brilliant logic for certain things, like chess."
Ron's expression turned somewhat smug.
"Yeah, I guess I am pretty loyal," he said, relaxing a bit, "How long have I been sleeping?"
"A bit over a day," I replied, "I woke up a few hours previous."
Ron nodded, and I sighed. He cocked his head in question.
"Ron, when I woke up and found out what you did for me, I realized something," I said.
"And what is that?" Ron asked, sitting up uncomfortably.
"That… that I can't really tell myself that I don't anymore. I can't tell myself that it's just a fleeting hormone because it hasn't been fleeting at all; it's lasted for a long time." I said.
"You can't tell yourself what, exactly?" Ron said, looking nervous.
"That I don't care," I said, "Ron, I think… I think I love you." I finished lamely.
He looked at me strangely for a moment, as if trying to see if I was lying or not. Slowly, he sat up and silently scooted closer to me, with his eyes on mine all the while.
"I think…" he said, but his voice faltered, "I think I love you, too."
Unable to do anything else, I flung my arms around him in a hug, not caring that he was half-naked. He fell back onto the bed, and I kissed him; just a soft, quick kiss. At first, he looked shocked, but then he smiled and kissed me back; a longer, more passionate kiss.
And then, of course, we both seemed to realize that he was half-naked and I was in a small nightgown, so I got up and starting walking back over to the couch. Halfway there, Ron chuckled, and I turned to see his watching me with a smile on his face.
"What?" I asked him, trying to suppress a smile.
"I should save your life more often," he said, grinning, and I smiled back.
With the consequences that had come out of this whole experience, I had to agree.
A/N: Yay for finishing! Thanks for reading.