I can't stand it anymore.

I just can't. It's driving me bonkers, I mean it. He's still got ten more days of detention to go with her and every time he has to go…

It's so sodding awful. He sits there on the sofa, and as it gets closer to eight o'clock, he just… he slowly goes grey. Not pale - grey.

He didn't use to. He's always a bit pale, maybe it's the black hair that makes him look so pale, but anyway, he used to go a shade paler, and haul himself up off the couch and off to detention, looking not so much terrified as resigned. But that was before she started giving him longer detentions, two and even three weeks at a stretch. That was when he started changing; and of course, now we know why, now I've found out about it, about what goes on in there.

Now, as it gets nearer to eight, he slowly goes greyish-white, and then his jaw clenches. I've seen it enough times to recognize it. His jaw clenches and there's a muscle in his cheek that twitches, just a bit, and then he sighs. I wish he wouldn't do that, because I feel so damned sorry for him, and I'd do anything not to have to hear that bloody sigh again. He sighs resignedly, sort of, and then he heaves himself up off the couch as if he weighed a ton. Sometimes he says, "See you later," very, very casually, but more often than not he doesn't say anything at all, just walks off as though putting one foot in front of the other was a great effort.

He goes off knowing he's going to suffer, and he knows exactly how much, and he grits his teeth and he goes.

Night after bloody night.

And it's driving me round the twist.

Lately, I've seen his hands trembling. I don't mean his right hand, the hand where he – he gets punished – oh bugger it, it makes me SICK! – I want to throw up when I think of it – anyway, Murtlap tentacles or no Murtlap tentacles, of course his hand's not up to snuff, it's his writing hand after all, and he's going back there EVERY sodding DAY to have it cut up aGAIN – I'd never admit it to a soul, but I think it's just as well he's suspended from Quidditch this year. His hand's so sore he can barely write, let alone grip a broomstick – he never lets on, of course, but you can hear the hiss of breath when he grabs something too tightly, and the look of relief when he lets go. I had Hermione teach me a charm, I charm his quill so it sort of writes on its own, he doesn't have to do more than guide it. Poor sod can't tell it's moving on its own, because his hand's so painful it probably feels like quite a bit of effort just to hold the damned quill. I'm keeping the charm under my hat, of course, and so is Hermione. She's good about things like that.

Anyway, it's not just his right hand that's shaking. What I meant is that lately, before detentions and especially as it gets closer to evening, I see tremors go through him. His hands tremble when he picks things up – the other day, in Snape's class, I had to grab a beaker from him before the Dissolving Solution sloshed out onto the floor.

Oh, who am I fooling? He's practically falling apart, DA or no DA, and there's precious little any of us can do about it if she keeps giving him those detentions. And I don't care how strong he tries to look! It was Hermione who tipped me off that he's not eating very well, and now I notice it, he doesn't even pretend to have dinner any more. Not sure I would eat that much myself if it came to that, if I was off to get carved up after dinner and…

I get the germ of an idea.

I'd need help, though…

Of course, Hermione's fussy about these things, and illegal magic and all, but still, it's for the greater good, isn't it? She won't refuse to help.

She'd better not, anyway.


"That's all the ingredients," Hermione said as they stepped out of the apothecary's. "Unless I've missed something… it should be all…" she added worriedly, stopping to peer into her bags.

"Hermione, since when do you forget anything to do with school?" Ron rolled his eyes. "The day you flub an ingredient, You-Know-Who'll dance the foxtrot on the ramparts of Hogwarts wearing frilly pink robes. Now do get a move on, would you?"

It was a pleasantly sunny Hogsmeade weekend. Most of the students were milling about enjoying the fine day, one of the first of spring, except for some of the Quidditch die-hards practicing back at the school for the upcoming match, Harry, who had detention with Umbridge, and Ron and Hermione, who were striding back to school with great determination. "Ron, are you sure—" Hermione began.

"Yeah, I am," he replied curtly. The slightly chilly spring breeze blew in their faces and he shivered despite the warm sunshine.

Blast it, of course Hermione would notice him shivering. "I just—"

"Don't," he cut her off. "Just help me, all right?"

"It's perfectly understandable for you to be nervous—"

"I am NOT nervous!" he shouted.

"There's no call to bite my head off!" she finally snapped. "I am helping! Don't be unfair, Ron!"

Immediately contrite, he sighed and looked her in the eyes. "Sorry. It's just—"

"It's all right," she reassured him. "I understand."


To say I'm nervous is an understatement.

I'm bloody terrified.

Not so much of my… idea, but of what'll happen if he ever finds out. Harry's been like Concoctio Volatilis lately – so much as breathe around him and he blows up. I don't relish the thought of his explosions, and believe me, if we're not careful there's going to be one, but I did say last week that I'd do anything to avoid having to look at him get that steeling-himself expression on his face when he goes off to her room, and I suppose that includes braving the risk of a row if it happens. Gryffindor or no Gryffindor, I don't mind saying that I'll just take every precaution to make sure he doesn't find out.

One thing that's not hurting my ego at all is the looks Hermione's been giving me ever since we got started on this project. I'm not doing it for anyone but myself, and I have told her that a couple of times, but the way she turns those eyes on me, shining with admiration, as if I'm some kind of noble knight in shining armour, performing some amazing sacrifice – well, it does a bloke's confidence no harm at all, no harm at all. It sounds selfish and it feels selfish, but there it is, and let's not add dishonesty to selfishness.

I do feel guilty, I suppose, in a way, at getting fringe benefits out of helping a friend. But, well, fringe benefits are fringe benefits, and I suppose I'll be earning them soon enough.


I worry.

I worry about Harry, and I worry about Ron, and I worry about myself when I have the time. They just can't seem to abide by the rules – and really, Harry ought to know better than to cheek Umbridge by now. But he keeps on doing it, and then he suffers for it, and – well, and we suffer too, because we're Harry's friends.

And just what got me into this, anyway?

Oh. Right. Ron.

And there's another scatterbrain if you ever saw one, foolish, impulsive, addle-pated, self-sacrificing, loyal, idiotic, Gryffindor

Well, I'm a Gryffindor, too, but I never take silly risks. Well, possibly. Once or twice. When I absolutely had to.

The potion's turning clear now. It's only a matter of hours. And I'd better hope I've got the dose right, too.


Author's Note: What's a review-whore to do? My last fic got 5200 (yes, five thousand two hiundred - I was surprised too) hits and 30 reviews, only 4 of which contained details and/or concrit. So, if you could let me know how I'm doing, I'd be grateful. Note to concritters: If something's not working, I'd be grateful if you could suggest an alternative.