The day was calm, sunny, warm, and breezy, perfect conditions for Quidditch tryouts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked towards the Quidditch Pitch in silence. Harry and Ron were both nervous about tryouts, for Harry was conducting him and Ron's keeping skills were about to be tested. Hermione, on the other hand, was just looking forward to watching them. As they passed Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil, Parvati suddenly nudged Lavender, and they both giggled as Lavender gave Ron a wide smile. Ron hesitantly returned it, but even so, he became more self-conscious of himself and turned his walk into a strut. This sickened Hermione and lit jealous in her like a fire. She walked away coldly to sit in stands without another word to Ron.
A half hour later, Ron was sitting alone in the stands, clutching his broom nervously. The Chaser tryouts were still going on, and Ron still had to endure Beater tryouts before it was his turn for Keeper tryouts. He noticed Hermione, too, was sitting alone. Actually, she seemed to be talking to a burly boy Ron knew by sight as Cormac McLaggen, but she was still not with a friend. The only reason Ron wasn't with her now was he was mad Hermione did not wish him good luck. He decided to get past this and go talk to her.
"So, when are going to see some wicked Granger Quidditch skills?" He whispered in her ear.
"Oh, Ron!" Hermione said suddenly. "You definitely won't see me playing Quidditch today. I'm so bad at it."
"I know, that's why it's cute." He said, and Hermione blinked at him before smiling.
"No matter how cute I look, I would never tryout out. I have no skills and it's embarrassing."
"Won't you please tryout?" He begged, sitting down next to her.
"Are you actually trying to make me consider it?" She laughed.
"Yes! Come on, it will be fun."
"Ron, please. Fun for me is reading a book." She sighed. "You're going to have to do better than that."
"Oh, all right. You'll have fun playing Quidditch, you'll be taking part in something people actually care about instead of something like Hogwarts, a History, and you'll get to spend time with me!" He said happily.
The 'spend time with Ron part' pretty much had bought Hermione. "What would position would I try out for?" She asked curiously.
"Well, as the Chaser tryouts are already going on, I'd say that's out. The Beater tryouts are next, but I doubt you can fly, hold a beater's bat, and avoid and hit bludgers-
"Which one's the bludger?" Hermione asked.
"Oh, Merlin, have we got a lot of work to do! Well, I say you try out for Keeper. That way, we'll be together, and you'll make me even look like a better player." He laughed.
When the Keeper tryouts were called out, Ron and Hermione walked down, Hermione clutching a school broom.
"Hermione, what are you doing down here?" Harry asked, surprised. "This is for players only!"
"Hermione's trying out." Ron said proudly.
"Hermione, come on. You don't even like Quidditch." Harry said.
"Well then is it that big of a deal that she wants to try out for fun?" Ron asked.
"It'll just be a waste of time." Harry noted.
"She'll have fun wasting it." Ron replied.
"Alright, Ron, Hermione, go to the opposite ends of the rings." Harry yelled. "McLaggen, you're next."
"Wait, we're not going to be together?" Hermione said in a high-pitched voice. "What am I going to do without you, Ron?! I'll make a fool of myself!"
Ron pulled her into a hug. "Just make sure you don't steal my spot." He joked.
Harry blew his whistle. "Ron! Hermione! Stop doing, er, stop doing… inappropriate things! Get in the air!"
Ron and Hermione kicked off and flew around the pitch. Hermione was struggling, and Ron lagged behind to help her.
"Ron! Stop it! If you keep helping me, you'll look like you're as slow as I am! Go ahead and show them what you're made of!" She laughed.
With one last smile, Ron sped up, and eventually overlapped Hermione.
"Alright, you two, now get to the hoops!" Harry commanded. In a minute's time, the rest of the team was playing against Ron and Hermione like a real game. Hermione missed her first three goals. Ron saved his first three. Hermione responded with a mock bow at his fourth and impressive save. She missed her fourth save, and Ron gave her a shrug and a smile. Hermione could see Katie Bell coming towards her with the Quaffle. She looked at Ron. He gave her a thumbs up and a smile. She smiled back, and forgot where she was. Hermione was lost in his eyes. His smile made her melt. She thought of nothing else as she looked at him, and that was why she was late to hear all the screaming. Ron's smile turned to a look of horror, and he pointed to her left. Hermione looked, but it was too late. A bludger was soaring towards her at full speed. In a blink of an eye she saw it, and in a blink of an eye she saw nothing.
Ron saw the bludger coming towards her. He saw it make contact with her, right at her head. He saw her fly backwards and hit the middle hoop before starting to descend. Ron sped up on his broom. He was going faster, faster, but Hermione was falling, falling. And even before she hit the ground, even before Ron was halfway towards her he knew it was no good. He could do nothing, nothing.
* * *
I'm gong to visit Hermione again, do you want to come?" Ron asked Harry as they walked down the deserted corridor.
"Ron, why are you going? It's pointless. It's been four days, and she's still unconscious. When she wakes up, she's not going to remember that you visited her body in the Hospital Wing. You might as well be talking to those flowers you left her." Harry said persuasively.
"Harry, you don't get it, do you?" Ron laughed grimly. "It's my fault she's in there! I persuaded her too let her tryout! I fought with you to give her a chance, even though it wouldn't matter! And, she was staring at me, keeping her eyes off the bludger and at me instead before she was hit! It's all my fault! What if she never wakes up?!"
"She will, Ron, just give it a few days-
"What if she's not the same?! What if she's lost her memory, or is completely clueless, or, or, you just don't know how much stress I'm under! You don't know the possibilities, or the danger she's in!"
"Ron, it's not you're fault. And it seems like you're in more danger of hurting yourself than she's in danger of a long-term head injury." Harry said, patting him on the back.
"Whatever. I'm going to see Hermione, whether she knows it or not." He said coldly.
"Hey, Ron, seriously, ask Madame Pomfrey to give you something to make you feel better. You look kind of ill." It wasn't the first time that Harry had suggested that he wasn't looking well. Ron had looked pale and sickly ever since Hermione had had her freak accident. And more than once when Ron came to visit Hermione Madame Pomfrey had thought he was sick, even though he said he was just visiting. More than once people had told Ron to calm down, for his temper had been very high the past few days. Ron had also gotten a dentition for slugging Malfoy because he made fun of Hermione. When Hermione was in the accident, Ron didn't leave her side until Madame Pomfrey kicked him out. He spent all of Sunday at the Hospital Wing by her bed, and stayed by her every day after school. He had done not much else, besides classes and sitting and watching Hermione.
"Okay." He said, nodding, and started to walk away.
"Hey, Ron." Harry said, and Ron turned around. "You a great friend, you know. You really care about her."
"I know." He croaked.
"And she's gonna be okay, mate. I know it. And let's just say I think she'll be pretty impressed that you devoted all your time to her unconscious body." Harry said reassuringly with a knowing smile and a wink.
"Thanks mate." Ron said.
"Just don't be late for Quidditch practice!" Harry laughed, and Ron joined in, until they heard a familiar voice cry, "Harry!"
Ron did a double take. There was Hermione, running towards him. She was okay. She was healthy. She was safe. A weight seemed to be lifted off his chest. Ron smiled and outstretched his arms, but Hermione ran passed him. "Harry!" Hermione yelled yet again, and ran right into his arms, hugging him tightly.
"Hermione!" Harry said, surprised and overwhelmed. "You're feeling better, I see?"
"I'm really well, thanks!" She said brightly, letting go of him. "I was shocked to find out its Wednesday night, though!"
Harry and Ron laughed, although Ron noticed she had not even acknowledged he was there yet. "And, is there anything different?" Harry said. "Do you have any side effects?"
"Well, my memories a little hazy but besides that it's okay. I mean, it's just things like I can't remember my fourth birthday."
"Oh, great." Harry said happily. "Ron here was worrying about you."
Hermione now turned around to face Ron. "Welcome back, Hermione." He said, smiling, and coming towards her to give her a hug.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She said loudly, putting her hands on her hips.
"What do you mean?" He said, taken aback.
"You know, Ron! So tell me! What's the rude, hidden joke in that?!" She yelled.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Ron said nervously, with a half glance at Harry, who was looking bemused. "I have no idea what you're problem is, but obviously something happened with you're when you were whacked in the head!" He said hotly.
"Something happened to me? Ron, I'm the one who has put up with all your abuse for six years! And, now after I almost died, I've come to learn I'm sick of it! I'm going to stick up for myself for once!"
"Hermione, what the heck are you talking about!? I'm you're best friend!"
"Best friend, don't make me laugh, Ron Weasley! I absolutely hate you! And you absolutely hate me!" Hermione screeched.
"Hermione, something must have gone wrong when you hit your head. You forgot we were best friends. It's okay, I understand." He said calmly, grabbing her arm.
"Don't touch me!" She said savagely, hitting his hand. "I know what you're trying to do, Ron! You and I have hated each other since first year. Now, I'm older and much prettier than I used to be, and so now you want a fresh start! You want a second first impression! You want to go out with me because I'm pretty, and are jumping at the chance, because you think the new me will forget how I feel about you! Well, Ron, it's you're unlucky day, because I still hate you!"
"Hermione, it's not like that!" Ron yelled.
"Oh, don't lie, Ron! I don't want to hate you even more!" She said fiercely.
"Hermione, I think you've got it all wrong! Ron's you're best friend!" Harry said.
"No, I think you have it wrong, Harry! Actually, it's not you're fault, Ron's probably making you play along with his little scheme!"
"Hermione, don't you remember anything? C'mon, just think, half you're brains filled with memories of me." Ron said persuasively.
"Oh, real mature, Ron! This is sick! You know my memory's a little foggy, so now you're taking advantage of me and trying to put yourself in it so you can be on my good side?" Hermione screamed.
"What about the summers you spent at my house?" He spat.
"Ginny invited me." She said simply.
"And why are you friends with my sister?!"
"I know how to make friends, Ron. It's just a coincidence it's with your sister."
"And Harry? It's just a coincidence we're both friends with him?"
"Of course it is. And Harry never usually hangs out with us together because he knows we hate each other."
"That's not true." Harry added.
"Whatever. I don't have time for this. I'm going to go meet Ginny." She said, and stormed off.
There was an awkward pause. "Tough break, man." Harry said bracingly. "She'll come around. Give it a good night's sleep. Or a few days. Injuries like these take time to heal."
"I messed her up, permanently." Ron said slowly.