Author's Note: Anything you recognize belongs to JKR. This story is AU.
It was the middle of the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. Hermione was fighting off other Death Eaters as they tried to defend their losing master. At that moment, Hermione heard a faint beeping noise, and was, despite herself, distracted for a second as her digital watch let her know it was noon. Stupid thing! She mentally screamed at the offending accessory.
But a second of accidental distraction was all it took, and at that exact moment, Hermione was struck with a stray hex. The last thing she saw before she fell was the golden locket she had just received last Christmas hanging stubbornly around her neck.
Exactly five years later
The two friends stood outside the hospital room as they had so many times the past five years. They weren't quite ready to enter the room which they knew would bring them so much sadness and pain.
But they had to. They owed it to her. And...they missed her. So much.
So, the red-haired one knocked on the door, knowing no one would call them in, and opened the door slowly.
"'Mione?" He said softly as he carefully made his way across the room. He turned to his friend and saw that his expression was pained.
As it should be.
Before them was the still and virtually lifeless form of a once-vibrant and energetic young woman. Her face was deathly white, and her already-small frame was skinnier than it had been since the last time they had visited her.
Ron approached the bed where she lay , unmoving, with just a slight rise and fall of her chest. As she breathed, a small golden locket around her slight neck steadily rose. He took her hand gently, feeling the cold, stiff fingers in his own. It was a hand that hadn't turned a page, gripped a wand, or brushed a stray lock of hair out of it's owner's face in five years.
He sighed and pulled his hand back. These visits were always emotionally draining for Harry and himself. To see someone they loved in such a death-like state was hard to bear. But that was just it. They loved her. So they would always continue to check up on her.
Harry pulled two chairs from a small table nearby. The room was nicely furnished. He wanted her to be comfortable, despite her current state. He put the chairs side-by-side next to the bed, and took one for himself. Then he began to speak, his voice hoarse, as if she could hear him.
"Hello, Hermione. It's Harry...and Ron. We've come to visit. Happy...well, Anniversary, I guess.." She didn't move one muscle-save for the repetitive rise and fall that let them know she was alive-let alone respond to his awkward greeting. He paused uncomfortably before continuing.
"Ginny misses you terribly. Said she would've come, but she's got to watch after James, you know. We're expecting another soon, too. Another boy, she thinks. We'll have our hands full." At this he chuckled softly, and when he ceased, they pair again felt an awkward strain.
"We, uh, brought you something. We thought, well, the Healer's said that they played you music sometimes, so..we got you some of your favorite books on audio...we hope you like it." He smiled softly and took a small package filled with square discs out of his pocket. He placed the gift on the bedside table. He wished desperately that she would reach out and pat his hand, telling him he shouldn't have gone to the trouble,meticulously pulled the ribbon off the package, and then smiled at their thoughtfulness despite herself. But she wouldn't, of course. Probably some healer would come in after they departed and rip open her gift for her.
Harry's eyebrows creased together in response to his depressing thoughts.
Ron chose that moment to speak up. "I can't believe it's been another year, 'Mione. It seems like just yesterday we were in Hogwarts getting into all sorts of mischief and you were making sure we didn't die...or worse, get expelled." The friends laughed at a shared memory, but quieted quickly. It didn't seem right without Hermione adding in a jibe at their silliness.
At that moment, the clock on the wall struck noon, it's low clangs forming in unison with the high-pictched beeping wristwatch Hermione wore on her left hand. Harry and Ron stood up, fully reminded of the time. Visitors were only allowed fifteen minutes for intensive care patients. Even for The-Boy-Who-Lived-And-Then-Saved-The-Whole-Wizarding-Population-Again.
As they were about to say their goodbyes, though, they heard another sound coming from the previously still form on the bed before them. And before the two timekeepers could signal their twelfth hour, a muffled groan was issued from the previously idle being; a sound one makes when waking up from a five-year-long coma.