Setting: During POA

Summary: Hermione is badly injured by a dark poison and has to rely on Harry to pull her through the sickness and pain, even if she can't see him.

Harry and Hermione sat in the Gryffindor commons room, working on potions essays when a shout from the direction of the boys' dorm rooms roused them.

"Your cat killed Scabbers!" Ron screamed at Hermione from the top of the stairs.

"No he didn't!" Hermione exclaimed. "How could he? He's been in my dorm all day!"

"Then how do you explain this?" Ron shouted as he ran to where they sat and grabbed her wrist roughly and began hauling her toward the dorm.

"Ron!" Harry exclaimed at this sudden violent outburst and rushed after them. "Easy, mate!"

Ron bounded up the steps, dragging Hermione behind. As her feet hit the first step, it turned to a slope and her feet fell from under her and she slid with a brief shriek.

"RON!" She shouted angrily. "Stop this at once!"

Her cry was echoed by Harry, who was at the foot of the slope, unable to climb them and stop Ron.

The boy did not stop. He tightened his grip on her arm and hauled her up the stairs that rapidly turned to a slide as she touched them. She cried out in pain as he wrenched her arm to pull her to the landing, where he left her on her knees and ran into the dorm. He came out dragging a sheet which he shoved in front of Hermione's face as she knelt on the landing.

"There's BLOOD! And Scabbers is gone!" He shouted, his face turning as red as his hair.

Harry managed to crawl up the steep slope using one of the pokers from the fire as leverage. He hauled himself up beside Hermione and examined the sheet.

"Ron!" Harry shouted reproachfully. "That's not blood. It's ketchup! How could you accuse Hermione of something like that so quickly?" The girl in question had gone quite white and wasn't even looking at the sheet before her. She was still on her knees, clutching her wrist to her body.

"I still think Crookshanks had something to do with this," bellowed Ron. "That cat has had it in for my Scabbers since the day they met!"

"Ron," Harry began angrily, "you have absolutely no evidence. That rat of yours is probably wandering around in your bed, looking for whatever other food you left in it. At least look!" Ron stormed off, but not toward the dorm. He stomped down the stairs that had reappeared and thundered out the portrait hole.

"What is WRONG with him?" Harry wondered aloud before looking to his companion. Hermione was taking very shallow breaths and looked like she were about to faint.

"Hermione!" Harry shouted in shock at her condition.

"Harry… my arm… he did something to it!" She muttered, dazedly. She let him pull it from her body to where he could see it. It didn't look visibly deformed, but a small puncture wound had now appeared on the underside of her wrist and it was bleeding steadily. Her eyelids were flickering as she collapsed to rest on her side. Her breath became even shorter as if she were being choked. Harry began to panic. He quickly took her into his arms and rushed toward the hospital wing.

As soon as Ron was outside the castle, something dropped to the grass with a plop from his robes. Pettigrew once again turned into a man, as he had in Ron's dorm room. The boy was still under the imperious curse and didn't even flinch as his pet turned into a rat-like man in front of his eyes. Pettigrew commanded the boy to drop the syringe he still held grasped in his hand, and promptly vanished it. Then he transformed back into a rat, hopped back into Ron's robes, and sent the boy on a lonely trek to the closest floo - in Hogsmeade.

Hermione had fallen into unconsciousness as Harry rushed to the hospital wing, her body cradled in his arms. He tried not to jolt her too hard, but he was more concerned about her life than her comfort at the moment. She was not breathing much if at all when he made it to the door. Madame Pomfrey received them immediately and led Harry to a vacant bed, where he gently laid Hermione's still body down. Healer Pomfrey was casting diagnostic and stabilizing spells on the girl faster than Harry could believe possible. All Harry could think to do was to take Hermione's hand and display the puncture wound in her wrist to the healer, who immediately stopped to examine it.

"Ron… had her wrist… think he stabbed her with something." Harry gasped, out of breath from his dead sprint to the wing. Madame Pomfrey put a small vial over the mark and, after casting a vacuum spell on the container, a small amount of blood and serum drained into it. Upon isolating and magically testing the sample, Madame Pomfrey paled slightly and rushed to get a cauldron heating.

"It's a dark poison - illegal, created and mixed only by death eaters." She shouted back to Harry, who was looking quite alarmed at the expression on the medi-witch's face.

"Is she going to be okay?" He asked in a panic.

He received no response as Madame Pomfrey called through the floo for Snape to send some ingredients through, which she quickly mixed into a potion.

As this was happening, Harry kept a close eye on Hermione. She was pale and cold, and her breathing was very shallow. Harry took her uninjured hand and squeezed it, feeling her racing pulse through her wrist.

"Hang on Hermione," Harry whispered.

The medi-witch soon rushed to Hermione's bedside. She was carrying, to Harry's alarm, a needle and syringe. The syringe was filled, presumably, with the potion she had just made. She popped the needle onto it and quickly injected it into a vein in Hermione's arm. Moments later, a spasm went through the unconscious girl's body.

"Stand back, Harry!" Madame Pomfrey warned. "She will be fine in a few moments."

Harry reluctantly moved away from his friend as she thrashed around briefly, and then lay quite still. He cautiously approached Hermione's body as she lay on the bed, closely followed by Madame Pomfrey. The medi-witch cast a few more diagnostic spells and seemed satisfied.

"She will be fine now, Harry." She said, seeing his concern.

"What did it - the poison - do to her?" He asked, shaken, as he gently touched her still arm.

"It's a poison with multiple, but not long-lasting effects. Most symptoms will last for 24 hours, the others for the rest of the week. She will more than likely remain unconscious for 30 more minutes, but after she wakes, she will be blinded, mute, and feverish. Those are just the physical effects. Emotionally, she will experience what is known as the Terror. The symptoms are described as being locked in a room full of dementors. Those effects are minimized by physical touch. The fact that you, Harry, are close to her and care for her well-being, means that you need to be here with her to preserve her mental state. If left alone for too long, she could end up like the Longbottoms."

Harry paled at this information and subconsciously moved closer to his friend, taking her hand in his.

"The only symptoms that will last for the rest of the week are pain in her joints that will make walking difficult, a dull ache in her left hand from the residual poison, and nightmares. She may also retain her blindness for up to two weeks. Of course, she will need to stay here in the hospital ward to make sure she does not get any worse, but in a few days she may be able to attend a few classes with your help, should you agree to give it." Harry nodded profusely.

"Of course I'll help her. She's my best friend!" The boy exclaimed, hovering over Hermione protectively.

"Good," the healer said. "She will need your affection and care very much this week."

Madame Pomfrey gently bandaged Hermione's bleeding wrist and draped a blanket over the unconscious girl.

"It will help her immensely if you are touching her at all times in some way. You will probably need to lie by her side tonight and possibly future nights as she recovers. I trust you will not take advantage of her in any way." Harry spluttered and turned red, rendered speechless.

"I thought not," the woman said with a faint smile. "She should be just fine."

Harry sat down on the bed next to his best friend and held her hand. He put a hand on her forehead and found that the fever was already setting in. Madame Pomfrey walked over as Hermione stirred and opened her eyes. Harry was dismayed to find them blank and cloudy, her pupils different sizes and generally non functioning. A flash of pain crossed her face and she cried out mutely.

"Hermione!" Harry called, squeezing her hand. "It's okay. I'm here." Her mouth formed silent words.

Where am I?

"You're in the hospital wing, dear," Healer Pomfrey cut in as Harry helped Hermione sit up. "Harry is right, everything is going to be okay. You were poisoned by a dark poison. Somebody attacked you. Don't worry, Mr. Potter. We have people investigating the incident already."

The healer went on to explain the symptoms of Hermione's affliction to the girl, who simply sat in shock at the end.

"I'm not going to leave you, Hermione. I'll be right here the whole time. If you're okay with it, I'll lie down beside you to keep the Terror away." She squeezed his hand and nodded. Tears were beginning to well up in her blank eyes. She closed them and bent her head down into her arms. Harry gently wrapped his arms around her shaking body. She was excessively warm to the touch as she leaned her head against his shoulder.

"It's going to be okay," he whispered softly into her hair as he rubbed her back. He felt her open her mouth and try to speak, but upon remembering that she couldn't talk, she dissolved into tears once more.

"I can't give you a dreamless sleep potion, Hermione. It will cause the Terror to last twice as long." Madame Pomfrey said, gently patting the girl's leg under the blanket.

Hermione had pulled away slightly, but upon hearing that she reached out for Harry with both hands, not heeding the bulky bandage on her left. He gently took both her hands in his as the distraught look on her face softened at the touch.

"Keep close, you two." Madame Pomfrey advised. "You'll be safe with Harry here. I'm sure of it. It's getting late. Are you tired, Hermione?" The girl nodded although reluctantly. Harry could tell she was feeling the dementor-like effects of the poison. He sensed her nervousness through her trembling hands.

"If it's okay with you… I'll hold you." Harry suggested with a gentle squeeze of her hands. She nodded and relaxed as he wrapped his arms securely around her shaking body. She sighed as some of her tension melted away. Harry smiled. He was glad to relieve some of her pain.

"Lay down now, and sleep. You'll feel better in about 23 hours, and the more of it you spend asleep, the better. Harry will be with you, dear. You won't be alone. Sleep," Madame Pomfrey said soothingly as she helped Harry lower Hermione back down. Harry settled down beside her, one arm still around her shoulders, one wrapped protectively around her waist. She turned her head and without really realizing it, tucked her head under his chin. He could smell her hair and the sweat beginning to form from her fever. He thought she smelled quite nice and a smile began spreading rapidly over his face as he held her close.

Madame Pomfrey, silent now, turned out the lights and retired to her own quarters, but slept lightly in case her dangerously ill charge should worsen. She was not too worried. If anybody could keep the Terror away from Hermione for the next several hours, it would be the boy holding her now.