The Most Important Thing

Harry ran as fast as he could, weaving in and out of the Aurors trying to subdue the last remaining struggling figures. They'd coordinated surprisingly quickly to draw out and herd the figures into the centre of the Hall where they were picked off easily by the experienced and angry Aurors. He'd quickly scanned the terrified guests stumbling to the Aurors organising portkeys to St Mungo's and felt his stomach growing heavier and heavier. A few more bangs were heard as his attention was drawn by his superior's shouting. Curses suddenly exploded from one of the rooms coming off the Hall and Harry threw himself into the fight.

The figure standing over Ron was surprised and felled swiftly by her Stunning Spell but she had to duck as the other reacted quickly, a flash of red blazing overhead. Sending another stunner she had to cast a shield as he jumped to the floor, sending a curse as he did. From the floor he cast the fastest disarm spell she'd ever seen and gasped as her wand was flung away from her. Grinning, the figure was up again and she had nowhere to run, bracing herself for the worst and cursing her slow wand skills. She looked over to Ron and saw that he'd gone. Suddenly she was slammed backwards by something and hit the wall hard. Wincing as she fell forward onto her hands, Hermione tried to look up to face her end but her head was so heavy. Coughing and trying to regain control, she heard the figure grunt and shout at the filthy blood traitor to get off him. Not wasting a second, Hermione lunged and managed to grasp her wand and, before the figure could see her, stunned him with a bit too much force.

Grimacing, she still gripped her wand tightly, panting and eyeing the still figures on the floor. Hermione stood shakily and, limping slightly, wound her way through the bodies to reach him. The blood diffusing from his head darkened and clumped his hair, running down his pale face but Hermione thanked everything she could think of to see him push himself up and return her desperate embrace. He was shaking, small tremors in every muscle; trying to relax him she rubbed his back and was about to speak when he said hoarsely.

"Hermione, are you alright? You're shaking." Frowning, she pulled apart and realised that it was her that was trembling. She nodded and tried to relax, a nervous, quivering laugh worked its way out of her throat as Ron sat up further, bringing a palm to his head tentatively and wincing. Breathing out firmly, she reached up and turned his head gently, getting a better look at the wound. As she was healing it, her eyes spotted something else, a fresh splatter of blood on the back of his neck, running down from...What was that?

"Ron, what's this?" He flinched when she put her thumb next to the source of the blood but she moved closer to it, cleaning some of the blood away with her wand. It was round, a small incision at the base of his skull.

"Hermione, we, should…" He struggled to breathe slower, heart still pounding, but Hermione was distracted. Remembering the strange behaviour of one of the figures, she searched him quickly and found what she was looking for. Forgetting everything else in the challenge of a puzzle she analysed it. It was small and black, in the shape of a thin block of wood but made of some kind of metal. He had been muttering into it, but had he been enchanting it or talking into it?

Multiple explanations and scenarios rushed through her head. Was it a communication device? Possibly. Less conspicuous than a Patronus… Turning the thing over she waved her wand over it and discerned no communication spell she knew. Beside her Ron shifted. His breath was lengthening little by little as he fought against the raw tension in his limbs. He managed to choke out.

"Whatever they're doing, the most important thing…" Her head felt numb as she pulled at the thing and it extended, a small hook emerging…the hole in the back of his neck! She looked back up to examine the incision again but saw Ron's eyes instead, pleading. "Hermione! We need to get, out, of here-" She was held by his eyes, seeing so much in them; so much that terrified her. Gulping she nodded slowly, realising that she had no idea how to escape. He was going on. "There must be a trapdoor or…secret passage or-"

"Ron!" She silenced him and turned her head to the door. They heard bangs and shouting coming from the direction of the Hall.

"Do you think that's rescue?" Not answering, Hermione shuffled on her hands and knees to the door, and cautiously peered round, ignoring Ron's whispered warnings. From where she was, she could only see flashes of light but she heard a familiar voice calling for her and Ron. Smiling she felt a hand on her shoulder and sat back on her heels, feeling dizzy. Looking into those blue, blue eyes she felt her own close, but still saw him, if that was possible. He was saying her name urgently but his voice seemed far away.

"Ron, I-" Her head was feeling heavy and it was getting hard to think. He was whispering and then speaking loudly, his voice oscillating in volume like when her father used to tune the radio.

"Shh… don't. Let's just get you out of here."

"I'm sorry for leaving… I never… should have… left." Gentle hands encircled her and she felt herself being moved upwards. Close to unconsciousness, she felt the warmth from his body spreading through her arms to her chest. The last thing she heard was his soft voice, steeled.

"I'm going to get you home."