1 May 1998
Neville sat cross-legged in his hammock, hands folded and pressed against his mouth. The Room of Requirement was eerily quiet. The last few remaining members of the DA were gathered around Neville, but no one said anything. It was half past midnight, and they were waiting.
They had gone on a vandalism spree, in groups of four. As planned, Ernie and Neville had been the first to return, closely followed by a breathless Susan Bones and Padma Patil. Zacharias and Seamus had come back on schedule, Terry and Lavender at their heels. Zacharias had managed to break his elbow, running from Filch's patrol. Lavender and Anthony had set the break and mended it. He was sleeping soundly in his hammock. The last two pairs, however, had gotten separated. Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein had come back without Hannah and Parvati.
Now everyone sat in silence. Ernie was the only person moving, pacing slowly back and forth at the far end of the room, where the door would materialize. And it would materialize, Ernie told himself. Hannah would come back safely. She had to.
"Ernie, would you just sit down or something?" snapped Padma, her voice quavering. Everyone stared at her.
"Calm down, Padma," Terry said, reaching out to touch her arm.
"No!" Padma cried. "Don't tell me to calm down, Boot, or I swear—" she reached for her wand just as the doorway opened, and Hannah stumbled through, supporting Parvati, who appeared to be unconscious. Lavender and Padma leapt to their feet and grabbed Parvati before she could fall from Hannah's arms, laying her on a nearby Ravenclaw hammock. Terry and Seamus hurried over, carrying the makeshift first-aid kit.
"Hannah," Ernie said, throwing his arms around his girlfriend, who immediately winced and pushed him away with one arm.
"Ow, Ernie, no, not right now," she said weakly, holding her left arm around her ribs. She turned and started to face the others, taking a step forward, but sank to her knees.
"Hannah?" Neville asked. He hurried over and gently pulled her hand away from her right side. It was covered in blood.
"Merlin's beard," Ernie muttered.
"Let's get you up, Hannah, come on," Neville said, taking her elbows and supporting her weight onto a hammock by Parvati's.
"I'm fine," Hannah mumbled, her eyes closing. Her face was very white. "Take care of Parvati."
"Lavender's tending to her," Neville assured her, glancing over his shoulder. "You're bleeding a lot, we need to stop it. Susan, get the—" Before he could finish the sentence, Michael, Susan, and Anthony were tearing strips of white gauze into bandages. Ernie knelt by Hannah's head, stroking her hair.
Anthony and Susan came around to Hannah's injured side. Susan lifted aside her best friend's robes, revealing a hole in her sweater. There was a deep gash on her ribs, about five inches long. It was bleeding profusely, staining through her clothing. Anthony sucked in his breath through his teeth.
"Hannah," Anthony said. She opened her eyes with visible effort. "We need to take your sweater off. Susan's going to do it."
Hannah nodded, lifting her right arm above her head so that Susan could peel back the bloody garment. When she had, she handed it to Ernie and ripped open the side of Hannah's blouse. Ernie averted his eyes, catching a glimpse of her pale pink brassiere, soaked with her blood.
"Keep her talking," Anthony advised Neville and Ernie. "She's going into shock, but we don't want her passing out. Michael, get some blankets and cover her."
"Hey," Ernie said softly, leaning over Hannah. He touched her hair gently. "Hannah, open your eyes." She did so, but before Ernie could say anything else, Neville interrupted.
"Hannah, tell me what happened," he said.
Hannah swallowed. "We got caught," she said simply. "Carrow saw us, and we ran. He fired a few jinxes, but missed. Parvati got him with a really good Impediment Jinx," Hannah said with a small smile.
"He didn't follow you here, did he?" Ernie asked.
Hannah shook her head. "He caught up with us when we were a floor below. We were rounding a corner, and Parvati heard him coming—aargh," she moaned.
"It's all right, Hannah," Susan said. "Anthony's just cleaning the cut, we'll mend it in a minute."
"What happened next, Hannah?" Ernie asked, squeezing her hand.
"Parvati heard him," Hannah said, her eyes drooping.
"No, Hannah, come on, stay awake," Ernie told her, trying to keep the panic from his voice.
Hannah mustered all her strength. "Parvati heard him coming after us, and we hid. Then when he rounded the corner, she just leapt out in front of him, trying to jinx him again, but he was too quick. Got her with Cruciatus, strong enough that she passed out—" Hannah's eyes filled with tears. "I didn't know what she was doing, I didn't react fast enough to help her. I just stood there," she told Neville.
"Hannah, it's okay," Neville told her firmly. "You brought her back safely. How did you get away from him?"
"He started going closer to her," Hannah said, tears starting to fall into her hair. "So I stepped out behind him and tried to use Petrificus Totalus, but he heard me, and turned around. Did that slashing curse—secta-something?—and I tried to jump out of the way—" She hissed in pain.
"Hang in there, Hannah," Anthony told her. "We're almost done." Hannah nodded.
"He got me, obviously," Hannah said. "But then I got him," she smiled slightly. "He's probably still lying in the corridor."
Neville nodded. "All right," he said, taking her hand. "I'm going to check on Parvati. Brilliant work, Hannah. Get some rest. Anthony, need anything?" Anthony and Susan were enchanting the bandages to circle tightly around Hannah's ribs.
"If she can leave Parvati, can you ask Padma to see about putting together a Blood-Replenishing Potion?" Anthony asked. He looked at Hannah, who was still very white. "She's going to need one." Neville nodded. Michael and Seamus passed him, each carrying blankets to Parvati and Hannah's hammocks.
"Here, Hannah," Michael said, shaking out the blankets and laying them over her.
"Thank Merlin," said Hannah, sounding rather disoriented. "I'm freezing."
Ernie helped Michael tuck the blankets around Hannah, then leaned over and kissed her forehead. "Better?" he asked, trying to look into her eyes. She seemed unable to keep her focus in one place.
"Where's Neville?" she asked, a slight frown on her face.
"He's with Parvati, dear," Susan said, biting her lip as she came to sit by Ernie.
"She's definitely in shock," Anthony said. "Keep her warm, and don't let her go to sleep. I'm going to see if Padma can help with that potion." He stood and trotted away, Michael close behind him. Now just Ernie and Susan sat with Hannah, each holding one of her hands.
Hannah looked up at Ernie and smiled softly. "Hi," she said.
Ernie felt his eyes fill with tears, and he wiped them away hurriedly. "Hi, sweetheart," he said, his voice shaking slightly.
"Since when do you call me that?" Hannah asked, a grin playing around her lips.
Ernie frowned. "I—I've always called you that, Hannah."
Hannah shook her head. "Ernie calls me sweetheart, not you, Neville," she said.
Ernie blanched. "Hannah, it's me, it's Ernie," he said, clutching her hand.
"What?" Hannah asked. She looked desperate and confused, and turned to Susan. "Where's Neville?" she asked again, her voice rising.
Susan looked up at Ernie, her eyes wide, and shook her head. "I—I—"
"Hannah, I need you to drink this," Padma said as she came and knelt beside Susan, carrying a small vial of a dark blue potion. She uncorked the vial and handed it to Ernie. Her face was tearstained, but she seemed to be all right.
Ernie held Hannah's head and tipped the vial into her mouth, her hand clutching his wrist. Then Hannah sank back and relaxed a little, her face flooding with color. Padma nodded.
"She's going to need someone to sit up with her," Padma told Ernie and Susan. "She can go to sleep now."
"I'll do it," Ernie said instantly. Susan looked at him and nodded.
"Okay," said Padma. She got to her feet and started to leave.
"Padma? Is Parvati all right?" Susan asked. Padma looked back at her and nodded. Then she hurried back to her sister's hammock.
"You should get some sleep, Susan, I'll stay with her," Ernie said. Susan nodded, looking into his eyes.
"Ernie, I'm sure she was just confused," she said, trying to reassure him. "She—she probably didn't mean it. She wanted you."
Ernie nodded, his expression full of false confidence. "Right," he said. "Night, Susan." He looked at Hannah's face, and Susan got to her feet.
"Night, Ernie," Susan said softly. She walked a few feet away, then glanced back. Ernie sat beside Hannah, holding her hand with a very loving, tender expression on his face. She sighed and went to see Parvati and Zacharias.
Later that night, Susan sat in her black and gold hammock, silently shaking with tears. A hand reached around her shoulder, embracing her, and she looked up, surprised.
Padma smiled at her. "It's all right," she said softly. "Hannah's fine. We're all okay."
Susan gave a strangled laugh and wiped her cheek. "It's not that," she said in a choked whisper. "It sounds so stupid…"
"Oh," Padma said softly. She glanced over her shoulder, where Ernie's outline was just visible next to Hannah's hammock.
"I just—I miss the way things used to be. He—they used to be my friends. Now they're just—them," she said, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed. "And she doesn't even want to be with him anymore," Susan said desperately, throwing her hand up. Then she sighed. "That was a horrible thing to say. I just—I miss—" she buried her face in her hands and cried.
Padma rubbed her back. "You know, Susan," she said, "sometimes, the worst way to miss someone is to have them sitting right next to you, and knowing that you can't have them." Susan nodded, not looking up. "But one day soon, things are going to get better for everyone, I swear."
"Yeah," Susan said, wiping her face. "Soon."
"How You Make Me Feel" Challenge. Hopped into my heart and demanded to be written.