Ron Weasley sat by her side, his face screwed up in a half-concerned, half-angry look, his emotions utterly tangled. Concern, because one of his best friends was lying next to him, completely frozen, and anger at himself for feeling this much concern. He didn't really know why he was so upset about her. He knew that Hermione would be better as soon as Professor Sprout could produce the antidote from the mature mandrakes. He knew she would not be stuck like this forever, her eyes glassy, her lips parted in an interrupted gasp. He knew she'd be okay.

But really, this was an improvement on her usual attitude: know-it-all, smug, bossy Hermione. The fact that she couldn't speak or give him that disapproving look was somewhat of a blessing right now. But then again...

He looked around the infirmary. He was all alone. Well, alone if you didn't count the petrified victims lying in the beds surrounding him, and that Madam Pomfrey was standing in the doorway, waiting for him. Ron tried to tell himself that he was simply concerned about passing his final exams-he couldn't do it without Hermione, after all. They couldn't do a lot of things without her, like figure out who was behind all these attacks. Maybe she had found something out that afternoon that she had been attacked.

"Ahem," Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat from across the room. "I think you ought to be getting back to your common room now, Mr Weasley."

"Coming," Ron replied. He looked at Hermione one more time, that same look on his face. He certainly didn't miss the bickering, he thought, as he took her hand in his, stroking it with his thumb. Slowly, the look of anger at himself melted away, leaving only concern. "See you when you wake up."