Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Author's Note: I had to. I just had to. You see, for the last four stories I wrote, I was exploring an alternate universe where Harry didn't survive the ordeal I'm writing about now. After those sad stories, I knew I had to write something canon. Plus, I always did wonder how Ron and Hermione reacted over the three days that Harry was out for the count at the end of Philosopher's Stone.
Please let me know what you think! I love reviews!
There Can Be Miracles
Slowly, the fuzziness of sleep lifted from Hermione Granger's mind. She rolled over and looked at the clock. The time displayed was 6:30.
For a moment, she wondered what had roused her so early. Then, all of a sudden, the events of the day before came barreling back to her. Ron, the Philosopher's Stone, leaving Harry to travel through the fire and face whatever was in that last chamber ... Oh, merlin! Ron! Harry! Panic flooded through her mind faster than lightning. She had to get to them, now!
After she had levitated an unconscious Ron to the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey had sent her back here with a Dreamless Sleep potion. She'd begged to stay with Ron, needing to know that he would be okay, as well as wanting to wait for news on Harry. Professor Dumbledore had run like the hounds of Hell were after him when Hermione had confirmed that Harry was down there fighting. But Madame Pomfrey had seen through her absolute exhaustion, and persisted that she go back to the dorm. Eventually, Hermione had agreed.
But now, nothing could stop her from finding out the truth of her best friends' fates as she got up and dressed as quickly as she could, careful not to wake her still sleeping dormmates. She quietly left the room and travelled downstairs to the common room, only to be met by a drained and exhausted-looking Minerva McGonagall.
"Professor, how did you know ..." Hermione asked with wide eyes, intently studying the woman's facial expression.
"I know how long those Dreamless Sleep potions last, Miss Granger, and I knew you'd be anxious about your friends' health as soon as you woke up," McGonagall answered. "Come with me."
As Hermione followed her to the hospital wing, she continued to cast glances at her professor. What was that in her eyes? It was certainly exhaustion, complete and utter fatigue. It did make her feel a little better, though, when she saw something that looked like relief, and hope, on her face. Please let that mean things are okay, she thought desperately. Please.
Soon enough, they arrived at the hospital wing. McGonagall quietly opened up the doors, and Hermione followed her inside. "Albus? Albus?" she called quietly. "Albus, we have arrived."
"Ah, very good." Professor Albus Dumbledore walked out from a curtained area and came to stand next to Hermione, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Why don't you come with me to Madame Pomfrey's office? Minerva, you know what to do now."
"Yes, Albus. I do." With one final look to the two of them, McGonagall strode purposefully to the exact area where Dumbledore had been moments before.
So Hermione walked with the Headmaster to Madame Pomfrey's office. He looked worn out just like McGonagall did, but Hermione could see the same expression on his face that had been on hers. Her stomach did flip-flops. Please let it be good news, she chanted over and over inside her mind.
And when she got to Madame Pomfrey's office, the first thing she saw caused her heart to somersault in the air, diving with happiness. There, looking shaken but alive and whole, was ...
"Ron!" she exclaimed with joy, running to him and gently putting her arms around him, because he still looked weak. "Ron! Are you ... are you ... what happened? When did you wake up?"
Ron gave her a small smile and replied, "I'm all right, Hermione. I have a concussion, but it's healing. Madame Pomfrey doesn't like that I'm out of bed, but Professor Dumbledore wants to tell us something."
"Right," Hermione said, squeezing Ron's hand. She was ecstatic that at least one of her friends was okay. She sat down in a comfortable chair next to him, and both of them cast their eyes to Professor Dumbledore.
And then, it began. The Headmaster told them everything, right from the moment he had run to retrieve Harry from danger. He explained how he had been fighting Professor Quirrell, using powerful magic to battle him. He explained the idea of how Lily's sacrifice had imbued him with a special power. He did not tell them the whole truth, because he didn't want them to know the graphic details of how the professor's skin had burned. Instead, he told them that the magic Harry had used had weakened Quirrell to the point that Lord Voldemort, who had been possessing him, fled his body, leaving him to die.
Needless to say, both children were shocked. They could hardly take it all in. Eventually, Ron said, "Quirrell? Professor Quirrell was the one? But I thought ..."
Dumbledore gave both him and Hermione a meaningful look. "No, it was not Severus down there," he said softly, causing both children to bow their heads in shame. "What we perceive on the outside is not always true." To this, they could only nod. They had nothing to say.
Eventually, Hermione brought her face up and looked at Professor Dumbledore in the eye. "Harry?" she asked in a tiny voice. "Is he ... is he okay?"
Dumbledore sighed wearily, knowing now was the time. He had to tell Harry's best friends the truth of the situation. "By the time I retrieved him, he was unconscious," he answered quietly. "The magic he used to fight Quirrell off with drained his body of strength. I brought him here to the hospital wing, and after checking him over, Madame Pomfrey diagnosed him with a case of severe magical exhaustion."
Comprehension, as well as fear, swept over Hermione. "You mean ... are you talking about the condition people get sometimes when their body can't handle the magic they use?" she asked, her voice trembling.
"Yes, Miss Granger. That is precisely what I am talking about." Dumbledore sighed again. "By the time I got him into a bed, he had already developed a high fever. Madame Pomfrey began giving him potions to get him healthy again. His body, however, due to the strain it was put through, was extremely slow to respond to them." His eyes grew somber as he went on, "I'm not going to lie to you. There was one point last night when we thought we were losing him. The potions didn't seem to be doing anything for him."
"What?" Ron whispered, as Hermione felt ice envelop her entire body. "What are you saying?"
"Hold on," Dumbledore said gently, looking at the two children with compassion in his blue eyes. "We thought we were going to have to let him go, but ... you two should know already," he said, his eyes suddenly twinkling again, "That your friend is stubborn. Very, very stubborn. He wasn't ready to go." He gave them a soft smile as hope blazed in their eyes. "As of now, he's still with us, still fighting. He is on a regimen of potions, because he still has a high fever and his magic levels are not normal yet. As a matter of fact, Madame Pomfrey just gave him a Fever-Reducing Potion a few minutes ago. It may not have taken effect yet, but we are keeping an eye on him. He's in good hands, I promise you that."
"Has he woken up at all?" Ron croaked. "Can we talk to him?"
"No, he is still unconscious." Dumbledore replied. "And he will not awaken until his magic levels are normal again. You see, magical exhaustion will keep whoever has it asleep until their body is physically strong enough to wake up again."
"Can we at least see him?" Hermione asked, tears swimming in her eyes. "Please?"
Dumbledore looked at her with agentle expression. "Yes, you may see him," he said softly. "But not for very long, because he needs to heal. The only people he should have around him are those who are monitoring and looking after him. But I can let you see him for a few minutes."
So the three got up and headed to the curtained part of the wing where they knew Minerva McGonagall was currently sitting. When they arrived, Dumbledore gently pushed back the curtain ...
And there he was. Harry was lying on the bed, his breathing ragged and his body trembling a little. Ron and Hermione came closer, and Hermione reached out and took his hand, which was burning hot. "Harry," she whispered, her eyes filling as she saw how frail and weak he looked. At that moment he didn't look like the boy who was always running around, seeming to have twice as much energy as his two best friends. "Oh, Harry."
She collapsed to her knees beside him, still holding his hand. The tears came in earnest now, streaming down her face as sobs racked her body. Ron was next to her, looking at his best mate in what could only be numb shock. "You git," he muttered as he looked him up and down. "You stupid, brave, noble git. What were you thinking?"
They stayed by him for a few minutes, Hermione still crying and holding his hand while Ron just continued to watch his sleeping face.
Eventually, Hermione's sobs subsided, and she turned her swollen eyes to Professor Dumbledore, who was looking at her with a gentle, tender expression on his face. "He truly was a hero last night, wasn't he?" she asked shakily.
"He was a braver person than most adult witches and wizards. I can assure you of that," Dumbledore said as his eyes gazed upon Harry. "A much, much braver person."
After a few moments more, Dumbledore looked at the two children, knowing it was time for them to leave their friend's bedside. "Mr. Weasley," he said softly. "You are still healing. You must go back to bed and rest before Madame Pomfrey comes to tell me off for keeping you up for so long. And Miss Granger ... you must return to your school day. Go to the great Hall and eat breakfast, and then you must go to your classes like usual."
For a moment, Hermione wondered how on earth she could get through the school day with this cloud of worry hanging over her. She remembered her last words to Harry the night before, that there was much more to life than books and cleverness. Bravery and friendship topped them by far. But then she stared into Harry's face again, and Dumbledore's words came back to her about how Harry had been a true hero. If he could go out there with no fear and fight for Hogwarts, she could go and face the day. She needed to be brave too, needed to be strong for Harry, so that when he got better, he would be proud of her, like she was of him.
Dumbledore saw the hesitation of the two children and gave them a reassuring smile. "I assure you, he is in good hands," he whispered. "He will be okay. He has come through the worst of it already. Things can only get better from here on out."
So, with a last look at their best friend, Ron and Hermione left him to heal. Ron went back to his bed to rest from his concussion, and Hermione left to go and face the day.
It took three days, three days of silently waiting, hoping, and praying. They were the slowest and most torturous three days of Ron and Hermione's lives. On the second day, Ron was released from Madame Pomfrey's care; he was fit enough to return to Gryffindor Tower. Whenever they could be, he and Hermione were by Harry's side. As time passed, he looked better and better, but true to Dumbledore's word, he remained asleep. The potions were helping his fever gradually come down, and he began to look more and more like the Harry Potter they had always known.
During this time, they both had to answer a thousand questions from students all through the Hogwarts years. Professor Flitwick had come in front of the school at breakfast on that first morning, announcing Harry's act of bravery to all the students, which of course meant that the questions were piled and piled upon Hermione, and the following day, both her and Ron. They answered them the best they could, reassuring many students that Harry would eventually recover and be back with them.
And finally, the day came. It was early morning, exactly three days since they'd first heard the news of Harry's condition. When they arrived at the hospital wing to visit their friend, they were met with the most beautiful sight ever.
When they parted the curtains by Harry's bed, the boy's emerald eyes were wide open, and he was looking at them with joy and relief on his young face. "Hello," he said softly, his voice croaky, but it was the most wonderful sound in the world. "How are you?"
Hermione felt her eyes fill with tears of joy as she saw Harry's smile for the first time in what felt like forever. She was so choked up that she could not speak for a minute.
"We're fine, mate," Ron answered for both of them. "But never mind us. Whatever you do, don't you ever, EVER scare us like that again."
And the three of them spent the next little while just talking, blissfully catching up. Ron and Hermione kept glancing at him every few seconds to make sure he was really there, really alive, that they weren't just dreaming this. As they talked, Harry's personality came through sure and strong. He even started talking about when he could get out of here. "I want to be well enough for the Leaving Feast," he said, smiling. "Especially after what I've heard from Fred and George about it being so good."
His best friends exchanged glances and grinned at each other. They should have known that even a near-death experience wouldn't change Harry at all.
And later, even though they had to leave his bedside because he was falling asleep on them, they knew that everything was going to be okay. The last thing he did before they left was hug them. There were many, many unsaid things in the hug. But they didn't need to be said, because their friendship was now stronger than ever. "Thanks," was the only word to escape Harry as he let go of them.
"Anything for you, Harry." Hermione replied softly as she and Ron turned, as one, to walk away. "Anything."
And as they left the hospital wing to go and share the wonderful news with the rest of the school, their hearts were full to bursting with joy. At twelve years old, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger knew the meaning of the word miracle. Above all, it meant one thing ... and his name was Harry Potter.