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A Talk in the Hospital Wing

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"Did you mean it, Hermione?"

"Mean what?"

She paused to hear his response, but just after hearing his inquiry Ron had shoved a chocolate frog into his mouth. Hermione didn't bother to hide a roll of her eyes as she buried her head back in her copy ofHistories and Mysteries of the Ministry of Magic. Ron chewed hurriedly, not being able to understand how his friend stayed enthralled in such a dreadfully boring book. Besides, he couldn't understand why she was bothering; their battle against the Death Eaters was three days passed, and any information about the mysterious rooms the students encountered there was a lot less helpful than it would have been a week prior.

However, Hermione had expressed interest in such information anyway, and she was becoming restless and jaded being confined to the hospital wing with only Ron for company. When she started to quiz Ron on possible charms that may appear on their NEWTs, Ron could think of no other solution than to beg Madam Pomfrey to get Hermione any books she wanted from the library.

He swallowed the chocolate and twirled his Donaghan Tremlett card in his hand, watching the picture jam out on an orange guitar. Hermione peeked up from over her book, curiosity getting the better of her. "Ron? Did I mean what?"

Ron frowned, looking up. "Oh… Did you mean what you said about Harry, when he told us Sirius was in trouble? I mean about him having a 'saving-people-thing'?"

Hermione grumbled a sigh and set the book down open in front of her. "Ron-"

"I know that you weren't trying to be mean… but did you mean it?" Ron ruffled his red hair nervously, the thought occurring to him that this may be the most serious conversation that he had even had with Hermione.

"Ron, hasn't it ever occurred to you that it's quite odd that every time something happens at Hogwarts – something bad – Harry seems to be in the centre of it?"

Ron shrugged. "Of course, but Hermione-"

"And hasn't it ever occurred to you that every time Voldemort – don't shutter like that, Ron! – does something, even the slightest thing, Harry always finds a way to be involved?"

"Well, yeah…" Ron agreed reluctantly. He wasn't sure where this was going, and he wasn't sure that he liked it.

"Ron, sometimes I wonder if trouble's attracted to him… or if he's attracted to trouble."

Ron wrinkled his nose at her, and she frowned, looking down at her book.

"Hermione, how can you say that! It's not as if Harry goes looking for trouble-"

"Is just tends to pop up wherever he is?" Hermione finished.

"Well, Hermione, it's not like he's any old kid… you may have forgotten, but Harry's The Boy Who Lived!"

Hermione looked unphased, and it occurred to Ron that he frequently forgot she was Muggle born. He sometimes forgot that she hadn't been raised her whole life hearing about Harry Potter, how he was the only one to survive an attack by He Who Must Not Be Named, how he was so amazing and wonderful and special… To Hermione, Harry was just a kid she read about in a book a month before she met him. To Ron, Harry was a life-long hero.

"You don't get it, do you?" Ron asked, and Hermione still stared at him blankly. "Harry's not like us… He's important."

Hermione looked something between hurt and astonished, and Ron felt guilty about his statement, regardless of the amount of truth it held.

"Besides…" He added. "Harry's always in the middle of trouble… and if you haven't noticed, we're always there with him."

Hermione shook her head. "Well of course we are, Ron! We're his friends! But that's not the point!"

Ron crossed his arms, leaning back on his pillow and looked straight in front of him, avoiding her gaze. "It is the point Hermione. I don't know if you noticed, but we're the only people Harry has!"

Hermione flushed this time, embarrassed. Ron was right, wasn't he? Here she was, talking about how Harry always tended to be the centre of attention… and when it came down it, so were they. She had read all about Wizard-world history, about the Boy Who Lived, about Voldemort's reign of terror… but somehow, what she read in her books had always been very different from what was real. "Harry is our best friend, Ron. But Harry is just… Harry. He shouldn't be expected to save the world. He shouldn't even try!"

"Well why not!" Ron exclaimed. "How do you know what he is and isn't supposed to do? Maybe the reason why Vo- Vol-" He swallowed and shook his head, "Why He Who Must Not Be Named keeps going after Harry is because that's what Harry's meant to do… he supposed to fight him!"

Hermione was clutching her book tightly, and when Ron looked closer, he saw there were tears in her eyes. He bit his lip. "Hermione, what is it?"

"It's…" She shuttered a sigh. "It's just not fair, Ron. Sirius is dead! And I can't help but think that if I had tried to convince Harry more that his dream might have been a trick… or if we had tried harder to find Sirius, he might still be here!" A rogue tear escaped and slid down her cheek, and she wiped it away. "We're fifteen, Ron. And already we've had to fight Voldemort – stop it – in some form or another, five times! At first it wasn't so scary – maybe even exciting – but after Cedric's died and now Sirius and, Ron, I just can't help but wonder, who will be next?"

Ron's face was deathly white, as if he was no longer and living, breathing student, but instead one of the many ghosts that wandered Hogwarts' halls. "You don't think that it could be you… or me… or Harry, do you?"

She was hugging the book now, as if trying to retrieve as much comfort from it as she could. "I don't know, Ron. I really don't know."

Ron didn't know what else to do, so he leaned across his bed, reaching his hand out toward his friend. Hermione looked at him with large, wet eyes, and her hand left the book, grasping his own. He gave a small, comforting squeeze.

"Whatever happens Hermione… we have to remember that Harry needs us. And we need each other. And as long as we stick together, like we have for the last five years… nothing can beat us. Not even Voldemort." Ron gaped, not realizing that he said the name he had feared for so many years, but this time he didn't shutter. But Hermione couldn't help but smile, as the colour was finally coming back to his face. He smiled back at her widely, and flushed slightly, before pulling his hand back and busying himself with another chocolate frog. Hermione buried herself back into her book, but only half-heartedly, sneaking a look at her fellow Gryffindor every now and again.

This had been the first time that the seriousness of their situation had sunk in; and both began to understand, as they supposed Harry did, that it was very possible that one – or all – of them may not make it to their seventh year alive. But what they understood even more was that this sacrifice – the same sacrifice that Sirius had made for his godson, the person that he loved most in the world – was worth making, because they were friends. They were three best friends, and when trouble was around… they tended to be too. Hermione couldn't help but realize that Harry did have a "saving-people-thing"… but so did she. And so did Ron.

And they always would, as long as there were people to save.