Arithmancy classes had been cancelled until further notice. In a cot in the now mostly-cleared-out Hospital wing, Percy Weasley lay, unmoving and unconscious, the only evidence of life in the shallow breaths that he took. The curse that he'd been hit with, although it had been broken by Bill, had wreaked havoc on his body. It was anyone's guess, really, when he might return to consciousness.
Ginny sat by his cot for many hours at a time, only leaving when Madam Pomfrey insisted she go get some rest. Of course, she never slept - she hadn't slept in days. She was too busy watching; worrying.
The ringing of a bell signalled the end of one class, and the beginning of another. And there came the sound of the door opening, followed by the sound of footsteps. Hermione Granger walked into the hospital wing, her head bowed. Without a word, she made her way towards where Percy was lying. She'd seen Ginny there for the past few days, but besides brief words of greeting, they'd not spoken. She sat down by Percy's bedside, her face pale and wan with worry.
''You're back,'' Ginny said, barely moving her lips.
Hermione nodded slightly, unsure how to explain this behaviour. "How is he?"
''He hasn't changed.''
Hermione bit her lip slightly. "I see," her voice was soft, tinged with worry. "Er... how are you?"
''I'm.....fine,'' Ginny replied blankly. ''You?''
Hermione shrugged slightly, her eyes fixed on Percy's still, expressionless face. Almost involuntarily, she reached out, about to brush his hair out of the way... until she recalled herself, where she was, and who was there with her. She retracted her hand and stared down at the floor.
Ginny noticed this movement, and pursed her lips. She had seen Hermione do that before, when she thought no one was looking. ''Hermione?''
"Yes?" the older girl slowly turned her head to look at Percy's sister.
She paused, unsure of how to put it delicately. In the end, she decided to be blunt. ''You like Percy, don't you?''
"Of course I do," Hermione murmured, turning abruptly away, "He's very smart... and despite what Ron says, he's not just a stuffed shirt."
''No,'' she said sharply, but then toned her voice down. ''Let me rephrase that. You like him as more than a friend, don't you?''
Hermione's head jerked sharply up, her eyes wide and a telltale flush growing in her cheeks. "What... made you come to that conclusion?"
Ginny looked at her knowingly. ''You come here every day. You watch him for hours....I do, but I'm his sister. We're close.'' She paused. ''You always go to brush his hair away, and....'' she trailed off. ''Take it....take if from someone who's engaged?'' she offered, giving the other girl a small smile. ''It's obvious.''
For a few moments, Hermione stared at the floor, her hair coming forward and hiding her face from view. When she finally looked up, her eyes were filled with pain. "Ginny, I..." she started, before she abruptly lowered her voice, "You're right." I love him, and he's hurt, and I don't know what to do and I hate seeing him like this and...
She rested a comforting hand on the older girl's shoulder. ''Don't break down,'' she advised. ''Madam Pomfrey said he'll be coming 'round any day now, and he won't want to wake up to you being sad.''
Hermione looked at the other girl almost strangely. "You... you don't... find it strange, then... that I'm in love with your brother. My TEACHER, for the past year?" she asked cautiously.
Ginny shrugged. ''Okay, so? I'm engaged to my best friend. Who my family - excepting two of them - despite.''
Hermione nodded slowly, managing a slight smile. "Well... you know... I was rather... worried. Somehow I don't think Ron would... take it well."
''Worried about what, you and Percy?''
Hermione nodded, blushing slightly.
She shrugged. ''If you ignore Ron, he does go away,'' she confided.
Hermione let out a slight laugh. "Speaking from experience?" she asked rhetorically, before turning back to Percy. "I... I don't know, just... I hope he gets better soon and... opens his eyes."
''He will,'' she promised, though she was unsure as well.
In the bed, Percy wasn't quite aware of the two young women keeping watch over him as he slowly returned to consciousness. For the moment, he was only aware of increasing sensation in his limbs, then his whole body. A feeling of soreness and torpor, as if all the energy had been drained out of him, dry. Struggling, he slowly took a shaky breath and opened his eyes to bright light that made him squint, and blurry, shadowy forms bending over him.
Ginny noticed this first. Rapidly, she poked Hermione. ''Shhh, he's waking up,'' she told the other girl, her happiness barely suppressed.
Hermione turned sharply, her face going pale and red by turns, and both of them watched as Percy frowned slightly, before his eyes blinked... blinked again... then opened. "Percy..." she finally whispered, her voice shaky.
Ginny backed off a bit, letting the two of them say hello....or do whatever else they felt inclined to.
For several moments, Percy couldn't focus his vision, but as a strangely familiar head of very curly brown hair entered in his line of view. He licked his lips, his throat hoarse from disuse, and whispered, "Her-Hermione?"
Hermione's lip trembled, and she nodded, tears filling her eyes in relief and an overflow of emotions. "You... you're back..." she mumbled, her voice shaky, "We... I..."
Percy's lips curved upward slightly, and although his voice was still a mere whisper, it was at least steady, "Don't worry about me, Hermione... I'm fine... please don't cry."
Hermione tried to obey, couldn't quite, and ended up kind of laughing and crying at the same time.
Ginny came back over, giving him a small smile. ''Nice to see you back,'' she said simply, her eyes looking very wet as well.
"Ginny!" Percy's eyes riveted upon his little sister, "You're... you're here too..."
''I've been here since you were brought in, you fool. Well, except for when I stepped out-'' she broke off; they weren't supposed to know about that.
"Is everyone okay?" Percy looked concerned, "Are YOU two okay?" Looking confused and incredibly tired, his eyes searched Hermione's face, then Ginny's. "Why are you two crying?"
''You twit,'' Ginny told him simply, flinging her arms around him. ''Why do you think we're crying?!''
Percy Weasley suddenly found himself being
''You're a twit,'' she told him again.
"Mrmph," Percy murmured, the breath slightly knocked out of him, "Don't cry... everything will be okay..." Lightly, wincing slightly at the soreness in his limbs, he reached up to stroke their hair.
Ginny pulled back, shaking her head. She wiped her eyes quickly on her sleeve, before asking in a barely audible whisper, ''Do you want me to leave you two alone for a moment?''
Percy looked distinctly discomfitted, and Hermione blushed. The latter finally spoke, "Er... it's all right. I'll wait."
Ginny gave a small nod, and gave Percy a knowing smile. ''All right.''
ProfWarrington: At that moment, Madam Pomfrey bustled over. "Professor Weasley," she exclaimed, "You're awake!"
Before anyone could acknowledge this, the healer had performed a rapid series of spells on Percy, and pronounced that if he felt up to it, he could leave the place in the evening.
Ginny watched it all happen rapidly from her place back a bit.
At that moment, the bell rang again, and Hermione looked torn, as if she had a million and three things that she wanted to say. But she had class, and...
Percy slowly reached out towards her, noticing the look of distress on her face. "Go to class," he whispered, giving her hand a light squeeze. "I'll see you in the evening. Both of you."
''I don't have class,'' Ginny said softly.
Percy looked confused for a moment, then nodded slightly, still rather too tired to focus on things. Hermione gave him a long look, before making a slightly muffled, weepy sort of sound, and running out of the hospital wing. But she was smiling.
Ginny shook her head as the older girl left. ''Were you ever going to tell us?''
Percy blushed somewhat. "Well... eventually..."
She mocked him gently. ''Eventually? Once you had eloped?''
"N-no... but... I didn't know what... people would think... and she's still in school..."
Ginny walked back over and patted his arm gently. ''Don't worry about it.''
Percy sighed slightly and gave her a wry smile. "All right. I won't. And... how are YOU?"
She shrugged. ''Never mind that. How's your head doing?''
"My head's all right," he replied, "My body feels as though I'd been used by the twins for Bludger practice, although I suppose that's going to pass..."
She nodded. ''It will.''
Percy gave her a small smile, before closing his eyes. "Good..."
''Rest,'' she told him softly. ''I'll stay here, you rest.''
He nodded slightly, before drifting back to sleep. But it was merely repose now, and not unconsciousness.
True to her word, Ginny remained and watched him sleep, comforting him back to sleep when he stirred.