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Hermione gazed at Ron over her tea. He was so distant, his eyes clouded with worry. She didn’t need to ask why, when their friend lay dying in a corridor a few floors below where they were seated. Hermione was transported back to yesterday in her mind, when they’d all been laughing together. The twins were up to their tricks, demonstrating for the group just how new and improved their “New and Improved Skiving Snackboxes” were. They now included a new morsel called Puking Peppermints, a revision to the Puking Pastilles. The red half of the candy caused you to vomit uncontrollably in red and white stripes, much to the group’s entertainment, until you ate the second white half, which returned you to normal, plus giving you minty-fresh breath. “A new feature for the lovers out there, as well as in honor of the holidays,” George had said, while Fred had given their brother Ron a pointed look, who had his arm draped around Hermione’s shoulders lazily.

Hermione had blushed, and placed a hand over her mouth, while Ginny giggled at her friend. The two girls had risen, and were headed to the kitchen to help prepare Christmas dinner, while the boys began looking through the other new features of the Snackboxes. Just as Fred and George had pulled out their newest inventions, everything changed. Mundungus Fletcher arrived, bursting through the front door of the Burrow with his ginger hair flying wild in the bone-chilling wind. The group had stared at him, not quite sure what to make of it all. Then suddenly, Mundungus drew his wand and fired a bolt of blinding white light directly at Harry.

Hermione looked on as the memory continued. She remembered that Mrs. Weasley had countered fast, managing to throw the curse off towards the huge iron belly stove in the corner of the kitchen. The force of the curse, however, was not all deflected. Harry’s unconscious body was thrown across the room, bashing into a wall, as patches of blood began soaking through his hooded sweatshirt. Suddenly, the room had filled with flashes of light and yelling. Bill and Charlie had attacked Mundungus, attempting to halt the onslaught of curses he was firing off from his wand. Mr. Weasley and Fred and George had all made mad dives for their wands, managing some incredibly narrow misses along the way. Ginny had run for Harry, closely followed by Ron, Hermione and Mrs. Weasley.

As Mrs. Weasley checked for a pulse on Harry’s neck, Mr. Weasley yelled, “Go! Get them to St. Mungo’s! We’ll meet you! GO!”

Ron had made a mad dash across the room, ducking as to not get hit by the curses still flying throughout the room. He grabbed the emergency Portkey, a muggle thermometer, out of the kitchen cupboard, and thrust it into his mother’s hand. The group around Harry touched the Portkey, while Ginny had clung to Harry’s blood soaked shirt, and the whole group was wrenched off the ground, landing moments later in the lobby of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

***


Hermione shivered at the memory, and turned towards her tea, which had grown stone cold. She sighed quietly, and looked up at Ron. “Ron?” she said gently. “How do you think Harry—“

“We should go!” cried Ron, as if Hermione hadn’t even spoken. He stood hurriedly, almost knocking over his chair. “ Dad could be here by now… Fred and George got here so maybe…”

Hermione quickly gathered their dishes and distributed them into a busily working self- scrubbing washtub, and hurried after Ron down the dimly lit corridor towards the stairs.

***


Once they’d arrived at the waiting room, they knew immediately something had changed in Harry’s condition. The question on both their minds was what. Mrs. Weasley was now sitting in the chair Ginny had occupied when they’d left, and neither Ginny nor Fred and George were anywhere in sight. Ron rushed over to his mother, followed closely by Hermione, both trying to ask her a thousand questions at once. “Where’s everyone? Is Harry… Did they go home or… What about Harry is he--”

After Mrs. Weasley had attempted to speak several times, she finally reached out and grabbed both of them, and said “QUIET!” in the loudest voice she could manage.

Once they’d fallen silent, Mrs. Weasley began. “Ron, dear listen. Hermione, you too. Harry is stable now, although he is still in danger. Mundungus hit—Harry was hit with some sort of dark curse, but it was only a glancing blow. It seems however, to have taken some toll on him. They gave him a sleeping potion so they could work on healing him. It should wear off in a little while. Ginny, Fred and George are in with him now. They said only small groups of two or three.. for now…” Mrs. Weasley swallowed hard, but she couldn’t prevent the flood of tears. She let her head fall to her hands which were balanced on her lap, and she began to sob.

Ron sat on the chair next to his mother and gently placed his arm around her, his face devoid of the usual red tinge it got when anyone cried in front of him. Hermione sat in a chair opposite the mother and son, and placed her hand on Mrs. Weasley’s knee, trying to offer her some solace. After a few minutes, Mrs. Weasley looked up at them and sniffled. “I’m sorry dears,” she said, fishing for a tissue in her pocket. Hermione found one in a box on a nearby table, and handed it to her. “I guess I’m just so worried about him, and Arthur and the boys. Oh, I hope they’re all alright.”

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