Friendship and Bravery

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Something gleaming and Golden fluttered just of reach, taunting Harry. The Snitch! He tried to grab it but his arms wouldn't move. Then his eyes focused and he realised it wasn't the Snitch at all. It was the late afternoon sun reflecting off Hermione Granger's tawny brown tresses as she peered worriedly at him.

"Harry! Thank goodness you're awake..." she squeaked.

Harry blinked again and Professor Dumbledore came into view.

"Good Afternoon Harry," said the Headmaster.

"Quirrell!" Harry gasped, "It was him all along! Not Snape! Quirrell's got the Stone... "

"Calm yourself my dear boy. Quirrell does not have the Stone..." Dumbledore began to say.

"Who does then?" Harry interjected as he started to panic. Why wouldn't any of the Professors ever believe him? "Sir, I swear - it was Quirrell..."

"Please Harry, relax..." Professor Dumbledore held up his hand for emphasis. "Quirrell does not have the Stone and you are NOT in trouble. And if you cannot calm yourself, Madam Pomfrey will turf me out."

"Hmmph!" snorted the school nurse. "Fat chance of that! I couldn't even get rid of Miss Granger. She's refused to leave Mr Potter's bedside for three days, and someone overrode my authority!" she concluded with an angry glare.

"Indeed!" The Headmaster's eyes twinkled as he regarded the cross looking witch. "Minerva seems quite taken with our young Heroes. Be thankful that she didn't allow Mr Longbottom, Mr Weasley, and Miss Patil to remain by Mr Potter's side as well!"

Harry took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes and put them back on again and looked around. He was in the Hospital Wing, covered in a crisp white linen sheet and the bedside table was piled high with sweets, cards, and vases of flowers. And Hermione Granger was sitting in a chair beside him, holding his hand.

"Three days?" Harry croaked, as his head began to throb painfully. "I've been here for three days...?"

Hermione nodded, biting her lip as a tear rolled down one cheek.

"I've been so worried Harry! I thought you might never..." Hermione trailed off, unable to finish her sentence. The thought of Harry never waking up was too horrible to contemplate.

Harry slumped back on his pillow and squeezed Hermione's hand as everything flooded back into his frontal lobes.

~o0o~

After the Troll Incident on Halloween, Neville had mentioned seeing Snape heading for the Third Floor, where Neville, Ron, Hermione, and Harry had found the giant three headed dog when running from Filch in the middle of the night several weeks before.

Harry hadn't noticed Snape limping when he'd shown up at the girl's bathroom with Professor McGonagall, but in the days following it had been hard to miss. Snape had been lurching around and taken away the library book, Quidditch Through the Ages, which Hermione had found for Harry. When Harry had tried to ask for it back, he discovered Snape complaining to Filch about the three headed dog.

Hermione wasn't sure what that was all about, but it had furthered her growing concern about the arbitrary nature of the rules, and the selective enforcement patterns of the professors at Hogwarts. It was yet another instance which had brought into question everything that Hermione's parents had ever taught her about trusting that those in authority always knew what was best.

Then had come Harry's first ever Quidditch match. Gryffindor was playing against Slytherin, and Harry had been pleased to have his own personal little cheering section. Ron had been doing his best to be nice to Hermione, though it was clearly still a struggle for him. They had sat in the stands together, along with Neville, Parvati, and Parvati's friend, Lavender Brown - all rooting for Harry.

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