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Harry and I, Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Ginny and a somber Hermione circle Ron's bed as Madam Pomfrey ministers to him. Slughorn sits off to the side, chair, looking stunned.

"Quick thinking on your part, Harry. Using a Bezoar." Dumbledore tells him.

"Actually it was Mia who suggested it." My brother tells him. Dumbledore smiles proudly at me.

"You must be very proud of your student, eh, Horace?" He asks his old friend.

"Hm? Oh. Yes... very proud."

"I think we all agree that Mr. and Miss Potter's actions were heroic. The question is: Why were they necessary?" Professor McGonagall asks.

"Why indeed." Dumbledore takes the half-empty bottle of mead, still bearing a bit of gift wrap. "This appears to be a gift, Horace. You don't by chance remember who gave you this bottle, do you, which by the way possesses remarkably subtle hints of licorice and cherry when not polluted with poison."

"Actually I had intended to give it as a gift myself." Slughorn states.

"To whom might I ask?"

"You, Headmaster."

Just then, the door bursts open. It's Lavender Brown. "Where is he? Where's my Won-Won! Has he been asking for me?" Then noticed Hermione, she starts glaring daggers. "What's she doing here?"

"I might ask you the same." Hermione says to her.

"I happen to be his girlfriend."

"I happen to be his... friend."

"Don't make me laugh. You haven't spoken in weeks. I suppose you want to make up with him now that he's suddenly all interesting."

"He's been poisoned, you daft dimbo!" I exclaim to her, growing tired of her voice.

"And for the record, I've always found him interesting." Hermione frowns, a bit embarrassed. Ron snorts, stirring.

"Ha! See? He senses my presence. I'm here, Won-Won. I'm here-"

"Er... My... Nee... Er! My! Nee!" Ron, in a haze, reaches out blindly. Blushing, Hermione takes his hand. Instantly, he falls unconscious again.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say he just broke up with you." I tell her. Lavender, vibrating with rage, stalks out. Dumbledore beams.

"Ah, to be young and feel love's keen sting. Come, everyone, I think Mr. Weasley is well tended."

As Dumbledore leads the others past Harry and I, we study him. Ginny passes, face very close, whispering as she indicates Ron and Hermione.

"'Bout time, don't you think?" Harry watches her go, hopelessly smitten, sees that Slughorn has paused in the doorway.

"I've always cherished my students. They're my life..." Then he is gone too. Harry and I turn back, studying Hermione, hand enfolded over Ron's. She looks up, sees our faint smiles.

"Oh shut up." She mutters.


I'm the great hall, Harry spoons soup into his mouth while perusing the Half- Blood Prince's Potion book, his eyes lingering, as before, over the Sectumsempra spell: "For Enemies." Ron absently twirls his wand as he covertly eyes Lavender. Hermione frowns over the Prophet when a snowflake falls upon her nose.

"Ron. Stop. You're making it snow." She tells him.

"Huh?" Ron looks up, sees that it is snowing exclusively over the four of us. Hermione places her hand atop his wand and he blinks, as if the gesture kindles some sense-memory.

I pause on my soup, exchanging a glance with Hermione, who carefully withdraws her hand from Ron's.

"Tell me again how I broke up with Lavender?" Ron asks.

"Um, well, she came to visit you in the hospital, you see, and you talked, I don't believe it was a long conversation-" I explain to him.

"Don't get me wrong. I'm bloody thrilled to be shot of her. It's just she seems... a bit put out."

As one, the group of us glance over at Lavender and are rewarded with a lethal squint.

"Does, doesn't she? And you say you don't remember a thing from that night? Not one thing?" Hermione asks.

"Well... there is... something." Hermione hangs on to his words. "But no. It can't be. Besides, I was completely boggled, wasn't I?"

"Right. Boggled..." Hermione slumps back, frowning. Harry smiles with amusement. Just then, a mild commotion draws our attention. At the back of the Hall, a group of girls surrounds a new arrival.

"That's Katie. That's Katie Bell." Hermione says.

Katie Bell, pale but smiling, greets the other girls. After a moment, she looks up. Finds Harry and I standing before her.

"How are you, Katie?" I ask her, genuinely confused.

"Give me a moment, girls." The girls drift off. Harry watches them go, curious. "I wanted to thank you Mia, for helping me. The doctors said if I wasn't body binded, I could have broken my neck."

"Of course. I was happy to help." I smile at her. Then she turns to my brother.

"I know you're going to ask, Harry. But I don't know who cursed me. I've tried to remember. Honestly. But I just... can't..." Katie's eyes shift. She goes ashen. Harry and I turn, following her gaze and find... Malfoy, staring at her. Katie backs away, retreating to the other girls. We watch her go, then looks back. Catching Malfoy fleeing the Hall. Harry starts after him. And knowing my brother, and what he might do, I follow.

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