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Hermione woke up in the hospital wing, sometime in the middle of the night. At least she thought it was the middle of the night. It was dark and it felt late, though Madam Pomfrey was still moving around somewhere in the room.

The last thing Hermione remembered was being in the Department of Mysteries, with Death Eaters, and.... She hated today.

In the last twenty-four hours, she had watched Hagrid escape Umbridge and Ministry workers in a scary confrontation during the Astronomy exam, saw McGonagall take four Stunners to the chest that put her in St. Mungo's, saw Harry fall out of his chair screaming during History of Magic, gotten into an argument with him and Ron over something he'd seen while he was asleep that had made no sense but it was impossible to convince him of it, gotten caught by Umbridge while trying to prove Harry's conviction either way, fake cried, nearly got attacked by centaurs, ran away from a giant, been covered in giant blood, flew on a thestral which was invisible to London to break into the Ministry of Magic's Department of Mysteries, where she'd dealt with an uneasy, scared feeling the whole time, especially when she and Ron had to drag everyone else away from that stupid veil, and then there were Death Eaters, talk of prophecies including Harry, and then she was knocked out by a Death Eater's spell.

Hated today.

She opened her eyes and looked around, her eyes adjusting to the dim light. It looked as if Ron was in the bed next to her, Ginny on the other side, foot in a trice. Madam Pomfrey was tending to Neville, and she wasn't sure where Luna was. Maybe she'd wandered off somewhere, or hadn't been injured at all. The fact that she didn't see Harry worried her.

When Madam Pomfrey had ordered Neville to bed to rest up, Hermione waited for him to come closer before whispering, "What happened?"

"Hey," Ginny said from the next bed, making sure Madam Pomfrey was gone before speaking. "You're awake."

Hermione sat up, feeling a little sore. That was probably the spell on top of getting thrown around the room and having books fall on her. They were supposed to be her friends. "Is everyone okay?" she whispered. "What happened?"

Neville and Ginny exchanged glances. "It didn't really go well," Ginny said hesitantly.

"Where's Harry?"

"Dumbledore sent him away by Portkey as soon as everything was over," Neville said. "I haven't seen him since."

"Dumbledore's back? What happened?" Hermione repeated, and winced as she looked back toward Ron. "Is he all right?"

"A brain got him," said Ginny. "Trust me, it's better that he's asleep."

Hermione's eyes widened. She hadn't wanted to really know what the Ministry was doing with the giant tank full of brains then, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know now.

"Will someone please tell me the story?" Hermione pleaded.

"I wasn't there for it," said Ginny. "That was all Neville."

She would have expected Neville to look shy, or awkward, but maybe he was just in shock. "People started showing up to fight the Death Eaters. Professor Lupin, and.... Sirius Black."

Hermione fought the urge to facepalm.

"They all started fighting, and that woman got him with a Stunning spell, and he fell into the veil," Neville said.

Any urge to facepalm disappeared immediately. That thing had terrified her. She and Ron had been the only ones in their group who hadn't been entranced by that thing. Harry's absolute refusal to leave it had scared her more than anything. "What? Is he okay?"

"He disappeared and didn't come back," he finished.

"He's dead," Ginny said quietly.

Hermione covered her mouth with her hand as that sunk in. She'd known since Voldemort returned, and hearing the stories of the Order that if there was going to be some sort of war, things weren't going to be sunshine and happiness. Still, she wouldn't have expected the first casualty to be Sirius, and just the fact that it was real was shocking. "Poor Harry," she gasped finally.

She must have said that more loudly than she's planned, because a moment later Madam Pomfrey was shooing the three of them back to bed to sleep, reminding Hermione that she was going to have to be in good condition to leave or she wouldn't let her.

They lapsed into silence, because what more was there to say? She was pretty sure none of them slept until exhaustion kicked in, though.

[You know those posts where you work on for days and days and scratch them all at the last minute for something that works better? Yeah.]
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Hermione Granger

December 2011

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