This was inspired by a line in Sorcerer's Stone/Philosopher's Stone. Just before the trio go to find the Stone, it says: "After dinner the three of them sat nervously apart in the common room. Nobody bothered them; none of the Gryffindors had anything to say to Harry anymore, after all. This was the first night he hadn't been upset by it." (p. 271 in the US version.) Thus…a "missing" scene.
Harry walked slowly back toward the castle, his Nimbus 2000 almost haphazardly carried over his shoulder. The rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team was already in the castle, probably half-way to Gryffindor tower already, Harry thought to himself. He sighed and then shifted his broom to the other shoulder as he approached the entrance. It had now been quite a while since the night he and Hermione had sneaked to the Astronomy Tower to give Norbert to Charlie Weasley's friends, and then subsequently lost 150 points for Gryffindor. Even the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were still giving Harry cool stares and otherwise ignoring him as much as possible. He'd begun to think that no one was ever going to speak to him normally again, except Ron and Hermione and Hagrid, who were the only ones who knew what had really happened that night.
Just as he entered the castle, a group of Hufflepuffs surged through the entry way, then pushed past him on their way outside. He heard a voice or two mention something about "magical creatures" and realized they must be on their way to do something with Professor Kettleburn. A couple of them managed to bump into him (rather hard, almost intentionally it seemed) as they hurried through the door, but no one bothered to speak to him. Harry paused, looking out through the slowly closing door to see them talking and laughing together as they hurried away. A feeling of longing swept over him, although he wasn't quite sure why. Without stopping to think about it, he suddenly found himself back outside the castle, and his feet led him toward the shore of the lake without his being aware of a conscious decision to do so.
He sat down on the shore, leaned back against a tree trunk, and stared out over the water. He could see a few ripples toward the center of the lake as the giant squid moved languidly. He leaned his head back against the tree and let his eyes close. Quidditch practice had been exhausting, and he'd found himself dodging more than his share of Bludgers that had seemed intent on taking off his head more than once. He was so tired, and he ached all over, especially his shoulder, where one Bludger had struck him when he was dodging the other one. He'd never have thought that Fred and George would hurt him intentionally, but lately, they at least didn't seem to be very interested in preventing his getting hurt. No one on the team had bothered to call him by name for weeks now, and he was beginning to wonder if they ever would again.
He had no idea how long he sat there, but when he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to realize that the sun was significantly lower in the sky than it had been. He sighed again as he stood up, and as he reached for his broom, his breath caught in a hiss of pain. He knew he'd wrenched his back dodging the Bludgers, but had thought the pain had passed. Apparently, he'd twisted the muscles more than he'd realized. He winced again as he shouldered his broom before heading back to the castle.
He was almost at the doors when they suddenly opened and he looked into the surprised faces of his two best friends. "Where have you been?" Ron asked, holding the door open for him to enter.
"Outside," Harry answered, as they turned toward the tower.
"Why didn't you come back with the rest of the team?" Hermione asked. "We wondered where you'd disappeared to."
Harry shrugged. "I just—I just sat down by the lake for a bit to rest."
"Was practice that tough?" Ron asked. "Everyone else seemed fine when they came in." Harry shrugged but didn't answer.
Hermione and Ron exchanged glances, then Hermione laid a hand on Harry's arm. "Are you okay?" Harry glanced down at her hand for a moment, then nodded silently.
"How was practice, then?" Ron asked.
"Fine, I suppose."
They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, and Hermione gave the password. Harry started toward the stairs, then said quietly, "I'm going to clean up. I'll see you later."
"Okay. I think… we're just going to stay here and do some homework. Come join us when you're finished," Ron offered. Harry nodded and headed toward the stairs again. Just as he started up the stairs, Fred and George and Lee Jordan hurtled down the stairs from their dormitory, and managed to bump into Harry in their haste, causing him to thump against the wall and drop his broom. They paused for a split-second, as though they were going to say something, then Fred shook his head slightly, and all three continued downward without a word to Harry.
Harry glanced after them for just a moment, before he quickly looked away. He reached for his broom and had to bite his lip to suppress a moan of pain. "Hey!" Harry looked up as he heard Ron's voice from the common room just below him. But Ron wasn't talking to Harry; he was glaring furiously at his brothers.
"What?" George asked, glancing up at Ron, who was now standing beside the table where the twins and Lee were setting up for a game of Exploding Snap.
"I thought Mum taught you two to apologize when you almost knock someone down."
Fred and George glanced at each other, then George answered, "What are you talking about?"
"You almost knocked Harry through the wall, and you didn't even look at him, much less apologize!" Ron gestured toward the stairs, where Harry had now managed to pick up his broom and had turned toward the dormitory, but he stopped and looked back at Ron when he heard his name. Hermione was sitting at a table not far from the twins and Lee, and had paused in setting out her books to stare back at Ron.
Lee glanced at Harry momentarily, but the twins pointedly looked away from him before turning back towards the game. "I'm sure the ickle Seeker is fine," Fred said shortly, his voice carrying clearly back to Harry.
"How do you know that?" Ron hissed, plainly ready to do battle with his brothers over this, but a quiet voice reached him.
"Ron… please. Just—just don't."
Ron looked up at Harry, but couldn't see him clearly because of the shadows of the stairway. The tone of Harry's voice made it plain that he didn't want to draw any more attention to the situation, though, so Ron looked at him steadily for a moment, then nodded. Harry turned quickly and disappeared up the stairs before Ron could say anything else…
As soon as he was certain that Harry was out of ear shot, Ron hissed at his brothers. "This is not over!"
He turned and plopped into a chair at the table with Hermione. "This is ridiculous!" he growled.
"I know," she whispered back. "Don't they have any idea how much this is bothering him?"
"If they do, they don't care," Ron grumbled, as he reached into his own bag for his books.
Once he reached the safety of the dormitory, Harry methodically put away his broom, then gathered up clean clothes and went to shower, trying not to think about how he was going to have to face the rest of the Gryffindors again that evening. After his shower, he traipsed back into the dormitory to put away the rest of his things and finish getting dressed. He was just about to pull on a shirt when Ron entered the dormitory. Harry glanced up. "Hey, Ron," he greeted his friend, before turning back toward the bed as he pulled the sweatshirt over his head.
"Harry!" Ron gasped, grabbing his arm.
"What?" Harry asked, attempting to both free his arm and tug down his shirt. Ron suddenly grabbed the fabric and jerked it upward on his back. "What are you doing?" Harry groused, wriggling.
"What happened?" Ron demanded, as he gingerly touched a spot beneath Harry's shoulder blade.
Harry winced, jerking away from Ron's hand. "Ow! Ron!" he protested.
"You've got a huge bruise back here—looks like it was bleeding before. What happened?"
Harry pulled away from Ron and tugged his shirt into place, then sat down on the bed to put on his shoes and socks. "Must've been a Bludger," he mumbled.
"Why didn't those idiot Beaters keep it away from you?" Harry shrugged, concentrating on tying his shoes, and refusing to look at Ron. Ron sat down next to him. "Why won't you let me talk to them?" Ron asked quietly.
"Don't worry about it. I'm fine," Harry answered, still not looking at his friend.
"Ron, drop it, okay? It doesn't matter what I say or what you say. It's not going to change anything." Harry grabbed his book bag from the end of his bed. "Let's just go get this homework done, all right?"
Ron shook his head. "All right, for now. But I'm not promising not to say something to them if they don't quit." Harry just shook his head and led the way downstairs.
They'd been working steadily for quite a while when Ron abruptly dropped his quill and then closed his ink. "Finished!" he proclaimed, grinning as he began gathering his books together. Harry glanced up and gave him a tired grin before leaning over his own parchment once more. "Aren't you through yet?" Ron asked.
"You started while I was at practice. I've a bit more to do," Harry answered quietly. Hermione was still writing.
"Hermione, aren't you finished yet?" Ron asked.
"Almost. I'm sure I'm over the length Professor Binns requested, but there was just too much information to fit on three feet," she answered without looking up.
Ron shook his head. "Mental. Definitely mental." He yawned and stretched, glancing around the common room as he did so. "What time is it anyway? Looks like a lot of people have already gone to bed."
Hermione glanced at her watch. "Almost eleven o'clock. I suppose it is almost time for bed." She bent over her parchment again.
Ron looked around again, then muttered, "Uh oh…" Harry glanced up, then looked in the direction Ron was facing. Fred and George were coming across the common room, and Fred was carrying a small tray in one hand.
Harry quickly began to close his books. "I'll finish later," he said quietly. "I'm going to bed."
"Harry, wait—don't—" Ron began, but Harry grabbed the rest of his things in his hands and was about to leave the table when Hermione laid a hand on his arm again.
"Let's see what they have to say," she whispered. Harry pulled away slightly, but the pause had allowed the twins to arrive.
"Greetings, ickle brother," George said with a grin.
"What do you want?" Ron replied warily.
"We noticed that you've been quite diligent in your work this evening, and we thought you and your study partner might like the extra cakes we nicked from the kitchen," Fred answered gallantly as, with a flourish, he set the tray on the table between Ron and Hermione. Two cauldron cakes sat on the tray.
Ron's face immediately turned scarlet, and he quickly traded glances with Hermione. Before he could speak, Harry abruptly pushed his chair away from the table and bolted up the stairs without a word.
Even as quickly as he left the room, though, Harry could plainly hear Ron's cold, furious voice: "You idiots!" Harry shut the door of the dormitory before he could hear any more.
He tossed his bag on the floor by his bed, and hurriedly changed into his pajamas. Neville's hangings were already drawn, presumably for sleep, and Seamus and Dean were sitting on Dean's bed playing chess, but Harry didn't even acknowledge them before diving onto his bed and yanking the hangings closed around him. He burrowed under the blankets, burying his hot face in the coolness of his pillow. His throat ached from the lump that was almost choking him, and his eyes were burning with unshed tears. He swallowed hard, refusing to let himself cry.
Harry knew that a lot of first-years cried with homesickness at some point or other; very few got through the year without missing home much more than they'd thought they would. But at least that was one thing he could say about the Dursleys: he knew he'd never miss them, no matter what. At that moment, however, what he was missing was how much Hogwarts had become home to him, in ways that he'd never felt before. Losing the house points had been bad enough, but the continued hostility from almost everyone in the castle was becoming impossible to ignore or wish away. Even his Quidditch teammates still refused to call him by name, and instead of improving with passing time, things seemed to be getting worse. Harry drew a shuddering breath and scrubbed at his eyes with the back of one hand, determined not to give in to the tears that were attempting to fall.
He heard the dormitory door open again, and he somehow knew that Ron was looking for him. Sure enough, a moment later, he heard Ron's voice, quiet but concerned. "Harry? Can I talk to you?" Harry didn't reply, and after another moment, Ron went on, "I know you can't be asleep already. I need to talk to you." When Harry still didn't reply, Ron crawled through the hangings and sat on the bed behind Harry and pulled the hangings closed again. "Harry, c'mon… talk to me," he pleaded, his voice barely above a whisper. He laid a hand on Harry's shoulder. "You can't let those prats get to you. I know they're idiots, but… well, they're just idiots."
In spite of himself, Harry snorted with a suppressed chuckle at that statement. "That helps so much," he replied, his quiet voice muffled by the pillow.
"Yeah, well… I'm not very good at this, I suppose," Ron answered, just as quietly. His grip on Harry's shoulder tightened momentarily, then he continued, "If I ask you something, will you tell me the truth?" Harry nodded, a bit hesitantly. Ron drew a deep breath before asking, "What happened to your shoulder?"
Harry shrugged. "Nothing to tell," he answered. "A Bludger got me."
"Where were the twins?"
"I dunno. I wasn't watching them; I was trying to avoid the Bludgers."
"Do you think they tried to hurt you with them?"
Harry shrugged again. "I really don't know."
"How 'bout Wood? Did he do anything?"
Harry shook his head. "All he ever did was holler at me that 'the Seeker' needs to watch out for things."
Ron snorted. "That helps so much," he answered, and Harry could hear the grin in his voice. "I… um… I should probably tell you that things got rather heated after you left a bit ago."
Harry closed his eyes tightly and groaned, "What did you say?"
"I just told them that they have no business being upset about anyone losing points, and that at least you were doing something to help someone at the time—"
"Ron!" Harry broke in, looking up in alarm.
"Don't worry, I didn't let anyone else hear besides Hermione. I was angry, not stupid."
Harry dropped onto his pillow once more. "If they didn't hate me before, I'm sure they do now."
"They don't hate you. They're just being prats."
Harry shrugged. "You could have fooled me," he whispered, burying his face even further between his arm and the pillow.
Ron laid a hand on Harry's back, but Harry jerked abruptly away with a muffled, "Ow!"
"Sorry!" Ron said hastily. "Listen, Hermione told me once that she keeps some Healing Potion in her room for bruises and things. Do you want me to see if she still has some?"
Harry hesitated, then nodded. "That might be a good idea."
"I'll be right back." Ron hurried away.
The door had scarcely closed behind him, though, when Harry heard a knock on the door. Then Seamus called, "Yes?"
The door opened, and Fred's voice answered. "Is Harry in here?"
Harry was almost holding his breath, not sure if he wanted to acknowledge Fred or not. "Right there," Dean's voice answered.
Footsteps. The door closed again. "Harry?" George's voice.
Harry groaned inwardly. More footsteps, moving to the other side of his bed. The hangings were parted and the twins sat beside him, one on each side, then the drapes were pulled almost shut again. "I'm sure you don't want to talk to us, and I can't blame you for that, but would you just listen to us for a bit?" Fred asked quietly.
Harry shrugged silently, his face still buried in his pillow.
"We were…" George began, then sighed. "We were talking to Hermione just now. Between her and Ron… well, we realized that we owed you an apology."
Fred cut in. "When we brought those cakes over… Honestly, we didn't mean to make it seem like you didn't exist or something. We just had a couple left over and thought you lot might like to share them. I promise we didn't mean it that way."
Harry couldn't help it. He sniffled softly, trying to swallow around the lump that was in his throat again. A hand gripped his shoulder; he couldn't tell whose. "Harry, honestly. We're really sorry for acting that way," George said softly.
"We never meant to upset you like this," Fred added.
Before he could reply, the hand on his shoulder moved downward, and he flinched away before he could stop himself, unable to stifle a soft cry of pain. "Harry? Did that hurt?" George asked. Harry nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"What happened?" Fred asked.
"Let me look at it," George offered.
Harry swallowed hard, then whispered, "Ron went to get something for it. A Bludger got me."
"Let me look," George repeated, and Harry hesitantly nodded.
His pajama top was pulled upward, and he heard slight gasps from both twins. "Blimey, Harry! When did that happen?" Fred asked.
"I-I dodged one Bludger, and the other one got me before I could get away." Harry's voice was muffled by his pillow.
"I never saw you get hit! Did you, Fred?"
"Never," Fred answered, then paused. "I suppose we weren't being very careful about watching out for you," he finished quietly.
"We should have been paying more attention. I'm sorry," George murmured.
Harry nodded at them, but before he could answer anything more, the door opened again. "What are you doing here?" Ron's voice demanded.
"We're talking to Harry," Fred answered.
"Is that for his shoulder?" George asked.
Harry looked up from his pillow in time to see Ron nod. George moved to give Ron room next to Harry. Ron sat down and said, "Hermione said this will take care of most bruises, but she said it'll sting some. And…" he paused, then sighed. "And the deeper the bruise, the more it'll burn."
"Oh great," Harry muttered, burying his face in his pillow once more. "Just get on with it, then."
He heard Ron un-stopper the bottle, and George asked, "Ron, have you ever used that stuff before?"
"No, I haven't. So…?"
"Maybe you should let me do it. The quicker you put it on, the quicker it stops burning."
Ron hesitated. "Harry, do you…?"
"I don't care. Just get it done," Harry whispered. He felt Ron and George moving beside him.
"I need to open the hangings a bit to see well," George said softly. The hangings were moved, and George assured him, "I'll be as careful as I can." Harry nodded again. Cool, wet fingers began to move over his back, but with that sensation came another, much less pleasant: burning. The potion was making the large bruise burn, the pain working itself deeper and deeper as George swiftly smoothed on the potion.
Harry's breath caught and his fingers tightened on his pillow as he felt the heat spread through his back and up over his shoulder. He buried his face deeper in his pillow, biting his lip to keep from crying out, as the fire intensified. It seemed as though it took ages for George to cover the bruise thoroughly, and before he'd finished, Harry's breath was coming in shuddering gasps. Finally, the burning began to subside, until it had dwindled to a comforting warmth.
After another moment, Ron asked quietly, "Harry? You okay?"
Harry nodded silently, struggling to calm his breathing now, and to hide the few tears that he hadn't been able to completely repress. He felt a hand on his arm. "How's your shoulder?" Fred asked.
"Better," Harry whispered.
"I hate to tell you this, but—it's not completely gone yet," George said quietly.
Before Harry could reply, Ron asked, "Is it supposed to be?"
"Usually, yeah. This potion should get rid of most bruises, but some of them—if they're bad enough—you have to use it again."
"Again?" Harry gasped out, jerking his head up to look at George.
George nodded apologetically. "I'm sorry, Harry. I think you're going to have to use this again in the morning to get rid of that whole bruise." Seeing Harry's horrified expression, he added hastily, "At least it won't hurt as bad next time. The bruise is a lot better, and the potion hurts more the worse the bruise is."
Harry dropped to his pillow again. "Great. Just great," he whispered, almost to himself. He buried his face again, and sighed shakily.
Fred leaned closer to him and said very quietly, "Harry, just let it out if you want to. I know it hurts." Harry shook his head, but in truth it was taking every ounce of willpower he possessed to keep from bursting into tears. "It's okay," Fred whispered, gently rubbing his uninjured shoulder. Harry gave a strangled cough, choking from the lump in his throat, yet still fighting the urge to cry. Fred continued gently rubbing one hand across Harry's trembling shoulders, and the hot tears forced their way out of his eyes. Harry had never had anyone attempt to comfort him when he was upset, but he could feel the concern of the three brothers who surrounded him. He was shaking now, unable to stop himself any longer, as he sobbed almost silently into his pillow. "It's okay," Fred whispered again. "Just let it out."
Years of living with the Dursleys ensured that Harry cried quietly; he'd learned long ago to not let his emotions call attention to himself, so as to avoid being tormented even further. He felt George lean toward him as well, gently rubbing his other arm. "Things will get better, Harry, you'll see," George murmured.
"When?" Harry whispered brokenly. "Next year? It's been—it's been weeks, and no one will even l-look at me."
Ron moved to sit nearer the head of Harry's bed. "They'll get over it. They have to," he said quietly.
Harry shook his head. "I-I can't even tell any-one that it's—it's not what they all think. It-it wasn't supposed to happen that w-way."
"It'll work out, Harry. Gryffindor is a family; they—" George began, but was interrupted by a snort from Harry. "What? We are," George insisted.
"Some family," Ron responded. "They're not treating Harry much better than those Dursleys do."
"Ron—" Fred began, but Ron interrupted.
"Don't defend them, Fred! No one has any idea of what was happening that night, and yet everyone in the castle has decided it's all Harry's fault. I know McGonagall said 'your house will be like your family', but I thought we were all supposed to know how to act better than the 'family' Harry's always had to live with!" Ron spat angrily.
Harry shook his head at Ron's statement. "Hogwarts could never be that bad," he whispered.
Ron sighed. "Well, it's certainly been bad enough," he muttered, running a hand through his hair distractedly.
Harry rubbed his eyes. "I'll agree with that," he said quietly.
"Harry?" Another voice surprised him into looking up.
"I–I couldn't help but hear some of what you were saying. I've been thinking, and I want you to know I'm sorry. I should have known you wouldn't do something like that intentionally."
"Neville, honestly, I–I never—" Harry paused, choking again.
"I know," Neville said quietly. "It'll be all right." He patted Harry's shoulder. "I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning."
Harry nodded gratefully. "Thanks," he whispered. As Neville turned back toward his own bed, Harry tugged the sheet upward to wipe his face. "I don't mean to be blubbing like a baby," he muttered.
"You're not," Fred assured him.
"Even if you were, you've certainly had enough reason," George added.
Harry looked up to find Seamus and Dean standing just behind Fred. "Yes?"
"Erm… We just wanted to tell you… We're sorry, too," Dean said quietly.
Harry dragged a hand across his eyes and looked up again uncertainly. "Really?"
"Really," Seamus answered. "Like Neville said, we should've known better."
"Right. We should've talked to you about it instead of thinking we knew what happened," Dean added.
"We never meant for it to get this bad. Even if the rest of the 'family' isn't getting along, all of us should, at least," Seamus added, with a wry grin in Ron's direction.
Harry managed a half-grin in response. "Thanks," he said softly.
"Anytime, mate," Seamus answered.
"I'm going to bed, too. See you in the morning, Harry," Dean added.
"G'night," Harry answered, and the other boys retreated to the other side of the room.
Fred squeezed Harry's shoulder again. "See? Things are improving already."
Harry nodded, wrapping his arms around his pillow. "Thank goodness."
George chuckled and ruffled Harry's hair. "About time, hmm?"
Harry nodded, wiping his eyes again, his tears all but gone now.
"Oh! I suppose I ought to tell Hermione that we'll return her potion in the morning. I'll be back," Ron said suddenly, then hurried out the door.
Fred laid a hand on Harry's shoulder again. "We'd best be going to bed soon, too. Will you be all right now?"
Harry nodded and rolled over part-way to be able to look at them both. "Thanks loads. I really appreciate—"
George shook his head, interrupting. "We should have done it sooner, Harry. I'm glad it helped."
Fred nodded in agreement, concern echoed in his face as well. "Next time we act like such prats, we give you permission to hex us."
Harry snorted with amusement. "I think that would be more dangerous for me than for you."
The twins chuckled. "We'll try to behave," George grinned.
Ron suddenly re-appeared through the door, and plopped onto the bed beside Harry. "Hermione said to tell you she hopes things are all right now. She'll see us at breakfast."
"Thanks for doing that," Harry said quietly.
"Glad to help, mate," Ron answered with a grin.
"I think we should go and let you lot get to sleep," Fred grinned as he stood and stretched.
"I agree," George echoed, stretching as well.
"Thanks," Harry repeated.
Fred and George gave him identical grins. "Good night," they answered, almost in unison, before slipping out the door.
Ron yawned hugely. "I think I'd best go to bed, too. You all right?"
Harry nodded as he settled down in his bed, and Ron went to his own trunk and pulled out his pajamas. "Ron..." Harry began. Ron looked back at him. "Thanks," Harry said softly.
Ron grinned at him, obviously relieved that his friend was better. "Anytime."
Harry grinned at him and turned out his lamp.
Ron climbed into bed and looked across at Harry once more. "After all," Ron added, apparently unable to resist, "what are friends for?"
A/N: I do know that JKR's implication is that all of Gryffindor, except Ron and Hermione, was still refusing to speak to him, but I decided to make a few exceptions. I'm just pretending that these guys weren't in the common room that particular night. ;-)