"Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger."
-- Professor McGonagall (CS16)
Harry and Ron visit the Hospital Wing, where Hermione is kept after being petrified in the library. They notice and retrieve a piece of paper from Hermione’s grasp. The paper turns out to be an old book page on basilisks. In addition to the text stating that direct eye contact with a basilisk will kill a person and that indirect eye contact will petrify a person, Hermione has scrawled the word “pipes,” explaining how the basilisk moves around and why Harry has been hearing its voice through the walls. The boys deduce that Hermione and Penelope had been using a mirror to look around corners to avoid seeing the basilisk, and that they had seen it reflected. Harry and Ron decide to share this information with the teachers. (CS16)
McGonagall (in a "croaky voice") gives Harry and Ron permission to visit Hermione in the Hospital Wing.
- When asked why Professor McGonagall started crying at this, JKR said "She found it very touching that Harry and Ron were missing Hermione so badly (or so she thought). Under that gruff exterior, Professor McGonagall is a bit of an old softy, really." (Sch2)
- So let me get this straight. When the fear of attack is so high that students are being escorted everywhere they go by teachers, that Prefects and teachers patrol the school all night, that students are not even let out of the common room at night to go to the bathroom without an escort, McGonagall, the strictest of all the teachers, lets two 12 year olds wander around alone because she's such a softy? On the other hand, they aren't exactly wandering very far. The first floor is home to the Defense Against the Darks Arts classroom, where they started, the History of Magic Classroom, where they were headed, the Hospital Wing, and McGonagall's office. Probably they're within a few meters of the Hospital Wing at this point anyway.
Hermione tore a page from a very old library book? And wrote on it? First of all, I don't think Hermione would have done this. Second, why didn't Madam Pince's library book spells kick in at this point? Dumbledore related in incident when he absent-mindedly doodled on a page of a library book and was attacked. My guess is that that the page was either torn out already or, even more likely, that she used magic to make a copy.