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Chapter 1: Alone
Tick… Tick… Tick… The sound was drumming its way deeper inside my head. Every ticking of the damned clock sent a shiver of irritation down my spine and I felt my entire body wince in frustration. I tried desperately to drown out the sound. I tried to clear my mind and focus on something else, anything else, but instead the noise seemed to be getting louder. Ten minutes ago, when I had first lain down on my bed, I had barely registered the sound, but now I was oh so acutely aware of it. Now it felt like someone was whacking my skull with a tiny little hammer, sending the sound echoing throughout my brain.
As the noise continued, my patience was slowly slipping away. Tick… My brow furrowed deeply. Tick… My jaw clenched tightly. Tick… My fists scrunched into tight balls by my side. Tick… My nails dug deep into my palms.
But the sound continued, completely oblivious to the fact that it was driving me slowly and utterly mad. I could feel the sound drilling further and deeper inside my body and the more I was trying to drown it out, the louder and more obvious it seemed to become. It seemed as if the sound was increasing in pace. I held my breath and waited, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t hear that sound again. But of course I inevitably did.
As the piercing ticks kept on coming, I felt my breaths become shaky and uneven. I pushed my nails deeper into my already painful hand, putting all my focus and frustration into that action. But as the ticks continued, the pain in my hand was becoming unbearable. I could feel the tears beginning to form in my eyes and I snapped. I reached my boiling point. I couldn’t take it anymore. I heard myself let out an angry and frustrated cry. I felt my hand fly away from my side and grab hold of the small and cold object from close beside me and then I threw it with all my strength across the room, causing a loud thud as it hit the wall and then fell to the floor.
I felt my body instantly relax. I closed my eyes and listened. Nothing. Not a single sound. A small smile formed on my lips and I let myself breathe out a sigh of relief as I savoured the silence. Peace at last. I opened my eyes slowly and pushed myself off the bed, but winced suddenly as a sharp pain shot through my hands.
I quickly flipped my hands over so that I could examine them and frowned as I noticed the deep moon shaped crevices that were now deeply embedded in my skin; glowing a deep purple against my hand.
I felt the tears rise in my eyes again. Not because the pain in my hand was that bad, but because of the guilt and shame that I felt swarm my body. How stupid was I to get so worked up over a bloody clock? I was nearly nineteen for goodness sake and I was behaving like a child.
I rubbed my now bright red palms and tried to erase the evidence of my temper tantrum, but of course it wasn’t working. I gave a guilty glance over at the poor mangled clock that lay destroyed on my bedroom floor. I felt the remorse and guilt intensify and I felt sorry for the clock that had stood proudly on my bedside table for the last twelve years of my life. My gran had given it to me for my birthday when I was younger. I was six or seven I think. I had just learned how to tell the time, at a very early age of course and she had bought it as a reward. I was so proud of that clock. I could tell the time before all of my friends and I would show it to everyone who came over, delighting in the fact that I knew something that they didn’t.
Even as I had grown up, I still liked to look at it. It had a big teddy bear on the front, which was for some bizarre reason holding some balloons and of course it was way too childish for me now, but I had never been able to throw it away. So many times I had put it in the bag to be donated to charity, only to fish it out a few hours later. Now one fit of stupid anger and it was destroyed. I could have fixed it easily. One flick of my wand and it would be back to normal, but somehow it didn’t seem right. Some things couldn’t be fixed that easily. Whenever I looked at it I would always see it smashed and broken.
I leant down and picked up the damaged little clock and did my best to pick up the smashed pieces of glass on the floor, putting them carefully into the bin that sat in the corner of my room. I paused briefly as I caught a glimpse of the old newspaper that lay at the bottom of the bin. I pulled the paper out to look at the picture of myself on the front of the paper. It was taken just a few months ago. I looked relieved and happy then. The worst had been over. How utterly stupid I had been. I threw the paper angrily back in the bin. The brightest witch of the age they called me, the brains of the golden trio, the cool, calm and collected witch who had used her intellect to help and defeat the darkest wizard to have ever lived.
If only they could see me now I thought bitterly. What would they say about the mighty cool, calm and oh so smart Hermione Granger now? What would they say if they could see the so called brains of the golden trio sitting sobbing on the floor surrounded by pieces of a smashed teddy bear clock? What would they say if they knew that the Gryffindor princess had spent the entire summer in her bedroom all alone? What would they say if they knew that I cried myself to sleep most nights and woke up in the middle of the night screaming from nightmares and memories that I couldn’t forget?
I moved over to the window and rested my head against the glass, enjoying the soothing feeling of the cool glass against my forehead. When my tears had subsided, I opened my eyes and watched as my neighbours enjoyed the last few days of summer. The weather was unusually hot and people were making the most of it. Woman were sunbathing; men were washing cars and mowing lawns; barbeques were on the go; children were running around playing and laughing and having water fights. Life had moved on.
Everyone was happy and carefree and having fun and it annoyed me. Didn’t they realise what had happened just a few months ago? How close we had come to losing it all? Didn’t they realise how much people were suffering?
I sighed again. Another frustrated sigh. Of course they didn’t. They didn’t have a clue. To them the world was the same as it had been before. They had never been aware of the immediate danger that they were in. Yes the last year had been tough in the muggle world, strange and dismal weather, unexplained disappearances, gruesome deaths and an unusual amount of natural disasters. Even the muggles had noticed the looming black cloud that had seemed to hang over Britain. The whole country was on edge; even if they didn’t know why. However at the start of June the sun had eventually come out and had continued to shine brilliantly for the rest of the summer, brightening everyone’s mood. Life had inevitably returned to normal.
Yet for those of us in wizarding world, we knew what the danger had been. We all knew how close we had come to losing. Only three months ago, I had stood alongside the people I cared about most of all in the world and we had fought for our lives. We had fought against the most dangerous wizard to have ever lived and we had been so very close to losing. At so many times in the last year I thought that my time was up, that I was going to die, but somehow I made it through. I survived. I was one of the lucky ones and every day I couldn’t help but think about all the ones that weren’t so lucky. Every time I let my mind wander too far, I would see their faces. They would flash through my mind like a slide show, over and over again. Tonks, Fred, Remus, Moody were just some of the ones that I could actually name. There were dozens more faces that I saw every night in my sleep that I couldn't name. People crying out in help, people that I couldn't save.
Yes the images still haunted me when I closed my eyes. I was still grieving and trying to come to terms with everything that happened. At times it seemed like a dream; like it had all happened to someone else. I was trying to move on. I was trying to live a normal life. I was back at home trying to live a normal life, where I could wake up in a bed; not fearing what the day would bring, was something that I was still adjusting to. I’d lost count of the times that I had woken up in the middle of the night, hearing a scream and reaching for my wand to protect myself from whatever the danger was, only to realise that I was safe in my bed, that the scream had come from my lips and that the danger was long past, just resurfacing itself in a dream.
I picked up my wand from the edge of the desk where I had placed it earlier and started to twirl it through my fingers. I felt the comfort wash through me; the familiar feeling of safety and power flow through my veins. The truth was I envied the people who could carry on with their lives. My life had been so up and down lately that I didn’t know how to be normal. How do you go from fearing for your life every minute of every day and knowing that if you lose, hundreds of people will die, to worrying about what’s for dinner or what the weather is going to be like?
I pulled myself away from the window and the tranquil scene that lay outside it and began pacing up and down the room as I desperately tried to think of something to do; anything that would help to take me out of my current state of complete and utter depression. Something to distract me and take my mind off of things.
Walking around my room, my eyes fell onto the large brown trunk that lay in the corner of my room. I sighed as I moved towards it, bending down to open the large heavy lid and rest it against the wall behind. I examined all the things that I would need for the following year. I knew perfectly well by now that I had already packed everything that I needed and the reason that I knew this was because I had already packed and re- packed my trunk eight different times already.
I don’t know why, but every time I packed my trunk, I never seemed quite satisfied with the way it was packed. It looked wrong and it felt wrong. I tried repositioning everything many times, but it was never right. Part of me felt like I was developing OCD, but of course the more logical me screamed out from somewhere in the back of my mind the real and more obvious answer why I was never satisfied with my packing. I was scared. I was scared of going back there.
Three months ago had been the worst night of my life and the images were scarred into my brain. A destroyed building, fires, deatheaters, death and bodies piled up everywhere. The place I had once been so safe and secure had now become the place of my nightmares and in just two days I would have to back and live there like nothing had ever happened. I was terrified at the prospect. Terrified of my memories, terrified of breaking down, terrified of a threat that no longer existed.
In two days’ time, I was going back to Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and I, along with many others missed out our seventh year of school and even though we were the golden trio and defeated one of the most powerful wizards to have ever lived, in the real world, you had to have NEWTS to get anywhere in the wizarding world. In truth I didn’t know what my future held anymore. I hadn’t been able to think about my future for some time, when I hadn’t even been sure that I had a future. But I knew that I needed my NEWTS for whatever career I would eventually choose and so I had no choice but to go back. Harry and Ron hadn't been keen to go back either. Hogwarts now held too many bad memories for all of us, but we had all decided that we needed to go back.
Tomorrow however, I would be going to The Burrow to spend the last day of the holidays before we all went to Kings Cross together. It had been a tradition for years and usually I would have gone to The Burrow much earlier in the holidays, but with everything that happened it hadn’t felt right.
The last time I had seen the Weasley’s was at Fred’s funeral. I felt the familiar tightening in my stomach and throat as I thought of that day. I could barely remember that week. It had been filled with interviews at the Ministry of Magic, wanting to know what had happened before the final battle and then when they had finally gotten every little detail from us, we then had to endure an endless string of funerals. Out of all of them Fred’s had been the worst one. It had been just utterly one of the worst days of my life. The family that I was used to seeing so happy and carefree were suddenly depressed and sombre. It was like they would never be happy again. The sounds of Mrs Weasley’s pained cries still hurt me to think about.
When it was over, me Harry and Ron had all gone our separate ways and I hadn’t seen either of them since. I was so nervous about tomorrow and I felt sick with dread thinking about it. What on earth would I say to them?
It felt so weird to be dreading seeing the people that had become like a second family to me. I had spent so much time there with them and yet now I was scared to go. I was so scared that I was going to do or say the wrong thing and make things worse.
I was ashamed to admit to admit that Fred wasn’t my only reason for dreading going back The Burrow. The other reason was Ron.
We hadn’t exactly ended in a great way. Everything between us had been left hanging and for the last three months, I had been left wondering what was going on.
I had liked Ron since about fourth year and had always waited for him to do or say something, but he never did. Not until we thought we were about to die and we finally kissed. That moment was so magical to me. I had waited for it to happen for years and when it finally did, it hadn’t disappointed. I don’t even know who started the kiss. I just remember one minute running for our lives and the next his lips were pressed firmly against mine, his hands around my waist pulling me closer. I had been breathless and I thought that I could face whatever was about to happen because Ron was mine and he was beside me. We would face whatever happened together.
But of course it didn’t happen quite the way I imagined. After the kiss, we were back to fighting for our lives and then the war was over and Fred was dead and we never really did get a chance to talk about what had happened or what that meant for us and so when everything was over, we just went in our own opposite directions, leaving so much uncertainty between us. I knew that he needed time with his family and I felt so sorry for him. I just wanted to be there for him and to comfort him, but he pushed me away.
I wrote to him so many times, asking how he was and how everyone was coping, but I never got any reply. Ron was rubbish at writing back, I knew that, but after what we’d been through I figured he would have been able to spare a few minutes to write a few short words. But nothing ever came.
I got letter from Harry nearly every week, sometimes two or three letters a week and I even got letters from Ginny, but never one from Ron.
At first I had been upset, God I had even cried when after two weeks I hadn’t had any word. After another week I was beginning to get annoyed. I mean if he didn’t want to be with me in that way, we were at least friends. After all we had been through I figured he could have spent just five minutes of his busy life to write me a quick note. By the fourth week I was furious, cursing him and calling him every name under the sun. I’d even written him a three foot long letter, venting all my anger at him, but luckily my rage subsided for long enough to realise that sending him that just a month after his brother had died would have made me look like the biggest and most selfish bitch alive.
Now, I have no idea how I feel about him. Part of me loves him and wants him to just man up and tell me and kiss me again and the other part can’t help but feel annoyed at him for being such a selfish prick. He knows how I feel about him and I’m just waiting in limbo for him to tell me how he feels. We’ve been dancing around each other for years now, wondering how the other feels and then we finally kiss and nothing. Four years of a bloody build up and all for nothing. Talk about your anti- climax.
I made my feelings towards him pretty clear to no avail and during our time apart I had decided in the end that there was no way that I was going to be the one to put myself on the line again, only to get hurt. We’ve been through this too many times before and if he wants anything to happen, then he’s going to have to make the move. Tomorrow will be the first time that I see him and I guess then I’ll get my answer.
I was still deep in my thoughts when a soft tapping noise interrupted them. I looked around my room confused as to where the noise was coming from. After a minute of confused searching and following the noise, I realised that an owl was perched on my windowsill, occasionally tapping on the glass. I hurried over and grabbed the letter attached to the owl’s foot. I immediately recognised the untidy scrawl on the parchment envelope. Harry had written to me so many times during the summer that I had come to rely on his letters. They were one of the only things that connected me to the outside world. They had stopped me from going mad and convincing myself that the last year hadn’t just been a really bad dream. I quickly tore open the envelope and devoured the words on the page.
How is everything? It’s just a quick note to let you know that I arrived at The Burrow today. Everything’s fine. They’re coping. It was so hard to say bye to Andromeda and Teddy this morning. I swear Teddy has gotten so big. You won’t recognise him the next time you see him. He’s even started to crawl. I’m kind of gutted to be leaving because of all the things that I’ll miss. I just really want to be there for him you know.
Anyway I can’t believe that summer’s nearly over. Only two days until we go back. It will be so weird. I can’t imagine being back there.
But anyway I’ll see you tomorrow. Mrs Weasley’s already got a huge lunch and dinner planned, so make sure you’re here early. Everyone’s really looking forward to seeing you again and you know that I’m included in that too don’t you. I’ve missed you so much. Anyway I’d better go, Ron wants to go flying and you know how stroppy he gets when he’s kept waiting.
See you soon.
I smiled as I read through the letter. I knew how he felt and as much as I wished he was fine, I took comfort in the fact that he was feeling the same as me. It made me feel considerably less alone. I hadn’t gone so long without speaking to him since we had first met and I couldn’t wait to see how he actually was, how he was really coping and to just be able to say all of the things that you just can’t say in a letter. At least he had been to The Burrow and everything was fine with the Weasley’s. It helped to take away some of the nerves. Despite that I did wish that Harry and I could have gone together though. It would have made it slightly less awkward and daunting.
I started to read the letter for a second time, savouring his words, when a light tapping interrupted my thoughts for a second time. This time I looked immediately to the window and was confused to see nothing there. However, I heard the door behind me slowly start to open and as I swung round to face the source of the noise, I saw my mum’s head poking around the door.
She hovered by the door, not quite crossing the threshold into my room. I watched as her eyes trailed around my room and I winced slightly as they lingered on the broken clock in my bin. Her gaze then shifted to my wand which lay just a few inched away from my leg and I watched as her eyes took on a look of horror and fear, as they shifted back and forth from the clock to my wand. I didn’t need an explanation to her behaviour. I was used to it by now. She had no doubt thought that I had cursed the clock into its current shattered state. Judging by her reaction she no doubt wondered if I would turn my wand on her too if she made me angry enough.
After a few moments of silence, which were becoming increasingly more awkward as I was waiting for her to talk, I quickly realised that she was too occupied shooting fearful glances at my wand and so I figured I had better try to break the tension. I cleared my throat and tried to sound as cheerful as I could.
‘Did you want something, mum?’ My attempt at cheerful, failed miserably as my voice was way too high pitched, making me sound like I was guilty of something, which she probably thought I was.
She hesitated for a moment, her mouth twisting slightly as if contemplating what to say. She still hadn’t even looked properly at me. Still looking between the wand and the mangled clock, I guess she was wondering what had caused my temper and contemplating if I was still in a bad mood.
‘Emm, I just wanted to check if you were packed.’
I looked at my case that had been sitting evidently packed for the last three weeks ever since I had gone to Diagon Alley and gave a slight nod, not quite able to meet my mum’s eyes. She had known very well that my case was packed and it irritated me that she was even asking.
She glanced briefly and somewhat awkwardly in my direction and returned my nod. ‘Dinner’s in five minutes by the way. Don’t be too long.’
She didn’t even wait for my answer before turning around, closing the door behind her. I felt myself release a slow and shaky breath that I wasn’t even aware that I had been holding. I felt the same stab of disappointment and grief build up inside me that I had felt for the last three months, but I did my best to push the feelings deeper down. I would not cry again. Not today.
After Dumbledore died, I knew that things were going to worse and so I made the decision to protect my parents. I was public enemy number two and I knew the danger that put my parents in. I modified their memories. I erased myself from their lives and sent them of to Australia with new memories and new lives where they didn’t have a daughter. It was the hardest moment of my life, watching my whole life be erased and I had only been able to walk away from it all and help Harry because I knew that they were safe. I knew deep down that it had to be done and that it was for the best.
After the war had ended and the last of the funerals had been, I had immediately gone to Australia to get my parents back. I had been so excited. I had been through so much and I just wanted a hug from my mum and my dad.
I found them in Australia, living their happy care free lives and I was so happy to see them happy. I knew then that I had kept them safe and kept them from a year of worrying about me. They looked so tanned and satisfied with their lives, but I couldn’t wait to get them back home. To get things back to how they used to be. I stunned them and brought them back home before I removed their memory charms.
I remember sitting on the couch across from them, feeling the butterflies in my stomach and feeling so excited and happy. Just like the feeling that you get on Christmas morning. I watched as their memories returned and waited for them to open their eyes, smile at me and pull me into a hug, glad to see me again.
However the happy reunion wasn’t quite as I imagined it would be. When they had finally opened their eyes, they looked so confused and scared, slowly looking around the room and taking in their surroundings. I did my best to explain to them what had happened and why they now had two conflicting sets of memories in their heads. I explained who they really were and who I was. I had tried so desperately to explain to them why I had done what I did, but I grew increasingly desperate and worried, when instead of smiling at me, they looked at me with blank faces, like they didn’t know who I was.
I had reached out to touch my mums hand and she had pulled it away so quickly as if my touch had burned her. I was so shocked and hurt, but I tried to tell myself that they were just confused and just needed time to adjust to being back in their old lives, but that was three months ago and things were still very far off being normal.
I had tried to give them time and space; I had tried talking to them to explain again, but they didn’t want to hear my explanations. They looked so angry with me; like I had betrayed them. I just couldn’t understand their anger. I was trying to protect them, but when I tried to explain that to them they just turned their backs and walked away from me. Each time they blanked me felt like a slap in the face. Like someone was chipping a piece away from inside my very soul. I had thought that with time things might improve, but they hadn’t. I guess a part of me thought that I had erased myself from their minds. I erased all memories, all recognition, all thoughts and now I was beginning to think that I erased their love of me as well. They had their memories back, but I guess their love hadn’t. It killed me every time to see them look at me with such coldness in their eyes.
I picked up my wand from beside my leg and began to twirl it around my fingers. I tended to do this when I was thinking or needed a distraction. It was comforting. My mum’s reaction earlier to my wand wasn’t an isolated event either. Whenever I had my wand, or left my wand lying about, they would look at it fearfully. They looked at me fearfully. They had finally realised what I was capable of. Of what my magic could do.
I couldn’t take the fearful glances or the accusing stared whenever anyone mentioned something that had happened in the last nine months that they could no longer remember. The guilt was so unbearable, that I had pretty much exiled myself to my room after the first month when it became apparent that things were not going to change and so I had spent the summer in virtual isolation, becoming increasingly bored and frustrated as the time went on.
However, I would never regret what I did to them. I know I saved them from torture and death. They might not realise that now but I sincerely hoped that one day they would come to see that I was not aiming to hurt them. I had done what I thought was best and I was only trying to protect them.
I strongly suspected that they couldn’t wait for me to go back to Hogwarts, so that they could resume their normal lives, free from the fear that their daughter would turn them into toads in their sleep. All I could do now was hope that soon they would see that I had done what I thought was the right thing.
With a groan, I stood up slowly, stretching my legs slightly, feeling the tingling sensation run down my legs and into my toes. I guess I had been sitting on the floor for longer than I realised. I put my wand down on my bed. Better to leave it up here, where my mum and dad couldn’t see it.
Putting a calm expression on my face, trying my best to smile I placed my hand firmly on the door handle, ready to join them for dinner. I knew how this would go. I would make small talk, getting minimal answers, maybe a nod, a change of facial expression, at the very best a one word answer. I would then give up and return to eating in an awkward silence before I would go back to bed and cry myself to sleep, muffling my sobs in my pillow.
A/N- Thank you so much to everyone for reading. This is my first ever fan fic and was so nervous about posting this. I really hope you like it and would love if it you left a review. It really helps to know people are liking it. Thanks again.
14/10/12- I made a few minor changes to this chapter but probably nothing too noticable, I just tweaked a few parts. Once again thanks so much for reading and I would really love a review in that little box below. x