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Chapter 2 : Fear
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Sitting alone on her kitchen floor, Hermione was scrubbing the already clean tiles with bleach and a toothbrush. Ever since the scene at Hogwarts, with death, destruction and blood circling her, she needed to be clean; everything had to be spotless. She had moved out of her parents' house a year ago and moved into her own flat in London. Of course, it was nothing fancy, but it had become her home. She stood up from the floor and removed her rubber gloves, tossing them and the toothbrush into the trash bin.
"Cleanliness is next to godliness," she sang to herself. Satisfied with her recent cleaning escapade, she started down the hall for her shower. It had become a ritual to soak in water and soap at least twice a day, three times if she took a nap in the middle of the day. Turning the knob for the shower to the hottest setting, Hermione stepped in and allowed the water to beat on her tired body. That voice had shook her, had reminded her that there was more battling to come and that good would never triumph over evil. She just wished that she knew whom that disturbing voice belonged to. Voldemort was dead; there was no doubt about that. Who, then, was determined to drive her completely insane?
Trying to shake the feelings of insecurity that often left her feeling alone and cold, Hermione turned her thoughts to memories. Before the downfall of Voldemort, believe it or not, her life had been much easier, and more bearable. The golden trio did everything together and, when Harry finally got the nerve, the trio turned into a quartet when Ginny started hanging around. Soothing her worries, she turned her memories to the day that the quartet became coupled, and in a sense, stronger.
It was always tradition for the trio to wake up to a pot of coffee and then start pouring over books for help finding the horcruxes that Tom Riddle had so secretively hidden. Mainly, Hermione would sift through a dozen books a day while Harry and Ron planned strategy and combat styles. She would admire them from afar, and would always plead with them to show her anything new that they had come up with. On this specific day, she was watching her boys talk quietly in the corner, trying very hard not to be overheard. Ron's hair was positioned annoyingly over his bright blue eyes and Harry had his hand blocking his mouth as he talked.
"Are you two going to share with the group," Hermione asked jokingly. Ron turned beet red and looked at her with confusion and possibly...fear?
"We're just talking about...erm..." Harry started and was searching around the room for an answer. His jade orbs rested on a book, Hermione favourite book, giving him the exact answer he needed. "We wanted to surprise you, Hermione."
"With what," she skipped over to them, determined to find out what the surprise was.
"Erm," Rom said as he cleared his throat. "We were..."
"Going to read Hogwarts, A History. We know how much you want us to read it. You've been bugging us since first year," Harry recovered.
Hermione's face lit up as if a dozen fairy lights had been cast across her milky skin. Never in her life did she imagine that she would convince these two to read the history mogul. Completely taken back and excited, she threw her arms around their shoulders and kissed each of them on the cheek, lingering for a second too long on Ron.
Harry coughed, announcing himself in the room. "I'm going to go find Ginny. She said she had something we needed to talk about."
Hermione smiled knowingly. "Yeah, have fun with that," she called after him as he walked out the door. Finally, silence settled again in the den making its occupants grow more nervous.
They both giggled as they said their names at the same time. Ron held his hand out for her to continue. He wasn't born yesterday; he knew that they were going to be considered a couple today. There was no mistaking the glances they would send each other, followed closely by a blush-fest.
She cleared her throat and looked pointedly at Ron. "Be my boyfriend," she blurted out, mentally smacking herself for not leading him gently into the conversation. The truth was that they had grown close, and she could feel more of a connection there than 'just friends.' Suddenly she was very aware that her arm was still around Ron's neck from when she was hugging
him. And he was awfully close.
Instead of answering Hermione's question with a 'yes' or 'no', Ron let his lips capture Hermione's in a breathtaking kiss. It had been ages since he first started thinking about her in this way, and he had never felt so many fulfilments come from one action. He glided his tongue across her bottom lip, begging silently for access. She opened her mouth quickly and found their tongues in a tango of passion. Neither was sure how long they sat there in each other’s arms, letting love guide their kiss, but eventually they broke apart when another group of voices entered the room.
"You don't understand, Ginny," Harry accosted in a very aggravated voice. "Just.Leave."
"No, Harry. I'm not eleven anymore. I'm not a baby. I can take care of myself," she shouted back, not aware of the couple sitting only feet away, lingering on every word.
"I can't do what I'm supposed to do if I have you to worry about."
"Don't worry about me. I'll stay out of the way."
"If anything were to happen to you," he started, but then let his voice die
"Nothing will happen to me. It's me that should be worried about you." Ginny took a step toward Harry.
"No, Ginny. Not now," he warned, staring her in the eyes.
"Yes, now," she demanded. Without giving him a chance to protest she let her lips crash onto his. Just as quickly as she kissed him, she pulled away. "The quaffle's on your field, now Harry," she said as she started to walk away.
Giving her an inquisitive stare, Harry reached forward and locked his hand around her wrist. He turned her around quickly and let his eyes bore into hers. Throwing caution to the wind, he caught her lips in his and moaned softly at the feeling of longing being squashed. He loved this girl, and nothing would ever come between them.
Ron looked at Hermione and raised an eyebrow before pecking her on the cheek. Harry, finally letting Ginny's lips rest, turned to Ron and Hermione and said, "We don't really have to read Hogwarts, A History, now, do we?"
Hermione laughed and rolled her eyes. She patted the seat next to her on the sofa, offering for Ginny to sit down and join the trio. It was then that they became the quartet, and Hermione had never felt more at peace.
The feeling of peace from the memory lasted long enough to let Hermione get out of the shower and get dressed. Her outfit, like it was on most days, consisted of a black tee shirt and loose blue jeans. She never bothered with her hair anymore, and left it wrapped up tight on her head, frizzy curls falling out of the bun. She never wore make up a day in her life, partly because her skin was almost flawless, and mostly because she didn't see a point in masking what had been given to her at birth.
Not even an hour into her relaxation, she was hit with another memory. This one, however, was not anything she had wished to remember. As she sat at her kitchen table with coffee in hand, she began pondering over the last time she had ever seen Harry and Ron alive.
The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. The spring weather was in effect, leaving a gentle breeze flowing through the trees and fresh dew sparkling on the revived green grass. A group of four, confident and proud, walked through the village of Hogsmeade laughing and pointing at the shops that had reopened in the name of perseverance. Harry Potter had supported the Ministry, and in turn the magical economy was at an all time high, trusting their lives to a seventeen-year-old boy. While on the street, the customers and shop owners a like would point as they passed, whispering words of encouragement and honour.
"Feels funny, doesn't it," Ginny wondered aloud as they made their way up the winding street. "Being pointed and stared at?"
"I'm used to it, love," Harry reminded. "I've been dealing with it for years now. Besides, it's a nice feeling to have so much support." He wrapped his arm around her waist and guided her around the bend.
"I never thought our group would be as famous as the-boy-who-lived," Hermione joked. "Imagine that."
"I'm famous," Ron said, bewildered. "Doesn't feel much different."
As the quartet was walking, the illustrious Hogwarts castle came into view; they stared at it for a minute before making their way up to it. It was already such a good year, and they couldn't imagine what would happen after they all had to leave. That thought alone caused a silence among them.
But their silence was soon broken, as it often was, when screams started sounding from the castle grounds. It wasn't as if they didn't know it was going to happen eventually. They just didn't expect it so soon. Harry turned to the girls, and begged them.
"Go back into the village and stay with Rosmerta," he ordered.
"No!" Both of the girls responded, kicking their feet into the ground.
"Hermione," Ron pleaded. "Please, listen to Harry."
"I haven't been training and helping all summer; figuring out and destroying the Horcruxes, for you to send me off when the battle comes to a peak. I'm going and you," she pointed her finger into his chest, “can't stop me."
Feeling defeated, Ron pulled her into a hug. "We've got to go now, then," he spoke softly. "I love you."
"I love you too, Ron."
"Ginny, you are not coming," Harry commanded. "No matter what. I have a job to do and I can't protect you."
"I don't need to be-"
"No," yelled the other three.
Ginny started walking away, feeling left out. She knew it was for everyone's own good, but she was still a peeved that she was being cast away like she had no talent. But, as she was walking away, Harry ran up to her. "Gin, I love you, okay. I'm just doing this so that we can have a
"I know, Harry. I know," she mumbled.
"I love you so much," he breathed as he drew her into a tight embrace. "I'll see you soon, okay?
"You better," she said as she was let go. "Oh, and Harry, I love you too." His eyes brightened considerably and he turned to the other two, anxiously waiting for them to be ready to go.
"Let's do it," Ron said positively, though he was feeling slightly nauseous.
All four of them shared a quick hug and Ginny left them, heading to the Three Broomsticks. Hermione looked back at Ginny and waved, mouthing to her 'don't worry.' Ginny nodded in understanding and watched the trio run off to the castle, not knowing what fate had in store for them.
When they reached the horrendous battle, Hermione threw the boys a scared glance. Harry gave her a small smirk and Ron squeezed her hand. After that, it was nothing but curses and counter curses. She never even got a chance to sneak a peek at how the boys were doing. The next thing she remembered was waking up and finding the bodies of her best friends lying lifeless on the ground.
It was an image that she battled with every day. Shivering slightly from the recollection of Ron’s limp form, Hermione stood from her seat at the table and went to make herself breakfast. It would be the usual, toast. She often suffered from a lack of appetite, which is why her frame had become more weak and fragile looking.
The toast was a light brown and covered in a thin layer of butter and jelly. She took a bite from it, sounding a small crunch around the empty kitchen. Letting her mind travel, once again, while staring blankly at her abnormally white kitchen, she remembered the day she had to tell Ginny what had happened.
A bloody and bruised Hermione sat on the ground cross-legged, holding her best girlfriend while she sobbed into her shoulder. Hermione hadn’t even made it anywhere to take shower or get cleaned up. As soon as she was done at St. Mungo’s she headed to the Three Broomsticks to find Ginny exactly where the trio had told her to hide.
“Why…did…they…die,” Ginny howled while crying. “I...didn’t…get to say…good…good…”
Hermione closed her arms tighter around her friend, trying to will herself to be strong for the young girl beside her. The truth was that she was aching inside, feeling a burning in her stomach, quite possibly from the emptiness. While she was stroking Ginny’s hair, whispering comforts to her, she couldn’t help but let her mind wander to the future; a future without Voldemort; A future without Harry and Ron. She knew it would haunt her, knowing that they had somehow died to protect her. She should have gone with Ginny. Perhaps things would have been different.
“Did he say anything before…” Ginny spoke in an unsteady voice. Hermione hadn’t even noticed she stopped crying.
“I…I don’t remember, Gin. All I can remember is watching the two of them fight with death eaters, and then waking up,” Hermione answered numbly.
“How did they die?”
Hermione thought for a moment, trying to push her mind to think. “I’m not sure. When I woke up they looked like they were protecting me from something. Harry was near Ron and Ron was near me,” she said, her voice starting to break. Hot tears were burning, but she refused to let them spill.
“Wait, you’re the reason that my brother and my boyfriend are dead,” Ginny yelled unreasonably, standing up.
“What? No!” Hermione yelled back. “I don’t know how they died!”
“If you would have just listened to them…”
“How dare you try and blame me-“
“You have to be so difficult-“
Hermione finally stood up, fuming. “I.Did.Not.Get.Them.Killed,” she seethed through gritted teeth. “I’m the one who levitated them up to the school to get help…”
“A lot of good that did if they were already de-“
“Why are you being like this Ginny? Can’t you see that this is affecting me as well?” Hermione pleaded. She needed her best friend right now, and fighting was not going to help the situation. “We need each other.”
A piercing scream echoed off of the walls when Ginny yelled, “I don’t need anyone!”
Hermione still cringed when she thought of that holler. It was like a dog was being attacked by a pack of wolves. Brushing a tear away from her eye, Hermione threw what was left of her toast into her garbage bin. Things would always be this difficult. At least, that was the conclusion that she had come up with. But, it wasn’t as if she had no one with her now.
Friends and family gathered around Hermione, taking turns hugging her and whispering brighteners in her ear. She would have given anything for one of those people to be Ginny, or any of the Weasley’s for that matter. So many of the family had died during the war that Mrs. Weasley couldn’t bear to stay at the Burrow any longer. They had since moved to the edge of Ireland, in a peaceful town. On the day of her father’s funeral, the Weasley’s had written a note, explaining that they were still moving and unpacking, that they could not make it. She understood, they, like Ginny, blamed her for Harry and Ron. Everyone did. It’s always my fault, she would remind herself.
It was only a week from the time that her friends died that her father had passed away from cancer. And it was then, at his funeral reception, that Hermione’s mother, Jane, had suggested therapy.
“I really think it will help, dear,” she whispered while dragging her daughter into a small corner. “You have had to deal with so much lately, and now, with your father…” Jane trailed off, dabbing her eyes with an already soaked handkerchief.
“I do not need to see some muggle shrink, mother,” Hermione voiced testily. “They can’t help! How could I explain that I’m a witch?”
“You still claim to be a witch, after all that you’ve witnessed these last few years,” her mother argued. “Those people are-“
“I am one of those people,” Hermione said angrily. “I always will be. So what if there was one bad wizard. We are not all like that.”
“I will not fight with you today, Hermione Jane Granger,” her mother scolded. “You will see the doctor, at least once.” …
Once had turned into twice, which had turned into two years of therapy. She did it for her mother, to make her see that at least she was trying. In reality, every time Hermione went to Dr. Florens, her brain had felt like mush. He would force her to try and push through the wall that her mind had built around the scene at the war. It never worked. Every time she would promise it was the last, and on one particular day, she meant it.
“Obliviate,” Hermione shouted at what was supposed to be the last session. She watched as the man in the chair fell limply. It was a powerful spell that she would use, no doubt he would be out for a few minutes, allowing her to sneak out.
As she crept from his office, a voice called to her. “Are you giving up that easily,” it slithered.
Hermione spun around, thinking that the shrink had caught on to her memory charms. When she saw no one, she shook off the voice and proceeded out of the office.
“Where is all of that Gryffindor pride,” the cold voice asked. “Afraid to see the truth, Hermione?”
“Who’s there,” she asked as she rounded a corner. She had her wand out in front of her in defence hold. “Where are you?”
“It’s your entire fault, you know? It will always be your fault.”
“Who are you? What do you want?” She jumped around the corner, expecting to find a person waiting for her. Feeling frightened and vulnerable, Hermione made a dash to her psychiatrist’s office, hoping that he would be able to help with this latest development in her mental instability.
“Tut, tut, little Lion. He will not be able to help,” it taunted. “I will always be right here with you.”
Snapping from her horrid memory, she spun around to see someone entering her apartment. She drew her wand defensively and walked with purpose toward the intruder. “Expelliarmus,” she yelled to him.
“What the bloody hell are you doing, Mia,” asked a fearful and deep voice. His arms were raised in surrender. “Are you okay?”
Hermione paled. It hadn’t been the first time that she had done this. In fact, ever since Terry had come to live with her, she had been doing this almost every day. That voice had gotten to her, had made her skittish.
“I’m sorry, Terry. Just in a daze, I guess,” she said while trying to put on a smile.
Terry leaned in and pecked Hermione on the cheek. “I missed you today,” he purred into her ear.
“Yeah, me too,” she replied uninterestedly. “I’m going to take a shower. I’ll see you in a few.” And, with that, Hermione walked away toward her shower again, leaving Terry behind her, looking devastated.
“I love you, Hermione,” he whispered as she walked away. Terry walked away from the door and off to make and eat his dinner alone, like he had every night for the last six months.
Hermione sat in the tub of the shower, the hot water pouring over her head, mixing with her salty tears. Terry didn’t deserve what she was putting him through, and she knew it. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A few months after she started her pointless therapy, Hermione had gotten a job at St. Mungo’s as a trainee healer. They had seen her bravery and effort after the final battle of the war, and had offered her a position if she ever needed it. When she moved from her parent’s house, she needed it.
An old acquaintance from Hogwarts, Terry Boot, was the Healer whom she would be following around to watch. Several weeks passed, and Hermione soon found herself smiling in his company. It had been so long since she laughed. Terry was always great at making her smile, and that was the only reason she had agreed to go out with him. He took her to Madam Puddifoot’s for a butterbeer and they instantly grew closer, talking non stop, but never brushing too close to the war.
“Harry was a good man,” he said carefully. “As was Ron.”
A tear slid down Hermione’s cheek. She merely nodded. And that was the end of that conversation.
Dates turned into much more rather quickly. Hermione liked the attention and missed having the love from Ron around. Terry would never be Ron, but he would make an okay substitute for affection.
One day, however, the tables turned on Hermione and she realised that Terry would not just be a comfort toy, but would fall in love with her.
“Hermione, I love you,” he whispered in her ear as they were giving into their desire for one another.
She stopped in mid-action and looked into Terry’s murky brown eyes. At almost a complete loss for words, Hermione just nodded and let her body guide her back to where it previously was getting pleasure.
Ever since that night, Terry had told Hermione that he loved her, without ever getting a response. She felt terrible, but she knew that he could never fill the Ron sized hole that was now her heart.
She turned off the shower and stood from the tub. The mirror in the bathroom was fogged from the steam that the hot water was emitting. Taking a towel, she wiped a small circle on the mirror. She gazed at her reflection; her eyes were puffy and red and her face was a perfect match. When she turned around, her back bore scold marks from where the water had ran mercilessly down her back. Numb. Hermione Granger was numb, except when it came to one thing.
“All in due time, little Lion. I will come for you,” came a hazy voice. “No worries, love. I’ll see you soon.”
Fear. It all came down to fear.
A/N - Thank you to those who have already reviewed! It means so much!! ~Jessi
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