Chapter 4 : Repaying a Debt
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She closed her eyes again, intending to return to her pleasant dreams, but her stomach shook fiercely. Clamping one hand over her mouth, she rolled out of bed and rushed into the bathroom. Almost not fast enough, she knelt over the toilet and heaved violently, emptying her stomach. After a minute, she stood up, wiping her mouth with the sleeve of her pyjama top. She moved to the sink and rinsed her mouth vigorously with water, trying to rid her mouth of that rancid taste.
Mouth finally free of that horrid taste, Hermione slowly raised her head to look at herself in the mirror. She gasped in horror.
Leaning in to get a better look, she touched the dark circles under her eyes tenderly. They seemed to have formed overnight. Opening and closing her jaw, she turned on the taps and splashed her face, relishing in the shock of the icy water in her eyes. She scrubbed forcefully to remove the grit from her eyes, and by the time she was done, her face was red and tender, but she was more awake. Sighing in exasperation as she looked at her watch, she undressed quickly, eager to get into the shower. Letting the warmth wake her senses, she stayed comfortably in the shower for a long time, letting the pressure of the water soothe her frazzled nerves and massage her tense muscles.
When she could hear her alarm clock in the next room, she sighed and turned off the tap, stepping nimbly onto the cold floor of the bathroom before sprinting into the next room to turn off the alarm. She dressed quickly, rapidly pulled a brush through her untameable hair, and stepped out into the Common Room. Keeping her head down and her face covered by her frizzy mane, she made her way hastily across the thus-far empty room, chocolate eyes darting left and right in search for a glimpse of a certain red haired someone. Breathing a sigh of relief when she exited the Portrait Hole, she quickened her pace and made her way to the Great Hall. Unfortunately, she was cornered by one person she didn’t want to see. A red-haired someone.
“Hey, Hermione! What are you doing up so early?” Ginny asked, smiling brightly. Hermione faintly wondered how she could be so calm when the whole world was caving in.
“I tried to escape the Common Room before your brother woke up,” she admitted. “And I was woke this morning at six o’clock with a migraine and morning sickness,” she added in an undertone. Ginny grimaced in sympathy and looped her arm in her friend’s.
“Do you realise we have classes together this year?” she said happily. “Defence will be more bearable with you there.”
“Have you forgotten already, Gin?” Hermione asked quietly. “Snape’s dead, remember?”
Ginny’s face dropped in semi-sorrow. “It’s hard not to forget,” she admitted softly. “I want to forget. The war did so much damage to everyone. You know, every time I look over at Harry, it’s funny to not see Colin trailing him with a camera.”
Hermione laughed thickly, suppressing tears, and it felt strange to realise that the girl next to her was only one year younger. She felt aeons older, especially with the new revelation. She knew the younger girl had lost a brother, a brother’s ear and her other brother had been turned into a half-werewolf; but Hermione had lost both her parents, her naivety and innocence, the love of her life and her dignity. She had been aged by the war, forced to grow up in a very short period of time, and felt like she was already middle-aged.
“I know, Gin,” she whispered soothingly, willingly taking the role of older sister to the distressed girl. It was funny how their roles switched so easily depending on the situation. “It’s terrible waking up every morning knowing that my parents are alive but have no idea who I am. I thought I could sympathize with Neville before, but I had no idea what it felt like.”
“I miss Fred and it’s hard realizing that George will never be the same. He hardly speaks anymore, and I’m worried for him. Plus, Bill’s baby is on the way, and he’s going mad about the effect he’ll have on them. Fleur’s basically told him she doesn’t give a shit, that she’ll love it no matter what, and I love her for it, but that just made him more worried. She’s okay, now, I guess. And Percy still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened. I can hear him screaming at night, always the same words: “I’m so sorry, Fred, I’m so sorry." And then, of course, Ron's new wound, on top of losing Fred,” A sharp glare towards Hermione as the last sentence was said told Hermione that she still hadn't completely forgiven her. Hermione chose not to react. Ginny inhaled deeply, refilling her lungs. Worried, and ready to repay how helpful the girl had been to her, Hermione pulled her into an empty classroom.
“It’s going to be hard getting used to it, but everything will go back to at least semi-normal. Everybody’s having trouble adjusting. What you can do, though, is tell Percy that no one blames him, and try to get George back to his prank shop. Tell him the kids of Hogwarts need him or something. As for Bill, there’s not much you can do at this point. You’ll just have to wait until the baby is born. And congratulate Phlegm for me, will you? How are your parents faring?”
“Mum spends the whole day crying. She hasn’t even done any knitting since last Christmas. And Dad looks ready to explode most of the time.”
“Well, never would I claim to be an expert, but maybe your parents could stand to hear ‘I love you’ more often. Basically, everyone is going to have to deal with everything in their own way.”
Ginny sniffled and nodded gratefully, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. She raised her wand and muttered a spell. Her hair was suddenly shiny and there was no trace of tears on her face. Hermione looked at her, impressed.
“What spell was that?”
“Just something one of my friends in Ravenclaw made for me,” Ginny replied. “She calls it the 10 Second Preparation Spell,”
Hermione nodded. “What’s the incantation?”
“Prapere,” she replied, smiling faintly. Hermione stored that away in her mind and muttered her thank you. She looped her arm in Ginny’s and the two girls made their way to the Great Hall.
A/N - So, I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter, it's more of a filler chapter, but I wanted a place to show the different ways people were dealing with the war. Leave me a review and tell me how I can improve!
EDIT 18.05.08 -- 'Kay, two things today. First, as always, thanks to my fantastic beta, Mahalia, from the forums. Second, a special thank you to a reviewer, CRW, for helping me with Ginny's character in particular.
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