Snow continued to fall and Hogwarts looked increasingly like a winter paradise, but all the beauty was lost on Hermione who had once again fallen into a state of extreme despair. On the outside, she managed to keep a cool exterior that fooled almost everyone into thinking that life was continuing on as usual. But Hermione's mind was in constant motion, from the moment she woke up to the moment she went to bed at night. At no point could she let her mind have a moments rest because she would instantly remember Ron and instantly tears would spring to her eyes.
Ever since Hogsmead, Hermione seemed to be running into Ron and his girl at every possible moment. With every corner she turned, every passage way she walked and every dark winding staircase, there they were. Sometimes they were just walking by, other times they would be gazing into each other eyes, and then there were times when they were doing a little bit too much for a public place. Sometimes, Hermione would just walk on by, nodding her head in acknowledgment, and also hiding her leaking eyes, other times she would turn and walk away before they had time to notice her.
It was some extremely early hour of the morning and Hermione was in the common room buried under a pile of books. For hours, she had read and wrote furiously, keeping her mind busy, but eventually, tiredness took its toll. Her eyes drooped in surrender and she had fallen asleep, her head coming to rest on a heap of text books that were not related in the slightest to any homework or school assignment. Her homework had been completed hours ago. This was how Hermione spent all her nights, writing until she fell asleep. If she wasn't studying, she would be writing in her diary, her one outlet where all her emotions could be condemned to paper in one flood of misery, so that she could maintain her strong exterior.
Today had been an especially bad day. After returning some books to the library, Hermione decided to take a walk to one place she hadn't visited since she and Ron had broken up. It had been their special place, somewhere they had never told Harry about. They had found the spot one night, while evading Filch. It was a small room, tucked away on the sixth floor of Hogwarts, and it commanded a stunning view of the forbidden forest, which was often glistening with the light of the moon. They had frequented it quite often through the midnight hours in their sixth year, it was their place, a secret that nobody else could know. “Maybe, just maybe”, Hermione thought, “being back here will give me some closure.”
Hermione stood at the threshold, her hand poised on the circular door handle, willing herself to turn the knob. 'Will this make things better', she thought, 'of just infinitely worse'. Hermione released the breath that she had subconsciously been holding and turned the door handle, and she got her answer.
Silhouetted by the moonlight streaming through the window, were two very familiar shapes locked in a tight embrace. The tipping point had finally been reached and Hermione's fragile existence crumbled around her. Slowly she turned away from the sight, from the girl who had stolen her world and silently closed the door. Tears started to run relentlessly from her eyes, and Hermione had to wipe them away. 'How could he' Hermione thought to herself, her heart aching with betrayal. 'It was our place, it was part of our life, and now you are sharing it with her.' The tears continued on persistently and Hermione did nothing to control them as she returned to the common room and hid in the corner, immersing herself in her books. Knowledge she could control, it would never hurt her, it would never cause her pain, it could never betray her.
Over the past few weeks, Harry had observed Hermione's downward spiral, often finding her asleep in the common room on a pile of books. This was how Harry found Hermione on this particular morning, two quills, their nibs broken, lying beside her. 'Who is she trying to fool?' Harry thought to himself. He knew that Hermione had reached an all time low and he was trying so hard to always be there when she needed him, but she was being her stubborn self and trying to deal with everything alone. Seeing her there once again scared Harry and caused his heart to ache in worry.
Harry knew that the time had come when he had to step in. He had lost so many friends in the past few years and Harry knew that if he allowed Hermione to continue as she was, then he might just lose her as well. The thought of a life without Hermione was too horrible to even contemplate. Harry knew he needed to tell Hermione his real fears, and hopefully that would be enough to see her through the darkness. Harry crept silently over to the sleeping figure and shock her slightly. He needed to take her away from the common room and her books, and away from all distractions.
Hermione felt a slight shake and slowly came to the realisation that she was in the common room on a pile of books. In a daze she sat up and rubbed her eyes, and found the gorgeous eyes of Harry Potter staring at her with concern etched right across his face. “Up you get, you're coming with me.”
Before Hermione had a chance to say anything, she was being half dragged across the common room and out of the portrait hole. Hermione followed Harry silently, not quite fully awake yet, as he led her to the top of the North Tower. He stopped and took both her hands in his, rubbing them gently. The fresh air had woken Hermione up and she began to wonder why Harry had brought her here and what he was going to say. The seconds ticked by and just as Hermione was about to break the silence, Harry spoke, not much above a whisper.
“You have to talk to Ron, because you're scaring me Hermione, I'm scared I'm going to lose you. Ron is the cause all of your misery of late. Please, please talk to him... for me.”
Hermione had not been prepared for what Harry had just asked her to do. She looked at his hands, holding hers, and she felt the fear trembling through them, a fear that he might lose her.
Harry continued, “I care for you so much and it breaks my heart to see you this way. I don't know if talking to Ron will solve everything, or anything, but I know that for you to heal your heart of your broken dreams, you need to know who she is, and you need to ask Ron why.”
Harry's hands moved up her arms and rested on her shoulders. Harry placed one finger under Hermione's chin and tilted her head so he could look directly into her eyes. Hermione's eyes were dry and in them Harry saw the realisation that it was time to face the one part of her life that she wasn't ready to part with yet.
Hermione met Harry's eyes and saw in them the depth of his concern. He was right, it was time for her to face the one thing that she had not wanted to part with. The world continued on as it always did and it appeared on the surface that nothing had changed, but Hermione had stood on the edge of the abyss and watched this world disintegrate to ruins, and she knew how much everything had changed. The dream she once had of being with Ron was gone forever, reality had laid down a different path for her and Ron, and now was the time for her to say goodbye to the old dreams and embrace a new beginning.
“Thank you Harry” Hermione whispered and embraced him. He smoothed her hair and held her securely, and she felt so safe and so loved. “I'll talk to him today.”
A/N I know that this is a bit of a short chapter, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. As always, thanks for reading and please leave a review.