Chapter 1 : Rust Red
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I didn’t mean to do it. I swear it was an accident. I can still see the red on my fingers. It won’t wash off, never come off, I want it off, but it won’t come off! Rust red. Stain like rust, like blood. It is blood. Not my blood, I don’t think. I’m not too sure. But it’s blood, and a voice inside tells me it was an accident. The alternatives are bad, so I don’t contemplate them. But scars are hard to ignore, especially the fresh ones. Rail-road tracks up my arms, criss-cross…
Standing in my too small nightgown, I start to hum tunelessly, just a buzz coming from my lips, staring at the ceiling. It’s a grey stone ceiling, the dormitory ceiling of the Gryffindor girl’s tower, and a chandelier hangs down, everlasting candles burning and flickering. The bathroom door is closed, shutting the image of a nightmare out. But the memories manage to seep through the cracks, scaring me, and I hum louder. I didn’t do it…I can’t have done it…not my blood, not me. The humming doesn’t block out the memories, but it dulls the pain. I can breathe now.
I begin to hum with tune, as a song forms foggily in my head. It has words too. I sing them.
“As the moon kindles the night…as the wind kindles the fire…” I can’t remember much after that, just one line, and I say it again and again. “With your heart kindle my heart…with your heart kindle my heart…”
The bathroom door is beckoning to me, jeering, laughing at my horror and disbelief. How could I have done that? Was that my doing? But why? I know deep down, I didn’t have to. No one ever has to. It’s so wrong to do it, but I did it, so I’m stupid. There are better ways to cope…
I look away from the door, feeling dirty, unclean. Just like the names they call me. Mudblood. Dirty blood. Bushy-haired Granger. The cat’s out of the bag, now you know who I am. And you know I’m sad too. It hurts to be teased. It hurts to be put down. What was that saying? Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me? Well, whoever made that up was stupid.
Words do hurt, much worse than any stone, and fist, and physical pain, because words seep deeper, past physical bounds, into your very soul. Words are what keep me up at night. Words are what make me do this disgusting thing…no, no no, no! I don’t want to think about it, I will not think about it, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me!
I’m shaking my head, clutching my hair, holding back sobs. I sound like I‘m choking. I am choking. Choking on sobs which have no sound, on tears which fall so fast…so fast. On words…torrent of words, insults that cut deep. Choking on rust red.
I hear foot steps, giggles. The girl’s who share my dormitory are coming back. They are almost at the door. I feel trapped. I don’t want them to know I’m hurting, they might think I’m weak, pathetic. I must find my wand, I must clean the bathroom, I must wash off the blood, get it off, get it off!
I’m in the bathroom, the door is shut, my eyes are shut, their voices cut off, but I can’t relax. Muffliato. Now they won’t hear anything. I don’t want to open my eyes, but a voice in me taunts, laughing. You’re weak…pathetic. Can’t even open your eyes a little. Look in the mirror, ugly, look at your face.
I shouldn’t, because if I do, pain rears her head. But I do. I open my eyes, and look in the mirror. So ugly. Yucky, I’m yucky. Buck-toothed, bushy-haired, mudblood Granger. Not Hermione. Hermione is a noble name, derived from Hermes, a Greek-God. He was magical. Had a magic wand, didn’t he? And he was the fastest of the gods. He was the god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators, literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures and invention and commerce in general, of liars, and of the cunning of thieves. He was the guide for the dead to go to the underworld. He invented the lyre, the pipes, the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics, and the care of olive trees.
And what am I? Not all that Hermes was. No one wants the words I say, no one listens to the things I know, and I don’t blame them. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see my own ugly face, with the big teeth, and big nose, and big hair. Ugly. I’ve never seen uglier. It makes me start to cry again. I’m sitting on the bathroom tiles, and when I sniffle, I can taste it. Rust red.
It’s in the air, left over from earlier, staining me, mocking me. The same as it’s always been, but different now, in my eyes. Because there is something wrong with it, they say. It is dirty.
I open my eyes. I blink at the spots, but they don’t disappear. Stains, blood stains, drops on the floor, tracks down my arms, splattered in randomly with the clean, making it unclean. Rust red, dried stains. I whisper a spell, scourgify, and it’s gone, but only physically. It is still there, in my mind. It scares me. I don’t want to have the burden of it on my soul, but it’s in my memory now, sunk in deep. I can’t get it out.
Sticks and stones can break my bones, words can break my spirit. It hurt, all over. But mostly, I hurt inside. I don’t want to hate myself, and no one knows I do, but in the privacy of this place, I can hate all I want. And the only one I hate…is me. Because while my blood is rust red like theirs, they still see it to be dirty. I know I need help, but I can’t tell anyone my secret. Then they will laugh and point, knowing they are superior, because they make me break, everyday.
Standing, I heal the cuts on my arms, wondering why no one ever asked me why I was so good at healing spells, knowing deep down that it is because they don’t care. And why should they? Know-it-all Granger, she doesn’t need anyone’s help, does she? No, because she’s an interfering know-it-all, a freak of nature, and above all, she’s not just annoying, she’s ugly too.
The bathroom is once more spotless, and I’ve removed the blood stains from my dress. No sign remains of my dirty deed but the razor I used to do it. I cause it to disappear with a thought, evanesco. Brushing my teeth, I avoid looking in the mirror, not sure what I’ll do if I see my ugly reflection. When I’ve cleaned up and prepared for bed, I exit the toilet, smile at Lavender, Parvati and Katie, and go to bed. Closing the curtains, I stay awake long after their breathing has slowed, recalling all the insults I’ve been called during the day, while tears leak from my eyes, drenching my hair. When I finally fall asleep, it isn’t to the cool blackness of night, but the rust red of dried blood.
I’ve made a decision though. I never made it before. I will see Madam Pomfrey tomorrow. She’ll know what to do. I’ll tell her in confidence. She’ll help me. After talking to her, I’ll never hurt myself again. It’s in all the books. See a person of authority. Madam Pomfrey is authority. She’ll help…
And for the first time in a long time, I fall asleep without tears. Because never again would I have to resort to the pain. There was another way. I’d just stumbled upon it.
So this is a really dark fic, but I tried to get a message across this time that's not as obvious in any of my other stories. Bullying is not a game. It is not okay to hurt someone's feelings, and make them feel less that yourself. EVERYONE is equal. EVERYONE deserves to feel loved, cherished, and like A PERSON. EVERYONE MATTERS. If you have ever been bullied, you'll know what I mean when I say it hurts and if you haven't been bullied, now you have some idea of how it could affect the victim, so don't bully. Please.
I thank you for reading, and please try to spread this message. THANK YOU :)