Chapter 29 : Sullen Girl
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Chapter title and lyrics from the song "Sullen Girl" by the amazingly talented Fiona Apple.
And there's too
Much going on
But it's calm under
In the blue of my oblivion
The next day as Hermione arrived at Breakfast, Millicent Bulstrode of Slytherin appeared to be missing.
Hermione wrapped her arms in her jacket to keep herself warmer. Glancing up at the Slytherin table she saw straight away that Pansy and her friends were pointing and scowling at her.
She put her head in her hands.
‘Oh no. They’ve expelled her. Oh no.’
Harry poured her a glass of juice. ’Well, they had to really. After what she pulled off.’ He scowled at the Slytherins. ‘And to be honest I’m quite glad.’
‘Anyway, we’ll look after you.’ Ron pated her on the back trying to be sympathetic but more sort of shoving her manly.
Hermione shook her head. ‘This is bad, really bad.’
She felt tears brimming in her eyes. They weren’t just from the ache in her stomach and the one bruise on her thigh that Pomfrey had missed when she patched Hermione up the night before.
I had sex with Malfoy.
Then he hit me.
But it wasn’t him.
And now all of Slytherin is out to get me.
She didn’t really know what to feel. She felt strange about Malfoy. She’d felt his strength, it had been his hands that had reigned down upon her, but it hadn’t been him.
He’d listened to her, he’d fought it and his eyes had told her it was the last thing he’d wanted to do.
And against all odds, she believed him when he’d said he was sorry.
Now his face was the only one at the whole Slytherin table not glaring at her. He wouldn’t even look up from his cereal. It was excruciatingly obvious that he was ignoring her gaze.
Hermione felt like breaking.
Exhaustion. All too much. Too much. Tired. Stressed. Can’t cope. Too much.
Harry and Ron just didn’t understand the complexity of the situation.
I’m feeling too much. I’m feeling for him? No. Everything. Too much.
And it didn’t help that Ron kept trying to put fatty greasy calorific bacon in front of her. She felt sick.
Even the smell was too much.
She felt herself slipping away the moment the bell rang. On the way to her first lesson she experienced at least 6 shoves. She felt tired but tried hard to pay attention. Harry and Ron guarded her in the Hallway but she still got taunts when she went into the girl’s bathroom. The girls were calling her ‘that fat Mudblood’. Harry and Ron insisted they were being ironic, because she was tiny but somehow she couldn’t believe them.
During her second last lesson, potions, a Slytherin “accidently” spilled a highly toxic potion on her arm and she had to rush to the Infirmary. She missed the beginning of Charms because Pomfrey had misplaced her wand, leaving Hermione sitting on the Hospital wing with her arm stinging as though it was on fire, while the old nurse ambled about trying to find it.
Rushing to Charms half an hour late, she tripped and stumbled. Her foot twisted the wrong way under her legs and she flew to the ground.
She sat up tears brimming in her eyes; she’d grazed her knees and her hands. She had gravel in her palms and her foot stung. As she stood, trying her hardest not to cry, her ankle caved in beneath her and she grabbed onto the wall to hold herself up. She turned her head toward the ceiling to keep the tears in.
The stones began to spin, the blood rushed from her head and her vision went dark. She held onto the wall firmly, trying to stay conscious. Right on cue, her stomach rumbled.
After a few seconds the dizziness passed. Hermione knew that she ought to go back to Pomfrey straight away and let her fix up her ankle. But she was already late for Charms and her marks couldn’t suffer anymore. So she limped to Charms, wincing every time her foot touched the ground, pain singing up her leg.
Harry and Ron looked at her questioningly as she entered limping. ‘I tripped.’ She mouthed to them.
When the bell finally rang, Hermione just wanted to go to bed. She seemed able to walk on her foot with only a minimal amount of pain, she assumed she must have only lightly sprained it.
The three of them plonked in front of the fire.
‘You can’t listen to the Slytherins, Hermione.’ Ron said to her seriously. ‘When they call you fat, they are only saying that because you so obviously aren’t.’
Hermione grunted. ‘Right, or they might be saying it because I’m a fat lard.’
Harry looked at her sadly and leant over to pick up her wrist. He wrapped his pinkie and thumb around it.
‘Your wrist looks like it’s going to snap. You are not a tub of lard! How can you not see that? Look Hermione, I don’t think you’re eating properly, I know you said you were-’
Not this again. Oh god, not today.
‘What makes you think that? You’ve seen me. I said I would and I am!’
‘Well yes, but you haven’t gained any weight; we’re just worried that’s all, if you would just talk to us-’
Ron who’d been sitting silently staring into the fire. ‘It’s Malfoy isn’t it?’
No, no, how could Ron know? How?
Keep your voice calm.
‘What are you talking about?’ Her broke, despite her outward calm.
‘Why you didn’t eat today, because of yesterday, because of that pig headed horrible-’
This is all too much.
‘He didn’t do anything Ron! It was that cow. And yes I am feeling rather horrible because of it.’
Ron tactless as ever, frowned. ‘What I don’t get is why she had to Imperius Malfoy, why couldn’t she just beat you up? It’s not like she hasn’t done it before. Or just ask him to do it; I’m sure he would have loved to anyway.’
Harry kicked Ron in the shins, giving him a severe look. He turned back to Hermione.
‘It’s not just today you didn’t eat. I thought, I’d give you time, maybe it would take you a little while but you have hardly let anything past your mouth have you? Even though you promised. You’re skin and bones! We’re so worried.’
Ron nodded. ‘You mean so much to us Hermione, you’re our best friend.’
No, not this. Not again. I know they just want to help, but they can’t, can’t they see that?
She stood up abruptly. ‘I am fine. I’m eating fine. I’m fine. Maybe there is something wrong with you! There is no problem here.’
Harry stood up as well. ‘No, no Hermione you’re not. We are around you all the time. And you’re not. Your way too thin, you have bags under your eyes, you’re hair looks dead, and don’t think I don’t notice you in class with your eyes glazed over. You used to listen intently; you used to be awake and fun. You’re hardly even our friend anymore. Now you’re just a zombie! ‘
‘A zombie? Great, thanks Harry.’
‘That’s not what I meant!’
‘If you were really my friends, you’d leave me alone. It’s my body and I’m treating it fine.’
‘Why won’t you let us help you!?’
‘BECAUSE I DON’T NEED HELP!’
‘CAN’T YOU SEE YOURSELF?’
‘What’s going on?’ Ginny was at the door gazing into the room. Harry and Hermione were staring at each angrily, fists closed and Ron was sitting shocked and worried on the couch gaping at them, apparently quite unsure of what had just happened.
‘She won’t see reason that’s what.’ Harry pointed at her accusingly.
‘He called me a zombie!’
Ginny was silent. Hermione was breathing heavily. Ginny just looked at her sadly.
‘You are Hermione.’
‘AAAAAAAAGGHHHHHHHH!’ She turned away, Harry tried to grab her and she threw him off, ‘Don’t fucking touch me!’
She stormed up the stairs.
Harry stared after her, before glancing at Ginny and Ron.
‘If she doesn’t eat tonight, we’ve really got to do something...’
Hermione threw her curtains shut angrily.
No, no, no, they can’t take this off me; it’s all I’ve got. They don’t really care.
Her head was swimming, trying to sort out her thoughts; instead they melted into each other, like watercolours, creating nothing but foggy mess.
This thing is ruining me, I’m like a drug addict, and I just can’t stop.
And now I’m all confused about Malfoy, it was so obvious he didn’t want to hurt me, it almost makes me think he cares. And why can’t I stop thinking about him?
Her eyes fell on her bedside table. There was a basket sitting there innocently. She picked it up confused; she’d thought Neville had stopped sending her these. She flipped the card over.
She was shocked; it was Malfoy’s curvy handwriting;
Granger, I thought Longbottom had the right idea. I’m so sorry about Millicent. I would never have done that to you. Please enjoy these gifts, even if you only end up staring at them wishfully.
He hadn’t sent her chocolate and sweets, he’d been much more sensible than Neville. Instead he’d sent her antipastos in jars, olives, pickles, sundried tomato, crackers, calorie free bubble gum, cheese that looked so expensive she hardly dared think of its cost. There was a bottle of fancy wine, again expensive looking, a beautiful glass and the freshest looking fruits she’d ever seen.
She could feel the anxiety rising in her like the tide.
What the hell? Why would he bother? This is all too confusing. Everything is too much. Everything feels too stressful. I can’t figure anything out. My life is turning to shit.
I need to calm myself down. I need something nice. I just can’t handle anything.
She closed her eyes, trying to slow her breathing. She counted to ten and opened them again.
Her eyes fell on the, no doubt excellent, bottle of wine. She picked it up slowly, turning it over in her fingers.
Well, why not?
She gathered the basket and a towel and took them into the bathroom. She lit some candles and laid the towel on the ground.
She poured herself a glass of wine. It melted on her tastebuds, not too sweet and not too bitter.
It was without doubt, the finest wine she’d ever tasted.
Malfoy lives like this? I bet he enjoys his food...
She looked through the basket and picked up a packet of Strawberries.
It positively dissolved in her mouth.
The first bite of food after a fast is always better, but this is so....
She finished the strawberries and poured herself another glass of wine.
I wonder if the other things he sent taste as amazing?
She rummaged through the basket. She found the round block of ridiculously fancy cheese and sliced it up on crackers with sundried tomato.
She could hardly believe her taste buds.
Why did he do this? Why buy me such amazing food, knowing I most likely wouldn’t eat any of it.
After a few more glasses of the fine wine, Hermione had sampled everything in the basket. Everything had been unbelievably delicious. She was feeling quite intoxicated.
And was starting to feel guilty.
She picked one of the jars and spun the label. She gawked at the calorie contents.
Oh no, way too many calories.
Malfoy did this on purpose! He just wanted to see me get fat.
All of a sudden everything was too much again.
She stumbled into the shower and turned it up to scalding.
Why did I do that? Oh stupid girl! Seriously thinking you could just enjoy some food? This is your life! Eating and then regretting and then starving until you absolutely must eat and then regretting. Feeling fat. Being tired.
I am a zombie...
So she put her fingers down her throat.
And it all rushed out.
She coughed painfully and slid to the bottom of the shower.
Tears began brimming. And then she began sobbing, until she was howling. She felt like someone had lodged a knife into her heart.
I didn’t do that quickly enough. Why did Malfoy give me food? Why was I an idiot, why did I eat it? Why did I have sex with him? Why won’t my friends just let me starve in peace? I’ve screwed up my life and I can’t piece it back together...
I’ve got to exercise. I’ve got to get out. I need to clear my head.
She stumbled back out of the shower, her wet hair plastered to her face. Already a bit drunk, she drained the last few sips of the wine. She was shaking in a panic.
Everything is too much.
The bottle slipped from her fingers and smashed on the ground. She stared at the glass shards, glittering on the floor.
Just like me. I’m exhausted.
None of my problems are real. I don’t even matter. I’ve become useless...
Hardly even alive anymore...
She started sweeping up the shattered glass on the floor, tears streaming relentlessly down her face.
Her vision was blurred with tears and for a few moments she didn’t even realise she’d cut herself. She’d cleanly sliced her thumb on the broken bottle. Not too deep but enough for deep red beads of blood to trickle down her wrist.
And she just stared.
But if I can bleed, surely I am alive?
She picked up the glass tenderly.
Except it wouldn’t really take much to stop me from being alive...
Shaking in despair, her brain muddled, she took a deep breath and sliced a fine line down her arm.
I’m useless. I’m pathetic. I only ever hurt those around me. I can’t even eat properly.
She watched as her blood burst forth from her skin. She’d done that. It proved she was alive. Instead of feeling pain in her mind she felt pain in her arm. And it felt like for the first time in months, she really was feeling.
And then it was like a furore overtook her.
She cut again, her toes curling in pain, yet she felt accomplished. She’d done something strong, something no one else could do.
She felt blinded, her left arm the only thing registering in her consciousness, blood dripping down it, slicing, carefully until soon she was slashing at it. She began to feel faint. Her arm was covered in red.
I am alive. I can bleed. And yet I am a zombie. I don’t want to be alive.
Her hand hovered over her wrist, the wrist Harry thought looked like it would snap. The glass was so close to her veins.
Everything is too much.
I’m exhausted. No one would care.
And then she caught sight of herself in the mirror. And she was disgusted by what she saw. Fat, lard, giant arms, giant hips.
They’d have to bury me like this. Fat and ugly. The pathetic fat girl who killed herself. I wouldn’t even fit in the casket.
I can’t die fat...
Still sobbing, Hermione wrapped blood stained towel around herself. She slipped into the dormitory and yanked her shorts out of her trunk, not caring that blood was dripping all over her clothes.
She hauled on a singlet, not even bothering with shoes she walked back into the bathroom and slipped the bloody piece of broken glass into her pocket.
And then she ran. She ran down the stairs, past the fat lady, down the staircases, through the halls, past clusters of students who hardly noticed her streak past. She took shortcuts to avoid seeing anyone. She ran out a set of wide oak doors into a courtyard, she flew across the bridge and stopped panting when she reached the lake.
I run now. Until I can’t run any further. And then when I feel like I’ve burned enough calories and fat...
She fingered the glass in her pocket.
I’ll die a skeleton...
‘I’m sorry.’ Hermione whispered into the air and began to run. Her wet hair whipped her face and her tears, streaming down fast blew off into the air.
Within one hundred meters she had a stitch.
Until my body starts to fail...
Her foot hit an uneven piece of earth. Her legs collapsed beneath her and she felt her ankle roll.
She gasped in pain gripping her ankle.
No, not now.
She gritted her teeth and stood again, she stumbled a few feet before her ankle gave way again.
‘No, no,’ her chest was shaking, sobs escaping her mouth, like floodgates had been open. ‘no, no, no, no, no.’
I don’t feel anything and yet I feel everything.
I’m just a zombie.
I’d be better off dead.
She fumbled with her pocket, gripping the glass, ready to finish it. Finish all the pain. But the glass was slick from her blood and it slid through her fingers.
Frantically she searched the ground with her hands trying to find it, it was pitch dark.
She screamed in frustration.
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