Chapter 4 : Sleepless
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Ron, where are you?’
Hermione was feeling about in the dark, taking every step carefully without making a noise. She was barefoot and could feel the icy coldness of the stones under her feet.
Her voice echoed through the walls of the long corridor. Something didn’t feel right there. She sensed something sinister. Her heart started to race and her stomach clutched with the feeling of foreboding. She kept walking on, now her entire body in sweat, anxiousness coming over her like a bad curse.
‘Ron!’ she tried to shout again but only a hiss left her mouth, and she looked at Harry in utter bewilderment, who simply looked back at her, shrugging, and then climbed through the portrait of the Fat Lady.
Hermione followed. Harry had to know where Ron was, hadn’t he?
They stood in the middle of the Room of Requirements that looked much like Ron’s bedroom now, with snakes slithering on the ceiling. Everyone of the D.A. wore horrible pustules on their faces; Hermione knew they all betrayed the Army, so she ran out of the room, fear overcoming her every particle, and found herself in another corridor now. It looked like a morgue: pale blue walls, dead silence – but she knew where to go. She could see photos of dead people on the walls; her anxiety grew with every single step she took.
Her mother had left her something in a cupboard. She opened a rusty drawer, and under the cover of a heavy old book she found a knife. As she gripped it in her hand, it burnt her palm, but she didn’t let go.
She pushed open the door nearest to her.
And there he was, lying in a hospital bed, Ron covered in bandages all over, looking very, very ill. He looked at Hermione with a strange expression, and Hermione just rushed towards his bed and stabbed him. She stabbed him once, twice, three times… over and over again with the fang she was clutching tightly in her hand; she could feel every one of her muscles strain in order to gain all her strength to strike down at him again. She then heard those nerve-racking “hem hem”s from behind her and glanced back at professor Umbridge for a moment. As she congratulated her for writing the best test in her year so far, Hermione knew that the woman was actually Voldemort – only he took Polyjuice Potion to get into the school undercover.
She looked back at Ron, who was covered in blood, the knife still protruding from his chest, and only then did Hermione realise what she had done.
‘Don’t worry,’ Ron said with a blank expression. ‘I’m fine. Really.’
And Hermione broke down, collapsing at the leg of his bed, feeling guilt surge through every one of her bits, and she wanted to rip herself apart, sobbing uncontrollably, naked on the cold floor of the hospital, gasping for breath. She could hear people around her whispering consoling words as if talking from a distance, but then she suddenly knew what would stop the unbearable pain in her heart.
She pulled the bloody sheet off of Ron’s bed, and covered herself with it so that no-one could see her naked. She stepped to the edge of the window of the Astronomy Tower.
She closed her eyes, ready to jump--- No! Open your eyes! Come on! Open your eyes, you have to wake up!
And she did it.
Hermione Granger was lying in her bed, her heart wanting to break through her chest, with her whole body covered in cold sweat, gasping as she tried to keep her eyes open in the pitch blackness of the girls’ dormitory. She wiped the tears off her face, starting to catch up on what had just happened. It was only a bad dream, a nightmare, she told herself. But what a horrible one; she had never before dreamt anything as terrifying as this one… and she was irrationally worried about it now. What if something really happened to Ron?
In her brain, Hermione understood that this could be nothing like Harry’s vision was – after all, she was not connected with Voldemort in any magical manner – but her heart was still pounding fast as she sat up in her bed, feeling extremely worried.
She quickly put her bathrobe on and left the room walking on tiptoes so that she wouldn’t make any noise… She could feel a chill running through her back as she was reminded of the beginning of her dream again… She walked towards the boys’ dormitory and opened the door leading to the fifth years’ bedroom as slowly and silently as she could. As soon as she stepped in, she could hear Ron’s snoring, but she felt like she had to see him for herself to be completely reassured.
She walked closer to his bed, and was relieved to see him completely healthy and peaceful – no blood, no bandages. She pinched herself to see if this wasn’t another dream. For some reason, she still felt guilty for killing Ron, even though she knew it was only a dream, but she now also felt completely and absolutely stupid for believing for even a second that it could have been true.
As she started to walk back towards the door, she could hear Ron snort a little and then stop snoring, and she smiled slightly at the reality of his sounds in his sleep – it was definitely not a dream.
The next morning, Hermione woke up feeling utterly tired. She hadn’t slept much that night; she was too afraid to fall asleep again, scared that she might continue in the dream where she had left off earlier. Every time she dozed off, she quickly made herself wake up before another horrifying picture could have drifted into her mind. Finally, at around five in the morning, she gave in to the heavy pull of her eyelids and fell asleep in exhaustion.
As she took a refreshing shower, she kept going through the whole dream again in her head. It seemed much less scary or realistic now than it did at night. But it was definitely like looking through a perfect mocking glass of how she often felt these days. Afraid that Harry’s “visions” would one day lead to something terrible. Afraid that someone would betray the Army or the Order. Afraid that there could be an intruder in the school itself, just like last year, especially now that the Ministry’s inside, and they are not willing to accept Harry’s story about what happened after the Triwizard Tournament. And afraid, scared to death, that one of her loved ones would die, or that to defend herself or someone else she would have to kill somebody one day.
All these thoughts had bothered her since the day Harry came back from the maze last summer with Cedric’s body, but they only grew stronger and stronger as time passed, and now, with Mr. Weasley being attacked and almost having died, they were constantly there, in the back of her mind, not letting her brain rest for even a second, and sometimes making her feel rather desperate about the whole situation they were in…
She now put her clothes on, and sprinkled some of the perfume on herself that she got from Ron for Christmas. It had quite an indescribable fragrance, both sweet and spicy, and there was something else… she truly found it interesting. She liked it, but she had to admit to herself, her fondness about the perfume was mainly thanks to having it gotten from Ron, and not to the smell of it. This, of course, reminded her again of the indescribable guilt and desperation she felt in her dream after killing him… she did not want to think about it anymore.
Although she drank two coffees that day, she spent most of the time yawning and trying hard not to fall asleep and pay attention to classes. She was especially tested on Defense Against the Dark Arts as they were, yet again, given some material to read which she was already finished with. Her eyes often stayed closed as she fought with her growing tiredness, and Harry seemed to notice as he gave her concerned looks every once in a while.
By the time she and Ron got to night patrolling, she probably could have fallen asleep standing, she was so sleepy.
Ron was just about to find Hermione and tell her that all the corridors were empty when he recognised a distant but familiar smell in the air. Hermione was turning round the corner rubbing her eyes, almost bumping into her tall friend as she walked towards him, not seeing anything.
‘Oi!’ said Ron, waking Hermione up a little.
‘Oh, sorry,’ she replied in a barely audible voice. ‘I just really, really want to go to sleep already.’
‘Yeah, I can see that…’ he replied. ‘You look terrible.’ He still found her quite adorable though with the dark circles under her eyes and her pale, tired face, but he never would have admitted that to her.
‘Thanks,’ Hermione said sarcastically.
‘Well, anyway, the corridors on my side were all deserted like a graveyard so we can go back now, I suppose.’
Hermione simply nodded and they started their way together towards the Gryffindor tower in silence. As he felt the familiar scent in the air again, Ron was wondering if she wore the perfume he had given her for Christmas. Well, he thought, if she does, that must mean she likes it. At least no-one else had given her the same present yet… He remembered Hermione’s birthday for which he prepared her long-before purchased, expensive present and, in the end, had to buy another one as quick as he could for (after a few hints in their daughter’s letters about a very special set of stationery) Hermione’s parents decided to give her the exact same thing as he had been keeping with him for so long. And Hermione had obviously appreciated his parents' gift much more at the time than the book Ron got her about... well, he couldn't even remember what anymore.
He did not dare ask whether it really was the perfume he had given her though that he could smell on her, so he rather enquired casually:
‘So, why the sleepiness?’
‘I barely slept at night, to be honest,’ Hermione said. ‘I just had this terrible, terrible nightmare with snakes and the D.A. betraying us, and I…’ her voice trailed off now.
‘It’s stupid. Never mind,’ Hermione said, avoiding his gaze.
‘What? Did you kiss Snape in your dream? Or did you fail a test in Numerology?’ Ron asked jokingly. ‘Or did little Vicky forget to answer one of your letters and you went bonkers and hexed him to unconsciousness?’ (Hermione rolled her eyes here.) ‘C’mon, you can tell me, I’m not going to laugh—’
‘In my dream I stabbed you, OK?’ Hermione suddenly stopped in her track and snapped. ‘Are you happy now? Can you hold back your giggles?’ she asked bitingly.
After a few moments of silence and with a shocked expression on his face, Ron asked incredulously: ‘Why the bloody hell would you want to stab me?’ The only time she dreams about me, and she just has to attack me like that! What is that if not the sign of love, really? he thought sarcastically.
‘Ron, you are honestly such an idiot sometimes! It was a nightmare! You know, a dream that is scary and has horrible things in it!’ Hermione took out her I’m-talking-to-a-boy-with-the-brain-of-a-five-year-old voice.
‘I know what a nightmare is!’ Ron shot back angrily.
‘Then how can you possibly ask such a thing as why I wanted to stab you?’ she asked in disbelief as they followed their way to the Gryffindor tower. ‘You’re saying it as if it was my fault that I dreamt something like that! Obviously, I have no idea why I did it, and I wouldn’t like to think about that stupid dream anymore! I spent half my night trying to get it out of my head, and for a while I was even worried that it was something like when Harry’s seen your dad and—’
‘You came to check on me in our dormitory?’ Ron suddenly remembered something.
‘Well, yes,’ Hermione blushed a little. ‘How do you know?’
‘Oh, I woke up to the sound of the door opening, and I thought I saw someone… you, walking out of the room, but I figured I was just dreaming or something,’ he shrugged. ‘Did you honestly think that you stabbed me for real though?’ he asked, now grinning widely, chuckling at the thought of the ever so logical Hermione actually believing what she had seen in a ridiculous dream.
‘It’s not funny. I was really worried about you.’
‘Well, I hope you’re having a bit more sleep tonight then,’ he said as they arrived to the common room. ‘But if you want to check on me again… you know, you can wake me up or something if you’re really worried…’ he tried to be a bit gallant. ‘I mean, I’d rather if I could just sleep, but, you know, if—’
‘Well, thanks Ronald… but if you don’t mind, I’ll try not to dream about you tonight,’ replied Hermione, but as soon as she said it out loud, she realised how stupid it must have sounded and blushed in embarrassment.
Sure enough, Ron smirked a little under his breath at the phrase before clearing his throat and mumbling a quick ‘’Night!’ and going up to his dormitory.
I’ll try not to dream about you tonight, Hermione’s voice echoed in his head. Obviously, she didn’t mean it the way Ron would have preferred her to, but it still was a nice thing to hear… I’ll try not to dream about you tonight, he heard it in his mind again. Well, he was just about to try the opposite.
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