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Chapter 3 : Goodbyes
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I woke with a start the following morning, not surprised to find my sheets twisted around my legs and my hair sweaty and plastered to my head. My heart was beating loudly in my chest, the sound thumping in my ears. I sighed as I rolled over onto my back and stared up at the ceiling, breathing deeply in and then back out again. I watched as the light danced across my ceiling, catching and twinkling off of my crystal light shade. They danced and darted across my ceiling and my eyes followed them as they did, making me feel calm once again as they distracted me.
Suddenly the lights disappeared making my room dull and darken once more, as I guess a cloud covered over the sun. My breathing and heart rate had returned to normal and so I pushed myself up into a sitting position on the bed. I ran my hands through my tangled, damp hair, pushing back the sweaty tendrils of hair that had clamped themselves to my forehead. Looking down at the twisted sheets around my legs and the cushions from my bed splayed all across my bedroom, I tried to think about what it had been this time; what had haunted me again while I slept. Images and faces flashed through my head in quick succession as parts of the nightmare came back to me. It was always the same sort of thing, the same dangers, the same threats, the same outcome.
I forced myself to push the pictures out of my mind and focused instead on untangling the sheets from around my legs. A noise from downstairs made me still in my movements and I felt my stomach twist into an uneasy knot. In a rush, even more overwhelming than the memories of a nightmare, I suddenly remembered the reason why I was feeling so uneasy. Today was the day- the day that I been both anticipating and dreading for the whole of the summer. Today was the day I left my home and went to The Burrow. Today I would see everyone again. I would get to see Harry. I would get to see Ron.
Another small bang from below told me that my parents were awake. It sounded like they were making breakfast, the bang most likely being a cupboard door closing. They would be working today seeing as it was a Friday. I glanced at the clock. In around twenty minutes, they would both be leaving for work. They had managed to find work as dentists again, claiming their ten month absence was due to a career break. They had told people that they had gone travelling around the world. I felt guilty again that they had had to develop lies about their lives, but pushed it out of my mind. I wasn’t about to go there again. Today was going to be hard enough.
I lay in my bed for a while after that, listening to the sounds that came from below. I listened to the muted voices of my parents and the occasional clatter or bang as they moved their way around the kitchen. Listening to them go about their daily routine, so at ease and comfortable, while I sat alone in my bedroom, made me feel even more isolated and alone. My parents had settled back into life in their home and I was glad that they had, it was what I had hoped would happen. But they had settled back into a life that I didn’t feel a part of anymore and I didn’t know what I could do to change that.
It wasn’t until I heard footsteps climbing the stairs that I once again sat up in my bed. This was it. One of the many moments that I had been dreading; the time to say goodbye to them. In a few hours I would be leaving my family home for another year. All summer I had felt trapped here. Like I was being kept inside a prison. There had been so many times when I had been desperate to leave and yet now that the moment was here I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I wanted to get out of this room and be in a place where I actually felt wanted. Yet now that I knew that the moment was here, I couldn’t help but wish it hadn’t. I couldn’t help but fear that if I walked out of the house, then I would never be welcomed back. Every day I had hoped that things would return to normal and every day that they hadn’t I had thought it was fine because I had more time. But now the time had run out and I was still left in limbo wondering what would happen.
As I listened to the footsteps approach the top of the stairs I knew that this was the moment that would either make or break us. The nerves and tension flooded through me as I wondered if I would finally be forgiven, if my parents would finally speak to me, would hug me and say goodbye to me properly? Give me a hug and wish me a good year at Hogwarts, like most other parents would be doing with their children.
I looked up as the door to my bedroom opened slightly. My mum and dad stood at the door, but once again they didn’t enter. They just hovered in the door frame, looking slightly awkward as if they would rather be anywhere than here.
I smiled up at them awkwardly, with hopeful eyes. I willed them to speak. To just move inside the room and hug me. I waited with almost baited breath. Waited for someone to say something. To do anything.
It was my mum who spoke first.
‘So that’s us both leaving now for work. I take it you’ve got everything organised.’
It was just about all I could do to nod my head. I understood their anger towards me, but I could still never get used to them being so cold and distant towards me.
‘Darling we’re going to be late if we don’t leave now’, my dad said to my mum. I turned to face my dad, trying to control the hurt that I felt from making its way to my face. He turned in my direction and gave his goodbye speech.
‘Well have a nice time today, Hermione and enjoy school. Remember to work hard as always. I guess we’ll see you soon,’ he said crossing the room in three quick strides and placing the swiftest of kisses on my cheek before hastily retreating to the other side of the room. My mum followed his lead and repeated his actions, mumbling a quick goodbye as she did. For that brief moment I felt my heart soar. It was the most contact and affection that they had shown me in months and even though it was the briefest of touches, it gave me the slightest hope that they were beginning to thaw in their anger and begin to forgive me.
Feeling more confident with them and feeling that we may actually be able to move forward, I made a move to get out of bed, wanting to go over to them both and hug them and give my goodbye to them, but before my foot had even landed on the floor, they both gave a quick wave and turned out of the room, half closing the door as they did.
I sat stunned where I was, still halfway through the movement of getting out of bed, one foot on the floor and my body pushed forward. That couldn’t be it. That couldn’t be all that they were going to say to me. They didn’t even let me say goodbye. I was leaving for nearly a year. Didn’t they care? I knew what I did was wrong, but I am still their daughter. I held my breath, listening carefully as they made their way back downstairs. I heard the distinct tinkling of the car keys being lifted out of the bowl. One after the other they both shouted ‘bye’ and before I could even take in a breath to say my goodbye, the front door slammed shut.
I winced as I heard the sound, my mouth closing, stopping the ‘goodbye’ that had eventually formed on my lips, moments too late. I turned my head towards the window as I head the two cars one after the other reverse over the gravel in the driveway and accelerate down the street.
I sat in my halted movement for a moment longer, before suddenly jerking out of my trance- like state and moving towards the window. I don’t know what I expected to see. I guess I hoped that the cars would still be there, that they hadn’t actually left yet. Or that maybe they would come back, realising that they wanted to say more, realising that I had wanted them to say more.
But my hope was short lived. The drive way was empty, just like deep down I knew that it would be. I don’t know what I felt in that moment. Sunned, shocked, upset. If I was honest, I just felt numb. Yes the summer had been hard, but I had honestly believed that they would come around and that me leaving for an entire year, might just be enough for them to overcome their anger towards me and that we could have a happy goodbye and I would be able to go off to Hogwarts feeling relieved and knowing that my parents loved me.
A car door slamming somewhere nearby was enough to jolt me out of my trance like state. I couldn’t stand here all day wallowing in self- pity. I had to be at The Burrow in just over two hours and I had a lot to do.
I went to the bathroom, and immediately turned on the shower, stepping in before the water had a chance to heat up fully. The initial shock of the cold sent a shiver over my body and I immediately felt the goose bumps rise on my arms and legs. I stood perfectly still, letting the water wash over my body and run down my face and back. I was grateful when the water finally heated up and I felt able to move. I washed my hair and ran a handful of conditioner through it in a pointless attempt to tame it. I forced my mind to focus on my actions, not allowing my mind to waver for even a second.
However when I was finished, all my emotions came flooding back all at once with such force that I felt my knees buckle beneath me and I slid down the wall of the shower and collapsed in a heap on the floor. I hugged my knees tightly, my whole body rocking back and forth with the strangled sobs that were escaping from my lips. I could feel the water streaming down my face, mixing with the many tears that were falling.
I don’t know how long I stayed in that position for. My tears had eased some time before, but I still focused on the feeling of the water pouring over my body. The sound of water rushing in my ears kept my mind occupied, as I listened to the dripping water and watched as it snaked its way around my body and down the drain, taking away all my worries and woes with it.
It wasn’t until my fingers were so wrinkled that they actually hurt, that I pushed myself up off of the floor and turned the shower off. Wrapping myself in a towel I made my way back to my bedroom and sat on the bed, shivering slightly, allowing my body to adjust to the much cooler temperature of my bedroom.
Eventually I moved from my position, finding that my body was actually dry already, I moved to my wardrobe, selecting a light green t- shirt and a pair of three quarter length jeans. I moved towards the mirror and examined my appearance while I combed my hair. I had developed a few curves since the start of the summer; I guess that was the result of eating three full meals a day and not living in fear of your life. It didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would though. It made me look healthier and somehow more grown up. I wasn’t the little girl that I had been a year ago. I had had no choice but to grow up fast. I examined the rest of my appearance; my hazel brown eyes looked exactly the same, if not slightly red and puffy at the moment. I moved my hands to my hair. Still the same as always, a frizzy curled mess. It was longer now than it used to be. My hair had remained firmly at shoulder length for as long as I could remember, but being on the run had meant that it had grown quite a bit, a hair- cut being the least of my priorities in the last year. It now sat three quarters of the way down my back, although the length had done nothing to decrease the volume.
My hair bothered me and it was the part of my appearance that I hated most about myself. I wasn’t a vain person, but occasionally I had found myself looking at Ginny’s glossy, sleek and straight hair and found myself wishing that I had hair like that. But my hair was pretty untameable. The best I could do was pull my hair around to the back and wind it round into a messy bun at the back. At least that way I could control the volume a bit.
However as much as my hair bothered me, it wasn’t the part of my appearance that I hated the most. As I twisted a bobble around the end of my plait, my eyes were drawn to the inside of my left arm, as it was reflected in the mirror. I pulled my arm around so that it was in front of me and I could see the mark that had caught my attention. With the thumb of my right hand, I traced slowly over the raised skin, feeling the familiar churning of my stomach and tightening of my throat as I did. It wasn’t often that it was exposed for all to see. I usually took such care to hide it; even in the confines of my bedroom where there was no one to see it, but I guess I had been distracted and pulled the first top out of my drawer. As I read the word on my arm, all the shame, anger and pain returned. I had tried everything, all the healing potions and spells that I knew, but there it still shone out in bright red against my pale skin. That one word that had followed me throughout the last seven years. Mudblood. I hated it with every fibre of my being and I wanted so much for it to be gone.
Every time that I looked at it, it took me straight back to that day. I could see her twisted face, revelling in my pain, I could hear her manic laughter ring throughout my ears combined with my own screams and I felt the excruciating pain course throughout my veins. I shuddered slightly at the memory as I always did. I forced my mind away from the memory, moving away from the mirror and towards my wardrobe, pulling out a light cardigan and immediately putting it on. I felt the instant relief at knowing that it was hidden.
I had quickly gone to eat breakfast and brushed my teeth. The moment had come. As much as I was still nervous of going to The Burrow, I really couldn’t wait to be out of this house. I had felt like a prisoner for months and after this morning I had finally realised that they were not likely to forgive me any time soon and I really needed to be away from them before they could reject me again.
I closed my case for the final time, this time locking it firmly. I gave a quick glance around my room, spotless as always. There really was nothing else to do. I was packed, I was dressed and I had nothing left to stay here for. I put a charm on my case, using magic for the first time in weeks, making it float gently beside me as I walked quickly out of the room that had felt so much like a prison.
I sat my case down in the living room and couldn’t resist having a quick look around, absorbing in all the details. I had spent so long in my bedroom, only coming out for mealtimes that I hadn’t actually spent much time in this room since I got back. I could feel the tension and awkwardness that settled in the room when I walked into it and so I had done my best to avoid it, only entering the room if I desperately had to and never staying for longer than I needed to.
Finally I had the room all to myself and I couldn’t help but feel like I was trespassing in someone else’s house. The walls were still the same colours, the furnishings were still the same, the pictures that hung on the walls were still the same and yet the room didn’t feel familiar at all. It all felt like it belonged to someone else, except that it didn’t. It was me who had helped to paint those walls, it was me who helped to pick out the furniture and it was my school certificates that hung on the wall. I walked over to the fireplace and looked over the pictures that stood on top of the fireplace. Pictures of my mum, dad and me all together and all happy. Pictures of us camping in the Forest of Dean, on holiday in France, at a family wedding, just all smiling and happy. I reached out and picked up one of my favourite pictures, a picture of me with my mum and dad on my first day at Hogwarts. I was already dressed in my robes and full school uniform before I had even left the house. I was just a tad excited that day. I lifted my fingers and traced the smiles of my mum and dad feeling warmth spread through me at how proud and happy they looked. When I first received my letter, they had both been in total shock and we all hadn’t believed it at first. I mean how could we? It went against everything that we all believed, but when the man from the ministry had turned up at the house and explained everything to us with a demonstration that left us all speechless, my parents had looked on at me with pride and wonder. I was a witch and they were so proud.
I knew that deep down was dad was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t be following in the footsteps of both my parents. They had both been Oxford graduates, in fact they had met at Oxford and had eventually gone on to own their own dentist practice, something that they had both hoped I would inherit. As a child I had been desperate to go to Oxford. I had grown up listening to my parents stories of their time there and they made it sound amazing and magical. But one thing that I had never told either of them was that I had intention of being a dentist. Teeth held absolutely no interest for me, but I was still determined that I would work so hard to get to Oxford and make my parents proud.
However once I had heard about Hogwarts and all of the amazing things that I could do there I knew that I had to go. Anyone could get into Oxford if they worked hard enough, but this was something that I had been chosen for and it made me feel so special. I immediately told my parents that I wanted to go and even though they were both apprehensive about sending me away to a school in a world that they knew nothing about, they both agreed. I wasn’t a spoiled child, but I was very determined and my parents would not deny me anything.
My eyes fell on the young girl that stood in between my parents. She looked so happy and enthusiastic and so excited at what was to come. I couldn’t help but think at how innocent she looked and how determined she had been to prove herself. I couldn’t help but smile wistfully at the person I used to be and how so very prim and proper I had been. No wonder I had earned the title book worm. My smile slowly faded as I thought of all the things that the girl in the picture still had to go through, all the horrific things that were still to come. Would she still be that enthusiastic and desperate to go if she knew what path lay before her? Would she have chosen to go if she knew what evil she would have to face and what choices she would have to make?
I sadly placed the picture frame carefully back on the fireplace making sure that I placed it in the exact space that I had picked it up from. Whatever I had wished I had known back then or may have wished for now, it wouldn’t happen. Everything had happened and I couldn’t change that now. I had made my choices and I was living with the consequences.
I looked around the rest of the room and couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever come back here. I had one year left at Hogwarts and then I would be able to go out into the world. My parents had made it perfectly clear that our relationship had changed and if it stayed that way then there really was no reason to come back here. They may not even want me to come back here.
As the sorrow and guilt once again began to bubble up inside me, threatening to spill over I mentally shook myself, telling myself to get a grip. Today would be hard enough and there was no point in wondering about what might happen. I had done all that I could and if my parents wanted me back here then I would be there like a shot and if they didn’t, well I would deal with that when and if it came to it. I lifted my trunk once more and moved into the centre of the room.
I closed my eyes and forced myself to clear my mind. Feeling that familiar pull in my middle, I felt my body constrict and twist, a rushing sound filling my ears, as I left my family for possibly the final time.
A/N- Thank you so much for reading and to the people who have reviewed. I love hearing about what you think of the story. This chapter is a little bit of a filler and I know it seems just like two chapters of Hermione moaning so far, but I really just want to set the scene of how rubbish things are for her just now. Trust me, it gets better over the next few chapters. Leave a review and let me know what you think.
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