DISCLAIMER: Anything you recognize is not mine. I do not own the Harry Potter universe (sadly) or the Telegraph newspaper.
A/N: If you read the other version of chapter 2, DISREGARD THAT ENTIRE CHAPTER. Anything I say in this chapter will be to (sort of) the same effect but with a few added details :)
And to clarify, HERMIONE IS A WITCH.
She just doesn’t know it yet, but she is. I can't say much more without giving away a major plot line ;)
Enjoy the chapter; I hope it’s not too bad :)
Chapter Two: Again
Over and over, this word repeated in my mind and has been since the very second I woke up in the morning. A thousand tiny men with a thousand small but powerful jackhammers having a go at my head again, for what seemed to be the hundredth time. I quickly shook the thought out of my head, because this feeling was merely just a repeat of the day before. And the day before that.
I felt a ray of light come through my blinds, stabbing me in the eye, and it felt like a routine. I had, for the sixth night in a row, forgotten to close the blinds before I passed out on my bed with the night’s clothes still on. Bloody fantastic, if you ask me. I could hear and feel my stomach twisting and turning, and I felt like I had to run towards the loo any second and empty its contents. But I knew that I wouldn’t make it that far that quick, I would probably collapse in a sad heap on the floor. I sat there in bed, merely thinking of all the mistakes that I told myself I wouldn’t make again. I glanced across my room to see a mirror above my dresser, and I saw the sad being I had become.
My eyes were sunken in, dark bags hung under my eyes clearly showing my lack of sleep. My skin looked pale, beads of sweat running down the side of my face. My hair was bushier than usual, if at all possible, and it was full of massive knots.
I groaned in response to the factors all mashing into one massive pain, clutching a pillow tightly around my head and squeezing my eyes shut. I sat there, hoping that the goose feathers in the pillow were some sort of magic, able to block reality. However, this fantasy was short lived, as my headache soon began to worsen.
This hangover had been worse than yesterday’s, and yesterday’s had been worse than the day before that. To think it’d only been a week since I had lost my job adds to the growing nausea in my stomach. Only seven days ago had the spark ignited the avalanche, and now all of this was crashing down. Burning to the ground and leaving ashes to blacken the soil, the ashes being my sanity and common sense. Hopefully little rays of light would make their presence at the end of the tunnel, but hopefully not stabbing me in the eyes in the process.
Liz and I haven’t spoken since we went for a jog that one morning, but she’s made attempts to see me. She’s just wanted to hear my voice, but for some reason, I wouldn’t have any of it. My parents call relentlessly, but I merely let the message go on my machine. My mother would try and make me happy, giving me one of her pity-happy talks. My father would stand right beside her, slipping some of his authority in the conversation. Thirty-one voicemails show that I haven’t even made an attempt to even think about picking up the phone.
After I heard the sound of a bird chirping at my window, I knew I would have to wake sooner or later. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, shielding my eyes from the window I had left open the night before; to which I cursed myself for doing. I would think that after six mornings of this happening (in a row, mind you) I would have learned by now.
I heard the sharp sound of the phone ringing, seeping into my skull and bouncing off the sides of my bone, unable to escape. I had no choice other than to answer, or my head would explode from a telephone ring. And that’s not the way I intend on dying.
“Hello, this is Hermione.” I nearly groaned into the phone, pinching the bridge of my nose. I heard an extremely audible breathing sound come from the other line, and I knew this sound all too well. His large structure and his cat-like eyes, I could feel him glaring into my soul through the telephone call and he hadn’t even said a single word yet.
“Mrs. Granger, you’re late again.”
“It’s Miss Granger actually, but Mr. Pondwell, I assure you—,”
“This has already happened twice, Miss Granger. One of those times was last month. ” He said sternly. “This is the third time you are late on your rent.”
“Mr. Pondwell, let me explain. I lost my—,” I said while I stood up, but I had soon realized that I had stood up too quickly. I groaned softly and slowly placed myself back on my bed, trying to remember what I was going to tell him.
“You lost your money?” He asked, acid dripping from his tongue. “I suppose you’re out of a job now, huh? No food in the fridge, and I supposed that precious cat of yours doesn’t have anything to eat either.”
“He doesn’t have anything to eat, actually, we don’t.” I shamefully accepted, smoothing out a pillow on my bed. “I’ve been eating at a restaurant for a week now, my friend--”
“Well, that’s quite expensive, is it not?” He questioned, cutting me off before I had the chance to explain. “I suppose it’s a five star restaurant, and your cat is eating the catch of the day.”
“Mr. Pondwell, please hear me out.” I pleaded. “There’s no need to mock me for this. I lost my job a week ago, and I had no savings. That’s what I used last month to pay for my rent. One of my friends owns said restaurant and she’s letting me eat with her until I have enough money to buy food. My cat too.” I could hear him click his tongue over the phone.
“Miss Granger, you had no problem for a while before the previous month. And as I recall, you had your job then. Why had you used your savings on paying rent while you were still employed?” He asked, digging himself further into my personal life with a shovel. All I wanted to do was take said shovel and smack him in the forehead with it.
“I took a pay cut in order to keep my job, sir.” I reminded him. “I did anything I could to keep the job, I loved my job.”
“Yes, yes. Working at the Telegraph newspaper is quite an honour.” He said. “However, you still lost your job. In the end, it all winds up on this little phone call.”
“Yes…” I breathed out. “I guess so… Mr. Pondwell, sir, would you please give me just one more week to pay? I promise this will be the last time.”
“A week?” He asked, and I could hear his tiny little brain thinking. The machine of his inner robot brain clunking around. “No.” The word caused a tear to fall from the corner of my eye and roll down my cheek. I wiped it away quickly with my shaking thumb.
“I’ll have my things out of my apartment by four then.” My voice was quiet, and sounded shameful. Pathetic, even. My feelings showing in my voice was finally a breaking point, and another two tears escaped my eyes.
“Miss Granger, I said not a week.” He said, and then he sighed loudly. “You have three days to get this money to me. All four hundred pounds of it. Not a pence less.”
“Al-alright.” I stuttered, wiping away more tears. “Thank you so much, Mr. Pondwell. You won’t regret it.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said last time…” Then a click told me that he had hung up and that’s when the panic started to seep in. Honestly, I don’t mix well with panic. I mix well with panic just as well as my stomach mixes with poison.
“I’m here to see Elizabeth Hawkins, she’s my best friend.” I told the receptionist, for what seemed to be the thousandth time. She rolled her eyes, and tapped a pencil on a blank pad of paper.
“I’ve already informed you miss. You don’t have an appointment, and you have to have an appointment in order to see any of our workers. Now, can you please leave before I have to call security?” She scowled, the fakeness of her tone made me sick to my stomach. I took a deep breath, and then shook my head.
“No, I need to see her. Can you at least call her?” I asked, and she groaned quietly.
“Please, miss. I’m asking you to leave.”
“And I’m asking you to call her.” I jabbed heatedly, leaning over the desk.
“Alright, lady. This is your last warning before I call the poli--,”
Both the bitchy receptionist and I turned towards the door where the sound had come from, and Liz stood there with her jaw nearly on the ground. I straightened up and coughed loudly, awkwardly looking away from the receptionist.
“I was just coming to talk to you…” I mumbled, barely loud enough for her to hear. Liz gave me a judging glance, looking me over to see what I’d done. She cocked her eyebrow, and then gave her work smile. She turned to the girl, and nodded.
“She’s with me, Victoria.” She walked towards me, picking up a folder that was in a well-organized sorter. “She’s always allowed back to see me, no matter what.”
“No problem, Ms. Hawkins. I’ll be sure to add her to the list.” Her tone was sickly sweet, but she shot me a glare afterwards.
“Have a good day.” I added as I walked away, and she merely scoffed and turned back to her computer. I followed Liz down a series of hallways, passing many well-dressed people absorbed into their work. Liz stayed quiet, only glancing back at me a few times to make sure I was really following her. Once we turned into her office, Liz quietly closed her door and shut the blinds before turning on me.
“BLOODY HELL, HERMIONE! DID YOU WALK OFF THE FACE OF THE PLANET?” Her eyes seemed to bug out of her head, her face slowly starting to turn read.
“God, Liz. Don’t scream at me.” I sat down in front of her desk, crossing my legs as I watched her begin to pace. “I’ve just been a mess the past week or so, that’s all.”
“That’s all? That’s all, Hermione?” Liz ran her fingers through her hair, and continued to walk quickly back and forth across the room. She turned to me, and said loudly. “You promised me, promised, that you would pull yourself back together. But then you don’t answer any of my messages nor your mother’s, and you scare the hell out of both of us!”
“I know, Liz. I feel awful, in more ways than not.” I replied lamely, looking down at my hands.
“You should’ve picked up your phone.” Her voice had gone down, and she was facing away from me and her arms had returned to her sides. I felt awful for making her feel this way, making her worry. I hadn’t gone a day without talking to Liz in years so it’s expected she would act this way after six days of my absence.
“I know.” I said softly after a few seconds.
A comfortable silence fell between the two of us, the sounds of her office casually lurking in the background. I took a few deep breaths, thinking of what I was going to say over and over to make sure I didn’t say anything remotely idiotic. Even though it seemed to be too late for that.
“I came to your flat too.” She added, walking over to her desk and tidying up a few papers. She sat down and then gave me a look. “Quite a few times actually.”
“I-ummm…” I stuttered. “I’m so lost, Liz. I mean… I know what I’m supposed to do. I’ve gotten a job, and that seemed to be the biggest priority. But…I lost it after that. I completely lost it.” I admitted, playing with the hem of my shirt and avoiding her gaze.
“You got a job?” I nodded slowly. Her face lit up, and she gave me a sympathetic smile. “That’s brilliant! You’re getting back up on your feet, that’s great.”
“I’m not so sure.” I muttered, and she cocked her head to the side to question me. I sighed, and explained. “I got the job five days ago. So for the past five days…I’ve been wasting myself away…”
“It’s like one step forward and two steps back.” I confessed, hiding my face in my hands. Liz rolled her eyes, leaning over her desk to pull my hands away from my face. She looked sympathetic, and her eyes had turned sad.
“Don’t you dare say that.”
“What?” I blinked, staring at her blankly.
“The-I-…” Liz sighed sadly, glancing off towards the closed window. “You’re so negative right now, I don’t like it. That’s not the Hermione I know.” She confessed.
“What am I supposed to do, Liz? I’ve lost everything.” I said, straightening up in my seat.
“Dear lord, Hermione.” Liz scoffed slightly, tilting her head back slightly. “How long is it going to take for me to drill into your head that you have more than you think you do?”
I furrowed my brow in confusion, and my silence clearly showed her I needed something else. Some sort of explanation.
“I know what you’re probably thinking. You’ve lost your job, and there’s probably some other factor that has your knickers up in a twist--,”
“Who the hell is Mr. Pondwell?” Liz asked, her eyes slightly growing wider. Her mouth formed an ‘O’ shape, before giving me a disapproving look. “Please don’t tell me he’s some guy who you—,”
“Just stop.” I snapped, and the tension grew thick. I took a deep breath and fidgeted with my hands. “He’s my flat tenant and he expects me to pay the rent in a matter of three days…”
“So, you’ve got the rent problem now too. But for any problems you have, you always know you can come to me for help. Your mum too, if necessary. You know that.”
“No ‘buts’, Hermione. We’re all here for you, whether you chose to see it or not. You still have your flat and that bloody cat of yours.” I smiled at this. “You’re getting food somehow, and it seems a loyal supply of alcohol as well. It’s not the worst…is what I’m trying to say.”
“I see…” I said, realizing how selfish I had been. Ginny had been kind enough to let me come in every morning to grab food for the day, and she said it was free of charge. I insisted that I could pay her back somehow, but she said it was no big deal. George, her brother whose job I was taking, was supplying me with the alcohol late at night. He turned out to be a pretty nice bloke, a funny drunk too.
I’d smiled over the past five days, I remember. It’s not like I had been dying, I had laughed and smiled over the span of those five days. That showed it wasn’t completely awful.
Liz is right.
It’s not the worst, nor is it remotely as bad as I’ve made it out to be.
“Fuck…I’ve messed up.” I muttered, scrunching up my nose and taking a deep breath.
“Yeah, you have.” She repeated, and I looked up at her. Liz was never one to sugarcoat the truth, and it’s one of her best qualities. “But you’ll be fine, as long as you stay positive and don’t let anything get in you--,”
The sound of her phone ringing interrupted her, and she picked it up.
“Elizabeth Hawkins.” She answered, and she stuck her tongue out at me. After that, I knew our talk was over. I smiled back at her, watching as she made an arrangement with a client (or at least that’s what I got from eavesdropping on the conversation). She hung up a few minutes later, and flashed me a smile.
“Well, I’ve got a client waiting for me.” She got up, straightening out her pencil skirt.
“Have fun.” I offered lamely, and she glared at me before giving a small laugh.
“It’ll be alright.” She shrugged, walking towards me. “Now you, on the other hand, need to stay positive. The glass is always half full, remember that.”
“Will do.” I smiled, and she walked over to me with two strides (curse her beautiful, long legs) and enveloped me in a tight hug.
“I’ll always be here, Hermione. Remember that.” She whispered, and then let me go. “Good luck at your first day of work, tell me how it goes.” We both walked out of her office and she shut the door.
“Okay, and Liz?”
She turned around to look at me.
“Well, that’s what friends are for.”
The day passed on rather quickly, even though I still had little voices reminding me of everything wrong. I took Liz’s advice and saw the light in things, and actually put my day to use and did what I wanted. I went to the public library and read a book for a few hours, blocking out the rest of the world.
And it felt amazing.
It had been almost a week since I’d really dove into a book and get engulfed by it. I was completely surrounded by another world, another reality, and I liked that. Somehow, it made my worries grow smaller and smaller.
Liz’s advice helped a great deal, and I even went over to her apartment for dinner. I had already phoned Ginny and told her I would be in at six-thirty for work, just like we had talked about. I could tell she was wondering why I hadn’t stopped by for my food like the days previous, but she avoided the topic. I didn’t want to seem like a charity case, and everything seemed to get better.
I could do this.
“I can do this…” I muttered to myself as I walked up to Sunshine Daises, however this time it was to start my first day at work. I walked through the front doors, still repeating certain phrases. “Come on, Hermione. You can do this. You can do this…I can do this.” I would have looked like a lunatic had someone else been there, observing my abnormal ways. It looked like I was alone, so I believed that I was fine. Then, I made my way back to the place where I would collect my apron for the day.
I pushed open the swinging door, only to be met with a pair of beautiful, blue eyes that seemed to stare right back into mine.
This chapter… is a bit depressing to be honest, but it WILL GET BETTER in the next chapter :) I just had to start off the conflicts in the story, that’s all :) I'm usually one for happy & fluffy sort of things, so this is different for me. So...bear with me? :) And for all of you that think Liz is being a total bitch, she just wants the best for Hermione, I just wanted to clarify that ;)
As for the lateness of the chapter…I barely have a reason.
I had a REALLY bad concussion for a while, so I didn’t write for quite some time. And when I got released, I just hadn’t written in SO LONG, the other chapters were not very pretty.
Other than that, there’s really no excuse that this chapter is so late :( I’m sorry. I sort of just wrote all this in 6 hours… so hopefully it’s not all that bad ;)
I’m currently working on the third chapter, and I’m going to be alternating between my Harry/Ginny story and this one… so… yeah :)
-HarryandGinnyForEver (Who is more so a Romione shipper, since times have changed…)