The cold glass pressed against her cheek, Hermione awoke once again discovering herself to be sat on the windowsill in an empty classroom, her face resting on the window. The grey-brown bricks supporting her back were not very comfortable, and had given her backache sometime after she had fallen asleep, into the early hours of the morning. Shifting slightly, a sharp jolt of pain ran through the base of her spine, and she froze to let it pass before trying to move again. Her bare feet touched the stone ground, and she felt goose bumps raise on her legs. She was freezing; the thin white nightdress she was clothed in was not enough to prevent the coldness seeping through during the night.
She checked her watch, the one she always kept on in case of emergency. Fifteen minutes to make it back to the dorm before the other girls wake up. She stepped stealthily along the twisting hallways on her way back to the dormitories, careful not to make a sound. She was practiced at this; she was completely silent.
Reaching the warmth of the common room, she found Ginny asleep on the sofa, in front of the embers of the dying fire, surrounded by Quidditch books. Hermione knew she was intent on making the Gryffindor team this year, just like nearly all of her brothers. Ginny Weasley, the fiery redhead with a temper to match. Her brow was furrowed, indicating that the dream she was having was not a pleasant one. Hermione was unsurprised by this; it was a well-known fact that Ginny was in love with Harry, who was going through a rough time at that moment. Then again, when wasn't he? Before she would let her mind wander to the possibility of Harry's death, she quickly shifted her eyes to her destination, the bedroom.
She then arrived at the dorms to find all of the other students still sleeping soundly. Parvati Patil, beautiful as she was, laid in all her gorgeousness with the perfection of a sleeping princess. Lavender Brown, often referred to by Hermione herself as a 'blonde bimbo', was not so pretty in her sleep as Parvati, but from the slight pout of her lips still present even in sleep, it was clear to Hermione that she was confident, proud and arrogant. Before she began contemplating her own features and what they said about her, she shook her head and turned towards the bathroom.
Once inside she turned on the shower and twisted the temperature control down; all the other girls liked their showers far hotter than hers. As it heated, Hermione looked in the mirror at her pallid, pale face, disappointed at what she saw. Her once moderately attractive face had become whiter and more sallow from all the bad nights, her once vibrant and bushy brown hair seemed to have deflated, hanging loosely now around her upper torso. Her eyes no longer their old, animated brown selves. There was no spark of life anymore.
She stripped off her nightdress, and looked again at her reflection. She could see the faint outlines of every rib. She wasn't dangerously underweight yet, but she was definitely close. She'd already learned the art of layering clothing to bulk out. Sighing, she looked up at her own face again. It must have been one of the worse nights last night, as the tearstains left on her cheeks were wider than usual. She couldn't look anymore, so she turned away and got into the shower.
Sometime while she was washing herself, the castle seemed to come alive, hundreds of hungry students flooding the corridors on the way to the Great Hall. Hermione braced herself for yet another day of the same endlessly painful routine: eat a small breakfast, answer any and all questions asked, skip lunch, answer questions, eat a small dinner, read a book, go to bed, cry in an empty classroom with no knowledge of how she got there.
Hermione ate a tiny amount of breakfast with her usual group of friends, Harry, Ron and Ginny, and as usual, they didn't speak to her. She felt as if she were turning into the air, completely invisible to the human eye, or at least to the eyes of any other student; she was the pride and joy of most professors. She continued through the day, completely as normal, sticking to her routine, with the added surprise of being called a Mudblood four times by various Slytherin slugs throughout the day, and then, once again, she found herself at gone midnight staring out of an empty classroom window at the sky and the lake, a stream of tears reflecting in the silver glow of moonlight.
Most people who saw Hermione Granger cry would expect it to be because of a fight with Ron or Harry, or because of the stresses living as the best friend of the Boy-Who-Lived would bring, or because standing in Harry's shadow gave her no identity, or even out of jealousy towards Lavender Brown for her established, admittedly mostly physical relationship with Ron. None of these were correct, by a long shot.
She cried not because of Lavender Brown herself, but because of the broken bond between her and Ron it had caused. Of course, she was upset when Ron had chosen the shallow, self-important girl above herself, and she was hurt. But she was not jealous of the bimbo, and never would be.
She cried not because of a lack of identity, but because being the nerd of the Golden Trio had made people learn to expect things from her; that she be a bookworm, that she be a know-it-all, that she be a muggleborn witch and proud, that she be the epitome of strength and bravery all the time, because she was a Gryffindor. She could not always live up to these expectations.
She cried not because the Trio fought, but because they didn't. They never did anything with her any more, rarely noticed her, just expected her to tag along and be willing to be used as a personal research manual whenever they needed her.
Harry was far too busy chasing down Malfoy to notice her quietly wasting away behind her screen of silent normalcy. Ron's eyes were most frequently too close to Lavender's face to even see her. Ginny's attention was always either on her Quidditch ambition or on Harry and his issues, and Hermione couldn't blame her. She couldn't blame anyone, really. It was her own fault, she'd allowed the entire school to take advantage of her. These were the only people who wouldn't openly laugh in her face, but she often questioned whether they did behind her back, or if they really never noticed her at all. She didn't know which option was worse.
Following the three friends loosely after dinner, she said her almost inaudible 'goodnights' and crept up to her room. She opened her book and read Great Potioneers and their Concoctions by wand light until all the other girls' bed curtains were closed and she could hear faint snores. By this time, the words on the page were beginning to blur together. She recognised this feeling. She'd been here many times before.
Words began spinning through her head, growing louder and more forceful. She only managed to grab hold of a few, and they cut deep into her heart until it began to pound inside her chest. Her breath got stuck in her throat until she choked, tears streaming past her lashes. Her stomach tightened into one great knot. She couldn't breathe, she needed air.
Hermione Granger; Mudblood. Hermione Granger; know-it-all. Hermione Granger; bookworm.
Hermione Granger; person, she wanted to add, but she knew she couldn't. She wasn't a person, not anymore, and no one noticed. No one cares.
No one cares.
Throwing back the curtains around her bed, she walked briskly towards the door, still aware of being quiet. The last thing she needed was for any of her roommates to see her this way. Deciding that walking wasn't fast enough, she broke into a run, still gasping for oxygen. She didn't realise until she was climbing the step to the astronomy tower that this was her destination. Normally she ended up on a windowsill, but this time she needed more air. Reaching the top, she sat down on the ground with her head between her knees, willing herself to breathe.
No one cares.
No one cares.
The words echoed. It was at this moment that Hermione realised she was no longer sitting harmlessly next to the window, crying her problems away. She was standing now, on the sill of the tall open window, her bare feet cold against the stone and her hair and nightdress being blown back by the cool night breeze from the window, now fully open. She looked up into the night sky, at the half hidden moon. One step.
No one cares.
She fell for exactly half of a second, and then an arm had her around her waist, pulling her back inside, back into the spiral of unhappiness.
She was vaguely aware that the arm wrapped around her waist was attached to a male body, and the chest her ear was now pressed against was rumbling because he was shouting to someone. Hermione's eyes were closed, but she could hear the thunderous sound of a few pairs of heavy feet, and more senseless babbling that she decided must have been people talking, but she could not understand what they were saying and she was too limp and weak to open her eyes. She would rather just fade into the blackness than face the consequences of being caught attempting suicide. That jolted her back to reality like a slap in the face.
She had tried to commit suicide. She, Hermione Granger, Mudblood Gryffindor extraordinaire, had tried to off herself!
The man was kneeling on the floor, supporting her head and body against his own. The arm around her shifted, and then moved off completely. She felt herself being levitated off of the man and into the air, still curled up almost into a ball. The next thing she knew, she was laying in an infirmary bed, several concerned faces surrounding her.
It was then that she decided everyone would want answers, and so it was then that she let the tired blackness consume her.