Nervous

Contains small spoilers for 'Order of the Phoenix'.

The night before her first exam – Occlumency – she is biting her nails and moving restlessly from one room to another. She sits down, fidgets impatiently, gets up, and repeats the same process in the next room.

"Hermione, relax," Harry tells her impatiently. "It's not that bad, really. There's no point in worrying."

She bites her tongue so as not to explode and tell him that it's all right for him to say that. He's been learning Occlumency since he was fifteen, and by the time he left Hogwarts he already knew everything an Auror needs to know. He's the one with the practical experience, the one who's seen it all, done it all, faced Voldemort – how many times is it now? Seven? Eight? His exams are a mere formality.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has never taken on two students in the same year before. She knows, logically, that she wouldn't have been accepted if she wasn't good enough.

And yet she can't stay still for more than a minute, can't focus on anything other than the thought of failure. What if, what if, what if her first year of training proves to have been a waste of time?

She's never been this nervous before. It's not the tingly sense of anticipation when she knows that she is as prepared as she can possibly be, and is looking forward to the challenge that awaits, but a sickening, horribly feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach that refuses to leave.

She has been living at the Order's headquarters all year. Harry lives here full-time now that they're finished school, and she thinks he needs the company. Anyway, it's convenient to stay here, and she rather likes the security of seeing the familiar faces passing through. It's her first time living on her own, and it feels safe here, with the grown-ups – funny how she still thinks of them as grown-ups and herself as a child, even though she's been of age for almost two years now – keeping an eye on her and Harry.

Tonks is here tonight, and Professor Lupin – no, Remus, you're both grown-ups, remember? – is around somewhere, and all she can think is that she is surrounded by people who are better than her. An Auror, a former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and a valued member of the Order, and Harry Potter. One of her best friends, someone she respects immensely, someone who has had suffered so much that she is in one way relieved she hasn't had the experiences he has had –

– and in another way, envious of the opportunities he's had as a result.

Not that she would ever say this to him, of course, because she knows that it's stupid and insensitive of her to even think about this, and she's afraid of upsetting him. He's calmer than he used to be, but he has a lot of rage inside him.

He's entitled to have it, she supposes. And she makes allowances for it, just like Tonks and Remus and the rest do, because it's Harry.

The entire wizarding world makes allowances for Harry. That's how it works.

She will not yell at him because of everything he's been given and the opportunities he's had, and his complete inability to understand the panic that overwhelms her about her first year exams.

She will instead move into the next room, and continue biting her nails, and try not to mind that he doesn't even try to understand what it's like for the people who aren't him.