-§-- 1. Prologue --§-

Hermione stepped out of the shower. Her sensitive body was red and maybe she should be alarmed, because for most of the people, it wasn't normal to shower first with ice cold water, to cool the emotions down, and then burn her body with excess temperature, to punish herself.

She cleaned her skin more than properly, wanting desperately to scrub away the imaginary mud on her already clean skin.

/But it doesn't help/

No matter how often the sponge brushed over her skin, she still felt dirty.

Hermione took a towel and rubbed the wetness off roughly.

She shivered. It wasn't too cold in the showers she shared with the other Gryffindor girls.

/But still I'm shaken/

There were plenty of mirrors outside the shower stalls, but Hermione didn't dare to look in one of them. She couldn't stand the sight. And she wouldn't see much through her tear-streamed, red and swollen eyes.

Hermione brushed her hair and plaited it together, so they wouldn't look too messy tomorrow.

/Too suspicious/

She slipped into her pants and a large, old T-shirt, then she left the showers and walked in the dormitory she shared with the other ones of her grade.

But instead of joining the others, she lay straight in her bed and put the blanket over her until only her nose was sticking out.

Lavender finally spoke to her. "Hermione, are you alright?" she asked, knowing very well which answer she would get.

"I'm fine, just cold," she said. That's what she always said.