Purely Physical Ch 15

Look at me, my depth perception must be off again

You got much closer than I thought you did

I'm in your reach

- 'Rest in Pieces' by Saliva

It made her literally sick to think about how much she depended on him. When she didn't have anything pressing on her mind, all she thought about was that serpent, that evil, wonderful boy that had captivated her heart so thoroughly it was as if he'd poisoned her. Hermione hated how much she had been torn apart, how much she had changed because of the fact that she was in love with him.

The last few months had been incredibly different and unlike herself. She had run away, smoked, had sex, lied to her friends, and fallen in love with a guy that would probably hurt her in a heartbeat. Where was the old Hermione? Where was the girl that had fiercely made her way through the wizarding world trying to prove that she was a worthwhile witch? Where had that girl gone, what had he done to her?

But as much as Hermione wanted that girl back she knew that too much had happened for her to just erase this seventh year from her memory and start over again. It had been a month since Hermione had left the hospital wing from an overdose on DX and now life was pretty normal, if you could call her life normal, that is. Everything was going smoothly… everything except for everything, if that made sense. Because suddenly Draco was her everything. He was all she thought about (unless she was doing homework, that was perhaps the one time that she could control her ability to think about him; or rather, her inability to stop thinking about him). And unfortunately, in that month that she had been released from the hospital wing, she hadn't seen him more than twice.

The first time had been purely by accident; they ran into each other at Hogsmeade and decided to silently slip out and catch up on things while their classmates downed butterbeers at The Three Broomsticks. "Catch up on things", Hermione later found out (yeah right, she'd known the whole time) meant having sex at the edges of the Forbidden Forest in the same spot they'd done it before they'd run away a few months back.

The weather was warmer now so it was more comfortable, at least. And the sex had been nice, because afterwards she could cuddle against his pale, nearly luminescent skin, and pretend that he loved her too. Hermione liked that feeling of warmth, the feeling of having another person on top of you. It made her feel secure, and cared for, and appreciated and loved and all those things that many teenage girls crave and want but don't talk about. It was the first sex Hermione had had in a long time and although she felt like a wanton whore she realized she enjoyed it, especially because she loved the boy.

The boy who didn't love her back. In the last month, Hermione had decided to untangle herself from the fierce grip of love and delusion and see the situation for what it really was. She found that it was a lot cruder than she'd like. Right now she was basically in a non-exclusive, physical relationship in which the sex was hot because technically they weren't allowed to fuck each other. That was it. It was the bluntest, most painful way she could put it and somehow she liked thinking about it like that, masochistic as it was, because it gave her a better hold on reality.

The reality was that this wasn't love and this wasn't exclusive and this wasn't long term. Even if he hadn't been Draco, she rationalized, it probably still wouldn't have worked out because by nature, teenage relationships did not last. By nature, it was easier to remain commitment free during this period of your life and just play around. Just fuck around.

Well, Merlin have it, she was fucking around all right. Except she was only with one person, whereas he might even have four or five. Which brought her to another stomach-churning idea, one she had not devoted time to. Ginny.

Ginny had not brought up Draco again, although Hermione knew that Ginny remembered the comment she had made. Hermione herself had let it pass. In her heart however she was still terribly worried that there was something suspicious going on; most likely Ginny had a similar relationship with Draco that Hermione had. And if Ginny had this relationship, then what was the chance that other girls in other houses might have it too? And perhaps they all thought they were the only one, and all of them fancied themselves in love with the boy, and then all of them were going to get hurt in the end. The thought actually made Hermione feel slightly better, after all there was safety in numbers. She wouldn't be the only one who ended up with a broken heart.

- - - - - -

"I bloody hate school," Harry sighed as he sat down to his homework in the common room. "I'm sick of all this work! It's ridiculous. I don't know how you can manage, Hermione."

Hermione grinned at her friend. "It's really not that bad. Once you tell yourself, alright, Self, I am going to complete my homework, you can do it. It's all about believing in yourself."

"Have you considered writing a self-help book?" Ron snapped at her. "I do believe. I believe that I should get the bloody hell out of school considering I've already got a job lined up at the ministry as soon as I graduate!"

Hermione laughed but inwardly she was terrified of graduating. She kind of liked the safety of school, the routine that it set for you. After graduation, she was going to be on her own, and she wasn't ready to get a job, which was why she was definitely going to university. All her doubts from the previous semester had been erased. Slowly she was coming back to who she was, although she still had a lot of inner turmoil, as cheesy as it sounded. But she'd decided the best approach was just not to see Draco. After all, after graduation she wouldn't be seeing him anyway and that was only a few months away. She could make it. She could do it.

And then Ginny walked in.

Hermione's resolutions melted away. She had waited a month, a long month, a conflicted month to ask Ginny what she meant. But she couldn't wait any longer. She really had to know. And anyway, if the news was bad, it would give her incentive and motivation to get over that pig-headed Slytherin. Hermione was sure that if she found out that he really did have something with Ginny, then her love for him would simply evaporate.

"Hey, Gin, what's up?" Hermione called out to her friend (or rather, acquaintance, they weren't terribly close).

"Hey Hermione. I'm absolutely exhausted," Ginny plopped down into a chair. "It has been the longest week."

"Well, tomorrow is a Friday, so there's just a day more of class till the weekend."

"Weekends don't mean anything anymore! I have to spend them working. I hate it," Ginny moped. "I want to do something fun."

Hermione saw her chance. "I know it isn't exactly a game of Quidditch but you want to come take a walk with me? I just don't feel like working all of a sudden," she suggested.

"Hey!" Ron yelped. "Whatever happened to 'Self, I am going to complete my homework?'"

Hermione laughed. "I told Self to shut up. Let's go, Ginny."

Ginny and Hermione made their way out the stream of Gryffindors and into the more quiet and private area around the lake. Dusk settled around them, blurring Ginny's face to Hermione's view. Hermione blinked, trying to adjust her eyes to the dimming light. "So how have you been?" Ginny asked pleasantly after they had walked in comfortable silence for a few minutes.

"I'm all right," Hermione replied guardedly. "And you?"

"Just excellent. This work load is just making my life wonderful," Ginny said sarcastically.

"Don't worry it gets better," Hermione reassured her friend. "I experienced it all last year."

"Yeah, but you're Hermione Granger," the younger girl reasoned. "You're an exception. You're… pretty much as perfect as it gets."

"Perfect!" Hermione sputtered. "Far from it. Ginny, you know what my year's been like. I've just… fucked up rather royally."

"Everyone makes mistakes. It's part of being human." Hermione wasn't sure, but Ginny's voice seemed to have a tinge of bitterness to it.

"Are you okay?" she asked tentatively. Perhaps bringing up Draco wasn't the best of ideas then… "Do you want to talk?"

"I don't know," Ginny mumbled as she kicked a pebble. "Ow. I stubbed my toe. But anyway, I don't know, I just, sometimes I turn to the worst things for stress relief."

"Me too," Hermione answered. "Merlin, me too. I ran away from school. Did you do that? I overdosed on some dangerous death eater drug. Did you do that?"

"I fucked Draco Malfoy," came her friend's response. "Did you do that?"

Hermione froze. It was as if for a second her heart simply stopped beating. She was speechless. She heard those four words in her head again, each one with a heavy chain of emphasis stamped onto it. I. Fucked. Draco. Malfoy. I. Fucked. Draco. Malfoy. Hermione was sure her face was turning white, she didn't feel right, the blood wasn't flowing right, she felt lightheaded…

"I did do that," she finally managed to whisper out. Her voice was hoarse and the pain, the unhappiness in it was palpable.

Ginny sighed. "I figured as much." Her voice was cracking. "Listen, you gotta know some stuff. You have to. But listen with an open mind. Before you judge me. Please."

Hermione almost could not bring herself to listen. She didn't want to hear it, didn't want to think of Draco's mouth on Ginny's, Draco's body intertwined with her smaller, prettier friend's, Ginny curled up in his arms after they were sated. The memories of her own times with Draco flew by, and in each memory Hermione replaced herself with images of Ginny. And it was fucking hurting and she wanted it to stop. Tears pinpricked her eyes but she wasn't going to let them fall. No.

"I don't want to hear about how you could do that when you knew that I was in love with him!" Hermione cried out.

"Wait, what!" It was Ginny's turn to look confused and hurt. "You're in love with him!"

"What do you think? I thought you were too. It was what I was going to ask you about."

"You want to know the story? The story is that I got depressed one night and slept with him! One time. And he said he never, ever wanted it to get out. And he told me that it meant nothing, okay? He said he did it because he was high, because he wasn't thinking straight. He said… he said he was in love with someone else."

Hermione ignored the last sentence because she didn't want to give herself any more false hopes. She was done with those, look where they got her. "What do you mean depressed?" she asked sharply.

"I mean I did some stuff I shouldn't have done," Ginny scowled. "I had a little too much firewhiskey. Whatever. Not like the seventh years don't guzzle the stuff down!"

"Yeah but a year gives you more maturity," Hermione lectured irritably. "I hope you didn't do it again because alcohol seriously impairs your judgment."

"Get off your high horse Hermione," Ginny snapped. "You slept with him sober."

With that the redhead spun on her heels and marched back towards the castle, leaving her friend (ex-friend? Hermione just didn't know) staring at her back. Hermione was caught up in this horrible, melodramatic, straight-out-of-a-soap situation and she didn't know what to do. She had slept with the same guy as her friend, and Ginny… young, impressionable, naïve Ginny, had fancied herself in love with him, because after all the naïve do tend to equate love with intimacy.

And then Hermione had a chilling thought. How much older was she than Ginny anyway? Only about a year. And wasn't she equally naïve? Okay, so maybe she slept with the guy more than once… but wasn't she equating intimacy with love, too? How much did she really know Draco? Not at all. She knew his body and she knew he liked it when she kissed him hard and she liked to figure him out but that was all signs of infatuation and lust. Maybe Hermione was just Ginny, except a Ginny that was too far along to realize that her love was misplaced, that it wasn't love at all.

Hermione's tears rose to the surface and spilled out, the salty liquid turning iridescent silver in the slivers of moonlight. She didn't know herself anymore, and she didn't know who her friends were, and even though she'd tried so hard to pull herself out of this ridiculous amount of drama, the fact remained that she was still hopelessly lost, and she needed out.

And if that meant having to deal with the Draco situation (something that Hermione tended to leave alone and let run its course), so be it. She could be brave. She could face him; she didn't care what he thought anymore. She didn't even know how she felt anymore, what with the Ginny thing and everything else.

It was as if a heavy weight had been lifted off her chest, and relief poured in. Even if it was temporary relief, it was so nice to not care what he thought. She didn't know how long it would last, but for right now, she sank into the grass and reveled in this new feeling. She closed her eyes, and decided once again to put everything on hold, and work things out at another time.

A/N: I'm aware it's been like seven months since I updated. I know, I am a huge, awful, terrible person but what can I say I have just had so much to do. Even now I really don't afford to be writing this considering I've been putting off college apps. But thank you for sticking with me, I'm going to try to find time. I appreciate everyone who read the chapter. Let me know what you think, I wonder if I will be able to step back into the groove of things. Thanks! oh and also i know there wasn't any draco/hermione interaction in this chapter. next chapter it'll come.

oh, by the way, if you want an e-mail update, please leave your e-mail in a review! remember to use spaces cuz otherwise it won't show up. thanks again!