kind of sad

by b1otts

summary: She's made her choice, and it was not-- never will be-- the right one, but it was the only choice, and she knows this, but it doesn't make her feel any better.

A/N: Inspired by the novel The Hours, and the song Mad World by Gary Jules. Neither belongs to me; nor does Hermione or Ron. And yes, Hermione is directly influenced by Laura Browne from The Hours. She's slightly OOC in this, but I tried :). Takes place ten years or so after the defeat of Voldemort. Enjoy. And review, please.

And I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I'm dying

Are the best I've ever had

~Mad World, Gary Jules

Monday morning, and Hermione thinks she might be going mad.

Huddled beneath the covers, she smells smoke from downstairs and knows any minute now the alarm will go off, and her son and husband will come running to her for help, but for now she concentrates on breathing. Inhale, exhale-- it's not a big thing, but to her it seems wildly important, an exam she has to pass. She smiles into her pillow, almost laughing at herself. Head Girl in school, one of the survivors of the Last War, and this is what she has become- a housewife trying to stay sane.

But, of course, the voice in her mind whispers, this is what you always wanted. A nice, normal family, and a little cozy home. She squeezes her eyes shut, willing herself to believe so. If she repeats this to herself long enough perhaps she'll accept it as truth.

Downstairs, she hears voices screaming and the smoke alarm wailing, and sighs before crawling out from the blanket. She does not look in the mirror across the room, scared of what she might see, and instead breathes in slowly, telling her self this is her life, and these are the things she is supposed to do now, that she made this choice willingly years and years ago.

Downstairs, life goes on as usual, and upstairs Hermione tries to keep herself from falling apart.


Monday afternoon is when she goes grocery shopping, down at the Muggle store on the corner. She doesn't like the store, with its harsh lights and economy sized bags of chips and jumbo jars of peanut butter, but goes there all the same. This is a job, just like the rest, she thinks as she wheels the shopping cart down the baking aisle, staring blankly at the wholesome bags of flour and sugar lined up on the shelves like soliders in an army.

"Mommy, can we get these?" Her son asks, holding up a bag of sugar cookies hopefully. She turns and looks at him curiously for a minute, trying desperately to remember his name, before saying, "Fine Micheal, but nothing else."

He smiles, and dances as though he has just won a major battle, in a way that annoys her, and makes her feel guilty for not loving him the way other mothers love their children. She smiles back, hoping she is doing the right thing, and places the bag in the cart.

Micheal looks up at her curiously, and grasps her skirt in his hand as they begin walking again. They're quiet, neither looking at each other as they pass other shoppers, advertisements for cleaning sprays and cooking utensils, rows of perfect looking produce. At the checkout line, behind an old woman with a tube of toothpaste, Micheal looks up and says, "I love you, Mommy."

Hermione looks down at her son's earnest five-year-old face, so innocent with his milky blue eyes and bright freckles, and says quietly, "I love you too, baby."

She hopes he doesn't hear the hesitation in her voice.


Ron comes home late, tired and cross, holding a stack of papers under his arm. He smiles when he sees her, and drops the papers on a end table nearby, and kisses her gently. She closes her eyes and leans against him, savoring the smell of ink and books and magic spells, the way his robe scratches her face. She opens her eyes and looks up at him, asking, "Good day?"

He rolls his eyes, pulls away from her to motion at the papers nearby. "Wilkins gave me more assignments to work on. I swear, the guy hates me more than Malfoy did." He sulks, crossing his arms in a way that Micheal does when he has to go to sleep early but wants to stay up to watch t.v.

She laughs, knowing it will cheer him up, and replies, "I don't know. I don't think anyone could hate you more than he did."

He grins lopsidedly, and says, "Perhaps." He shrugs out of his outer robes and drapes them across a chair and heads into the kitchen, tucking an errant peice of hair behind her ear as he passes her.

She exhales shakily when he leaves the room, trying not to cry. She shivers, and calls, "Micheal! Dinner!"


She made chicken casserole, and burned it slightly, but Ron and Micheal eat it anyway, smiling encouragingly at her in between bites. She smiles back at them and picks at her food, tracing designs on her plate, screaming at herself for her failure. Across the table Micheal swings his legs happily, dutifully eating the peas on his plate. "I drew a picture t'day, and Mrs. Finnigan said it was the best one she ever sawed!" Micheal says suddenly, proud at his accomplishment.

Ron ruffles his hair and says, "Little artist, aren't 'cha?" Hermione watches them carefully for a second, forming a response in her mind.

"We'll have to put it up on the fridge", she says, "so that everyone can see it."

Across the table, her son grins and crinkles his face happily at her, and Ron watches her carefully. She returns his stare for a minute, and then looks away, not wanting to see the pain in his eyes.


Afterwards she clears the table and fills the sink with scalding water that burns her hands when she washes the dishes, making her feel like she is purifying herself. Micheal sits on the counter next to her and dries the dishes carefully, face screwed up in concentration. Every so often he holds up a plate for her to inspect, and she smiles and calls him her little helper because she doesn't have the heart to tell him to leave her alone, just for once, because she can't take this anymore.

The water in the sink is cool by the time she finishes the last dish, and she mutters a quick spell to dry the counters and rinse the sink, before picking Micheal up. He throws his arms around her neck, soaking half of her chest, and she hates him for it, and hates herself too, but simply says, "Bath time."

In the bathroom upstairs she quickly pulls his clothes off and fills the tub, putting him in it with his toys. He splashes and starts playing with a miniature ship, talking happily to himself. Hermione watches him carefully, so small and young, sitting naked in the bath, and she wonders what it would be like to push him under the water and not let go.

She bites her lip and looks at the wall across from her, trying not to think of what a horrible person she is.


Later, after he falls asleep, she leaves Micheal's room, and heads toward her room. Ron is sprawled across the bed waiting for her, scrawling something on a form. He looks up when she enters and pats the bed beside him, inviting her over. She shakes her head and says, "In a minute."

He shrugs, and watches her go into the bathroom and close the door.

In the bathroom she flicks the overhead switch and tries not to look in the mirror. Her hand shakes when she opens the tube of toothpaste, but she ignores it and starts to brush her teeth. She leans over and rinses her mouth, straightens slowly, and wonders just when she had gotten so old. She's only twenty-eight, after all. She shouldn't look this old. She shouldn't feel this old.

She leans over, the counter cold against her skin, and scrutinizes herself in the mirror, sad and tired looking, with half wild hair fighting its neat braid. She jerks away and sits on the toilet, chin in her hand, and tries not to think of all the other things she could have been.

There had been that teaching position at Durmstrang. And the acceptance letter from Oxford. And Madame Pomfrey telling her she was one of the best healers to study underneath her. And Ron, empty looking, telling her he loved her, and she coudln't say no to him because Harry was dead, and Ron looked so sad and alone standing beside the Hogwarts Express.

"Hermione, you coming to bed soon?" Ron calls from their room, sounding so caring she wants to scream and break things.

She nods, realizes he can't see it, and says, "Yeah. I'll be out in a minute."

Her wand feels heavy against her leg and she pulls it from her pocket and stands up, walks to the mirror, and lays it down reverently. Her reflection stares back at her, weary and cold in a way she wishes she could be, and she says, "This was my choice." Her reflection's mouth moves, but no sounds come out, and Hermione feels so alone.

Without noticing it, she picks up her wand and holds it up. She made her choice, but she doesn't think it was the right one to make, and she thinks she might go crazy if she has to know this any longer. Hermione remembers seventh year, and reading philosphy books night after night in her dormitory, and wondering if there was free will or if it was a well constructed play with humans as the puppets.

She's made her choice, and it was not-- never will be-- the right one, but it was the only choice, and she knows this, but it doesn't make her feel any better. She wants to feel better, wants to want a house and white picket fence, wants to love her husband and child the way other people love.

Her hand doesn't shake when she holds her wand up to chest, and her voice is calm when she whispers the spell.


Tuesday morning, and Hermione thinks her dreams have come true.