Title: Falling to Pieces

Disclaimer: I'm still poor and nothing is in my custody. :( The chapter's title belongs to The New Frontiers as well does the lyrics on the bottom of the page. Check them out. You definitely won't be disappointed.

A/N: Thank you to all who stuck through me from the beginning, middle, and end or those who just jumped on this fiction's bandwagon. Nothing can describe my deep gratitude for the encouragement and feedback I was blessed to get from this story. Honestly, guys, if it wasn't for this site and for those who took time out of their day to lend me some uplifting words in the form of reviews, I truly don't think I'd ever gain such a fascination in writing. Now I'm taking AP English this coming year and my writing would've never improved if I haven't started here and read some terribly wonderful stories and began my own just terrible ones (that definitely needed lots of revision nearly four years later). But with this site and this story I was given the chance and ability to grow in my writing and vocabulary and better my writing all together. That is simply priceless and I can't thank you guys enough who believed in this story from the beginning when I really; honestly sucked. So thank you all. :)

&LAST CHAPTER. Say what?! Review!

Chapter Twelve: The Day You Fell Apart

With eyes narrowed and her chin inclined, Hermione stared boldly back at the pointed end of Kevin's accusing wand. Her unmarred expression seemed to have faltered him the slightest as she noticed his hand lowering slightly. "What are you going to do, Kevin? Kill me? Surely, you don't think Hogwarts will take kindly to that."

Hatred welled inside her as she continued glaring menacingly at him, prior terror that caged itself within her fading. She'd be damned if she was going to allow him to get the better of her. He had cost her enough already. Her friends' trust, George's safety, and, more importantly, her dignity and pride.

"I suppose you are right. Perhaps I should just send you into a rather long coma," sneered Kevin, his steel eyes filled with abhorrence. "One that is intended for you never to wake from."

Hermione felt her head grow heavy as the moment stretched between the two, her heart sinking when the Ravenclaw parted his lips to mutter a terrible curse. "What the –" instead came from Kevin's mouth, replacing whatever evil he previously intended. He then doubled over and her stare darted from his stricken face to his stomach, her eyes widening when she found George's curled up fist pushing itself forcibly in his lower abdomen.

"Hurry Hermione!" yelled the redhead. "Disarm him!"

She blinked, clamping her gaping mouth shut before realization of how terrifying the circumstance was dawned upon her. "E-expelliarmus!" she cried as she sharply raised her arm, holding tightly onto her nearly forgotten wand.

Kevin yelped when he was thrown backwards as his wand was simultaneously thrust out of his loosened grip. George's arm shot up instinctively, catching the light wooden stick, and peered over his hospital bed to glare at the stunned and disarmed Ravenclaw. "You," he hissed as he held out the wand and grasped the other end of it with his left hand before snapping it into respectable halves, "don't deserve this. And you better believe I'll do my damn best to make sure you never receive another one."

"Oh really, Weasley?" spat Kevin. "And how exactly do you propose you're going to do that?"

"I reckon you won't be able to do much if I snap that neck of yours –"

"What on earth do we have here?" George immediately fell silent upon the shriek and the three turned to see Madam Pomfrey standing at the entrance of the Hospital wing. "Ms. Granger? Mr. Summers? Why are you up at such an hour? Especially you being a prefect, Ms. Granger. I expect much more from you -"

"Summers tried attacking her," George interjected, drawing the nurse's attention towards him.

In return she appeared stunned momentarily before shaking her head slightly. "What – Mr. Weasley? You're awake? I – what wonderful news! I expected you'd be out cold, give or take, another week or two –"

"Madam Pomfrey, I don't think you heard me," he swiftly cut in again. "Summers tried to kill Hermione. And I reckon he'd take a go after me next."

The nurse looked scandalized, her gaze shifting from the prized Ravenclaw to the equally regarded Gryffindor student. "No," she barely whispered with disbelief, "Ms. Granger… is that, is that true?"

Hermione froze, feeling as if she was under fire as the three pairs of eyes drilled into her. Her mouth opened and closed but no words managed to escape her chapped lips, remaining caught in her tightened throat. "I-I…" she began faintly, her gaze stuck to the hospital's tiled floor.

"Poppy, what is the reason behind this? I was just passing by and I saw the light on –" Professor McGonagall then stormed in, pausing beside Pomfrey and glanced over to Hermione's ashamed face. "Ms. Granger? Mr. Weasley? Mr. Summers?"

"Ms. Granger was just about to tell us something." informed the nurse.

The brunette drew in a shaky breath before bringing herself to lift her eyes from the floor beneath her. Her vision rested upon her Professor's awaiting face and with a quick exchange with George, his eyes warm and encouraging, she spoke quietly. "Professor, I…" she swallowed down a painful gasp, "I have something to t-tell you. Something I don't feel quite… obligated to discuss with others around."

McGonagall's lips thinned. "Very well, Ms. Granger. Shall we speak now or perhaps the morning would be a better time?"

"Oh, no thanks, Professor. I'd rather talk about it now, if you don't mind that is." she mumbled quietly.

The professor sighed before shaking her head. "Of course not, Ms. Granger. If it's that important. However," her sharp eyes turned toward Kevin whom managed to hoist himself up from the hospital's pristine floor and snatch back his broken wand. "Mr. Summers, I do advise you to get back to your common room; Madam Pomfrey will assist you. I'll discuss your punishment tomorrow and you, Mr. Weasley," George stiffened under her stare, "I assume Mr. Summers did not break his wand on his own account. Twenty-five points from Gryffindor. Follow me, Ms. Granger, oh and Mr. Weasley," she added once Pomfrey had ushered the Ravenclaw out of earshot. He titled his head upward in response, "thank you."

George felt a smile play across his lips and he nodded. "Anytime, Minerva."

"Don't push it, Weasley."

Sun streamed through the girls' dormitories the next morning, gradually waking the slumbering girls from their peaceful slumber. As they began to slip from their bunks and begin to ready themselves for the next morning, one intentionally remained secluded in her concealed bunk with her eyes tightly shut until her roommates had completely cleared out of the room. It was then, in the complete solitary, when she had she opened her eyes and rolled out of her bed. Her face felt terribly stiff from the guilt-ridden tears that had dried over the previous night and there were bags under her eyes from the lack of proper sleep during the night before. All she found herself doing was consistently twisting and turning under her thin sheets, sobbing quietly to herself as the night grew into day.

After managing to fix her dreadful appearance in the bathroom, she slipped on a fresh uniform and hesitantly headed down to the common room. There, at the foot of the stairs, stood an awaiting Harry; surprisingly lacking a particular redhead at his side, while his green eyes grew distressed as his friend made her awaited entrance.

"Hermione," he frowned with such shame and guilt she could hardly bear to hold a steady gaze on him. "I figured it all out, last night. I've been so dense. The way you never spoke of him, the way you couldn't even look at Ron or me when you were with him – I just… I'm so sorry."

Before she could reply she felt Harry engulf her in his arms, astonished at the normally detached boy's sudden embrace. Nonetheless she meekly hugged him back, inwardly sighing when he eventually released her. He still wore a remorseful expression, inquiring, "I don't understand, Hermione, why didn't you ever tell me or Ron?"

"Well, I think you already have enough on your plate as it is," she answered quietly and truthfully. "Ron too. Please don't worry, Harry, everything's sorted out and under control now."

His frown deepened despite her reassurance, sighing. "I haven't told Ron or Ginny. I don't think you wanted me to –"

"Fred hinted it to you, huh?" she smiled crookedly. He flushed upon her question and she silently cursed the loose lipped Weasley.

"Are you –"

"No, I'm not mad at you Harry," she insisted before flashing him another warm smile and placed her hands on each side of his face, dipping his head low to kiss the top of his forehead reassuringly. "I promise I'm not. I'm just disappointed in myself for making such a terrible choice but now I'm going to fix it."

Harry grinned faintly and she withdrew her hands from him. "I've missed you, Hermione."

She exchanged his grin. She missed herself too.

With a slight wave she departed ways with him and headed out of Gryffindor Tower and toward the Hospital Wing, pausing momentarily when she passed Blaise in the halls. He peered up from the volume in his hands; his dark eyes meeting hers and, for a fleeting moment, she could've sworn he nodded approvingly at her. But she could never be certain with him and they quickly passed each other, carrying themselves in opposite directions. Without another distraction Hermione eventually found herself under the threshold of the Hospital, averting Madam Pomfrey's unreadable gaze all together and hurried out of the nurse's peripheral vision.

Carefully, she forced herself to the awaiting redhead's already occupied bedside, remaining in the shadow of the crowd that had gathered with students; all whom were quite thankful he had finally awoken from his coma. Fred glanced at the quieted brunette and, as if apologizing for what he had done earlier, began to usher the fellow Gryffindors away.

"Alright, alright. Don't gawk. Honestly, you act as if he's the better looking twin!"

George's eyes followed the departing crowd until they vanished as the Hospital's door swung shut behind them and he shifted his gaze upon the silent girl. He grinned.

"George…" she mumbled with her eyes fixated on her neatly tied shoes, refusing to meet his offered gaze.

"Yes, pet?" he smirked, knowing he'd get a rise out her from the use of the terrible nickname. As if on cue, her gaze shot toward him with frustration flaring behind her brown eyes. They softened, however, moments later and a forlorn look drowned everything else out.

"What have I gotten you in?" she whispered miserably to him.

"Something that I can obviously squirm my way out of," he assured lightly although his volume matched hers.

"How –"

"– did I wake from my coma?" he finished. "Well, not too entirely certain about that, honestly. I woke up when you took a good whack him, though. Bleeding good aim, Hermione."

"George," she sighed solemnly, "how did you know? Was I that obvious?"

"More like Weasley men aren't as daft as Ron", he corrected as he sat himself upward and swung his long legs over the side of Hospital's bed he was currently residing on. "Honestly, the boy gives us a terrible reputation."

"Don't joke about this," demanded Hermione, feeling undesired tears begin to prickle at her eyes as she stared at the boy before her with reprehensible thoughts beginning to fog her mind. "You can't. Not when…" He raised a questionable eyebrow. "Not when this my entire fault."

George's expression softened. "Hermione, you know none of this is your fault –"

"Yes it is!" she protested. "Everything is my fault! If I hadn't allowed to you get into this mess in the first place –"

"Kevin would've never been exposed?" he supplied. "You wouldn't have found a particularly peculiar and newfound appreciation for a Slytherin? And I would've never told you…" he trailed off, assuming she knew where his words were heading.

She did. "It's not that, George," she sighed, blinking to rid her threatening tears. "I just wish this never happened to begin with. And now that it's over, I don't… I don't know what to do when Ginny and Ron find out."

"Don't worry your pretty little head about that," he assured as lightly as his tone could muster. "It'll be due time until those two find out. I know you're worried about Fred – considering he's already told Harry – but he's always had a tendency to keep his mouth shut around the family and you know Harry won't tell a soul if you ask him not to."

"I know but…"

"You don't know where to go from here?"

She couldn't bring herself to lift her gaze. "I never thought I'd get here." She swallowed before adding, "I don't know what to do."

"Well, love," he grinned weakly, carefully snaking his arms around her slim frame and gently brushed his lips against her forehead, before he continued. "To be brutally honest, I think you've got a lot of healing to do."

In response, Hermione buried her face in his chest and breathed in his scent as the itchy fabric of his homemade sweater scratched against her cheek. Tears that previously welled in her eyes had finally fallen, releasing every ounce of pain she ever had to endure. She held on tight to George, her cries gradually escalating to full blown sobs each passing moment.

This felt so cruelly surreal, almost as if it was out of her grasp. The idea of finally being able to breathe without beckoning worry and terror boxing her in had long ago turned into an enigma she thought she could never obtain or comprehend. But here she was. Free.

"Hermione?" spoke George, his gentle tone lessening her sobs. "Are you going to be okay?"

She paused before peering upward, giving him a watery smile filled with assurance. "I am okay, George. I think I finally am."

He blinked with uncertainty, about to respond when he suddenly found her lips pressed against his and he briefly thought of a common saying that had only associated itself with the brilliant witch in his arms: Hermione's always right.

With that conclusion, he lost himself in the kiss.

Love, I won't break your heart,
its a long way down from here.
Every time you fall and break apart,
I will pick you up again.