I don't own Harry Potter

"Hermione, do you think we could do this another day? It's late."

Harry Potter walked wearily beside his good friend as she continued to talk about the newest magical innovation that would help them in the war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

"But Harry, I really think that this would be helpful to—"

"Not now, Hermione. Please." He gritted his teeth.

"Harry, are you okay? You've been terse all day." Her voice held a note of worry.

"I'm FINE, Hermione."

His voice cut across her softly anxious one with a detached coldness to it, a steel barrier that clearly indicated the conversation was over. But Hermione was tired. Tired of Harry's denial, tired of his declarations of everything being all right, tired of being cut off whenever she tried to reach out to him. So instead of quietly going her way this time, Hermione's gentle nature was swept out of the way by rage and frustration that boiled over.

Grabbing Harry's arm, she turned, slamming him up against the wall.

"You know perfectly well that you are not FINE!" She hissed at him through clenched teeth, voice nearly breaking, her face inches away from his own.

"You're not fine, nobody's fine, nothing's okay anymore, but you are denying it and it's killing me, Harry! You're spiraling out of control; I can see it clear as day in front of me. You try and try to pretend that nothing's wrong, that nothing's changed from the way it used to be, and maybe that's enough to fool everyone else, but I can see how it's eating you up inside. You're becoming some kind of a…a…ROBOT or something, and I just can't stand back and watch anymore!"

Harry's eyes were wide as he stared at the woman in front of him, her hair coming down in wisps out of her bun, her face red from shouting, her eyes puffy and watery from held-back tears, her grip on his forearms viselike.

He was at a loss for what to do: her words seemed to pierce right through all the protective walls he had put up around him; crumbled them in an instant. Hermione kept going, her voice choked and breaking over the words now.

"I've lost…so, so much in the last little while, and y-you have as well, and I just…I just…I just don't know what to do anymore! I try and I try to deal with it, but every time I look it in the face, it just overwhelms me! And then you come waltzing in….and you seem like—like you've got everything under control, but I look closer, and you're even worse off than I am!

Hermione broke off, letting go of her friend, breathing heavily and not caring about the tears that streamed openly down her own face. She had finally gotten to him. She could see it in his face: something had cracked, the mask had broken, the façade had fallen down. He was lost, scared, confused, angry, and full of hate; all the emotions that had been simmering under the surface finally making themselves known on his face.

Hermione suddenly found a feeling of relief coursing through herself…she could see now that following her instincts had been the best course after all: it was plain that if someone didn't reach him, help him fast, then he would be eaten up from the inside like some kind of terrible poison or corrosive acid, all the while insisting everything was fine.

There was no status quo anymore. Fine was a thing of the past. She knew it. He knew it. Everyone in the house knew it. But accepting it…she had done so and moved on. He still couldn't bring himself to face up to reality.

"Hermione, I..." Harry trailed off, a lost and broken look on his face.

"I miss him too, you know." She whispered, before enveloping him in a tight hug.

He returned the embrace, and they sank to the floor, to sit among her scattered books and parchment, just to sit and cling to each other fiercely. The enormity of what had happened, the impact of the tragedy on their lives; it was all being bled out.

"Ron died so we could live, Harry." She said finally, pulling away and looking him in the eye. "What you've been doing isn't living. You've got to start over."

"I know, I just...I will. Ever since the funeral I haven't...I didn't...I'm going to try, Hermione." He gave her a watery smile. "I know Ron would have wanted me to."