Author Note: Another story…This fic contains some dark themes in the beginning, but I promise it will get brighter as it continues.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything.

Breaking the Habit

Chapter One - Torture

Tears oozed down Hermione's cheeks as she looked up at her boyfriend through her one good eye, the other swollen closed. Most might consider him to be a fine specimen of manhood, but the sight of his visage soured her insides with terror and hatred. She cried out as his fist connected solidly with the side of her face. She hung limply in his grasp as pain exploded behind her closed lids and a coppery taste blossomed in her mouth. He roughly shook her, the pressure his fingers exerted on the flesh of her arm colouring the pale skin purple and green. His lips pulled away from his teeth in a mockery of a smile and a sharp growl emerged from his throat.

"You thought you could get away with it, didn't you?"

She let out a choked sob, shaking her head and unconsciously cowered closer to the crimson speckled floor as she tried to get away from his balled up hand. He snorted and roughly jerked her around, before throwing her to the ground at his feet. She curled up in the smallest position she can manage before the agony in her chest threatened to steal consciousness from her. He pressed his booted foot against her chest, forcing her to roll onto her back. A stifled noise escaped from her mouth as her remaining orb snapped open and stared up at him in horror.

He laughed, a strange inhuman noise that echoed throughout the trashed insides of the cheap apartment, and increased the force until her chest barely rose with each breath she drew in through her gasping mouth. A sickening crack came from the general area of her ribcage and he rapidly stood on his own two feet once more. She barely moved when he released her, the blinding agony every time she attempted to bring fresh oxygen into her system forced her to remain as still as she could be.

"Remember this next time you consider sleeping with another man." He pulled his wand out of his clothes and with a simple flick, disappears in a crack of displaced air.

Her bruised body trembled pathetically in a heap, blood trickling from numerous abrasions. She lay there for countless minutes, trying to work up enough of the famous Gryffindor courage to move in the direction of her own wand some several feet away. Fresh tears left stinging tracks across her face as splinters of pain darkening her vision. Hermione sniffled into one of her palms and reached out feebly towards the smoothed branch that had rolled beneath her coffee table.

It felt so close, yet the mind crushing sensation kept her from crawling across the stained carpet towards it. Her head rolled backwards and she stared up at the ceiling with blank, dead eyes that shone with tears that had yet to have a chance let their salt make the cuts on her cheeks burn further. She knew that if she could just wrap her trembling fingers around it she could relieve much of the agony she was going through, yet that consolation could not get her to shift. In times of extreme pain, she found that she reverted to a childlike point of view.

If something would hurt, she would not do it. She continued to argue with herself until she sucked in a particularly deep gulp of air to beat off the darkness threatening to cover her vision and let out a very audible screech. At least one of her ribs was definitely broken and had to be pressing into her lungs. Suddenly, she found a tiny reservoir of courage and with the last vestige of her adult mindset; drug herself the yard to her most beloved wand. Ever thankful for her training as a medi-witch, she gratefully cast the necessary charms that patched her aching body up.

Within seconds of retrieving the device that converted the magic within her into something usable, she was more than able to move into a sitting position without sobbing breathlessly. She quickly rose to her feet, angrily brushing those traitorous tears off of her skin. Looking at her then, if one ignored the blood still staining much of her clothing and flesh, no creature would be able to tell that she had just been beaten within an inch of her life by one of the few people who she was supposed to be able to trust the most.

She gazed down at the carpet flecked with crimson before whispering the words to several cleaning spells. She hastily tidied up her small flat, returning it to its state of almost unnatural cleanliness. Without much further ado, she stumbled into her bathroom and proceeded to scrub the taint of one Ronald Weasley off of her for the moment with water seemingly hot enough to melt iron.

Hermione clutched the fragile porcelain of her cup, dull cinnamon eyes staring blankly at the flaky wrought iron table before her. She hated herself. She had been in an abusive relationship for close to a year, but could not tear herself out of it. She could not be strong enough to leave the man who beat her on a regular basis and brutalized her unwilling body. No matter how many times he physically hurt her, she kept on coming back. She was too bloody afraid of ending up alone to leave Ron.

The very thought of nobody caring if she lived or died terrified her even more than her 'boyfriend's' next visit. She did not want to end up like the women she had heard of, never married and without children, who passed away without a single person there to comfort them in their last moments. She ignored the thought that if she did not leave Ron, she very well might be beaten so badly that she too would die alone because she was too injured to get help. She still, even after all those torturous months of this constant fear of violence, could not comprehend his sudden change from sweet and compassionate man to a brutal, cold monster.

It had happened so suddenly. About half a year into their relationship, they had spent an afternoon at the house Harry bought for himself and Ginny after they were married; a peculiar emotion came to life in Ron's once beautiful cyan eyes when he saw his girlfriend affectionately, chastely kiss Harry's cheek. The moment they had apparated to Hermione's modest abode, he had held her sharply by the forearm and asked her in a tight voice why she insisted on cheating on him with Harry, their best friend since childhood.

The comment had confused her so badly that she had simply looked up at him with a puzzled expression on her features, unable to answer. He growled in an animalistic way before sharply slapping her. It had been the first time he had ever harmed her and she silently wished that she had turned her back on him then. Once, she had been listened to a woman speak about her own experience with domestic abuse. She said that the longer a woman, any person for that matter, remained in a relationship where they were beaten on a regular basis; it would only get harder to break away from it.

If only she had listened! Every time he would harm her, at least until recently, he would apologize profusely and beg for her forgiveness afterwards. She would tell herself then that that was the last time, her wonderfully caring Ron would never hit her on purpose. He got so blinded by his anger he just forgot that he was not fighting with one of his male mate's, but his girlfriend. That line of reasoning grew old very quickly. She rapidly set her china cup down onto its saucer and brought her eyes up from the table to watch the people wandering about vacantly.

The new term at Hogwarts was nearing its beginning and a multitude of eager students were hurriedly rushing about Diagon Alley collecting the items they would need for their upcoming school term. She sighed sadly to herself, how she wished she could go back in time and redo the last few years. She went to drag her fingers through her curly hair, when a masculine voice happily sounded in front of her unseeing eyes.


Her gaze rapidly snapped to the tall man standing close to her, beaming down at her like she was solely responsible for making the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening.

"Viktor?" She gasped quietly and quickly motioned for him to take the vacant seat across from her.

He rapidly took the proffered chair and watched her with amazingly warm obsidian hues. "I am sorry for calling you that, it vos the only thing I could say to catch your attention."

Worry gnawed at her insides as she looked at him, the desire to talk with a friend conflicting with her instinctive fear of Ron catching her speaking with a man who was not him. It did not take her long to make her decision, a little of her old defiance sparking to life briefly.

"No need for an apology, I was off in my own little world. What are you doing here in England?" She made a quiet noise in the back of her throat as she realized something. "Has it really been almost three years since we last saw each other face to face?" He had come to her graduation, sitting in the place that was usually reserved for a student's parents.

Dan and Emma Granger were killed in the last year of the War, a loss she felt Ron had fully taken advantage of.

He nodded sadly in response to her second question. "It has, vhy have you not responded too many of my letters?"

Her cheeks flushed slightly at his questions and begin to fiddle with the slightly rough hem of her soft cotton sweater, attempting to keep herself from meeting his gaze. "Well…I have been very busy, there hasn't been time…" She sort of trailed off after a few words, not wanting to lie to him.

Something in his face closed and he began to stand up, taking her stammering response as an attempt at politely asking him to leave her. "Vell, I vill see you…"

"Wait! Please don't go, I didn't mean that in a bad way." She anxiously said, looking up at him with a tinge of desperation colouring her voice.

He looked down at her and slowly let his backside reconnect with the chair, before letting his slightly cool stare return to her. "Then how did you mean it?"

She swallowed heavily past a sudden lump in the back of her throat and nervously tucked a loose curl behind her ear. "I, er…my relationship with Ron has been taking up most of my time. I've been trying to salvage what is left of it…" Gloomy pain spread across her pretty features as she let out a nearly soundless sigh, attempting to make her rendition of her affiliation with Ron sound better than it really was.

Viktor caught on to her reluctance to talk about the Weasley boy, a stab of jealously curdling his stomach. Of course Hermione would be dating him, had not everyone said that those two were made for each other and he had little to no chance with the beautiful brunet who had utterly consumed his thoughts since he had first seen her when he was eighteen? If he could not be romantically involved with her, however, he was more than willing to settle for friendship. He would take anything he could have with her.

A compassionate smile spread across his lips as he motioned vaguely with his hand. "Ah, then let us forget about it then. It is not important. How have you been?"

She shrugged. "I have been doing…well. And yourself?" No matter how desperately she wanted to tell the man before her about the situation she was in, she knew she could not.

"I have been better, thank you for asking." He paused for a moment, seemingly steeling himself for a negative response, before continuing. "Vould you like…"

Her eyes widened suddenly as she caught sight of something over his shoulder, a flash of utter terror flashing across her features. She lurched to her feet and snatched her bag off of the ground. Her chest rapidly rose and fell as she grew drastically close to hyperventilation.

"I have to go; it was wonderful seeing you again." She called over her shoulder as she ran the fastest she could out of the quaint café, without a backward glance.

Viktor turned abruptly in his chair to try and catch what had sent her into such a state of horror. He could see nothing, though as he was straightening his back, he would have sworn he saw the briefest flash of carrot hued hair before it disappeared out of his peripheral vision. His heavy brow furrowed slightly as he began to ponder the peculiar enigma. He, being a gentleman, quickly paid for Hermione's bill and just as he was leaving, noticed a small leather object on the ground.

He stooped to pick it up and was decidedly pleased to discover it belonged to Hermione. She had left her wallet, something he remembered her speaking out as something most Muggles carried. He opened it quickly and soon found her address on a small piece of plastic, before slipping it into the pocket of his robes. He would definitely be paying her a visit later that day.

Please tell me what you think of this new story, I rather like it so far.

Blessed Be