Wasting Away In The Shadows

Hermione walked slowly up to the astronomy tower, her feet dragging on the steps. She was so tired, yet she couldn't sleep. She hadn't slept in days really; she had gotten by on about an hour a night. No one else knew; glamour charms were a wonderful thing. No one knew or even noticed except for Professor Snape. She didn't now how he'd noticed but he had. He had called her back after class and before se knew it had lifted his wand and muttered the counter for glamour charms.

He had already started to give her a lecture about how she shouldn't be using it outside of class even as he got rid of the charm but his voice had faltered when he noticed how terrible she looked. He had fallen silent and looked at her horrified, she knew she looked terrible without the charm and so she quickly re-did it and ran out of class, crying. He hadn't said anything else about it although he had given her a potion silently during their next class.

The potion was to help people sleep but it hadn't worked. Nothing worked. And so night after night Hermione came up here to the tower and if she was lucky got an hour or two of sleep. She didn't know what was happening to her but she got by. Unfortunately being unable to sleep was only one part of what was happening. She didn't eat really but again the only people who noticed were the house elves.

They were the only ones and Hermione knew that when she got to the top of the tower there would be food and rink on a covered tray up the top, waiting for her in case she was able to ring herself to eat some. And if not the drink beside the tray would be full of magic so at least she would get some sustenance. As it was she had faded away to a shadow. She was gaunt and thin and if it were not for the glamour charms and bulky clothing she wore everyone would have noticed.

As it was… no one did. Not even her best friends. But the teachers had all stopped giving her homework a day or two after Professor Snape had found her out. They looked upon her with pitying eyes when they thought she wasn't looking. But she did notice and it just made things worse. She didn't speak out loud anymore really, and they didn't call on her. Her voice was hoarse and harsh and she could barely speak. When her friends spoke to her she mumbled out an answer and ran away.

Hermione knew she was dying. There was no other explanation for what was happening to her. She knew she should probably go to a muggle or magic hospital to find out what she was dying of but she didn't want to. Somehow she knew there was no cure. She didn't want anyone to know. She figured that if she didn't know what was wrong with her it wouldn't seem as real. It wouldn't as seem as foreboding. Frankly Hermione did not want to know when she would die, the very thought was too depressing.

As it was, her own body was telling her it didn't have long. And that was bad enough without some doctor telling her essentially the same thing. And with that thought, Hermione found herself at the very top of the tower. And sure enough there was a steaming hot meal awaiting her there. She sighed and shook her head, she just wasn't hungry, and she just couldn't bring herself to eat at all. In fact the smell of it made her nauseous. She made her way over to a corner and settled herself in.

She wrapped her warm robe around her and gazed up at the sky. It was so big; so beautiful and never ending. It made Hermione feel so insignificant as she gazed up at the dark mass of sky glittered with tiny sparkles. It was almost like something had shook a can of silver sparkled over deep blue velvet randomly. The was no pattern to the stars but Hermione still gazed up at them and tried to make one in her mind. She didn't know how long she stayed there but eventually the sound of someone entering the top of the tower.

She gasped and lost her balance, falling onto the hard cold floor in her surprise. Her mind raced as she heard someone mutter 'Lumos.' and covered her eyes from the sudden bright light that swept to cover the room all so suddenly. Her mind raced as she sat there, trying to recover from the light, which had temporarily blinded her. No one ever came up here! Even before she'd started coming up here every night, no one had ever come up here.

Slowly, cautiously Hermione lowered her arms as the light faded slightly. She still couldn't see properly but less light was better than the bright light that had emanated from the person's wand before. She shook her head slightly, thinking it would help but it didn't. She just got a blinding headache instead, her eyes were recovering slowly but surely but she didn't feel any better.

Eventually she was able to see and what she saw drew gasps from both of them. Standing at the top of the stairs, framed by the soft light behind him, was Draco Malfoy. 'What the hell are you doing here Granger? You shouldn't be here!' he asked harshly. Hermione looked at her hands, her thin emancipated hands and laughed harshly. That she was still recognisable as Hermione Granger was a feat in itself. That Malfoy had recognised her, now that was damn near a miracle. Especially since the glamour charm had worn off hours ago.

But she soon stopped laughing as her laughter changed to harsh coughs, when she had eventually caught her breath she asked, 'What do you want me to say Malfoy? I'm here because I can't sleep? I'm here because it's the one place in the castle where no one will disturb me as I contemplate my eminent death from a disease that is making my body waste away?' She started coughing again but managed to draw herself up.

'I'm here for both of those reasons, Malfoy. And up until tonight I wasn't disturbed here because both the house elves and teachers know why I come here. They don't disturb me, they just leave food and blankets for me in case I can bring myself to eat or sleep! But that hasn't happened for so many night now I've lost track!' with that she stepped into the light and his muffled gasp was enough to make her wish she hadn't said any of that.

She looked down at her thin arms and legs; they were naught but skin and bones. There was still some muscle left on her legs and that was the only reason she could still walk. And her face, she didn't even want to think about what her face looked like. She hadn't looked herself for many days; she shied away from mirrors and reflective surfaces.

She was a ghost of her former self, she'd always been thin but now she was emancipated. She knew that and she knew because of it that she wasn't anorexic or anything. She looked up again into the face of Malfoy. His face was pinched, his eyes shocked. 'I saw a man that had been dead for several days once.' He whispered, 'You look even worse than he did!' Hermione laughed bitterly. 'Oh yes, that's me! A living corpse!' she twirled around in a mock imitation of a ballerina but stumbled and if not for Malfoy grabbing her by the waist she would have fell and perhaps snapped in half.

He righted her gently, as if she was made of glass but didn't let go of her. And Hermione was glad; she didn't think she could stand yet. Her breath came in shallow gasps and she started shivering uncontrollably as her muscles spasmed. She screamed then as she realised that it was the end. Her end. Malfoy was carrying her now, running down the stairs with her in his arms. She screamed and screamed and as they raced for the infirmary, her screams grew louder.

Eventually when she was gasping for breath she stopped screaming but the anguished sobs tearing themselves from her throat were even worse. She felt strong arms put her down on a bed but she barely registered it. She just clung to Malfoy even as her body died. He tried to withdraw but she clutched at him. Her body fell into a stillness that was even worse than the spasming but she sill clutched at him, trying to hold onto something real.

The world stilled for a few precious moments, and all that seemed to exist was Hermione and Draco. She gazed up at him, her body limp. 'Do you know, I've never even kissed anyone?' she told him softly. His eyes filled with tears as he bent down to kiss her soft rosebud lips gently. He kissed her with all the tenderness, love and warmth he could muster even as her last breath passed from her lips.

Dimly Draco heard running footsteps behind him but all he could focus on was Hermione's face as he withdrew from the kiss. Her eyes were closed and there was a smile on her still face. She seemed peaceful, content and Draco choked back a sob. She had ever been his enemy. But to the last they had understood each other. They had understood each other as no one else had understood them.

Tears ran silently down Draco's face and he let her down on the covers. They ran onto her face and he kissed them away gently. He had loved her, as you love fire. As you love your enemy and know that she is a constant reassurance. He leaned back and caressed her cold cheek. She was already turning cold. That wasn't right, she had been fire in life, but she was ice in death.

He got up and walked away. He ignored the voices and questions and ran down to the lake. He stood there in the freezing cold and eventually with his eyes to the heavens, took a pocket knife out of his pocket and slit his own wrists. He was found some thirty minutes later, dead on the shore of the lake.

Those below them mourned deeply.

But in the heavens two souls, unknowing soulmates in life, came together and laughed and wept that at last they were together, even if it was in death.

And then they turned hand in hand and entered St. Peter's gates.

For whatever the church says, the lord welcomes all who come before him with loving, pure souls…

Whether they be witches or suicides.