Love means exposing yourself to the pain of being hurt, deeply hurt by someone you trust.

Her eyes were closed but she could still feel the tears wet her lashes. It had been too long. She had suffered for too long. It wasn't supposed to be easy but nobody had ever told her it would be this hard. But losing your best friend is hard, she kept reminding herself. Losing your life is hard too.

It had been three months ago she had returned to find out the truth. He cheated. The worst part of it had been that she had been the one to break the news. He'd lied about it, lied to her face, lied to her honest, warm, brown eyes. Eyes that were now hollow. He'd told her there was nobody else. That the relationship they had wasn't what he needed right now. That he'd been making plans for them so far in the future he'd scared himself. As he told her these things; all she could think was: what have I've done? The he told her there had been a kiss.

A kiss is nothing; a kiss that meant nothing; a kiss that changed nothing about what he wanted; and he didn't want her. Not anymore. But this kiss just raised more doubts and more inconsistencies in his story. So Hermione had confronted her. No, we don't say her name. When Hermione had asked, she'd said it simply, as if she'd said it a hundred times:

"We slept together." Those three words had knocked all the air out of Hermione's lungs. "What? Ron didn't tell you?" Hermione shook her head as she fought back the onslaught of hot, fresh tears.

"No. He didn't. Why did you do it?"

"I don't know…it was fun."

That had been the last time Hermione had spoken to her without thinking she was a complete idiot. When their relationship had started she apologized, but it was all in vain. Hermione had been standing on the top of a hill and that little conversation had sent her down a slippery slope she felt would never end. There was no rock bottom; not until now.

The clouds floated by slowly above, and the cold bite in the autumn wind numbed her bare feet. The blades of dead grass bit into her shoulder as she looked off at the lake. She didn't know how long she had been there. She didn't remember how long the tears had been falling. The last thing she remembered was yelling at her mum on the phone.

She'd just been trying to help. But the trouble is, after three months nobody wants to help anymore. "You should be coping better." "You should be over this." "You're seeing a professional; you should focus on what he says." But every 'should' she had heard in the last three months just cut a little deeper. The people who were supposed to be there for her, the people who were supposed to help her in her time of need; had gotten sick of her time of need and were slowly disappearing.

Living in the castle with them had been hell. But the two months of the summer were over, and she'd graciously declined the spot McGonagall had offered. There was no way in hell she was sticking around with him there. Ron had done too much damage already.

In fact he'd done more than he'd realized. He had never been everything to her, never been her entire life, but she'd trusted him implicitly and to have someone break that trust was devastating. He had sent her into a self destructive cycle that she couldn't get out of. Some days were fine; some a little bit harder. Today was one of the hard days.

She took a deep breath and blinked out the tears. She was sick of crying. She was sick of feeling so miserable. She was sick of no longer being herself. Because with what had happened to her, and how she had reacted, she wasn't herself. Everyone around could see it. Anyone new wasn't meeting the real Hermione. She was a cracked shell, seemingly empty of all human existence. She hated herself.

It was getting dark now. She must've been out there for hours and still had no desire to move. She had no desire to do much of anything anymore. Sleeping was hard and eating was out of the question. She never thought it possible that emotions could be so strong that they would cause you to be physically sick. But she'd also thought he was a nice guy. Her type A personality had made it hard for her to let him in, not just as a friend when they were young, but as a lover as they grew. He wasn't her type; she knew that. And still she let herself be totally swept off her feet and feel, for the first time, real love. She had been stupid.

She'd started drinking a week or so after the news. The drinking had gotten out of control and before she knew it she was having a hard time remembering nights. But that didn't stop her from making mistakes. Mistakes like Dean

Dean who began to like her. Dean who she reluctantly began to like as well. Dean who she offered herself to on a silver platter. Dean who got a girlfriend three days later. Yes; Dean had been a mistake. But she was determined to learn from her mistakes. There would be no more liking of males. They were useful for sex and often made good friends; but she would never make the mistake of letting someone in again. There was no more trust.

Footsteps crunched the already dead leaves. He often came to sit with her when she was like this. He slowly lowered himself to the ground a few feet away.

"How bad is it today?" He asked as he leaned back onto the familiar poplar tree.

"Nine." She whispered in a hoarse, broken voice. She couldn't see him but felt him nod. It was the only relief she had now; his nodding.

"What he did to you wasn't right."

"I know that."

"But now what you're doing to yourself isn't right."

"I know that too."

"What helps?" She sighed and closed her eyes again.

"Nothing helps." She said it so softly, he didn't hear it. But he didn't need to hear it; it was the same thing she said to him every bad day.

8 and 9 were bad; breakdown days. 5, 6 and 7 manageable, with a few tears, generally in the ladies on her coffee break. If it was lower than that she functioned just fine. But the fine days had decreased lately.

"Let's get you home."

"I'm not ready to move." He lifted her up gently from the grass and she halfheartedly put her arms around his neck. The apparition was quick and before she knew it she was sitting on her couch with a cup of tea in her hand.

"Anything stronger in there?" She asked with a half-smile, but he wouldn't take the bait. Hermione wasn't allowed to drink anymore, on his orders. He looked at her sharply from across the room. "Just asking." She replied closing her eyes and taking a deep sip from her steaming mug.

He was across the room putting a movie in the video player; one of her old favorite with Audrey Hepburn.

"Would you sleep with me?" She asked as she licked her lips, tasting chamomile and honey. He quickly looked over to the figure on the couch. She was wrapped in a mohair blanket looking up at him with her huge brown eyes. Eyes that were lined with circles and surrounded by sallow skin. Her hair was as wild as ever with leaves still stuck in it from lying in the grass. She was wearing a sweater he had bought for her just the Christmas past, which now hung off her emaciated shoulders. She was not healthy. And she was not Hermione.

"Hermione…" He said slowly.

"Am I disgusting or something?"

"No, 'Mione, you're not disgusting."

"Then why are you hesitating?"

"Do you really think that's going to fix anything? Is that going to make you feel better?"

"It might." She said defensively. "It worked with Dean, until I got emotionally involved."

"Do you really believe that you and I wouldn't have any emotional involvement?" Her shoulders dropped and she shook her head. "Hermione you know I love you, but there's too much history for you and I to be unemotional. And I don't believe you can handle emotions right now."

"You're right. I can't." He walked over slowly and sat down on the couch next to her, taking her mug out of her hand and swallowing the hot liquid quickly. "It just hurts."

"I know kid, I know."

"Let's sit and watch the movie, huh?" She smiled and put her head down in his lap. The movie played on and he rested him arm on the back on the couch, his fingers splayed softly on her bare arm. Before long her breathing became regular and he was certain she was asleep. She'd told him many times lately that she only slept well with him there. It was true that he loved her. She was his best friend after all. It was also true that he wanted to everything he could. But like everyone else he felt she needed to cope better. She was stronger than this. He lifted her up and carried her to her bedroom. The room was unusually chaotic for Hermione, with clothes and towels on the floor, empty glasses on the bedside table and a sleeping potion or two beside the bed. He gently lowered her into her bed and tucked her in.

"Sleep well Hermione." He said softly as he shut the door. She sighed and stared up at the ceiling.

"Thanks Harry."

A/N Characters aren't mine obviously. Umm…this may not seem like it to you, but it was really emotional to write. I hope you liked it. I'd like to continue. Let me know what you think