Chapter 3: Fever

Today is not so good.

The glow from yesterday has receded, and when I woke up this morning I felt frostier than ever. I feel like myself again. Old bookworm-Hermione, alone in her bed and covered up in this nightdress – I look like a 9-year-old. Stupid. No wonder people think I'm boring.

Screw people.

I'm a cocoon sheathed and protected by my covers, and I never want to emerge again. I don't have to, really.

Do other people feel that warmth from yesterday all the time? Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I lack a gene. Maybe there's a secret I haven't been let in on?

I feel like…I don't really want to see Ron today.

What if he's bored with me now? If I say hi and he doesn't answer, if he doesn't look at me.…I'll be so embarrassed. I'll seriously just lie down and die.

I just need him to want me, that's all…

All I want to do is see him, talk to him – I need to know that he's interested! I need it so bad! I feel dirty.

I still haven't gotten up either.

Please love me.

Because right now I feel like trash.

So.

My day changed.

After panicking this morning, realization dawned on me and I kicked myself out of bed. There was no need to worry, a kiss is nothing, after all. He would definitely want more of me, and I could do that.

I was late for breakfast, and didn't see him until class. We sat with Harry of course – and I acted like normal. Ron looked sweet.

I could tell he tried to make eye contact with me behind Harry's back a couple of times, and after class he dawdled while I packed my books. Maybe he was trying to get a chance to talk to me alone? I quickly hurried out after Harry and the others.

My heart wanted to talk to him. I wanted to know how he felt about yesterday, the kiss and all. If he thought I was good enough. I thought maybe, maybe I wouldn't feel so cold if I could talk to him.

But my head chickened out.

Kissing is easy – you just stand close and move your lips and tongue a bit, and then everything is okay. Talking is different.

When we kissed, I could tell he liked it. It was a little awkward, I thought. Is it supposed to be like this, all wet and slobbery?

But there's nothing like knowing someone appreciates you, and I think he did. I've always thought of myself as smart, and I always know what to say. Like in class - I talk a lot. But now I'm thinking, maybe it's smarter not to? Maybe I'm better at kissing.

Parvati once said, guys don't like girls to be smarter than them.

Anyway, I couldn't avoid him forever.

My heart and body screamed louder than my head. I had to do something.

And then suddenly, after dinner, the something arrived all by itself. Harry had left for Quidditch practice, so Ron and I were left alone in the common room. And he turned to me, looking fresh and kind with warmth in his blue eyes.

He said, Do you want to go for a walk?

My heart surged, pounding like crazy and threatening to explode in my chest. I could feel my face going pale, and then blushing as blood rushed to my cheeks. My hands shook in my lap – thank god he couldn't see! A feverish warmth burned in my very core, and spread all the way through my cold body.

I could feel the hair on my arms rising, and licked my lips.

I answered Sure, why not.

And maybe that was heaven right there?

Later, when I lay on the forest floor looking up at the sky, I tried to rekindle that burning feeling of bliss.

My body was warm and inviting, and my heart jumped when he spoke my name.

But the twigs on the ground beneath me were poking my back like spears, and his cold hands explored my body until it belonged to me no longer.

His shallow breathing was noisy – breathy and sharp, like he had to push every gulp of autumn air from his lungs with force. As he fumbled with my skirt he mumbled something, but I couldn't hear. I could hear my own breathing echoing his.

"Hermione, you're so beautiful."

Thankfully, my body responded where my head could not, and I finally allowed it to take over. It answered Ron's touches with movements I knew nothing of, arching my back and closing my eyes.

In my mind, I floated up. Up, up over the bushes and trees, nestling in the greenery and quietness up there. I was a bird - white, clean and peaceful in my simplicity, free to roam the forest roof as I wished.

I looked down at the squirming figures on the ground. Two pale bodies, one beneath the other. Was it passion, beauty? The hair didn't flow like silk, the bodies didn't intertwine like they were made for each other, and the sun did not break out and bathe us in its golden rays of life.

But then skin was suddenly coarse and close, and the sudden sharp pain shot through both body and mind like an arrow.

The shock opened my eyes, and was almost surprised to see him there above me.

Breathing deepened as my body succumbed to the unaccustomed rhythm.

Feeling returned. Everything was movement and noise.

I felt cold again.

'

Author's Note:

Thank you for sticking with Hermione until the (for now) end. I know this storyline probably seems unclear to some of you, or very back and forth. But I guess I'm trying to say something about how people sometimes do rash things, out of frustration or insecurity, when they are growing up. And you can't be as smart as Hermione without getting frustrated at some point or another.

Please review, and let me know your thoughts on this one!