The room was dark. Pitch black to be exact. There was no moonlight to creep through the window; nothing to cast shadows around the room. Hermione felt truly alone; the way she wanted it. One of the large windows was open just a crack allowing the cool November air to lick her bare legs as she sat on the window bench in her night gown. The view of the lake was beautiful, even without the moon, but Hermione didn't notice. Her forehead pressed against the clear glass, she breathed in the fresh night air trying to relax.

Sleep wasn't an option. She was all out of the dreamless sleep potion she had brewed the week before and the nightmares just kept appearing in her mind whether she was awake or not. There was nothing to stop them, and they never seemed to get any better. It was always the same scene, ever since the summer. She would be walking home after a day in the park, and when she arrived at her house the door was slightly ajar. She'd pull out her wand and push the door open to find her parents lying motionless on the living room floor. The house was ransacked, furniature and objects all over the floor but her parents just lying there. Lifeless.

A single tear fell down her cheek as her head remained pressed against the glass. She blamed herself for it all. If she wasn't apart of this order this would never have happened. They were looking for Hermione; her parents were just casualties. If she wasn't a witch, her parents would still be alive.

Her stomach growled gently in almost a pleading manner. It had been days since she ate something decent. Harry and Ron had stopped trying to force her food a while back, so now she ate only when she felt like it, which wasn't often. Hermione was used to body pains. The lack of proper sleep gave her headaches all of the time, and her stomach hurt quite often from the lack of nutrition. She learned to ignore it, or embrace it; at least the pain meant she was alive.

A chill ran over her body from the cold breeze and she shut the window. The students in their dorm slept soundly in their beds and Hermione was jealous. She was given her own private room on account of the screaming that would occur when she did have the dream. The other students didn't understand how she felt; she couldn't connect with them anymore. She was isolated from everyone, even her best friends. She just didn't feel like holding conversations about pointless things like Quidditch, or whoever the new celebrity wizard-of-the-day was. It all seemed so trivial compared to what was really going on in the world.

She grabbed a book off of her night table and went to sit in the common room. She figured a book she's read twenty times over and the heat of the fire combined could help her get some shut eye. No sooner had she flipped through a couple of pages that her eyes shut and she was thrown into the nightmare. She tossed and turned, a cold sweat dripping down her face, when suddenly she felt a sharp shaking of hands on her shoulders. "

"Hermione, wake up!" Her eyes snapped open in a fearful gasp to see a red-headed boy inches from her face shaking her roughly. "Breakfast is in twenty minutes, and you need to eat," he told her, though the concern in his voice proved that wasn't the reason he woke her.

"Oh thanks," she smiled and brushed her hair back with her hand.

"Are you gonna be alright?" Ron asked, helping her up off the couch.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just doing some last minute studying for the potions test today, and I must have drifted off," she laughed lightly to herself as she headed towards the stairs. "I'll see you at breakfast."

As she entered her room, she closed the door behind her and leaned against it for support. She was exhausted, and unsure of how much longer she could pull this off. She needed to make another sleep potion, and fast. For now, however, she would have to suffice with a shower to wake her up. Her first class was potions, and as she reminded Ron, there was a test.

Hermione turned on the shower to let the water warm and undressed herself. She stood in front of the long mirror behind the door and just stared wearily. She had become so thin, and her hair long. She cut it at shoulder-length over the summer, but it grew quickly and straightened out into light waves rather than her old bushy curls.

She had no intention of going to the great hall at all this morning. The last place she wanted to be was in a room filled with hundreds of chattering children, but she had told Ron she would go. She knew if she didn't show, it would just be a reason for her friends to worry and further pursue her to tell them how she felt. She hated feelings, they only caused problems.

She hurried her shower, grabbed her books, and made it to the great hall in under thirty minutes. It proved pointless to assume that this would have woken her up anymore than she was previous, and if it had the bags under her eyes gave her away instantly despite the amount of makeup she tried to cover them with. She sat down in the empty spot beside Harry, and blankly at the plate her friends had filled for you.

"We wanted you to get some food before Ron ate it all," a small red-haired girl smacked her brother beside her. "Just eat something Hermione. A few bites doesn't hurt."

The group of friends watched her with baited breath. She stared lamely at them all, picked up a piece of toast and had a bite. Instantly they all relaxed. Hermione had to admit, the feeling of the food in her stomach was amazing. She just got full so easily lately that she wasn't able to eat very much. After a few pieces of fruit, and two slices of bread, her stomach felt as if she had engulfed a turkey feast. She made some dumb excuse of having to do last minute studying and rushed out of the great hall, leaving her friends to exchange uncertain glances.

She arrived to class early and sat against the stone wall next to the potion master's room. She found it sad that she would prefer leaning against cold rock rather than spend time with the ones who are supposed to be there for her. She knew they were there anytime she needed somebody to talk to but she just preferred being alone. "It's easier to rely on yourself," her mother always said. "People come and go, but the only person your with forever, is you." Hermione shut her eyes and braced herself trying not to cry at the thought of her mother's words. The cold of the wall felt soothing on the back of her head and she tried hard to focus on only that.

She always tried to find distractions from her world. Little things would work. A spider weaving a web, or her cat's light purrs. She was desperate to escape the confines of her mind with anything, and everything. She even took to jogging in the evenings on the outskirts of the grounds. She would focus solely on the pattern of her footsteps and how they would need to match the pattern of her breath. It was the one thing she felt she had full control on.

"Miss Granger, have they kicked you out of your dormitory so that you must use my hallway as your sleeping quarters?" A deep voice drawled and Hermione cursed in her head. Nothing like good old sarcasm to start off the morning.

She opened her eyes and looked up. A tall man with long black hair and dark robed loomed over her. A mocking sneer, that she so desperately wanted to smack off, was plastered on his face. She took a deep breath, and rubbed her forehead as she stood. "Sorry Professor."

"In case you were wondering, my classroom isn't a lounge either," he spat and walked into the room, his robes trailing behind him.

Sometimes she really wanted to hit him. He was always so rude to everyone, and in her state her patience was close to none. She didn't need some cynical death eater mocking her to add on to her list of reasons to hate life. Reluctantly she followed him in to the classroom and took her seat in the back row, glaring at him until student began filing into the room.

"Now class," Snape instructed. "On page 45 in your text there is a very simple potion that, if done right, one drop will ignite a small ever-burning flame. You have one hour."

Hermione watched him with disdain as he walked behind his desk and picked up a jar of what looked like a pickled brain and examined it. She had done this potion a few times before and was confident that she could get it done quickly, and head to the library for a short nap.

Half an hour later she finished putting in the ingredients and was letting it brew for five more. She rested her head on her desk and closed her eyes only for a second before the over-grown bat was leaning over casting an unwanted shadow.

"I expect you to come to my class rested and ready to work Miss Granger. Lacking a life and reading the entirety of the course text on your time is not an excuse to sleep while the rest of the class does what is expected of them." He continued to loom as she lifted her head.

"The potion is finished sir," she stirred the cauldron once. "Besides I wasn't sleeping, you never gave me a chance for that."

The room around got eerily silent. It wasn't often that a student stepped up to the menacing Snape, and even more shocking that Hermione Granger would speak to him, let alone any teacher, in that manner. "Fifteen points from Gryffindor for your arrogance Miss Granger." He glanced into her potion adding, "and detention tonight here, at seven thirty."

"For what?" She stood up nearly knocking the table over, and the potion's master swiftly caught the half-full cauldron before it fell onto the ground and set the entire class ablaze.

"For being an arrogant, clumsy and stupid girl who can't even seem to make a simple ever-blaze potion right," he sneered and his voice cut her like ice.

"What are you talking about? I did it right!" She yelled back in his face, her chest heaving in anger.

"Oh really Miss Granger, and tell me, does the book say the potion should be yellow? I didn't think it did. What you've created is a useless batch of acid that will just burn a hole through the ground before it does anything pointful. Now get out of my room before you destroy the classroom with your incompetence," he spat at her, his face so threateningly close.

Hermione breathed deeply fighting back tears welling up inside her. She won't let him see her cry; she won't give him that pleasure. She grabbed her books and stalked to the door as quick as possible, however as she made her escape he called her name.

"Hemione." She paused in her step, refusing to turn as tears rolled down her cheek, and waited for him to finish. "Seven thirty in my office." She slammed the dungeon door and ran down the stone hall.