For the purposes of this story, Voldemort died Harry's first year. Dumbledore managed to get down there in time to not only save Harry, but stop Voldemort's soul from escaping. Therefore...he's dead. The Death Eaters were all rounded up. However, for Hermione Granger, some evils are more mundane... A/U, set in the Trio's fifth year. [Because no Voldy, no Umbridge, either. Yay!] This is a one-shot. :3
Hermione looked furtively around the sixth-floor corridor before disappearing into the girls' loo. She could feel her heart pounding, heavy and fast, beneath her heavy school robes. Her mouth was dry as cotton. She needed this, she thought, nearly panting with desperation as she fumbled with the latch of the last stall's door. No one was likely to come to this loo any time soon. She was really supposed to be in class. Hermione couldn't believe she was skiving off a class. Oh well. It was Ancient Runes and nobody noticed her in that class, anyway, not even the professor half the time.
Her schoolbag dropped to the floor with a thud and she pawed through it, discarding sheafs of parchments, library books, and old quills before she finally lit upon the small secret in the bottom. A shiny Muggle safety razor.
Her eyes remained glued to it as she lifted it out of its shadowy confinement. The light picked up the silver, sparkling off it in a way that was almost pretty. With neat, mechanical movements, Hermione pried the blade out of its plastic shell, shoving the handle back into her bookbag. She pulled the sleeves of her robe up, studying each arm. Both were lined with scars by this point in the school year.
She normally wasn't so desperate, but Christmas vacation was coming up in a week, and she knew she'd have to go home. She also knew what would happen when she got home. More yelling. More fighting. Grabbing her with a brutal hand and slamming her into the wall. Sneaking into her bedroom late at night and lifting up her night-dress... Her mother ignored it all. She had to. Life went peacefully on in the Granger household for Marybeth Granger. She ignored the screaming, the sight of her daughter's bruised arms, even the sight of the bruises on her face a time or two.
She couldn't sign up to stay at Hogwarts-everyone would want to know why. She couldn't say. Instead, the scars on her arms spoke for her.
Hermione sighed raggedly and then brought the razor down in a sharp slice across her right arm. Blood welled up in a thick red line and she stared at it, almost mesmerized, until it threatened to drip onto the cracked tile below. With a start, she grabbed a wad of tissue and clumped it against the wound. There, that was better.
She cut again and again until her arm was crossed with glaring red lines and she was beginning to feel a bit dizzy. Hermione leaned against the wall and drew in deep, shuddering breaths, feeling the pain cleanse her. Finally, she opened her eyes, curiously blank once more. There, that was better. She bandaged herself carefully with gauze and medical tape, and tidied everything into her bookbag once more. Standing, she quickly left the loo, walking down to the library. She needed to find a book on medicinal plants for Professor Snape's latest essay.
From the shadows of a pillar near the loo, Professor Snape stood, watching the fragile fifth-year walk down the hallway. She had a bit of an unsteady gait and he had no doubt that if he went into the girls' loo, he could find evidence that Miss Granger had cut herself once more. He still didn't know why she had turned to self-injury, but he had more than an inkling. The girl still didn't realize he knew, that three months ago, he had seen one of her cuts when the sleeve of her robes slipped. He didn't question her, though. He'd watch...and wait...
Until he knew if she could save herself or if he had to step in and do it for her.
"Be strong, Miss Granger," Professor Snape whispered after the retreating figure. He uncrossed his arms, watching the lamp-light catch one of the thin white scars near his wrist.
He'd saved himself, too.