It had been a month since the battle at Hogwarts and Hermione had been a mess ever since. The only words that anyone had heard come out of her mouth were to Mrs. Weasley asking for a place to be alone. Her surrogate mother rushed her up to Percy's old room and Hermione had yet to venture out for more than an hour.
For Hermione, eating was a problem. While she sat at the dinner table with all the Weasley's and Harry the painfully obvious missing piece stunned her into nausea. Thus Hermione spent many nights not eating and returning to her room in silence. Sleeping also became a problem when she found herself awake well into the morning. The only time she fell asleep quickly was if she were crying.
It physically hurt Hermione to be in the Weasley's home. A house that once brought her so much joy and happiness left her crying every time she turned her head. Every room, every piece of furniture, every person in this house brought a painful memory. Every time she looked at the Weasley clock his hand would be missing. She would be walking up stairs to her bedroom and pass his bedroom.
The worst thing for Hermione was to see George. Occasionally she would look at him and for a split second her heart would burst in hope. Until her eyes landed on his ear, that is. One night at dinner Hermione's hands reached for the potatoes next to her just as his were. Her heart nearly burst when she saw how alike George's hands were to his brothers. How they looked like they belonged near her own.
There were moments when Hermione found herself outside in the garden. Lately she had been coming here often just to get away from the chaos the home had. She would sit in the grass near the pond and put herself into a further depression by thinking of things from the past. Her visits to the pond always ended in Hermione quietly sobbing.
"Oh gods," She whispered, her voice failing her. The tears in her eyes threatened to fall as she wrapped her arms around herself. It was a particularly cold night by the Weasley pond. Hermione knew she should just go inside but she couldn't, she needed to be alone.
"How could you leave? How could you leave me?" Hermione began to shake as sobs racked her body. She buried her face in her hands, taking deep breaths as she tried to calm herself.
"Hermione?" A voice behind her called out. There it was, she thought. Her heart dropped to her stomach in a second. That split second feeling of hope whenever she thought he might be the one calling out to her.
"George?" She asked turning her head to face him. She tried putting so many questions into that statement. Why are you here? Why aren't you leaving me alone? Why did he leave us?
He approached her and she noticed how his eyes were red and puffy. Similar to how her own must look, she assumed. He said nothing but sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. "I just…needed someone who…understood." He told her, his voice low and shaky. "No one else does."
Hermione's heart broke the second he touched her. It was that familiar split second hope again. She had known for months the feeling of an all too familiar arm touching her body. The feeling of his lips on hers and his fingers in her hair. George looked exactly like the man she loved but it felt completely wrong to her.
"I miss him," She whispered wondering for a moment if George had even heard her, "I miss him so much, George. It's so…hard to live like this. Everyone is acting as if nothing happened! He's dead and they act like they don't even care." Her body was shaking again as she began to sob onto his chest, clinging to his body like a life preserver. "I need him, I need him here."
She didn't have to look up at his face to know that he was crying, she could feel it. He held her close to him and buried his face in her hair. "I know, I know." He whispered, his tears falling freely. They weren't words of comfort, she realized. They were words of a painful agreement. For the entire month everyone at the Burrow had not spoken a word of their fallen brother in fear of upsetting George or Hermione. They grieved in their own way but didn't adknowledge his absence.
"I'm not okay without him," She heard him say quietly, "I'm one half of a whole."
His words cut through her. In all the time she had been grieving alone she had never once thought about how George might be taking it. She hugged him tighter trying to put her apologetic feelings into it. "I really loved him," She said, her voice breaking as she said the words.
Hermione felt George nod, "He loved you more than you know, Hermione." He paused and took a deep breath to calm himself, "Fred really loved you."