A/N: Not beta'd, so please excuse any lingering mistakes. This will be an angst-filled ride, but I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: JKR owns the world and characters of Harry Potter, not me. I'm not making any money from the posting of this story. I also don't own FFXIII, from which the quotation at the beginning comes from (and which services as inspiration for this story).

Chapter One: Words Are Useless

"And what if that gets people around you involved? What happens when your actions end up ruining someone's life? What if someone dies? What then? How do you pay for what you've done?"

Hermione sighed. Her heart ached, but there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. She closed her eyes, wishing the tears would stop. She had been crying for days.

It had been three days since the battle. She had failed everyone. By trying to protect Harry, Ron had been killed, and it was all her fault. She watched as the light left his eyes. She loved Ron, she had always loved Ron. And he died, without every knowing it because she never had the courage to tell him.

She slammed her fist on the table in anger. She was alone, utterly alone in her misery. Her parents were still in Australia, and she wasn't even sure if she should restore their memories or not. Would they even forgive her? Hermione wasn't so sure that they would.

Forgiveness. That was something she dare not ask for. She was at fault for the death of her two best friends. She couldn't save either of them, no matter how hard she had tried. It was her stupid plan that got them all in trouble.

She continued to sob – she didn't know how she would make it right.

Hermione got up and walked over to the window. Looking outside, she sighed deeply. Her throat hurt from all the screaming she had done. Her eyes burned from all the crying and lack of sleep. She felt empty inside.
Turning her attention back to the table, she looked at the letters scattered across it. Many different people had written to her, many of them asking for her to come join them. No one blamed her, but she blamed herself. The guilt and heartache weren't something she could get past.

She couldn't pay for what she did. For what she was at fault with...

She wrote everyone the same response. There is nothing that can make something like that right again. When someone's dead, when someone's gone, words are useless.

That's how Hermione felt. Utterly lost and useless.

She mailed her responses with the barn owl that had been waiting for one. With a shaky breath, she headed upstairs to the bathroom. She ran the tub, undressing as the warm water filled to the brim. She climbed in.

Hermione glanced at the razor that balanced on the edge of her bathtub. She inched to run the blade against her skin, to feel the pain and freedom that came with harming herself…

Glancing at her wrists, she saw the various scars that already decorated her once flawless skin.

"It's all my fault…" she whispered, reaching up and dragging her hands over her face.

Every time she closed her eyes, what happened that day flashed before her. Harry and she had been duelling Voldemort. They had gained the upper hand, all the Horcruxes destroyed! Victory had been within their reach.

Ron's scream had filled the air. Without thinking, she had turned towards the sound. Fenrir had been attacking Ron – mauling him viciously. She had wanted to run to him – to save him if she could. But Hermione knew that in that moment, Harry needed her more. He wouldn't be able to defeat Voldemort without her help. With tears in her eyes, she turned her attention back to Voldemort, Ron's pleads filling her ears.

So distracted, she didn't see the Killing Curse that Voldemort had cast her way. Harry had, unfortunately, and he pushed her out of the way at the last moment to save her life.

Everyone screamed in horror as Harry fell to the ground, struck by the Killing Curse that was meant for Hermione. She had stood, frozen in shock and horror as Voldemort returned his attention to her.

Kingsley had moved up behind Voldemort, killing him as he was distracted by his win over Harry. Kingsley was a hero.

Hermione let out a strangled sob. Her two best friends were dead because of her. She could have saved Ron. She could have been more focused on the duel at hand, so Harry wouldn't have needed to save her. She should have been stronger, faster…

Her resolve crumbled as she reached for her razor.

It's all my fault.