A/N : I don't know what this is. I just felt like writing it. It hasn't been beta-readed so feel free to point me to mistakes as English isn't my mother's tongue and I tend to have problems with tenses and grammar. I'm also very much jetlagged right now and I'm about to collapse in my bed. I just wanted to post it tonight to get it out of my head, and I can't bring myself to reread it now myself, it'll have to wait a few hours of much needed sleep. Anyway, who cares huh? Hope you'll like it :)
I don't own anything Harry Potter.
A minute ago, she was fine. But then she snapped. She feels the sudden need to breathe, to get out of this room. Before she realises what she's doing, she's rushing outside of their Defense Against The Dark Arts class, knocking her chair off onto the ground in her hasty exit. She barely registers Ginny yelling her name over her shoulder over the acute buzzing in her ears.
She runs to the closest broom closet, closes the door, shakily performs protective enchantment that will prevent anyone to find her and collapses on the ground, letting her wand roll off her hand onto the ground. She's wailing, unable to catch her breath as her body shakes with sobs.
It takes her a long time to recompose herself. She tried to rationalise herself but every time she came close to stop the trembling of her core, she'd remember the date, and her body, as if it remembered too, would start shuddering again.
That's what made her snapped in class earlier.
She's been doing so well lately. Of course she's been missing Ron. So much. And Harry too, of course. And her parents. But she made the decision to go back to Hogwarts to finish her last year despite knowing that she'll be going without Ron and Harry, and that she'll be leaving her parents behind once again. It took her weeks to get over the guilt, maybe she's still not over it yet. Months to walk along those corridors without constantly holding up tears from the memories of the battle, of the dead.
She's been looking forward Easter holidays since her Christmas break. She would never have thought that she'd be one of those students counting down the days until the next break right when the term had barely started again. She's supposed to take Ron to her parents. He's met them, several times actually. He gets along great with his dad, always trying to charm her mom. But he never stayed the night at her parents home, not yet anyway. He's managed to take his week off of Auror training fall during her two weeks break, so he could spend some time with her and her parents. She's been thrilled and incredibly nervous ever since he told her the previous month.
Then came today.
She finally manages to steady her breathing. The shaking, not so much, but she figures that she's been shaking for months so there's not much she can do about it now.
When she emerges from the closet she realises she lost tracks of time and don't know how long she's been hiding in there. The night has fallen and she starts walking quickly, focused on going back to her dormitory.
She's startled out of her brooding thoughts by Professor McGonagall calling out for her from the other end of the hallway.
"Professor?" She asks faintly turning toward the woman, her composure still fazed.
"Where, in the name of Merlin, have you been? Mrs Weasley came to me hours ago in quite a distress I might had, telling me you left class early afternoon and skipped out the rest of the day."
The Headmistress is still walking toward her and Hermione realises she must be quite a state to look at. Hair all over the place, eyes puffy and red, her body still bloodily shivering. She's focused on taking a deep breath and looking guiltily at her shoes when the professor reaches her.
"I'm sorry." She says, her voice not as strong as she'd wished.
"Hermione," The older woman says gently, extending her left arm to hold her shoulder. "are you alright?"
Hermione's eyes shot up, dry and hard in disbelief. She knows it's unfair, she knows McGonagall has nothing to do with her distress. But she's standing in front of her and Hermione can't hold back the words leaving her lips.
"Am I alright?" She chuckles drily. "You must be joking. Or you must have forgot!" She replies, her voice rising up with anger. Her breath comes in short pants and she doesn't even try to catch her breath before she yells her pain. "It's been only months, surely it's not that easy to forget, is it? Tell me, is it easy to forget for you? Is it easy to walk down those hallways where so many lives where taken? Is it easy to forget the pain? Is it so easy to forget when you don't have bloody scars to remind you all the damn time? And for the love of Merlin, tell me, how do you do to stop the shaking? Because I've been shaking for a year and it hasn't stop, and I want it to stop. Please." Anger died in her throat as Hermione whispered the last words. The Headmistress is looking at her with deep sorrow and releases Hermione's name softly before taking her in her arms.
She lets her cry for a while, waits for Hermione to steady her breathing. When she does, she brushes the tears away from Hermione's cheeks, holds her arm and leads her down the hallway toward her office.
"Here, drink this." McGonagall is handing her tea and when Hermione reaches for the cup, she thanks her with a slight nod. The cup is clacking weakly against its plate, Hermione is still trembling as she takes a sip of the warm liquid.
"Professor, I'm sor-"
"What happened today?" Hermione's apology is cut out by McGonagall inquiry and her gaze drops into her tea, tears threatening to fall once again. She vaguely wonders when she will run out of tears when McGonagall startles her once more.
"Hermione? You don't have to tell me if you don't want to but I can't help but wonder. You've seemed to be doing well. Brilliant as ever in classes as my colleagues told me. Head steadily on your shoulder during the rebuilding of the castle despite Mr Weasley being a constant distraction." She says with a slight smile. "Madam Pince even told me you've been helping her out reorganising the library." She's quiet for a minute, her voice is low and soft when she continues. "It's the middle of March," her voice quivers slightly, "the anniversary of the battle is in six weeks. I'm sorry if you ever thought we expected you to go on without sequels, that we expected you to be strong. Merlin's forbid, you've been through so much for a girl your age Hermione. You don't have to be strong all the time. You have to grieve."
The Headmistress sees a calm sorrow in the Hermione's dark chocolate eyes. She doesn't replies back, but she puts her tea away before slowly winding up the left sleeve of her jumper.
McGonagall's eyes follows the quiet movement of Hermione's hand, frowning questioningly at the girl's action. But then her eyes grow wide when she notices the scars on her arm. And she holds back her tears when she understand that they spell a word.
"It happened a year ago today, and I haven't stopped shaking ever since." Hermione mutters quietly.
Hermione then asked if she could leave the castle early for the holidays. They only had the next day of class before the break and McGonagall couldn't refuse it to her, not after what she learned about what she went through.
Minerva was about to turn off the lights of her office and head out to her apartment upstairs when she remembered that she didn't tell the girl all the respect she has for her, and that the derogatory word carved on her arm never defined who she was, even though she knew that words hurt stronger than anything else.
She assumed she'd go to the Weasley boy, so she scribbled a small note and fetched an owl despite the late hour.
When Ron Weasley shows up at her fireplace, completely disheveled and distressed, half an hour later, she realises she has been wrong with her assumptions and has no idea where Hermione went. She quickly explains the events of the day to the boy before her. He thanks her hastily, tears glistering in his eyes and leaves, looking for Hermione.
He goes to her parents house but all the lights are out. He quickly realises that she wouldn't have wanted to frighten her parents by coming home early and in, by what McGonagall had told him, an unsteady emotional state. He swallows the heavy lump in his throat.
Ron wills himself to think of places she could have gone. He's clutching the deluminator in his right hand, silently begging her to whisper his name. Then, as clearly as a summer sky, he knows where she'd go and disapparate on the spot.
She's looking at the sea, the moonlight reflecting onto the calm water. She hears him apparate, not far from where she's seated, and smiles softly, releasing a relieved sigh she didn't even know she was holding.
"It's peaceful here." She tells him simply, when he plops himself next to her onto the cold sand, his left arm wrapping against her shoulder, his brother's house visible from afar.
He kisses her temple, sighing heavily.
"You okay?" He asks hoarsely, his nose buried in her hair. He knows she's not. He knows it's stupid to ask her that when she all but left school without so much of a warning, when he can feel her shivering against him.
"Are you cold?"
Not waiting for her answer, he removes his vest and wraps it around her body. She looks so fragile and he knows she doesn't like not being strong. He also knows everyone has its limits and she may just have reached hers today.
They sit quietly for a while, and he almost starts to doze off when he hears her voice, barely a whisper.
"I left class today. I was writing down today's date on my parchment and I just...snapped." She's still looking at the sea, willing herself not to cry because she's done enough of that already. Her voice gains some poise and she keeps talking. She tells him about her meltdown in the broom closet, about McGonagall's words, about her nightmares and the constant shaking. He listens, her hands clutched in his, the heavy lump he tried to swallow earlier back in his throat.
When she finishes her speech, he encloses her in a tight hug, whispering many "I love yous" and "We'll get through this, together."
"Never let me go, will you?" She requests strongly, laying a kiss against his heart through his shirt.
"Never." He replies fiercely, tightening his embrace, knowing that he'll hold her all his life if he can help it.
Looking once again at the moon reflecting onto the sea, her body wrapped in the warmth of Ron's arms, her heart is fluttering sweetly and she feels more at peace than she's ever been. With a startling serenity, as she takes a deep breath, her nose filling up with the spray of the sea and Ron's intoxicating scent, she realises that the shaking is receding.