Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Depressing, but true.

Hello beauties. I'm back, and as an apology for my long absence, I bring you a full-length story as a peacemaker. A few notes:

- Yes, I've worked addiction into the plot, as I did with Static. Here's the deal. I lost a friend to a drug overdose, and it's been weighing on my mind, hence those pesky substances sneaking into my stories. What can I say? People dying from drugs is incredibly tragic. This shit ain't a game.

- I've got twelve chapters written, and I anticipate it running about 18- 20. I know vaguely how I want to end it, but I'm not fully settled on the details, nor have I decided on how smutty / not smutty it's going to be. It will be a surprise for all of us.

- I'm usually nice to Ron, but this is not a usual story.

- Yes, I will be doing daily posting in exchange for your reviews! If you've already followed along in real time with my other full-length stories, you might remember how it works, but here's the deal: I will write like a maniac and post a new chapter every day if I get loads of reviews. If reviews trickle in, I'll still update, but it will be every few days instead. That's the trade, so please comment! ONE SMALL CAVEAT... I'm considering taking weekends off for a wee breather. I may revisit that idea down the line, but I'm a lot busier than usual, so this will guarantee that I can keep up. I don't want the quality to suffer because I'm out of time to edit or sleep or anything silly like that.

- Sorry, that first bullet was heavy. Let me try this again. I've missed you. How've you been? Here's a prologue and a first chapter to reacquaint us.

It must have started sometime after the Final Battle. Yes, of course. When everything began, or ended, depending on how you looked at it.

Did that make sense?

Hermione blinked. The floor was spinning. That wasn't normal, was it? Did that mean she was moving, or did that mean the floor was moving? And why would either of those things be happening?

Frustrated that she was losing her train of thought, she squinted her eyes and tried to focus her mind.

It must have started sometime after the Final Battle. Yes. After she buried all those people. After she had logged the names of the missing. So many names. Tonks. Moody. Ginny. Snape. Neville. She could vaguely remember the transition out of shock and into reality, that heavy cloud lifting only to show her the devastation of the storm.

Reality was suddenly much harsher than she remembered. Whether she liked it or not, she had changed. They all had. Nothing could go back to normal after the War. Something inside of her was missing, and in trying to fill the space, she lost control. It was starting to feel like it was never coming back.

Harry and Ron had lost control too. Harry had become a hermit, moving far away and keeping largely to himself. Ron had become a vortex of self-destruction, drinking too much, screwing around too much, full of toxic self-loathing that was poisoning him year after year. She knew more than she let on, and stayed with him through it all, but at the moment, Hermione couldn't for the life of her remember why. Because she was supposed to, maybe. Because that's what she was expected to do. Her destiny was mapped out for her: she would marry Ron, she would have his children, she would die the reliable War heroine, walking library and eternal do-gooder.

Always doing what was expected of her, on the outside at least. Reliable old Hermione.

On the inside, however, everything was falling apart. Her strength was faltering. Her faith was eroding. That space, that bloody space inside of her, the black hole of emptiness she couldn't seem to fill, was sucking her dry. She started to look for ways to cope.

It started off small, a bit here, a bit there, just to help dull the pain. Manage the panic. Deal with the grief. Move past the disappointment that came with adulthood. Find that missing piece. She was Hermione Granger, after all. Nothing fazed her.

Or at least, that was the projection. The beacon of strength. The member of the Golden Trio who had managed to hold it together. Someone with a bright future.

Hermione blinked in the dull light of her bathroom, sitting on the tile floor as the room spun.

Did she still have a bright future? Tough to say. Today was trying, even for someone like her. Someone who had it together. Someone who had it together. See that? She had almost believed her own lie. Can't keep it together when you're broken. Everyone knew that.

She smiled to herself, a dreamy look on her face. The tiles looked so funny when they moved. Like a kaleidoscope, or a mosaic, but on a turntable.

Did that make sense? Sure it did.

Stress seemed to set her off now. She was no longer able to just deal with it, the way she might have in school. Now, stress was a trigger for everything else. The more stress, the more she tried to cope. The more she coped, the less she was able to handle stress. Unfortunately, her method of coping was becoming a problem. A habit, even. And as her habit grew, so did the space inside of her. The missing piece. She would never find it at this rate. She'd probably die first.

Hermione realized in the fog of her jumbled thoughts that now would be a good time to call for help. Pity she couldn't move her tongue. It felt swollen or something, like it had been replaced with a pillow.

What a peculiar idea.

Well, help wasn't coming, but that was okay. She was Hermione Granger. She had it together. Nothing fazed her.

Except for that little problem she had developed. It must have started sometime after the final battle.

After she buried all those people.