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"Miss Granger, I think I hardly need to tell you that you need to eat more. You're considerably underweight." Madam Pomfrey tutted as she conducted the check-up. "Now I know this may be as a result of your unfortunate circumstances last year, but I would have expected you to be putting weight on at a far more rapid rate than at present- if anything, you're losing anything you managed to gain over the summer. Is there a particular reason you're not eating?" She looked at Hermione, considering her carefully.

Hermione shifted nervously.

"Just- distracted I suppose."

"Distracted, dear?"

"I've just got a lot on my plate, what with last year, and my NEWTs and being Head Girl, I suppose I just forgot I'd need to eat more to put the weight back on."

"Right." Madam Pomfrey clearly wasn't convinced, but Hermione wasn't about to tell her that the reason she didn't want to eat was that the food seemed to taste like ash and it hurt to swallow, every mouthful a challenge to force down. Luckily, the nurse decided to accept the excuse for the time being.

"Well, aside from needing to eat more, physically there isn't much wrong with you except that you seem insistent on running yourself into the ground and making yourself ill." Madam Pomfrey concluded. "As for your mental state…" she took on a more gentle tone. "Miss Granger, have you considered getting help in dealing with your experiences? It's nothing to be ashamed of, you have every right to be struggling after what you endured. I understand that the Headmistress has offered to meet with you regularly on a one-to-one basis. If I may, I suggest you make the most of that. You need to talk to someone. Keeping all this inside is eating away at you, and there's a limited amount that I can do to treat the physical symptoms if you don't deal with the psychological cause. In the meantime, I'm going to give you a Dreamless Sleep Potion, just for the next couple of days so you can recover some energy, though I stress that the potion is not a permanent solution, and I want you to come here once a week so I can monitor your weight and see if I need to discuss a meal plan for you. But the best thing you can do Miss Granger, is to address what's bothering you."


How're you? How're NEWTs going? I hope you're not working too hard- you helped save the world, take a break sometime. Merlin, I miss you. Writing just isn't the same. You'd be impressed though; me and Harry haven't gotten ourselves killed without you yet. Not that we've had much chance, it's all training and bookwork at the moment- you'd have thought last year was training enough, not to mention that time we fought Death Eaters at the Ministry…honestly, some of these instructors should be taking lessons from us! Stop glaring at the parchment, I'm kidding.

Anyway, complaining about the workload wasn't why I was writing to you. Ginny happened to mention in her last letter to Harry (honestly, she writes to him every other day and I've barely had a word since term started. I'm only her brother!) that you've got a Hogsmeade weekend coming up- I don't suppose as Head Girl you'd happen to know the exact date would you? Both Harry and I would love to see you, and I suppose seeing Ginny wouldn't be too bad either…

Write soon,

love from Ron

Hermione smiled as she put the letter down. Over at the Staff Table, Minerva , who had been watching her carefully, also smiled. Presumably the letter was from Mr Weasley or Mr Potter. It was good to see the Head Girl smile; with any luck the boys would be able to meet her and Miss Weasley in Hogsmeade in a few weeks time. Further consideration of her student, however, caused the Headmistress to frown. Despite having the first of regular check-ups with Madam Pomfrey just the day before, Miss Granger still did not seem to be making an effort to eat enough; she was sipping occasionally at her drink, ignoring the barely touched piece of toast still on her plate. As Minerva watched, she stood up to go, one of the first to do so. The Headmistress stood up, and making what was now a familiar decision, stopped the girl just before exiting the Hall.

"Miss Granger, a word."

Hermione looked confused, but followed the Headmistress to just outside the Hall. McGonagall looked around to ensure their privacy, before turning back to her student.

"You're not eating."

Hermione went pale and said nothing, waiting for McGonagall to continue.

"I spoke to Madam Pomfrey after your meeting yesterday. I thought she had made it clear that you need to eat more."

"She did, I just…" Hermione trailed off and looked at the floor. Minerva felt her blood run cold.

"Miss Granger…Hermione…please tell me you're not starving yourself on purpose."

"No." Hermione said quickly. "No, Professor, I promise you I'm not."

McGonagall let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding.

"Well thank Merlin for small mercies…in that case, why are you not eating enough?"

Hermione shrugged. Minerva waited.

"It sticks in my throat. I get distracted. I don't feel like it." Hermione listed in a small voice, then trailed off. "I don't mean to be like this." she whispered, and broke down. "I'm so sorry."

Minerva, conscious that students were beginning to filter out of the Great Hall, quickly took Hermione by the arm and walked out onto the grounds. Once they were safely away from the rush, she stopped and, conjuring a tissue, handed it to Hermione.

"I'm sorry Professor." Hermione stuttered. Minerva thought her heart might be danger of breaking, and surprising herself, she reached out and drew her student into a hug.

"You have nothing to be sorry for. This is not your fault, Hermione. Listen to me. I promise you it gets easier. You are not alone; me, Harry, Ron, Ginny, the Weasley's…we all want to help you, if you'll let us."

Dear Ron,

I'm doing ok. NEWTs are interesting, not as hard as I expected- I thought I'd be so out of practice having taken a year out of education, but I suppose we did learn rather a lot on the run! I'm glad you and Harry aren't getting to do anything exciting, if only for the sake of my sanity. Do be careful. Hogsmeade is the weekend after next; please come, it would be wonderful to see you both. I miss you both too. It's odd not having you here.

The four of us could go to the Three Broomsticks? I know Ginny misses you almost as much as Harry, so don't complain!

Give my love to Harry; I'll write to him soon. Sorry this letter is so short- I'm drowning in homework already I'm afraid! Write back and let me know if you can make it to Hogsmeade.

love from Hermione x

p.s. Ginny sends her love, and says that she's sent you more letters than you have her, so stop moaning.