Disclaimer: Everything recognizable, including the words in bold taken directly from the books, belongs to J.K. Rowling and associates. No Copy Right Infringement is meant.

Always Black


"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

Oscar Wilde


Hermione's POV – 3 May 1998 – Early Morning Hours

The putrid smell was still thick in my nostrils. I wondered if there would ever be a time I wouldn't remember the combined smell of rotting dead bodies, spilled blood, dirt and lifeless eyes never blinking again.

I rubbed at my nose, trying to displace the horrid smell. I never wanted to remember this, this awful aspect of war. And I was only eighteen. I had seen and done things that no one my age should have ever experienced. But as I came to learn, life made no distinction of age: only the choices of useless causes and those sadly caught in the unfortunate web.

I shook my head and willed the tears not to come. It seemed since the Final battle had ended only hours before that all I could do was cry. And I knew it got me nowhere; it didn't change the outcome or all the senseless lives lost for some pure-blooded only society ideology.

What had been the point? What had been the bloody (most literally) damn point?

Slowly I climbed out of the Gryffindor portrait hole and made my way down the battle-strewed hallway; the evidence of war still so very evident.

My joints and bones creaked as I walked to my destination. It was as if I had simply aged years in the span of forty-eight hours. However the circumstances to my weariness were anything but simple.

Coldness seeped into my skin, as if the flesh were only paper thin. Though it didn't really help and the material was thin, I wrapped the borrowed cloak tighter around my emaciated frame. Being on the run and in constant hiding in a tent wasn't really conducive to eating properly, sensibly.

I willed the constant shivers from me, not that it really helped. My feet were silent as I tried my best to dodge all of the fallen bits of wall, the empty frames and blood splatters scattered across the stone floor. I had a purpose, and though everyone else was partaking in a nourishing and most replenishing sleep (from what I could see), my mind refused to shut down. I couldn't have lain in bed any longer, just tossing and turning. My body had been trained to be on a constant alert.

With what felt like forever and the slowest walk of my young (young being open to interpretation) life, I had reached my destination.

I didn't really know why I wanted to come here, and why I was simply torturing myself, but my insatiable need to know had never relented. This intrinsic knowledge is what I desired the most.

Would the object of my inquisition be here, I didn't know. I didn't even know where it was, but I had to try. It didn't matter what had happened earlier in this room, or simply down the short hall from here, I had to be here.

Fred's still, yet smiling face burst into my mind's eyes. The stillness of his features had been terribly unreal. He and George were always larger than life.

My eyes scrunched as I willed the awful image from my mind. I didn't need it now. There would be time later. I valiantly ignored the pounding in my head and the constant aches from my body. I could only imagine the state of my hair.

And arrived I did. Back and forth I began to pace, pulling the cloak even tighter around me.

Would this work? Was it damaged beyond repair? Had the cursed fire finally fade?

I didn't know.

I called myself a traitor: mostly to myself, to my Muggle parents, to every Muggle-born alive and to the cause I had so fearlessly fought for (for what seemed like the entire time I had been in the Magical world).

Yes, I was betraying everything I fought for, but my curiosity was strong, my need to know astounding. What was so very special about being the opposite of me? I desperately wanted (no needed) to know.

I needed to know what the other side held . . . I wanted to know what the other side was like . . . I terribly craved to know what the other side was like.

There had to be an answer to my most ardent desire. I had to know that it wasn't so special; that everything I had fought for and the lives lost weren't in vain; that my entire belief system in magic wasn't for naught. That there was nothing more spectacular about being a pureblood versus Muggle-born! . . .

Thankfully, terrifyingly, mystifyingly (as always) the door appeared. No matter how many additions of Hogwarts, a History I read, there was never an explanation. The Room of Requirement seemed a big mysterious to everyone.

With an unsteady hand, but still covered with the cloak, I grabbed onto the brass doorknob and twisted. It didn't even have the well-mannered courtesy to squeak when opening. I thought it damaged beyond repair. I thought Crabbe's Fiendfyre curse would have ruined it. But some parts of magic must have still been undefined; defying logic, space, Muggle science and my imagination.

I still had the time to turn around, to simply toss my fool-notion aside. But no matter how many times I begged my mind and heart to relent, they ignored my pleas. Nothing could persuade me otherwise, not even the sudden presence of my beloved friend Harry. Some pursuits of knowledge were worth the sacrifice. Or so I always reasoned with myself.

Without haste, the thick wooden door opened and my hand dropped from the handle.

Caution was thrown into the metaphorical wind as my feet led me on.

As if the very image had been plucked from my unconscious mind, the room was in perfect alignment. My footfalls sounded around the cathedral-like ceilings, as the moonlight filtered in through the big stained-glass windows. Beautiful lights bounced off the unpolished wooden floor as thirty foot walls reached up to the curved ceiling. Silence was deafening to my ears. Silence was the loudest sound of all, or so I had once read. But I couldn't quite recall; my mind was a muddled mess.

The room was a perfect recollection of my mind's image, the details of the room exact, but the item which caught my immediate attention and stole the breath from my lungs was centered front. The aged-glass sparkled elegantly in the dim light of the colored windows. The rounded-edge of the frame and the gold-plated color were exactly as Harry had described. I was truly in awe.

Not only had my guess paid off, but the Room of Requirement was still functioning. The wonder of magic sparked sharply within me. I truly thought myself jaded because of the war, but it was terribly wonderful to be proven wrong. Even after all the death I had witnessed during the Battle of Hogwarts, magic still had the ability to astonish me.

Unknowingly, tears dropped onto my flushed cheeks. My bottom lip fell as I beheld the beauty of the mirror. It held the knowledge my heart sought after. I couldn't think of any other thing or person who could give me the answers. And the thought of asking Sybill Trelawney was utterly laughable.

As I slowly walked to the powerfully magical object, I replayed what Harry had once relayed to me. Yes, Dumbledore had told him it gave neither truth nor knowledge, but even he was fallible. Dumbledore didn't know everything, and I had to believe this was one thing he had got wrong.

I used to believe that the mirror would show me . . . unharmed from the war, Voldemort dead at Harry's feet and me in the arms of a certain crush. But that wasn't the case any longer. The war was over, Voldemort dead and I touched greatly from the battle. Besides the wounds, defiled scars and scrapes I had obtained from war, the greatest wounds were inside me. They pierced my soul greatly and left me feeling heavy.

Sometimes, in the quiet of the tent or in the dead of night while wearing the Horcrux, I could hear the whisperings.

Imagine if you had been pureblood . . . everything would be different . . . You'd be invaluable to so many . . . no dirty blood . . . Power and unlimited possibilities placed before your pure feet.

I had done my best to ignore the evil whisperings. I knew they held no truth. A person's intellect in the Magical world had nothing to do with blood status, I courageously argued back. I was smarter than any of the so called purebloods in my year at school. I exceeded all their lowly expectations. My loneliness was simply an unfortunate side-affect. They couldn't appreciate my intellectual contributions to their rose-colored world. I wasn't just some Mudblood.

Valiantly I fought back the voice, and when the Horcrux had been destroyed, I inwardly rejoiced. It was nothing but pure evil.

The sad thing? . . . the damage had already been done to my already skeptical self-esteem. Every now and then the whispers would crop up, telling me how my blood had been the determining factor to my third-class status in the Wizarding world.

It had been easier to ignore the whispering when I planned, read and simply fought for all I had believed in.

But with the war finally over and won, the dark whisperings had started again. It didn't help that the Cup Horcrux had added to my already deep misgivings.

So here I stood, in front of the only thing I could think of; the only thing which could give me a semblance of peace and perhaps truth.

Dumbledore simply had to be wrong.

Reverently I reached out, needing to make sure this was real and not some intricate musing of my sharp imagination.

Word carvings were felt under my fingers as I read the inscription written backwards – as if I were seeing them in a mirror. I show not your face but your heart's desire.

Oh, but I had a stinging, hurting, heavy desire to know.

Was being pureblooded truly better than being Muggleborn? There simply couldn't be a distinction. My magic, grades and performance had proved that to me more over. But the whisperings were still there, egging me on.

Take a look, Hermione Granger – Mudblood. Look at what being pureblood is truly like. The mirror will speak the truth, it simpered in my mind.

"It will show me there is no distinction," I rebutted, my voice wavering slightly as it bounced softly off the walls. "I am Hermione Granger – Witch. Blood as worthy for magic as any other."

Laughter seemed to reverberate in my mind, but I ignored the mad connotations.

The moment had finally come. On a whim and not even knowing if the mirror would appear, I had left the comfort of the Gryffindor common room and traversed the halls to the Room of Requirement. It was the greatest chance I had to know and take, and it had to be uninterrupted. Not to mention unfettered; there was no one to stop me. The use of Harry's borrowed Invisibility Cloak did help.

The moment started to feel oh so heavy in the room. I didn't know if it was my wild imagination or the culmination of the moment and the many times I had doubted my self-worth, but it had all built up to now. There was nothing impeding me.

With the utmost Gryffindor courage I could muster, I lowered myself on the floor before the mirror, pulled the cloak tighter around my body (having a part of my most beloved friend with me helped) and finally tilted the mirror to my view.

For several seconds, nothing happened. The looking glass remained solid, only showing my already known visage. Harry's cloak felt warm around my skin and the whisperings had diminished. The air in the room was too still. Nothing happened.

Sadly I leaned forward, keeping my eyes opened, but allowing my head to rest on the warm glass.

I had been quite the little fool. My greatest desire to know had been in vain and the mirror was broken or somehow stripped of its magic. Or perhaps the Room had given me a fake replica.

It is all in vain.

If I had been in my right mind, I would have noticed the glass was warm, instead of the coolness it should have reflected. If I had been in my right mind, I would have noticed the warmth of the cloak, instead of it being – in turned – warmed from my skin. But I didn't notice.

Too late my sharp gasp had come. Too late my mind finally registered. Too late I saw the young girl in the mirror: the one with my face, but with modifications. She had been beautiful, but still recognizable to me. Too late I had been.

As if time had been erased, I slowly wilted forward, my forehead slid from the mirror and the cloak wrapped tightly around me – without my doing it.

Darkness would soon consume me. It had not been for naught. Or perhaps everything had always been a figment of my imagination.

I didn't know anything, and everything supposed had seemed infinite. Blackness etched around the dim color of my sight before it finally took over everything.

It would seem . . . I knew no more.



Author's Note: Okay . . . what do you think? Are you confused yet (hehe)?

So this two part one-shot is my next inspiration or muse bunny (if you will). I've had this idea for a while, and again, things finally clicked. I enjoyed writing this immensely.

Whether she is out of character or not, I'm sure there had to be a time where Hermione would question everything: her life, if being pureblood was better than being Muggleborn. It is only natural we question what is unknown, what is different than what we know – is the grass really greener and so forth. It was the bases for this little inspiration.

So if you have the time, I'd LOVE to know your thoughts. Please! If you have any questions, or are plain confused, just ask.

The next (last) part is mostly written, just need to finish some loose ends and edit before posting it.

I hope all is well with everyone. Until next time, much love!