The lights of passing cars glared at her through the darkness and the heavy rain. Hermione pulled her cardigan tighter around herself and angrily swiped at the tears coursing down her cheeks. She’d been walking through Muggle London for so long, she’d lost track of time as well as her way. She had no idea where she was. She was soaked through to the bone. She didn’t care.
An icy drop of water detached from her messy hair and slid down the top of her spine. She shivered and gasped at the sensation though it ended in a pathetic sob that brought forth more tears. At least the rain offered some sort of subterfuge.
A black cab drove past her and caught a puddle, splashing her. It was so cold, she actually couldn’t breathe for a moment. What else was going to go wrong today? She wiped at her wet face again though she couldn’t tell anymore what was rain and what were tears.
Looking around herself, she found a few garish neon signs flaunting Girls and advertising a sex shop. So she’d wandered into the seedier part of Soho. At least now she knew where she was. Not that she cared. She kept on walking aimlessly.
Hermione was drenched, cold, angry, heartbroken, and just plain exhausted but she kept walking because walking meant doing something. It meant putting one foot in front of the other. It meant counting her steps instead of thinking. If she stopped walking, stopped the counting, she would start thinking. For once in her life, she didn’t know how to deal with thinking.
So she kept counting: 1884, 1885, 1886, 188- ‘Oof!’
She’d walked right into someone while concentrating on her feet.
‘Watch where you’re going!’
She stared up at the cold voice barking at her and within a split second, she recognised the person she walked into and simply reacted.
‘What the fuck!’ he exclaimed, holding his stinging cheek, now glaring at her. Recognition dawned on his face.
‘Granger? What the fuck?’
‘Piss off, Malfoy!’
She turned and resolutely marched off. Where was she? 1885? 1889? She stopped and screamed in frustration, pressing both heels of her hands into her eyes. Damn it all, she couldn’t remember what count she was on, and Ron’s voice echoed around her head.
‘ Feck sake ‘Mione .’
Feck sake, indeed. It had been subtle. If you’d asked her she wouldn’t even be able to pinpoint it. She wouldn’t be able to give specific examples. Ron had a way about it. He’d make it out to be in jest, his criticising her. It hurt all the same. Little tidbits of needling that all added up. Added up to her becoming an emotional wreck when it came to the man she loved.
She was so afraid to fail. Always had been. Back at school, it was her fear of failing exams. Now she was afraid to fail at her job at the Ministry; afraid to fail the creatures she worked so hard to help.
Now she was afraid to even cook. So afraid that she’d started making mistakes. She’d put too much salt into the food, accidentally burn things, forget ingredients. She’d try to clean only to spill the detergent. Washed clothes only to find she’d forgotten to add the soap.
All because Ron would constantly needle her and actually get angry when things weren’t just right. She had become afraid of his reactions. Not that he’d ever laid a hand on her in anger. No, never that. If only he had, she’d have walked out on him long ago.
No, he’d just been cold. Any arguments they’d had inevitably ended in him walking away from her, blanking her, punishing her by ignoring her existence. Until she’d break the silence first. She always broke the silence first.
Not this time though. This time, she’d not go back. She wouldn’t. She was Hermione Granger for crying out loud. War heroine. She survived Voldemort, a whole war. She wasn’t going to die lonely in a relationship with Ron.
Why then did it feel like dying?
She was vaguely aware of people hurrying past her though she couldn’t make herself move. Breathing became more difficult. She couldn’t get enough air into her lungs. Her chest felt too tight, suffocating her. She stood up straighter, throwing her arms up towards the sky in a futile attempt to let her chest expand.
Her breathing became more erratic the more she tried to bring it under control through her sobs. She wobbled on her feet, becoming dizzy. The glaring lights diluted through the raindrops and the world swirled around her.
Then, the world went black.