Her parents say no.
Her dad says “no daughter of mine is going to war”, and he looks at her - really looks at her - and she feels the heat of his gaze, and she doesn’t contradict him. He rages for a while and she doesn’t listen; tunes him out because she’s already packing mentally in her head. Fuck his ‘War is no place for a woman’ attitude. She’s done her research, she knows the statistics.
Her mom looks sad. She’s said the same things, asked Hermione not to go, but Hermione knows she doesn’t mean it. What she’s really saying is “I love you”, “Be careful”, “I don’t think I can handle worrying about you so much”, “Come home safe” and finally just: “Come home. Please, just come home.”
Hermione never tells them no, never tells them that she’s going and there’s nothing that they can do to stop it. Instead she quietly packs and erases herself from their minds. “It’ll be easier for them,” she tells herself.
She knows she’s lying.
Hermione’s read the statistics. She’s studied different Muggle wars and seen what happens to the women. She has to be prepared.
It’s sunny out when she calls the free clinic. She’d thought it would be raining, but it isn’t.
She goes to the Chemists to pick up her prescription and she waits in line patiently. When it’s finally her turn, she goes to the counter confidently and waits as he packs up her pills. He’s looking at her, seeing how young she is, and Hermione thinks about what’s passing through his brain: she’s too young for sex; she’s my daughter’s age; wow, they grow up so quickly; fuck, how much longer ‘til lunch?
She pays for the medicine and smiles at him. “Have a good day,” she says, turns, and walks away.
Molly’s the one that pulls her aside when she’s at the Burrow. She speaks of appearances and reputations and Hermione knows she’s being warned to watch herself. Hermione nods throughout the conversation, says she understands. Molly smiles at her, says she’s a ‘good girl’ and offers a hug before she leaves.
Hermione wants to scream throughout the entire conversation, though. She wants to scream that she isn’t a dog, that she shouldn’t be placated by horrible expressions. She wants to ask why Ron and Harry aren’t the ones watching themselves; if they’ve been talked to at all. She doesn’t though, because she already knows the answer.
Instead she takes a deep breath and reminds herself that there is a greater good; that before she runs forward others need to relearn how to crawl and walk. Harry and Ron ask her what it was all about, when she rejoins them in the kitchen. She shrugs and says “girl stuff,” and they leave it alone.
There will be time enough after, to start teaching.
Hermione hates herself more than she can express in words, and she’s always been very articulate for her age. She just can’t say anything; the words won’t come.
At least, that’s the excuse she has ready on the tip of her tongue, for when Ron and Harry ask. She plans to stammer a bit, keep her eyes downward, and mutter. She might even fake a tear or two. They don’t ask, though.
She doesn’t even think it crosses their minds.
Instead she misses her parents but doesn’t write them; she takes her pill every morning and thinks about protection against probabilities and percentages; she lives her life and doesn’t think about her reputation until Ron leaves, and then it’s all she can think about. It hums in the back of her mind and it’s annoying, a mild buzzing, and then Ron comes back and it’s gone again.
And she hates herself: for what she did to her parents, for worrying about her reputation during war, and for wondering what would happen if Ron ever asked about the pills. But she loves herself more, loves the Wizarding world more. She can face anything; she has faced anything.
She’s armed with knowledge, and knowledge is a weapon she knows better than the back of her hand.