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Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Have you ever spent the night looking up at the stars? If you did, you would know how beautiful they are. Looking up at those lights you feel so small, so insignificant. Every part of you is just in awe that something that beautiful, that magical can exist without actually being made from magic. Can you imagine? Of course you can. You were raised without magic, without having to wonder about such things. I suppose you are lucky then. I suppose that changes how you see things, but Merlin, the stars are so beautiful.
I was watching them last night, sitting beneath the night sky. It was quiet. I wondered, 'Is she watching them too? Does she stare at these stars and think about their beauty like I do?' Of course I would never know if you did. I would never ask. I would be too afraid to approach you with something like that. But can you imagine how sad it must be to be them? By the time their light reaches us, the stars themselves are often dead.
Sometimes I wonder what the meaning of all this is? Do we just exist merely to be here, or are we here for some greater purpose? One we can not possibly understand? And if so, what is it?
Some would argue we are put here to love people, to be there for others when they need us, to be the one that people need. Some say that we humans are made to feel love, but if that's true, why does love hurt so much? Why does it make us all feel like stupid bumbling fools whenever we are around the ones we love? Why does it turn to smartest people into complete dults? Are we just too foolish to understand how to handle this weak feeling that love gives us?
Have you ever been in love Hermione? I have. Let me tell you its like there is this excess of air floating around in your head. It's like the world just stops and all you can see is the one you love. You breathe them, taste them, live them. They are everything to you, the most important thing in your life. They control you.
Some people kill their lovers, Hermione. Did you know that? Do you know why? Power. They need to have a power over them, control them, keep them with them. What better way to control someone than to kill them? When you control their life they are yours.
Perhaps that is foolish, but have you ever loved someone so much, so completely that you stop existing because they are there? That you want to become the person they want you to be? The person they need you to be? What they say is true: love makes you crazy, twists the brain up, makes you forget common sense. But then again, who needs common sense when love is in your life?
Summer will be over soon. Are you getting ready for school? I can imagine you, sitting there, your trunk already packed and sitting in the corner. Are you ready? Things will be so different this year, Hermione. You must know it, must feel it. How could anything be the same? How could anything be even remotely the same when all that has happened has happened? How will you handle it, Hermione? How will you handle watching everyone's pain? Won't it hurt you to see their pain? Won't it make you want to run away?
Have you ever done something so horrible that you are afraid everyone will hate you if you tell them it was you? Have you ever done something so unforgivable that you know that nothing will ever be the same? Have you ever felt that you will lose the only person you have ever loved because you were weak and foolish?
I feel like there is something dark inside of me, and no matter how hard I try to fight it all it does is build up. I can feel it bubbling to the surface, and when it reaches the top I'm afraid I won't be able to stop it from spilling forth. I am afraid, Hermione. I am afraid of losing who I am. I am petrified. Something is happening to me, something I can't control.
I wish I could ask you for help, let you know how much I need it, how much I want this darkness to go away, but I will never ask, and you would never help anyway.
First day of school, yes? How do you like it so far? How are you going to handle this now? I know you probably thought it wouldn't be too bad, but seeing them all, all of them sitting there in so much pain, how could you be all right? I know you though. You will put on a strong front, try to convince everyone else that everything will be okay, that you'll be okay, but deep down you will be breaking apart, won't you? I bet you haven't even really mourned. Am I right? Maybe you did, a little, but you kept most of it trapped inside of you, waiting for it to bubble forth, and it will Hermione. You can't keep your emotions bottled up all the time. They will eventually become too much and when that happens you will explode. Not literally of course, but those emotions you try to hide will spill forth and I have a feeling not in the most constructive way.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but were afraid to? Did you ever think that if you left yourself open to someone all they would do is take your heart and tear it up? Sometimes I worry that every thing I say to you is just leaving me open to bleed. Is that what I'm doing Hermione? Are you going to make me bleed?
I feel so weak. Do you ever feel that way? I think about everything in my life so far, and I realize, I haven't been living. Not really. I exist but to be living you must do something worth doing. I haven't done anything worth doing, haven't done anything worth mentioning. I am wasting what has been given to me, but I am so scared.
I don't know what to do to stop this feeling. Maybe I'm stupid. Maybe I am just a fool. Or maybe I just don't know where to start.
It's heart breaking sometimes to live the way I do, going from day to day doing the same old things, pretending that I am doing fine, pretending to be someone I'm not, something I'm not. I don't know how to break free from this, to be someone else, to be something else, to be who I want to be. You have to believe me, Hermione. Everything I am right now is not what I want to be remembered for when I die. Hell, I would settle for not being remembered at all, as long as I got to change what is going on in my mind right now. I want to change how my life is, who I am, what I have become. I just don't know how.
I saw you at Dumbledore's tomb the other day. I saw you cry, saw you stumble, saw you fall to the ground. Did it feel better to let all those emotions out finally? Did a good cry over the grave make you suddenly feel better? Did it stop the pain in your heart? No, I doubt it. I don't think that the pain can ever be stopped, and for that I am sorry. If I could I would take all of that pain away from you. I would make it all go away. Call this temporary insanity if you will, but Hermione, you must know, right now, the only reason I live is you. Without you I would have lost my mind entirely by now. These letters, they are my lifeline, they help me.
Do you even read them though? I can't help but wonder.
When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. It seems crazy now. There is nothing in the dark that can hurt you. Well, no, that's not true. The dark itself cannot hurt you, I was just too little to understand that.
I use to climb out of my bed at night to sleep in my parent's bed. I suppose all little children do that when they are afraid though. Still, I remember creeping down the hallways, my back pressed against the wall as though it would protect me. I remember climbing into my parent's bed, my mother kissing my forehead and holding me close to her as we slept. I can still hear the sound of her heartbeat when I am afraid.
I still remember because I haven't felt that safe since then.
Do you sleep well at night Hermione? Sometimes I find out I can't sleep no matter how hard I try. I keep getting these horrible thoughts. Hermione, I don't know how to make them stop. I feel like I am losing my mind. I wish I could ask you to help me, but I can't.
There is a numbness inside of me I have never had before. I feel like everything that has happened in my life up until this point has made me so cold, so distant that no matter what I say, no matter what I do I am stuck being just this: an empty person.
Have you ever felt empty, like everything you have ever done, everyone you ever met, everything you have ever said or done was just pointless, steps that filled up the days until you die? Do you know how lonely that feeling is, Hermione? It's the worst feeling in the world. When you feel completely and totally alone, there is nothing left to live for. All you do is feel cold, and empty. Broken and lifeless.
Hermione Granger sat quietly on one of the couches in the Gryffindor common room, the letters to her spread out beside her. She had been getting those letters all summer, all to her, all emotional, sometimes deep, sometimes poetic, sometimes philosophical, but never signed. Always from the same person though. She didn't need the letter to be signed to know that. She just had to read them. They were so deep, so similar, that even if the handwriting hadn't been the same she would know it was the same person. She would have had to be rather stupid not to know, and she was anything but stupid.
What surprised her the most was that she kept getting the letters after school started. She had figured that the person wanted someone to talk to, someone to share their fears with while school was out, but the letters kept coming when school started. That was baffling. Who would feel the need to talk to her in letter after school started? Why couldn't they just talk to her in person? What would be so hard about that?
The girl's head sprung up as she held the letter close to her chest. Standing before her was her friend Ginny, rubbing her eyes. Hermione let out a deep breath, relaxing slightly. "Oh, Gin, you frightened me half to death."
The red-haired girl sat down next to her friend, picking up some of the letters and placing them in her lap. "Hermione, it's nearly two in the morning. What are you still doing up?"
"Oh, is it that late?" She shook her head. "I was just...I couldn't sleep."
"I don't really know. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard."
Ginny glanced down at the letters in her lap, at the smooth cursive writing. "What's with all the letters?"
"I honestly don't know." Hermione smiled wryly at her friend. "I've been getting letters all summer."
"From who, Hermione?"
"Truth be told? I have no idea who they are from. They are never signed."
"Wow! A secret admirer."
Hermione shook her head slightly. "Not precisely. Well, no, not at all. I'm more like...well, its more like they need someone to spill their hearts out to. They chose me."
The youngest Weasley frowned, bitting her bottom lip. "That's rather odd, don't you think? Who wouldn't sign their letters?"
"Someone who is afraid to let me know they feel the way they do, but still feels the need to talk about it," Hermione decided. "It has been rough, Ginny. Everyone is so...afraid. Things are so different now."
"I know. I just find it rather odd-"
The two girls spun to look out the window. Tapping on the window was Hermione's owl Morgan. Hermione glanced at Ginny, but then looked back at the window. Ginny slammed her fist into Hermione's shoulder, only softly though. "Open the window, Hermione. Morgan is going to wake up the whole house."
Hermione scrambled up, stumbling over her own feet as she made her way over to the window. The window flung open, clattering against the wall in the wind. The gray owl fluttered in and landed on the windowsill as Hermione struggled to close the window. Hermione sighed, folding her arms across her chest. "Morgan, couldn't this have waited until morning?"
The owl blinked up at her and dropped the letter in its mouth on the sill as if to say she should be thankful she bothered to come at all.
With a sigh Hermione reached out and stroked the bird's feathers. "Yes, I know. You were just doing what you were supposed to. Thank you."
Hermione reached down, grasping the letter firmly in her hands.
I am so afraid. I don't know what is going on with my mind anymore. I wish I could just make this all stop. I need to feel different. I need to feel alive for once in my life. I need your advice. Please, Hermione, I need to talk to you. I need you to help me. Please meet me tonight? By Dumbledore's grave. I'll be there all night. If you don't trust me, I understand, but I hope you'll come. I need to talk to you.
"Who's it from?"
"Um, the mystery writer."
Ginny sat up suddenly very interested. "Really? Wow. What does it say?"
"They want to meet me."
"Really?!? Merlin! When?"
Ginny frowned. "Are you going to go?"
"I don't know." She glanced up at Ginny. "I don't know if it's safe to go. We're at war, Ginny."
"Well, yes, but this is Hogwarts. It's safe, right?"
"How can you think that after last year?!?"
"I'm sorry, all right? I just...I want to think we are safe here. Is that so wrong?"
"Can you keep it down? Some people are trying to sleep!"
Standing at the bottom of the steps to the girl's dormitory was a very tired looking, very angry Lavender. "Some of us need sleep, Hermione," she spat out bitterly.
The brunette flushed. "Sorry Lavender. We'll keep it down. Promise."
The girl rolled her eyes. "I highly doubt that." She cast Hermione a look of great hatred and turned on heel to return to bed.
Hermione turned her attention back to her friend. "I'm going to go. I think...something tells me I have to." She sighed. "Go back to sleep, Gin. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Don't worry about it Gin. I can take care of myself, all right?"
Hermione stood facing the white grave of Dumbledore. It seemed almost impossible, even then, that the beloved headmaster was really dead. She couldn't exactly except it though she knew it to be true. He was so powerful, always so happy and full of life. It just didn't seem fair that in a single moment that was all taken away from him. He was...so loved. How could any one do that to him? Who cared about the war! This was cruel and unfair!
She felt the tears she thought she had cried out building up behind her eyes, and blinked furiously to stop them from falling. She wouldn't cry again. Crying would do no good. The tears wouldn't bring him back. The tears would just remind her of the loss.
She felt an arm wrap around her waist and a hand clamp over her mouth. She gasped as she was pulled back against a body. "Shh. It's all right. I won't hurt you. Just don't scream."
She felt her entire body grow cold as she was released. She turned around slowly, hand flying to her mouth, eyes wide. "Draco!"
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