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A/N: Chapter edited on April 28, 2007. I mark the edit with a star, it's a signifigant detail that comes into play later in the story. Enjoy!

Recovering and Returning

Hermione was allowed to leave St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries in two weeks time. Harry had stayed with her for the rest of her stay, and she was eternally grateful to have her old friend back. She was also grateful that Harry had yet to bring up the subject of Ronald since her first night at the hospital.

The wounds that his memory ripped open were still very fresh, and Hermione was not willing to accept that she would never see his face again.

The past two weeks had been a total haze to her. Blurry memories of the lime green robes of the Healers, the scratching of the psychologist’s quill, and the quick flash of blood as they swiftly wrapped fresh bandages around her wrists flipped through Hermione’s mind. She thought of the latter in disgust. The St. Mungo’s staff treated her condition as if it were shameful, and though Hermione certainly wasn’t proud of what she had done, covering it up and referring to her attempted suicide as “her little accident” was appalling.

But having Harry back in her life had made everything bearable. Once she had spent a few days in his company, she remembered what it felt like to have a best friend. Hermione swore to herself to never do anything to loose his friendship again. Whether they were staying up late talking or just sitting around together, Hermione was beginning to put the past year behind her and actually look forward to returning to Hogwarts in September.

The only thoughts that put her down were any of Ron. When even a glimpse of him appeared in her mind, tears welled up in Hermione’s eyes as she thought of all the things they would be facing this year without him. For the first time, she and Harry would be riding the Hogwarts Express alone; there would be no treacle fudge in Hagrid’s hut after hours, no stupid jokes or annoying arguments, and no freckled arm wrapped around her at night. They would never make love again; he would never whisper her name into her ear at the height of their passion, or pull her into his loving arms. It was at these moments when she realized she would never see his smile, that she wished Harry had allowed her veins to bleed out.

But Hermione tried her best to avoid all thoughts of her first love, and appreciate her time with Harry. They returned to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, where Harry was now living, as he had come of age and living with his aunt and uncle wasn’t protecting him anymore, and settled into the room she had inhabited in the summer before her fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry still couldn’t bear to enter Sirius’ room, so he remained in the guest room above her.

Their Hogwarts letters arrived later that week, and as Harry handed her the letter addressed to her, she felt it substantially heavier than usual. Hermione ripped it open and a shiny gold badge tumbled into her lap. Her mouth fell open in shock. The glimmering badge had the words “Head Girl” emblazoned in red across it. Harry noticed her astonished expression and hurried over to Hermione. A wide smile spread across his face as he hugged her.

“Congratulations.”

Soon September 1st arrived, and Hermione and Harry were lugging their trunks down to the entrance hall.

On their way down to the ground floor, they passed the drawing room. With a pang Hermione felt her memories threaten to crash down on her, but she was distracted by the sight at the foot of the stairs.*

Several members of the Order of the Phoenix stood by the door to see them off. Lupin, Moody, Kingsley, and to Hermione’s surprise, Mr. Weasley were smiling up at them at the foot of the stairs. Mr. Weasley’s smile disappeared when he saw Hermione; apparently he was just as surprised as she to find her there. He quickly turned on his heel and stormed out of the room, leaving her and Harry frozen on the stairs and the others looking ashamed.

After a few moments, Harry spoke. “How did you let this happen?”

Hermione was shocked to hear the pure hatred in Harry’s voice, but it wasn’t enough to fight away the intense feeling of guilt that was flooding back into her body. But Hermione refused to let her emotions show anymore, she had already become way too vulnerable with Harry, and though she fully trusted him again, some things would never be the same.

“Harry, please, it’s alright.” Hermione begged.

Harry ignored her, “You people know what she’s been going through! How could you possibly allow that to occur?!”

However, the Order members did not have a chance to reply, for they were interrupted by the massive silvery, gaseous dog that had come bounding into the room. It was Tonk’s patronus. The great dog ran a lap around the group and disappeared. No more words were spoken; Lupin put a hovering charm on the two trunks and they all hurried out of the house.

Ministry cars were waiting for them on the corner and they all piled in. Once she sat down, Hermione rested her head in her hands and silently cried. Harry began to rub her back soothingly, just as he had on her first night at St. Mungo’s, and she buried her head in his arms. She was very tired...

Hermione awoke with bright sunlight blinding her. She heard Harry’s voice somewhere calling to her, and when she finally came to she understood him.

“Mione! Wake up, we’re here.”

Hermione drowsily pushed herself up to stare at the entrance to King’s Cross Station, and quickly pulled her things together and stepped out into the sunshine. She, Harry, and their escorts walked to the wall between Platforms 9 and 10, and ran through it. In the space between the Muggle world and the magical one, Hermione realized that this would be her final time walking through this barrier. She stepped onto Platform 9 ¾ and gazed upon the magnificent Hogwarts Express.

The gleaming red train was surrounded by throngs of people saying goodbye to their families and boarding the train. Hermione checked her watch: 10:57. They had to hurry. When everyone had arrived on the platform, she and Harry waved goodbye and quickly jumped onto the train.

The train started moving a few minutes after they boarded the Hogwarts Express, and Hermione and Harry moved down the aisles, searching for a compartment. Hermione became suddenly aware of the bandages wrapped tightly around her wrists, and began nervously pulling the sleeves of her shirt down.

Harry noticed this and came behind her, “Don’t think about them. Let’s just find some seats.”

Hermione nodded and they continued past rows and rows of full compartments. They finally came across an empty one and they settled in. They talked a bit until an awkward silence fell upon them. Hermione knew that they were both thinking about Ron and his absence. They sat in this silence for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, until Hermione remembered she had a meeting in the Head’s compartment very soon. She told Harry she had to go meet up with McGonagall and the Head Boy, said her farewells, and whipped out of the compartment.

Hermione hurried down the aisle. She was anxious to find out who the Head Boy would be, seeing as she would be living with him for the next year. She brushed past a head of auburn hair and heard a small, “Ouch.”

Hermione turned around. She stared into the face of her old friend, Ginny Weasley. Her first instinct was to turn around and continue walking, because she hadn’t talked to Ginny since she joined the ranks of the Death Eaters last year. However, Ginny caught her by surprise by grabbing her wrist. Hermione felt a jolt of pain, and, wincing, turned to look into the brown eyes of the youngest Weasley. She saw pity and sorrow instead of what she had expected: hatred.

“Hermione, can I please speak with you?” Ginny pleaded.

“I...I really need to be going...”

“Come on Hermione...please?”

“No...no. Perhaps...perhaps later?” Hermione managed to mutter before hurrying away.

This encounter was very strange, and Hermione pondered as to why Ginny would be so kind. She was the one responsible for the death of her brother after all, she thought with a pang of guilt. But before she could give this matter any more thought, Hermione realized that she had reached the Head’s compartment.

She stepped towards the door, reaching out her hand to twist the doorknob, and looking up to steal a peek at the Head Boy inside. But what she saw made her stomach churn. What she saw was a flash of white-blonde hair.

A/N: Bum-Bum-Bum!!
Haha I hope you enjoyed the second chapter...reviews are very much appreciated!!
I promise that this story will get better and better with more reviews!

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