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The basket in her hand was starting to get heavy, but nevertheless Hermione added a bunch on bananas. She refused to magic it lighter. It’d do her good to strain a little. 

As it turned out, her ‘fake it till you make it’ philosophy had worked out better than she ever could’ve imagined, for today Ginny decided she was fit to go out on her own. 

It certainly hadn’t been without much begging and persuasion of her part, but after almost a full hour, Ginny had finally given in. 

So now she stood in the last isle of her local grocers. She had only meant to buy some fruit, but after she got looking she realized how low she was on…well everything. 

It took up the main part of her morning, striding down the isles, scanning for the cheapest and placing it in her basket. It was a satisfying feeling whenever she got a particularly good bargain. It was like catching a great ball of landing a good punch. 

Hermione now made her way up to the counter. A portly round-faced woman with thinning blonde hair was waiting behind the counter. She smiled kindly as Hermione approached. 

“How are you today love?” She asked, in a rough voice, already scanning and packing Hermione’s items. 

“Chilly out en’t it?” 

Hermione smiled back taking her three now packed bags from the lady. They were heavier than she’d expected them to be, and her tired arms screamed in protest. 

“It is a bit; perhaps it’ll rain later on?” 

“Maybe it will, you best be home before it does now.” 

Hermione puffed as she struggled to steady herself against the weight of the bags. The lady threw her a concerned look. 

“Don’t worry.” She called already turning around to hobble out of the automatic doors. 

“I will be.” 

And once she was out of sight, she turned on her heel and vanished. 

Once home Hermione swiftly unpacked the bags. She made sure that she cleaned up all of her mess or Ginny would be after her. 

With an exhausted sigh she grabbed an apple and slumped onto the couch. The T.V was already on, muggle news blaring from its speakers. 

Hermione never paid much attention to what the newsreaders ever had to say. It was amusing how poorly informed muggles were.

“We now move onto our last time for the evening, a man who some say is destined to me the next Picasso. Leo Rogers can pains pictures with his elbows!” 

Hermione leapt to her feet. She really needed to get out. 

In a matter of seconds she was in her room pulling on jeans, white shirt and beige cardigan. She wasn’t feeling in the mood for anything extravagant. Still, her simple attire managed to look strangely stylish. 

She bolted to the door and slipped on some boots, pulled her heavy coat from the hook and slung her bag across her shoulder. 

She was ready. 

She had been right about the weather. It was raining, and heavily too. It wasn’t pattering down; this rain was coming down in hard sheets. It stung her bared face and drenched her hair. 

With some difficulty Hermione extricated her wand from her pocket and cast a shield around herself. The rain could touch her no more. Once she had reached the boundary of her property she glanced around herself to make sure she was entirely alone. She didn’t exactly want to be the one responsible for exposing their world. After one final fleeting, look about, she apparated. 

She found herself this time in the small wizarding village of Farnvale. The town was tiny, mainly made up of small timeless cottages and even smaller shops tucked away behind curtains of trees and untamed vines. 

It was no longer sheeting rain, but drizzling lightly, the air was cool, but not icy like it had been before. Hermione pulled off her hood and began to walk down the street. 

The main street was nothing more than a narrow gravel road, lined by quaint teahouses, books stores, post offices and bars.
The gravel crunched underfoot as Hermione walked making her way towards the nearest vending place of alcohol. 

This was where she needed to be. 

She pushed the door open and a wave of warm, tobacco scented air washed over her. She walked towards the counter, seating herself on one of the stiff leather stools.
Around her people talked, though they were nothing more than a babble of voices with no particular flow or gist. In the background music played, although Hermione did not recognize the tune she tapped her feet along to the beat. 

It was noisy and crowded in this room, but for the first time in almost a year, Hermione Granger almost felt whole. 

She ordered a shot of firewhiskey feeling more lighthearted and reckless than she had in a long time and picked up some salty bar peanuts. She was hungry enough to eat even them. 

Before long a beefy grey-haired man, with a stubbly grey beard came and sat next to her. His friend also seated himself near her. They began to talk, in low, cautious voices, but Hermione found no interest in what they were so urgently communicating to each other. 

She remained watching them however, watching, but not seeing. 

She tapped her foot and downed shot after shot. The strong liquor burned her throat, but she hardly noticed. 

I wasn’t until she heard the words ‘Golden trio’ that she really started listening. 

She leant forward, towards the two men who were speaking of her so casually, no doubt unaware that one the ‘the golden trio’ was sitting in their midst. 

“Aye, he was a fine lad.” The balder and slimmer of the two was saying, the one seated further away from Hermione.
“But the brave die young. All three of them perished within a year!” 

Hermione’s brown furrowed. All three of them? 

The beefy man scoffed. “Granger didn’t die.” And the slim man’s expression darkened. 

“Ah, but Arnold old pal, if the rumors are true she’s as good as dead.” 

The fat man what completely and unashamedly interested now. He tipped forward in his seat, swiveling his ear towards the other man’s mouth. His piggy eyes were bright and alert. 

“What rumors?” he demanded, louder Hermione was sure, than he had intended.
The second man leaned forward, beckoning the larger with a finger and the fat man bent forward closer. Hermione now had to strain to listen. 

“They say she’s gone mad. Locked away in a private home I’d say. No one ever sees her, no one ever hears of her. The death of her lover and best friend was too much and it simply,” He clicked his fingers, “pushed her over the edge.” 

Hermione leaned away, disgusted. They thought she was dead, no, worse than that. They thought she was insane. 

Her head was pounding. How dare they talk of her? Who were they to stick their noses into other people lives? She had never had any business with either of them before, and she certainly wouldn’t be having any tonight. 

With a dignified huff she swept to her feet. She slung her bag over her shoulder and threw the two men (who were now gazing at her with a mixture of alarm and amusement) a withering glare. 

But they did not even recognize her. 

She stalked out of the bar without a word. Her long dark hair flaring behind her. Her eyes were burning with emotion. 

She glimpsed her reflection in the window as she left. It hit her why they did not make the connection between the Hermione Granger they had talked of and this very different one. 

She did not look the same. 

Her skin was pale porcelain, just as it always had been, but this time there were no flushed red cheeks, or smiling dimples. Instead her skin was sallow and waxen. It stretched across the bones of her face, across her now hollow cheek bones. 

Her eyes were flat, depthless brown. Not perceptive or intuitive as that once had been. These eyes did not care. Instead they blazed with hard, cold, hardheartedness.
The determination to keep holding onto that thin strip of sanity she had in her grasp. 

She pulled her jacket tighter around her thin frame as the biting, icy air of the evening reached her again. 

Blindly she made her way down the street. She tripped often and her teeth chattered. The night was colder than she remembered, but she needed to escape. 

Her feet fumbled as she walked. The alcohol had made her unsteady, but perhaps she had planned this all along. She couldn’t even remember now. 

She spoke to herself as she walked. Trying to reason with herself, imitating Ginny, attempting desperately to find a way to control her reckless feelings. 

At last she collapsed, behind some bins. Her eardrums were filled with a faint buzzing and when she breathed sharps pains stabbed her chest. 

Her entire form shook from the pale, delicate, flakes of snow that were beginning to calls around her. Hermione’s hair matted and became plastered to her scalp as she rolled in the muck the rain had left behind, trying fruitlessly to right her position. 

It was useless. 

“To the trio!” 

These words rung out through the night, clearer than anything else Hermione had heard in two years. For once it made sense to her. She could suddenly comprehend.

Tears welled up in Hermione’s eyes. Her body flooded with grief. Uneven, broken sobs racked her body and pierced the silent evening. 

She had remembered what day is was and why the men had spoken of her. 

It was exactly two years to the day since Ron Weasley had died. 


She was warm and comfortable, something here was not right. Her body was encased in something soft and secure. She wanted to know what it was, but could not open her eyes, to lift herself from this dreamy haze. 

Hermione mumbled to herself scolding, some of her old personality shining through. She really should check where she was. It was the logical thing to do. 

Grudgingly her eyelids fluttered open, at first all she saw was light. Blinding white light. She almost snapped her eyes back shut again, but something else caught her attention. 

There was a man. 

He was standing in the corner of the room, which Hermione saw now, was not white, but cream, with soft blue curtains. 

He leant casually against the wall, a gentle smile tugging at his lips. He was older than her, she could tell, but age had done him well in his looks. 

His hair would once have been the darkest black but now it was streaked every so often with greys and whites. It was combed messily and unevenly across his smooth forehead. 

His eyes crinkled slightly at the corners as he looked at her, fondness painting his expression. They were clear light blue, and fathomless.
Hermione liked them. 

At last he noticed she was awake. His expression became more formal, but still kind and he walked slowly towards her, his movements fluid and athletic.
He stopped just by the side of her bed before he spoke. 

“I was wondering when you’d come round Hermione Granger.” 

Hermione felt herself smile. His voice was rich, musical and soothing. She felt compelled by this man. This strange, unknown man who had watched her sleep. 

What was he doing here anyway? 

“I am Wilem Dahl, your healer.”

AN- Wow, third chapter AT LAST. Ha ha, it took me forever to write this, every time I tried to put my ideas to computer screen it just came out all wrong. So I left it for a couple of months (as you may have noticed) and here it is! I hope it's OK. Please, please, please review :)

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