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“Hermione! How good to have you here at last!” Hermione forced a smile, something she couldn’t do in the past two weeks. Mr. Weasley took her bag with a little “ah”, expressing his surprise that her bag was so light for someone staying the whole Christmas at the Burrow. “Where are Ginny and Harry?” he asked, peering curiously behind her. When she couldn’t find the strength to answer, he asked again. “Did they want to stay at Hogwarts?” She finally nodded, and he told her to come in. George stepped out and took her cold coat from her. It was covered in white flecks of snow. “You must be cold,” Fred said, coming out of the kitchen. “Come on, come sit by the fire.” She let him lead her, and also when he made her sit down. Bill and Charlie were sitting there. Bill was roasting a marshmallow, and Charlie was reading. Charlie immediately put down his book. “How’s it hanging, Hermione?” Charlie asked. Hermione forced herself to smile again. “Brilliant.” Fred shivered, and Hermione turned to him. She was almost staring back at him, but her eyes glazed over like she was looking straight through him. That caused him to shiver again. He knew despite the letter his dad wrote about not blaming herself, she still held herself responsible. “How’s Mrs. Weasley?” she asked him. Fred sighed. “Bedridden. It’s not your fault, you know.” His brothers were surprised that he raised the subject so quickly. “Yes it is all my fault,” she said. “And I don’t know how you can be nice to me when Ron’s disappearance was because of me!” She stood up quickly, knocking her stool over. Fred stood up as well, and he gripped her firmly by the shoulders, and gave him a good hard shake. Her eyes brimmed with tears, and he let go. “It’s not your fault, stop blaming yourself!” he cried. Bill stood up, and told Fred to sit down. He started talking to Hermione in an undertone, soothing her. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Charlie hissed at Fred. Fred slammed his fist to the floor. “She can’t keep blaming herself!” “You can’t blame her for holding herself responsible!” Charlie said. Fred looked at his older brother, and realized he was right. Bill had managed to calm Hermione, but she was shaking and sat down farthest from Fred when she did. That’s when Mrs. Weasley came running into the kitchen where they were sitting in silence. “Hermione! What are you doing here?” she screamed. “You’re the reason my boy’s gone, probably he’s dead because he tried to save you! Get out of my house, now!” Hermione’s eyes became big, round and glossy. Tears welled up in her eyes. Mr. Weasley came running in, and tried to restrain Mrs. Weasley from strangling Hermione. “What are you doing, boys? Get her out of her! That piece of vermin had better not be in here…” she yelled. Tears flowed down Hermione’s cheeks, and she ran out the door. She ran as quick as she could, anywhere her legs would take her. She knew it was true now, it was her fault. Mrs. Weasley had said so herself. She wasn’t welcomed at this house, she wanted to leave. She made a mistake by coming here, and she wanted to just go back to Hogwarts. She needed Ron. She loved him to every inch of his body. Yet she hated him. How could he leave her alone like this? So far Hermione was denying the fact that her Ron could be dead. Nobody at Hogwarts said that, and she was almost sure that was impossible. But Mrs. Weasley told her it was possible Ron could be dead. She stopped at the edge of the Weasley’s property, shocked to see they had fenced the area around. She couldn’t get out. She let her feet sink through the snow. Her body was numb and had no feeling ever since two weeks ago, it didn’t hurt to sit in the snow. She was rubbing her wrist again. It was as if the cords were still trying her down. She saw a bit of barb wire sticking out of the fence. She snatched it, and scratched it on her bluing wrist. The redness seemed satisfying, as her blood spread out on the white snow. She leaned back on the fence, exhausted. She didn’t know how long she sat there, it could be a few minutes or a few hours, but she suddenly noticed Fred sitting there silently beside her. She nearly leapt up when she saw him, both surprised and frightened. “I’m sorry,” he said. She ignored him. “Get me out of here,” she hissed. “No.” “Get me out of here!” she cried. “No.” “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” she screamed. “No.” “You guys don’t want me. Mrs. Weasley said everything that all of you wanted to say,” she said, tears running down her already wet cheeks. “Some things are better left unsaid,” he said. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “I’m sorry,” he said. He sat closer to her, and she leant her head on him, sobbing into his clothes. “I hate him! I hate him!” she wailed. “We all do,” he said. “Fred, I swear it was all my fault. If I hadn’t insisted on watching them, he wouldn’t be with V-Vol-Voldemort.” Fred winced, but Hermione ignored him. “Why don’t you tell me all about it?” he asked. His voice was smooth and soothing, she told every detail to him. After she finished, he remained silent for a few moments, his eyes on her blue and red wrist, suddenly realizing the blood on the snow was hers. He grabbed the wire from her fingers. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING???” He shouted. She started shaking, and he realized his mistake. “I didn’t mean it like that, Hermione,” he said, lowering his voice. “You can’t harm yourself, it wont help Ron. And he would murder each and every one of us if anything happened to you.” Somehow Fred’s words made Hermione feel contented, that night she had a deep, dreamless sleep. Or maybe it was because Bill slipped a sleeping potion in her soup.

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