Numb (Hermione Granger) Title: Numb Pairing: None - Just a Hermione drabble Rating: Teen Warnings: None Summary: Hermione reflects on her feelings after the war. Word Count: 850
She'd promised herself that she wouldn't cry and it was a promise she kept even as those around her cried amongst the smoke and ruins of Hogwarts and their childhood. Time faded until it no longer seemed as important; time she spent standing at gravesides as yet another coffin was lowered into the muddy, dark ground. Each coffin was accompanied by a single white rose and speeches about how their life was cut short.
No matter how many books you read, or what words you knew there was no way to convey the sense of loss. Of life. Around her people took their strength from each other, remembering how to laugh and to smile again as they shared anecdotes about those who would never again come bounding through the doors to share a joke, offer a hug or to be a friend. A part of her envied those that could easily share their feelings in such a public place whilst she drifted into the corners with a single egg sandwich that curled at the edges.
The funerals passed, and the wizarding world began to get on with their own lives. She'd found the lists she'd made on the lonely nights of camping with Ron and Harry and part of her felt as though she were invading someone else's privacy. The lists were personal, too personal and part of her felt as though she could never be completely happy again, so she hid them in the flyleaf of her favourite book and began to move on with her life in a way that made sense to her. There would be no more daydreams about working in a bookshop in Paris, no dreams of being kissed in the rain and for her to even think about settling down was impossible. She was too young and had a career ladder to climb. There was a lump trapped in her stomach that turned icy whenever she thought about the time before Hogwarts. So she sat her exams and accepted a position in the Ministry in Muggle Relations. Her friendships were scrutinised and at work as she drowned herself in papers and treatises she felt as though she were merely a figurehead and as insubstantial as morning mist.
She daydreamed to pass the time - daydreamed about walking out the office, out of the door and simply keeping on walking. It wasn't from any desire to find herself that she secretly began planning to leave - she had never felt entirely comfortable with people who ran away to 'find themselves', especially since she was perfectly aware of who she was: Hermione Jean Granger, nineteen years old, proclaimed war hero and unable to leave the house wearing mismatched socks.
When she was younger, she used to whisper her hopes and dreams into the darkness, finding comfort in hearing her voice echo off the walls. Now she only wonders if her disappearance would be noticed.
She didn't run away, rather she submitted a holiday request form, dropped her cat off at a sitters and left the country calmly. Along with bite cream and lotions to protect her skin she'd packed books on Rome. She studied them with the same intensity she'd studied at Hogwarts and found the information they offered advantageous as she wandered round the cramped back-streets of the eternal city. She ate at the restaurants suggested and was able to admire the artwork on the Sistine Chapel for its intricacy but there was no sudden rush of awareness at the wonder of what she was seeing. She walked through the empty rooms feeling as numb as when she had sat behind her desk with only the pitter patter of rain on the pane to comfort her.
Part of her wondered how she had made it through so long without being aware of the systematic separation from her old life - she hadn't exchanged more than pleasantries with Harry and Ron in weeks, and Ginny was still wrapped up in her own grief unable to find comfort in anything but her family.
As she arrived safe and sound, she walked safe and sound through the modest flat leaving behind a trail of baggage, of shoes and hairpins until she crossed the path to sink her toes into the grass. It was quiet here, and the sun was warming her wiggling toes. Her attention was caught by a ladybird who had landed on her knees, and childishly she counted the spots on its back before urging it to return home.
Lying back on the grass, the glint from the sun caught her eyes and she found them watering until they spilled over and ran down her cheeks. Oh how she wished they were proper tears; wished that she could feel as though something mattered, as though she could care for her friends. A tiny part of the ice in her stomach melted.
On a warm summers day, a young woman lies on a patch of grass being warmed by the sun smiling to herself. And if you look very closely, you might catch the glimpse of a real tear.