The Perfect Girl is Gone
The moon shone like a pale coin somebody had lost, bathing the garden in silver light as she sat on the swing, writing. With every page Hermione filled of the journal she held in her lap, another part of her life was left behind, and another tear wet her cheek
The story she told in her journal would haunt her forever. She was no longer the perfect girl she had once been.
Ron watched her from the window of Shell Cottage, aching to take her in his arms. But he knew she needed time to heal, and after all the time he had wasted during their years of friendship and the War, not willing to listen, he was finally ready to give her what she needed.
So he merely watched as day after day went by. Hermione went through the motions of eating, bathing and sleeping; but it was only the act of writing that seemed to bring life to her eyes, even if that life came in the shape of tears. Sometimes Ron stood by her, making her smile as he wiped away her tears. He knew that she found a peace in written words that even his arms would be unable to provide her.
The War had changed them both, but of the three of them Hermione was the one seemed to have born the worst of it. Yet she still looked beautiful to him, Still Ron sometimes felt that he couldn't't wait to get her back, because even if the coldness in her eyes didn't't bother him, her pain did—and all he wanted was for her to be warm, warm and filled with light like she used to be, not lost like this. He wanted her back.
All was recorded by her steady hand: the blood of the cuts made by Bellatrix, the overwhelming fear that they might die before completing their mission, the deep grief of losing her parents, and the heavy weight of the world's losses. She could still remember the feel of the cold knife blade on her skin, the tears clouding her vision as she fought Death Eaters, feeling as if she had lost an entire world when she learnt that her parents could not be traced—hadn't she had fought enough? She ached for books that were but a hand away and most of all she felt the need to breathe, to fill her lungs with fresh air at last. That was why they had come to Shell Cottage as soon as all the fighting had been over. Ron had said it would help.
Hermione knew that despite Ron's patience, his concern was growing day by day. And as she woke up and watched him sleeping beside her, curled into his blanket, her heart swelled with love.,He was a beacon of hope, but she could not reach him, just like she could not reach her books or the part of her that had once known what it was like to be happy—what it was like to be good. She had always been the backbone of the trio, the level-headed one who knew the answers to everything, but now she was rotting from inside out. The perfect girl was gone.
She desperately wanted to float away, away from the good and the bad, from both those she loved and those she despised, to be free of it all.
When Ron finally found her than night, she was too far gone, but she was too numb to react to his horror as the knife made the final cut and the blood seeped out of her body as Ron lifted her into his arm.
Recovering was painful, for the two of them and for everyone around them, but though it took years, she was now strong enough. She finished writing their story; it was a long one, full with dark memories, but it was also full of hope. And soon after, Ron asked her to a ball, on the anniversary of their victory over the Dark Lord.
Dressed in a white ball gown, Hermione entered The Ministry, the heels on her feet clicking and her face radiant. They danced, and then he took her outside to the balcony.
"I've changed," she said finally, and though she had been smiling, her smile was different, and as she looked at him seriously Ron saw that she was right. She would never be the person he had known for seven years—the War had changed too many things. "The perfect girl—the one who knew all the answers, and could solve any problem—that perfect girl is gone."
But as she looked away with tears in her eyes, prepared for his terrible realization, he let out a low laugh. "I know, Hermione," he said simply, and met her eyes. "Everything's different now. But I love this girl even more, because she's strong."
And as hope returned to her eyes, he covered her lips with his and they stood there surrounded by lights, under the stars. When they parted, he slowly slipped a silver necklace around her neck. It gleamed there as the symbol of a love which no one could break.
They danced to a beat that was softer than the heavens itself, her hand in his, twirling around in the moonlight, falling once again in love. And they didn't even notice when in their dancing she knocked down the glass she had been holding and it smashed to the floor, because the world around them didn't matter, and neither did the past. War had changed many things, but it hadn't changed their love.
They left the ball smiling, and while the people around them just saw their two War heroes in love, she knew it was much more than that.