You see, the Saviour and You-Know-Who both died that night at Godric's Hollow. [Hermione is worth something, but all she is worth is everything that she never became. AU]
She wants it to stop. The strange, flat bleakness - the bitter, utter embodiment of lost, like she is not who and where she is meant to be. She is meant for more - she is worth more. But she knows that everyone thinks that of themselves.
It has been a long day. She lets herself into the darkness of her flat and doesn't bother flicking on the lights. There is no one here, anyway, and she knows her way around the furniture too well. Hermione winds through the blackness automatically, making her way to the loo. It is only then that she turns on the light.
She twists on the faucet without looking up. When she meets her own eyes in the mirror, she stares. She sees herself - a thirty-two year old woman with pale skin, dull brown hair tied back in a staid bun, and perfect teeth that she had gotten fixed as soon as she reached her majority. She sees an office woman who has stopped trying to shake up the pureblood system, one who has given in and bent her neck in defeat and allowed her brain to stagnate in the only kind of job they will allow her to have. She tells her reflection in a whisper that she had never stood a chance, and if it comes out bitter or cynical - well, she was a Ravenclaw in school, not a Gryffindor. She recognizes the facts, and that particular fact is so true and so painfully ripping that she can't imagine how she didn't see it as girl. She never stood a chance, and anger makes her eyes glint like they used to. It only takes a second for the spark to die.
She breathes evenly - in out: monotonous and always - and doesn't turn off the still-running tap. She pulls the bobby pins out of her bun slowly, setting them in a dish meant specifically for this purpose, and watches as her hair tumbles in rebellious curls down to her midriff. Her Ministry-issued robe slides off of her shoulders, leaving her clad in a tank top and leggings. She is so tired. She looks at her reflection, trying to see anything in herself that makes her worth something - that makes those pureblood fucks wrong (because it has been a long time since she has admitted defeat, but she admits to herself that the blank cast to her face and the grey haze clouding her mind makes her wish that she was stronger. That she hadn't had to fail alone, that she hadn't been alone - that she had, maybe, had someone with her). She desperately searches for the worth that she suddenly knows must be there. Her hands clench around the porcelain of the sink until her fingers are so bloodless as to blend into it. She stares stares stares, transfixed, and her features seem to morph, just a little. The same person but different.
It is looking into a mirror and seeing not her reflection, but her reflected opposite - the other Hermione, the one who did all those things that real-Hermione had wanted to do but never had the opportunity or time for. The other her who stuck to things she got bored with. Other-Hermione's bright brown eyes are sharp - almost...fierce - and there is a stubborn set to her mouth. The riotous mass of hair suits her demanding presence. Her chin is tilted in defiance, and these are such small things, but they make the woman beautiful in that way Hermione has never been.
And it fills her with some sort - some sort of regret that tastes a lot like whiskey. It burns and makes her eyes glaze and lets her disconnect, just a little. She stares and stares and stares for what may be hours, or only seconds, and makes wishes on the flecks of amber that form a small sunflower around the pupils of the stranger in the mirror. Her vision is a little hazy, like an old photograph, and she looks looks looks and thinks: i know you. i know you. you are everything i dreamed i would be when i was a child.
She lets go of the sink with a small, choking gasp and slides down the cream wall behind her. She is worth something - but all that she is worth is everything that she never became.
She is not so self-deluding that she won't admit: i wish i was you. She wishes it with all of her heart and soul - feels the vicious anguish curling steadily around her ruined dreams and unabated loneliness like the old friends they are until it spills down her cheeks. She weeps with a blank face and open eyes, silently shuddering. The catches in her breath are inaudible under the sound of the tap running.
She stares straight ahead at the edge of the sink as water begins to overflow. She gazes at the liquid - into the liquid - and wishes on every fallen drop that she could be that woman in the mirror (the woman who is worth knowing and loving and maybe even befriending). She distantly feels the water soaking through her leggings and the tears staining her cheeks as her vision goes black.
She is worth something - but all she is worth is everything that she never became.
A/N: Written for Saphira, who gave me a lovely phrase to work off of: "It's like looking into a mirror and seeing not your reflection, but your reflected opposite, the you that did all those things that you wanted to do but never had time, never got around to it, the one that stuck to things you got bored with."
Still blocking...sorry. Feedback very much appreciated. I've decided to stop being a ninny; I'm trying to write my way out of the block, otherwise known as The Dread Story-Slaughterer. You telling me how far I have to go would be, you know, utterly brilliant. Truthfully. Which means: be truthful.