Paranoia Protects
None - Words: 1,753 - Rated: T - English - Drama & Tragedy - Chapters: 1 - Updated: 13-08-2017 - Published: 13-08-2017 - by Obnoxious Ego (FFN)

A/N: Heyyy, I don't upload much anymore, but I guess this one got forgotten. Written about 2 years ago.
One shot prompt: PTSD

Autumn moonlight shone down across Fulham, a refreshing chill filled the dry midnight air. Hermione Granger sat on the balcony of her modest apartment in London, her lap filled with papers, a burning cigarette limbly suspended from her pursed lips. A rustic, flame-lit lantern hung above her, its warm glow mingling with the haze of tobacco smoke suspended in moonlight. Surrounded with her favorite blanket, Hermione reviewed her resume and notes in preparation for a meeting which awaited the following morning. She strained her tired eyes to read 12:46 am on her wristwatch, the brass hands and numerals flickering in the light of dancing flame. It was getting late.

She sighed, restful slumber was beckoning her, the window of time for a full night's sleep quickly vanishing as each anxious hour glanced past. Today could not be faced with exhaustion. The chill of a quick breeze prompted a shiver from the young woman, and she decided it was time to turn in. With a yawn, she gathered her papers and blanket, snuffed the flame from her lantern, then headed back inside.

Hermione had decided to move to Fulham and live among muggles after a particularly devastating event in her life. In the spring, she had been on a mission with Harry Potter for the Ministry of Magic. It seemed to be a quite straight-forward objective with no excessive danger involved. Due to the sensitivity of the information they were protecting, the Ministry chose to send their best.

However, things did not go as planned. In the lingering years after Voldemort's demise, supporters still lurked the wizarding world, occasionally attacking or even killing muggles and witches alike. On that mission, a pack of Death Eaters had swarmed around the two Aurors. Harry and Hermione had defeated what they thought was every enemy, and although badly injured, the two had successfully retrieved the objective and limped from the lair.

However, one Death Eater still remained and was able to cast Avada Kedavra upon Harry Potter before either of the heroes could react. Hermione could only watch in horror as her best friend died before her eyes.

Hermione locked her balcony door with the standard muggle lock that was built-in to it. She had been advised by the Ministry to keep her magic use to a minimum. Her goal was to camouflage into a muggle community and not attract a Death Eater attack. She had requested to retire to a quiet desk job in the area after her she had experienced this emotional trauma that had shook her to the core. At 23, she was very disappointed in herself for letting this experience rule her.

"Just a few months," she had reasoned with herself. She would get over this. She would go back to the Ministry and request her position as Auror back. She would get it back, and kill every last remaining Death Eater with her bare hands, if she had to.

The brunette moved to her front door, securing several locks on it. She tugged on the heavy, wooden door, now securely bolted into its frame. She repeated this rite numerous times as she had each night prior. While this motley assortment of bolts and latches would hardly offer a modicum of protection against a Death Eater, she found her vain turns of the knob oddly soothing.

Hermione patrolled the dead silence of her quaint apartment, repeatedly peering out of each window to scan the somber, slumbering world outside. Crookshanks rolled onto his belly on the ottoman in front of her favorite reading chair, begging for attention. She obliged, running her fingers through his fur. A rumbling purr resonated from the old, ginger cat. Hermione pulled him into her arms, cradling him as she walked to her bedroom.

She sat on her bed, brushing her long, chestnut hair. Pulling her hair together, she loosely braided it in preparation of getting much-needed rest. Exhausted mentally and physically, she longed for the embrace of sleep as she draped a heavy blanket over her body.. Placing her wand on her bedside table, Hermione set a muggle alarm clock for just a few hours in the future, the sanguine glow of the LED numbers pierced the quiet, smothering darkness.

As her head found a comfortable spot on the pillow, Hermione closed her eyes, doing her best to relax and focus on nothingness. Her facade of peaceful slumber belied the restlessness of her nervous mind. Tonight, it seemed, she would be assailed from within by her own rampant thoughts.

I've stayed up too late, tomorrow will be hell, she thought, condemning her choice to remain awake so late into the night.

Crookshanks jumped down off the bed, the steps of his soft staccato gait echoing throughout the moonlit flat as he casually strode out of the room. Hermione was no stranger to his feline curiosity, seldom could Crookshanks lie in one spot for an entire evening. However, an anxious realization shot a chill down her spine.

I wonder if he's heard something that I haven't, she thought, her paranoia rising.

She did her best to shake it off, He always does this. Stop.

Focusing on her breathing, Hermione inhaled through her nose and exhaled through her mouth. She let the transient moment of anxiety and paranoia pass through her. She was smarter than this, strong enough to hold dominion over her errant emotions. She rolled over in bed, pulling the covers closer to her body, almost cocooning herself in warmth and comfort.

Hermione was immediately roused from the veil of sleep that had been slowly falling over her. There was a very light scratching against her bedroom window. Bolting from bed, she grabbed her wand from her bedside table. Without missing a beat, she pushed aside the curtain and she quickly scanned her surroundings.

A branch slapped against the window, causing Hermione to squeak. She slid the window up and reached her hands out, snapping the wild twig off and tossing it to the ground two stories below. Agitated, she slammed the window shut and locked it, crawling back into bed.

Hermione, stop this, she thought, scolding herself for falling victim to her manufactured fears. The clock read 1:33 am. She swore to not let herself fall victim to these feelings again. She needed her rest, she deserved it.

Once again, she snuggled into her bed, determined to get some rest. Crookshanks came back to join her, curling up by her feet. She shut her eyes and hoped that the respite of sleep would come.

It was not long before she was awoken once again. The loud slam of her neighbor's door jarred her from her nascent slumber, her tired reflexes pulling her upright. With blurred vision and unfocused mind, Hermione cursed to herself, and rolled out of bed.

Rubbing her eyes, Hermione left her bedroom and decided on a stiff drink to help her rest. In her kitchen, she pulled an open flask of Firewhisky from her cupboard with a small glass tumbler. She poured a small amount of the umber spirit into the glass, then added two ice cubes which barely floated above the bottom of the glass.

She sat down in her reading armchair and reached for the previous days' Daily Prophet. She took a sip of Firewhisky and scanned the cover stories. 'Death Eater Attacks Claim Muggle Lives,' read the top headline. Hermione sighed, tossing the paper aside.

In typical muggle style, Hermione owned a television set. Growing up, she was always much more interested in finding entertainment in words on a page rather than watching any television programs. At this point in the night, she no longer cared about stimulating her mind with reading. She was looking for anything to settle her down, mellow her out, and relax her anxious thoughts. With another sip of her drink, Hermione flipped her television to a muggle cooking show. As she stretched her legs out onto the ottoman, Crookshanks jumped into her lap. Hermione took a large gulp of Firewhisky, and felt her body melt into the chair. Before long, Hermione felt her eyelids growing heavy.

Her mind conjured the image of her best friend lying motionless on a cold stone floor. Harry Potter's blank eyes stared back into Hermione's tear-filled ones. She watched as he exhaled his last breath.

Hermione jumped in her chair, scaring Crookshanks out of her lap and into the other room. Her breathing was fast, hyperventilating as a sudden panic attack overwhelmed her. She was covered in beads of sweat, hot tears dripping from the corners of her brown eyes. She leaned forward in her chair, her bare feet meeting the hardwood floor. She held her head in her hands.

Why can't I sleep? Why won't you shut up? Anger filled the young woman. She downed the last swig of her liquor and groaned.

"Why can't I just..." Hermione spoke aloud, "Shut... UP!" She screamed, pulling a throw pillow up to her face and screaming into it. Hysteric tears soaked into the soft fabric.

Through water-logged eyes, she noticed it was nearing three in the morning. She sighed, defeated.

I can't keep fighting this alone, she admitted to herself. She swore she would make an appointment. No longer would she let dark feelings control her life.

Venturing back to the kitchen, Hermione poured herself another shot of Firewhisky, downing it as the last drop hit her glass. Absolutely exhausted, she left the glass abandoned next to the open bottle on the counter. She returned to the living room and flopped her small frame onto the lounger.

She flipped the television off and pulled her large blanket over her. She felt comforted by her determination to find help for this paranoia. Hermione was able to find rest from these horrifying thoughts. She fell asleep peacefully, and this time, her paranoid anxious feelings did not rouse her.

As she entered a deep sleep, from behind her heavy front door, a wand flicked.

The locks unbolted.

The door creaked open.

A cloaked man entered her apartment, leaving the door ajar.

Arm extended, the man prepared to unleash a powerful spell.

Hermione remained unconscious, her body and mind finally at rest.

Hope you enjoyed! Again, this is just a one-shot.