Hello! Welcome to my new Dramione multichapter fic. This is a story that I'm writing as a sort of healing project. There is no set update schedule, I have no idea how long it will be, but just like moving on from a breakup, you can never know in advance how long the journey will take, but eventually, when you get there, you'll just know.
Characters: Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Theodore Nott, Ron Weasley, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson
Tags: Epilogue What Epilogue/EWE, Break ups, Healing, Explicit Sexual Content, Swearing, POV Hermione Granger, Post-War, Romance, Fluff, Self-Discovery, Comfort, No Ron Weasley Bashing, Happy Ending
Timeline: Starts six years after the Battle of Hogwarts (2004)
Full Summary: "Every day, wake up and write down one thing you'll do for yourself. It could be easy – have a coffee. Or maybe do something that you've never tried before – take a salsa class. Or something you've been putting off – like finishing that book on the shelf that keeps staring at you. It could be laundry, seeing friends, or even just breathing. But every day, take a second to write down how you're going to pour into yourself, and one day, you won't need the list anymore, because prioritizing yourself will be the most natural thing you've ever done."
After Hermione and Ron break up, she faces the most difficult journey of her life - finding herself again. A story about fire alarms, too much wine, Quidditch matches, being held through thunderstorms, and discovering that maybe moving on from a breakup is not about being happy again - it's about learning to be happier.
Hermione woke up slowly. She blinked her way into consciousness as her head started to pound. Ugh, she thought. Merlot brain.
It took her a couple moments to get her bearings, bleary eyes glancing around at the boxes filling the bedroom – no photos on walls, no furniture except her one side table. It was still so unfamiliar, like she was waking up in someone else's home. In a way, she supposed she was. This place belonged to some future version of herself.
Without thinking too hard about it, she rolled over, ignoring her budding hangover, and reached for the journal and pen she had laid out the night before, The FML scrawled drunkenly across the cover. Before she could question it, regret it, or reignite her opposition, she shoved herself up to seating and plopped the journal open, pen at the ready.
March 5, 2004
To Do Today
The Night Prior
Ginny pushed a glass of wine across the table towards her. Hermione already felt a bit fuzzy – the low lights of the club were pulsating across her eyelids. She had had maybe two glasses already, but she didn't really drink. She never had time, not with work.
Even as the thought entered her mind, she flinched.
She had reason to drink tonight.
"Thanks Gin," she muttered, taking a sip of the merlot. Her friend shot her a smile, barely hiding the worry in her eyes.
"How are you feeling?" the redhead asked, nursing her own glass, brown eyes trained on Hermione.
The latter witch shrugged. "Alright, I suppose. Helps that moving into the apartment was easy."
"A victory," Ginny nodded slowly. "And I'm sure living in a muggle apartment is a bit less hectic than Diagon Alley."
"Definitely more private," Hermione murmured. Images flashed across her mind of her old apartment, the one she had left that very morning. It had been a beautiful place, above one of the shops in Diagon – it was a one bedroom she had shared with Ron for over two years. Until now. Until she didn't.
Ginny hesitated for a moment, before Hermione watched firm resolve form in her irises.
"And now… I know you knew today was coming… but how are you feeling?"
The laugh that broke from Hermione's lips was humourless, an empty sound created of fragments patchworked together.
"I'm feeling terrible, Gin. Honestly."
Her friend flinched. "I mean, I expected as much. I guess… I was wondering if having a few months to prepare would have made it any better."
Hermione swished the wine in her glass for a moment.
"In a way, I suppose. But knowing in advance that you're going to be hit by a train doesn't make the impact any less painful. Foresight is not protection, Divination be damned."
"So, you're feeling terrible then."
"I'm not sure there's a word," Hermione shrugged, taking a sip of wine. "I… ever since Ron and I decided to break up, I've been trying to figure out if there was a single word, or even phrase, that could fully encapsulate how I felt about the whole experience. It oscillates, depending on the day. Sometimes it's joyful, sometimes it's torture, sometimes it's resignation."
"You were together almost six years, Hermione," Ginny said, a sadness settling across her features. "And I know he's my brother, but you're my best friend, so if you want to shit talk him, I am all ears. I'll even go pick up some Extendables if you want even more ears."
Hermione giggled, the bubbles of the alcohol mixing with the strange emptiness in her chest. "No, Gin. That's not what this is about. And it's not like Ron and I broke up because I hate him. We just… didn't work anymore. And that's alright."
"Are you sure?" Gin prodded. "Don't you want to shit talk him a little?"
"Ginny, if you want to insult Ronald, please do not use me as a conduit."
"It's not that, though I do love insulting the man," the redhead continued. "I've just… ever since you flooed to Grimmauld… what was that? Two months ago?"
"Feels like a century," Hermione muttered.
"Truly. Well, ever since you arrived, sobbing hysterically as you told Harry and I that you two had decided to split, you've been so… kind to Ron. If I had a Galleon for every time you said it was mutual or he'll always be a part of my life, I'd be richer than Harry. So now that you two have officially separated, I just… don't you have any anger at all?"
Hermione considered the question carefully for a moment. Ginny did have a point – but she was omitting the pragmatic reason for Hermione's neutrality. Having been together so long, she and Ron had been deeply intertwined – their living situation, financially, their friends… they had taken two months to sort it all before Hermione had even moved out.
In an attempt to leave each other without sending a fissure down the core of their beings, they had needed to do it amicably.
So, it was a good question – was Hermione suppressing anger for the sake of an amicable breakup or was she truly not angry? But as the words floated through her brain, she felt the answer intrinsically, as she felt her magic.
"I'm not angry at Ron, Gin," she admitted, the words truthful and heartfelt. "I'm really not. We just… we just didn't work anymore, in the way we once had. You are not the same person at eighteen that you are at twenty-four. That's not his fault, or mine. We just… diverged. Like a river. We had been going downstream for so long we didn't notice when the water pulled us apart."
She took another sip of wine. "I'm always going to love Ron. He was my best friend long before he was my partner, and he will be long after. Right now, we need space, obviously, and I'm not saying this hasn't been the hardest thing I've ever been through…"
"Hermione, you fought a war at age eighteen."
"Second hardest, then. But I guess, when I think about the breakup, when I think about six years just gone…"
Ginny sighed. "Hermione, you didn't waste those years."
She shook her head vigorously, a small hiccup escaping her throat. "I don't think so either. Ron and I had a fantastic relationship until we… didn't. Until our differences in career goals became too big and we stopped putting the effort in because we thought the other would always be there."
She took a moment to swallow a bout of emotion threatening to break free from her chest.
"I feel like… I took him for granted."
Ginny's eyebrows shot up to her hairline.
"Hermione, you didn't take Ron for granted."
"But I did," she replied, her voice emotionless, any sadness successfully quashed. "And he took me for granted. And a relationship cannot survive like that."
"Hermione, don't make yourself feel worse than you already feel."
"I'm not trying to," she said quietly. "I'm trying to be honest about what happened. Our relationship was over months before we pulled the plug. Dissipated into nothing. And somehow, that hurts more than a ruthless explosion at the end. Because when I looked at what I thought we had built, I didn't see ashes or rubble… I saw nothing left. And that's how I knew it was over – you can rebuild from rubble. You can't rebuild nothingness."
Ginny was quiet for a moment after that. Only in her friend's silence could Hermione hear how loud the club actually was. The music was reverberating through her feet, the lights increasing the instability in her core. Ginny's idea had been distraction – today was the day Hermione had finally moved out of the apartment and into muggle London alone, thereby finishing a two-month long breakup. Hermione had a moment that afternoon where she blinked and it hit her like a freight train – she was single, for the first time since she was a teenager.
And that was terrifying.
Because for the last two months, at least she had been occupied. She had been busy, had to figure out where she was living (it had been established early that it made more sense for Ron to keep the apartment, to be close to WWW). She had to tell their friends and family, had to pack, had to divvy up their possessions… a never-ending to-do list. But that was over now, which led to the most terrifying question of all:
What did she do now?
Breaking up was easy.
Moving forward was impossible.
"Are you happy?" Ginny asked quietly, breaking the silence with her eyes downcast.
The question ricocheted through her brain.
"Happy? I don't think so," Hermione replied, staring ferociously at the opposite wall until her eyes blurred. "But I wasn't happy with Ron either. I just was."
"Then what can we do to make you happy?" Ginny asked, the sincerity in her voice overwhelming for a moment.
"I don't know, Gin," she sighed. "I think it'll just take time."
Her best girlfriend shrugged. "That's true. And it's probably going to hurt for a while. But there are things you can do to speed up the process – to put yourself in the best of all possible positions."
Hermione took a sip of wine, trying to hide the incredulity creeping onto her features. "I can't skip forward in time, Gin. We destroyed all the time turners, remember?"
She rolled her eyes. "I'm not talking about magic, 'Mione. I'm talking about taking care of yourself."
"I do take care of myself," she muttered.
"Please," Ginny scoffed. "No one takes care of themselves naturally after a breakup. It's impossible. Brushing your teeth can feel like the most difficult task in the entire world."
"So, you're saying I need to brush my teeth… that's going to solve everything?"
Rolling her eyes, Ginny ignored her. "When you have a big project at work – when you have to count how many Irish Greens have been illegally exported or whatever…
"Welsh Greens, Gin. Charlie would disown you for that."
The redhead waved her hand dismissively. "Not all of us can study dragons in Romania or be a senior assignment manager at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures…"
"I'm still a junior assignment manager…"
"I'm manifesting for you," Ginny continued. "But back to the point – what do you usually do when you need to complete a project?"
Hermione blinked, the wine momentarily going to her head. "Er… I prep in advance. Do research into the content, check to see if there's any inter-departmental procedures to be followed…"
"And how do you track all of this?" Ginny prodded, leaning forward a bit.
Hermione did not know where this was going. "I… er… I make a to-do list."
Ginny slapped her hand on the table – the noise causing Hermione to jump a tad, spilling merlot on her jeans.
"That's the money, right there," Ginny exclaimed. "A to-do list."
"Ginny, what in Merlin's name are you going on about?"
Her friend leaned forward, a blaring determination shining in her eyes. "Hermione Jean Granger. I have a new work assignment for you."
"A work assignment?" Hermione blinked. "When have you ever cared about magical creatures?"
"Never and I still do not," Ginny continued. "No, this is not about something as uninteresting and benign as hippogriff flight altitude regulations…"
"Excuse me… benign?!"
"My dear Hermione Granger," Ginny said, her voice almost frighteningly excited. "Your new work assignment is yourself."
"It's brilliant," Ginny continued, almost vibrating with glee. "If there's one thing I know you can do, it's a work assignment. So, invest the same energy you invest into work into yourself. Think of yourself as a project – it's going to take time, have setbacks, require thought and energy and compromise. But if you take it step by step, eventually you're going to complete the project – find yourself again."
Hermione's jaw dropped. "Ginny… I'm not a report that needs to be handed in. I can't just… trick my brain into recovering from this breakup."
"It's not tricking, it's helping yourself."
"And I don't even know what I'd put on this list!" Hermione continued. "I don't know what the steps are, or where to even start! I'm not a project where A + B equals C."
"Then make it simpler," Ginny continued. "Get a journal, and every day, wake up and write down one thing you'll do for yourself. It could be easy – have a coffee. Or maybe do something that you've never tried before – take a salsa class. Or something you've been putting off – like finishing that book on the shelf that keeps staring at you. It could be laundry, seeing friends, or even just breathing. But every day, take a second to write down how you're going to pour into yourself, and one day, you won't need the list anymore, because prioritizing yourself will be the most natural thing you've ever done."
Hermione bit her lip. "It seems so… simple."
"It's not going to be," Ginny replied, a sad smile across her face. She reached forward and took Hermione's hand. "It's going to be grueling, and painful, and sometimes it's going to feel like the torment will last forever. But every single day, do one thing for yourself. You're at the beginning of a long road – all you need to do right now is take the first step."
She stared at Ginny for another moment, mulling the idea over in her head. There was an old journal in a box at her new apartment – she had never used it before, throwing it haphazardly in with her books as she moved out. She could have it on her bedside table with a pen, and every morning take ten seconds… it sounded so easy. An easy task. How could an easy task solve an impossible conundrum?
But it's not like she had any better idea.
"I… I could try it," she whispered as Ginny's face broke into a nearly deranged smile.
"Brilliant," she said. "But we need a better name. Break-up To Do List does not have the right ring to it."
"Does it matter what the title is?"
"Absolutely," Ginny responded immediately. "We're putting effort into this – if this is about investing in yourself, we cannot be sloppy on the premise."
"Uh, alright," Hermione whispered, taking another sip of wine. "The… the Personal Development List?"
"Boring," Ginny dismissed.
"The Screw Ron List?"
"Not a chance in hell," the younger woman said. "This is about you – not him."
Hermione drummed her fingers on the table for a moment. "Do you have any ideas then, Gin?"
Ginny pursed her lips for a moment, a thoughtful expression crossing her face.
"How about The For Me List?"
"The FML? Are you joking?"
Hermione snorted. "You know what FML means in the muggle world, right?"
"Enlighten the poor blood traitor, please."
"It means F my life."
"Hermione, you are a grown woman, you can say fuck."
"Fine," she muttered, blushing slightly. "Fuck my life."
"That's actually brilliant," Ginny continued. "The FML List."
"It's just the FML, Gin. The word 'list' is in the acronym. Like ATM. It's not ATM machine."
"The hell is an ATM machine?"
"Gods, the fact that they don't force everyone to take one year of muggle studies is offensive."
Ginny slapped her hand on the table. "It is decided! You shall start every day by writing in your FML List…"
"… It's just called the FML…"
"And slowly but surely, you are going to survive this," Ginny continued, her face softening for a moment. "I know it may feel like the end of the world. But it's not. And you are going to learn so much about yourself in the process even if you don't feel that way right now. And eventually, a day will pass and Ron won't even enter your mind. Set the groundwork now, and you will reap the benefits, I promise you. And I cannot wait to meet that version of you down the line."
Hermione stared at Ginny for another moment, trying to blink back tears as waves of emotion washed over her. She felt it then – she was at the beginning of climbing the tallest mountain she had ever seen. And she was terrified. And she knew it would be long, and it would hurt.
But Ginny was excited to meet the version of her that came out the other side.
And as Hermione stared up at the mountain peak, one thought became crystal clear:
She was excited to meet that version of herself, too.
Thanks for reading! Shoot me a review and let me know what you think :)