Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter world. If I did, I'd be rich. I am poor as mud. If you'd like to sue, please do, you could have my 5 Knuts, and I of course would get a ton of interviews, which I, being the coldhearted person I am, would charge for. Therefore, I would then no longer be as poor as mud.
Authors Note: This is just a little Hermione fic I started writing one day as an urge. I came up with the idea when I heard the song ‘1000 Miles' on the radio (although it's NOT a song fic). Thanks for reading, and I'm really bad at beginnings, so please try to bear with me! A thousand thanks to my new betas, Annika (on Phoenixsong.net), and RonaldWeasley (on ckeckmated.com) without whom, this chapter would still be a pathetic little scribble of letters.
Chapter 1: In the City
A young woman with long, brown hair rushed through the crowded streets, eager to get out of the hustle and bustle of rush hour and just as eager to be out of the hard blowing wind. She had one block to walk from where the bus let her off, and a block was plenty.
"Hello, Ms. Granger," the doorman, Mr. Spickle, greeted her. The man was old, around eighty she guessed, and she had known him since she moved here, which was around eight years ago.
"Hello Mr. Spickle, oh, thank you," she said as he held the door for her. She sighed with relief as the warm fire in the lobby greeted her. Getting into the elevator, Hermione pressed ‘5' as she fumbled to get out the key to her New York apartment. She had moved here after leaving Hogwarts about nine years ago. Now, she was twenty-six, and had a job with the American Ministry on the School Board. Had. She had been fired today; Chelsea Montgomery had come out of retirement. She used to be head of the whole Ministry, and had started her days on the school board. But though Chelsea had retired over ten years ago, she had begun to miss her job, and came back. Since she had more experience than anyone, and Hermione had the least, Hermione was bumped off. She reached into the cabinets, quickly gathered the ingredients needed to make a BLT sandwich, and set to work. If anything were going to comfort her, it would be a nice warm sandwich, in front of a nice warm fire, drinking a nice warm hot chocolate.
She had half a mind to go get a book, but something kept her sitting there. Something made her ignore the urge to read, and so she just mulled things over in her brain. She slipped into a trance, letting herself relax in front of the fire. Before she realized what she was thinking about, she was crying. Life wasn't fair; she had worked so hard to create a name for herself here, in a different country. Ever since her parents had died she saw no real need to remain there, back in England. Both Harry and Ron had gone off to Auror training; it didn't really matter though…
If you were here tonight, you would hold me in your arms…
Tell me everything is gonna be fine, while the world turns outdoors…
Sleep tight, close your eyes, an' wait for me, wait for me
You will see me coming home, just wait for me, wait for me
You can hold me in your soul, rest your fears, let them be
Wonder where you are today, as a tear falls down my face
Think of all the words you'd say, to try to put my mind at ease
Hold on tight, close your eyes, an' wait for me, wait for me
You can see me coming home, but just wait for me, wait for me
You can hold me in your soul, rest your fears, let them be
Just wait for me.
A song from the Muggle radio station played in the apartment. How true is that, she thought about the lyrics. No, she told herself forcefully, that was years ago, forget about it! But somehow her thoughts kept going back to him. Ron Weasley. They had gone out for a while, back in seventh year. But that was then. He probably didn't even remember her now.
Tears running down her cheeks, Hermione got up, brought the dishes to the sink, and turned on the dishwasher. Not even bothering to shower, she went to bed. Nowhere to go tomorrow anyway, why not? And that was her last thought before her mind sunk deep into unconsciousness.
Hermione blinked, "Oh…" she groaned, "turn off the sun." The bright morning rays were pouring in through the open window, making the room brighter than the light would have made it. Despite what she wanted to do, Hermione rolled over and glanced at the clock. 10:37. I'm going to be late for wor- she started to panic, but then realized that she couldn't be late for work, as she didn't even have a job.
Hermione lay there for a few minutes, thinking through her possibilities. She could try to find another job here in America; after all, she had a life here… in work. Her job was her life.
She didn't have any friends outside of work, nor did she have any ties to hold her there. Pondering the possibilities, she also thought of returning. Though Voldemort had been killed in her seventh year, there were still many Death Eaters left uncaught at the time of her parents' attack. In a bout of frustration, Hermione had left England, leaving nothing but a quick note to the Weasleys saying nothing more than good-bye. Could she really arrive there and just step into their lives again? Of course not, but that wouldn't happen anyway. She could always go back and get resettled. She wouldn't have to make contact with any of her old friends if she didn't want to.
Why not? She really had nothing to stop her from doing otherwise- what with no job, no friends, and no family. Not really thinking about what the consequences would be, she started off. That being the reason she was standing outside New York International Airport, bags all packed, getting on a airplane less than three hours later, ready to return to her hometown. Muggle transport had always seemed so much more real to her. Simply Apparating made the entire concept seem unreal and insignificant.
Hermione was on the first flight of the day, and due to that fact, she had a row to herself, with the closest person sitting two seats ahead of her. She pulled out her Muggle CD player/radio, and played whatever station happened to be on at the time. She sat back in her chair, eager to start the flight. Slowly, she began to slip into the music…
Two days past eighteenHe was waitin' for the bus in his army greensSat down in a booth, in a cafe thereGave his order to a girl with a bow in her hairHe's a little shy so she gives him a smileAnd he said, 'Would you mind sittin' down for a while?And talkin' to meI'm feelin' a little low'
Hermione normally didn't listen to country music, but didn't bother to change the station as tears slipped down her face.
I cried, 'Never gonna hold the hand of another guy''Too young for him,' they told herWaitin' for the love of the travelin' soldier'Our love will never end'Waitin' for the soldier to come back againNever more to be alone when the letter saysMy soldier's comin' home
The song brought back memories… too many memories.
Nine-year-old Hermione Granger stood outside her classroom, chatting with her friends. Her long, silky brown hair flowed down her back, she was the most popular girl in her year, and her best friend, Sarah, was telling her about Eric, her latest boyfriend. He had asked her out three days ago, she accepted. Now she was planning to break up with him, blah, blah, blah, and the usual story. Hermione half-listened to the latest ‘dilemma,' and was mainly thinking about how stupid all of this really was. They were only nine or ten years old, changing boyfriends and girlfriends every other day for no apparent reason. Asking people out on a bet, dancing with someone for money. Hermione was a bystander; she watched as it happened to all her friends, the guys never daring to ask her out. It was all for the better she supposed, she most likely wouldn't have said yes anyway. Hermione had always hated her position in the ‘social ladder' as it could be called, yet still knew that any other girl would kill for her position. She hadn't wanted all this, but when you've been best friends with someone since you were three days old, you couldn't very well stop being friends with them merely because you didn't want to be popular. Once she switched schools, when Sarah moved on to the public school, and Hermione to the private one her parents had enrolled her in year before. Then she could finally have the reputation she wanted.
That very day had been the one she had first decided to do it, to take the vow that changed her life. She had watched this happen for months; she had observed older kids getting into serious relationships then breaking up. That was the day she had decided, decided to make a fateful vow- a vow of hope, a vow of truth
Six hours later, Hermione sat on the edge of her bed, looking at the floor as she pondered on the events of that day. Knowing that now might be her only chance before her parents came to get her for dinner, Hermione began to speak the words that had echoed through her head all day
"I, Hermione Granger, will never go out will any guy that I don't have true feelings for…" she started to say, but broke off as a song came on the radio.
"And I will never ever hold the hand of another guy…"
She got an idea… taking a deep breath, she sung quietly, barely above a whisper, with her own words…
"And I will never ever date a guy that I don't like, even if it means I'm alone at night…"
The song ended, and as Hermione lay down, taking deep, ragged breaths, she knew that it wouldn't be regretted…
Adult Hermione just lay there, curled up in her seat, nobody in the seats around her, trying not to think about the day that all had changed. She, Harry, and Ron had just left school; Harry and Ron were immediately off to Auror training- she wouldn't see them for four months if she didn't go too. But, despite her past, her experiences, she just… didn't want to be an Auror. Or, she did, but wanted to try something else first. The day Harry and Ron left, she did too. She hopped on the next Muggle plane and set out for America… It was just then that suddenly Hermione knew exactly what she had to do…
Hermione dozed off somewhere between the Mid-Atlantic and the London International Airport, dreaming of the memories she had tried so hard to leave behind. She woke up to a sudden clamber to get bags and briefcases an hour later, indicating the landing.
Groaning as she sat up, she stretched, loosening her tightened muscles. Then, quickly grabbed her things, eager to go… wherever she decided to go. Hermione knew what she needed to do, just not what she would do to get it done.
After picking up her bags at the gates, she proceeded to flag down a taxi, just to drive her around for the night. Hopefully she would be able to get a flat quickly, but until then she would stay in the Leaky Cauldron- mere blocks from one of the larger flat complexes in London.
"René-Lee's bookstore, please," Hermione said as she slid into the waiting taxi. With a tip of his hat, the driver welcomed her, and pulled away from the curb.
"A bit late to be going to a bookstore, isn't it?" the man asked politely, obviously trying to make conversation.
"Well, they're open until midnight this evening, I'm meeting a friend at the café nearby and then we're going home," she lied, sincerely hoping that the driver didn't know the shop well, or, if he did, that they were indeed open until midnight. One of the former must have been true though, because the man didn't question it. "I'm Hermione Granger, by the way," she added as an afterthought.
"Mr. Raine Conary at your service," he said in a mockingly formal voice as he pulled away from the curb, then added in a more casual tone, "what's bothering you?"
"Um… nothing," she replied, hoping he wouldn't be able to see through her miserable attempts at a bright voice.
"You know, nothing really gets better by itself. It may seem to, but it's out there, biding its time until it comes back and haunts you."
No such luck. "Was it really that obvious?"
"It was to me."
Despite the number of times Hermione had been told not to trust anyone she didn't know, she couldn't help but trust the old man. "Oh, it's nothing important." She tried to lay her problems aside casually, but to no avail, he wouldn't drop the subject.
"Nonsense, it's clearly very important, if not to me, then certainly to you – or you wouldn't fret so much. But if you don't want to talk about it, I understand. It's simply that some things are… easier to deal with when you talk to someone." Hermione realized with a jolt that he was right, as memories came flooding back.
Hermione and Ginny sat laughing on Ginny's bed, her fellow 5th year classmates studying in the common room.
"So… what's going on in the wonderful world of Harry?" Hermione asked, stifling a giggle as Ginny sighed ominously.
"No, really, what's the deal?"
"Nothing, I swear," Ginny looked at her hands.
"He still doesn't know, does he?" Hermione said sympathetically.
"No…" Ginny stood up, and turned around, fingering the emblem of a necklace- a black cord, with a green stone, which had a silver vine pattern over it. "He has no clue." She sighed again, "But it's better this way. He's never had feelings for me… never will. At least this way I can be his friend." She sat back down on another bed, across from Hermione, belonging to a girl named Heather.
"Ginny-" Hermione began, but was cut off a moment later.
"No, really…" Hermione could tell that Ginny was reflecting on the past few years, trying (unsuccessfully) to put her feelings behind her again. Trying to bury them like a pirate might bury treasure. Ginny had tried to convince herself that she didn't care, that she was over him. She even tried to like other guys – Michael Corner, Dean Thomas, Sean Parlet… the list went on. But always, always she returned to Harry. "It's better than turning red every time he enters the room, better than embarrassing him, for my own sake. And it isn't really for my own sake, it's hard for me, too, hard to ignore it."
"I know, Ginny, I know how you feel…" Hermione hated seeing her best girlfriend like this, but there was nothing she could do, Ginny would have to sort things out for herself.
"No you don't," Ginny interjected, her voice rising in what seemed to be anger, but what Hermione knew was frustration, "You don't know what it's like, you really don't. You like Ron, yeah, everyone knows it. Everyone can tell, and he likes you. You were friends first, and then, when you both admitted it, you started going out. You knew he liked you all along; it was just getting him to admit it that was the problem. But no, not only does Harry not like me in that way at all, but also he knew I liked him, and now, is happy that I don't anymore. He said to me just the other day ‘I'm glad you've gotten over that silly crush of yours, Ginny, it's much nicer to have you as a friend, when before I couldn't say two words to you…' Do you have any idea how clueless he is? For five years he saw me as nothing more than Ron's little sister, who happened to put her elbow in the butter dish every time he entered a room" Ginny was breaking down in front of Hermione, but she didn't care. Ginny was her best friend, the one she could talk to about… anything. No matter how weird it was.
Hermione missed those days, she just wished she could… but no, too much time had passed.
"You know, you could always go talk to this person." A voice jerked Hermione back to present day thoughts.
"Wha-? How did you?" Hermione started, but was silenced a moment later.
"I could tell, sweetheart, you miss someone… I say, go talk it over. Whatever happened between you, don't let it mess up your life. Trust me, just relax a bit and," he paused to wink at her over his shoulder, "chances are, they miss you too." With that, he pulled up beside the curb, outside of the brightly lit Book Shop, and let Hermione out onto the jostling sidewalk filled with evening shoppers.
Hermione took a deep breath of the crisp night air and walked slowly into the Leaky Cauldron, hoping nobody in there would recognize her.
"Excuse me." She edged her way through the night crowds: families visiting London for the day, generally the Leaky Cauldron's normal weeknight crowd and what looked suspiciously like a group of hags in the corner. They were eating an enormous plate of what smelled- even from a distance- like raw liver.
Mustering her courage, Hermione walked smartly up to Tom, who was still the innkeeper after all this time, and (praying he wouldn't recognize her) said, "Hello, I was wondering if there were any rooms available for this evening."
"Sure are," he said without looking up, "Single room, or double?"
"Single," Hermione answered quickly, looking around nervously.
"An' I'll need your name…" Tom, the innkeeper, had turned around by this time, and was just about to dip his quill in ink, when he caught sight of Hermione. "Hermione Granger?"
"Err…" she hadn't been counting on this. She hardly knew Tom; even in her Hogwarts days she had only stayed at the Leaky Cauldron once, and that was before third year. "Yes…"
"Why, young Ron Weasley was here just yesterday with Harry Potter, but I haven't seen hide nor hair o' you for… must be abou' a decade."
"Yes… I-I went to America, I was on the school board there for ten years."
"Stoppin' back for a visit then I suppose?"
"Uh… yeah, something like that." Hermione avoided his gaze as she carefully studied the couple nearest her. A blond beauty was laughing outrageously at something her boyfriend had just said, and seemed to have not a care in the world.
A few minutes later, Hermione was dumping her bags down on the bed, collapsing next to them. The day's travels had more then worn her out, and the twenty-eight year old was asleep in the time it took to kick off her shoes.
The next few days passed quickly, as Hermione spent her time leisurely floating through Diagon Alley. She visited Gringotts, and got her money transferred from the bank in New York. Not to mention the fact that Hermione was happy at last, having found a nice flat in an upper scale part of town, not too far from the Leaky Cauldron. So far she had been lucky, and none but Tom had recognized her, nor had she recognized anyone else. The twins still had premises in Diagon Alley; it was, in fact, one of the larger shops in the area. But Hermione had avoided that end of the street and had yet to run into any of the Weasleys, much to her relief.
Rolling over in bed, Hermione didn't want to get up. She wanted to lie in bed forever, sleeping away the days, weeks, months, even years. But as the merry sunlight filtered in, wishing her out of bed, Hermione simply couldn't avoid it.
She rolled out of bed, and made herself a warm breakfast- for even though the sun was out, the air was bitter, and so was the flat.
Mulling over her coffee and waffles, Hermione addressed a subject that hadn't been necessary before. Sure, she knew it would come up, but had carefully avoided it, determined to find a way around the current issues.
She had to get a job. Not a wizarding one, no, not at the moment. With both Harry and Ron in the Auror division, Arthur in his old position, and who knew how many of her old friends in other divisions… no, it was too soon, she had to lay low for awhile until she got used to being back. She would cross that bridge when she came to it.
So get a Muggle job and snap- problem solved! Right? Hermione thought so… until realization dawned upon her, and she realized that without even having proof of leaving a Muggle school, where could she get a job? Sure, there was always the little diner down the block… but honestly, that would have to be a last resort.
The first song I used is ‘Wait For Me'; it belongs solely to Laine Larsen;
The second song I used is ‘Travelin' Soldier' which belongs to the Dixie Chicks.