|Tree by Leaf
Author: lazyslothwho PM
"Hermione," Harry said slowly. "Pandora will eat us alive." Slash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Harry P. & Tsu'tey - Chapters: 4 - Words: 6,786 - Reviews: 214 - Favs: 699 - Follows: 1,198 - Updated: 05-28-11 - Published: 01-06-11 - id: 6630967
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
SUMMARY: "Hermione," Harry said slowly. "Pandora will eat us alive." Slash.
DISCLAIMER: Avatar, written and directed by James Cameron, and Harry Potter, written by J.K. Rowling, are merely borrowed. All familiar concepts can probably be attributed to these two.
WARNINGS: Slash. Profanity. War.
A/N: Updates will be sporadic and frustrating, especially since I have no idea where this story is headed. Well, aside from Pandora.
"Hey," the boy said, sheepishly. He stood at the corner of Godric's Hollow, by the graveyard his parents were buried, and scuffed a cigarette into the frost.
Across from him, her back turned, a woman in a white coat kneeled over a headstone.
"You look good, Hermione," he said. "I like the hair."
She laughed, a hand reaching out to trace the 'R' on the stone markings. Her hair was short, and slightly fluffed, which was a large change from the bushy brown locks she'd had through her teens.
"I haven't gone by that name in years, Harry, you know that."
He shrugged, and stuffed his hands into the lining of his coat. He knew, off and on, the things about the other's life. She'd never married, for one; and she'd graduated first in her class at Harvard (not that that was particularly surprising. It would have been more shocking had she gotten second). Harry would have felt guilty for avoiding her for the past few dozen years had she not been doing the same to him, and probably for the same reason. Grief was a horrible thing.
"Why don't you come say hello?" Hermione asked.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, jiggling the change in his pockets, and pointedly studied a sad-looking tree off to his right.
"I don't like to see him there."
"Ron's dead, he won't care."
"Well, I'm not, and I do."
She sighed, and, picking herself up off the cobblestone path, she faced her long-time friend. Harry didn't look as well as he should have. Granted, neither did she—no one magical did anymore—but the strain of Sublimation had taken an especially hard route with the boy-who-lived, more so than any other wizard. For other reasons, of course, she thought to herself. Unlike the rest of the wizarding world, he was probably the most magical thing left, and so his problems didn't include magical exhaustion.
Harry, by all intent and purpose, was still seventeen—the differences were even more pronounced when he stood side-by-side with the brown-haired witch. Where he should have been taller than her, he was shorter, having never hit that last growth spurt. Where he should have had a light peppering of grey at his temple, even a bit of facial hair (even if it was hard to imagine on the smooth skinned youth), he instead shook a head of messy black hair out of his eyes with a huff, and rummaged further into his pockets for another light.
"Oh, Harry, don't smoke that—the smell is awful," Hermione said, though the mocking quirk of her lips gave her apathy away. Harry couldn't help but chuckle at that. It had been an inside joke ever since he'd taken up smoking—she uttered those words every time, even when she took a drag herself.
"Oh, but Hermione," he teased, "It's not like it'll kill me."
She snatched the stick from between his fingers and brought the filter to her lips. One long, exaggerated breath later, she handed it back, and blew puffs into his face.
"No, but it might just kill me," she said, playfully, though there was a hard edge to the words.
His smile faded. Harry studied her lowered expression. She had a new urgency about her, which made him queasier than military rations.
"Don't joke like that."
She wouldn't meet his eyes. It dawned on him that perhaps she was serious.
"Hermione," he said, grabbing her chin with his thumb and forefinger. "Look at me—Hermione, you're not going to die, you have the Philosopher's Stone—"
"I don't have much left," she admitted. "Living this long…at any rate, I never quite expected to."
"Oh, well, that's alright then. We'll just make more—"
He broke off. Hermione was shaking her head.
"No, Harry," she said gently. "It took me years to find all the ingredients to begin with, and that was before, when there were still forests. Now, with the way things are, it would be impossible. Some of the creatures are extinct now, or endangered, or bred with muggle species—"
"I know some people, maybe I could—"
"Not even you can bring back the dead, or else you would have done it already!"
Harry jerked as if struck. Massaging the bridge of her nose, Hermione closed her eyes. Damn. She hadn't meant to say that.
"Harry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply—"
"No, you're right. Bloody good I am, eh," he laughed bitterly. The sound made her cringe. "Some Master of Death."
They stood in silence for a moment. Wordlessly, Harry lit up another cig and handed it to her.
"Never thought I'd smoke," Hermione muttered through a cloudy exhale.
"Never though I'd be a scientist."
She laughed hoarsely.
"Or that I'd be your director."
"Oh, I don't know," Harry grinned. "You've always been rather bossy."
They fell into a familiar dialogue, both studiously ignoring the awkward pauses in their conversation where a familiar redhead should have pitched in. It was bizarre, Hermione thought, studying her best friend under the guise of a particularly deep inhalation, how little he changes. Even when the world was collapsing—the Ley lines shrinking, magic dissipating as if it had never been—the boy would remain, virtually untouched. He would probably still be here when the last natural resource failed, holding his head like he did when Ron died, the picture of youthful agony.
Watching him tap ash into the snow, which was already grey from atmospheric pollution, Hermione felt her resolve harden. And that was why he needed her—left to his own devices, he would probably try to off himself.
That won't happen, she thought determinedly. I won't let him. The mere notion made her want to scream. Instead, she absent-mindedly tugged the lapels of her coat in futile effort to maintain heat—it was the heart of Winter, after all—and nearly jumped out of her skin as warmth pooled to the base of her spine. What? Impossible, there's no feasible way—she glanced at Harry in alarm.
"Your wand still works?" she demanded.
He stared down at the stick held loosely in his palms.
"No," he shrugged ruefully. "Habit, I suppose. And, well, it's the Elder wand. There's always the possibility that maybe, some day…"
"No, Harry. No. Magic is not coming back."
Hermione felt irritation well up inside her, and resisted the urge to either roll her eyes, or cry.
"Fine. It might. And in the meantime, every witch or wizard left on the planet will starve to death from this fucking black hole—yes, fucking, I'll say it again, fucking, fucking, fucking—and then, hundreds of years from now, we'll all be dead, asphyxiated by our own, own magic, own inherent need for magic, own fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking—"
Harry turned away, and bitterly stared down the rows of neat stones, knowing that beneath each one was a witch or wizard who'd died in agony during the First Sublimation, when magic had literally been ripped from the living. Ron had been lucky—he'd only taken an AK to the throat during yet another goblin revolt, before wizard-kind had become an endangered species. It nearly made him laugh. To think that at one point, he worried about blood-purists. Now, there weren't enough of them left for prejudice to matter.
And here Hermione was, talking about things he would not—could not—dare tell himself.
"What I mean to say is, that we can't stay here. Earth is dead, Harry."
He shut his eyes, pained. Behind him, he could hear Hermione move to crouch by his side, could feel her hand like a brand on his shoulder, and Harry wondered, not for the first time, what he would do without her. Harry suddenly felt very old.
"But where could we go? What's left, if not Earth?" he asked, and with a self-depreciating edge, added, "Pandora?"
Hermione stayed quiet, which made Harry feel even older. Hell no, he grimaced.
"You can't be serious."
She bit her lip as if in doubt, but Harry couldn't find any hesitation when he caught her gaze.
"Hermione," he said, slowly, carefully, and not a bit incredulously. "Pandora will eat us alive. She's not our mother, she's…" he floundered for an adjective. Primal? Alien? Inhabited with seven-foot tall blue people?
He wanted to tell her to shove off, tell her she was a lunatic, that it could never work. Pandora was not an option—it was feral, and magical (oh yes, was it magical. Anyone could tell, based on the samples brought back, that it held more power in a few trees than earth had held in the past one hundred and fifty years), but magical in the same, intoxicating way a horcrux was. He wanted to mention the fact that space travel made use of technology, and technology obliterated magic, and that, with how small Hermione's core was, the journey would probably kill her.
Harry didn't say anything. In fact, he stopped, and just stared at her for a long, intense moment, his jaw working but no sound coming out. She looked…tired, he noticed, tired and weary and… very much an adult. He suddenly felt ashamed. Was he so selfish, so afraid, that he hadn't even noticed the lines jutting out like crow's feet at the corners of her eyes, or the fact that this wasn't the same Hermione that followed him into a war: this was the Hermione who became a Doctor, and buried her fiancé, and found the elixir of life. This Hermione had the option to die, but she didn't. She stayed with him, even while everything familiar wasted away into nothing.
It was only right that he go with her.
"Bollocks," he sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. He didn't look at her, already knowing she would be struggling to hide a triumphant smirk. "When do we leave?"