A New Beginning
Several years after the final battle at Hogwarts, Hermione found herself dissatisfied with her increasingly stagnating lifestyle. She was still single while all of her childhood friends were married and had children. Her work at the Ministry went unnoticed and unappreciated since the pureblood Old Guard was still resistant to change. Her parents were safe and sound in Australia, however, they still had no memories of their daughter since their wartime Obliviates had proved to be irreversible. Consequently, Hermione soon realized that she had nothing to keep her in England anymore. Therefore, she decided to make a daring move instead.
She packed up Crookshanks and the belongings in her modest flat. She said her goodbyes to Harry, Ron, and the rest of her friends - and promised to keep in touch. After all, it was quite easy to travel when one had magic. Then she moved across the pond to New York!
She had visited there several times since the war ended and had loved the widespread American policy of equal rights and integration that had even heavily influenced the magical population there. Everything that she had been trying to achieve in vain in England was already in practice in America (in general) and in New York (in particular). Therefore, the decision to move was easy- especially once she had happily used her savings, as well as the substantial monetary award that went along with her Order of Merlin: First Class that she had received for her services and sacrifices during the war, to buy something that her heart had always desired – a book shop.
Tome, Text, & Treatise was not just a typical bookstore, however. It served both the magical and nonmagical higher education and intellectual communities. The magical side opened up straight from Liberty Lane (New York's version of Diagon Alley) and carried everything from ancient spellbooks to the newest editions of the required textbooks on Ilvermorny's supply list. The nonmagical side opened up from an idyllic side street (Wisteria Avenue) in a small and relatively quiet Manhattan college community and carried everything that such a neighborhood could want, as well – such as books about art history and the modern classics, as well as the latest scientific journals.
Hermione and Crookshanks lived in the apartment above the shop, so she had easy access to both worlds and she made a point to employ young witches and wizards who could comfortably straddle them both, as well. Therefore, all in all, since the move, she could honestly say that she was the happiest that she had ever been – except for perhaps when she first found out that she was a witch. Perhaps one day she would be able to find someone to share that happiness with her, but for now she was able to be content with what she had.
A New Friend
With her immersion into both the wizarding and nonmagical aspects of American culture, it was no surprise that a couple of years later, Hermione found herself thrown into the superhero world as well. Somehow, during what should have been a simple trip to her favorite museum, she found herself in the middle of the Battle of New York. The main arena of fighting seemed to be in the center of the city where the Avengers were actively engaged with the invaders. However, plenty spilled over into the wings – such as where Hermione was located.
She did not know what they were, only that they came from the opening in the sky – which she assumed was a wormhole or portal of some sort. Therefore, they were probably either aliens or beings from another dimension. Whatever they were, they were destroying the city…and its people. Accordingly, Hermione did what she had always done best. She protected those who could not protect themselves.
She used every blasting spell that she could think of to knock the metal-armored warriors, and their vehicles, out of the sky one by one. She did this each time one of the invasion force broke off from the main arena of fighting to head her way – and she could only hope that other witches and wizards were doing the same thing in other parts of the city. In her location, however, she was completely alone with no assistance - and so continued to fight on her own until she panted with exhaustion. Consequently, she did not notice the warrior on an air sled type vehicle (She later found out that they were called chariots.) headed straight for her – not until it was knocked off course by the big green body that suddenly stepped between her and it. Hermione watched as it crashed and exploded before she turned back to her rescuer – who eyed her speculatively.
"Thank you…Big Guy." Out of habit, she spoke to him slowly and carefully, the same way she would have done with Grawp. She recognized him from the TV and newspapers as the super that they called the "Hulk." However, other than that, she did not know much else about him – nobody did. Apparently, when he was not out smashing things, he kept a very low profile – which was really quite ironic considering his large size and vibrant color!
At any rate, she continued to explain the situation to him. "I've been watching you and I can tell that you are one of the good guys – so am I. See!" She showed him the giant pile of debris from the fallen metal snake-thing (She was later told that it was called a Leviathan.) that she had blasted out of the air as it had hurtled towards a nearby elementary school. He just grunted, but she thought that he looked rather impressed, as well. All of a sudden, she saw another warrior in an air sled headed straight for her new friend.
"Watch out!" she shouted. He barely had time to turn around before she sent a blasting curse behind him – which destroyed the incoming threat immediately. He grunted his appreciation just as several more bore down on them. Hermione realized then that the Big Guy made a much more obvious target for them than she did and she quickly cast a Disillusionment charm over her new fighting partner. He shivered at the raw egg feeling and she had just enough time to admit that she had effectively camouflaged him and that he was all-but-invisible to everybody but her.
His grin of anticipation convinced her that he understood what she had said and that he was going to take full advantage of the new development. By that time, the sleds were upon them, however, and there was no more chance to talk. It was time to fight, instead!
The disillusioned Hulk wreaked havoc as he jumped from sled to sled and effectively disabled them and their drivers. Confused by the enemy that they could not see, the warriors turned their weapons on anything that moved – including each other! Therefore, Hermione kept an eye out for the Hulk's safety, as well as on his progress, while she blasted several more sleds out of the air to protect him as he made his way towards one of the giant metal snakes.
After it had crashed to the ground in a fiery pile, she felt herself being picked up and carried as the Hulk jumped to higher ground on top of a building. Surprisingly, she felt no fear in his strong arms – quite the opposite, in fact. She was even able to relax enough to rest for just a moment - until they reached their destination. He then set her down gently and she noticed that they had a much clearer view of their surroundings from their new position. Together, they looked down at the carnage.
"Hulk smash!" her companion growled fiercely - as he pointed down at the wreckage.
"Yes. Yes, you did. Good job!" Hermione agreed and patted him on his thickly muscled arm while he grinned at her in an uncharacteristically happy way. "And now you get to do it again," she announced with a sigh as she pointed off to the side where several more sleds suddenly came into view and headed straight towards them. Before long, together they had taken out those sleds, and several more as well - before the battle finally died down around them altogether.
"Okay, Big Guy," she finally said in a voice thick with exhaustion as she removed his Disillusionment charm. "I have to go now before the rest of your crowd finds me. I don't know how they would feel about what I did here today and I don't want to give away my secret, yet – if I haven't done so already." She spoke in a normal voice to him now that she could tell that he did not have the same childlike innocence that Hagrid's half-brother did and that he was a vast deal more intelligent, as well – even if he did not speak very much. Then she reached up and gently stroked the big green face – which caused the Hulk to blink in surprise.
Fighting together as a team had changed the dynamic between the two of them and Hermione suddenly felt a great deal of affection for the large odd-colored man. She would have liked the opportunity to get to know him better, but she did not want to cause any problems by revealing her true nature to the rest of the Avengers. Consequently, it was with quite a bit of regret that she told him, "Goodbye, then." and gave a little farewell wave. Before the Hulk could blink again, though, she was gone. She had disappeared into thin air!
"Pretty Witch!" the Hulk rumbled sadly, right before he noticed the tiny speck that fell out of the sky where the portal had previously been. He decided to take a closer look and managed to get there just in time to keep Iron Man from smashing to his death.