Disclaimer: Hey, yeah, I'm still not worth millions. But! You know who is? J.K. Rowling is. Because she owns Hermione and all her friends, along with the school they attended and the teachers who taught there and the bad guys who terrorized it. I don't. So. Umm. No suing, okay? Good. Glad we're clear.

Thanks to Alison for planting the seed to this story last night. It's not the one you expected it, but it's here, right?


"stop looking through scrapbooks and photograph albums, because I know they don't teach you what you don't already know" -idlewild, "roseability"


Hermione Granger was a very long way away from home and she was very thankful for it. Yes, she'd put as much distance between her and London as she could've hoped. Four thousand, one hundred and ninety miles, to be exact, she thought to herself primly. Routed through New York City, of course. She hadn't flown, she'd Apparated, but she took a small amount of comfort in the large number. Right now Londoners were settling in for a commute or a spot of dinner and Hermione was only halfway through her day. In fact, she'd just finished lunch and was currently immersed in Chicago's downtown foot traffic. She was wearing simple flared khakis and a white linen shirt and looked like all of them. No one gave her a second glance, unless it was just an appreciative look at another human being.

She was on her way back to her office to churn out a few more inches of text for the interview she was writing and then it was home and maybe some music and wine for her tonight. She was inordinately pleased with her solitary plans for that evening and was already mentally going through her cd collection for something appropriate. Last night she'd been out on a pre-interview with a persnickety Britpop boy she recognized from his huge debut about five years ago and was appropriately tired. Five years seemed like such a long time. In a way, it was. So much had happened in that time.

It'd been a little over a year since she'd left England, determined to leave her brain behind for a little while. It had been easy enough, with her grades, to do whatever she wanted to in the wizarding world. And, unbelievably enough, what she wanted to do was give up books for a while. She'd packed up almost all of her personal library and left it at her parents. She took one box of books and cds, her wand, Crookshanks and the contents of her Gringott's vault with her. The last two years of Hogwarts had been far too much for Hermione and she didn't like thinking about it. She, Harry and Ron had defeated Voldemort a year ago, right at the end of seventh year. Her role in the attack had been rather simple. The potion she had researched and reproduced had been difficult to brew, but that was all she had really done.

All she had done, she laughed to herself as she thought back on it. It had taken a year of her life. Only hers, really, because Harry and Ron seemed to be occupied elsewhere. For a while she'd stopped sleeping, it seemed, while she researched the potion Harry had taken before dueling Voldemort. It was simple and brilliant and she wished she'd actually invented it and ended up in the Hospital Wing for exhaustion three times while she was researching it. It was an ancient potion, working on the same fuel as a Patronus and serving to lend focus to your inherent powers. All you had to do was think happy thoughts, basically, and then blast whomever off to Neverland. Harry had been brilliant, using his vast resources of power to vanquish the evil wizard, saving the world and putting himself nearly into a coma doing so. Hermione had waited to make sure he'd waken up and then she had left. Packed and clicked her heels, so to speak, promising her parents she'd call when she got to wherever she was going. When she got decided to move to Chicago, she threw herself into her life there and hesitated to think about her life in England.

This was curious because Hermione Granger was nothing if not a Gryffindor. She was brave and resourceful and so intelligent it was frightening. She'd been standing beside Harry for seven years, fighting evil beside him in her own innumerable ways. She'd been there for Ron during his various trials and tribulations. But what did she do when faced with the threat of another press ambush, more Ministry inquires since.well, since that nasty business with Voldemort fifth year and all the praise the wizarding world could lay at the Dream Team's feet? Not to mention the absolute horde of job offers she'd gotten. Even Snape had congratulated her, right after he reprimanded her from pilfering a few things from his stores.

When faced with the spoils and glory, she had turn tail and left. She didn't go into hiding at Hogwarts, she didn't hole up in her childhood home, she didn't go on an extended holiday in the sun somewhere. No, she left the continent altogether for the wilds of America. She had, of all things, gotten a job writing about British music for an American magazine. It was a huge magazine with a witch in Human Resources, a few in management, and they hadn't, obviously, been keeping up with events in England because not one of them, bless them, recognized her. Hermione had heard about the job through a newspaper article and when the interviewer had discovered she was a witch, she'd overlooked the numerous holes in the story Hermione had fabricated about her background and hired her on the spot.

She enjoyed her job. She had always listened to the radio when she was home with her parents and had quite a cd collection. Her tastes were diverse enough that she was actually quite good at writing about music. She was shocked she had gotten the job, but she wasn't silly enough to turn away serendipity. She met rock stars, who she viewed with clinical fascination, and got all the free cd's she could find shelf space for. She wasn't star struck, not only because she'd been friends with The Boy Who Lived for years, but because she'd gotten quite famous since her part in the whole thing had come out. Miss Hermione Granger was a star in some academic circles. Which was all the more reason for her to stick around her fabulous Chicago apartment. Sure, she cringed a little when she had to interview her fellow countrymen in person (one never knew who was who) but that was a danger everywhere. It wasn't like Chicago was Unplottable.

She'd only intended to stay a year, but that anniversary was quickly approaching and she wasn't quite sure she wanted to go home just yet. Hermione had spent the last seven years of her life being responsible not only for herself, but for Harry and Ron, to some extent, as well. It had gotten wearing after a while, solving their problems, getting them out of squeezes, maintaining her spotless academic record and performing her student leadership duties. So, she concluded, she deserved a bit of spotty behavior, didn't she? She'd never had the luxury of acting like a child. It was partially her fault, but when she got to the age where she realized there was more to life, she couldn't reach other for it and so even when Harry and Ron had been up to no good she'd stayed focused and busy. She'd helped save the world and if she wanted to party with rock stars, she was bloody well going to do it.

Besides, Americans always went for the accent. Humourously enough, she'd interviewed a Scottish band last month and had swooned at their accents. Funny, you'd think she would've heard more of those soft sounds, living at Hogwarts. She had made a note to look up Oliver Wood when she got back to London and stuck it to her computer monitor. Every day she looked at that note and laughed. The old Hermione would've never written that down on paper. She would've tried to pinpoint what town the band were from using a linguistics text and then immediately set to tracking down Oliver. At this point she just wondered if Seamus would do, as well.

So while she hadn't completely shut down the part of her brain that was almost painfully academic, she was giving it a rest. Her wearied synapses, she reasoned, needed it. Furthermore, it wasn't like writing inches and inches about actual people was as easy as, say, Transfiguration essays. There was an essence to catch here and present to her readers and sometimes it proved elusive enough to be more exhausting than even an essay for Snape.

She set about emailing her article she had been working on during her daydreaming to her editor and then, for the first time since lunch, looked at her watch. And finally, it was time for her to actually get some rest. Wine and music, she reiterated silently. No drinks with publicists and their "hot new things", no happy hour with her coworkers. She would be resolute in her solitude, she smirked to her reflection in the mirror she'd hung on the back of the door. It was silent and she laughed at her whimsy. If it was one thing she didn't miss, it was those blasted mirrors. Grabbing her purse, she then settled into the evening's truly major debate - walking versus Apparating. The sun was shining, though, and the wind looked relatively calm. Walking it was, she decided, and started towards the elevator. Her step was light and she was feeling quite cheerful as she moved down through the core of the building. Fridays, of which this was one, were marvelous things, even if one technically did not have to be in a work building, per se.

Living downtown certainly had perks, such as her proximity to work. It also made it trickier for owls to find her since even magical owls had a hard time distinguishing between curtained high-rise windows. The Daily Prophet owl had mastered it, though, and it was the one she was truly concerned with. She had gotten a subscription because she knew it was a good way to keep up with her friends and the records were sealed. Although, there were a number of tabloids that would've done the same trick, she mused wryly. She and Harry had encountered that sort of journalism fairly often, in fact, since they spent so much time together. Curiously, though, it was always her and Harry, not her and Ron. Which made far more sense than she would ever admit.

The last issue she'd seen featured her class, actually, as the one year anniversary of the defeat of Voldemort approached. And everyone, predictably, was doing what they had done at Hogwarts, only on a grander scale. Harry was playing Quidditch, Ron was working with his father at the Ministry, Parvati was opening a boutique filled with lovely clothes with Ginny Weasley this summer and Lavender was taking the recently opened Divination position at Hogwarts. She'd had to stifle a snort at that. There had been a line about her at the end, something to the effect of her presence being missed in the British magical community. She'd smiled a bit at that, for no reason. It was nice to be missed. She missed them, in her own way, as well. She just wasn't ready to deal with it yet and whenever she thought of it, she got the queerest feeling in her stomach, which she resolutely pushed down. She was enjoying her high-flying journalist lifestyle. Hermione always told herself that she would think about it when it became completely unavoidable and to stop thinking. She was actually quite adamant with herself about it.

It was always particularly awkward when an actual personal missive from the people she'd left reached her and she was forced to debate what to do about it. It was always positive in that there was no real threat at this stage of things, but the sender inevitably begged for a visit of some kind. Sometimes the writer asked if she was using her "talents" wisely. Frankly, Hermione didn't feel like responding, most of the time. She would deal with it what was happening when she got back. They'd survived without her this long, they'd keep doing so. In the end, she'd always send a safely anonymous postcard back, one that didn't have "Chicago: The Windy City!" plastered across it. She'd say what a great time she was having, say something vague about returning and send her love to everyone. She'd also learned some clever cloaking charms. No way were they going to trace her mail. She wasn't the cleverest witch at Hogwarts for nothing.

Her parents, sworn to secrecy of course, just emailed her under her work address. She'd thought of that, a nom de plume for when she was working. After all, someone who knew her was sure to read the glossy she wrote for and it wouldn't be good to be recognized so easily after all her careful hiding, right? Under the right circumstances, her name would've been an asset, being the memorable moniker it was. Alas, she hadn't quite found that opportunity. She started as a Mudblood and ended up a heroine, fan club and all. Honestly, Harry was supposed to have all that nonsense happening to him, being famous since his first birthday, basically. She chuckled a bit at that throught and noticed she'd reached her apartment. The last year of urban life had obviously made her commute subliminal. Nodding at Alex the doorman, she stepped into the shiny silver elevator and continued the ongoing debate about what she was going to listen to.

Having made her decision, Hermione stepped out of the elevator on her floor and started over to her door. It wasn't warded or otherwise magically protected. She hadn't seen the need, honestly. Who would look for her here? Yes, she thought smugly as she fit the key into the lock, she'd created a cozy little life for herself here. She opened the door, dropped her purse on the table she kept in the foyer and noticed Crookshanks sitting at her feet and looking pointedly into the living room. She smiled a little at his disturbed look and picked him up to carry him into the room he'd been drawing her attention to.

"Aww, was my poor Crooks lonely to." She trailed off as she realized the reason her half-Kneazle cat had been staring into the living room. His catlike appearance, it seemed, had lulled Hermione into temporarily forgetting his uncanny intelligence. He could hardly blame her, she was kind of tired sometimes these days. So there he sat in her arms, smug in the knowledge that he had one up on her right now, as she looked between the two people occupying her front room. She'd thought he had just seen a spider or something, scuttling across her immaculate crème carpeting. It was something much more concerning than that, especially considering where her thoughts had been for most of the day. Perhaps this was karma, chiding her for her smugness, she thought wildly as she observed the scene.

Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, it seems, had decided to join her for that bottle of wine.