A/N: Here is another chapter for you lovely people. I want to dedicate it to everyone who came back after all this time, and one person who messaged me. You know who you are.
You are all the best readers any teenage girl with a lot on her mind could want.
New York I love you, but you're bringing me down.
The song sings through her bones as she lets the vibrations of the city get to her heart. There's something beautiful and sad about this canyon of architecture, this valley of the manmade; people go through their days without taking much notice of each other, and it's so different from the close-knit community she's grown accustomed to that she can't help but feel a little lost.
"Excuse me? Are you Hermione Granger?" New Jersey accent awakens her from the view through the coffee-shop window; brings her back to the cup of coffee smarting her hand with its heat, where she clasps it loosely; back to soulful eyes and tattooed skin.
She studies him quickly; takes in the short blonde buzz cut, the matching stubble, the square jaw. She can see tattoos peeking out onto his neck, behind the scarf he's wearing. It's springtime in NY, and so there's still a slight chill in the air.
She expects him to look expectant, and yet his blue eyes are smiling at her, and his expression is patient and kind.
"I'm Hermione Granger, yes," she supplies, offering her coffee-warmed hand to him. He shakes it with one as warm, from being shoved into his jacket pocket.
"It's an honour to meet you, really. I didn't mean to disturb you, but I just wanted to say thank you, and could I buy you a drink?"
It was hard to say yes, but even harder to say no. The city would swallow her whole if she didn't talk to someone.
New York is so big, and I'm so small. I remember before the war how well-fed we all were, how healthy we looked. Nowadays I look in the mirror and wonder where the rest of me went.
It will take a while for our bodies to return to normal, I know. But it's still strange seeing all these angles and points on myself; I wish you were here. You always made me feel better about being me.
A guy bought me a drink today – a Butterbeer in a local wizarding place, you know how I don't like Firewhiskey much. I was surprised people here actually knew who I am; I'd prepared myself for a certain amount of fame but as far as I know the war never really reached as far as the USA.
I needed the company, more than anything. I miss you, you see. If I was someone else I would have been flattered that a good-looking guy like him bought me a drink; I'm not someone else, though. His jaw was too square for me - I ended up telling him all about you.
This city really is incredible, though. I love the variety, the vibrant culture they've got here. It's like London times one hundred. Someday we'll have to come back here together, and just fade into the background – I'm doing that now, but I think it would be a lot less lonely with you.
I'm sending this letter with photos of me being a tourist at all the landmarks here – Muggle photographs, mind, couldn't exactly get a passerby to take a wizarding photo and not freak out when the photos started moving. Hope that's okay.
She's lucky she Apparated into Tibet; it's so difficult to get in legally, she would have been stuck at the border for months.
The first thing she notices is how very high up it is. She notices this through violent altitude sickness. She persevered, climbing higher through the hills, until she reached a temple. The monks there took pity on her, coached her back to health.
The mountain air eventually became soothing. It's hot in Tibet, but cool in the mountains. She meditates daily with the orange-robed monks, trying to find her centre again in her own self-imposed bubble of loneliness.
At one point she comes to a sudden realization that Hermione might be her centre - her rock, solid and secure. After that she spends her meditations trying to scour the earth with her mind, trying to pick out the one spark of indomitable energy and consciousness, that familiar glowing woman. She finds her one day, and manages never to lose her again. It's cheating, almost; seeking her out every day when they'd promised each other distance. But the lack of words, the lack of presence; that alone is more than enough distance.
Photos arrive with a letter from her, one day. Luna reads the letter hungrily, clasping it with both hands, eyes drinking in Hermione.
One of the monks asks to see the pictures, and laughs at Hermione posing at New York landmarks. Luna keeps rereading the letter.
I am in the wonderful country of Tibet, staying in a temple with some lovely Buddhist monks. At first the altitude sickness was awful, but now I rather feel better than before.
It's amazing how many places are so different to each other on this one small planet, at least to me. I suppose I've been spending more time away from people than you have been, and yet I feel more connected than ever to everything.
I think sometimes, crowds can cloud your perceptions of yourself. I know I can't think when there are so many people around.
I feel so sad that a country like this is in such trouble. I wish there was more to be done – unfortunately, this is a Muggle problem, and we cannot interfere. It's funny to think of all the things we lose when we gain magic. We have to be so careful, Hermione, to not reveal ourselves fully.
I wish this letter wasn't so brief. It's hard to find the words to say when you spend your days in silence.
I miss you, and the way you saw all of me at once. Nowadays when I meditate I search the earth for you; it's amazing how I always manage to find you again.
Hermione receives Luna's letter surprisingly quickly. The apartment building she's staying at in Battery Park is stale and full of tourists today, as the temperature climbs up to 100, so she's stayed in, with the windows wide open.
There is no air con in the apartment, but reading Luna's letter is as good as.
That night, she sits on the sticky laminate floor of her kitchen – well, kitchenette, but kitchens always make her feel more grounded – and faces east. Palms turned upwards on her crossed legs, she closes her eyes, and focuses on her breathing.
Slowly the noises of New York fade; the smell of traffic disappears; the cold, clammy plastic of the floor vanishes from beneath her. She is ether, darkness; she is Hermione.
And somewhere in the distance is a small glowing light, faintly blue but with pink tinging its edges. And Hermione knows, deep in her heart, that this is Luna.
A/N: More poetry next time; it was lovely how many of you commented on it last time.