The Death Eater trials were a messy and complicated affair. Money definitely helped to grease the wheels and it had ensured that the Malfoys got their trials first. Narcissa Malfoy had already had hers and had been completely acquitted thanks to Harry's testimony on her behalf.
Draco was having his trial next and Harry was going to testify for him as well. Although Harry had been more suspicious of Draco Malfoy activities than anyone, he felt fine about testifying on his behalf. Hermione was not so forgiving and her skin was practically crawling with indignity as she was sitting a seat over from Draco Malfoy in the waiting room of the Wizengamot court.
She was annoyed that they were in the same room. He was technically a prisoner and there was a guard across the room making sure he didn't abscond. Sadly, there was a chance that he would be acquitted, particularly with Harry standing up for him. If it was up to her, he'd rot.
"So, what you planning for the summer, Granger?" She heard his lazy drawl.
She couldn't quite understand why he was talking to her. Wasn't it below him to talk to her. She would really miss those days if they had passed. The constant tapping of his foot on the floor indicated how nervous he was. He was dressed in fine clothes, obviously the treatment of prisoners had improved from some of the others she's seen. Again a privilege of the wealthy.
"I am going backpacking around South America with my cousin." She said tersely.
"You're what?" He asked.
"Backpacking. Its a muggle concept related to travelling around the world on the cheap."
"Broke are we?" He asked with an arrogant chuckle.
Hermione's back bristled at the arrogance.
"No." She started as if speaking to an unruly three year old. "It has its own dignity."
"Yeah right." Draco snorted. "Travelling around staying in cheap dirt holes, not to mention travelling like a muggle. Awesome." He said sarcastically.
"Just shut up Malfoy. You couldn't hack it. Too dependent on people waiting on you hand and foot. You couldn't manage a day."
Hermione dismissed the challenging look he was giving her.
"Anyway, you're probably going to be rotting away in Azkaban." She concluded sharply.
"I can handle anything. Where do you think I have been spending the last three weeks?" He challenged.
"Where you naturally belong."
"Believe me I can handle whatever flee infested hell hole you see fit to shack up in. I was on the run for several months remember." He sniped.
"With your mummy!" She bit back.
"Right." He said matter of factly. "When they let me go, I will join you on your tour of muggle establishments for the financially challenged. After all, it would be interesting to see how poor people like yourself make the best of your pathetic situation."
"As if. You wouldn't make it through the first day. Really Malfoy, you should just accept your pampered and gilded limits." She laughed derisively. "I would really like to see you try. I bet you'd be crying for your mummy before you pack it in."
He snorted again and mumbled something under his breath. He was too smart to call her a filthy mudblood just before his Death Eater trial, but she was sure it was something equally colourful. She'd never understand why Harry would even contemplate helping him. Unfortunately we would probably receive a light sentence and if by star crossed chance he made it out in time for her departure, there was no chance he'd follow through. He wasn't exactly known for follow-through.
She stood and walked over to one of the windows when Harry walked through the door. Even looking at him pale ferret face made her want to smash his face in.
Harry arrived just in time for the courtroom door to open and invite all parties in. Draco, to Hermione's delight, looked like he was about to throw up with nerves.
Serves the prick right, she thought.
She stayed until she was asked to testify, which was only to corroborate some of the facts from Harry's testimony. Sadly they didn't ask what kind of loser arsehole they were dealing with, because she could have enlightened them. After that she left, no point hanging around. She had seen her fill of Draco Malfoy looking nervous and stressed. Not that it hadn't been enjoyable, but it required looking at him which was taxing no matter how unhappy he looked.
The wizard world was a mess in the aftermath of the Great Battle. She, along with Harry and Ron were the celebrities de jour and it wasn't sitting well with any of them. She couldn't wait to escape with her cousin Clara, who she didn't really get on with that well, but Clara knew how to sniff out a party at a thousand paces, so her parents felt it would be good for her to loosen up a bit after the year she had barely survived. She couldn't quite argue with the point that some light diversion might be in order and it might give her a chance to get to know her cousin better.
The press and the people with political aspirations clambering after them were distasteful. Harry was struggling but trying his best, Ron kind off loved the attention, particularly from the female side to Lavender Brown's chagrin. Ron and Hermione didn't quite get back together after their time on the run and he had returned to Lavender Brown's willing arms. Hermione couldn't quite forgive him for abandoning them in the thick of it.
As for the rest, they were starting to leave her alone a bit more after some of the terse comments she had given to the press and at functions. Harry was still optimistic about a better world, but she was starting to get creepy feelings about how some things were developing. The fact that the toad-woman Dolores Umbridge had been appointed as an undersecretary to the Department of Muggle Affairs was incomprehensible. Even worse was the new sub department committed to Muggleborn Affairs, which just sent the creepies up Hermione's back, even though she could understand that the Ministry intended to make an extra effort to integrate Muggleborns into wizard society as most who hadn't been killed, had left the wizard society after they had been 'shown the door' and their wands had been seized. It just like the Muggleborn registration requirement during the war with a prettier PR purpose.
Harry was still optimistic and was being wooed by everyone. Arthur Weasley had been promoted, which was good, but Hermione wasn't sure much of the supposed reforms were being implemented. As for her, she was going back to Hogwarts in the fall to finish her last year. There were some limits of what she could pursue in terms of careers without her last year, so better off getting it. Harry was going to try to get into the Auror's Department and he can pretty much do whatever he wanted in this society now. Ron didn't seem to have made up his mind, but his mother was pretty adamant that he return with Ginny this fall. Mrs. Weasley usually gets what she wants from Ron, so Hermione expects that he will be there, along with his attached-to-the-hip girlfriend Lavender.
Hermione caught up with Harry at his new apartment right in the centre of Diagon Alley. It had been a gift as a thank you for everything he had done for this world since he was a toddler.
"He's been acquitted." Harry said with a tired smile.
"Shame. It would have warmed the cockles of my heart thinking of him rotting away in Azkaban." Hermione said with a wave of her Butter beer glass.
"He is an utter git, but he doesn't deserve Azkaban. Everything he did, he did under duress." Harry said.
Hermione had to grudgingly concede the point.
"He also said he had plans to do a bit of travel around the muggle world over the summer. Completely odd for him, but it went over well with the crowd." Harry continued.
Hermione's eyes sprang open. She had completely forgotten about their little challenge. Oh god, she thought, hoping he's not serious about coming along. I would rather kill myself then go backpacking with Malfoy.
"Isn't that the oddest thing you'd ever heard?" Harry continued while cutting up some vegetables for the dinner he was cooking for them and Ginny who was still expected. "I never would have guessed that one."
Hermione struggled to think of something to say, but in the end decided to not say anything at all. There was no way he would actually go through with it. And she certainly wasn't going to extend the invite or tell him when they were leaving. He would just end up missing her and no one would be the wiser.
The next couple of days went in a blur as she and Clara was trying to get ready. They had the first leg of their flight booked which took them to Mexico for a change before heading over to Cuba. Hermione had always wanted to go so it was their first stop before flying onto Brazil. The plan was then to go by bus through Argentina, Chile and end up in Peru before heading back at the end of the summer.
Hermione could feel some excitement starting to seep into her after her complete exhaustion following the war. The casualties had been heartbreaking and had sapped her of every good feeling she had managed to hang onto.
She had a credit card, her passport and visas organised. She was packed and ready to go. The whole affair had been planned with military precision. The hostels had been booked on the internet and she had read up on all the things she was planning to do along the way. Clara might be hungover through the vast bulk of it, but she didn't care. Fun would be had if it killed her.
The night before their departure, her parents were probably more nervous than she was. Harry and Ginny had come by to say farewell. Mrs. Weasley would not let Ginny stay over at Harry's but for most intents and purposes, with the exception of apparating home to sleep, Ginny was pretty much living with Harry.
Hermione had a fitful sleep before getting up at dawn and started to cook breakfast for all. With everything packed, there wasn't much else for her to do. Clara was staying over and they were heading off around nine.
Once she'd eaten she had to help Clara repack as she couldn't find her passport which was in her bag somewhere. Hermione decided that maybe she would hang onto all important documents during the trip.
She could feel excitement building as they headed toward the door, packed up like cart horses. Well, not so bad. Hermione's planning had reduced a lot of the bulk and she had managed to get Clara to leave behind about half of her intended wardrobe.
As she opened to door she was met with the sight she least wanted to see, Draco Malfoy.
"Going somewhere Granger?" He said to Hermione's gaping mouth.
"You can't be serious." She said.
"Dead serious. It seems it would do my father's case a world of good if his one and only son travelled around the muggle world with a mudblood and a muggle this summer." He said with a tight smile that showed he wasn't all that pleased either.
"How did you know where I live?" She stammered. "How did you know we were going?"
"Suffice to say I know where you live." He said with a sneer. "And I had an elf posted to tell me when you were going."
"You'd had an elf posted, watching my house?" She said incredulously.
"Twenty-four, seven." He said lightly.
"This shall be fun, don't you think?" He said with narrowed eyes.