England was out. They wanted to go somewhere new, and it was hard to escape from things when everywhere you were being called a hero.
A lot of other countries were out, too. He didn't want to worry about having to learn another language. Australia reminded Hermione of the painful decision she made regarding her parents.
In the end, it came down to The United States and Canada.
They chose the United States.
A few weeks later, they're walking out of the airport in Los Angeles. It's amazing how they were able to make plans entirely through notes, only properly seeing each other when they got to the airport. They'd held each other tight for a few seconds, probably looking to the world as though they were seeing each other for the first time after a long trip instead of before.
The plan was to have a muggle experience. They would travel by airplane, rent a car, and drive around the States. At night, they would stay in cheap roadside motels with two beds.
You can't go on a road trip in the U.S. without seeing the Grand Canyon, or at least that's what Hermione keeps telling him. He doesn't mind, though, so that's where they're headed. Harry fiddled around with the radio for a bit until he found a station that they both didn't mind listening to. He was driving, though later on she would switch with him.
On the way they pass several little stands selling Indian items. They stopped at one and Hermione tried to pretend she wasn't eying this one turquoise necklace, but Hermione noticed. When she walked away to look at something else, Harry secretly bought the necklace to give to her later.
He couldn't wait to see how her eyes would light up when he gives it to her.
"It's so big," Harry said wonderingly.
"How very eloquent of you," Hermione teased him. But she had to agree with him. For once her mind wasn't supplying her with answers, words that she could use. Looking at the Grand Canyon, it seemed to go on forever. She'd known it was big, but she'd failed to grasp how big it actually was.
"Come on, let's take a hike," she suggested.
She wanted to see more.
He could get used to this. Being on the move, but at their own pace. Not having to fight for his life or save the world. Rather, just enjoy it. Enjoy them.
They were lying on the hood of their rental car, gazing at the sky. Mostly they talked about the shapes they thought the clouds took, but at one point Hermione caught him by surprise.
"What was it like walking to your death?" the question seemed to just pop out of her. She was going to tell him to forget it, but his expression seemed more thoughtful than sad or angry.
"Awareness. I saw colors and smelled things I'd never seen or smelled so distinctly before, things that normally wouldn't matter at all to me. But just that once they did, because I knew that I would never smell or see or hear those things again."
"I take back what I said before," she told him.
"About you not being eloquent. What you said there, it was like poetry," Hermione clarified. Then she started crying. It wasn't something she'd done for a while. During the war they'd been on the move so much they'd hardly had time to grieve the loss of their friends as they started to fall. Afterward she'd tried to be strong for everyone else, tried to focus on rebuilding the crumbling Wizarding World. But listening to her friend describe something that no one his age should have been able to describe, that made the last bit of numbness disappear.
Harry rolled over and held her as she cried, eventually joining her in her tears.
Even after the tears had gone, they still held each other.
Only when the sun went down and they started getting cold did they drive back to the motel.
That night Harry went out for a walk. Hermione had the feeling that he'd wanted to be alone for a bit, so she just nodded.
At first she watched some TV. A sitcom, though the quality wasn't the greatest. Mostly she heard feedback and the screen was fuzzy. But Hermione figured that her life could use some humor in it right now. She was going to be alright, although the horrors of war would always be with her. It had changed her in incredible ways, now she could never go back to how she was before.
But we won.
Somehow winning seemed to be the wrong word to use, after seeing the countless losses her side-both sides-had faced. Voldemort was defeated, yes, but oh God, what a cost.
Eventually she turned off the TV and started a book, one that wasn't educational for once.
About halfway through the book, Harry came home. It took one glance at him to figure out that something was wrong...
He was drunk. He stumbled as he walked towards her, and she instinctively got up and helped him to his bed. Reprimending words were on the tip of her tongue, but as she felt party responsible for his current state, she didn't voice them.
She helped him take off his jacket and his boots, and then got him a glass of water. He drank greedily, still thirsty even after he'd had to drink that night.
"Hermione?" he asked her. She waited for him to continue, but he seemed to have lost his train of thought.
"Go to sleep," she told him gently, giving him a kiss on the forehead. As she turned to move away, he grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him. She started, but he silenced her question with a kiss.
Her first thought was that he still tasted like cheap beer and that his mouth was warm. She pulled away suddenly, coherent thought coming back to her.
"You're with Ginny," she said, still panting silently. He's too good for that, too good of a person to cheat.
"I know," he said. But she's not you. The words were unspoken, but they both felt it in the air. They'd always been good at that, communicating without speaking. She fell to the floor, pulled her knees up to her face and hugged them.
"Hermione?" he said again, this time sounding worried. Later he would think about being with her and about breaking up with Ginny, but right now he was only worried about her.
Hermione squeezed his hand, silently letting him know that things were fine between them, that he didn't need to worry about losing her friendship. That was one thing he would never lose, no matter what.
A/N- this is for the prompt "first fight/make-up" over at schmoop_bingo. Reposting this due to some failure on my part, mostly the lack of text breaks and italics. My bad!