Title: Shooting Star
Summary: Hermione needs somewhere to stay during Christmas break. – The aftermath of the war and the story that follows.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. The song belongs to B.o.B.
Word count: 2495


Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars?
I could really use a wish right now


Hermione is studying in the library when the thought suddenly strikes her: she does not know where she is staying during the break. She cannot go home, that much is clear.

Her initial plan had been to stay at the Burrow with the Weasleys, but she and Ron are currently dancing in the off part of their on-again-off-again relationship. It's one they have been dancing for almost five months now and it has long since made her dizzy. She's not sure if she can handle it anymore or if she even wants to, honestly.

There is always the option of staying at Hogwarts. Most students will be spending the holidays at home, so she would be able to get plenty of work done. But the thought of being alone on Christmas sounds awful and she automatically dismisses it.

Then the solution comes to her and it is so simple, so obvious, that she chides herself for not thinking of it sooner. Pulling aside a blank piece of parchment, she writes to Harry.

...

Ron is with him when he gets Hermione's letter. His reaction is obvious, even to Harry.

"Don't do it, mate," Ron tells him. "Ginny won't like it. You don't want to upset her."

Harry knows he is only making excuses. It has been months since the war ended, more than a year since he and Ginny ended. Things were never the same for them after Sixth Year and he thinks she knows that. They have both moved on with their lives.

He realises Ron is the one who does not like it. He was probably hoping, despite their break-up, Hermione would still stay at the Burrow. And as much as Harry wants his friends to be happy, he is not sure that Hermione and Ron can make one another happy. At least not anymore. Everyone sees it, he thinks, except Ron and Harry is not sure he can break the news to him. Still, it isn't fair for him to leave her out in the cold.

Harry writes back to Hermione that his flat is her flat.

...

The first thing Hermione notices is that Harry does not have a Christmas tree. He shrugs it off when she asks. So the first thing she does when he leaves is buy one. It is impulsive, foolish, and even a little out of character for her, but she does it regardless.

She chooses a simple, normal Muggle tree, one devoid of any magic. And when he walks in and sees it, Hermione realises that it may very well be his first real Christmas tree. The ones at Hogwarts were for the entire house. The Weasleys always extended their family to him, which, sweet as it was, still was not the same. She does not even bother considering the Dursleys' and the Christmas they no doubt kept away from him.

He stares at her and in that one moment, Hermione actually doubts herself. She wonders if maybe she has pushed her limits, but the thought does not last long. A childish grin spreads across his lips and he all but runs over. She cannot help but laugh when he begins to dig through the box of decorations.

Half way through, Hermione realises that he avoids using any of the gold ornaments. It is rather odd, Harry Potter the Golden Boy of Gryffindor, leader of the Golden Trio avoiding his almost signature colour. But in some ways, it makes sense and she does not pressure him with it.

"Come on," she stands when they have gone through almost all the decorations.

He raises a brow at her. "Where are we going?"

"Into town; we need to get another star. I just realised that I don't particularly fancy this one anymore," she tells him, dismissing the gold star.

Harry stares at her for a moment and she knows that he knows that she has caught him. Finally he smiles softly at her. She shakes her head but smiles back. Thank yous are not necessary. After all, that is what friends are there for.

...

They go to some Muggle coffee shop called Starbucks after. Neither of them has ever heard of it before, but Christmas music is playing, people are laughing, and it is so absolutely Muggle that they cannot help but stop. She orders some Christmas latte, he settles for a hot chocolate, and they huddle into a little table in the corner of the shop. It is almost ironic, two of the most famous wizards in Britain hiding away in the most Muggle place they can find. Harry cannot help but grin.

The star Hermione initially brought is a large golden one. It is bright, traditional, and exactly the star most people prefer for their tree. The one they bought, however, is much the exact opposite. White and silver in colour, it almost resembles a shooting star – small but so full of hope. The perfect wish to add atop their tree.

"Harry..." Hermione speaks slowly, almost hesitantly once their cheerful laughter has died down. "Can I ask you something?" Her eyes are so serious, so concerned that it almost frightens him. He wants to tell her no, because he knows this will not end well, but he cannot. Because after everything she did for him today, he also knows he cannot deny her this much.

"Of course." He forces a smile and hopes to Merlin she buys it.

"This morning when you were out, the post came in. There was a letter from the Ministry – the Auror Office, to be specific. Harry," she reaches across the table and covers his hand with hers. "You have to give them an answer."

"I don't want to talk about it, Hermione," he pulls his hand back.

"But Harry, it's been five months."

"I know that!" He snaps. "But don't act as if I'm the only one who still hasn't moved forward – or have you forgotten about your parents?"

"That's not the same thing!"

"Isn't it?" He does not wait for her answer. He simply gets up and walks out on her, too angry to do anything else.

...

Hermione returns to the flat first. She shrugs her coat off and hangs it up before turning on the radio and taking the single shopping bag to the tree. Harry comes through the door before she even opens it.

Neither says anything to one another, much less offer an apology. While they may not have taken the best approach, they both said things that needed to be said. She gives him a soft smile and holds up their star. An offering of a truce, though she is not quite sure how. He seems to understand though because he smiles back and nods.

They lay underneath the Christmas tree afterwards, listening to the soft Christmas carols and enjoying their tree. At some point, she lays her head on his shoulder and his fingers intertwine with hers. She is not sure how long they stay like that, and she cannot bring herself to care.

"I'm going to see my parents tomorrow," he finally says, his eyes still gazing up. "Will you come with me?"

She smiles even though she knows he cannot see it and her hand tightens around his. "Of course."

They stay like that for the rest of the evening: silent and content, watching their little shooting star shine.

...

Hermione brings lilies. She puts them down in front of their tombstone, but then she worries that they are inappropriate and she should have chosen something else instead. The fact that she brought anything along warms his heart, but she is so worried over such a small, insignificant detail, and it is so Hermione that he cannot help but laugh.

"I love them," he hugs her before she has the chance to get offended. "Thank you." She does not say anything but she smiles in a way that slightly resembles a child who just received a good mark and it makes his grin grow even more.

He does not move away from her, but he turns his gaze towards his parents' grave. A gust of wind blows and he feels Hermione shudder beside him. She says nothing, however, and he is not quite ready to leave just yet, so he tightens his hold on her, hoping to warm her. They stay there for almost an eternity, yet it does not feel long enough.

"I'm not taking the Auror position," Harry mumbles. He feels Hermione's gaze shift towards him, but he does not move. "I'll write the Minister after the holidays," he promises.

She is silent at first. "They would have been proud of you, Harry," she tells him at last. "Your parents would have wanted you to do what you wanted, not what everyone else wanted. They would have been proud," she promises him. "I'm proud of you."

He pulls her closer than he has ever held her before. "Thank you," he buries his face in her ridiculously bushy hair. "Thank you," he breathes. She nods against him. Harry closes his eyes and for the first time in longer than he cares to admit, he cries.

She never leaves his side.

...

That night, Hermione sleeps beside him. He holds onto her, seeking comfort in her presence. She curls against his chest and for once, she does not say much, but still remains there for him. Her eyes rest on his chest, watching him breath soft and slow, in-and-out-in-and-out long after he has slipped into a dreamless sleep. And somewhere along the way, she stops giving him the comfort he needs and starts finding comfort in his touch.

"Harry," she whispers. "Are you awake?" It is foolish, rash, selfish of her to do this now, but she do desperately needs to.

"Mm-hm," he replies.

"I want to find my parents. But I...I'm afraid," she finally admits. "I'm afraid they might be happier this way. I don't want to take that from them."

"You'll never know unless you try," he tells her. "What if they're not? What if they miss you?"

It is on the tip of her tongue to tell him that they cannot miss her because they do not know she exists. She swallows it instead, because she thinks she understands what he means. Because for the first ten years of her life, she knew what it was like to miss something you never knew you had.

She takes a deep breath. "I... I'll go to Australia. Before New Years," she promises.

Harry remains silent for a moment. "Can I come with you?"

He does not have to ask, she wants to tell him, but for some reason she cannot summon the words. So she nods against him and pulls herself closer to him. Somewhere in the distance she hears the clock chime, but she pays it no heed. "Thank you," she mumbles.

She does not have to look up to know he is smiling. His arms tighten around her and she feels his lips brush against her hair. "Merry Christmas, 'Mione."

"Merry Christmas, Harry."

They stay as they are for the rest of the night.

...

The next evening they go to the Weasleys for Christmas dinner.

Holiday cheer and laughter fills the Burrow and it is such a dramatic change from the calm atmosphere they have had that it almost shocks Harry. Still, a grin spreads across his lips and he cannot help but join in with the merriness. He even sings a few carols with Bill and Charlie. Hermione rolls her eyes and helps Molly with dinner, but still laughs when she hears him. The Christmas spirit is contagious, after all.

At one point he catches a glimpse of her leading Ron away and for a moment Harry is honestly afraid. Not for himself, but for Ron and how he will react. Before they arrived, she told Harry she would make sure that Ron knows where his and her relationship stands. When they finally reappear, his face is slightly pink and upset, but he does not explode. He distances himself from her for the rest of the evening, but his good mood does eventually return. And in that moment, Harry knows that his best friend will be alright.

"Ooh, mistletoe!" George grins sometime after dinner. "You two know the rules."

Harry glances above him and sure enough, he and Hermione are beneath the mistletoe. He glances at the others from the corner of his eye. Half the room laughs, while the other half frown as if he and Hermione are some sort of taboo. He does not have to see Ron to know which half he belongs to.

"Er, I don't know if that's such a good idea," he says. It is too much too soon, he realises. No one is ready for this.

But Hermione only laughs. He suddenly realises her laughter sounds awfully similar to silver bells and cannot help but grin. But before he can do much more, she leans over and kisses him once on the cheek. It seems to be enough because the whole room fills with laughter and Harry and Hermione quickly separate.

If they are going to do this they have to move slowly. Everything, he realises, will be on the line – not only their friendship with Ron, but with one another – and they have to be careful. But if they do this right – slow and steady, never forgetting that their friendship takes priority above all else– he is sure it will be worth it in the end.

...

Sometime later, Harry finds her sitting on a bench outside. She is watching the stars when she hears him. He wraps a blanket over her shoulders. Hermione never breaks her gaze, but she knows it is him and moves over so that he can slide in beside her. When he does, he curls his gloved fingers between hers and she automatically leans her head against his shoulder.

"You don't have to come with me tomorrow," she says at last. "To Australia, that is."

"I know," he answers. "I want to. I want to be there for you."

Hermione does not reply, but a soft smile tugs at her lips and she curls her hand closer to his. She has never left his side before and now she knows he will never leave hers.

A silver star shoots across the sky.


Like shooting stars…
A wish right now
Airplanes – B.o.B. ft. Hayley Williams


Note: HHr was my first HP ship, but I lost hope after the sixth book. Somewhere in between the sixth and seventh books I started shipping DHr because, since my initial ship wasn't going to happen, I might as well go extreme. But that changed when I saw the seventh movie. Seriously, how can you watch that and not ship HHr? Haha. (Not that I'm not still a DHr shipper; I just share the love more now.)

I'm writing another, much longer, HHr and this idea stemmed from that. I was originally just planning on writing some Christmas scenes into that, but it changed the focus of that fic. I decided to write this, but my plan was to do it AFTER that fic. Yeah, that changed when I listened to Airplanes. The idea developed and I just kinda ran with it. I started this at 1:30pm, finished it around 5:30, sent it to Muffintine at 6:30 and now I'm posting it at 7:30. Hopefully it doesn't feel rushed.

Special thanks to Muffintine for beta-ing. You're awesome!

Review, please.