Searching for Home
Hermione tiredly leaned against the cold stone wall and crossed out the last entry of 'Granger's' on her list. With tired eyes she stared at the note-book in her hand. It contained a listing of all dental practices in New York, as well as a listing of all the people with the last name 'Granger' that were in the phone book.
She couldn't help but wishing she had paid more attention to modern technology. Sure, her parents had had a computer at home and she had used it often enough during the holidays, but since they wouldn't work in places that were saturated with magic, the bright witch had never taken the time to learn more than casual use of them.
While she could search information on the internet easily enough, finding an address or other personal information about her parents had been a futile effort. She had no legal access to any database containing the whereabouts of her mum and dad and couldn't use her magic to get access because magic and technology didn't mix.
With the war heating up, Hermione had seen the danger clearly. Not only to herself as a muggleborn, but also to her parents. So, when she had made her decision to stick with Harry and help him in anyway she could, she had also decided to erase her parent's memories of her.
With two waves of her wand accompanied with the word 'oblivate' the teenage witch had made her mum and dad forget they'd ever had a daughter. She had removed any trace of her existence from the house, even though her eyes burned with every picture she took down. All of her books and clothes, the old school assignments that her mother had kept, the medal she had won at a quiz when she was nine, her rapport cards, birthday presents, old children's toys… all of it went in a bottomless bag, down to her favourite flavour of tea that she knew neither of her parents enjoyed.
And when she was done, instead of a daughter, Hermione had left David and Marianne Granger with a strong compulsion to move to America very soon, and protective spell that blocked any kind of tracking magic.
As one third of 'the Golden Trio', Hermione had done a lot of difficult things in her life – like breaking into Gringrotts and helping defeat the 'immortal' Dark Lord – but none of it had been as hard, or as painful as that. And in doing it she was entirely alone, without the support of her two best friends. They were her parents after all, and it was her responsibility to make sure they were safe.
Even though her parents had busy jobs and although Hermione had always been rather independent they had always been there for her when she needed them. Her parents had supported her even through the revelation that she was a witch and wanted to go to Hogwarts. They had been her only real human support in her childhood, before she'd finally found friends in Ron and Harry.
And now that Hermione had finished her spell, she was the only one who remembered their time together. She was the only one who remembered her mum comforting her after a rough day at school and her father treating her to an ice cream after picking her up from the library with a firm reminder not to tell her mother. She was the only one who remembered their trips to the zoo or amusement park in her younger years. Only she would remember the laughter, arguments and comfort shared between them. Her parents wouldn't remember any of it, to them she was now a complete stranger and that very thought hurt more than anything she had ever experienced.
But, they'd been at war. Her parents may not have been fully aware of what had been going in – mostly because Hermione had tried to keep the worst of it from them – but she had been right in the thick of it. At the time, it had been the only choice she had felt she could make.
In the heat of the war, living under the shadow of death and destruction with an ocean of fear, loss and despair that threatened to swallow her, the thought of her mum and dad being safe, a whole continent away, had been comforting. Now, though, her heart ached just imagining the blank look in their eyes when she found them.
And she would find them. She had to find them.
But that wasn't as easy as it sounded. Her own shielding spell made it impossible to do so by magic and her lack of advanced computer skills meant she couldn't do it with technology either. Due to her compulsion spell, her parents had left no forwarding address of any kind in Britain and the most they had told the neighbours was that they were moving to the East Coast.
She had done everything she could to make it impossible for the Death Eaters to find them but now she couldn't find them either. For all her intelligence, all her knowledge of both the wizarding and muggle worlds she couldn't do something as simple, as essential, as finding her parents.
He was walking home from the gym, eyes forward, trying not to notice the immensely large buildings, loud music, strange clothes and flashing lights. But he was a soldier who had fought in a war so he had learned to be aware of his surroundings and to pick out unusual or dangerous elements. It was not a switch that you could turn on or of, so it was no easy task not to see how out of place everything still seemed to him.
Even though it was already getting dark, the streets were still busy and loud. And everyone seemed to be in a hurry, paying no attention to anyone else except when they got in their way. Loud honking came from several of the cars and a few profanities that he tried very hard not to hear found his ears anyway.
Steve sighed as he turned the corner into a somewhat quieter street and trudged on, his soul tired even if his body was not.
He was only two blocks from his apartment when he noticed her. She looked small and young, huddled in on herself on the sidewalk, back against the wall. She was the very picture of despair, brown hair in disarray, silent tears streaming down her face and eyes staring blankly ahead.
The street was emptier here, but there was still the occasional passer-by. None of them even paused in their steps. They barely shot her a glance and moved on, ignoring her completely.
He felt his heart tug painfully at the sight. She seemed so lost and alone and completely vulnerable, her sorrow on display for everyone to see. Still, she did not seem to expect anyone to help her. Her tears spilled out over her face soundlessly and while one hand was clutching something at her side, the other is wrapped around her chest as if trying to somehow keep her pain, her sorrow her very heart from spilling out even further.
How could it be that no-one reached out a hand to help her up? How could all these people walk past her without even trying to ease her pain? It pained and angered him all at once. Did people in this new version of the world care nothing for each other anymore?
Steve knows this is not true, he had seen the sacrifice that Tony Stark – of all people – had been willing to make, had almost made, to save this very city. He knows that any of his team-mates would have stopped to help but that doesn't make it better because she was still sitting there, crying alone while people walked by, pretending not to notice.
Almost automatically, his feet led him towards her. If no-one else would help her, he would. It was not even a conscious decision; no it was more something along the lines of an irrefutable fact.
"Are you alright, Miss?"
The voice came from a man standing a few feet in front of her and startled her immensely.
She was already in motion before he man had fully finished his sentence. From where she was sitting on the ground, back against the wall – she hadn't even noticed she had slid down from where she was leaning against it earlier – she had only one real direction she could move in, sideways. She quickly rose to her feet and backed away, choosing to go right so that her dominant hand was between her and the man, and was already reaching for her wand even as she took her first real look at the man.
He was tall, blond, very muscled and unarmed, holding up his empty hands before him to emphasise the last. Hermione blinked and stopped herself from taking out her wand. The man was also clearly a muggle.
"Miss?" he quarried softly. The blond did not move from where he was standing, not even to lower his hands and Hermione concluded that she had clearly overreacted. A lot.
Even though the man didn't appear to be a threat, it was difficult for her to calm down from the sudden shock. Ever since the she left with Harry and Ron to hunt for the Horcruxes all three of them had been on edge. And even now that it was all over, Hermione still couldn't stop the adrenaline from flooding her system when she was caught off guard. Her body was fully prepared to fight or flee even though she needed to do neither of those things.
Instead she took a deep breath and shakily inclined her head to the man in front of her in acknowledgement, too rattled to do anything else.
"Forgive me, miss," the blond apologized, with the same gentle tone that should have seemed strange, coming from such a muscled mountain of a man, but somehow wasn't. "I didn't mean to frighten you."
Hermione swallowed and finally found her voice; "It's fine, you just startled me. I was… lost in thought."
Deep blue eyes regarded her seriously for a moment before he carefully lowered his hands. "Are you... hurt?"
She blinked, surprised and shook her head. "No, I'm fine." she reiterated wondering about his odd concern, before reminding herself that she hadn't exactly responded normally to his sudden presence. "Thank you for your concern." she added with polite finality.
The man didn't leave, though. Instead a light frown formed on his face as his concerned eyes remained fixed on her. She frowned as well and looked down at herself, wondering if she had mysteriously gotten hurt or somehow ended up with blood or even ketchup on her clothes but there was nothing.
She looked up again and the man must have noticed the question on her face because he answered it without her asking.
"Um... You were... crying." He suddenly seemed somewhat awkward, as if he didn't know how to tell her something that should have been obvious to her.
Startled, her hand went to her face but even before she felt the wetness on her cheeks she knew that he was telling the truth.
The whole situation seemed so absurd to her that a smile formed on her face from an odd sort of amusement. She had survived being a primary target in a brutal war, had lost friends had seen horrible things and here she was far away from that all in Muggle America, looking for her parents and she'd been crying. She'd been sitting on a street in New York, crying because it was a little more difficult than she had thought it would be.
"I'm sorry." she told the concerned man, the innocent passer-by that she had taken for an enemy when he startled her and somehow that seemed even more absurd and she couldn't stop herself from letting a small giggle escape her lips. Even though that would probably make the man think she was mentally unstable or something.
Because none of this was funny but she knew that Harry and Ron would have been laughing about this to because in the midst of it all they had needed something to laugh about and their sense of humour had turned somewhat… strange.
"I'm sorry," she said again, waving her hand as if to wave her strange behaviour away, "…it was just a silly thing to cry about. I didn't mean to trouble you."
"It's no trouble, miss." he answered politely and he finally took a step closer, slowly offering his hand to her, "My name is Steve Rogers"
After a short pause, she carefully took his hand in hers; "Hermione Granger"
Even though the man smiled at her, she could still see a hint of something like cautiousness in his stance. 'Then again, I have been acting somewhat bi-polar' the witch mentally told herself 'he has every reason to be a bit cautious.'
"Miss Granger…" the blond started hesitantly after a short moment of silence between them "…if you don't mind, will you tell me what..." he floundered for a moment, gesturing with his hands as he tried to find the right word, "...troubled you?"
And suddenly it struck her that his caution was more out of concern for her than anything else. "It's nothing, I was just looking for someone but I couldn't find them." she answered with a small, rueful smile. "It's been a long week… I suppose I was just tired."
"I see." the man, Steve, nodded with understanding. "Perhaps… a cup of coffee would help?"
Coming from a man that reminded her more and more of an overly muscled Neville it seemed an innocent enough offer. Yet she hesitated, and for a long moment silence was his only answer. Still he waited patiently for her to make up her mind.
And finally, because it had been a long and exhausting week and she did need a little distraction Hermione nodded; "Actually, I much prefer tea."
Steve smiled warmly in return and offered her his arm like a gentleman from an old movie. "I think we can manage that as well."
With a smile, Hermione threaded her arm through his, feeling the despair of the last day fall away. Tomorrow she would continue her search for her parents. Tomorrow and however many tomorrows it took after that. For now she needed a moment to gather her wits.
Her mother did always tell her that things would seem less daunting after a good cup of tea.
A.N.: Another HP/Avengers one-shot. I wanted to do a crossover with another character than Harry and settled on Hermione, because of her connection with the muggle world. And yes, I took a few liberties with HP canon when it came to Hermione's parents' relocation.
I'm not too sure about Steve... I did finally watch Captain America, but I still don't really feel like I know the character. I hope this was ok?