Hi guys, I hope you enjoy this new story! It should end up being two or three chapters long, and I hope to have it finished soon! Some of it is based on my own summer holiday, so that's where my inspiration is from :) Tell me what you think, and enjoy!
Normally Hermione quite enjoyed the flight home after a long holiday. Holidays were all good and fun, but after several weeks abroad, enough was often enough. The anticipation of seeing her home and friends again and, of course, of getting back to some hard work, combined with her general love of flying, always ensured that the flight home would be a pleasant experience. Traditionally she would flick through the photos on her camera reminiscing and consigning the events of the trip to her impeccable memory. This, however, had been no normal holiday.
Instead of thinking back to the highlights of her trip, Hermione tried her best to prevent herself from doing so. She tried concentrating on the articles in her in-flight magazine but none of them proved to be even remotely interesting. She considered taking one of her books out of her bag, but she was too smart to think that they would make the least bit of difference in distracting her from her thoughts.
Hermione continued absentmindedly flicking through the magazine, ignoring the Italian man to her left who had been trying to catch her eye since they boarded the flight in the hope of starting a conversation with her, something which Hermione really didn't have the patience for. Instead, she had turned her body in such a way that she was leaning into the window, her back to the man, making it absolutely clear that she was not open for small talk.
Hermione's hand froze in the air, the page she was turning suddenly clenched between her cold fingers. A panorama of Florence was printed on the top half of the next page, with an article printed beneath. She could not determine what it was about, her gaze was so fixated on the image, but her mind elsewhere.
It was warm. A breeze played with her hair, tickling her face, but she was too content to move it. The chatter of the other people watching the sun set over Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo became mere background noise while the guitar music that was being played softly by a busker precariously perched on the wall surrounding the piazza, with a steep drop behind it, stayed in the forefront of her senses. The whole situation was a cliché, she knew it, but it was the cliché she had been looking for when she had spontaneously booked her flight to Italy. However, there was one main difference to what she had been expecting, Hermione thought to herself with a satisfied grin on her face as warm, strong arms wrapped around her from behind and a chin came to rest in the crook of her neck. Long, silky black hair joined the brown curls already waving around her face, and as his warmth enveloped her, so did a spicy, musky scent she had been able to identify as belonging to one single person in the world since she was in her first year...
Hermione jerked herself out of her reverie. She had promised herself not to torture herself with memories of situations that could never be repeated. Hadn't they decided, together, that what had happened in Italy would stay in Italy? Another cliché, she knew, but one they had decided to follow together. What had been a wonderful fortnight spent together in Italy had to remain just that. Neither of them had wanted to complicate matters by continuing their romantic relations when they each, separately, returned to England. Both of them had agreed that the best thing would be to enjoy this wonderful country together, without having to worry about the future. Without that decision they would never have grown so close, they would have never been so uninhibited in acting upon their desires. Knowing that their time together came with an expiration date had therefore made the last fortnight the most wonderful of Hermione's life. And now that it was over, she had to accept that that was for the best and should only look back on that fortnight with fond memories, and not with this deep longing that churned in her gut.
Congratulating herself for regaining her composure, Hermione spent the next half hour reading an article about the newest fashion trends in Milan with such a look of concentration on her face, that anyone observing her at that moment would have assumed that the article dealt with the finer details of quantum mechanics rather than the fact that heeled trainers and pastel colours would be in trend in the upcoming season.
Hermione blinked blearily, momentarily disorientated. She wasn't where she thought she would be. The light shining into her eyes was unbearably bright, and not gentled by the green canvas of the tent she had been sleeping in for the past month. She didn't feel like she was floating due to the intricate charm she had placed on the floor of the little two-man tent she had borrowed from her parents. Instead she was almost upright, her legs uncomfortably jammed in the little space they were allowed to occupy and a tense knot in her neck that initially prevented her from craning her head to the left in order to find out where she was. As the awareness of being on the aeroplane to Luton took hold of her, so did the awareness of what was missing most of all as she woke up: Severus holding onto her, spooning her while nuzzling her neck to wake her, just as he had that very morning. To Hermione, it was absolutely incredible how close they had become within a mere two weeks. Still half asleep, she let herself think back to how it had all started...
She was sitting at a small cafe in the centre of Palermo, her legs stretched out in front of her and her head leant back, increasing the surface area of her body in order to soak in as much sun as possible. Half a Cappuccino rested in one hand, while she took a drag from her cigarette with the other. Two weeks in Italy had taught her that there was no better combination of anything in the world: sun, great coffee and a Marlboro light. Of course she knew that smoking was bad for her, but then again, so was being in a war and she had survived that. Just about.
The war had been the reason for her departure to Italy two weeks prior. When it had ended, it had felt like all the light had gone from the world. The loss of so many loved ones had made celebration impossible. It had also created a large gap between her and her two best friends. What was the point of discussing anything? It wouldn't help anything, they said. She had tried to help rebuild Hogwarts, but the memories that place held for her had been too much to handle. Hermione had tried to think about her future, knowing that she had to sort something out. She had no family, could not rely on her friends and had little money of her own. However, for the first time in her life she had decided not to do the sensible thing. Instead she had gathered the rest of her money, bought a return flight to Italy and had converted the rest into Euros. After a quick series of short phone calls, informing Minerva and various friends of her plans and asking them not to try and contact her until she returned , Hermione was gone and had not looked back since.
So far she had travelled around the north of Italy before taking a ferry to Sicily. She had two weeks left before her return flight from Milan and therefore had two weeks to travel back to the north. Sicily was wonderful, but it was her last stop, Florence, which she was looking forward to the most. Taking another drag of her cigarette, Hermione contemplated the city she had longed to visit since she was a little girl, listening to her mother's stories about the magical city her parents had visited on their honeymoon. The reminder of her parents sent a quick stab of pain through Hermione's heart, but she pushed it to the back of her conscience as she always did, with the knowledge that they were safe in Australia. Perhaps wishing to go to Florence so desperately was a way for Hermione to feel closer to them again, but mainly she just wished to see the beautiful Duomo rising up from between sun burned church steeples, the mountains rising up around the city, cradling it in their protective embrace...
"Scusi, where you from?" Hermione was startled from her reverie by a smooth voice. Keeping her eyes shut, hoping that she wasn't the one being questioned, she heard the phrase being repeated. Straightening herself, Hermione reluctantly opened her eyes. The one downside of Italy: the men. Although she was single, Hermione wasn't interested in a romance of any kind, especially not with yet another sleazy Italian man, thinking that any single, female tourist was just begging for an affair. Hermione had come to Italy to be on her own, to sort out her own thoughts and feelings and to reinstate her own peace of mind. She had heard the phrase "Scusi, where you from?", sometimes with a "Bella" added in the mix, a few too many times. After ascertaining who exactly was disturbing her peace, Hermione politely told the man in question that she would like to be alone, assuming that he would accept her wish and leave. Instead, it sounded like he was protesting, albeit so quickly and with such a heavy accent that Hermione couldn't make out a single word of what he was saying. Repeating her wish for peace in her own, less than perfect, Italian, Hermione picked up her book from the table and pretended to start reading, lighting up a second cigarette in the process, both to calm down the strong feeling of irritation rising within her again and to have something further to occupy her and therefore to make it very clear to the annoying Italian, that he was superfluous and unwanted in this situation.
Just when the man started raising his voice and carried on acting insulted, clearly unable to accept rejection, Hermione felt a hand on her shoulder. "Is this imbecile making a nuisance of himself?" asked a deep, velvety and hauntingly familiar voice, causing Hermione to gasp and her heart to gallop in her chest. She would recognise that voice anywhere. She started feeling dizzy with a bewildering mixture of elation and confusion. She was sure she would have fainted, were it not for the steady hand on her shoulder, grounding her. As she turned, the cafe she was sitting in, the man who had started shouting and the cigarette which had promptly fallen to the ground, disappeared to nothingness in her mind, replaced only by the endlessly deep, endlessly black eyes which were now connected to hers.
"Snape", Hermione gasped.
"Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. Thank you." The announcement startled Hermione out of her reverie and once again she berated herself for remembering. As she stretched she looked out of the window, dismayed at what she saw. Everything was grey. This was so obviously England and not Italy. In a few minutes she would land and her wonderful holiday would be entirely over.
She would need to try to reconnect with her friends, to find somewhere to live and, most importantly, to work out what she would be doing for the rest of her life.