Harry sat in the dim library of 12 Grimmauld place reading another book on transfiguration. He heard the floo in the sitting room activate and then a set of soft footsteps come to the library door. The door swung open and Hermione came into the room "Lo Harry!"
Harry stood up and smiled and looked at her. She had changed very little from the end of the war four months ago. "Hermione I am happy to see you." he told her. They hugged gently and then held each other's hands. "You look wonderful Mione."
Hermione smiled at him and then sat down. She held out a wrapped package to him and he smiled as she said "Happy Birthday Harry."
Harry reached to take the package from her hand and looked down "I didn't even realize it was today. I have been so busy with reading and studying I didn't pay attention."
Hermione frowned and she looked down "I am sorry Harry. I haven't been around much since you and Ginny broke up."
Harry looked at her and smiled "Mione I don't blame you at all. You are engaged to Ron and he is your future."
Hermione stood up suddenly "It's not right Harry. Without you none of them would be alive. You aren't to blame for Fred's death and if you don't love Ginny that way then, they can't make you feel differently."
Harry stood up and hugged her "Mione, don't get yourself worked up over this, its' not worth it and it will only cause you problems."
Hermione spun in his arms "Harry its' not fair how are you ever going to find a path for yourself without getting out? It's almost as bad with the Dursley's you are living like a hermit. When is the last time you were even out?"
Harry smiled at her "I went out just last week."
Hermione frowned "Oh, you mean that incident in Diagon alley where the adoring masses swarmed you? You had to apparate away just so they would leave you alone." Hermione thumped his chest "It's not fair and you deserve much better."
Harry turned away and wiped his eyes so Hermione wouldn't see it. Hermione knew he was getting emotional. "Mione life is never fair. It is the one thing I have learned since defeating the dark lord. Some wizards who lost family blame me for their loss of loved ones, others are afraid of me, and rest can't stop the adoration."
Hermione squeezed him from behind "Harry, what if there was a way? Would you take it?"
Harry tenderly touched her hands "Of course I want to be away from here as much as anyone. I want freedom as well." Harry turned to her and held on to her shoulders "Hermione the one person I want to be with is not free and I really don't see the point."
Hermione slowly answered "Harry what if she decided to become free. What if she would do anything for you because she cares?"
Harry turned back to her and lifted her face to his and gently kissed her lips. They paused and then Harry smiled at her "What did that feel like? Did it make your stomach have butterflies? Did you feel it in your heart…like I do?"
Hermione looked down and then moved back a little as she shook her head no. He could see tears fall from her eyes and he reached out and wiped them away. "This is not your fault Hermione, its mine. I fell in love with you and you can't help it that you don't feel the same. Your heart is with Ron."
Harry pulled her close to him in a hug "He is a good guy Hermione and he is lucky to have you but in order for me to get away from all of this and to find some peace in my life I need to leave here. I need a fresh start and I need to get over you."
Hermione looked at him "I know you do Harry but I am going to miss you so much. It all seems so unfair. You deserve some happiness from all of that you had to go through." Hermione grabbed his shirt collar and cried "Please don't make it be forever. Don't make this goodbye permanent."
Harry went to a wooden box that was on the mantle and handed it to Hermione. Before she could ask he placed his hand over the lid "These are some things for you and you alone. This house will always be warded for you to enter and I ask that you not bring anyone here. I want this to be a sanctuary if you need it. This box will be here and it has another communication mirror should an emergency happen and you need to reach me."
Hermione looked up at him as he continued "If I stay you will worry about me and I think you need to pay attention to Ron and your coming marriage. I can't live like a recluse in this house and the easiest way to avoid this is to leave so I am going to America."
Harry grinned at her "Believe it or not I signed myself up for an Engineering school in Colorado."
Hermione's mouth flopped open "You are going to University? Harry that would mean studying, reading books, and planning. Are you ready for all of that?" Hermione said with a smile.
Harry chuckled "Yes, I know all this because a certain best friend of mine always nagged me about doing it all the time." Hermione then laughed too. Harry looked down at her "I hope you don't mind but I plan on using your voice and nagging to motivate me when I get lazy with my studies."
Hermione really chuckled "No but I question your sanity for doing so but you always were a glutton for punishment Potter!"
Harry and Hermione hugged each other and laughed for a few moments. Harry released her and then they looked at each other for many seconds before Hermione sighed "Harry I want to say something but I want you to know I mean it and that I am not saying it just because. There is nothing wrong with you Harry and that is not the reason we are not together, we are not together because it wasn't meant to be and that is the only reason. I trust you like I could never trust another and you know my secrets."
Hermione looked at him "Secrets that Ron will never know because I can't tell him like I could tell you. You can't be replaced in my life and out there somewhere is someone for you. Hermione hesitated "I long for the day when you visit or return with your someone and we can have tea everyday and catch up."
Harry turned her around and marched her to the floo "Mione, that day will come and I long for it too. I couldn't forget you if I tried. Now go home and be with him. I will see you again as soon as I can and I will write at least once a year on your birthday."
Hermione threw a pinch of floo powder in and then turned quickly to kiss Harry's cheek "Good luck Harry!'
Harry watched her go and then wiped a tear from his eye "Luck Hermione? My luck is never good and I love you."