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Chapter 1: Chapter One
Harry sighed as he left work, apparating straight to Hermione's apartment, rather than his own, and knocking on the door with a weary thud. “Hermione?” He called to his old friend, hoping against hope she was at home “Hermione, open up. It's me.”
It took a few knocks to wake her up, but a very sleepy Hermione finally made her way to the door and opened it. "Harry?" She frowned, glancing at the clock. 11 at night. "What's wrong?"
Harry frowned as he took in Hermione's bedraggled, sleepy appearance and immediately felt incredibly guilty for waking her. “I'm so sorry, Hermione. I didn't expect for you to be in bed and I had such a long day at work and didn't want to go home and really felt like talking to you but now...” The words tumbled out of Harry's mouth at a rapid pace “I'm sorry, I-I can leave if you want.”
"Harry, no, it's fine." Hermione laughed sleepily, shaking her head as raindrops started to beat against the street in front of her house. "It's fine. Here, come in. I can't leave you out in the rain, now can I?" She led him inside and walked to the kitchen to make tea. "What did you want to talk about?"
“Thank you, Hermione.” Harry said, smiling wearily. He stepped over her doormat, making sure to wipe his wet shoes so as to not disturb Hermione's pristine apartment, before taking a seat on the couch, stretching comfortably as if the house was his own and sighing dramatically. “It's work, you know? It’s so stressful being an Auror, and you get some real prats coming in and making ridiculous complaints. The cases are circular too; I mean how are you supposed to track someone down that has been apparated away? Sometimes, I swear it would be easier to be a muggle.” Harry laughed feebly, draping an arm over his eyes.
Hermione crossed over to Harry from the kitchen, giving him a cup of tea and a sympathetic nod. "I know what you mean. After the war, they expect us to be some kind of superhero." She shrugged, sitting down on the chair next to him.
“Exactly!” Harry exclaimed, a smile beginning to grow on his tired face. “You're really the only one who actually gets it.” He accepted the tea with a word of thanks. “People think we have it so easy, and then they treat us like there are secrets only we know. I'm still waiting for the time when they finally treat me as Harry, just Harry.” He grinned widely after this proclamation, his mind drifting back to his eleventh birthday and a life-altering conversation with Hagrid.
Hermione blushed lightly, looking down and causing her curly, dishevelled her to hang over her face. "Have you spoken to Ron, lately?" She asked, looking up at him with an edge of hopefulness in her voice.
Harry shook his head, his heart sinking slightly as he saw the hopefulness shining through Hermione's features. “Sorry, Hermione, but I don't have any further news since the last time I saw you. I still haven't seen Ron since the Auror party when he went off with Lavender...” He scowled, almost spitting the name out.
"Oh." Hermione replied tonelessly, trying to hide her disappointment as she brought her knees to her chest. "It's alright. He's just another boy." She shrugged. But the truth is, they both knew Ron wasn't just another boy. He was her first love and Harry's best friend, practically family to both of them - but that didn't stop Ron from running off with Lavender and shutting off contact with the trio for months at a time. Hermione knew it wasn't her fault, or at least she hoped it wasn't, but that sure didn't stop the heartbreak. But, noticing the sympathy in Harry's eyes, she put on a bright smile. "But I'm sure he'll come around, right?" She said, rather enthusiastically for a girl whose disappointment was so evident seconds before.
Harry nodded, smiling despite the worry and uneasiness gnawing at his chest. “He'll pull through. It's Ron. But I will have to bail him up if this continues much longer.” He sighed. “I miss my best friend.” Harry's eyes slid out of focus for a moment as his thoughts overwhelmed him, before he shook his head and fixed the smile back on his face. “But, as you said. He'll come around. How's your work going?”
"Busy, as usual." Hermione shrugged, trying to diffuse some of the tension in the room. "You would think after the war, blood status wouldn't be a problem, but it seems that that's the only thing the ministry is working on these days." Hermione shook her head. "I'm not saying that I hate my job - I really do love it. But it can be a bit tiring." Hermione's weary expression turned into a brighter one as she remembered something. "But I guess it won't be too long before the holidays - I could take a break then."
Harry shook his head in anger. "I can't believe there are still people out there that care about blood status. I think you've more than proven yourself to be a thousand times more intelligent and all-round amazing than them, so don't dwell on it." Harry stated, his voice quite cold as he bit his lip, refraining from launching into a rant on the prejudice still lingering in their new society. "You should definitely take that break though; you could take some time off and do anything you wanted. You've never had that freedom before, Hermione. What with all your studying, the war and the rebuilding, and your new job. It'd be so good for you. You could travel the world, even learn how to fly!" He grinned to himself, chuckling at the mental image of his old friend on a broomstick.
"Flying?" Hermione laughed. "Don't get your hopes up, Harry. I've never been very good." She shrugged, still processing everything he said about her intelligence. "But thank you, though. It's so nice to have someone understand." She sighed sleepily. "Hey, do you want to sleep over tonight? You can have the guestroom." She smiled softly. "I'd hate for you to have to go home this late at night, especially in the rain."
Harry nodded, still smiling. "Yeah, flying. I'll teach you, you'll love it. Blimey, really? That would be brilliant, actually. As long as you're positive that it's okay with you. I'd hate to put you out in any way, but it would really help me out." He replied, shooting her a look of thanks.
"Don't be stupid, Harry. You're practically family - of course you can stay here." Hermione grinned. "Is the guest bedroom all right? I'd offer you my room, but it's rather messy with books and papers and things." She shrugged apologetically.
Harry grinned in thanks at Hermione, rolling his eyes playfully at the state of her room. "Of course that's okay. I'll be perfectly fine there, don't worry. I'll even make you pancakes in the morning as my thanks. If you trust my cooking, that is." He chuckled.
"Really?" Hermione grinned. "That'd be wonderful, Harry!" She took a deep, contented sigh and shook her head. "It's settled. You're sleeping over. Here, let me go make sure the guest bedroom is in decent shape." She stood up, running a hand through her hair before making her way to the guest room.
Harry nodded, "Of course, it's the least I could do!" He smiled, chuckling to himself as Hermione sprung up and bounded off in the direction of the guest room. He shook his head as she disappeared through the doorway, muttering to himself; "Some things never change."
"I heard that" Hermione called out as she made her way to the guest bedroom, making sure everything was perfect before returning to Harry. "Okay, it's looking good." She nodded.
"It's true!" Harry called back, snickering to himself as she returned. "Of course it's looking good, Hermione. Did you expect any different? Because I didn't." He grinned cheekily up at her.
Hermione rolled her eyes, swatting his arm playfully. "Just go to bed, Harry." She laughed, trying to sound irritated. "I love you, but you're so annoying when I'm sleep deprived."
Harry pouted immaturely, trying not to let his amusement show on his features. "Fine, party pooper." He got up, heading to his room at a terminal pace with his shoulders slumped. He disappeared through the door, maintaining his facade, before sticking his head back out and grinning widely at Hermione. "Love you too... Hermy!" He laughed gleefully, shutting the door before she could react violently to the terrible nickname stemmed from Hagrid's half-brother.
"Go to sleep, you git!" Hermione called before she walked through her bedroom door, trying to supress her giggles. She felt like she had a permanent smile plastered on her face up until she went to sleep, the nights events causing her stress to lighten up quite a bit.
Harry chuckled to himself as he heard Hermione's muffled response through the wall. He strode over to the guest bed before realising that he had no pyjamas, shrugging to himself and stripping down to his underwear before crawling into the king sized bed. As his exhausted body sunk into the pillows, Harry failed to contain the smile that grew across his face as he recalled the events of the night, and the stark contrast between them and then beginning of his day.