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Until the Dust Settles by ladyemma
Chapter 1 : Chapter One
 
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Chapter One

"Anything good today?" Harry asked Hermione, nodding at the newspaper she was reading.

"Not really, the usual rubbish. Krum has a new girlfriend who is a famous singer. Oh, and a few more death eaters were caught, though they're claiming being under the Imperius curse of course," Hermione replied, rolling her eyes.

"No mention of us?" Harry asked. For a while now, there was the occasional article about him and his living situation. Before it wasn't so bad, because Ron was living with them too. But then Ron fell in love with Luna, and they moved in together. Now it was just Harry and Hermione living together, something that the media loved to point out. Now, it seemed, their supposed love affair was over, though who knows until how long.

Hermione shook her head, then checked her watch. "Damn, I have to leave now or I'll be late." She worked part time at the library, a job she quite enjoyed. Of course it wouldn't be her job forever (Hermione wanted to be a healer), but for now she enjoyed being around books and people who loved to read. As Ron had pointed out, since she was going to spend a lot of time at the library anyway, might as well get paid for it.

"Can we talk later?" Harry asked.

"Sure, we can meet at the park after work, if you'd like," Hermione offered. After Harry said yes, she grabbed some floo powder and arrived at work.

The fireplace was in a room down the hall from the library (which made sense, seeing as how no one wanted ash to get all over the books) so as Hermione walked, she wondered about what Harry wanted to talk about. She continued thinking as she stacked books and made sure that everything was in its proper place. It was popular belief that Harry had returned from the war better than anyone could have expected. He went to parties held in his honor, talked to his friends, and did his part in rebuilding the wizarding world. But there was something about Harry that seemed off to Hermione, as if he was just going through the motions.

She knew, of course, that things wouldn't be easy for them (Harry especially) after the war. They'd seen and done too much to go back to being the carefree children they once were.

Worst of all, he never talked about it. Hermione had tried several times to get him to open up, but each time he had very abrupt answers. How was she supposed to help him if he wouldn't even communicate with her?

Shuddering, she remembered on particularly horrible night. The trials for caught Death Eaters had been going on. Harry testified as needed, but it was what happened afterwards that scared her. The minute they had reached their home, Harry had left again, saying he needed to take a walk. It wasn't until the early hours of the morning that he had returned, looking scratched and bruised. Hermione fretted over him, but he brushed off her concerns, not even letting her heal him at first until he saw her worried expression and gave in.

Since then he tried to give the appearance of normal, laughing and joking with Hermione much as he had that morning. Normally it wasn't like her to give up on something, but she remained quiet, figuring that Harry would talk when he needed to. In the mean time, she would have to give him her silent support. Not talking about it was one of the harder things Hermione had had to do in her life.

They said war changed people. She knew she'd changed, too, but it was Harry's change that scared her the most. Sometimes, she didn't even recognize her own best friend anymore.

"Hermione?" one of her coworkers, Natalie, said. Hermione started, lost in her thoughts.

"Yes, Natalie?"

"Would you mind taking over for me at the front desk for a bit?" Natalie asked. She was a few years older than Hermione and sometimes took breaks to check up on her young children. Even though it was technically against the rules, none of her coworkers cared enough to report her.

"Sure," Hermione agreed. She finished up with the last of the books, then took Natalie's spot at the desk. The library was mostly quiet today, so Hermione read at the desk until a small cough got her attention. She helped the young man at the desk find some books on some famous auror, and then realized that work was over and it was time to go.

She grabbed her things, relieved. She didn't think she could stand another hour of wondering what it was that Harry wanted to talk to her about.

Fifteen minutes later, carrying two coffees, she met Harry at a park that was in between their flat and her library. Hermione met Ron and Harry here occasionally. Mostly when she felt like walking instead of aparrating.

Harry was sitting at a bench, watching the children play. Hermione wondered if he was thinking of his own lost childhood. Poor Harry, being forced to grow up to soon thanks to those horrid Dursleys.

"I brought you coffee," she said to him. He looked up, startled, and grinned. "How did you know I wanted some?" Harry asked.

"Lucky guess," Hermione grinned back.

"You know me too well."

They sat in silence for a while, enjoying each other's company and watching children play.

"I've been thinking," Harry started, then paused for a second. If his tone hadn't been so serious, Hermione would have teasingly said, "you mean you can do that?" but she stayed silent, letting him say what he needed to.

Harry tried again, "For a long time I thought I wanted to be an auror. Now I'm not sure anymore. I don't want to be involved in any more violence, even if it is to catch dark wizards. But I don't want to get a career because I'm the Boy Who Lived, and I still want to do good things. Like you said, Hermione, I have a saving people problem. I've been thinking about how miserable I was growing up with the Dursleys. I want to save the orphans from the war from that. I want to run an orphanage." He looked at her, as if afraid she would criticize his plans.

"Oh Harry," she breathed, "I think it's a wonderful idea."

Hermione did, too. There were parts that her logical side wanted to debate about, but she pushed that part of herself down. It was just so good to see Harry excited about something again.

Besides, she already knew that she'd do anything for him. He was her best friend, after all, and one of the greatest wizards she knew.

She allowed her logical side to ask one question. "Where do we start?"




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