Chapter 5 : Australia
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"You don't have to be nervous," Harry reassured her.
"You look nervous," he insisted, though in jest. She had been a mess since leaving the Burrow and he was trying all he could to lighten the mood. Her fear of flying certainly wasn't helping matters though.
"And you look like blubbering First Year their first time to the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes!" she spouted back, sitting tensely within her seat as their plane taxied to the runway.
"Hey! It's my first flight!" Harry mocked offense as he looked back out the small window to the passing scenery. Hermione had been kind enough to offer him the window seat, but he now realized she had done so for more selfish reasons.
The plane reached it's allotted runway and hit the engines, pushing them back in their seats. Harry turned once again to his nervous, brown haired friend.
"I know you don't like to fly..." he watched her face go pale, stating the obvious.
"I'm fine," Hermione did her best to convince him, but her strained knuckles about the armrests said otherwise. Then the jet lurched and tilted as it's wheels left the ground. If possible, Hermione turned even paler as she sunk back into her seat.
"You don't have anything to be afraid of," she heard Harry whisper close to her, his warm breath tickling her ear. She startled in her seat when Harry reached up around her neck. She looked down to find him pulling out her pouch that was tucked safely away beneath her shirt. Opening it, Harry retrieved her wand.
Her eyes betrayed alarm as they darted from Harry to around the cabin. Thankfully, no one had noticed. Without a word said, Harry placed it in her hand and wrapped her fingers snug about it. She then watched as he retrieved his own wand out his pouch before tucking it into his left sleeve, safely out of sight but still right at hand.
Harry motioned for her to mimic him, which she did. Then, leaning over to her once more he whispered, "Now then, you've got your wand and I've got mine. I've also got my Firebolt, just here," Harry patted his chest over the pouch, "nothing bad can happen."
A soothing sensation swept over Hermione with Harry's words. Her logical mind knew he was right, that they were safe. She had been on planes many times before, and it wasn't like they were flying on the back of a Thestral!
She dared a glance past Harry and out the window to the shrinking landscape below. They had done it. They had escaped their supposed guardians and were en route to Australia to get her parents back. Her fingers eased from their rests.
"Thank you, Harry... I feel much better," Hermione uttered in barely more than a whisper as she let out the deep breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"You always this tense?" Harry eventually snuck a smile at her.
“When flying?” she crooked a brow towards him. Harry nodded. "Always," she smiled sheepishly.
"I know you've been to France... Where else have you been?" Harry tried to keep her mind occupied.
"Oh, I don't know Harry, lots of places," she said a little impatiently, staring at the back of the seat before her. "We've been to Italy and Greece. Egypt, the States and Russia. Japan... Australia..."
"Wow,” Harry said. “All with your parents?"
Hermione sighed, "Yes, all with my parents... they love to travel." She paused a moment before she continued. "I wasn't that of a popular kid, you know. I think my parents just wanted me to get out and live a little. I always had my nose buried in a book."
"Had?" Harry teased her and Hermione nudged him in return, feigning a hint of insult.
"So funny, Harry! Real jokester!"
"I try!” he looked to her. “You had it better than me at least. My idea of a friend was someone who didn't try to beat me up, and a vacation?! Ha! That was whenever the Dursleys left me at home without a babysitter! We're just two lonely souls..." Harry mumbled out of nowhere, looking back out the window to the clouds they were leaving behind.
Ever calming, exhaust now filled in behind her retreating nerves. Hermione wrapped her arm into Harry's for comfort, before eventually dozing and her head fell over, resting against his shoulder.
. . . . .
"Now boarding, Flight 437, British Airways, Singapore to Sydney at Gate 14B," Harry managed to hear somewhere in the back of his mind. It was faint at first, fleeting, but it echoed around in his head until he forced himself to open his eyes. That was their flight.
The ceiling was far above. Echos of busy chatter about the airport filled his ears: of the roar of the jet engines outside, of strangers laughing and talking, of babies crying and giggling, of wheels of carts and rolling suitcases creaking, of vendor's selling, of people buying.
There was a weight on his lap. Harry looked down with surprise and amusement. Hermione was there, sleeping, curled up across three different seats with Harry's lap serving as her pillow.
Harry smiled. He was cradling her head with one arm, his fingers woven into her out-strewn hair. His other was wrapped around Hermione's, his fingers laced within hers as she held them tight to her chest, fast asleep.
Finally, some sleep. That was one thing this long flight had afforded them, twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep and another three here during their layover in Singapore. And did they ever need it.
"Hermione," Harry whispered down to her, using his fingers to tuck her fallen bangs back behind her ear.
"Hmm..." Hermione moaned at his touch. "Harry..." she whispered.
His eyes were drawn to her face. He studied the arc of her brow, the long lashes of her sleeping eyes, along the ridge of her subtle nose, across the lushness of her curved lips - Harry abruptly looked up and away, adjusting uncomfortably within his seat.
"Come on Hermione, we've got to go," Harry said louder now, giving her a gentle shake. It was enough to rouse her.
"Harry?" Hermione said groggily, stirring within the seats.
"Yeah, it's me, 'Mione. Time to go," Harry slowly released her from his arms.
Hermione rubbed at her eyes as she yawned and sat up in her seat. "Have I been asleep this whole time?" she stretched her limbs as she turned to Harry sheepishly.
"Yeah,” he smiled. “Guess I was too."
"Whew, I do feel much better now though," Hermione said, and this gave Harry ease. She'd been so distressed since leaving the Burrow...
"Don't get too excited, there's still another eight hours to go!"
"Thanks for reminding me," Hermione playfully nudged him on the shoulder.
. . . .
Finally, after twenty four hours spent either on the plane or at their layover in Singapore, the pair arrived in Sydney Australia, the land Down Under!
"So, what did you think of your first flight?" Hermione turned to Harry, taking his hand within hers as they made their way off the plane and down the air-bridge.
He noticed the smile of her voice did not quite reach her eyes. Though she had finally gotten some decent rest, Harry could still see the anxiety in her face. He'd been able to pull smiles from her here and there, but her spirits were still down. He expected no less.
Harry did not know if it was from her last row with Ron before they left, if she was sad Ron was not here with them, or if she was just anxious about the mission they were on. 'Probably a little of all,' Harry reasoned.
"My first time on a plane?" Harry smiled back, turning his eyes to hers, responding to her question. “It was alright, I guess... but, I like brooms better," he leaned in and whispered loudly to her. “At least you didn't throw up on me!”
"Harry!" Hermione nudged him with her shoulder again and laughed truly and whole heartedly for the first time since they had left. This did not go unnoticed to Harry as he played to trip away from her shove. As they drew apart, Hermione caught him by their interwoven hands and pulled him back close with another laugh.
"I did fine!” she playfully pointed out, “and I think they're a lot less chaotic than a broom," Hermione told him matter-of-factly.
“Think I could have done without that last bag of peanuts though..." Harry grumbled, rubbing at his stomach with his free hand which solicited another bout of giggles from Hermione.
"How many did you have, fifteen?" she smirked.
"Eighteen," Harry said wincing.
"Ha-ha!" Hermione laughed. "You definitely can't get those on a broom!"
"And I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing..?" they both now laughed together. "Well, at least I can say I've been on one - something to tell Arthur about when we get back!" He smiled. "First Class wasn't so bad, but they're still so cramped. Think I'll be just fine if it's the last." Hermione just shook her head at him. "I am excited to see Australia though. It's my first time out of the country, you know?"
"I do!" a further hint of excitement shone out. "And wait until you see the beach, it is absolutely beautiful, Harry!"
Hermione continued filling Harry in on some exciting things they would be able to see and do. She told him about the small village she had left her parents in, of the various wildlife and people here, and of course about some not-so-interesting facts on the history of Australia as they made their way to the luggage carousel. Hermione never ceased to amaze Harry on how much knowledge she could store in that massive brain of hers.
Checking their trunks wasn't the most desirable option, but they figured that two supposed muggles traveling half a world away on vacation without a single piece of luggage between them just might have raised a few eyebrows, so they checked them.
They kept only their muggle items: clothes, toiletries - a few books in Hermione's case - and the like in their trunks since they could get rummaged through, or worse, lost, while their essentials and magical items were all stowed safely within the bottomless pouches they each wore about their necks.
The two took a cab out of the airport and into the city. His first time outside of Great Britain, Harry's eyes feasted hungrily out the windows upon the foreign land, but he was not unaware of Hermione sitting anxiously beside him, fidgeting and wringing her hands. It was now Harry's turn to take her hand and offer her some ease.
"Everything is going to be just fine, Hermione, you will see. I am here with you," Harry said sincerely. Hermione nodded, squeezing at his hand, but the angst was still there. Harry could understand.
Sydney looked amazing and Harry yearned to be able to get out and explore, but now was not the time. Now safely inside of Australia, they were no longer restricted to muggle modes of transportation, and it was only a matter of finding a secluded spot for them to apparate from. With a slight pop, the young witch and wizard were gone, and in an instant, ninety kilometers away, just outside a small village south of Wollobong.
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