- Action Adventure
- Established Relationship
Cascade in summer was balmy and nice, much different from the brisk chill of the retreating spring when they’d first arrived in the city. Sure, there was still sudden downpours and humidity that made Hermione’s hair look like a frazzled chicken but she was a big girl and had quickly learned the ins and outs of African hair wrapping techniques from the women at the DWB compound.
Today was one such bad hair day, the skies had been grey all morning and the air was muggy and annoying. Usually a chipper morning person, even she couldn’t bring herself to enjoy days when she had morning classes at the college. Thankfully, it was the only day of the week, the rest of them scheduled later in the day.
She’d taken one look at her curls that morning and had said ‘fuck it’, grabbing a brilliantly coloured scarf her mother had gifted her for her birthday and had deftly tucked it all away neatly.
Harry was still abed, sprawled across the bed like a starfish, the sheet doing little to cover his naked body. She was loathed to leave him when he looked like that, wanting nothing more than to join him in their warm bed and snuggle in for the day but alas, she had an in-born dedication to her education.
A snug pair of boots, a warm puffed jacket and a thermos of hot tea and she was ready for a morning of learning. She stopped by a street vendor and purchased two soft pretzels, piping hot in their paper bag; and ate them as she made her way to the campus.
Rainier University was a sprawling compound, full of academic buildings interspersed with well-maintained green spaces and water features. There were fewer people around than usual, this being the summer months, and Hermione appreciated that fact.
Harry certainly did. He still got a bit antsy in crowds and being at the school during the less busy time helped him ease into the sensory overload that was living in a city as large as this one.
People said that cities were like concrete jungles but having lived in an actual jungle, Hermione begged to disagree. Cities were… an assault to the senses. Loud and noisy and smelly and utterly distracting and there was always an undercurrent of dread deep in her belly that Harry would zone on one small innocuous thing and fall in to a coma and die.
Okay, that was a bit melodramatic but it didn’t stop her from feeling that way.
Hell, she’d been through a lot of fucked up shit. Including shanking the dark fuck through his gnarly earhole, being sentenced to the Dementor’s kiss, becoming a fugitive from Wizarding Britain and fleeing to Africa, having to learn a whole new system magical learning and dealing with Harry’s ravaged magical core manifesting in an entirely unique path.
Still, she gotten through it. She’d gotten herself through it. And she’d had Harry beside her. Harry and her parents and the friends she’d made at L’Academie. They’d all helped her work through the riot of emotions and trauma that came with being the Girl Who Vanquished.
Hermione had always dealt with crises by turning to her support system. Turning outward just like Harry’d always turned inward. In a way, both of them had problems with authority figures but in different ways.
Harry had been brutally taught not to trust in anyone to help him, every remotely parental or guardian figure he’d even known had either left or disappointed him when he needed them most. He internalized everything, not trusting anyone but himself to care much less do something about his issues.
Hermione had been on the opposite end of the spectrum for a long time. Trusting too much in her elders, taking their advice too much to heart. Her problem had been thinking that all adults and authority figures had her best interests at heart, just like her parents did. That is not to say that her parents were perfect people. They too had their faults and made mistakes.
It had taken Hermione meeting Harry and becoming his friend to shake the very foundations of her beliefs. Then, it had taken being betrayed by the very world she’d come to love to rattle the last of her misplaced loyalties loose.
Respect had to earned, not freely given. Older didn’t mean wiser and authority did not mean care or protection. Loyalty was hard won and unwavering and trust went hand in hand with forgiveness; tempered with tender patience and honest affection.
And as hard as it was for her to rebuild herself, it had been doubly hard for Harry. The poor boy had been so fucked since the night Voldemort exploded his life that he didn’t even have the first clue how the jagged pieces of himself fit together. Even now, all of the pieces still didn’t quite fit and it was still an everyday effort to deal with past traumas but they had each other and their family and friends to lean on.
Draco kept in touch via messenger and had them cracking up with stories of Grandmaman Apollinaire and both Harry and Hemione followed Vince and Greg’s Instagram for their Beefcakes with Beefsteaks shop.
Both Fleur and Gabrielle loved writing letters via snail mail with their monogrammed stationary and delicate penmanship while Percy loved to snap off short and concise emails.
Her parents were just a Skype away thanks to the wicked communication set up Percy had help them source and deliver to the DWB compound. Then there was Viktor who reached out to Hermione once more in friendship, through Percy once again; and he had a preference for sending snapchat messages between games and other obligations.
Now there was Blair and Jim, slowly making their way into the wonderfully interwoven network of their lives and Hermione was happy to have them.
Blair was a bright spot in their lives in the city, both in his shamanistic powers as well as his gregarious personality. His quick wit and charismatic passion for discovery called out to Hermione in kinship. His enthusiasm and genuine friendliness had made them feel welcome at a time when they’d been most afraid of finding either rejection or another dead end.
To be able to find someone like them after so many years of hiding, thinking that they were alone in the world and fearing the long reach of Wizarding Britain; had been almost dizzying. Then to be welcomed and embraced by someone with such power and experience almost instantly, well… Hermione had secretly wiped away none too few tears in those first few days.
And Blair was so open minded and open hearted. Taking their story of magic and secret societies in stride. It was refreshing to say the least.
He had been utterly charmed by the small MACUSA issued leather badge declaring him a ‘No-Maj Officially-In-The-Know’. It was a deep blue, neatly embossed with the eagle emblem of the Magical Congress of the United States of America.
The man had taken to turning it over and over in his hands with a look of wonder, reverently running his fingertips over the indents; opening and reading the decree inside with a sense of lingering disbelief.
Along with Harry and Hermione’s documented diplomatic status and licence to practice magic within the magical United States and Canada, Percy had also arranged for Special MACUSA permission to read both Blair and Jim into the magical world.
He’d assured both teens that their status as Sentinel and Guide would be kept TOP SECRET within the government, calling in a few favour with someone high up enough to guarantee their anonymity. Only that person, along with a carefully selected liaison officer, would know the couples real names and location.
They’d met MACUSA Agent Avedis ‘Call me Naz’ Nazaretyan one month after their arrival in the city. The man was sinfully handsome with his leather jacket, his five o’clock shadow and his curly hair swept up in a man bun.
“Merlin…” Harry had murmured as the man all but sauntered towards them, “…if I didn’t smell perfume and baby food on him, I would have suggested the both of us climbing him like a fucking tree.”
Hermione had laughed and agreed, the man was just too fucking sexy to even be legal. An Armenian by birth, Naz’s parents were muggleborn immigrants who had come to America for a better life for their six children, of which four were magical and two were squibs.
They had fled the awful squib purges of the old country and six year old Naz had clung to his younger brothers and sisters as squib men women and children from similar families had been secretly rounded up and sent off to ‘treatment camps’ never to be seen again.
It had made him sensitive to the pain of his magically adjacent siblings and added an extra layer of his care of Harry and Hermione, coming to be more like a big brother to them rather than just another government stooge.
He’d helped Harry to connect with several ‘majacent’ social services and community support groups and well as a few vocational schools that taught advanced classes in potions, runes and the like.
That had made her sentinel happy and she loved seeing him on his laptop, researching and reading up on activities and other interests that he would eventually like to pursue. It made her happy to see her best friend and partner so engaged in his own future instead of dwelling on the past.
Naz had also given Hermione a run down on the magical community in Cascade, as small as it was. There were a couple of magically hidden streets and markets and a few unplottable houses owned by old families but most of the community was expertly blended into the fabric of society.
They’d scoped out several places but mostly kept out of the small, close knit community. Though America was much more accepting of squibs in general, Harry was still a very special case and they didn’t want to bring too much attention to themselves anytime soon.
For once, Hermione was content to just settle in and take things slowly.
She ducked into her class just as it as starting, grabbing a seat to the side and balancing her thermos between her legs as she pulled out her books and pencil case. The teacher was engaging for the early hour it was and class flew by, Hermione taking copious notes between cups of tea from her thermos.
She stayed a while, chatting with the other students before making her way to the library to return a book that Blair had recommended. She adored the place, with its wide open study spaces and huge skylights. She felt comfortable there, welcomed by polite and competent staff and well organized resources.
Settling herself into one of her favourite nooks, she checked her phone for messages, smiling at the sleep mussed selfie Harry sent, the frown on his face at having woken up to an empty bed was adorable. She quickly sent back a picture of the books and pens spread on her lap and snorted when a picture of Harry’s crossed legs in front of the television came back, a bowl of cereal and milk settled in his lap.
“Lucky bugger.” she huffed to herself and checked the rest of her social media.
There were some memes from Draco and a new IG post from Crabbe and Goyle. Her mother had sent a video of the local children singing a song Hermione had taught them and she quickly dived for her headphones so that she could watch it immediately.
She ended up watching it twice, wiping away happy tears and sending the video to Harry after a thread of concern came over the bond. They were getting much better at being apart from each other without panicking. They were also getting better at sending coherent messages and not just raw, random feelings.
She believed that a large part of that was due to Blair and his guided meditation. Also having someone to pour over the tonne of notes and research she’d compiled was a huge step up from where they’d been before. They’d certainly come a long way in their own abilities, both together and individually.
She frowned as she suddenly thought of the pebble in their shoe. It’s not that Jim hated them but he was enthusiastically unenthusiastic about engaging with them in any meaningful way. She had to admit that it hurt, seeing the man so cool towards them. It certainly affected Harry, being all but rejected by the one other person like him to their knowledge.
Hermione had to admit that she hated the man a little bit for that. For all that Harry thought himself over his need for adult validation, it still stung him for Jim to actively avoid getting to know them better.
In a way, she understood the man’s reservations. Two people showing up out of the blue with a wealth of information and a massive state secret that shifted their entire world view, was not something that someone like Jim could swallow easily.
Frankly, the fact that the man hadn’t thrown and epic temper tantrum yet was a surprise. From the first day she’d met him Hermione has realized that the man hated change. He fought against it viciously then, after much effort on Blair’s part, he grudgingly and sulkily accepted the change and dragged his feet to meet it.
It irked her to see a grown man like that act like such a spoiled little boy and she was irrationally angry on Blair’s behalf because of it. It made her not so charitable to the older sentinel though she tried not to let it bleed too much in her scent pile or over her bond with Harry.
The man seriously needed to get over himself and be the Sentinel Blair deserved. And, even though it was hard to admit, she wanted him to be the Alpha that she’d yearned and hoped for as well.
But, life was full of disappointments and Hermione was never one to let them slow her down.
Hunger forced her out of the library and she stopped at a local vegan place and ordered a couple of Cobb Salads and a bottle of sweet iced tea before making her way back to the campus.
Blair was in his office, head buried in a massive tome, when she knocked. He startled and looked up, smiling as she dropped into the chair in front of him and started to unpack the food.
She waved a container of dressing at him and waited until he’d secured the book safely out of the way before handing it over with the bio-degradable cutlery.
“Thanks.” he mumbled between huge bites. “I often forget to stop lunch until my stomach alerts me by trying to eat itself.”
She chuckled, taking a sip of the tea. “Tell me about it. I passed out in school once because I spent so much time in the library I forgot to eat. Ron and Harry were so mad at me when I woke up in the infirmary.”
“Ron?” Blair tilted his head curiously, “He sounds like a good friend. I’ve never heard you speak of him before.”
Hermione stopped chewing and swallowed heavily, her smile falling away. “He’s…. Ah… we sort of went our separate ways shortly after that. I’d rather not talk about it.”
Blair’s eyes were full of compassion as he gave her a gentle smile. “Of course.” he agreed easily. She was grateful for that.
She hadn’t thought about Ron in so long. The look on his face that day at Santa Brigita’s. The cold hate in his voice for Harry, as though he had been responsible for Ginny’s suicide and not Tom Riddle’s horocrux. As thought Molly’s disdain for mind healing and trauma therapy hadn’t weakened the girl’s psyche enough that she felt death was the only option after Voldemort’s death.
She’d only felt pity for him in the end, a sad sort of sympathy that his loss had changed him so intrinsically. Well, maybe not so much changed him but merely stripped away the thin veneer of civility the redhead had once possessed.
In the end she’d left him behind as she’d left Britain behind. Just a faint memory, coloured by nostalgia and relegated to funny little anecdotes and snapshots of time.
Thankfully Blair was an expert in the swift and seamless subject change and soon enough they were discussing he finer points of course subjects she was currently taking.
They were arguing good naturedly and cleaning up the detritus of their meal when someone appeared in the open office door.
“Jim!” Blair’s smile was incandescent. “What brings you here?”
Even without turning around, Hermione could hear the frown in the older man’s voice. She started reaching for her bag, hoping to take her leave without some kind of confrontation.
“I thought that I would bring you lunch.” Jim’s voice was flat and emotionless. There was a rustle of plastic bags. “But I see that you’ve already eaten.”
“Oh Man!” Blair was around the table and at his sentinel’s side, trying to peak into the bag with a grin. “You got fish tacos from that place I love! That’s way across town. You must have flown there to beat the downtown traffic at this time of day. Of wow! Let’s eat these before they go cold.”
Jim didn’t budge from the door. Hermione finally met his cool gaze but didn’t speak. The man’s eyes narrowed for a second before he turned to look at Blair.
“Didn’t you just have lunch though?”
“Have you not known me since forever?” The curly haired man made an incredulous face, waving the taller man further into the office impatiently. “You know how much I love to eat. Especially since you went all this way to get my favourite dish in the city.”
Jim stared for a few more seconds before exhaling and stepping into the room. Hermione excused herself quietly, slipping out of the room and quickly slipping down the hall and away from the office.
When she felt far enough away to out of the range of Jim’s passive hearing, she exhaled slowly and leaned against a nearby wall. Merlin, that had been tense. Jim had not been happy to see her there. With Blair. Within his office space. Within what Jim saw as his territory. It was a wonder he didn’t growl at her and pee in the corner.
She shook her head and sighed. At least he was making an effort to appreciate Blair. Still, for an effort, it was pretty piss poor. But Hermione could be magnanimous and give the man a break. A small one.
He really needed to have his head removed from his ass soon and get his shit together. Blair was an excellent guide, a wonderful man and a fucking Shaman to boot. Jim Ellison needed to recognize
How fortunate he was and appreciate it.
Her phone rang and she dug around in her pocket. It was Harry.
“You’re upset.” his voice was soft and concerned and she could hear clothes rustling in the background.
No doubt if she wanted, he would be there in minutes. She laid her head back against the wall and smiled softly. Oh how she loved this man.
“I’m alright. I just had lunch with Blair. Jim came as we were wrapping up. He got a little territorial.”
The rustling of clothing stopped and the bed springs squeaked softly. Harry gave a sigh. Hermione made a face at the sound. They really were sighing to damn much at the Jim Situation.
“At least he didn’t growl at me. That’s improvement right?”
A dark chuckle came over the line. “Yeah. Right.”
It twisted something in her heart to hear Harry this way and she wished that she was face to face with him in that instant so that she could take him into her arms and pressed his head to her chest, letting him find and centre himself on her heart beat.
She mentally checked her class calendar and Harry’s, wondering if she would make it home in time if she left right that second.
Upon hearing another of Harry’s soft, wistful sighs she thought ‘fuck it’ and took off running to the nearest cross walk.
Her sentinel needed her right now.
She’d make time.