Category: Harry Potter/Twilight
Ship: Harry/Jasper. Hermione/Edward.
Genres: Romance. Hurt/Comfort.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my undershorts.
Notes: This chapter was originally twice as long as it is now, but I decided to cut it down for the sake of getting to the interesting bits all the sooner. That said, the fun begins in the next chapter!
Summary: Desperately in need of a holiday, Harry finds his way to Forks, Washington, and the life he never knew he was destined for.
"I don't think I'm going to find a place here," Harry admitted a few hours later, slumping into one of the seats surrounding the diner table. They were at a local restaurant, one of the few places in the town that didn't seem to cater exclusively to fast food, takeaway, and teenagers. "The houses are just too..."
"Muggle?" Hermione offered, amusement clear in her tone. It was the same one she'd been using since they'd started. "Isn't that what you said about the last place? That it was 'too muggle'?"
Smiling sheepishly, Harry ducked his head.
"I guess I shouldn't have said anything," he murmured, eyes drifting to the small laminated drink menu in the middle of their table. "The last house - well, it wasn't that bad. Not really."
"Yes, it was," his friend replied baldly. "It had pea green shag carpeting, Harry. Pea green. It looked like someone had vomited all over it, but that's not my point: you've found something wrong with every house we've seen and that's not including the first few we passed over simply because they were too close to town. Now, I agreed to help you find a house here on the understanding that you actually wanted to find a house here."
Opening his mouth to reply, he was saved from responding, at least immediately, by the arrival of their waitress. Middle-aged and smiling, she offered them their menus, eyes flickering between them speculatively. Harry had to resist the urge to sigh.
Ever since they'd left London, and perhaps even before that, people had been mistaking them for newlyweds. Not that he minded exactly; Hermione was a beautiful woman, one who had stuck by his side through thick and through thin. The only problem? He thought of her as a sister, by choice if not by blood, and nothing would ever change that.
"I'll have a coke," he ordered when the waitress asked, flipping open his menu. It was a mix of what he'd found to be basic American staples: burgers and fries, steak and potatoes, salads and coleslaw's, and pies and more pies. His stomach growled insistently. "And a cheeseburger and chips. Fries," he corrected himself. "A cheeseburger and fries."
"I'll have the same," Hermione added, handing back her menu with barely a glance. Harry followed suit, nodding when the waitress assured them their drinks and food would be out soon. Once she was gone, he turned his attention back to his friend, green eyes earnest.
"I do want a house," he said, fingers spreading helplessly in front of him. "It's just that picking one isn't as easy as I thought it would be." He smiled then, expression rueful. "Just like you said when I got this - how did Ron put it? - 'bloody stupid' idea in my head to begin with. I reckon you owe me an 'I told you so' in all this."
Shaking her head, the witch smiled back at him. "I'm not going to tell you I told you so. It doesn't seem fair to since I'm the one who vetoed all those houses you liked in Phoenix and that awful one in Lafayette that smelled of mold and old ashtrays."
Smile turning into a grin, Harry snickered at her softly. "You just didn't like that one because the realtor wouldn't stop flirting with you. He asked you on a date afterwards, didn't he?"
A look of disgruntled remembrance passed over her features, her nose scrunching up in distaste. "If you count telling me he'd "show me a good time" as asking me out on a date, then yes, he did." She grimaced pointedly. "I wish you'd have let me hex him; if anyone deserved it, it was him."
Chuckling softly, Harry shrugged. "Can't blame a bloke for trying, 'Mione. After all, if you don't ask, you don't get, do you?"
Ignoring her huff of annoyance, he settled back in his seat, thanking their waitress kindly when she returned to their table a few minutes later with their drinks and another promise of their orders being out soon. Tugging the paper casing from his straw, he sipped his coke slowly, thoughts turning back to his less than stellar house-hunting. It really wasn't as easy as he thought it would be.
When he'd first gotten the idea of possibly finding a place to go to in order to escape the endless stream of over-eager reporters, all wanting to know what his next move was now that he'd broken up with his long-time girlfriend and quit his seemingly perfect job as Head Auror, he hadn't thought much of what it would be like to actually have to go and look for a place. He just knew that it had sounded like a good idea, especially once Ron had started in on him, demanding to know what exactly had gone wrong between him and Ginny. He'd wanted - no, he'd needed - a way to escape and finding a vacation house, one that wasn't easily plottable and completely private had sounded just about perfect.
That he'd have to scour half of Britain before realizing, with a sinking gut, that he'd never get the kind of anonymity he craved unless he turned his sights to foreign shores, hadn't even begun to enter into his plans. That was, until the Daily Prophet had started reporting about them; describing his search for a perfect hideaway in such minute detail that he'd started to suspect, somewhat mean-heartedly, that one of his friends were feeding them the information. Not Hermione, of course, or Ginny, despite their less than amicable break-up, or even Ron, who might be a git at times but wasn't so much of one that he'd betray Harry's confidences like that.
No, it had to be someone else. Possibly one of the blokes he'd made friends with down at the Auror Office. Or maybe even Lavender Brown, who had kept in touch since their years at Hogwarts and had become a surprisingly good friend once she had settled into adulthood; taking a job at Madam Malkin's and leasing a cottage in Hogsmeade. Unfortunately, she was still a terrible gossip when she set her mind to it.
Sighing, Harry sat his drink down, free hand lifting to push his glasses up his nose absently. They weren't the same ones he used to wear, his round specs having been traded in for something a little more stylish and, well, accurate. It seemed that all those years wearing the wrong strength prescription hadn't done him any good in the long run; his eyesight made all the worse for it.
"Harry? Is something wrong?"
Lifting his gaze to his friend's concerned one, he shook his head, twirling his straw around his glass. "No, not really. I was just thinking how hard it's been to find a place; I never thought it would take this long. I mean, if I had I wouldn't have asked you to - "
Hermione stopped him was a wave of her hand. "Don't be silly, Harry. I'm glad you asked me to help you. And anyway," she continued, expression turning slightly pensive as she toyed with her own straw. "It gives me a chance to get away for a while, too. I - well, I wasn't entirely honest with you when I said things were going well for Ron and I before we left."
Leaning forward, Harry frowned, concern and bewilderment flaring inside him. "What do you mean? I thought that you two were finally on the same page..?"
"We were," Hermione replied, tone bemused. "At least, I thought we were. For a while, anyway."
"O...kay," Harry said slowly, confused. "What happened, then? It - it wasn't because I asked you to come with me, is it? I mean, he isn't on about you and I being -" he gestured vaguely between them, eye brows rising suggestively.
"No. He's learned his lesson about that. It's," she paused, chewing on her bottom lip. "It's more like we were both trying too hard to make our relationship work. Like we both wanted to make the other happy and were too afraid to voice the obvious: that it just wasn't working."
It was Harry's turn to snort. "Sounds like me and Gin. I can't tell you how many rows we got into before we realized it just wasn't working between us. It wasn't always like that, but towards the end there was a reason I was spending more time at your flat then I was at ours."
The witch nodded, mouth opening to reply before snapping shut when their waitress came back to the table, laden with food and fresh drinks.
Stomach rumbling at the sight, Harry thanked her politely before slathering his burger and chips with ketchup, mouth watering. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until now. Waiting until they'd both taken a few bites, he asked curiously: "So, why didn't you tell me the truth about you and Ron?"
Hermione sighed, wiping her mouth with a napkin. "I suppose I just didn't want you to have to worry about it." Picking up a fry, she nibbled on it thoughtfully. "I like Ron; I really do. It's just that our relationship has never been easy." She smiled, the edges of it a bit jaded. "Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't."
Harry nodded in understanding. "I know the feeling."
Turning their attention back to their plates, they both ate silently for the next few minutes, polishing off a good portion of their food before turning the conversation back to the matter at hand.
"We have a few more houses we can see before the end of the day," Hermione said, pulling her bag onto her lap and digging out her wallet. "Maybe we'll have more luck with them."
"I won't hold my breath," Harry joked, waving her money away when she tried to put it on the table. "I've got this. You just go start the car; we might as well get this over with."
"Don't be so defeatist, Harry," Hermione admonished, standing. "One of these houses could be the one you've been looking for; you never know."
Pushing away from the table, Harry shrugged noncommittally. "Maybe."
Next: Part III