A/N This takes place a month or two after the final battle in the Harry Potter Universe and sometime between Steve being unfrozen and the Avengers movie in the Marvelverse. And yes, I know the timelines don't match up.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize, I don't own.
An Offer to Talk
She sat down on a wooden park bench. The sun was just coming up and the grass behind her was still wet with dew. Not that she had touched it, but there was that fresh grass scent in the air. She sighed and leaned to put her head in her hands. She wasn't sure what she was doing here, in America and not at home in England. She just knew that she couldn't stay with the Weasley's and that England and really Europe too, was too close. There was too much loss, too much expectation, and too much… she wasn't sure she really knew.
How do you come to grips with a society that hunted you down like dogs for months, but now exalted you as a national hero? It didn't make her happy, it just made her angry. Where were all these people when she was starving or when Bellatrix was carving her up? The newspaper headlines were enough to give her whiplash. It wasn't just the Wizarding government either, the muggle one was also lauding her as a hero.
Going out in public was an exercise in nerves, it was true nobody had attacked her, but there were still bigot's and sympathizers walking free and in England it only felt like a matter of time before someone got to her or sent her a deadly curse through the post or a myriad of other harmful scenarios.
And now, even with all the loss and despair in their world, because nothing was back to normal yet Ronald bloody Weasley was pressuring her into marriage or at the very least into sex. She just wasn't ready for that. She'd spent a lot of time fantasizing about a relationship with him during Hogwarts, but after he left her and Harry in the woods, those dreams were shattered. He would never be able to live up to her expectations now. During the final battle when they had kissed it wasn't right. It was lackluster, sloppy, and fueled solely by adrenalin. She was pretty sure that ship had sailed.
Steve Rogers was taking his early morning run around the city. There was hardly anyone out in the park, which made it an ideal time for a run since it was quiet and tranquil. It was just his legs pounding against the concrete, his heart beating, and steady breathing to break the quiet.
Around the next corner he was startled to see someone sitting on a park bench in the distance. She, at least he was pretty sure it was a she; there was just some current trends he still didn't understand like men with long hair. She was dressed conservatively in neutrals. She was staring out at the park blankly and there wasn't really anything to suggest it, but he just knew she was a soldier.
He wouldn't normally stop his run for anything short of the apocalypse or at least an alien invasion but he really thought she might just need a friend or at least a good listener. He knew all about war, trauma and burdens halved and if he could help one lost soldier then it was worth the break in his run.
He slowed to a walk until he reached the bench. He sat on the other end of the bench so as not to startle the woman. She glanced over without turning her head. Now that he was up close he could see she was young, younger than he initially thought. For a moment he wondered if she had been sent home wounded, it would certainly explain the jaded look in her eye.
"What branch did you serve in?" He turned earnest blue eyes on her.
Hermione frowned. Branch, what did he mean? This man looked nothing like a wizard, so he shouldn't know her. He was tall and well-built and he looked exactly like a stereotypical American World War II soldier. Oh, military branch, that's what he meant.
She gave a wry grin. "It wasn't like that, it was an underground war. There were no ranks, just outnumbered rebels fighting a madman."
He winced. No wonder she looked so disillusioned, civilians didn't have the support that the military had, though he was in no way saying any soldier had it easy. "How long were you involved in the conflict?"
"Since I was eleven." She waved a hand, "But it didn't heat up until I was fifteen and it ended this past year."
He raised his brows. He didn't know what an eleven year old could do in a war, even an underground one, but it was awfully young. "What are you doing here and not back home renewing acquaintances and settling down?" he asked as delicately as he could.
She let out a huff of breathe, "The papers for one, I'm sick of having lies and speculation written down as fact. I- I'm not ready to settle yet, I don't know what I want and" she paused, hesitant to continue, "I'm angry."
He cocked his head waiting for her to continue.
Her jaw tightened as she spoke, her delicate British accent harsh as she shared her frustration. "All these people who are congratulating me, sending me thank you cards would have turned me in to be tortured and killed only a few weeks ago without a second thought."
Steve leaned in and stared directly at her, "Not everyone is strong enough to stand up for what they believe, sometimes they need someone to do it for them. I don't know what you did, I don't keep up with the foreign papers, but it sounds as if you did something extraordinarily brave. That's even rarer to be strong enough to do that; very few people have the strength of character to be real heroes."
He paused and then continued with a good-natured grin, "As for the media, if I knew how to fix that I'd gladly tell you."
Hermione let out a soft chuckle as she stood. He stood as well and she had to look up to several inches to meet his eyes. "Thanks," she said sincerely.
"No problem and if you decide to turn your vacation into a permanent stay and you need a job…" He took out a pen and notebook and scribbled something down. He tore the sheet from the notebook and handed it to her. "Give me a call; I might be able to help."
She tucked the paper into her pocket and smiled, "Thanks Mr. Rogers." With a wave she walked down the park path. He watched her for a second before turning the other way and restarting his run. He wasn't sure Fury would like it that he'd recruited a foreigner that he knew next to nothing about, but if she gave him a call back he'd do his best to give her a shot with S.H.I.E.L.D. He was rarely wrong about people and he thought the shady organization could use a few more honest people like her.
A/N Thanks for reading!