Disclaimer – Anything you see and recognise does not belong to me. Harry Potter is JK Rowling's; The Avengers and other related characters belong to Marvel. I'm simply playing in their sandboxes.

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A/N – A huge thank you to each and every one of you who have already read, Favourited and Followed Heroes, the response that I've received just from the first two chapters has blown me away. Also, some reviewers are starting to let me know what sort of things/characters that they'd love to see in the story. I welcome these although I can't promise anything. One thing that I should probably make you aware of is that while I am posting chapter 3 today, I'm currently writing chapter 22 – that means that you can expect regular updates for a very long time, although it may limit what I can do to accommodate your wishes. I hope that you enjoy today's instalment.

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Heroes Assemble!

Chapter 3 – A Return Address?

"Mum, I'm home!" Hermione called as she walked through the door to her parent's home.

"In here, Hermione!"

Following the sound of her mother's voice brought Hermione to the door of the kitchen. One look was all Hermione needed to find her mother sitting in the small breakfast nook enjoying the mid-morning sunlight. A cup, most likely of tea, and the daily newspaper lay on the table in front of her.

Hermione bounded across the room, a great smile on her face and, once she was close enough, she launched herself at her mother, wrapping the woman who looked like an older version of herself in a great hug.

"Not that I'm not pleased to see you, Hermione, but why do I suspect that this greeting is more because of the letter that you know is here for you rather than the fact that you're happy to see me?" Jane Granger asked mock-seriously.

"Mother! You know that's not true. I love getting to spend time with both my parents," Hermione protested.

"Hm-mmm," her mother hummed, clearly not believing her daughter.

She sat a little straighter, then and folded the newspaper before her.

"In that case, take a seat and I'll make you some tea so that we can catch up," Jane said, indicating said seat across from her as she stood.

Knowing that she didn't have much choice, Hermione complied, albeit with a sigh.

"Cream and one sugar?" her mother asked as she clicked away into the kitchen.

"Yes, Mum," Hermione replied.

Soon her mother came bustling back, sliding a cup of tea in front of her daughter, a plate of biscuits placed on the table between them.

"So, how's work?" Jane asked.

"Oh, you know, about the same as always," Hermione replied with a careless wave.

"I refuse to believe that, Hermione Jane," her mother countered. "You work in a magical law office, in the department that specialises in magical creatures. There has to be something interesting happening there."

"Well, I suppose so," Hermione allowed.

"We-ll?" her mother asked expectantly.

After taking a sip of tea, she placed her cup carefully down and resigned herself to a lengthy wait until she could get her hands on the reason that she'd come in the first place.

"At the moment, we're working repealing some of the laws that were put in place during the war against centaurs," Hermione began.

"Wait! I thought that you were doing that for the werewolves," Jane interrupted.

"We were," Hermione nodded, "and we had some success, but it's stalled at the moment, stuck in some committee that the Wizengamot created to look at both sides of the argument. So, while we're waiting for that to resolve itself, we've switched focus to the centaur laws. Hopefully, they'll be easy to have revoked."

"If they'll be easier, then why didn't you start with them?" Jane asked.

Hermione sighed. "Simply because the centaurs didn't care about the laws. Really, those laws didn't affect them anyway. They've got their own land and they never venture off of it. The laws that Umbridge put in place simply ensured that if they ever did want to leave their forests, then they'd be breaking the law and be subject to imprisonment or death. Most likely death, since even imprisoning a centaur would amount to being a death sentence for the free-spirited race."

Her mother nodded, giving Hermione hope that she understood why they'd focussed on the werewolves first.

"But what about the house elves? I thought that that was where your passion lay, in getting laws in place to protect them," Jane asked.

Again, Hermione sighed. "Yes, that is my ultimate goal. But obtaining rights for the house elves is always going to be an uphill battle. And it's not one that we'll win anytime soon. Our goal at the moment is to be taken seriously as a legal department by obtaining wins for other magical species first before tackling the hardest cases."

Seeing her mother frown allowed the tension that had just arisen in Hermione to dissipate slightly. She, at least, could see the injustice of it all.

"What you need is a sponsor," her mother suggested. "Someone high profile and with a great deal of political or public clout that could get the ball rolling for you."

"Yes. Well. I thought that we had someone like that," Hermione stated. "Unfortunately, he's been travelling the world for the last five years and refuses to come home!"

"Speaking of which," her mother said, a small smile turning the corners of her mouth upwards, "there's a letter for you on the desk in the library."

Hermione's eyes lit up and she quickly slurped down the rest of her tea. Then, with a nod of acceptance from her mother, she raced from the room.

"Thanks for the tea," she called over her shoulder.

The Granger Library was in reality simply one of the spare rooms on the bottom floor of their house. Three of its walls had been covered with floor to ceiling shelves and then filled with books collected from the three Grangers. The fourth wall consisted of a small desk to the right of the large bay window and a comfy armchair to the left of said window. The bay window, itself, had been fitted with a plethora of pillows and a rug and was often the most sought-after place in the house for reading.

Hermione's eyes lit up at the sight of the white envelope sitting in the exact centre of the desk and her pace increased as she raced across the room to snatch it up. With her eyes glued to her name and parent's address written in her best friend's messy scrawl, she shuffled sidewards until she could sit in the corner of the bay window. Pillows were placed under her bum and against her back as she settled in for what was sure to be the highlight of her day, let alone her week.

The stamp in the corner of the envelope caught her attention.

"America," she whispered, unaware that she'd even spoken out loud.

Flipping the envelope over, she blinked in surprise. There, on the back, was a return address. Harry never wrote a return address. And really, what would have been the point? By the time that she would have received his letter, he was sure to have moved on. The fact that there was an address this time caused her mind to whirl with the possible reasons for it being there.

Harry may be her best friend, but their relationship had become decidedly one-sided the last few years. He was able to write to her, always using muggle post, sending her letters care of her parents. But those letters were by no means regular. Sometimes she might receive two or three a month; and then at other times, he might go two or three months without sending a letter. Occasionally, Harry'd let her know where he was heading next and, whenever he did, she made sure to send a letter there for him to collect. Not that that happened very often.

And as for seeing each other, well, she could count how often they'd met up in the last five years using the fingers of one hand. And it was always Hermione portkeying out to see him; he never once ventured back to Britain.

Hermione opened the envelope carefully, making sure not to tear it where the return address was. Three pieces of paper fell out into her hand - an average length letter then, for him.

Placing the envelope to the side, she opened the paper and turned it around.

Dear Hermione,

Before you say it, yes, I know I'm a prat, inconsiderate, the worst best friend in the world and whatever other adjectives and phrases that your brilliant mind can come up with. I should have written much, much sooner than this.

Hermione nodded her head in satisfaction. And yes, while she could easily think up half a dozen other words and phrases to describe Harry's lack of communication skills, the fact that there was a letter in her hand - with a return address on the envelope - meant that she'd save them up for later. For example, when she wrote back to him.

As I'm sure that you've already sussed out, I've finally stopped moving about and have a fixed address that you can write back to or even visit me (hint hint).

But I guess that I should really tell the story of what's been happening with me in a logical order, just like I know you've always tried to bang into my head to do.

Hermione scowled at the paper in her hands. Of all the times for Harry to take her advice, he had to do it now? She was half-tempted to skip ahead to find out why he had an address in the United States of America of all places, but her own sense of following a logical course of action prevented her. Besides, what were the odds of Harry actually sticking to a logical order? More than likely, if she skipped ahead, he'd get side-tracked by something and she'd be forced to backtrack.

I think I was in Peru the last time that I wrote? That sounds right. Anyway, the highlight of my time there had to be Mach Picchu. I wish you could have seen it, Hermione. It was breathtaking. It was so high up and the buildings and walls were all incredible. And to think that it was built so many centuries ago and people nowadays still don't know exactly what it was built for.

The fact that a lot of the structures there were designed in such a way as to have something to do with the stars and planets and seasons is amazing. I didn't understand much of what the guide was saying at all. Guess I should have paid better attention in Astronomy class, huh?

Anyway, I took dozens and dozens if photos to show you when I see you next. After that, I headed off to the wizarding tribal village in the Sacred Valley. If you think wizarding Britain is living in the stone age, you should have seen these people.

I didn't end up staying there all that long - even though I had my translator earrings in, it only meant that I could understand them, not that they could understand me. So, after picking up a few souvenirs, I headed back to Lima.

I think I ended up spending about another three weeks there before I decided to move on.

Hermione nodded thoughtfully. That'd been Harry's pattern for years now: arrive in a country, explore it a bit, go see all of the major muggle tourist places, visit the wizarding enclaves, look around a bit more and then move on to the next country.

Oh, and of course, write letters back home teasing her with all that he'd seen and saying that he took a heap of photos and bought souvenirs without ever sending them on to her! It was enough to drive her mad and most likely explained why her hair still retained some of its frizz years after her mother's had settled down when she was Hermione's age.

I realised that I'd seen all that I'd wanted to of South America, so decided to head north to the next continent on my list. But I was also getting tired, Hermione. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love all of the sightseeing and travelling that I've been doing, but I was missing being with friends or even making friends that I would see for longer than a week or two before moving on.

And I know what you're thinking, why didn't I just come home to Britain?

Hermione nodded. She was thinking that, but she also already knew the answer. She knew what things had been like for Harry after the war and especially how needy and ... invasive certain people were. Harry had needed his space, to explore and to find out who he was without the fame and trappings that he'd lived with for so many years.

But you know why. And besides, with four continents down and only three to go (although, does Antarctica really count? And you know that I've already seen some of Australia), I wanted to finish what I started.

So, I made a plan. I still have plenty of money, not only from the Potters, but even more from the Blacks, so I was going to use some of it to buy a place and use it as a, I guess, a base. I'd have somewhere to live and could do day trips or something like that to explore the continent.

Hermione was impressed. It seemed that Harry was starting to think smarter. He'd still get to explore and do his travelling, while getting a chance for a bit of normalcy as well. The fact that he'd have a semi-permanent base that meant that she could send letters to him was a definite bonus.

Of course, I then had the problem of deciding where to 'settle'. So, I let fate decide. I went to the travel agent and bought a ticket on the first plane heading to North America.

And there was the Harry that she knew and loved so well - completely impulsive, jumping in feet first without doing any research whatsoever and hoping for the best.

As I'm sure that you've already guessed from the return address on the envelope, I've ended up in New York. I've bought myself an entire building. It's really old and run down, but it has a great vibe to it, lots of old world charm. It's three stories tall, well, four if you count the basement. Oh, and a flat roof that I'm thinking of putting a small greenhouse on.

The top two floors will be where I live. There'll be a bedroom especially set aside for you (hint hint) and I'll make a library where I can have all of the books that I've picked up around the world as well as all of my souvenirs on display. (There! If that doesn't get you to come visit me, then nothing will. ~smile~ )

Hermione wasn't sure whether to scowl or laugh. Harry made it so easy to do both. And he was right, already she could feel herself salivating at the thought of exploring all of the books, souvenirs and photos that he'd gathered from his world tour. Deliberately supressing the thoughts of asking for some time off, she read on.

I'm still not a hundred percent sure what to do with the bottom floor yet. It does have a massive kitchen, though, and I've always been good at cooking. Plus, it's something that I enjoy and it would be good to have more of an income than whatever investments the goblins made for me. So, I'm considering something like a cafe-restaurant-pub kind of thing. We'll see.

Or, at least you will when you come visit. (Are you sensing a bit of a theme here yet, Hermione?)

Seriously, though, I miss you terribly. I can't wait to hear from you or see you or even talk to you (although you'll have to give me your phone number again, I seem to have put it somewhere really safe where even I can't find it).

Best be off, the builders are due here any time now.

Love,

Harry.

With a sigh, Hermione lay the letter in her lap and looked out the window, not that she was really seeing anything. Hearing from Harry was wonderful and always left her with a bunch of mixed feelings. There was the warmth and affection for her friend; the thrill of hearing about his adventures and experiencing them, even if it was second-hand; regret that she never went with him; irritation at just hearing snippets and not every fact that she'd love to hear; and, of course, the longing to actually see and be able to talk to and hug her best friend.

And now he'd added in temptation. She'd love to be as carefree as Harry, to be able to simply pack a bag, jump on a plane or grab a portkey and go. But that wasn't her, as much as she sometimes wished it were.

America. New York. The temptation was so, so strong. And it wasn't like she hadn't accrued a bunch of leave time after working at the Ministry for over six years. Yes, as soon as her latest assignment was settled, perhaps it was time to take a holiday.

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Harry peered up the shaft that he'd created. It went all the way up from where he was in the basement, past the walled in first floor, and ended on the second floor. Satisfied with his work, he took the doll-house sized circular staircase out of his pocket and carefully positioned it on the ground.

It'd been a major find that he'd discovered in a building slated for demolition on the far side of the city. The fact that it encompassed three floors, exactly the size that he was looking for, meant that he simply couldn't pass it up. Sure, it needed a couple of reparos and a touch of transfiguration on a few of the steps, but that was neither here nor there. Especially for something that only a very few people would ever see.

Stepping backwards, he flicked his wand free from his arm holster and pointed it at the miniature staircase.

"Finite incantantum," he intoned.

Instantly, the stairs grew, expanding to their original size.

Harry grinned as he stepped forward, twisting and turning his head as he peered upwards. Taking the stairs two at a time, the tip of his wand providing the only light, Harry raced up to the first level of his apartment. But where he found himself at the top of the stairs, was about twenty degrees to the right of where it needed to be, mostly facing a brick wall.

Climbing the rail, he slipped out of the staircase and into the back of the broom cupboard. It was with a touch of irony that he'd built the false door into the broom cupboard. He could just imagine the look on Hermione's face if she ever came over and he suggested that she accompany him into the broom cupboard because he had something 'special' to show her.

Then, with a slight twirling of his wand, he rotated the stairs until they aligned correctly with the doorway. It was then simply a matter of fixing it in place, both up here and then down in the partitioned off area of the basement that he'd created by building an extra wall and then expanding the small space using space expansion charms so that the basement area was now twice its original size.

And the only way down there was by accessing this hidden doorway up here.

He figured that having a large hidden space that could be used to house the blatantly magical items that he owned, plus be large enough (and warded enough once he got around to it) to use as a duelling area would be a very good thing. Not that he expected to do much duelling, but he'd let his skills lapse a lot more than he was comfortable with these past five years.

Today, of course, was the perfect day to work on these 'secret' projects of his: the builders doing the renovations had finally finished and it'd be another two days before the decorators began their work.

At least, he figured, he finally had some ideas of what he wanted to create on the main floor. He even had a name for the mini-restaurant cum pub cum café that he was planning on opening. Not that that could happen any time soon, there was still a lot of permits and decorations and hiring or staff and half a hundred things to do.

But that was okay, Harry was in no hurry. And between times, he had his own little projects, plus a host of sightseeing that he wanted to do.