Full summary: When you've had too much for too long you don't travel to go somewhere, you travel to leave something behind. You go away to see something new, to get a break, and to be alone. Sometimes it's a choice you make, sometimes it's a choice made for you, and maybe in the end it doesn't matter.
Hermione Granger has done three months of her one year on a dairy farm the first time she comes across the worker from the farm next door. He runs on light feet across the mountainside, silver hair surprisingly upright in the wind, and she decides to go and introduce herself. Sometimes it's the people you meet while looking for isolation that makes all the difference.
AN: This is something I found on my hard drive, a project I started several years ago. The last days I've been playing with the idea of continuing it past the three chapters I wrote back then. It takes place maybe seven or eight years after the last Harry Potter book and probably less than a year after the manga end of Naruto. For Naruto I've mostly watched the anime, but without the fillers and cut after the manga, so I'm somewhere in between the two. With Harry Potter this is based solely off the books. It's been a while for both of them, but I hope the characters aren't much more OOC than explained by the time gaps and change of environment, and that I haven't made any glaringly obvious mistakes with the plots or universes. Please let me know if that's the case!
Hermione weaves her way up the side of the mountain. Her goal is currently hidden behind a small incline, but she knows his general direction and should be able to see him soon enough. It's been over a month since Kristín told her that there was a new worker at the farm next door, but only the last week has he shown himself, running on light feet across the mountainside. Curiosity is deeply ingrain in Hermione, a trait that has both saved and put her in danger more times than she can count. Now it's driving her up the mountainside in search of an unknown neighbour to break up a boring day.
The last months have improved Hermione's physique noticeably, but the steep grassy slopes still have her winded by the time she reaches the platform where she saw him fling himself out on the ground. He's sitting up now, legs crossed in front of him in a relaxed manner that makes the pose seem comfortable. She's never seen a hair looking so natural while styled to stand almost straight up, held in place only by a headband, and she's spent her teenage years in a school of magic.
"Hi," Hermione says, making a small wave that was not part of her plan. She's sure it made her look ridiculous, but she's never cared much about that. "I'm Hermione Granger, I work down with Kristín and Ingo." She gestures down at the farm below them. "Mind if I join you?"
"I have a feeling you intend to." The guy raises his eyebrows. His tone is dry but also possibly amused as far as Hermione can tell. It's a bit hard reading him when most of his face is covered by some kind of mask. The temperature isn't bad enough to warrant one, but maybe for someone who hasn't lived in Scotland this qualifies as cold against bare skin.
Hermione lowers herself down where she has a stone to lean against, knowing she won't pull of the easy grace of the guy a few feet away. Also, she really needs to stop thinking of him as the guy. "So, will I have to ask for your name?" She says and the guy's eyes fold into what she assumes is a smile.
"Hata… Kakashi Hatake." He says. By the sound of it he's from a country that puts family names first.
Silence falls as Hermione waits for Kakashi to continue, but he doesn't. She watches the yellow grass bending in the wind for a moment before she decides that she can do without the awkwardness. "You work at Heimstaðir?"
"Yes." Kakashi says. "I take care of the sheep when Sunna and Þorir work." His intonation gives away none of his feelings on the matter.
"We have dairy cows." Hermione offers when silence is once again about to fall. "I help Kristín with the milking and feeding twice a day since Ingo's back can't take it anymore. This is their last year running the farm before their daughter and her husband takes over in January. They're spending one last year in freedom travelling the world. I live in what's becoming their house down there." She points to the smaller of the two houses, right by the road that will half a mile later connect to Heimstaðir's drive.
"It's nice having my own space." Hermione goes on when Kakashi doesn't break in. "If a bit lonely sometimes." She's looking at Kakashi who mostly looks out across the valley. There's still snow on the peaks and in the places the sun can't reach this early in the year.
"So, how come you ended up in Iceland?" It's a forced question, pushed forward by her trying to break up her stream of consciousness and turn this into a dialogue.
"Why does anyone end up anywhere?" Kakashi answers blandly. He smiles, and Hermione recognize the avoidance for what it is. "You?" It's the first time Kakashi does anything to keep the conversation going. Hermione would have appreciated it more if it wasn't obviously done to distract her. Or if it wasn't monosyllabic.
"I think I mostly had to get away." Hermione thinks out loud. No one here has asked her before, and she hasn't exactly put it into words. When she left she told people she wanted to see the geysers and the horses, try out the country life, that sort of thing, but that wasn't it. This trip had never been about going to something, it was about what she left behind.
"I've..." She fades out, uncertain about what she was going to say. Kakashi's looking at her now, she can feel it, but she keeps her eyes on the horizon. "Maybe I just need to find myself again." When she says it it feels right. After everything, after Ron, after leaving the magical world, after trying her best to keep it together at a non-magical education, she'd given up. She needs to get her feet back under her. To get away from the people who keep her being someone she is more and more convinced isn't her.
It's slightly uncharacteristic for Hermione to be so upfront with something she feels insecure about. She's used to knowing the answers and speaking them out loud. At the same time she's here to make changes, and she is tired of being herself. Hermione had been the kind of girl who didn't care what other's thought of her. She used to believe that while not everyone would appreciate her those who did at least liked her, not someone she was pretending to be. It had been unpleasant realizing she's lost that confidence, and worse recognizing that she has traits that are downright unpleasant. Change it is then.
"So, for how long have you been here?" Kakashi's question leads them onto safer ground. Apparently, he can keep a conversation going just fine when he's presented with topic he wants to steer clear of. Hermione supposes she should be grateful
"Since New Year's." She answers. "So about three months. The rumours say you came about a month ago?"
"There's rumours about me?" Kakashi raises his eyebrows in question and Hermione laughs. She gets the feeling he doesn't mind.
"Of course there's gossip. This is the countryside, not much happens and people need something to talk about. I don't know more than when you came though, I don't speak Icelandic so I miss a lot. How long are you here for?"
"I need to be back sometime in the autumn, so maybe until then." Kakashi's tone seldom leaves room for follow-up questions Hermione notices. He is friendly enough, but he's not the easiest person to speak with.
"I'll be here until a week before Christmas." She says instead. "That might leave Kristín alone with the milking for a couple of days before her daughter comes home, but my parents would have fit if I didn't show up for the holidays. I'm an only child and I went to boarding school so Christmas and the summers have always sort of been sacred family time. Since I don't live at home in the summers anymore Christmas is just, I don't know, Christmas you know?"
"Where I come from we don't really celebrate Christmas." Kakashi says.
Kakashi turns out to be from an island outside Japan, and Hermione explains the basics of a British Christmas to him. She tells him of when her grandparents where alive, how they're down to just her and her parents now and how she sometimes wishes she'd have a sibling. She also paints the non-magical picture of Christmas with the Weasleys, and the bewilderment of her loving but decorous parents as they got pulled into the pandemonium that is her ex boyfriend's family.
In the end the damp windy cold gets to her. She says her goodbyes and leaves Kakashi sitting in the grass looking indifferent even if he's only dressed in a long sleeve shirt and a vest. It makes her long for warming charms. There is no such thing here though. The magic in Iceland is wild and untamed, shaped like the land it springs from and unreliable in its reactions to any wand-work. Her reason for choosing Iceland stems partly from this. Hermione still carries her wand of course, has been since the day she started Hogwarts. Even if she's left the magical community almost two years ago she feels naked and vulnerable without it.
As Hermione settles down at her kitchen table with a cup of tea her mind has already started corrupting the encounter. It amazes her how good her brain is at this kind of things. You ruined his afternoon, it's telling her. Why would he want to listen to you? You talk too much. He's way too cool to hang out with you. She tells it to shut up, but the tea feels heavy in her stomach when she meets up with Kristín to clean the stables before the evening milking.
AN: Any thoughts? I'd be happy to know what you think about this, and if it's worth working on.