Camping trips in the summer are always his task. The planning, the packing, the locations and he hates it so their children don't have to. He pitches the tents while Ron teaches the latest brood of Weasley/Potter's to hunt. Ginny sets the table. Hermione fetches the water. They all listen to her stories of valiant noble Goblins at the fireside. He does the clean up so he doesn't stare.
When he's in Berlin, not for work (no one is ever safe, not really), he notices things trapped in time. Recognition of environment becomes second nature. Cultures clash and occupy the same space but peace is tremulous at best. Constant vigilance is a habit. Architecture is half stalled and forced to mesh with warring ideologies. Nothing is ever finished here. He doesn't think they ever will be.
There are moments when he thinks he could do it. He could break all their hearts so they can finally live honestly and he wants one thing in his life to be of his doing. On his terms. Just one. Ron is easier to understand now. He was the one that needed time to catch up.
Remus' voice rattles around in his head, 'Don't go looking for trouble Harry.' Sirius' finishes with, 'In due time, it'll come to you.'
He's always running out and he's lost count at his attempts to kill it. One would expect more from the Vanquisher of Darkness or the Bringer of Light, or whatever title has been cooked up for him in the passing years. He thinks more along the lines of Coward, Liar, Spineless Ingrate. Lion of Gryffindor indeed.
He suspects she knows. Of course she does. He wasn't the one that turned away.
When the Weasley family home becomes too much he walks out back to the makeshift pitch watching the gnomes scatter before him. In the middle of the field, under the stars gaze, she's playing with a group of younglings.
'They can be domesticated Harry,' she says off his confused look. 'I suppose Molly already had too much on her plate to focus on this lot.'
'Yeah,' is all he can manage. He wonders if he'll ever stop being astonished at things in his world. Silently he curses himself for not having any domestic chore to stop him from staring before he realises there's not much to do in the middle of a clearing, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the summer.
'Couldn't sleep?' Is her question to his quiet watch.
'Yeah.' He thinks maybe he should sit down so his vocabulary progresses beyond monosyllabic affirmations. 'You?' Not much of an improvement.
'After years of spending parts of the summer here, you'd think getting used to sharing space would be comfortable.'
'At least it's crowded with people you love and all the beatings here are pretty much mutual.' He was safer at one word answers. 'Sorry, bad joke.' He doesn't know where to go from there, so he shuts down all verbal communication. After the youngsters run off joyfully into the night something weighs heavy in his chest. It's probably the same thing burning under his skin.
'We can't,' she cuts into his recognisable brooding and it hits him squarely in his gut. She's very earnest and he knows that part of this is to convince herself. 'We have so much to lose now. We... we've made our choices.'
He scoffs at that last bit, but he's more amused at her use of 'we', as if his silence reinforces her decision from over a decade ago and it releases them both of culpability.
'So we live with it.' She can reduce him to simplistic language immediately.
'Harry,' and she shouldn't have tears in her eyes.
'I get it Hermione.' As her name tumbles over his condensed articulation he sees something inside of her finally break. It gives him courage. 'I should've kissed you that night,' his voice tight with a flood of self-indulgent longing. He thinks too much of what he saw when Ron came back.
He supposes Voldemort still won somehow.
'Would it have made a difference?' Ah, there's his legendary fearlessness.
She smiles with a broken grace, 'Probably.'
He doesn't know if he wants to laugh or cry, so he falls into the grass and stares up at the cosmos blaspheming whatever power that has held sway over his life.
He wants to scream.
'Harry,' she starts faintly when a few moments have passed. He really wishes she'd stop saying his name like that.
'Yeah,' and he can feel her shift closer.
'Maybe we weren't supposed to get it all in this life.'
'Hermione,' but he can't find it in him to dash what little hope the fates have granted them. So he pulls her down into his gravity and she fits perfectly, as she always has. She burrows herself into his chest and listens to his heart beat.
'I think you're right,' he tries to smile as the threatening fissure rips through him.