With The Lights Off
It all belongs to Rowling and Whedon.A/N:
FFA pairing – Anya Jenkins and Hermione Granger. I realize that not many of you understand that all these chapters will be one-shots. There is very little chance of me continuing these plotbunnies, so if someone has an idea about one of these one-shots, then just drop me a review and run with it.Chapter Two: With The Lights Off
The first time Hermione Granger met Anya was a chilly night, late in November, when she was five.
Hermione’s parents were sensible, practical people. They were well off, with a successful dentistry practice and a three-bedroom house in the suburbs. Anne-Marie and Edward Granger were both fond of reading, chess, and other no-nonsense activities. They prided themselves on being well informed, intelligent, and generally well-rounded people, with a practical, clever daughter to boot.
They did not believe in magic, and neither did their daughter. Hermione had read many books, despite her small age, and did not believe in Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, or unicorns, like many other children her age. For example, everyday at seven o’clock, instead of watching cartoons, Hermione carefully examined the daily newspaper from front to back. Her parents were of course delighted, and often engaged in spirited debates over newspaper articles.
However, as two working parents often were, the couple often worked late at their practice, leaving their five-year-old daughter alone in the house. Though they did trust her, they did not think it was safe. And so, they needed a babysitter for their daughter.
And Anya was the answer to their needs.
The Grangers never questioned how Anya had shown up, just as they needed a babysitter. After all, they were sensible. It was only a coincidence.
When Anne-Marie Granger came home one night, announced by the slam of the front door and a crash of something thrown against the wall, Hermione knew something was about to change in their family.
Anya looked up from her magazine. As a baby-sitter there was nothing out of the ordinary about her – just an American attending university in London, trying to earn some extra cash. She didn’t interest Hermione. As baby-sitters went, Anya was no better nor worse – she liked to make popcorn but she didn’t like to play games. Everything she did was rushed and half-hearted, as if she was waiting for something better to come along.
But that seemed to change. As the sounds of Anne-Marie’s fury reverberated in the next room, the candidly bored languor that always seemed present with her evaporated, leaving a fresh eagerness and an odd sparkle in her eye that Hermione didn’t like at all.
“You stay here while I go check on your mom,” Anya commanded, and then she threw down her magazine and left the room.
Anya had been with her mother for quite some time now. Anne-Marie alternated between bouts of tears and fits of rage, and the sound of things breaking still continued. Hermione just sat silently, an ear to the door, trying to catch the fuzzy conversation, but only managing to half-catch her mother’s crazed cries: “How could he!” “ – all the things I did for him!” “And with the secretary no less!
And then for a long moment there was silence, then a familiar male voice saying “I’m so sorry darling – ” but another crash cut off his words.
“Get out! Get out of my sight!” Hermione heard her mother scream, then Anya’s calm voice saying, “Oh hello Edward, long day at the office?” with an undercurrent of something Hermione didn’t understand.
“You bastard! Cheating
on me!” And then there was another crash and tinkle of glass. “I wish you would be eaten from the inside out!”“Wish granted.”
A long time after the screams stopped, Hermione still hid in her closet, hands over her ears, careful to control her breathing.Everything’s all right,
her brain repeated over and over again, as she stared at the one slash of light creeping in from the space underneath the door.
And then she heard footsteps walking towards the closet, two shadows creeping into her slash of light. Then the door swung open.
The person (thing?) stood, framed by the harsh light flooding into her closet. Hermione refused to look up, staring resolutely at the two feet in front of her.
“Hermione,” Anya’s voice came. “Your mother’s looking for you.”
Reassured by the familiar American accent, Hermione looked up, but her eyes only saw a demonic visage splattered in blood. She screamed.
Anya scowled. “Be silent, annoying and pink-faced spawn.”