Downtown Los Angeles, CA
July 16, 2000
The young woman stood on the sidewalk bordering the towering skyscraper and glanced at the advertisement page she'd torn from a magazine.
DO YOU WANT SOMEBODY MURDERED?
(Then don't call GENERAL SERVICES)
But for any other job dial 1-800-HURRY-UP – It pays!
P.S. We also walk dogs
That had been the first advertisement she'd really taken notice of, after she'd arrived in New York City a few days ago, and it had piqued her interest sufficiently to induce her to at least compete a job application for employment
Re-reading the ad for what seemed like the thousandth time, she wondered once again why, exactly, she was responding to the voicemail she'd received two days previously following her interview, from some anonymous minion claiming to be from the General Services Human Resources division and suggesting that she might be interested in discussing employment options with one of their sister companies and recommending that, if she was interested, that she appear for an interview today with one of that company's representatives, with her both her hotel expenses and cross-country flight to be paid for by the sister company's HR department. At the time, the offer was intriguing enough for her to accept, especially when considering she had no other interests that could claim her time.
Pushing one of the locks of her long, barely-tamed hair back over her shoulder, the brunette beauty took a deep breath to calm herself before pushing open the door to the lobby and heading inside.
"Good morning," she gave the receptionist a typical bland smile as she announced the purpose of her visit.
"My name is Hermione Granger, and I have an appointment to see a Mr. Lindsey McDonald."
"Good morning , Ms. Granger. Please, have a seat."
The speaker was a handsome young man with dark brown hair, piercing blue eyes, a charming smile and an earnest air about him which immediately put Hermione on her guard, since the last person who'd exhibited such an manner had been that manipulative old bastard who had been primarily responsible for the nightmare that her life had become.
Taking a seat in one of the leather-bound chairs in front of the man's desk, the brunette witch maintained an unobtrusive watch around her while carefully examining her host and the room around him for any potential hazards or traps.
"Would you care for a cup of tea or coffee?" he asked politely, and nodding at her polite, "No, thank you, Mr. McDonald. I'd prefer to get on with the interview."
"Very well," McDonald smiled with an approving nod. "Let's get down to business, then.
"Your name has been on a list of people whom Wolfram and Hart been observing for several years now, Ms. Granger," he informed her, receiving a simple nod of acknowledgement at that revelation, "and when we saw that you had decided to move to the States following the rather – acrimonious – resolution of that situation with the Ministry regarding Mr. Malfoy and his followers, we had hoped for an opportunity to discuss possible employment prospects with you.
"Your applying for employment with General Services, a company originally established by one of the firm's founders, provided us with that opportunity, so here we are," he finished his explanation with a small wave of his hand and an attempt at a charming smile.
"What, precisely, does this employment offer of yours entail and what sort of benefits does it involve that I should be interested in accepting, Mr. McDonald?" Hermione inquired, elevating her left eyebrow as emphasis for her question.
"Well, I suppose the best description of the position would be 'problem-solver' or 'trouble-shooter,'" McDonald answered with the faintest hint of a smile lurking around the corners of his mouth. "When the firm runs into a problem, you and your other team members would be called in to help resolve the situation in the most cost-effective and least-disruptive manner possible.
"And, since you have been indicted by the current British Ministry of Magic with a laundry list of charges, including murder, manslaughter, assault, assault to commit great bodily harm and arson, as well as a litany of other felonies and misdemeanors," he went on, "the primary benefit of employment with us would be what would best be described as diplomatic immunity with regard to the likelihood of being detained or arrested by most law enforcement organizations around the globe."
"You're looking for an assassin," Hermione said flatly, giving McDonald a measuring stare as she began analyzing her chances of leaving here peacefully. Maintaining what she hoped was a calm and relaxed expression, she deliberately did not clench her right hand into a fist preparatory to activating her primary defensive weapon, since she rather doubted she'd have the chance to actually draw her wand.
"We're looking for people who can provide us with non-traditional methods of resolving problems," the lawyer corrected her coolly, not taking any actions what might possibly be construed as hostile. "People who can think outside the box.
"You've indicated in several instances that you can do exactly that, Ms. Granger," he said.
"Your using one of Gringott's watch dragons to escape being trapped in their vaults during your search for Riddle's horcruxes, for one," he pointed out.
"And while having people who are not adverse to taking aggressive action is a plus," he said, carefully not admitting to the firm's approving any potentially illegal alternatives, "we are generally more interested in approaches which do not have the possibility of drawing unwanted attention to them."
"If you're not interested in the job, then all you need to do is say so, Ms. Granger," McDonald assured. "Wolfram and Hart have no intention of trying to force you to accept the offer.
"There are any number of potential applicants for the job," he told her. "You are simply currently at the top of the list, so we took advantage of the chance to talk to you when it came up."
"I'll need some time to think this over," Hermione said simply, as she got up from her chair.
"Of course," McDonald nodded, as he, too, rose to his feet. "I'll need an answer by the end of the week.
"We have various existing problems we need to address, and time is not something we can afford to waste."
"Very well, Mr. McDonald," replied the woman who had once been described as 'the brightest witch of her generation' and who now headed the list of the British Ministry's 'Most Wanted' criminals. "You'll have my answer by then."
Sitting back in her hotel room, after first setting all of the anti-surveillance wards she knew on her room, Hermione began pondering exactly what it was she wanted to do with her life from this point on.
Nearly everyone she'd ever cared about was dead as a result of the war Voldemort had declared on the rest of the Wizarding World, including Harry, her parents, almost the entire Weasley family and virtually all of her classmates.
That both Lucius and Draco Malfoy had survived Voldemort's demise had pretty much ensured that the Ministry would continue to be run by a bunch of bigots whose primary motivation was to neutralize or destroy anyone who disagreed with their outdated and narrow-minded views, and made her status as one of the few surviving heroes of the war a quite unpalatable fact for the Ministry, but one they were unable to deny outright.
The fact that Harry had named her and Ron as his primary beneficiaries for both the Potter and the Black estates hadn't sat well with any of the Wizengamot or those who helped set policy, but there wasn't anything they could do about it without the cooperation of the goblin community and the goblins had hated both of those groups far more than they did her and Ron, so they had refused to even consider not following the will of the Boy-Who-Lived. And her and Ron's negotiations with Gringotts' Board of Directors regarding the disposition of the various artifacts residing in both Family vaults had made things go much easier than they would normally have expected.
Ron's subsequent declaration, as Head of the Black family, of the dissolution of Narcissa's marriage to Lucius Malfoy had rendered Draco a bastard, and Lucius a near-pauper after Narcissa's dowry was returned to the Black's family vault, so that was one small victory they had celebrated, although Hermione was certain beyond any possible doubt that it had been also those two actions which had resulted in Ron's murder several days subsequent to that announcement.
Her managing to kill both of the assassins who assaulted her in Diagon Alley the same day Ron had been murdered hadn't really surprised all that many people – after all, it was an accepted part of the ever-growing legend surrounding the Boy-Who-Lived that she had been with Harry every step of the way in his battles against Tommy-boy Riddle – but it was her acting as Matriarch of the Potter Family and declaring a Blood Feud against the Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle families which had initiated the furor leading to her current status.
The fact that she had successfully cited a host of Ministry and Wizengamot precedents which prevented anyone from interfering with her pursuing the vendettas clearly hadn't gained her any admirers among the Wizengamot – although she would admit that her playing with all three 'former' Death Eaters and slowly mutilating them before finally killing them had probably gone a long way towards helping enhance the image of a murderous and out-of-control sociopath which some of Lucius' former cronies had sought to cast her.
Regardless of what her enemies might say, she probably wouldn't have done anything more than simply kill Draco the first time she saw him, if he hadn't made the mistake of allowing a woman he'd had polyjuiced to look like her escape from Malfoy Manor and actually make it to St. Mungo's before the polyjuice finally lapsed and she expired before a dozen witnesses.
Harry, possibly, might have been able to talk her down and calmed at least part of the rage that had consumed her when she'd been notified of the incident, but he was over a year dead by that time, and Ron and anyone else she might have possibly listened to were long gone, too.
She still hadn't been able to determine exactly how Draco had obtained a supply of her hair for use with the polyjuice potions, or even exactly how many women he'd raped and killed after forcing them to take the potions, but she had made certain that that inbred piece of filth would never attack another woman again, and she had done so in front of the entire congregation of those senile, old fools.
It was the fact that the Wizengamot had basically dismissed the charges brought against him since the only victim they actually had proof he'd assaulted was 'merely a muggleborn' which had ignited her fury into the blazing conflagration which ended up devastating the Wizengamot chambers. By the time she had finished dealing with both Malfoy and the fools who'd attempted to defend him, the chamber resembled a mundane slaughter house.
Her subsequent departure had left behind another half-dozen bodies of idiots foolish enough to try to stop her, and she had stopped by Gringotts and transferred all of the assets of both House Potter and House Black (having been named executor of Ron's estate) to several mundane banks before finally departing the country via the Chunnel train, a method of travel the idiots in the Wizarding World would never have considered as a possible method of escape.
Her subsequent trip to New York and application for employment with General Services had been nothing more than an effort to find something to occupy her now-copious free time, since she had more than sufficient funds to last her for several lifetimes in even the most extravagant lifestyle a person could imagine.
No, what she was looking for now was something out of the ordinary, something that could provide her with a challenge, something which could make her think and force her to use her mind and her skills.
Wolfram & Hart Building
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
July 18, 2000
"Mr. McDonald, I've decided I'd prefer to operate as an independent contractor, but I'm perfectly willing to offer my services to Wolfram and Hart. What sort of situation is it, exactly, would you like to see get resolved?"