Hugs Gone Wild
AN: You might have noticed that updates have become less frequent. We are getting into the time of year when the Scriptificus Totalus writers tend to be busy with other things. Specifically Nanowrimo and family obligations for the holiday season. We're not saying there won't be updates in November or December. We're just saying there won't be as many. Also, we find taking a hiatus and picking up many months later tends to keep us a bit fresher.
Thanks for sticking with us, and happy reading.
Neville looked up when the bell rang over the door. He was just filling an order for a pick-up due later. More and more orders for winter flowers were coming in and he was starting to make notes on which flowers he would need to start growing early simply to meet the demands.
That was why it took him a few moments to actually notice who came into his shop. He hadn’t seen her in a few months, but he would know her face anywhere. “Hermione!”
Hermione smiled when Neville stood and gave her a giant hug. He still towered over her, the top of her head only coming to his chin, but she squeezed him back just as tightly. “Hi, Neville.”
He was grinning widely until the door to his shop opened and his girlfriend walked in.
“I’m never going to hug another female. Ever.”
Hermione pulled back with a confused look on her face. “What on earth are you talking about?”
Mac’s mouth fell open. She put her hands on her hips.
“Get yer hands off m’Nev a’fore I break them.”
Hermione spun around quickly, her hand clenching her wand by her side and the other over her pounding heart. She hadn’t heard anyone follow her in.
Neville quickly stepped in between them, not exactly sure which female he was protecting from the other. “Mac, it’s just Hermione. She’s a friend. You remember her, right?”
Mac glared at him. “I’m no’ feeble. Is there anyone in yer house ya dinna hug? Plannin’ on doin’ tha’ to Harry when he visits the Council?”
He gave her an exasperated glance as Hermione stepped from behind him. “Probably. He’s one of my really good friends. Are you going to threaten to rip his arms off if I do?”
“I could,” Mac said. “But I willna, and I dinna threaten to rip off yer arms. I threatened to break your hands.”
Mac folded her arms across her chest. She respected Granger, but in school she hadn’t liked her all that much. Mainly because she acted like such a know-it-all. So far Mac hadn’t seen any changes.
Neville sighed. “Well, I guess you remember Mac, Hermione?”
“Even though we weren’t there seventh year, Harry, Ron, and I did eventually hear about Terry Boot swallowing his own teeth.” She gave Mac a tight smile.
“Ya dinna approve. Figures.”
Just then, Pevensie walked in from the back carrying several boxes that Neville had asked her and Rowan to get.... but they’d gotten distracted. With a stilted talk, not anything else. He was acting a bit weird, but every time she tried to speak to him about it, he changed the subject or someone interrupted them. Pevensie had finally cornered him in the back, but he still wasn’t talking.
“Oh hey, Mac,” she said. “What’s... why do you look mad? Who pissed you off?”
Neville spun around in surprise. “You’re still here? I thought I told you to take those down to the apothecary twenty minutes ago?” This was just what he needed. Women were taking over his life.
“I’m going now,” she said. “Don’t get your panties in a twist.”
Then she spotted the other lady.
“Oh hey. Sorry. I’m sure Neville doesn’t, you know, wear panties. Not that he goes around naked under his clothes. I mean...”
Rowan walked out of the back laughing his head off.
“Shut up, dude. It’s not funny. I’ve embarrassed the boss in front of a customer.”
Mac gestured to Rowan. “Tha’s why she dinna leave twenty minutes ago. I’m sure Malfoy will be pleased she got her makeout session in today.”
“I didn’t... I mean... we weren’t...”
Hermione’s eyebrows rose quickly and she turned to Neville, but he quickly shook his head. “Don’t ask. Not now. Please, don’t ask.” The only way this could have been worse was if Ron was the one in the shop, but he knew there was no love lost between Malfoy and Hermione. Explaining in front of Pevensie would be disastrous.
“Mac, like Draco doesn’t know I kiss Rowan, not that it’s any of your business, and not like we were doing that anyhow. Besides, like he has any room to talk right now with as much time as he spends in the library.”
Rowan nudged her. “Let’s go.”
“Ya both dinna need to go.”
“She can’t carry all of this by herself.”
“The hell I can’t,” Pevensie said before lifting all the boxes and walking out.
Rowan grinned at Neville then hurried after Pevensie.
The moment they were out the door, Hermione turned to Neville, her eyebrow raised. She was burning with questions, mostly about how casually the name Draco Malfoy was thrown around, especially from a young girl.
Neville groaned. He knew that look, but he knew who Hermione worked for and he was torn between his urge to protect the council and his loyalty to his friends. He was also very much aware of his girlfriend standing close by and not looking too happy either. This was not his day.
Mac was waiting for the questions to start because Granger was not one who couldn’t NOT ask a question. She questioned everything. A great many of the Ravenclaws had often wondered why Granger wasn’t one of them - just like they wondered why Mac was.
“Yer no’ gonna ask? Tha’s to be a first.”
Hermione straightened her shoulders. “He knows what questions I would ask, because we’re close enough friends. But, I know that this should probably be a private conversation, so Neville, we’ll just meet for lunch later and catch up. Perhaps Harry and Ron can join us.”
Neville thought that would be a very bad conversation topic for lunch with Harry and Ron and laughed nervously. “Perhaps. I really don’t want to run you off, Hermione.”
She just waved him off. “I’m accepting new assignments since I finished a few caseloads. I’ll be out and about much more. We can catch up much more often.”
The door opened behind Mac, and she heard Draco’s voice. Mac looked at Neville with wide eyes before turning. Malfoy was there with Willow. They were deep in conversation and had not noticed anyone else. Willow was actually poking Draco in the side, and he was laughing and telling her to ‘cut that shite out’.
Neville actually covered his face with his hands and took a step back. This was going to be monumentally bad.
Hermione’s eyes widened. “Or we can skip the lunch and I will ask my questions now,” she said faintly. She hadn’t seen Draco Malfoy in years and never thought she would, but he was here. In Neville’s shop. Laughing.
Draco spotted her then. “Oh balls.”
“What?” Willow looked where he was looking. “Oh. You’re Hermione Granger. Oh goddess. I’m so pleased to meet you.”
Willow walked towards the other woman with her hand extended.
“I’ve read all about you.”
Draco snorted. “Thanks, creepy fangirl. Can you call me when my mate Willow comes back?”
Hermione had her suspicions confirmed when Malfoy dropped the name ‘Willow’. She had seen pictures but never met the Dark Witch or seen her in person. She ignored Malfoy, for the moment and shook Willow’s hand. “I am. And you must be Willow Rosenberg. Harry’s told me all about you.”
“Lies, all of it lies,” Draco said.
Willow turned and glared at Draco.
Mac walked to move next to Neville. “I had no idea he were picking Pev up today, swear.”
“Well, I didn’t know Hermione was swinging by. I think it’s best to just let this work out and only intervene if hexes are thrown,” Neville replied in a low voice.
“Harry wouldn’t lie
,” Hermione replied hotly.
Draco just sighed loudly and shook his head. “But he sure will hex the shit out of someone in the boy’s loo with a bloodletting curse meant to kill.”
“Draco,” Willow snapped. “For me, don’t, okay?”
He didn’t respond, just glared at Granger.
When Hermione reached for her wand that she had put away after realizing who Mac was, Neville stepped up beside her. “Not near the plants, please? I know you want to hex him, but can you wait until you’re outside?”
“Granger, dinna do it,” Mac whispered. “No’ only will the wee lass tha’ left here come back and beat ya down for it, but Willow...”
Mac didn’t know how to say that Willow took attacks on her friends rather personally, and Mac didn’t want the next apocalypse to begin in her boyfriend’s shop.
Hermione gasped. “I wouldn’t in your shop, Neville! I know what magically fluxes can do to some of your plants.” She glared at Draco. “Even if someone deserves to be turned into a slug again.”
“I would have thought you’d mention the ferret, personally,” Draco said. “That was way more embarrassing than the slug, but I don’t feature Abbott hexing me now.”
Willow gave him a look. “Draco...”
“She started it.”
Hermione gave Draco a tight smile, much like she had to Mac earlier. “The ferret is Ron’s favorite memory, not mine.”
“Of course it is,” Draco said.
It was then that Pevensie walked back in without Rowan. She stepped up next to Draco, not noticing the tension, and bumped his hip with hers.
“I didn’t know you were picking me up today. Cool. So what’s...” Pevensie made a face. “What’s wrong? You’re all tension-y and stuff. Did you go visit Snape? He still being epic bad mood guy?”
Hermione was glad she put her wand away already, or else she would have dropped it in shock. She simply stared at Malfoy with wide eyes and her jaw dropped in surprise. “Surely not,” she said lightly. “Surely...”
“Oh hey. I didn’t introduce myself before,” Pevensie said. “I’m Pevensie the Vampire Slayer. Obviously you’re friends with Neville, so it’s cool.”
The woman was just staring at her.
Pevensie looked at Draco. “She okay?”
“Either Potter didn’t tell her Snape was alive, or she’s having fits at you and I.”
“She knew me in school.”
Pevensie turned around. “Oh. You knew Draco Malfoy, Douchebag Extraordinaire. Yeah, we get that a lot, but he’s so not like that anymore. He’s all ‘useful member of society’ now. He’s my guardian and he trains me how to kill things more efficiently.”
“I watched him die,” she replied, not really listening to anyone in the shop. “I saw him give his memories to Harry before he took his final breath. I gave him a way to store them.”
She was going to have words with Harry. Words that would remind him why it was bad to not tell Hermione Very Important Things. Such as Snape actually being alive.
“Would he mind?” Willow asked Draco.
“For this one? No. She’ll figure out a way to find out anyhow. Might as well tell her now.”
“You did see him die,” Willow said. “But a necromancer brought him back.”
“He’s more or less the same,” Draco said, thinking it wise of Willow not to say who the necromancer was. If he was recalling right, Granger worked in the Magical Creatures Department, and since the Ministry felt necromancers were under that department’s jurisdiction, her knowing it was Nott might not be the best thing.
“A necromancer?” Hermione started going through the mental list of registered necromancers and of any that would have a tie to Professor Snape. She would need to see an actual list before she decided on her findings. She would do that later. “Why had he not announced he is alive?”
Draco opened his mouth.
“He’s not exactly feeling sociable,” Willow said before Draco could comment.
She felt very protective of Snape, very protective. He was her mentor now. He was her best defense against the dark inside of her, and she was all too aware of this.
“Because he’s damaged and everyone would treat him like he’s the biggest freak in the freak show,” Pevensie snapped. “He went through something hella major and still hasn’t quite gotten over it. How would you be?”
“Not polite,” Draco said. “But I’m pleased, nonetheless. Shall I tell Snape how you really feel?”
“What? He’s your godfather, and he helped Willow. Everybody knows that, and you better not tell him. We like our pretend hate-hate relationship. Don’t ruin that for me, and certainly don’t ruin it for him; he’ll hex you.”
Draco looked at Granger then.
Hermione was watching the exchange. The young girl--Pevensie?--had announced she was a vampire slayer. She already knew that Willow worked at the council, Harry had said as much, and Neville let slip that he took orders for a
council, but Hermione hadn’t connected the dots just yet. She still didn’t know how Malfoy fit into the picture. Unless, the familiarity between the vampire slayer and Malfoy was because of their relationship.
are a watcher?” she asked after a moment, her voice tinged with incredulousness.
“Malfoy’s actually one of our best,” Mac said. “Next to Oz, a’course.”
“Of course,” Draco said, looking at Mac.
“We should start carrying a camera to take pictures of the looks on people’s faces who knew you back in the day when they find out you’re my watcher,” Pevensie said.
“Could be humorous,” he agreed before looking back to Granger.
“Draco and I met when I first came here... after...” Willow said. “He’s a crucial part of our team.”
“Hello, ego,” Pevensie warned. “Crucial? I wouldn’t go that far. A troll did crash his Halloween feast and his house elf did spike the punch for Thanksgiving, and let’s not even mention the things that get set on fire. Oh, accidentally, of course.”
Draco looked at her. “You want extra laps with your training? Why yes, I do believe I can accommodate you there.”
“Your sarcasm is noted and not appreciated,” Pevensie said.
“It never is.”
Hermione just observed them interacting. This would be her job soon enough, once she met with the head of the organization. There was no need to let Malfoy in on that secret, but she was glad that Neville knew and she had someone she could talk to about it.
“Pevensie, the council order is on workbench on the far right in the back,” Neville said. He was relaxing slowly, sure that Malfoy and Hermione wouldn’t start hexing each other in his shop. “You can leave early today.”
“Where’s Rowan?” Draco asked.
“He ran into Lavender outside,” Pevensie said before skipping towards the back.
Willow was just standing there watching the way Hermione Granger was studying them. The other woman noticed her watching. Willow smiled then. She figured Draco had been aggressive enough for everyone today.
Draco sided up to Willow then and whispered in her ear. “She works for the Magical Creatures Department.”
That caused a little bit of worry to enter Willow’s expression. For the slayers, for Lavender and Oz, and for Theo. Even though Lavender wasn’t her favorite person ever.
“So um, you work for the Ministry? Like Harry?” Willow asked nervously.
Draco was already half planning what he’d do if the Ministry tried any of their crap concerning Pevensie. She was his, and he didn’t take kindly to his things being messed with. Not to mention Nott. No one was allowed to make Nott’s life hell except for other Slytherins.
Hermione nodded. “Of a sort. While Harry is in the field of law enforcement, I’m in the field of law creation, specifically to magical creatures. It’s been a long-time passion of mine.”
Draco bristled. “They aren’t creatures, you know. They’re people. Girls. Some of them young, some of them without parents, some of them who’ve seen horrible things and are still functioning despite that.”
Willow put a hand on Draco. He was shaking. She was of the mind that if Hermione Granger was friends with Harry Potter, she’d be fair with them. Obviously Draco didn’t trust that.
“And for that matter, necromancers and werewolves are people too.”
It was right then that Lavender walked in with Rowan.
“Thanks, Malfoy. I’ll be sure to tell my pack master we have your staunch support,” she said jokingly.
Then Lavender spotted Hermione Granger and all the color drained from her face. She even started shaking in fear. She knew who Granger worked for, everyone in her pack had made it a point to know because most of them were ‘off the grid’.
Willow actually felt Lavender’s fear. It absolutely filled the room.
Hermione was going to have to make a list of everyone she knew that perished in the final battle and make sure they were actually dead. “Lavender?” she said softly. “But...oh honestly, is there anyone else alive that I should know about?” she asked, flustered.
Lavender growled. Draco’s eyes went wide at that. He decided he did not like werewolves growling at his back.
“Lavender,” Willow said.
Pevensie picked then to walk back in. This time she was well aware of the tension and did not draw attention to herself.
“I won’t let her tag me, monitor me, like I’m.... a thing. Do you know who she works for? Do you? I’ve seen what they do to my kind. And that one has no love for me.”
“Nobody is going to let anyone hurt you, Brown. Just take it down a notch, please,” Draco hissed. “In case you’ve forgotten, she’s no slouch with that wand and doesn’t have to get close.”
Lavender moved up behind Draco as if to use him as a shield.
“Like she would have issues hexing through me, Brown. Do be smarter than this, and you’re a werewolf, for Salazar’s sake, and a Gryffindor. Do stop cowering. If you’ve so worried about it, go rip her throat out.”
Lavender growled again.
“Oh my God,” Pevensie said.
Hermione crossed her arms with a huff. “I would never
do anything so inhumane as what you described, Lavender. For your information, I’ve spent the last two years fighting werewolf laws, such as tagging and registration, in the Wizengamot. Lycanthropy isn’t some...disease that makes you any less of a person!”
Ever since she accepted her position with the Department, she tackled every werewolf law she could, trying to break down the barriers so that wolves had more rights and less restrictions. Slowly but surely, she was gaining ground with the old lawmakers.
“And for your information, Draco Malfoy, I will be working with the council to stop this stupid notion that a vampire slayer should be classified as some dangerous animal. I volunteered for this consultation after Harry asked me to because he knew how serious this could be. So you can stop snapping at me and telling a werewolf to rip my throat out!”
Lavender growled again.
“Enough,” Willow said.
Her voice was lower and the air in the room got a bit heavy, but she made certain not to affect Neville’s plants.
“Lavender’s not going to do anything.”
Lavender growled again - this time at Willow.
“She will smack you down, Brown. That’s the sodding Dark One you’re growling at,” Draco snapped. “A little respect.”
“The Ministry hasn’t treated us very fairly,” Willow explained. “We’re wary, especially Draco. A lot of our watchers are very protective of their slayers, and a lot of us living there aren’t exactly your standard issue humans, so it all makes us nervous. We’ve seen bad things, been accused of bad things. I want to trust you, I do, but I’m in a place where I don’t trust many people right now. It’s personal issues, but it’s bleeding over into work because a lot of my work deals heavily with who I am and I can’t help that. We don’t mean to offend you.”
“I do,” Draco whispered, causing Lavender to snicker a bit.
“But it’s going to take some time. I can’t promise it’ll be easy either. We don’t come off well on paper, especially me. Draco too. We know this.”
Hermione squared her shoulders. “Which is why I’m here, to observe and report my findings. I won’t be acting in the capacity as liaison, although the last I heard, Terry Boot wasn’t allowed at the council.” She looked over her shoulder at Mac. “The charges being filed against him are going through the proper channels, by the way. Some
idiot misfiled them the first time around.”
She turned back to face Willow. “I realize you don’t know me beyond my reputation, but very little will sway me. I depend on actions, not words on paper. I would apologize for the Ministry’s behavior, but I know that they will continue to aggravate you. We’re working on that.”
“Draco, why don’t you and Lavender take Pevensie and Rowan back to the Council.”
Lavender barked like a dog. “Do I get to play fetch later?”
“I think getting bit knocked a screw loose in your sodding head,” Draco snapped before walking towards the door.
“Pot calling the cauldron black,” Lavender fired back as she followed him with Rowan and Pevensie behind them carrying Willow’s order.
Willow sighed. “Don’t take Lavender too personally. From what I understand, she’s had a really rough time. Not to say she’s my favorite person ever, or that’s any excuse, but I wouldn’t have let her get near you. I really am one for keeping the peace most of the time. Draco makes that difficult, obviously, but he’s not going to be the only one who gives you a little hell when they hear where you work.”
Hermione gave a grim smile. “Believe me, I’m used to it. My co-workers were all too happy to get me out of the office for a while. And I can handle Draco Malfoy. I spent most of my late childhood and teenage years listening to his insults as he tried to make me cry. I’m not eleven years old anymore.”
Willow returned the tight smile. “Neither is he. From what I understand, he’s not the same person, so he might not react as you expect him to.”
“Especially if it’s ‘bout wee Pevensie,” Mac added.
She didn’t know how she felt about Granger observing them, given where she worked. She knew the other woman and her friends had been quite close to Professor Lupin, but if the department tried to do anything to her watcher, she’d go on a leg breaking spree.
“I am capable of keeping an open mind. This job does not entail me observing for a day, writing a report, and being done with it. I mentioned my two years working on werewolf laws, correct? One of our old professors was a werewolf and I’ve been researching those laws since I was thirteen. I only act once I have all the facts.”
Neville groaned. “All those nights you made us stay up and help you research before you realized OWLS were in a few years and then wanted us to start our prep then. A year and a half early.”
Hermione raised her eyebrow at him. “And given what happened during our OWLS, aren’t you glad you prepared early.”
“Not the point.”
“Are ya plannin’ on livin’ wit us?” Mac asked. “Like the Muggle tha’ went off and lived wit’ the monkeys?”
“That’s Jane Goodall,” Willow said. “And it was chimpanzees.”
“I have yet to meet with Mr. Giles,” she admitted. “We will outline all of that during our meeting. It all depends on what he is comfortable with because I do not want to intrude.”
Mac frowned and folded her arms across her chest. It was quite obvious to Willow that the slayer didn’t like it.
“Well, if you’re so concerned, Mac, why don’t you stay with Neville or Brody?” Willow asked, a bit tired of all the attitude today.
Neville rolled his eyes. “It’s just Hermione, Mac. She’s on your side.”
“I’ll see you later, Neville,” Willow said. “It was nice to meet you in person, Miss Granger. Please tell Harry I said hello.”
“Pleasure to meet you as well, Miss Rosenberg,” Hermione replied quickly, before Willow ducked out of the shop. She turned to face Neville and Mac, her hands on her hips. “Well, I guess we don’t really need to catch up now.”
Neville just laughed and rubbed the back of his neck.
“Do ya have any friends tha’ are male? Can ya no’ hug on them instead?”
Hermione tried not to grin. “I’ll go owl Harry, then.”
Mac couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but she’d take it.