And chapter 2. I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to Greywizard, Shadowman and Wolfkin for recommending this story. Chapter 2
Hermione looked out between the cracks of the titanium roller blinds. They had been lowered from inside and were electrically powered, locking into place once they were down. *I never noticed that this place was like a fort! Honestly, Hermione. Pay more attention to your surroundings!*
Her father had taken position at the back of the house and Oz was a little further along. Paul Granger knew that if they had a wizard or someone aware of electronics with them, they could get inside, but he wanted to make sure that at least they paid for it. Paul expected the werewolves to tear the place apart, and he was fond of the house.
“I know one of them,” Oz said quietly.
“Oh? How?” Hermione asked, slightly suspiciously.
“A top secret government group tried to harness demons and their powers for military purposes. They did a lot of experimenting. It didn’t end well,” Oz pointed at the rear of the group.
A young looking man was looking at the ground, a chain attached to a collar around his neck. The other end of the chain was in the hands of a huge, stupid looking man.
“Oh, and I know his jailer! Gregory Goyle! I went to school with him,” Hermione hissed. “Okay, I don’t think that guy is there voluntarily. Who is he?”
“His name is Graham Miller,” Oz said distantly.
“You don’t like him?” Hermione asked softly.
“Like I said. They did a lot of experimenting,” Oz’s voice was very even.
Hermione’s mouth opened into a shocked ‘O’. “Oh… Oh, I’m so sorry,” she gently reached out and touched his arm. “D-do you even want to try and rescue him?”
Oz gave her a look, long and measuring. “He learned to think for himself. Just took him too long.”
“I take it that’s a yes,” Hermione smiled at him. “Hmmm, we can’t Apparate… Goyle isn’t intelligent or powerful enough to cast wards like this, so there are other wizards out there… Drat.”
“We knew that already,” Oz pointed out.
“Yes, but if they all came and stood like statues like Goyle, we could shoot them. That would make life a whole lot easier,” Hermione noted absently.
“Statues can be quite hard to kill,” Oz smiled at her.
Then he pointed his tranq gun at Goyle and fired. The dart hit the big wizard in the chest and he looked at it dumbly, then went down. Miller stood frozen for a second, then stepped aside, grabbed Goyle’s wand and broke it. Hermione could see him hesitate, look backwards. There were two werewolves behind him, starting to move towards him. Miller ran, not away but towards the house.
Hermione looked at Oz, who had finished reloading the tranquilizer rifle.
“Let him in. If he’s one of them, we’ll kill him. If he isn’t, he knows how to handle a gun,” Oz told her.
Hermione flicked a switch and the blinds started to rise, just a little, allowing enough space for an agile man to crawl under. Oz had put down the tranq gun and was shooting at the werewolves using one of the rifles her father had provided. He flinched every time a shot went off and a wolf went down, howling, grabbing at its burning flesh where the silver bullets had struck.
Hermione stopped the door just as Miller arrived. He flung himself onto the path and half-rolled, half-crawled under the blinds and inside. He gasped in breaths, looking around the room with wide, unbelieving eyes. They fastened on Oz and widened even more. Oz very calmly kept firing until the blinds were completely down again, then turned to face Miller, the barrel of the gun hovering at chest height.
“Silver bullets. They’ll kill you whether you’re human or were,” Oz told the soldier quietly. “You don’t smell like a were.”
“I’m not. They didn’t bite me,” Miller spat out. “I’m not like you.”
The rifle didn’t waver. “How did you end up with them?” Oz asked.
Miller groaned and rose, but Oz kept him covered. “We were after a Bunyip near Wagga Wagga. There was an old, abandoned werewolf liar nearby and we went to check it out. It wasn’t abandoned, and we went in. There were more of them than we thought.”
“Any casualties?” Oz’s voice sounded cold, as if he didn’t care either way.
“I don’t know of any besides me. Some guy called MacNair grabbed me and then we were in the middle of the desert and I was puking my guts out and then all I remember is…” Miller swallowed.
“Oz? Trust me; it isn’t much fun to be captured by Greyback and his pack. They don’t treat people nicely. If he isn’t a werewolf, and isn’t a wizard, it’s really very unlikely he’s a traitor,” Hermione put a soothing hand on Oz’s arm.
“Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” Oz said, lowering the gun to Miller’s groin.
Hermione gave him a look, then turned to Miller and twitched her wand. “Oz neither likes, nor trusts you. I assume that has something to do with whatever you did to him. I will tell you this, one of my dearest friends, one of the gentlest, kindest men I knew, was a werewolf. If you ever hurt Oz again, you will die. Not because I know him very well, but because he’s a living, breathing, person. Because nobody is less than another, and nobody should be experimented upon or discriminated against. Do you understand me, Mr. Miller?”
Miller gawped at her, his hands clawing at the collar around his neck, nodding frantically.
Hermione flicked her wand again. Miller gasped for breath.
“I’m not like you either, Mr. Miller. And I’m very glad of that,” she told him her voice soft and very dangerous.
Miller gave her a look, then laughed. “I stand by my friends when they need me.”
Hermione thought it might be her imagination, but she noticed what she assumed must be a flinch on Oz’s face. Which meant the insult was not meant for her.
“Even from the little that Oz told me, I get the impression you’ve no notion about what he and his friends have truly done. I doubt that you’ll ever really understand either of us, whether you are a soldier or not. But I don’t really care. What I care about is that you can handle a firearm, and will be able to help me defend my family. Now I’m going to take off that collar and give you a rifle. I trust you realize what will happen if you use it on the wrong werewolf?”
Miller stiffened then sighed. “Look… I don’t… I just had some very bad experiences with werewolves, okay? Nothing against Oz. I was young, I was dumb, I did things that were wrong and that I’m ashamed of. Now just give me a gun and let me shoot those bastards, okay?”
“Bullets or darts?” Oz asked, lowering the rifle.
“Bullets. Got any silver?” Miller’s voice was eager.
Oz nodded and started arming the other man.
Hermione looked at them for a minute, then took up position behind one of the slits and launched a Sectumsempra at the nearest werewolf, smiling grimly when it went down in a bleeding heap.
The moon rose and Hermione shivered as the werewolves began to change. She could see Greyback revelling in the process, howling in pain and victory.
“No Broomies yet?” Oz asked quietly.
“No. And the wizards are healing the werewolves from the curses I cast and extracting the silver bullets. I think we’ll have to go for lethal methods,” Hermione replied, equally softly.
“I was afraid of that. You don’t like killing?” Oz put down his tranq gun and picked up the silver-loaded rifle, handling it expertly.
“No. None of us do. It damages the soul. But if we’d been a bit more willing to do so earlier, we might not be in this mess now,” Hermione sighed. “They’re going to charge soon.”
“Yes. Werewolves are a lot stronger during the change,” Oz sighed. “I can’t risk it.”
Hermione blinked. “Y-you’re not changing! I thought… You don’t use Wolfsbane potion?”
Oz gave her a look. “Wolfsbane? No. Meditation techniques and some herbs.”
Hermione groaned. “And you remain human? Oh! If only we’d known about that years ago! It would’ve saved so many… Can you teach others?”
“Can and have,” Oz shrugged.
Hermione grasped her wand and the handgun. “Okay, that settles it. We have to get out of here so you can teach people that.”
Oz raised an eyebrow at her, “Only that?”
Hermione huffed, “Oh, honestly! You understand what I mean!”
Oz’s mouth quirked. “Honestly? I think I do.”
Hermione slapped his shoulder and huffed again.
The Bombarda’s took out the roller blinds, slamming through them as if they weren’t there. The wards, just behind them, shivered under the combined assault of magic and titanium shrapnel.
“BLOODY HELL!” Paul shouted from the other side of the house. “RETREAT! RETREAT!”
Hermione was firing, both wand and gun in action, her heart in her throat as she saw the charging werewolves and the six black robed figures behind them.
She let loose a burst of fire from her semi-automatic rifle, no longer concerned with keeping werewolves alive. They’d made their choice. That didn’t stop the tears running down her cheeks as she withdrew to the basement and shot a werewolf, who looked to be no older than she was.
Paul was rather glad that Graham Miller was there to help him shoot werewolves. Even if the man seemed to get an unholy joy from it. He was even gladder that Isobel was already in the basement with Andy, ready to get into the panic room. The werewolves were charging, and the wizards were following, wands waving menacingly. One went down when his shields collapsed under a volley of concentrated fire from Miller.
Paul concentrated on the lycanthropes. Miller was a far better shot and therefore much more likely to hit the more distant wizards often enough to get through their shields. Hopefully the headshots the man was using would be sufficient to keep the wizards dead. *I think I may need to apologize to Hermione a bit more. These people are remarkably difficult to take down.*
The panic room didn't seem nearly as big as it had when she looked into it earlier, now that she was actually inside. Especially as she was sharing it with four other adults and her little sister. Andromache really hated the panic room, that much had become clear very quickly from her screams and tears.
Miller was sitting against the wall, rifle in his hands. “How good are the chances of anyone showing up to help us?” he asked. “Otherwise we’re going to starve in here. Or get swamped when they blast the door open.”
“They won't get the door open in a hurry, I put a locking spell on it,” Hermione told him tiredly. “But... if anybody was going to show up, they'd have done it by now.”
“And we can't call anybody, because the phones aren't working. I cut the landline and the scrambler I set up for them will prevent and mobile phone connection,” Miller laughed hollowly. “I never thought I'd say it, but I finally understand what they mean by 'at least I die a free man'.”
Paul rose. “How many landlines did you cut? Because this one down here, as well as the internet connections, are completely separate from the others in the house.”
Oz, who was nearest to the communications desk, picked up the handset. “Phone down here seems to be working,” Oz reported.
Miller perked up, “Give me that, I need to call Riley.”
Oz shook his head. “I'm calling Buffy first.”
Miller smiled broadly. “You got her number? Hell man, call her in! Can't wait to see what she'll do to these sons-of-bitches. No insult intended.”
“None taken,” Oz replied, and dialled.
“Hey Buffy,” Oz greeted whoever was on the other side of the phone.
“OZ!” An American accented voice, a young woman, called out happily. “It’s so great to hear from you! Why don’t you call more often?” the voice turned reproving
“Little to say,” Oz replied, a slight smile playing around his lips.
“Funny, haha, hear my laughter,” the voice replied breezily. “So, how you’ve been?”
“Good. Traveling. Music. Teaching,” Oz replied.
“Gosh, aren’t you a happy babbling spring of news,” came the snarky reply. “So, you callin’ to chew the fat, or is there something particular you wanted to talk about?”
“Particular. I’m in Sydney. We’ve got a problem. Guys with wands and werewolves, attacking in a suburb.Gourlay Avenue, Balgowlah Heights. We’re in a Panic Room. Safe for now, but they’ve got wards up to stop people noticing the fight,” Oz explained.
“I’m almost sure that you used to talk more in High School. Sydney Australia? That’s a bit far. And guys with wands and werewolves? Are you into gay porn these days, Oz? Sooo not my problem. So, make sure they wear a condom and don’t bite when you’re deep throating and I’ll just go and do some shopping. They’ve got a sale at Harrods, you know!” came the breezy reply. “Bye-bye!”
The dial tone sounded harsh and loud in the room. Miller gaped at Oz who put the phone down, looking completely unconcerned.
Hermione winced. “Okay. Ummm. Can I have the phone? There are some people I can try.”
Oz nodded and moved out of the chair by the desk that held the phone, watching as Hermione sat down. Then he abruptly moved over to the crib and started making cooing noises at Andromache that soon quieted the baby down.
Hermione took a deep breath. She just hoped that Harry still had his mobile and kept it charged. The last one had ended up in lots of little bits strewn across the Weasley breakfast table, as Arthur had looked for the amazing music box that played all those tunes.
The phone was picked up. “Yes?” A cautious voice asked. Harry. Hermione nearly collapsed with relief. *Still uncomfortable around mobile phones. We have to work on that.*
“Harry! It’s Hermione. I – We- need your help. It’s Greyback and a whole lot of werewolves and a couple of wizards with powerful notice-me-not charms and Muggle repellent charms. They’re attacking us! At my parents’ house in Sydney!”
There was a short laugh. “Really? Amazing. Well, I’ll see what I can do. Have you got an idea as to their numbers?”
Hermione frowned at his reaction. “At least two dozen werewolves. I think six or seven Wizards. Harry? Why aren’t you screaming for Ron and a squad of Aurors? What aren’t you telling me?”
There was another laugh. “Well, Gin came home from Canada last night and-”
“Not like that, you prat!” Hermione hissed. “Honestly, Harry!”
Harry laughed again. “Don’t worry, Hermione. We’ve got it under control, we heard already. But we want to catch all the bastards this time, so we need to plan. Hold out a little while longer while we get organized. We need to gather our forces and coordinate with the Australians. And don’t worry, the Australians are right outside and if things get too dangerous, they’ll move in and we’ll accept a few of them got away. So keep calm, don’t worry and we’ll be there soon.”
Hermione let out a breath. “Okay. I can do that. But honestly Harry, do something like that again, and I’ll skin you alive.”
Harry chuckled. “I’m sorry Hermione, but we’ve had some excellent progress on capturing Death Eaters. And when we take your lot, it will be another blow to them. A big one. You’re still safe in the Panic Room?”
Hermione sighed. “Well, Andromache is getting a bit smelly, but yes.”
Harry’s voice grew serious. “We will
be there soon, Hermione. Don’t worry.”
“You’d better be, Harry James Potter,” Hermione growled. "Or I’m telling Ginny.”
There was a tinkling laugh. “I heard. See you soon, Hermione!”
Hermione huffed and hung up. “We’re under attack by bloody werewolves and they act as if it’s a game!”
Oz shrugged. “As long as they get here.”
Hermione leaned back in the chair of the underground chamber in her parents' Sidney home. Outside of that room there were Death Eaters. Inside the room were herself, her parents, an angry man and a rather laid-back werewolf.
She sighed. *Somehow this is all dreadfully familiar. I wonder if my life will ever be normal? Well, regular at any rate,*
she thought about that some more. *Regular without the heart-stopping danger and the attacks and the annual adventures, which have been regular until now.*
She stared at the corner where Oz was sitting and then rose rather stiffly to move and go sit beside him.
When she'd finished school, after she'd de-obliviated her parents and been thrown out of their lives, she'd accepted a position in the Department of Magical Creatures and Beings, as a liaison and expert. She'd made a study of various races and beings, cursed or otherwise. Werewolves had been among them. And Oz was different. Different from the growling monstrosities outside, different from the quiet and resigned Remus Lupin. Oh, Oz was quiet, but he was hardly resigned to his fate. He was singing on street corners because he wanted to, not because he was forced to do so for want of something better.
And he could control his change. He glanced at her as she sat staring at him. Hermione was quite sure that with that one short glance, he would be able to give a highly detailed description of her should it be needed and that he was now completely aware of her mental state.
“Why aren't they in here yet?” He barely moved his lips as he spoke.
Hermione was certain nobody else in the room could hear him. “They could've had that door down already. They blasted the roller-screens as if they were nothing.”
Hermione's answer was even more softly spoken. Oz as a werewolf had hearing far superior to her own. “Dad brought in a couple of professional Wardbuilders when Mum and I were shopping. Wards take on some of the aspects of the materials that they’re anchored on. And as this room is reinforced concrete and steel? They'll hold for a bit.”
She grudgingly admitted to herself that the wardbuilders had done very good work. The wards were both concealed and very strong. It must have cost a bundle, but she was grateful her father went to the expense.
“Good,” Oz closed his eyes and leaned back.
“Your call didn't go the way you expected, did it? I'm sorry,” Hermione wasn't quite sure if she should bring that up.
A slight smile, imperceptible if she hadn't been watching him so closely, played around Oz's lips.
Suddenly there was huge crash and the door started to vibrate. Oz rose to his feet in a single smooth motion and extended a hand to Hermione and had her up in seconds.
“We know you’re in therre, Grangerrr! Come out!” A voice called out of thin air. “We can heat the walls around you until you get cooked like a chicken in an oven!”
Hermione started to tremble as old memories took over. “G-Greyback.”
“Alpha. Sounds very sure of himself,” Oz noted.
“Yeah. Son of a bitch,” Miller gripped his rifle more closely. “Can they do that? Heat the place up?”
Hermione frowned, moving her wand and whispering. She sighed. “Probably. The wards won’t be able to resist concentrated heat and attacks for very long now that they’ve located us. And physics work, mostly, or differently, with magic. So if they heat the walls, we broil.”
“Lovely image, dear,” Isobel grimaced.
Hermione closed her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.”
Isobel stepped closer and then took Hermione in her arms. “Hermione, there’s nothing to be sorry for. We didn’t understand what was happening during the war,” she smiled wryly. “And if this is only a rogue group, I’m suddenly very grateful that I’d never had to face the real thing.”
“Come out, Grrrrangerrr! Come out! We’re going to eat yer li'l sisterrr! Spit herrr little Muggle body over a nice roaring fire? Or maybe eat her rrraw? Whadda ya think, boys?”
Hermione threw off her mother’s arms and started towards the door. Oz was right in front of her and with a swift turn on the locking wheel, opened the door. “I challenge you,” he whispered at the hulking creature who was standing beyond it.
Greyback laughed. “Challenge me? You? Challenge me? Do you think you’ve got a chance? You’rrre nothing but the merrrest cub! You don’t even change properly!”
Oz moved slightly and his body shifted, grew. His face elongated and fangs lengthened.
Greyback growled. “How did you do that? Who are you?”
“Oz,” Oz growled, somehow managing to sound laconic. “I challenge you.”
“You have no standing, you’re just a child,” Greyback sneered.
“I am Oz. I need no standing to challenge a killerrr of children and an eaterrr of carrion,” Oz replied evenly. “How speaks the pack?”
Greyback growled. Oz had called upon one of the oldest, most deeply ingrained traditions of werewolves. If they ran in packs, the packs had a say in how things went. Lives could be bought by paying a price. Decisions made. Oz had insulted Greyback. Greyback might ignore the call, ignore the challenge and order them to tear Oz apart, but it would hurt his authority and standing. Perhaps terminally, in the end.
There were growls and mutters and finally Greyback barked. “ENOUGH!” and the pack fell silent.
The big wolf moved forward on his vast-thewed legs and faced Oz. “We will go outside and under the light of the moon I will rrrip you to shrrrreds!”
Oz shrugged. “You can try,” he gestured at the Grangers and Miller. “Come.”
Hermione was about to protest when Paul shook his head. She bit her lip and followed her parents, Isobel carrying Andromache who was whimpering as the werewolf pack made remarks about how they all smelled wonderfully tasty and as the wizards sneered and leered. Miller clasped his gun as if it was a lifeline and Hermione was quite sure he would kill himself before getting captured again. She could sympathize with that.
A tall, thin man in tattered robes grinned at her parents. “Bellatrix was looking forward to Crucioing you into insanity at our Dark Lord’s command! I will gladly take over that duty for her!”
Isobel hugged Andromache closer to her chest and cast a worried glance at Hermione. Hermione couldn’t do anything, but give her an encouraging nod. If Harry and Ron had been here, by now Greyback would be very dead and the tall wizard most likely dead or incarcerated. But her best friends were obviously, hideously absent. And she feared her new friend was soon going to be horribly maimed, if not dead.
They came out of the house in a single file, Greyback at the head, the werewolves slavering and growling in lines at either side, the wizards contemptuously eying the goings on of what they considered no more than rough, uncouth beasts. And Hermione knew that they included herself and her family among the beasts.
Greyback took up position on her father’s pristine lawn, near her mother’s rosebushes. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as he looked up at the moon.
“So. Are you rrready to fight now, puppy?” he snarled. “Are you ready to die?”
Oz growled back. “I am always ready to die, but I won’t die at your claws or fangs.”
“So you think you can win against me, puppy? You think you can defeat me and save your pitiable mudblood?” Greyback taunted as he moved sideways, looking for an opening.
“I’m fighting for my Pack,” the younger werewolf replied. “And you’re an idiot.”
With that he jumped, his claws flashing. He was smaller than Greyback, and leaner. The older wolf was far more muscular and had the reach on Oz, but it didn’t seem to bother the smaller werewolf at all. He ducked under Greyback’s huge claws and raked his side, then rolled and snapped at the big wolf’s lower spine, his canines ripping into the flesh and nipping the backbone.
Greyback screamed and twisted, trying to gut Oz with a swipe. Oz dodged, whirling on one back leg, grabbing the bigger wolf’s arm and bringing it down on his knee, snapping the joint. Greyback howled.
Hermione let out a sound that was almost a growl, signalling her approval.
Beside her Miller swore. “Shit! Where did he learn to do that?”
“Probably felt he needed to be able to defend himself for some reason,” Hermione told him harshly. “I can’t imagine why.”
Greyback moved sideways, out of the way of another of Oz’s lightning attacks, but blood ran down his back and legs and thigh from his wounds. “You will die, and then I will take your mudblood mate and kill her family and feast upon their flesh!”
“Mate?!” Hermione let out a squeak of surprise.
Isobel reached out and squeezed her shoulder, a slight grin on her face. “Worry about it later, dear.”
“I’ve heard her scream before, puppy. I’ve had her ilk writhing below me in fear and degradation,” Greyback taunted. “I’ll break yourrr back and make you listen and watch, and then I’ll rip your throat out and you’ll die, knowing she’ll be mine all her life. Just like the soldier boy.”
Miller’s hands tightened on his rifle and it came up as if of its own accord. Shots rang out, but a shield surrounded the big wolf and they bounced off, as if hitting a plate of thick metal and ricocheted around.
Paul had hunched over as soon as Miller fired, shielding Isobel and Andromache with his body. He looked up and glared at Miller. “Kindly don’t try that again, would you?”
Hermione had ignored the byplay, except to cast a Protego around her family and Miller. Her eyes were fastened on the battle of the Alphas. It was clear that Oz was much, much quicker and much better trained. And apparently a lot more intelligent, though that wasn’t difficult.
Greyback on the other hand was probably more experienced at fighting his own kind, as well as bigger, stronger and probably more resilient.
Greyback bent forward a little, claws dangling slightly off the ground as he studied the younger werewolf. “I will rip you to shreds boy. I will take your mate upon your skinned hide!” He surged forward, claws out with greater speed than Hermione had seen him use in this battle.
But Oz was faster still, actually curling into a ball as he threw himself under Greyback’s claws, then surging to his feet as soon as he was behind him.
With his own back still to Greyback’s, Oz kicked out with his right leg and his rear claws curled around the big werewolf’s exposed spine.
Greyback screamed as much of his lower spine was ripped out of his body by Oz’s continuing spin. There were gasps and howls of shock from his followers as the big wolf went down.
Oz stood calmly, his foot on the severed vertebrae, covered in his opponent’s blood and muscle, without even having taken a scratch himself. There was a moment of silence, shattered only by Greyback’s whimpers as he bled out.
Then the werewolves charged and the wizards unleashed a volley of curses. The wolves struck a hard, white shield, as did the spells.
“That’s an awful lot of smelly puppies, Oz. Are they housebroken? Or do I need to smack their noses with rolled up newspapers?” The same breezy American accented voice Hermione had heard on the phone said.
Hermione blinked. A small blonde stood on the lawn, a long, gleaming sword with rubies set on the hilt resting on her shoulder. She wore stylish, if practical boots and a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt.
She looked over her shoulder. Outside the wards set up by the Death Eaters was a group of Reevers and Aurors, at least fifty. There were also a number of young girls and people she’d never seen. A redhead was holding hands with Hannah Abbott and a huge dome-shaped shield was erected over the Granger’s house. Several Death Eaters started to disappear, then faded back in the same place, before falling down stunned. Hermione could see the looks of shock on the faces of the wizards as their apparition attempts failed.
The werewolves snarled and charged the little blonde. Hermione’s mouth fell open. Oz had been fast, but this woman was amazing. She jumped and dodged without pause or hesitation and she didn’t seem to be having difficulties either. Where Aurors and Reevers would’ve had considerable trouble in capturing the wolves alive, the blonde was taking them down easily, using the flat and hilt of her blade, her fists and feet, obviously trying to capture rather than kill. That didn’t mean that it was pleasant to look at.
There was a lot of blood and screaming and a great deal of bone-breaking and skull smacking. Spells launched at the blonde bounced off a shield that hung around her like a cloak, moving faster than Hermione had ever seen a shield move before.
Isobel had Andy’s face pressed tightly into her shoulder to prevent her from seeing anything.
“Yo, B! Leave some doggie for me!” A curvaceous brunette called out as she ran into the fray.
She was carrying a sort of axe, but with a longer blade and haft, and with a vague reddish tinge over the whole. She ducked a number of hexes and curses as she closed the distance with the Death Eaters, then started to take them out with well aimed punches and kicks, as well as using the blunt and flat parts of her formidable looking weapon wherever she could. A Death Eater sent a Confringo in her direction, but a shield sprang up and stopped it dead and a few seconds later a spell knocked the man down. Hermione followed the counter spell’s trajectory and gasped in shock.
“Holy fucking Merlin on a stick. PROFESSOR SNAPE?”
“Hermione Jean Granger! Language!” Isobel scolded automatically. “Your sister is listening.”
“B-but mum! It’s Professor Snape! He’s dead!” Hermione pointed a shaking finger at the imposing black robed wizard, who was taking out werewolves and wizards with great accuracy and seeming pleasure.
The girls Hermione had seen were moving in as well, as were the Aurors and Reevers, though the magical policemen only tied up the defeated and didn’t engage them in combat. The battle became a rout, except that the defeated forces were unable to flee. And unlike every wizard battle Hermione had ever seen, the girls immediately broke every single wand they got their hands on.
“Awesome, aren’t they?” Harry had stepped up beside her, with Ginny at his side.
On her other side Ron was looking worriedly at the fight, grasping his wand and shooting an occasional curse or jinx at whoever was threatening the brunette.
“They seem to be rather effective. But who are they? And why aren’t the Aurors doing more?” Hermione asked confused.
“Council of Slayers. And they’re a bit upset with the Death Munchers for attacking Mu- Normal people, and some other stuff. So they claimed jurisdiction, since the Ministries had been unable or unwilling to guarantee the safety they are sworn to uphold,” Harry winced. “Kingsley wasn’t happy with that. Nor was the Australian Minister. Or the International Confederation of Wizards. Or anyone in charge, really.”
“They what? Can they do that?” Hermione sounded stunned.
“There’s treaties and stuff,” Ginny shrugged. “No goblins involved, so Binns wouldn’t mention them. But the Council can intervene if they consider the Wizarding Governments in default, yeah.”
“Why didn’t they act when Riddle was rising then?” Hermione asked.
“Their previous head was a guy called Travers,” Ron remarked darkly. “Ring a bell?”
Hermione winced, then frowned. “So why are they acting now?”
“New management,” Faith answered. “And it would’ve been sooner too, except for some… circumstances.”
Ron smirked. “Well, they allowed us some leeway for ‘circumstances’, otherwise we might be short a Minister or two. But yeah, the Council is pretty pissed off we didn’t deal with Riddle years ago,” he launched a red spell at a werewolf that was running at the brunette’s back, bowling it over.
That was just about the last combat action. The little blonde took down the last werewolf and then there was nothing but the sound of the groaning prisoners.
The brunette put her axe over her shoulder and sauntered towards the Trio. “Hullo Ron,” she said throatily.
“Faith,” Ron smiled at her.
Hermione frowned. “Ron? Something you want to tell me?”
Ron flushed, his ears pinking. “Sorry, Hermione. This is Faith. She’s a Slayer. We’re sort of dating.”
Hermione looked at the well-rounded leather clad smirking woman and then at Ron. “What does your Mum have to say about that?”
“She eats more than me, Bill, Charlie and Harry together, so what d’you think?” Ron snorted, putting an arm around Faith.
“She doesn’t look it,” Hermione sounded jealous.
Faith laughed. “Slayer metabolism. Don’t worry, he ain’t getting it all his way. He got my Watcher too.”
“Watcher? Who’s that then?” Hermione was almost quivering with curiosity.
“That would be me, Miss Granger,” a silky smooth spoke up. “What did I tell you about touching Faith after a battle, Weasley?”
Ron yelped and jumped back, while Faith grinned and grabbed his hand. “Oh, don’t get your robes in a wedgie, Snape. I got hurt worse during my last haircut.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “I seem to recall the last time your hair was cut was when a Fyarl demon nearly took your head off, as you were trying to kill a Dementor?”
Faith opened her mouth to reply, then sighed and stepped away from Ron.
“Ronald? Show me what you’ve learned,” Snape gave Ron a look and Ron whipped out his wand and sent of a series of spells at Faith that made Hermione frown.
“A Slayer may have what Miss Summers calls a very finite shelf-life, but we can do our very best to make sure that the very best preservative methods are used,” Snape answered. “I’ve instituted a regimen where, whenever possible after every battle, they are checked for poisons and damage that can be lethal later.”
Hermione nodded. “Wise. Ummm…” she dug an elbow into Harry’s side. “Does Neville know Hannah is…” she gave an elaborate shrug that showed her inability to put words to what she was thinking.
“Interested in her own sex? Yeah, he’s fine with it,” Harry assured her.
“He is? H-how is he?” Hermione bit her lip. She’d been very worried about Neville’s downward spiral.
Harry grinned and pointed. “Very well indeed.”
Hermione’s mouth fell open. The little blonde was scowling at Neville, scolding him, as Neville cast the same spells as Ron had on Faith. He was looking at her patiently and smiling.
“Wow. So Neville’s with her. Who is she? And how did she get the sword of Gryffindor?”
“It showed up for her. Apparently being one of the greatest heroes in the world sort of qualifies her as an extra-honorary Gryffindor, like some others I could mention,” Ron hugged Faith. “Doesn’t it Sweetcheeks?”
Faith sniggered at Snape’s expression. “Sure does, Sugarcane.”
Snape sighed. “If your drivel doesn’t drive me to an early grave, I’ll be surprised.”
“Something else will, Professor. You’re not the sort of man to live a quiet life, much though you might deny it,” Harry smiled. “Sure you don’t want to become an Auror?”
“Potter, there is an infinity of things I’d rather be, and that includes being a live subject to test the efficacy of the methods of impalement as preferred by Vlad Dracul,” Snape answered evenly. “Faith? Don’t forget to eat food
Faith laughed as Ron blushed furiously, and both Ginny and Harry got very pink ears, while Hermione was far too stunned by the implications of those words to have any reaction other than gaping like a fish.
Snape walked away, gesturing at some of the younger girls, who obediently helped him round up the werewolves and Death Eaters, even as he cast diagnostic spells.
Oz had moved away from Greyback, looking on impassively as healers and aurors tried to patch him up sufficiently for trial. He put his clawed hands on his thighs and very slowly pushed the wolf back.
Regrettably this also meant that his torn clothing, held on only by being stretched over the greater bulk of his werewolf form, started to fall off. Hermione hurried over and conjured up a towel, which she wrapped around him without even thinking.
“Thanks,” Oz smiled at her.
Hermione nodded. “You’re welcome. Now, care to tell me why Greyback referred to me as your mate?”
“Oooh, Oz! You got a new girlfriend?” The pretty redhead walked up, hand in hand with Hannah.
Oz looked uncomfortable. “Errr…”
Willow looked at the flustered looking Hermione and held out her hand. “Hi! I’m Willow. I’m like Oz’s ex, but don’t worry, mostly totally gay now. Unless it’s George Clooney, o-or Neil Patrick Harris-Urf!”
A well aimed elbow from Hannah shut down Willow’s babble.
Willow gazed at Hermione sheepishly. “Sorry. Umm, so no worries about me and Oz, we’re just good friends.”
“And I’m not his girlfriend,” Hermione asserted. “Greyback must have been mistaken.”
Willow’s eyes narrowed and she glared at Oz, her green irises taking on hints of white. “Talk. You, me NOW!”
Oz hurried off, followed by Willow.
Hermione looked pointedly at Hannah. “Okay. Who is she?”
Hannah smirked. “My girl. Why?”
“Her eyes glowed,” Hermione replied through gritted teeth. “Not red, but they still glowed!”
“Oh, you mean is she like Voldemort?” Hannah shook her head. “Hermione, if Willow decided she wanted to rule the magical world, she probably could without breaking much of a sweat. She’s way more powerful than Voldemort ever was.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on! The only one that powerful is the Witch of the West and…” she looked at where the slight redhead was apparently making a point to the even shorter werewolf. “She’s the Witch of the West?”
Hannah nodded proudly. “Yup, that’s my Willow.”
“Wow,” Hermione reached out and grabbed her father’s arm as he made to walk towards Willow. “There will be no requests to investigate any of these people!” She told him warningly. “I’ve no doubt she could do things in a fit of pique that would leave you wanting to catch flies with your tongue for the rest of your life!”
Paul looked sheepishly at his daughter. “Sorry.”
Hannah giggled. “More like want to wobble your nose and eat grass. Willow’s got frog fear. We had one in the pond last week and I spent an hour talking her out of the bedroom.”
“Hey! No betraying the secrets of the big bad witch!” Willow complained. “Hermione? Oz has something to tell you,” she prodded the werewolf.
Oz looked a bit embarrassed and Isobel sighed. “Don’t worry dear. Paul and I did some research into pheromones and werewolves. And the way you kept sniffing around Hermione showed that either she needed a wash, or you were really happy to be near her.”
“MUM!” Hermione shouted, mortified.
“So, I was wondering, how do werewolves first realise they’re attracted to a mate? Oh, and you’ll need to come for dinner,” Paul smirked at the spluttering Hermione. “And you might want to take her out on a date, if you want her to be your mate.”
“MATE?” Hermione shrieked. “What are you talking about?”
Willow sighed. “Werewolves are quite choosy about their mates, and can decide they like somebody very quickly. Oz is quite decisive about stuff like that himself. So when he sees, or smells, a girl he likes, he moves fast.”
“B-but we only met a few hours ago…” Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “You played near the library and the bookshops and the places I go. Not always the best places for a busker. You’ve been stalking me!”
Oz squirmed. “Sorry.”
Paul suddenly lost his grin as he frowned at Oz. “Stalking? What were you planning to do?”
Willow snorted. “Buy her flowers and chocolate and stuff, the type she likes. And then explain what he’d done and why. He may have the instinct of the wolf in some things, he isn’t one. She could’ve said no, and then Oz would’ve left and in a few months the attraction would’ve faded.”
“B-but Greyback smelled it!” Hermione wailed.
“Brokeback over there is an old and experienced werewolf. He could smell that Oz was bonding to you. He was getting at him, not you,” Faith interrupted. “An’ don’t tell me you don’t like him, I saw you ogle his abs when his shirt fell off. Oh, and that was a very nice sneak fondle you pulled when you put that towel on him,” she ended approvingly.
Hermione felt her face redden.
Isobel sighed. “Oz? I don’t know how long clearing up all this battled damage will take. And then there’ll be witness statements and things like that no doubt, so we’ll be busy for a while. But once we’re done with all that, make sure you’re here that very evening and take Hermione on a date. Hermione? We’re going clothes shopping.”
“MUM!” Hermione complained.
“I want grandchildren too, dear. And if I’ve got to wait for you to do it on your own, I might as well resign myself to wait until Andy finishes Uni.”
“MACHE!!” Andromache shouted.
“Dratted child, can speak her own name but can’t manage mine,” a familiar Scottish brogue drawled.
“AUNTIE MIN-MIN!” Andromache squealed loudly into her mother’s ear.
“Yes, Auntie Min-Min,” Minerva smiled indulgently, as she accepted the child amidst laughter. “Come here you little rascal.”
“Isn’t she a little young for you to try and corrupt, Minerva?” a gloriously silky voice drawled. “She’s most likely to go into Ravenclaw.”
Andromache turned around in Minerva’s arms. Her eyes widened and her face broke out in smiles. She pointed excitedly. “Uncwle Ron! Uncwle Geowge!”
Snape scowled, rather annoyed to be ignored so completely, even if only by a toddler barely able to walk.
Andromache took a deep breath and pointed straight at him, face still beaming. “It’s SUPER MAGNIFICENT DUNGEON BAT!” <br> <br>