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Outback Blues

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This story is No. 8 in the series "One beautiful morning". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Hermione Granger, the Brightest Witch of her age, daughter of two dentists. After the war, she set the Wizarding World on the way to great changes. And then she left...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Oz-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR18215,0877606,28328 Sep 135 Oct 13Yes

Chapter One

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and Cordyfan.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter.

This story was written long before I even started on Thunder in the Afternoon, it was in fact the third story written in the series. Two chapters, both written. The next story will deal, among other things, with the trials of those arrested in Thunder.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Outback Blues

Harbour Side Beach, Sydney

Hermione Granger was hot and sweaty and oily and there was sand in places she did not appreciate. She pushed her sunglasses back up her nose, drew the errant strap of her bathing suit back onto her shoulder and returned to her book after a glance at the reason for her being here. She let out what Ron and Harry called her ‘Patented Hermione Huff’. George had stated he wanted to bottle and sell it, and would make a fortune. Hermione huffed again for good measure. 

Hermione’s huff was half irritated, half indulgent. After the war she’d gone to Australia, and had, after considerable trouble, managed to de-Obliviate her parents.

To say that Isobel and Paul Granger had been happy to find out they’d been living as Monica and Wendell Wilkins, childless semi-retired dentists would be wrong. They’d been furious. They'd been furious with Hermione for doing what she did without their consent, they'd been furious with Hermione for lying about the dangers that had beset her life from her very first year at Hogwarts. They'd simply been furious. And the more Hermione had told them of her reasons, the angrier they’d become. She had denied them the right to be her parents, or even told them the threats that hung over their –and her- heads because of Hermione’s new life and her choices. It had become more and more acrimonious until finally, they’d cast her out of their lives, like she had shut them out of hers before. 

It had ended with them refusing to see her, speak to her or even hear of her while they tried to reclaim the lives they’d lost. The practice they’d built up, the friends in Britain who had worried what had happened to them, the house. Oh, the cover Hermione had created was good, and at least they’d stayed together, well, more than together, really. But it had taken Hermione a long time before she had dared approach them again after the fury her parents had unleashed.

She’d gone back to Hogwarts. She’d continued a relationship with Ron, and tried to put her life on some form of even footing. And then, a year and a half ago, three years after the war she’d finally gathered enough courage and contacted her parents again. And boy, had she been in for surprise.

She looked up from the book in her lap and at the sandy little girl who was trying to eat a… “ANDROMACHE! Put that down!” she hastened to her feet, dropping her book on her towel and quickly pulled the seashell from her little sister’s hands. Andy pouted up at her.

“That’s not food, Andy!” Hermione scolded softly. “That might have hurt your throat and esophagus and stomach.”

“Wanna!” Andy insisted, reaching her hand up to the shell Hermione held far out of her reach.

“No!” Hermione threw the shell into the sea. “Why don’t we build another tower for your castle?” she suggested quickly as Andy opened her mouth to start bawling.

Andy considered this proposal and then nodded, crawling over to the already huge sandcastle that she and Hermione had been constructing and destroying since they’d arrived at the beach early that morning. She found the sand too soft to walk easily. She was only eighteen months old, after all, even if highly intelligent and inventive. When it suited her.

Hermione scowled up at the hills where her parents were indulging in their latest research. They were all too happy to dump her little sister on a cheap (read ‘free’) and available (Read ‘incredibly guilt-ridden’) babysitter in the form of Hermione.

Hermione picked up her bucket and started to tamp down some moist sand. She had to admit that the sandy beaches in Australia were a lot more fun than the shingly English ones.

“Mimi!” Andromache called her big sister’s attention back to the important work of castle construction.     

Hermione smiled and knelt down, sending a last glare at the hill where lay the reason of today’s visit: Australia’s reputedly most haunted area, the North Head Quarantine Station.

“What a wonderful time for our parents to get an interest in the occult, eh, Andy?” she murmured at her sister.

Andromache nodded solemnly. “Ock-kult,”  

“You know, I don’t know whether to be proud of them or to scream,” Hermione told her little sister as she filled and tamped the bucket, upended it and contemplated the result. She nodded and took one of the knives and cut a few irregular windows. “There, a regular Hogwarts.”

“Hogwarts,” Andromache confirmed, then scampered over to her own parasol –shaded towel and grabbed a miniature plastic cat from it, crawled back quickly and put the toy on the tower. “Auntie Min-min,” she said firmly.

Hermione suppressed a giggle. Minerva had visited her parents shortly after Hermione had restored them, in an attempt to explain that they would most likely have been dead had Hermione not done what she had. But as Paul had rather acidly told the Headmistress, they had no reason to trust any wizard, since none of them had been honest to them anyway.

That had rather shut up McGonagall. When Hermione had finally managed to get back in her parents’ lives, and by extension her little sister’s, Minerva had visited to repeat what she had told before, this time supported by the evidence of Severus Snape’s diaries. When her parents had read the spiky notation that stated boldly that Bellatrix had been charged with torturing them into insanity worse than the Longbottoms, they had finally, grudgingly acceded that Hermione might have had a point. They still hadn’t forgiven her for doing it without their permission however.

But Andromache had taken an immediate shine to Minerva. And the stern professor tended to soften remarkably around the little girl.

“Well, Andy-”

“Mache!” Andromache finished, glaring.

Hermione grinned. She too hated to have her name shortened, but at least Andromache had some real choice. Neither Mione nor Hermy were anywhere near as pleasant as Andy. “Andromache. Mum and Dad said they’d be back by now. I wonder if they finally found a ghost they could measure?”

Andromache grabbed a plastic bat and flew it around the tower. “Dungeon BAT!”

Hermione sighed again. “Uncle Ron has been telling you stories again, hasn’t he? Okay, then let me tell some as well. Once upon a time, in a deep dungeon, there lived a man called Severus Snape. He was very brave and fought for Good, but nobody could know, so he hid who he really was and became the Super Magnificent Dungeon Bat.”

Andy waved her bat around her head. “DUNGEON BAT!”

Hermione looked at the old quarantine centre again, then at the towel, picked up Andy and put her down. “I’ll finish the story and then I think you should try and have a little nap, okay?”

Andy glared at her. “Min-Min!” The little cat toy flew off the tower and into her hand.

Hermione gaped, then blinked. “Oh dear. I’m not sure Mummy and Daddy are gonna be happy with that…”

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Northhead Quarantine Station, Sydney

Paul and Isobel Granger had managed to get rid of the annoying tour group who wanted to see how they tracked ghosts. They had built up a slight reputation as weirdoes ever since they had started trying to scientifically measure and prove the existence of not just ghosts, but magic. As Paul pointed out, they had the opportunity and they had the determination to do so. The fact that Hermione got a trifle tired of all the electrodes they stuck on her, and the elementary spells they had her perform over and over again did not lessen their desire to plumb the scientific depths of magic.

Hermione, even though her own scientific curiosity had been fired, kept throwing piteous glances whenever Isobel approached with the ECG and the EEG cart.

Isobel and Paul had by now gotten used the fact that people looked rather oddly at them whenever they set up their ghost detecting equipment. 

But the Grangers were on a mission, so the derision of others really wasn’t enough to stop them.

Isobel hummed softly as she packed up the device she and Paul had designed and called the ‘Magiometer’. They were still quibbling over what they would call the particle they were sure was at the core of the whole ‘being able to do magic thing’.

Isobel thought it was psychic manipulation of existing particles, like quarks. Paul thought it might be something new, something he liked to call ‘magions’.

Isobel’s mobile phone rang and she fumbled it out of her pocket, her eyes widening as she saw the time and she hastily picked up. “Hermione, I’m so sorry! We forgot the time, we got the most amazing measurements!”

There was a huff. Isobel smiled a trifle guiltily. Hermione hadn’t dared to huff at her for the first six months after they’d allowed her back into their lives, so frightened was she of losing them again. That more than anything, to see the broken, lonely frightened shell that her daughter had become, had brought home to Isobel and Paul how much Hermione loved them and how much she had missed them. She had known that altering their minds might alienate them, but had done it despite the risk she ran of losing them forever. Just so that they would live. That had been when they’d really started to forgive her.

“Mum? W-we need to get home. It’s really important,” Hermione sounded short of breath, almost as if she was hyperventilating.

Isobel cursed inwardly. Hermione, and most of her friends as far as the Grangers could tell, suffered badly from PTSS, and unexpected occurrences that before the war she would have shaken off, frightened her and could send her into panic or cause her to hyperventilate.

“We’ll be there in twenty minutes, Hermione. Now, I want you to pack up everything. The cooler, the parasols, the toys. Find all the toys, Hermione. But first I want you to get out the bag and breathe into it. Can you do that for me?” Isobel knew that a well defined task helped Hermione calm down.

She heard a shaky breath and a slight sob and then a tremulous “Yes, Mum, I can.”

Isobel nodded at Paul who was packing up faster now, his face worried.

They had packed up in record time, loaded the hand wagon with the equipment and Paul had taken it to the parking lot while Isobel headed down Scenic Drive to the beach. She had barely started when she saw Hermione, who was dragging another small cart with Andromache and all the beach stuff up the road. Hermione held a paper bag clutched in her hand and there were clear signs on her face that she’d been crying. Andromache was looking upset, staring at her older sister with wide eyes.

Isobel hastened towards them, putting her arms around Hermione. “What’s wrong, dear?”

Hermione swallowed heavily. “We- we need to get home…”

“Is it something dangerous?” Isobel asked.

“We just need to get home.” Hermione pleaded. “Please?”

Isobel nodded. “Of course. Come on, let’s get to the car. Your father is there already.”

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Granger house, Gourlay Avenue, Balgowlah Heights, Sydney

Hermione had been silent during the entire trip back home, occasionally reaching out to touch Andromache as she slept in the kiddy seat. Isobel and Paul had exchanged worried glances.

As they drew into the driveway, a ball of red fur slowly stretched into the bow-legged, squash-nosed form of Crookshanks. The big red half-kneazle sauntered up to the car and sat down, waiting, both for any interesting new scents that his humans had brought him, and for his food.

They unloaded the car, Isobel taking the exhausted and whiny Andromache up to bed, Paul carting the equipment into the study, Hermione moving like an automaton, carrying towels, parasols, toys and coolers and throwing them in the laundry or stowing them in their appropriate places. Then she went into the kitchen to start dinner. Paul and Isobel exchanged looks, Paul took the head of lettuce from Hermione’s hands and pointed at the breakfast table.

Crookshanks threw a look at Hermione and then started to wind his way around Paul’s legs to make it absolutely clear that mere human food was far less important than filling his own bowl. Paul was an easy touch, always putting in more food than Hermione and the vet had decided was healthy for the huge half-kneazle.  

Hermione balked, standing stiff and wary in the middle of the room. “Hermione! Come here and tell me what’s wrong,” Isobel coaxed as she patted the chair next to her.

Hermione took a step back. “Please… It’s not my fault,” she whimpered.

Isobel rose and grabbed Hermione, dragging her into a hug. “Hermione! What’s wrong?”

Hermione stood stiff as a plank, her arms at her side, hands balled into fists, but she started to cry, great big gulping sobs rasping from her. “It’s not my fault and you can’t hate her too! Please don’t hate her too!”

At this outburst Crookshanks threw a look at his food bowl and then, with a put upon expression, started winding around Hermione’s legs, trying to comfort her with his loud purr.

Isobel rubbed Hermione’s shoulders and made soothing noises. “We don’t hate you, love, now tell us what you think is wrong.”

Hermione whimpered. “A-Andy u-used m-magic,” she whispered.

Isobel gently pushed Hermione away and looked into her eyes. “And?”

Hermione blinked through her tears. “What?”

Isobel sighed. “Hermione… We were never angry with you because you can do magic. We were angry at you because you lied to us, and withheld the truth and took away who we were. We were angry that you never told us about magic because we ‘wouldn’t understand’. You never even gave us the chance to try.”

“You-you’re not angry anymore?” Hermione gasped.

Isobel gently resumed her embrace. “No. No we stopped being angry when you came to our doorstep forty pounds lighter than you ought to have been, looking like a ghost and fell to your knees crying and begged forgiveness. We stopped being angry at you when Miss Lovegood came by and showed us pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom and rather sternly told us that that would have been our fate… And when Minerva confirmed it from Professor Snape’s journals. We’ve forgiven you. We told you,” Isobel smoothed down her oldest daughter’s beach-frizzed hair. “Now you’ve got to accept that we forgive you.”

“But Andy?” Hermione looked towards her sister’s bedroom.

Isobel smiled wryly at Paul. “When I fell pregnant we both considered the likelihood that she might have magic, along with a great many other worries to do with me being quite a bit above my optimum childbearing age. We aren’t stupid, Hermione. We did already have a daughter who’s considered one of the most powerful witches in Britain.”

“Oh,” Hermione finally relaxed a bit. “She summoned Min-min.”

“As long as she decides not to summon any actual cats it’ll be fine, dear,” Paul assured her from where he was washing lettuce, looking at Crookshanks with a smile. The cat meowed indignantly. “Now why don’t you go and take a shower, and then we’ll eat and you can go to bed early.”

Hermione nodded, hugged Isobel again and then left the kitchen. Isobel closed her eyes. “She still thinks we hate her, Paul.”

Paul sighed. “At one time maybe we did, love.”

“Anger is something different from hate,” Isobel argued.

“Hate is very close to love. We can be hurt the worst by those we love,” Paul countered.

“She did what she thought was best…” Isobel pointed out.

“We could have come up with a much better plan had she spoken with us about it,” Paul smiled. “And we’ve had this argument before. On alternating opposite sides, on a regular basis.”

Isobel smiled back. “Yes we have.”

“Though I am glad it didn’t work out with Ronald,” Paul added.

“He’s a nice enough boy, but just not right for Hermione. He’s improved though,” Isobel made for the door. “I’m just going to check on them…”

Paul chuckled. “I’ll have dinner ready. You make sure our girls are okay.”

Isobel nodded and hurried out.

She was sitting on Hermione’s bed, frowning, when the girl came out of the shower, wrapped in two towels, one on her head and one around her body.

Hermione froze, her eyes widening and she let out a whimper.

Isobel rose, grabbed Hermione’s arm and pushed her down on the bed, keeping hold of Hermione’s upper arms as she did so, then knelt on the ground. Her whisky coloured eyes fastened on Hermione’s which were the same colour.

“Hermione,” she spoke fiercely. “You saved our lives and fought in a war. Yes, we would have preferred to be more involved in your life, yes we were appalled by the risks you took and by what you did to save us. But if you persist in believing that we cannot forgive you, so help me I’ll, I’ll… I’ll find the nearest Wizarding shrink and tie you to his couch! Understood!? Honestly, Hermione. We’ve forgiven you. We really have. You don’t have to try so hard to please us.”

Hermione gulped, “I’m sorry, b-but after I broke up with Ron, and everything…”

Isobel drew her daughter in for a hug, which nearly bent Hermione double. Isobel laughed. “Okay, that didn’t work. Hermione… We love you. That does not mean we can’t get annoyed with you when you leave the lawn chairs out at night or when Crookshanks leaves another dead Wallaby on our bed, or when you dog-ear a book.”

“I’ve never dog-eared a book!” Hermione protested, then grinned sheepishly at her mother’s chuckle.

“Now that’s our Hermione. Promise me you’ll hold onto that, okay?” Isobel asked.

Hermione nodded. “I promise.”

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The next morning

Sydney was an excellent place for shopping. Even if Hermione had so far resisted taking her mother to the small Wizarding enclave. Wizards were very attached to their traditional haunts and most of the Aboriginal wizards had died since British colonization began. The number of Wizards in Australia was limited; one of the reasons Hermione had sent them here. There was a lot less chance of them running into one of Voldemort’s supporters.

Her parents liked Australia. They had been in a bit of doubt as to whether they wanted to move back to the UK when they, in one of those strange coincidences that sometimes happen, had won the lottery. Big time. Big enough to have a house in both countries, pay all their debts and have several million Pounds, or even more in Australian Dollars, left in investment accounts. It also meant that when Isobel decided that Hermione needed a little retail therapy, it wasn’t at all confined to window shopping.

Isobel smiled as Hermione came out wearing a spaghetti strapped apricot top and a pair of stylish white slacks and sandals. “Those look wonderful on you, Hermione.”

Hermione looked at the floor, then up again. “Okay.”

Isobel sighed and covered her eyes with her hand. “Hermione, I know that clothes aren’t books but a little enthusiasm about your looks might allow you to land a boyfriend.”

Hermione blushed, mortified. “Mum!” she hissed.

Isobel sighed again. “Well, trust me, those look wonderful on you. We’ll hit a few more clothes shops and then we can go and visit some bookshops.”

Hermione perked up. Isobel smiled and shook her head in resignation. 

*******

Sappho Books and Café and Winebar, that evening

The great advantage of the place they were in at the moment was the Isobel, who was quite fond of books herself, could sit and peruse a few of them whilst sipping coffee, and enjoying looking at a few of the ornamental young males who hung around. Purely to see if any of them might do for Hermione of course. Sappho was a favourite student haunt and one of Hermione’s favourites as well. And after a long, hard day of shopping for clothes, even if Hermione wasn’t that fond of clothes shopping, and getting a new computer, and especially lots of books, it felt good to get the weight off her feet and relax.

Currently Isobel was looking at a young man who was playing the guitar in front of the building, a didgeridoo next to him and a few coins and notes in guitar bag in front of him. He was silent and unassuming, short and slender, fairly unnoticeable really, except for his pink, spiky hair. He seemed to be about Hermione’s age, or maybe a few years older. He was playing quite well but his gaze was always upon them and he seemed to be very interested in the two of them, especially Hermione.

“I think he likes you, Mum,” Hermione teased as she slid onto a chair.

Isobel snorted. “I think he likes both of us, and that is not something I want to think about.”

“I’ve seen and heard him playing here before, and on campus. And he seems to be quite well known,” Hermione noted as several of the patrons nodded and smiled at the young man, throwing a few small coins into his bag. He nodded in return and a slight twitch flashed at the corner of his mouth. It seemed to be enough to show his gratitude.

Hermione smiled and rose to go back into the shop, leaving a pile of books on the table besides the ones that were already there. Isobel smiled indulgently and started to heap them in a way that would allow them to carry them more easily. A major problem with books was that they weighed so much more than clothes for the same volume. These, however, she nearly threw in the air, with their lack of weight.

Hermione grinned, guessing her thoughts, and whispered ‘Lightening charm’ at her mother before turning and almost skipping away.

Isobel smiled at her daughter’s retreating back. Hermione was rather happier to do magic when she wasn’t tied up to half a dozen electrodes. They really ought to look into some wireless receptors to see if that helped. From the corner of her eye she saw the young man look at Hermione as she wandered in and out of his field of vision as she browsed. She smiled a little. *Maybe I ought to encourage her to go out. He may not be quite her type but, boy could she do with letting loose a little.* 

Isobel looked up disturbed. There was a sound of many booted feet and a large, brutish looking man, his long hair slicked back and his face set in a feral grin, came towards the café. He was leading a group of equally disreputable looking men, all wearing heavy boots and ragged clothing, the setting sun behind them casting their faces in shadow. Students were cast aside by them, seemingly instinctively cowering in fear as the group passed them. The young guitarist frowned and sniffed the air, carefully set his guitar down and approached Isobel’s table. “Hello. I suggest you run,” he told her in a soft, American accented voice.

“What?” Isobel asked in astonishment. “Why?”

The young man nodded towards the man who was now coming on quickly. “That man is a werewolf, so are those others. I can hear them talking about ripping the witch to shreds,” he looked at Hermione. “I presume they mean her.”

*Oh well, so much for that idea,* Isobel quietly sighed. *Another crackpot.*

Hermione had returned as soon as she saw the young man approach her mother and froze as she saw the group, then drew her wand. Her face was despairing.

“Run, Mum! Please!”

“You know who they are?” Isobel asked, suddenly realizing the young man wasn’t insane but deadly serious.

“Their leader. His name is Greyback, I told you about him. Please, Mum, go!” Hermione pleaded.

The young raised an eyebrow. “My car is over there,” he gestured with his head at an old, rusty car parked on the curb. “Werewolves can’t outrun cars, not even mine.”

“But these people!” Hermione argued. “We can’t just leave them! They’ll be slaughtered!”

“I think they want you, especially considering you know who their leader is,” the young man took her arm and dragged her to the car. Isobel followed, calling out they would be back later to pay for the books, dumping a handful of change on the table to pay for the coffee.

The young man got behind the wheel and the car moved off more smoothly than Isobel would have thought considering its appearance. “Do you want me to take you home or drop you off somewhere else?” the young man asked.

“First I’d like to know who you are and how you knew those were werewolves, and why they were after us,” Isobel told him.

Hermione drew her wand and pointed it at the young man’s head, her hand trembling slightly.

He didn’t even blink. “Interesting. A wand. I thought you smelled like a magic user.”

“Smelled? How could you smell that?” Hermione demanded, her voice shrill.

The young man shrugged. “I’m a werewolf, too. I just don’t want to hurt people. I’m Oz.”

“Oz? I doubt your parents called you that young man,” Isobel raised an eyebrow at him.

Oz looked at her calmly. “They haven’t called me anything else for fifteen years.”

“They gave you a terrible name, too?” Hermione asked with compassion, sending a smirking glance at her mother.

“Hermione is not a terrible name! It’s a strong name, a name…” Isobel’s voice trailed off at her daughter’s amused expression. “Okay, I may be a tad defensive about the names of you and your sister.”

“At tad? And really, Mum, Hermione and Andromache? If you really want grandchildren, that is not an auspicious coupling of names,” Hermione pointed out.

“They didn’t really get along, no,” Oz noted absently. “So, should I drop you off somewhere?”

Hermione hesitated. “Have you ever heard of someone called Remus Lupin?”

A minute wrinkle, it couldn’t be called a frown appeared above Oz’s nose. “No.”

“Erm… Harry Potter?” Hermione tried.

At Oz’s continued blank look Hermione seemed to be oddly heartened.

“Albus Dumbledore? Hermione Granger?” she tried.

Oz shook his head. “No, at least, not until just now,” he nodded at a bus stop. “Will that do?”

Isobel glanced at Hermione, who seemed rather confused. “I think it might be wise… would you mind taking us home?”

Hermione looked about ready to faint at those words. “Mum!” She hissed. “We don’t know anything about him!”

“Hermione, if he’d wanted to hurt us he wouldn’t ask where to drop us off. If he was one of them, he would have cut off our escape. I think we can trust him,” Isobel explained. “And I don’t think I want to risk going to our car. It’s not that far from Sappho’s.”

Hermione rubbed her eyes with her fists, her wand sticking out. “Okay. Okay,” her voice was soft and teary. “I need to contact the Australian Ministry. And Harry. Harry needs to know that Greyback is alive.”

“He’s supposed to be dead then?” Isobel asked gently, putting an arm around Hermione.

Hermione shrugged helplessly. “Yeah. Lots of Death Eaters and Snatchers got away after the battle. There was hardly anyone capable of going after them. The Aurors were corrupt as hell. We hoped some of them were destroyed by Fiendfyre, or Reductos. But apparently more got away than we’d hoped.”

“Always make sure the enemy is really dead. Beheading is an old favourite, but it’s best to grind their bones to dust in some cases as well,” Oz remarked. “Sprinkling with holy water is good. So’s fire.”

Hermione gave him a look. “What on earth have you been fighting? Vampires?”

Oz shrugged. “So where do we go?”

Isobel lifted an eyebrow at Hermione. Hermione looked at Oz who was calmly waiting for instructions. Then she smiled a little. “Home.”

Isobel smiled. “Home it is. I’ll call your father.”

Hermione sighed and surreptitiously moved her wand and whispered two words while her mother explained to Oz where they lived. She was pale and shaken after the spell, but apparently both her mother and Oz blamed it on the circumstances.

“Will they be able to track you by scent?” Isobel asked the young man.

Oz nodded. “Easily.”

“What would they do with you when they catch you?” Isobel continued slowly.

“If they did, they would probably kill me,” Oz replied. “But they won’t.”

Hermione gave him a sceptical look. “They’re a pack. You’re alone…” her eyes widened in realization. “You were going to try and draw some of them off, weren’t you?”

Oz didn’t reply.

Hermione looked at her mother, who nodded agreement. “You’re coming in with us. I’m not going to let you be torn to pieces by a pack of werewolves.”

“And if I was a Trojan?” Oz pointed out in his quiet way.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Mum’s right, I suppose. If you were a traitor, a Trojan horse to get into the house, I think we’d know by now. Anyway, I couldn’t really fight all out in a crowded street. And Mum could only have stabbed them with a fork. And I’m too jittery for Apparition. And if Greyback had us…” She shook her head. “Mum and Dad’s address is in the car. Even Greyback can read.”

“Yes, he could have found our home,” Isobel stressed the ‘our’ and gave Hermione a look, “Quite easily.”

Oz shrugged minimally. “'Kay.”

Isobel smiled. “Don’t say much, do you?”

Oz’s brow rose a fraction. That was all the answer the Granger women needed. They exchanged a glance, and started to giggle.

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Granger house, Gourlay Avenue, Balgowlah Heights, Sydney

Oz drove his car onto the driveway and got out quickly, opening the trunk and getting out a long case and a duffel bag. Then he followed Isobel and Hermione into the house. Isobel turned to lock and bolt the door, Hermione and Oz went on into the house.

Paul was waiting in the sitting room with Andromache on a kiddy carrier and a handgun on the coffee table, a .44 Magnum aimed straight at Oz’s forehead. 

Hermione’s eyes widened at the sight. “Dad! Put that down!”

“Who is that man, Hermione?” Paul asked in a dangerous tone of voice.

Isobel had finished locking the door. “Oz, he’s a friendly werewolf. Put the gun down, Paul, and really, we had agreed on no weapons in front of Andromache,” she chided.

Paul kept his gun trained on Oz and called out. “Crookshanks!”

The fuzzy half-kneazle sauntered in from the kitchen, licking his whiskers, eyeing the group as if they were hardly worth his time. He jumped onto the couch next to Andromache, licked her nose, causing the little girl to giggle in her sleep. He rubbed his head against Paul’s leg, slid off the couch, twined around Isobel’s legs, meowed at Hermione and then sat down to face Oz.

Oz raised an eyebrow. Crookshank’s whiskers twitched. Then he rose and put his legs up against Oz, made a deep purring noise and with a deft flick of his front and rear paws, launched himself onto Oz’s shoulders.  

Paul blinked. “Ah. Well, that seems alright then.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “We told you that! And honestly, Dad weren’t you listening?” Hermione gestured at the weapons. “That’s not going to work on werewolves.”

Oz looked at the firearms thoughtfully. “Not quite. It hurts and enough trauma will kill us, but it takes a lot of bullets. Any silver in the house?”

Paul smiled and took out a second Magnum. “Two guns, one with silver bullets, one without. Got plenty of ammunition for both, too.”

Oz nodded. “Smart. I prefer tranq guns.”

Paul looked intrigued. “Those work on werewolves?”

Oz’s reply was laconic as he hefted the case and the duffel. “Worked on me.”

“Hmmm” Paul eyed Oz with interest. “Would you be willing to answer some questions? Perhaps an-”

Hermione groaned and glared at her father. “Honestly, Dad! I can’t bring anyone home! When Harry and Ginny came to visit they did not do so to give you access to a gravid witch to observe what pregnancy does to a magical body!”

Oz lifted an eyebrow. Paul had the grace to look ashamed. “Sorry, Hermione. You’re quite right, it was uncommonly rude of me. Then and now.”

Hermione huffed. “Yes it was. And here I thought that being an adult cured boys of that.”

Isobel snorted, then put a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “I fear not, dear. Hence my delight at having two daughters.”

Oz was looking at the scene calmly, as if he wasn’t at all out of sorts to be witnessing what was a private family moment. Paul turned towards him. “One question though. Do you think that Greyback and his pack will come here?”

Oz looked at Hermione. “If you were just random prey, probably not. If they were looking for you… They will be here soon. Even in human form we can run faster, for longer than any human, as well as endure greater heat. And I could track your scent in a moving car so we should assume they can too. Or they may already know where you live and were just at Sappho’s to put the fear in you.”

Hermione ran a hand through her hair. “Dammit! I don’t suppose you’ve got a wand? Guns are going to attract far too much attention, even tranq guns.”

“No, no wand. They won’t attack by day, just hang about. Lurk. Make you worry. Make the prey fear them and do something stupid,” Oz looked around. “I might be able to call in some friends.”

Hermione bit her lip. “That’s really nice, but against a pack of werewolves and renegade Death Eaters, I’m afraid they wouldn’t be able to do much.”

“Death Eaters?” Oz gave her a look that clearly stated what he thought of any group that actually called themselves Death eaters.

Hermione sighed. “Yes. I know it sounds funny, but they really were pretty dangerous.”

“The mayor of my home town was called Richard Wilkins. Evil comes with all sorts of names,” Oz shrugged. “Do you have a phone I can borrow?”

“How exactly does the mayor of your hometown compare to a mass-murdering wizard?” Hermione demanded.

“Mass-murdering two hundred year old magic-user who became a mass-murdering giant snake demon. It’s a long distance call,” Oz asked as he spotted the phone and looked questioningly at Isobel.

“Mass-murdering snake demon? Where in the name of Merlin did you live?” Hermione asked, stunned.

“Sunnydale,” Oz replied as he dialed a number he read from an ancient and battered moleskin that he’d dug out of his pocket.

“Sunnydale? Sunnydale, California? The town that fell off the earth?” Isobel sounded excited. “I knew there was something mystical about that! We should have gone there, Paul!”

“Love, if we went to every place that you thought had mystical connotations, we’d be traveling non-stop from Tunguska to Antarctica and back via the Grand Canyon,” Paul pointed out.

Suddenly darkness fell. There was a howl, not a wolf’s howl, but close enough. Hermione shivered and grasped her wand more tightly. “They’re here.”

Oz looked up, then laid down the phone. “Connection’s broken. Mobile?”

Hermione nodded and took out hers, then looked at the screen in confusion. “It isn’t working?”  

Oz’s frown was the merest move of his eyebrows. “Blocked?”

Hermione bit her lip. “B-but that’s impossible! None of the Death Eaters know anything about electricity, or phones! They’re all Purebloods, technophobes!”

Isobel went to the window and looked out. There were several rough looking men and a few women milling about in the road, looking at the Granger house and leering at her. She hurriedly shut the drapes. “And they’re here. I-I think I recognize one of them, he’s been doing odd jobs about the neighbourhood.”

Paul rubbed his chin, considering everything he could remember of what Hermione had told them about the Death Eaters and the Snatchers. “Hmmm. So that means they’ve got someone who isn’t a Pureblood working for them? Did they use magic or technology?”

Hermione shook her head. “I don’t know. I-I need to set some wards. Try and keep them out.”

“Hermione, they’re right outside!” Isobel argued.

Hermione nodded. “I know. They’re trying to scare us. Howl, threaten us, things like that. I have to set wards. The locks won’t hold them off for very long.”

Oz nodded. “Pack hunting. Scare us, Run the prey to exhaustion, pounce on the weakest. They won’t attack if we hold our ground. I’ll help or protect her.”

Hermione gave him a grateful smile. Isobel sighed. “Oh, very well. Paul, put Andrea in the downstairs crib. Let’s see what we can do to make this place defensible.”

Paul shrugged. “Well there’s the panic room in the basement. We can lower the roller shutters, they’re made of titanium and I’ll get out the rifles and ammo from the gunroom. And Hermione can strengthen the emergency wards I had set up.”

Isobel blinked, as did Hermione. “What?” they chorused.

Paul smiled. “Well love, while you were raving about open-plan kitchens, en suite bathrooms and such, I was looking for something defensible. Once bitten, twice shy. Or in this case, no desire to be bitten at all.”

Oz nodded. “Smart. Hermione? What about Wards?”

Hermione shook herself from her open-mouthed, wide eyed study of her father and shook her head ruefully. “Fortune favours the well prepared.”

Oz nodded politely, took her hand and dragged her off. “Maybe an earth and water ward, centered on the house and the sea?” Hermione murmured. “Or a blood ward, I’ve got family to protect here. Or… you’re a werewolf, are you an Alpha?”

Paul smiled indulgently and Isobel shot Oz an apologetic look. The corner of Oz’s mouth twitched. “Lone wolf, but once upon a time I used to be.”

Hermione beamed. “Oh, excellent! That can work! We can cast a spell to-”

Oz shook his head. “Not my home. Not my pack. Sorry.”

Hermione visibly wilted. “Oh. I see. C-could we become your pack? The ward I have in mind would be very-”

Oz shook his head. “Pack’s family, and more.”

Hermione sighed. “Drat. Ummm… maybe if you played with Andrea a bit?” she added hopefully. “You know, take care of the pup?”

Oz’s brow lifted marginally. “Wolves kill the pups of the Old Alpha.”

Hermione blanched, gripping her wand tightly. “Y-you wouldn’t!”

Oz’s other brow lifted as well. “No. But they would,” he gestured with his head at the mass of werewolves who were stalking around the house. “We need to get this done. Do you know how to shoot a rifle?”

Hermione shook her head. “I’ve got a wand. Wait, I need to set an anchoring rune here,” she pointed her wand and muttered a few words. She could feel her strength was still diminished from sending out her Patronus earlier.  

“What spell did you cast in the car?” Oz asked. “You look exhausted.”

Hermione blinked, then sighed. “Noticed that, did you? I sent a message to the local magical police and a couple of friends, but they live a long way away. It took a lot out off me.”

Oz nodded. “Wise. Friends are best in a tight situation.”

Hermione led him to the next point she wanted to use as an anchor. “Maybe, maybe not. If no help shows up, I might have wanted that power for what’s to come.”

Oz looked out at the mass of werewolves. “Second guessing before the battle is not smart.”

Hermione huffed. “How many battles have you been in?”

“Too many,” Oz answered quietly.

Hermione gave the man a look and decided that she really didn’t want to know. “I need to place three more anchors. Then I can start to really weave the wards.”

“None in place?” Oz asked, feeling the wall, as if testing its solidity.

Hermione huffed. “Oh, honestly! Of course there are, I put in several. Even a ward against werewolves. But something like this attack will take them down if they mount a concerted assault on one place. These wards are very young and have hardly had the time to settle into the landscape, like the ones in Britain. Not that the Broomies would allow wards such as we have over there, but still.”

“Broomies?” Oz asked, slight confusion in his voice.

Hermione blushed. “The Australian Magical police, the Reevers. The locals call them Broomies. I-I fear it sort of rubbed off on me.”

Oz nodded. He tapped a door. “The basement I assume from the smell. The perfect place to set an Earth Ward?”

Hermione smiled. “You seem to know quite a bit of magic. Where did you learn?”

It could have been Hermione’s imagination, but she thought there was a flash of anger and sadness and deep regret in Oz’s eyes. Then he flickered a smile at her. “My Ex was a witch.”

Hermione frowned. “Then why were you so surprised when I used my wand?”

“She didn’t use one,” Oz explained as he led the way towards the basement door.

The stairs to the basement were well appointed, varnished white oak. The walls were panelled in the same wood. The walls were plastered and the floor was covered in light red terracotta glazed tiles. The main room was panelled as well and filled with several large, comfortable chairs, three large desks, numerous file cabinets, several heavy duty computers and electroencephalographs.

Oz lifted his eyebrows. “Interesting setup.”

Hermione huffed again. “Not if you have to wear those infernal electrodes for hours while doing magic.”

Oz nodded. Hermione led him into a passage and to an adjacent, smaller room and cast the anchor rune. When they came out again, the wall in the passage had been moved aside on metal rollers and showed a thick metal door, standing wide open, filling almost the entire corridor.

They slipped past it and saw that the door was set into a metal doorframe with four huge bolts on both sides and two top and bottom that would fall into the doorjambs and lintels once the door was locked by spinning a huge wheel set in the centre of the door.

It looked more like the door of a vault than anything else. The two of them looked into the room beyond, taking note of the toilet and the shower in the corner, of the baby necessities, of the small table and chairs, the three camp beds, folded up neatly and the dividing curtains between them. There were boxes of food stacked against the wall and a microwave, television, radio and computer, all powered by a pedal driven generator, as well. There was a locked gun cabinet against the wall next to the door.

Hermione looked on in amazement as her father set up Andromache’s travelling crib. “Wow, Dad. This is… Amazing!”

Paul gave her a look, then smiled a little. “Thanks. Your bag is in the corner by the way. You might want to check if there’s something in there that we can use.”

Hermione swallowed heavily, tears coming to her eyes. “Okay. Th-thanks, Dad.”

Paul sighed. “Hermione, this was all here. The man who built this house constructed this basement as a bomb-shelter. Back in Britain all this would not have been possible. We lacked both the money and a true realization of the danger to make preparations like these.”

Hermione smiled a little and picked up her bag, a few of the beads rattling on the floor as they came loose. “Well, I thought I got my habit for over-preparation from Mum, but I see it was reinforced by you.”

Paul chuckled. “Possibly, but personally I just think she rubbed off on me. By the way, do you think those outside have cast wards against sound escaping? Or those Notice-me-not charms?”

Hermione nodded. “Probably, if they have a wizard or witch with them. They wouldn’t want the Mu-” she winced at Paul’s look and corrected herself, “Non-magical authorities to hear them. Too many things might go wrong.”

Oz’s brows moved in the minute way that signified his frown. “Hmm, seems some sort of Sunnydale Syndrome.”

“What?” Hermione asked confused.

“People don’t see the truth, but what they expect to see,” Oz explained.

Paul nodded. “Quite, people do. That and the spells will be useful once we start shooting. We don’t want to draw the attention of the police or the Broomies.”

Hermione frowned. “Why not?”

“Because I’ve no desire to be tried for manslaughter or murder,” Paul explained her. “And of course the guns are highly illegal. So that would just add to the charge.”

“WHAT!” Hermione screamed. “DAD!”   

Oz smirked. “Cool. I like your Dad, Hermione.”

Hermione spluttered. “B-but, it’s against the law! The police-”

Oz’s left brow rose up slightly in amusement. “We blew up the Sixty-foot Mayor Snake with dynamite, diesel fuel and fertilizer. We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

Paul laughed. “I like this young man, Hermione.”

Hermione glowered at the two men. “Honestly, you two! You can talk to each other without me as an intermediary. I had enough of this with Harry and Ron! And you like anybody who can quote from movies!”

“I find it an excellent benchmark to measure how well I can get along with people,” he gave Oz a long look. “Hmmm. Interesting.”

Oz shifted minutely. If he hadn’t been so incredibly laid back Hermione would have thought he was actually nervous, embarrassed.  

“Well, come on. We’ve got to set the other anchors and then the wards!” She prodded Oz lightly and strode out of the room.

Isobel came in, carrying Andromache. “They’re howling and waiting for the moon to rise,” she said quietly. “I’m really beginning to see Hermione’s point.”

“Hmmm,” Paul made the noise as he was checking a rifle and loading it with silver bullets. “Did you notice they’re quite relaxed around each other?”

Isobel sighed. “I did. I hope it doesn’t all end in tears.”

“He can quote Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Paul smiled. “I don’t think he’s quite as lost around her as Ronald was.”

“Well, that wouldn’t be difficult. Paul?” Isobel hugged the sleeping child to her chest and gave her husband an anxious look.

Paul answered the unspoken question. “It will be fine, love. We will be alright.”

 
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