Title: In the Shadows
Summary: When Hermione transferred to America she didn’t know that anything would have turned out quite like this. Now she wonders if she should have stayed in bed, back in England . . .
Spoilers: All AB books up to Incubus Dreams, and all HP books up to Order of the Phoenix. Set after both books so spoilers for both may be mentioned.
Disclaimer: I own neither of these series. They both own to their own writers. Sadly.
Note: I made Hermione be a bit more adult in this, since she is 25 here. And I’m trying my best to stay in character for the AB people. But if I screw up, I screw up. I’m bound to get better at one point in time.
It was a bright early Friday morning. I used to love days like this when I was younger, but as I grew, it lost its touch of magic you could say. Pure fantasy magic, not the kind I live with everyday. Things like that are bound to happen as we get older I suppose.
I leaned back in the bench I was currently sitting in and tried to relax. I usually had the weekend off, if I worked too much I was bound to shut down. No one, not even myself, can be healthy within mind and body and work that much.
It was a lesson I learned during the end of the war. We were pushing ourselves over our limits and getting sick in the process. Not to mention our magic was acting weird. Professor Dumbledore once said that if we didn’t try to relax our mind as we would our body that we would fall apart. I don’t ever think that he had that problem. The man was always smiling with a twinkle in his eye.
The rest of my thoughts drifted over to my family, the new office my mom and dad bought. The older one was okay, but the new one had a bigger waiting room, a staff room for the nurses and other doctors to go to for meals and the examine rooms were less scary for children. They painted the rooms in a soothing color, and posted up kid posters in some of them.
I couldn’t deny that I didn’t miss them. Or any of my friends at all, they were a better part of my life for a good ten years. The last three of those I barely saw my parents, I was too worried that the war would spill into their lives. That it would get them hurt.
I had seen enough families be torn apart or killed in the war. I refused that to happen to mine. I helped with the Order when I was able; preparing potions with Snape, even after all this time he was always Snape in my mind. I helped gather information with Tonks and Remus. I had gotten good at that, but it did weigh me down at times.
When the fight with Voldemort ended none of us were sure what to do afterwards. Everything seemed to be pointed to be fighting, and that’s what we did. After the war, afterwards we were lost for a brief time. For Harry it was worst of all. I don’t think he thought he would even survive it, but to live afterwards? It was a lost concept to him.
Even now he complains that he doesn’t know what to do with his life. He hardly feels important, he whines to me a lot. Usually if Draco is around when he says it, Draco winds up rolling his eyes and hitting upside the head. The first time I saw him do that I laughed so hard I wound up falling off the chair I was sitting in at the time.
About four years ago, Draco had gotten very frustrated with all the mixed signals he was getting from Harry. As I was told he shoved our dear boy wonder against a wall and had his wicked way. Or so Harry says, he tends to make things sound a bit more then they are. Things were pretty much set after that, even if they fight like cats and dogs. They have a strange relationship.
Even if it is a bit odd, I always envied what they have. Someone who knows the other with every fiber of their being, to be understood on the most intimate level, to be loved like that – it was something I never had. I’ve had a few boyfriends but nothing screamed love to me, hell, even lust. Not that I’m a virgin, I’m just very picky about whom I’m with.
Sometimes I wish I was a little less picky, maybe I wouldn’t be alone. Wouldn’t have been tempted to have gone to another country after being asked, wouldn’t be in this situation. It was starting to drive me crazy. I had read almost every book, every scroll, script, you name it, and I’ve probably read it within the past three weeks.
There have been four accounts of witches being admitted and almost seven wizards to local wizarding hospitals. And those are only because those are critical. There are countless wizards and witches that are either feeling very weak, or queasy at the sight of magic. The last is the effect that I’m starting to settle with. Besides the floor I work on and a few others, mostly everyone who weren’t absolutely needed went outside the city and away from the disturbance. Others in the city refused to leave, meaning I had to get this done so those people could go back to their homes.
I took out a notebook from my bag and looked over my notes. Maybe I over looked something? Sometimes it’s the small things that could mean the most in one of these situations. Or other times its right in front of your face and you’re too blinded by it to recognize it for what it’s really worth.
I pulled the notebook into my lap and scanned the pages. I half paid attention to the black ink on the bright white pages, I knew the words. Maybe I was just stretching for something that isn’t there. Or I’m this desperate to find an answer.
John Fayle might have an answer for me. He’s helped me in situations before, and last time I checked he was the ass that suggested my name in the first place. I looked at my watch, signaling it was only 11:24am. I must have been in my own thoughts longer then I thought if I was drifting for over two hours. Oh well, hopefully he was on his lunch break.
I dug further down in my bag for where he worked. The man was half obsessed with computers, his wife; Cally didn’t mind much attention to him. She was one hell of a witch. She’s muggleborn like me, so she understands them as well. She’s the reason he became so obsessed. It landed him some teaching job.
Ah ha! Here it is. Right, now time to deal with a bunch of students, this time not as a professor. Thank Merlin.
Think Hermione, think. All you have to do is ask the front office. If I could find it. I sighed; sometimes muggle schools were more confusing than Hogwarts, if only for the fact they map out the hallways to look the same as the one before. Who am I to question the logic of these people, I just need to find John. Maybe I should call Cally.
I pinched my nose in irritation, when I felt the oddest sensation behind me. Nah, it couldn’t be. I’m just stressed. Footsteps sounded behind me then stopped. The sensation got stronger; my magic was picking up a shifter. Not much, whoever it was, they knew how to shield.
Putting on a calm expression I turned around. And nearly giggled with the situation. Here’s the man from last night! I think I blinked a few times. “Uh, hi”
“Hello. Is there something I can help you with?” He didn’t sound too pleased to see me. Not that I would after a vague meeting like last night. Well on my account. That master was a pain in the ass.
“Can you direct me to the front office? I’m a little lost and I need to locate a teacher here.” I tried to smile, it wasn’t working to well. I think I got out a small curving to the sides of my mouth. A Snape smile, imagine that.
Though he seem a little surprised. I think the slightly raised eyebrows did it. “You need to see a teacher who works here?” I don’t think he believed me. What do I look like, a washed out death eater trying to pull something off? I frowned and narrowed my eyes.
“Yes, a Mr. John Fayle. I believe he’s in the technology department.” Clipped tones. That’s all I needed.
“He is. How do you know him?” He shifted the papers he was holding and crossed his arms. He seemed like he was in a bad mood. Don’t tell me I got him pissed off so quickly.
“Calm down Richard.” I heard a familiar voice from behind me. I turned too see a mop of wavy blonde hair and grey eyes. Thank you, whoever is in charge up there . . . “She’s a friend of mine. No need to take the mood you’ve had all week out on a pretty lady.” He smiled as he said it, always a charmer.
“Don’t make me tell Cally you’re talking like that.” I tiled my head to the side and he gave a small laugh. He pulled me by the arm down the hall and away from the man I saw last night. “I need a bit of a favor.”
He slowed slightly and sighed. We were heading back out the doors. “I was heading out for some grub. Look’s like you’re coming with.” He said in that Boston accent. I met him through his wife. She got fed up with the war and left. She was a Ravenclaw in my year. Very quiet, how she met up with dear Johnny boy here was something else.
We got closer to his car as he pressed the button to unlock the doors. I opened my side and got in, fastening my seatbelt after shutting the door. He was a pureblood with little contact with the muggle world until he met Cally. Last I head he just got the job for here about two years ago. What possessed him to become a teacher I’ll never grasp. I couldn’t count down the days until Remus took over for me. I didn’t mind teaching; it was the troublesome kids and their parents I couldn’t handle anymore.
“Why haven’t you and Cally moved out of the area yet?”
He shrugged. “Summer vacation isn’t for a few more weeks. I just can’t abandon my job. And that stubborn wife of mine wouldn’t leave without me.”
“You know its people like you that make my job hard. We issued that warning for a reason.” He nodded.
“I know. A friend of mine had to be taken to the hospital. Anyway, you said you needed a favor?”
I sighed; I’d deal with him later. Ala his wife. “Yes, I’m stuck. With the investigation. You were training for the Ministry here before you became a teacher right?” He nodded again. “I’m at my wits ends. I’ve looked over all my information; I even met up with the Master of the City. Much luck that was, jerk he was. What was even worse was the woman with him. She was rather jumpy.”
He scrunched his face in thought for a moment. “Small, long black hair? Kind of pale and looked like she was in a bitchy mood?”
“Yeah, how’d you know that?”
“She’s pretty well known in the city, if she’s next to him. Her name is Anita Blake. The famed Executioner, she’s the resident vampire hunter.”
“Ah. What I need is some information from the locals. Your Ministry doesn’t like me very much. Something about their not sharing information. When did it start? The loss and warping of the magic.”
“I don’t know. Personally I haven’t used much magic because of it. My spells started getting weird about a month ago. Cally stopped using her magic as well. As much as we could spare. I was one of the first to send something to the Ministry.” He paused as he turned the car through the parking lot of where ever it was we were. “I’ll ask around for you. Now, what do you want from 7-11?”
As we got out of the car I took the two bags with him. He did pay for me to get a little something to eat. He said in the store he’d look after my notes as he ate in the teacher lounge. Wish we had one of those to eat in; we just ate with the rest of the students.
I followed behind him through the hallways as we stopped by the office so I could get a visitor pass. It was a little square sticker with a smilie face on it. It had my name on it and whom I was to see, or in this case sit with.
I shrugged at the smirk I got from John. He knew I didn’t like stickers on my clothing, on pieces of paper, notebooks or skin was fine. But that adhesive stuff always made the fabric feel weird when I took the sticker off.
As we entered the lounge he greeted a few of the other teachers. I wasn’t paying much attention as I lowered both the bags from the mini-mart down and my own bag with my own things in it. I sat down in the chair and took out my things. Afterwards I just pushed the remaining food, still in the bag, forward.
John sat next to me and pulled the bag towards me. He nodded towards my bag, and I took out my notebook and handed it him to read through. I leaned on my hand which was propped up on the table. With the other I lifted the fork and slowly ate the fruit bowl I had gotten. It wasn’t bad, and there wasn’t much you could do to mess up fruit. Unless it was rotten.
I sat up straight again and went to open the bottle of juice I had gotten. I went to screw off the lid, but it wouldn’t budge. After a few tries, me whining a little, and John laughing softly later, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Need some help?” Arg, him again. Oh well, I’m not in the mood for a fight. I just handed him the drink. With a simple flick of the wrist it came off for him. He handed it back with a small smile.
“Thanks Mr. . . .”
“Oh. That’s right I never introduced myself today.” Just today? “I’m Richard.”
“Ah, I’m Hermione.” But you already knew that, didn’t you. I gestured for him to sit in the empty seat to the other side of me. The tables in here were little and in the shape of squares.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I normally don’t let my moods let out on other people.” Why am I having a problem seeing that as the reason? Oh well. I’ll play nice, for now at any rate.
“It’s no bother. After spending the whole week with a whole lot of students I can understand. I was always praying for the weekend when I taught.” I took another piece of fruit and chewed.
He had the same expression on his face as he did last night, looking interested. “You taught?” I nodded as I had food in my mouth.
“She taught for a few years if I remember. Until their old professor could take over. I think, that’s what Cally said.”
Taking a small sip from my drink I nodded again. “Yes, Professor Lupin. He taught in our 3rd year at our school. He was one hell of a guy, but because of . . . personal reasons he left. A friend and I were able to get him to come back and teach. He was my favorite teacher.” I think I sounded a little misty, but Remus really was my favorite DADA teacher while at Hogwarts. Then again, he was the only sane one.
I think he was about to say something else, but my phone rang. Looking a little startled John almost dropped his sandwich. “Damn that’s loud.” I heard him mumble.
I rolled my eyes as I answered my phone. “Granger here.” Silence greeted me. “Hello?”
“Oh! ‘Mione, thank bloody Merlin.” It had to be close to bedtime over there, why was Harry calling me?
“What is it Harry?”
“It’s Draco! He’s acting like a loon!” I tried not to smile; he had a habit of calling me at the strangest moments.
“This is Draco we’re talking about, love. Tell me something I don’t know. Now tell me why you called or else I’m hanging up.” I heard a small cough from John, trying not to laugh. He met Draco before. He looked up and smiled at me before half turning his attention back to the notebook.
“He’s going to go and cover for Remus! Him! Teach DADA. It’s crazy.” That I had to agree with. Draco and students was never good.
“Oh joy, the students are going to love that.”
“Love that! The Gryffindors are going to lose all their house points once he and Severus get done with them.” I outright laughed. “It’s not funny; the two of them are sneaky Slytherin bastards.” I heard him sigh. “I also called to see how the investigation was going. I know you said something about the magic being all fucked which ways to Sunday.”
“Yeah, it’s not all that well. You get the message I left last night?” I played with the food in front of me, moving it around in the bowl. After the meeting with Jean-Claude I left a message for him to get some information on the local vampires.
“Yeah, I wasn’t able to get much on that Jean-Claude guy. Just that he’s been in the muggle press with his human-servant Anita Blake. It’s rumored he’s got the local were-wolves on a tight leash. I’m told Remus and he said he’d ask a few wolves he knows out in your area. They’re not very high in the pack, but word usually gets out quick there.”
I shifted slightly in the chair. Richard was looking at me with some odd expression on his face. “Just anything that might help me; I need some kind of leverage. I want to get this all over with.”
“Disturbance getting to you at all?”
“A little. I feel queasy and everything seems off.”
“Problems casting spells? If anything happens I want you to port key right to St. Mungo's, I don’t care if you’re in America or not. I don’t want anyone I don’t know trying to heal you with the magic as is over there.” I sighed. If he wasn’t brooding, or whining he was being a mother hen.
“Harry, calm down. I’m fine for the time being. I’ll just be happy when all of this is cleared up. It’s not like getting help from the local pow wows around here.”
“I still can’t believe that so called ‘Master’ was so useless.” I could see him casting the quote marks around the word master as he talked.
“He was worse then useless.” I heard a bell ring. Ah, that would be the end of John’s lunch. “I have to go; I’ll give you a ring later. Just find out what you can for me. Good bye.” I heard a good bye and the sound of the phone clicking off. I shut mine as well.
After putting it back in my bag, I cleaned up my mess, throwing away the uneaten fruit and putting the lid back on the juice. John was doing the same, the Richard person was still sitting there. Not that he had anything to clean up, he must have finished before he came to sit over here. To bother me, whatever his purpose was.
“Nice seeing you girlie. Mind if I keep this?” He waved the notebook. I shrugged.
“I’ll come pick it up later at your house.”
“Good, well if you get lost just call Cally, I’m bad at giving directions.” He looked over to Richard. “See you later.”
Richard just smiled. “Yeah, see you.” He looked at me for a moment before heading out the door. Oh yeah, this day was going the way I thought it would. Yeah right, fat chance of anything ever going in my direction.