Author's Note: This is a new idea I'm trying out. Please let me know what you think, via review or simply favourite/follow so I know if it's worth continuing. I know what I want to do with this but I have not written it in advance (I'm too impatient for that). Enjoy! (The first chapter is kind of short, sorry)
Hermione pushed the papers on her desk around, trying to find her cellphone. The ringing continued, each trill making her more frantic. Annoyed with herself and the clutter she finally lifted a stack of open files behind her laptop and snatched it up.
"Hello?" She said, then repeated after a moment of silence. "Who is this?" She was just about to assume it was a butt-dial and hang up, somehing that happened more frequently than one might expect, there was a rustle and a distorted voice.
Hermione hesitated. "Yes?"
"I'm calling with a proposition for you."
"What for?" She furrowed her brows, what could a muggle be proposing for her? Without even introducing himself first, or the company he worked for. Which was the most common reason someone called her. The only other people she knew with a cell phone (and her specific number for that matter) were Harry, Ron, Ginny, and her parents.
"Monica and Wendell Wilkins, currently living in Melbourne Australia," the man on the phone said and Hermione's breath caught in her throat. "Both working dentists. Suspiciously enough moved to Australia only eight years ago. Funny, almost a year before the Battle at Hogwarts."
"Who are you?" Hermione demanded, holding tightly onto the arm of her desk chair.
"You're not asking the right question, miss Granger."
She grit her teeth. "What do you want?"
"That's better. But before I get to that I want to make sure we understand each other. I have something I want you to do for me and if you don't-"
"Your intentions are very clear. Get to the point."
"Tut tut tut, so bossy," he sighed dramatically. "Fine. I want you to befriend, entice, and eventually marry a man of particular interest to me. He has," here the man paused. "valuable artifacts I wish to acquire."
Hermione scoffed. "Let me guess, these valuables are money?"
"Please, you wound me, I am above such petty things."
Hermione rolled her eyes, this man obviously thought too highly of himself. "Why on earth would I agree to trick someone into marrying me only so you can steal from him? What would that accomplish? Why don't you just hire a theaf?"
"My dear miss Granger, I thought you were smarter than this. You're disappointing me, and I had heard so many great things…"
Hermione stood up from her chair to walk around her office trying to think of a way out of this. Could she retract her parents somehow? Save them? No, he probably had someone watching them, or was watching them himself. It probably wasn't safe but she needed proof that they were actually in danger before agreeing to anything. Now, the second most important was finding out who her blackmailer was. His voice was distorted but he most definitely had a British accent, although she couldn't really specify what region because of the distortion. But he must be a muggle or muggleborn, maybe a half-blood to have extensive knowledge of cellphones and even acquiring her number. She doubted anyone just gave it to him, but she supposed anyone could find it if they wanted. Was her name in the phonebook? She would have to check.
"Try not to hurt my intelligence next time," he said. "It's disappointing that you think so low of me, as if I hadn't checked every other route possible. No, the… valuables I want are heavily guarded and in an impenetrable way except one. Well that's not true, except two but I'm not much for murder myself. I'm not much for physical violence. But battles of wit are my thing."
"Why me?" Hermione asked. "You could have gotten anyone, and probably a lot more people easier to convince and not in need of blackmail."
The man chuckled. "Oh my dear miss Granger, that is exactly why I chose you, among other things. But come, that's a conversation for another time. When are you going to ask for confirmation on your parent's current… climate?"
Hermione pursed her lips.
"I'm sure that's the next question on the agenda isn't it? Proof."
She kept silent, annoyed by his gall, annoyed by how he seemed to know what she was going to do, how she thought. Did she know this person? Certainly not, but maybe he knew her.
"Well, no need to worry your pretty little head over that. It's no bluff. I have them on 24-hour surveillance, any contact you have with them will be monitored and anything outside the norm will not be tolerated. Fail, or refuse, you will most definitely regret it."
"I don't see where your proof is in that speech."
"You are exasperating," he said with a sigh. "Fine. Check your email. There is a very creepy picture of your parents through some trees. It's quite unsavory if I do say so myself."
Hermione checked her email on her computer, sure enough there was a picture of her parents tending their garden. She could call someone. Kingsley maybe? Get someone on their side to watch them, see if this blackmailer showed up and they could catch him. Lay a trap maybe?
"I can practically hear the wheels turning in that brilliant head of yours Miss Granger, but trust me when I say, there is no way out of this for you. I've made certain of that. You will get me what I want and I will let your parents go free once you do. That is the deal. Do you agree to the terms?"
Hermione nibbled her lip. This man knew about magic, he knew about the Battle so he had to be magical. A wizard most likely, perhaps a squib? Maybe not, but she couldn't rule that out. How could she agree to this? It was ridiculous.
"Why do I have to marry him?"
There was a pause. "The valuables are protected by blood wards miss Granger. I'm sure you can figure that one out yourself."
Hermione closed her eyes. His words coming back to her: I'm not much for murder myself. Blood wards could be activated by the person in question and accessed by any blood relatives, or significant other. So either he would have to maim the person in question and use his blood to get to his treasure, or, the less messy way- have someone on the inside that could work the blood wards.
"Do we have a deal miss Granger?"
Hermione took a breath. "Yes." Her stomach clenched, was she actually doing this? She couldn't risk her parents, not again, not after everything. How hard could it be anyway? Oh Merlin help her.
"That's what I wanted to hear."
"Who is it?" Hermione rushed out. "Who are you forcing me to rob?"
"I will contact you again, miss Granger. With further instructions and to keep tabs on our deal. Good luck and make sure not to disappoint me."
"Who is it?" Hermione almost yelled, feeling nervous at his stalling.
The line went dead.
Her phone hit the floor.