This fic is inspired by Kittenshift17's Halloween Prompts: Day 10. Chapters 1 and 2 written to meet said prompts.
As stated in the summary, updates will be sporadic. AU setting. Short chapters.
This story is intended as non-heavy entertainment, only. If you are of a mind to read something super-serious, or to point out typos or minor grammatical errors, then please read no further. I'm writing this for fun, as my hobby, and will not tolerate anyone trying to make me feel 'less-than' about the quality of my work, simply because it's not edited to the level of a published novel prior to posting.
Jason Momoa as Fenrir Greyback
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit from this story.
"Tell me you're joking," Hermione said, unable to stop a mirthless laugh from tumbling out as she picked up the swath of crimson velvet.
Aunt Minerva arched a brow at the young woman. "I never joke about magic, my dear. No one has successfully hunted down a werewolf in decades. You want to take up your great-grandfather's profession? You'll need an edge."
"And this is my edge? Making them think I want to . . . well, you know." Hermione cleared her throat awkwardly. Dear gods, she'd nearly slipped and talked about shagging right in front of her elder! Not that Minerva McGonagall hadn't let fly her own share of doozies, but still . . . .
"A man is never so easily caught off-guard as he is in the moment he's ready to drop his trousers."
Clamping her hand over her mouth, Hermione just barely muffled a scandalized laugh. "Auntie! You're terrible."
Once more, Minerva arched a brow, grinning wickedly a she crinkled the bridge of her nose. "I have my moments, don't I?"
Nodding, the would-be huntress whirled the cloak up, around her shoulders, letting the soft folds settle before turning to face Auntie, again. "Well, how do I look?"
The old woman shook her head with a snicker and returned her attention to the potion she was brewing. "Like you're about to take a basket to your sick grandmother."
Hermione forced a laugh at that. Of course, she hadn't told Auntie that part of her plan to lure out the creature that had been scaring the daylights out of the villagers recently was to go wandering about the woods, making herself seem vulnerable. No, no. The old witch would never agree to that. It would be fine. She was trained, and Auntie had taught her defensive charms, she'd be able to defend herself, even if she got trigger-shy at the last minute.
"Well, let's hope it's as warm as it looks." The young woman glanced out the window. "Sunset. All right, I'm off. Wish me luck."
"You're . . . you're going out now? Are you sure about this?"
Hermione uttered a quick laugh as she shook her head. "Oh, I knew you'd fret. And no, not especially sure. This may prove to be no more than a scouting trip, figuring out where he isn't, at least—especially if this cloak's enchantment works like you say."
"No, my dear." Minerva added a few blossom petals to the brew and pivoted on her heel to look at the girl. "I mean are you sure you want to pursue this . . . line of work?"
Showing the good grace not to roll her eyes, Hermione nodded as she tucked her dagger into her boot. "Are we really doing this again?" Auntie had fussed when the girl had hired a combat trainer, she'd fussed when the girl had moved onto weapons; she'd all but hexed her to try and keep the girl from buying her daggers and crossbow.
Now—the efforts of all her fussing and stinging spells exhausted, perhaps—she seemed to be resorting to fixing the girl with a melancholy look.
Minerva's shoulders dropped. Setting aside her work, she crossed the room to grasp the girl's shoulders with gentle fingers. "We are. Because, for all your bluster, I never imagined you'd actually go through with this when the time came."
Hermione let out a sigh. She couldn't find it in her to be upset . . . not even over the woman's admittance to doubting her resolve. "I know you're worried about me, but—"
"Oh, you are going to force my hand, aren't you?"
Frowning, Hermione shook her head. "Force your hand about what?"
"I didn't want to tell you this. No one wanted to tell you this—indeed, we'd thought this all behind us when we moved the family here."
Hermione followed the guidance as Minerva led her to sit down at the bench beside the apothecary table. She'd never actually gotten the full story on why their family had up and left their old village—every time she'd asked over the course of her twenty years, someone conveniently and slyly changed the subject. Eventually, she realized it was not a subject up for discussion and stopped asking, even if her wild curiosity on the matter had never truly abated.
"You're sort of starting to scare me," the girl said, an awkward laugh edging her voice.
There went Auntie's eyebrow again, arching up like it was trying to run into her hairline. "Well, perhaps it's about time something did." With a sigh, the old woman sat, taking Hermione's hands between her own. "We did not leave Godric's Hollow of our own volition all those years ago. When we came to Hogsmeade, it was . . . it was because we were driven out of our home."
Hermione's face pinched in a troubled expression. "Why?"
"Your grandfather and I? Well, our mother . . . she was one of them. In fact, it was her husband who urged the hunts to stop. While he did so for the right reasons—we were losing more people than we were killing werewolves, it seemed—once the townspeople learned of what she was, they refused to believe his words were out of anything more than the desire to protect her. Your grandfather and I were still very small children at the time, so we didn't fully understand what was happening." Once more, Auntie sighed. "When we asked, we were told that we were offered a choice—a poor choice, but a choice, nonetheless. Leave and never return there, or remain, and know that every day might be the one we breathed our last. We were also told that would be the last anyone spoke of it."
Hermione's frowned deepened as she pretended this news wasn't the most troubling thing she'd ever heard. "This has nothing to do with us. Lycanthropy is not hereditary!"
"Perhaps not, but the fact remains, you have wolf blood flowing through your veins."
"So? That will . . . ." Shaking her head, the girl stood, a determined look on her face. "If it's of any use, at all, it'll just make me a better hunter, won't it?"
Minerva shrugged, smoothing her hand against her too-tidy salt and pepper bun. "Perhaps, but there's more than that. There's a chance that, because of your blood . . . ."
The girl's brows lifted, a thrill of fear winding through the pit of her stomach for the briefest moment as her great-aunt let those words hang in the air between them. "Because of my blood?"
The witch snickered, but it was a dark, humorless sound. " Gods, I never should've given you that cloak; I was so certain you'd never make good on this. Because of your blood, should you find yourself in the presence of a male werewolf . . . there's a chance you may want precisely what that cloak is designed to make him think you want."
Swallowing hard, Hermione lifted the sides of the cloak in her hands, looking down at the long sweep of crimson around her. "But you said . . . you said the enchantment would make them think I'm a werewolf who wants to—to—"
Furrowing her brow, the girl gave herself a sobering shake. Great-grandfather had left hunting behind, presumably because his wife being bitten had changed his perspective. And for the better part of a century, the werewolves had been quiet—but those who had returned to hunting would disappear on their outings to track the creatures, never to be seen again. Now here was this . . . this Fenrir Greyback, taunting the people of Hogsmeade with his presence, making them fear the full moons, again.
Making them worry over how he seemed to edge closer and closer without ever actually making his intentions clear.
Hermione forced another gulp down her throat as she squared her shoulders. Leaning down, she dropped a kiss on Auntie's cheek before turning on her heel and making her way across the floor.
"Don't worry, Auntie," the girl said, casting the bizarre combination of a wistful smile and a resolute look over her shoulder as she pulled open the door. "I'm stronger than anything like that. And I'll prove it, by capturing Greyback and dragging him back to the village for the priests to deal with."
Watching the young woman disappear out into the dark of night, Minerva sighed and shook her head. Returning to her brewing, she muttered under her breath in a mirthless sing-song tone, "Then you'll prove stronger than the rest of us."