The Hunt for Hermione

Disclaimer:  It all belongs to Rowlings, except what you don't recognize.

SS/HG, RL/OC Rated G for now.

Heading on up

Hermione was in trouble again. Her feet hurt, her back ached and she had almost without thinking hexed her boss. That jackanape, Derek, had been driving her crazy during her shift and she'd had just about enough of him. Thank the Gods that today was payday and then she'd be out of there. Two weeks as an undocumented laborer in a coffee shop had been quite enough, thank you. And now she had saved enough to travel from Leeds to London with a bit to tide her over in case of emergency. Once in London, she would be staying with a childhood friend who she hadn't seen since she'd left for Hogwarts seven years back. She stepped out of the restaurant into the alley to get a breathe of fresh air and to calm herself. Joey the busboy, all muscles, spiked hair and piercings, was already out there, having a smoke.

"Oy, Harriet, Derek's been a right pain tonight." Hermione sighed. Joey offered her a cigarette. "Here, take one to calm your nerves."

"Thanks, but no thanks."

"So are you an actress or a singer?"

"Why would you think that?" She really didn't want to talk, but it was better than brooding over her real reason for being there.

"Well, you just have this charisma about you, doll. Like magic. Something's special about you. I know that you're having a hard time of it here, but I can tell you're going places." He ground the stub of his fag under his heel and headed past her back into the kitchens.

"Thanks, Joey. You're very kind."

"Aww, don't mention it." He gave her a pat on the arm and headed in.She took a deep breath and thought about there only being 1 more hour to her shift and freedom. And she thought Snape was bad. At that thought, tears came to her eyes and she had to think about something else, anything else. Just get through the shift. Get the money and catch the evening bus to London to her friend. Once there she could relax and tomorrow she could sneak into Gringott's take out her money, and then what? Find another undocumented job and, and…

Who am I trying to fool? She thought. My life is over. A sniffle of misery threatened to start tears to fall. Okay, she told herself, self-control. One step at a time, one day at a time. Just like you've been doing for the past two weeks. Just keep going and don't look back.

Over a hundred miles to the south, in the Soho district of London, Prof. Severus Snape double checked the address to a building and walked inside. He cursed when he saw that there was no lift and the office he was heading to was on the top floor. He found the stairwell and began to climb.

Snape knocked on the door to room 505, and heard a muffled "Come in."

"Are you Viola Iolanthe? "He asked of the gingery blond witch wearing dark glasses and sitting behind a beat up desk. The room was small and depressingly tatty.

"Yes, indeed. And you are Professor Snape? Mad-eye Moody owled me this morning and asked me to wait for you this evening. Forgive me if I don't stand up and shake hands. Please have a seat, err, no the one to the left. My associate, Quinn, sits in the right one."

Snape took his place and steepled his fingers. The witch stared at him intently and he felt his nervousness turn into irritation. After a few minutes of her studying him, she finally cleared her throat.

"So, you need me to track someone."

"Yes." Another long pause.

"Would you care to elaborate on that?" She asked.

"You said that Moody contacted you."

"Yes, but he gave me no details. You know, I have a reputation for discretion, but not mind reading."

Snape removed a wizard's photograph from his robes. "Hermione Granger. She's a student at Hogwarts, muggle-born and top of her class. She ran away from school about two weeks ago. We need to find her and quickly. But discretion above all is needed."

Iolanthe leaned forward and took the photograph, not bothering to look at it but holding it up to the empty chair next to him. She stared at the empty chair for a few minutes. She then sat back down and examined the photograph.

"Right. You're in luck. It's a good quality picture and she has a very strong aura. This will work. I will be able to locate her. But I'm curious, is there a reason why you can't use normal magics to find this young witch? My services don't come cheap."

Snape shifted uncomfortably in his chair. His voice would have been unrecognizable to most of his students. Rather than the satiny smoothness of his teaching voice, it was more a croak. "Miss Granger borrowed a charm from Prof. Flitwick, our charms professor, before she left. It was a new charm he'd invented, one that creates a magic blackout around the wearer. We've spent weeks trying to find her, but it works too well. She's impossible to find through magical means."

"And you can't tell the Ministry of Magic because she isn't allowed to use magical items, even passive ones, outside of Hogwarts. Right? She could be in a great deal of trouble."

"She's already in big trouble. Her NEWTs are in less than ten days and though there is no doubt that she could pass them in her sleep, without the test results she will lose her preplacement at Cambridge. On top of that," Snape's voice dropped even lower, "there are certain people who would surely do her an injury if they found her first."

"How positively melodramatic, Professor." Iolanthe began to wonder what Moody had against her. "So you are saying her life is in peril from person or persons unknown? And I take it she's rather high-strung and immature to be callously throwing away a future education at Cambridge like that?" Judging from her aura, Iolanthe already knew Granger was anything but, however, this Snape person was incredibly close-mouthed for someone claiming to want help.

Snape further surprised Iolanthe by putting his hands over his face. He then passed his shaking hands through his long hair. "No, though I've called her a silly girl, over and over. She's usually very level headed. It's my fault she has left. Please, I'll pay anything, just find her and get her back before it's too late."

"Your fault? What did you do to her?"

"I really don't wish to go into that." He was almost hissing at her. "It's unnecessary information. Just find her and I'll go speak to her."

"Professor Snape, if she ran away because of you, I'm left to think rather nasty thoughts about your relationship with her. Maybe it would be best if you leave. For all I know you want to find her in order to harm her further."

"No, that's not true. I'd never harm her. How dare you presume to judge me."

"I'm getting a very bad feeling about all of this. I expect Moody filled you in on how my gift or affliction works. I've been visually impaired since the age of eight when my ability to read auras overwhelmed and destroyed part of my optic nerve. It's complicated but it has to do with my being one-eighth fairy. I see things in the fairy world very clearly and somehow peoples' auras fall into that category. As a result, I can't see what people like you see around them. I couldn't tell you what color clothing you are wearing or even describe what you look like other than you are tall and thin. I haven't seen a human face in 20 years. But I can tell when you are lying or even holding back an important truth. So don't pee in my wellies and tell me it's raining. It just won't do, you know?

"My fee is 100 Galleons a day plus expenses. But because you've already managed to royally piss me off, I'm doing you the honor of upping the price to 200 Galleons per diem, two days payable in advance. But I will only give you my services if you describe for me now, in complete detail, what went on. Are we understood, sir?"

"You know, Lupin told me that you would insist…"

"You spoke to Remus? How is he? What did he say about me?" Iolanthe suddenly stared at the empty seat again. Quietly, she said, "Stuff a sock in it." Snape leaned forward and waved a hand in front of her face.

"Since I can see auras, I can also see your hand as a swirl of colors being shoved into my face. Kindly remove it."

"In spite of both Moody's and Lupin's high regard, you are insane. Why do you keep looking at that chair?"

She smiled, "I told you my associate Quinn sits there. Quinn, introduce yourself."

Suddenly there was an apparition of an enormous pure white stoat. He lumbered up from his chair and stood towering over the seated professor. He was at least as tall as Snape, perhaps taller. He had huge beady black eyes and when he opened his mouth he displayed two rows of very sharp white teeth. Snape wasn't sure which was more disconcerting; the fact that he was wearing tweeds complete with a matching cap and a bow tie around his huge neck or that when he spoke it was with a Welsh lilt.

"And a good evening to you Professor. I've been telling Viola here what an ugly mug you've got, but she never really cares about appearances, don't you know? She's being much nicer to you than to most of the lying, cheating bastards we get in here. On top of that, you stink of the dark arts. What was on your arm? I can still smell it. I suggest you do yourself a favor and stop wasting our time." And with one more display of his teeth, he winked out again.

"Gods, that was sitting next to me the whole time," muttered Snape as he removed a handkerchief and started to pat his face.

"You'd better watch yourself, he's still there. And he's not a that, he's a pooka. It just wears him out to have to show himself to regular folk, so he doesn't usually bother. So now that you've met, are you prepared to tell me what went on?"

***

AN: Well that's it for the first chapter. It's my first SS/HG piece.  Please do R&R.