A/N This is my first attempt at writing anything so please be kind. Reviews are wanted and welcome. I don't have a beta so please bear with me on the rough patches. This is A/U, some of it because it's necessary for the plot and some because I just wanted to save a character or two from the 7th book scythe.
Disclaimer: This story is merely for entertainment and a writing exercise and is not for profit. Harry Potter and all characters and rights are J.K.'s, Warner Brothers' and Scholastic's. it is there world I am merely borrowing it to play around a bit.
Story Summary: Hermione Granger has been harbor an obsession over the Lady of the Manor for quite some time. A new threat to the Malfoys has brought Hermione to the Manor and things will never be the same for anyone involved.
The rain beat down on her hood as she stood outside of Malfoy Manor perched precariously on tree branch. Hermione had 20 minutes before she had to be at the Leaky Cauldron for Harry's 19th Birthday party and she planned to spend the next 15 minutes the same way she had spent the last three hours and almost every night before that for the last three months, hovering outside a window of Malfoy Manor waiting for a miraculous sign or some sort of epic event to give her closure and finally let her move on. She lit another cigarette and shifted a little bit on the tree branch she sat upon to try and shield herself, and more importantly her cigarette, from the icy rain that had been falling all evening.
After the war she spent the first few months dealing with the Ministry inquests and trials as Death Eaters were exposed and Voldemort's puppets were to be removed from their various positions. Hermione had left for Australia immediately after the war to find her parents, she found them outside Sydney running an ostrich farm. Although they were quite upset at first, they realized that they would not have lived through the war, plus they rather liked their new lives in the "outback" as opposed to dentistry. She only stayed for two weeks as there was too much to do in England, but she convinced Kingsley Shackelbot, Minister at large, to allow her a permanent long distance floo connection to her parents. She had the ability to visit regularly, even just to pop in for tea and biscuits.
Immediately after the war, the Golden Trio were made aurors on a temporary basis while the Order and the Ministry attempted to control the chaos and clean up the epic mess that one would expect to follow Voldemort's reign. Upon returning to England, Hermione took her N.E.W.T.S. as she wanted to make things proper. She received O's across the board of course. Despite numerous offers from private companies, she took the job with the Auror Office so she could finish what the started in the war. After months of red tape, paper work and record setting collective billing hours from every wizarding solicitor and barrister in whole of England very little changed. The Ministry consisting of mostly puppets and providing a home to the bottom fifteen percent of Hogwarts' graduating classes was still filled with paper pushers who would throw their own mother's under the Knight Bus for a corner office or a shiny new title. .
Hermione enthusiastically embraced her job and rounded up Death Eaters, hangers on and Snatchers with the same vigor that made her one of the greatest students and possibly the most insufferable know-it-all to have ever graced the halls of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft (the latter if you were to ask her current business partners).
Once the trials started Hermione's optimism was replaced by the cold realization that nothing was going to change. Her position in the Ministry was more precarious than Ron's, Harry's or the other Order members and her assignments often degrading, dangerous or completely deviant (exactly why would anyone need to focus on wizarding nudie bars immediately post war was still not explained to her) depending on which fool in the Ministry was handing her assignments for the day. She complained to Kingsley but he was too busy trying to fix the whole of wizarding England to notice his ministry really was no different than Fudge's or Scrimgeour's. Apparently a mudblood was still a mudblood and in the end Hermione Jean Granger, brains of the Golden Trio, was for the most part pushed aside after the war. No one discussed the fact that she had withstood a torture session with the most feared Death Eater in Voldemort's little army of psychopaths, nor did the credit her for her daring break into Gringotts, her amazing rescue of a nearly dead Severus Snape after the final battle, no one saw the brains of the Golden Trio or her actions in the final battle. The only thing that still defined Hermione to the wizarding world was her blood status. Countless articles were written about the boy who lived to hate paparazzi and Ginger the faithful sidekick whose new goal was to try and shag more groupies than the collective members of Led Zepplin, but Hermione Granger quietly stepped into the shadows, trying to avoid Rita Skeeter's venom and questions about memories she would rather bury. The trio stayed close, but they didn't keep in touch as much as life interfered.
The final straw for her was the trials for the Malfoys, it would have been bad enough if they had just been acquitted, but to pour salt in the wound, Narcissa Malfoy was awarded an Order of Merlin 3rd class for protecting Harry in the final hour. The woman who sat and watched her sister torture her in her sitting room was now a hero of the wizarding world. This is the day that Hermione quit the Ministry and the day she picked up the rather vile habit of smoking, of course the bottle of firewhiskey she drank prior to said cigarettes might have influenced her decision making.
The nightmares started immediately after the war, but they became all consuming once the Malfoys were freed and patted on the head in what Hermione liked to think of as the wizarding world's equivalent of a political circle jerk. She spent each night drinking herself stupid at the leaky cauldron in a hope that somehow that night she would make it more than two hours without waking up screaming or crying. Every night she would stagger up, or Tom would carry her up, to the room she was renting and every morning she woke up around 3 or 4 a.m. covered in sweat and hung over. The entire time hadn't been very cathartic but she did invent a fantastic new hang over potion that left her up and ready for breakfast and beers each morning.
Although witches and wizards may have ignored her, the goblins certainly did not forget her or the fact that she helped mastermind and commit the greatest heist in Gringotts history. The goblins claims were denied by the Wizengamot as the trio's actions were necessary to save the world but the goblins were never known for being short sighted or stupid. Within five minutes of tendering her resignation to the Ministry, an owl appeared with a letter from Gringotts. Hermione Jean Granger was immediately offered an extraordinarily large salary to act as a security consultant for all of Gringotts holdings including the main branch in London. As the goblins neither cared about wizarding laws nor had any intention of following a majority of them, Hermione was given free reign to integrate muggle technology into her plans and she was in the process of revolutionizing the security of wizard banking. Several foreign Ministries were tracking her progress and had every intention of hiring her as soon as she finished up the last of the Gringotts designs.
Each day was like clockwork, go to the bank, hit the cauldron, drink excessively, pass out, rinse, repeat. One evening she found herself joined by Severus Snape who wanted to buy her dinner as a small token his affection for her saving his life. She was unsure how the pea soup was a gesture of gratitude but she was never one to turn down a free drink. It became abundantly clear very quickly the Snape was having the same issues acclimating to the new wizarding world that she was. This probably had a great deal to do with the new wizarding world being just like the old wizarding world minus one creepy snake guy. Snape had resigned from Hogwarts while still hospitalized from Nagini's bite. Minerva McGonagall loomed over him as he shakily wrote his resignation, she didn't actually care what the circumstances were surrounding her former mentor and employer's death, Severus Snape would never teach another class at Hogwarts as long as she was on staff. Two days later the Board of Governors officially made her Headmistress. Snape, like Hermione, was awarded an Order of Merlin Second Class. After which Snape, also like Hermione, was promptly ignored, shunned and pushed aside by a wizarding world which seemed to not have learned a single thing from the war.
The two quickly made short work of several bottles of Ogden's Finest while alternating between discovering the true personalities hiding behind their respective masks, discussing magical security and trying to outdo each other on pure snarkiness as they discussed the events that had occurred in the five months since the battle. At some point they had been sent upstairs by Tom so he could close up. They had passed out in their chairs as that reminisced over both better and harder days. A very hung over Severus Snape was awoken 3 hours later to Hermione's screams. After he woke her, she gave him some of her hang over potion and a cup of espresso from the machine she kept up in her room. At that moment he realized three things; one, Hermione Granger was suffering from PTSD; two, her hang over potion was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century; and three, he absolutely needed to get an espresso maker. Best coffee ever!
That morning over pints and eggs, SRP Creations and Consulting was born. SRP stood for Sacrificial Rebels of the Playground. The potion was patented within a week and an instant success and the company was inundated with requests from foreign Ministries, agencies and dignitaries who wanted added protection and security. They quickly expanded the company with each employee being another person that seemed to fit into their hodgepodge company of rejects and misfits from the war. They hired Penelope Clearwater, whose parents both worked in computers and had imparted a great deal of knowledge to her; Dennis Creevy as a summer intern; Luna Lovegood as office lunatic but also ingenious with potions; Justin Finch-Fletchley who ran their finances and managed the office; and Lee Jordan for his rather devious mind. A month, and several back room deals with some irate goblins from Gringotts, later, Bill and Fluer Weasley joined the ranks of SRP. It took some concessions to the goblins to snatch two of their best curse breakers, but it was worth the free security upgrades. Bill needed a break after the war and Fleur wanted to work on a family.
Every thing was going well. Severus had forced Hermione to stop drinking herself into a stupor every night, although all bets were off on the weekends and the business was doing fantastic. Even Hermione's nightmares had started tapering off, all was truly right in the world. Then three and a half months ago they got the owl, their services were being requested at Malfoy Manor. Justin promptly sent an owl back with a message that basically said thanks but no thanks, but the damage to Hermione was done. There wasn't a member of SRP that didn't have a grudge for one reason or another against the Malfoys. Most of the members had been subjected to Draco's vitriol as students and Penelope had spent time in Azkaban during the war as a muggle-born. Bill and Fleur had enough of the Malfoys during the war. Lee of course ran the underground Potterwatch and Dennis lost his brother in the Battle of Hogwarts. Justin had escaped the persecution under Voldemort by taking up residence in a French villa owned by his family but had stayed connected with Dumbledore's Army through Lee and Hannah Abbot and had returned to fight in the last battle. He also had begun a relationship with Penelope and therefore had a picture of Draco currently taped to a muggle dart board they kept in the office. Death Eater darts was a favorite past time during breaks with each number containing a different picture. Draco secured himself the 20, the bull's-eye was Lucius and Narcissa was the 19. The Death Eaters and by extension the Malfoys had certainly made an impression on the company.
The night they received the owl, Hermione's nightmares started back up. The Malfoys haunted her every waking moment as well, she became distracted at work and at home. She had purchased a fantastic loft in muggle London and it was starting show neglect as dishes piled up, clothes were strewn and a new collection of empty Ogden's bottles lined her table. Two weeks after the owl and two hours after she polished off a bottle tequila (Severus had informed her she needed to lay off the firewhiskey) she apparated outside of Malfoy Manor for reasons unknown to her. The wards were impressive, but she wasn't one of the foremost security teams in the wizarding world for nothing and she made quick work of the Manor's defenses without tripping any alarms. Once on the grounds she no longer knew why she was there and made to leave when she saw the tree. It was an enormous yew that was growing along the north end of the Manor. She remembered a yew in the window of the sitting room. Her first thought was "too easy" but she figured what he hell and decided to climb up. As she ascended she found herself looking through to the room that had been featured front and center in every nightmare she had over the past year. The room was unchanged and apparently so neither was the family. For a family in enough peril to contact a company full of people who were more likely to breach their security than strengthen it, they certainly seemed content. Lucius seemed to be reviewing some sort of documents from work while Draco and his mother were having a fireside chat on the couch. It was like a sociopathic Norman Rockwell painting. Hermione watched Narcissa as she doted on her son, it was amazing that this same woman who watched as her sister tortured her. Of all the things that Hermione remembered about that night, it was those ice blue eyes watching her as she underwent round after round of the cruciatus curse. She had begged her to help, cried out to her and Narcissa never moved. The Ice Queen didn't budge, didn't even flinch at an 18 year old girl being tortured in her home. She wondered when the last time Narcissa felt anything for anyone but Draco was.
That was her first night on her little perch.
That night was the first night but certainly not the last night Hermione snuck into that tree. Voyeurism replaced the Ogden's as her new nightly vice; and like her smokes, she couldn't quit.
She returned each night to watch her, and it really only was her she watched. For a while she told herself she was looking for revenge, salvation or an answer but eventually she realized somewhere along the way her hate had twisted into something else. She realized she was obsessed and quite a bit twisted for spending so much time stalking this woman but she couldn't stop herself.
Severus eventually sorted out where she kept disappearing to and was the first to point out where her interest in Narcissa might lie. "she is quite fit luv but she really is an icy bitch, has been for as long as I remember"
She replied that her interest wasn't romantic. Severus just laughed at her, "look if there is anyone in the world who understands obsession, it would be me. You Granger, are obsessed, look if you want to switch teams I am sure there are quite a few lasses who would love to oblige you, I am sure that you can find a nice girl who is not a sociopathic, power hungry, blood purist to have a go with, particularly one who isn't married to someone whose Death Eater nickname was "Ripper"."
She smirked at Severus' hostility, clearly he was still peeved about that vow, not that it wasn't an accurate description. "So what you are saying is you think we have a chance, hey look at the upside, I would get my very own step-ferret"
Severus' intervention didn't stop her nightly trips but it certainly made her realize that somewhere along the way she became a twisted little pretzel, lusting after her enemy and former captor. The Malfoys continued to plead for their services, each owl coming with a more obscene amount of galleons promised. Each owl sent back with a refusal, neither money nor Hermione's rather unhealthy obsession were going to sway SRP's decision. She wondered who would be such a threat that the Malfoys would reach out to the blood traitor that brought the Dark Lord down and the mudblood brain of the Gold Trio. The wards on the manor were impressive and only a handful of people would be able to breach them. Not to mention SRP was known for its combination of muggle technology and magic in its security consults and its products, who could possibly be threatening tlhe Malfoys that would require that level of security?
Hermione stamped out her cigarette and pulled he cloak a bit tighter, the rain was letting up a bit and it was about time for her to head over to Harry's party. Molly would have kittens if she was late to the Burrow. As she climbed down from her tree she saw a shadow moving across the grass. At first she assumed it was one of those dreadful peacocks Lucius was so fond of but as she got closer she realized it was a dog. Being raised in war and trained for "constant vigilence" she pulled out her wand and took a defensive stance.
The golden retriever quickly shifted into a hooded figure.
"Look Granger, you don't know who I am but I know who you are and there is no reason for you to interfere with my job". His voice was raspy and the accent was definitely American.
"what is your job? Why are you sneaking about the Manor?"
"One could ask you the same thing little girl, you don't need to know anything about me, let's just say Lucius has a debt to settle".
The flash came before she could respond, purple and fast, probably a slicing hex. She deflected the spell and sent two of her own, she may have been the brains of the trio but between her time during the war and have Severus Snape as one of her closest friends she was a first class dueler and had clearly been underestimated by the hooded figure. The duel was impressive and her challenger even more so. She knew she would only be able to keep him at bay for so long as he seemed to overpower her with his speed and strength. As they battled the grounds were being torn apart by deflected and dodged hexes, tasteless sculptures fell victim to stray curses and a few peacocks were going to be only fit for stew. She wondered how long until the commotion drew out the occupants of the house and soon enough several burly looking wizards appeared from the Manor accompanied by Lucius, Draco and Narcissa. The figure was now facing 7 wands instead of one and wisely retreated. He changed back into animagus form, sprinted to the ward line and apparated out. Hermione was left facing what appeared to be a security team and their rather angry tow headed patrons. She had about 20 seconds to come up with an excuse as to why she happened to be strolling the grounds that evening.