Disclaimer: I still own nothing.
Gazing into the eyes of the imposing Major, Hermione found it hard not to fidget under the intense scrutiny. She took a calming breath and began a carefully edited recount of her arrival at the temple.
"I arrived at the temple and parked in the back..."
When she arrived at the temple, she had made sure to circle the complex looking for any sign of others. It was unlikely that anyone was there, but after the last few days she wasn't going to take any chances. She parked in the back to make sure the car could not be seen by any approaching traffic, before making her way inside the complex.
"...before entering the complex. I explored the main chamber looking for a hidden chamber around the altar. I had noticed in the photos that it appeared to have an indentation which the missing gold amulet would fit into..."
Arriving in the main chamber, she quickly got out her excavation kit and crouched down at the altar to examine what she suspected to be a keyhole. She closed her eyes and attempted to sense for any magic that might reside inside the stone. She felt nothing, and slowly began to walk around the room, double-checking her previous search to see if she could get a reading anywhere else.
By the time she snapped out of her trance-like state, more than a few hours had passed, judging by the position of the shadows in the chamber. Ignoring the beginning of a headache, Hermione crouched in front of the altar once more. She began a closer inspection of the stone, testing a few key points, but could find no seams in the stone where something could be hidden. She wasn't confident enough to attempt opening the altar without the key if she couldn't find where it would be opening.
"I hadn't made any progress when I heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up to the front entrance. I wasn't sure who it was so I hid..."
A harsh grating noise startled her. A car had pulled up to the front of the chamber. She hastily gathered her gear and hid in the shadows of the opposite hallway. Stilling her movements, Hermione could hear footsteps slowly approaching. From her position in the shadows, Hermione could just make out the figure of a man entering the room and approaching the altar. She waited to see if anyone else was coming in before sneaking forward. Cocking her rifle, she caught the figure off-guard.
She spoke in Arabic.
The figure stilled.
"Now slowly turn around and keep your hands on your head."
He didn't move and she repeated the order.
Before she could push him to the ground, the figure began to speak in English with an obvious American accent.
"Look, I don't know who you are, but take whatever you want. The key to my car is in the bag. Just please don't shoot."
Hermione spoke in English this time.
"Turn around slowly and keep your hands on your head and you won't be hurt."
Clearly startled at her use of English, the figure whirled around and she saw the surprised face of Steven Rayner.
Relief spread across his face once he registered her identity.
"Oh, Dr. Granger, thank god it's you, for a moment there I thought you were a robber."
Hermione kept her guard up. "What are you doing here?"
"Once I found out it was Dr. Rayner I remained wary..."
In an obvious attempt to be charming, Steven tried to explain.
"Well now, that is a funny story. I found that missing amulet you were looking for. Once I saw it, it came to me that it looked like a missing piece from one of the pictures you let me look at; a key. I was just so excited that I jumped on a plane to come see for myself if it was true."
Hermione was skeptical.
"So let me get this straight. You flew halfway around the world to test a theory formulated from a glimpse I gave you of a photo two days ago, without any paperwork to allow you access to this site?"
"Well, um, I-"
Cutting him off, Hermione continued, "And this has nothing to do with the fact that you have been in possession of the amulet from the very beginning or that my office was ransacked and my computer files stolen?"
"Or that there seem to be bodies showing up at every turn; or is it that the artifact is over 10,000 years old?"
Scowling, Steven snapped, "I have nothing to do with those deaths. As to the artifact, I knew the test results and that's why I kept it a secret. It's the find of the century and you obviously came here with the same intentions as I did, so get off your high horse. Listen, I have the amulet. If you put down the gun we can open up the altar and share the find."
Giving the doctor a look of loathing, Hermione kept her rifle trained on him.
"Listen, I'm not here for any of your petty reasons. Now get out the amulet and open it. Then I'm going to take you to the Egyptian authorities for trespassing on this site."
Watching him walk over to his pack, Hermione stepped around, following his movements while maintaining a distance.
"...as I questioned him on why he was there, another vehicle pulled up. Using my momentary distraction, Steven pulled out his own gun and shot me..."
The sounds of another vehicle pulling up brought her attention back to the front entrance of the temple. As Hermione tried to see who it was Steven used her distraction to pull out a pistol from his bag and got off a shot before she had even registered his actions. The sudden burst of pain staggered her, allowing Steven the chance to disarm her and use the rifle to pistol-whip her across the face. Disoriented, she could just make out the figure of Sarah walking into the chamber.
"While I was fighting off unconsciousness I could just make out Sarah entering. She and Steven talked, but I couldn't tell what they were saying. Both did approach the altar and open it. I tried to use the diversion to my advantage and got out my handgun from my ankle holster."
She felt so confused. What was going on? Why was Sarah here? She needed to get help. Being careful to conceal her actions, she freed her revolver from her ankle holster.
She stood quietly and took aim at Steven. "Stop!" she barked.
Before the word had finished leaving her lips, Steven had already started to make a grab for his gun. Reacting to the danger, she gave a warning shot aimed at his feet. This stilled his motion and Hermione gave Sarah an order.
"I want you to carefully disarm him and bring me the gun."
Sarah did as told and before Hermione could act, shot Steven. As she turned her weapon on Sarah, Hermione was shocked to see her eyes flash gold. Once again reacting to the perceived threat, Hermione fired and was startled to see the bullets hit an invisible field. Before she could process what had happened, she was sent flying across the room by the unseen force, and blacked out.
"I was disoriented, but managed to get out my second gun and tried to get Sarah to disarm Steven. She shot him and her eyes flashed gold. I panicked and fired, but she did something with the bracelet that stopped the bullets. She then threw me across the room and I passed out. I came to when you lot had arrived and caught your conversation with Sarah-Osiris. Once I knew you weren't a threat I revealed myself, and you know the rest."
After finishing her account, Hermione tried to assess the reactions of the Major and Daniel. Sam still seemed guarded, but Daniel was smiling warmly at her.
"What were your reasons for being at the temple in the first place?" Sam asked her. "As far as anyone knew, you should have still been in Chicago."
Trying not to react to the suspicion in Sam's tone, Hermione answered, "Since Dr. Jorden's death I have noticed the strange happenings which seemed to have plagued the investigation of the collection. The missing amulet, which I discovered Steven was hiding, his apparent fascination with my translations, the mysterious deaths of both the curator and the lab tech, combined with Dr. Jackson's knowledge of the obscure hieroglyphs." Seeing the questioning look both gave at the last point she explained, "I overheard a phone call Daniel made to a Teal'c and his translation of the second jar."
"But how did you recognize that-" began Daniel, but Sam cut him off and gestured for her to continue.
Hermione could tell Daniel was bursting with questions about her apparent ability to understand what she had overheard, and it was a discussion she looked forward to once Major Carter's inquiry was complete.
"I didn't want to bring any additional attention to myself so I kept my observations and research private." Hermione cautiously tried to complete the explanation without mention of magic. It would be very difficult to justify her fears without revealing the main cause behind them. "When I came into the office the morning after the curators death I was already worried, then I found that my office had been ransacked and my computer files stolen. With all that I had observed over the week, I was scared. I didn't know if either Daniel or Steven was behind the break-in. I just knew I had to figure out what was going on."
"Why didn't you call the police?" Major Carter wanted to know.
Hermione shook her head. "I wasn't really thinking, I had no proof and I knew I needed some. I wasn't sure but I knew my research of the temple translations must contain the vital clue. I tried to find out more about the amulet Steven was so interested in and instead found the body of the lab tech. It was cold and I just knew that he must have been killed the night before, and that both Steven and Daniel could have easily done it. I had to get out of there; it wasn't safe. It might have been irrational, but I felt like I was next, like I was being watched." Hermione paused as if to give herself time to gather her thoughts before continuing her account. Studying the reactions she was receiving from her audience to see if they were both buying it, she was met with twin looks of sympathy. She gave silent thanks for her years of lying to everyone she met about her past, enabling her to pull off such a convincing act. "I jumped on the next plane out of the country, I didn't know what else to do. Then once my initial panic abated I began to re-evaluate my research, looking for answers. When I realized that the amulet was a key to the altar, I thought if I could find out what was being hidden I would be able to find the reason for all the deaths." Hermione trailed off and let Daniel and the Major analyze her story. She knew they would want to question her on the details, but she hoped she had convinced them of her alarmed state and wouldn't question her actions too closely.
After a few more questions to clarify her story and Daniel asking a couple more about her research, a relieved Hermione thought that their interrogation was over. She was viciously pulled from that line of thought with Major Carter's next query.
"Dr. Granger, could you please explain your whereabouts and activities from June 1997 to May of 1998?"
Startled, Hermione lay paralyzed, unable to think. Why would they ask her about that year? Did they somehow know she was a witch? They knew about aliens; why not magic? Were they just trying to lead her on?
Not hearing the choking sound of her own voice, Hermione tried to focus on remaining calm. "How?"
Daniel was staring at the heart monitor that, despite her best efforts, remained stubbornly erratic. In an attempt meant clearly to soothe the alarmed archaeologist, he clarified the earlier question. "Hermione, as you have already probably surmised, you have inadvertently stumbled across a highly classified operation. We just need to know if you can be trusted to keep what you have learned to yourself. We ran some routine background checks on you and the small hole in the record for that time period has concerned some of my colleagues. You aren't in trouble and we promise to keep whatever your explanation is classified so you are safe."
Hermione gave Daniel a wan smile, visibly relieved at his explanation. "Alright," she said. It made sense, and she should not have let herself get worked up over a simple question, but of course they would have done a background check, considering the classified nature of their group. The stress of the past weeks must be catching up to her.
She needed to get her head into the game and keep her guard up; knowing her luck she would probably end up being thrown in military prison, accused of terrorist activities if these people thought she might leak what she had discovered. Daniel seemed nice enough, but she couldn't know what other people in the program might do if they felt threatened.
Have her killed in an accident sounded about right.
She took a deep breath and mentally recounted the fabricated tale Percy and Mr. Weasley had helped her to create for just such circumstances. They were both were quite good at falsifying records for the Muggle world after years of working at the Ministry. In order to explain her and her family's lack of records for the year when they had been in hiding and she on the run, a file had been created and placed in the office of an agent dealing with witness protection. A simple memory charm on the agent secured her story an added layer of protection. Other similar measures had been taken by the Weasleys to record her school history for the previous years, but she had still had to complete the final year in Australia to gain a complete understanding of the Muggle subjects.
The key was not to reveal too much and let them make their own inquiries. "My family and I were in the witness protection during that time. I saw something I wasn't suppose to and we spent the next year in hiding. I'm not really supposed to say where…Anyway, the investigation was resolved and we left the program, but the case is still supposed to be classified. I'm sorry, but that is all I can say."
Noticing the pointed look between the pair, she kept quiet and waited for their silent conversation to end. Taking the time to study the Major, Hermione found herself a little shocked to realize just how young she was; her presence and rank had made her seem older. She could tell that the woman was still undecided about her, despite Daniel's obvious acceptance. Despite herself Hermione found that she grudgingly admiring the woman's instincts even if it would make it harder for her to convince the Major of her compliance. Once the silent exchange finished, Major Carter turned her focus back onto Hermione. "Are you aware that your file has been flagged by MI-6?"
Hermione was honestly surprised, and let it show, "What? I haven't had any involvement with that organization." What did MI-6 want with her? By the expression on Major Carters face she had hoped that Hermione had known. "Why is it flagged?"
"According to the information I have, they are interested in recruiting you," informed the Major.
Hearing the underlying suspicion in her voice, Hermione knew this was bad. Here she was in the middle of likely the most highly classified U.S. military secret ever, trying to convince them she could be trusted and they find she is being recruited to be a possible spy. Now they would think she was trying to steal state secrets. Why on earth would the secret service be interested in recruiting her?
Voicing her query aloud, Major Carter answered, "It appears they have taken a keen interest in your language abilities."
She had always been interested in history at Hogwarts and to her displeasure had found that the older texts tended to be in Latin, Gaelic or some other archaic language. It was just in her nature to study the problem, and it wasn't until university that she realized just how many languages she had picked up during her years at school.
French from her primary school which was later expanded by living in Paris; Latin, Gaelic, Welsh, and Celtic runes had been acquired to study the ancient tomes from the library; Italian for school, and Arabic for work; she had also picked up Phoenician, Mycenaean Greek and the various forms of the ancient Egyptian language. Those of which included Hieratic (the priestly writing for scrolls), Demotic (the popular form of writing), the classical and early forms of hieroglyphs.
"I'm sorry, but this is the first I have heard of them having an interest in me." She really hoped they believed her.
For the next half hour the battery of questions from both continued, leaving her breathless. She was forced to explain everything from her ownership of two firearms, her career choice, in-depth questions on her dissertations (Daniel was cut off by Major Carter and redirected back to other topics), to how she paid for university. She patiently explained her concerns about safety while on a dig, how she had always enjoyed history, the exciting world of twelfth dynasty religious cults and their effect on the economic stability of the time or the occult mythology effecting the language of the late Roman Empire, and how her inheritance from an old professor helped to pay for higher education.
Trying to calmly answer their questions was draining what little energy Hermione had, leaving her in more and more pain as the medication slowly wore off. Finally taking notice of her discomfort, Major Carter called for a nurse despite her protests.
As the nurse arrived, Hermione asked the Major, "I would just like to know what is going to happen to me now."
The pair had stood up to leave and let the nurse inject her with a sedative. Seeing that they didn't intend on giving her an answer, she begged, "Please."
Major Carter looked a bit uncomfortable with her plea and replied, "Well, I need to talk to my superiors and well check your story. There's not much I can do until your story is confirmed. I must stress that this is a serious matter and you will need to at least sign a non-disclosure agreement before we allow you to leave. I don't know anything else at the moment, but someone will be by to see you and explain more once you wake up."
After leaving the room, Sam kept quiet until she and Daniel had made their way back to the room they had been assigned. Janet was already waiting for the pair with a frown on her face. "I've just spoken to the duty nurse and she informed me that neither of you are to be allowed to see Dr. Granger if you can't be bothered be conscientious of her health."
They both murmured their agreement under the stern glare of the irate doctor. They hadn't meant to have their questioning of the still-recovering archaeologist take so long, but the puzzle that was Dr. Hermione Granger had distracted them both.
For the next hour they discussed what they had learned of the doctor and debriefed the General in a conference call. Daniel's initial opinion of Dr. Granger seemed to have increased during the questioning, and with the right training he was sure she would make an excellent second in command of the archaeology department, someone to go to if he was occupied elsewhere.
Sam was still skeptical about Daniel's suggestion of recruitment, she just felt that they still didn't know the whole story.
The idea appealed to both Janet and Hammond, who agreed her unique skill set would be great addition to the SGC. Voicing her continuing doubts, Sam was only given the concession of a few days to double-check Dr. Granger's story and background for any irregularities.
3 days later
After Daniel and Major Carter had questioned her, Hermione had been left without any visitors except medical personal for the next few days. She still did not know what the final decision would be in regards to her future. She was very nervous that they would somehow find out something about her past. Mentally analyzing the false records and memory charms that Percy and Mr. Weasley had helped plant all those years ago, she could think of nothing that had been overlooked.
Hearing a knock on her door she looked up, expecting another visit by Nurse Brenda to check her monitors but instead saw Daniel, accompanied by a strange officer. The man was dressed in the standard blue uniform and was clutching a briefcase. He looked to be a bit older than Daniel, with brown hair and a serious expression across his face. She shifted uneasily, sitting up straighter to face whatever decision had been made about her fate. A fierce surge of anger shot through her body before she could fully suppress the emotion. Once more she was facing the possibility of a government ripping away her choices because they saw her as a threat. She sighed, feeling tired all of a sudden, she didn't know if she had the strength to fight this time.
Giving her a confused look, Daniel quickly made the introductions. "Hermione, this is Major Paul Davis, he is here from the Pentagon to discuss your situation."
The Major stepped forward. "Dr. Granger, I'm sure you realize that you have stumbled upon a highly classified U.S. military operation. For the past few days your situation has been discussed and a decision has been reached."
He paused, set his briefcase on the end of her bed, and snapped it open. Hermione tensed involuntarily, fearing for a moment he was pulling out a gun to silence her, when she saw a large stack of papers in his hand. "This is our standard non-disclosure agreement that you need to sign. If you disclose anything that you have learned or seen in regards to this operation you will be thrown into prison. Do you understand?"
Slightly confused, she nodded and took the papers to sign. They were going to let her go?
She quickly signed the indicated areas and handed back the pile to the Major, who placed the stack back into his case. An awkward silence hung over the room as the pair continued to stand there not moving. Before she could ask what would be happening now, Daniel moved to stand on the other side of her bed. "How would you like a job?"