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They think she did it (but they just can't prove it)

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April 10, 2009

"Another Firewhisky, neat." Hermione Granger slurred, chin rolling in her hand.

The bartender gave her a measuring look before plunking down a glass of water instead. Hermione huffed, eyeing the drink disdainfully before dropping a few coins on the counter and stumbling out the door to signal for the Knight Bus.

It arrived with a bang, and Hermione boarded without stating a destination, content to just outrun her thoughts. Settling into a seat on the upper deck facing the corner she ignored the passenger huddled in the seat opposite, blonde hair hiding her face. Hermione closed her eyes and leaned against the open window, the cool night air whipping across her face as the bus took off with a jolt. 

The bus twisted through London, stretching around cars and sliding under bridges, stopping now and then. Hermione kept her forehead pressed to the glass, watching the lights blur past. The rocking motion of the bus had almost lulled her to sleep when a gasp from the other passenger startled her into awareness. 

Hermione glanced up to see Lavender Brown sitting up and staring at Daphne Greengrass. The Slytherin was frozen in place with one hand on the railing, the other arm clutched to her chest and her wrist was twisted at an unnatural angle. Hermione bit back a gasp when she noticed the beginnings of a black eye and a deep gash across her lip. 

"Are you okay?" Hermione asked, reaching a tentative hand towards the young woman. Daphne ignored her outstretched hand, perching gingerly on the seat in front of her.

"I'm fine." She muttered.

Lavender and Hermione exchanged looks, and the blonde leaned forward. "You don't look fine. You look like hell."

"Lavender!" Hermione scolded, shooting a look at Daphne, who was seconds away from bolting. Her eyes darted around the bus, trying to watch both entrances at once.

"Well, she does." 

The three witches sat in silence. It looked as if Lavender or Daphne would speak a few times, but Hermione watched them each snap their mouths shut and look away. She sighed, and before she could second guess herself, she started to talk.

"My boss is a sexist asshole. Instead of working on actual legislation, he has me running errands and doing paperwork. All while he sits on his lazy ass, leering at my chest. He's grabbed me when no one's looking before."

Both women peered at her curiously. Lavender was the next to speak, pushing her hair behind her ear to display her scars. "Dad changed when mum died. He calls me a monster and keeps me chained in the basement during the full moon even though I'm not even a full werewolf."

Hermione felt a pang of sadness, and she reached across the aisle to gently clasp her former roommate's hand. 

Daphne's voice was softer, and both Gryffindors had to lean forward to hear. "I had to give up everything when I got married. Quidditch, my friends, even time with my sister. My husband wanted a perfect trophy wife, and, well, he hits me whenever I do something he doesn't like." 

Lavender let out a small cry, covering her mouth. Daphne lifted her shoulder in a slight shrug and added, "He hits me a lot."

They lapsed into silence again. Hermione went back to staring out the wind, turning the information she'd just learned over and over in her mind. They were crossing the River Tyne when she sat straight up and cleared her throat, catching their attention. 

Their eyes on her, she leaned forward with a smirk. "I may have an idea."

April 20, 2009

Hermione stepped into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, breathing a sigh of relief at her boss's dark office. That relief was short-lived when she turned into her own office to discover it was already occupied.

"Theodore Nott, what have I told you about letting yourself into my office?"

Expensive dragon-hide boots slid off her desk, dropping to the ground with a thud and an outstretched hand held a to-go cup. 

"Make sure I bring coffee?" Theo answered. Hermione snorted, but accepted the cup. 

"I believe what I said was, don't." Setting it on the desk and popping the lid, she was startled and oddly touched to discover the cream to coffee ratio was correct.

"You know you love seeing me," he said with a cheeky grin. Hermione busied herself with her cloak, shrugging out of it and hanging it on the hook, to hide the blush she knew was spreading across her cheeks.

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean." she peeked out from behind the door. "Now, what do you need?"

Theo's face morphed into a more serious expression. "Aurors called me in on a nasty case in the middle of the night. I was waiting for you before I talked to the witness.”

"Why?" Hermione asked, grabbing her notebook, pen, and the coffee.

"It's a bit complicated. It's Brown, your old dormmate. Her father was murdered last night, and she was found chained up in the basement. So far, she's not a suspect, but I need you to come along when I question her because, well-"

"She's a werewolf and therefore doesn't have her rights under the law." Hermione finished for him, eyes wide as she turned a horrified gaze on Theo.

“Turns out she’s not a full wolf, so the actual rights are a bit murky.” Theo grimaced, running a hand through his hair.  His dark brown hair was artfully messy, styled across his forehead just so, setting off his naturally tan skin. Hermione noted with some bitterness that despite his lack of sleep, he didn't look any less than perfect. His amber eyes were apologetic as he stood up from her desk and gestured for her to lead the way.

"How was he killed?" Hermione asked as they stepped into the lift. 

"Brutally. He was hit with a sort of slicing hex. Draco said he'd never seen so much blood." Theo said evenly, but his eyes were pained. Hermione felt a rush of sympathy. Theo was handed the toughest, most horrific cases, yet he always remained a consummate professional.

“Any leads?” he shook his head.

“Not a one, the killer used Brown’s wand and left no magical trace. Just between you and me, Potter and Draco are stumped. I’d bet half the galleons in my vault that this one goes unsolved.”

"And Lavender?"

"She’s in shock. Based on the bruises, I'd say she's been chained for quite some time. It's not pretty. Best brace yourself."

The lift chimed, indicating their floor, and the two stepped from the lift. Hermione squared her shoulders and glanced up at Theo with determination. "Right, well, lead the way." 

Theo rested his hand lightly on her lower back, leading her through the Auror's bullpen. He tipped his head at Harry and Draco as they passed their desk. Harry's eyes darted to Theo's hand before he quirked his brow at Hermione.

"Oh, mind your own business, Harry." Hermione hissed, sweeping into the interrogation room and shutting the door on his and Draco's laughter.

"My dad chains me up after dinner and then spends most of the night drinking in the study. Some form of misplaced guilt, I guess. It'd be easy enough to surprise him there." Lavender's voice was shaky, but her resolve was firm.

Hermione nodded, "We should do it after you've been locked up, and it needs to be done with a wand. There's no way they could pin that on you."

"I'm not great with wandwork," Daphne admitted. "I was always better at the practical stuff. Potions and things."

"I can do it." Hermione offered. "And I know just the spell.”

May 14, 2009

"I don't understand why I have to be here," Hermione complained as Ginny pushed her into a seat next to Theo. Her hand brushed his, and she tried to ignore the resulting spark. She nodded at Daphne and Astoria, who were sitting on his other side, before turning her attention back to Ginny.

"Because I'm in town, and since I'm here, you're here," Ginny said, scanning the field looking for Harry.

"You're only here to see Harry in quidditch leathers," Hermione mumbled, digging in her bag for a book. Theo covered a laugh with a cough, and Hermione gave him a small grin before resuming her search.

"Correction, I like seeing Harry's ass in quidditch leathers." Ginny shot back cheerfully as Hermione groaned.

"It's just a Ministry pickup game, Weasley. They don't even wear real uniforms." Theo informed her, winking at Hermione. She felt herself flush, something that was becoming all too common an occurrence around him.

Theo resumed his conversation with Daphne and Astoria, but his knee was pressed against hers and she was so focused on it that she barely heard Daphne announce the game was starting. 

According to Harry, tonight's game between the Aurors and the Department of Magical Games and Sports was crucial. The last time they'd played, the Aurors lost horribly, both Harry and Draco taking it as a personal affront. They'd spent nearly every lunch for the last two weeks talking strategy with Blaise and Dean, consumed with the need to win. 

Hermione would've skipped out on those lunches altogether if it hadn't been for Theo. He'd been so busy lately that lunches were the only time she got to see him, and with everyone else caught up in quidditch plays, she had his undivided attention. They mostly talked about work, but every so often, she swore she caught his gaze drifting to her lips, and she'd almost lose herself in a daydream over what it would be like to kiss him.

Shouts from the crowd pulled Hermione from her thoughts as Ginny jerked to her feet, pulling Hermione with her. The redhead was staring at the field in horror, and she followed her friend's gaze to where a figure lay crumpled on the ground underneath the far hoops. 

A teammate touched down at their side and cast a sonorus charm, "WE NEED A HEALER ON THE PITCH. FLINT IS INJURED."

Hermione scanned the stadium, eyes skipping over the players who stood on the opposite end of the pitch. Shading her eyes with her hand, she squinted in the direction of the locker room and bit back a smirk when she saw the door crack open and a tell-tale flash winked in the sunlight. 

She looked back at Daphne, but the brunette hadn't moved a muscle since the call for a healer had been made. Her eyes were hard as she watched the healers work on her husband for a few moments before a white sheet was draped over his still body. And she only nodded once in acknowledgment when a quiet announcement marked the end of the game before it even began.

The crowd around them turned towards Daphne, who stood stock-still, staring at the pitch with unreadable eyes, hands held tightly by Astoria and Theo. It was no secret that Michael Flint beat his wife and that there was no love lost between the two, the bruise blooming across her jaw visible proof of that fact. 

A camera flashed from somewhere below. The vultures were already circling, anxious to get the scoop, and Hermione flicked her wand, sending up a shield to block the newly-minted widow from view.

Hermione stood silently next to Ginny, watching Theo as he stood strong next to his best friend. Still, his eyes kept darting to hers, and she ached over the helplessness she saw in them. When Harry and Draco finally joined them, Hermione gave Theo a small smile. She squeezed Daphne's shoulder as the three Gryffindors made their way out of the stands, leaving the Slytherins standing in silence.

"Michael plays in the Ministry league for the Department of Magical Games and Sports. His next game is in May, against the Aurors. He, well, he demands my attendance at every game." Daphne explained, keeping her gaze trained on the floor.

Hermione nodded, "That's perfect. I'm going with Ginny to cheer for Harry. Lavender, can you handle this?" 

The blonde grinned wolfishly, "Absolutely."

"Good. I can borrow Harry's invisibility cloak. That'll get you in and out of the locker room unnoticed. You can jinx his broom and slip out, and no one will ever know you were there."

Daphne clasped both of their hands, her turning her gaze between the two, "I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay you for giving me my freedom."

June 2, 2009

Hermione stepped out of the floo, making a beeline for the beverage cart with Harry right on her heels.

"Two coffees, please, biggest you have," Hermione said, pulling coins from her bag and passing them over.

"I love my wife, but no quidditch game is worth a 4 am portkey," Harry mumbled, grabbing his cup and taking a large gulp before grimacing and reaching for the sugar. 

Hermione grunted in agreement, and she liberally added cream to hers. She closed her eyes, savoring her first sip, before taking a larger swallow and letting the caffeine work its magic.

"Granger!" Theo's voice rang out, and Hermione looked up to see him pushing through the morning ministry crowd. Harry tipped his head back with a groan.

"Godric's balls, it's too early for this. Why won't he just ask you out like a normal-" Hermione elbowed Harry, cutting him off as Theo stopped in front of them.

"Oh good, Potter's here too. Have either of you seen the Prophet yet?" Theo shoved a copy of the paper into Hermione's hands, Harry leaning over her shoulder to read the headline.

"Er, was it a slow news day?" Harry tapped a photo of himself, Ron, and Hermione from the previous night's Harpies match and looked up at Theo in confusion. 

"Not that." They said impatiently, flipping the paper over. "That." He jabbed a finger at the below-the-fold headline but kept his eyes trained on Hermione's face. 

"Oh, shit." Harry breathed out. "Hermione, your boss."

Hermione glanced down at the paper, "Well, that's no big loss, really." She tossed the paper into the wastebin and started towards the lifts. "See you at lunch, Harry! Theo, pop by my office when you have a moment?"

Stepping into a lift, she glanced back at the beverage cart where Harry and Theo stood frozen, eyes glued to her. She gave a small wave, lifting her coffee cup to hide her smirk when they both waved dumbly back.

There was no time to waste on speculation and gossip. She had a department to shake up. 

"What do you know about your boss?" Lavender asked. "Other than the part where he's a racist, misogynist asshole."

"Not much," Hermione admitted. "He lives alone. Drinks all weekend, often late to work on Monday. Absolutely horrid to his house-elves. They all hate him."

"I can work with that." Daphne said. "I have access to Astoria's potions. If you can get me that cloak it's easy enough to sneak in and doctor his drink. They'll think it was just a heart attack."

"You know, I think this might just work," Hermione said, giving each of her accomplices a wicked grin, receiving two eerily similar smirks in return. 

February 2, 2010

"About ready, love?"

Hermione glanced up to see Theo leaning against the door frame to their bedroom, arms crossed loosely across his chest and his hair falling artfully across his forehead.

Their bedroom. They'd moved in together just after Christmas, but thinking of their shared space still sent a small thrill through her. 

"Almost. Can you zip me?" 

She turned around, exposing her bare back to Theo's suddenly heated gaze. He stepped forward, reaching for the zipper before dragging it slowly up her back, his knuckles skimming against her skin the entire way.

"This new?"

"Mmm, Lavender sent it over for tonight. It's her newest design."

Theo whistled in appreciation, gaze raking down her body before shaking his head, "You had an owl earlier."

"I did?" Hermione stepped back to her dresser to sift through her jewelry box.

"It was from Daphne."

Hermione hummed noncommittally, still searching. She was sure her mother's sapphire earrings were there somewhere.  

"She's sorry she can't make it to celebrate your promotion but wanted to make sure you got the donation for the werewolf fund?"

"That was nice of her. It was quite a lot of money." Having located the desired earrings, she turned her gaze to the mirror to slide them on. Theo's eyes met hers in the mirror, the expression on his face the same as when he worked on the Sunday morning crossword. She held his gaze, eyes revealing nothing, but she could see the moment it clicked, and he stared at her in wonder.

"I knew you were ruthless, but I thought I proposed to a lion, not a snake," Theo stated, voice full of awe. He slid his arms around her waist and pulled her into his chest, his hand brushing against the small diamond resting on her left hand.

Hermione grinned, "Remind me to tell you a story about a bug in a jar sometime." Before he could press for more information, she turned in his grip, catching his lips in a kiss before apparating them away.

The Knight Bus pulled to a stop outside a large manor house in the outskirts of Bath. Daphne stood, her wrist straight and her face clear. She made her way down the stairs but paused before her head vanished out of sight.

"Oh, and Granger?" Daphne turned to meet Hermione's eyes. "When this is over, I'm personally making it my mission to see that you and Theo get your shit together and finally put the rest of us out of our misery."

Lavender's laughter followed Daphne down the stairs leaving Hermione gaping after her, completely speechless.