Sanguini's Request

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Story Notes:
Knarl dung has a highly unpleasant odor. It clings to skin and clothing in a way that magic can’t even remove easily. It isn’t much of a surprise when an upstairs neighbor sniffs the air and grimaces when Hermione steps into the lift. She knows how badly she smells right now, but it’s not her fault that her supervisor sent her out to capture a dozen Knarls that had overtaken a Muggle garden in Oxford. It’s not as if she likes smelling foul and disgusting. The woman’s reaction just adds another reason why this day can be officially classified as bad.

Fortunately, her building doesn’t have many floors, and the neighbor lives in 1B. Hermione doesn’t know why the woman couldn’t have simply walked up from the ground floor. Of course, she could have simply Apparated home, but she likes the routine of taking the tube and walking to her flat. It’s a nice way to relax, or attempt to, after a long day at work. It’s a habit that she developed nearly ten years ago, when she moved into her tiny flat in Putney.

As she watches the numbers light up, she wonders if she’ll ever recapture that initial feeling of loving her job. She used to return home feeling positive and enthusiastic after spending the day working on projects that meant something to her. Now, she’s been relegated to menial tasks that leave her smelling like Knarl dung. It’s frustrating, and all she can really do is keep working as hard as possible until they have to promote her. If her boss wasn’t such a moronic twat, she’d have better opportunities. As is it, she keeps getting reprimanded anytime she attempts to transfer, and Kingsley can’t even help without crossing lines that could be used to attack his position as Minister of Magic.

The lift finally arrives on the fourth floor, and she steps out into the corridor. The light over the emergency exit is out of order, again, but it isn’t so dark that she can’t find her way to her flat. There are shadows, though, that indicate that she’s home later than normal. She didn’t leave the office until a little after nine, and then she was stuck at the station waiting for a delayed tube, so she realizes that it must be nearly ten by now. No wonder she’s tired and hungry.

There’s a momentary sense of relief when she puts her key in the door and steps inside her flat. It’s become home over the years, even if she originally planned for it to be temporary until she was able to afford something a little bigger. That day still hasn’t come, since her salary is just enough to cover her monthly expenses with a little left over to indulge her book-buying habit. It’s small, but certainly big enough for her. She has enough room for Harry and Ron to visit and the size gives her an excuse not to have any parties or big social gatherings, so it’s alright.

She doesn’t like to dwell on the fact that she’s turning thirty in a few months and all she has to show for it is a flat nearly the same size as Harry’s great room and a job that she no longer loves but refuses to abandon for fear it’ll make her boss feel like he’s won somehow, but there are times, like tonight, when she can’t help but marvel at the foolish optimist that she’d been in her youth. It’s taken a decade of thankless Ministry work and solitude to do what the war never accomplished, because she no longer feels as idealistic and positive about the world as she once did.

Normally, when she’s had a bad day like today, she tries to think of the few successes she’s had, most of which contribute to her department head’s dislike of her. She’s proud of what she got accomplished for werewolves and vampires, but it only took those two major successful pieces of legislation to put an even larger target on her, so to speak, and she’s only had the occasional minor success since those early years when they had underestimated her. There’s not much chance of her saving the world if she’s out capturing escaped knarls, after all.

The shower is going to first today, for obvious reasons. While she isn’t fond of deviating from her routine, having to take comfort where she can find it, she isn’t going to be able to tolerate this smell much longer. She’s already tried using magic to clean up, but not even that helped. Of course, considering her mood when she tried, her magic was probably not even listening to her. She’ll try again after a shower if she can still smell it. With a wave of her wand, her shower starts, and she strips off her clothes, piling them on the floor so she can wash them later.

It feels wonderful to have fresh clean water spray down on her dirty skin, and she closes her eyes so she can enjoy it. When the water starts to cool off, she finally snaps out of her daze and focuses on washing the remaining grime from her body. The water is cold by the time she rinses shampoo from her hair, so she hurries along to finish before her teeth start chattering. Finally, she’s done, and she feels better and even smells better. There’s still stench, but she thinks it’s from her clothes now and not her.

Hermione dries off her body before wrapping the towel around her and using another towel to wrap around her hair. She was in such a hurry to shower that she didn’t even stop in her bedroom to get a change of clothes, but it’s not a huge concern. Well, it isn’t when she’s in the bathroom. However, when she opens her door and steps out, she hears the sound of ice hitting glass coming from her kitchen and wishes she wasn’t wearing just a towel since someone obviously showed up and made themselves at home.

“I have a wand and know how to use it,” she calls out, not really worried because there are very few people who have access to her flat and know how to get through her wards.

“That’s lovely, dear. Perhaps you could use it to freshen up the place? There’s an odd stench in the place this evening.”

Now, she’s worried. “What are you doing here?” she asks, walking into the kitchen and crossing her arms as she stares at her uninvited guest. “I’ve told you not to just show up unless there’s an emergency.”

Sanguini raises his brow and moves his gaze over her. “If I’d been aware of this welcome, I’d have been showing up this way more often. Your blood is rushing to your skin so delectably, dear.”

“Sanguini, don’t make me revoke your invitation,” she warns, fully aware that she’s blushing now because she’d forgotten about the towel upon realizing who was in her flat.

“You always threaten but you never will. Run along and change into something more presentable. While I do enjoy the lovely view, we’re having a guest who might not have the control that I do,” he says, shooing her away with a wave of his hand.

“This is my flat,” she reminds him, knowing from experience that it’s futile to demand answers because it just makes him more reluctant to answer questions. With an aggravated growl, she turns and goes to her bedroom. After pulling on clean knickers and a bra, she grabs an old t-shirt and track pants because she is probably going to want to be comfortable if Sanguini is involving her in something.

Once she’s dressed, she attempts to dry her hair, but it just seems to make it even more wild and crazy, so she just brushes it quickly before returning to her sitting area. The smell of knarl dung is still present in her flat, so she focuses and waves her wand, murmuring the necessary charms to remove the stench. This time, the spell works, so she’s grateful that she’s calm enough now for her magic to listen to her.

“I’m famished, so I hope your guest won’t mind me eating while they’re here,” she says, knowing that her tone tells Sanguini that she doesn’t care if the guest does or not. It’s after ten o’clock, and she has a vampire sitting in her favorite chair drinking pumpkin juice while flipping through an issue of some Qudditch magazine Harry had left the last time he visited. Only the fact that Sanguini usually only came to see her without arranging it because of some crisis or another kept her from telling him they’d deal with whatever it is tomorrow.

“The guest won’t mind.” Sanguini smiles at her, a quick flash of fang before he looks back at the magazine. “What did you hear about the magical mayhem a few years back in Los Angeles?”

She thinks about it and shrugs a shoulder. “Not a lot. I remember Harry being concerned that the American aurors wouldn’t plan properly, and I believe he was in contact with a wizard who worked for the ministry protecting western America. Threat of demons and hell opening, wasn’t it? I remember thinking our problem with Voldemort didn’t seem so bad compared to that.”

“Yes, it was demons, ghouls, and monsters. Oh my!” Sanguini looks up and smirks. “The event was stopped, obviously, much like a similar event that happened in a California town called Sunnydale a few years priors to that.”

“Remind me to never travel to California. If there are mouths to hell all over the place, I’d rather avoid them.” Hermione looks at him curiously. “What does this recent history lesson have to do with me?”

“Order takeaway,” Sanguini says. “You’re too tired to prepare anything more than a sandwich, and you’ve lost weight since we last met. The history lesson has nothing to do with you, but it does provide background for our guest. He was involved in both events, you see, and he helped prevent the takeover attempts from hell. Like you, he risked his life fighting the good fight, and he even sacrificed himself once from what I’ve heard through the grapevine.”

Hermione is curious but she waits to ask questions until she places an order for the local Chinese place that delivers late. Once finished, she sits down and sighs. “Alright. So he’s a hero, of sorts, and American. Again, what does he have to do with me?”

“Not American. He’s a Brit, and he’s decided that he’s tired of the yanks. He wants to come back here, but he knows that things are far more organized now,” Sanguini informs her. “Obviously, he’s a vampire, albeit a different bloodline than the ones you’re used to dealing with. He comes from the branch that normally allows their hunger to dominate their minds, but there’s been some business with sacrifice and souls, I don’t care to know the details, so he is more like us now. He has no interest in living like those vampires as he’s ready to settle down and do something with his life.”

“You need my help to get him into the system?” Hermione nods thoughtfully. “If he’s from the line that normally attempts to kill anyone for a snack, it isn’t going to be easy. You know the laws I got pushed through allow protections but there are restrictions.”

“Nothing is too difficult for you, beautiful. I know that you can take care of it, though I did warn him it’ll take time.” Sanguini looks up and tilts his head. “Your food is here.”

Before Hermione can say anything, there’s a quick knock on her door. She glances around quickly to make sure everything gives the appearance of a normal Muggle flat before she opens the door. After paying for her food, she sits back down and begins to eat. It’s delicious, and she has to resist gulping it all down as fast as she can because her stomach is now aware that she’s hungry. In between bites, she looks at Sanguini. “You’re sure he’s legitimate? He isn’t plotting some type of massacre because he’s bored of his normal world or he thinks magical blood is a better snack?”

“If you had asked me that question fifty years ago, I’d have agreed that it was possible. He’s not been a nice man, at all, but I’ve spoken with him at length and I know he’s sincere. If he wasn’t, I’d simply arrange to meet him and remove him myself,” Sanguini says. “Our paths have crossed before, so I can tell the differences in him.”

“I’ll speak with him and make that determination myself,” she says. “When is he due?”

“He’s already here. He’s probably waiting so that he can be late. Unfortunately, he’s still a child who likes attention,” Sanguini drawls, rolling his eyes. “In another century or two, he’ll hopefully grow up.”

There’s another knock on the door, and she smirks slightly because it’s obvious the vampire must have heard Sanguini’s comment. She can’t imagine thinking of life in terms of centuries, which is one reason she has refused Sanguini offer to turn her the few times he’s suggested it. Perhaps in a few decades, she’ll be more tempted, but, for now, she can’t imagine living forever, especially after days like today.

She makes sure she has her wand before she opens the door. There’s a man standing there in a leather jacket with ripped denims and shocking blond hair. He isn’t overly tall or muscular, but she would be able to sense a power in him even if she’d just seen him on the street. He’s scowling when she opens the door, but he moves his gaze over her in a way that isn’t just looking for weapons. When blue eyes meet hers, he’s grinning in a lazy way that she suspects he knows is attractive.

“Evening, pet. You gonna invite me in?” His accent is faint enough to indicate that he’s been in America for several decades, and he’s leering at her in a way that makes her fingers itch for her wand.

“Going to,” she corrects, arching a brow and studying him a moment before turning her attention to Sanguini, who is looking amused. “Are you certain you wish to vouch for him? If he were sneering, I’d suspect he was employed as an impersonator for that Muggle pop singer who has that song about weddings.”

“I had this look before that wanker ever did,” the man says, no longer leering and simply looking perturbed that his obvious seduction routine failed. “Sanguini, call off your guard witch and let me in.”

“I might regret the decision, but, yes, I vouch for him,” Sanguini mutters.

“What’s your name?” Hermione asks, looking back at the man and trying not to reach out to see if his cheekbone would actually cut her like it appears it would.

“William the Bloody is what they used to call me,” he brags, and she just gives him an unimpressed look. He rolls his eyes. “You can call me Spike, love.”

“Please come in, William,” she says, stepping aside so he can enter her flat.

“It’s Spike.” He sneers at her then suddenly stops as if he realized what he was doing.

“William is a nice name. It will look much better on the paperwork that I have to complete than Spike,” she tells him. “They might assume I was attempting to allow a canine access to our world.”

“Where did you dig this one up, old man?” Spike makes a gesture towards her that is unflattering, but Hermione notices that he’s still staring at her like he could just eat her up, and not in a simple bloodletting way.

“Spike, this is Hermione Granger. She’s face evil that does actually make you comparable to a puppy, so be careful because she’ll bite back.” Sanguini smirks when Hermione glares at him. “She’s also the best way to get you settled into the magical world and enjoying the benefits that vampires now have based on her legislation. You’ll be able to own property, have a bank account, and even work, should you desire. Of course, it will all be done legally, so there will be no being forced to live in abandoned warehouses or move constantly to avoid detection.”

“That’s the only reason I’m even doing this,” Spike says, still staring at Hermione. “I don’t trust these magic types, but at least these use sticks and have rules. Not likely to go crazy and try to destroy the world.”

“You should hear about our recent wars,” Hermione says, snorting before she picks up her carton of noodles. “Insanity is not restricted to only those without wands. Fortunately, we are at peace now, and our world improves every year. I did explain to Sanguini that this isn’t going to be a fast process. I assume you want the matter handled with as much discretion as possible, so I’ll have to prepare paperwork and get documents created through only trusted sources. Obviously, you cannot drink blood from any unwilling donor nor can you commit any other crimes punishable by the Ministry.”

“Bugger it all. You’ve just spoiled my fun.” Spike shakes his head. “You’re too uptight, pet. Are you sure your little stick isn’t up your arse instead of in your pocket? Or maybe you need something up your arse to loosen you up. You’re living alone, look to be in your late 20s, don’t see anything but books and paperwork lying around, not even a pet around except the owl I hear coming from the other room, so I’d wager you’re single. You’re not hideous, so it’s probably not for lack of suitors.”

“My arse has nothing to do with this and neither does my personal life.” Hermione puts her hand on her wand but catches herself before she’s aiming it at him. “Sanguini, I don’t know if I want to handle this request.”

“Oh, I think you can handle it just fine, beautiful.” Sanguini winks at her when she glances at him, which causes her to focus her glare on him. “He’s all talk, Hermione. You don’t usually let such plebian taunts affect your professionalism.”

“Don’t try to play me,” she warns him, narrowing her eyes at him before she looks at Spike. “And you need to sit down and shut your mouth. I’ve had a long day, and my tolerance for arseholes is minimal. You don’t want to cross me, William, especially when I’m hungry.”

“Bloody hell,” Spike mutters, sitting down and staring at her. “I don’t know whether I’d rather fuck you or bite you right now, pet. Think I’d like to do both.”

“You’ll be doing neither. Now be quiet so I can finish my dinner. After that, we’ll discuss the requirements for you becoming part of the vampire society in our world, and what obligations you’ll have to Sanguini, acting as your sponsor for the undead population, and to me, as your magical sponsor.” Hermione smiles sweetly. “If you say another word, I’ll have you gagged and on a leash with just a wave of my wand, so don’t push me.”

He licks his lips and shifts in his seat in a way that makes her frown until she realizes that he’s actually aroused by her bossiness. That flusters her, but she tries not to show it as she starts eating her food. She avoids looking at him, even as she can practically feel his stare and know he’s probably thinking about things that are entirely inappropriate. Some men do like strong forceful women who can take care of themselves. She’s always known this in theory, but she’s never actually met any of them.

Sanguini just chuckles as he sits beside her, not even flinching when she frowns at him. He gives her a wicked smile as he brushes a lock of damp hair from her forehead. “I have a feeling that this is going to be the most fun I’ve had in centuries.”