Title: A Matter of Time
Fandom: Torchwood/Harry Potter
Warning: Set post-Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows (no spoilers), pre-Torchwood
Summary: Hermione Granger matches wits with Jack Harkness. (Jack cheats.)
Hermione stepped into the Muggle pub and looked around, hoping she didn’t appear as self-conscious as she felt. Interacting with the Muggle world was always her responsibility now: no one else at the Ministry of Magic bothered. “Oh, send Hermione,” they said, and normally she wouldn’t mind, really–except this was so absurd.
The simple fact was, a Muggle–someone they were fairly certain was a Muggle–had a time turner and had, so far, been able to resist other attempts to retrieve it. So they were sending her–to, of all things, seduce it away from him. She was told, “He likes gorgeous and direct–oh, do something about your hair, Miss Granger!” So she put on a black dress and a little makeup and braided back her hair, and now was trying to locate the tall American Muggle in the army overcoat.
A warm hand grasped her elbow and a voice, soft, male, and not English, said, “I sure hope it’s me you’re looking for.”
She turned and smiled. “You must be Mr. Harkness. I’m Hermione Granger.”
“Captain,” he said, smiling with a flash of aggressively white teeth. “If you don’t mind, Miss Granger.”
“Captain Harkness,” Hermione said. “Shall we have a seat?”
“Let me get you a drink. What’s your poison?”
Hermione smiled again, though she could feel the strain of it already. She was no good at this sort of thing. She didn’t know what to do with her hands or how long to hold his gaze. So much easier with easy, familiar Ron–they’d never flirted with each other. It hadn’t been necessary. “Firewhiskey,” she said.
The captain’s eyebrow raised a moment. “A whiskey girl. I’m impressed.” He guided her to the bar, his fingers still on her elbow. Hermione slid onto a stool and smoothed her skirt over her knees, and thanked him quietly when the tender put the drink in front of her and a martini in front of the captain.
“So,” Captain Harkness said. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Hermione sipped the whiskey–Muggle whiskey, not as good as firewhiskey, frankly, much too sharp–and said, putting her glass neatly on the coaster, “You have something of ours and we’d like it back.”
“We,” he repeated, still smiling. “Who is we? Where are you from?”
“I live in London, and ‘we’ is myself and my colleagues. It’s a small brass object that looks like an hourglass.”
“Oh yes,” he said. “We picked a few days ago. It’s a lot prettier than most things that fall through the Rift.”
“It didn’t fall through the Rift, Captain Harkness,” Hermione said patiently. “It fell out of a pocket. One of my colleagues desperately needs a good housekeeper.”
“I see,” the Captain said slowly. “You know, you hardly look alien–but then again, neither do I.”
Hermione folded her hands. Aliens. Oh, he was mad, this one. “I’ve lived in London most of my life, except for the years I attended school in Scotland. Now, Captain Harkness: how can I convince you to give us our object back? It’s of no use to you.”
“Well, that’s why I’d like to keep it, Miss Granger,” he said easily. “I’d like to tinker with it. See what makes it tick. It must be very important–so many people have tried to get it back from me, including your charming self.” He leaned closer. “What is it? Just tell me what it is.”
“Is it a matter of national security? Of planetary security?”
“It’s rare and useful,” Hermione said, “and my colleague is facing being sacked over losing it.”
“You are tugging my heartstrings,” the captain said, so sincere Hermione wanted to roll her eyes. “Though I do prefer this simply asking to people waving sticks at me and shouting in Latin. I’ll give it back to you on two conditions.”
Hermione sighed faintly and said, “Very well. What are they?”
“First, you tell me what it is.” Hermione frowned and his smile grew wider. “I’ll keep it until I discover for myself, Miss Granger. I can be very, very stubborn.”
“Very well,” she said again. “It’s a time turner.”
That wiped all traces of joking off his face, and he whispered, “A what?”
“A time turner,” she said again. “One uses it to travel back in time for short periods. Now, what was your second condition?”
The captain was still marveling. “You use this to travel through time? Are you a time agent?”
“I work for the Ministry of Magic,” she said crisply and sipped her whiskey. “I suspect, Captain Harkness, that no matter how jaded you tell yourself you are, there are still many things you have no idea exist. What is the second condition?”
“How old are you?” he said, genuinely curious.
“I’ve just turned twenty.”
“You are more self-possessed than many women twice your age.”
She sipped her whiskey again. “I know,” she said simply. “What is the second condition?”
The captain looked, for a moment, like he wasn’t going to say it–then he smiled again and said, “Kiss me.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“Kiss me. You want the time turner, I want a kiss.”
“I’m in a relationship,” Hermione said, straightening her already straight shoulders.
“But it’s just a kiss,” he said, tone turning persuasive and coaxing. “And then I’ll give you your pretty time turner back. Scout’s honor.”
“Somehow I doubt you were ever a scout.”
“I was a kind of scout,” he said hopefully.
Hermione inhaled, studied him–handsome enough, certainly and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen–and leaned over to give him a brief peck on the lips. “There. My time turner, Captain.” She held out her hand.
He grasped her hand. “Oh, Miss Granger, that wasn’t a kiss at all,” he said and leaned into her to kiss her again.
Oh my, Hermione thought as her eyes closed. Oh dear. He was warm and tasted of vermouth and lemon, and he wasn’t touching her any more than with his lips and his hand and she felt so . . . alive.
She pulled away, trembling, and tasted her lips. The captain was watching her, smiling a different sort of smile–not the shield his smile previously had been, but more like an opening door. “Serious?” he asked again.
“I love him,” she said. Good Ron, sweet Ron, faithful Ron.
The captain sighed. “Could have been, Miss Granger,” he said and let go of her hand to drink his martini. She felt something cool and heavy in her palm and looked down to see the time turner. She swallowed and put it away in her pocketbook.
“Thank you, Captain Harkness,” she said quietly. “Time isn’t something we treat lightly. It’s not a force to be toyed with.”
His expression was rueful. “Whoever your ‘we’ is, they could have taught us a few lessons.” He leaned close again and said, “One more for the road?”
“Yes,” Hermione said and kissed him once more–using the moment to slip her wand out of her sleeve and tap it lightly against him. “Obliviate,” she whispered as she touched his cheek, “and I’m truly sorry.” She moved away–turned away, so that she would be just a young woman having a drink at the next stool.
The captain didn’t speak for a moment, then said, “And what’s a nice girl like you doing with a guy like me?” in a charming, easy tone, and she smiled to herself.
“Sorry,” she said and slid off the stool. “I’m on my way to meet someone.” She left the pub, glancing once over her shoulder at the man she was leaving behind. He was watching her, his expression puzzled, and she wished for a moment she could let him remember.
But this was the Muggle world that she’d long ago left behind, and there was no time for regrets. She adjusted the strap of her pocketbook on her shoulder and took off briskly down the street, towards home.