Author's Note: This will make more sense if you read It's the End of the World as We Know It: Family Matters first.
Rating: R to be safe
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these shows or movies and I'm not making any money from this fic
Warning(s): There will/may be spanking/discipline of adults. VERY AU (given that there is more than one crossover involved).
Verse/Setting: Post-Angel; Post-Harry Potter (but epilogue did not occur); Post-Numb3rs; Post-season-four-NCIS:LA
Lindsey McDonald is from the television series Angel.
Owen Granger is from NCIS:LA.
Ian Edgerton and Colby Granger are from the television series Numb3rs.
Hermione Granger is from Harry Potter.
Hermione's parents are from Harry Potter- but I named them.
Nana, Wendell, and Monica Granger are mine.
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
July 3, 2013
Nana had insisted on riding with Lindsey in his truck while Hermione went with Wendell and Monica. She didn't act suspicious of him but he suspected that her insistence on riding in his truck was to make certain he actually followed the other vehicle to the ranch instead of trying to drive off somewhere else to get away from her and her family. Then again, maybe she didn't suspect anything of the sort and he only felt that way because he'd considered doing just that.
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye- she seemed perfectly happy to look out the window at the buildings they were passing. Once they'd left the city proper and there wasn't much else to look at, she took to watching whatever birds or wildlife happened to venture out in the heat. There wasn't much. At first he'd been grateful for the quiet- he'd been expecting to play twenty questions- but as it became clear she wasn't going to ask anything, the quiet began to grate on his nerves. He knew she was curious about him- every so often she would look in his direction and he could see the curiosity on her face. It had been a long time since he had dealt with anyone from her generation, but he remembered enough to know he wanted to be respectful of her. Maybe being respectful included giving her an opportunity to ask her questions. He sighed to himself then cleared his throat. She glanced at him again, a question in her eyes.
"So…uh…Hermione isn't American…but you all are obviously close family…how?" he decided to ask a personal question that should be easy to answer. What she chose to do with his attempt was up to her.
Nana smiled gently at the boy. Bless him, it was obvious he didn't want to get personal- but he was an intelligent young man and had apparently figured out that she wanted to ask him things. The only reason she hadn't was because she didn't want to make him more uncomfortable, but he had given his permission for her to ask by opening up the conversation. She wasn't one to turn such a gift down. Nodding at him in approval, she answered. "Hermione's father is my middle son. He's a dentist…he went to a dental conference in London and met Hermione's mother- who is also a dentist- and fell fast and hard. They were married as soon as he could get the paperwork approved and he's been there ever since. Hermione could actually apply for dual citizenship, but I don't think it occurred to her…."
Lindsey shook his head with a smile. "It occurred to her. I'm not sure when she applied for it- if it was done when she was still a child or if it is a recent development- but she married me using her American citizenship. If she hadn't been a dual citizen, there would have been a bit more red tape for us to get married and we wouldn't be in this situation now…" he snorted softly, surprised to find that he didn't really mind the situation all that much.
Nana raised an eyebrow at that information then shrugged. "I had wondered how you both had managed to get legally married that quickly…"
Lindsey chuckled, "I may know a lot of influential people due to having been a lawyer, but not even I could pull strings that quickly." He blushed realizing that it could appear he was bragging with that statement, then winced as he realized he'd also given away information that he hadn't actually planned to give.
Nana noticed the blush and the wince and decided to leave the subject of his occupation alone for the moment. It was obviously a sore subject for the youngster. She reached over and patted him on the knee then gave it a gentle squeeze with her time worn hand. "I can't help but notice that every so often a hint of a drawl slides through your sophisticated talk…are you from the south?" She grinned impishly at him.
Lindsey looked at her with a startled look in his eyes. "You could hear a drawl? I didn't think I had an accent any longer…." He laughed. "I'm originally from Oklahoma..." he didn't elaborate.
"Is that where you are heading to when you leave here- to see your family there?" Nana asked. The dark look that crossed his face would have gone missed by her if she hadn't been looking so intently at him. He remained quiet for so long, she began to wonder if he would answer her- her question had obviously caused him to think of something painful. She jumped slightly in surprise when his voice finally broke the silence.
"No…ain't got nothing to go back there for…" he finally remarked in a soft, near whisper. Again, he didn't elaborate, but this time she did push a little.
"They aren't there anymore…?" She asked just as quietly, wondering if he'd trust her enough with the truth.
He cleared his throat, obviously thinking hard. "Naw…" he finally answered. She noted that whatever place his thoughts had taken him had completely stripped away the sophisticated veneer he wore like armor. "Mamma died when I was four. My little brother and older sister got sick and followed a year later. Daddy lost his will to fight- by the time he finished letting everyone in the world walk all over him, he didn't even have the will to stay alive. He joined her when I was 9." Lindsey broke off abruptly. He'd given way more information than he'd planned- yet again. He should have just said everyone was dead and left it at that…he'd given her enough information that he was sure there'd be a deeper interrogation coming. To his surprise she let it alone, her gnarled hand squeezing his knee one more time before she withdrew it and went back to staring out the window. The look on her face was sad and he felt guilty for putting it there. He swallowed and cleared his throat. "There's no need to feel bad for me…it happened a long time ago and I'm doing alright on my own…"
She looked back at him her eyes serious and probing. "No one should have to be alone."
He gave her an uncertain, crooked smile and looked back at the road. It would be a while before the silence was comfortable.
# # #
Hermione rubbed her forehead trying to keep calm. From the moment they'd gotten into the car, her uncle had been chiding and admonishing her for the "irresponsible and reckless way she had behaved" and for "worrying the family so much." Her aunt hadn't said anything- but the occasional nods placed at critical times made it clear Aunt Monica agreed with him- even if she did give Hermione several sympathetic looks between chastisement. She'd finally had to resort to tuning her uncle out, afraid that if she listened to him saying the same thing again one more time she'd lose it and say something she'd regret. She already felt terribly guilty about worrying them. She didn't need reminding of the mess she'd caused. As a result she almost missed a critical remark.
"Colby has already accepted the consequences for his part in this fiasco- your Uncle Owen took care of it. Since Owen is the one that made the promise to your mamma and daddy to look out for you, I believe you owe it to him to allow him to take care of your consequences as well. Not that I WON'T do it- I may not have made the promise, but I have every intention of making sure the promise is kept." Wendell stated emphatically along with a brisk nod to finalize the comment.
"C…consequences?" Hermione asked hesitantly, her stomach dropping.
"Of course," her uncle frowned slightly, glancing at her through the rearview mirror. "I realize that Avery and Ophelia were a bit more 'modern' in their views of child-rearing, but I'm certain they didn't allow you to just do whatever you wanted with no consequences at all…."
Hermione swallowed. She remembered overhearing her father and mother talking, shortly after she had returned their memories to them and they had returned from Australia. They had been furious to find out what she had done- even if her reasons for doing so had been valid and necessary in her opinion. She could remember her father's words clearly- Perhaps we were wrong to completely disregard our families' methods of raising us. Maybe if we'd turned her over our knee a few times when she was younger, she wouldn't have felt like she had the right to manipulate us in this way- She could also remember several talks when she was growing up about responsible drinking and how there should always be at least one person who remained sober and….
Hermione swallowed again, harder. Funny how she would remember that her father had mentioned what were clearly 'family' rules, now that she'd broken one of them and not only worried her family greatly, but completely made a shamble of things between her and a near stranger. Colby had accepted consequences for his part in this fiasco. If her memory was any indication of what said consequences were she was going to become very uncomfortable upon reaching the ranch. She sighed and looked out the window, shoulders slumping.
She couldn't say she didn't deserve consequences- especially not after the worry she'd put her family through. And if Colby had already gotten them, it wouldn't be fair or right to try and talk her way out of it. She'd just have to be brave and take whatever came. She just hoped no one else would have to find out- although they probably would already know or suspect before hand. She sighed again as the car turned onto the long drive that led up to the house.
# # #
Owen hadn't wasted any time in calling back to the office and having Nell run a background check on one Lindsey McDonald. The information he'd gotten back hadn't been encouraging. A lawyer for Wolfram and Hart- even if he was an ex-lawyer- was not someone to trust readily. It made him nervous that the guy just seemed to show up and have breakfast with his family. Was it genuinely a chance meeting or had the man planned it so that he could somehow get closer to Owen and the information that Owen had access to? Yeah, he'd be the first to admit it was paranoid, but you didn't live long in his line of work without assuming that most people were out to get you.
He'd of course shared his findings with Colby and Ian- after all, they worked for the FBI and also had access to sensitive information. He could have just as easily been trying to worm his way into getting close to one or both of them. They were of course as paranoid as he was.
As a result, when they heard the car coming down the drive- and heard a second vehicle following- they were in full agent mode when they stepped onto the porch, waiting for everyone to come up. They eyed the truck suspiciously their stern manner only broke slightly when they gave Nana a smile.
Owen glanced at the man who had come around the front of the truck to help his mother out of the truck bed, old-fashioned manners obviously bred into the boy. Lindsey McDonald made sure his mother had her footing before he'd straightened and then stepped back, almost behind the older woman, as he gave the group on the porch a nervous look.
Lindsey could literally feel the suspicion in the eyes of the three men who were waiting. This was suspicion beyond that of over-protective men making certain that the women in their family were safe. It was suspicion that he'd only felt from people when he worked for Wolfram and Hart. He swallowed and looked more closely at the way the men were standing. Their stance suggested military backgrounds for each of them, it appeared that all of them were armed as well, which suggested some type of law enforcement- they must have done a background check when they found out he had joined Hermione for breakfast. Looked like he was going to be staying inside his truck after all.
Lindsey blinked in surprise when the matriarch of the clan began to scold. "Owen Granger! You know very well you aren't supposed to wear your weapons inside the house! You too Colby and Ian! And greeting our guest with a look like you plan to interrogate him…I'm ashamed of you three!" the older woman put her hands on her hips and leveled a stern glare at the three men, whose faces went from glaring and suspicious to embarrassed and sheepish within seconds of her words.
"Mama…","Nana…","Ma'am…" all three began at once. At Owen's exasperated look, the two younger men shut their mouths and let him continue.
"Mama, we have reason to be suspicious…" he said softly, watching as Lindsey attempted to put some distance between him-self and the rest of the family. The youngster knew they didn't trust him. Good. He'd be less likely to try something if he knew they were watching his every move. Unfortunately, his mother was having none of it. Lindsey had only gotten a few steps away when she grabbed hold of the boys arm and pulled him as close to her as was possible for him to be without ending up in her lap. Lindsey blushed uncomfortably.
"The only reason you would have to be suspicious of a man you haven't even met, is if you went looking for information you shouldn't have." She frowned.
Owen frowned back. "Actually, I should have. My position makes it necessary to find out things. I'd be remiss not to check out any new acquaintances- given that there are agencies in the world that would love to get their hands on me." He sighed, seeing the look of distress in his mother's eyes. He hated reminding her of the danger he lived with on a daily basis. It didn't help matters when he glanced at his brother and sister-in-law and noted the same look of alarm in their eyes- after all, Colby was in pretty much the same position he was.
Oddly enough, the only one who didn't seem alarmed was Hermione, although she did have tears in her eyes. It probably wasn't easy being reminded of the dangers of being in a career of law enforcement when she was the widow of a police officer. Owen found himself apologizing, trying to keep the girl from crying. "Sweetheart…."
"It's OK, Uncle Owen. I understand and even though I think you are being very unfair to Lindsey, I understand why you did what you did and I'm just glad you are doing what you can to keep yourself safe…" Hermione whispered, shooting an apologetic glance at Lindsey.
Lindsey cleared his throat. "He's not being unfair…. Look, I'll just find a spot to camp or something. I can meet you all back at the courthouse on Monday and we can take care of things and you won’t have to…"
"Nonsense!" Nana interrupted. "I asked you to stay with us till things are resolved and I'm not changing my mind. You will be staying here young man, and that’s final!"
Colby had a slightly irritated and confused look on his face. "What needs to be resolved exactly? And why would it need to be done at the court house?" he gave his cousin a suspicious glance, suspecting what had happened but unable to believe she would actually do it. The blush that began at the roots of her hair and covered every visible piece of skin wasn't encouraging.
# # #
An hour later, Lindsey was surprised that he hadn't been hung from the nearest tree. Only Hermione's (and Nana's- the old woman had apparently taken a liking to him for some reason he couldn't fathom) staunch support of him had kept the icy distrust from turning into something else.
Hermione had confessed to the marriage to the remaining members of her family. Her cousin had been torn between amusement at the situation and chagrin. Apparently he felt partly responsible for the outcome. He kept apologizing to her for leaving her all alone in a strange city. Colby had only shut up about it when Hermione had finally had enough and socked him on the shoulder hard enough for him to yelp and hold onto the now sore appendage with a surprised look on his face.
"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I'm not helpless thank you very much!" his wife- and damn if the thought of her being his wife didn't fill him with all sorts of fuzzy emotions he hadn't been expecting to feel- complained. Of course Colby then had to begin apologizing for offending her and making her believe that he thought she was helpless because he knew she wasn't. Hermione rolled her eyes and it was all Lindsey could do not to snort in laughter. He held it in and kept his stare on the floor, although the looks Ian and Colby shot him indicated that he hadn't been as successful as he’d hoped. Luckily they seemed more amused than irritated.
"That’s all well and good," Owen finally broke in. "But you and I have one more piece of business to finish with Missy!" he crooked a finger at Hermione, then turned and headed down the hallway.
Lindsey frowned at the sudden look of trepidation that crossed Hermione's face but she gave him a smile and motioned him to follow her grandmother into the kitchen. "Go keep Nana company…I'll be out shortly. It'll be fine." She then turned and followed her uncle down the hallway. Shrugging, and not much wanting to spend time surrounded by the still suspicious looks of the rest of the family, he did exactly that.
He'd only been in there for a few minutes when he heard it. At first he wasn't certain what it was that he was hearing, but it didn't take long for him to recognize the sounds of something whooshing through the air and then hitting flesh. He stiffened and turned toward the hall, the need to protect Hermione kicking into full gear and his outrage that her uncle would hit her overtaking any other rational thought. He found his way blocked by Nana.
"Let them be child. It will be over soon…" the old woman advised him, her eyes sharp on his face.
"But he's beating her!" Lindsey growled, his voice carrying through the house with the strength of his anger.
"No…he's spanking her! There is a difference!" The older woman looked at him affronted. "Do you think I would allow my son to beat my grand-daughter???"
Lindsey shook his head, not able to see or understand the difference- his mother's spankings had never included anything more than her hand against his backside- and they had never been hard enough to hear through the house. Usually the disappointment in her eyes had been enough to set him crying in remorse. His father had never truly corrected his behavior. Anyone else, who had attempted to correct him physically, had beaten him.
He attempted to go around the old woman, but she wouldn't budge and he didn't want to hurt her. "It's not right!" he finally shouted in frustration. "He shouldn't be touching her at all…. We didn't do anything wrong, but if someone has to pay for it, then let it be me. I can take a beating…."
Nana frowned, but didn't try to explain that it wasn't a beating again- the boy obviously didn't understand- the knowledge was something that came with experience and the love of family. She suspected he had never had the experience, and the love of a family had long been denied him. "No. You can't take her place. She's the one who broke a long standing family rule and caused her family hours of unnecessary worry because of it." Her tone was final, but Lindsey wasn't ready to give up.
He was just about to pick the old woman up bodily and move her out of his way- then fight his way past the other four members of the household, since they were now standing in the doorway and giving him incredulous looks- but Hermione pushed her way through the crowd blocking him and stood in front of him, putting a gentle hand against his chest as if to calm a skittish colt. "It's OK Lindsey. I'm fine…"
He shook his head still angry about the situation and confused at the strong feelings of protectiveness and worry he felt for the tiny woman he barely knew. "But…"
Hermione sighed. "Lindsey- my family has a rule that we don't all get drunk at once. At least one of us is supposed to stay sober- so that we can avoid situations like what happened last night. Had I, or Colby, or Ian decided not to drink- I wouldn't have gone off and married a complete stranger putting my and your life into complete upheaval. I wouldn't have worried my Nana, and Aunt, and Uncles so badly. I acted irresponsibly and every action has consequences. The consequences for breaking the family rules just happen to involve my getting my butt roasted- but it didn't kill me. I'm ALRIGHT." She watched as he processed her words. When it looked like he was about to argue again, she held a finger over his lips and admitted, "I needed to accept the consequences- otherwise I'd feel really guilty about what I'd put my family through- and I'd feel guilty that Colby got into trouble when I was just as guilty as he was…Now I can put it behind me and not feel bad anymore…"
Lindsey frowned again, a sad look crossing his face. He couldn't help but wonder what his mother would have thought of his actions the night before- or what his father would have thought before he became the broken man Lindsey remembered. He shook his head and closed his eyes, turning away from Hermione. All that would happen with him wondering about that, was him having to think about what they would have thought about the last 9 years of his life- of what he had done in the years before then. He had a feeling they wouldn't have been very impressed with him right now and the thought depressed him.
"Still think we didn't do anything wrong…" he muttered, his voice soft and grumbly. "Not really fair you got into trouble for something we both did, either." He pointed out hoping to get her to feel indignant about the unfairness and stop acting like what had occurred was perfectly acceptable. He'd forgotten about the other people in the room listening in, however.
The next thing he knew, Nana had maneuvered him to the kitchen table and was pushing him forward so that his chest would lie on it. He looked back at the old lady in surprise, the confusion clear on his face. The only thing that kept him from pushing back and getting off of the table was her hand on the small of his back. He was afraid he would hurt her if he fought, and he didn't want to hurt her. She may be irritating as all, and make assumptions, and expect things she shouldn't expect- but she was his elder and he respected that. Plus he actually liked her. He didn't want to be the cause of any harm that might befall her, so he kept still. But he was very confused- all in the room could see that.
"You were right. It isn't fair that Hermione paid consequences for actions you both took- and you not get anything." Nana agreed with him calmly before landing a solid smack against his backside with the spatula he hadn't realized she was holding. Lindsey couldn't help it. He yelped- loudly.
The rest of the household quickly left the kitchen in order to give the two a bit of privacy- Colby shaking his head in commiseration- as Hermione's grandmother landed a second smack a little below where the first had landed. This continued on for several minutes until the older woman had counted out what she felt was an adequate amount of lashes.
After the initial yelp, Lindsey managed to keep quiet through the remainder of the ordeal. He didn't even protest. It wasn't that he thought he deserved to be smacked- he had to admit what Nana was doing wasn't exactly a beating- he didn't feel he deserved it at all. He didn't. He was positive they had done nothing wrong. They were adults after all, and allowed to drink. It wasn't his fault that Hermione's family was over-protective and worried about their kids (even when said kids were well grown up). He was just allowing this because she was an older woman who deserved his respect and if she felt he deserved it, he wouldn't fight her over it. It wasn't like it could hurt all that much…. He was allowing this because he respected Nana- not because he deserved it.
That's what he told himself anyway. When Nana finally laid the spatula next to him on the table and took her hand off his back so that he could stand, he stayed still for a few moments to make certain he had full control over his emotions. He wasn't crying- he hadn't cried when he lost his hand, why would he cry at what were essentially a few love taps from an old lady (though he had to admit those 'taps' were a hell of a lot more painful than he'd expected.) Taking a deep breath, he slowly stood and faced his disciplinarian. "I apologize, Mrs. Granger. I didn't mean to upset you…." He finally spoke when he was certain his voice would cooperate.
"Nonsense, child," Nana huffed. "Call me Nana. And I didn't do that because I was upset. I did it because you needed it!" Lindsey found he could think of nothing to say in the face of that declaration.
"Here," she handed him a bowl with bread in it. "Put that on the table. Hermione, Colby! Come in here and help me get the rest of the food on! The rest of you get your butts into chairs. I'm hungry and I'm not waiting for any slowpokes to begin eating!" the irascible woman yelled out of the door, letting the rest of the family know it was safe to come back in.
# # #
They had begun eating in near silence, everyone doing their best not to look at Lindsey- who did his best to not look at the rest of the family. Hermione had attempted several times to draw him into a conversation- but it seemed whenever she finally got him to answer it was only in one word sentences and no one else could think of how to respond to it.
Owen shared looks with Colby and Ian. They all felt bad for the younger man- none of them had expected that he would allow Owen's mother to tan his hide, but he had. And they all knew that she had thoroughly tanned his backside. They'd all tried to escape onto the front porch- and they'd still heard each and every smack. At least Colby and Ian had received their punishment with somewhat relative privacy. Even Hermione had been allowed to go to a back room where, even if it could be heard (and how was it that Lindsey had heard when none of the rest of the family had?), they wouldn't see. Not only had Lindsey been taken to task in an area where everyone could hear- they had all seen the first two smacks being applied. Owen loved his mother dearly, but sometimes she could be clueless when it came to privacy.
Owen glanced at the youngest man in the room, a thoughtful frown on his face. The information he had gotten on the boy was almost a decade old…and the boy hadn't done anything that any other drunken bonehead might have done if given the opportunity. And his mother liked the kid. She had always had good instincts where people were concerned. He supposed it would be remiss of him not to give the poor guy a chance before deciding he was the enemy.
He glanced at Hermione, who was looking rather depressed and very distressed that Lindsey had apparently become an introvert. He suspected that the younger man felt humiliated at having all of them know exactly what had been done to him- and probably felt that they were looking down on him for allowing it. Owen gave Hermione a crooked grin. Well, he could think of one way to impress upon Lindsey that he shouldn't feel badly about accepting his mother's admonishment.
"So Colby, Ian…" he grinned at the two, who gave him suspicious, tentative smiles back. "Did you two put pillows on your chairs or something? You aren't squirming, and I know I wasn't easy on you…" he acted innocent as both men in question gave him dirty looks.
"No, Uncle Owen," Colby finally answered, realizing why his uncle had brought it up and deciding to go along with it. "I just forced myself to stay still- and after not moving at all for the last hour, I've become numb. I just hope I can stand up again when it is time to go to bed."
Colby turned toward Lindsey, who was now eyeing him and Ian speculatively, and asked him, "Are you a musician? I thought I saw a guitar case in the back of your truck…"
Lindsey gave a hesitant look around the table- noting that the hostility of earlier was gone. Huh…that was interesting. He slowly let himself relax, only wincing slightly at the sting shifting on his seat caused, then turned and answered Colby's question. "yeah, that's how I've been living the last several years. I sing wherever they'll pay me to sing…."