7/24/07

Granger, Texas Ranger – Chapter 1

It had been a long, exceedingly dull day at work. I had spent the morning in court giving a deposition and the afternoon working on paperwork rather than being out in the field where I and the others on my team preferred to be. So it was mostly boredom that led to my distraction. And as a result, I barely blocked the roundhouse kick aimed at my head.

"Granger, keep your head in the game," came the calm warning from Walker, who was standing to one side of the mat.

After completing her follow through motion, Alex, my most frequent opponent, had dropped into a standard defensive stance with her gloved hands cocked in front of her.

We continued our sparring session for another ten minutes before calling it quits. The two of us were surprisingly well matched. At five-ten I had a three inch reach advantage and was finally a little stronger than her, but she had been working out with Walker and his men for close to four years and still had more skill at martial arts.

When we finished, I paused to pull off the protective headgear Walker insisted we wear during practice sessions. Then I took a moment to stretch my shoulder and back muscles. I had a few new aches and pains, but nothing like in the early days when I had first joined the team. But then running five miles three times a week, lifting weights on the alternate days, and these sparring sessions had really toughened up my body. It had been so easy in the old days to use my magically abilities for even the smallest of tasks. However I was now starting to comprehend the saying 'A sound mind in a sound body'.

"Who's up for Killer Sushi?" asked Alex with a hopeful glance towards Walker. 'Killer Sushi' was the name of the sushi restaurant which had opened only a few weeks earlier about four blocks from the courthouse where we worked. The sign outside the restaurant was a bright yellow caricature of the poisonous blowfish they, fortunately, serve only in Japan, hence the restaurant's name.

Trivette and Walker both shook their heads and I could read the disappointment in Alex's eyes. MEN! I have been here in Fort Worth for eighteen months now and knew from the very first day that Alex Cahill had it bad for Walker, but he seems to be totally oblivious.

And that's part of what makes Walker so hard to read. I mean put him in a dangerous confrontational situation out on the streets and he reminds more than anything of old Dumbledore. Oh, not physically, Dumbledore was in his eighties when I knew him back at Hogwarts while Walker is an ultra-fit forty-five. No, it is this calmness they both possess and the ability to project an image that they know more than anyone around them and nothing can possibly surprise them. And that's why I don't understand how Walker can miss the signals Alex is always sending.

Pulling off my left padded glove, I threw my sweaty arm across Alex's shoulder. "Looks like it is going to be a 'girl's night out'."

After shooting another look at Walker, Alex responded, "Guess your right, Granger."

It seemed to be custom that all of the rangers went solely by their last name. Walker. Trivette. Granger. It had taken awhile to get used to it, but Granger was finally how I had started to think of myself. And 'Hermione' was starting to feel like another person; someone who had rightly been left behind in England.

I decided for Alex's sake to give the guys one more try.

"Come on, Walker, join us. I seem to recall spending a Saturday afternoon standing in knee deep water in the Brazos just below Possum Kingdom Dam fishing with you."

"Yeah, but we cooked the trout. We didn't eat them raw."

"Cooked?" I laughed. "How could anyone tell under all of the Tex-Mex sauce you slathered on? They have spicy sauces at the Japanese restaurant, too. You won't even have to taste the fish if you don't want to."

Walker at least grinned before once more shaking his head. "Good try, but I am still going to take a pass. Anyway, we are still all on for golf tomorrow, right?"

When I first met Walker, all I saw was the cowboy hat, the boots, and the too tight jeans – hey, a girl can still look even though I would never dream of stepping between Alex and him. It wasn't until later that I discovered his passion for golf. Or Alex's or Trivette's either. Before coming here I had always thought of Fort Worth as part of the 'Wild West' like I saw in the movies and on TV during the summer months I spent with my parents in the Muggle world away from Hogwarts. A lot of people, in particular the rangers, still dress the part, but in truth Fort Worth has over forty golf courses and in most ways is like any other modern American city.

After we nodded our heads, Walker headed towards the men's locker room with just a curt, "See you at six-thirty."

Alex and I headed into the women's locker room which along with the practice area and weight room was also located in the basement of the courthouse. After a quick shower, we got dressed. Alex slid back into her 'power suit' as a barrister, I mean attorney, for Tarrant County. Hmmm, sometimes I still have a little problem with American English versus Queen's English.

I, in turn, also put my work clothes back on, which for me meant tight blue jeans, cowgirl boots with three inch heals, a white button down shirt with my silver Texas star pinned to my chest, and a white cowboy hat. It doesn't actual say in the Texas Ranger manual "THOU SHALT WEAR A COWBOY HAT", but we all do. Last, but not least, I strapped on my accessories. On my right hip went the revolver in a little leather holster that clipped on my low slung jeans. It was the exposed gun that most reminded me I was in the wilds of America. In England the police rarely carried guns or if they did so they were discreetly hidden away. Not so here, they were right out in the open. And let me tell you, walk into a bar with a gun at your hip and a silver star on your chest and you most definitely get noticed. Anyway, the gun was on my right hip while my cell and wand were in matching leather cases on my left hip. You might think my wand would get noticed and commented on when out in public, but strap a big gun on your other hip and no notices, or at least ever comments.

By the time we walked out of the courthouse it was already seven-thirty in the evening. But seven-thirty during the first week of September here in Fort Worth meant it was only slightly over a hundred degrees, not that I minded. After spending the first twenty-five years of my life in dreary, old England, I had reveled in the heat and bright summer sun. Even now after two summers I still loved every second of it.

"Mind if I throw my gym bag in your trunk while we go eat?" I asked.

Alex nodded. "Sure, although I still don't understand why you don't just get a car with a real trunk."

As we walked over to Alex's dark metallic blue Mustang convertible, I couldn't help but glance over at my own parking spot twelve spaces over. When I had first decided to come to Texas, where it is summer ten months a year, I had wanted to get a Miata. But C.D. had convinced me it just wasn't practical for a Ranger: no backseat for transporting criminals or off-road capability when in pursuit of the bad guys on the numerous back roads. I had insisted on a convertible and finally C.D. and I had compromised on an old 1976 two door full-sized Chevy Blazer with the top chopped off. It had a big V-8, oversized tires, a lift kit, and four wheel drive. C.D. had more interest in Muggle machines than any Wizard I had ever met except perhaps Arthur Weasley. But C.D. had a lot more mechanical aptitude then Arthur could ever dream of. He actually kept my old Blazer running, most of the time with only a little magical help.

Parker, or C.D. as he was now mostly called since retiring six months earlier from the Rangers, was the reason I was in Texas. C.D. had been the Auror for the north Texas region for over forty years, but had been looking to retire. I had spent eight years after leaving Hogwarts working out of the Ministry's main Auror office in London, but had gotten tired of all the Wizarding politics you had to put up with in London. And well, truthfully, I had so many bad memories of London, of Hogwarts, and frankly all of England, I had desperately needed to get out of there for an extended period of time.

So when the opening was posted for Texas, I decided to jump for it. I mean it sounded like the perfect place for a little R & R, while still getting paid. How much call could there be for dark wizard hunters in Texas? How much time and effort would it take to catch all the wizards misusing their magical powers to perform illegal cow tipping?

Of course, things are never what they seem to be on the surface and I should have known better. Back at Hogwarts I was always known as 'research girl' and always knew all the facts or at least where to find them. But did I do the required research when it came to making one of those big life altering decisions? No, I just 'stepped blindly into the flue', as the wizarding saying goes.

And stepping into the flue was literally true. London to Texas is way beyond my range to apparate. And it is also impractical to consider using a broom or some mystical flying creature like a hippogriff, particularly since I absolutely hate flying and will only do it in a truly life-or-death situation where magical spells or locks prevent apparating. So, the only practical high-speed method between London and Texas is by the flue network.

On that first day when I found myself stepping from the fireplace in C.D.'s ranch house located fifteen miles north of Fort Worth along the road to Denton, I thought all my naïve ideas about Texas were going to be true. The man standing before me was a heavy set older man of about sixty-five. The man's face and hands were a leathery reddish-brown except for his forehead which was pale white – a trademark 'cowboy's tan' as it was later explained to me. He was wearing faded blue jeans, a red flannel long sleeve shirt, and a short leather vest. A silver star was pinned to the vest, but still a little light-headed from the dizzying trip through the flue system I didn't notice it at first or understand the significance it would have in my new life.

I tried to imagine him in wizarding robes like all the Aurors worn back home, but it was simply impossible to imagine this cowboy so attired. And for one of the few times since getting my original Owl-borne invitation to attend Hogwarts, I felt self-conscious in my black robes.

He looked me up and down for a moment and then stuck out his hand. "C.D. Parker. You must be Ms. Grainger out from the Ministry."

I lifted my arm and the robe slowly slid back exposing my pale hand. "Hermione Granger. It is nice to meet you, sir."

As he warmly shook my hand, he smiled. "No need to be so formal. I am simply C.D. to my friends."

"C.D.," I responded with a nod of my head. "My friends called my Mione."

He gave me another head to toe scan, although what he hoped to make out through my voluminous robes, I had no idea. Then looking back at my face he said, "No, you strike me more as a 'Granger' than a 'Mione'."

Before waiting for any response from me, he led the way over to a pair of rocking chairs poised in front of a large bay window. Glancing out as I took the indicated seat, I saw several outbuildings, a corral with five horses, and about a quarter mile in the distance, a busy highway.

He immediately launched into a discussion of the primary responsibilities and tasks of an Auror in Texas, but I briefly must have zoned out. I found myself staring at the old man and trying to imagine him using a wand. Dumbledore in his long robes could pull it off. Even Harry in street clothes could pull it off. However, when I tried to picture this old cowboy swishing a wand about, I just wanted to giggle. Of course, the first time I saw him in action when we had gone up against a cartel of Canadian wizards who were smuggling South American dragons through Texas, I learned he knew how to weld his wand very well.

Anyway I must have zoned out for a couple of minutes thinking about wands, when somehow the word 'Rangers' caught my attention.

"I'm sorry, could you say that again?"

"Sure," he drawled. "Since this isn't Merry Olde England where you can wander about in robes without being noticed and also since we don't have the luxury of a large staff to keep tabs on everything going on, it is necessary to blend in with the Muggles and use some of their resources for preliminary intelligence gathering."

I eventually found out the entire contingent from the Ministry consisted of seven individuals, most of them from the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, and all of them were Yanks. Well, at least at first, I, being from England, thought of them as Yanks, but the first time I made the mistake of addressing them as such, they firmly put me in my place. Firmly, as in performing Petrificus Totalus on me and forcing me to stand frozen in place while they explained, ad nauseam, how people from north of the Mason-Dixon line were Yanks while they were all Texans. Geez, join the 21st Century, already.

"Therefore," continued C.D., "I have been permitted by the Ministry to perform the necessary magics to secure you a spot as a member of the team of Texas Rangers based here in Fort Worth."

"Texas Rangers," I repeated. "As in 'Cowboys and Indians' Texas Rangers?"

C.D. grinned and for a moment I saw a hint of a twinkle in his eye similar to the one I would see in Professor McGonagall's eye when she knew you were about grasp the solution to some difficult transfigurations assignment.

"Oh, they were founded back in that era, but they have kept up with the times. And the Texas Ranger credentials will allow you to travel freely throughout the state and even into the bordering states and every law enforcement official you encounter will bend over backwards to help you. The same certainly can't be said for any other law enforcement agency, including the FBI."

"But, but," I spurted. "They all carry guns."

C.D. shrugged. "Ya'll will get used to it."

I shook my head. "No way could I ever use a gun. I would rather use magic and take my chances with the Ministry's retribution."

"I have never used a gun in my forty years, well at least not against a Muggle. We are a long way from Ministry Headquarters and that is why most of the support staff is from the Accidental Magic Reversal Department. Unless things get really out of hand and come to the Ministry's attention, we mostly just handle things ourselves without bothering them over every little detail."

After the things Ron, Harry, and I had done back in the 'bad old days' you would think I would have immediately appreciated this laissez-faire attitude, but my years at Auror headquarters must have had a more profound effect on me than I realized, because I was momentarily appalled by this comment.

Anyway, to make a long story short, C.D. planted the story I was part of an exchange program between the Rangers and Scotland Yard. He manifested a complete set of supporting documentation including an authentic set of credentials for me. And almost before I knew what had happened, I was teamed with Walker & Trivette and learning how to be a true Texas Ranger.

Now my meandering thoughts of how I had ended up being a Ranger had absorbed most of my attention during the seven minute walk to the restaurant. And it hadn't gone unnoticed by Alex.

"Earth to Granger. Earth to Granger. Come in, Granger," she said jokingly, as she pulled open the door and we were hit by a powerful blast of cold air-conditioned air. The whole 'Earth to whoever' line was one of the big inside jokes here in Fort Worth, as there were more aerospace workers in the immediate area than all the real and wanabee cowboys combined.

"Sorry about that, I don't know why I have been so distracted today," I answered. Then, as I stepped across the threshold, I muttered almost under my breath, "Expossium."

'Expossium' was an incantation I first uncovered during fifth year while reading a treatise by Justus Pilliwickle, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement back at the turn of the 20th century. It allowed the user to see a distinctive aura about any magical person or creature in the immediate vicinity. It wasn't of much value at Hogwarts where everyone used magic, but it could be handy out in the real world. It was therefore only a mild surprise to learn this was the very first spell they taught once you joined the Department of Aurors.

Since coming to Texas I had made a habit of performing it whenever I entered a room full of people. Rarely did I ever encounter anyone and usually when I did they turned out to be benign, but 'better safe than sorry' was C.D.'s motto and I had tried to make it mine.

Tonight, for the first time in weeks, two people in the room lit up in a glow-in-the-dark fashion. Little did I know that this was about to be the start of my first big adventure since assuming the full mantel from C.D.

End of Chapter 1

Author's Note

A quick little teaser chapter to set up the basic premise and to see if there is any interest in a Walker, Texas Ranger crossover story. It may seem like an odd choice, but I have read many crossover stories where people try to crossover two magic-based stories, be it Potter and/or Buffy and/or Highlander and/or Charmed and/or Smallville etc., and they never seem to work. The writers always seem to be trapped explaining why the two different 'magics' are compatible rather than telling an interesting story. That's why I prefer to do crossovers between 'straight' sources and 'magical' sources; it allows you to have characters exploring both worlds from a new perspective and see the wonders of each.

As for the choice of Walker, well I was never an avid fan of the show, but I have lived in Fort Worth for the past fourteen years and thought it might be fun to do a story set in a place I actually know.

Now for this first chapter I intentionally went light on Granger's backstory, primarily because I haven't yet seen the seventh book. (Come on, Amazon, it has been out for days already and you still haven't shipped my audio CD.) Hopefully, Granger wasn't killed off in the book, but even if she was, I already have some thoughts on how to bring her back. Either way, I decided to save the exploring of the emotional impact on her of the events in last book for later chapters.

Anyway, if people show enough interest in this story, I will probably continue it, but it may not be for a month or two, as I am in the middle of the final chapter of another story I have been working for a long time.

So, if you would like to see more, drop me a review.

Have a great day,

Duane

P.S. If you have any suggestions or requests of what you would like to see in this story, fire away. I wouldn't promise anything, but in my other stories I have gotten a lot of interesting suggestions that I think helped to enrich the final story.