The first time Hermione saw her perform was at the Piccadilly theatre in the West End. An American touring company was there for two weeks, the last stop on a world tour, before heading home.
The noise and size of the crowd waiting in the theatre lobby was a shock, after a month spent buried in the chilly silence of the restricted section of the Hogwarts library. Everyone was packed too closely together for her to reach her wand to use her favorite muffling charm, and though she'd mastered several wand-less magic charms over the years that wasn't one of them.
Her ticket clutched tightly in her hand, buried in a pocket of her favorite muggle jacket, Hermione moved forward through the crowd. From the look of the packed lobby, she'd been lucky to get it, thanks to her parents. A member of the cast had needed an emergency filling and they'd somehow ended up at her parent's dental practice in Milton Keynes. In appreciation for being seen immediately, they'd offered her parents tickets to the show.
They'd been unable to attend, because of a prior engagement. But having been subjected to her rant about her History of Muggle Law seminar and the paper she was expected write for it when they'd gone to dinner with her several weeks before, they'd gotten Hermione a ticket for opening night.
Nervously looking through the playbill, Hermione glanced around the theater. She wasn't completely unfamiliar with Muggle entertainment. She had lived as one for the first eleven years of her life after all, and spent large parts of her summer and Christmas breaks with her parents her first few years at Hogwarts. But going down to London to watch musical theater was something her parents usually did while she was away at school.
Half the audience was wearing a military uniform of some sort or another. Looking through the playbill she was surprised to see that this was the theater company's final stop on an international tour sponsored by some American Muggle military support group she wasn't familiar with.
Mentally taking notes, Hermione sat back and tried not to let the music envelope her. How the Muggle audience reacted to the depiction of witches in the musical was an important part of the essay she planned to write.
Exiting the theater afterward, she knew she would have to go again. There must have been some kind of compulsion charm in the theater, she decided as she headed to the box office. Maybe she could find a way to make a recording next time so she could take the notes she’d been too distracted to take this time.
Obsession wasn't a healthy thing. But it took Harry and Ron sitting her down after she missed their regular weekly dinner for the third time to get her to acknowledge that going on vacation to America, because of some Muggle actress she'd never spoken to, and had seen twice in a musical in London, verged on crazy.
She decided that it probably wasn't a good idea to tell them that she'd recorded the performance the second time, using a magical camera she'd borrowed from Luna Lovegood, and had actually watched the performance more than a dozen times, and could recite lines along with the characters. Or that she’d convinced Luna to give her press credentials for her trip in exchange for a short article for the Quibbler.
Hermione approached her trip to NY with her usual thoroughness. She researched Muggle theater, specifically all of the variations she expected to find on Broadway. She researched the theater company that had put on the musical she’d seen. She read the original novel the musical was based on.
And she put together as thorough a biography of the actors as possible. It was surprising how much one could find out about a person through the Muggle Internet. As a final step, she contacted the actress’s manager so there wouldn’t be any surprises when she showed up.
Rachel was glad to be back in New York. It'd been an extremely rewarding year and a half on tour. But exhaustingly long. Her fathers had flown out to Tokyo when the company had stopped there for a month, midway through the tour, and she'd had dinner in Berlin with Kurt and his current boyfriend but otherwise the only people she'd personally interacted with for the whole tour had been the rest of the company and the appreciative audiences.
Laying in bed, she ran through everything she needed to accomplish now that she was home. Brittany and Santana were being very generous in giving her a place to stay until she could find an apartment and get her possessions out of storage but she couldn't take up their guest room for too long, even if Santana was now acting as her manager slash lawyer after her last manager behaved so unprofessionally.
She had enough money saved up so she wasn't days away from starving, unlike when she'd first hit the streets of NY after dropping out of NYADA, and had auditioned for every play she could find. She could be a little more discriminating in picking roles. First she would see if Santana had any leads for her, though she hadn't mentioned anything the night before.
"Ms. Lopez, there's a call for you on line 7," the new office receptionist, a cute little blonde just out of Barnard, said. Santana smirked to herself, replaying in her head Kurt's comment, the last time he was in town, that she liked to surround herself with blondes to make herself stand out.
"Thanks," Santana said, adding an extra touch of breathiness to her voice before switching to the other line. "Santana Lopez, how may I help you?" she said, back to her normal business voice, sure that if anyone from high school heard her being this polite they would be laughing their asses off once they got over the shock.
"Miss Lopez, my name is Hermione Granger," a firm female voice with a British accent said. "I'm writing an article for the Quibbler, about views on witches in popular culture."
"I'm not sure how I can help you Miss Granger," Santana said, puzzled.
"Hermione," the voice said.
"Got it," Santana said, randomly poking her notepad, idly wondering what Brit would sound like with a British accent, and if she would be up for a little role playing when she got back.
"You represent Rachel Berry? Correct?" the woman asked.
"Yes," Santana said.
"I was able to see her last month, at the Piccadilly theatre," Hermione said. "An impressive performance."
"Not going to argue," Santana said, resisting the urge to elaborate. Even on a bad day, Berry was good, though Santana would never admit it to her. Her ego was big enough already, after getting nominated for that Emmy for her walk-on in one of those CSI shows, even if she hadn't won.
"Of course," the woman said. "I'll be in New York next month, and I was hoping to be able to interview her for my article?"
"What magazine was that again?" Santana asked, putting to use the pen she'd been twirling in her fingers for the last five minutes.
"The Quibbler," Hermione told her. "We're small but have a dedicated audience in Britain."
"Okay," Santana said. "Give me a shout when you're in town and I'll arrange an interview." She didn't expect Berry to object to talking to the press.
"Thank you," Hermione said, before hanging up.
Santana put down the phone. Managing Berry's career wasn't a lucrative activity, yet. And certainly not something she'd planned. But the senior partners had agreed to her pursuing it as an experiment after the budding star had come to her, after firing her first manager, looking for advice from someone who wouldn't sugar coat things and would look after Berry's best interests even when she didn't agree with them.
Brittany, displaying the sharp mind that few outside of their small circle knew existed, had been so impressed with how happy the half-pint diva was with Santana's help that she'd asked for a similar deal, even though Santana had offered to help her for free. Somehow she'd then found herself involved in the careers of Quinn Fabray and Kurt Hummel, though mainly for legal advice and not as hands-on as she was with Brittany and Berry.
Something about the conversation was setting off alarms. Not in a 'Danger, Will Schuester' kind of way, but in a something she heard in church kind of way. There was a connection there somewhere. And she would find it.
It was her own fault, she knew that, listening to Berry chatter away like a demented squirrel about her plans for apartment hunting. With Brittany on tour with one of those Disney pop-brats for the summer, Santana couldn't just lock herself in her bedroom until the noise stopped. She was going to have to interact with Berry on a personal level without her Brit-buffer. For days, if not weeks.
It wasn't that she hated Berry, she wouldn't be camped out in their spare again if she did, but her high volume, filterless word vomit could be exhausting, especially after a year of being Berry free.
She hadn't actually told her about the possible interview yet. She was saving that to toss at Berry on her way out the door in the morning, like a grenade. And then, it hit her, just as Berry started ranting about the auditions she'd managed to wrangle her spots in, less than a week after getting back from her tour.
The last time she's visited her abuela, she'd given Brittany a magazine to read. Some wizarding thing she subscribed to. Santana held up her hand. "Just hold that thought, shorty."
"But Santana! They wanted me to play a lesbian Elphaba, and while I can play any part, and I just spent a year playing Elphaba on tour, the only lesbians I really know in the city are you and Brittany, at least enough to model this role on, but you aren't really typical lesbians. And that other audition you sent me on? It was for an all female revival of Company. Santana? Why are you sending me to auditions for plays about lesbians?" Rachel asked, giving her a puzzled look.
"Whoa there!" Santana said, getting up from her chair. "Take a breath, and I'll be right back." Shaking her head at the woman's obliviousness, Santana escaped from Berry and started digging in the hall closet. Brittany could be such a pack rat, that magazine had to be somewhere with the other things stashed away while she was gone.
"There it is!" she said, triumphantly, finding it under a stack of Brit's Powerpuff Girls dvds. Returning to the living room, she plopped down onto the couch and started leafing through the magazine, smirking to herself at the sounds Berry was making as she was ignored.
"What are you looking at," Berry asked, hands on her hips in the middle of the room, her rant hopefully temporarily exhausted.
"A magazine," Santana said, finding what she was looking for. At least she hoped so.
"You haven't heard a word I've said," Berry grumbled, flopping down next to her.
"Blah, blah, lezzy Elphaba, blah," Santana said, smirking at Rachel's gasp. "You've played the straight girl for years," she told her not-quite good friend. "'Bout time you played yourself. Don't need to find someone else to imitate."
"I'm not gay!" Berry protested. "Not that there is anything wrong with you and Brit, but that isn't me."
"If you say so," Santana said, dismissively waving off her objections and putting the magazine between herself and the sputtering actress.
"Why is that picture moving?
"You can see that?" Santana turned the magazine around and glared at it. The photo of the editor winked at her. Of course Berry would have enough magic to activate the wizarding pictures. She'd always claimed to have a sixth sense. But that was a puzzle for another time. If ever.
"Yes, unless I'm dreaming. And I don't think I'm dreaming," she said, sounding puzzled. "But I'm fully recovered from jet lag, not that I'm actually susceptible to it with my extensive travel experience. Pinch me!"
"Let's not go there," Santana said, shaking her head at the tempting idea. She had no desire to be guesting in an extra Berry special dream. "You aren't dreaming. The pictures are moving."
"Oh. Is this some new technology I missed while I was on tour? I'm going to have to have all of my publicity shots redone," she grumbled. "Though it might not be a bad idea. Can these new photographs do sound also?"
"Chill, short stuff," Santana said. "It's not new."
"Why haven't I seen it before then?"
"Don't know, don't really care," Santana grumbled, starting to regret the whole thing.
"Santana!" Berry said, pouting.
"If you're gonna whine, I'm going to bed," Santana told her.
"But they're moving!"
"So am I," Santana said, getting up.
"Okay, okay!" Rachel said, miming zipping her lips shut. Crossing her arms, she leaned back and pouted.
Smirking, Santana found the magazine's masthead. Next to each name was a small image madly waving at her. And there it was, the name she was looking for. Poking the image next to the name, she watched it expand, taking up a large portion of the page. Not bad, she thought, if you liked the hot librarian type.
"Something you need to tell me about England?"
"This chick look familiar?" Santana asked, turning the magazine so the picture faced her.
"She's moving!" Berry said. "Why'd she wink at me?"
"No idea," Santana said. "You must be her type. Or a fan."
"I'm not," Berry sputtered. "I'm not gay!"
"If you say so," Santana said, recalling a similar denial from Q a month before being introduced to her girlfriend, some crazy writer from Connecticut.
"Who is she?" Berry asked.
"Just some reporter. She saw your show in London. Piccadilly?"
"Yes," Berry said. "Did she like it? I don't recall seeing a review with that byline."
Santana shrugged. "She wants to interview you for this." She waved the magazine. "In person."
"Really? When?" Berry asked, excitedly.
"Next month. She's gonna be in town for some reason," Santana said. "I told her to give me a shout when she's here and we'll arrange something."
"What kinds of things does she write?" Berry asked, making a grab for the magazine.
"Does it matter?" Santana asked, holding it out of her reach. This wasn't Europe where they got uptight about Norms learning about magic but a scolding from her abuela for letting loudmouth Berry know about the Wizarding world was not something Santana looked forward to.
"I need to prepare," Berry said, making another grab for the Quibbler.
"I'll see what I can do," Santana said. "Keep your grubby paws off Brit's magazine. She wouldn't like it." A phrase guaranteed to stop even the most manic of Berrys in her tracks.
"I just wanted to look at it," Berry said, pouting, but sitting back down.
Santana's ears still buzzed, two days later, from the talking to she'd gotten from her abuela. But she'd promised to bring Berry out to Jersey to visit her before her interview with the British witch. If anyone could get the short diva under control, it was her abuela, the Wise Woman of the East Coast.
Things might be more laid back here but Berry inciting an international incident if something screwy happened would not be good for anyone. And Brit wouldn’t be happy if something happened to Berry when she found out. And Brit always found out.