5 June, 2006 (Monday)
“You want me to do what?”
Hermione stared incredulously at her boss, and had a sudden, very fervent wish that she hadn’t bothered to get out of bed that morning.
Bill Weasley’s lips twitched with barely-repressed humour at her confrontational attitude, but he sat as immobile as ever in his high-backed, leather boss chair, his expression challenging her to fight him on this, his most recent edict.
Clearly, the man had flipped his last nut, if he thought for a second that she’d-
“You heard me perfectly well, Hermione. I want you to partner with Mister Malfoy, here,” he repeated, struggling to cover up his obvious desire to begin a round of lively chortling. “As of today, you’re going to be working in close quarters together as you train him up on the job. It’s my intention to keep the two of you joined at the hip permanently, in fact, as you both possess skills that complement the other rather nicely according to your pre-employment tests. So, play nice, you two. No murdering the other allowed.”
Right, she thought, it was official: Bill Weasley had finally taken the radical belly dive into the insanity pool, and he wasn’t getting out anytime soon.
She tried to form an eloquent appeal, to get the man to see reason, but the only thing that came out of her mouth was, “You have got to be joking!”
Her boss merely stared back at her, unmoved by her scepticism.
“You’re not joking,” she stated with growing dread, recognising the hard, icy glint that quickly replaced the amusement in Bill's startling blue eyes. The man was no longer finding hilarity in the situation - which meant he was deadly serious.
She deflated into a puddle of miserable goo right there in the middle of the office as the new assignment’s repercussions sunk in.
Draco Malfoy was to be her new work partner. Fan-fecking-tastic.
The idealistic part of her thought her attitude a very poor one, as she'd just been handed a phenomenal opportunity to make a new friend of a man she'd once despised more than itchy leg hair. Buck up, her positive side beamed at her, Malfoy is different now! Or so she'd read. According to Witch Weekly, he'd completely thrown away his ridiculously held beliefs about blood status, and was often seen in the company of Muggle females (usually gorgeous models or actresses, but who was judging?), so perhaps he could be tolerable.
Yes, that was the ticket! She just needed to look at this unexpected circumstance as an occasion to start over, not a chance to reopen old wounds. In fact, she was betting that just as soon as they'd both settled to the idea of their new, collaborative relationship, Malfoy would transform, becoming the ideal Curse-Breaking partner. He'd be like Watson to her Holmes. Ant to her Dec...
The Bubble to her Squeak.
As she turned with a reluctant sigh to stare at the man who was doomed to share her fate, she met his familiar, dark scowl with one of her own.
Hell, if mutual destruction was to be assured anyway, why not just bring on the Apocalypse while Bill was at it, she wondered? At least then the rotten sod would perish in the flames of perdition right along with her.
“Yes, I’m just as thrilled as you are about this, Granger, let me tell you," Malfoy drawled, his countenance gloomy. "Happy effing Birthday to me."
He stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
Brilliant! See, they were getting along swell already.