Draco stepped out of the sitting room fireplace and headed toward the study, grinning. It was always so easy to ruffle the feathers of an indignant Hermione Granger. It was her own fault, really—their latest verbal battle. If she hadn’t been so bossy and self-righteous about how she had already handed in her proposal and how he was a lazy good-for-nothing who didn’t deserve his spot on their team, he wouldn’t’ve picked the fight with her. And he was confident that his proposal would outshine hers and everyone else’s on the team who’d submitted one. He’d not been Sorted into Slytherin for nothing.
After a quick search, Draco found the tiny bottle of golden liquid he’d been looking for. Felix Felicis. He’d carefully brewed a bottle of it after he’d regained his freedom post-war. The debacle of Sixth still weighed heavily on his mind, and he’d vowed to have every possible tool on-hand in case he was ever faced with a similarly dire crisis. The current situation was not dire, but the promise of that corner office, coupled with Granger’s dismissal, made it worth the risk. Besides, he would be within the confines of the manor while he wrote his proposal. He would submit it the following morning, just in time to meet the deadline, and no one would be any the wiser.
Draco refreshed his memory with the instructions attached to the bottle and downed the proper dosage.
But instead of sitting at the desk to begin writing, Draco found himself heading toward the sitting room fireplace and Floo’ing Granger’s flat. He felt confident that he would not only reach it but that he would not encounter any magical barriers to stop his entry.
“You’re earlier than I expected, Gin—Malfoy, what the hell are you doing in my flat?!”
Ah, there was that familiar, shrieking voice. But while he normally found it irritating, Draco now thought it adorable. And she even looked adorable. Gone were the silky blouse, the flattering pencil skirt, the sexy heels. In their place were worn jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and soft slippers.
Before she could utter another word, Draco closed the distance between them and seized her into a forceful kiss. Granger struggled, pushing against him, but that only caused him to tighten the hold of his encircling arms. He finally released them from their kiss when she bit his lower lip, but he wouldn’t let go. Instead, he kissed her nose and grinned at her indignation. She was a feisty one, as he well knew.
“Malfoy!” she exclaimed, hitting his chest with her fists. “What’s the matter with you? Let me go before I hex you!”
“Now, now, don’t be angry, chouette! I missed you after I got home and just had to see you. Go to dinner with me?”
Granger looked gobsmacked. Then, she gave him an odd look. “Did you hit your head or something, Malfoy? Are you sure you don’t need a Healer to check you for concussion?”
“I’m perfectly fine. Never felt better. Now, go and change into something nice. I know this lovely little French place. On very good terms with the maitre d’, so we’re sure to get a table.”
Granger, arms akimbo, stood and glared. “I’m not going to dinner with you! I’ve got plans with Ginny, so if you don’t mind, I’d like you to leave.”
Before Draco had a chance to respond, a FOOM! sounded in Granger’s fireplace and the Weaselette’s head appeared. “Hermione, I’m so sorry! One of the Chasers got injured in practice, and we need to go overtime to help the Reserve Chaser get comfortable working with the team for tomorrow’s match. I have to cancel for tonight, and I’m really sorry for the short notice—Malfoy, what the hell are you doing here? Hermione, is there something I should know?”
“What you should know, Weaselette, is that I have come to offer companionship to the friend that you are abandoning. I was just about to get her to change into something suitable for a nice dinner out when you interrupted.”
The Weaselette gaped, speechless.
“I am not going to dinner with you, Malfoy!”
“Oh, c’mon, ’Mione, why not? You’ve managed to work alongside him for two years without killing each other. And he’s giving you a free meal. Surely you can handle spending a few more hours staring at his pointy face. Anyway, I’ve got to go! You two enjoy yourselves and try not to cause a scene!” And with that, the ginger head disappeared.
“She’s got a point, Granger. It’s just dinner, after all. Surely you’re not scared to have dinner with me?”
“That infamous Gryffindor courage failing you?”
“Fine! I’ll have dinner with you! But if you don’t behave, you’ll find me unapologetic for any irreversible hexes! And if you lose your rapport with the maitre d’, it’ll simply be what you deserve!” And with that parting shot, Granger stormed into her room.
She was dressed and ready in fifteen minutes. And she looked stunning in her ice-blue dress. Draco vowed to melt that haughty demeanour by night’s end. He grabbed a pinch of Floo powder and then her hand to pull her into the fireplace to squeeze in beside him.
When they arrived at Bella Notte, they were greeted cheerfully by the maitre d’ and shown immediately to a small table in a quiet corner of the restaurant. Draco pointed out his favourite items on the menu and recounted the story of his first time at the restaurant, when he’d embarrassed his parents by telling their server that his dessert had gone bad. In actual fact, he’d ordered the pastry chef’s famous chouquettes, filled with lemon Bavarois instead of the typical custard. He had never cared for lemon-flavoured desserts, but unfortunately, his taste preferences had horribly offended the pastry chef, who would have quit the restaurant if his mother hadn’t charmed him back to good spirits.
“I was not permitted to come back until I’d acquired a proper appreciation for all forms of French cooking. Lemon-flavoured desserts will never be a favourite, but I certainly know enough now to keep quiet about it.”
Granger laughed. She had such a lovely laugh. Draco smiled. Ten points to Slytherin for success in the first attempt to chip some ice off the Gryffindor princess.
Their appetizers arrived. Emboldened by his success, Draco told Granger more stories about his childhood than he’d ever revealed to any of his friends who hadn’t, like Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle, experienced said stories themselves. In return, he became privy to some of Granger’s accidental magic misadventures prior to McGonagall’s visit that finally explained everything. Part-way through the meal, the maitre d’ stopped by briefly to see how they liked their meals and the wines that had been recommended; he gave Draco a discreet wink of encouragement. He then smoothly informed Mademoiselle that the pastry chef had created a new dessert that had not yet been listed on the dessert menu; it would, of course, be served au gratuit to one of their favourite customers and his lovely date. Granger blushed prettily at the compliment.
Dessert proved to be a delightful marriage of exquisite flavours and elaborate artistry. It was perfectly paired with a nutty liqueur.
As he helped Granger into her coat and guided her toward the fireplace, Draco was pleased to note that she was allowing him to place a possessive hand on the small of her back. His smile broadened when she answered “Your place” to his query of where they should Floo.
They stumbled, laughing, into the sitting room and onto the plush sofa, where Granger initiated the first round of snogging. One round led to another until they lost count and stopped caring who the instigator was. It was also just as unclear as to which one of them had insisted on “Bed!” to continue their amourous activities.
Finally, satiated and with Granger curled up fast asleep against him, Draco recalled the proposal. Glancing at the clock, he noted that he still had another hour before the Liquid Luck wore off. Plenty of time to write out his ideas. It wasn’t as if he’d not put any thought into it. He’d simply been putting off committing his ideas to parchment until now.
Draco slipped quietly out of bed and headed toward the study. After sealing the parchment and tucking it safely into his work robes, he climbed back into bed and pulled Granger’s soft, warm body closer.
“Would you be so kind as to help me with that box of papers, Granger? I’ll be out of your hair much sooner.”
Granger snorted but complied.
When they reached his new office, Draco dumped the box in his hands onto the desk, only to jump back when a voice screamed at him, “Watch where you dump your junk, you louse! I may be made of solid oak, but that does not give you the right to test my strength!”
“My, my, someone has set off the grumpy desk! I suppose that means that the room is to be occupied at last! I certainly hope that the new occupant is worthy of—Merlin’s beard!” The face of Phineas Nigellus Black appeared in the empty frame on the wall behind the desk. “Young Draco, what is the meaning of this? Oh, that I’d live to see the day when an indirect descendant of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black would demean himself to accept paid employment as a Ministry minion! And what does your forefather Armand think of the last of his line disgracing the family name in such a—mmrmrrrrr...” Phineas Nigellus looked incensed but helpless as Granger cast the spell that stopped his tirade.
“Disrespect for your elders! That’s modern manners for you! And there!” The desk heaved so that all of Draco’s belongings were scattered on the floor. “You can forget about sitting in that chair! I will not serve such a crass master. You can both show yourselves out and tell your department head that I am not to be disturbed until someone worthy gets promoted! Wait, what do you think you’re doing? Oh, the blessed Entwives! No, stop! Oh, I beg you!”
Draco’s inquiring smirk had been answered by an equally devious one from Granger. Locking the door and casting appropriate Silencing Charms around the room, he allowed her to push him against the desk, at which point, she proceeded to snog him senseless.
At some point during their subsequent, frantic coupling, Draco also noticed that his peeved thrice-great-grandfather had disappeared from his portrait.
At first, he hadn’t paid much attention to the bad luck. Ever since he’d started in the Ministry, things hadn’t been easy for him. He’d had to keep his temper when subjected to the frequent jeers and snide comments from coworkers and strangers alike whom he encountered within the corridors, offices, and common areas. But his organizational skills, his decent work ethic, and his negotiating abilities had finally been recognized and, well, not rewarded, exactly, but at least he wasn’t kept in a menial position out of sheer spite from senior management. His transfer to his current department had been a relief; he didn’t even mind having to share an office with swotty Granger.
Granger. A small smile tucked at the corner of his lips. She had been the only reprieve during an otherwise intolerable week. Despite the fact that they’d done nothing more than exchange pleasant banter and teasing, knowing glances, these interactions were balms. Especially after being accosted by Potty, the Weasel King, and the Weaselette. Granger’s two buffoonish best friends had cornered him in his office, throwing about threats of curses and imminent death. The Weaselette had badgered him for an hour in the Leaky, demanding to know his intentions toward her friend. He supposed he couldn’t blame them—they were Gryffindors, after all. Loyalty and bravery and self-inflicted-bodily-harm-after-walking-into-stone-walls-without-realizing.
No, on second thought, what was worse was the fact that his mum had caught wind of his flirtation. Draco shuddered at the memory of her interrogation and reached out for the hot cup of tea that hovered by his right ear. Although his little romp with Granger had stopped his obnoxious desk’s screaming rants, it continued to antagonize him every chance it got. Draco learned very quickly not to leave drinks, especially hot beverages, on it. And all personal effects were placed on the bookshelf in the corner, which thankfully did not have any sort of personality.
Draco had also had to endure the frequent commentaries spewed from his thrice-great-grandfather’s portrait. It was a pity that Granger had removed the silencing spell. The old codger had all but told him that he’d been responsible for the knowledge Granger’s friends had about the two of them and what had gone on in this space.
A knock on the door interrupted his frustrated internal ranting. He looked up and grinned. “Granger! How lovely of you to visit me. Is there something I can help you with or is my handsome face that irresistible?”
Granger rolled her eyes but walked toward the desk and handed him a mug. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been having a difficult week. I may be a few doors down, but I overheard that Howler,”—Draco winced at the memory—“so I thought you’d like a mild Calming Draught to relieve the stress.”
Draco gratefully accepted the cup, although out of habit, he sniffed it before imbibing. It smelled fine.
“Better now that I’ve gotten an eyeful of your perky breasts to look at.” Wait, did he just say that out loud? And why did his voice sound so flat? He didn’t remember Calming Draughts having such a side-effect.
“When is your birthday?”
“June 5.” Is she planning something special for me? I’ll have to look surprised; thank goodness I’ve perfected my acting abilities. Drat crazy Aunt Bella and the Dark Lord!
“What animal did Mad-Eye Moody turn you into in Fourth?”
“A white ferret.” Why is she asking this? She was there!
“How many times did you catch the Snitch in school when Slytherin played against Gryffindor?”
“None.” Damn that Potty!
“How long have you had a crush on Hermione Granger?”
“Eight years and two months.” Shit! She added Veritaserum into the Draught!
“Where did you acquire the Felix Felicis?”
“I brewed it myself.”
“What was your purpose for drinking it?”
“To write a better proposal than Granger so that I would get the new corner office.”
“Did you use the Felix Felicis to seduce Hermione Granger?”
“Not intentionally. After drinking the Felix Felicis, I felt confident that if I asked her out on a date, she would accept.”
“Why did you not simply ask her out before?”
“I was too afraid of rejection.” Oh, fuck me! She’ll never let me forget this!
“If Hermione Granger ever found out that you used Felix Felicis to ask her out on a date, she would be furious. What would you do to get back into her good graces and prevent her from hexing you into oblivion?”
“Apologize in a round-about way and then fuck her until she forgot everything except how fantastic I am in bed.” I’m a dead man. I wonder if we still have that tiny cottage in Romania. I’ll need to pack that book on blood wards to properly secure the place.
“Well, good luck with that endeavour, Draco Malfoy.” And with that, she stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind her.
“Thank you.” Draugluin’s flea-bitten, curdled milk-drinking, nutsack-sniffing werecubs!
Normally, he responded to such tactics by hooking up with any random, willing witch. But when it became obvious that he couldn’t even sit through dinner with one without becoming bored—he’d not even gotten a snog session out of any of his dates!—he knew there was nothing to be done but try to apolo-… apol-… say sor-… get the infuriating witch to forget her grudge against him.
His first opportunity came the following Monday.
Making sure no one was paying attention, he cast a quick Silencing Charm on his witch and dragged her into the supply closet. He cast a locking spell and three different silencing charms around the room. He then removed the Silencing Charm from the fuming Granger.
“Granger, I’m so-… I’m s-…” Draco huffed. Why was this so difficult? Suddenly, an image of his inscrutable former Head of House came to mind. He took a deep breath. “Granger, I’m sorry I tried to seduce you while under the influence of Felix Felicis. It wasn’t my intention to make a fool out of you. I just… never thought I’d have a chance of getting you to accept a date with me.”
“That is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard! Is your pride really that important to you that you can’t even handle a simple refusal? And how come you were so sure that I’d refuse?”
“I—” Draco paused, the implication of her last words sinking in.
Before he knew what was happening, he was returning her furious kisses and pressing her against the door.
Granger finally broke off, breathless. She grabbed his head and stared up at him, her eyes serious and intense. “You get one more chance. I’ll give you two weeks to do it properly. Then, we’ll see.”
She unlocked the door and walked out without a backward glance.
If there were a mirror in front of him, Draco Malfoy would’ve realized that he was grinning like an idiot.