Actions

Work Header

A Simple Proposal

Chapter Text

“Damn it!”

The force of the door smacking into the frame shook off some pictures from their hooks. Hermione let out another string of curses, some that would make sailors blush. The muggle-born witch paid the cracked glass and broken wooden frames do heed as she marched the small space to her desk. Hermione grabbed the nearest thing off her desk (which happened to be an innocent tea cup) and threw it against the wall. Falling into her chair, the witch watched the amber liquid drip down the pasty colored walls.

“You know, a young lady like you shouldn’t curse like that.” A cool voice spoke from the corner of her tiny office.

Hermione sprang up in her chair, her brown eyes to her surprise guest. Even under the low candle light, she knew who it was by the silver hair that broke through the darkness. Using her wand, the candles grew in size, lighting up the office. Sitting in her mustard yellow sofa was the last person she wanted to see.

“What do you want, Mr. Malfoy?” Hermione voice dripped with venom.

Even in the ugly sofa, Lucius Malfoy sat like a king on his throne. His famous silver hair pulled back into a low ponytail, with no strand out of place. The pureblood wizard had taken to wearing muggle suits since the War had ended, black suits of course with green trimmings and silver buttons. Even in muggle clothing, he still carried his Slytherin colors over. His snake headed cane rested against the wall, in arms reach just in case.

“Oh, just enjoying the sight of the Ministry’s lowest paying employee fall apart before my eyes.” His voice purred out in pure joy.

“I am perfectly happy with my pay check, sir! And I am not the lowest paying one here.” Hermione snapped, tempted to blast that smirk off his full lips.

“No, no in wealth but, you are paid so little in another matter.” Lucius used his cane and pushed himself up from the beaten down sofa.

Hermione rolled her eyes, wishing that the Slytherin would leave her in peace. It was too early in the morning to deal with his pompous attitude. “What are you talking about, Mr. Malfoy?”

“I thought the Gryffindor princess enjoyed riddles.”

“I’m not in the mood, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Pity, I like seeing you think.” His voice was light, on the cusp of teasing if she didn’t know better. “The way your brow furrows and the way you bite you lip, would make any man mad with desire.”

“Just get to the damn point.”

The pureblood eased into taking a seat on her desk, barely touching a thing as if touching her belongings would leave him burn. “It is true that your department-What is it again? Never mind, it does not-”

“The Department of Rights and Regulations for Magical Creatures.” Hermione didn’t flinch as his silver eyes drove daggers into her for interrupting. Even if the department was new and fairly small, it was her department.

“Yes, quite,” his eyes turned softer, or rather, he took to picking up invisible lint off his pristine jacket rather looking at her. “It is true that it is small and employs a few number of capably employees, all intelligent and ambitious where it matters. But, are hardly getting the recognition you deserve.” He finally lost interest in lint picking to look at her. “Now, tell me why has gotten you so fluster and made you curse so. Did you have a fight with your fiancé, Ronald?”

Her cheeks grew hot, “My relationship is none of your business, sir. If you must know, I heard what your son did.” She had to restrain herself from cursing out Draco’s parentage.

“What exactly has Draco done now?” Even though his voice was neutral, Hermione could see the glimmer of frustration in his eyes.

“If you must know; your son’s department wants to propose a new project that will overshadow my department’s goal of getting Wolfsbane more affordable for werewolves. Without the potion, werewolves will still be seen as monsters and not as witches and wizards. And of course, this new proposed project of his will jeopardized that goal to only benefit potion makers.”

“I’m not sure I understand your problem, Miss Granger.” Lucius pointed out.

She squeezed the bridge of her nose, “As of right now, Potion Masters are given a stipend of galleons from the Ministry to produce Wolfsbane Potion at two-thirds the original price. That is still hard for many werewolves to afford because they are not allowed to get jobs. What your son and his department want to do are to put the werewolves into jobs and raise the price up back to its original price.”

“That sounds reasonable, Miss Granger. He is giving them jobs.”

“Expect for the jobs he wants the werewolves to have.”

“Oh?”

“His department wants to propose that werewolves be given minimal wage jobs and yet, with no added benefits or job security. They might get a job as a waiter for a few weeks and then suddenly get fired for prejudice.” Hermione let out a sigh, looking up the older wizard. “Werewolves are already under prosecution as it is. This new project, if it gets support and become law then werewolves will not get any rights.”

Lucius bore his eyes into her. “Yet, the Ministry’s budget is already stretched thin. Draco is merely trying to balance out the debt.”

“At the cost of the welfare and safety of witches and wizards? I rather see the Ministry sink into debt then see innocent people hurt.” Hermione growled out, her brown eyes alit with anger.

“Ever the Gryffindor,” he chuckled, finding her house allegiance as funny as someone falling into a pile of hippogriff dung. “You know, as well as I, that the only thing the Ministry cares about is good press. If people find out that the Ministry is failing because we are giving all our resources to helping accursed creatures, there will be a riot.”

“Well, the magical world has to change their views.” Hermione folded her arms across her chest. She had lived in the wizardly world for nearly thirteen years and there was barely a change to the mindset of the wizarding world. The only thing that changed as that wizards and witches were more fearful of their neighbors even mentioning the Dark Arts.

Shaking his head like a disapproving professor, Lucius cocked his head towards her like a snake judging if he should eat her up. “If wishes can truly become true; I would have had taken the world by now.” His laugh was there to defuse the threat into a joke but, Hermione doubted that was just a joke. “You say you want to save the werewolves, yes?”

“Yes, to make sure they are treated fairly and with dignity.”

“I know exactly what you need. You need respect.”

“Respect? Why do we need respect? We don’t need anyone’s respect to get what we want. All we need is money which your son has now robbed us of th-”

Suddenly his sharp face was in hers, his silver eyes boring into hers, trying to smother all attempts at her looking away. The room grew hot as she felt herself stuck to her spot, staring eye to eye with a former Death Eater.

“Because you need respect in order to get ahead in the Ministry, Miss Granger. I have seen many Departments rise to great heights, establishing their footing in the Magical world. And I have also seen Departments with such great potential just be wasted away by lack of acknowledgment and, respect.” He purred out the last word, her ears picking up each syllable.

“W-why do you care, sir?” her voice stammered, the proximity to the pureblood made her body felt hot under his intense gaze. If she didn’t say the right things, he might eat her up. “My department wants to regulate the conditions how house-elves and other low magical creatures are treated. It isn’t in your nature to care about them.” She couldn’t fathom what he had up his sleeve when it was her department that caused him to lose half of his house-elf staff.

“Do you have any idea what kind of nature I have, Hermione Granger?” His words were a threat but the way his voice sounded sent shivers down her spine. He was a predator and she was the prey.

“I have an idea, Lucius Malfoy.”

His dark laugh broke the spell he had on her, he pulled his gaze away from her, leaving her breathless and thankful of the fresh air she could inhale. “Ever since your friends vanquish the Dark Lord five years ago, I have begun to rethink how I should go about my life in this new world. I have started to care for those who I was breed to mistreat.”

“People don’t change, Malfoy.”

“Yes but, you must understand one thing about me, Miss Granger; I can easily adapt.” His smile was playful but she could see his fangs making an appearance behind those lips. He moved off the desk, standing up on his two feet again. “I rather not see your department and your…pet projects go to waste. So, I will help you gain respect.”

“How?”

He looked annoyed that even bothered to ask. “Why, I will extend my charitable hand give you the needed money you need to carry on.”

This seemed so unreal. Lucius Malfoy was offering her his help when he spent countless years judging and even hurting her kind. The Slytherin might have had to scrabble and begged his job back in the Ministry as the assistant of the Wizengamot chancellor but, Hermione wasn’t that desperate for support. She was the Head of her department, a remarkable feat for a twenty-three year old, and she wouldn’t take Lucius dirty money.

“Why?” She still needed to know why, of all the failing departments, he picked hers. Was it a way to trick her into taking his money to only trick her? And why was he looking at her like that earlier, Hermione thought was looking into a snake’s mouth. “Why me, Mr. Malfoy?”

“Haven’t I said that before?” Lucius looked more annoyed by each passing second. “You have great potential, more than a girl your age, and I rather not see it go-”

“You can cut the bullshit, sir,” Hermione interrupted again. He might use flowery words with other people to get his way but, she was not in the mood to deal with it. She was still reeling from finding out her budget was cut nearly half by his stupid son. “What do you want with me? Do you want me to make a public announcement, giving you my support to something that would land you a higher paying job? Or do you want me to give you the soul of my first born son?”

There was a heavy air that fell in the room, the pureblood looking at the fiery Gryffindor in stunned silence. The seconds ticked by, turning into minutes, both of staring at each other like no one else existed outside her office. Finally, laughter crackle out of his throat, almost making the pureblood bent over in a humorous fit. Listening to him made Hermione pull back in her chair, her hand reaching for her wand strapped to her thigh. At last, the laughter quelled, tears stung his silver eyes.

“Don’t be silly, Miss Granger!” he exclaimed, finding every second enjoyable. “I’m perfectly happy with my job. It might pay as much as my old job as a Hogwarts Governor but, I’m not as stressed or given too much on my plate as my current job. And why would I want the soul of your first born son? That is just so….muggle!” Hermione was pleased how he spat out the word like that. “No, no, I want something different from you.”

“Which is?”

“You.”

He said it so bluntly, that Hermione was sure she heard wrong, that it was all a joke. “M-me? What do you want with me?”

“You have heard of Narcissa’s passing two years ago, right?” For a moment, he looked like shallow of a man at the mention of his wife.

Hermione nodded her head, remembering reading the news in the Daily Prophet that morning. Narcissa Malfoy had been the victim of a botched muggle robbery, killed by a gunshot wound to the stomach. They couldn’t find her in time to save her. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time. “Yes, I remember.”

Lucius leaned against his cane, his fingers dancing against the black wood. “Ever since she has…been gone, I have certain urges that need to be fulfilled. I am just a man; I can’t be blame for them. That’s where you come in, my dear. You are a brilliant, beautiful, and very fiery woman.”

“Urges…” Hermione said slowly, her eyes narrowing at him. He couldn’t be serious, could he? “Are you mad or just playing an awful joke? You mean to say that you want my body?”

“Well, when you put it that way, yes.”

Hermione got up from her chair, forced to look up at him, as he still towered her by a head. The muggle-born poked the man in the chest with her wand, angry red sparks flying from the tip. “Don’t you dare come in here, make a mockery of my profession and then offer to trade sex for money! I am happily engaged to Ron and I would never, ever dream of having an affair, with at least of all, with you! And I will not sell myself or my department for sex!”

“Miss Granger, I wasn’t-”

Hermione swish her wand, sending out a hex towards him. Lucius had to quickly dodge the spell, the wall behind his head now had a small blue fire. The Slytherin stood there, mouth agape, his eyes wide with fear and…was that admiration?

“Get. Out. Of. My. Office.” Hermione hissed out, her wand hand twitching to set his hair on fire.

Lucius righted himself, straightening out his suit. Returning back to his perfect self, Lucius pulled out a pearly white business card, setting it on her desk, his eyes not breaking contact with hers. “If you are in dire need of help, feel free to contact me. Think over my proposal for a few days and get back to me.”

“Leave.” Hermione growled out.

Lucius bowed his body, “Have a pleasant day, Hermione.”

With a turn of his heel, Lucius left her office in peace. Hermione fell into her chair once again; her heart was pounding in her chest like thunder. Her office was a mess and it wall thanks to those blasted Malfoys. Framed photos and certificates were on the ground, their glass shields broke, tea stains drying on her walls, and a little burnt hole on her wall.

Today was not going to be good.

Chapter Text

Hermione kicked off her shoes, letting her Mary Jane shoes fall with a clunk on the wood floor. Her feet throbbed as the floor did little to cushion her overworked feet. Shuffling towards the sofa, she fell into the overstuffed plush, her head instantly turning into the cushion to rest. Her break was quickly ended by the alarming sound of a door being slammed shut. Jumping up in her seat, Hermione face turn sour at the intruder.

Ginny, who was cringing sheepishly, was covered in head and toe in mud and dirt. Her dark green uniform could barely been seen through the mucky brown. “Sorry, Hermione, I didn’t think you would be up this late.

Hermione looked toward the grandfather clock standing in the living room, the shorter hand pointed to twelve, a new day for misery. “It has been a long day,” Hermione looked back at her friend. “I just got in.”

The redhead blinked, removing her dirty uniform from her shoulders. “Were you working on a big project?” The only time Hermione came home late was when she was engrossed into a project that many times, her employees had to drag her back home for health reasons.

She shook her head is dismay. “I had to clean up some Malfoy shit.”

Ginny was surprised; Hermione was never one to curse unless the situation called for it. “Let me get cleaned up and we can talk.”

The redhead disappeared around the corner, leaving behind a trail of muddy footsteps. The witch could barely lift her wand to vanish them away, her brain felt like it had been melted. She closed her eyes, letting her body sink into the cushions.

When she awoke from her quick nap, Ginny had cleaned up and put on pajamas. Ginny’s hair was still wet from the shower, pulled back with a hair tie. She greeted Hermione with a fresh cup of hot cocoa, filled to the brim with marshmallows. Hermione smiled softly, sipping on the all too sugary mixture. Her parents would have recoiled, seeing her drink this sugary concoction but, she needed this more than ever.

“So, what happened?” Ginny tucked her legs under her, sipping on her own cup.

Hermione let out a breath of air, the chocolate made her feel less angry. The muggle-born filled in Ginny about the clashing of Hermione’s department and Draco Malfoy’s, and this new project that would damage her goals. As she told her friend how she struggled to recover and talk to many department Heads for help, Ginny simply nodded and let her continue. None would give her seeing as she was still a Junior Head though Hermione thought it was because most Department Heads older then her and came from a more prejudiced generation. Hermione must have gone on a rant soon after because when her voice turn hoarse, it was close to one in the morning.

“Wow…” was the first thing Ginny said. “I know that is upsetting for you and Malfoy is clearly being an ass. Well, his department is.”

“Same thing.” Hermione mumbled, sipping on her third cup of hot cocoa.

Ginny didn’t look like she was going to believe her on that. “I can ask Harry and Ron for help. We will lend you some of the money you need to get you project off the ground.”

“No, no, I am fine.” Hermione didn’t want to bug her two best friends and her fiancé for money. If she needed to raise money, she wanted to know she did it by herself without begging for help. “I have enough trouble with people offering their help.”

“Who else?” The redhead set her cup on the coffee table.

“Lucius Malfoy.” Hermione spat out his name like battery acid.

“Lucius Malfoy?” Ginny exclaimed in surprise. “He is not the type to give money to muggle-borns so willingly, no offense. Why would he offer you money?”

Hermione felt the room grew hot. Even though, she and Ginny had been roommates in their apartment for over four years, talking about this problem felt uncomfortable. It was like talking to her sister. When she and Ron were to finally have sex, Hermione struggled with her words, wanting to ask advice from the more experience young redhead. It hurt matters that Hermione was talking about having sex with Ginny’s brother. Hermione had to tip-toe around the subject of sex advice for over an hour before, after taking a few shots of Firewhiskey, she began blurting out her need from Ginny, and Ginny in turn simply responded with tips and tricks with ease.

“Well, you see, he uh…” Hermione was once again, tip-toeing. She fought to find the right words, how to telling her dearest friend that the father of their enemy in school prostitution her to save her department.

“Hermione? Did he threaten you?”

Hermione shook her head, “N-no. He…he said he would help me if I…um…” Biting her lip, Hermione clenched her eyes shut, hoping that not looking at Ginny, that she would feel more relaxed. “G-gave him my body.”

Silence fell over the room, passing for several minutes before Hermione couldn’t stand it anymore and opened her eyes. Ginny, sat there, mouth agape and cheeks a little red. “He…he said he would give you money and save your department if you….if you fuck him?”
Hermione cringed, “Don’t make it sound worst then it is, Ginny. Yes…he said that if I gave him my body, he would assist me.”

“And you said no?”

“Of course I said no!” Hermione couldn’t believe that Ginny acted like she picked the wrong up the wrong ice cream. “He is a former Death Eater, a crook, a bigoted Slytherin, and…and I am engaged to Ron!”

Her broad shoulders, worked up due to playing Quidditch, shrugged, brushing it off like it was no big that a Death Eater tempted her friend to cheat on her brother. “I would have said yes.”

“Ginny!” Hermione screeched

“I had that option, I would shag Lucius.” Ginny smiled to herself, her cheeks reddening. “Death Eater or not, Lucius Malfoy is hot. That hair, oh, you can just picture yourself grabbing those silver strands while he plows you into the bed. For a wizard his age, he is yummy. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe being a former Death Eater makes him even hotter. He does have that bad boy vibe to him and he likes power. Maybe, he wants to have someone to load power over-”

Hermione stood up, feeling sick to her stomach. “Ginny,” she said slowly, focusing her attention on the area above her head, “You are to be married in a month and you are thinking of shagging someone else?!”

“I do love Harry, Hermione; I want to spend my whole life with him. But, a girl can have fantasies can’t she?”

“But, not Lucius fucking Malfoy!”

“Oi! I know you had a crush on Snape in school.”

“That was different,” Hermione glared daggers into her roommate’s skull. “This is different. A crush is one thing but you aren’t being targeted by the perverted glances of an evil Death Eater. I am faithful to one man only; Ron. I would never even entertain the idea of a naked Lucius.

“Are you sure?”

Hermione had enough; she turned and stormed off to her bedroom. She slammed the door like a disobedient child in a tantrum, relishing in the sharp cruse of shock from Ginny through the door. There was no way to get through to that redhead; stubbornness might run in the family more then she thought.

All Hermione wanted to do was to scrub off today’s stress and push Lucius trying to fuck her into the recess of her mind. The muggle-born filled the tub, letting the magical taps filled the bath with hot water and lavender scented bubbles. She disrobed, letting her clothes on the ground where they fell. She let out a satisfied groan of pleasure as her body sank into the bubbly bath, the heavenly scent of lavender invading her senses. Hermione relaxed against the cool bathtub, letting the heated water soothe her aches and pains. After all she had been through; she needed some peace and quiet. No matter what Ginny suggested, she would never, ever, have an affair behind Ron’s back.\

She sighed, letting her head submerge into the water. Hermione loved Ron; she really did, even though their engagement had hit some rocky points, mostly about the date of the actual wedding. A month after Harry had popped the question; Ron made a big show abut proposing to Hermione in front of his family, with everyone staring. Hermione wanted a long engagement, a few years until they were grown, more mature and more financially stable, enough to have a family, but Ron was getting pushy about moving their wedding date closer to Harry and Ginny’s. It was as if he wanted to join the happy bandwagon of marriage before even reading the rules.

Ginny and Harry had it easy, Molly was planning their wedding since they started to date. It would be a big event, with the Boy-Who-Lived marrying his sweetheart, and carrying on the legendary Potter name. Harry had to accept that there would be press at his wedding. While Hermione wanted to avoid that fiasco, she requested to Ron if they could have a simple wedding, more private and intimate with her closest friends. And what did he do? Ron wanted to be a public wedding with invitations to well-known witches and wizards and the press all around.

Hermione grumbled, resurfacing from the water. As much as Hermione fought with Ron, she still loved him. It was destined for her to be with Ron, wasn’t it? That is what everyone said; that Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s best friends would wind up together.

“Like prophesies ever came true,” Hermione grunted out

She could picture it in her head. Her small wedding crashed by the press, the Minister, his second in charge, Ministry workers, each Department Head, the Wizengamot, Lucius.

Hermione grunted, scrubbing her hair with shampoo. No matter what she did, her mind always wandered back to that moment when Lucius stared at her like he was hungry. Now, that she knew his reason that he wanted to fuck her until she screamed his name, bowing to his power. Hermione felt a hot shudder go through her.

Hermione splash the now lukewarm water in her face, desperate to get rid of those images. Have sex with Lucius? Ha! Hermione rather go skinny dipping with Fenrir Greyback! Ginny was stupid for thinking that Lucius was even shag worthy. Hermione would never enter Malfoy’s bed unless she was drugged, drunk, or cursed by the Imperius curse. Even though she was right, despite his flaws (many of them), that man had a certain appeal. It was less about his looks but, Hermione could see that Lucius was intelligent and powerful. He commanded the respect she lack.

Ever since the War ended, every time Hermione’s eyes locked with his, she felt drawn to him, as if witnessing a walking and breathing masterpiece and looking away would be a crime. Gray eyes always sparkled with pride and power but, behind them, Hermione wanted what else he could express. Anger? Joy? Sadness? Lust?

Hermione couldn’t recall a time when a man stared at her with that level of lust that emitted through those silver eyes. It was if Lucius was a man, starved from eating the fruit that dangled above him, working so hard to sink his teeth into the soft fruit. Ron never looked at her like that. He always treated her so gently, like a doll.

Hermione wonder on how would it feel like to have wild, passionate, animalist sex with someone. Sex that would her have her feeling like if every time they touched, the world was only there to exist from them and the world was over when they pulled away. She enjoyed making love to Ron but, it wasn’t toe-curling or eve earth shattering as some of Ginny’s books had lead her to believe.

Finishing up her bath, Hermione changed into a pair of pajamas and headed to bed. There was no noise coming from Ginny’s room, which would mean either she, went to bed or went into Harry’s bed for a nightcap. The muggle-born snuggled her head into the pillow, letting the day’s exhaustion to overcome her, her mind still on the silver eyed man.

--

When she awoke, she felt someone was behind her on the bed. A hand caressed her leg, kneading their fingers into worn muscles that left her groaning in bliss. Smooth lips sucked at her throat like a lollipop. Hermione moved backwards on the bed, her back meeting their chest. The hand moved further, towards her stomach. Long fingers teased the hem of her shirt, sending her flesh on fire. At last, the hand slinked under her shirt, a large hand stroking her stomach like they were admiring a china vase.

The lips grew bolder in their endeavor, letting teeth sink into her neck. Hermione gasped in pain, trying to pull away but the hand kept her there. Her whimpers were stilled as a tongue swirled around the vicious bite marks, soothing her whimpers into pants of pleasure. The hand journeyed upward until, at last, cupping itself around her breast. The witch cried out as the fingers alternating between pulling at her nipple or massaging her tender breast, sending out jolts of pain and pleasure.

Hermione whimpered, “Please….more…”

The hand pulled away from her breasts, leaving her panting and feeling cold at the lost. The hand returned, cupping her head and twisting it around. Lips clashed with hers, forcing her to part them to let the tongue to squirm its way inside. Hermione clung to the hand that stilled gripped her cheek, hoping to move it to where she wanted it, but the hand refused to budge.

Soon, the kiss became too much to bear any longer. Hermione pulled back, her labored breathing filled the room, she gazed up at the person above her.

Intense eyes stared back at her, smirking at no doubt her flushed face. “Hermione…”

Hermione stroke the cool face, her thumb tracing the high cheek bones. “Lucius…”

--

Hermione’s eyes snapped open, meeting only daylight coming through her curtains. She whipped her head around wildly, looking for any trace of Lucius. Her room was empty, save Crookshanks who slept soundly in his bed. The witch sat up, her body still reeling from the all too real dream. It was just a dream, a stupid dream caused by stress and yesterday’s events.

Yet, her body enjoyed every second it. The way his hand caressed her body like a prized artifact, only to brutishly force her in position that both frighten her and sparked arousal. Her body hummed at joy her own brain created, as if Lucius was really there. Her body throbbed, pulsating from pleasure, with need for more of the phantom Lucius. Try as she might, she knew that that was how Lucius would act with her. And her body was happily to try it for real.

“Oh, Merlin…what is going on with me?”

Chapter Text

The past few days were stuff of nightmares. It was like everyone took crazy pills. Her department had heard rumors that the Minister was planning on downsizing half the departments if they didn’t have five accepted projects at the end of the year. Many of her people wanted to quit and go on to more successful departments. It took everything from her to convince her employees to stay, though she lost five good people out of her twenty people team. She could sense unrest echoing through the remaining employees. They probably thought she couldn’t even keep people on, much least accomplishing their shared assignments.

If that wasn’t bad enough, her financial backers of her past endeavors had suddenly pulled out, claiming their money was already stretched thin. That was pure hippogriff dung. Hermione knew that they didn’t want to invest into “bad press” projects. Now, other investors were wary of even giving her a sickle.

Everything started ever since Lucius visited her office.

He brought a curse upon her, she knew he had. He made everything just go downhill in her life. All because he wanted to have sex with her! Why do wizards always think with their little head? Hermione should have hexed him right out of her office that morning, before he even spoke. That would kill all his sexual interest in her.

Hermione didn’t tell anyone else about that morning expect for Ginny. Her friend swore to not breathe a word to a soul. Hermione trusted her to keep her word but, something about Ginny that was off. It might be a guilty pleasure to fantasy about a bad boy yet; Lucius was the one who nearly killed her with Tom Riddle’s diary. Why in Merlin’s beard would Ginny ever think of Lucius other than scum? Something was not right.

It wasn’t like Hermione had time to ponder that mystery, it would have to wait. She had a lunch date with a potential investor, and if she played her cards right, would give her nearly half of her projected money she would need to save the werewolves. That would, in her mind, bring back or gain more investors.

Raul Guerra was the most sought out investor across the wizarding world. Every time he backed up a failing department, within a year, it skyrocketed to one of the main departments in the whole Ministry. Expect he was hard to convince to invest. He was tight with his money like a poor person was. But, Hermione had to do anything to save her project and keep her team employed. Even if she had to pander and ass kiss to get it.

Hermione check herself out in the mirror, making sure everything was perfect. She had chosen to wear a muggle suit, bought from a few years ago. She had outgrown it since then, as the sleeves were three inches too short for her. The dull sickle grey color was almost washed out and it pillowed near the elbows. The one button that kept her jacket together was loose, over worn by the many times she wore it. The pants were too big on her, she had to grab one of Harry’s ugly brown belt (he left it one night) to keep them up. Her midnight black shirt looked too big on her, more a man’s shirt then a woman’s.

Hermione sighed, almost regretting her chosen field. She cared for the welfare of house-elves and the unfortunate creatures deeply but, being on the last totem pole of the Ministry, didn’t bring in the cash. She would have to let her own personal charms and her work speak for her actions rather her outfit.

The witch struggled with her hair, an endeavor that would never bring successful fruit. It had dulled down to slight fuzz over the years but, it was a pain to style it. She settled, at last, with pulling back the curtain she called her hair with a few bobby pins, baring her ears and letting her hair fall down her back.

She turned on the spot and Apparition from her shared apartment. Hermione stumbled, clutching onto the wall nearby as her stomach twisted and turned. Years after mastering it, she always felt queasy on an empty stomach. She was glad that she wanted to have a lunch meeting.

Her low heels click on the cobblestone street of Diagon Alley, searching for the restaurant. She had insisted that her investor find the restaurant, mostly because it made him feel special and also because Hermione didn’t really bother with the restaurant along food district, she preferred cooking at home. Turning down the street, her eyes rounded as saucers looking up at the restaurant in question.

L’Jean, a French wizarding restaurant was more of a museum rather a place where people dined. Three stories tall, the sandstone building rose into the sky, balconies with tables sprouting out like buds along the exterior wall. The balconies were held up by columns, ivy stretched around the girth of the white stone. Hagrid size French glass windows were in perfect order, separated by a window box full of white roses. Dark wooden double doors opened for the few people that climbed the white stairs. The name was glistening in gold and silver, curved in elegant formation.

Hermione grabbed the iron railing, climbing up the steep stairs, the witch made it to the doors. The doors creaked and split open, letting her passage. As she stepped inside, a person came out of thin air. It was a tall man, his sleek black hair (which was greased up in gel), was the same color as his suit and just as tailored.

His beady eyes bore into hers, looking her up and down like a man picking out his next pig to slaughter. “Reservation?” His voice was crisp, only have a minimal French accent.

Hermione swallowed, a tight bud had form making it hard to speak. “I…I have a lunch appointment with Raul Guerra.”

His thin mustache twitched, “Monsieur Guerra is busy with another guest. I have him down for one guest. Not two.”

Hermione felt her face drain of color, which didn’t help the glare that came from the maître d'. That was not part of the plan. Craning her head around the French man, she could see her investor and department’s savior just through the glass of the next set of doors. He was talking to someone else, laughing in glee but, due to the tall build of the maître d', Hermione couldn’t see who he was chatting with.

“Please, tell him that Hermione Granger is here to see him.” She pleaded, hoping that dropping her name would produce something.

The maître d’ could not care less. At last, he felt pity for her or annoyance at her presence; he turned and walked through the door. Hermione picked up her feet and followed the uptight host towards the table. She had to halt behind the host because he stopped short of the table, nearly letting her collide with him.

“Monsieur Guerra, there is a woman here to see you. A Miss Hermione Granger. Should I send her off or get a chair for her?”

Raul Guerra stopped his conversation, looked at the maître d' before craning his head around him. His large face crumpled into a frown, “Lucas, it is not polite to speak of a woman like that…and not while she is behind you!”

The maître d' turned around sharply, his beady rounds the size of galleons. He had no idea that she was behind him. Hermione couldn’t suppress the superior smirk, seeing the haughty host color in embarrassment.

“I...I am incredibly sorry, ma’am. Shall I fetch you a glass of wine…on the house?” He was now hospitable, mostly because Raul Guerra could buy out L’Jean and turn him out.

“That would be lovely, Lucas.”

The man scurried away. Raul Guerra pushed himself out of the booth, his rounded belly jiggling by the movement. He could easily stand over her by a foot and a half. His dark blue suit was free of his jacket, taking on a black vest over his much tailored Oxford suit. His pepper colored hair was thinning at the top but, did little to distract Hermione from noticing the large, rounded nose he sported in the middle of his face. His red cheeks, either caused by his weight or laughter, were as well as wine.

“Hermione Granger I presume?” His voice held superiority yet familiarity at the same time.

She held out her hand, “It is a pleasure to-”

His large hand cupped hers in a vice grip, shaking her arm nearly out of her socket. “The pleasure is all mine, Miss Granger. I have heard all about you. You must be brilliant to be Head of your own department. I have heard most of your triumphs and pitfalls from my friend here.”

“Friend?”

Hermione turned her head slowly to the left, her eyes widening in an instant. There, sitting in the booth was the worst omen of her life. Dressed in a dark gray and forest green suit, was the bane of her existence at the moment. Lucius smirked, his lips curling up in greeting, his silver eyes catching the light from the candle.

“Good afternoon, Miss Granger,” he spoke slowly, humor in his voice. He took still outstretched hand and brought it closer to him. Her breath caught as his warm lips pressed against her knuckles. Hermione’s mind was transported to the all too realistic dream she had before.

“M-Mister Malfoy…” her voice was low, her heart throbbing in her chest.

Raul Guerra’s mouth cracked into a smile that could swallow her whole head. “Please, sit down and join us.”

Raul Guerra helped her slide in the booth, leaving her trapped between the oversized man and Lucius Malfoy. She had no idea which was worst. At that moment, Lucas came back and placed a glass of red wine in front of her.

“M-may I have a menu, please?” Hermione kept her eyes trained on Lucas, finding the lesser of the evils at the moment.

Lucas took one movement towards fetching the menu before a cool voice interjected.

“She can share with me, Lucas.” Lucius spoke, his eyebrow arched as if asking if Lucas want to disagree.

“Of course, Monsieur Malfoy.” And with that, Lucas had fled.

Raul Guerra chuckled to himself, “Ever the frightening creature, Lucius.”

“Frightening would entail that I am hideous, Raul. And I am far from having those appearances.”

Hermione snorted into her wine, her eyes rolling at the ridiculous idea.

“Are you alright, Miss Granger?” Raul question, his piercing eyes on her.

Hermione remembered that this was a business meeting and she needed to act professional. She placed the glass back down, righting her posture. “I’m sorry, Mr. Guerra, the wine’s aroma got to me. It is very exquisite.”

He seemed to buy her throw away lie. “I’m sure you are not use to such dining, Miss Granger.”

Hermione muster up a half smile, it might have sounded like an innocent comment from Raul Guerra but it did sting her in the wrong places. Being in this place, she truly felt out of place. It would take her five years to even afford one item off the menu.

“Now,” Raul Guerra opened up his menu, “Let us get something to eat, shall we?”

“Miss Granger.” Lucius voice cool over her ears as he inched himself closer to the witch. In his hand was the leather bound menu, he extended it towards her. “Ladies first…”

Hermione ignore the pureblood and focus her attention on the large man on her other side. “Mr. Guerra, not to be rude but…I thought that lunch was supposed to be between me and you not…Mr. Malfoy here.” She had no idea how she could even think and at least conduct business with the pureblood so near her

Raul Guerra paused, looking up from his menu, looking a bit disappointed at being taken away from the food. His equally large eyes darted between the witch and Lucius before his lips turn into a small smile for a man of his size. “I trust Lucius for his input. He has helped me narrowed down some investment choices in my life, and all them successful. Let us hope you your department becomes one of them.” He might look cheery and warm but, his tone was putting a stop to her complaints. “Now, let’s order. I am famished.”

--

Hermione circled her last piece of filet mignon on her plate, letting the meat soak up the left over the thick sauce. The muggleborn drew runes with the sauce, as her ears tune out the laughter between the two men beside her. When Raul Guerra’s laughter barked sharply in the air, her eyes lifted up from her plate. The large man was nearly in tears at what Lucius said, who smile coolly and was calm as ever.

“Well, I have never experienced Paris like that Lucius! I swear you will be the death of me.” Raul Guerra chugged down his fifth glass of wine. Consuming that much alcohol left his cheeks as red as her House’s color.

Lucius smirked, “It is a gift, Raul. Miss Granger, have you ever been to Paris?”

Ever since the food arrived, Raul Guerra completely ignored her but; Lucius kept bringing her into conversation when she was not eating. She mustered up the last bit of energy to smile, “I went to Paris for a summer before my second year with my family.”

“Your parents are muggles, right?” Raul Guerra asked, letting Lucas refill his sixth glass.

Hermione smile droop a bit, it was like he was in question about her heritage. “Yes, they are muggles. They are dentists.”

Raul Guerra gave out an unimpressed grunt. “Still an amazement muggles can get magic. It is very interesting feat. Knowing that there are people out there with not a drop of magic in blood suddenly having a magical child. Lucius, has that Ministry of yours even gained a grasp on that strange behavior?”

“No, not yet.” Lucius said simply.

Hermione cleared her throat, drawing the attention to her once again. She had been here for over two hours and she was no closer to getting her investment from when she first entered the restaurant. “Sir, if you don’t mine me saying; but, may we discuss my proposal?” She fetched her thick folder from her purse, handing it over towards the overweight wizard. “I would love it if you invest in the future.”

Raul Guerra shook his head, which made his oversized frame shake with it, wine from his glass splashed onto the table and even on her clothes. “No need. Your department just does not have the qualifications to completely change the Ministry’s views on those flea bags. Give it up, Miss Granger. Your intentions are…noble but nobility is not enough to get laws changed. Try again in a few years.

“Mr. Guerra, please! If you can only look at my-”

“I would lose money before even making back a sickle. Ask someone else.”

Hermione sat back in her seat, putting her folder back in her purse. The muggle born looked between the two wizards before drawing in a deep breath. “Excuse me gentlemen…I need to use the powder room.”

Hermione tried to inch towards Raul Guerra but Lucius slipped out the booth with ease. The muggleborn had no choice but get out his way. She grabbed the edge of the booth to heave herself out, having difficulties with the tight table. Lucius grabbed her right hand and eased her out, his cool fingers wrapped hers.

“Miss Granger,” He said, helping her to her feet.

Hermione stared up at those silver eyes, seeing one spark of an emotion she was sicken to see. “Mr. Malfoy,” she yanked her hand away. “I will be back gentlemen.”

Hermione breezed through the tables towards the ladies room. The large room, filled with a hallway of doors to private toilets had a smaller lounge inside. She checked if anyone was occupying the room. She was alone, which is what she wanted. Hermione casted a heavy silencing ward over the fancy bathroom.

She drew out her wand and swished violently it in the air. The large, floor length mirror exploded into a thousand little pieces, falling into the rich carpet. Hermione screamed as everything around her that could be broken, became nothing but scraps of wood, stone, and glass. When everything around was demolished, when the toilets were leveled, Hermione’s knees buckle and she fell down on the floor.

She panted, drawing her arm over her eyes. It was over. Years of hard work, sleepless nights, crafting the perfect plan, time spent pouring over books, the time wasted by her and her loyal staff. For nothing. All because some racist wizard, who was too drunk to even walk, didn’t want to give her a sickle.

She screamed at the top of her lungs, the last of her magic shook the walls, until she was left hoarse. Hermione let her arm dropped; emotions were struggling to bubble to the surface. She had no idea if she should feel anger, sadness, mad, or slip in depression. Her body and mind wanted to dive deep into those dark emotions, even her heart felt as heavy as a dragon’s egg.

“Damn it,” Tears were overwhelming, prickling her vision until it became blurry. “Damn it to fucking hell.”

“I’m not sure if I should be curious as to why you are on the floor or enjoy the view.” A voice broke through her dark mood.

Hermione sat up in a flash, her wand drawn towards the new voice. Leaning against the door frame, Lucius watched her like a cat watching its prey, not sure if he wanted to play with her or sink his fangs into her body.

The pureblood sighed, “Must we always meet with your wand pointed at me, Hermione?”

“What do you want?” Hermione growled, she might be exhausted from her chaotic expelling of magic but, she could singe off his eyebrows. He would be perfect choice as someone she could let out her frustrations out on.

Lucius enter the bathroom, closing the door behind him, virtually blocking her only escape. His silver eyes passed over the room, arching his eyebrow in amazement. “I came to check on you. I was worried.”

Hermione snorted out loud; the first (close to it) positive emotion she had felt since she came into this blasted restaurant. “Yeah, right. And I am Morgana’s long lost daughter. I know what you came here to do. You wanted to gloat. See the poor, miserable, stupid, and naïve muggleborn crumple so you can get your kicks.”

The pureblood sighed, dropping his ever cool mask enough to see some real emotion. There it was again. That disgusting and sickening look on his face that made Hermione cringed. Pity

“Must you be so harsh with me, Hermione?” he asked like a child wanting forgiveness. “We have both grown up since five years. Can we at least be civil?”

Hermione grabbed onto only remaining piece of furniture and lifted herself up to her feet. “We can be civil once you go back into time and not become a Death Eater. That could work.”

The pureblood beg and whine method was not working on her. Lucius started to look cross, his eyes narrowing. Now, that was the man she knew. “I have paid for my crimes already,” he hissed out. “What more do you want from me?”

“I want you out of my life. Ever since that day you…you tried to bribe me to sleep with you, I have been in misery. Get over it, I will never sleep with you. Ever.”

Her words floored him, his silver eyes widening like saucers. He looked as if the rug was yanked out from under him. “Come again? I don’t understand what you are saying, Hermione.”

Hermione huffed; a strand of hair flew up from her face. “I. Am. Not. Going. To. Fuck. You.” She snapped at the pureblood as she felt the urge to kill was rising.

Lucius stood there, silent as a statue. Finally, the pureblood let out a deep chuckle which hit Hermione right in the core. “I wasn’t asking you for sex, Hermione! I have standards.”

Hermione had no idea to be relieved, or hurt. It was her turn for the rug to be pulled right under her. The witch rake through her brain, trying to think back to the morning and if there was any clue to actual sex being brought up by Lucius. Her mind came back as fuzzy as old television.

“What? But, you said you had urges…and you wanted my body…” Hermione knew she heard him say those things.

Lucius lips tease a smile at her expense. Hermione felt her face flush with embarrassment as his eyes sparkled in mirth at her. “Hermione…Hermione…my dear, dear Hermione…” he voice was playful. “You are an attractive woman, as I have said before. You are beautiful in both physical beauty and your mind is a gorgeous thing that needs to be cherished. However, that’s not what I meant at all. One thing I can stand firm in my convictions is that I don’t ever want to come between a couple in love. You are in love with Ronald, yes?”

Hermione face color turned a deeper red. “Of…of course I do.”

Lucius walked over to her, his steps are short despite his long legs. The pureblood stood in front of her, looking down at her with his piercing eyes. Hermione could smell the rich aroma of his cologne, leather and whiskey, from the small distance between them. It was not overwhelming unlike Ron and Harry’s body sprays, which left her nose wiggling at the strong smell. Whatever he was wearing was more subtle and easy on her.

“I’m confused…What do you want from me?” Hermione asked, she could hear the uncertainly in her voice. She hated being confused and out of the loop.

His hand came out of nowhere and ran a long finger down her cheek. Hermione’s breath caught as his digit circled its way down her neck, stopping at her collarbone. He looked like he was wondering what to do next. The man who was known to be three steps ahead, had no idea what to do with her? Lucius’s finger rested against her skin for a while, letting the heat transfer to her.

“I will be blunt with you, Hermione,” his eyes darted back to stare into hers. “You are terrible at conducting business and getting investors. You don’t try to engage the client straight out, you just let Raul walk over you. Why? Because you wanted to kiss up to him? That won’t work. You need to be firm with your clients and investors, come out of the gate with firm convictions. No doubt the past investors you manage to get were based on your name sake or connections. It would be hard to deny one of the people who saved the wizarding world. However, that only lasts so long before the thing you fell back on becomes dull and useless.

“What I want from you is mold you into the perfect department Head I know you can be. You have the skills and the potential but, you need to step up and take charge. I want to be your mentor. ”

“In return? What do you get?”

“Other than pride and acknowledgement that I have apprenticed the next leading department, I want you to be at my side at all Ministry events. It is embarrassing to show up to a function without someone on your arm. I think you can understand how that feels, yes?”

Hermione swallowed back a lump, turning her eyes to the ground. However, Lucius didn’t let her look at the nice carpet for so long. He cupped her chin, his fingers were soft on her chin but his grip was forceful, turning her head back up. “First lesson, never look at the ground with remorse, it begs people to pity you. Be confident with yourself. Only act like that if you know people will throw their support on you.”

The witch took a deep breath, looking back at his face. “You want me to be your date to events?”

“Yes,” Lucius nodded his head, before a small smirk appeared on his face. “It does help my reputation that I manage to snag a date with the lovely Hermione Granger.”

“I…I don’t know…It seems tempting but, I want to help my department on my own.” Hermione knew that if she managed to save the werewolves, let them be treated better, then she can do so much more. Maybe even make sure werewolves got real jobs, not piss poor ones.

Lucius let go of her chin, dropping his arm at his side. “I understand your concerns. It does seem like having a golden egg drop on your lap, doesn’t it?” She nodded. “I will give you some time to think it over. However, I am an impatient man so; I don’t hear from you in three days, I will give up.”

“Alright,” Hermione sucked in a needed breath of air when he pulled away from her. He has always left her feeling breathless when he got too close to her

“First things first,” he took out his wand and waved and twirled it in the air. Everything that was broken, demolished, destroyed moved through the air until everything was in right order. It was if Hermione never destroyed the whole place. Even her clothes were clean of the wine stain. Once everything was done, he pocketed his wand and smirked at her. “Don’t want my future apprentice to be billed with the repairs.”

Lucius bowed, “I hope to see you again, Miss Granger.” He spoke in a calm voice.

Hermione watched the confusing pureblood turn and walk out of the ladies room, walking away like he was confident in each step, there was nothing that could trample him over. As she soon found herself alone again, she couldn’t believe what just occurred. She was given a key to become stronger in her department and become great. Lucius only, innocently, wanted to mold her to a good department. It sounded good, simple, and clean cut, but she could not let one feeling drop.

How strangely disappointed she was that he didn’t want her for sex.

Chapter Text

“Ow!”

Hermione pulled her hand away quicker than a snitch. Her index finger was sliced through. Through, that was hardly accurate, it still felt like it. She hissed in pain at the sight of blood spilling out of her poor little finger from cut no bigger than a couple of centimeters. She rushed to the bathroom as the blood became a dark red.

After wrapping her finger in a bandage, Hermione came back to the kitchen to glare at the shiny knife still covered in her blood. Seeing as her blood spilled onto the tomatoes, she had no choice but to throw them out. When the poor vegetables clump together in the bottom of the bin, Hermione heard the door open and shut. Knowing by the heavy footsteps pouncing on her floors, Hermione knew exactly who it was.

“Good evening, Ron,” she greeted her fiancé as she began to cut up a fresh tomato.

Ron grunted his reply, his voice sounded tired when he did speak. “I thought dinner would be ready by now.”

Hermione looked over her shoulder to see Ron plopping himself into her couch and began to take off his boots. “It was…but, I had a mishap,” she wiggled her hand to show off her injury. “I cut myself cutting the tomatoes.” She had to repeat herself when Ron wasn’t looking as he was busy with the muggle television.

“Need to be more careful, ‘Mione.”

Hermione huffed, jamming the knife into the plum red skin harder than she meant to. A normal fiancé would be running to her side to sooth her wounds in a flash. At least, that is she dreamt of. “I got distracted.”

It took him a moment to respond as his eyes were trained on a cartoon dog skipping about. “By what?”

Hermione looked over at a letter tossed in the rubbish bin, now covered in tomato juice. It only had her name and six simple words that left her shaken to the core. In the neatest and well-practiced cursive was “I need your response by tomorrow.”

She shook her head, “Just…work.” She lied through her teeth.

 

Ron took the lie like the last piece of cake. “Alright. When will dinner be ready?”

“In ten minutes.” Hermione said simply, throwing her tomatoes into the salad bowl.

--

Hermione stared at the night sky through her window, blocking off the sound of Ron’s snoring behind her. The witch yanked the covers over to her but when his large arms pulled back, leaving Hermione bare to the world. Shivering from lack of protective clothing, Hermione wrapped a robe around her and moved up from the bed. Under the moonlight, she could see Ron’s pale ass bare to the world. She sighed and pulled the covers to cover him, even if he had more covers than he needed.

Hermione pulled the robe tight around her and exited the bedroom when Ron’s night grunts grew agitating. The muggleborn witch entered the dead quiet living room and made her way to the window that overlooked the small park nearby. Sitting on the small window seat, Hermione looked out to the vast world below her. It was dead outside, no sign of life for miles. Of course, no one in their right mind would be outside at this hour. And Hermione hardly fit in that category.

This week seemed like it had been carried over months or even years. All because of one man. Lucius Malfoy. Maybe since he didn’t want to see her naked and ass in the air, Hermione was less giving him the blame. Rationally, it was unlikely everything fell apart because of one man. There were other people involved but, none of them stuck around her mind like that man. Never mind the strange dreams and drifting thoughts, the letters from him were a simple reminder of his presence.

He had given her three days to take up his offer to be his apprentice and he was truly not patient. He kept his distance from her but still manage to appear everywhere she was in the Ministry. Lucius didn’t speak to her about his offer; or rather, hardly spoke to her other than simple pleasantries. If she didn’t know better, his act of (putting it mildly) kindness that day in the bathroom was just a dream. Until the letters started to appear, counting down the days and even hours until Hermione’s deadline was up.

Hermione sighed, snuggled her body against the cool glass. She was nearing twenty-four years old, a witch in her prime, with a fiancé and impeding marriage around the corner. Why was it then that her mind was wrapped around a pureblood wizard that wasn’t Ron?

--

Hermione sat at her desk, looking at potential projects. Many of them sounded good, some even brilliant but, as much it pained her, she had to be strict with the projects. The one thing that took her mind off Lucius Malfoy was the fact that her Department life was like a sword held above her, held up by a thin strand of thread. She needed five projects that could keep them afloat and keep the sword from slicing her through.

There were other smaller departments that have already been given the boot. As much as the truth hurt, her Department could be next. They even took down the Department of Magical Weaponry Research and Development. She already lost five good employees a couple of days ago but, the rest were already murmuring about fleeing.

She glanced at the clock; it was nearing three in the afternoon which meant two more hours until she had to give Lucius her final answer. His offer was too good, too good without having something else behind it. All he wanted was a date to functions while she got the mother-load of opportunities? The man she knew, with the Slytherin pride, wouldn’t do something so simple and almost kind without expecting something in return that was equal to his offer. Hermione was starting to miss thinking he wanted sex. At least that she could understand as payment.

The chair creaked in strain when Hermione leaned against it. Why couldn’t her blasted mind push Lucius out her mind like a stray animal without finding out it snuck it again? She needed to focus on her Department’s future. She needed to be strong. She needed tea.

“Susan!” Hermione called out through the open door to her secretary. “Could you get me some tea?”

There was no response from her secretary. “Susan?” she called again, hoping that simply Susan was away or couldn’t hear her.

When there was dead silence, which was when Hermione grew concern. She walked out of her small office, expecting to see her ten remaining employees busy with work at their desks. But everyone was missing from their desk. Every desk was as clean as the day it arrived to the room. Hermione felt her jaw drop, looking at this in total disbelief. Where could they have gone to?

There was a rustle to her left; Hermione saw the back of her secretary’s behind, bent over to pick something up. “Susan?”

Her name yanked the young woman up, her ginger hair swishing in the air. The much more buxom gifted woman looked startled, surprised to see Hermione. “M-Miss Granger!”

Hermione looked at the whole empty room once again, “Where is everyone? Where is Mark? Helen? Troy?”

Susan worried her plump lip between her teeth; she began to dance on the ball of her feet. “They…they all left. They quit.”

Hermione eyes bloom to the size of the moon. “What?! When! Why? How?!”

Susan face flinched, either from her voice or the guilty expression on her face. “They all left during lunch…Well, one by one. They…we all agreed that while you are a fabulous Head, Miss Granger and we have enjoyed working with you, we can’t wind up on the streets like the other Departments.”

Hermione could feel her legs beginning to give out. It was even a miracle that she was still standing. Her secretary, who helped her through the short years the Department has been up, holding a box filled with her personal effects staring at her like she was waiting for Hermione to leave so she could as well.

Susan gestured to a stack of folders and loose papers. “There is their resignation letters. And mine.”

“I…I don’t understand…”Hermione voice was crackling and falling apart like everything around her. “We could have made this Department strong and changed everything! Doesn’t anyone care about the people we help?”

Susan sighed, “We do, Miss Granger. But, we couldn’t do it this time. The world isn’t ready for another big leap of change. They might have won for now but….we can still triumph.”

Her words of encouragement did little to ease Hermione. Hermione grabbed the edge of the desk, her body craving the comfort of the floor. “Just….just leave.…”

Susan squeaked and scampered away like the rat she was, leaving the sinking boat. Left alone, Hermione stumbled her way to her office where somehow she miraculously landed on the couch rather the floor.

Everything was crashing around her and she didn’t have time to even salvage any of the pieces. How was she supposed to save her Department when it was just her left? She didn’t doubt her abilities but she knew she couldn’t run and work the Department by herself. It was near to impossible.

Hermione was alone. And soon, she would be out of a job and her bright path that was her future was becoming duller by the second. The silence was heavy around her, tied around her like a concrete block, pulling her further into the dark pools of depression. There was nothing she could grab onto to pull her out.

“Damn it! God fucking damn it!” Hermione cursed loudly, cutting through the silence.

There was one way to pull her up and onto dry land. It would be against her convictions but, right now, not doing it could leave her on the bottom of the ocean.

She would need to sell her soul to the Devil.

--

The clock hit five dongs, the end of a work day when Hermione stood out the door, her knocks echoing with the dongs. She wasn’t sure if she was too late and cursed to float or if he didn’t hear her. When seconds ticked by with no word or response, Hermione let her hand drop to her side in defeat. Maybe she was doomed to be like this.

She was a second away from walking away when the door opened up and looked up to see the cool face of the man who had been haunting her every thought. A look of surprise and perhaps, a hint of hopefulness appeared on the marble chisel face.

“Miss Granger?” his voice was cool as ever.

Hermione took in a deep breath, letting it out once it got too heavy to hold in any longer. “I will do it.”

A slow, sly, smug smirk drew over his lips. Lucius outstretched his snake like arm, and like a predator, pulled her close to the doorframe and to his office. “Then, let us begin.”

Chapter Text

“You want me to be a bloody escort?!”

“Miss Granger, again, I ask you to refrain from using such lewd langue.”

“I can do what I fucking damn please!”

“Then, at least sit down!”

If Hermione wasn’t pacing a hole into his Persian rug, she might have jumped at Lucius loud bark. Like a dog following her master, Hermione sat back down in the leather winged chair. Unlike a normal dog, Hermione was deviate and kept her eyes narrow at the Pureblood as her arms folded under her breasts.

Lucius let out some air, as if he was holding it in for hours. “There, we can discuss this matter like adults.”

Hermione scoffed, “Too adult for my taste.”

His lips curled into a frown. Lucius leaned back into his chair, though relaxation would not be given to either one of them. Hermione took her eyes off from glaring at the pureblood to looking at the accursed stack of papers on his mahogany desk. A contract.

“I have told you before today of my intentions were with you, Miss Granger,” Lucius pointed out. “To join me on official Ministry outings, as in a date. So, yes, you will join me as an escort in the simplest of sense.”

“That was before I knew that you were going to have it your way all the way to having you pick out what I wear.” Hermione bit back. “I am not a doll to be dressed.”

Lucius rolled his eyes, “Like your fashion sense is up to par with my own. Much less this decade.”

Hermione colored, both in anger and embarrassment. “I like the way I dress.”

“Oh, really now? All I see on you are thrift store suits and second hand dresses. A woman should be wearing fine garments; silk, velvet, soft fabrics to match her soft exterior.”

Her wand hand twitched at her side as she just itched to zap him. However, he was right. She knew how to dress herself yet, with the cost of living and her wedding ceremony, money had been tight. It didn’t leave clothing expenses much to be desired. “But…did you have to include what…underwear I have to wear?” her face was turning scarlet.

He didn’t pay her flushed cheeks any acknowledgment as he simply shrugged his shoulders. “I just know what kind of underwear goes right with what dress. I rather not have you photographed with a visible panty line.”

“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this….” Hermione breathed out, her anger subsiding as she set herself back to reality.

“May I ask why what made you choose to agree to this? I’m pleased but, I must know. I thought you wanted to save your department all on your own.” Lucius question, as curious as the slippery cat he was.

Everything was bubbling up to the surface; everything was breaking through the dam with a sudden burst, leaving behind nothing but rubble. A tidal wave of emotions hit her so hard she felt she was being knocked down. Hermione buried her face in her hands, biting her tongue so hard it came close to bleeding. She did not want to cry in front of Lucius damn Malfoy.

His gentle touch on her shoulder made her jump a couple of inches. Looking up with her vision being filled with water, she saw a cup of tea in his offering hand. There was a quick flicker of pity in his eyes but, it soon vanished. Hermione took the cup carefully; looking down at it like it was a ticking time bomb

“It isn’t poisoned or anything.” Lucius stressed out, his voice deadpan from the other use of that phrase. “You look like you could use it. I can get you something stronger, if you would like.”

“No, it’s….it’s fine.” Hermione stared at the golden hue of the tea. “It is just unexpected of you to offer me anything.”

Lucius leaned against the desk, keeping himself propped up by his arms. “I don’t like seeing women cry. It is wrong. It is off-putting.”

Hermione sniffled, “I wasn’t crying,” his raised eyebrow said he didn’t buy her lie. “I was near to it. It’s been a taxing week. Or rather day.”

“Enough to make you come to me.”

“Yes,” she nodded, taking a breather by sipping on the tea. Hermione had to recollect herself or else, tears would be spilled. “I’ve worked every angle, every plausible option, just to save my Department or at least prolong the shutting down of it. My people were willingly to put in the extra hours, working until a new day started, to support me. I have had to say ‘no’ to really good proposals and drudgingly approve proposals just to satisfy the Ministry’s requirement. But…the inventible happened. They all left. Left the sinking ship like rats!” Hermione wanted to snarl, hiss, and curse as she remembered the empty office but, her voice came out weak and tired. “What is the point of trying to save a Department when it doesn’t even exist?”

“Who says the Department is gone?” Lucius answered her rhetorical question. “Were you handed a pink slip?”

“Well….no. But, I can’t keep my Department if there is no one to help me run it!” Hermione exclaimed, her jerky movement to sit up sent the tea over the rim and onto the floor.

“Miss Granger.” He held up a hand like he was calming down a raging wave. “I did say that if you became my apprentice-”

“Escort.

“Apprentice,” he stressed out, glaring silver daggers her interpretation. “That I would take care of you and your Department, did I not? Fund your Department’s projects, hand you some connections of mine, and need be, fill your Department with people.”

“No one could replace my crew,” Hermione commented. “They believed in the future, the future of many good people.”

“If they were noble people, then they wouldn’t have fled.”

His words stung, sending her wincing like tasting like old lemons. Lucius hit the nail on the head. Hermione knew, deep down, that what he said was the truth. She knew her crew to be good and just people, full of noble intentions. But, one sniff of defeat in the air, and they ran in the opposite direction.

“Now,” Lucius sat back down in his chair, pulling the contract closer to him to make an amendment. “How many people were in your Department?”

“Fifteen,” Hermione sighed, each of their faces appearing in her mind/

“Fifteen,” Lucius echo as he wrote down on a separate piece of paper, which looked to be names. “By tomorrow morning, your Department will be well stocked and ready to go.”

At this, Hermione eyes went wide. “You can’t be serious,” he didn’t look like he could crack a smile anytime soon. “How can you find fifteen people who have the same goals as me?”

When she first proposed her Department, she spent weeks and even months finding people to fill it up. Some were reluctant to join in; some didn’t want to leave their low-paying but secure job to join in on her bandwagon, and some just right out refused. To have him fill up the empty desks within a few hours, it was unheard of, even impossible.

“I have a few people in mine,” Lucius had already filled a second page of names. “However, you must never complain about the people I picked out.”

“But-”

“Never,” he nearly growled out. Hermione swallowed down a lump in her throat, he was different from that charming man everyone thought he was. “I will be your primary investor, your partner, so I own a good majority of the Department. What I say goes but, I won’t abuse or perturb the way the Department functions. Of course, this new amendment to the contract means you must give up something else in return.”

“W-what?” She stammered, feeling as if her soul was about to be sold.

“This apprenticeship was going to be a simple one, with a few rules and a more breathing room. Now,” he placed the pen down gently and looked up at her, his eyes dark. “You are going to be more of an apprentice to me than just a colleague that I simply mentor.”

Hermione knew she wasn’t going to like this. “What do you need from me?”

“I will need you to live with me.”

“What?!” Hermione was up in her feet in a flash. The hard thud behind her told her in her haste that she knocked over the chair. “Are you mad?! I can’t….I can’t live with you!”

“I am perfectly sane, Miss Granger,” his voice was calm but she knew there was a trace of annoyance sewn through his words. “I mean for you to stay in my home while you are under my hand.”

“I still can’t just move in with you!” she kept yelling in protest despite his cold stare. “I have my own life and I can’t just upheave it. I share an apartment with my friend, Ginny, and I can’t just leave her to take care of the flat; she will never keep up the payments. Nevermind the fact that I am engaged and it would be wrong to live with another man! And have you forgotten that I hate you?”

“Then why even come to me if you weren’t willingly to sacrifice something.” The corner of his mouth twitched upward.

Her face colored. “I…I wanted to explore all my options.”

“You do understand that being someone’s apprentice, no matter the field, the apprentice must live and learn with the mentor?” Lucius lips turn into a frown, as if he was beginning to think of the meaning of life. “But, I understand your concern about your friend, Ginny. Merlin knows that she cannot afford to live by herself, no matter the housing. I will compromise with you. For the fifteen people I will hire, you will stay fifteen weekends in my homestead.”

“Fif-fiteen weekends?” Hermione recoiled, her stomach doing cold flip-flops at the image of spending afternoon tea with the Malfoy family.

“You will have your own quarters, my house-elves will tend to every one of your needs, and no one shall disturb you.” Lucius vowed.

“Then why bother having me stay?”

“It will be a way to monitor you and I can teach you on a more hands on basis. Over the weekend, I will be teaching you some certain skills.” It felt like he purred out ‘hands on’.

Hermione ran a hand down her face, trying to recover her sanity. Everything was spinning out of her control. “This is a lot of think about. Can I….can I think about it? I’m alright with the apprenticeship, even you dressing me up but, moving in with you….it is a lot of take in.”

He took her plea and nodded, handing her the contract. “Everything will stay intact for your end of the bargain. Anything that is added is the fact of your empty Department and you staying in my home.”

“Thank you.” Hermione hugged the contract to her.

“I expect an answer soon, Miss Granger. Before the day is done. We can’t have an empty Department for long. And Miss Granger?”

“Yes?”

“Please think about this with logic in mind, not with the heart.” Lucius smiled at her, a twinkle in his eye. “The heart tends to cloud the mind.”

With a wave of his hand, he shooed her out of the door. Hermione looked down at the stack of parchment; it felt as heavy as a boulder.

--

On her third glass of wine and fifth round of reading the contract, Hermione had no idea what to do. Here was this brilliant offer, a chance to change the world and be able to support those who needed it. Hermione could help so many werewolves, give them comfort about not bring any danger to themselves or others. Maybe in a few years, werewolves wouldn’t need to live in fear and be able to live among everyone. It would make the memory of Remus Lupin proud.

Then there were the consequences of taking up this offer. Hermione, would essential, be selling her body and mind to Lucius though, not in the way she had thought. Rather being a sex slave, she would become his apprentice slash escort. Maybe an escort was not the right term that fit. All she had to do was to dress pretty, which he would give out dresses for her to keep, and show up on his arm. Hermione could tolerate a few hours with him, only if there were others.

Did that mean she could tolerate being in his presence for a full weekend? Hermione could barely stand being alone with him. He drew up some complicated emotions within her. One moment, all she wanted to do was to strangle his long, alabaster neck followed by a moment of feeling vulnerable under his gaze. It was an emotional roller-coaster for her. Could she survive a weekend full of it?

There was the clause in the contract that if she felt threaten by him or even hurt by him, that Lucius would cease the apprentice but pay for a full year of the Department’s funding. Hermione was more willingly to sign the contract because of that.

Hermione sighed, finished her third glass, and leaned back in her chair. There were too many factors to think of, all of them rambling about in her head, to the point it was becoming nauseating.

“Hey, do you want pizza for tonight?”

The sound of the voice made Hermione jump slightly in her seat. Ginny stood in the doorway of Hermione’s office. “What?”

“Do you want some pizza for dinner?” Ginny repeated. Her lips curled with worry, as if Hermione was as sick as a dog. Ginny approached her, “Are you alright? You seem jumpy.”

“I have a lot on my mind, recently. I will be fine,” her tight smile did little to change Ginny’s face. “Come on; let’s get some pizza for tonight. My treat.”

Hermione was halfway out of the door when Ginny called out. “What’s this?”

She froze in her steps, knowing exactly what Ginny had in her hand before she turned around. The redhead was looking through the contract, her face turning paler by the second, before ending with a grimace look on her face.

“This is an apprentice contract…”

“I know…”

“With Lucius Malfoy!”

“I know!” Everything suddenly became real. It wasn’t a dream that her overworked brain came up with. Now, it was real as the clothes on her back.

“Why do you have this, ‘Mione?” Ginny shook the contract. “I said that if you needed money, we could help you.”

“It isn’t that simple, Ginny,” Hermione breathed, the floor below her feet began a bit wobbly. “This is my last chance at saving my Department and my job. Everyone left, Ginny. Troy, Susan, and the others…they all left. No money you, Harry, or even, Ron have will save a dead Department.”

“You are willingly to serve Lucius Malfoy?”

“Yes.”

Ginny lowered the contract, the shock had subsided. “Oh, Hermione!” she pulled the older witch into her arms, holding her tightly. “I am so sorry. I never thought that Lucius was going to serious. You know how Malfoys are; they like to mess with people. But this, this contract is legit! What are you going to do? Will you sign it?”

Hermione sighed, “I don’t know, Ginny,” pulling away from her friends embrace, she took up the contract again. “If this was with another person, if Lucius Malfoy was not involved, I would have signed up right away. What are a few Ministry functions and weekend visits compared saving my Department and changing people’s lives?”

“But it sounds kind of fishy…” Ginny observed. “Are you sure he isn’t asking anything sexual?”

“Coming from a woman, who said a few days ago, said that I should have sex with him.” Hermione scolded the younger woman.

“That was in a moment of jest!” The redhead began, her cheeks coloring from embarrassment. “I thought it was a joke. I never thought you would cheat on Ron with Lucius. You…you aren’t thinking of having an affair with him are you?”

Hermione visible flinched, mostly from the strong concern in her friend’s voice, as if Ginny didn’t trust her. “You know me, Ginny…Ron and I might get into fights but, I would never cheat on him.”

“Then what about Ron?” She brought up. “What are you going to do about him? He won’t like you being Lucius Malfoy’s apprentice, much less sleeping at his house.”

Hermione knew Ginny was right. Ron would blow a gasket if she ever mentioned the idea of living in Malfoy Manor. True, she and Harry had begun to tolerate the family but, Ron loathed them and sneered every time the name was mentioned. When Hermione tried to tell Ron about Lucius visiting her office, she hadn’t even mentioned his offer before Ron went in a loud, angry, red-cheeked rant. After Ron began to cursing the Malfoy about a small incident with the elevator at the Ministry, Hermione had gone to bed to shut him up. There was no way that Ron would agree to-

“Please think about this with logic in mind, not with the heart. The heart tends to cloud the mind.”

Lucius voice echo through her head, like a whisper from a dream. Hermione must have closed her eyes because when she opened them again, Ginny was looking at her seeking an answer.

“Hermione? What about Ron?”

“He doesn’t matter.” Hermione said simply.

“But, you two are engaged. He wouldn’t say yes to this.” Ginny stressed out.

Hermione shook her head at the dismal of her concern. “Ron is not a factor in this. I won’t let Ron’s anger stop me from fulfilling my dream of helping people. If he complains or tries to get me to quit…then, he can forget about our wedding.”

“Hermione!” Ginny yelled in protest.

“I mean it. If Ron can’t sacrifice his anger and hatred while I will sacrifice my time and dignity, then Ron will never appreciate me and my efforts.” Hermione stood tall with her words. Before Ginny could try and pull the contract away, Hermione grabbed it from her hands.

Hermione scrawled her signature on the line and initialed where it mattered. Once the last splash of ink stained in her name, the black letters turned gold and sealed the name. The contract twisted and turned like it was caught in a washing machine, before disappearing in a pop. Hermione knew the contract was officially sealed and on its way to the Ministry records. Hermione wasn’t going to back down.

“Now,” Hermione looked at the shocked redhead. “How about that pizza?”

Chapter Text

The tapping on the window was excruciatingly matching the painful throbbing of her head. Hermione covered her ears with her pillow, praying that the soft cushion could drown out the noise. When the blaring music of her alarm came in full force, merging with the tapping, the young witch gave up. While most girls woke up with only a few strands of hair all puffed out, Hermione’s hair in the mornings mimic a wild bird’s nest. It wasn’t like she thrashed in her sleep to get it this way and yet; her hair was standing on ends.

She slammed her fist against her alarm, shutting it off sent vibrations through her body. At least, one noise was taken care of. One down, two to go. The knocking on the window pane was getting louder. Hermione expected a little tawny owl with a copy of the morning’s Daily Prophet; instead she saw a large horned eagle owl clawing at her window. It looked ready to rip into her flesh if she didn’t open the window soon.

Carefully, Hermione untangled herself from her sheets and made her way to the window. She unhooked the lock and pulled the window up, letting in a flash of angry feathers. The owl swooped its massive wings in her small room as it lowered itself on her hand stitched quilt. Its claws were wrapped wound a thick ribbon which was attached to a box half the size of her bed.

The eagle-owl cawed at her, it yellow eyes flaring at Hermione’s lack of a quick response. Crookshanks was hissing and snarling from his spot on the floor, his hair sticking on ends.

“Easy there,” She said softly, holding hands up in a calming gesture.

She didn’t want to wind up having to pick up feathers and cat fur off the floor later. Hermione grabbed a stale owl treat from a bowl on her desk. Tossing it in the air, the eagle-owl swooped up and caught it mid-air. The eagle-owl was unhappy with her treat but the bird knew it wouldn’t get another treat and took off through the window.

Crookshanks was miffed and swished his tail as he stalked out of her room. Hermione looked towards the large box stretched across her bed. It was a dark blue box, thick as a suitcase, and held together with sky blue ribbon. In the middle of the ribbon was a large seal with a large triangle with a line in the middle as it’s right arms tilted in a forty-five degree angle. Hermione knew the rune, Fehu a mile away but she never seen a label like this. After a scan of any enchantments, she found it to be harmless.

Still, she was cautious as she removed the ribbon from the box. As she lifted the lid, Hermione was greeted with the sweet and slightly scent of vanilla and caramel, and a letter with her name resting on top of a cushion of blue tissue paper.

Her heart sank as she saw the large M on the large green seal on the back of the envelope. It was from Lucius Malfoy, there was no way to doubt that.

Good Morning Miss Granger,

I am pleased that you made this decision to become my apprentice. I received word that you signed the contract last night, as I knew you would. From this day forth, you shall become my apprentice and I pray you abide by all the rules. As a token of my gratitude (and that I cannot have my apprentice walking in threadbare clothing), this gift that my bird Baldur has delivered, is something you will find better suited for a woman of your station. I find that you will this gift acceptable, as I know you shall.

I look forward to seeing you,

Lord Lucius A. Malfoy

The arrogance came off the page like perfume sprayed on a love letter. Hermione knew that Lucius was tactical as well as a great businessman but, one thing she hated was being one step behind. He knew she would sign the blasted contract no matter what. As she read the letter, she could hear the husky baritone voice of his speaking every word, as if he was right in the room. That thought made her feel vulnerable, the idea that he would be seeing her in her underwear. It sent a shiver down her spine, prickling her skin into Goosebumps.

Hermione shook her head, clearing her thoughts of him; she had a whole day ahead of her. She didn’t believe Lucius about filling her office overnight; that was not done. She walked over to the large box still resting on her bed. Gently, she lifted the tissue paper like opening an ancient tome.

At an instant, her eyes formed into size of galleons. “Oh, Merlin’s balls…”

~~

Ever since she stepped into the elevator, Hermione had been fussing with her clothes like a child going to picture day. Logically, she knew no one was staring at her but still, that nervousness of people’s eyes on her still remained. Her fellow Ministry workers might not be looking at her outfit but rather at her, probably why she was still here. As the elevator descended through the floors, Hermione saw more and more people holding boxes of their belongings, holding back tears of failure. She wondered if Lucius hadn’t stepped in to offer her support, she might be heading to her office today to get her belongings.

She could only hope that she wasn’t marching to her career’s funeral.

Hermione pushed herself down the hallway toward her office, noticing how empty it was. A sick feeling started to pull her down, that maybe the Malfoy patriarch showed her the glamour of salvation but in reality was a means to a gateway to hell. Hermione stopped in front of a mirror nearby, she didn’t want to face the end looking like she had been through it already.

She hardly looked like she could ever step into the mouth of hell, with superiority and confidence stitched into her clothing. The gift that Malfoy had sent her was a new working outfit for someone at a high station in power without sacrificing her gender. It would be something that a boss would wear without closing up casual dressed employees. Hermione couldn’t believe how muggle Lucius went and she couldn’t believe how he knew her measurements.

A periwinkle blouse hung off her shoulders, the collar came together to form a scarf like tie down her chest, coming to rest above her breast. The material of the blouse was soft, a light cotton that ended in satin at the cuffs. A black waistcoat fitted around her torso snuggly, with periwinkle strips going vertically, showing off her curves. The skirt even had a wand holster attached to a belt; it was loose enough so Hermione’s wand won’t dig into her thigh. Malfoy even went beyond by having her initials sewed into the holster.

A tight black pencil skirt ended modestly above her knees, it left her a lot of room to move her legs despite how it formed around her thighs. Hermione had pulled on black tights underneath the skirt, glad she had shaved her legs the other night. The heels that were in the box were far too high for her to wear, as she knew she would be tripping over them in a second, so Hermione put on a pair of low heel shoes, even though the blackness had dulled over time.

Hermione wasn’t so worried about her hair, as she had accepted her wild hair years ago, but she still couldn’t help but pull her hair into a chignon that rested at the back of her neck. Letting her wild hair out would have dulled the appeal of her outfit.

The young witch took in a breath, hoping that she wasn’t dressed so nicely for a huge disappointment. She was never late for anything but today, her nervousness and fears had dulled her sense of time. Hermione was nearly an hour late. She had to face the music sooner or later.

Unlike the other doors on the floor, where she knew Departments had been disbanded, the golden lettering of “The Department of Rights and Regulations for Magical Creatures” was still visible on the foggy glass. Hermione swallowed once more and turned the handle and thrust herself into the office.

The sight of it all hit her before the world became noisy. Where the night before, where the desks were empty and clear, as if there hadn’t been an occupant for years, there were actually people behind each desk. Each one of them was busy with either decorating their desks with personal belongings or chatting up with their neighbor. She hasn’t seen this many people in her Department that Hermione could have sworn she walked into another Department.

The noise quieted then when one by one, each of these unfamiliar faces turned and looked Hermione. Each one of them were suddenly eager, as if they were expecting her to do something entertain. Hermione opened her mouth to speak and she was one syllable from asking why they were there when a voice sounded behind her.

“Miss Granger?”

Hermione whirled around towards a woman standing behind her, as if she appeared from thin air. The woman’s chestnut colored hair swept over one shoulder of a gray suit jacket, curled up in a way that looked both casual and elegant. She looked like if she just took off her jacket, then her white silk blouse and gray skirt would mean a night on the town. This woman exhumed elegance and sophistication like years spent learning how to balance a book on her head.

Hermione swallowed hard, “Yes?”

The air of elegance subsided as the woman smiled gently, like seeing an old friend. “Good morning. I am Astoria Greengrass, your new secretary. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She was speaking as if she wasn’t worried about the many eyes on them.

Astoria offered her hand towards Hermione, and she couldn’t help but notice the huge size diamond on her hand. Hermione took her hand and shook, noticing right away how smooth her hand was. Her name rung bells of familiarity but Hermione couldn’t find the source.

Astoria took a moment and joined Hermione at her side, the new witch turning her to face the many eyes. Astoria looked younger than her but; Astoria was nearly a few inches taller than her. The woman rested her hand on her arm. “Miss Granger, I would like to be the first one to introduce you to your department. Everyone, this is the brilliant witch we will work together to achieve our goals.”

At Astoria’s voice, everyone’s face balloon to smiles and agreeable nods. The young witch was carrying the room. Hermione looked over everyone, counting at least a dozen of people in the room, wondering when this dream would end. Lucius actually filled her entire Department with people! What kind of magic did he pull?

“Miss Granger hopes that you start on reviewing on the projects your predecessors left behind. Their work is yours now. Miss Granger will hold a Department meeting shortly.” Astoria continued, addressing Hermione’s new employees. “Is that acceptable?”

Hermione gave a tiny start when Astoria’s soft green eyes stared at her. She was so caught in her own thoughts that she led Astoria, who was supposed to be her assistant, take over. She felt her cheeks burn from embarrassment. She wasn’t expecting something like to happen.

The muggleborn witch cleared her throat; her voice was a better attempt at authority than she thought possible. Maybe Astoria’s earlier words were having an effect on her. “I look forward to getting to know each one of you. If you have any questions, feel free to come to my office anytime. Together we can save lives and build a bridge to a bright future.”

As claps sounded their mutual agreement, Astoria led Hermione towards the familiar path towards her office. Astoria kept herself at Hermione’s pace, “I have dossiers on everyone here. I put them in your office for you to review. I would recommend that you take the time to review them.”

Unlike Susan, Astoria looked ready for everything. Even her desk, settled outside Hermione’s door was organized and labeled like a soldier’s arsenal. Everything was neat and organized, from color coded to labeled and set in alphabetic order. Hermione’s heart lifted in kinship.

“Thank you, Miss Greengrass,” Something about her last name was familiar but, she couldn’t place it. It wasn’t a name she recognize from Gryffindor house.

“Please, call me Astoria.”

“Then call me Hermione.”

Hermione had her hand on the knob to her closed door when she turned her head back to Astoria. By now, Susan would have run to get Hermione her morning tea or sit down to work yet, Astoria stood there, as if she wanted to say something.

“Are you alright, Astoria?” The girl’s heart-shaped face was pinched as if she was sucking on something sour.

Astoria started, as if Hermione told her an earth shattering truth. “There are new…changes to your office. I hope….if there are any problems, I will be gladly to assist in every way.” She was skirting around the truth, Hermione realized, whatever it could be.

Hermione gave one passing glance at Astoria, who had taken to sit at her desk and busy herself like their conversation never happened, before opening the door to her office. Astoria was right; there were a lot of changes to her office. It was twice as big as was the night before, no doubt due to an enlargement spell. The faded mustard colored walls of her office were gone and replaced with a soft maroon color with pearly white trimmings. Her desk used to be made from cheap wood, with dents and scratches from years of use, but it was replaced with an expensive looking desk with clawed foot ends. Behind her desk were two large bookcases, separated by a waist high bookcase, all of them filled with her own books and her personal pictures of her family and friends. Above the lower bookcase was a French style window that was enchanted to looked over the busy streets of muggle London. It was an office suit for a boss.

Hermione picked up one of the dossiers off her desk when she heard voice behind her. “What took you so long, Granger?”

She knew that voice like the cold shudder that always went down her spine every time she heard it. Hermione spun around her aged heels, her wand drawn out faster than she could blink. Sitting by the door, in a desk similar to hers, his feet resting on top of the desk with a folder in his hands was the biggest scorn of her childhood. Draco Malfoy.

Draco looked up from the folder, looking unimpressed by the wand pointed straight at him. “Do put that wand down, Granger, before you poke an eye out.”

“I would rather poke your eye out,” Hermione hissed. “What are you doing in my office?”

“Our office,” he corrected her like it was a matter of fact.

“Excuse me?” The witch held back a curse, more worried about it damaging her office rather the little pureblood before her. “‘Our’ office? What in Merlin’s name are you on about?”

Draco snapped the folder closed, and stood up from the desk and walked the small distance between them. He wasn’t as tall as his father but, Draco Malfoy had that arrogant pride in every muscle of his body, like each step he took was a gift to God. That’s what Hermione always thought of him, like he believed he was a blessing to the world but, ever since the War, Draco had lessened his “blessing” to the world. He still had that prideful smarmy look about it but, he wasn’t about to showboat everything.

“Didn’t my father tell you anything?” He asked, stopping a distance away from her wand. He knew exactly how dangerous Hermione could be with a wand if provoked.

“No,” Hermione replied shortly. The only time she really spoke to him was yesterday and a letter this morning. He said nothing about his son working in her office.

Draco grimaced and let out a puff of air, like speaking to her was deflating him. “He wants me to help you run this Department. He wants us to work together.”

It was Hermione’s turn to frown, “You have your own Department-”

“I worked for a Department, it wasn’t really mine.”

“Your Department,” she carried on like he never spoke. “Was the one who voted to cut our, my funding by that cruel law of yours. It was your Department that nearly closed mine.”

“Granger, it wasn’t just my Department that hurt yours. There were other factors in it as well.” He was probably right but, it didn’t make Hermione want to agree. “We were just the last hay that broke the horse’s spine.”

“It is ‘the last straw that broke the camel’s back’,” Hermione corrected his butchering of the muggle saying. “You were the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“I’m glad you agree,” That smarmy smirk on his face was just begging to be slapped. “If you have any problems about this, we can go talk to my father.”

Hermione tighten her grip on her wand. “Oh, I intend to.”

--

Lucius’ head sprung up as like a crack of a whip, the doors were nearly blasted through. Standing in the door like a female Samson, Hermione stood with flushed cheeks. He could hear his secretary screeching for her to stop and not go in. The witch didn’t seem to hear it and Lucius watched as she marched her way to his desk, her old shoes pounding into his carpet. Her hair had sprung free of her bun; he could feel the magic electricity off her.

“Good morning, Miss G-”

“Explain yourself!” The girl was young but, she certainly had, as the muggles called it, spunk. She slammed her hands on his desk, rattling the tea cup nearby.

Lucius leaned against his chair, “Whatever do you mean, Miss Granger?”

Hermione looked bloodthirsty; her brown eyes were alit with flames one might find in the bowels of Hell. “Why is your blasted son working for me? Is this a way for you to gain power? Are you just using me to get your son his own Department?” Was that a hint of betrayal in her anger?

Lucius looked over her tiny shoulders towards his door to his son. From here, he could see the red hand print against Draco’s pale cheeks as clear as day. Draco was rubbing his flesh, as if he could rub the sting away. His shoulders were slack, as if he was a child caught with a club and a broken vase at his feet. When silver eyes met similar eyes, Draco passed his father an apologetic tight grin.

“Miss Granger,” he moved his eyes back to the fiery witch before him. The heat from her anger really gave her rather…attractive glow to her. Lucius moved up from his desk and approached the angered witch like a lion tamer to a crazed lioness. “Hermione.”

“What?”

Lucius gestured for Draco to enter, who reluctantly did so as he shuffled in, Draco didn’t even look at Hermione as he sat down in on the chairs in front of the desk. Lucius kept his eyes on Hermione, despite her small height; she was not someone Lucius would trifle with, especially in this state. He remembered walking into the bathroom at L’Jean and seeing how much destruction this little witch could bring. The bathroom was like as if a tornado and a hurricane merged into one another in a super-nova of a storm. As it was because Raul Guerra was being himself.

As easy as picking up fine china, Lucius placed his hand against her arm. Through the material of the shirt, he could feel her jump at the unexpected touch. Lucius wished she wouldn’t do so, if she was nervous around him, it would make the apprenticeship difficult. The pureblood eased Hermione into the chair next to Draco, who had pulled himself far away her as much as possible.

Lucius looked between his startled son and his angered apprentice, wishing that he could sigh and spell this day away. “Miss Granger, Draco is your employee. Someone I hand-picked and spent all night and morning, getting him to join your Department. He agreed only if he could work with you personally, which I agreed to it because I know how valuable Draco can be for the Department. He has skills that would serve you well. He has a way of finding loop-holes and getting things done. Draco will also work as my proxy.”

Draco smirked at the muggle-born, “I told you, Granger,”

Hermione face twitched, as if she wanted to reach over and slap his other cheek but, she kept her place in her seat. “We won’t work well together. We hate each other.”

“Hate is such a harsh word. I know you secretly want to see my little dragon-”

“Draco!” Lucius couldn’t keep his calm demeanor any longer. His silver daggered eyes turned to Draco, making him shrink in his chair. “I will not have you speak to Miss Granger in such a foul language. Apologize to her.”

“But, I was-"

“Now!”

Hermione lips twitched into a tiny smile for him, so small that Lucius swore he imagined things. He felt his heart twist and speed up at the smile.

“I’m sorry, Hermione,” Draco muttered. Lucius knew that the best he could do right now.

“Now, Miss Granger,” her small smile faded as he turned back to her. “I believe that one of my conditions for my help that you must accept my choices at employees at all cost.”

Hermione cheeks whiten, as the anger washed away as this realization hit her. “I…I wasn’t expecting him to be one my employees.”

“And yet, you still lashed out at him. Do you want my help or not?”

The witch looked at the ground sheepishly, “Yes. I do.”

“Good,” Lucius reached over and cupped her chin so he could see into her eyes. How come one woman have such a wide range of emotions yet, she kept them all in check? Her brown eyes were still warm, as if they were pools of melted chocolate, despite her anger fading from her voice. “I will let this go for now. If you go against my rules again…I won’t be as kind. Is that understood, Hermione?”

Her breath caught in her throat, she couldn’t nod her head with the grip on her chin. “Y-yes…I understand…”

“Good,” he dropped his hand his side. “I expect civilly between the both of you. Now, go.”

Both of them stood up quickly from their chairs, Draco rushing to the door as quickly as he could. Hermione was halfway out of the door before Lucius called out her name.

“Yes, sir?” she looked at him, her wild strands of hair falling down. She looked like a woman who just finished a quick shag in the closet. Lucius shook his head at himself for even thinking that, it was too vulgar for a man his age to think of a young woman having a quickie in the broom closet. But, with her untamable hair, flush that had returned to her eyes, and her wide eyes…she certainly looked the part.

“I look forward to having you at my home this weekend.” Lucius purred out, enjoying the way Hermione’s throat moved up and down as she swallowed in nervousness.

Hermione didn’t wait for another word and took off through the doors. Alone, Lucius sat back down in his chair, his fingers tapping on his lips as he watched her retreating form. “Looking very much to this weekend….very much so.”