Actions

Work Header

My Brightest Star

Chapter Text

The moment Narcissa was finished writing down Hermione’s personal information, such as her date of birth and the reasons she applied for the job, the witch took out a list of questions she wanted to go through during this interview. Hermione had to fight every urge not to relax too much, but she knew she had this. She was smart after all. Much to her surprise however, her confidence didn’t last long. In fact, it only lasted until the very first actual question Narcissa asked her.

‘What are the different cleaning products and for what surfaces do you use them?’

Hermione, who had already been mentally listing every clever thing she had ever discovered during her research, felt her jaw go slack. What? 

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Come on, Miss Granger,’ Narcissa said while drumming her fingers on her desk impatiently, ‘it’s a simple question.’

Hermione raised her chin, refusing to show how much the question had thrownher off balance. She took a calming breath and began listing everything she had ever picked up from Molly Weasley. Despite the fact that Hermione thought it was the silliest question someone ever asked her, Narcissa took notes vigorously. 

‘And of course you must wipe the windows with an old newspaper to avoid it being covered in streaks when it dries,’ Hermione finally concluded.

Narcissa’s head shot up in surprise, ‘Right,’ she said, not being able to prevent her gaze from flicking to the windows of the office. 

Hermione didn’t know what was funnier, Narcissa tutting her lips at the window or the window itself that was covered in streaks as a result of not being cleaned properly. Before the brunette could comment on it, however, the older woman had already refocused her attention on her notes, acting like nothing had happened. 

‘How do you poach an egg?’

‘How do you p - I fail to see why this is relevant?’

The blonde shrugged, ‘I’m just curious.’

‘About poached eggs?’

‘I want my assistant to have a wide variety of skills and knowledge.’

Hermione almost snorted at that but managed to keep herself composed, ‘Well, unfortunately I don’t know how you poach an egg.’

Narcissa clicked her tongue, ‘That’s disappointing,’ before writing something down in her notes. 

‘I can tell you about my work-experience instead? I’m sure that’ll be less disappointing.’

‘There’s no need, Miss Granger. I’ve read all your papers and interviews in the Daily Prophet. I’m perfectly aware of your academic skills. Now how good are you at drawing baths?’

Hermione simply blinked, ‘How hard can drawing a bath be?’

The older witch scoffed, ‘It’s a matter of balance. The water can’t be too hot or too cold, and the bath salts need to be altered to match the current needs of the bather. The tub can’t be too full nor too empty…’

‘I get it,’ Hermione said slightly exasperated. This was by far the strangest interview she’d ever had. 

Narcissa squinted her eyes, obviously annoyed that someone had interrupted her, ‘So how are your massage skills?’

‘My what?’

‘What do you do when someone gets nauseous?’ 

‘Give them some Zofran?’ Hermione tried but mentioning the muggle drug only caused Narcissa to widen her eyes in outrage. 

‘This isn’t some joke, Miss Granger!’

‘Well clearly it is!’ Hermione almost shouted, finally having lost her temper, ‘Why are you asking me these ridiculous questions?’

Suddenly it dawned on Hermione and she slapped her palm against her forehead. Why didn’t she realize this sooner? The gossip about Narcissa’s Black deceased House-Elf had spread like wildfire through the Ministry, eventually reaching Harry who had told Ginny who had told her. Narcissa wasn’t looking for an assistant to help her with research or work. She just wanted to replace her Elf.

‘You’re not looking for an assistant. You’re looking for a maid.’

Narcissa squared her shoulders, her back now ramrod straight on her chair, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about, Miss Granger, but I think we are done here.’

Anger flared up in Hermione’s chest, mixed with desperation. She needed this job! Even if it meant she would be scrubbing the stairs. The answer to her problem was hidden somewhere in those enormous libraries and there would not be another opportunity to enter them. So in a final attempt to rectify the interview, she snatched the list of questions from Narcissa’s hands. The blonde was so shocked, her cold expression momentarily faltered. 

‘Miss Granger!’

‘I’m sorry!’ Hermione shrieked slightly panicking from her own actions while her eyes scanned the list for any questions she could easily answer. 

  • What are the best cures for a headache
  • What are the biggest risks for pregnancies at an older age 
  • Are you a discreet person
  • How flexible are you when there’s an emergency
  • Do you have any medical skills or background

Hermione wasn’t the Brightest-Witch-of-her-Age for nothing, Narcissa realized when she saw the pieces of the puzzle come together in Hermione’s head. She could just see the aha-erlebnis* shimmer in her eyes and she sighed. 

‘You’re… pregnant?’

‘And you’re insufferable. Please. Leave.’

The usually stoic and composed witch had closed her eyes while gently massaging her temples, trying to get rid of the headache the brash Gryffindor had just given her all the while refusing to look at the brunette. And Hermione realized she’d fucked up. The brunette gulped and admitted defeat.  

‘I’m terribly sorry. I really needed this opportunity, but your questions threw me off and I panicked.’

‘Leave.’

Hermione opened her mouth but when she looked at the blonde woman who was now supporting her head between her hands and staring at her lap, she closed it again. As quickly as possible she put her coat back on and grabbed her purse. Hermione walked to the door, but when her fingers enclosed themselves on the door handle she paused and turned around again. 

‘Your secret is safe with me, Narcissa.’

Was it the actual promise or the fact that Hermione addressed the woman by her given name? She had no clue, but the witch did look up and peered at Hermione with those impossible blue eyes of hers before giving a curt nod in appreciation. When Hermione closed the door behind her, she saw that the next applicant had already arrived and was waiting patiently on the chair near the door. In contrast to the young girl that had fled Narcissa’s office in tears, Hermione managed a small smile to the man before the raw disappointment of the whole situation wrenched itself from her throat with a sob. 

***

‘I swear, Andy! The entire interview was horrible.’

Hermione chugged her Firewhiskey and indicated to the barman that she wanted another one. The President of the Board of Directors of St. Mungo’s just looked at her with an amused expression. She remembered the first time Hermione drank whiskey and how she had ended up in a coughing fit, exclaiming how gross it was. And here she was, chugging glass after glass like a true alcoholic. But when she gestured for a fifth, Andy placed the palm of her hand on top of the glass and shook her head.

‘I think that’s enough. Could we get the bill, please?’

‘But Andy…’

‘No, sweetheart. You’ve had enough. I’m taking you home.’

Hermione whined but eventually slipped off her barstool and stumbled after Andromeda who quickly wrapped an arm around the younger woman’s waist to keep her from falling. The moment they were outside, Andy apparated them straight into Hermione’s bathroom. She was one of the very few people who had access to Hermione’s wards and even a spare key to her apartment. 

‘Take a shower and brush your teeth. I’ll be in your bedroom waiting.’

‘Okay bossyboots.’

Andy merely raised an eyebrow as she was, strictly speaking, Hermione’s boss but disappeared through the door to give the witch some privacy. When she emerged dressed in rather damp pyjamas, Andy cast a quick drying spell and pointed towards the bed. She’d already put a glass of water and an anti-hungover potion on the nightstand in case Hermione required it in the morning.

‘Get in.’

‘Are you mad at me?’

Andy laughed, ‘No, sweetheart. You’re a grown witch.  You’re allowed to get drunk once every ten years.’

Hermione rolled her eyes. Her friends always teased her for not letting go and always trying to be in control. But once every ten years? That was insulting. Even for her. It also wasn’t what Hermione meant.

‘No. Are you not mad at me for fucking up the interview today?’

‘Of course not. I didn’t like the idea of you being Cissy’s assistant to begin with. And now that it turns out she was merely looking to replace her house-elf? Hermione, you are a war hero and the cleverest witch I know. You shouldn’t be polishing my sister’s shoes.’ 

The younger witch giggled, ‘That sounds like a polite way to say I shouldn’t kiss her ass.’

‘Interpret it any way you like,’ Andy said while rising to her feet, ‘Goodnight, Hermione.’

‘But what about our problem?’

‘That’ll still be a problem tomorrow. You’re a clever girl. You’ll figure something out.’

Hermione stared at her ceiling for almost an hour after Andromeda’s departure, mulling over her words. And then suddenly she had figured it out. She flicked the bedsheets aside and padded over to her office whilst chugging the anti-hungover potion. A decision she would probably regret tomorrow, because although this potion could sober her up momentarily now it was really meant to be taken after the first signs of a hangover. Taking it too soon often resulted in an even worse headache; but, she needed a clear mind right now!

With a snap of her fingers Hermione summoned the sheet of questions she had so inelegantly yanked from Narcissa’s hands. After every question she read, Hermione summoned a book from her personal collection in which she was sure to find an appropriate answer. When she had researched and collected all the answers she needed, Hermione started writing. Dear Madame Black…

***

Narcissa had finally managed to stop sobbing. She had fetched her favourite bottle of wine from the cellar only to realize she couldn’t drink alcohol after she’d already opened the bottle. Seeing that dark, red, and delicious liquid disappear down her kitchen sink had been enough to make her cry. Stupid hormones! And stupid Hermione Granger who had given her an aneurysm followed by a very impressive headache. It had resulted in a restlessness that prevented her from sleeping.

She gritted her teeth. She hadn’t intended on asking those questions so bluntly. Narcissa had been subtle, inquiring and almost nonchalant when it came to the other candidates. But for some reason the young witch with her successful career, thinking she could easily get this job, had made her lose control. And she had fired question after silly question just to prove her point. Hermione wasn’t cut out for this particular job.

Unfortunately neither of the candidates were very capable either. Cissy had crossed more than half off her list just by the way they acted around her. A cold shiver ran down her spine when she recollected those interviews. People she couldn’t trust. People who would sell her secret to the highest bidder. Even when she was used to being surrounded by enemies, the mere thought of having someone around her who she couldn’t rely on exhausted her to the bone. 

Narcissa’s face contorted when she sipped her cranberry juice. Apart from having the same colour, it served as a terribly poor substitute for her wine, but still her body seemed to accept it. Even the smell of coffee was enough to make her vomit these days. She twirled the glass between her nimble fingers while squinting at the two last remaining profiles of candidates. While they both lacked the skills she was looking for, she was fairly certain this witch and wizard would keep her secret to themselves. 

Eventually she settled for the witch as she would probably be more comfortable around a woman when she couldn’t get out of her tub without assistance anymore, something she remembered from her first pregnancy. However, the blonde regretted how little she remembered. There had been elves constantly fussing around her, and her mother had given her so many questionable potions to so-called ‘relieve her from stress,’ that the entire nine months were a blur. This time, she would handle things differently. This time, she would do it herself. With an assistant of course. 

That settled it for Narcissa and she shoved her glass aside to write a letter to the lucky witch who got the job. What was her name again? The former Malfoy Matriarch rolled her eyes as she remembered how dreadfully boring the girl had been. No wonder she couldn’t recall her. She dipped her quill in the ink on her desk and pondered on the name, not noticing how a big splotch of ink dripped onto the parchment when an owl startled her. The animal tapped on her window, almost frantically, before glaring at the witch in discontent. 

It was pouring outside, so Narcissa quickly got to her feet to allow the animal inside. She almost snatched the letter from his leg before casting a quick drying spell at the owl that ruffled his feathers. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the letter itself had been charmed to withstand the weather and almost laughed when she recognized Miss Granger’s very neat handwriting. The witch walked back to her desk whilst reading the perfect answers to each and everyone of her silly questions. The girl had done her research, it would seem. 

Narcissa sank back in her chair, momentarily at a loss. Miss Granger had definitely proved her point about really wanting this job. And while Narcissa was reluctant, she did realize that she would have a remarkably skilled witch by her side should things go wrong. She doubted the other girl would know what to do if her magic went haywire because of the hormones. The witch startled from her musings when Hermione’s owl hopped onto her desk and nipped at her fingers. 

‘Shoo, I’ve already dried you. What more do you want?’

The owl gave her a very judgemental look before spreading his wings and flying back home through the open window. Narcissa muttered something under her breath that sounded a lot like ‘spoiled beast’ before glancing at Hermione’s letter again. And then, she made a decision. She knew Hermione could be trusted. She knew she was capable, smart, and someone she knew; the whole experience would be everything but boring. 

The witch smirked as she rose from her seat and ascended the stairs to her bedroom. Of course she was going to let Hermione wait a little bit longer. She had been terribly rude, after all, and one weekend of insecurity and interrupted sleep seemed like a good way to repay her. Narcissa ignored the little voice inside her head that scolded her for being petty. She was Narcissa fucking Black! She could do whatever the hell she wanted. And now? Now she wanted to sleep.