The Third Day
Draco frowned, pressing his hand to his mouth as he looked back and forth between the two floral arrangements before him. He wished he could summon his mother, who was more fluent in flower language than he was.
He finally settled on the yellow tulips, because he was 90% certain that they would convey what he wanted them to.
And that Granger would know as soon as she saw them. And forgive him for being an absolute prat.
Because if he was correct, they conveyed hopeless love. And that’s where he was right now. Hopelessly in love with Hermione Jean Granger.
The First Day
It didn’t matter what he did, Draco always seemed to muck things up with Granger.
When he found out they’d be working together at the Ministry, he thought that maybe it would be possible to bury the hatchet. Their law offices were exactly sixteen paces from one another, not that he’d been counting. Surely in such close proximity, they’d be able to move past this thing between them and become, at the very least, work friends. People who could pass one another in the hall without a dirty look between them.
He’d hardened his resolve. He’d be pleasant to her.
Because while she likely had a ton of pent up frustration and anger towards him, it was difficult to remain angry and hateful towards someone who was going out of their way to be pleasant.
He’d even gone so far as to purchase a coffee for her from the new shop that had opened up in the Ministry lobby. He’d brought it up to give to her as she was getting settled in. A poor time to drop in on someone, he realized in retrospect.
After a harsh greeting and a few exchanged unpleasantries, he’d left, dumping her coffee into the bin by her door on his way out. His shoulders hunched, his countenance strained. He stomped the first eight paces towards his office, relaxing and walking the other eight. By the time he’d entered his own office, Draco was feeling two shades past terrible.
It was the first of many days that ended with his promise to do better.
Hermione wasn’t exactly thrilled to be working in such close proximity to Malfoy. And when she’d looked up to see him there at her office door, she’d been filled with righteous indignation. A hunger. A hunger that would only be satiated by biting Malfoy’s venom-spouting-head off.
He’d actually started out nicely enough, but Hermione was already tired and exasperated from moving her things, and she didn’t have the time to wait around for that signature Malfoy prattish-behavior to come shining through. So she called his bluff.
“Just tell me what you want, Malfoy. To make fun of me? To pick at my choice in office furniture? To…perhaps, level a thinly-veiled threat in my direction? Does my being here threaten the validity of your own position? Does it rankle you to have to work with me ? The brightest witch of our year and a Muggleborn, no less?”
And just like that, his expression had changed. From the bright smile to the dark glare to which she’d grown accustomed when dealing with Draco Malfoy. “Really, Granger? The cheap shots already? Couldn’t even get moved in before your rabid mouth starts with its noise?”
“Just get out. And try not to let the door hit your arse on the way.”
And he’d fumed for a split second before turning. She half expected him to lob one last zinger her way. Something about how his father would be hearing about this.
She paused at the end of that thought, realizing that Malfoy’s father was rotting in a cell in Azkaban. A cell Draco had helped ensure he’d never leave.
She heard a wet thud and realized that Draco had dropped the coffee he’d been carrying into her bin. A sharp tinge of remorse panged in her chest as she realized that he’d likely brought it here for her.
She sighed heavily. It wasn’t her fault that he’d been such a royal git to her all through school and the years following. How was she to know that today wasn’t going to be like any other day? Was it her fault for trying to preemptively protect herself from verbal assault?
Still, though. She resolved to finish moving in and go visit Draco again. Maybe give it a day to let him cool down. She could invite him out for a coffee.
It’d be awkward as arse, but at least her conscience would feel better.
The Second Day
It was literally the most uncomfortable he’d been in his life.
Well…his adult life.
Granger had invited him out for a coffee. They’d stopped at a new shop on Diagon Alley and ordered cappuccinos. And now, here they sat with their steaming cups of foam and caffeine, with nothing to talk about and little else to do but twiddle their thumbs and stir their drinks.
He was fairly certain no one had said a word in at least four hours.
No. Couldn’t be four hours. A quick glance at the clock told him they’d only been sitting down for fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes. Four hours. It was all the same here in hell.
“Are you…uh…liking your job at the Ministry, then?” he asked, grasping at figurative straws for something, anything to say.
“It’s…a job…” she said, shrugging her shoulders. She pressed her lips into a thin line, smirking slightly. He’d never really noticed that before…the way her cheek dimpled when she smiled or did anything that flexed the muscle there. It disappeared when the expression did. He found himself looking for that dimple, wanting to see it again.
He chuckled, skimming his spoon over the foam on his drink. “How’s…how’s your case load? I know I was a little bit overwhelmed when I first came on here…”
She mirrored his chuckle and he saw the dimple again. It was deeper when she smiled. “It certainly is more fast-paced than the private sector. But, I feel like the pace will agree with me. I get bored if I don’t have enough to do. I certainly haven’t been bored here at the Ministry.”
He felt the smile drop from his face when she said that. He hated even thinking this, but it sounded like a slight. Maybe he was just being too sensitive. There was no reason for her to lob a backhanded comment like that at him. He was probably just over-reacting. He dragged his spoon across the rim of the cup, scraping it loudly before letting it fall to the saucer. “Oh yes, the pace is quite lovely once you get used to it. Why, sometimes, I find myself working the day away and it only feels like minutes.”
Her eyebrow twitched. “Minutes? Try seconds. This is a breeze compared to my second year at Hogwarts.”
“Seconds? Why Granger, if it only feels like seconds a day, how in Merlin’s name do you get anything done?”
“Oh, I get everything done and then some, Malfoy. Why I believe I could take on some of your cases, if you’re having trouble.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” He sneered, leaning forward in his seat. He couldn’t believe how quickly she’d riled him up. The feelings swarming through his gut were confusing. He was halfway to either telling her off or snogging her brains out.
She exhaled, her nostrils flaring slightly. Her eyes darkened and moved over his face. “Oh, that’s what this is, isn’t it? You’re worried I’ll take your job? Make you obsolete. REDUNDANT, Malfoy?”
“The only thing that is redundant…is your excessive need to be right about every bloody thing!” He stood up, straightening his robes and turning curtly towards the door.
It took everything within his power not to turn back.
The Third Day
She’d only been angry because she wanted to kiss him. To bite his bottom lip.
Merlin, why did he have to look like that?
His pale skin coupled with his fair hair and dark grey eyes…
Hermione sighed and shook her head. This was…this was a mess. That’s what this was.
Draco…no…MALFOY was a prat. Still was. He’d taken some innocent little remark she’d made and turned it into a full scale argument. Oneupmanship. And here she’d been wanting to run after him. To prolong the interaction. Anything to keep talking to him. Pathetic, that’s what she was. He probably couldn’t stand the sight of her.
So, she’d decided to go home and relax in lieu of returning to the office to embarrass herself further.
She’d fallen asleep early. Gotten a full nine hours as opposed to her usual four. She’d eaten a full breakfast the next morning, feeling refreshed and invigorated.
She was sleep-deprived, that’s all. That’s really all it was.
She opened up her office door and gasped at what was inside.
Vases upon vases of yellow tulips. The largest of them all was on her desk, a card jutted out of the arrangement.
I assume you’ll know what this means. If you decide to disregard, I wouldn’t hold it against you.
She frowned and peered at the flowers.
Did she know what this meant?