|Die, with a T
Author: enchantedstarlight PM
A chubby Draco, and the physical trainer from hell. Need I say more? Dedicated to anyone dealing with a weight problem. K for possible minor languageRated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Romance - Draco M. & Ginny W. - Chapters: 10 - Words: 35,168 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 05-01-11 - Published: 03-21-09 - id: 4938651
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
And so it came to pass that Draco Malfoy had fallen hopelessly and completely in love...with sweets. Not any type in particular, mind you, but pretty much anything that had a high sugar content, combined with plenty of carbohydrates and fats, would cause the man to plummet head over heels.
You see, Draco Malfoy, at the tender age of twenty three had become, how shall we say it? Well, Draco Malfoy had become fat.
He'd always had a bit of a sweet tooth. His days in school had been marked with frequent deliveries by owl which had included various candies and chocolates sent courtesy of his mother. In the end, he blamed her.
How and why it had taken him this long to notice that he had a bit of a problem was not entirely relevant to him. What mattered now was that he needed to do something about it.
He tapped his fingers against his desk as he pondered the problem and why it was vexing him, then stormed out of his office in a supreme tiff. It was unthinkable that Gwedolyn Turner, one of the most desirable witches ever to grace the cover of Witch Weekly, among other periodicals, had flatly refused to have dinner with him. HIM. Voted most-eligible bachelor in the Wizarding world only three years prior. Her polite refusal had practically been an insult as she'd casually scanned his physique, and subsequently looked down her nose at him.
It was a travesty.
Storming out of his office, he purposefully strode past his assistant's desk and grabbed a chocolate-covered pastry and bit into it with as much venom as he could muster, ignoring the crumbs that splattered on his tie.
X - X - X
Edwina Harris, the aforementioned assistant, calmly raised an eyebrow at her boss and readied herself for the tirade that was obviously forthcoming. Her employer's temperamental moments were frequent, but typically short-lived. After years in his service, she'd come to know him well enough to know that he frequently needed to voice his frustrations before he could settle down to deal with them. She'd worked long enough at the company to have seen just about everything from the young man.
"Can you believe the nerve of that woman!" he ranted in her general direction. Obviously, he was not expecting any kind of response for this particular complaint, so Edwina remained calm and placid. She anticipated that, once he completed venting, he would either formulate a coherent question, or stalk back into his office to sulk, depending on the conclusion he would reach during his rant.
Edwina had been lead secretary and personal assistant to the company president of Malfoy, Inc. for over twenty years. She'd been a loyal employee, working with the former president, Lucius Malfoy, for the majority of her tenure and she'd been privileged to have known Draco Malfoy from the time he was quite young, when he'd accompanied his mother to the office on occasion. Over the years, she'd developed a fondness for the boy, and his longstanding familiarity with the secretary allowed him the leeway to behave in this unorthodox fashion in front of her.
Lucius Malfoy was no longer with the company, having resigned his position after the final demise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The younger Malfoy had taken over his father's position on the day he turned eighteen, an impossibly young age to be thrust into such a visible and responsible role. But the Malfoy family had had little choice in the matter, largely because Lucius Malfoy had been forced by the Ministry to step down due to his suspect affiliations during the war.
The lad had stepped up as best he could, working himself nearly to exhaustion those first few years, earning Edwina's longstanding respect, and even a motherly sort of affection. However, it didn't take a genius to observe that, despite the young man's intelligence and work ethic, he had clearly lacked the experience to lead a company. In short, he was in well over his head.
Edwina had tried her best to guide the boy through some of the initial things, leading him through paperwork and contracts and unrealistic schedules, as much as her knowledge and experience would allow. But, as his assistant, she could only do so much. It was up to him, as the figurehead of the company, to personally handle meetings, negotiations, and the like.
While he'd managed, it hadn't been easy for any of them. Now, four years later, he had finally gained enough experience and confidence to attempt to regain a social life.
Apparently, if his current tantrum was any sort of indication, he had not been entirely successful.
She watched him finish his rant, grab a creme-filled pastry and march purposefully back into his office.
After several long minutes, he came back out, walked straight up to her desk and asked her in his usual direct manner, "Would you say I'm overweight?"
Edwina immediately contemplated how she could say "yes" without being sacked on the spot.
Pudgy, she might say. Or even just a tad out of shape. Many possible alternative ways of stating the fact flicked quickly through her mind. She glanced over at the half-filled pastry plate and then back at him.
"I am. You believe that I am," he stated in a bit of disbelief.
It wasn't entirely his fault, she thought. He'd had a very difficult time filling his father's position in the company and, in order to cope with the stress during that time, he'd picked up some rather unhealthy habits. But, it was worse than that. She'd also seen his confidence wane over the time as well. His social life was nearly non-existent, he tended to hunch over, looking rather vulnerable and insecure. She found the young man to be endearing, in his own way, but his growing insecurity in the social area was hardly an attractive trait to a successful young witch.
Edwina thought back to when he'd started working at the company, coming out of long meetings, looking tired and stressed. Hoping to help him feel more comfortable in the unfamiliar environment, she would present him with a treat of one sort or another. She recalled how, immediately upon seeing the item, his face would light with a smile. So, she continued to purchase the candies, the pastries, and the chocolates for the office because, well, it seemed to be the only thing that made the overworked young man happy.
Over time, he began to fill out, largely because he had been so consumed with his responsibilities that he no longer had time to go out with his friends, play Quidditch, or do much of anything other than work. And then, since he was fitted for and purchased an entirely new wardrobe every season, he likely didn't notice when the waistband of his trousers became a bit snug.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Malfoy," she said, knowing that she looked contrite, although he likely assumed that she was sorry she was confirming his statement, not that she was actually sorry for enabling him in attaining his condition.
He exhaled a deep sigh.
"It's all right, 'Dwina," he said, sounding somewhat defeated. He began to turn back to his office, his shoulders slumped. The sight saddened Edwina. He had always been such a confident young man when he was young. Unfortunately, she'd also known him to be slightly insecure, never taking criticism well. The trait wasn't necessarily bad, because it drove him to work all the harder to succeed at his position, but it did make the young man self-conscious.
The good news , Edwina thought to herself, was that the first step in reform is to acknowledge that there is a problem. She had little doubt that once he was willing to face his next challenge, he would succeed. All she could do at the moment was hope that she would be properly prepared to support him when he decided to take action.
X - X - X
The next day, Edwina chose to not order the usual plate of sweets from Draco's favorite bakery. When he arrived, he walked past her desk and stared at the table that typically held the treats with a look of dismay.
"Has something happened to the bakery?" he asked, his forlorn look almost too much for her.
"I apologize Mr. Malfoy. I didn't put in the order today."
"Hmm..." he said, seeming to mull over the idea of foregoing his daily fix of sugar. "Best take care of that, then."
She watched him retreat into his office. It wasn't going to be easy for him. With a weary sigh, she attached the daily order to an owl and watched it fly over to the bakery. Then, she became lost in thought for a few moments, when her next idea came to mind.
She immediately lifted her wand to summon her rolodex along with the most current Diagon Alley directory from the shelf. She would need help and references, as only the best would do for the young Mr. Malfoy, but more than that, she decided that he would also need an appropriate shove in the proper direction.
Several hours later, after contacting many of her business associates and several close friends via Floo and owl, she'd devised an adequate plan. A short list of names and contact information now sat on a neat piece of parchment on her desk, and she'd also taken the liberty of contacting one of her boss' old school friends.
When he emerged from his office at lunchtime, stopping by the candy dish on his way, likely because it contained a different type of candy than the ever present bowl that he kept on his desk, she was ready for him.
"Any messages, 'Dwina?" he asked, his mood moderately more cheerful than it had been that morning. He was still obviously down about yesterday's events and she felt rather ashamed that she was plotting to drive the point home even further.
"Just an owl from a Mr. Gregory Goyle. He says that you are old school friends and wondered if you would like to meet for lunch sometime this week."
Draco brightened visibly. He'd had little time over the last few years to spend time with his old mates. Now that things had settled, he'd been grumbling about how it would be good to reestablish old acquaintances. Edwina knew this and it had been easy enough to arrange the opportunity. The poor boy needed a social life, and even if the meeting with Goyle did not accomplish her desired goal, it might at least get him out and about again.
"I haven't seen Goyle in years. Do I have any lunch meetings tomorrow?"
"Not yet, Mr. Malfoy. Should I owl Mr. Goyle and put him in your schedule?"
Draco smiled. "Yes. That would be good."
Edwina discreetly smiled as she filled in Mr. Goyle's name in her employer's appointment book.
X - X - X
He walked into the cafe, looking for the enormous figure of Gregory Goyle. Scanning the crowd, he failed to catch sight of his old friend and assumed that he'd arrived early. Turning back to look outside the door to await the other man's arrival, he heard his name called from behind him.
A tall, athletic looking man, who reminded him strongly of Goyle, was standing up from one of the tables, smiling and waving him over. Draco's first reaction was to ignore the stranger, but the smiling young man seemed rather insistent. He looked over his shoulder to see if the man was motioning to someone behind him.
"Oi, Malfoy! Is that you?"
Nope, the man was clearly speaking to him. He looked at him more closely, because the voice certainly sounded familiar.
The man grinned.
If it were at all possible, Draco likely would have left the establishment, if he could have done so without drawing undesirable attention to himself. He'd always been vain, with good reason, but lately, he knew that he no longer deserved to be so. Worse, the sight of Goyle looking so... fit made him wince as he thought of how he would look alongside.
Sucking his gut in as much as possible, he walked over to greet his former schoolmate.
He immediately began mentally comparing how they'd both changed in only a few short years. Greg Goyle had always been a lumbering brute of a boy, content with consuming large amounts of food to maintain his imposing size. He'd always been quiet, and more than a bit dim, in Draco's view. Yet, the man who now sat before him had grown in confidence over the years, his success showing in not only his speech, but in the way he carried himself. For the first time in his life, Draco found himself just the slightest bit envious of his old friend.
"So," Draco began, after the obligatory handshaking and seating himself. Normally, he might have started the conversation with something like a 'good to see you', but he wasn't feeling generous at the moment. "Long time, no see, Goyle. What have you been up to?"
"Playing Beater for the Tornadoes," the other said cheerily. "It's been a grand time."
They chatted on for a while, Draco finding that his old friend had matured greatly once he entered the world on his own. Out from under Draco's shadow, and with the loss of Crabbe in the final battle, Gregory Goyle had reinvented himself. Ill-suited for intellectual work, Goyle explained that he had learned to focus on his strengths, eventually using his natural athleticism to his advantage. Playing professional Quidditch, he quickly outgrew his adolescent insecurities. Apparently, the rigorous training also forced him to trim down, making him almost unrecognizable from the overweight boy he'd been in school.
In fact, now that Draco thought about it, Goyle likely would never have finished school if he hadn't cheated off of Draco's work most of the time. He'd always been in Draco's shadow, and Draco had been comfortable in the role as the leader, being that he had always been the smartest, most confident, most handsome of the three. Somehow, Draco was now uncomfortably aware that the old roles no longer held true.
Draco found himself to be obscenely jealous.
Nevertheless, Goyle prattled on, seemingly oblivious to his friend's discomfort. That, at least, was the old Goyle, Draco thought, tuning out much of the detail that the other was providing.
"... and then Gwendolyn actually asked me out to dinner!"
The words pulled Draco out of his reverie. "What?"
"I couldn't believe it. One of the hottest witches in the world actually approached me after the game and asked me out to dinner. My teammates tell me that the look on my face was absolutely priceless!"
"Gwendolyn Turner?" he asked, disbelievingly.
"Yes! Can you believe it?"
If he hadn't been feeling deflated before, this particular little tidbit had completely sucked the wind out of him. He did his best to hide his reaction.
"Congratulations, Goyle. I'd say that's impressive," he stated, trying to sound moderately sincere. Part of him really was happy for his rather dim friend, albeit, at the moment it was a very, very small part.
Talk turned to Draco's work after that, which was by far more comfortable a topic, although Draco had to simplify the description of his duties for Goyle to understand.
Finally, the lunch ended, and they parted ways, agreeing to keep in touch to do something in the future, although Draco had every intention of putting that off for as long as possible.
X - X - X
Returning from lunch, he marched straight toward Edwina's desk, just as she had expected he would, making sure to grab a custard-filled pastry along the way.
"I need to find someone to get me back into Quidditch form," he stated, foregoing any sort of greeting whatsoever.
She looked up from the pile of paperwork on her desk and blinked twice at him.
"I'm going to play in the celebrity Quidditch tournament in June and I need to be adequately prepared. It is my understanding that there are people who can be hired to assist with that sort of thing," he said, his expression quite serious.
Internally, Edwina smiled, knowing that her tactic had worked exactly as she'd planned, though, outwardly she gave no indication of her emotion. "But, Mr. Malfoy, that's only three months away. I thought that you weren't interested in the offer..."
He waved his hand, dismissing her remark casually. "I've changed my mind. I think I do need to make a bit more of an effort to create a positive image for the company."
"For the company," she repeated, raising one eyebrow at him.
He snatched the parchment at the top of the pile of paperwork gracing his assistant's desk, that being the invitation to the tournament that he'd so recently rejected.
"Yes, the company," he repeated snappishly.
"Of course, Sir," she replied, her face as calmly professional as always, but Draco knew the woman well enough to catch the glint of humor in her cool, blue eyes.
"Find me someone," he stated, his tone commanding no further argument. "I want the best, and I expect that they will have me sufficiently fit in plenty of time for me to show up any of those fools."
"Of course, Mr. Malfoy," she replied, her tone calm and business-like, as if the request wasn't the slightest bit unusual. She hadn't earned her position by questioning the demands of her boss, after all. Although, far be it from him to know that she'd planned for this exact scenario.
"I'll make some inquiries," she finished, hiding her smile.
"Oh..." he continued, ignoring her amused expression. "Make sure to send an owl confirming my attendance at the event."
With that, he took his pastry, turned on his heel and marched smartly back to his office.
Edwina Harris was nothing if not thorough in her duties. Her executive position demanded nothing less. She knew that, at some point, young Mr. Malfoy would be pressed to change his ways. Waving her wand at her rolodex, she withdrew the names of the top candidates that she'd researched in recent days.
The names listed on the parchment had not been chosen lightly. Edwina had done her work thoroughly, and the candidates that she'd chosen had been referred to her by several of her most trusted associates. She'd verified their references carefully.
Unfortunately, a few hours later, after speaking with the first two candidates that she called in for a personal interview, she was left feeling that the task might be unattainable.
She called in the final candidate with a weary sigh.
As the young witch walked into the room, Edwina's interest was piqued. The girl, while small in stature, had a commanding presence and a bright smile that matched her mane of flaming red hair. Edwina looked down at the parchment that listed the girl's qualifications. Although young, the candidate had many high-profile clients, as well as an impressive certification in physical education and nutrition.
"Mrs. Harris," the girl said formally as she held out her hand.
Edwina shook her hand. Of the three, this one had been the least promising upon her initial evaluation, seeing that she was rather young, but there was little doubt that the girl had charisma.
After they were seated, and the standard pleasantries exchanged, Edwina proceeded straight to the point.
"Your references appear solid. Nutrition, health, and a background in Quidditch..." she began, looking up and prompting the girl to confirm the statement.
"Yes. I took evening courses at St. Mungo's teaching annex while I was playing for the Harpies."
"And you no longer are playing for that team..."
"No, Ma'am. I suffered an injury. I can still play, but not at the professional level."
"Of course," she said absently, scribbling the candidate's answer on her parchment. "You understand that this position will be full time, and will require the utmost confidentiality."
"No... I wasn't aware," the girl stated uncertainly. "I have no problem with confidentiality, but I do have other clients under contract right now. It would be highly unusual for me to dismiss them to take on a single client full time."
"I see..." Edwina said, with little interest. "I assure you that we will provide more than adequate financial compensation for your efforts. My employer expects individual attention, of course," Edwina responded, her tone almost bored as she mentally compared the girl against the other candidates, both of whom were more than eager to accept full pay for the task. The girl's response was irrelevant.
She listened half-heartedly as the girl continued to speak. "Typically, I consult as needed, provide meal plans, and then schedule an hour or two per day for physical activity. It's hardly necessary for me to be available full time."
"Nevertheless, it is a requirement for this position," Edwina responded, looking to end the interview. Apparently, the girl was not as interested as the other candidates, who had literally fawned at the idea of abandoning their other contracts to suit Mr. Malfoy's needs.
Edwina then heard the small witch clear her throat politely, causing her to look up from her notes. What she saw surprised her, because the little witch was staring down at her sternly, a difficult feat considering that the girl was shorter than she, and seated.
"I don't think you understand, Mrs. Harris," she said firmly. "I have an obligation to my clients, many of whom have been with me since I began my own business, and I will not abandon them. I can assure you that, if I am hired for your employer, that he will get the same dedication and commitment as any of my other clients. Certainly, you wouldn't want me to abandon this contract should someone else simply come up and make a more lucrative offer. "
Edwina blinked. She was unaccustomed to having anyone counter her statements, with the exception of her employer, and even then, he typically would acquiesce if she pushed the matter. Yet, this little wisp of a girl had put her on the back foot. The previous candidates had literally groveled when Edwina had mentioned the position would be full time. It told her two things: first that the girl was competent enough to command enough business without a lucrative account such as this one and, second, that she had enough backbone to possibly handle Mr. Malfoy at his most belligerent.
In other words, Edwina had made her decision on whom she would hire.
However, she'd just ruffled the witch, and Edwina Harris did not maintain her executive position without knowing how to handle people. She quickly realized that if she wanted to hire this young witch, she needed to add some persuasion to her tactic.
"I would think then, that you might find this client to be an interesting challenge for someone of your exceptional reputation."
"Challenges, I enjoy. You've seen my list of clients, and any one will give you a solid reference, but as I said, I will not abandon them for a single account."
"Of course," Edwina said with a smile. "My question was merely a test of your integrity. While we will require a great deal of your time, I'm sure that my employer can allow some room for flexibility."
The redhead inclined her head in agreement. "Does that mean that I'm hired?"
"You've found me a proper trainer, Dwina?" he demanded that same afternoon.
"There is one candidate that seems promising. I told her that you would interview her before making the final decision."
"That Quidditch tournament is getting closer every day, hire him immediately. You can clear my schedule to get started this afternoon," he babbled, as he scribbled his name on the contract lying on his desk.
"Hmm?" he said, pulling another paper from his inbox, scanning its contents without looking up.
"The candidate is a witch, Mr. Malfoy."
He looked up, puzzled. "Really."
"Yes, Sir. I expected that you might want to speak with her immediately. She's in the waiting area so that you might meet her before I add her to the payroll."
He sat back in his chair, a frown on his face. He wasn't expecting the candidate to be a witch, it somehow seemed, well...wrong. Nevertheless, he trusted Edwina implicitly.
"Very well, send her in," he grumbled, slumping in his chair.
She nodded politely and left the office. A few moments later, the door opened and a petite witch entered. He raised an eyebrow. At the very least, if his trainer was to be a witch, he'd expected her to be a bit larger.
"I'm told you can help me get fit for the St. Mungo's charity Quidditch tournament," he said, not waiting for her to turn around after closing the door.
"What?" she said, turning around, her long hair, flying as she spun.
"I presume you are the candidate Mrs. Harris has decided to hire for me," he continued, rather abruptly.
She stood, her jaw dropping in surprise at his rudeness, obviously ready to retort. He cut her off.
"I'm a busy man, Miss. Are you qualified to help me, or not?"
She gaped at him for a long moment. "Malfoy?"
"Yes, that's my name..."
At that moment, the door opened again, and Edwina entered, a professional smile affixed on her face.
"I apologize for the intrusion, Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Goyle has sent an owl, requesting your attendance this evening for a gathering at his home. He mentioned introducing you to his date, a Miss Turner..."
He felt the color leave his face. It had been difficult enough to simply have lunch with Goyle. Seeing his old friend with a witch that had turned him down was not on his priority list.
"Tell him I'm busy. I have plans with Miss..." he motioned toward the redhead now seated in the chair in front of his desk.
"Weasley," the girl finished.