Title: The Serpent
Prompt(s): #27 - Hermione's the best Auror under Harry's orders. And that is just a good thing, because she's been sent to arrest a famous thief, known as The Serpent. However, each time she finds herself with him, she cannot stop herself from lusting after the man, who has entrancing grey eyes under his mask...Yes! I had to place this somewhere, the good cop falling in love with the bad guy (and vice versa, even though the bad guy wouldn't admit it of course ;)). Smutty, please!

#80 - (IMAGE PROMPT (NOT SAFE FOR WORK): Hermione accidentally stumbles across Draco Malfoy, her Co-Worker/Boss, and Astoria Greengrass in his office in this way, and now she can't get the thought of him out of her head. She wants what Astoria had!
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Voyeurism of a sex act, explicit profanity, implied masturbation, angst, Dominant!Draco (Dom/sub dynamics), dream walking, thievery, blood purity prejudice, jealous!Draco, angry kissing, explicit het sex (a little rough), verystubborn!Hermione
Summary: 'The Serpent', a famous thief, has been a pain in the arse for Head Auror Harry Potter for almost two years. Determined to see him behind bars, he asks his best Auror, Hermione Granger, to take him down. Problem is, the charismatic thief, proves to be Miss Granger's match. In more ways than one…

Author's Notes: Thanks to my wonderful beta Fluffpanda for helping me make this story worth reading.

And a huge, heartfelt thank you goes to RZZMG – you know who she is – for taking the time, despite her busy life, to act as a second beta and fill some plot holes I missed in my hurry to finish this story in time for the Dramione Love's fest in livejournal. She's amazing, and I'm honoured to say she made this story infinitely better.

***As you may have noticed The Serpent was taken down for violating the rule about keeping summaries G rated. Now, some of you might argue about the site having rules, and we have to abide by them, and me bitching about this is hypocritical or something, but let me explain something. Of course I don't expect the administrators to notify us before deleting stories when they made the rules clear; but when I first tried to post another story some years ago, specifically Fate is such a b...witch, I couldn't. Because the original title was Fate is such a bitch. Then, a notification popped up stating that the title for the story was violating the above rule... So when I typed the summary for The Serpent and no such notification appeared, I thought I was clear; not because I got away with violating the rules, but because when in the exact same situation years ago, I was immediately notified. Now, I've lost over fifty reviews, over a hundred alerts and you guys have to wait much longer for the next chapters. But fear not; all previously posted chapters – which will be post here again when I manage – are published in my livejournal, including the chapter that was supposed to be up yesterday. Until I sort out some issues in my real life, this is the best I can do. Sorry, and hope to hear from you... again.***

Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. This work of fiction/art was created entirely for fun, not for profit, and no copyright infringement is intended.

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Prologue
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The bulletin board, filled to the brim with articles, hand-drawn sketches, and reports about the infamous thief, only known as 'The Serpent'—thanks to the tiny silver snake with emerald eyes he always left in the scenes of his crimes—glared back at him as he grudgingly pinned another useless report on it.

Over a year ago, the newly appointed Head Auror, Harry Potter, had heard news of a peculiar robbery: the Crabbe family, well known for their involvement in both wizarding wars, and their bigoted ways, had reported someone had broken into their family house, and stolen a priceless painting.

Harry hadn't missed the irony when Luna Lovegood reported in The Quibbler that the painting in question had been a lost masterpiece of a well-known Muggle artist. Evidently the Crabbes' hatred for Muggles didn't apply to their pricey art.

Harry had the tact not to point such a thing out, although the same couldn't be said about his partner, Ron Weasley, who took great delight in taking down the Crabbe's testimony for the case while making subtly snide remarks about it.

The Crabbe family had been completely unaware of their loss until a house elf meekly mentioned it during luncheon one day.

The only queerness of the situation had been the tiny, silver snake placed in the painting's spot. Antony Goldstein, a resident Charms expert, had been almost apoplectic at the brilliance and intricacy of the spells cast around the spot the painting used to hang. The robbery could have happened weeks ago, and the Crabbes wouldn't have known.

Although a weird case, no one thought much of it, really. So a family had been robbed. That was an everyday occurrence in some neighbourhoods, and worthy of little note.

A month later, however, a frantic Mrs. Goyle had arrived at the Ministry waving a tiny silver figurine around and yelling about a set of antique pearl jewellery being stolen. The woman had been positively mad.

The figurine in her hand, which of course had been a silver snake, had tipped-off Harry as to what he'd probably find at the Goyle residence. When Goldstein confirmed that the charms around Mrs. Goyle's jewellery box were identical to the Crabbe case, Harry then knew they were dealing with some kind of serial thief.

Despite his suspicions, Harry didn't allow the information to become public, as he maintained some small hope that the perpetrator was not the same.

Three weeks later, a seething Daphne Greengrass stormed into Harry's office, and practically threw a silver snake figurine at him, screaming about a priceless wedding tiara her mother had owned, and how it used to belong to the Queen of Spain.

Left with no choice, Harry finally allowed the story to go public, but he ordered his Aurors to keep mum about the specifics, only offering the most necessary information to the press. If their culprit caught wind that they were onto him, he might flee the country.

Not that they actually had anything to go on, with the exception of the silver snake figurines... and the testimony of a half drunk maid who swore that their thief had been handsomer than Adonis, himself.

Another six families came forward over the next few weeks. They'd all had Muggle treasures stolen from them.

Soon after, Ron declared that their miscreant had finally reached the status of a criminal legend: the fellow had had an honest-to-God fan club dubbed in his honour. Women actually gathered for meet-and-greets, like some kind of book club, to worship the thief (mostly because some inebriated lunatic had claimed he had been charming and good looking, Harry was sure).

After learning that, Harry had put his best Aurors on the job, but to date, they still had no concrete leads. Instead, his men faced continual public ridicule for their failure to make an arrest in the case, and the Minister had finally come down on Harry's head as a result of pure-blood families, all in fear for their property, pressuring the Ministry for results.

The papers were having a field day at their expense, too, calling the department useless and praising 'The Serpent' for constantly outsmarting them,

"I hate Skeeter!" Harry grumbled, rubbing his tired eyes with his fingertips, as he sat on his cushy leather chair behind his desk.

"You and everyone else," replied a familiar (amused) voice from his door.

Harry whirled about in his chair, wand raised and a defensive spell on the tip of his tongue, but his hand fell when he saw the Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, standing there, dark brows arched and lips quirked in a grin.

Harry glared at his old friend. "Don't you ever knock?"

"The door was open." Kingsley answered. Without waiting for an invitation (he was after all Harry's employer, after all), he walked in and shut the door. A casual flick of his wand had the room sound-proofed.

Harry's brows shoot up with curiosity. "What can I do for you, Minister?" Remembering his manners, he motioned toward a leather guest chair in front of his desk. "Take a seat."

Kingsley sat heavily, and snapped his fingers. A tray with two crystal tumblers and a carafe filled with a dark, amber liquid materialized on Harry's desk.

"Firewhisky? It's barely noon."

"Well, I need it. Feel free to pass – although I should warn you, its Ogden's finest, and a personal gift from the Russian Minister for Magic."

"What the hell," Harry muttered, and helped himself to two fingers-worth of drink. He did enjoy a good whisky once in a while, and Ogden's was a rarity for him.

After taking a hefty sip, Harry leaned back in his chair and stared at the brooding Minister. "What gives, Kings? Why all the secrecy?"

"Any new leads on 'The Serpent'?"

Arching a brow at the man's dodgy behaviour, Harry shook his head. "Nothing useful. The Parkinsons' maid, who by the way is a member of 'The Serpent's' fan club, was upset at her mistress, and thought it an appropriate retribution to steal Pansy's engagement ring and blame it on our guy. Draco Malfoy convinced Pansy to drop the charges. The maid will still serve community service for a few weeks, though."

The Minister cursed. "Rotten luck. I was really hoping we'd catch him this time."

Harry shrugged, his meaning apologetic.

"Skeeter's giving you trouble?"

"Always," Harry confirmed. "But she does have a point, as much as it pains me to admit it. It's been almost eighteen months, and we've still got zero leads on him… and absolutely no plan as to how to catch him. Bluntly, we know nothing about him, except his calling card – the silver snake figurines. The best lead we've got is that absolutely atrocious portrait Mrs. Avery drew. You know which one I mean – the one where 'The Serpent' appears completely nude."

Kingsley cringed and held up a hand for Harry to stop. "Just her name would have sufficed. I get your point."

Everyone in the British Ministry knew Mrs. Avery was an exceptionally vocal fan of 'The Serpent', beginning the night he'd stolen her eighteenth-century French Louis-styled earrings. Smitten as she was with her 'dark, mysterious hero', she spent an excessive amount time stalking Harry's department in the hope of seeing him again. And of course, in painting fanciful, erotic representations of her thief, whom she'd romanticised in her head. Her bizarre obsessiveness for a man she'd never actually seen was definitely disturbing, but Harry was a professional and he knew how to handle her particular brand of lunacy with some measure of respect: he always waited for the elderly (possibly even senile) witch to leave the premises before breaking down into gales of laughter.

"No matter how little regard I have for the likes of The Serpent," he choked on a laugh, "I doubt he'd ever be so desperate as to proposition Mrs. Avery."

Sharing a laugh lightened the mood, but was not enough to stop Kingsley's mood from plummeting again.

"Say… Isn't Granger coming back soon?"

"Two weeks from tomorrow." Harry answered automatically, hating the blush that started on the tips of his ears. "Thanks to a screw up from one of her team members, she had to switch port keys for a later date."

"The mission?"

Harry smirked. "Success. What did you expect from Hermione?"

"Indeed. And she's still planning on transferring out of the Aurors and into the Wizengamot's Administration Services when she returns?"

"As far as I know. We haven't really spoken since before she left for her mission, but last time we did, she confirmed this was her last mission."

The Minister was pensive for a minute, before looking up with hard eyes.

"Think you can convince her to take a last one?"

Harry remained silent, expectant.

Kingsley stood up, and started pacing.

"Eighteen months, Harry. That twat is running free for one and a half year already, and we are no closer to catching him than we were eighteen months ago. It makes the department look bad; we need to catch him, fast."

"And you think Hermione is the best for the job?"

"Don't you? You've told me time and again, that she's your best Auror. Have you been lying? Exaggerating maybe?"

"No. Not only is she fucking brilliant, she's a darn fine duellist and quick on her feet. She can find solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. But-"

"But nothing. She's the best, and we need the best. And from what I can remember, Granger always had a penchant for puzzles. The Serpent is one, and I need you to convince her to solve it. ASAP."

They locked eyes, both evaluating each other. In the end it was Harry who broke their staring contest.

He knew Kingsley had spoken the truth.

He was just not looking forward to telling Hermione.

"Fine," he grumbled. "But you'll have to tell her, she'll have to work with Malfoy!"