Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters/concepts from it. I make no money from the writing/publishing of this story.
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A/N: This story was originally written for the 2015 Dramione Winter Fic Exchange on AO3.
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Draco Malfoy leaned back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap as he regarded the woman sitting on the other side of his desk with an amused smirk.
"And what, pray tell, could you possibly offer me that would make such an obnoxious use of my precious and valuable time worthwhile?"
Hermione Granger held her spine stiff and squared her shoulders. "I'll pay you."
One of Draco's eyebrows ticked upward. "You think you can afford me?"
"I have a savings account," she nodded.
"And how much is in this…savings account?" he asked, putting on an expression of interest. "Ten thousand Galleons? Twenty?"
Hermione blinked at him and lost some of her posturing. "Two thousand," she replied quietly.
Draco laughed. "I've made more than that just sitting here on my arse listening to your ridiculous proposition."
Hermione lifted her head high again and jutted out her chin. "Do you want the money or not?"
"Oh, I always want the money," he said, leaning forward on his desk and folding his arms neatly, "but I'm afraid I just couldn't do it for a paltry two thousand Galleons."
Hermione pursed her lips as she rather unsuccessfully attempted to mask her disappointment. "Then I'm…I apologize for wasting your time," she said, pushing herself up from the chair to stand.
"Sit down," Draco said coolly.
Hermione shot him a glare at the order, but slowly retook her seat.
"I wasn't done speaking," Draco said, his face serious.
"You said you couldn't do it," Hermione said irritably, "there was no more reason for me to stay."
"Did I say I couldn't do it?" he said challengingly.
Hermione frowned at him. "Yes," she said tersely and Draco shook his head.
"I believe I said I couldn't do it for a paltry two thousand Galleons," he said smugly.
"Well, that's as good as a hard 'no'," she said, "because I don't have anything more to offer you."
Draco smirked again. "Oh, I don't think that's true."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm not that desperate," she nearly sneered. Draco suddenly looked annoyed.
"I'm a lot of things, Granger, but a lecher is not one of them. Get your brilliant mind out of the gutter."
"Then what do you want?" she asked shortly, crossing her arms.
Draco tilted his head as he studied her for a moment. "You should have seen your face," he said lightly, "when you thought I said I wouldn't do it. You were crushed."
Hermione furrowed her brow at that and opened her mouth to retort but Draco rushed on before she could speak.
"And you've offered me your entire, adorable little savings account. I wonder…how terrible is this family of yours that you would be willing to pay so much and come begging to me to teach them a lesson?"
"I'm not begging," Hermione said defensively.
Draco merely smiled at her. "Ask me again."
"Ask me nicely if I'll agree to your little scheme."
Hermione looked at him suspiciously but said, "Will you come to-"
"No, no, no," Draco interrupted, shaking his head reprovingly, "I said nicely. Try, 'pretty please, Draco, will you come to my family's Christmas gathering with me?'"
Hermione glared at him and he simply batted his eyes at her expectantly. She took several calming breaths before finally saying, "Pretty please, Malfoy-"
"Draco," he corrected in a sickly sweet tone. Hermione simmered in her seat.
"Pretty please, Draco," she nearly spat, "will you come to my family's Christmas gathering with me?"
"Oh, I think you can do better than that," he said, leaning back in his chair again. "Try 'pretty, pretty please'. And I want to see a smile."
Hermione looked at war with herself as the blond watched her with a smug grin. Several seconds passed before her mouth finally pulled up into a simpering smile.
"Pretty, pretty please, Draco, will you come to my family's Christmas gathering with me?" she asked tweely.
Draco returned her smile. "And you said you weren't desperate."
The smile on Hermione's face flattened into a grim line and Draco laughed again.
"Your family must be truly insufferable," he said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Though, being Muggle, I can't say I'm surprised."
A flicker of anger flashed behind Hermione's eyes as she suddenly stood. "Forget I came here," she said crossly, turning to stalk toward the door. Just as she put her hand to the handle Draco called out.
"I'll want the two thousand upfront."
Hermione paused and looked over her shoulder. She eyed him skeptically for a long moment before lowering her hand and turning to face him. "Two thousand upfront," she agreed with a nod.
Draco uncrossed his arms and reached over to pick his wand up from his desk. "Sit back down and we can go over my additional terms before making our little agreement official."
"Additional terms?" Hermione said as she came back across his office and lowered herself into the chair again.
"I did say two thousand Galleons was insufficient," he replied casually. He held out his left hand across his desk to her. "Now then…"
When Hermione simply stared at the offered hand, Draco rolled his eyes. "You'll have to take my hand if we're going to make this a binding agreement, Granger," he said.
"I don't want a binding agreement with you, Malfoy," she frowned back, "it's a simple transaction."
"No, I don't think so," he said, still holding out his hand, "and this is one of my terms. A binding vow…to make sure we both hold-up our ends."
"I'll pay you the money," Hermione said, affronted at any implication that she wouldn't.
Draco nodded to his hand again. "I know you will."
Hermione glowered at him for another moment and then, with a resigned huff, thrust out her hand to take his. He smiled as he wrapped his fingers around hers.
"It's going to be a pleasure working with you on this, Granger," he said in delight.
"I'm sure," Hermione muttered sarcastically. "Just make sure you remember who it is that's in charge here."
Draco gave her a solemn bow of his head. "Of course," he said with a serious moue. "Now my terms…"
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"Are you mental?"
Hermione looked ruefully across the table at her long-time friend. "Apparently," she answered, stabbing her fork dejectedly at the remains of her lunch. Ron Weasley continued to frown down at the parchment in his hands.
"And you really agreed to this?" he asked. "With a binding vow?"
"He wouldn't have done it otherwise," she said with a weak shrug.
Ron shook his head slightly as he read the list. "He gets to bring you to and from the function? He does know you're going to basically be in the middle of nowhere, right? Just how exactly does he intend to get you there…in a bloody carriage?"
Hermione put her forehead in her hand. "I don't know," she whimpered. "Don't suppose I really care, though. A carriage might add to the whole effect."
"You're not allowed to contradict any lie he tells them?" Ron went on reading. "What the fuck, Hermione? He could tell them anything!"
"Well, the idea is to shock them," she sighed. "What's the worst he could say?"
Ron gaped at her. "It's Malfoy," he reminded her. "And the way he's worded this…you can't ever tell them the truth without his permission…even afterward."
Hermione gave him a look. "It doesn't prevent me from telling them all that he's mentally unstable and likes making things up," she said.
"I suppose," he said, furrowing his brow deeper at the list. "I still don't see why you're doing this to yourself. Your life savings, Hermione… having to spend an entire weekend with Malfoy…is this really worth it?"
Hermione set down her fork and placed her hands in her lap. "He's not that bad," she sighed. "He's intelligent, works hard, he's good-looking...he'd have real potential if he wasn't such a...a…"
"Giant arsehole?" Ron suggested when she trailed off.
"Yeah...that," she said, "but that's why I picked him. I've seen his ruthlessness and sarcasm at work in those boardrooms; he gets things done. If anyone can beat my family at their own game it'd be him."
"Why even bother going to that damn get-together every year? Come to the Burrow. Spend Christmas with all of us," he offered.
Hermione smiled appreciatively at him but shook her head. "It's your first Christmas as a daddy. You should be focusing on enjoying your family without me getting in the way."
"You are my family," Ron said seriously. "Come stay with us."
"You know that's not a good idea," she said, her smile fading.
Ron sighed as he bowed his head in a light nod. "Yeah, I know," he said gloomily. "I'm sorry about her you know. It's not that she hates you, she's just…"
"It's fine, Ron," Hermione said, "if I were in her place I'm sure I wouldn't be too keen on the idea of my husband's ex-girlfriend hanging around either."
"She just gets jealous sometimes," Ron continued to try and explain.
"I can't blame her," Hermione smiled at him affectionately. He set down the parchment and smiled back as he nudged her leg under the table with his own.
"I love you," he said.
Hermione nodded as she inhaled a deep breath. "And THAT is why I'm not welcome in your home," she teased, reaching forward to pick up the parchment. Ron chuckled at that but then sobered as they searched each other's eyes.
"Don't let Malfoy bully you tomorrow," he said, "binding vow or no, don't take his shit."
Hermione shook her head as she stuffed the parchment into her pocket. "I'll be fine," she said, shrugging on her coat then and lifting her bag from the back of her chair. "I ought to be going though. I've still got a few things to do. Thank you for the lunch; this was really lovely."
"Anytime," Ron said, standing as Hermione pushed up from her seat. He stepped around the table and embraced her. "Really," he said more firmly in her ear, "take care of yourself."
"I always have," Hermione replied, pulling back from the hug to smile at him. "Give Hugo kisses from his Auntie Hermione, yeah?"
Ron nodded. "Of course."
"Happy Christmas, Ron," she said sincerely.
"Happy Christmas, Hermione," he said before she slung her bag over her shoulder, pulled at her coat and then turned to go.
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"You look handsome."
Draco eyed his mother through the reflection in his wardrobe mirror as he finished adjusting the knot in his tie at his neck. He gave her a small smile as she approached him.
"Here," she said with a hand to his shoulder, turning him to face her, "let me see."
Draco lowered his hands and stood still as he allowed her to appraise his appearance.
"You've always been good at tying these things," Narcissa said fondly, her delicate fingers brushing over his tie, "Can't say the same for your father."
"Can I be expecting him to wish me Happy Christmas before I'm off?" Draco asked in a tone that clearly conveyed he already knew the answer was 'no'.
Narcissa simply ran her hands over her son's broad shoulders as she smoothed away the stray imperfections in his crisp shirt. "You know your father," she said, her eyes carefully averted from his as she continued to look him over.
Draco inhaled deeply. "You'll give him my regards then?"
"Of course," she said softly, finally lowering her hands from him. She glanced over at the packed bag on Draco's bed and sighed. "Are you certain that this is what you want?" she asked.
"I've been certain since I was thirteen, mother," he said quietly.
Narcissa nodded slightly and lovingly brushed a hair behind his ear. "I wish you well, my darling," she said with a watery smile, "I hope you find what you are seeking."
Draco made the small step forward to close the distance between them and embraced her lightly.
"I'll miss you," she said in his ear.
"I'll be back on the 27th," he assured her. She nodded against him and when he finally stepped back from her she forced him a smile.
"Happy Christmas, Draco," she said.
"Happy Christmas, mother," he reciprocated and then turned to pick up his bag.