I want to be very clear that JKR owns Harry Potter.
"Hey! No one owns me!" Harry interjects. "You can't just own a person like some sort of... of... House Elf!"
Hermione is giving him some mean side-eye.
Beta, Alpha, and Omega love to LightofEvolution who was generous enough with her time to offer me both encouragement, and to tell me when I missed commas. The amount of the latter was more than I care to admit. She assures me this story is worth reading so, if you don't enjoy it... I guess take it up with her? ::grins::
Heart you, LoE!
Also, thanks to Grey Mournings for the manip of Hermione she was generous to share in a FB group. Emma has invaded my head cannon, but the curls are a necessity.
"That's it, Potter. I'm finished."
Hermione Granger blows into Harry Potter's office with a red-headed ball of fury hot on her tail. Harry looks up, a bit taken aback to hear one of his oldest and dearest use his surname, but when he catches sight of both Hermione and Ron stomping towards him, he puts two and two together fast.
Rubbing the bridge of his nose between his eyes, he sighs as they both come to a stop just in front of his desk, arms folded and glaring down at him.
"You've had another row, I suppose."
Hermione mock laughs just as Ron snorts, "Because she's mental."
She glares at her one-time lover and answers, "I'm not mental, Ronald. You are incompetent, inefficient, ineffectual, inept-"
"Woah, woah!" Harry holds up his hands and interrupts the tirade. "Can I remind you, Auror Granger, that I am your superior officer and your judgment of your partner's ability to perform reflects on me?" Harry knows she is just getting carried away. Ron isn't a bad agent per se, but Harry has to step in on occasion and mediate. On a lot of occasions actually, over the course of their partnership
There's a reason Hermione was passed over for a leadership role after all: She doesn't play well with others. Even more than that, she has a tendency to forget the basic structure of rank when she is sure she is in the right… which is often. Being friends with Harry before being colleagues makes for a perpetually delicate situation.
"I hadn't even reached his ability to perform," she says sarcastically and with obvious implication, "but if you're curious-"
"Hey!" Ron's face, if possible, goes even deeper red. "There's no reason to say things we might regret."
"Oh, I won't regret it. Believe me."
"You might," Harry offers, knowing she's dangerously close to crossing a personal boundary. Attacking his career is one thing, but Ron Weasley is pretty thin-skinned in regards to his, ahem, manhood.
She huffs and stomps once, slightly childish. "Fine. Regardless, I'm finished. You can find me a new partner, or I can ask Agnes to start typing my resignation letter. One way or another, I won't spend one more mission with him." She hooks a thumb toward her partner and looks at Harry expectantly.
Harry looks back and forth between them, wishing to Merlin or Jesus or fucking Colonel Sanders they'd never dated. Their tiffs when they were friends were bad enough. Now, since their relationship and subsequent breakup, they are downright impossible.
He has a choice to make here, and one way or another he's going to have an irate Hermione Granger on his hands. The one thing he doesn't want to do, however, is lose her expertise. She might not partner well... with anyone... but she's a damn fine agent. Brilliant and tough and one of the most powerful witches to grace the Ministry halls, her resignation would end up a black mark on his own managerial record as much as anything: The star agent he let get away.
He had hoped partnering her with Ron would be a solution, not a problem. It was great as long as they were dating. She was downright demure when she wanted to keep him happy. It seems, looking back, that holding her tongue was just bottling bitterness. Now, their romantic relationship at an end and their friendship hanging by a thread, this is a daily fucking occurrence.
"Ron, can you give us a moment please?" He looks at his friend with pleading eyes. This is difficult enough without Ron's typical hot-headed petulance. He's silently praying the man will grant him some privacy.
Ron looks like he starts to say something but then, blessedly, he nods sharply once and heads to the door. Before he leaves, he looks back and suggests, "For my next partner, maybe a blast-ended skrewt? You know, a step up."
The door slams with finality after that and Hermione looks back, mouth gaping in shock. "The audacity of that insecure, insubordinate-"
Harry hold up his hand. "I appreciate the alliteration, but I think I get it."
"So what will it be then? My resignation? I already have a rough draft ready."
"I have another partner," he says quickly, hoping what he's about to do is in the best interest of all involved. "I'll take Ron and put him with Jones-"
"Pfft, good luck the two of them not lighting the building on fire…"
"-and assign you to another agent. I need to partner him anyway."
Hermione is suddenly looking wary and suspicious and Harry can already see her ire build. "Who is it, Harry? Not Smith-"
"No, not Smith. I already have Zacharias with Boot. It's no one you've paired with before and he's straight out of training."
She rolls her eyes but takes a seat and looks a modicum more civil. "Fresh meat then. I can work with that. They tend to be more pliable when they recognize who should be in charge."
Harry eyes her cautiously, understanding just how very wrong she is.
"Just promise me you'll give it a chance, alright? One more year. If you can't work with him after that and you insist on resigning, I'll write you a recommendation myself to any department."
She snorts. "I already have offers from other departments."
"I'll tell Ginny I want to go on all the baby shopping trips with her from now on so she won't ask you."
"Tempting," she considers, "but a year? The baby will be here long before that."
He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. "I'll tell Molly you met a nice muggle boy, but he's shy so we need to let you hook him in before we start pushing for a wedding."
It's hardly a beat before she jumps at the offer. "Done." No Molly Weasley begging for grandchildren from her surrogate daughter? Godric, that's worth two years of DMLE torture.
Hermione rolls her eyes and says, "I promise, Harry. Do you need a pinkie swear? Perhaps my signature in blood would put your mind at ease."
Harry grins, knowing she won't go back on her word no matter how casually it is given. "That'll do." I'll set up a meeting tomorrow. Can you head to his office around eleven?"
"Yes I suppose. Of course you'll have to stop being so bloody secretive so I can find his name on the door. Who is it?"
"Malfoy. I'm putting you with Draco."
She stares at him a moment and then huffs, knowing she's been had. "Bullocks."
"He's really not that bad, Hermione."
Rolling her eyes in response, she settles, resigned, into her chair. "How did he even make it through training? The little toad cried murder when a bird scratched him."
Harry chuckles, remembering the incident with Buckbeak in third year. "Yes well, he was a complete tosser then. I'm telling you though, he was top of his class, some of the best marks to come out in over a decade. He worked hard to get here."
"So why are you bribing me to take him if he's that amazing?"
"As you can imagine, I've had a bit of trouble partnering him up. I could probably put him with Ron, but, honestly, they would likely have the same issues you two did. Draco is very efficient if his training says anything. Ron is more of-"
"An idiot?" She offers sweetly.
Harry glares but picks up where he was interrupted, redirecting to his original point. "Ron works more organically. It's not always the most efficient but he has good instincts."
She huffs but seems to concede the point. "So Malfoy is what then? Analytical?"
"Yes, actually. His method is more in keeping with yours. I think you'll be brilliant together… if you can keep from killing him of course."
"Well, I've not killed a partner yet," she notes as she starts to rise. He hears her mumble, "But of course there's a first time for everything," and chooses to pretend he hadn't.
Hello, wonderful readers! So I haven't posted anything in a few months but I have been working on this story quietly since June. It is nearly complete with only the epilogue to finish and my usual editing process before posting. As with my last few multi-chapters, I will attempt to post daily or at least every other.
As always, my sincere thanks to you for reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts if you would be so kind as to review. Faves and follows also give me a special thrill and I want to be clear I appreciate you all! :)