Alright. this is my first Harry Potter fanfic, and, honestly, I feel both too old to be writing this, and too inexperienced (I don't feel that I'm nearly good enough to measure up to the standard that J. K. R. has set for Harry Potter). But here it is, anyway. A lot different from my other stuff, too. . . in fact, I feel like this plot just screams "Romantic Comedy" and wouldn't be surprised if it either has already been done in one movie or another, or will be soon. Usually I steer well away from that stuff in my writing, but, c'est la vie.

Anyway, I don't own Harry Potter, or I'd be way to busy relaxing by the pool in my huge mansion to ever write fanfiction.

Enjoy. . .

For the first time in four and a half years, I, Hermione Granger, ex- Hogwarts Head Girl, current NEWTs record holder, and, as Witch Weekly termed me upon my graduation, "quite possibly the cleverest witch the wizarding world has seen in the last hundred years" (though I really wouldn't go that far), was going to be on the job market.

I could practically hear the prospective employers salivating as I handed my letter of resignation over to Mad Eye Moody, head of the Ministry of Magic's Auror department. I didn't want to. . . not really. But circumstances were beyond my control.

Besides, since Voldemort had been rotting in a pine box for over a year, there wasn't nearly enough "bad" in the world to keep our department very busy. It was only a matter of time before the pink slips started flying, and this was my way of bowing out gracefully.

And, of course there was the fact that Harry had quit almost immediately after burying Godrick Gryffindor's sword up to the hilt in Voldemort's chest cavity, and seemed intent on living out the rest of his life calmly, and without incident, in a cottage somewhere in Scotland, snuggling by the fire with his wife, Cho. Not that I could really blame him, Harry Potter had had enough excitement in the first 21 years of his life to last him the next 60.

And Ron had quit shortly after that. He was a great Auror, but his heart wasn't really in it. It was pretty clear to everyone he was only there to support Harry. Ron's first love had always been Quiddich, and I'm sure he'd be happier being a waterboy for the Cuddley Cannons than a first class Auror.

Of course, Harry had loved Quiddich too, and I think that if it hadn't been for Voldemort, he may have gone on to be a world class seeker. Now he just wants peace. . . but I digress.

The point is, it's just not the same here without them.

So, two very good reasons to leave, I don't even need to think about the other one. . .

"Expected as much," Moody said, nodding and looking over my letter. He looked up a moment later, "got something else lined up?"

I contemplated lying to him. Moody put up a gruff front, sometimes, but I knew that he'd be worried if he thought I might end up jobless.

I say that I only contemplated lying to him, because we were in Moody's office at the time, and I was sitting a scant two feet in front of Moody's beloved sneak-o-scope. I swear that just the thought of dishonesty, however good my intentions were, made the air around me hum dangerously.

"Not exactly," I sighed in relief, as the air calmed down. I'm sure it was just my imagination, but I'd spent too many years in the company of Harry and Ron as students to be comfortable with a sneak-o-scope so close to me. "I do have a few leads, and" and I'm sure I blushed here, "the offers haven't exactly stopped coming since I graduated from Hogwarts. I'm confident that I can have something lined up before my two weeks are up."

Moody gave me a look, one eyebrow cocked, a glint in his eye, and the ghost of a slightly unpleasant smile on his lips. I'd seen him give the same look to suspects before questioning. I was justifiably nervous.

"This seems a little impulsive for you, Miss Granger, do you mind if I ask what brought this on?"

Oh? Is that all? What was I worried about? Here was a question that I could answer. I should be able to, after all, I'd been practicing the answer to this question all bloody week. I was so relieved, in fact, that when I opened my mouth, this is what came out:

"Er. . . Harry, Ron. . . Pink slips. . . Chuddley Cannons Waterboy. . ." Eloquently put 'Mione. I cleared my throat, and took a breath and started over again. "That is to say. . . with Voldemort dead, and Harry and Ron gone, and the office terribly overstaffed, I wonder why I'm still here."

Moody looked unconvinced. "Harry, Ron, and impending pink slips?"

I resisted the urge to add "oh my!" and nodded dumbly instead.

"So. . . this wouldn't have anything to do with Magnus Whittier, then?" oh boy. . . the 200,000 galleon question.

Magnus Whittier. Tall, athletic, roguish smile, and perfect wheat colored hair that hung defiantly in his eyes, giving him a boyish sort of appeal.

I must have gone positively white, because Moody gave me a sympathetic look.

Okay, fine. Magnus Whittier. . . the third reason for my resignation. He was a fellow Auror, the leader of my module, and up until about ten days ago my secret lover. Now he's much more like a not-so-secret Ex. . . our break up was quite public. And noisy. Like a train wreck. Honestly, though, he should have expected it. That's what happens when your girlfriend finds you taking a dip in the "steno pool."


Not that I'd let that prat push me out of a job I loved. Really.

". . . because we could have you transferred into another module, or something, if that were the case." Moody continued.

I stopped him with a wave. What did it matter, my time here was limited as it was. "No, don't bother. Really. We both know that if I stay, it would just be delaying the inevitable anyway."

He shook his head, and smiled. Secretly, I think he liked my stubbornness. I thought he might miss it. "Alright. I can't really stop you. I'm sure you'll land on your feet, anyway."

I exited Moody's office a moment later, and looked out on the Auror floor, desk after desk in neat rows, with not so neat paperwork piled on top of them, being ignored by Auror's who were apparently not so busy with said paperwork that they couldn't all look up at me upon my entrance. Subtle guys. My desk was on the other side of a sea of questioning eyes, and false sympathy. It seemed as though my co-workers had nothing better to do than follow the sordid details of Hermione Granger's love life. Not that my resignation had anything to do with my love life. It was a valid career decision.

At least, that's what I told myself.

A woman I'd only talked to at the water cooler came up behind me and patted me on the back like she was an old friend. "Don't worry, dear, I'm sure you'll find something soon." I suddenly wanted to scream.

Was there any aspect of my life these people didn't know? But of course they did. It was only painfully obvious why I'd gone to see Moody, and now everyone wanted details. Every one, it appeared, except for Magnus, who was hunched over his desk, working diligently.

Ha! Magnus never worked diligently, he was avoiding my gaze. Just like I was avoiding everyone else's as I waded my way to my desk, and pulled my purse off it, slinging it over my shoulder before heading out the door without a backward glance. I had two weeks to use up almost five years worth of personal days. Might as well start now.

* * * * * * * * * * *

What's faster than the speed of light? The answer to this question is apparently the spread of gossip among wizards. It was only four hours after I'd walked out on a room full of nosy fellow Aurors, and now I was bent over the table, and maneuvering a letter opener deftly with my right hand, opening letter after letter.

Dear Miss Granger,

It has come to our attention that you are currently seeking employment. . .

Dear Miss Granger,

I am writing in regards to the news that you will shortly be available for employment. . .

Dear Miss Granger,

It's time to renew your subscription to Witch Weekly. . .

Okay, so they weren't all job offers, but a good many of them were. Enough that I felt confident in my ability to "land on my feet" as Moody had put it.

Sitting at my kitchen table, my tea cup cradled to my chest with one hand, and a letter in the other, I felt calm for the first time in weeks. And I had to admit, this was one hell of an ego boost. I mean, I'd just quit my job, and already the mail was flying in. The proverbial body wasn't even cold yet.

That is, I was calm, and satisfied, and riding the high of being desirable (I felt like a right 'belle of the ball'), and then I came upon a letter somewhere to the middle of the stack.

It was addressed to Hermione Granger, my name printed in curt looking black letters. The return address was conspicuously missing from the envelope. Junk mail. I started to toss it aside, but as I did, the light seemed to hit the letters, causing the ink to flash green, and my palms practically itched to hold it again. A moment later, I was ripping it open, my fingers moving seemingly of their own volition. I wasn't stupid, I knew a compelling spell when I saw one. Someone must have wanted to make sure I read this letter.

There was, of course, only one way to find out who was so desperate to get my attention, so I let my hands work, until they were holding a piece of parchment before me, and I read.

Dear Miss Granger,

I have need of your services. The position of my personal assistant has recently become open again, and while it pains me to admit it, you are the most intelligent witch it has ever been my misfortune to meet. Yes, I may detest you, and would rather soak my head in a vat of boiling oil than have a conversation with you, but you are most certainly the best choice for this job.

I look forward to your reply.

Draco L. Malfoy

For a moment I was too stunned to formulate a reply. I just sat there, mouth agape, blinking furiously, and hoping each time I closed my eyes I'd open them to find the letter had been a figment of my imagination. No such luck.

Soon, however, I'd worked my way from shock to anger.

Only Draco Malfoy would insult someone and offer them a job in the same breath, and still expect them to accept.

I grabbed a quill, and a sheet of parchment and began to write my reply.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Dear Mr. Malfoy,

"I can't believe that even you would be self-centered enough to think that I would ever work for you! Personal assistant? Ha! There's no way I would ever do your dirty work, Malfoy.

" I look forward to your painful death.

"Hermione Granger"

"You didn't!" came Ron's shocked reply.

I sat around a table far off in one corner of the Leaky Cauldron with my two best friends, and had just finished relating my day to them.

"I most certainly did," I replied, sounding quite proud of myself. It wasn't often that I shocked Ron Weasley, after all, and every time I managed it, he'd get this cute sort of perplexed look on his face. "And the stupid git deserved it too. I can't believe he said he'd rather stick his head in boiling oil than carry on a conversation with me."

"I don't know," Harry chimed in, smiling mischievously, "I can sort of see where he'd coming from."

"Watch it, Harry Potter," I intoned threateningly, "or you won't see anything but stars for several hours."

Ron snorted, and began chuckling lowly. A moment later, Harry picked it up too, and before long, even I couldn't keep the mock-serious look on my face. And then the three of us were laughing together.

We talked for a while longer, the subject wandering from reminiscence of our years at Hogwarts, to how married life was treating Harry, to questions about why Ron hadn't settled down (to which he replied "God, you two are starting to sound like my mother,") to question's about my relationship with Magnus (like what I'd ever seen in him to begin with. . . that was from me, and why I hadn't killed him. . . which was also from me. . . to an uncomfortable "why don't we change the subject," which was from Harry) and finally to Ron's recent employment at his brother's joke shop. Testing gags. Dear lord, if that wasn't an example of Gryffindor bravery, I don't know what is.

Finally, Harry glanced at his watch, and then gave us both a huge smile.

"Listen guys, it's getting late, and Cho expected me back an hour ago," he stood up, signaling the end of our dinner. He gave each of us a hug and apparated away, leaving Ron and I to stare at each other.

"Well, see you later Ron, next Thursday, with Harry at the latest." I leaned in to give him a hug, but he stepped backward, looking all too serious.

"'Mione, the reply you sent to Malfoy, it didn't really say what you said it did. . . did it?"

"Of course, Ron, why would I lie about it?" I said with a grin, but Ron looked dead serious. "Come on, Ron, what's the matter?"

"It's just," he paused, and sighed, "you know how Malfoy was, I'm just worried that he won't be able to let that sort of an insult slide. He's powerful, and he could make things difficult for you."

Ron was worried for me, it was so sweet, I almost smiled. "Don't worry about me, Ron Weasley, I'm not afraid of the Big Bad Malfoy." And with that, I embraced my friend, and this time he didn't try to step away.

"I know you aren't."

And I wasn't. But I should have been.