"…and I want a thirty inch parchment report on my desk first thing Monday morning," Rufus Scrimgeour bellowed at the adjacent office.
"Yes sir," Hermione retorted with a salute.
Hopefully he hadn't picked up on the bitterness in her tone. Normally, Hermione didn't mind writing reports. It was part of the job description and she loved it. But when her boss inconveniently assigned last minute work on a Friday evening, that just ticked her off.
Instead of using her weekend to unwind, she would spend it wrapped in work. She was looking forward to spending time with Ron. Ever since she banned him from visiting her office, she'd become very lonely. Ron worked with his father in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department. Even though they worked in the same building, their breaks didn't correspond. Since Hermione was the one with an office, Ron would sneak up to meet her and spend his lunch hour in her company. But she reprimanded him when her coworkers started to get suspicious about the red haired man who seemed to have daily appointments with the Junior Undersecretary. That's when he devised creative methods of meeting her.
It wasn't that Hermione was ashamed of her relationship with Ron—in fact she was quite elated and she hoped to become a permanent member of the flaming haired Weasley clan. It was just that she wanted to keep it quiet at the office. She was a young woman in a position of power and some of the older workers envied her prominent status. She knew how ruthless some of them were and she didn't want anything to sabotage her relationship with Ron. But now she regretted being so harsh on him and restricting his visits. Apart from Ron, she had no other friends at the Ministry. They were either too intimidated or brimming with rage with her degree of success. She was usually too tired from working such long hours to spend time with during the week that she cherished the weekend where she had no deadlines to meet or responsibilities that went beyond feeding Crookshanks.
"I'd better get started with that report."
Bustling about her office, she searched under stacks of parchment for a quill so that she could begin her report. Spotting a rumpled grey feather under a pile, she tugged at it gingerly not wanting her organized sheets to topple over like dominoes. Unfortunately, the quill did not budge from its resting place. Frustrated, she yanked it causing the pile to lean like the tower of Pisa and before she could realign the once neat pile, everything cascaded to the ground, burying her wand in the process.
"Ugh. Thank Merlin it's almost closing time," she sighed as she bent forward in search for her wand.
"Nice bottom Granger. Is there always such a great view in this office," a cool voice said from behind her.
"Ron!" she gasped turning a light shade of crimson. "What are you doing here?" she asked sheepishly abandoning the wand search.
"Granger, if loving you with all my heart's a crime, then I'm guilty," a Polyjuice version on Ron replied. "Draco, you are a genius. She'll be putty in your hand if you play your cards right."
Straightening herself up, Hermione beamed. Ron seemed different today. He seemed to exude a certain confidence she never knew him to possess. He was actually quite charming instead of his usual bashful self. "Oh Ron, I'm sorry I was so stern with you but you have to know how I've missed you," Hermione apologized throwing her arms around his neck, engulfing him in a hug.
"Erm…apology accepted love," he said perplexed while patting her on the back rather awkwardly. "Why is she apologizing about being stern? Is the Weasel her lover or her student? Oh well, must play along if I'm going to carry out my mission. I only ingested enough of that horrid potion to last an hour. An hour as a Weasel is plenty. " Peeling himself away from her clutch he offered her an exquisite bouquet of long-stemmed red roses. "But you shouldn't shoulder all the blame. I'm as much at fault here. These are for you."
"Ronald Weasley, this floral arrangement is absolutely divine," she said as she admired her gift. Her gaze shifted from the flowers to her supposed beau. "How did I get so lucky?" she asked rhetorically.
"You mean unlucky," he scoffed lightly feeling the intensity of her gaze.
"I meant to say I'm the lucky one for having such a….be-beautiful girl like you put up with a git like me. Sometimes I wonder whether you're not better off with someone who can truly appreciate your greatness," he said quickly. He couldn't help throwing a few jabs Ron's way. "Phew…nice save. You are one suave little devil Draco."
"You are not a git Ron. Don't put yourself down like that," Hermione said stroking his cheek with her forefingers. "I want to be with you and only you," she said placing her hands behind his neck, "and I'll prove it to you."
"Warning, warning. What does she mean 'I'll prove it to you'? Oh no, she wants to kiss me. This wasn't part of the plan."
Before he could pull away, she pulled his lips down to meet hers in a searing kiss.
"I'm kissing Granger. Granger? I'm kissing Granger. Hell froze over. Pigs can fly without the aid of magic. The Chudley Canons will win the Workd Cup. The world's gone berserk."
Just as they came back up for air, Hermione yanked the collar of his robes ready for round two. This time her lips parted and her tongue grazed his lips. He didn't deny her entry into his mouth and actually pulled her deeper, his arms snaking their way around her waist. "Hmmm…This is actually quite nice. Who knew she could kiss? But I need to get the decree revoked."
Hermione was quite surprised by the kiss. Ron was usually a sloppy kisser and fumbled with his hands but today he was much more experienced. She now questioned whether Ron was an expert in novice cloaks. She moaned as his hands inched lower down her back reaching dangerous territory but she didn't refuse him access.
"Well, that was—"
"Wonderful," Hermione cut him off catching her breath. "I was very wrong before. We should definitely do THAT more often," she giggled, laying her head on his chest, listening to his racing heart. "You know, it's well after 5:00. I'd say we have this entire floor to ourselves," she said, arching her eyebrows suggestively.
"What a disappointment Weasel must be." He stroked her hair wondering how he was going to bring up the decree now. As he stood deep in thought, Hermione looked up and examined him curiously.
"Ron, you're looking a little pale and your freckles have disappeared." She watched in bewilderment as the tips of his hair red were now tinged platinum blonde. She reached out to touch it and screamed. She'd only known one person with this hair tint.
"DRACO MALFOY?" she questioned.
"Damn. I must have lost track of time." There was now no mistaking that he had fully returned to his former self since he didn't feel repulsed in his skin. "Hermione? Fancy meeting you here," he said.
"What kind of sick joke are you playing Ferret Face?" she asked horrified. "When Ron finds out he'll—"
"He'll what? Try to deck me? I'd like to see him try," he scoffed. "I guess I owe you an explanation."
"You most certainly do you stupid git," she fumed.
"Right…well I came here with every intention of persuading you to annul your newest decree," he said confidently. "And I would have succeeded if I had taken more Polyjuice Potion."
"You…you…I despise you. You are the scum of the earth," she yelled pointing a finger at his chest.
"Oh, I'm not convinced that that's your opinion of me. Shall I get some Veritaserum to test my theory or shall we just listen to your moaning on my Muggle tape recorder. Ingenious little devices I must say."
"I thought you were Ron," she defended.
"Really Granger. Any idiot with half a brain would see right through this fake Ron," he said matter-of-factly. "Perhaps I should consider a career in acting or you should retake your NEWTs to retest your intelligence. Personally, you're way overrated," he goaded.
Draco thought he could see the steam pouring out of her ears. "Malfoy, there is NO way I am changing the decree. Not for you or anyone else for that matter. Please remove yourself from my office immediately or I shall call security. Here," she said thrusting a paper his way.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It's today's issue of the Daily Prophet."
"And what am I supposed to do with it?"
"Write up an ad for maid services," she said coolly.
"A maid Ferret Face. Are you dense? Hire someone to care for your Manor because as long as I'm Junior Undersecretary, no house elf shall be enslaved," she said with impressive authority.
"And what if I'm not willing to cooperate?" he threatened.
"Security!" she yelled and with a Pop he apparated out of her sight. "How do I face Ron now?"
"Ron?" she asked surprised.
"Hermione, what's the matter?" Ron asked approaching her.
"Nothing, I'm just really happy to see you." It was a half truth.
"I'm happy to see you too. Why don't you come to the Burrow for supper? Mum's been wondering whether she ought to notify the authorities," he said laughing jovially.
"Erm…I'd love to. I haven't seen her in ages."
He leaned in to give her a quick peck. She ran her pink tongue over her swollen lips. It didn't taste the same.
"Hermione, who are those flowers from?"