Disclaimer: Belongs to JK Rowling
This truly was the worst part of his job, having to stand here and pretend to be interested in a word these lesser lights had to say. It was boring, and more than a little tedious. And he could think of a million other places he would much rather be.
Like back home at the Manor, in the study relaxing in front of the fire with a nice glass of wine, the one that was just starting to hit the right age. Or maybe some deserted island somewhere, drinking some fruity concoction out of a coconut shell, and enjoying the solitude.
Either of them unfortunately were not an option, he had to stand here and pretend to be absolutely enthralled as some huge man in what looked like a dress talked about the relations between some separate countries in Africa. As interesting as his title sounded, there was really nothing interesting about it in the slightest. The Department for International Magical Co-operation was the most frightfully boring department in the Ministry, but there was a bright spot to working there.
A definite spark, if you will, for he shared an office with Hermione Granger. Whatever shortcomings his job had, the one constant was the fact that there was nothing better than riling her up. She tries valiantly to keep her cool, but it just takes a few prods in the right spots and she went off like a firecracker. Provided a great deal of entertainment. The way her cheeks would flush, her hair seeming to crackle with magic around her face. In his opinion, there was no greater sight than Granger leaning over his desk, ranting about something he had said or done that irked her. It annoyed the department head something chronic, but then that was just another plus.
That's what this party needed… Granger. No doubt he could insult her in some way, either her appearance or her date. She was bringing a date. He had heard her talking to the other women in the office about the party. Yes, that was just what he needed. Just have to find her.
For some reason, she had forgotten why she hated these things.
She resented feeling like she was on show, and that was exactly how she felt at the moment. It was a party for the whole department, but it felt like the head of it was just using her for good conversation. Constantly pulling her this way and that. Ever since the end of the second wave of the fight against Voldemort, she and all her friends had become even more famous than they were before. So naturally her boss, he wanted to show everyone that he had Hermione Granger, brains behind Harry Potter working for him.
And her date, lets not get started on her date. She thought they would get along well. They both had similar intellects. So silly her for assuming an intelligent conversation would occur. But no, it seemed all he wanted to do was look down her top, and get as drunk as he possibly could on the free drinks. So all in all she was having an absolutely great time.
The one saving grace for the evening was the fact that she had successfully managed to avoid Malfoy for most of it. He had turned into a pit bull of late, an annoying one. Always trying to set her off, antagonising her something awful. It was like his greatest pleasure, and the fact that she was on to him, didn't help her in the slightest. One little word about her failed relationships, how she was looking that day, or some other biting remark, and she couldn't contain herself any longer. She wished he wouldn't be able to rile her up like he does, but he's like some strange force of nature when it comes to that. No one manages to do it quite like he does, not even Ron can do it like that anymore.
So all in all the evening was turning into a complete and utter waste of time. She was sick of being paraded around for all to see, she didn't want to be thought of as just a piece of eye candy, and, quite frankly, the band was awful. All she wanted to do was to go home, and curl up in front of the fire with the book she had received that day on Ancient Mayan magic. Now that sounded like fun, not like this excuse for a party, with it's fake jolliness and friendliness.
Looking at the clock in the corner, she saw that she had only been there for an hour. It was too soon to leave in her opinion. She may not have been having the time of her life, but she knew her boss wouldn't look too fondly on her leaving this early, best to give it another half hour. And to survive it, well she'd need another drink.
For someone he saw everyday, and would probably never forget what she looked like, she was remarkable hard to find in the crowd. It was strange, her hair had tamed a little as she got older, but it still pretty wild. So he was only really scanning for a wild, slightly bushy head of brown curls. He had no idea who she was bringing with her, probably some stiff from the ministry. If it was one thing he had learnt over the years of working with Granger at the Ministry, she had a type.
Sure at Hogwarts she had seemed to go for the strong Quidditch players, first there was Krum. Who she had turned up at the Yule Ball with, he remembered that evening well. He had, of course, accompanied Pansy. It was shaping up to being an all right evening, and then she had walked in with him on her arm. It had taken him more a few moments to realise that it was her. He had been momentarily gob smacked by the beauty that she seemed to have transformed into, and then he realised who it was. He had seen the looks on the Weasel's face, and prayed to whomever that he didn't have the same expression on his face. She was beautiful, the dress, the hair, and just the aura around her seemed different. She wasn't confident by a long shot, it didn't take an idiot to see the fear and all the nerves in her eyes, but she hid it well. She was absolutely stunning.
For the rest of the evening he had been mesmerised by her, Pansy had long given up on him. Finding some dunce from Durmstrang to entertain her, he had sat in a discreet corner and just watched her. Watching her dance with Krum, then the confrontation with the Weasel, and then with Krum again. It was a strange emotion he felt at the end of the night, he saw her sitting on the stairs crying, no doubt over that dolt Weasley, he knew he should have been happy that the Golden Trio was having issues, but he was fighting the urge to go and talk to her, try and comfort her somewhat. But he didn't, he couldn't.
After Krum, he was certain that she would end up with the Weasel. Part of his duties for Umbridge as part of the Inquisitorial Squad, was to watch them. Every sign lead to them becoming a couple. But the Weasel managed to put his foot in it time after time, so much so that she went for quite possibly the dumbest student at Hogwarts behind Vince, McLaggen. It didn't take an idiot to see that that wouldn't work out, and when it didn't well it was only a matter of time before the blonde one got rid of the Weasel and then it would be them.
He wasn't around much to see what happened then, he knew they had a little thing. And that was exactly what it was. By the time the final battle had been run and won, it was over. And they hardly spoke of it since. Weasel had long since moved on to some brainless swot, and Granger had dated nothing but skinny, insipid geeks from various departments in the Ministry. He liked to tease her about that fact, whispering when they weren't listening, about how she couldn't handle a real man, it riled her something shocking.
He decided to give up on finding her. He had had enough. Time to go home, so turning around he placed his empty glass on the table, and looking up he saw something he had honestly never thought he'd see again. There she was, he had found her. It was no wonder he hadn't found her. She had once again done something to her hair, and it feel around her face in soft waves, quite nice actually. She didn't look like she did at the Yule Ball in their fourth year, but how could she? That was nearly ten years again, if anything she looked better. She was standing over the other side of the room, swaying slightly to the music, endeavouring not to look bored, but the constant glances at the clock, and the fact that the champagne seemed to be flowing quite freely down her throat were dead giveaways.
Maybe this time he should do what he wanted to do all those years ago, yes he should.
Looking at the clock for what felt like the hundredth time in so many short minutes, time seemed to have slowed right down. It didn't feel like it had only been a minute, but the clock showed that it had been. Maybe just one more glass of champagne and then she'd call it a night. With that thought in mind she turned towards the table hoping to find another, instead she was greeted with the one she really didn't want to see.
"What do you want, Malfoy?"
And if just to irk her some more, he laughed, "Really Hermione is that anyway to treat a colleague? I was just coming to get some of this here champagne, which I'm assuming is nice?"
"How would I know?" She snapped, turning around after snatching a glass of the table.
"Well, I just thought since you haven't not had a glass in hand for the last half hour, it had to be alright. Quite possibly the only thing decent at this party."
"Quite possibly," she muttered to herself, and then inwardly cursed herself for agreeing with him.
And to her chagrin it seemed he had picked up on her internal dialogue, chuckling to himself he came around the table and stood next to her. "So Hermione, having a nice time tonight?"
"Sure Malfoy," she deadpanned, "It sure is a swell party, and I'm having such a great time."
"Really?" he smiled, "Me too, can't possibly dream of tearing myself away."
"Me either," she said with a small smile.
And to her great surprise they managed to stand there for what seemed at least ten minutes, just, well she'd hate to say enjoying each others company. But that is almost what it felt like, a companionable silence. Shocking.
"So where has your date got to?" He asked as he reached for another drink, passing her one.
"I believe that is him over there dancing up a storm with the secretaries from Level Six," she said pointing to the dance floor, and the rather inept dancer in the middle.
"Oh yes," he said, "Well Hermione, he has got some moves, why aren't you over there? I'm sure I can convince those uh… lovely ladies to leave him alone, if you are so inclined?"
She snorted into her glass, "No thanks, that won't be necessary. It seems we are both happy with how the evening has worked out."
"I think I'll call it a night directly myself… " He drifted off, "Hermione?"
"You… uh, you look very nice tonight."
It was a good thing she had swallowed before he spoke, she was pretty sure the floor in front of her would have just got a taste of the champagne. "Uh… thanks… Malfoy."
"You're welcome," he said happily, she turned to him, and saw he had an oddly satisfied expression on his face. If he hadn't sounded so deadly nervous, she would have thought he had been joking. This was a bit strange, of all the men to come and tell her she looked nice, well the last one she would have ever expected was Malfoy.
Downing the last of her glass, "Well goodnight Malfoy, I'll see you on Monday," and with a small smile, she slowly walked away.
He keeps calling me Hermione, she thought to herself as she prepared to apparate home. Draco Malfoy indeed was a strange man to work out.
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