Here's the first chapter of my new story. A HUGE thank you to Ren, my beta for this story- she has been incredible!!
Hermione Granger yawned as she fixed a label on the folder in front of her, before listlessly dropping it into the slot by her desk as she glanced at the clock.
"Finally, Eleven thirty!" she muttered to herself. Smiling at the thought of a break from the boredom of mindless work, she grabbed her purse and coat. "I'm going to lunch," she told her secretary, Moira, as she dashed towards the exit.
"Have fun!" Moira called after her with a cheery wave, before returning to her own duties.
Hermione walked towards the lift and waited with a few other Ministry employees for it to arrive at their floor. Tapping her foot impatiently, she was relieved when the doors finally opened, and proceeded to shift restlessly the entire five minutes it took her to reach the lobby. Once there, she turned left towards the doors that led into the Ministry dining room. She stood there for a second, scanning the crowd for a familiar face until she heard her name.
"Hermione! Over here!" She turned towards the voice and smiled at her friend.
"Harry!" she greeted in turn, as she walked over and threw her arms around him in a fierce hug. Since defeating Voldemort and winning the war for wizard-kind four years previous, Harry had been an Auror for the Ministry. He had been gone for the past month on a trip, which required stamping out some dark wizards in Bulgaria, and Hermione was glad to see that he was back in one piece.
Though she had fought in the war, Hermione found that she rather liked the idea of having a desk job once the battle ended. She now worked in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, and while it could be a little tedious, she was working on a trade assignment that was very interesting to her, as it involved research, which she loved.
"How are you?" Harry asked, releasing her from the hug with a smile.
"Wonderful! When did you get back?"
"Just last night. It took longer than I thought, but it's over now." Harry didn't elaborate and Hermione didn't pry.
"Ginny didn't come today?"
"No, not today. She's not feeling too well." Ginny Weasley, who had become Ginny Potter last year, was expecting their first child and was having a difficult pregnancy. "Did you tell Ron?"
Hermione gave an affirming nod, before adding, "He should be here soon." Ron currently worked in the Department of Magical Sports and Games, which he was thrilled about.
Giving a glance towards the entrance of the dining room, only a few seconds passed before she pointed towards a red-head entering the room and approaching them, "There he is now."
"How have you been, mate?" Ron asked his brother-in-law, once he neared the table Harry and Hermione had sat themselves at.
"Brilliant! Katie wants to have you and Ginny over as soon as possible. Oh, and you too, Hermione," he added as an afterthought.
"Thanks, Ron," she replied, rolling her eyes. Ron had gotten engaged to Katie Bell six months earlier, and Hermione had heard nothing but wedding plans coming out of the witch, since. She smiled and went along with it but was bored to tears, internally.
Ron didn't hear the sarcasm in her voice. "Is tomorrow alright?"
"Sure," Harry agreed, grinning. "I'll be rested up. I'm off today; just going to pop upstairs and see what's gone on in my absence, then head back home to Gin."
"Hermione?" Ron persisted, putting her on the spot.
"Well, I'm working hard on this project, Ron; I don't think – "
"Oh, come on!" Ron snapped. "You never come around; Katie's beginning to think that you don't like her."
"Fine," Hermione sulked. "I'll be there."
"Around six, alright?" Ron finalised, picking up a menu. "Now let's eat; I'm starved!"
An hour later, Harry and Hermione stepped out of the lift and onto the third floor, laughing.
"I'll make sure to tell Ginny that one," Harry said, as he stopped laughing. "I'm glad you'll be there tomorrow night, Hermione. I know that Katie's wedding fever is a little dull – "
"A little?" Hermione interrupted, disbelieving. "It's gotten worse lately. I can't even believe the hideous robes she picked for her bridesmaids."
"Well, I can't believe that you even agreed to be a bridesmaid," Harry countered, his green eyes twinkling.
"Ron asked; I couldn't say no," she lamented, looking sullen at the reminder of her unfortunate position.
"Still doing everything your friends tell you to, Granger?" came a drawling voice from behind her. Hermione narrowed her eyes in irritation.
"Eavesdropping, Malfoy?" she asked, turning around. Her brown eyes, darkened with anger, met his amused, grey ones evenly.
"It's hardly eavesdropping when you're shouting so loud, I can hear it from my office," he said smoothly. He looked past her to Harry. "Potter," he acknowledged, nodding slightly.
"Malfoy," Harry returned, warily.
During the war, Malfoy had been holed up somewhere in Switzerland with Snape until the dust cleared. Once Voldemort was dead, Snape had proved that he killed Dumbledore per the wizard's own wishes, and Malfoy was found innocent; thanks in part to Harry's own testimony. This had forced the two men, while not friendly, into an uneasy truce. Since his father's death in Azkaban three years earlier, Malfoy had worked in the same department within the Ministry as Hermione, though she wasn't sure what he did, as she never saw him actually working.
"Did you need something, Malfoy?" she snapped, patience lost. He widened his eyes as he looked down at her.
"That's no way to speak to a colleague, Granger."
"Did you?" she reiterated, ignoring his statement.
"Actually, there was one thing. Your new secretary; the Irish girl? Is she married?"
"What?" Hermione yelped, as Harry tried to hide his smile. "You leave her alone, Malfoy. I've lost two secretaries because of you, and I like this one. Find your conquests elsewhere!"
"It's not my fault that your secretaries get so sick of you, that they leave," he retorted, smiling at her like she was some stupid little child. Hermione felt her face burn with anger.
"Look here, Malfoy, – "
"Well, I'm going to go up to work now," Harry said loudly, interrupting them. "I'll see you tomorrow night, Hermione," he added, stepping back into the elevator; waving goodbye as the doors closed.
Hermione glared at Malfoy one more time before stalking down the deserted hall that lead to her office. Merlin, she hated him! She could feel him following her, but didn't turn around to confirm. Finally reaching her office, she forged ahead, slamming the door shut behind her. She expected to hear a knock quickly following, but it never came. Curious, Hermione opened her door just enough to be able to see Malfoy standing in front of Moira, smiling and talking to her. His features were arranged in a pleasant way that made him seem handsome, even to her. Moira was looking up at him, a gooey look on her face that made Hermione nervous.
"You know, I can see you, Granger," Malfoy called out, smirking. "Not a very good eavesdropper, are you?" he taunted further.
Enraged at the fact that she was caught red-handed, Hermione slammed her door closed for the final time.