Author's Note: Light, fluffy, and fun are the keywords here. The weird thing is, I haven't been trying to be light, fluffy, and fun in any of my fics until now. It goes against my nature. Or something. Whatever; I'm going to shut up now.
A Painfully Normal Day
It was on an utterly mundane Wednesday evening that Hermione Granger's painstakingly orderly, painfully normal life went straight to Hell.
Absently she chewed on a cuticle as she skimmed the letter. It was another complaint, which wasn't surprising, given that they were all complaints, because that was her job, but this particular specimen was getting on her nerves. Not only was it petulant and petty, it was badly-worded and defied the tenets of basic grammar. If there was one thing Hermione Granger hated, it was—
She blinked three times, but he persisted in existing there, lounging idly against her desk, grinning down at her like he knew something she didn't. Maybe he did. No, probably he did.
"M…alfoy?" she hazarded. He was wearing a white button-up shirt, gray slacks, and the same complacent grin he'd paraded around in all through school. His hair was on the short side and a little ragged, as if he had directed the barber to make it appear that he'd cut it himself, but he was still quite unmistakably Draco Malfoy.
His smirk widened at her miserable excuse for a greeting, and he shot off a quick salute. "In the flesh," he confirmed. He paused and pursed exquisite lips. "I take your blank expression and enduring silence as signs that you're too happy to see me to speak."
"Good observations, wrong conclusion," she fired back, finding her tongue. She looked at him more keenly through narrowed eyes. "What are you doing here, Malfoy?"
"Please," he drawled, planting his hands on the edge of her desk and leaning forward, his wide, flawless smile glinting in the weak fluorescent light. "Call me Draco."
Flatly now, she repeated, "What are you doing here—Malfoy?"
By the time she placed the emphasis on the surname, he had been distracted by the name placard on her desk.
"Hey, look at this," he urged. He picked it up and put his fingers over some of the letters. "'Ermine Range,'" he read contentedly. "A place where weasels can roam happily over hills and dales and start little weasel families." Delightedly he grinned, as if he'd just stumbled upon a treasure trove. "Hey, sounds like a certain Weasley family I know."
Fighting down a slightly-appalled smile wasn't easy, but she did it, the better to give him a pointedly bored look. "I'm only going to ask you one more time," she cautioned. "What are you doing here?"
Malfoy smiled the way a cat would smile at a cornered mouse. It was disconcerting. And kind of… hot.
Hermione wanted to smash her face down on her desk, but she managed to refrain from so doing as Malfoy started to speak in that same dreadfully calm voice, turning her name plate over in his hands.
"Isn't is obvious, Mo Ran?" he inquired, blotting out a few different letters with long, pale fingers. "You're rebuilding the Ministry, and I am supremely good at delegating. Sounds like a natural fit to me."
Hermione stared at him. "You're asking me for a job," she summarized.
His smarmy smile sufficed.
"You've lost it," she informed him. "If you really think I'm going to stick my neck out for you—"
Restlessly his fingertips fluttered over the letters of her name. His light, light eyes followed their unceasing movement intently. "I don't expect you to put your career on the line for me," he responded, utterly unperturbed even now. "I'd be stupid to ask for that kind of a favor. All I need is a place of refuge until I can get back on my feet. They've been… pulled out from under me by the ankles at the moment, to complete a rather mediocre metaphor." He smiled down at the letters he was manipulating. "There's still a few Death Eaters you lot didn't round up, and they're not so happy with the Boy Who Defected."
Hermione's battered fingernails, bitten most of the way to the quick, drummed on the desktop.
"What is it?" Malfoy prompted.
"You're asking if you can stay with me."
Malfoy grinned his cat grin. "Oh, but no," he scoffed, unable to keep that satisfied smirk off his face. "Never that. My dear, that would be terribly pretentious."
"Which never stopped you," she rejoined.
Graciously he bowed, sweeping the hand holding the name placard behind his back. "Your humble servant, One Anger."
"'Servant' I doubt," she remarked. "'Humble' I know for sure is inaccurate."
There was a long pause, during which Draco Malfoy looked down at the name plate and then slowly set it down on the desk. Sure fingers arranged it just so, perfectly aligned with the edge of the desktop. Slowly his gaze rose to meet hers.
"I," he said quietly, a slightly cowed sort of smile toying with his lips now, "will mold myself to whatever adjective you choose now, Hermione Granger. I'm running out of places to hide."
Just a few days couldn't hurt, she thought, while he gets back on his feet—
WHAT? another part of her brain interrupted abruptly—apparently a more intelligent part. Are you INSANE?
"Draco," she said, half-laughing, half-apologizing, "I just—"
You just called him "Draco," is what you just did, her brain muttered.
"I…can't," she finished lamely.
"Can't take in a man who's got nowhere left to go?" he supplied, surprisingly lightly, looking without seeing at the gray panels of the ceiling. "Can't help someone who can't help himself anymore? Can't take in a man you don't trust?" He smiled, sadly and somewhat bitterly. "I shouldn't talk like that. I understand—no, I really do. I can't just waltz in here thinking you'll put everything on the line to—"
"Fine!" Hermione heard herself cry out. Heads turned, and colleagues stared. She felt blood burst up into her cheeks with a vengeance.
It was Draco's turn to blink bewilderedly. "What?" he asked. It was the least articulate thing he'd said since stepping up to her desk.
Plastering on a There's-Nothing-to-See-Here-Folks smile, Hermione nodded at all the people who had turned to look before facing Draco—no, Malfoy; Malfoy, not Draco—again.
"I said, 'Fine,'" she repeated, quietly now. "As in, 'Fine; I've lost my bloody mind, and I'm inviting my old arch-nemesis to come stay in my apartment for an undetermined period of time.'"
There was a new smile on his face, a new tool from his great box of them. This one was… different. Small, gentle, and almost innocent. "Then," he replied, "thank you."
She looked at him for a moment. Then she struggled with her purse and managed to wrangle out a few clinking coins. "Here," she told him abruptly, pushing them into his palm. "I get off in—" She glanced at the clock. "—ten minutes. There's a new ice cream shop just down the street. Go grab yourself something, and I'll meet you there."
"What…" Malfoy was grinning again. "Don't trust me with the keys?"
Hermione Granger smiled thinly. "Wouldn't trust you with my laundry, Malfoy."
"Good," Malfoy replied crisply. "I wouldn't, either. You should see what happened to my white underwear."
Feeling a fiery blush climbing her cheeks again, Hermione pressed her lips together, willing them not to betray her and smile. "I don't want to know anything about your underwear, thank you."
There was a lightness to Malfoy's smile that was somehow refreshing. "Damn that red sock," he remarked. "Damn it to Hell." He shrugged and directed that knee-weakening smile at her, full-blast. "Enough stalling. I'm off."
He spun on his heel and strolled away, plunging his hands into his pockets, the coins jingling merrily. Hermione caught herself looking at his rear through his gray slacks, stifled a squeak, and focused hard on the latest whiny letter, rubbing her cheeks in a vain attempt to cool them down.
Bloody Draco Malfoy.
Yes, it was a painfully, painfully, painfully normal day.
Author's Note Again: Sorry to implement an ANA, but since you've gotten this far, I wanted to let you know how this fic is going to work. I've written the whole thing already. It's twenty chapters. I will do my best to update twice a week, so that Mondays suck less and Fridays rock more. Tell your friends (or… don't…that might be weird…). Huzzah!