Author's Note: Evenin', guvnors. If you haven't read 'Her and Me,' you don't necessarily have to, but first, you might enjoy it; second, a lot of characters and out-of-characters are better explained there than they will be here; and third, I love semicolons.
If you have read 'Her and Me,' you know all about me and my semicolon problem, and you're quite ready to jump in, as am I. Let's get down to it, shall we?
Draco Malfoy had done a lot of harrowing things. He had thwarted the intricate, highly homicidal machinations of a Death Eater and a Ministry traitor. He had exposed the conspiracy those two particular nefarious villains had arranged. He had even survived Hermione Granger's cooking. But this—this was the most harrowing, most horrifying, most horrible yet.
He opened the door and let Hermione's mother in.
Marina Granger raised an eyebrow. "Draco?" she inquired.
Tentatively he smiled. "That's right," he confirmed. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, thank you, Draco."
"Can I take your coat?"
"No, thank you, Draco."
"Can I… can I…" He racked his brains and fidgeted a little. There had to be something chivalric and impressive left to do. There had to be something… Something… Anything…
"I see you got a new couch," Marina Granger remarked.
"Well, no, we didn't," Draco corrected. "We got a cover for it. It's really comfortable, but the orange was kind of… hideous."
"Orange," Marina Granger commented airily, "is my favorite color."
Draco resisted the urge to bury his face in those beige cover-covered cushions and scream at the top of his lungs. He settled with cringing.
Nonchalantly, Marina Granger strolled into the kitchen and seated herself at the table. She folded her hands and set them on the tabletop, and then she looked up at Draco expectantly with eyes very similar to her daughter's—deep, dark, and, at the moment, supremely unsettling. Like wells. Draco had the distinct feeling that he was going to fall into the wells in question and ignominiously drown. It was the sort of thing that would happen to him.
"If you sit down," Mrs. Granger remarked, "we could have a civilized conversation."
Oh, so that was what she'd wanted. And here he'd been, loitering awkwardly in the doorway like a bumpkin. How utterly barbaric.
As he obeyed the summons, Draco reflected that he wasn't sure whether he was being sarcastic or not. That was when you knew you were in trouble.
"Sure I can't get you something?" he hazarded, seeking to make up some lost ground.
A dark eyebrow flickered up. It was another very Hermione-ish gesture, and it was entirely discomfiting. You didn't want to see the love of your life appearing in her mother. You just didn't. There was something very wrong and very Greek-tragedy-worthy about it.
Or maybe bad-Hollywood-movie-worthy.
"I'm fine," Mrs. Granger said.
Draco wanted to chew on his fingernails. Then why are you looking at me like you want to skin me alive? he wondered.
Marina Granger pursed her lips and looked at the refrigerator. It was there that Draco had secured a scrap of paper reminding him that the "Triple Bacon Supreme (i.e. Triple-Bypass Special) at Cleon's Pizza – muy bueno!!". Even that wouldn't have been as bad if he hadn't arranged the little word magnets holding it there to read, "The cat lady is way hot stuff." Draco felt another high-quality cringe coming on.
"How do you feel about children?" Mrs. Granger asked suddenly.
"Uh," Draco managed. "I… like… them…"
For dinner! his mind supplied gleefully.
Shut up! he reprimanded sternly. This is important!
Spoilsport, his mind muttered.
The other eyebrow joined its partner high on Mrs. Granger's forehead. "And how do you feel about marriage?" she inquired next.
"Um," Draco attempted, "I think it is a venerable and sanctified union."
Draco got the distinct feeling she wanted to go over to the counter, draw the cleaver from the knife block, and summarily split his head with it. Kindly, she refrained.
Then Mrs. Granger dropped the real bomb.
"Are you sleeping with my daughter?" she demanded.
Draco stared at her. He stared for a full ten seconds, and then he stared some more. He blinked a few times. Then, for some variety, he recommenced staring in disbelief.
Mrs. Granger shifted in her seat. "Well, are you?" she prompted.
"No," Draco said slowly. "I am not." As she opened her mouth, he beat her to the chase. "Which is not to say," he added, "that I don't want to and am simply taking advantage of her insane generosity despite not having any interest in her person. I have quite an interest in her person. I also have quite an interest in her personality. No, sleeping with your daughter would be a very amenable activity, as far as I'm concerned, but I respect her more than that."
Mrs. Granger looked like she might even forgive him for the note on the fridge.
He owed Hermione a lot; that much he knew—when he had been in the direst straits in the history of dire straits, she had taken him in and taken him under her wing, including fattening him up, apparently without ever intending to put him in the oven afterward (though he supposed there was still a remote possibility of prospective cannibalism). Oh, yeah, and saved his life about a million times and whatnot.
Thinking back on it, he felt like he should have known the moment he'd seen her name in the Daily Prophet and considered seeking her aid—should have known that she fit the highly-touted, highly-trite bill of "The One." Glancing through the newspaper, trying to conceal his face with it and shield himself from the shame of recognition, trying to become just another person with somewhere to go, he had spotted the words Hermione Granger, and he should have felt something warm and glowing deep in the fabric of his very soul.
Now, he hadn't, but he still should have.
It just went to show that desperation put a bit of a damper on love at first notice-after-a-long-time.
"What do you do for a living, Draco?" Mrs. Granger inquired, sounding rather pleasanter, and rather less homicidal, now.
"Ah," Draco said, shifting in his seat a little. This was the part that assaulted his masculinity in the manner of an overzealous pit-bull, complete with glinting red eyes and ivory fangs dripping with ropy saliva. "I am…" Should he, or shouldn't he? Should, or shouldn't? Should, or should— "…an amanuensis."
Even though that word in particular referred more to a dictation-taker. There was a chance that his antagonistic interrogator—er, prospective mother-in-law—would simply let it go.
The warmth in Mrs. Granger's eyes retreated again, like a wave sliding away down the sand, just out of reach. "A what?" she prompted.
Draco hung his head. "A secretary," he sighed, looking intently at his fidgeting hands. That finger, this finger, that finger, this finger…
"Oh?" He thought he might have detected a hint of a smile in Mrs. Granger's voice, but he didn't look up for two reasons. First, he didn't want to find out that it was merely wishful thinking; second, his fingers were rather interesting, to tell the truth.
"Yes." This finger, that finger, this finger—
Sparky had appeared, in all his three-legged, one-and-a-half-eared glory, in Draco's lap. He then proceeded to apply his existing foreleg to the arduous task of kneading the living Hell out of Draco's thigh.
Presuming, that was, that there had been Hell living in Draco's thigh in the first place, but now was not the time to quibble over colloquialisms. Rather, now was the time to meet Marina Granger's eyes tentatively and discover that they were sparkling a little with amusement.
Draco supposed that one had to have something of a sadistic streak in order to practice dentistry, given that one was basically injuring people under pretense of advancing their dental well-being from nine to five on weekdays, and there was little he could think of more sadistically enjoyable than making a man confess that he was a secretary.
To Hell with his dignity; time to make her squirm with glee.
"Hermione's secretary," he specified.
Marina Granger's eyes lit up like bonfires.
As Sparky mangled his leg beyond recognition and Mrs. Granger began a
long tangent about how lovely it was that an upright young man like
himself should be willing to work under a female without complaint,
which segued nicely into a tangent about how they would be wise to be
fastidious in separating their personal lives and their professional
ones, which segued poorly into a tangent on Goodness, wasn't that a
pretty picture on the calendar?, Draco realized resignedly, and not
entirely without some dry sort of happiness, that this woman was
going to be in his life for a long time.
Author's Note Again: So… welcome back, or welcome for the first time, depending on whether you're a HaM fan or not. All is written; twenty chapters and an appendix; one every Monday and Friday until I get greedy and start posting Wednesdays, too, just like last time.
It is probably my civil duty to warn you, however, that, unlike last time, this fic… is… um… not quite as funny. It seems to oscillate between the usual humor and more serious stuff. If there was such a genre as humor/romance/adventure/angst, that would do, but there isn't (and for good reason…!). I hope all the HaM fans will bear with me, and that newcomers can find something to love. :)
And Eltea is mostly behind the plot, that crafty girl. Because I suck at plots like whoa. Also, she betaed. At an absurd hour of the morning. Instead of sleeping. Show some love, dammit.
Additionally, it is my civil duty to warn you that I am addicted to alliterations. Like that one.