All characters belong to JKR
Summary: Hermione Granger was bored and wanted something new. She changed her job, her car, her flat and her hair, and now she did something completely "un-Hermione" and she decided to go on a blind date. Why was her blind date with her new boss Draco Malfoy? And why did she have the feeling that he had arranged the whole thing?
Draco turned around and walked away. She stayed frozen on the spot, and wondered what had just occurred? She looked at her arm, where his hand had just been, and she realized that she found Draco Malfoy slightly appealing, and gee, that was something new for Hermione Granger, too.
A Date by Proxy
Chapter 1: Change -
With an uneasiness that bordered on awkwardness, Hermione Granger sat at the large conference table at her new job, with her new boss Draco Malfoy sitting beside her, and oddly enough, he was holding her hand, hence her unease. She didn't know what to say or do, so she just sat there after everyone else had left the room. Only her and Malfoy remained, her hand captive in his, and him reading her personal notes. She knew taking this job was something she wanted, because she wanted something more from her old boring life, but she wasn't sure this was exactly what she had in mind. She wanted to do something to relieve the boredom and tedium in her life, so she made all these changes and became the new Hermione, but now that she had, she thought that the new Hermione might be a bit dafter than the old one.
It was Wednesday, and she had made it through part of the week alive and mostly sane. When she quit her job at the Ministry, she knew she would have a difficult time. She was comfortable at her old job. She was well liked and respected, and she had many friends. The one thing she wasn't was challenged. She felt she did the same thing, day after day, and though her fondest wish was to someday make a difference in this world, after eight years in the same job doing the same thing for the same people she finally realized something: it was just a job, and a boring one at that.
She was bored, not only with her job, but with life in general. She was bored with dating, she was bored with her flat, she was bored with her clothes, and she was bored with herself. Bored, bored, bored. She was determined to do something about it. Therefore, she turned over a proverbial new leaf, and she honestly felt a new Hermione was born.
She started with a new haircut, which always made her feel better. Actually, the new haircut wasn't much different from the old one, but it was still new. The second thing she did was to give up her flat and move into a larger, but desperately need of 'some tender loving care', townhouse. She went out and bought a new wardrobe. She even bought a new car. Then she did the most unexpected thing of all – she called Ginny Weasley and said, "It's time I started dating again. I've not had a boyfriend for eighteen months, and I think its time. I've decided that you can set me up on that blind date you wanted to set me up on."
Ginny squealed with delight over the phone. Hermione hung up the phone, almost picked it back up to cancel, but then left it alone. This was a new Hermione, and the new Hermione would stick to her guns, and finally live life, instead of watching it go by.
Therefore, she harvested her remaining Gryffindor bravery, twelve years after the end of school, and she went to her boss at the Department of Liaison of Magical creatures and she gave him her two-week notice. That was the only thing left to change. She changed her hair, her house, her clothes, and her car. Now, she needed a new adventure, and she wasn't going to find a new adventure at her old job.
Her father thought she was mad. Her mother thought she was sad. Her friends thought she was joking. She wasn't any of those things. What she was, well, that was simple and already established... she was bored. When she first started working at the Ministry, she thought she would help with House Elf rights, and help Centaurs gain recognition in the magical community, but everything she did felt as if it was one-step forward, and four steps back. In eight years, she had accomplished nothing, and for a witch who had high expectations, 'nothing' was not acceptable.
She sat in her cubicle that day, ate her cheese sandwich, and edited a bill she was trying to enact into law to allow Goblins the right to reclaim ancient Goblin-made artifacts, when she noticed an advertisement in the Daily Prophet for a job at Malfoy Industries. The little advertisement caught her attention with the very first line…"Are you tired of your current job? Would you like to make a difference? Come join Malfoy Industries, where innovation is our middle name." She laughed at first, because after all, it was a bit hokey. Then she read it again, and she said, "I'm tired of my current job."
She looked at the unedited copy of the Goblin Artifact Bill, and realized that in eight years at her job, not one of her bills was ever enacted into law, and she put down her half-eaten sandwich, scooted her chair out from her desk, and smiled. She walked to her supervisor's office, still smiling. Then she went into the man's office without knocking and without even knowing if she would get a job at Malfoy Industries, and she gave her two-week notice on the spot.
Two weeks later, the day after her last day at work, she secured an interview at Malfoy Industries.
Her interview was with a man she had gone to school with, but didn't really know, since he was a bit older than she was. His name was Adrian Pucey. He was tall, good-looking and affable and he told her that all they had were entry-level positions, for which she was overqualified to fill. He shook her hand, and told her goodbye.
She left his office and waited for the lifts. She didn't need Malfoy Industries. Hell, the very name gave her the 'creeps'. It was certain that Draco Malfoy was probably involved in the business, some way or the other, and she hadn't had much dealing with him since Hogwarts, and she never really liked him much, so who cared? She would find another job…surely there were other jobs that could give her excitement and whose middle name was 'innovation', so she held her head high and entered the lift.
She stepped to the back of the lift, and soon the entire car filled up on its way up to the top floor. Hermione frowned slightly, as she had meant to get on the car that was going down, but she had time to kill, since she wasn't currently employed, so she could ride a lift up and down for a few moments.
A few people entered, and a few more exited, and after the third stop, the president of the company, a young, good looking, blonde bloke by the name of Draco Malfoy entered the car. Hermione grinned when she saw him. He was better looking than she remembered, and a bit taller. She bent her head and looked at her new red shoes, so he wouldn't notice her. He was talking amicably, but animatedly, with another fellow, and all conversation among their fellow lift riders ceased as Draco shouted, "Why can't I find someone, anyone, who can do this job? Fire the stupid bint and hire me another person, now!" He took a step back as some more people entered the elevator, and he promptly stepped on Hermione's toe.
She winced in pain, and he turned around as much as he could in the crowded lift, and without really looking at her face, he reached out, grabbed her wrist, which surprised her, and looked down at her foot. "I'm sorry, Miss." His hand stayed on her wrist as his gaze scanned her well-toned leg, the hint of knee behind the tight grey skirt, her 'not too wide' hips, her small waist, and her…okay, really nice breasts. He smiled and looked for the first time in her eyes and his mouth opened in shock. He still had her wrist in his hand, and he said, "Granger? Hermione Granger?"
She looked at his hand, and he dropped her wrist. He frowned slightly, said, "I'm sorry," again and turned back to Pucey and said, "Where was I, oh yes, fire that witch and hire someone who at least has two brain cells between their ears."
Hermione wasn't sure what job he needed filled, but she wondered if she would fit the bill. The other man said, "You've fired four people so far, Malfoy. You said the first fellow was too greasy, you said the second man was too pompous, as you would know, (that made Hermione grin) you said the third applicant bit her nails, and the fourth witch is the one you want me to fire now, and why is that? Is she too short? Does her breath smell? Does she have acne? Are her eyes too close together? On what grounds should I fire this one?"
Hermione noticed that the person talking to Draco was Adrian Pucey. She thought, 'Well, Mr. Pucey, you said I was over qualified, but I don't smell, I'm not greasy, I don't bite my nails, and my face is crystal clear, and I have a lot more than two brain cells.' Before Draco could answer the man's question, Hermione let out a little giggle at the thoughts swirling around her head. The old Hermione wouldn't have thought these things, but the new one did, and the new one thought she was hilarious.
Adrian and Draco both turned toward her.
The lift stopped at the top floor. The only people left on the lift were Adrian, Draco and Hermione. Adrian turned back around and started out of the lift. Draco stayed on the elevator and turned back around, only to grab Pucey's sleeve. He pulled the man back on the lift, the doors closed, and Draco stopped it from moving with his wand.
He looked at Hermione and gave her a grin. She grinned back. He smirked. She looked away. He said, "Hermione Granger, how the hell have you been?"
"I've been adequate," she said with a half smile. "Although I think I might have recently broken my toe."
"That's a shame," he said. "What happened, did someone step on it?"
"Yes, and these are new shoes, too," she said back, wiggling her foot back and forth.
He thought she was charming, and he wondered why. She had never been particularly charming before. He looked at said shoes, red high heels, (they were really quite nice) and he asked, "What are you doing here?"
"I'm riding the lifts," she said plainly.
"And do you often come to my company to ride my lifts?" he asked. Adrian looked bored.
"No, this is my first time," she said. She was still smiling. He hadn't given Hermione Granger a thought in such a long, long time. Damn, was she always this pretty and engaging?
"Tell me why you're really here, Granger," he asked, leaning against the back wall. "Because I'm sure it wasn't to have me step on your foot."
"Should I leave you two alone?" Adrian asked, "Because unlike some people, I have important things to do."
Draco cocked his head toward Adrian and said to Hermione, "I think he's implying that you and I don't have important things to do. Now that's not true, is it Granger?" He looked at Adrian and said, "That's not true, Pucey. Apologize at once." Draco smiled and turned back to Hermione. He said, "Shall I horsewhip him. I am the president of the company, and its well within my rights."
She couldn't help but laugh. She felt nervous suddenly, because his smile was so alluring and he actually seemed to be, dared she think it, flirting with her. She said, "Actually, he's right. I don't have a thing to do. I quit my job and I'm currently unemployed."
He said, "Ah, that's not good. Who will pay your bills? Your husband? Or perhaps your boyfriend?" He knew asking such a thing was not a subtle way to find out if she was single, but he was never one for subtlety.
She blushed, she was sure, and she looked down and said, "You could pay my bills." She couldn't believe she said that, but hell, she was the new Hermione, and she didn't know what was about to come out of her mouth these days. The twinkle in his eyes denoted that he was having trouble believing such a statement from her as well, but she was quick to amend, "I came here for a job interview, but was told by Mr. Pucey that I was overqualified."
Draco took the file that Adrian was holding and hit the other man on the head with it and then handed it back to him. "Hermione Granger has never been so insulted in all her days. Tell him, Hermione Granger. Tell him that you're insulted."
She laughed again, and Adrian frowned. Draco said, "Hire her for the job of director of development. Hire her right now." He flicked his wand, the lift doors opened; Draco turned around and said to Hermione, "I'll see you Monday morning, bright and early."
She stared at his retreating figure for a moment, her mouth open, and Adrian turned to her and said, "Merlin's sakes, Miss Granger, do you know what you've gotten yourself into? He's a royal pain to work for, and he's been dissatisfied with the last five people I've hired for this job. You are certainly qualified for it, but I don't think I could do that to you."
As the lift started back down, Hermione said, "What does the job entail?"
"Bringing new developments, new ideals, to the company, finding new resources and investments. A bit of PR work. The job title is Director of Marketing and Development, and I guess you start Monday, but please don't hex me if you end up wanting to hex him." He gave her a small smile, shook her hand, and added, "Be here Monday morning. Report to my office at 8:00 am"
She did as requested, and on Monday morning, she reported to her new job. She went through the first two days and still didn't really know what her job was. She mostly toiled around in her office, found out that her assistant was married with two kids, that she had a staff of five under her, and she learned how to make coffee. On the third day, she was called to a meeting in Draco's office. Her assistant, her assistant director, and her all walked into the meeting just as Draco was yelling and screaming that no one understood what he wanted.
Hermione quickly sat down in the chair furthest from him, when he snapped his fingers, without even looking at her, and pointed to a chair next to him. She stayed where she was. She wasn't a dog, after all. Perhaps he wasn't even indicating that she should sit there. Maybe he just had a nervous tick, or dare she think, Tourette syndrome.
She opened her folder, took out a legal pad, clicked her Muggle pen once, and looked up as all eyes were on her. Everyone looked shocked that she hadn't moved when 'snapped at'. She took a deep breath and when Draco said, "Miss Granger, would you mind sitting next to me," she heard actual 'gasps' from others in the room. Apparently, they were all used to being 'snapped at' and a cordial request, such as the one he just issued to her, was a rarity and a remarkable sight.
She smiled sweetly and stood up from the chair she had sat, and moved to the one next to him. He didn't talk to her for the rest of the meeting, so she wasn't sure why she had to sit next to him. To be truthful, she didn't contribute much to the meeting either, although she took extensive notes. She wrote down almost everything anyone said. She made comments on the sides of the paper about some of them, crossed out some others, and underlined a few she liked.
At the end of the meeting, Draco leaned back in his chair, put one hand to his brow to rub it in frustration, and said, "You're all useless. Get out." Hermione put her legal pad in her folder and folded it up tight. She started to move her chair away from the table when he slammed a hand down on top of the folder. She looked up at him shocked. He said, "You stay."
She wanted to tell him to say please, but since he really was her boss now, she assumed it wasn't such an unnatural request. She did cock an eyebrow when he took her folder, opened it, and began to read everything she had written.
She waited while he read, nervous, because she knew somewhere on one of the pages she wrote, "Malfoy is going to die of a heart attack by age thirty, if he doesn't calm down, and if he does undeniably, have a heart." She could only hope that her little ramblings would be lost on the many pages of notes, or perhaps he would have trouble reading her writing, although she had excellent penmanship.
She swallowed hard and leaned back in her chair. She moved the chair back in toward the table, and her knee accidentally touched his. He looked up briefly from his reading. She moved her knee away quickly. He resumed his reading. She put her hand on the table and traced the faux wood pattern with her index finger. The next thing he did stunned her even more. He placed his left hand over her right one, to keep it still, without even looking up from her notes. She thought he would remove it as quickly as he placed it there, but to her surprise, he left it there while he read.
She felt a blush crawl up her skin from her neck to her hairline. She felt warm and flushed. She looked at his hand as it rested on hers. She thought about removing her hand out from under his, and as if sensing her thoughts, (or perhaps because she tried to move it an infinitesimally small amount) he pushed her hand down harder with his, and then to her mortification and abash, he clasped it in his.
So there they sat, holding hands, as he turned the pages of her legal pad with his free hand. He frowned, he chuckled, and he snorted a couple of times. Once he said, "That was a stupid point, wasn't it?" And another time he stated, "I'm not likely to have a heart attack until at least 45." When he was done reading, he gave her hand a squeeze, and she didn't know what that meant. He released her hand and she quickly put it on her lap.
He looked at her and he said, "What shall I do, Granger? I have a bunch of idiots working for me. I want something new and exciting. I'm tired of the same old projects and the same old ideals. Enlighten me with your thoughts."
She reached for her folder, but he pulled it back and placed it on the other side of him. She said, "You just read my thoughts. I agree with you. If you want your company to go in a new direction, and you're tired of the same old, same old, then you need some fresh ideas and you need innovation, since it is your middle name," she added sarcastically, "but Malfoy, you won't even let your staff speak without fear of admonishment. The ones that do have the courage to speak tell you what they think you want to hear, or they simply agree with you. Those who might have a clue, are either afraid to speak, or are shot down before they can. I thought that one bloke, Huntington, had a good idea, but you told him to shut up and go suck his thumb in the corner."
Draco smiled and chuckled. He wasn't used to people standing up to him. That was why he hired her. He knew that she would never back down from a fight, that she would set him to rights and that no matter what, she would always tell him the truth, even if he didn't want to hear it.
"How do you know these things, Granger?" he asked.
"Because I recently took stock of my own life. I was tired of the same old, same old, too, and most of all I was bored. I went about changing the things I didn't like, so I think I'm a bit of an expert on these types of things now," she admitted.
He leaned forward and for some reason, she leaned forward as well, as if they were about to share a secret. Perhaps they were. "Tell me something else, Granger," he said in hushed tones.
"What?" she asked, almost breathlessly.
He almost asked, "Tell me where you've been all my life," but decided that sounded like a bad pick up line, so he said, "Tell me what you really think."
Then she smiled. Then he knew. He might just have found the perfect person for not only the job, but for him, too. To think, if she hadn't been on the lifts that day, and if he hadn't stepped on her toe, he may not have found her. He scooted his chair out and said, "Walk with me, Granger."
They both walked out of the conference room and he said, "I have plans to visit a resort this weekend that I'm thinking of buying. Come with me."
She stopped walking. He turned to face her and she was so somber and solemn that he wondered what he had said wrong. He closed the space between them and said, "What's wrong?"
"What do you take me for, Malfoy?" she asked. "I'm your employee, and that means that I work for you and nothing more. I might have recently taken stock of my life, and I might have changed my hair and my car, and my job, but my value system is the same." She didn't sound angry as she said these things. Rather, he thought she almost sounded hurt, and he was slightly, ever so slightly, alarmed that he had caused her distress, and he wasn't sure why. He had never given other people's feelings consideration before. Why now?
He was quiet for a moment and then he laughed, loud, long and hard, and she looked around to make sure no one heard, but almost everyone had already gone for the day.
He had meant it the way she thought, but he quickly had to turn things around. "Oh, Granger, you are a funny, funny woman!" He bent at his waist and laughed more. She actually stomped her foot, which made him laugh harder. "I wasn't propositioning you! I merely wanted you to check out the investment with me. Oh, if for no other reason, I'm glad I hired you for a good laugh." There…that should cover his temporary insanity, and appease her hurt feelings.
She bit her lip and looked at the ground, beyond embarrassed. He said, "So, this weekend, are you free for a work related trip?"
"This weekend?" she asked, hesitantly.
"Well, that's what I said, so that's what I meant," he said flatly.
"I kind of have a thing this weekend," she explained.
"A thing?" he asked, raising both brows. "Explain to me what 'a thing' is, Granger."
"I'm going away. A three day weekend, which reminds me, I know I just started, but I need Monday off work," she said.
He stared at her with his usual aplomb and said, "Excuse me?"
"I should have told you before, but I thought you wouldn't give me the job if I had, but I need Monday off work," she said.
"Tell me why, first," he said.
She couldn't. She just couldn't. How could she tell him that she was meeting a man that she had never even met? How could she tell him that she was meeting a man to go on a blind date that was arranged by Ginny Weasley? How could she tell him that the man was meeting her at a seaside resort for dinner, and the only way she was even going to recognize him was by a white rose in his jacket's buttonhole? After the blind date on Friday night, she had made arrangements to spend the rest of the weekend by herself, because Sunday was her 30th birthday, and she was bound and determined to do something fun, exciting, and out of character for her one and only thirtieth birthday?
How could she tell Draco that along with her new leaf, new job, and new attitude, she was also planning to do something as unpredictable, and "Un-Hermionish" as all of that?
Therefore, she lied. Lying was new to her, too. She said, "I'm in a wedding."
"Oh," he said back. He stared at her for a moment, and then he decided that he didn't believe her. He said, "Where is this wedding?"
She didn't really have to lie about the place she decided, so she said, "Serpent Cove. It's an oceanfront resort."
He almost laughed again. Well, this was too perfect. That was where he was planning to go, too. He let a small smile escape his lips and then he said, "Well, have fun this weekend. Tell you what, why don't you take Friday off, too. You can get an early start. I'll see you Tuesday." He reached over and patted her arm. He only meant for it to be a small pat, but he left his hand there for a moment. Her skin was so warm. He felt so cold, sometimes. He gave her a small smile and said, "Have fun this weekend." He knew he was planning to have fun. He would run into her at this wedding, and who knew what might happen?
He turned around and walked toward his office. She stayed frozen on the spot, and wondered what had just occurred? She looked at her arm, where his hand had just been, and she realized that she found Draco Malfoy slightly appealing, and gee, that was something new for Hermione Granger, too.
*Thanks to grumpy grizzly for the title of this fic!