A/N: I own nothing.
This is my first stab at a DMHG fanfiction. Hope I didn't fail utterly.
Unfortunate Event One:
The Bad Beginning
"As the graph indicates, the population of the Indian Ocean's ramora fish has declined sharply over the past ten years. Using our repopulation methods for the shrake as a model, we expect to increase the number of remora by sixty percent over the next decade. Now this next chart shows..."
Tick. Tock. Tick.
Hermione had never considered herself a very musical person, but the incessant noise of the cuckoo clock was inspiring. The rhythm of time's passage quickly retrieved her dominating thought, adapting it to its simple beat.
You're. Late. You're. Late.
If one was to believe the tiny chirps of the golden snidget that had popped out a few minutes ago from the clock, it was after seven o'clock. But knowing it was after seven and actually having the precise time were two different things. Given Hermione's exacting and obsessive nature, her current state was less than satisfactory. Unfortunately, she could not see the time. The clock was on the wall behind her.
But telling time was the least of her problems. Ever since she had joined the Ministry a few weeks back, her life had been nothing but stress, anxiety, and deadlines. And as of seven o'clock, time had run out on one of her most important assignments.
It was Hermione's turn to watch Teddy Tonks for the weekend, while his grandmother (and sole care-giver) Andromeda was out of town. The holiday coincided with the third anniversary of her husband's death and had been planned months in advance. Hermione had not counted on the mandatory meeting on the mating habits of magical salt-water fish, which had been announced last week. Nor had Hermione anticipated that Andromeda would be unable to find a baby-sitter to cover for that first night.
Because Andromeda had not found another sitter, the older woman was waiting for her to arrive. Given the circumstances surrounding this particular holiday, Hermione felt more guilty with each passing second. As she felt the time slipping away, Hermione sank lower and lower in her seat.
Try as she might, Hermione could not stay focused on the presentation. The boring subject matter partnered with the unusually large pimple growing between the eyebrows of the presenter made this usually easy task seem like a Herculean labor. And she was no Hercules.
Dropping her chin into her hand, she nearly groaned at the bump she felt forming on her skin. Really?! She was almost twenty years old. Youngest person in her department. Defender of the Wizarding Realm. Brightest Witch of the Modern Age. Surely that earned her a reprieve from pimples.
She traced her fingers over her skin once more, hoping she was only imagining the painful bump. Nope. She was definitely not Hercules. Demigods never had pimples.
Hermione glanced around the table, silently daring anyone to prolong the meeting. When no one raised their hands, she gathered her papers as quickly as possible and bolted from the room. The meeting had been on the seventh floor; her office was on the fourth. And the elevator was broken.
Navigating the nearly empty hallways and stairwells of the Ministry of Magic, she burst into her office, legs slightly burning and lungs gasping for air.
Opening her briefcase, she threw in her stack of papers and slammed the lid shut. She took off from her office, once again running, though this time to the nearest apparition point. Unfortunately this was located outside the building on the ground floor. And the elevators were still broken. Just as Hermione reached her goal, it occurred to her that she could have just flooed to Andromeda's. Too late now.
Finally at a place where she could apparate, she focused on the location just outside the gate to Andromeda's home.
Less than a second later, she was there.
There: where it was raining cats and dogs and she had no umbrella. There: where puddles were ankle-deep and muddy and covering her new pair of shoes. There: where she would not be able to change into her comfy, warm pajamas because she had left them in her office, along with everything else she had packed in her overnight bag.
Slamming the gate behind her with a less than satisfying 'bang,' Hermione rushed up the path, ignoring the loud squish of her toes in her shoes. After three minutes of pounding on the front door and continuing to get soaked, she finally gave up, setting her briefcase down. Ignoring the slight twinge in her gut, she pulled out her wand and muttered a quiet Alohomora. Much to her surprise, the door opened without a sound.
It shouldn't have been that easy. Not with all the wards Andromeda had in place.
This was not good.
Pushing the door open, Hermione walked into the front entrance. The entire house was cloaked in darkness, and she raised her wand, ready to strike should some burglar jump from the shadows. She was just about to step into the living room when a small creak arrested her movement.
Before she could turn around, the damage had been done.
Frozen by both the spell and fear, Hermione could only stand there, awaiting the next move from her attacker.
"Well, well, well. Look what the indiscriminate kneazle dragged in."
Whatever terror she had felt quickly morphed into anger.
The smug look on this face, not to mention his dry clothes, made her wish she could reach out and smack him. But she was powerless to do anything, couldn't even react as he used his wand to lift one of her limp, sodden curls into the air for inspection. As he looked down his nose at her, she thought how unjust it was that a complete jerk like Malfoy had such clear skin. He had probably never had a pimple in his life.
He took a step back, folding his arms across his chest as he looked her over. The familiar smirk curled at his lips, and she wondered what she had done to set it off. And then she stopped caring, because it was then that she realized she was wearing a white shirt, which, thanks to the rain, was completely soaked through.
Merciful Merlin, could this day possibly get any worse?
"And to think Pansy actually said you had gotten pretty."
Hermione's hands ached to connect with his face. Or throat. At this point, she wasn't too particular.
He was just about to take another step towards her when a small cry came from the second level of the house.
"Finite," Malfoy breathed, and then he was stalking up the staircase, Hermione hot on his heels.
He stopped abruptly over Teddy's crib, and Hermione accidentally ran into him. Knocked off balance, his hands gripped the side of the crib, jolting the bed. If Teddy's wails were any indication, the child did not approve.
"Watch it, Granger," Malfoy hissed.
Hermione ignored him, peering down at her favorite toddler.
The boy was not even two years old and already he looked so much like his mother. With his dark eyes, dark hair, and a heart-shaped face, he was the spitting image of Tonks. He was even a metamorphmagus, just like her. Hermione couldn't help but smile, temporarily forgetting the unpleasantness hovering over her left shoulder.
The instant Teddy saw his visitors, he stopped crying. Standing up on chubby legs, he reached for Malfoy, all the while babbling and laughing.
Disbelieving what she was seeing, Hermione nudged Malfoy out of the way and scooped the child into her arms.
"How are you, my little Teddy Bear?" she cooed, trying to get him to stop wriggling and whining. But he was persistent. The boy kept reaching for Malfoy.
"You have got to be joking," she murmured under her breath.
"Give him here, Granger, before you make him cry again," Malfoy ordered. Without waiting for an answer, he took the young Lupin from Hermione. And just like that, the little storm cloud was all rainbows and sunshine.
Had Hermione entered some kind of alternate universe? Where the good were punished with soaking clothes and meetings on fish mating while arrogant gits like Draco Malfoy were adored by small children and had skin that looked as soft and smooth as cream?
Where was the justice?
Hermione felt a headache coming on. Or perhaps it was a cold. With her luck, she was well on her way to contracting pneumonia.
Hand clutched tightly around her wand, Hermione just barely managed to say, "What are you doing here, Malfoy?"
Draco frowned, obviously not liking the way Teddy was playing with his hair.
"I should ask the same of you. Last I checked, breaking and entering was still a crime."
"I'm here to baby-sit Teddy."
"Oh, didn't my aunt tell you? I'm your replacement."
Huh. That was unlike Andromeda. Normally, she kept Hermione up to date on any change of plans.
"She never told me that," Hermione said.
"Hmm. That's right. I was supposed to tell you. Sorry about that. You know how busy life can be. It must have just slipped my mind."
Hermione released a very undignified snort, inwardly smiling at the disgusted look it drew from the pale man before her. "Busy? Doing what exactly? Collecting interest on your family fortune? Waiting on your house elves to cater to your every whim?"
"Do I detect some sour grapes?"
"Hardly. I would never trade places with you, not for all the galleons in the world."
"I highly doubt that. Then again, I can't pretend to know what goes through that twisted head of yours."
"Twisted?! That's rich. If anyon—"
Hermione stopped. This was pointless. She was almost twenty years old. She was better than this; certainly better than Draco Malfoy.
He leaned in, his left eyebrow arching condescendingly. "Yes?"
Rather than fight Malfoy, she would just ignore him. From the comfort of her warm and very dry home. "Never mind. Teddy doesn't need two baby-sitters. I'll jus--"
"My thoughts exactly." Without warning, Malfoy pushed Teddy into her arms, causing her to drop her wand. Then he walked out the bedroom. Hermione followed him dumbly, only speaking when he stood directly in front of the fireplace. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Going home." He made a show of glancing at his watch, pushing the sleeve of his blazer up so he and anybody else who was looking could see how expensive the time piece was. Or how well-sculpted the muscles in his lower arm were. He really was an egomaniac. "I think by now the house elves have prepared a suitable dinner. I'd certainly hate to be in their shoes if it's not ready. I'll let you know how it goes."
"Don't be ridiculous. You aren't leaving."
After Malfoy had gathered some floo powder, he turned to face Hermione. "When have you ever known me to be ridiculous?'
"You said you would baby-sit Teddy tonight."
"And I did. For the forty-five minutes you were gone. I've more than lived up to my end of the bargain."
"Not by a long shot."
Malfoy tilted his head, brushing back the hair that fell in his eyes from the action. "If I didn't know better, I would think you didn't want to be here…Hot date tonight?"
"I don't have a date. It's j--"
"Of course you don't. What was I thinking?"
She would not roll her eyes.
Perhaps another tactic was called for. One that involved appealing to his massive ego. "Teddy seems to like you."
"Don't sound so surprised. If I had to choose between being held by me or you, I would choose me too."
Maybe an appeal to family?
"Don't you want to get to know your cousin?"
"What makes you think I don't already know him?"
"Please. I visit Andromeda at least three times a month, and I've never seen you."
"Did you honestly expect me to willingly show up when you were here? Who's being ridiculous now?"
"Look, Malfoy, I've had a very bad day. I'm cold, tired, and hungry, and I would appreciate it if you would be a human being for once and watch Teddy tonight. Like you promised Andromeda you would."
Malfoy shrugged his shoulders. "Can't help you. You're on your own."
"Sorry, Granger. I already have plans."
Since she was already out, Hermione decided she was done with playing nice.
"How could you possibly have plans? You told Andromeda you would babysit."
"Why do you think I didn't tell you I was coming?"
Hermione's mouth dropped open, and much to her disbelief and annoyance, her eyes were starting to water. Of all the arrogant, presumptuous, foul--
"Chin up, Granger." Then he placed his finger under her jaw and gently closed her open mouth. Hermione was too stunned to move.
"Maybe if you're lucky, I'll stop by tomorrow," he said.
She jerked her head back, unwilling to let the slimy low-life come in contact with her. "Get your bloody hands off me."
"Language, Hermione. I don't want you corrupting my cousin. Speaking of which, you might want to perform a drying spell. I can see through your top."
Then he tossed in the floo powder, stated 'Malfoy Manor,' and disappeared.
Almost twenty years old or not, Hermione stamped her foot. "Stupid Malfoy!"
Teddy, who ever since Malfoy had held him was behaving like an angel, just smiled at her, as if she were playing some game for his amusement.
"It's not funny, Teddy Bear. Your cousin is a bad man, a very bad man."
But Teddy just giggled all the more. And if that weren't horrific enough, the baby's dark brown hair morphed to an alarming shade of pale Malfoy yellow.
Looking down at the blond child, Hermione let out a sigh.
"Sweet Merlin, kill me now."
A/N: Any and all reviews are welcome. Thanks for reading.