A/N: Hello readers! I decided this story needed to be rated M for the recurring theme of substance abuse and profanity.
Thanks to GreekGirl for betaing!
Hermione was down on her luck. The magical world had been going through tough times of late and she'd been let go from her job at the Ministry. The loss had left her scrounging to find some other way to support herself in a job market that was remarkably scarce.
Percy Weasley had come in person to give her the bad news instead of the memo that other people in her department had received as budget cuts came down from the top. He'd been very sweet about it, putting a hand on her shoulder in a gesture of comfort that had only made her want to edge away a little bit – Percy was an awkward person at the best of times and comforting obviously wasn't his forte. It was sweet of him to put in the effort though.
Her friends and parents had asked her on multiple occasions to just come to stay with them and sublet her flat for some extra income while she hunted for a new job, but that seemed too close to accepting charity to Hermione, and she was too proud to do something like that. Maybe if her situation worsened, but she was hoping it wouldn't come to that. Hermione Granger was nothing if not self-sufficient.
She knew her downward spiral was complete when she found herself standing outside of the Malfoy Industries building dressed for a job interview.
She'd sent in her application the week before and received an enthusiastic response in a suspiciously short amount of time. If she hadn't been so desperate, she never would have even considered applying to a place where there was such a high chance that she'd end up having any contact with Malfoy.
She took a steadying breath before she pulled open the large glass and gold doors of the ostentatious building and entered. The inside was just as overdone as the exterior, with marble everything and huge pillars lining the walls leading all the way to the reception desk. It was everything she'd expect from a building run by a Malfoy.
Confidently, she walked up to the woman sitting at the desk and smiled. "I'm Hermione Granger; I have an appointment with Mrs. Woods," she said crisply.
The woman didn't even look away from the trashy romance novel she was reading, she merely waved her garish red nails towards the door to the lift just past her desk. "Fifth floor."
A little put off by the rude reception, Hermione made her way past the woman and into the lifts. She hadn't been worried before, but the grand scale of the building was starting to make her feel underdressed in her practical little heels and conservative knee-length skirt.
This notion only intensified when she stepped out of the lift and saw the woman waiting for her. She had her sleek black hair swept back from her face in a bejewelled comb and her short black dress had the clean lines that spoke of an expensive, designer brand. No one would ever use the word practical to describe the shoes adorning her pedicure sporting feet.
Hermione felt positively grungy in comparison and the assessing look the cool woman ran over her only made the entire situation even more uncomfortable. The disapproval was practically oozing from this other woman.
"Hello, I'm Hermione Granger here to see-"
"Me," the woman interrupted. She ran her eyes over the brunette one more time and tutted quietly. "I would have preferred someone more stylish, but you're going to have to do. Now, your duties are going to include-"
Hermione was confused. She was under the impression that she was there for an interview, not some kind of orientation accompanied by copious insults.
"Um, excuse me. Wasn't I here for an interview?"
Mrs. Woods smiled a feral smile that was all teeth. "If you can get to the end of the day without bursting into tears or hexing someone, then you're hired."
It seemed they were encouraging as well as polite at Malfoy Industries. Hermione didn't know why she was surprised that the people working there weren't the most pleasant employees in the world – after all, look who they worked for.
They stopped in front of a dark wooden door with an engraved golden plaque proclaiming it to be the office of 'Draco Malfoy, CEO'. Hermione snapped her suddenly panic stricken eyes to the woman beside her.
"The job description never said anything about working directly with any of the Malfoys, I assumed I'd be taking messages and making copies of things, not have any contact with the CEO!"
"Well, if we told applicants what the job really entailed, then we would never get anyone showing up for interviews. And we can't have that; if no one shows up, then I have to do the job, and there's no way in hell I'm doing that."
Hermione was sure there had to be a law dealing with lying about the duties for a job just to get applicants, but as long as the salary portion was correct, she'd just have to deal with it. "What exactly is it that I'll actually be doing?" she asked, her voice laden with dread. She didn't appreciate being misled, but, once again, it was Malfoy's company, so what did she expect?
"Essentially, your job is going to be keeping our beloved CEO in line." The single sentence was filled with more sarcasm than Hermione had ever heard a person squeeze into one phrase. "You're a war hero, this should be a walk in the park compared to bringing down the Dark Lord."
It didn't escape Hermione's notice that the woman said 'Dark Lord' instead of 'Voldemort'.
That said, the woman opened the door and shoved Hermione inside before she could voice her objections. What did she mean 'keep him in line'? As far as the news had been reporting, Draco Malfoy had been nothing but law abiding and professional since the end of the war.
As soon as her eyes landed on the figure behind the expensive desk, Hermione knew that Malfoy's public image was only because whoever had been doing the job before her had been good at their job. The suit he was wearing was appropriate enough for work, but there was no shirt underneath the jacket, and Hermione could see that he wasn't wearing socks with his expensive loafers. His head had been resting on his desk, but when he heard the door click shut he lifted it, looking as if the small gesture took immense effort.
In the same way as Mrs. Woods had, Malfoy ran his eyes over her from foot to hair with a scowl on his face.
"I told her big breasts," he muttered irritably before putting his head back down on the desk, looking entirely uninterested.
Hermione mentally added sexual harassment to the list of things he had going against him.
With a wistful glance at the door, she reminded herself why she was there. She needed the money desperately, and this was one of the best paying jobs she could find – one of the only job's she'd been able to find. If she wanted to keep her apartment, she was going to have to suck it up and become the Devil's secretary – or whatever her official job title was.
"And I wasn't told babysitting a 25 year old toddler was in my job description," she snapped back at him. The size of her breasts had absolutely nothing to do with her job performance and she wasn't going to let him make her feel bad about what she had.
If they were so desperate to hire people that they had to lie about what the job entailed, then she could get away with all kinds of things before they'd fire her. She hoped.
He didn't even raise his head from the desk. "I may have a humongous hangover at the moment, but that doesn't mean you can mouth off to me on your very first day."
Hands planted firmly on her hips, Hermione dredged up the voice she used to use on Ron when he was at his most obstinate and idiotic. "I'll treat you respectfully when you've done something to earn my respect. Until then, I'm going to speak to you like the child I've already stated you are."
"You're officially forbidden to use that swotty tone with me again, I'm having Hogwarts flashbacks to this completely unbearable girl who used to sound just like-"
Abruptly, he cut off and raised his head just enough to look at her with one bloodshot eye. That eye took in her form once again and came to rest on her still slightly bushy hair before widening. "Bloody hell, this just isn't my day," he said in a depressed tone.
"Listen Malfoy-" she started, only to be interrupted when he raised his head completely from the desk, looking more alert than he had since she'd stumbled into his office.
"No, you listen Granger. You work for me, and as my employee, you will treat me with respect if you want to get your pay check. Now, I have a meeting in an hour. You're to bring me a Pepper Up potion and find me a shirt."
She liked him better when he was too desolate to deal with her. That one glimpse of the boss he could be, both made her dread what she'd have to deal with after the Pepper Up potion, but it gave her slightly more faith in him as an employer.
Hermione glared fiercely, but knew she didn`t really have any choice other than to do what the git asked.
Mrs. Woods was waiting for her outside Malfoy's door. "No tears, I'm impressed," the woman said, sounding slightly disappointed. "Here's your company card to get whatever he's ordered, just show it to any shopkeeper and they'll know to bill it to the company account."
Hermione accepted the small piece of stiffened parchment and headed out of the building. She didn't even know the prat's size, how was she supposed to get him clothes?
What she needed to do was find the most expensive tailor's in the area. Chances were, that was where Malfoy usually shopped and the tailor would know his size – hopefully. Otherwise, she was just going to go to the cheapest shop she could find and get him something with a Hawaiian print.
By the time Hermione got back to Malfoy's office, she only had ten minutes to spare before he needed to get to his meeting. She was frazzled and her cheeks were probably bright red from the exertion of running in order to arrive before his meeting.
"You're late," was the first thing out of his mouth upon seeing her.
Hermione just rolled her eyes and thrust the shirt on top of the pile of them towards him. She'd put several of them on the company's card in case a similar incident happened in the future – Mrs. Woods' little barbs about the blond prat led her to believe that he frequently showed up for work in less than appropriate condition.
"I'm not late; you still have a few minutes before your meeting."
She couldn't help but notice his strong back and chest when he took off his jacket without a single care about her presence still in the room. Had she not noticed the Dark Mark marring his left arm and gone cold, Hermione may have done some completely inappropriate ogling of her surprisingly fit boss.
He finished buttoning up his shirt and held his hand out for the potion that would banish most of his hangover symptoms.
Hermione was careful not to let her skin come into contact with his when she gave him the small bottle. She didn't want his snaky skin to come into contact with hers; there would probably be some kind of Slytherin contamination if it did.
"Straighten out my office or something while I'm gone," he called over his shoulder as he walked out the door, putting his jacket on as he went.
"I headed an entire department at the Ministry and here I am reduced to janitorial staff," she grumbled to herself. At first glance, the office looked relatively tidy, but that facade only held until she glanced under his desk.
There were wads of paper and what looked like half of a sandwich wadded under there, along with his briefcase. Intrigued, she stuck her head in the space where the chair was meant to pull up to the desk and took a closer look at the briefcase.
It was propped open, so she had no trouble seeing its contents. There was a large bottle of Firewhiskey – three quarters empty, a pair of handcuffs, a pineapple, and a bra that was obviously made for breasts quite a bit larger than Hermione's. Not a single paper or file in the while mess of it. Malfoy obviously didn't believe in bringing his work home with him, but had no problem letting his partying effect his work the next day.
She closed the briefcase with disgust, swept the papers and sandwich into the rubbish bin, and looked around the office for something else out of place. Everything seemed to be in order. Cleaning wasn't part of her job description, and Hermione had no intention of making herself look busy while she waited for Malfoy to come back from his meeting.
She slipped out of his office and went looking for Mrs. Woods. The woman was nowhere to be found, but she did come across the boardroom where Malfoy was giving a presentation of some sort. She could see inside the room through a large window that took up the majority of one wall.
He didn't seem hung-over anymore and he was addressing the people watching him with charisma and an easy charm that captured their attention and gave him an air of power. After witnessing the scene, she found it a little easier to understand how it was that he was CEO of a company –even if it was one owned by his family- while being so irresponsible.
Just as she was about to turn away and find something productive to do while she waited for his meeting to end, Malfoy's grey eyes caught sight of her standing there watching. She looked away quickly and turned around to walk back to his office as fast as she could without running. Something about the way he's looked at her had her spooked. He'd spent too much time schooling his expression into an unreadable mask over the years for her to be able to pinpoint what it was about the look that bothered her, but there was a flash of something in his eyes that had thrown her off kilter.
Not much later, Malfoy returned from his meeting. The former Slytherin breezed right past her without comment and headed to his desk. He continued to ignore her presence as he pulled out his briefcase and grabbed the bottle of Firewhiskey.
"Merlin, I hate meetings."
Hermione watched with a mixture of disbelief and disapproval as he poured himself a large glass and drank it down in a few gulps.
"Don't look at me in that disapproving, Granger way of yours," he said, setting the glass down with an audible clink. Where had he even found that glass? He must keep them in the desk drawers for just such an occasion.
"Look at you like you just pulled an entire presentation out of your arse and strutted around like you had all the answers while wearing what I'm assuming is the same clothes you wore yesterday and no socks?"
He scowled and poured himself another glass, filling it right up to the rim this time. "I'll have you know I didn't pull the entire thing out of my arse, a small portion of it was prepared as I walked to the conference room."
The golden Firewhiskey disappeared down his throat as if he was racing himself to see if he could finish it faster than the first.
"Malfoy, how do you manage to function?" she asked, frustrated with his monumental irresponsibility. Coming to work with a hangover was one thing, but to drink while at work like he was a fish in desperate need of liquid was something else entirely.
"Ample amounts of Firewhiskey and hiring boring swots like you to hang around and use your natural prude abilities to kill all the fun and get work done."
When he reached for the bottle of Firewhiskey to pour himself a third glass, Hermione stepped forward and snatched it out of his hand. "I can feel my 'prude abilities' kicking in right now. You shouldn't be drink during work hours –much less at work - particularly not so much so fast."
"What the hell brought you out of the Ministry cave you'd holed yourself up in? Why couldn't you have just stayed there instead of showing up here to be my own personal bringer of misery?" he demanded. His voice was almost angry, but the look in his eye as he stared at the bottle was very near plaintive.
"Ministry cutbacks, they disbanded my department," she snipped, not wanting to reveal the sad memory of having to leave her job to her personal, childhood bully.
"Well, now you're moving up from pathetic Ministry drone to the personal assistant to the CEO of Malfoy Incorporated."
She smiled a fake smile. "Lucky me."
The relaxed demeanour Malfoy had been wearing until that moment dropped into a serious, searching expression. "Yes Granger, lucky you. I imagine Mrs. Woods must be really desperate to hire someone considering the Ministry sent out a message that no one is to hire you."
He didn't watch her reaction, instead fishing around in his desk for something.
"What're you talking about, Malfoy?"
The blond ignored her for a moment while he continued to rifle through drawers. Hermione was just starting to get frustrated enough to ask him again when he smirked in triumph and pulled out another bottle of Firewhiskey.
"I'm saying that you've been applying for a lot of jobs but aren't having much luck actually getting one despite being goody-goody Hermione Granger, yes?" He poured himself another glass while she nodded. "Two weeks ago they sent out an order to the Human Resources department of several major employers in the area. It appears my underlings have hired you in spite of this, and I'm going to allow it because I've never been one to squander an opportunity to disobey the Ministry while staying within the law."
He stared down at his glass while he took a sip and when he looked back up at her again, gone was the relatively harmless alcoholic. Hermione could see in his eyes a dark threat that reminded her that the man before her had once been a Death Eater. "However, should whatever quarrel you have with the Ministry make it here to impact my company, not only will you be fired, I will make sure you'll never work in this country again. Understood?"
Hermione was not meek, but she could only nod when faced with so much intensity.
His mouth twisted into a razor slice of a smile that held no amusement. "Good. Now give me back my Firewhiskey and go home. You've passed your interview, I'll see you tomorrow."
She should have been pleased that she had a job, but all Hermione could seem to muster up was a vague relief that she wasn't going to lose her flat. Malfoy had obviously dismissed her for the day, so she turned and left the room with his Firewhiskey. The prat may have ordered her to give it back, but if he was ever going to get any work done, she was going to have to start keeping him from the alcohol and she didn't want to start off her job with him thinking she was a pushover.