I do not own Harry Potter, nor it's characters. Everything belongs to the ever mysterious J K Rowling and Warner Brothers. I do not wish to gain any material benefit from this fiction, never did, never will.
This story was inspired slightly by a Turkish drama, Binbir Gece.
Warning! This story contains dark themes. If you expect something light and fun, you'd be better of reading something else. (Like Malfoy- The Fool! Or Heartless Hermione?)
Episode I :
~ Desperate Eyes, Cold Eyes ~
Money. It was topic she hated to discuss. Frankly, she was awfully disgusted by the people, who no matter what the starting topic might be, always bought in the money issue.
'I have made hundreds of Galleons with that new business.'
'I have bought the most expensive broom. It's so much better than what that guy on Harpy Heads has.'
She liked to think that money talk was absolutely unworthy of her. Hermione Granger was an intellectual after all. She graduated with top marks. She read thousands of books in her life. On any topic given, she could add a well informed opinion.
Nevertheless, finances was something she was never interested in. Until now.
She was desperate. Staring blankly before her, she vowed to do anything it takes.
'I'm late.' - she stated in horror to herself.
Running through the intricate corridors, she felt as if she was trapped in a labyrinth. A mouse trained to find the cheese. This was the second time she was late this week. Luckily, it was Friday. She couldn't fail anymore this week. Unluckily, it was her first week of work.
There were several things she loved on this new job. The fact that she could use her magical abilities to their fullest. She was challenged everyday. The fact that she had access to research documents that were thought lost. The fact that she really felt, she could make a difference.
She turned a corner, and saw the Meeting Room door. Just a little more.
There were several things she hated about this job. How she needed the money, and had to stress on not getting fired. It seemed all about the money, nothing about actual intellectual work sometimes. The colleagues were way too envious for her taste.
She took a deep breath and opened the door, holding her head high.
'Miss Granger, you are late. Again.' - a voice full of venom greeted her, mockingly. 'You are no longer a little Golden Princess, there are this little things called... rules, and I fully expect you to condone to them.'
What she hated the most about her job was her boss. Not because he acted differently than any big corporation boss would. Not because he always pushed her to work harder, and nothing ever seemed to please him. Not because he hadn't spoken one nice word in her direction.
'Do have a seat, Miss.' - he exclaimed in a sickly sweet tone.
No. She hated her boss for one simple reason: - because he was Draco-fucking-Malfoy.
The truth was she had forgiven most of her enemies. War was tragical, but everyone deserved a second chance. A second chance like Snape. His second chance proved to be one of the pillars for the Light's victory.
However, she always felt she had a sort of mutual hatred pact with Malfoy. If asked she could confidently point at him as the first person she ever hated. Truly. Genuinely.
He was the first after all who made her feel unworthy of the Wizarding World. And all this with one simple word: Mudblood.
No one called her that for awhile. Five years passed since the war. The celebrations and her own glory time long in the past. She now had to embrace and tolerate the grotesque monster named reality.
And currently her reality consisted of being subordinated to the one person she loathed from the bottom of her heart. Every single action on his part felt like a sort of sick little power play. On many occasions she could identify victory gleaming in his eyes. Victory, coming from the sole fact that now, he was above her.
Now you might consider Hermione's situation unfortunate. But life goes on and there are things you have to accept.
After all, Malfoy was her boss. There was no need whatsoever – she considered – to wallow in self-pity. Even if she had every rational reason to do so.
'Miss Granger - I assume you have the project ready.' - he said coldly with a hint of malice under toning his voice. His eyes, reminded Hermione of an iceberg in a far away land, where heat is a mythical phenomena.
'Yes.' - she gave him an equally freezing stare. 'The project for the Magic Leak Research is finished.'
'Then would you be so kind' – he emphasized the last word with a smirk – 'to share it with us, too?'
Hermione considered there were all kinds of expressions one's face could show. She considered smirking as something that could be endearing. Like when the Weasley twins smirked, while taunting someone. A Malfoy smirk however, was something that could make your insides boil with icy hatred. Luckily, she prided herself with being a professional when it came to this job.
Rising calmly from her seat, she proceeded to walk to the front of the room. She could feel several eyes' piercing gaze. Strangely, as much as she was used to being given attention, she couldn't rid herself from a certain unease. Not strange at all considering, she knew this room was filled with certain hyenas, who would consider her failure the highlight of the century.
'Ladies and gentlemen.' - she allowed herself a small smile, considering what she was going to say next. - 'I present to you the winning project for the National Magical Leak Research trend.'
Several mouths were agape. She did it. Despite her rocky beginnings, in one week she managed to create a winning project to a competition where, top Enchanter's in the country failed. Loud clapping broke out in the room.
OK, – she pondered – maybe she was working on this, long before she had any idea she would work here. Long before the Ministry of Magic even thought about announcing the trend. Nevertheless, her work was something that highlighted her professional career. Something that highlighted, and gave meaning to her life so far.
'I reckon this means,' – Malfoy drawled out in a bored tone – 'That our company will develop the the construction and enchantment to the Magical Leak issue. Congratulations.' His voice was dry and nonchalant. Indifference was making a dull appearance on his face.
Hermione was fuming inside. In a few days, she managed to compose a project so professionally, in such a brilliant manner, that she outrun the top Enchanters in the world, who had months to prepare. Yet, Malfoy was acting as if she just took out the trash.
She took a moment to observe him. He looked, as if he was a model to a Wizarding fashion show. From his fitly tailored coat, his dark gray button up shirt, to his ridiculous, black silken tie, everything about him screamed elegance and arrogance. She was reminded of Lucius Malfoy, at their first encounter. Malfoy Jr. was playing with a silver pen. His blonde eyelashes over shadowed the coldness in his stare.
At the rest of the meeting, Hermione proceeded to illustrate the plans for the project, conjuring glowing diagrams and holographic pictures.
It was a long and trying day, but it was far from over. She prepared herself to hurriedly exit the company building, when she almost collided with two strikingly imposing men. Malfoy and Nott. Her two bosses.
Well, Nott was not that much of a boss, and more of a lay about. At least, that was the impression he gave. He was vice president of Chanter Company. She often saw him strut around the place, a certain nonchalance and lightness in his behavior, accompanying a superficial interest in business.
On the other hand, there was Malfoy. As much as she disliked to admit it, he was a hard worker. The kind that arrives first, leaves last. The kind that knew what every worker did any day, anytime, anywhere. He had an iron grip over the company, and soon he became infamous in the business world as a cold, but insanely successful bastard.
'Miss Granger!' - Nott exclaimed enthusiastically. 'Our star Enchantress! I have to heartily congratulate you again.'
He turned to Malfoy, who was wearing a stony, unreadable expression on his face.
'We really did an excellent job hiring Ms. Granger. I cannot believe she won the competition, even though this is her trial period. This may be the best decision we made for awhile, aye, Draco?' Nott was grinning madly, and elbowing Malfoy lightly.
Draco nodded curtly, but a silent defiance colored his gray eyes. He glanced lazily at Hermione.
'Thank you. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go.'
As much as she liked chit-chat with her bosses, she had important matter to attend to. She prepared to exit, her hand grabbing the door handle, when Malfoy's words stopped her in her tracks.
'Hurry, Granger. Wouldn't want your boyfriend to wait for you. After all, you have no important work to do around here now.' - his glacial tone mocked her.
She gritted her teeth, silently closing the door behind her.
Apparating was not an easy job when one was wearing high-heels. Hermione made a mental note to wear more comfortable shoes, and clothes for that matter, as she was approaching the building. Her pencil skirt, and blue silky shirt may have been fashionable, but still she couldn't help, but curse the company's policy for formal attire.
'Ms. Granger!' - an elderly, chubby woman approached her with hurried steps. 'So good to see you! Healer Augustus would like to have a word with you urgently.'
For a moment, Hermione could feel her breathing stopper. She looked wide-eyed at the shorter woman before her, with her lips silently parted.
'Did...' - her voice quivered - 'Did... something happen to my mother?'
'No!' - the women exclaimed quickly. 'She is still in the same condition. Not worse.' - the woman looked down, and continued in a whisper. 'Not better.'
'May I see her, Judith?' - she asked hopefully.
'Certainly. In fact, I think Healer Augustus is currently attending her.'
She could find her way in the corridors of St. Mungo even in absolute darkness. In the past months, she has come to know every crook of this place. Often pacing in front of her mother's room, she had nothing better to do, than to concentrate on the things that surrounded her.
She couldn't help, but flinch at the 'Magical Bugs And Diseases' sign, as she passed it. Wizards sure had a humorous way of coping, even with negative things. Pinching the bridge of her nose for a moment, she entered the saloon.
'Hermione, darling.' - a hoarse voice called for her faintly.
'Mum.' - she replied softly, approaching her bed carefully. 'How are you?'
'I...' – her voice cracked ever so slightly - 'am well, Hermione. Do not worry so much!'
Hermione frowned and looked at the pale, skinny figure of her mother. An yellow scarf was covering her bald head, the colour seemingly looking a bit healthier, than the colour of her skin. Jane Granger smiled at her daughter, and Hermione couldn't help but wince. Her teeth were brown, as if they were rotten, and her gums seemed to barely hold said teeth in place. She almost found it ridiculous that she was bothered by it, but her mother formerly being a dentist and her current state seemed to be in a grotesque contrast.
'Seriously, sweetie, you should worry more about finding a nice young man. I want bushy-haired, witty grand children.'
A moment of silence followed. As if - everyone in the room realized, that her seeing bushy-haired kids might never happen.
She almost failed to notice the Healer. 'I'd like to have a word with you, if you please.'
'I'll be back soon, Mum.' - she leaned over her and kissed her forehead.
'Sure, darling. And then, you can tell me about the hotties at your new work.'
Hermione couldn't help, but snort at that. Hot men was the last thing on her mind, when she thought about work. Perhaps the closest to hotness would be, thinking about a hot iron and how to wipe of Malfoy's smirk with it.
She followed Augustus Pye silently to his office. Another place she knew all too well: a place of tears, and desperate words. He watched the dark-haired man walk before her. She imagined him being quite popular along the nurses. Frankly, she was surprised her mother hasn't tried to match them up. Her love life seemed to be the main interest of her mother's waking hours. Which she never questioned, as she was damn glad she still breathed.
'Hermione. I have excellent news for you.' He said, his green eyes lighting up brightly.
Hermione's heart started to beat in anxiety. The constant ticking of a clock, was contrasting her rapid beats.
'Healers in Iceland may have found a potion to cure your mother's condition.'
She vaguely noticed the room turning grayer, and this man in front of her, with his lime green clothes and peculiar shoes being the only colorful spot.
'However,' - he paused, uncertainty entering his tone, 'I have to warn you. It is very expensive. It was based on Nicholas Flamel's Alchemy notes, and I have never seen a potion that required liquid gold to brew... and not just one batch, one thousand batches. Also, they had to find several Acromantula for their venom, let's just say it was not...'
'Elric!' - Hermione exclaimed, half amused, half annoyed. 'Money, is not an issue. I just want her to live. To get better.'
She looked at him, with pleading in her eyes. Elric McGraven was a honest man. Kind and compassionate, which was quite rare in her experience with Healers.
'I know.' - he nodded in understanding.
'When and how much, Elric?' - as much as she admired the guy's enthusiasm, she wanted to get straight to the point.
'One week. And...' - he glanced warily at her – '300.'
'300 Galleons is a child's allowance.' - she said jokingly, thinking his earlier worries were quite foolish.
'300 thousand, Hermione.'
Well, she certainly didn't expect that. With shaky hands, she tried to smooth her skirt. There was no use of doing a mental calculation of her account in Gringotts. She didn't even have the 10 % of the sum.
Closing her eyes for a moment, various pictures came to her. Questions and statements. Her mind buzzed, with all the opportunities she was offered money for her genius and she refused.
'300.000?' - the Healer nodded, but she couldn't see it, as her eyes stayed closed. She let out a deep breath, and looked at him with a determined glint.
'Never believe a woman, for they are all lies. Beyond their beauty, a hungry and desperate beast is hiding.' - he fixed his stormy eyes on the half-empty glass of Fire Whiskey.
'Draco, mate. Cheer up. Not all women are evil, you know.' - Nott exclaimed in a joke, trying to lighten his friend's awkward mood.
'No, Theo. There is not one single woman alive, who deserves praise for her character. They are all foolish creatures, yet we are the bigger fools, for believing they could love us for anything other than money or power.' - he traced his index finger along the rim of his glass.
'Look, at those women...' – he continued, nodding in the direction of a group of girls sitting, not far away from them in the bar. They seemed to bat their eyelashes in an almost violent manner, towards them.
'They know perfectly well who we are, and I suspect they even know the balance of our Gringotts account.'
'Look, mate...' - he said amused at his friends dramatic behavior – 'I agree that some women are less than respectful,' - he glanced at the group of women, and winked in their direction, the girls swooned in unison, and Malfoy snorted – 'but there are some pretty decent women out there. Look, at the Granger girl. Never saw such passion for saving the world. You can't disagree, buddy.'
Malfoy winced, but stayed silent for awhile. Granger and her damn perfect behavior. Right. He forgot about Miss Sainthood.
'That is yet to be seen, Nott.' - he said rubbing his temples, and feeling an upcoming hangover.
Two years after the Last Battle her father died. It was a car accident. Unfortunate. And although she survived one of the toughest wars in recent history, she fell in an unprecedented depression and grief. Days, weeks, months were spent in her mother's embrace, crying, shouting and rocking silently.
Four years after the Last Battle a colossal tragedy happened in the Wizarding World. Dementors, who were thought to be under absolute and strict control escaped. As expected they haven't had a long and free life, as the Aurors cornered them and threatened to annihilate them. This proved to be a fatal error. As their last act of evil, they released an incredibly amount of unknown Dark Magic. This Magic proved to be fatal to them. And to thousands in 100 mile radius.
It was the Magical World's very own nuclear explosion. She was there, as were the greatest Wizards and Witches. With all of their combined effort, they could barely restrict the huge wave of evil. The area was still under quarantine. This was the greatest problem in their modern days. This was commonly known as the Magical Leak.
She barely had time to be thankful that she survived. Because...
Then the diseases came. It picked randomly: Squibs, Elves, Wizards, Goblins, Muggles, Trolls, her mother. While they managed to stopper the wave, the damage was done. So many died, she became nauseous, whenever the Daily Prophet published statistics.
And still she had to be thankful to whatever deity there was up there. Her mother's disease had been dragged out, and while hundreds of people died from various kinds of the same illness, her mother had been one that survived. Albeit barely.
And she had to make damn sure, she will continue to live.
Friday was tomorrow. She has had six days to gather whatever loans she could. She called on absolutely everyone. Harry and Ginny had been most helpful, providing her with 50.000 Galleons. She knew for sure, that now Harry's Gringotts account was empty, as Ron's had been. Ron, the sweetheart, he had given her his savings of 10.000 Galleons, that he earned with hard-work after the War. She put a loan on her parents house grudgingly, obtaining 5.000 Galleons. 20.000 Galleons gathered from various Order members.15.000 from Gringotts.
The unfortunate thing was that she just started out at her new workplace. No one was willing to guarantee that much for her. Not even being a hero could help that.
200.000 remaining. 200.000 in one day. She only one option left, and she left it purposefully as the last resort. A loan from the company. A loan from … Malfoy.
While she knew for sure that 200.000 Galleons wasn't so bloody much for Malfoy. However, this fact hasn't stopped her from spending hell knows how many nights thinking of the upcoming humiliation she was going to face. If only she knew...
'Hannah?' - she turned to her blonde coworker – 'Is Malfoy still in the building?'
'You mean Mr. Malfoy?' - she snapped at her.
'Mr. Malfoy. Yes.'- she spoke annoyed.
'Yes. He is in his office. Should I announce you?' - she said in a dull voice, not really caring.
'No' – she added nervously – 'It'll be alright.'
It'll be alright. - she kept repeating it in her head. A mantra that's meant to soothe, but was failing miserably.
She stared at the huge wooden door with intricate patterns. Almost in a trance-like state, she caught herself from looking dumbly ahead at the black carvings. Her hand was shaking violently on the handle, but she gathered her courage, and shielded herself with determination.
'Granger.' - he stated in a surprised, yet bored voice - 'What do you want?'
Whenever, there was just the two of them pleasantries and generic adult behavior seemed to fly out on the window.
Usually, she would have retorted something witty and stingy, but this was anything but an usual situation.
'Mr. Malfoy.' - she approached his desk slowly, every step seemed heavy. 'I have something to ask of you.'
'And what would that be, Miss Granger?' - his saccharine and sickly tone, alerted her that this was a dangerous man, indeed before her.
She breathed in the largest amount of air, she ever remembered she needed, and began speaking, while looking straight into his glacial eyes.
'I know, I haven't worked here for a long time. And I know, it will sound pretentious what I am going to ask you. And trust me, I wouldn't do this had I any other option.' - she paused shakily ' I need a loan.'
Malfoy raised an eyebrow, the corner of his mouth shooting up in a twitch.
'How much, Miss Granger?'
She looked at him. Her composure failing for a moment. Then the horrible image of her mother coughing up teeth appeared before her eyes.
Malfoy's eyes widened. A moment of silence impregnated the room. Then the cruelest sound, she had ever ear-witnessed in her life was to be heard. Malfoy broke out in a gleeful and mocking laughter.
'Two – he clutched his stomach – hundred – he looked at her, she could almost see tears of mirth in his eyes – thousand?"
She nodded numbly.
Malfoy seemed to regain his composure, seeing that she hadn't said this was all in jester. His face became hard. A muscle in his jaw was twitching.
'Even if you were working here for years, Granger, it would be terribly stupid for you to ask that insane amount. I think you should go to St. Mungo's because you have clearly lost your mind.'
He looked at her quivering form, and tilted his head.
'Do I even have to remind you that you are still in your trial period at the company?'
Hermione clenched her jaw, anger quickly rising from the pit of her stomach.
'No. You don't have to remind me anything. You have made your answer clear. Thank you for your attention.' - she said in a low voice. Barely containing her tears and frustrations she spun on her heel, and went for the door. Her hand was gripping the handle with spite.
'So no is your final answer?' - she whispered softly, almost inaudibly.
'I never said a clear no, have I?' - he continued mockingly.
She turned to him, hope softening her features.
'I will give you 200.000 Galleons. However, it will not be for free.' he added maliciously.
'200.000 Galleons - for one night spent with me, Granger.'
It would be nice to see your opinions on this.