Hi - how quickly I'm back! This story is different again from my others...hope you like it!
Hermione sat staring at the figures on the sheet in front of her, frowning. The shop was making a small profit, which was good, of course but it wasn't enough for her to be able to pay Joshua back and she really wanted to do that as soon as possible so she could cut all ties with him. Only two days ago, he'd been into the shop accompanied by his brand new fiancée, a pretty and charming girl called Antoinette (Hermione really wanted to dislike her but couldn't). He was more forceful than usual, impatient and demanding and Hermione knew it was all for Antoinette's benefit. He wanted more regular updates of the accounts. He'd even mentioned getting a formal agreement in place as to how Hermione could buy his share of the shop off him quickly because now he was getting married, he needed the money.
Why she had ever included him in the purchase of the business, Hermione didn't know but it had seemed right and natural at the time. The shop was in a great position in Diagon Alley and Hermione had known it would be snapped up quickly. She was no-where near being able to afford it on her own, even with her parent's generous help so she'd asked for investment. Harry and Ron who were both earning had been happy to become silent partners so she and Joshua only had to find half between them. Joshua had wanted to be involved, not just as silent partner and he'd helped her set the shop up and even served the customers when he had time.
Things had gone well for six months, the shop which Hermione had named The Mixing Pot, had thrived. Hermione applied for her Special Ingredients Dispensing License so that she could stock and sell some of the more expensive and unusual potion ingredients. On top of that, Hermione was always available to give advice on mixing potions and she was in demand. As time had gone on, Joshua's initial burst of interest had waned and his visits to the shop became few and far between. Hermione had to hire staff and she had three people working for her, including Ginny. Unfortunately, Joshua didn't handle it very well when Hermione was so busy and working long hours, therefore spending less and less time with him and it began to drive a wedge between them. So it wasn't exactly a surprise when he'd sat her down one day and told her it was over, personally and professionally. He'd been pleasant and understanding, agreeing that Hermione could buy his share of the business back from him as soon as she could afford it. That was nearly a year ago and he was now applying pressure.
Hermione sighed and closed the accounts book. Staring at it wasn't going to change the figures. She was going to have to come up with another plan. The door from the shop swung open and Ginny came rushing in.
"Hermione! Guess! You'll never guess!" Ginny's eyes were alight and she was clasping her hands together.
"Guess what?" Hermione asked dully, not really in the mood to get excited about very much.
"Guess who's just walked in and is right this minute scanning the shelves. You'll never guess!"
"Why don't you just tell me then?" Hermione knew she was being ungracious but Ginny didn't seem to notice, she was so caught up in her own enthusiasm. She leant close to Hermione and lowered her voice.
"Malfoy! Draco bloody Malfoy, that's who!"
Hermione's eyebrows shot up. This was indeed news because they hadn't seen him since they had all left school. She knew he'd set up his own company, selling potions and other magical items but it didn't interfere with Hermione's little shop. For a start it was on a much grander scale and everything was sold in bulk. Any potions Draco's company sold were fully mixed and sold in large containers. This was innovative, having never been done before on such a large scale. Apart from his business he seemed to have kept a very low profile, he was never in the headlines and Hermione had no idea about his personal life at all. Not that she wanted to know. So what was he doing in her little shop, apparently looking for something? Did he even know it was her shop? Probably not.
"Well go on then!" Ginny was waving her hand at Hermione, indicating the door. "Go and serve him."
"What? Why can't you serve him?" Hermione said, having no wish whatsoever to see her former enemy.
"Because you need to see him, that's why!" Ginny said.
"Why do I need to see him? I remember his perfectly well, thank you. Blonde, tall, pale with a arrogant sneer. I'm not in any hurry to refresh my memory."
"But he's changed! You need to see him...he's all grown up and..." Ginny stopped and bit her lip, making Hermione stare at her, wondering what the heck she was on about.
"And...?" Hermione prompted her.
"Gorgeous." Ginny said the word on a breath of air and grinned. Hermione's eyes opened wide in astonishment.
"Gorgeous? You've just described Draco Malfoy as gorgeous? Are you feeling okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine! I mean, lots of girls thought he was hot at school but this is different. He really is hot now! Tall and muscular and sort of oozing sexiness! Really, that's why you have to look," Ginny said and she grabbed Hermione's arm.
"No! I don't care what he looks like! I don't want to see him. He's your customer, you serve him." Hermione's voice was forceful and Ginny gave her a glare before retreating back through the door to the shop. Hermione sighed, at least Ginny hadn't slammed the door this time. She'd done an awful lot of storming around, snapping everyone's head off lately and Hermione was beginning to wonder what was causing it. Ginny had always had a temper but generally she was a happy go lucky girl so her recent, irratic behaviour was out of character.
Hermione heard a deep voice that she recognized and despite her insistence to Ginny that she had no interest in seeing or meeting the new and supposedly improved Mr Malfoy, she crept to the door and slid it open a fraction. She could hear perfectly now because Malfoy was standing right next to the door, his back to it. She could only see a tiny part of his hair and shoulders but she'd recognize the distinctive blonde locks anywhere.
"So you're Granger's skivvy now then, Weaslette?" The drawling voice reached Hermione's ears and she immediately felt her hackles rise, partly from habit and partly from the tone and words that where being used.
"I'm not her skivvy, I work here!" Ginny replied. "And my name isn't Weaslette!"
"Oh! Have you and Potter finally got hitched then? What do you see in him?" Malfoy said and Hermione clenched her fists.
"No, not yet, not that it's anything to do with you!" Ginny answered, her voice still calm, for now! "I meant that I have a perfectly respectable first name that I would like you to use, Malfoy!"
"Ginerva..." Malfoy said her name, as if he was testing a foreign word. "Is this the way you speak to all your customers?"
"You're not a customer yet, you haven't brought anything." Ginny pointed out and Hermione chuckled at her friend.
"I don't think you have what I want," Malfoy said, his tone implying a double meaning and Hermione heard Ginny sigh loudly.
"I think you should leave..."
"Does Granger know you're turning customers away? Maybe I should speak to the owner..."
"Is that why you're here? Just to torment, Hermione? Or do you actually want anything?" Ginny's voice was no longer calm.
"Don't you know the customer is always right?" Malfoy asked and Hermione could hear amusement in his voice. He was obviously finding all this funny and Hermione decided it was time to intervene. She'd left it too late though because she heard Ginny lower her voice.
"Get stuffed, get lost and go get a life, Malfoy!"
The next thing the door burst open and Hermione had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. Ginny's eyes were flaming and she glared at Hermione.
"I refuse to serve him! If he ever comes back, I'm telling you now, he's all yours!"
Hermione held her hands up. "Okay, okay! I'm sorry! Obviously it's only his looks that have improved because he was as obnoxious as ever," she paused and rubbed her chin. "I just hope he wasn't planning on placing a huge order and you've just kicked him out of the shop!"
Ginny shrugged, moodily. "Some things aren't worth any amount of money, Hermione and dealing with him is one of them."
There you go...some familiar themes as always but the set up is different. This one is going to be a bit more laid back than Legend which was heavy on plot. Hope you like it so far...let me know. Chapter 2 up very soon to get the story going. x