Well, story number nine! I never intended to write so many but I can't stop! I suppose I'll run out of ideas at some point but until then here we go again...
Hermione took another book from the shelf in her office and started to flick through it. She knew she had seen the reference she needed somewhere but she couldn't find it and it was annoying her. There was a loud knock at her door that made her even more annoyed and she grumpily called her unexpected visitor to come in.
"Hey Hermione," Harry said stepping in and closing the door behind him. "What's the matter?"
She looked up at him and shook her head. "You know me too well! How do you know that something is the matter?"
"You're lips are all thin," Harry flashed his handsome smile at her. "And you have at least one hair out of place." He touched her perfectly styled hair and pretended to push a strand back down. Hermione slapped his hand away and tried not to smile at him. Since leaving school and taking this career path that had lead her to work in the Magical Law Enforcement Dept she had always had to look smart as part of her job. It was really important that she looked professional and, as was Hermione's meticulous way, she had perfected her appearance. She arrived every morning looking the perfect business woman, not a hair out of place, make-up perfectly applied and expensive clothing.
It gave her confidence to look good and her dedication to her appearance had paid off because she was never short of male admirers. Hermione had a long list of dates behind her but only one serious relationship and that was with Ron. She applied the same principles to her suitors as she did her appearance and career which meant that very few could live up to her exacting standards.
"One day I'll shock you and roll into work without putting any effort into my appearance," Hermione answered him. "You'll soon be hauling me over the coals about not looking professional and businesslike!"
"No I won't because you're gorgeous with or without make-up," Harry complimented her with a grin and she rolled her eyes at him.
"What do you want, Potter?"
"Who says I want anything?"
"You do though, don't you?"
"Actually yes," Harry grinned and then he bit his lip. "You're not going to like it, I'm afraid."
Hermione groaned. "I'm really struggling with this defence for Walter Trallman, I can do without another problem."
"I know but I'm afraid you're the only one I can ask to do this," Harry answered. Hermione shut the large book dejectedly and leant back in her chair.
"Go on - let's hear it."
Harry shook his head. "No - not here. I was going to offer to take you out for lunch."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Am I to presume this isn't because you want my company?"
"Well, I do want your company, of course but it is something I'd rather not discuss at the Ministry." Harry leant forward. "1pm?"
"Okay but I'm puzzled why we can't talk here? We discuss everything else here, including personal stuff."
"I know. This is different. So 1pm?" Harry repeated his question and Hermione nodded.
"So come on then, Harry - you've got me all puzzled. What is this all about?" Hermione took a bite of her sandwich.
Harry twisted his lips. "It's complicated."
"I need you to defend a client...well not a client really...more of a..." Harry sighed. "It's hard to explain."
"Uh-oh! I dislike the sound of this already," Hermione said.
"Over the last few months, we have been receiving some interesting information...not through the usual channels if you know what I mean?"
Hermione nodded, Harry was telling her they had an unofficial informant who was feeding them information. "Okay - I'm with you so far."
"Anyway, the person supplying this information - let's call him our friend - could be exposed because of a business transaction that wasn't completely above board."
"Aren't we supposed to enforce the law rather than defend people who break it?" Hermione asked but she was half joking because what Harry was telling her wasn't exactly unusual.
"I really don't need you to be in one of your pedantic moods, Hermione."
"Sorry - go on."
"So, because this friend of ours," Harry looked around as if the entire cafe might be listening and then lowered his voice, "could be in real danger unless we stop the business transaction being taken to prosecution, we are offering him our help. We need the information he's providing so we can't afford to let him put himself in danger and we owe him for all the information he's risked sending us."
"I get it but why me?"
"Because this has to be done completely off the record. There won't be any backup as the Ministry cannot be seen to be involved in anyway. It would be too big a risk for the Ministry and for our friend. We need it to be an arrangement between our friend and a Ministry employee, working alone. No paperwork, no notes, no meetings in public or at the office."
"Yes but why me?" Hermione repeated, leaning forward.
"I'm abusing our friendship," Harry said with a sheepish grin. "I can't exactly ask any other member of staff to go off on their own like this plus you're actually the best person for the job. You're a great lawyer but you're also used to dangerous situations."
"How convenient!" Hermione said, dryly. "The dangerous situations were a long time ago, Harry."
"You've also been picked because of who the contact is."
"What do you mean?"
"You know him," Harry said, mysteriously. "We both know him."
Hermione, at last, showed some interest. She sat forward in her chair. "Someone from school?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. We'll reduce your workload, of course but you'll have to keep up the pretence of your normal work."
"Great." Hermione's voice was laced with sarcasm.
Harry leant towards her. "This is important, Hermione and very risky. I hope you know that it's a compliment that you've been chosen."
"I know," Hermione sighed. "It's just that I'm sort of enjoying the quiet life to be honest."
"Will you do it?"
"Who's our friend? Anyone we've been friends with before?" Hermione asked. Harry knew what she meant because they'd had to deal with informants before and some on a regular basis.
"No. This one's not off the usual list - he's been kept top secret. Head of Departments only."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Ooh! Now I'm intrigued - who could that be from school? How is he coming by the information?"
Harry shook his head. "He's in a very lucky position. He has access to many important wizards through his business."
"Come on then! You have to tell me his name! You can't expect me to agree without that piece of information."
"Yeh..." Harry hesitated and sat back a little. "This is the bit that you're going to dislike the most."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him because he'd given her a huge clue by the way he was acting. "No, Harry! Please tell me it's not who I think it might be?"
Harry winced. "Mmm...well who do you think it might be?"
"A businessman who has lots of influential and slightly suspect friends and someone I don't like very much?" Hermione shook her head. "If it's him then I'm not doing it."
"It's him," Harry confirmed.
"No, Harry! How could you even think about asking me? I wouldn't defend him if he grew angel wings and flew!" Hermione put her drink down forcefully.
"He's been helping us, Hermione."
"I don't care! If he has been helping you it will only be to line his own pockets somehow!" Hermione said, totally unfairly because she had absolutely no foundation for her accusation.
"No, he isn't. Actually he's putting his life at risk informing us. These people we have our eyes on are nasty, Hermione. Really nasty." Harry took a deep breath. "I would really like it if you would do this - I think your participation may make or break it..."
"Stop that! I won't be forced into it by guilt!"
"Forget it's him and just think what an opportunity this is!" Harry pushed his cause again. "We're all grown-ups now, Hermione. His actions over the past months have more than restored my faith in him and I have more reason to hate him than anyone. Come on! You know all this!"
Hermione sighed and put her head to one side. "I can understand what you mean, Harry and I don't follow the gossip but he's still acting like he did at school from what I've seen in the papers."
"You can't use the papers to form an opinion of him!"
"He's demolished Mal..." Hermione stopped, realizing she maybe shouldn't actually name the building she was about to. She amended her words, "his old home and rebuilt this huge new mansion in its place!"
"I know, I've seen pictures of it too but I would have thought you would have approved. The old place was a monstrosity."
"Yes but to completely demolish it and re-build? That's just being egotistical. It's all about showing off. He's probably having orgies there every weekend with all those dopey, blonde bimbos he's pictured with!" Hermione stopped, realizing she was beginning to rant. "Sorry, I'm blabbing on."
"I could make you do it," Harry said, threatening to use his superior position.
Hermione laughed. "Ha! You could also accept my resignation."
They looked at each other with affection, despite their disagreement. Harry was Hermione's very best friend and they had a bond that would never fail. If he believed she should accept this task, then she would but she had to make some protest first, just to keep her dignity.
"I'll never accept your resignation," Harry said, affectionately.
"I'll never give it."
Harry grinned at her. "So, you'll do it then?"
Hermione nodded slowly. "Yes, I'll do it - but only because it's you asking."
Harry reached over and squeezed her hand, his expression saying everything he wanted to without a word. "This is the last time we'll speak of this, okay?" Hermione nodded again. "You'll be contacted directly by our friend when he thinks it's safe."
"Good luck, Hermione."
"I think I'll need it."
So...what do you think? Has it got your attention? I do try and make Hermione and Draco just slightly different each story as well as putting them in different circumstances. Hermione is going to be more confident than she usually is around Draco because I really think that this might have happened once she left school - she was confident of her own abilities at school. x
Just a little thank you to one of my lovely reviewers who sort of gave me this idea (the bit about Hermione being a lawyer) - you know who you are so big thanks - hope I do your idea justice! x