Prequel: The Case of the New Partner

A/N: Hello readers! Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed!

As promised, here's the prequel chapter. There's nothing important to the plot in here, it's really more just a bit of fun. Anyway, this is unbetaed because I told you guys it would be out around New Years and it's 2013...

Also, for those of you who don't know, I've written an original story. If you guys are interested, you can read the first bit of chapter on in my profile page, or you could just read the whole chapter (and hopefully leave me a review to tell me about it) at www. fictionpress s /3081934 /1 / Plain-Jane (without the spaces).

I haven't forgotten about the sequel to this story and will try to have the first chapter up soon.


Fresh out of her seventh year at Hogwarts, Hermione had an enthusiasm that none of her coworkers seemed to share. In fact, she was disappointed to find that she was the only one who seemed interested in her job at all.

Since she was so new – and possibly because everyone hated paperwork – Hermione was stuck at her desk working on a stack of forms. She tried to look on the positive side; at least she was sort of helping magical creatures by working in the department. Most of the paperwork was regarding proposals on which areas should be considered protected territory, so she was making a difference it just wasn't how she had pictured herself making a difference.

Being new, she didn't yet have an office. Instead, Hermione was shoved into a desk sitting in a spare hallway nook. Their department wasn't overly large, so Hermione knew from walking around that there was another newbie somewhere, probably also crammed into an uncomfortable corner somewhere. She hadn't yet found the time to actually go find him and introduce herself. From what she had heard, the other new employee wasn't the most welcoming of people, so perhaps it was best that she waited until he had settled in a bit before she met him.

Hermione was just starting to think that she was never going to get to work with actual magical creatures at all when her boss came over to her desk carrying what looked like a miniature willow tree in a tiny pot.

"You, Granger," he grunted, the first thing Hermione had heard the man say to her since she'd started working in his department. "You're to keep this... creature happy until our department can ready the special habitat. It's the last of its kind, thought to be extinct until now, so you'll have a partner for this assignment to help with its needs."

She accepted the surprisingly heavy potted plant that was thrust into her arms and was left staring as her boss turned and walked away. Shouldn't he have at least assigned her a partner or something?

Hermione blinked a few times at the broad retreating back before turning to look at the small tree on her desk. As far as she could tell, it wasn't a creature at all, but a houseplant. However, she knew that looks could be deceiving, especially when dealing with magic, so she examined it closely.

It really was a perfect miniature of a normal willow. Even its tiny leaves were perfect miniatures of the real things.

"You're kind of extraordinary," she said quietly to the tree, just in case it was an English-speaking magical creature. Besides, compliments never hurt anything. She could see something so much smaller than normal trees having slight self esteem issues.

One of the tree's fronds reached out and wrapped around Hermione's finger, squeezing her for a moment. If felt like the little tree was trying to thank her for the compliment. Hermione would have hugged the adorable little thing if she didn't suspect that the tree wouldn't appreciate the gesture. However, now that she knew it understood what she was saying, she could at least comfort it with her words. She'd once read that normal plants grew better when they were spoken to on a regular basis, so it couldn't hurt to speak to this strange new plant-like creature.

"Don't worry," Hermione said quietly. "We're going to find you a good home."

"Perfect. I thought it was bad enough that they assigned me a know-it-all as a partner, and now you're insane as well. It figures; I should have known prolonged exposure to Weasley would diminish anyone's intelligence. That level of stupid just can't help rubbing off on everyone around him."

Frowning, Hermione's eyes slowly moved up until they were meeting a cold, grey stare.

"Malfoy? What in the world are you doing here?" Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the little tree fluffing up slightly in an effort to make itself larger in the face of a threat. She couldn't blame the small creature for viewing Malfoy as a threat; his irritated glare wasn't exactly welcoming.

Malfoy, too busy looking down his nose at Hermione, didn't notice that the tree seemed ready to attack.

"Working," he drawled.

"Why here though? You've never struck me as someone who went out of your way to help magical creatures."

Actually, he had struck her as someone who made sure that magical creatures in his presence were miserable. Hermione thought back to the whole Buckbeak incident in their third year. She was pretty sure Malfoy was the type to spitefully eliminate a creature for an incident that wasn't the creature's fault, not someone interested in helping creatures.

Malfoy scowled. "I didn't want a desk job and it was this or Auror. There's no way in hell I'd want to work with Potter and his band of merry do-gooders, so here I am."

She supposed that his answer was as good as any. Not everyone ended up in the Department for Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures because it was their dream to help the helpless creatures.

Hermione nodded at the irritated blond to show that she accepted his answer. "Did Mr. Moss tell you what our assignment is?"

"The fungus man didn't tell me anything useful, just told me to come and see you. I haven't been here long, but I already know that he's as useless as a third testicle."

She blinked a few times at the imagery, but managed to recover from her shock. Only after too much time had passed did she remember that perhaps she should have scolded him for badmouthing their boss. It was probably best that she hadn't. Hermione hadn't worked with him for more than five minutes and she already suspected that she was going to have to pick her battles.

"We're to watch this creature until the department can find a place for it," Hermione said, gesturing to the potted creature on her desk.

Malfoy looked down his nose at the little tree. He wasn't paying close attention to it, so he didn't notice that it was bristling even more than it had been before. "This is not a creature. This is a tree. Fungus is having us watch his bloody houseplants for him!"

While Malfoy was scowling at the brunette, the tree snapped one of its branches forward like a whip, hitting Malfoy's hand hard enough to leave an angry red mark.

Hermione had to fight off her giggles at the murderous look on Malfoy's face. "I think you offended it."

She shifted the plant's pot closer to her just in case Malfoy got it into his head that he should attack the innocent little creature. In an attempt to soothe the tree, Hermione stroked a hand down one of its branches, something it seemed to enjoy since it extended a few tendrils to wrap around her hand.

"Of course the thing likes you," Malfoy grumbled.

"Maybe it likes me because I didn't immediately insult it. If you're going to be working with creatures, you should learn to treat them with respect."

Instead of yelling at her as she thought he would have, Malfoy glanced down at his watch. "Our assignment is to keep an eye on the plant here."

Hermione nodded her agreement, not really sure where he was going with his comment.

"We don't need to be here to watch the thing." Absently scratching at his hand, he pulled down his sleeve over his watch once more. Malfoy started walking away, obviously expecting to be followed. He didn't notice that he wasn't leading an obedient duckling until he reached the end of the hallway. "Granger, come on."

"I guess it couldn't hurt to at least see what he wants," Hermione told the little tree. They hadn't been told to stay at the office and she had been cooped up behind her desk for weeks on end long. Besides, some fresh air would probably benefit the little plant.

Hermione cast a shielding charm over the tree to keep it safe from the wind and rain once they were outside. Since they were travelling with a creature, she had flat out refused to use the Floo network. Malfoy had tried to persuade her to use it anyway, but she had been adamant. She also refused to Disapparate, not knowing how their poor little creature would react to the sensation. If they were going to go... wherever they were going, Hermione wasn't letting their little side trip cause their charge any extra and unneeded stress.

Tapping his foot and standing around the corner of a building so that the practically horizontal rain didn't get him wet, Malfoy glared at his new partner. "If we're not going to Disapparate and we're not going to Floo, how do you propose we get to the Leaky Cauldron, Granger?"

A passing Muggle jostled him from behind and Malfoy turned to give the man such a vicious glare that the other man actually squeaked and apologised. Malfoy clearly wasn't all that comfortable in the Muggle world, which was why Hermione was pretty sure that her next words weren't going to go over well with him.

"We're going to take a taxi." She stared walking towards a busier road where she would be able to hail one of the cars.

Malfoy frowned and followed her stare until he was looking at the passing cars, taxis among them. "No. There is no way in hell that I'm getting in one of those things. Look at the way they're barely missing collisions!"

"They're not going to hit each other; there are strict laws that keep them going where they should."

"Don't try and fool me, Granger. I'm not so naive as to believe that there are never accidents involving those death traps."

She ignored him as she hailed one of the taxis.

When the black car pulled up to the curb, Malfoy took a step back. From the way he was standing, Hermione could tell that he had a hold of his wand inside his pocket and was prepared for an attack.

Luckily, he was prepared for an attack from the front, so when Hermione opened the door and stepped behind him under the pretense of grabbing the potted creature that she had left on the sidewalk he didn't expect what she did next. In one quick move, Hermione hooked a foot in front of Malfoy and shoved him off balance so that he fell in the car. From there, she merely gave him another push to get him the rest of the way into the seat.

The driver watched, amused, as she picked up the creature and daintily took her seat as if she hadn't just shoved around a full grown man – a full grown man who was sulking with his arms crossed as he stared moodily out the window. At least he knew when he was beat.

Pushing aside the nagging feeling that Malfoy was going to make her pay for that later, Hermione told the driver the address of the Leaky Cauldron and sat back in her seat, trying not to get too much enjoyment out of the way Malfoy's hand had a white-knuckled grip on the door handle.

As soon as Malfoy was free from the car, he stormed into the Leaky Cauldron, not looking behind him to see if Hermione was following after him.

"Yep," Hermione said to the tree after she'd paid the driver, "He's pretty mad at me." The tree's branches rustled worriedly. "Don't worry, I can take him."

Malfoy was already in Diagon Alley by the time she caught up to him. His shoulders were rigid and his jaw was tight; everything about him just screamed anger. Hermione half expected him to regress back to the boy he'd been in school and start lashing out at those around him.

She rushed after him. "You almost lost me."

"That was the point."

Hermione huffed. "We're supposed to be working together."

"And I'm supposed to be keeping myself and the Malfoy name out of trouble, something that assaulting a member of the Golden Trio in the middle of Diagon Alley isn't going to help."

Time for a subject change! "What are we doing here in Diagon Alley that was so important that you're willing to risk being seen with me in public?"

"Do you ever stop talking?" Malfoy snarled, scratching at his hand as he turned to glare at her.

Hermione shrugged, pretending that she couldn't see the people who were staring at her and Malfoy as they passed. She was used to people staring, but not used to the distrustful looks being directed towards her and Malfoy. It was no wonder Malfoy was so on edge if people were always looking at him like that.

She kept her mouth shut, following Malfoy silently as he led the way through the alley.

"We're going to a robe shop?"

He shot her a look over his shoulder that clearly told her she was being an idiot for asking that as they entered what was very obviously a robe shop.

Hermione had never seen this shop before. It was certainly no Madam Malkin's. There were no other clients in the store, yet the decorations of the place and the expensive-looking jewellery on the woman who fluttered to Malfoy's side suggested that it did well. Unlike the people on the street, this person seemed very happy to see Malfoy.

"Mr. Malfoy, are you here to pick up those dress robes?"

Hermione stood off to the side and watched as Malfoy accepted a garment bag. It was clear, so she could clearly see that the robes inside were a pale rose colour.

"That's going to clash horribly with your complexion," Hermione commented as he shrunk the bag down so that he could fit it in his pocket.

Malfoy glared at her. "It's for my mother."

Her eyebrows rose; Malfoy was picking up a dress for his mother and he needed to do it during work hours? That just went against most of the things she knew about the man. Wasn't he supposed to be too selfish to do things for other people?

"Stop looking at me like that, Granger. She's ill and seeing her new robes may make her feel a little better. I was going to do this after work, but I have a date with the brunette from the coffee cart - you know, the competent one who always makes tea perfectly – and now I can take her to an early dinner and have more time for... dessert."

She wrinkled her nose at his implications and then forced her thoughts onto another track to banish the disturbing images from her mind. "You probably shouldn't date someone who makes your tea every morning. What if something goes wrong?"

Malfoy rolled his eyes. "It's not like making tea is difficult. What could possibly go wrong?"

The little tree shifted in Hermione's arms, trying to reach for Malfoy again. Maybe the little guy wanted to slap some sense into the blond, make him see that she was actually correct in her warning.

Hours later, Hermione was sitting at her desk, bored as she stared at the tiny willow tree. She'd done a little preliminary research, trying to figure out what the thing was, but none of her books had been very forthcoming on the subject of tiny trees. A small article about possessed bonsai had sort of fit the situation, only to be quickly dismissed. If it was just possessed, then the tree wouldn't have been given to her to care for because possessions were another department.

Like the helpful partner he was, Malfoy had wandered off an hour ago in search of snacks. Hermione would have objected to his shirking of responsibility, but it was just so difficult for her to read while he was alternately poking the small tree with his wand and glaring venomously at anyone who dared to pass her desk. She had no idea how he managed to keep his job past his first day.

Think of the devil and he shall appear, she thought as Malfoy rounded the corner, balancing a paper bag in his arms while he scratched at his hand. He was chewing something, probably whatever it was he had in that bag. From the whiff of chocolate she got as he seated himself, her guess was that the bag contained some type of chocolate. She tried to mentally send a message to her stomach to not growl and embarrass her in front of Malfoy.

When she saw how red Malfoy's hand was, Hermione did a double take.

"Malfoy, what's wrong with your hand?"

He finished chewing the mouthful of chocolate he had, something had Hermione appreciated. "Itchy," he said eloquently before popping another chocolate in his mouth.

Hermione wished she could be so unconcerned about the whole thing. Malfoy's normally pale skin was an angry red and looking inflamed. Now that she was thinking about it, he'd been scratching at that hand for quite a while.

From personal experience, Hermione knew a thing or two about allergic reactions. She was allergic to gelatin; she puffed up and broke out in unbearable itchy hives if she so much as touched a marshmallow.

"Are you having an allergic reaction to something?"

He popped another chocolate into his mouth, giving her a quick look of disdain before turning his attention back to his treats. He wasn't as different form Harry and Ron as he liked to think.

"Malfoy's don't have allergies."

Hermione didn't know him that well and she wasn't so concerned that she would have forced the issue. However, he tilted his head at just the right angle for her to see that the rash was spreading to his neck, which meant that it had already climbed his arm and was working on taking over his entire body. She was no expert on such extreme allergic reactions, but she was pretty sure that Malfoy's life was in danger

"We need to get you to the hospital."


It seemed that somewhere along the line, Hermione had become spoilt. Harry and Ron, while they argued with her on many points, had long since given up in disputing her when she told them that something was serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. If Hermione Granger didn't know a charm or potion to cure the ailment, chances were that it was very serious indeed.

Malfoy hadn't learned that lesson yet. He set his jaw and glared at her in a manner Hermione was sure would be intimidating if she hadn't seen it nearly every day of her Hogwarts career.

"Don't look at me like that, Malfoy. If I knew a spell to fix an allergic reaction that severe, I'd cast it for you and save me what is obviously going to be a big struggle in getting you to the hospital. Now let's go."

The blond was unmoved. He even had the audacity to stare at her challengingly as he leisurely popped another chocolate in his mouth.

"Fine," she said through clenched teeth. "You leave me no choice." Hermione carefully removed the tree from her desk and sat it at her feet before drawing her wand on the blond git that was smirking at her over chocolate. Chocolate that he hadn't even thought to offer to her. "You're going to the hospital whether you want to or not."

He was so sure that she was just bluffing that Malfoy didn't even bother going for his wand to defend himself, which made it easy for Hermione to cast a body bind jinx on him, scoop up the plant in on arm, and then march primly towards the atrium. They had a special Floo there that was meant to be used only in medical emergencies. It was supposed to be more gentle than regular Floo, so Hermione figured it should be fine for her little tree friend. Malfoy's allergic reaction was severe enough that Hermione counted it as an emergency.

Thankfully, once in the hospital, Malfoy was something close to obedient. Hermione was so thrown off by the way he was quietly following after her that she kept shooting worried glances towards him, thinking his was even worse off than she had thought for him to not even be muttering profanities at her back. Her attention being focused solely on her partner, she missed the fearful looks that the staff were shooting at the seemingly docile blond, so Hermione was unprepared when she walked up to the counter in the waiting room to admit him.

"My partner seems to have suffered from an extreme allergic reaction," Hermione said crisply.

With a bored nod, the Mediwitch behind the desk shuffled around for the correct paperwork, only to freeze when she leaned to the side to look at Malfoy where he stood behind Hermione. Her placid expression changed entirely, morphing into a curdling glare.

"Oh no, we're not admitting him." The Mediwitch gestured to a picture of Malfoy spello-taped to the wall behind her desk. "He came in once just after the war and not only hexed a Healer, but he also verbally abused a Healer trainee until the poor boy quit. When we sedated him, he lashed out with magic and set the curtains on fire – while unconscious."

Hermione raised an eyebrow and looked at her unapologetic partner. "They tried to make me wear those bloody hospital robe things."

She had only been partnered with him for a few hours and already she was counting the minutes until end of the day. Malfoy was exhausting.

"If I take his wand and personally see to it that he behaves, will you admit him? He clearly needs medical attention." Hermione hated pulling the war hero card, but she wasn't above doing it when it was necessary. People seemed to let her get away with things that normal citizens just wouldn't be able to do, such as take her partner's wand and get him medical attention – at least she hoped.

"Granger, you're not taking my wand." The sentence was barely out of his mouth before Hermione once again caught him by surprise. She grabbed his arm and tried to twist it behind his back in a move that Harry had taught her from his Auror training. Unfortunately, Malfoy already seemed to know that move and had no trouble in using his greater size and strength to kick her feet out from under her.

Hermione fell to the floor in a heap, but she was determined to at least take Malfoy down with her. This determination turned out to be a bad thing, since Hermione ended up on the hospital floor in front of the reception desk with Malfoy on top of her.

He stared down at her a moment, startled that she'd pulled him down as well.

"You're crushing me," Hermione wheezed. She was sure that Malfoy was going to jump off of her immediately, horrified that he'd allowed himself to get so close to someone of what he believed to be lesser breeding. Instead, a slow smirk slid onto his lips, something that Hermione knew didn't bode well for her.

"I'm sorry," he said, sounding anything but, "Are you uncomfortable, Granger? Just like I was uncomfortable when you let that houseplant attack me, or when you shoved me into a filthy Muggle vehicle?"

Had Hermione not been in that back seat with him, she would have spoken in defense of Muggles. However, she was giving Malfoy the benefit of the doubt and thinking that he was probably referring to the vomit stain that he had been horrified to discover on the floor of the taxi at his feet, so his words weren't a commentary on his feelings for Muggles in general.

"Malfoy, I can't breathe!"

He was completely unimpressed. "Yet you don't seem to be having trouble finding the air to complain."

They were staring to attract a crowd. Apparently a former Death Eater can't sit on a war hero in the lobby of a leading magical medical facility without drawing a few stares. Hermione needed to end their little confrontation quickly before she and Malfoy ended up in the papers. The last thing she wanted was Harry and Ron finding out that she had been partnered with Malfoy through an article written in the Prophet.

She noticed Malfoy's wand sticking out of his pocket. He was too busy revelling in trying to crush her to bother protecting his wand, so Hermione was able to snatch it. Of course, Malfoy immediately tried to wrestle it from her hand and a fight ensued.

"I always pictured Hermione Granger as more... dignified," one of the watching Mediwitches commented as Hermione and her partner rolled past them, grappling for Malfoy's wand.

Eventually, Hermione managed to point the wand at Malfoy and cast a body-bind jinx. It was fortunate that he had been on the bottom for their roll, as she would have struggled to push him off of her.

"There," Hermione huffed, roughly shoving stray wisps of her hair out of her red face as she looked around at her audience. Fighting with Malfoy was surprisingly hard work. "Is he sufficiently subdued?"

The woman who had initially refused to admit Malfoy slowly nodded. "I think so." She and everyone else in the room were looking at Hermione as if she was liable to attack someone with the wand she had stolen from her partner.

Malfoy was assigned an examination room and left there with Hermione. He had been released from the body-bind jinx, but Hermione had refused to relinquish his wand. The small creature was perched on a counter in the corner of the room. It was hard to tell, but Hermione was pretty sure that it was amused at their predicament.

"That was humiliating," Hermione hissed as Malfoy glared at her from his seat on the bed. He would have probably preferred to stand and tower over her in an attempt to intimidate, but Hermione had used a heavy duty sticking spell to keep his bottom attached to the hospital bed in the room.

"You're the one who tried to use force on me for the second time today, Granger. I'm not going to put up with being treated like that. Now let me up." This wasn't the first time he'd demanded that she free him from the spell, and it was clear that he was rapidly approaching the end of his fraying patience.

"You're sitting there until a Healer can look over you."

Lucky for them, a Healer chose that moment to walk into the room. "Mr. Malfoy," he said, looking down at his clipboard. "I hear that you've been causing trouble in my hospital once more."

The Healer was a mousy looking man, yet he had to have a spine of steel to be able to talk to Malfoy like that when the blond was glaring at him so fiercely. Hermione stepped out of the way to give the man room to do his job.

But the Healer didn't do his job. The man's eyes had wandered from Malfoy to the plant resting behind Hermione. He frowned. "That's one of those Weasley Whip-trees. There was a recall a while back on them because an abnormally large number of people were having severe allergic reactions." He then glanced at Malfoy's rash, nodded to himself and left the room.

Malfoy was scowling at the tree. "I highly doubt that the Ministry doesn't know about the recall on those trees."

For once, Hermione was in complete agreement with the blond. "This whole day was a joke."

"You think the Fungus has a sense of humour?" Malfoy asked, frowning as he tried to remember any hint of humour from their overly large boss in the past. Nothing came immediately to mind.

Hermione shook her head, keeping a close eye on her partner. "I think it's more mean-spirited than joking humour. He wanted to make fools of us."

After a few more moments of contemplation, Malfoy agreed. "That settles it then."

"Settles what?" She didn't like his tone; it was too free of anger considering how angry he'd been only moments before.

"I'm just going to have to murder him and anyone else in the office that was in on the prank."

There! That was why she felt that something was up. Malfoy had moved from second to first degree murder.

When the Healer returned with a potion for Malfoy to take, the blond managed to somewhat stifle that murderous gleam twinkling in his eyes. Hermione was glad of this; she didn't want the Healer catching sight of Malfoy's homicidal expression and deciding to discharge him before he'd been healed.

"Drink this," the Healer said, casting some kind of spell over Malfoy, presumably so that it could work with the potion and heal the allergic reaction.

As Malfoy drank, the Healer turned to Hermione, looking a little sheepish. "Miss Granger, you and Mr. Malfoy work for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures department in the Ministry, correct?"

Warily, Hermione nodded. She didn't like the sheepish and slightly desperate expression on the man's face. This Healer had already proved himself to be relatively unflappable, and she wasn't sure what he was about to ask of them.

"While you're here, we seem to be having a tiny problem with a magical creature. Since your department is the one we'd be contacting anyway, would you mind taking care of it for us?"

Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione caught Malfoy perking up a little. She could just hear the voice of her mother in her head, worryingly tutting, "Are you sure you want a dangerous job like that, Hermione? What about a nice, safe dentistry practice?"

She was starting to think that perhaps her mother had been right.

Hermione regarded the creature that was terrorizing the hospital. Apparently, some bright person had accidentally transfigured both his brother and the vampire attacking him into clay pots and then brought the wrong pot into the hospital to have him changed back. Just because magical people had access to magic did not mean that they were any smarter in using it than some Muggles were with their power tools. It seemed that all types of people had to deal with the common morons.

Without her permission, Hermione's body took a slow step towards the vampire. There was something entrancing about the bottomless blackness of his eyes. A deep-buried part of her mind knew that the older, stronger vampires were able to control mortals to an extent with their gazes, but she had forgotten that fact just long enough to meet his eyes and now she was lost. Her partner was woefully absent, leaving her to face her doom without even the satisfaction of knowing that she wasn't the only one stupid enough to get herself killed by a vampire on a simple assignment of babysitting a prank tree.

Said prank tree had been left in the capable hands of the hospital. Hermione had been informed that the hospital was legally obligated to ensure that certain items from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes were properly disposed of and not allowed back out into the public. She had been a little sad to see the cute tree go, but consoled herself with the fact that it was a danger to the public.

The vampire's cold hands were on Hermione's shoulders, gently guiding her closer as he opened his mouth in a predatory smile, his fangs flashing in the bright hospital light. Hermione knew that she was going to die, but there was nothing she could do to fight the pull of the vampire.

It happened so fast that she spent a moment lost, wondering where the vampire's head had gone. One second she was staring into its cold, dead eyes and the next the vampire's headless body was falling to the floor, and she was sprayed by the disgusting black fluid that passed for blood in the undead creatures.

Malfoy was standing behind the vampire, breathing a little heavily with a naked sword held out in front of him. The blade was streaked with the same black liquid covering Hermione, giving her a pretty good idea about what had happened. She looked up to meet Malfoy's eyes, bright with what she could only describe as the excitement of battle.

"You saved me."

The brightness in his eyes faded as he glared at her. "Don't go all soppy on me, Granger. You helped me by making the hospital treat me - though I can't agree with your methods and won't hesitate to hex you if you take my wand again. We're even."

Knowing that Malfoy clearly wanted her to drop the subject, Hermione pulled her wand out of her pocket and used it to cleanse herself then the sword of the vampire's blood. She would have cleaned the hospital room as well, but she didn't want her spells to interfere with any sanitising spells the hospital may already have in place.

"Where did you find a sword in the hospital?" Hermione asked when she was once again clean.

Malfoy raised the heavy-looking blade with ease and did a fancy twirl with it. "It was embedded in the arm of someone in the waiting room. I went back to grab it when I saw the vampire."

Scolding him for possibly causing a patient to bleed out would be a little hypocritical when he had just used that sword to save her life. Her only consolation was that the man had been in a hospital when Malfoy pulled the sword from him, so he was more than likely perfectly fine, especially if the wound hadn't been severe enough to warrant immediate attention.

"We should probably report back to the Ministry," she said tiredly. The last thing Hermione wanted to face after her exhausting day was the horrible man who had sent her on the tree watching mission, but she needed to fill out a report on the vampire that they had slain.

"Good idea." Malfoy twirled his sword again. "I need to have a little talk with the Fungus." He strode purposefully towards the main lobby, where the Floo was located.

"Malfoy, aren't you going to leave the sword?" Hermione got a little worried when Malfoy only sped up his stride. "Malfoy! You can't just start beheading humans!"

She rushed after him, hoping to catch him before he killed someone back at the office. From what little she had seen of his skill, it seemed that he was rather good at the more violent side of his job. It would be a shame to see such talent wasted in Azkaban just because he decided to turn that very skill on his coworkers.

One week later:

Because the practical joke with the tree had led to Malfoy being hospitalized, Hermione and Malfoy had each been given their own offices as a sort of apology and insurance that they wouldn't try to press charges. Of course, Malfoy seemed to prefer to sit in the visitor's chair in hers rather than spend time in his own. Her theory was that he got bored alone in his office while he avoided all of his paperwork and so chose to entertain himself by watching her doing her work and annoying her. Occasionally, she regretted stopping him from beheading their boss, but then she remembered that she was a good person who didn't let people behead other people right in front of her.

Hermione scratched away at yet another boring form, trying to block out Malfoy's finger tapping on the edge of his mug as he blew on his tea, waiting for it to cool to a drinkable temperature.

"I can't believe the tea girl quit just because out date was a failure," Malfoy muttered, eyeing his drink suspiciously.

She didn't look up from her form. "'Failure' is a bit of an understatement. You started an elephant stampede and she was trampled."

"Half trampled, she was perfectly fine after a night in the hospital, and I told her that I didn't want to go to the zoo, but she insisted."

Her pen didn't stop its path across her paper as she ignored his excuses.

Malfoy took a sip of his drink and then spit out the hot liquid all over the papers on Hermione's desk, making the still wet ink stain the entire form.

"What was that for?" she demanded angrily, drying her papers with her wand and trying to remind herself that hexing Malfoy wasn't a good idea.

"That new womanat the coffee cart ruined my tea! She's completely incompetent!"

Hermione sighed; she could see this becoming a thing with him.