A/N: Much thanks to my beta Rusty Weasley and to TycheSong for poking and prodding me through this!
Disclaimer: As always, the Harry Potter universe is property of J.K. Rowling and company, not me.
"And so, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you again for your continuing contributions and support that made this project possible. Without you, St. Mungo's Wing for Research and Development would still just be an idea floating about in a few minds. So thank you, from myself and the rest of our staff." Accompanied by the roar of applause from the crowd gathered on the lawn, Hermione Granger, Director of Magical Maladies Research, stepped down from the podium and, with a flourish of her wand, cut through the wide purple ribbon stretched across the entryway. She smiled and shook hands with Chief Healer Withersby and various bigwig donors, posing appropriately for a reporter to snap a few dozen pictures and ask a few rapid fire questions before waiting for the crowd's attention to be directed elsewhere before ducking into the quiet, still-empty building.
She sighed in relief and leaned against the cool wall, scrubbing the stiffened smile from her face with her hands. After a moment, she straightened and started down the hallway, her sensible black pumps clicking loudly in the silence. She climbed the stairs and finally reached the door to her brand new office. She smiled in satisfaction as she looked it over, the oak wood polished to a fine sheen and her name embossed in brass lettering. She turned the knob and stepped into the room, breathing deep the smell of her brand new, spotlessly clean office.
This office represented, to her at least, years of hard work. It had been shortly after the war when the idea had first come to her, when a number of wizarding children had contracted smallpox of all things. Seven children had died because their little bodies resisted Muggle treatment and no one knew how to cure the disease magically. Hermione had watched helplessly as an Apprentice Healer while children died and families mourned, and she had resolved that she would never do that again. Nine years later, she finally had the means to make that happen, with the most medically advanced building and best trained staff in the Wizarding World.
She sat down at her desk, one she had picked from the catalogue herself, and surveyed her new space, though she already knew every detail of every inch. Her eyes traveled over the large window streaming sunlight into the room, the long wall filled with tall bookshelves stuffed with books, the large empty portrait hanging over the mantle, the door leading to her personal lab- She paused and her eyes flew back to the fireplace. She didn't remember placing an order for a portrait, in fact, she was certain she hadn't as she personally found them to be a bit of a nuisance. Pulling a piece of parchment from her desk drawer, she selected a freshly sharpened quill and made a note to question Susan Bones about the piece, she had been in charge of preparing the building's offices.
Note made, Hermione pushed thoughts of the mysterious portrait from her head and Summoned the notes for her first official case as Head of the Department, immersing herself in them and taking advantage of her quiet solitude.
Sometime later, Hermione's previously neat office had been transformed. Papers were strewn across her desk, a pile of books teetered dangerously in a chair, and Hermione Granger stood in front of her desk with her arms crossed and a frown on her face, staring intently at the small, seemingly innocuous medallion on the desk. She was trying to create a charm that would protect a fetus from the magical leeching they had only recently discovered led to the births of Squibs. But because it was dangerous to place a charm directly on a baby still in the womb, she had to find a way to protect the baby without disabling the mother, an endeavor that had of yet been unsuccessful.
She frowned, deep in thought, rolling her wand between her fingers before raising her wand with a sigh and quietly casting, "Finite Incantatem," so she could start over.
"You're not doing very well, imagine that," a low, smooth voice sounded.
Hermione shrieked and whirled, looking towards the door to see who had snuck up on her. The doorway was empty and then she heard, "Honestly, Miss Granger, you've been at it for hours, clearly you're not going to find any success." Terrible, terrible realization dawned in Hermione's mind and she turned slowly to face the portrait over the fire. There, right in the center of the large, gilded frame, sat one Abraxas Malfoy.
Hermione shrieked again, this time in anger rather than surprise. "What are you doing here? What, in Merlin's name are you doing here?"
A smirk flashed across the face of the handsome man in the portrait. "Did you forget whose family funded the majority of this precious little project, Miss Granger? It's only fitting that the Malfoys be honoured in the building, yes?" Hermione blanched. She had seen the Malfoy name on several of her financial sheets, Draco's to be more specific, but she had done her best to ignore the source of the money and had accepted it.
She had thought, when she hadn't seen any of the Malfoy family at the Opening Ceremony, that perhaps the donations had actually been made out of the goodness of his, or more likely, his wife's heart, but she should have known better. The evidence against her theory was right in front of her, hanging on her beautiful peach wall, with a smug smirk on his aristocratic face. She wasn't sure if she wanted to blast the canvas with a nasty hex or simply cry.
For years, this exact portrait had hung in the entry Hall of St. Mungo's, and for years Abraxas Malfoy had been making snide remarks to her every day as she came and went from work, and for years she had allowed a man in a portrait to occupy far too many of her thoughts. When it had first begun, his remarks had been directed toward the public at large. That hadn't been the issue. Hermione's feud with the portrait, and she was embarrassed to call it a feud, had begun when he had overheard her conversing with her Apprentice about the elderly patient on the third floor who had "refused to be treated by a Mudblood witch." It wasn't a common term anymore, even among pureblood families, at least not in public; so it had sparked Hermione's temper.
Of course, Abraxas had spoken up, his personality was eerily similar to that of his grandson, his loud voice ringing through the Hall as he said, "You mean you're actually a Healer? In my day, people like you would have been regulated to being silly little secretaries." Hermione's jaw had dropped and she had turned to face the obnoxious portrait, not even noticing when her apprentice scurried away. The screaming row that had then ensued was still talked about in corners where no one thought the curly-haired witch with the nasty temper could hear.
From that point on, Hermione might as well have been back at Hogwarts with Draco, albeit an older, more intelligent, and somewhat devastatingly attractive facsimile of Draco. She had been thrilled when her building had finally been finished for a multitude of reasons, but one of them had been that she was finally getting away from that thrice-damned man!
"Aren't you supposed to be in the Entry Hall?" she blurted finally.
He chuckled, a delighted smile curving his lips. "I believe I was replaced by a portrait of my charming grandson's family, not to worry."
She scowled and replied, "Well you're not wanted here either, leave, I have work to do."
He arched one handsome brow and leaned casually back in the chair in which he sat. "No, I don't believe I will, thank you. Carry on."
Hermione actually growled under her breath and turned her back to the blonde in the portrait, picking up her medallion and studying it carefully. "What material is your little toy made of?" he asked.
"Silver," she answered distractedly before turning her head to scowl at him. "Shut up, please," she said shortly, turning her attention back to the medallion and working on the charm in her mind.
Abraxas was quiet for awhile, patiently watching the woman as she worked, unbeknownst to her, of course. He had been irritated when a number of nondescript hospital workers had woken him from slumber two days earlier, but his irritation quickly turned to delight when he realized he was being moved exactly as he had asked. One of the major advantages of being a portrait was that very few people ever remembered there were other ears listening. He thought it was rather likely he had heard word of the fruition of the Granger woman's project even before the witch herself. If he were completely honest with himself, the news had been disturbing, to say the least. It was the petite brunette witch who made his existence as a portrait in St. Mungo's bearable. The ill masses constantly rushing through were simply depressing.
Of course, he was a Malfoy, and it wouldn't at all do for something he didn't approve of to be allowed to happen, and so his plans began to form. It had only taken a few days of careful observation to determine the details of the project and he began spending significant amounts of time away from his rather comfortable portrait in favor of ingratiating himself to the people who could help him. It hadn't taken him long at all to charm that silly redhead girl, although he hadn't been entirely sure his subtle hints about the need for a portrait in Hermione's office had been helpful until that early morning when the workers appeared.
He watched with interest as the woman flitted about the room, checking first this book then that, studying the way her tailored black robes clung subtly to her small frame. She was a rather attractive witch, for a Mudblood. Accomplished as well, admirably so. His attention was redirected when she moved back to her medallion, muttering quietly to herself as raised her wand again. She quickly and meticulously cast a series of charms, some of which he was familiar with, some of which sounded as if they may have been of her own design.
She paused in her casting and reached to touch the heavy silver and pulling her hand back fast with a hiss and a rather unladylike curse, waving her hand as if she'd been burned. "Careful," he warned, his voice low and tinged with a barely discernible hint of concern. She shot him a scathing look and silently healed the red spot that had appeared on her thumb. He arched a single, rather judgmental brow, and fell silent, though he continued to watch, it wasn't as if he could find another more interesting way to spend his time.
Hermione worked silently and rapidly, steadfastly doing her best to ignore the steel grey gaze of the man in the portrait behind her. No matter what she did, she could feel his eyes boring into her, and she knew he was just waiting for another excuse to mock her. And then that moment came, her wand quivered slightly as she cast a modified shield charm, it was late and she was growing tired, and instead of taking to the medallion as it should have, a shower of blue sparks flew in all directions instead. She heard a muffled snort and then, "I seem to recall hearing you were a phenomenal Charms Mistress, perhaps I should find more reliable sources."
Hermione froze and took a deep breath before slowly turning to face the bored expression of Abraxas Malfoy. "Mr. Malfoy," she snapped, "I have worked very hard to be here, and apparently having you in my office is a stipulation of this position, for now. Can we please reach, at least for the time being, some sort of agreement to be civil so that I can concentrate?"
An affronted look crossed his face and he spoke, his tone haughty, "I will behave as I see fit, Madam, and might I remind you thatyou are the one who started screeching like a classless banshee in a hallway and began all this."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Miss. I am not married."
He sneered slightly. "Of course you aren't."
Hermione sputtered angrily for a moment before snapping, "All my life, I've heard that Malfoys are allegedly renowned for their impeccable manners, but never once, not once, have I see any proof of that. But that's it, if you won't be civil and let me be so I can accomplish some good, I'm leaving." She flicked her wand, gathering her papers and books into a manageable pile and levitated them to follow behind her. She marched, her back iron straight, across the room and through the archway, into her Potions laboratory and away from the man chuckling on the wall behind her. So incensed was she that she never noticed the small landscape portrait hanging on the far wall.
Abraxas, however, had ample time in the past days to discover the location and vantage of every portrait in the building. He quietly slipped from his portrait into the canvas hanging in her lab, an insipidly dreary piece depicting the Scottish moors. He scowled slightly as the heavy dew wet the bottom of his fine robes and then dried them with a flick of his wand before turning his attention back to the witch he had followed. She was scribbling furiously on one of the scraps of parchment, occasionally glancing up at the medallion on the table.
He watched intently as a small bead of sweat rolled down her neck. He knew that, as any decent brewer would have done, that she would have insisted the lab have no drafts, it could ruin more complicated potions. He leaned forward just lightly as she put her quill down, reaching up and twisting her luxurious mass of curls on top of her head, then picking up the quill again and jamming it into her hair. A small smile graced his lips as her little sigh of relief reached his ears. It was a surprisingly endearing sound coming from such a fierce woman. It was what had first drawn him to her, her indomitable spirit, although he would never admit that to anyone else.
He carefully studied the graceful lines of her neck, frizzy, curly tendrils sweeping gently against her pale skin and then smirked as she lifted one hand to fan her face. She was so determined to avoid him that she was willing to sweat in a dim room instead of enjoying her large, airy office. He was about to speak up and point out that her sweat could ruin her charms when, to his immense surprise and not insignificant amount of pleasure, her nimble fingers moved to her robes, rapidly skimming down the buttons, allowing the fabric to fall open.
A shrug of her shoulders shed the robes and his breath caught as she turned away from the table to fold them, unknowingly facing him and providing him with a perfect view of close fitting aubergine dress, very tasteful, but revealing an expanse of long, trim leg and the barest, most enticing swell of cleavage. The woman was, most simply put, stunning. His enjoyment of the sight was interrupted when he unconsciously let out a small hum of appreciation and her head snapped up. "That's it!" she screeched as she caught sight of him. "You are going to leave me alone!" She whirled and hurried out of the lab, and he moved back to his portrait in order to watch her tantrum.
She stomped across the room to the bookshelf farthest to the right, standing on tiptoe and searching for a particular book. She eventually found it on the top shelf and pulled it down, a large red tome with Befuddlement, Banishment, and other Bewitching Charms printed down the side. Dropping it with a bang on her desk, she began to rifle through it until she found what she was searching for, the charm that Harry had used to finally solve the issue of the portrait of Walburga Black at Grimmauld Place. If it was good enough for Mrs. Black, it was certainly good enough for the menace currently occupying her wall.
She scanned the page quickly, it had been some years since she had performed the spell, and then raised her wand, facing the man with a triumphant, slightly vindictive smile. "Depulso effigies humana," she whispered as she began the complex wand movement. But again, exhaustion took over and a tremor shook her hand slightly. At first, it didn't seem to be an issue; the expected silvery stream of light left her wand and coated the portrait, which appeared empty as the light began to clear.
Everything had gone exactly as it should, and then she heard it. "Well that was interesting," a silky voice nearly purred. Hermione blinked and then again, harder. There, right next to her window stood Abraxas Malfoy, tall, aristocratic, and oh so very real.
Hermione squeaked in shock and brandished her wand. "No, no, no, no, no," she muttered, "This is just a bad dream."
A painfully satisfied smile graced the blonde man's face as he reached a hand out and allowed it to trail across the cool glass of the window. "Not a dream at all, Miss Granger."
"You're supposed to be gone, banished from your portrait!" she protested weakly.
"You should consider working on your Latin, Miss Granger," he advised casually, pushing away from where he leaned against the wall and moving closer to her, until she was backed against the edge of her new desk. He leaned forward and placed his hands on her desk, effectively trapping her where she stood before speaking again. "I do believe you just banished me from all portraits instead of merely my own."
Hermione blanched white and looked up at the man now towering over her. "Shit," she said in a small voice.
A loud bark of laughter left Abraxas' lips as he agreed, "Shit, indeed, Miss Granger."
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed, don't forget to review!