"Well, we can't keep guests waiting, whatever the reason," Hermione said to her Restaurant Manager.
"Of course not."
"If we need more staff of a lunchtime, then so be it," Hermione looked into the restaurant and nodded. "The restaurant looks lovely, those new table clothes have definitely improved the whole room."
"I'll see if I can ask Spencer to cover a few lunches and if that helps, we can look at getting someone permanently."
"Good idea," Hermione said. "Thanks Garath."
She walked back through the opulent foyer. It was fairly quiet but Hermione wasn't worried. The hotel was part of a chain of three hotels for wizards - The Harmony Hotel Chain, and it was thriving. Artis Brighton-James was from rich family and as he conducted his business ventures, the lack of decent magical accommodation available had frustrated him. Many wizards found themselves having to stay at inn's or even Muggle hotels, which were the only ones that provided the facilities needed to use with business customers.
So, he'd invested some money into a small, run down Muggle hotel, re-furbishing it, re-naming it and adding hundreds of magical touches. This was now no ordinary hotel. The decor in each room (now totalling over 300 after a huge expansion) could each be changed, magically, to suit the customers exact requirements. The lifts, like the ones in the Ministry of Magic, all moved horizontally as well as vertically. Food and service standards were of the highest class and the staff were all trained and instructed to the smallest detail.
What was more, the hotel was only open to the magical community. Therefore, all the guests could feel at home and relax, not having to worry about using their magic.
Hermione worked at the original Harmony Hotel. It was the largest and most prestigious hotel in the chain. She had sort of fell into the job because really, it wasn't her sort of thing. She'd never liked dealing with people and even now, she was glad that she had a team of staff to do that part. However, what Hermione was brilliant at was organization. She was, as always, meticulous, methodical and prepared. Everything had its place, every job was scheduled and prepared for and there were timetables for everything. She was aware that some of the staff were annoyed by her constant preparation and attention to detail, but she knew it was what made the hotel what it was.
Sometimes it wasn't so great being in charge. She knew that she was often excluded from social events and she supposed she could understand it. They didn't want to spend their leisure time with their boss. That didn't make her feel better when she heard them making preparations that she wasn't included in. It would have been very easy for her to have become a workaholic. The job required unsociable and long hours and it was easy for Hermione to get so involved with her tasks that she didn't even want to go home.
She supposed she should be thankful that Ginny worked here as well. Ginny's career as a Quidditch player had been cut short by a back injury and there had been an opening that suited her down to the ground. The hotel had its own nightclub - Sparkle. The manager had been dismissed because he was constantly late and then he was found drunk one night while he was working. Hence, Ginny Weasley fell into place. Ginny was sociable, bubbly and bossy. Perfect for the job. After a while, having proved her worth, Ginny had taken on some of the entertainment managing in the main hotel, including booking acts for the lounge and other social evenings. So, Hermione could at least rest easy about that side of things, knowing that her Events and Entertainment Manager had it under control.
That wasn't the reason Hermione should be happy for Ginny's company. Ginny didn't allow Hermione to get wrapped up in her job. She would always come and fetch her and drag her down to the club or bar.
Things had improved socially since Jack had arrived on the scene, of course. Hermione found herself smiling because things were going really well with her new boyfriend. Not only was he the stereotypical tall, dark and handsome type, he was also a hard working and polite. Ginny wasn't a huge fan - she called him Mr Boring - but Hermione didn't care. She and Jack seemed to be working well and she wasn't going to let anyone else's opinion of him change her mind.
It was late afternoon and when she got back to her office she found Lily Berkeley, the hotel's Marketing Manager waiting for her.
"Hey, Hermione," Lily greeted her in her usual cheerful fashion.
"Hi, Lily. Would you like to come in?"
"Yes - I need to speak to you about something."
"Sounds ominous?" Hermione took a seat behind her desk, Lily taking the one opposite.
"Not really - just a bit unusual. I've had a booking request for the Penthouse Suite," Lily explained.
"That's good. We had it empty twice in the last couple of months which is very unusual."
"Well, this is an enquiry for a long term rent of the entire suite and a couple of other rooms on the floor below."
"Long term?" Hermione asked. "We've rented it before for a month."
"Longer than that. This is a businessman who is having his house re-furbished. Quite major stuff and although he has other houses they're not very close."
"How long exactly?"
"Six to nine months."
Hermione gaped at Lily. "Six to nine months? Seriously? Just how much money does this man have?"
"Lots, by the sound of it."
"Good - then hopefully he'll spend some more of his money while he's staying here," Hermione smiled. "Six to nine months is unusual but I don't see any harm in it. We'll promote a couple of the other suites just in case anyone wants them for something special. Other than that I think we can tell him yes."
"Great - I'll arrange for him to come in then. He wanted to have a proper look around and ask us a few things. When are you free?"
"Can't you deal with it?"
"He asked to see the Manager."
Hermione sighed. "Okay - I'll fit him in tomorrow. Late morning? Say 11am?"
"Good. I'll book him in," Lily nodded, she seemed to be hesitating and Hermione stared at her.
"Is there something else?"
Lily twisted her lips. "Sort of."
"Am I supposed to guess?" Hermione joked and Lily smiled widely at her.
"Sorry - I just know what your reaction is going to be."
"My reaction to what?"
"The gentleman's name - who wants the Penthouse Suite," Lily rolled her eyes. "His name is Mr Malfoy."
Hermione stared at her colleague across her desk. "Draco Malfoy?"
Hermione sat back in her chair and looked up at the ceiling with a groan. "Oh no!"
"Sorry! I knew you wouldn't like it."
"You can say that again!"
"Have you changed your mind about saying yes?" Lily asked.
Hermione shook her head. "No. We can't turn down a booking of months at a time for the Penthouse Suite but I'd be lying if I said I was happy about it."
"Shall I arrange the appointment?"
"Yes, of course," Hermione nodded. "I'll just have to be professional about it!"
"It's been a long time since school," Ginny said.
"He's an adult now - he can't possibly behave like he did then."
"Who knows?" Hermione shrugged. "It isn't that I'm concerned about. You do read the papers, don't you?"
"Yes, but they exaggerate things. I know they paint him as a constant party animal, playboy and womanizer but he runs a huge business empire. We know how much work is involved running this place, even with all the staff. He must be working hard too so I don't think it will be a problem."
"You do remember how he was?" Hermione asked her friend. "He'll expect to carry on with whatever he does at home. It won't matter that this is a top rated hotel with standards to uphold."
"I think you're worrying unnecessarily. When you meet him tomorrow, just lay down a few ground rules about visitors and such. Think of the money he's bound to spend while he's here!" Ginny waved her arms around Sparkle which they were the only occupants of. It didn't open for another two hours. "He's bound to be in her almost every night for a start!"
"Exactly what I'm worried about," Hermione said.
"Well, as long as his partying takes place in here and not in the hotel, it should be fine." Ginny gave Hermione's arm a little pat. "Bet you can't wait to meet him again, can you?"
"Are you joking?" Hermione pulled a face. "I'm dreading it."
"Hermione, this is Draco Malfoy we're talking about. He's super famous, super rich..."
"Super obnoxious?" Hermione interrupted her.
"Maybe, but who cares? I can't wait to see him in the flesh, if you know what I mean!" Ginny grinned, wickedly and Hermione grimaced.
"Oh please! You can't possibly think like that about him!"
"Why not? If his pictures do him any sort of justice, I certainly won't be complaining about seeing him here every night." Ginny rolled her eyes at Hermione's expression. "Will you please loosen up? I keep telling you that you'll turn into a sad, old lady if you don't start having a bit of fun."
"Yeh - thanks for that!" Hermione said, sarcastically and Ginny chuckled.
"I'm just being honest."
"I do have a boyfriend or have you forgotten?" Hermione reminded her.
"Yeh, my point exactly." Ginny frowned. "You need to dump him."
"No, I don't."
"Hermione - next weekend he's taking you to a conference about making speeches! I mean, really?"
"It should be interesting."
Ginny sighed loudly. "It's not what a young woman should be doing with her weekends."
"Stop going on about it."
Hermione was busy the next morning so she didn't have time to think about Draco's impending visit. She quickly wrote a few notes about what she wanted to mention to him and then there was a knock on the door. Ava, Hermione's P.A., opened the door and announced Mr Malfoy.
Hermione stood up and at that precise moment, she felt nervous. Why was she nervous? It was just Malfoy! He stepped into the room and Hermione did a double take before quickly hiding it. What had happened to the skinny school boy? He was tall with broad shoulders and he was wearing a unusual shade of blue suit. Hermione could tell that it had been made for him, the way it fitted him perfectly.
"Thank you Ava," she said. Ava left and shut the door, leaving Hermione and Draco alone. "Good morning," Hermione said to Draco, not entirely sure how to address him. She offered Draco her hand to shake but he looked down at it then back up, before raising one eyebrow.
"Bloody nice place you have here," he said.
"So how did you get the top job? Did you have to learn how to keep Mr Bigginton-Jones happy?" Draco had already sat in the chair, having ignored Hermione's handshake. She stared down at him, her fears already been proved valid.
"Brighton-James," she corrected him. "And I got the job because I'm bloody good at it!"
"I hope so because I know exactly what I'm going to need and I expect my needs to be met," Draco answered her. He smirked, just slightly and the eyebrow arched again.
Hermione took her own seat and tried her very best to ignore his innuendo's. He was sat back in the chair as if he owned the place, his still blonde hair falling across his forehead. His eyes were large in his face, his lips perfectly formed and he had just the lightest amount of stubble across his chin. He looked like a film star and Hermione could have groaned out loud. He may as well have had trouble tattooed across his handsome forehead because there was no doubt that was exactly what he was going to be.
Rich, powerful, spoilt and on top of all that he had to look like this! She didn't think she could ever get over her distaste for him enough to actually like him that way, but it didn't mean she couldn't see exactly what was seated on the opposite side of her desk.
"Well, we will endeavour to accommodate your wishes, of course," she said. Her professional voice and tone were on display - she found it easier to just hide behind them.
Draco's face changed, his mouth lifting up at the corners. "Mmm...now that sounds good," he said. He sat up a little. "When you say 'we', I take it that includes you?"
"I'm the General Manager. I'll make sure you have the full attention of my staff."
Draco leant forward suddenly, placing both his arms on her desk and putting his head to one side. "And what if I decide that I'd like the full attention of the General Manager?"
Hermione stared at him, trying to decipher what he meant. Was he teasing her on purpose? "Wherever possible, you'll have my full attention," she said. Her words were almost automatic but she felt uneasy because this wasn't the usual conversation she'd be having with a customer. Of course it wasn't! What had she expected?
"I like women who power dress," Draco said and Hermione did another double take. Was he flirting with her? No!
Hermione let her professionalism slip for a moment, not trusting him. "Are you trying to antagonize me because I suggest you stop right now, if you want this to work."
Draco now raised both eyebrows and gave a chuckle. "Oh yes! Feisty! Now if you 'd been more like that at school then you might have stood a chance."
"Stood a chance?" Hermione gaped at him.
"I didn't want a chance with you!" Hermione said. She immediately felt annoyed with herself for letting him get to her. She needed to ignore him, pretend he was just another client and remain professional. That way she stood a chance of reducing the agony of being in his company. She took a deep breath and sat up. "Shall I show the suite?"
Draco grinned and chuckled again, as if he found her extremely amusing. "Yes, that's probably a good idea."
Hermione took the keys from her desk and then opened her office door, letting Draco exit first. She then lead him to the lift and pressed a button. He was looking around him but she ignored him. They stepped into the lift and as the doors shut, Draco spoke again.
"So, you decided against marrying Potter in the end then?"
Hermione looked over at him. "I was never intending to marry Potter...Harry!" She corrected herself but not before Draco's face had broke into another grin.
The lift doors opened, straight into the Penthouse Suite. It was a lovely set of rooms with floor to ceiling windows on all sides and a large, open plan living, eating and cooking area. The view from the windows, on all sides, was breathtaking and Hermione never tired of looking out over the city. Draco followed her out of the lift and, without further invitation, he began to examine the room and it's contents. He ran his hands over the luxurious sofa's and fire surround. He switched the lights on and off numerous times, trying out all the various lighting combinations. He shut the blinds at some of the windows and then opened and shut kitchen doors. It was several minutes before either of them spoke.
"How many bedrooms?" Draco asked. He was looking inside the large fridge freezer as he spoke.
"Two, both en-suite. If you come this way, I'll take you to the bedrooms," Hermione went to turn but was stopped by his voice again.
"Words I never imagined I'd hear from Hermione Granger's mouth!"
She turned back to face him and gave him a look that she hope conveyed 'shut-up, or else'. He was grinning again from ear to ear and quite out of the blue, she felt amusement over take her. He was speaking to her as if they had seen each other only yesterday and were friends. He had a teasing, amusing tone to his voice and completely despite herself, she had just got caught up in it. She saw his eyes sparkle as he watched her fighting her need to smile and this made it all the more difficult. What had happened to the surly and rude boy from school?
The arrogance had somehow been fine tuned into confidence. Yet again she knew that his presence in her hotel was going to cause her a problem.
"Well, as I never refuse a women when she offers to take me to her bedroom..." he left the sentence open and gave a little sniff.
Hermione bit back a retort and turned, leading him along the expanse of windows and around behind a half width wall at one end. As they rounded the corner she heard Draco gasp.
"A piano!" he said. "I didn't know it had a piano."
Hermione watched him with interest. "Most of our clients can't play, of course, but we thought it added a nice touch to our most exclusive suite."
Draco was running his hands over the surface, touching the small, silver nameplate. "It's a good one - Barley's are the best piano makers in Europe."
Hermione's eyes widened, surprised at his knowledge. "That's why we chose it." She nodded her head at him. "You'll have to invite someone to play it for you."
Draco's startling, grey eyes met with hers. He seemed to hesitate before he answered. "Yes...I suppose I will."
There you go, chapter 1 up! I've tried to give you a taste of what's to come as well as introducing the setting and a bit of the story. Draco's a bit different to the usual way I write him - he's going to be a bit less grumpy and bit more fun - hope you like him! Next chapter they try and agree on the terms of him renting the suite...I use the term 'agree' loosely, of course. x