Hi! I'd like to start with this: this story is highly AU. I'll explain the differences from the books, but don't flame because of this, I told you in the beginning.
Second: I'm a uni student, with unreliable workload and insomnia :D this means that sometimes I have time to write all day, sometimes I don't have time for days on end... It's chaotic, really. I'm really sorry if my updates will be irregular.
And last: I'm not a native english speaker but I'm trying really hard to write correctly. I'm sorry for the possible mistakes, I hope they won't render this whole fic unreadable.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything just a hamster, a small black dog and an unnatural and bizarre imagination, but certainly NOT the HP series!
Hermione Granger was sitting at her assigned seat in the bullpen of the auror department of the Ministry of Magic, impatiently tapping her fingers on an unassuming standard issue ministry folder on her desk. She kept glancing at the Head Auror's office door, waiting for her partner.
Her mouth curved into an amazed little smirk as she thought about him. If somebody had told her six years ago that one day they'd be working together peacefully and effectively – or even that he'd work as an auror – she'd have laughed in his/her face. But here they were, five years after Voldemort's fall, getting along amicably – aside from their constant, but benevolent bantering and bickering -, being friends and scoring the "Most productive partnership" title for the second year in a row. Nowadays Hermione wasn't even surprised to hear a knock on her door at 10 o'clock in the evening, only to open it and find him on her doorstep with beer bottles in hand on a Friday night after an exhausting week. Sure, they had their rows, explosive fights without a care in the world who was caught in the crossfire (she remembered an incident when they had a shouting match right in front of the Minister of Magic in the atrium of the ministry about some trivial nonsense concerning proper filing systems), but to the absolute bafflement of their families, friends and acquaintances they complemented each other in everything that really counted for their line of work.
The witch's musings came to a halt when the department head's door opened, revealing the tired looking, irritated and slightly grumpy blonde. Shaking her head Hermione stood, picking up a cup of strong black coffee from her desktop and walked over to his place sitting on the edge of the desk and handing him the – thanks to the stasis charm – still steaming beverage.
He took it gratefully, sipping the hot liquid for a minute or so before he looked up. The former Slytherin had an adorably childish pout on his lips, which made her bite her tongue to refrain from laughing at his situation. Somehow she knew the young man in front of her wouldn't appreciate being compared to a child.
"This boring?" the brunette inquired quietly, while watching her partner's face closely.
"He gave me a lecture on filling out Azkaban transfer reports… Again… Told me last week's documents weren't detailed enough and that "makes them insufficient" " the look in his eyes and the unnatural stillness of the muscles in his face were telltale signs of the storm brewing under his carefully coordinated Slytherin façade.
Hermione dropped a hand on his shoulder shaking her head softly. It wouldn't do the Malfoy heir any good to get into trouble with the slimy bureaucrat if his words got back to him. She didn't understand how that irritating, pudgy man named Sam Collins got himself the position of Head of Magical Law Enforcement, but it was evident that it wasn't because of his nonexistent knowledge of the defence against the dark arts, or his leadership skills for that matter. He was a paper pusher and a politician, and a cowardly one at that. He left the country the moment the Dark Lord's return was confirmed several years prior and didn't return until the coast was clear after the war. Then he pulled some serious strings, donated a small fortune to the rebuilding efforts and some charities and bought his way into a high position in the chaotic ministry. Add to that the fact that he was brutally biased towards "war heroes", sucking up to them any chance he got and that he constantly told off the Draco for things which clearly weren't his fault just because he had a freaking tattoo on his arm – which he didn't even want in the first place – and the young woman could safely say that she truly despised the department head.
"He really doesn't like you. Maybe we should tell him it was me who filled that damn thing out." her eyes turned to their superior's door and a condescending smirk appeared on her face. "The idiot wouldn't know what hit him. Do you think he would fall over himself to apologize to me for calling my work "insufficient"? "
"Yes. And then he would shout at me for not doing my paperwork, stealing your credit and passing my workload off to you." he frowned, drank the last sip of his coffee and stood from the chair. "And with that said I'll take my leave, before he finds some trivial, probably not even work related nonsense with which to accuse me."
The blonde lifted an eyebrow in an unspoken question. His partner smiled, squeezed his shoulder and hurried back to her own desk, plucking her bag from the hook on the side of the desk. She surveyed her desktop for a moment, deciding that she didn't need to take paperwork home with herself for the weekend. A relieved smile lit up her face before she turned around and strode out of the bullpen and down the corridor to the lifts, Draco hot on her heels.
In the atrium they parted ways, each stepping into an empty fireplace and flooing home. It was an unspoken agreement between them. They'd go home, relax for a few hours, take a bath and put some comfortable clothes on before Malfoy showed up at the former Gryffindor's apartment in muggle London, bringing some takeout and beer. The Slytherin Prince has taken a liking to the muggle drink as soon as Hermione had introduced him to it two years into their partnership. He was also in awe of fast food restaurants, devices such as the microwave, the television and of course - because in some things he wasn't any different than the muggle guys his age - he was fascinated with the brunette woman's car on the handful of occasions when she decided to show him something in the muggle world which required transportation other than apparation or brooms.
Upon arriving in her living room the witch shed her light summer robe and tossed it onto the sofa, then proceeded to peel off her leather boots which were highly uncomfortable in the summer heat but necessary in her profession and took them out into the foyer of the apartment, neatly placing them in line with her other footwear next to the wall. She donned her slippers, picked up the discarded robe from the living room and sauntered into the bathroom.
Ten minutes later she was sitting in a bathtub full of fragrant water, only her head visible above the lavender scented bubbles. Closing her eyes the young woman steered back to her earlier musings.
In moments like this the war against the late Dark Lord and his followers and the last years of her hypothetical childhood seemed so far away. They were fighting against Voldemort form their first year in Hogwarts and after Sirius's death and Dumbledore's misfortune with the cursed ring she didn't count herself as a child anymore. Thinking back to the sixth year of her education in the mighty wizarding school brought the memories of Severus Snape to the forefront of her mind. The formidable wizard was always an enigma in her eyes as a young student, but in that year she learned the truth and was unimaginably relieved to know that she was right about him all along. Ever since their first year Harry and Ron always saw the worst in the Slytherin Head of House despite any logical arguments on her part. The brunette Gryffindor kept Snape's secret after learning it from Dumbledore when receiving her own special task, living with a new respect for the spy whose bad choices in childhood had affected his entire life and who – in her opinion – long ago atoned for his sins, but chose to bear the anger and scorn he received form order members with dignity, fighting alone on the gray line against the darkness which threatened to consume him every day.
After Dumbledore's death, however, when she presented the memories given to her by the old Headmaster for safekeeping many secrets were revealed about the fighters between the shadowy lines separating the two sides of the war. They learned the truth about Dumbledore's death, the true allegiances of the Malfoys, Theo Nott and a couple other Slytherins who refused to sympathize with the Dark Lord's ideals. Their suspicions towards these revelations were slightly eased when Draco and Lucius showed up on the headquarters' doorstep, bloodied and bruised and devastated after Voldemort's retaliation over the Malfoy heir's inability to kill the late headmaster. Narcissa's death cemented the two blonde men's resolve to see the war through and fight for the Order. Unfazed by the distrustful gazes thrown their way from their comrades they proved to be fierce warriors for the cause. Hermione, the kind and forgiving one of the Golden Trio took it upon herself to help all the ex-Slytherins who sided with them integrate into the Order as much as possible. She had a task given to her by Albus Dumbledore himself and she wouldn't let the disbelieving and hurt looks from the Gryffindors distract her from it.
It was a constant struggle, a year filled with pain and tears and death, but in the end they won. And in the end Harry, who was slightly easier to reason with admitted that they couldn't have done it without the Slytherins. Hermione still felt the pang in her heart when she thought of her strained friendship with Ron and Ginny, the barely veiled disdain on Molly's face whenever they met and the topic somehow turned to her work and subsequently to Draco. Luckily her relationship with the rest of the family remained fairly normal, Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charley, Percy, Fred and George being more open minded and logical than the hot-headed part of the clan. Nowadays they rarely saw each other, due to work and the constantly eventful lives they led, but at least twice a year – on Harry's birthday and the annual victory ball on the final battle's anniversary – they all celebrated together. She still loved them, but always felt like she was suffocating at the loud and riotous family gatherings, so she considered their stable but not too near contact a win-win situation.
There was a loud knock on her door and she sat up abruptly in the full tub, sending a stream of foamy water to the floor of her bathroom. She cursed under her breath looking at the clock on the wall. It was barely 7 o'clock and Draco wasn't due until 10. Shaking her head she climbed out of the water, nearly making a back flip on the slippery tiles and quickly wrapping herself in a towel. It was usual for her partner to show up this early but it wasn't unprecedented either, especially when they had a really frustrating week like this. He'd come sooner, sit in his favourite armchair and drink a glass – or three – of firewhiskey while she got back in her bath, door opened to a crack, and listened to him rambling about his problems.
Not that it was an issue between them, modesty that is... Not many knew the truth about Draco and even they didn't know as much about him as her. It allowed them to be comfortable in each other's presence and that was a huge help during missions when they were forced to live in close quarters, uncaring if the other saw them in less than presentable stages of dressing. They were friends and that was the solidest relationship she ever had. He was her best friend, understood her better than Harry and Ron ever could (or tried, for that matter), and there was the added benefit of being able to shop with a guy who actually had impeccable taste and didn't run for the hills after five minutes in the first boutique. That said, she didn't think twice about padding through the carpeted living room and the warm rock tiles of her foyer before she opened the front door. If there was a malevolent presence on the other side her wards would have alerted her, so it was easy to assume that it was the platinum blonde younger Malfoy. Or so she thought. She turned the doorknob and opened the door with a smile on her face.
Only to be surprised into speechlessness, eyes widening and cheeks reddening in mortification as she took in the sight of Severus Snape on her doorstep…