Chapter One: No Time For Love
Her fingertips were drumming at a rhythm of one, two, three on the surface of her tidy desk. She crossed her legs as she leaned against the back of her chair, her left foot tapping the same rhythm that her fingers were. A sigh escaped her, a frown creasing her forehead as she glanced at the grandfather-clock tucked in the corner of her furthest wall. She got quite a lot of teasing for having the muggle contraption in her office, but she always shushed them; after all, it had a very special meaning to her (even if they didn't know).
Two years ago, after a fatal car crash that claimed the lives of her parents, Hermione got rid of everything from their dentistry practice and home—she didn't want storage space filled with memories that would eventually give her a grudge against Life over the untimely passing of her parents. Everything went, except the clock; it had been a Christmas gift to her father from her mother, something she'd found in an antique shop that was meant to jokingly represent her father's old-fashioned personality. It was quite an eccentric thing: smooth, mahogany wood that was shaped into arches at the head and that had grooves throughout the thick body. Behind the glass, the functioning parts of the clock were yellow-gold, tarnishing quite a bit as time went on. It was a huge ugly thing to have about, but Hermione never minded—well, not until that very moment when its ticking was withering her patience.
With her brown eyes narrowed at the thing, Hermione's left hand reached for the wand that rested a few inches away. Once her fingers had grasped her wand, she glared at the clock, acting as if it had an actual face and they were having a staring contest that would then declare one of them the winner. And just as she was thinking of a nonverbal to throw at the thing, to destroy and silence its noise that was driving her mad, the door to her office opened.
"—Sorry we're late."
She scowled at the grandfather-clock with something that said you-win-this-time before she turned to the newcomers. Once she noticed them, her scowl transformed into a deep, parental frown. "Are you kidding me? You kept me waiting an hour so that you could get food?"
"I told you she'd get upset," Harry huffed at Ron.
The redhead shrugged carelessly, back-kicking Hermione's door in order for it to shut so he and his two best friends would have some privacy. He'd been carrying a stack of folders, but that didn't impede Ron from eating. A pastry was in his mouth, chewing it ungracefully, appearing like a snake trying to swallow its dinner.
Dropping the archives upon Hermione's desk, ignoring the loud thud it made and the immediate tumble of her quill and inkpot onto the floor, Ron grinned sheepishly at her. "We brought you a snack, too," he managed through his mouth stuffed with food.
The brunette kept her frown as she summoned the things Ron had knocked off her desk. With frustration, she yanked the first file from the hefty stack and opened it. "How can someone who is supposedly invisible and mundane, have so many affiliations in the Wizardying and Muggle worlds?"
Before getting straight to work—which was Hermione's approach to everything—Harry threw a frown of his own at Ron, something that resembled a don't-anger-her-you-moron look."Well," he began, taking a seat from across Hermione, "it helps that he is a Metamorphmagus with a keen ability to charm his new encounters. He created connections with his victims, developing relationships with them, and from them sprouted...well, children. Those children grew up, and you sort of get the point. They are either his relatives or people who are still infatuated with him."
"Yeah, and soon enough they will all end up dead," Ron offered to the discussion going on as he settled himself on the last open chair. He grabbed the white paper bag Harry had been carrying, opening it and taking out a sandwich. "They are all just pawns in his chess game. He's temporarily keeping them alive so that he can hide out, but when the moment comes, they'll just be names on the long list of people he's murdered."
Harry scowled at Ron's statement, mostly because he happened to reach for the file with the long list of the dead their suspect had left behind. "We cannot be entirely sure on that, can we? He is a murderer, yes, but some of these people are his children. Surely he couldn't—"
"He can and will," Hermione interrupted the Auror. "I've examined his patterns, his mannerisms from the memories these people have of him, and everything points to him being a psychopath. He cannot tell the difference between family and strangers because he doesn't know mercy. He'll kill them once he's done with them."
Although it was odd for him to think that a cold-blooded murderer could care about his children, something that he's not yet been a witness of during his experience of fighting evil, Harry took Hermione's word for it. After all, the Brightest Witch of the Age was an expert: she was not just an Auror, but she had a degree in criminal psychology that gave her word even more authority.
"When are we ever going to know this wanker's name?" once again, Ron added to the discussion with his characteristic whine; this time as he looked over one of the many archives from the pile he left on Hermione's desk. "Or his appearance, for that matter? He gives a different name and looks like a completely different person with every group he encounters. For fuck sakes, the git has even been a woman!" He waved a photograph of a young, blonde girl. "Shacklebolt should really pass a law requiring all Metamorphmagi to register at the Ministry, just like all Animagi."
"There's so many flaws with that idea," Hermione replied distractedly as she scanned the profile of their suspect. "First, they are much harder to detect than someone transforming to an animal. Secondly, who's to say they won't register with another name and face? The legality of birth certificates is easily faked. Third, the Metamorphmagus gene is not—"
"Whatever, Hermione," Ron interrupted with a grunt. "I don't care. I'm just saying it would make our lives a whole lot easier at the moment. The only reason we managed to figure out there was one murderer was due those psychotic patterns you found with every one of his victims."
Harry cleared his throat as Hermione threw another one of her famous frowns at the redhead. It was usual for Hermione to be annoyed with Ron, but she was always more frustrated with their redheaded best friend when they unluckily worked cases together.
Usually, Ron's division hardly meshed with Hermione's, seeing as Ron's focus was primarily used in fieldwork, doing the actual catching of the bad guys. Hermione, though an Auror, was primarily used to detect behaviors and any other facts that were overlooked in cases (which were quite a lot, sadly). Harry preferred that Hermione hardly ever got involved with the physical part of being an Auror if he could help it, but this time she escaped his protection; hence, the team the Golden Trio made in order to solve this seemingly impossible case.
"Have you talked to Johnson, yet?" Harry was quick to distract Hermione before she hexed Ron.
Looking back at Harry, Hermione sighed as she leaned back against her chair, her shoulders drooping. "No, I have not; I'm sorry. I've been preoccupied with some of my other cases, but as soon as we're done here, I'll go and see him."
Harry nodded. "I'm hoping that after studying our suspect's children that Johnson will find facial similarities in order to construct a possible identification. It's not exactly standard, but at this point we're incredibly desperate to know his true appearance that we'll take a guess on it."
Hermione voiced her agreement and then returned her attention to reread the suspect's profile. Even though she had written it herself, there was still a possibility that she had overlooked a tiny detail.
As the three went off into a silence, Harry looking disapprovingly at the long list of victims, Ron eating another sandwich as he read an archive of one of the suspect's sons, the few minutes of independent work were disturbed by a knocking on the door. Whoever was on the other side, they didn't wait for Hermione's call to enter.
"Hello, you three." At the door, dressed to impress with a very flirty, knee-length cocktail dress, was a smiling Ginny. "All business in here as usual, I see."
Even though Ron nor Hermione seemed entirely pleased to see the redheaded woman, Harry couldn't fight off the giant smile on his face even if he tried. Though he was stressed to no end with this case, there was never a moment that seeing Ginny did not do wonders for his mood.
"I thought I was meeting you at home?" Harry rose from his chair, embracing Ginny and giving her a quick peck to her lips. "It's not even seven yet."
"You are right, it isn't seven, Harry—it's eight now."
Harry let out a curse. "We lost our dinner reservations, haven't we? Hell. I'm sorry, Gin."
"I figured you were going to lose track of time, as it is customary of you, so I Flooed the restaurant. As soon as I mentioned Harry Potter, the manager was quick to reserve his best table all night long for us." Ginny smirked at Harry's sour, uncomfortable expression. "Come off it, you love it there."
Harry grumbled at the unwanted attention he was still getting in his twenty-six years of age. He hadn't done anything remarkable since Voldemort, yet the world was keen in treating him like he was the Queen of England.
"You'll join us for dinner, won't you, Hermione?" At the mention of her name, the brunette glanced up to see Ginny staring at her expectantly. "Ron is going, along with what's-her-face. Not to mention Oliver Wood will be there, and you know he's had his eye on you for a long time."
Ron glared at his sister. "First of all, her name is Tracey Davis, not what's-her-face," Ginny rolled her eyes at this, "and you never mentioned Wood would be there."
"Does it matter?" instigated Ginny.
"Of course it does! I don't want to sit through dinner with that git!"
Hermione let out a low groan at Ron's echoing shout. She placed the file she'd been examining onto her desk, and used her hands to rub circles on her temples. She'd been having a headache all bloody day, and it was certainly getting worse with Ron and his old grudges hanging around.
Long ago, back when the end of war was fresh, she and Ronald decided to try a relationship. Everything seemed promising, seeing how close they'd grown and the blooming love they felt since before the war had commenced. It seemed right at the time, sort of destined in a way. She knew that a relationship with Ron would be tricky, considering how often they argued, but she thought her love for him could overcome that. She was wrong, of course.
Around when they were twenty-one, after four years of dating, Hermione could no longer keep her frustration silent with him, and their rowing began. Little by little, the relationship started falling apart. Before total devastation, Oliver Wood became quite a good friend of Ginny's, spending some nights with the Golden Trio and the Weasleys, and he'd shown interest in Hermione—a respectful kind of interest. Being the hot-head that he was, Ron didn't take that harmless interest well. No longer able to handle his jealousy or brooding, Hermione ended their relationship. Since then, Ron had been convinced that a tiny part of Hermione decided to break up with him because she fancied Oliver. Although Ron and her were in good terms now, still best friends despite it all, he was still touchy on the subject and it still annoyed Hermione to no end.
"I'll pass," responded Hermione, opening her eyes after trying to wish away her headache, "but thank you for the invitation, Gin. Oh, but do say hello to Oliver for me."
"You don't mind that Ron and I take off, then, do you?" questioned Harry as he glanced between the stack of work and at his best friend. "We could always reschedule."
Hermione laughed for the first time that day. Harry offered to cancel his dinner date with Ginny, but he knew that his wife would murder him if he did. Besides, it was not as if Hermione didn't know Harry longed to spend all the time he could with Ginny; they were recently wed, it's what new couples did during the honeymoon phase.
"You lot go on," Hermione said with a bit of that previous amusement, "I'll make it another time."
As Harry placed back the file he had onto the stack and Ron dusted off his clothes and face from bread crumbs, Ginny gave her brunette friend a frown. "You are always going to reschedule. And I don't mean with us, your mates, but with love in general. There could be great potential with you and Oliver."
Hermione let out a giant sound that expressed her deep annoyance. "Ginny, not this again!" She threw her arms on her desk and hid her face in them.
"Oh, Hermione, come on! I'm just trying to get you back into dating! You haven't gone out with a single bloke since Michael Corner, and that was a two years ago! I just don't want you to be alone anymore. Besides, I know how great Oliver would be to—"
Hermione's heart filled with praise for the Higher Power that sent a miracle her way. Ginny had stopped her rambling when there was knocking on her door. Immediately, to show whoever it was her complete gratitude, Hermione looked up to attend her visitor. Upon realizing who it was, her praises were cut short and she felt a type of tension swell in her abdomen.
"Granger," Draco Malfoy called for the brunette after giving and getting a fleeting look of greeting from the others in her office. "I need your notes for the case we are presenting tomorrow morning to the Wizengamot."
Frozen for a moment, Hermione nodded slowly at the man. "Yeah, um, sorry," she muttered, "I've just been swamped today. I should've sent them earlier, but I've..." She trailed off as she gaped at the scatter of archives on her usually tidy desk.
"Okay, we better get going," spoke Harry with a hint of guilt. "We'll see you tomorrow, 'Mione."
"Please go home tonight," Ron added, "or you'll be a nightmare in the morning."
Harry glared at the redhead. "Don't be a twat."
"What? You know it's true. Besides, I'm saying it because I care. She needs a proper night's rest."
As Ron exited Hermione's office, without sparing a look at the blonde inside, Ginny turned to address Hermione once more before Harry directed her out. "Consider what I just said, yeah? Oliver's a fantastic bloke and he fancies you, Hermione. Give it a shot; you might find love."
"I don't have time for love, Ginny," sighed Hermione, but before the redhead could add more to her repetitive conversation, she was quick to say, "but I'll contemplate it. Now, be gone. Have fun."
At the glee that reflected off Ginny's face, Hermione waited until Harry escorted his wife out of her office and closed the door behind them. As soon as she heard it shut, she used a bit of wandless magic to make sure the door was securely locked and that her friends could no longer get back in.
"Granger," Malfoy called again, watching carefully as the brunette had forgotten that he was waiting on her and she tiredly sagged against her chair, "the notes. Now."
With a loud groan, Hermione grabbed her wand and Accio'd the notes from underneath the disaster of files Ron and Harry had left behind. Once they appeared in the air, she watched Malfoy reach for them. His silver eyes scanned them over, and Hermione knew he was making sure they were up to his standards—even though they've always been, considering that it was Hermione Granger who wrote them. He sat on the chair Harry had been on previously, and remained silent.
With a rolling of her eyes, Hermione rose from her own seat and stretched. Her bones cracked and she felt the pressure on her shoulders slightly ease. Her right hand went to the back of her head and she pulled out the hairpin that had been keeping her hair into a neat bun. She pulled at the bun, unwinding it, then ran her fingers into her scalp to shake out her wild curls.
"You're not going home, are you, Granger?" Malfoy stopped looking over her notes as soon as he heard her get up from her chair. He watched her fluff out her curls, the vanilla scent of her shampoo radiating from her tresses and filling the distance that separated them.
She gave him a quick glance before she went to the small dresser she kept in her office. "Why do you say that?" she asked over her shoulder. She opened one of the doors of the dresser and reached for an empty hanger to place her blazer on.
"You're transforming from uptight to casual," he said from the background, still observing her. "Pop open one more button from your blouse and it could be concluded that you're going to see a bloke."
She turned to face Malfoy. Hermione pressed her back against the doors of the dresser and crossed her arms over her chest. "So what if I am?" she said to him casually, softly. "Who knows, maybe I'm meeting Oliver Wood at his place and staying up all night long."
As soon as she mentioned the taboo name, Malfoy reacted along the lines as Ron previously had. Instead of complaining from his seat as her friend had, however, Malfoy stood and was pressed against the brunette in one quick movement. His hands were gripping her shoulders, not too tightly, but enough to reflect his irritation with her tactless comment.
"He can't have you, Granger," Malfoy whispered dangerously, his mouth close to her lips as he dug those bewitching, silver eyes down at her. "Not until I'm done with you."
Usually, Hermione would've slapped him across the face for thinking that he could get away with thinking that she was some sort of possession, but she had incited him. Purposely, she asked for the reaction she got and she quite liked it.
So instead of angering herself, Hermione rose onto her toes, her lips that much closer to his, and murmured, "what are you waiting for, then?"
The rest was all mouth, teeth, tongue, and flesh tied together with passion and need.
AN: Hello, lovely readers! I'm coming back with a new Dramione story. It's been so long since I've written anything, and it feels amazing to be back. I've had a lot of free time this past three weeks, and I was inspired. I don't know how long it'll last, so this is why this story will be a mini-story.
Anyway, I hope you guys like this! And, I hope you lot had a great Christmas! (: