My mind began to wander as I gingerly took a glittering pinch of Floo powder and stepped towards one of the fireplaces in the Daily Prophet. I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing this. What would Malfoy think of me when he saw me again? Would he kick me out and even ask for security? But I wasn’t a threat to him… dear Merlin. I tried to explain it to Patrick, but if this all goes downhill, then I can just pull the “I told you so.”
I realized that I had been daydreaming too long when someone behind me tapped my shoulder and said “Excuse me! I’m in a bit of a rush. Will you please hurry up?”
“There are other fireplaces open,” I said, trying to keep the irritation out of my tone.
“Closed for repairs! Closed for cleaning!” the rude wizard, whose name I had never managed to remember, pointed out rigidly.
“Fine!” I croaked.
I threw the pinch of fire into the orange flames, which immediately turned jade and danced above my head. I stepped into the flames and shouted angrily, “Mr. Malfoy’s office! DM Wands!”
As I began to spin and twist in the flames, I wished that I could have thrown the Floo powder into the nameless man’s face instead.
Within a flash I landed in a larger and much cleaner fireplace and slowly stepped out into the very, very large office.
On either side of me was very expensive dragon hide furniture with fancy glass coffee tables. Exquisite torches sat in exquisite brackets on the wall, and the now cheery, roaring fire gave a lovely glow. The beige, manticore-skin rug on the floor gave a homey touch to the office, and straight ahead was a glass desk, organized with parchment and quills. Behind the desk was a floor to ceiling window with an incredible view of London. The desk chair was empty though, and my heart felt as if it would leap out of my chest.
I couldn’t speak. I tried clearing my throat, but it almost felt impossible to do, as if the frog there had found himself a suitable home and would never leave. I took another few steps forward, finding that there were two corridors on either side of me which led to even more rooms. The place seemed more like a house than an office.
I cleared my throat again. “Mr. Malfoy?” It came out in a squeaky whisper, and I cleared my throat again--harder. “Mr. Malfoy?” I was glad to find that my voice sounded normal.
I turned towards the right corridor, hearing something. Shower water?
I hoped very much that Malfoy had stuck to the time that we set up. How could he be late, or worse, in the shower? I suddenly felt uncomfortable, and didn’t know what to do. Glancing at my wristwatch, I found that our meeting should’ve started five minutes ago.
My feet led me to his desk, and I took a seat in one of the dragon hide chairs opposite his desk. Setting my bag down, I loosened my cloak a little bit, finding myself to be warmer than usual.
The minutes ticked past, and Malfoy still had not stepped out of the shower. I realized that it was now half an hour past the regular meeting time, and I began to become more and more impatient. How long did it take him to shower?
Feeling angry, I stood up, and marched down the corridor. I had had enough of waiting, and decided to yell at him if I had to (and I very much wanted to do so). There were many doors, one leading to a rec room with a wizard-billiards table, a talon-tossing target set, and a mini bar. Another door led to a room filled with more furniture and shelves filled with spell encyclopedias and other worn-looking books, and--dear Merlin--another mini bar. I was able to discover the door with the shower behind it, and raised my fist to rap on the door.
But something stopped me.
A noise had come from behind the door, and my entire body seemed to have stiffened. It was a laugh. But not just one--two. There were two people in the bathroom, one voice which I recognized to be a woman and the other a man. And I didn’t have to figure out what they were doing in there together. (Scrubbing each other’s backs? Ha! Fat chance…)
I very silently took a step away from the door, mortified, angry, and disgusted at the same time. It finally dawned on me that Draco Malfoy was not only a Multi-Billionaire, but also a Multi-Billionaire Playboy now from my point of view… or maybe that was his girlfriend in there with him… oh, for Merlin’s sake…
I walked back down the hall and to my things which remained by the chair. I gathered them quickly--too quickly. The strap of my bag hooked onto the arm of the chair, and without knowing, as I started for the fireplace, the chair went with me.
The chair fell over with a bang that made my ears ring. And the worst part was that I knew they would’ve heard it, too. My face turning crimson, I quickly turned the chair upright on the floor and walked again towards the fireplace. I reached down to grab some Floo powder but all I found was a tightly sealed container. My heart was racing in my chest as I heard the noise of a door on its hinges. Someone was stepping out of the bathroom. I gripped madly at the Floo powder cover, but it wouldn’t budge.
The sound of soft thuds on the manticore-skin rug rang in my ears, and I felt my body stiffen.
“Can I help you?” an amused voice asked.
I stood up, turned, and felt my eyeballs bulge. A familiar face, only older, stared back at me. It was Draco Malfoy, standing in front of me wearing nothing but a white, fluffy towel. The rest of his body was wet, and I couldn’t peel my eyes away from his muscular figure. His gray eyes were on me, all crinkly from that dimpled smile that glowed on his face, and his platinum blonde hair was matted and messy from his shower. The single flaw that stuck out from his Greek God like body was a single, white, scarred cut which traced from his right-hand shoulder and down to his left-hand waist. It streaked across his torso, and looked like it had been a very ghastly wound, indeed.
But my attention didn’t stay on his grisly scar for long. The only thoughts that flooded my mind was who was standing before me.
That was Draco Malfoy? That couldn’t be him--he couldn’t have dimples like that! And that smile! I had never, ever seen a smile like that. That couldn’t possibly be him!
I found that I had been staring at him for quite some time, and that I had been gawking at the same time, too. Feeling embarrassed, I quickly turned on the spot, my back to him. I heard a chuckle come out of his mouth.
“Excuse me. I’m… erm… sorry,” I said, trying to hold back my own laughter. “I’ll just go if I’m… uh… disturbing you.”
“No, no. There’s no need for that. Why don’t you have a seat, and I’ll be back in a few minutes. What was your name again?”
This couldn’t be Draco Malfoy. He was being so… nice. “Naomi Gypsum. I’m a journalist from the Daily Prophet. Patrick Benningham--my boss--set up a meeting for us today at nine o’clock.”
“So sorry,” he apologized, although the sincerity was nowhere to be found. “Lost track of the time.” That sounded a little more like the old Malfoy that I knew, and after hearing his footsteps as they disappeared down the corridor, I turned and headed back towards his desk, chortling to myself.
It was so obvious as to why I was laughing like that. The boy whom I had despised in school is now an incredibly good looking man who I just happened to see half naked. Of course, his towel was barely on and there was water running across his impeccably strong torso. Why shouldn’t I be giggling like a little enamored girl? No wonder Monica was screaming in my ear in the meeting yesterday.
Within a few minutes, the woman whom I had heard before appeared down the corridor. Her hair was wet, and she was dressed in expensive, designer clothes with a designer bag and shoes. She was probably some fashion model, and of course she was a witch. Malfoy sleeping with a muggle would be completely absurd. The answer to my question came when I saw that of a fancy designed wand sticking out of her back pocket.
She gave no notice to me whatsoever. Actually, she looked quite angry, as if I had interrupted the most important moment of her life or something. I watched her approach the fireplace. She tapped the cover of the Floo powder container with her wand. The lid twisted off by itself and floated in mid-air, waited for her to take a pinch of the glittering Floo powder, then twisted itself back on tightly.
Oh, I thought miserably.
As she threw the pinch of powder in the opening, she stepped into the fireplace, mumbling her destination. The last I saw of her was a sneer spoiling her face. Then she was gone.
Malfoy entered again about ten minutes after the supermodel left, wearing a crisp, navy blue suit which was proof enough for me that he even looked good with clothes on. His hair was dry and slicked back in a manner that reminded me of school. Still keeping up the old hairdo, I see.
“Terribly sorry about my forgetfulness,” he apologized as he strolled towards me. I couldn’t help but feel my ears redden as he placed a hand on my shoulder, letting it slide across the back of my neck and to my other shoulder as he passed me. “I really do need to keep track of my schedule.”
I didn’t say anything back. The problem was because I had a bad time communicating with men who caused me to goo-goo eye at them. So what was I to say?
I simply nodded and smirked at him, watching as he took a seat and poured himself a glass of an amber colored liquid. Firewhisky, I suppose.
“Care to have a drink?” he asked me.
“At ten o’clock in the morning?” I asked, my eyebrow cocked. “No thank you.”
Once he finished pouring his drink, his sat down and began to sip it.
“You’re… er… drinking it dry?”
“Sure. Why not? A nice wake up call for the morning.”
I just nodded in reply, wondering if Malfoy had become so nice because he had first gone completely insane.
“What did you say your name was again?” Malfoy asked me.
“Naomi Gypsum. Actually… we’ve met before.”
“Have we?” asked Malfoy with a crooked smile. “Where?”
“We went to Hogwarts together. Same year.”
The smile from Malfoy’s face disappeared, and I suddenly felt my fingertips turn to ice. Uh oh. Would he turn back into the nasty little brat now that he knew my name?
I become surprised that he remembered. “Um, yes.”
“You always wore your hair in braids for our first year. You stopped then, and started straightening it,” Malfoy recalled. I was very surprised that he remembered something like that, and even more surprised that he had observed such a detail in the first place.
“Trying to get attention, eh?” Malfoy asked with a sneer as he took a sip of his drink. The nice voice which had coated his vocal cords before had disappeared, and was replaced by the icy tone that I recognized from school.
“No,” I snapped back. “I started wearing my hair straight because as I recall, you kept dipping my braids in the ink bottle like some immature eight-year-old.”
“So the last time we saw each other,” said Malfoy, ignoring my comment, “was exactly… three years ago?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“And how old were we then?” Malfoy asked.
“Seventeen.” I wondered what he was getting at.
“And how old are we now?”
“Twenty,” I answered.
“So… a total of three years…”
“Yeah, and your point is?”
“My point is that… it’s been three years, and what happened in Hogwarts is behind us,” Malfoy explained. “All time in the past. Things that we can look back at and laugh about.”
I snorted. “I don’t think so.” I crossed my arms and legs, hoping that we could just get on with the interview and I could finally go back to Patrick and tell him that I no longer wanted the story, that he could give it to someone else.
“Why not?” asked Malfoy. “Why not… start all over? Act like mature adults?”
“Because most of the trouble that you started back in Hogwarts is not ‘forgettable.’ Actually, what you did was very revolting. I don’t think anybody who you made fun of at Hogwarts will ever forgive you for what you did because you don’t really deserve to be forgiven… you did a lot more than put my hair in ink. Far worse things, Malfoy.”
“Please, call me Draco,” he said, as if he hadn’t even been listening to what I was saying.
“So, Draco, nothing you did to me will be forgotten--believe me, I do try to forget about it--all of those things you did, which caused me so much humiliation and embarrassment--I know they could never just be buried in the past. But when I look at you…” I trailed off, because I had just set myself in a trap of my own creation. I was just going to say that he looked different than he had at Hogwarts. That if I kept looking at him, I surely wouldn’t care about any of the things he pulled on me back in school. But I wanted to remember them… I didn’t want to like him and become some sort of hypocrite.
“What is it when you look at me?” asked Draco, a sexy smile sliding onto his face that caused my heart to flutter.
I yanked my eyes away from his face and looked at my hands. “Forget it… can we just get on with this interview?”
“Fine by me,” Draco replied. “But I need to ask you one more thing.”
“Go on,” I told him.
“Why are you keeping a grudge with me? I’ve changed, Naomi.” It surprised me when he called me Naomi, because all he ever called me back at Hogwarts was “Gypsum” or some sort of “nickname.”
“What’s that suppose to mean? That you’ve ‘changed’,” I said back. Didn’t he get it? At all? He didn’t understand the torment that I had gone through, did he? No wonder he didn’t understand. “What do you care what I think of you? You don’t even like me… can’t we just get on with this meeting?”
“I don’t want any grudges between us, Naomi,” he said, “because we’ll be working together for quite some time.”
“Whaddya mean?” I asked. This was just one meeting… wasn’t it? Oh, Merlin, what had you done now, Patrick?
“We have several meetings to go through.”
“We do?” I asked him in surprise. “No we don’t. We just have this one, Mr. Malfoy.”
“Call me Draco. And no. You don’t actually think you’ll tour this entire building in one hour, do you?” he asked me with a cocked eyebrow. “No, you’ll need lots more time on this assignment if you’re going to tour my building.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say back. More than one day? Ugh. Maybe I could just have Patrick switch me with someone…
“What are you thinking?” asked Malfoy, his eyes on mine as I broke out of my thoughts.
“Actually, I have to get going. This meeting was only suppose to be an hour long, and I’m already late. Patrick will probably want a rundown of how things went. He can be quite impatient, you know.”
“I don’t think that impatient. Please; stay. Have a drink. We can even start the tour today.”
I shook my head and smiled, trying to be polite. “My schedule is pretty full, Mr. Malfoy-”
“Draco,” he reminded.
“So I think I’ll be off, Draco,” I exclaimed.
“Come back anytime,” he told me as I turned my back and walked away.
Tapping the Floo powder container with my wand and removing a pinch, I snuck a quick peek back at him only to discover that he was again displaying that seductive smile. My cheeks turned a bright crimson as I threw the pinch into the fireplace and stepped into the opening, mumbled “Daily Prophet,” and let myself be swallowed by the emerald fires.
Author’s Note: I had the greatest time writing this chapter in particular! Can you guess why??? Lol XD Anyways, should I keep writing? Please, please, tell me what you think!
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