Chapter 4 : It's Just Business
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Sorry for the long wait...trimesters are not fun:( Finals again! Here's chapter 4 of The Very First Kiss....
"And I have filled this void with things unreal,
all the while my character it steals."
Roll Away Your Stone, Mumford and Sons
Amazing chapter image by Anna_Black at TDA!
Blaise Zabini twisted his custom, intricately engraved silver watch between his fingers as the tiny second hand scurried through its laps around the gleaming sapphires. Slowly, he lifted his piercing emerald eyes to survey the beams of sun that began to warm his rather sizeable corporate office. Behind his mahogany desk, through the glass windows that reached from the base of the floor to the high ceiling, the gleaming sun painted its morning tapestry across the Thames. As his gold rings began to tap against the morning’s daily prophet, he sighed impatiently under his breath as his secretary stepped through one of the double doors.
“Good morning, Mr. Zabini.”
“Hi Alana,” he grunted, in a weak attempt to hide his frustration.
The thin brunette noticed his demeanor as she placed a stack of files in front of Blaise.
“Please tell me he’s in his office. Or even in this building,” Blaise shot.
Alana coughed as she pulled a string of her wavy hair behind her ear.
“Um…no. He isn’t. But we both know it’s a little early for him,” she said, shaking her head with a small chuckle.
Blaise moaned angrily as he stood from his leather chair.
“I know that. But just this morning, this one little morning, he needed to be here on time. He knows how important this bloody merger is!”
Alana’s eyes followed Blaise as he paced to the sitting area opposite the pair.
“Do you want me to go get him?” Alana asked.
Blaise shook his head.
“No,” he sighed, “I’ll go.”
She handed him his coat.
“Thanks. I’ll be back,” he mumbled as he stepped through the door.
He reached the manor nestled in the emerald pines within a few moments after his apparition. Surveying the exterior, Blaise failed to notice any movement behind the giant glass windows. He shook his head as the gravel drive crunched beneath his Italian loafers before he reached the massive wooden door. After peering through the small opening between the wooden slats, he pounded his fist in four short but assertive knocks. Blaise shifted his weight as he placed his hands in the pockets of his suit, waiting for a reply.
The sound of the unlocking deadbolt clunked from inside the manor, and after a few seconds, the door was opened. Blaise found himself facing the butler of the estate, who warmly smiled.
“Good Morning Mr. Zabini.”
“Hi, Martin. Where is he?” he asked impatiently.
The older man cleared his throat.
“He’s still in bed. A very late night, as always.
At this, Blaise sighed.
“Of course it was.”
Martin ushered Blaise inside as the massive door closed.
“Shall I go wake him for you?”
“Thanks Martin, but I think he deserves a bit of a rude awakening,” Blaise responded with a trademark Sytherin smirk.
Draco Malfoy yawned as he stretched his bare, toned arms over his head. Through the nearby bay window, the morning sun projected beams of light across the enormous master bedroom. After re-positioning the emerald silk sheets upon his chest, Draco threw his arms behind his head, and smiled to himself. He reached his right hand to prod the empty space beside him, realizing that the source of last night’s enjoyment had already departed earlier in the morning. His fingers grasped a wrinkled piece of parchment that had been delicately placed on the pillow beside him, and on it, a scribbled address with a small heart beside the woman’s name.
With the smile still stretched across his face, Draco grinned as he complimented himself on last night, as well as how fantastic his life was playing out at this very moment. He was only twenty two years old, and was already heading one of the largest and most successful investing corporations in the wizarding world. He and his best mate, Blaise Zabini were co-presidents, and together, their dazzling looks and handsome demeanors had secured a powerful place in the lives of all businesses, firms, and daily dealings throughout the world. On top of the wealth, fame, and success, he was one of the most eligible and sought after bachelors throughout the wizarding community. He could, in other words, have any woman he wanted.
Draco dealt with business in his own way. He could make any deal look desirable, and any investment worth looking at with his charm. Of course, things were much different with female clients. It seemed that whenever he was finished dealing business with them, things just always seemed to work out. Blaise wasn’t always pleased with how Draco did his business, but overlooked it, because the deals kept on bringing in more and more money for his company. Quite pleased with himself, Draco stretched one last time, and pulled the covered up further on his chest.
“I’m such a lucky bastard,” he murmured with a smirk.
Before he could react, one of the double doors was thrown open. Standing fuming in the doorway, was none other than Blaise himself.
“What the hell are you still doing in bed?” Blaise shouted as he grabbed a beaded cushion of a nearby couch and launched it at Draco’s head.
Draco deflected it with his arm, just as Blaise threw another pillow at him. In retaliation, Draco tossed his pillow in Blaise’s direction.
“Ok, ok truce! I’m awake,” Draco snapped.
Blaise stood over the bed beside him.
“You didn’t forget about the merger today, did you?”
Draco stretched as he stood from his bed, waving his hand as he tied a robe around his waist.
“Of course not Blaise. I was just on my way.”
Blaise narrowed his gaze humorously.
“Sure you were.”
Draco sarcastically placed his hand across his heart.
“Do you doubt your best mate and business partner? I’m extremely hurt. Really, I am. Just look at me.”
“Oh stop with the dramatics,” Blaise responded.
He paused, surveying the room.
“You have no idea.”
A grimace appeared on Blaise’s face.
“Alright, alright, no details…Will you see her again?”
Blaise shook his head in response.
“One of these days, you need to find a girl that can stay longer than a few nights.”
“You sound like my mother.”
“Well, maybe she’s right.”
Draco walked into his master closet and began to put on his suit, still carrying out his conversation with Blaise.
“Come on. I’m only twenty-two. I’ve barely lived yet.”
Blaise crossed his arms over his chest.
“You know that our mothers were both married at that age. Or at least in a serious relationship.”
Draco smirked as he walked out from the closet, still straightening his collar and his cuff-links.
“Ah, making a statement for Astoria, are we?”
Blaise’s cheeks flushed.
“We’ve been together for a year and a half. I consider that a serious relationship.”
The smirk never left Draco’s face.
“Well, I guess you can.”
Blaise glanced at his timepiece.
“Of course you can. Anything longer than a year is serious. Everyone knows that.”
From behind the door, he heard Draco stifle a laugh.
“Everyone, really. Or did you happen to make that one up on the spot?”
“Come on. You’re one to talk. The longest relationship you’ve had since Hogwarts was that sixth month fling with the Austrailian minister’s niece. And I hardly would consider that a romantic, emotionally invested relationship.”
“Believe me, Blaise. It was very romantic….”
“I said no details, remember?”
He eyed Draco as he emerged from the closet, fully dressed.
“Sorry, forgot. Some things are never meant to be said. Especially for your delicate ears. Alright, I’m ready. Let’s go.”
Draco ushered Blaise from his room as he closed the door behind him. When the pair began to descend the stairs, Martin was waiting for them.
“I see you found Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Zabini.”
Blaise threw a smirk in Draco’s direction.
He waited as Martin handed Draco his coat.
“Good luck with the merger.”
‘Thanks, Martin,” Draco responded.
As he pulled his coat over his shoulders, following Blaise into the morning air, he smiled.
“I don’t think I’m going to need it. I can just feel it.”
Before he turned in place to apparate, Blaise grinned after rolling his eyes.
The office was bustling with fervid activity when the pair reached the top level after an elevator ride. Blaise and Draco warmly greeted their staff as they proceeded down the painting lined hall to their offices.
“Lovely day, isn’t it Blaise,” Draco remarked, as he glanced at the morning sun over the Thames through the windows, “I feel a successful merger coming on.”
Blaise re-tightened his cufflinks as he followed Draco into his office.
“I hope you’re right.”
Draco strode over to his large desk, and threw his black coat on the nearby sofa.
“Am I ever wrong?” Draco replied with a smirk.
Blaise brought his hand to his freshly shaven chin.
“Hmm, let’s see…”
Draco held up a hand as he leaned against the front of his desk.
“Rhetorical question Blaise, rhetorical question.”
Before Blaise could retort, Alana entered through the door.
“Good morning, Mr. Malfoy.”
“Same to you, Alana.”
Blaise rolled his eyes as his secretary blushed at Draco’s crooked smile.
“The firm is going to be here anytime during the next ten minutes. You two should probably head to the conference room.”
“Thanks Alana,” Blaise responded before he turned to Draco, “Are you ready?”
Draco crossed his arms against his toned chest.
“I was born for this, Blaise.”
The two proceeded to follow Alana out of the office. As Draco walked beside Blaise, he chuckled.
“Blaise, stop fidgeting with your suit. You look dashing.”
He watched Blaise throw him a narrow eyed look.
“If I don’t look good and feel good, then I don’t perform well. It’s just the way it is.”
Draco placed a hand on his best mate’s shoulder.
“We’ll be fine. They need this deal more than we do.”
When they reached the conference room, Alana entered before them, and quickly re-appeared, her face reddened with worry.
“The whole firm is already there! Apparently they’ve been waiting for ten minutes!”
Panic pulsed through Blaise’s veins as he turned to Draco.
“We’re only three minutes late. Now we’re already walking in tardy. Dammit,” Blaise spat in a whisper.
Draco fixed his collar and ran a hand through his blond white hair.
“Not to worry Blaise. They need this deal and they know it. Let’s go.”
The two entered the room, and were faced with a dozen executives from the small firm staring directly at them. Blaise stepped beside Draco to give his introductions.
“Gentlemen, Ladies of the Stockwood firm, I would personally like to welcome you all to the corporate offices of Malfoy & Zabini. Sorry for our brief absence. We had a small piece of business to attend you,” he glared at Draco from the corner of his eye, “Thank you so much for coming.”
The CEO, an older gentlemen with broad shoulders and black rimmed spectacles repositioned himself in his chair before greeting the two.
“I’ve looked forward to meeting you both, Mr. Zabini and Mr. Malfoy.”
The conversation stalled for a moment as Blaise and Draco lowered themselves into identical leather chairs beside each other.
“Should we get straight to the business, Mr. Stockwood?” Draco asked as he laced his fingers after placing his elbows on the mahogany table, “After all, you are a very busy man.”
Mr. Stockwood eyed Draco as he leaned back into his chair.
“I happen to be, Mr. Malfoy, despite the smaller size of my company. I take great pride in the success that is a result of our work, coming from a firm that I built myself from the ground up twenty-eight years ago.”
“If I may, Mr. Stockwood, what brings you to us, then?”
Mr. Stockwood coughed into his gold rings before replying.
“Even though my company is extremely successful for its size, it does have its limitations. We don’t have the marketing staff, the funds, or the connections that a company of your size has. I feel, in a way, that we are being held from reaching our true potential.”
“You’re very right, sir,” answered Blaise, “By merging with our company, your firm can double its investments and its cliental. The options are limitless.”
“I’m sure they are.”
To Blaise’s left, Draco brought his hands together.
“Excellent. Mr. Stockwood, you’ve made an intelligent and very wise decision,” Draco announced as he motioned for Alana.
“Our secretary has the contract right here. In just a few minutes, we can make this union official.”
Just as Draco reached for the papers compiling the contract, Mr. Stockwood spoke.
“Not so fast, Mr. Malfoy. I do have my concerns.”
Blaise dropped his bottom jaw a fraction, and to his left, Draco was genuinely taken back, which rarely happened.
“Excuse me, sir?”
Behind his spectacles, his eyes narrowed.
“Mr. Malfoy, your networking of enterprises is no doubt successful. But my main concern is for my company. I created it with my own hands, fed it with my own finances, and spent countless hours building my staff and cliental. This firm is very close to my heart.”
Mr. Stockwood interrupted.
“…and I don’t want to see it be thrown alongside carelessly among other smaller companies to be exploited and forgotten.”
Blaise attempted to join the rebuttal.
“Mr. Stockwood, your concerns are quite valid, but very unlikely. True, we have merged with others in the past, but neither are thrown aside or placed lower on any list, I can assure you.”
Mr. Stockwood contemplated his words for a moment, before leaning forward on the table.
“I’m not a naïve small businessman, “he brought his gaze to Draco, “Your company has a reputation, and I’m sure you know of it. Even though you are very successful, you are too straight forward, somewhat arrogant, even ruthless, I don’t want the name of my company tarnished.”
Draco leaned back into his chair, attempting to formulate a response to Mr. Stockwood’s direct statement. To his right, Blaise placed his jaw into his hand, eyeing his business partner. Before he could respond, a new voice chimed from beside Mr. Stockwood.
“Please forgive my father’s directness. All he means is that despite our success in the global market, our company is a family business, with friendly connections. We are a simple, humble firm, and have no desire to be exploited, no matter the possible rewards.”
Blaise and Draco eyed the woman who had just spoken. She was young, maybe around the same age as them. Her thin frame was covered in a pin-stripe blazer jacket, and her pencil skirt stopped above her knees to reveal tone, slender legs. The woman’s intense blue eyes bore into theirs, which rested above high cheek bones, and champagne colored lips. Her dirty-blond hair was pulled into a tight bun that rested in the nape of her neck.
Draco coughed into his hand before flashing his piercing grey pupils into hers. He straightened himself further in his seat, and put a small smile on his face.
“He is forgiven, Ms…”
Draco waited for her name.
“Celine. Celine Stockwood,” she responded with a small fraction of a grin.
“As I was saying, he is forgiven, Ms. Celine. His concerns are quite valid, but I can assure you all that you, as our highest grossing merger, will be taken care of with expert hands. We don’t take these deals lightly, and only make these unions with those who we trust with all sincerity. As for our reputation, yes, measures must be taken to compete in this global market, but you can’t believe every word you hear about our endeavors. Every action taken is for good measure,” Draco replied, his eyes never leaving Celine’s intense gaze.
“That’s very assuring, don’t you think father?” she proposed as she turned to her father.
Mr. Stockwood cleared his throat.
“It is. But if you don’t mind, I would prefer if we made our final decisions after a private discussion. I’m afraid we can’t stay much longer, but we will make our decision about the merger privately, and send you our answer as soon as possible.”
Mr. Stockwood stood from his seat.
“Thank you for your time.”
“No, thank you sir. We’ll be anticipating your response,” Draco replied, finally breaking his stare with Celine.
Blaise and Draco shook hands with each member as they stood from their seats and exited into the hall. After a few minutes, Mr. Stockwood and Celine remained.
“I apologize for sounding to forward, Mr. Zabini, Mr. Malfoy,” He stated as he firmly grasped each of their hands.
“Your concerns were very valid and respectable sir. This is a big decision for your company as your family. We look forward to the prospect of doing business with you in the future, Mr. Stockwood.”
“Thank you for coming,” replied Draco.
Mr. Stockwood exited the room as he was summoned by one of his board members, leaving Celine along with Alana, Draco and Blaise.
“Your achievements are admirable, Mr. Zabini. I hope to be conducting business with you soon,” she stated after shaking his hand.
“Thank you Ms. Stockwood.”
As she turned to Draco, Blaise watched her out of the corner of his eye as he took the contract from Alana.
Draco put a devilish smirk on his face as Celine approached him, holding out her hand.
“So the rumors are true. You are as handsome as you are ruthless, Mr. Malfoy.”
He chuckled as he grasped her manicured hand.
“Please, call me Draco. And you are as stunning are you are intimidating, Ms. Stockwood.”
“Alright Draco, and I prefer Celine to the formal title that belongs to my mother.”
“A modern woman. Very impressive,” he answered with another smirk.
“I’m sorry about my father. He’s a bit old fashioned.”
He waved his hands.
“He shouldn’t worry for a second. His company will be in good hands.
Celine suddenly rested a delicate hand on his arm and brought her dark lips to his ear.
“Here’s my card. I’m staying at the Meurice Belle, suite 519. Come by at ten, and we can discuss our possible business partnership with further detail.”
Draco smirked as she released his shoulder and brought her eyes back to his.
“I won’t be a second late, and I look forward to our very interesting conversation.”
After one last grin, Celine turned and left the room to join her father. After the room was emptied, Draco glanced at the business card in his hands, with the scribbled hotel name and room number beneath Celine’s full printed name.
Blaise shook his head as he snatched the card from Draco.
“You’re unbelievable, you know that?”
“I’m innocent, Blaise. She came to me.”
Blaise rolled his eyes as he thrust the card back in Draco’s hand.
“Just finish the deal, and make sure you’re actually in this office on time tomorrow.”
Draco smirked as he eyed Blaise.
“Trust me. We’ll have a lot to talk about.”
A brass clock chimed its high pitched melody as the morning sun cast its beams into the hotel suite 519 from the glass windows that faced the city. On the King bed beside the window, Draco Malfoy rubbed his eyes as he surveyed his surroundings. The ornate room was decorated with golden vases and silverware, and various articles of clothing littered the marble floor. Most noticeable was the slender woman asleep beside him, whose blond waves were sprayed like a lion’s mane across her silk pillow.
Draco swore under his breath as he noticed the time. After throwing off the bedspread, he jumped around the suite, snatching his clothes, and quickly throwing them on. On the bed, Celine stirred.
“Are you leaving so soon, Draco?” she muttered through a soft morning voice.
After buttoning the last section of his shirt, he raced to the bed, and planted a soft kiss on her lips.
“I have to go to work. But thanks for the wonderful evening,” he replied with a smirk.
“I’ll talk to my father. Don’t worry about anything,” she answered with a smile.
Draco walked to the entrance and grasped the door handle.
Noticing that she had already fallen back to sleep on the bed, he stepped outside and continued down the hall. After an impatient elevator ride, and racing through the lobby, he glanced at his silver watch.
“Blaise is going to kill me,” he muttered under his breath as he sped through the doors.
When he reached his building, Draco pushed his way to the elevator, and sped down the hall to Blaise’s office. After pausing to fix his hair and suit in a window nearby, Draco strode through the door. Blaise was alone, leaning over papers at his desk.
“Well, good morning sunshine,” Blaise smirked, “Talk about a walk of shame. So, how’d it go?”
“We had a very interesting conversation.”
“Someone’s a little jealous,” Draco teased as he leaned against one of the glass windows that overlooked the river.
Blaise seemed to ignore the comment as he picked up a stack of papers in his hand.
“As your wise best mate, I would pass judgment, but do you know what this is?”
Draco shook his head as he attempted to read the print in Blaise’s hand.
“It’s the signed contract from the Stockwood firm. They just sent it over a few minutes ago. They agreed to the merger.”
Draco chuckled out loud as he grabbed the papers from Blaise and read over the signatures.
“I can’t believe it. She must have convinced her father to go ahead with the signing.”
His mood elevated even further, Draco walked over to the sitting area and sprawled out on one of the maroon leather couches.
Suddenly, Blaise sat up in his chair.
“Have you read the morning Daily Prophet yet?
Draco scoffed as he placed his hands behind his head.
“And when would I have had time to read the prophet this morning, Blaise? As you noticed, I was a little busy.”
Blaise ignored his remark, and picked up the prophet in his hands.
“You’re not going to believe this, but it’s all over the front page. Everyone’s been talking about this.”
Draco sat up from the couch and leaned against one of the side rests, eyeing Blaise.
“What is it?”
Blaise cleared his throat.
“Apparently Potter led an auror raid against that band of loyalist death eaters who’ve been leading attacks at some country estate last night.”
“There’s nothing special about Potter defeating evil as he usually does,” responded Draco, looking rather bored and uninterested.
Blaise held up a hand.
“Just listen. They captured four of the five, and the leader was left. Apparently he hit Granger with some dark curse.”
Draco sat up straighter in his seat.
“Granger was hit?”
“Yeah. She was knocked unconscious and they took her to St. Mungos, where she is now. They couldn’t wake her for a while, because they didn’t know what hit her. Then, the head healer found out what curse it was. Dormio Perpetus Satim.”
Draco threw up his hands.
“Can you speak English please? I’ve never heard of that curse before in my life.”
“That’s because it’s extremely rare. Anyways, they found out that they curse put her in an eternal sleep.”
Draco’s eyes widened.
“Eternal sleep? Can’t Granger just use her intelligent brains to wake herself up?”
Blaise shook his head.
“She’s in an eternal sleep. And listen to this. The only way to wake Granger is she has to be kissed by the very first man who kissed her. Apparently everyone’s worried, because she’s still asleep. There’s even rumors that Vitkor Krum, you know, she went to the Yule Ball with him fourth year, already tried to kiss her, but it didn’t work. Now personally, I thought it would be Weasley that did it, because he was obviously madly in love with her for all seven years, but I guess it isn’t him.”
“Potter and Weasley want everyone that was in our year to go to the hospital and talk to them, and see if any of us know anything about who kissed her first. This is unbelievable! It’s like some damn child’s fairytale.”
Blaise continued when Draco didn’t say anything in response.
“They want everyone, even Slytherins to go meet with them! Can you believe that? They actually think we would know who kissed Granger first. This is ridiculous.”
On the sofa, Draco turned white. While he continued to read, Blaise failed to notice the profane comment that Draco muttered to himself.
Hmmm.....Apparently Draco has a little secret that even Blaise doesn't know about. I wonder what that could be? :D
Thank you all for your patience! Again, my senior year has been crazy. To the max. I had so much fun writing this chapter. Along the way, I found myself smiling while I wrote:) I hope you all enjoyed it! Oh, and the rating had to be raised to mature, due to Draco Malfoy's lifestyle:)
By the way, does anyone listen to the band Mumford and Sons?? I'm listening to them all the time right now, and even used one of their songs in the quote. Check them out if you're looking for good music:)
Keep your eyes open for new updates for Trapped on Titanic and Just Decide too:)
Please review! It only takes a few little seconds!
Until next time,
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