Draco Malfoy let out a noise of relief as he placed the last stack of paperwork in the finished pile behind his desk.
“A colossal waste of time,” Draco mumbled as he placed his hands behind his head, and leaned backwards.
He glanced around the large office, surveying its tidiness, and even watched a few boats chug along the Thames.
Ever since the “Granger” issue had been resolved, he was in a much better state of mind. After she had woken up, Potter had kept his word, and the Prophet only mentioned an “Unidentified Man” who came to her rescue. He hadn’t seen any of them since their last, rather loud encounter, and Draco was satisfied with that. Draco had read that Granger had gone right back to work, and the world seemed to go back to normal.
Draco still visited his mother for lunch frequently, but never told her about his heroic moment. He was completely fine with none of his friends knowing, except Blaise of course, and that’s the way he wanted to keep things. When his mother prodded in the subject, he would quickly avoid anything related.
Blaise seemed to drop the issue, but would occasionally show signs of wanting to know more about his “accident” with Hermione. Draco knew Blaise was dying to know details, but knew better than to push the subject. Blaise was preparing himself in the act of proposing to Astoria, and that was where most of the energy that would’ve going into chiding Draco about the incident went.
As predicted, Blaise’s hinting of a proposal sent his mother on more discussions of marriage, and finding the proper lady. She had been partially successful, or at least Draco thought she had been, of halting the late night tirades with loose women. Draco hadn’t been physically with a woman in weeks, and for some reason, he was fine with that. For the time being, he was done with the Lucia Magdelinas visiting.
Draco’s job had become his priority, which was the right choice. He began paying close attention to their smaller merging partners, like the Stockwood firm, and enjoyed it. Fortunately, he hadn’t seen Celine since their last meeting. As for his tardiness, Draco began making sure he was in the office on time, which made Blaise a very happy businessman.
His thoughts were disrupted as Blaise entered his office.
“Astoria and I are going to grab some lunch. Would you care to join us?”
Draco shook his head.
“I think I’ll stay here and command the fort. Besides, Astoria wants to have a flirty lunch date with you, not me.”
Blaise shot him a playful glare before leaving.
“Alright, then. I just thought I should ask. I’ll see you later.”
Draco watched Blaise turn and exit into the hallway, before he returned to his resting position in his seat.
He stayed like this for a while, eyes fixed on the ceiling. Every so often he would close his eyes, or clear his throat, but he was relaxed and content.
Draco leaned forward and caught Alana standing by the door.
“There’s someone here to see you.”
“Let me guess, this isn’t on the schedule?”
“No, not on the schedule.”
“Alright, send them in.”
Draco half-expected Potter to step through the doors and greet him once again, so he braced himself. To his surprise, however, it wasn’t Potter who grabbed the handle and stepped into his office.
It was Hermione Granger.
He tensed as Hermione closed the door behind her and slowly made her way over to his desk.
“I’m fascinated to know what brings you to my office, Granger,” Draco shot in an attempt to cover his uneasiness.
Hermione seemed to ignore his comment, and gestured to the seat across from him.
“May I sit here?”
Draco gave her a curt nod, giving Hermione permission to lower herself into the chair. Once situated, Hermione began to look around the office, in an attempt to avoid his gaze.
“I never realized you were speechless in my presence,” Draco shot as he laced his fingers together.
Hermione narrowed her brow for a few seconds, before she sighed. Draco watched her cross and uncross her legs, as well as place her hair behind her ears.
“Look, Malfoy. When you came by last time, I didn’t get a proper chance to express my gratitude for what you did.”
“Well, whose fault was that?” Draco chided.
After another look, Hermione continued.
“When you…when I woke up and you were leaning over me, I was startled. It was only my natural instincts to slap you, really.”
“Sure,” Draco nodded while bringing a hand to rub his cheek; that slap had stung for a while.
“And this wasn’t your fault, it was just a misunderstanding. I guess I just didn’t believe what happened third year myself, and that’s why I didn’t tell anyone. Who would’ve guessed that I would be hit with a curse like that?”
“But I do think you should have helped sooner, Malfoy,” Hermione added, her tone dropping.
Draco watched her through his grey pupils.
“Maybe,” He shortly responded.
“But I can see why you would feel conflicted."
“And when I charged you, I was still in shock.”
“Right,” Draco sarcastically shot.
Hermione lifted her hands with a sigh.
“What I’m trying to say is that after what you did to save me, you didn’t deserve to be treated the way I treated you.”
She paused, and swallowed.
“I guess you could say that…say that I’m…I’m sorry.”
Draco had never been more surprised in his lifetime. Here, Granger had shown up in his office, taking full responsibility for their quarrel.
“Look, I know I said it before, but thank you for saving my life, Malfoy,” Hermione stated as she sat upright in the chair.
Draco pursed his lips as he surveyed Hermione.
“You’re welcome,” Draco softly muttered.
Hermione began to stand.
“Well, then, I guess I’m about finished here.”
When she stood over her chair, she suddenly crossed her arms over her chest.
“But for the record, Malfoy, I still think you’re a pompous prat, with an excessive amount of arrogance. You’re irritating, annoying, and malicious. Not to mention you lack the manners of a proper gentlemen.”
Draco couldn’t help but smirking at the last part of her statement.
“And just how do I lack the manners of a proper gentlemen, Granger?”
Her brow narrowed.
“Just combine all of your previous actions from the past twenty-two years, and you’ll figure it out.”
Hermione turned on her heel, and began to walk towards the door.
“Now, wait just a minute, Granger.” Draco shot as he stood from his desk.
Hermione slowly turned.
“What?” she sighed.
Draco walked around his desk, and began talking with his hands.
“Since I did save your life, which you did just mention, doesn’t that mean that you are in my debt?”
He watched the color drain from Hermione’s face a bit, before she quickly clutched her arms to her chest.
“Possibly,” Hermione shot, “It depends on the request.”
“Oh, yes it does.”
“Well, let’s start with this…How about you meet me for dinner?”
Hermione’s bottom lip fell as she stared through a confused gaze.
“Dinner? With you?”
“That’s right, with me. You are in my debt, and that would be a great place to start.”
She paused, eyes narrowing.
“And just why would I even consider meeting you for dinner?”
Draco gave a devious chuckle under his breath.
“Besides the life debt you owe me? Well, you claimed that I, what was it? Lacked the manners of a gentlemen? How about we test that theory?”
Hermione’s eyes were still narrowed.
“How would you suggest we do that?”
“It could go something like this; we go to dinner, and if you have a single doubt about my manners, or lack thereof during the meal, then you may leave. Only then can you qualify your statement about my gentlemen status. It’s quite simple.”
Hermione brought her lips together, and continued to study Draco through a narrowed brow.
“No. Absolutely not.”
Draco’s brow raised with a smirk.
“Granger is a coward.”
Hermione huffed angrily.
“This is out of the question.”
“I can’t believe you would treat your savior like this.”
Obviously tortured, Hermione closed her eyes and let out a frustrated sigh.
She gave Draco a nod.
“7:00 pm tonight?” Draco asked.
Hermione cocked her head.
“Well, I guess I don’t have a choice, right? Since I do owe you my life?” Hermione responded.
“Very true, Granger.”
Hermione kept her stare on his face for a few more moments, before she cleared her throat and turned to leave.
“Well, I have to go,” she blankly stated.
Hermione threw him one last look before she turned, and made her way over to the handle, right before she opened the door, she snapped around.
“And Malfoy, you better not show up late. I can’t stand that,” Hermione shot.
Hermione then disappeared behind the large door, with her footsteps echoing down the hall. Draco watched her leave, and then began to walk back to his desk.
Before he sat down, Draco grinned to himself.
Hermione was livid. She was downright furious as she sat angrily across from Draco at the lavishly set dinner table that evening at dinner. Hermione had unwillingly gone with him after he had somehow provoked her into accepting this challenge. To be quite honest, she half-expected that he wouldn’t even turn up at her flat to escort her to dinner, and leave her dressed to the nine, waiting in humiliation. However, Malfoy did manage to appear at her front door, and even with a few sparse moments to spare.
He had greeted her politely, the way a multi-millionaire business man would a client; after all, Hermione knew it was an act to prove her wrong for condemning his manners. There was an underlying arrogance to his tone, and she occasionally would catch him throwing her a devilish smirk; his only purpose here was to win this battle. She in turn only responded with grunts, or mutters under her breath whenever speaking was absolutely necessary.
Malfoy had escorted her to one of the most exquisite restaurants in London, which was situated on the highest floor of a magnificent skyscraper, and surrounded by gleaming glass windows. The lift ride upwards was awkward and silent, seeing that Hermione had turned away from him to stare out at the impressive buildings that lined shimmering Thames as they ascended. When the pair had reached the top floor, Hermione was left speechless at the elegance and minimalist beauty of the décor inside the restaurant as they were escorted to their seats. They had been seated in a private bay window which was situated with the closest proximity to the river. Hermione had reluctantly taken her seat, and attempted to flash the hostess a look of despair while Draco slowly lowered himself into his chair. After they had been left alone, Hermione crossed her arms tightly across her chest, and stared menacingly out the floor to ceiling glass windows.
“Well, Granger, are you impressed?” Draco drawled while leaning back into the velvet chair.
She flashed him a look of annoyance, as well as a quick eye-roll before taking her position back at the window. Draco shook his head with a smirk as he continued to pester her.
“This just happens to be the finest restaurant in London,” he stated with overbearing confidence.
Hermione threw another glare in his direction.
“I’m sure it is,” she snapped, again diverting her attention to the window.
The two sat in silence for the next set of minutes, before a burly waiter appeared at the edge of their table.
“Good evening, Mr. Malfoy, and guest,” the man greeted with a smile, “May I start you off with any drinks?”
“We’ll have a bottle of pino, Phillipe, thank you.”
Hermione turned to narrowed brow to Draco.
“I don’t drink pino,” she shot in his direction.
Draco graciously nodded, his grin still visible across his face.
“Merlot, then. Thank you Phillipe.”
The server gave him a gracious nod, before turning at leaving the alcove, leaving the two alone once again.
“Come now, Granger. Don’t take your bitterness out on the pino.”
Hermione didn’t even remove her face from the window this time. Instead, she visibly narrowed her stare and sighed angrily. With this, Draco leaned onto his elbows.
“What’s got your wand in a knot, then? I just happened to notice that you seem rather irritable this evening.”
She threw a nasty look in his direction.
“Leave me alone, Malfoy,” Hermione hissed in his direction.
Draco chuckled as he toyed with his platinum cufflinks.
“Tell me this, then. If I hadn’t taken you here tonight, what exactly would you be missed out on? A play date with your feline?”
Hermione pursed her lips as anger surged through her veins like poison.
“For your information, as one of the senior aurors, I have a great deal of business to attend to outside of work,” she snapped in retaliation.
She narrowed her eyes.
“And don’t you dare insult my cat,” she seethed.
Draco held up his hands in surrender.
“Alright, I won’t go there.”
He continued on.
“What dull work has to be done outside of the ministry, then?”
“I can’t tell you that,” Hermione snapped.
She stared at him incredulously.
“It’s confidential ministry information.”
Draco smirked gleefully.
“Of course, how foolish of me to bring it up. I only asked in comparison, because I finish my work in the office. It’s mainly managing mergers, surveying the company earnings, and paperwork and such. You know, business, then pleasure in the evening.”
“How interesting,” Hermione shot sarcastically.
Both seemingly more agitated, they both turned away from each other, and waited in silence for their drinks to arrive. After a few long minutes, Phillipe returned with a bottle of crimson wine. He took each of their glasses, and filled the crystal up to the brim with liquid.
“Is there anything else you need, Draco?” He warmly asked.
Draco shook her head.
“We’re fine for now.”
The waiter nodded and departed, obviously anxious to returned to another table and complete an order. Before either could taste their drink, Hermione turned and flashed him an intense glare.
“So you and the waiter are on a first name basis? How did that come to be, may I ask?” Hermione shot in his direction.
For the first time this evening, Draco narrowed his eyes at her.
“In case you haven’t noticed Granger, I happen to be a very prominent figure in business throughout the wizarding world. Some would even go as far as to call me a celebrity. I bring many clients here to conduct business.”
“And would any of these clients happen to be females?” she daringly shot.
For a brief moment, his eyes seemed to widen a fraction.
“In case you weren’t aware, women are becoming more prevalent in the business world, which is a spirit of feminism that I believe you approve of. Therefore, yes, some of my clients are females.”
With a quick turn of her head, Hermione scowled and took her glance away from him.
“You disgusting, filthy pig,” she hissed, pulling her arms tighter over her chest.
Draco raised a challenging eyebrow.
“And what brings you to that conclusion, Granger? We’ve barely said two civil sentences to each other recently.”
Hermione whipped around in her seat, her eyes burning with frustration.
“What brings me to that conclusion, Malfoy, is your rather tainted reputation. Everyone knows you have a long string of girls following you in public. Not to mention it’s common knowledge that you use tactics other than discussion to persuade your female clients to make deals with you,” she snapped.
Draco, taken a bit aback, tightened his lips and narrowed his eyes in her direction.
“Those are all rumors, Granger. You shouldn’t be daft enough to believe them,” he hissed.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Oh, I’m sure they’re all rumors.”
“And what makes you think they’re right?” Malfoy asked devilishly.
Hermione turned to him, preparing a comeback.
“You’re Malfoy, the same Malfoy. I’m sure you were the same way back at school. And besides…there’s stories in the prophet.”
“That’s terrible reasoning.”
“No one asked your opinion.”
“Come on, try again, Granger. Why do you believe all of those nasty speculations?”
She face him tentatively, but still gave him a hard stare.
“Well…I mean, it’s perfectly logical. You are a…typical, fairly successful business man who…who…”she mumbled.
“What else?” Draco tempted, leaning forward, waiting for the right answer.
“…I assume many brainless, ditzy women could…could potentially find you…slightly handsome,” Hermione managed, biting her lip before snapping her head towards the window.
Draco smiled, content with himself.
Hermione watched him smirk gleefully, and felt her stomach turn over. This was the dinner from hell, and she couldn’t tolerate this anymore. With a sudden move, she stood from her seat, and gathered her jacket.
“Malfoy, I’m leaving. As much as I’ve enjoyed this nauseating conversation, I think I’ve had enough.”
She watched his eyes widen at her tone as she rounded the table.
“Now hold on just a minute, Granger.”
Hermione stopped, sighing as she turned.
“Once again, thank you for saving my life. I did what you asked, and now I’m leaving.”
Draco smirked, leaning back into his seat.
“I honestly can’t take another minute of this. Goodbye, Malfoy,” Hermione announced with finality in her voice.
Hermione turned on her heal, and began weaving through the elegantly dressed tables towards the entrance. After almost colliding into an elderly couple, and knocking over a full tray of food, she finally reached the door. As she thrust one of her arms into the sleeve of her coat, she heard a voice behind her.
“Slow down, Granger.”
Hermione turned with horror to see Malfoy strutting towards her, holding her clutch bag in one of his hands.
“You forgot this,” he muttered, thrusting the beaded bag in her direction.
She took it quickly, and with a nod, reached for the door handle.
“And Granger!” Malfoy shouted with a bit of arrogance in his voice.
Hermione sighed angrily as she snapped her head backwards.
“Were my manners satisfactory?” he asked with a smirk.
Hermione bit her lip as her fingers laced the door.
“Somewhat,” she replied before thrusting the door open, and stepping out.
She saw Draco chuckle to himself as he turned and began the walk back to his table.
How are all of you? I miss you all! I just finished up my last final research paper for college, and I'm so excited to be free for Christmas break that I raced to my computer and posted this chapter, which i've been working on for you all :) Wow, I can't believe there is only one chapter left in this story...but I can't wait for the end.
So I know some of you must be confused about how this chapter ended...but just you wait and see ;) I promise you will all love the ending!Thoughts?? Questions??
I wanted to thank all of you for your patience, and for your kind words of encouragement for my first college semester. It went great! I have a good amount of time off here, so I will most definitely be writing for you all :D Just a heads up, there's a really short one shot about petunia and lily's relationship that i'll post here soon. Keep an eye out for it!Oh, and everyone please listen to Adele's "Best for Last! It's my new favorite song :)
Thank you readers, for always being there. Even though my life is hectic, I will never forget you or my stories!
I wish every single one of you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Years!
With love, and until the final chapter,
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