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Mental Quicksand
Hermione G. - Words: 46,198 - Rated: T - English - Mystery & Sci-Fi - Chapters: 73 - Reviews: 20 - Updated: 01-12-2017 - Published: 21-10-2015 - by SkyeMoor (FFN)

[author's note: please read and review this one if you like it (otherwise, I'll write something else). I promise Draco's reasons will be interesting, to say the very least. Do note the genre, if you missed it.]

Ron was right. Hermione Granger hated when Ron was right. But she really wasn't going to get all the forms submitted on time if she didn't hire someone to help with the paperwork. And that, in of itself, was a problem. She didn't have time to train someone. Pacing in her office, she looked down at the pile of resumes. She didn't have time for interviews, either. Her intensive study of werewolf/human relations needed to be complete, and on time, and submitted to the Wiesgamot for their next meeting. Which was in six weeks. She had all the research done, now it was just... paperwork. But, but, but, there was a lot of paperwork.

Hence the secretary.

Hermione had succumbed to peer pressure, allowing Ron and Harry to go through the enormous pile of resumes, confidentiality be damned. The boys knew what she'd do if they spilled the beans. Ron had been oddly helpful, even... calling the interviewees with a date and time.

The first contestant was a head-in-the-clouds Ravenclaw. Well, former Ravenclaw. While Hermione had no doubt that Clara could do the work, she knew the lass lacked focus, and she'd have to force the twit to pay attention. Let alone the time required to train her. Ravenclaws had a thousand questions, and only half of them were likely to be germane, and less than that were useful. Hermione kept asking the written questions, but after the first three longwinded answers, she only listened with half an ear.

The second contestant was Astoria Greengrass. She was always nice ... for a Slytherin, of course. Mentally, Hermione asked herself if "Tori" had by any chance put a photo of herself with her resume. Hermione couldn't think of any possible reason why the boys would have recommended her otherwise. She looked like she didn't have a scrap of work ethic, and clearly didn't need the work. When asked (breaking the prepared question), why she wanted to work for Hermione, Tori had merrily giggled, and said, "Well, I wanted to get out of the house - and the opportunity to work with you was so priceless, I couldn't turn it down." Great, lovely. The boys had gotten her a personal fangirl for a pet. Thinking this was Harry's revenge for some of her comments on the girls (and boys) running after him, Hermione put it out of her mind, straightening her desk while she waited for the next candidate.

And behind door number three? Draco Malfoy of all people. Bracing herself mentally, Hermione stayed perfectly still (in the strange, crunkled up position she had before Malfoy had stepped into her view. Her back was bent, and she was looking down at some papers). What had the boys been thinking?

Draco Malfoy had stepped into Hermione's office, his most insouciant grin on his face. Granger hadn't noticed, her face buried in some papers - probably his resume. Very well, Malfoys were never caught that far offguard. Taking a graceful step backward, he knocked. Granger looked up, catching a brief hint of uncertainty in his expression.

"Oh, do come in. I suppose you're here for the interview?" Granger said, thinking in colorful terms exactly how stupid that sounded. Of course he was here for the interview. Harry and Ron had invited him!

"Of course."

"Then come in and sit down, I haven't got all day." Granger said crisply.

Granger noted, with grudging approval, that Malfoy had the grace to sit straight, and the presence of mind to bring a notebook. Already he's better than the two other candidates. And it clicked. Harry and Ron had set this up, so that she'd have to hire Draco Malfoy. Hermione saw red, and although it takes considerably more force to break a fountain pen than a quill, Hermione more than managed, spilling a vast quantity of ink... right onto Malfoy's resume. Well, no matter.

Covering her mistake, Granger asked about Malfoy's experience, listening with half an ear while she rustled around for a pen.

Draco knew she wasn't listening - too busy trying to find a pen. (Had she really been that upset with him sitting down that she had broken a metal cylinder?) Halfway through what he was saying, Draco suddenly broke off and tapped Granger on the shoulder. "here" he said coldly, passing her a quill and ink. Granger looked up at him as if she was expecting the ink to be poisoned or something. "You really should pay attention if you're going to bother giving interviews..." he said with a smirk. "Here's a spare copy" he continued with a smug smile, passing her another copy of his resume.

"Oh, why bother? We both know you haven't any relevant experience." Granger said with an icy smile.

"Touche" Draco responded, and the rest of the prepared questions continued in similar fashion, on occasion with Draco surprising Granger, on other occasions Hermione taking Malfoy to task.

With a sigh, Hermione set her overly inked page down, and looked at Malfoy. He'd been decent with the rest of the questions, truthfully. But this, this she had to know.

"What are you doing here? We both know that you have enough money that you needn't work as a secretary... Do you have some sort of nefarious plan?" Granger's eyes burned as she put the question to Draco.

Fighting back the urge to swallow, Draco simply smiled, saying, "Of course I have unspeakable and ineffable plans, I was a Slytherin, after all..."

Standing up and leaning over her desk, Granger asked tightly, "And will you tell me what exactly these plans entail?"

With an impudent smirk, Draco responds with a simple, "No."

"Six weeks." Granger said, her temper obviously fighting her iron control, as Draco raised an eyebrow. "Project's due in six weeks, and I haven't time to train anyone. You'll pick this job up, and with minimal guidance. And your dastardly plans shall have to wait."

You'd have to be blind to miss the strain Granger was under, and Draco was far from blind. As if he was giving up something, rather than gaining it, he said indifferently, "Very well."

"Then you have the job. Congratulations, Mister Malfoy, you'll make a wonderful secretary."

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