Never Really Ended
Hermione couldn't believe what she was seeing. Draco Malfoy was right in front of her and she was expected to work with him? She felt herself subconsciously grabbing on to Daniel's arm.
Daniel, bless his soul, noticed the tension in the room and decided it upon himself to break it. "Malfoy. Zabini. I didn't know that you two worked at the DMAC." he exclaimed.
Blaise was first to break away from the shock. "Uhh, yes. We're the deputies assigned to work with some researchers about some sort of diagnosis potion?"
As Draco and Hermione were still staring at each other, Daniel saw it upon himself to continue. "That's us. Well I guess there's no need for introductions since we already know each other..." Daniel waited for Hermione to say something, anything... but she remained silent. "What the heck? Why don't we make introductions, just to get rid of all these house rivalry barriers." He joked.
Draco couldn't believe his luck! Just after that horrid conversation at the gala, he is ordered to work with the one and only Hermione Granger. He heard the other guy speak but his mind was still reeling from how the two seemed too close for comfort. He noticed how her hand latched onto the man's arm upon seeing him, although he tried hard not to make any obvious reactions.
He only caught snippets of the conversation but he couldn't stop his eyebrow from rising when he heard the man mention house rivalries. It appears as if this Daniel person was clueless about the relationship he and Hermione once had.
Blaise let out a nervous laugh. "I'm Blaise Zabini and this is Draco Malfoy. We're the delegates from DMAC."
"I'm Daniel Xanders and this is my partner Hermione Granger. We're the representatives of St. Mungo's research facility." Daniel raised his hand to shake both his and Blaise's hand. Blaise nudged him just in time for him to shake Daniel's hand to be soon followed by Hermione's.
Noticing the tension between him and Hermione, Blaise decided to help him out. "Excuse us for a second, I just have to discuss something with Draco." Blaise said as he pulled his friend aside.
"Hey mate are you okay?" Blaise asked.
Draco wanted to scream at his friend. How was he supposed to be okay? He just found out that he had to work with Hermione Granger, his ex-girlfriend and the only woman who has ever succeeded in breaking his heart.
Draco sighed. "Let's just get this done as soon as possible."
As Blaise pulled Draco aside, Hermione started taking deep breaths. Daniel noticed his friend's nervous expression and decided to comfort her. "Hey, this won't be so bad. I mean yeah, we had our issues with Slytherins before but we've all grown from that..." he said.
Hermione shook her head. "House rivalry isn't really the problem here." She wanted to explain more to Daniel but she noticed that the two Slytherins were coming back. "I'll explain later, when we're alone." she said.
Draco heard that last line and clenched his fists. "Let's just get on with this shall we?"
Hermione and Daniel nodded as they prepared their files for the debriefing. "I assume that you brought the incident files with you?" she asked as she handed their report to the two.
Blaise nodded and gave their incident report to Daniel. Hermione smiled at Blaise, even if Draco and her had a falling out Blaise never treated her any differently, albeit they hardly had many chances to converse.
Daniel cleared his throat. "All right. The potion that Hermione and I have been working on this past month has been one that aims to diagnose magical spells, particularly those that can't be immediately detected, upon consumption." Daniel motioned for Hermione to continue.
Hermione smiled at her partner. "Earlier today, we were able to stabilise the potion. By applying the necessary spell adjustments through proper incantation and wand work, tests have shown positive results for spells taught at the 1st year level at Hogwarts."
"Wait. You just finalised this earlier today?" Blaise clarified.
"Well, we wouldn't have completed it as quickly if Hermione didn't work over the weekend." Daniel explained. "By the way, I didn't get to finish reprimanding you for that." he teased.
Hermione grinned. "And you never will. Seeing at how well it turned out." she retorted.
"That's what you think. We really have to talk about how you take care of yourself Hermione." Daniel whispered.
"Fine. Later then." she whispered back..
"As much as I enjoy watching you talk to each other, can we continue with the matter at hand?" Draco suddenly spoke.
"Oh, uhhm... Yes, of course." Hermione couldn't help it, every time Draco spoke, she became flustered.
This meeting was getting on Draco's nerves. He didn't know what was going on between the Hermione and Xanders but everything the two of them did made him feel awkward, as if he was witnessing something private.
"The success of this potion relies on two crucial aspects. One, the potion base that would act as it's main detector of any magically related anomaly or malady in the body." Hermione began.
"And two, a complex system of charm work and incantations that would report the malady determined to the person conducting the diagnosis." Daniel continued.
"So far, we have already stabilised the potion base which we assume, should be the same for all versions of the potion." said Hermione.
"All that's left now would be to adjust and apply the proper incantations to help with the diagnosis." Daniel supplied.
The two researchers didn't appear to notice it, but they were able to consistently continue what the other was saying. He looked over at Blaise and was pleased to note that he wasn't the only one having a problem with the two.
"Can the two of you please stop doing that?" Blaise asked.
"Doing what?" Hermione and Daniel asked at the same time. The two made eye contact and laughed.
"That!" Blaise gestured towards them. "It's giving me the creeps. It reminds me of when Hermione used to talk with..." He stopped as he glanced at Draco who was glaring at him.
Daniel laughed, not hearing the rest of Blaise's statement. "Well, I guess Hermione and I have been spending way to much time working together."
Hermione bit her lip and stared at Draco. "We'll try not to do it again though." she said.
Breaking eye contact with Hermione, Draco grabbed the DMAC incident report. "Anyway, we just confirmed that the last spell cast using both children's wands was the 'obliviate' spell. However, it was done incorrectly." Draco stated.
Blaise nodded his head. "Because of this, victim accounts have become too random for us to determine the line between fact and fiction. Not to mention the possible hexes that were not mentioned in the accounts." he added.
"So, what you're saying is that we would have to allot a wide margin for the 2nd crucial part of the potion? That would take weeks to do." Daniel clarified.
Draco was lost in thought. "Not exactly." he replied. "We can create a matrix of all hexes and charms mentioned in the accounts, given the randomisation of accounts, we have to modify the potion to assess which is most likely true and most likely false and make adjustments with different priorities." Draco explained.
"To account for the error bias, we can include spells that the underaged boys may have already learned, which means we have to consider their year at school and spells they may have learned from their family members." Hermione continued.
Draco nodded. "That means we have to send someone to interview their families." he added. "Also, is the potion base safe for multiple consumption?" Draco asked.
Hermione nodded her head. "I see what you're going with this. You want to make adjustments by batch instead of all at once don't you?" she asked.
"Yes. That way we can avoid complications brought about by multiple incantations being placed on a single potion." Draco explained.
"I agree. The most number of spells that we have tried making adjustments for was 15. I was extremely hesitant to contribute any more considering that it may damage the magical integrity of the base." Hermione explained.
Meanwhile, Daniel and Blaise watched the two interact with both fascination and worry. "Please tell me that I'm not the only one who feels awkward witnessing their intellectual banter." said Daniel.
Blaise scoffed. "You're not alone mate. I've seen them interact before but it still creeps me out when they talk this way."
"So, do you agree?" Draco asked them.
Blaise and Daniel looked at each other with frustration. "Uh, agree to what exactly."
Hermione shook her head. "We discussed that it would be better if we separate our tasks accordingly. 1 of us would have to create several batches of the potion, 1 would get as much background information about the children's likely level of knowledge, and 2 would work on the spell matrix and the actual incantations for it." Hermione explained.
"Well, between the two of us, I'm better at conducting interviews while your better at charms." Blaise told Draco who nodded in response.
"I could say the same thing, no offense Hermione, but Potions is more of my forte and you're the one who figured out the right incantations for this. So I guess it would be better if I was the one who made the extra batches of the potion base." Daniel explained.
"Is that all right with you?" Hermione asked Draco.
He shrugged, feigning indifference. "I don't really care either way."
"Well, since we all agree, why don't we reconvene in three hours." said Daniel.
Blaise furrowed his eyebrows curiously. "Why three hours? Why don't we start right now?" he asked.
"As much as I want to, Hermione here needs to get some sleep." replied Daniel as he looked at Hermione.
She opened her mouth to say that there was no need but Daniel cut her off. "Nuh-uh-uh Hermione." he said wagging his pointer finger in front of her face. "Don't argue with your husband. You're not going to leave my side until you're all tucked in bed." he half-teased.
"Hold on, did you say husband!?" Blaise exclaimed with wide eyes.
Hermione smacked her forehead. Being around these boys can be quite tiring. "He's just joking. You see-" she was just about to explain the joke when Draco butt in.
"Let's just meet back here in three hours." he said as he stood up to leave the room.
Daniel waited for Blaise to follow Draco before he asked Hermione about what happened. "Sooo... what was all that about?" he asked.
"Well, the short version is that we used to date." she replied.
Daniel raised a brow. He did not expect this at all. "What's the long version?"
A/N: New chapter. Yay! I'm honestly still thinking of a good reason for why Draco got mad at Hermione but it is really hard to think of one. There are only a few things that Hermione can do without her being too OOC.