I Am Serpent

Chapter 4

Chapter 4

A wreckage sounded outside of Hermione's office. She frowned and stood, wand ready to strike if necessary.

The moment the door flew open she cast a silencing spell to the man barreling inside. It was a tactic she'd developed over the years, especially because of her paranoia after the war. If it was a friend, no harm was done, if it was a foe, most couldn't cast spells silently and if they could, they wouldn't expect to need to.

"I should have known", she muttered with a frown.

"Alice", she addressed her assistant who was signaling security, "You don't have to call in security, I can handle this. Thank you."

With a wave of her wand her office door closed and her gaze leveled on the man in front of her.

"Really Draco?", she said angrily, "Breaking into the Ministry and barging into my office?!"

With a wordless wave of his wand Draco undid the silencing spell.

"Your security system is lacking severely", he drawled as he sprawled himself on the chair in front of the desk.

Sweet Circe, that man could be so infuriating!

"Draco", she hissed after counting to ten, "If you want to see me, you either make an appointment or wait until I'm off work."

"That's kind of difficult when you don't answer your mirror, isn't it?", he asked, raising his eyebrow.

Hermione felt a blush creeping up her cheeks and crossed her arms defiantly. One point for Draco, but she wouldn't let him win the argument.

"I was busy", she said primly.

Draco eyed her carefully and she had to repress the urge to fidget with the sleeves of her burgundy blouse.

"Don't forget who you're talking to Sweetheart", he smirked, looking at her clenched fists, "I know you, even if it's been years since we last spoke. Besides, you are still a really shitty liar."

If she thought she'd been blushing before, she stood corrected now. Damn him and his observational skills! Time to change tactics.

"I didn't want to answer you", she admitted, "Because you'd just keep nagging about my safety."

"And rightfully so", he snipped, "Greg told me what happened yesterday."

"I know", she admitted, "That's why I hired Greg to be my official personal bodyguard."

"What?", he said befogged. He'd been ready to start lecturing her about the importance of security measures. One point to Hermione, thank you very much!

"I'm not stupid Draco", she said gruffly, "I realize that my security as Minister of Magic has been lacking."

"I'm glad you realised, finally", he said.

"I realised before", she told him, "But I never found the right man. Until Greg came along."

"You do know that he's married, right?", he teased.

"I am too", she purred teasingly, "And that's not stopping me."

He felt his throat go dry at that and struggled to keep his face neutral. He almost jumped out of his seat when a buzz sounded. She giggled and blushed at the stupid girly sound. For Godric's sake, you're a grown woman Hermione!

"Yes Alice?", she spoke, pushing the button.

"It's almost lunchtime Madam", her assistant informed her, "Do you want me to order something?"

Hermione assessed Draco for a minute and made a decision.

"No thank you Alice", she spoke to her, "I'm going out for lunch with my unexpected visitor here."

"Yes Madam", Alice answered neutrality, ever the professional.

This was exactly why Hermione had hired her, even though she had no real credentials. She only wished Alice would call her by her name, at the very least when there was nobody around to hear.

"Eh...", Draco broke her thoughts, suddenly fidgeting nervously. "Are you sure you want to have lunch with me?"

Hermione frowned. Since when was he so insecure that he didn't want to go out for lunch? Was it because it was with her?

"Why wouldn't I want to?", she asked a little harsher than she'd intended.

"I'm a Death Eater Hermione", he answered, "Maybe it's better if you're not seen with me. We could order in?"

"You were a Death Eater Draco", she pointed out, "And the war ended over fifteen years ago. I want to try that new pancakes place Accio Crepes, besides, what is the worst thing that could happen?"

She wondered why he was looking at her so sceptically. She'd installed laws and a whole discrimination hotline, surely things couldn't be that bad? She was the Minister of Magic, she would know if they were.

"Fine", he conceded eventually. She really had no idea, he saw it in her eyes. Might as well give her a glimpse of what it was like for those on the 'wrong' side.

"Great", she smiled. "I'll get my cloak, it's pouring rain outside."

Together they exited the building. Outside, Draco instinctively took her hand and started walking to Accio Crepes in a brisk pace, as Hermione requested. She was glad that she'd chosen for some sensible leather boots today and not high heels.

When they reached their destination, she was relieved. The cold rain had numbed her fingers and she was fumbling with the buttons of her cloak.

"Table for two please", Draco said, swinging back his hood.

"We don't serve the likes of you here", the waiter answered haughtily, "Get lost you filthy Death Eater, before I have you removed."

"Excuse me?", Hermione said disbelievingly, pushing Draco aside.

"Minister", the waiter said turning white, "I..."

"I hope I didn't hear you correctly", she snapped, hands on her side. "We fought a war against discrimination and we installed laws against it, so you better get us a table RIGHT NOW!"

"Yes Madam", the young man said trembling, "May I please take your cloak?"

Still glaring, she handed it to him, as did Draco. Reluctantly the waiter took it and showed them to their table.

"I can't believe how he treated you", Hermione fumed, "And now he's given us a table all the way in the back!"

"Bad for business to be seen serving a Death Eater", he answered with a wry smile.

"Really Draco", she huffed, angry on his behalf. "That behaviour of the waiter was uncalled for."

"I've had worse", he shrugged. "We went out for icecream once for Scorpius' second birthday. Let's just say I'm forever grateful that he doesn't remember it..."

"You have to report it", she continued stubbornly.

"Oh Sweetheart", he sighed because of her naivety, "Reports like this don't change a thing. It never has before, not for me nor anyone I know."

Hermione bristled at his tone, but had to admit to herself that she really had no idea.

"I'll arrange some meetings to sort this out", she said eventually. "I did not fight a war against racism to install another kind of racism in its place."

"You do that", he answered. She looked so cute when she was angry on his behalf. "Now let's order some food. Pancakes for two and tea for two?"

"Aren't those meant for couples?", she asked.

"Maybe", he shrugged, "But that way they can't spit in my food."

"They wouldn't...", she started, but interrupted herself when she saw his eyebrow raising. "Oh fine, maybe they would."

With a snap of her fingers, she called the waiter over and ordered for them both.

"So", Draco said when the waiter walked away, "Interesting buzzing system you've got in your office."

It seemed like a good moment to change the subject. Merlin knew how she liked to rant about the unfairness of things. He still remembered her long speeches on house elves...

"It's great, called a WiCom", she grinned, "So handy. When Goldstein came to me with the idea I jumped right in. It must have taken a lot of time and money to develop muggle electronics that work in a magical environment."

"Four years, six months and about five hundred thousand galleons to be precise", he answered her.

"How do you know?", she asked surprised. "He never mentioned that he's working with you."

"That's because he doesn't know", he grinned.

She eyed him suspiciously.

"After the war, Malfoy Industries went belly up, because nobody wanted to work with Death Eaters", he explained. "So, we dismantled the company, sold everything and founded an investment company instead, DAS Investments."

"Nobody knows it's yours I assume", she grinned. Damn he was sexy when he was doing smart things like that.

"Indeed", he smirked, "We correspondent only by owl. Most assume it's a German company, but DAS stands for..."

"Draco Astoria Scorpius", she guessed.

"Smart girl", he praised with a grin.

She blushed and felt something flutter in her chest. Stop it Hermione, you're married!

The waiter interrupted their chatter with their food. They enjoyed the rest of their lunch talking happily.

At the end, Draco insisted on being the gentleman and paid for her.

"Hush", he shushed her when she protested, "I can afford it and it's my pleasure."

"Kiss ass", she scolded him half-heartedly.

"Wouldn't you like that", he whispered teasingly in her ear.

Promptly she went red again.

With a huff she tried to shake it off and they retrieved their cloaks.

"Draco", she said, eyes going wide when she saw scorch marks on it, "What happened to your cloak?"

"Must have hung too close to the fire", the waiter answered, doing little to hide the malice on his face.

Hermione went red in the face, fire flaming in her Firewhisky gaze.

"Calm down", Draco hissed, taking her hand to prevent her from doing anything rash. "You're the bloody Minister. He's not worth it, it stopped raining anyway, so go."

He pulled her with him.

"I swear to Merlin Draco", she huffed, still holding his hand, "I'm going to fight this kind of behaviour, even if it's the last thing I do."

He smiled at her and neither noticed the hooded man in the alley snapping a picture of them.