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Saying No

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The moment her arse touched the seat of her chair, the memos began pouring in, files began piling up in her in box, and the large calendar she had stuck to the back of her door began to glow in hues of purple, yellow, and green. Each cookie represented how quickly each item of the day needed to be completed.

 

Hermione Granger had been a taskmaster for as long as she could remember. Her mum used to joke that she came out of the womb with a to-do list. When the war ended and she finished her make-up year at Hogwarts, she immediately began working at the Ministery as a clerk in the Wizengamot. It was a coveted position and no Muggle-born had ever held the position. Clerking for Neville’s grandmother, Madam Longbottom was a dream come true. Everyone had expected her to go to the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and while creature rights were still a passion of hers, Hermione felt a bigger calling to help in any way she could in the Wizengamot.

 

The problem was, Hermione couldn’t say with “No.” She was determined to prove herself and the only way she saw to do that was to take on as much work as possible.

 

A drawling voice from her previously closed door pulled her attention away from the memo she was reading. Glancing up, she tried to push down the blush that threatened to spread across her cheeks and the annoying butterflies that she always got when she saw Draco Malfoy.

 

“You’re going to die of a heart attack before your thirty if you don’t slow down, Granger.” Draco Malfoy said, his eyes boring into hers.

 

Shuffling the papers purely for something to do other than to look at him, she waved a hand at him, “ I don’t need nor did I ask for your advice, Malfoy. I’m doing just fine.”

 

She watched from beneath her lashes as he pushed off her door frame and sauntered fully into her office, sitting in the seat across from her with a smoothness she would never be able to imitate.

 

“Everyone knows you’re brilliant, you don’t need to keep doing all this.” She would never admit she found the smirk that had lost all of its bite, was attractive, “There’s this thing called delegation you should put into practice.”

 

“I don’t have time for this. Did you need something?” She asked him.

 

He leaned forward and pulled a piece of parchment detailing a new law that Lord Greengrass was attempting to get Madam Longbottom on board with.

 

“Minister Shacklebolt has tasked Lord Weasley with setting up the new Muggleborn Integration Department. Lord Weasley is hoping to have Madam Longbottom’s help and support.”

 

It was only due to the fact that she had become proficient at hiding her emotions that she didn’t immediately begin banging her head on the desk. When the war ended and Kingsley had been officially sworn in as Minister, he had promised a complete revamping of their government and he had held to his word. One of the biggest appointments to the upper echelons of government had been giving the Weasleys their rightful place as an Ancient and Noble house within the Wizengamot and nominating Arthur Weasley to the position of Chief Warlock. The Weasley patriarch’s first act had been to hire Draco Malfoy as his clerk. It had shocked everyone and angered many in wizarding Britain. Arthur told those who tried to question him that he believed in second chances and wouldn’t hear any protests from anyone.

 

Hermione had heard rumours about the new Muggleborn act and was cautiously optimistic. The plan was for Muggleborns and their families to be brought into the magical world from birth. The Department of Mysteries had designed some sort of spell that would find witches and wizard as soon as they were born. This was all done, hand in hand with the abolishment of many Pure-blood friendly laws, in the hopes of completely eradicating the differences in blood status and eliminating any future magical wars based on blood. She was excited to be apart of it in any way possible but this would surely pile more work on her.

 

“I’ll inform Madam Longbottom. Does Lord Weasley have a time in mind that they could meet to discuss her involvement?” she asked, trying to keep the stress from bleeding into her tone.

 

Draco stood and walked to the door. “At this point, he’s just trying to get the word out to make sure those he wants to be involved are aware. I believe he intends to have me work out the memos early next week.

 

She nodded her head and tried to get back to her work, ignoring the fact that he was still watching her from her doorway. “Did you need something else?” she asked, not looking up from her desk.

 

“Would you want to get a drink with me tonight?”

 

The request was so out of the blue, it shocked her. Jerking her head up, she stared up at him, slack-jawed. Stuttering, she told him, “Tonight? Oh um, I couldn’t tonight. I’ll be here until late.”

 

A look of disappointment crossed his face before he put on the mask of indifference he so often wore. “I understand. Another night perhaps?” And then he was gone.

 

Allowing herself approximately five minutes to be flustered by his invitation before getting back to work.

 

The working day passed in a flurry of meetings, paperwork, memos that needed to be replied to immediately because everyone assumed they were more important than anyone else, and several cups of tea. Checking her watch, she saw that it was half eight and there was no end in sight to the massive amount of work she still needed to complete before going home and falling into bed, most likely completely clothed, and passing out just to do it all again tomorrow. There was a curt knock at her door which was opened without her permission to reveal Ernie McMillian. He was, somehow, even more of a pompous prat than he had been at school. He was working in the Department of International Relations as a lowly intern but thought he ran the place. He was one of the biggest offenders on passing off work that was definitely under his jurisdiction, to Hermione.

 

He slapped a stack of parchments on her desk and smirked. “Hermione, these need to be filed and sent off to the various members of the Wizengamot before the meeting tomorrow. I’d do them myself but we all know you’re much better at this sort of thing,” He smirked at her and not in the devilishly sexy way Draco had earlier that day.

 

Ernie had already turned to leave, not even waiting to see what she would say. The months and months of overworking herself, taking on everything, being a push-over to twats like him boiled over.

 

“No.” 

 

It was such a simple word. One of the first words most children learned to say. It was a word that Hermione hadn’t been able to say back in her first year of Hogwarts when she started doing Ron’s homework. She told herself when she was alone and had worked herself sick that she would start saying the word more, take more time for herself that she so desperately needed but she never did.

 

He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her. “What do you mean? You always do these types of things. I have better things to do than file work.”

 

If steam were pouring out of her ears, she wouldn’t have been surprised. The moment the words left his mouth, Hermione saw red. Pushing away roughly from her desk, her chair clattered to the side as she stood abruptly.

 

“And it is not my job to make up for your shortcomings, McMillan. You were tasked with this and you will do it. I have somewhere to be.”

 

Without waiting for a response, she pulled her cloak from the stand next to her door, throwing it around her shoulders, and body-checking the twat on the way out her door.

 

“Do make sure to shut my door when you leave.” She called over her shoulder.

 

When the lift shuddered to a halt in the atrium, she strode out, a woman with a purpose. There were a few late-night workers like herself heading home and a spot of platinum blonde hair caught her eye. Crossing across the atrium quickly, she tapped Draco on his shoulder. His face full of shock when he turned and locked eyes with her. Confusion, she thought, was a good look on him.

 

“Still up for that drink?” she asked him, trying to keep the grin off her face when his mouth dropped open.

 

“I thought you said you have to much to do?”

 

She smiled and took a confident step toward him. “I’m learning to say no but I think in this one instance, I want to say yes.”