Title: Secretary Tuesdays, or: Things Unspoken
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Portrait Snape
Summary: Every Tuesday, Head Auror Harry Potter gets a new secretary, until one day he hires Draco Malfoy, who is oddly determined to find out why.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s):Fluff, cursing, mild angst
Epilogue compliant? No. Interview canon largely disregarded.
Word Count: 4,355
Author's Notes: Special thanks to my betas and the hd_holidays mods for their great jobs! Happy holidays misterwalnut! I hope you like your fic!
I. Previous Tuesdays
The first secretary had been called Martha. She was a rather silly witch who was young, fresh out of Hogwarts and had a face like some sort of squishy bear. Harry couldn’t particularly stand her, but at 25, he had just been made Head Auror, and as the last man hired to require a secretary, he figured he oughtn’t complain.
Martha was hired on a Tuesday. By Wednesday, she had proved she was a shite secretary, but other than that, all was well. The next Monday, she caught Dragon Pox. Tuesday? New secretary.
It wasn’t that strange. Owls flew. In London, it rained. Silly witches who snogged half the trainees at a St. Mungo’s Childcare Unit got Dragon Pox. Harry was completely and entirely nonplussed. He was certainly a little more plussed the next week when his next secretary (Gladys, a kindly older woman who’d been transferred down from Finance) decided to move to Brighton on a whim, and a little more plussed each week when the secretaries kept leaving again and again.
By the sixth week, Harry swore off the idea of secretaries all together. This, of course, brought the Department of Forming Positions and Departments raining down on his head like the fiery hands of so many gods. Harry Potter was the Head Auror, and the youngest in a century. His secretary was doubly important, for he or she not only acted as the Aurors’ secretary, but also had the displeasure of sorting through all of Harry’s fan post.
After several screaming matches and a go round with Minister Shackelbolt, Harry agreed to put an investigative team on the "Case of the Secretary Tuesdays" and to try not to get attached to any of the applicants sent his way.
The Aurors made it a bit of a game, even. They found it all a bit funny. Sometimes they’d make bets about the new secretary, over whether it’d be a man or a woman, if he or she would be thin or fat, or would indeed be replaced the following Tuesday. There was usually no one stupid enough to take the bet that someone would last more than a week. Every now and then Seamus might get drunk and feel lucky, but after a while, even he stopped making that sort of bet.
It was over three years before the cycle of Secretary Tuesday was broken. Funnily enough, it was Draco Malfoy who broke it.
II. Day One
Malfoy had worked at the Ministry of Magic for a while, at this point, but Harry had absolutely no clue what he did there. He just knew that Malfloy worked at a department on a lower floor and wore nice robes and if the two of them ever had the misfortune of being on the same lift, they very courteously glared in opposite directions.
It’s not as if Harry still hated Malfoy. He was more indifferent to him. Maybe he felt a bit sorry for the bloke, which might’ve been worse, had Malfoy ever found out about it. But one day he was there on the lift with Harry, minding his own business, and the next, he was sitting behind the desk in Harry’s outer office under the frame of Snape’s empty portrait.
Ron had followed Harry to his office to check out the new wares. He looked torn between hysterical laughter and apoplexy. "Harry, that’s Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy is your secretary."
"I see that, Ron."
Malfoy seemed to be speaking through gritted teeth. "You are correct, Mr. Weasley. I was transferred from the Department of Distracting Research."
"Why did they send you?" Harry asked, while Ron gaped.
"Perhaps because I am qualified for the position--overqualified, in fact. You see, I once made my living reading books enchanted to distract me from reading them, and now I am meant to make tea, corral idiots, and answer post."
"There’s also a curse," Harry said. He, for some reason, felt the need to defend the position of his secretary as a righteous one.
"As if suffering your presence weren’t enough of a curse," said Snape from his portrait.
"That’ll be my cue," Ron waved. "See you at lunch, Harry."
Harry barely heard him. He turned to Malfoy. "Why are you really here?"
"Pure stupidity." Malfoy began shuffling papers. "I also took a bet."
III. Week One.
Harry spent the first few days of Malfoy’s employee hiding in his office. Not hiding, per say. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have work to do there. There were missions to plan, Aurors to train, and sleep to be had. Except the sleep part was mostly accidental.
Sometimes, Harry fell asleep at this desk. It wasn’t something he was proud of, nor was it something that happened often, but it did happen. It was a side effect from sixteen years of nightmares and more sleepless nights than he could account for.
He woke with a start, Malfoy’s hand an inch away from his shoulder.
"Late night, Potter?" Malfoy asked, eyebrow raised. He looked smug, but didn’t ask any questions.
Harry rubbed his eyes behind his glasses. "Something like that."
"You’re going to be late for the Faulson interrogation." He pushed a cup of tea onto Harry’s desk.
Harry took it. "Thanks."
"Don’t mention it," said Malfoy, lightly, "it’s not as if it’s my job or anything."
IV. Week Two.
Tuesday came round. Harry’d had an earful the night before. "Aren’t you glad to be rid of that tosser Malfoy, Harry?" and "Won’t it be nice to have a proper secretary, Potter? Bit of a looker this time, maybe?"
Of course, Harry had found in the last several days that he didn’t mind having Malfoy around. He was diligent, organized, and made a good cup of tea. That didn’t necessarily mean he expected to see Malfoy sitting there at his desk that morning, as if it were some other department with no strange curses put on days of the week. But Malfoy, Harry discovered, had a way of being entirely unexpected.
"So, the curse?" Harry asked, "It’s broken?"
"Circumvented," Malfoy replied, licking the end of a quill and leaving an obscene line of ink down his tongue, "you’ve got paper work due in an hour."
"You’ve got ink on your mouth." Harry wiped at his own bottom lip. "Just there."
Snape, in his frame, sighed, long-suffering. Harry sighed, too. He hadn’t expected to feel relieved.
V. Week Three.
The third week was pretty horrible. There was a heavy caseload, Harry was short on manpower, and Dennis Creevey had gone missing again. He might’ve been the world’s second worst Auror, but he was small, and didn’t take a lot of disguise when going undercover as a school kid, so Harry kept him on.
He went missing a lot. Every time it happened, Harry felt directly responsible. He spent most of the week in his office in a tremendous sulk, shoulders bristled, wild magic crackling through the air. He knew becoming Head Auror meant a certain loss of action, but he had not known at the time how helpless not being in the midst of things could make him feel.
He was in the office late one evening when he went to make tea. He saw Malfoy sitting at his desk by fairy light, pouring over post.
"Malfoy, it’s nearly midnight, are you mad?"
Malfoy pushed a strand of fair hair out of his face, but did not look up. "I don’t care what the papers say, Potter, you don’t have a monopoly on madness. I shall be mad whenever I like." His fairy buzzed so haughtily that her light flickered. Malfoy glared at her.
Harry sat on the edge of Malfoy’s desk. "You can start a fire, or light some candles, you know. No one will mind."
"My fairy is on hire, Potter. I’d like to get my money’s worth."
"You pay your fairies?"
Malfoy raised a brow, "Don’t you?"
Harry stared, and for too long, apparently.
"If you’re just going to stand there," Malfoy said, "you may as well make yourself useful." He passed Harry a stack of post. "Find everything dated Monday, and don’t sit on the desk."
Harry began to sort. Before he knew it, a memo came buzzing in to see him. They’d found Dennis, ill tempered but unharmed, hunkered in the flat of an illegal potions trafficker in East London.
Malfoy agreed to go to the congratulatory "Dennis Creevey is once again safe from harm" piss up at a local pub. He mostly sat in the corner and talked to some Aurors who graduated Slytherin and Ravenclaw, but when Harry offered to buy him a drink, he accepted.
VI. Week Four.
Harry was asleep at his desk again. This time it happened a quarter of an hour before he was due at the training facilities for a lecture on constant vigilance. As he slept, he saw the same things he always saw: the faces of those who died before him: his parents, Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, Snape, Remus, Tonks, Fred. Then, he woke, and saw Malfoy’s face six inches in front of his.
"You’re late, Potter."
"Late. For your lecture."
"What time is it?"
"It’s time for you to drink the lovely tea full of Pepper Up potion that your nice, kind employee has made you and get your skinny arse to training facilities before anyone realizes the Head Auror is missing."
"My arse isn’t skinny," Harry defended childishly, chugging tea as he shrugged on his cloak.
"No, it’s not," Malfoy conceded. Harry was cheered. A far as Malfoy was concerned, Harry would take small victories where he could get them.
VII. Week Five.
"A few of us are going down to the pub for lunch, Malfoy," said Harry, forced casually, "you coming?"
Malfoy’s eyes went a bit wide. He blinked. "I can’t, Potter."
"I’ve got plans."
"Plans? With who?"
Malfoy smirked. "I do have friends, you know."
Malfoy's friends, or, well, friend was a tall, nice looking bloke. He greeted Malfoy with a handshake that was all over all hands. There was something sketchy about the fellow. Harry didn’t like him one bit.
VIII. Week Six
On the sixth week, Malfoy took to entering Harry’s office without knocking. To be fair, he’d never been much for knocking, but he’d always been very pointed about his not knocking before. The sixth week marked the week of casual not-knocking, and Malfoy taking mid-morning tea in Harry’s office and discussing various goings on.
"Potter, do you know anyone called Vernin?"
"Just my uncle."
"Is he a Sceedy?
"No, a Dursley. Why?"
"Vernin Sceedy. He’s your biggest fan."
"You have a fanboy, Potter." Malfoy sunk down in his chair a bit and grinned behind his teacup.
"You know, he’s got the commemorative wand-waving figurine and the signed chocolate frog card and everything?"
"Will you speak English, Malfoy?"
Malfoy sighed. "This bloke, he writes you a letter every week."
"I get a lot of letters every week."
"His come on Mondays."
Then it clicked. "Secretaries come on Tuesdays." Malfoy stood. "Where are you going?"
"Gryffindors can be taught logic. I’m off to alert the presses. Or at least wake up Professor Snape."
IX. Week Seven.
The letters became a bit of an obsession of Malfoy’s. There was a case that required Harry come in at night on Malfoy’s seventh week. Malfoy was there already, hunched over his desk with his wand in one hand and his fairy flitting around his head.
Harry gave the back of Malfoy’s chair a nudge. "Don’t you have friends to go home to?"
"Existing as secretary to the Boy Who Lived is extraordinarily important. It’s a lonely life I’ve chosen, but my friends will understand." The fairy tittered, and Malfoy swatted at it.
"Here, I’ll light a fire." Harry had already pointed his wand when he felt Malfoy’s hand wrap around his wrist.
"I don’t like fires," he said.
Harry remembered Malfoy’s arms tight around his waist and the smell of burning flesh. He couldn’t blame him. "I’ve got a Lumos Lamp in my office if you want it."
"It’s kind of like a muggle flashlight."
Harry grinned, and felt the tension ease out of his shoulders a little. "I’ll show you." He cast his Lumos on the lamp, turned the sustaining charm to a low simmer, and sat it down on Malfoy’s desk. "No fire."
Malfoy inspected it for a moment. "Thank you, Potter."
Harry turned to go back to his office, then as an afterthought: "Hey, Malfoy, do you want to get some take out or something? I’m starving."
Harry is still pretty sure he saw Malfoy’s eyes dart up to check Snape was sleeping before he nodded the affirmative.
X. Week Eight.
Malfoy had started taking Harry’s post to lunch with his friend--his friend who came to collect him for lunch at least twice a week. Harry must not have been eavesdropping as stealthily as he’d have liked to have been, because it was only after he tripped upon the friend’s arrival that Malfoy finally offered to introduce them.
"Gerard, this is Potter. Potter, Gerard Glass, from the Department of Distracting Research."
Gerard held out his hand. "That’s Harry Potter, then?"
Harry shook it rather hard. "Yes."
"You went to Hogwarts?"
Not that Harry particularly minded the questions, but he was rather used to people knowing trivial details about him without being asked. "Yes."
"I went to Hogwarts. My wife also went to Hogwarts. She was in your year."
"Yes. My wife. I have a wife, because I’m married. See?" Gerald held his hand out and wiggled his fingers around a bit.
Portrait Snape spoke imperiously from his frame, "Subtlety can’t be taught, Draco, or we would have long ago conquered the Ravenclaws and claimed them for Slytherin."
Harry blinked, confused. Malfoy colored. "We’re going to go now, to lunch, where we eat and do other lunchly things. Right, Gerald," he said through his teeth.
Gerald stood, looking sheepish, until Malfoy stepped on his foot. "Oh, um, right. Bye."
"Your friend is a bit odd, eh Malfoy?" Harry pointed out, later.
Malfoy nodded. "I think he has a condition."
X1. Week Nine.
"So, you’re a bit mad over this curse thing, yeah?" Harry asked, as he and Malfoy had tea one morning.
"I’m researching, Potter. I did come from the Department of Distracting Research."
"Right." He sat his teacup down in its saucer. "D’you have any theories, then?"
Something about Malfoy’s stance looked particularly prim. "On what, exactly?"
"This curse that you’ve so far managed to circumvent. It’s affected everyone so far. Why not you?"
"Maybe it is affecting me and I’m deflecting it, somehow. You’ve always taken my brilliance for granted, Potter."
"So, there’s a horrible curse and it hasn’t affected you so far because you’re special?"
"Stranger things have happened."
Harry thought about brother wands and scared eleven-year-old boys and the past, then looked at Malfoy again. "They have."
"I do have a theory, though," said Draco. "I’m actually a decently skilled Legilimens, if you remember."
"Some form of Imperius, maybe?"
"I think the post is the key."
"You’re really going to have to turn over those letters, Malfoy. I’ve got to get a team on this."
Malfoy grinned. "Not a chance."
XII. Week Ten.
It was Monday. Harry had gotten dragged into the office on Sunday, and didn’t make it in that morning in the best mood.
"Sorry, sorry," Malfoy apologized when he came in, all wild eyed, muss-haired and panting.
Harry shrugged noncommittally and went into his office to sulk.
Malfoy skipped out on morning tea, went off to lunch with Gerald, and when he came back, practically threw Harry’s office door open.
"Did you lose Creevey again?" he asked, throwing himself down in the seat opposite Harry’s.
"No. Dennis is on holiday."
"Dennis Creevey?" Malfoy scribbled something on a quill, the enchanted sunlight from the widow making light his eyes and hair. "I’ve got to go, Potter. Right now." He put his hand on Harry’s shoulder. "Thank you for--well. It’s been real. I’ve left a kettle on, for you, by the way."
Malfoy turned and left. Harry couldn’t do much but blink stupidly after him.
XIII. That Night.
Harry had fallen into a shockingly easy sleep. He had not expected that. Nor had he expected Draco Malfoy to last over two months as his secretary. He also did not expect to be woken up at two AM by said secretary, who slid his hands through Harry’s hair, pulling him from deep sleep to wakefulness so unlike he did in the office--quietly and without disruption.
"Shhh," he soothed, as he pushed Harry’s glasses onto his face. "Can you Apparate?"
"What?" Why?" Harry stirred.
Malfoy’s fingers over his mouth stilled him. "Into the office--the wards, I don’t have clearance."
Instinctively, Harry reached out and closed his hand around Malfoy’s. He closed his eyes and then there was a CRACK!
When Harry opened his eyes, he was lying on the floor in his office in the Ministry of Magic wearing a sheet, and Malfoy was clambering up off the floor.
"I’m not wearing anything," Harry announced.
Malfoy smirked. "You are a wizard, you know."
In a fit of show off and pique, Harry raised his hand with a flourish, and he was fully clothed. Malfoy’s cheeks colored oddly, and fuck him if he hoped Harry didn’t notice.
"There. I’m all dressed like a wizard, and I would like to know what this is about."
Malfoy took his usual chair, deflated. "I’m not sure I can tell you everything."
"I’m the Head Auror, Malfoy. What you’re allowed to tell me and what I can make you tell me are mutually exclusive. Please, don’t make me threaten you."
"Have a seat, Potter, this is going to take awhile." Malfoy carted his hands through his hair.
Harry sat. "Go on, then."
"First, I suppose, I should start with saying that you, Harry Potter, have not ever been and will never be the boss of me."
"Which is how you know better than I do how I take my tea." Harry snorted. "Stop stalling, Malfoy, and tell me what the fuck is going on here."
"You have to promise me--"
"I can’t promise you anything."
Malfoy shrugged. He propped his feet up on Harry’s desk and crossed his legs at the ankles, looking every inch the royal pureblood scion without a care in the world. "Then I’m not telling any tales."
Harry gave the desk a vicious kick and Malfoy’s legs fell to the floor.
"Do you brutalize all of your employees, Potter? It’s no wonder they’re going off the deep end."
The resounding silence stretched on for far too long. Harry pinched his nose between his forefinger and thumb. "All right, Malfoy, what do I have to promise?"
"You have to promise that you will stay in this office and will not go rushing out performing insane feats of magic into the night."
Malfoy did not look assured. "How much is your word worth?"
"You’ve still got my wand, don’t you?"
"That didn’t seem to stop you."
"No, Potter. There is a plan in place. A very carefully put together plan full of people who are doing their jobs and I’m not having you running out in a fit of rage and ruining it."
Maybe it was the way Malfoy’s eyes sparkled in the enchanted moonlight, or the fact that his default expression seemed to be set at smug. Or maybe Harry really was about to fly off the handle. He slammed his hands against his desk dramatically and growled, "Don’t fucking play with me Malfoy, or I swear to god I will split these wards and your head right open and I will take the whole place down with me."
"All right, Potter. I’ll tell you everything I know. On the condition that you promise to sit your supervising arse down and let the professionals do their jobs."
"I’ve been moonlighting this whole time," Malfoy started. "It really was for a bet, you know. The Department of Distracting Research had a pool going that your curse was probably fairly easy to overcome. Winner gets a promotion. We weren’t wrong. The curse was fairly similar to what we’re used to. It was in your post. This Vernin Sceedy always signs Vernin E. Sceedy. It took me longer than it should to figure out that when dealing with brashness and a complete lack of originality, I must be looking for a Gryffindor. It’s like Lord Voldemort. If you rearrange the letters you get--"
"Dennis Creevey," Harry finished. "But why?"
"It looks as if he’s been driving the people around you away for years, trying to work up the courage to kill you."
Harry’s heart sank. "Because of Collin, and what happened in the war?"
Malfoy shrugged. "That’s the best guess."
"He never managed to actually hurt anyone," said Harry. "It’s not as if I can do a damned thing about it. Those fucks at Internal Affairs--"
"There’s a unit at your flat right now, looking for information. As long as they don’t find anything too damning, they’re going to recommend time in St. Mungo’s." Malfoy lit the Lumos Lamp on the corner of Harry’s desk. "The war fucked things up for all of us."
"Too right," Harry agreed, standing, "and now, I should like to get spectacularly pissed." He sat two glasses and a bottle of Ogden’s Best on his desk, and poured. It burned, going down. "Well, maybe not spectacularly."
Malfoy took a long drink before he spoke. "So, you’re really not going rushing off into the night, then?"
"I think you give me a lot more credit for being rash than I deserve. I run an entire department. I can tell the Aurors what to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to listen, that doesn’t mean that they should listen. I’ve got men out there who’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been alive."
"I’ve been watching you, Potter." Malfoy took another long drink. "I know the only thing you hate more than feeling helpless is feeling like you’ve been kept in the dark."
"You’ve been watching me?"
"Pay back from school. I thought about giving you a great ugly scar, too, but then I remembered you already had one and decided there was no point."
Harry finished his drink. "I never gave you a scar, Malfoy."
"From when you almost killed me? In the girls’ toilet? Do you really not remember? I think I am actually offended."
"Professor Snape said it wouldn’t scar."
"He said it might not scar. It did." Malfoy unbuttoned the top of his shirt to show his great ugly scar, which wasn’t great or ugly at all. Harry couldn’t even see it.
"I still don’t see a scar, Malfoy."
"Maybe not from over there."
Harry sighed, heaved himself out of his chair and got up to kneel near Malfoy’s chair, so better to inspect his chest. Harry leaned closer to see it. It was there, but just barely: small, jagged, thin, and white. "There’s barely a mark," he said to Malfoy, whose face was suddenly very close.
"It goes all the way down my stomach," he said, quietly. "It’s kind of dreadful-looking."
Harry leaned closer to inspect the scar at Malfoy’s throat. "It’s not dreadful, Malfoy, it’s not even raised."
"Are you saying that the indignity of almost being murdered by my greatest enemy in the girls’ toilets was only a flesh wound?"
"Yeah, Malfoy. Suck it up."
Malfoy threw his head back and laughed. His scar was a little more visible when the light hit it. Harry reached out to trace it with the knuckle of one his hands.
"Uh, Potter?" Malfoy interjected. "I’m your secretary. I’m pretty sure this is sexual harassment."
"Sorry." Harry moved away. He grinned. "I thought I wasn’t the boss of you?"
"You’ve a point. I did get that promotion."
"Congratulations. You’ll have to come visit me in the office."
"I won’t be working in London anymore, Potter. I don’t know when I’ll see you again." Malfoy moved his face just a little bit closer. "I’m just putting that out there."
"Are Slytherins always this bloody chicken?"
"Slytherins are snakes. We eat chickens. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
"You’re a cannibal, then," Harry said. Then he leaned into Malfoy and kissed him.
It was not a particularly skillful kiss, but it felt right, in a way that burned in Harry’s stomach and teetered somewhere between the thought of wrapping his arms around Malfoy and holding on forever and flipping him on his stomach and fucking him over the desk so hard that it collapsed with the weight of their need.
"I’m going to miss you, you know," he said.
Malfoy smiled. "You’re going to miss your daily wake up calls and my post sorting system."
"I’m going to miss you, Malfoy," Harry said again.
"I’ll miss you, too, Potter." Malfoy wrapped his arms around Harry’s shoulders and squeezed. They stayed like that until the memo came, whisking Malfoy away and out of Harry’s grasp.
XIII. The Morning After.
Harry got to work early the next morning. It was a Tuesday. He told himself nerves made it too hard to sleep, but it might’ve been too hard to imagine another secretary.
When he got to the outer office and saw Malfoy at his old desk, he thought he was hallucinating.
"I thought you were leaving," he said.
Malfoy shrugged. "I was going to."
"I thought I might be more useful around here."
"What about your promotion?"
Malfoy’s smile was so broad it was electrifying. "It can’t be spoken of."
"They made you an Un--"
"Shh!" Malfoy shushed him. "These walls have ears, you know!"
"They don’t have eyes," Harry said, and pressed Malfoy back against the desk to kiss him.
"Perhaps not, Potter," said Snape, from his portrait, "but I do."