Toxic @rubberduckiez
Changes

Do you feel me now?

Something felt off as Draco walked into the Ministry on Monday morning. He tried to rationalize that Olivia’s note first thing Sunday morning cancelling their meeting wasn’t anything usual. It didn’t mean anything in particular, he told himself. She was just tired, that’s all. They had spent hours working on research on Saturday as it was.

That had to be it. She was just tired from all the work they did on Saturday. He didn’t want to think that it had anything at all to do with her boyfriend showing up, whether he was pissed off about Draco being there and said something... or something else.

Draco didn’t want to think about something else. That Wood was the reason Olivia was too tired to meet. That just got him worked up over something he had no right to be worked up over.

But none of it changed the fact that Wood hadn’t seemed all that happy that he had walked into Olivia’s house on Saturday and found him there. A whole manner of scenarios ran through Draco’s mind. He knew Wood didn’t trust him - there weren’t many Gryffindors who did. But did he pass on this distrust to Olivia as that’s why she cancelled?

And just when they had found a comfortable place around each other that wasn’t full of arguing.

Saturday had been a rush, taking on something complex and working through the various obstacles that were in their way. He felt that he was doing something worthwhile. Something that would help a large amount of people. And maybe, perhaps, people would stop looking at him with distrust or disgust.

Perhaps he could finally show others that it wasn’t truly “once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater.” That he, Draco Malfoy, had changed. And that being Slytherin didn’t necessarily make one evil or conniving.

Regardless of whatever it was, Draco’s stomach was twisting as he walked into the main office that morning and saw Olivia already seated at her desk, going over paperwork though hardly anyone was there yet. Glancing around, Draco cleared his throat and then crossed the room, knocking on the open door.

Olivia looked up, her eyes wide as though she wasn’t expecting to see him, her face paling slightly. This wasn’t good, he thought as his heart sank slightly. Merlin, what had Wood told her? Surely she didn’t fear for her life around him.

“Draco. You’re early,” she said, starting to shift papers around nervously, looking away from him. He could tell that she was attempting to keep her voice light and airy, but it came across more as strained. “What can I do for you?”

“Since we couldn’t meet up yesterday, I was wondering if we could discuss your research,” he said. “Spent some time working on it, and I think I’ve some ideas that we could work on. I’ve got a few experiments I’d like to get to work on this week as well.”

Olivia stopped shifting papers and looked up at him.

“Right. Sure. Um, maybe not right now. I’ve got a lot of reports that I need to catch up on this morning. But later,” she said, appearing vague and as though she was avoiding his eyes.

Draco sighed, trying to hide his disappointment.

“Of course, I understand,” he said. He then turned and made his way to his office, hearing someone calling out to him. Though it wasn’t Olivia, so he ignored it, continuing to walk as he went over the exchange in his mind.

Was this because of Wood? Did he tell her to distance herself? Knowing the keeper, he likely told her a bunch of shite about Draco’s past. He then stopped as he entered his office, remembering what she had confessed over the weekend.

Her grandparents were muggle. Her mother was muggleborn. She was part muggle.

Draco grimaced, feeling more strongly than ever that the insufferable Gryffindor had told her about the war and his own past. It wasn’t as though it was a deep, dark secret - everyone else in the office knew about it. But he had never brought it up to Olivia himself and he probably should have. Gotten in front of it before someone else could use the opportunity to paint him in a negative light.

She was part muggle and he was a former Death Eater. There was no way she would fully trust him now.

He turned, glancing at his door and wondering if he should go back in right now and explain everything - that he had changed and no longer wished to live life like that. That he was a completely different person.

But more and more people were now pouring into the office.

The last thing he wanted to do was to make a scene, especially one that could potentially have everyone questioning their relationship. Not that they had one, but still. If anyone so much as suspected they were involved, they might both be out of a job. Merlin, why did this have to be so complicated?

Draco turned back to look around his office and then down at his briefcase where he had the notes from this weekend. He figured the best thing to do at this point was to get to work and wait for his opportunity to explain.

~~~

“Draco,” Blaise said cheerfully as he stepped into Draco’s office that afternoon.

“Not now,” Draco drawled, his focus on his notes as he worked at his desk. He had been trying to work out a rather complicated formula for the last hour and felt he was getting rather close. He didn’t need Blaise distracting him right now.

It had taken him all morning just to get to the point where he could focus on work and not continue thinking about what he was going to do about Olivia.

“What’s gotten into you?” Blaise asked. “It’s like something’s come over the office. Boss has been locked up in her office all day. You’re avoiding everyone, which granted, you do most days. But you’re also avoiding me, which I take personal offense to. Bones keeps coming out of her office to check on something, Merlin knows what, scurries back in as soon as someone looks at her. Then Harolds blew up his office - never does that…”

Draco sat up and looked over at Blaise, unsure about where he was going with all this. So everyone in the office was having an off day. Not his fault.

“Your point?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“My point is, are you and the boss still on the outs from Friday or did something else happen this weekend?” Blaise asked.

Draco glared at him, but when Blaise obviously wasn’t about to leave until he got an answer, he sighed, waving his wand and shutting his office door. He wasn’t about to let anyone else over hear this conversation.

“Something did happen this weekend,” he admitted. Blaise’s eyes lit up.

“I knew it. This was all new levels of awkwardness. She won’t even look at you without her cheeks going flush,” he said, moving to sit on a stool.

“I, what?” Draco asked. He hadn’t caught that. What the bloody hell had happened after he left on Saturday? Blaise chuckled.

“Start from the beginning. After the fight on Friday,” he said. Draco sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.

“I went to apologize and she gave me an address. Told me to be there on Saturday afternoon,” he said. “It was her house.”

“No fu-”

“Shut it, Blaise. It wasn’t anything like that,” Draco said, cutting him off. “We’re working on some research together.” Blaise started to open his mouth again. “A work project. Revolutionary potion that has potential to… change everything.” Draco stopped a moment, glancing at his best friend and wondering just how much he should tell him. He decided to leave out the more personal things Olivia had told him. “Anyway, we lost track of time and it got late. Then Wood showed up.”

“Ah, I see… he catch you in a dubious or compromising position?” Blaise asked, thoroughly enjoying this.

“No,” Draco said, frowning. “We were just standing in the library working on formulas. Potions formulas, before you try to twist that.” Blaise rolled his eyes. “I left, but before that, she asked if I could come back on Sunday. But then yesterday, I get an owl in the morning saying she has to cancel and that she would see me today at the office.”

He looked over at Blaise, who seemed slightly lost in thought.

“I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m fairly certain it’s something to do with something Wood told her after I left,” Draco said.

“But you’ve changed,” Blaise said, his brow furrowed.

“Wood doesn’t understand that,” Draco griped. “Likely mentioned all sorts of bollocks to her. He hates all Slytherins. And now she’s probably second-guessing her decision to bring me on board with her research.”

“So, I’m to understand that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that both of you are clearly in love with each other, but are too scared to say or do anything about it,” Blaise said casually.

“I am not in love with her,” Draco said with a haggard laugh. “That is just… it’s ludicrous. I barely know her, Blaise.”

“You know more about her than you’re letting on,” Blaise said. Draco frowned at him. “Right, well, okay… let me rephrase. You two clearly have feelings for each other.”

“And she’s my boss. We can’t date and work together,” Draco said. “Policy. And did you manage to forget that she’s currently dating Wood?”

“Ah, but I did just get you to agree that you have feelings for her,” Blaise said. Draco stared at him. He had said nothing of the sort. He then just realized how he had answered the question. He groaned and fell back in his chair.

“Doesn’t matter. We can’t… there’s no way that we’re going to happen. That night, it was only one night. And again - Wood,” Draco said. “All of… this… is probably because he told her all about my past and now she’s worried I’m going to steal her work or use it for nefarious reasons.”

Blaise studied Draco a few moments before standing and walking over to him, placing his arm on his shoulder.

“Whatever it is, Draco, you’re never going to know unless you talk to her about it,” Blaise said, appearing serious for a moment. “And really, she owes it to you to at the very least hear your side of it before she goes off believing anything that tosser says.” Draco sighed. “And maybe while you’re at it, confess your undying love for her.” Draco narrowed his eyes at Blaise as he began chuckling and walking towards the door.

“I’m not-”

“I know… I know,” Blaise said, continuing on. He pulled the door open and stopped, grinning at him. “Good luck.” He then winked and left Draco’s office.

Huffing slightly, Draco looked down at his work spread out around him. How on earth was he supposed to focus now? Blasted Blaise. Now all Draco could think about was how he felt about Olivia.

Earlier all he had to worry about was how she had reacted to his past. Now everything seemed far more complicated. What exactly was it that he was feeling for her? He needed to just… sit down and think about this logically.

Okay.

He had had a one-night stand with her. And if he were being truly honest with himself, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since then. At first, it was because he wanted more. Then he thought it was purely a desire to get even. To take back the job that she had stolen from him. But then he got to know her. Saw her brilliance firsthand.

Learned that she had taken the position specifically to work with him. He then learned about all her background. And she had opened up to him. Told her about her grandmother. How she was trying to save her. Shared her research.

Those were the facts.

His heart raced slightly whenever he was around her. He wanted nothing more than to see her smile. Wanted to make her smile. The thought of seeing her with Wood infuriated him.

He wanted to be with her.

Draco looked up towards his door, looking out into the main office. Without thinking, he started to stand, but stopped.

No, he couldn’t do this. It was crazy. He was just going to work with her, nothing more. Hopefully, make history, yes, but definitely nothing more than that. Right. He needed to get back to work.

~~~

Draco paced around his office, his mind whirling as he moved from parchment to parchment. He had no idea what time it was, but he was so close. He then stopped, reaching for a quill and beginning to scribble down furiously.

A grin filled his face as he lifted it up, going over it again. Yes. This was it. It had taken him all day, but he finally got it.

“Yes,” he exclaimed softly.

“Find something?”

Draco spun around, seeing Olivia standing there, shifting nervously on her feet. He rushed over and grabbed her shoulders.

“I figured it!” he shouted. He let go of her and held the sheet out. “It was bothering me all weekend, but I’ve got it. We can start experimenting!” He looked back up at Olivia, seeing her eyes wide as she grabbed the paper and looked over it, walking into his office.

Her lips moved slightly as she went over his work. She then looked up at him, an odd look on her face. She then looked back down at the page.

“This is… amazing work, Draco,” she said. “I couldn’t get this out of my head either. But… wow…” A smile came over her face as she looked up at him. She then took a deep breath and looked down at the floor, her smile fading slightly.

Oh, hell. He had forgotten. Wood.

“We, ah, we have some things to go over,” she said, finally meeting his eyes again. “You think you could come over tonight? We can work on this some more.”

“You still want to work with me?” he asked.

“I… yea… I think so, but there’s some… things,” she said awkwardly. She then shook her head and looked up at him, resolution filling her eyes. “Meet me at my place in an hour? I… we shouldn’t go together… you know…”

“Yes, of course. I understand,” Draco said quickly. Olivia nodded and then held the parchment out to him.

“See you soon,” she said. She then strode out of the room, leaving Draco alone. He looked down at the sheet and then back up to the doorway where she had just disappeared.

Whatever was going on, it seemed he was about to find out.

Tonight.

1. Meet Cute 2808 0 0 2. Just One Night 3493 0 0 3. Decidedly Not a Meet Cute 3406 0 0 4. Declaring War 2787 0 0 5. Mother Dearest 3286 0 0 6. Fighting 3545 0 0 7. Deep Dive 2944 0 0 8. Jealousy 3143 0 0 9. A (Not So) Good Day 3897 0 0 10. Hot & Cold 2670 0 0 11. The Other Side 2206 0 0 12. Coming Clean 3275 0 0 13. Changes 2572 0 0 14. Floodgates 3591 0 0 15. Awkward Mistakes 3425 0 0 16. Making Decisions 3628 0 0 17. Falling For You 3194 0 0 18. And It All Goes to Hell 3039 0 0 19. To Find a Rat 3312 0 0 20. From Here on Out 4379 0 0