Toxic @rubberduckiez
Decidedly Not a Meet Cute

It’s dangerous...

Draco was laser-focused as he walked through the Ministry lobby Monday morning towards the lifts. Today was the day he finally came face to face with Public Enemy No. 1, as he had taken to calling De Loughrey in his mind. He would size him up and then come up with a plan to try and get his job.

“Fancy seeing you early,” Blaise said as he fell in step with Draco, the two walking onto the lift. Draco raised an eyebrow at him as he pressed the button for their floor and the lift began moving with a lurch. “Any luck with that-”

“No,” Draco said harshly, not wanting to discuss his weekend rendezvous at work.

The Potions Research Department was located on one of the lower levels as the Ministry wished to keep all its research arms in the same general area, though none of them had access to the levels where the Unspeakables worked beneath them. It had started as a small chamber in a forgotten corner shortly after the war, but with a lot of work and several very successful new potions patents, Draco and his mentor Watkins had managed to convince the Ministry that it was a worthwhile venture.

The department now had its own level and was staffed by about 50 witches and wizards split into various teams. Draco and Blaise were in the main office, considered the most elite and most senior team. The new boss would be located in their office and work directly with them most of the time, though he would also oversee all the others as well. It was a load of work - Watkins had stayed late more often than not balancing his administrative role with his research - but it was a responsibility that Draco had been striving for since Day 1. It wasn’t enough to be on the research team anymore, he wanted the entire floor to flourish because of his leadership.

Show the wizarding world that you didn’t need to be the bloody Golden Trio to make meaningful contributions and all. And to perhaps forget finally that he had once been a Death Eater.

All that was standing in his way was O. A. De Loughrey.

“Wanted to check on my work before the new boss arrives,” Draco said dryly as the lift came to a stop and they both got out, making their way down the hall to the main research lab. Everyone was to meet there at 9 a.m. sharp in order to greet De Loughrey and Draco wanted to get set up before them so he could dive right into work afterwards.

“You think he’ll cut projects?” Blaise asked, a bit of worry creeping into his eyes.

“Why would he do that?” Draco asked.

“Dunno. He’s young. This is the first department he’s been in charge of. Perhaps he’s eager to make a mark. Could cut projects that are draining resources but haven’t paid off yet,” Blaise said. “It’s what you’d do.”

“Possibly. But not on the first day,” Draco said as they stepped into the large, spacious room.

“Maybe he won’t be so bad,” Blaise then said lightly. Draco snorted, not even dignifying the remark with a proper response.

Many of their teammates were already standing in the gathering spot in the middle of the room that was sectioned off into various offices and workspaces, crisp white work robes pressed to perfection. Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes. They were far too eager to make a good impression on the new boss and it was annoying.

He walked over to his own office which was the largest and off in a corner, putting his case down under one of the tables and started glancing over a few potions he had left to air over the weekend. There was no set dress code for the department as they spent most of their day covered in the lab robes, but Draco didn’t let that stop him from dressing immaculately. He pulled slightly on his suit sleeve and then glanced down at himself, pleased with the overall effect.

He had intentionally chosen this particular suit. It was tailored to fit him to perfection and made him more intimidating. Draco was out to send a message today.

Keeping to himself, he heard as more and more people poured into the main lab, their excited babble starting to reach an annoying level. He hoped this little welcome party didn’t drag on too long and take up too much of his time. He didn’t like to be kept from his work.

“Hey, Dr-Malfoy.”

He turned from his work, seeing Susan Bones standing in his doorway, fidgeting slightly. They had been working in the same department for the last two years, but honestly, he barely spoke to her. But she always seemed to be there in the periphery.

“Bones,” he said, stepping towards her.

“So, what do you think of this new boss business?” she asked. Draco shrugged, not about to let on that he was upset in any way.

“Suppose we’ll have to see what he brings to the table,” he replied nonchalantly.

“If it helps, I really thought the position should have been yours,” she said timidly. “Really.”

“Thanks.”

“If I could have your attention, please!”

Draco looked behind Susan and then walked over, leaning against the frame casually as the head of HR - Richard White - smiled brightly around the room. Susan walked over to stand with her friends, though she continued shooting looks at him. Draco glanced around, trying to locate De Loughrey, but not seeing any unfamiliar faces.

“As you all know, we have spent the last several months carefully considering who would replace Watkins as head of the Potions Research Department. He’s left some rather large shoes to fill and we only wanted the best,” White said. Draco couldn’t help but snort softly to himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Blaise send him an amused look.

“We were pleased when our first choice agreed to join us here. I’m sure most of you have heard of O. A. De Loughery and we are beyond honored to have her as part of the Potions Research team,” White continued. “I do hope you make her feel welcomed. Now, allow me to introduce your new head - Olivia De Loughery.”

Draco frowned, pushing off the frame. Her? He looked over at Blaise, who seemed equally as intrigued by this development. A smirk graced Draco’s face as he turned back, unable to make out the woman as she was currently surrounded by people eager to speak to her.

This would be far easier than he thought. All he had to do was seduce her and then he’d learn all her dirty secrets so that he could use them against her. While Draco didn’t really play around, he certainly knew how to lay on the charm when necessary.

For a moment, his mind wandered to Liv and a slight shudder of desire ran through him. He then scolded himself. He needed to be focused.

Draco started towards White and De Loughery, making out the top of her blonde head in the midst of the crowd. He was already wearing a sauve smirk as he smoothed out the front of his suit and caught White’s eye.

But as the crowd parted, Draco froze, his heart stopping in his chest as De Loughery turned and locked eyes with him. He wasn’t sure how he was faring with keeping the shock off his face, but she was clearly an expert. There was only the slight widening of her eyes before she managed to smooth her expression out into a warm smile.

Standing before him in a smart, expensive black robe set, her hair pulled back in a tasteful bun, was none other than Liv.

“Ah, yes! Please, let me introduce you to one of our shining stars. This is Draco Malfoy - he leads most of the projects in the experimental department. Very successful,” White rambled.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Malfoy,” Liv said smoothly, holding her hand out. “I must say your work is rather impressive.” Draco looked down at it, managing to recover before White noticed anything off. He then looked back up, easily falling back into his usual smirk as he shook her head.

“Oh, the pleasure is all mine, Ms. De Loughery,” he replied. Liv raised her eyebrows slightly, but before she could say anything further, she was being led away and introduced to the others. Draco retreated to his doorway, watching her closely with steely eyes as he ignored the look of confusion Blaise was currently giving him.

What the hell? What were the odds that the very woman he had an incredibly hot tryst with over the weekend was his new boss? She had played so coy, but Draco was certain she had known who he was. But why seduce him? Was this some sort of power play? Some twisted method of asserting dominance over him? Well, two could play that game.

But even with his anger growing by the second, he couldn’t stop some of the steamy memories from their night together as they flinted through his mind.

Tangling his fingers in her hair. The feel of her skin against his. The noise she made when he slid in and out of her.

Draco suddenly shook his head, looking to the ground as the frustration continued to build.

Keep it together, he urged himself. The absolute last thing he needed was to get an erection in front of everyone. Blast that woman and the effect she had on him.

He looked back up in time to see Liv standing in the middle of the room, looking around at everyone with a bright smile, though Draco swore her gaze lingered on him longer than the others.

“I just wanted to say that I am eager to get to know each of you. I’ve been going over your past work and I must say that this is a very impressive department - especially one that is so young,” she said loudly and clearly, her confidence draped around her like a cloak. “Over the next few weeks I intend to spend a lot of time getting to know you better and really diving into what you’re working on. See where we can make improvements and such. I really hope that we can come together as a team. Anyway, thank you for this wonderful welcome and I look forward to seeing what we’re capable of together.”

“I knew it. She’s going to assess our work and then cut projects,” Blaise hissed to Draco, finally settling from his back and forth into disliking her, though Draco wasn’t so sure what his reasoning was.

Rather than respond, Draco quickly started across the room, intending to stop her before she disappeared into her large office at the back.

“If I might have a word, Ms. De Loughrey,” Draco said smoothly, his expression betraying nothing. Liv stopped and glanced back at him, her perfectly formed eyebrows raised in amusement. She finally sighed and motioned for him to follow her into her office.

“Very well, Mr. Malfoy,” she said resignedly, though Draco swore he heard a hint of laughter in her voice. Blaise shot him a confused look that he ignored as he followed her into her office. For a moment he stopped and looked around, slightly impressed with how quickly she had changed everything and wondering just when she had done so. There were a couple bookshelves filled to the brim with books on all sorts of plant and potion topics.

Though it struck him as odd that there was no potions set. Watkins always preferred to work on his own here. Was she intending to steal everyone’s glory rather than work for it herself?

The walls were a light taupe, making the entire room feel warm, airy and much larger than it actually was, which was a feat. And while it wasn’t frilly in the slightest, it had a far more feminine appeal to it than before. There were several plants about and large colorful paintings on the walls that were shockingly still. The entire office while neat, appeared as though it had always been as it was and though it had been empty on Friday.

Perhaps she had come in yesterday after she left his townhouse.

His thoughts then began traveling to Saturday night, and he turned, frowning at Liv as she pulled off her outer robe and hung it on a stand behind her desk, revealing a smart, tailored white blouse and thin black tie that she wore with tailored black trousers. With her blonde hair pulled back into a stylish, low bun, a few wavy tendrils left loose around her face, he struggled to reconcile this woman - who was dressed rather conservatively, though still managed to look particularly fit - with the woman he had met in a random bar over the weekend. Likely because she was far more covered up.

Draco, once again, shoved those thoughts aside. This was the mysterious O. A. De Loughrey that he had been fighting against for several months. A person he considered an archnemesis though they had never met until now. His brain was working overtime to try and make sense of it all.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Malfoy? Or should I say Draco?” she asked, a smirk appearing after she had waved her wand and shut the door to her office.

Draco’s eyes narrowed as he glared at her, feeling his anger begin to simmer through him. Part of him worried for a moment what this could look like. Marching up to the new boss - who was rather young and attractive - on her first day and demanding to speak with her privately. The rumor mill of the department would no doubt be picking up speed at the moment.

But for the moment, he didn’t care as he struggled to settle on a starting point.

“What the hell is going on?” he nearly growled, though managed to keep his voice somewhat in check. He couldn’t help but feel as though she had lied to him.

And this was meant to be his job, after all.

Liv smiled as she sat down behind the large desk and crossed her arms.

“I’m just as shocked as you are,” she said lightly.

“Forgive me if you don’t look it,” he replied. Liv sighed and sat up. “Merlin, not only are you apparently some famous potioneer with a bank account the size of Ireland, you’re my fucking boss.”

Liv winced at his words, her smile sliding off her face as she slowly rose from her chair, now frowning at him.

“Look, I didn’t know who you were that night, otherwise I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone home with you. It’s not like you offered up that much information about yourself,” she shot back. Draco laughed harshly.

“And I’m supposed to believe that?” he asked. “You said yourself that you’ve seen my work.”

“Yes. Reports. Papers. That only had a name - D. Malfoy,” she spat. “How was I supposed to know that you were, well you! Unlike some people in that circle, I don’t really pay much attention to the society pages.”

There was a hint of bitterness in her voice that Draco suddenly connected with. Hadn’t he spent the years after the war distancing himself from the same ilk. His frown softened slightly as he studied her. Sure she was dressed expensively, but there was something about her that didn’t exactly come off as someone who grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth. Which was odd considering the De Loughreys were just as rich and pureblood and traditional as his own family.

Draco suddenly found himself conflicted. He wanted to be angry with her - he had planned to destroy her and take her job just moments ago, had he not? But now, seeing that small bit of vulnerability about her was making him second guess himself.

“So… what do you propose about… this?” he asked, motioning between the two of them. Might as well get that out of the way.

Liv -er, Olivia, no De Loughrey? - relaxed slightly. A smile appeared and she seemed to seamlessly shift her demeanor.

“At least that’s easy. It was just one night, Draco. That’s all it was meant to be,” she said, walking to the edge of the desk and picking up a piece of parchment, looking it over.

Draco frowned again, unsure of how he felt. Was she dismissing him? Had she not enjoyed it as much as he had? He thought she had.

Wait, but what about his plan to seduce her and get all her secrets? He would need to re-strategize. Liv- no De Loughrey - was brilliant, it appeared, and would easily pick up on his intentions if he didn’t play it right.

“I mean… I’m your boss, after all, and it would be highly inappropriate not to mention against company policy. Besides, it wasn’t easy for me to get this position and I’d rather not do anything to jeopardize it,” she continued. “Some prick was trying to disprove all my work and making it extra hard to prove myself capable of the job to all of the old farts in HR.”

Draco’s eyebrows rose in surprise that his tactics had worked somewhat. He then appeared more casual, though Liv didn’t look up from the parchments to notice.

“Right, so… co-workers and nothing more,” Draco said. She looked up at him.

“Think you mean subordinate and superior,” she said, starting to smile. Once again, Draco felt annoyance swarm through him, though it was mixed oddly with desire. She certainly knew how to push all his buttons.

In more ways than one…

Draco groaned internally as his thoughts once again seemed to drift into dangerous territory. If this continued, he was going to need to pop home for a cold shower or wank during lunch. Fuck, how was he supposed to work with her now?

“Right,” he said. “And we shouldn’t mention this to anyone.”

“That would be preferable, as would be calling me Olivia or Ms. De Loughrey rather than Liv. At least for the time being,” Olivia said, already looking through the parchment again. “That’s all.”

Draco’s eyes widened slightly at her dismissal before he huffed and spun around, leaving the door to her office open behind him as he stalked over to his office, his face clearly reading that he didn’t want to talk to anyone.

It should have come as no surprise to find Blaise in his office, leaning against his desk, his feet crossed at the ankle and an expectant look on his face.

“So anything you care to share?” he asked, a curious look on his face. “Namely why you wanted first dibs on speaking privately with the new boss?”

“Not really,” Draco said, pushing him aside as he studied his work. “Just wanted to let her know where I stand on things.” Blaise regarded this a moment before nodding. He started to walk out of the office, but stopped, turning back to Draco.

“By the way, think over asking Nott to help find the bird from Saturday?” he asked.

Draco walked over to his coat rack, pulling his suit jacket off and hanging it up.

“I told you. It was a fling. One night. And there’s nothing I’d be able to find with just a first name anyway,” he said. He glanced over at Blaise, hoping the bastard wasn’t putting two and two together at that very moment.

“Shame,” Blaise finally said with a heavy sigh before turning and walking out of Draco’s office.

Draco breathed a sigh of relief as he turned to his work. At least that would get his mind off his completely aggravating, insanely attractive boss that he just knew was going to end up driving him mad.

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