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Ten Years by orange_balloon

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Hermione Granger walked out of her office building in New York City engrossed in an extremely long letter from Viktor Krum. The six pages of parchment described a recent match against Italy in excruciating detail. The American Ministry of Magic office was located in Grayridge Road, Manhattan’s version of Diagon Alley. Around her, crowds of witches and wizards bustled along with their lives. Much like walking on any street in New York, she should have been watching where she was going, but her head was buried in her letter. She took a right down a less crowded side-street and promptly walked into someone.

Hermione dropped the parchments she was reading as well as the other mail she was holding. The man she had bumped into had also been holding papers. The various parchments were scattered about on the ground, all mixed together. She began to apologize and so did the man. They were both so embarrassed that they stooped together to try to sort out their papers without looking at one another.

They began shuffling through papers from the pile individually. Hermione found one of her envelopes mixed in with what appeared to be a report about extremely complex curses. She looked up at the man to hand him his papers and noticed he was reading one of the parchments he had been riffling through. He was blonde and attractive. The robes he was wearing were dark blue and formal as though he had been coming from work. He was tall but not lanky. With his head down and hair falling in his face, he just looked like any other handsome stranger on a Manhattan street. Then, Hermione noticed the familiar smirk playing on his lips.

The man looked her full in the face and showed no sign of recognition although she was quite sure she recognized him. He handed her the paper he had been reading. “So, who went to the Bulgarian match against Italy? I had been hoping Italy would win, but Bulgaria creamed them.” He smiled then and Hermione was certain it had to be him.

“A friend of mine,” she said simply, “is with the Bulgarian team.” He nodded and resumed shuffling through the parchments, occasionally handing over other pages of Viktor’s letter. Then, he came upon an envelope. Hermione’s breath caught in her chest. The stationary was formally etched with the name “Ginny Potter.” He flipped over the envelope and tipped his head to the side.

“Hermione Granger, Office Number Seventy-two, United States Ministry of Magic,” he read aloud. He looked down at her, slightly confused. “Hermione Granger?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes, hello, Malfoy.”

Draco Malfoy squinted, as if trying to see her properly. She knew he was having trouble finding the buck-toothed, frizzy-haired little witch that she had been at Hogwarts. Madame Pomfrey had fixed Hermione’s teeth years ago, of course. And she had long since discovered how to style her hair to combat the frizz. Today, it was up in a twist at the back of her head. She wore a pink blouse and gray skirt beneath her open gray robes. His eyes traveled down and then back up as Hermione tried not to squirm under his scrutinizing gaze. At 30-years-old, Hermione was used to this. Often when she ran into people she knew from school, they had the same reaction. She had seen Dean Thomas at an International Ministry conference in France last year and it had taken her 10 minutes to convince him that she was, in fact, Hermione Granger.

“Granger,” Malfoy said slowly and nodded as though he finally understood. “Well, how are you then? And how is dear Ginny “ Potter, is it now?” His eyebrows arched and he held out the envelope for her to take. Hermione pulled it back as she knew there were photos of her godson (Harry and Ginny’s first child, James) in the letter and she had not looked at them yet.

“I’m fine. Ginny and Harry are both quite well also, thanks for asking. How have you been?” she asked coolly.

“Oh, I’m good,” he drawled. “I’m just here in New York on an assignment with work. I’ve been here for three days already, but I am planning on spending a few months here. Do you live here?”

“Yes, I moved here three years ago.”

“And you work for the Ministry? What are you doing there in Office Number Seventy-two?”

The conversation was crawling politely along, but Hermione really wanted to get away from him. She couldn’t keep looking at him all grown up and not remember the horrible school boy he once was. They had always hated each other. In fact, she was at a loss as to why he wanted to have an entire catch-up conversation with her on the street.

Even after the war had ended and the Order of the Phoenix had seen that Malfoy was cleared of any charges related to Dumbledore’s death, they had not been friends. He had gone his own way, away from the Order, and she had not heard from him since. Ten long years, and now here he was suddenly intently interested in what she might do for a living.

“I’m an Auror,” she said. “I’ve just wrapped up a case,” she added just in case the full impact of her career had not hit him.

“Well, what else would you expect from the great Hermione Granger?” Malfoy looked impressed and one corner of his mouth turned up in a near-smile. She wasn’t sure if she actually sensed sarcasm or if she was just inserting it herself.

“What about you, Malfoy? Why are you here for an extended trip?”

The smirk was back. “I’m a Curse Breaker for Gringotts. I’ve come to supervise the work on a big new project.” He puffed his chest out notably. Clearly, he thought that his job was just as important as Hermione’s, or at least wanted her to think so.

“How interesting,” Hermione said earnestly. She wanted to hear more, but once again reminded herself who she was talking to. “I’m sorry, Malfoy. It was nice to see you, but I really do need to get home. I have some things to do.”

“Of course,” he said somewhat snidely. “I’m sure you need to get right to that letter from the Potters and then maybe spend some time with your boyfriend, Ron. Tell me, how is Weaselbee?”

Malfoy had hated Harry at school because Harry was everything that he was not. His hatred of Ron was because he thought his family was better than the Weasley family. It was a falsely entitled kind of hatred that Hermione could not stand. She rolled her eyes at his childishness. “I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Ron in several months. And what does it matter, Malfoy?”

“Oh, you broke up?” he asked with mild amusement. “It doesn’t matter to me. I just thought it would be polite to ask about him. I figured you two would have been married by now or something. Nice to hear that you came to your senses, Granger.”

Hermione shook her head and gave a feeble laugh, “This is silly, Malfoy. I’m not going to stand on the street and reminisce about how much you hated my friends and me in school.” She handed him the parchments from his report that she was still holding. “Good luck with your project. I hope you enjoy New York,” she said briskly and began walking away.

“Lovely to see you too, Granger,” he shouted after her.

She could hear him laughing as she rounded the corner toward her apartment building. Even with all the time that has passed, Hermione thought, some things never change. I’ll never like Malfoy.