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Work With a Side of Gossip

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                The water cooler was predictably the highlight of the office. That was where most of the gossip happened and it was the one area Malfoy never looked for anyone.

                “He’s such a dick,” Seamus complained, clenching his water cup tightly. “If I wanted to be yelled at every day, I would have stayed home with my mother.”

                Pansy snorted, smirk lighting up her features. “It’s your own fault for still living at home with her.”

                “I know,” Seamus sighed regretfully. “But even she is preferable to the boss. If he blames me one more time for the lack of sales in the eastern quarter, I may just commit murder.”

                “The eastern quarter is your job,” Blaise pointed out, leaning against the wall. “But I know what you mean. He’s been a real prick as of late.” Work was becoming a scary place. Malfoy’s mood was flighty and constantly angry.

                “Yeah,” Ron admitted, ignoring his work in favour of standing near them—what did the yearly report matter anyways? “What is up with that? I mean he has always been a bastard, but these past few weeks it has been hell around here.” Satan had nothing on their boss. Which was not an exaggeration, no matter what Hermione had to say on the matter.

                Pansy leaned away when they all looked at her expectantly. “Why are you all looking at me? I don’t know Mister Malfoy any better than you do.” Not that she wanted to know him either. Malfoy was a right pain in her arse, and definitely not the good kind.

                “You’re the one who talked to him outside of work!” Ron argued, shaking his head. “We were all lucky enough to avoid a disaster like that.”

                “Once!” She argued vehemently. “And that was at a grocery store! He was still the same arse as he always is. I felt like he was judging me for my food selections. I was too embarrassed to ever go back.” That was her favourite grocery store too.

                “It’s not polite to gossip.” The dreamy tone had them all groaning.

                Pansy put her hands on her hips and turned to Lovegood. “What do you know? You’re just a temp. Besides, if you can’t gossip about your boss, then who can you gossip about?”

                Before Lovegood could respond, the sound of thundering feet had them turning towards the door.

                “He’s coming!” Neville whisper yelled. “Malfoy is coming and he’s in a bad mood. He made the security guard cry.” Not that Myrtle didn’t always cry. Honestly, it was a surprise anyone hired her to begin with.

                They all scrambled to get to their desks as Lovegood went down three floors to the temp office. Pansy shoved Ron out of her chair. “This is my desk, you moron!”

                “Ow,” Ron grumbled as he took the cubicle next to her. “Didn’t have to push so hard.”

                Neville bit his lip nervously, his panic increased when they could all hear footsteps approaching. He was too anxious to pretend to do any work, so he picked up the phone on his desk. “Good morning, thank you for calling Malfoy and Malfoy Shipping CO, my name is Neville. How can I help you?”

                Pansy nodded her head, impressed with Neville’s foresight. She turned on her computer and pulled open the spreadsheet she was supposed to have finished yesterday. At least she was really doing something this time.

                Ron held his breath as he looked towards the door, hoping Malfoy wasn’t in that bad of a mood. Perhaps Neville had been over exaggerating?

                When Draco Malfoy, the CEO of the company entered, they all groaned internally. He was not in a good mood. There was an angry aura vibrating around him, his grey eyes were already narrowed in dislike and his hands were clenched at his sides.

                Luckily, he said nothing as he made his way towards his office.

                Everyone jerked in their chairs when his door was slammed so forcefully that it rattled the photos on the wall.

                “I hate my job,” Pansy whispered miserably. If she hadn’t clawed all the way from a temp to a Senior District Manager, working god awful amounts of overtime for five years, and didn’t work with her friends, then she would have quit a long time ago. Probably would have left in a blaze of glory or burned down the building—either was fine by her fantasies.

                “Well,” Neville began, putting the phone down. “At least he didn’t say anything to us.”

                Small blessings.           

               


 

 

               “Excuse me?”

                The voice startled the mid-afternoon crash most of them were experiencing. It was only an hour to lunch and minds had long ago began to wander.

                Pansy, who had been resting her chin in her palm, was surprised by the man’s looks so much that her elbow slid and jerked her face. Perhaps it was her recent breakup or the six months respite from sex but this man, this man must have come straight out of a fantasy. He held himself with confidence and had an easy smile. His hair was messy in a way that had her wondering if he owned a brush. It was hard to tell from the distance but his eyes were definitely expressive and vibrant.

                “Is Draco in?”

                Draco? Ron tilted his head to the side at the use of Malfoy’s first name. No one who stopped by ever addressed Malfoy with familiarity. Usually, people hesitated before entering.

                “Yes,” Blaise answered, coming to his senses much quicker than the rest of them. “But he is on a conference call at the moment.”

                The man nodded before looking around briefly. “Do you mind if I wait here for him?”

                They all raised their heads to peer at each other, trying not to be the one to make the final decision. If Malfoy didn’t want to speak to this person, then whoever allowed him to stay would face his wrath.

                “No, go ahead,” Neville spoke up in resignation when no one else said anything. Figures he had to be the brave one. Cowards, the lot of them.

                They watched curiously as the stranger pulled an unused chair from the side and settled himself down near Seamus’ desk.

                “So,” he began, resting one of his feet on the desk. “What’s the gossip around here like? Anything interesting? I’ve always thought that working in an office would be fun.”

                That had them all sharing another look. Speaking about Malfoy to someone unknown was a horrible idea.

                Their silence caused him to sigh. “Ah, well. It was worth a shot. How has Draco been lately? I know the past few weeks must have taken a toll on him. Hopefully, he hasn’t been too hard on you all.”

                The odd familiarity to them had Pansy looking at Blaise in confusion. Who was this guy? And why did he seem to know them?

                Neville looked down and noticed that the conference call was no longer lit up on the telephone. He tentatively picked up the phone.

                “Yes?” The terse reply had Neville wincing.

                “Sorry sir, there is a man here wanting to see you.” He looked over apologetically to the stranger, realizing that he hadn’t gotten a name.

                “Harry,” The stranger supplied, brows furrowing.

                Malfoy’s door swung open, clearly having heard Harry through the phone. “Potter, get in here!”

                Pansy almost felt bad for him. That was the tone Malfoy used when he was in a particularly demanding mood. She did not want to be in Harry's shoes.

                She leaned her head back when Harry grinned widely. That was not a normal reaction to Malfoy’s anger. Pansy looked at Seamus, hoping to see the same surprise on his face too. She almost snorted at Seamus' wary expression. It was as if he thought Harry was mental.

                “Anyone else think that was odd?” Blaise asked, coming into Pansy’s cubicle and sitting on her desk.

                “Definitely.” Ron agreed, standing by Seamus’ desk. “I have never seen someone smile before going into his office.” Grimaces, fear, despair and even horror were normal expressions on the people who visited Mister Malfoy.

                “He’s hot,” Seamus piped up, fanning himself. “If I wasn’t dating Dean, I would offer myself up on a silver platter.” There was a slight pause before, “A naked silver platter.”  

                Pansy and Blaise nodded their heads in unison. “Think he is single?” She asked, looking towards the door thoughtfully.

                “With an arse like that?” Blaise shook his head. “I doubt it.” The hot ones were already taken—story of his life.

                “What do you think Malfoy is saying to him?” Neville, the ever worrier, wondered quietly.

                “That is a good question.” A few of them said curiously, half wanting to know and half being immensely grateful that they weren’t in there.

                The clock painstakingly moved with a slowness that had Ron wondering if he broke it, if he could claim his early departure to lunch on that.

                “He’s been in there nearly an hour,” Seamus whispered, not understanding that at all. Most scheduled meetings don’t even last that long.

                When the door swung open, they all startled, trying to seem as if they had been working. Pansy was typing furiously, eyes on her Malfoy and Harry exiting. It took a moment for her to realize that her monitor was turned off.

                Seamus was blatantly staring at the two of them, not bothering to hide his open curiosity.

                Ron was trying to appear as if he had been correcting something on his papers but it wasn’t until Neville flipped over his pencil, that he realized that he had been trying to write with the eraser. He would have been embarrassed by this but he was too distracted by the small smile on Malfoy’s face. Sweet baby Jesus that was something he never thought he would see.

                Blaise was pretty sure he was gaping but he couldn’t help it. Not when this was proof that he was dreaming.

                “Oh, before we go.” When Malfoy turned to look at them, they all straightened up in their seats. “I am taking off for the day. I advise you all to do the same.”

                That was that.

               They all stared at the spot that the two men had been, in a dumbfounded confusion.

                “Did he just tell us to go home early?” Blaise whispered disbelievingly. In the entire time he has worked at Malfoy and Malfoy, not a single time had they ever been given the chance to leave early. He had hoped once they had all been named as Senior District Managers that their hours would improve but unfortunately, they all worked the same hours as they had when they had begun as temps.

                Seamus vaulted over his desk and scrambled towards the door. “I’m not sticking around for him to change his mind!”

                It was a mad dash after that. Several of them shoving each other to get to the door.

                “Fucking hell,” Ron complained when Pansy shoved him out of the way. “Would it kill you to be gentle?”

 


 

 

                “So, who do you think he is?” Seamus whispered as they watched Harry leave the room. This was the fifth time in a month they had seen him come and go. “I would say a relative but Malfoy’s father is even more of an arse than he is.”

                “No,” Pansy waved that theory away. “They don’t even almost look anything alike. I was thinking just a friend.”

                “That would suggest that Malfoy has any friends,” Ron pointed out doubtfully.

                “The man’s got a point,” Blaise chimed in with a hum. “But you also can’t deny that Malfoy is always in a better mood after Harry stops by.”

                “True,” Neville whispered, staring at the closed office door. “Maybe they really are just friends.” Miracles can happen, right?

                “We need more evidence,” Pansy concluded, slapping her hand against the desk. “Ron, get that wife of yours to come up with some theories. She’s the resident genius here.”

                Ron arched his brows. “Alright. But Hermione is only two floors down in bookkeeping. You could ask her yourself.”

                “Nah. It’s been awkward between us since I drunkenly kissed her at the Christmas party.”

                “Wait. What?” Ron asked in bewilderment.

 


 

 

                Neville shot an alarmed look towards Seamus every time Malfoy paced close to his desk. Malfoy rarely ever left his office. Seeing him distressed was setting off Neville’s nerves into an anxious state.

                “Has Harry called or stopped by at all?” The question wasn’t barked out or said in anger. It sounded worried and that had the rest of them concerned. An angry boss was something they all had experience in handling. But a worried one? No. Not even remotely did they know what to do.

                “No,” Blaise offered when he lost the stare off that would decide who had to deal with the Malfoy. “He hasn’t.”

                “Fuck.”

                Seamus rolled his chair to the opposite side of the room when he saw Malfoy run his fingers through his hair. If he was resorting to messing up his pristine and precious hair, then things were about to get worse. Seamus did not want to be collateral damage in whatever explosion was going to happen.

                “Parkinson, pull open all news outlets, I want you to check—” He was cut off by the sound of running footsteps.

                Pansy blinked rapidly when Harry burst into the room. His clothes were dishevelled, ripped and torn in several places. His hair was surprisingly even more of a disaster than usual and he had a gash across his face.

                “Draco,” Harry whispered thickly. “It was a close call and—” Harry stopped talking when Malfoy clenched his fists and turned his back around, eyes closed and despair on his face.

                “I resigned,” Harry continued, hand raised but not moving towards anyone.

                “You what?” Malfoy turned around rapidly. “I have been trying to get you to quit for years!”

                “I know.” Harry’s hands were raised in surrender. “And I should have listened. But I was too stubborn and wanted to provide for you just as much as you provide for me.”

                “Harry.” The whisper tore at Pansy’s heartstrings. She didn’t know Malfoy had been capable of having so much emotion inside of him.

                “I saw an entire team go down, Draco.” Harry’s voice cracked. “That could have been me and I couldn’t bear the thought of you having to bury your own husband.”

                ‘Husband?’ Neville and Ron mouthed, shocked into stillness. Friends had been a bit of a stretch, but husband? That hadn’t crossed any of their minds.

                “You really did quit?” Malfoy asked taking a step forward. “You don’t have to do that. I knew what I was getting myself into long before you ever joined the police force.”

                “I really did.” Harry smiled, walking the few feet up to Malfoy and lifted him up into his arms. “I was thinking about taking you up on your offer.”

                Seamus let out a breathy noise when Malfoy grinned. He almost wanted to slap himself to see if this was real.

                “The business is named after us, after all,” Malfoy whispered before resting his face into Harry’s neck. “I could use your help around here. I’m not the best with people.”

                That was a complete and utter understatement. Myrtle still flinched at the sight of Malfoy.

                Malfoy and Malfoy. They had all assumed that Malfoy must have taken over after his father retired and added the extra Malfoy.

                “Alright.” Harry ran his fingers through blond hair before carrying Malfoy towards the door. He stopped to address them before leaving.

                “I probably won’t be your boss for another few weeks but if you don’t have work to do, I am going to suggest you have an early release. I’m going to take Draco home.”

                A stunned silence filled the room as soon as the two men left.

                “Married?” Pansy shook her head quickly. “I don’t believe it. Did any of you even know that he was married?”

                “I didn’t even know he was gay,” Blaise whispered, blinking rapidly. 

                Seamus looked at his spreadsheets that needed to be finished and the reports from the people underneath him that needed filing. “Nope, I have no work to do,” He declared before taking off quickly towards the door.

                Everyone else shared a look before they too took off after Seamus.

                “Ow!” Ron complained when Pansy elbowed him out of the way. “You don’t have to hit so hard!”

 


               

 

                Ron ran into the bookkeeping office and ignored Hermione’s stuffy co-workers. He didn’t care how nice his wife said Mister Binns was, the man’s voice put him to sleep. “You are never going to believe who Harry is.”

                “Mister Malfoy’s husband of ten years,” She responded, not looking up from a folder of finances and expenses.

                “How did you know they were married?” He was rather disgruntled and annoyed that she knew before he did. “Wait, did you say ten years?”

                Hermione shook her head before shooting him a fond look. “After you asked me to come up with theories for your weirdly gossipy group, I looked up Harry online. Their marriage is public record.”

                “Oh,” Ron deflated slightly, not wanting to admit how embarrassing it was that they hadn’t even bothered to do a simple internet search.

                “Well, Harry is going to take up a position here. Probably be made some kind of CEO or boss.” Ron added, knowing that this had just been discussed upstairs only a few minutes ago.

                “I figured as much.”

                Ron sighed heavily, was there anything his wife didn’t know?

                “Do you think much will change around here?” Hermione asked curiously. “From what you said, Harry is a rather nice guy.”

                That had Ron humming curiously. “I think a lot of things will change.”

 


 

 

                “You are never going to guess what I overheard Hannah say.”

                The near lunchtime gossip session was underway and Pansy was thankful that it was distracting enough that she wasn’t focusing on her rumbling stomach.

                “Come on,” Harry continued when no one said anything. “It involves Nott down in bookkeeping and Lovegood down in the temp office.”

                “Tell me,” Blaise demanded firmly. They all knew that he had been lusting after Nott and Lovegood equally for months.

                Before Harry could continue, Neville ran into the room. “He’s coming. Smith pissed Malfoy off enough that he fired him, he’s not in a good mood.” No one bothered to point out that Malfoy was rarely ever in a good mood. They were past the point of stating the obvious.

                It was a scramble for everyone to get to their desks. No one wanted to anger Malfoy off after he fired someone. That was an atmosphere that guaranteed someone else could be on the chopping block.

                Harry was halfway towards them when he stopped. “Wait, why am I panicking? I’m the co-owner.”

                Pansy snorted but quickly quieted down when Malfoy walked into the room.

                “Why do I have a feeling that you all aren’t doing anything?” There was exasperation in Malfoy’s tone, but before he could walk over and investigate, Harry stepped forward.

                “Hello, love.”

                That had Seamus breathing a sigh of relief, he knew that pet names always seemed to get the Malfoy to smile slightly. When Malfoy looked down briefly and his lips quirked up, Seamus shared a high five with Neville.

                “You want to head to lunch early?” Harry offered, entwining their hands. “I’m in the mood for Italian.”

                “Nice,” Blaise whispered, knowing from Harry that Italian was Malfoy's favourite. Harry knew how to appease their boss in ways that he always found amusing.

                “Sounds nice,” Malfoy sighed happily, something that still surprised them even months after seeing the changes Harry brought to the usually angry man.

                When the two made it to the door, Malfoy told them that they too could head to lunch early. Harry waited until his husband wasn’t looking to send a wink to them.

                “Harry is the best thing that has happened to this place,” Seamus sighed in delight before he took off running towards the door.

                “No,” Ron warned, sidestepping Pansy’s elbow. “You won’t be pushing me today.” He took off after Seamus, leaving behind work that he knew should have been finished before lunch.

                “He’s right though.” Blaise entwined his and Pansy's elbows together. “Harry and Malfoy really make for an interesting dynamic around here.”

                “I love my job,” Pansy admitted with a smile as she locked the door behind her.