Blaise was having a very hard time concentrating. He had a presentation at the end of the week, which meant he either had to work an extra day or work from home, and that wasn’t going to happen. He was very much insistent on keeping his home life separate from work.
“Chris!” he shouted through the open doors. He had the charmed scroll that mirrored the scroll on his assistant’s desk, but he liked yelling much better. “Where are my quarter reports?”
He heard Chris stand at the edge of the room and sigh. His assistant really was competent and they were slowly but surely building a rapport, but Blaise was impatient and always had been.
“They’ll be ready this afternoon. Anything else while I’m in non-yelling distance?”
Blaise glared at him. “Push back the survey tomorrow to next week. I need more time.”
There was another sigh from his doorway. Blaise was learning Chris’ different expressions and gestures. That was a I’m going to get yelled at but shall ask the question anyway
sigh. “It’s been pushed back already by another survey member. The team won’t appreciate the short notice.”
“Sounds like a personal problem to me,” he quipped with a grin.
“I’ll do the honors of letting them know,” Chris say dryly before going back to his desk.
Blaise leaned back in his chair and groaned. He hated surveys. He stood and stalked out of his office. “I’m going to get something to drink. Want anything?” Chris just held up his own drink without pausing in writing the notes. “Thanks for asking if I wanted anything,” Blaise muttered as he stalked off.
Hannah stalked into Zabini Charms like a princess. She was paying Blaise a surprise visit.
“Hello, Fina,” she said in a cheery tone.
The receptionist tried to stop her, but Hannah waved her off.
“It’s a surprise, and if you check with Alessandro, I’m sure it’s fine that I’m here. If it’s not, I’ll take the heat and bake him something.”
Fina was looking at her like she was crazy.
“I’m the girlfriend that’s not going anywhere, Fina. Well, except up to Blaise’s office. Ciao!”
Then she shouted in Italian for someone to hold the elevator. She was going to ride this damned thing and make it to Blaise’s floor or die trying. She had to quit being afraid of things.
Chris’ eyebrows rose when he received the notification on his scroll that a woman was coming to see Blaise. Fina said she was on the approved list but that Alessandro also wished to be notified if she showed. After asking for a brief physical description, he stood and adjusted his robes. Since Blaise was out, he would meet the woman at the lifts. While he didn’t ignore the gossip since he had long ago learned that knowing the ins and outs of the upper management allowed him to navigate his own career smoothly, he tried not to reserve judgement. Although with the way the women talked about Blaise Zabini, judgement was hard not to reserve.
He waited at the lift he was instructed the woman had joined. When people started spilling out, he saw her in the back.
“Miss Abbott? I’m a Christopher Andreas, Mr. Zabini’s assistant. I can direct you to his office if you would like.”
“I would like, thank you,” Hannah said, eyeing him suspiciously.
As they walked, she looked up at him, studying. He seemed to sense her look and turned. He opened his mouth, but Hannah cut him off.
“How do you find working for my boyfriend? Nice, stressful, overwhelming? Has he spilled anything on himself and made you get him an entirely new shirt yet? Because you should be prepared for that one.”
Chris didn’t say a word just yet, waiting to see if she was done. He had been grilled by many a girlfriend in his career, but he didn’t know that Blaise had one. “Mr. Zabini keeps extra clothing on hand in case of an...emergency,” he said neutrally. The only reason the extra clothing was on hand was because of such an instance and Chris did not
do cleaning charms.
“Hmmm,” was Hannah’s only response.
He seemed a bit cool and emotionless to her, but that could be to balance Blaise out.
“Have you any sort of protocol in place for a Draco visit?”
“Reinforce the fire charms, then duck and cover,” Chris said dryly. From the stories he had heard, that was a definite appropriate response. “Those are Alessandro Zabini’s protocols. Blaise is adamant that he won’t receive any visitors but still supplied a list to the front desk and security. You are the first visitor he’s had since he began work.”
“Interesting,” Hannah replied. “So do you know why you were chosen to be his assistant?”
She was honestly curious as to what he’d say. Hannah even smirked playfully at him. It used to bother her how worldly Blaise was. Well, he could be in the world all he liked, but he came home to her. She gave him a pretty darn good reason to.
“There was no choosing,” he replied lightly. “I asked.”
“Really,” Hannah said, raising an eyebrow. “Can I ask? You see, I’m terribly nosy and very protective of Blaise. If you don’t have his best interests at heart, I’ll have Draco burn you to a cinder then I’ll bake your ashes into a cake.”
She felt she was getting much better at this threats thing.
His previous boss had gone through two messy divorces so Chris thought he had heard every insult there was, but this one was definitely new.
“I worked here for a month before Blaise arrived but I worked in Florence for many years as an assistant. I enjoy the work and it keeps me busy but I have more perks than an average secretary. I had never met Blaise before but I had seen him at functions. He was knowledgeable but not so dedicated to the work that he let it consume him, and by default, those around him. I knew that if I chose to work for him, I wouldn’t be bored but I wouldn’t be overworked, either. Also, he was the only male needing at assistant. I don’t work for women.”
“Curiouser and curiouser,” Hannah said. “ Whyever not? If I can be so bold as to ask again?”
Chris narrowed his eyes at the woman. “Because they ask too many questions which takes up the time I would like to use to do my job.”
Hannah laughed loudly. “I’m annoying you. Good. You can blame your boss and his best mate for this right here. I used to be nice, very sweet, never grilled anyone to make certain they weren’t going to hurt loved ones. I used to just bake things and try to win them over. But not everything can be remedied with baked goods, wouldn’t you agree?”
She smiled brightly at him.
Honestly, he thought it would make things more bearable, but instead, stood by his desk. “Can I get you anything to drink or eat while you wait for Blaise? He should return at any moment.”
Hannah started giggling again as she took a seat. “Thank you. That’s very gracious, but no. I’m quite fine.”
He looked like he wanted her to evaporate. It was a new experience for Hannah, and now she could see why Draco liked it so much. Though for her part, it was more about seeing what sort of person Christopher was rather than just making him annoyed and uncomfortable for sport. Slytherins took that sort of thing to an art form.
Chris finally sat in his seat and checked his scroll. Alessandro’s secretary Rosaria said he was unable to come see her. “Alessandro sends his regards but he is unable to come visit. Would you like to leave him a message?” he asked, already writing a return message. He was mentally calculating how he would have to reshuffle Blaise’s schedule...again.
“Yes, thank you.”
He actually looked irritated that she’d said yes. Hannah began to write.Tell Tio Luca that his work on the sunlight charm is extraordinary. Daniel Osbourne’s slayer used it quite successfully on a patrol two nights ago. I have yet to try it myself as my slayer is not on patrol rotation yet. - Hannah
There was a slight widening of the assistant’s eyes as he read what she had written. Hannah almost smiled, but did not. She knew what most of Blaise’s other girlfriends had been like - bits of fluff with no substance to them. Well, she had a real job.
Chris dutifully sent the message on through Rosaria’s scroll. He really hoped that Rosaria almost had a heart attack when she read the Tio Luca
part. He almost had one himself. Very rarely did members of the Zabini family who were not employed at the business visit so hearing Luca called uncle was strange. Especially coming from a girlfriend. “His secretary will see that the message is delivered.”
“Thank you,” Hannah said as she sat back down.
She nearly jumped out of her chair when her wand buzzed. Draco had set it up to take “calls” from the Council. Hannah took out the wand and said the incantation before holding it to her ear.
She made a face as the spell put Betsy’s voice in her ear.
“Betsy, I know no one ever really gets a day off from the Council, but I’m not even in England. I’m in Italy right now.”
She paused to listen.
“Yes, it’s perfectly fine if Meredith goes to Diagon Alley today.”
“Yes, I’m quite aware I am not there to ask, Betsy. Next time ask Draco. He’s well acquainted with my schedule and what I think Meredith should and should not do.”
Hannah shook her wand and said a different incantation, turning the spell off and effectively ‘hanging up’ on Betsy.
She looked at Christopher. “Sorry.”
As he was already working yet again, trying to send notes to other employees on the survey team that would have to be pushed back, he had ignored the disruption. Just as he finished, the charmed piece on his ear grew warm and he tapped it with his wand. ”I am only the messenger
,” he said before the other person even could speak. Chris kept working as he listened to the rant. One of the survey members wasn’t happy. “Not only am I sure that isn’t physically possible, sir, but keep in mind that you are speaking about your employer’s son and nephew. The meetings are rescheduled and I will let your assistant know of the new dates
.” He tapped his wand to his ear and sighed, knowing that conversation was the first of many to occur. “I apologize myself.”
“I don’t suppose it would be terribly professional of me to ask who that was so that I could go hex them,” Hannah said. “I have got to stop having that tendency. I know he has enemies and not everyone is going to like him, but darn it, I do.”
Chris smirked. “You would have to hex the entire building. I get three of those a day. Blaise rescheduling meetings every day before surveys just doubles the messages.”
Hannah rubbed her chin. “I think I could hex the entire building, but then I would have to take you up on your offer of something to eat or drink afterwards. I’d be awfully tired. Perhaps Blaise should do what our head slayer Buffy did and let someone else fill in for him for a few days. Like Draco or Pansy. Better yet, creepy Astoria. They’d be begging for him to come back after a day.”
“Astoria Greengrass is not allowed in the building,” Chris said. “And believe it or not, Blaise does not like other employees trying to help him with his work. He would rather work alone.”
“He’s so secretive,” she remarked.
And he was. He kept things very well to himself. Hannah knew he loved her, felt it, but he had never said so. She’d always been the one to say it; It might be nice to hear that. She didn’t want him to tell her because it was expected, though; she wanted him to say it because he meant it. Hannah knew this was a foolish hope because Blaise didn’t share his feelings. She had come so close to losing him that she wasn’t going to push the issue. She would take what they had because they were darned lucky to still have it.
He didn’t reply because he was paid for his silence and knew that Blaise would have secrets when he was accepted for the job. Chris kept working, reworking the schedule, knowing it would be changed the next time Blaise came into work. Speaking of Blaise, surely it didn’t take long to get something to drink.
Chris wrote a message to the other secretaries on the floor. Eyes on Blaise?
A reply came back almost immediately from Luca Zabini’s secretary. Detained, but should be returning any moment.
“Your wife visiting, Chris?” Blaise asked as he walked up, taking a drink of his now-cold tea. “And I need a new drink. Wonderful.” He made a face and started to go into his office.
wife,” Hannah said. “What? You don’t recognize me in one of my little business suits? Or you’re so focused on work that I just seemed like part of the chair? You can stop me anytime, love.”
Blaise choked on his tea as he spun around, staring in shock at Hannah. “Han? What the fuck are you doing here?” He glared at Chris. “Why didn’t you alert me?”
“I tried. You ignored my message.”
“Very rude. No biscuits for you,” Hannah said playfully. “You could be a bit nicer to Christopher, you know. He’s put up with one of Blaise Zabini’s girlfriends while you were off ignoring him. I’m afraid I asked a lot of questions and was a general pest, but he handled it quite well.”
He snorted. “Chris will need a raise for putting up with your Spanish Inquisition. Come in to the office and let him work. He gets snippy if he’s interrupted for too long,” Blaise said.
“I’ve noticed,” Hannah said before smirking at Christopher.
Then she got up and followed Blaise.
He closed the door behind her. “You want anything to eat or drink? Chris should have offered when you got here. He hasn’t been giving you too much trouble, has he?”
Hannah started laughing. “Of course he did. I was the one giving him trouble, so you had better not give him a hard time. He was a frosty one at first, but I suppose he thinks I’m like the others. All legs, tits and hair. No substance.”
“My youthful reputation preceded me,” Blaise muttered as he sat down on the small sofa against one of the walls. “What are you doing all the way here? I’ll be back in England tomorrow.”
“But I wanted to see you today, and I had to make certain you assistant could be trusted with you. Not that I don’t trust your father to choose a suitable assistant, but I wanted to see for myself. I had to be certain. He didn’t even bat an eye when I said I’d have Draco burn him to a cinder then I’d bake his ashes in a cake. I daresay he’ll do.”
“You threatened to bake my assistant’s ashes?” Blaise asked dryly. “So you really just wanted to make sure that my assistant wasn’t a little bitch? Do you really think I didn’t grill him before I even settled in on my first day?”
“I’m certain you did, but I wanted to see for myself, and oh my goodness, you should have seen Fina’s face when I marched in here unannounced. I should have taken a photo.”
He was giving her this look.
“I don’t know Christopher. Don’t you see? In the version of my life I saw, I never knew him. He’s brand new to me.”
He knew that now, that Hannah knowing the future had completely changed the future already. Him accepting the job in Italy had drastically changed the future yet again. “Does he pass your little test?”
“Well, I think the real test should be a Draco visit, but yes, he’ll do. Did you know there’s actually protocol for if Draco visits?”
“There’s a protocol for if you
visit,” he replied with a laugh. “But that was for when you didn’t have your memories. Don’t worry, though. Every visitor has their own protocol set. We Zabinis are sticklers for security.”
Hannah frowned. “What was it? The protocol for my non-Blaise-knowing self?”
“To let me know and my father would make my excuses. That was after your first visit. Now, I’ll amend it so that you have full access to the site, no hang-ups or escorts needed. Although I’m only here two days a week, so you really don’t need to visit.”
“But what if I wanted to be highly inappropriate and make out with you on your desk? After all, we made out on my desk at the Council, and turnabout is fair play,” Hannah said in a nonchalant tone to see what he’d do with that.
She didn’t know what it was about her that she liked to say things she knew he would not be used to hearing her say just to witness his reactions.
He stood up quickly. “We are not doing anything inappropriate in my office,” he said in a low voice. “At all. Ever.”
Hannah made a pouty face at him and batted her eyelashes. She even stuck her lip out in an exaggerated pout.
“And I put on my one set of black lace undies and everything. Tragic really, letting all of that go to waste. And the desk looks quite sturdy too. What a shame.”
Blaise sat down in his chair, wheeled as close as he could to the desk, and slammed his head down on it with a grown. “”Hannah, I can’t exactly lock the doors. What if someone walks in? Like my father
“Unlikely,” Hannah replied. “He had Christopher relay me a hello message but say he could not come speak to me in person. Sounds like he’s busy.”
She got up and walked towards him.
“And it’s not like Cecelia didn’t already catch us all... you know. I’m feeling very unprofessional today. I do wish you’d let that wonderful sense of adventure I know you have in there somewhere out just now. I like all the Blaises but I think ‘against the wall’ Blaise might be one of my favorites.”
Blaise glared up at her. His self-control was quickly dwindling. He cast the charm to make the glass walls in his office appear solid. That was very telling, but he didn’t care at the moment. “My sister walking in on us in my home
is very different than my father or uncle catching us acting like randy teenagers on my office desk
“Didn’t sound like a no,” Hannah said with a playful smirk.
She trotted over and took a seat on his lap, wrapped her arms loosely around his neck.
“Goodness me, for once I’m being the one who’s inappropriate, but I simply couldn’t go all day without seeing you, so I will kiss you now, then I will leave you to your work. Unless you’d like me to run out and get you something for lunch or a snack. Oh drats, I should have brought you some bikkies.”
She kissed his cheek.
“Have I mentioned I like the way you smell?”
His hands automatically went around her waist. “I already had trouble focusing before you got here. I might as well give up right now. If I have to put off work again because you wanted a snog and ruined my concentration, I might as well quit before I get fired.”
“You will not be fired,” Hannah said. “You do well here, your father even said so. They wouldn’t have wanted to keep you otherwise. You’re very clever and shrewd. You’ve just never used your abilities for good.”
When he started to get offended, she kissed him lightly.
“Not that I want all the wickedness banished from you. One of my favorite authors had her heroine say that she would never want a man that could be truly wicked, but she would like one that could be wicked, but wouldn’t. I now think I understand what she meant there.”
Every time he tried to retort, she kissed him. Finally, he held his hand in front of his face so he could get a moment to speak. “I will have you know that I am completely wicked. How dare you insinuate otherwise.”
“A wicked man would not have thought to fetch my kneazle when he thought I was damaged,” Hannah whispered. “But yes, you are quite wicked, I’ll agree, you just choose not to be at times.”
He sighed. “That damn kneazle. Always with the damn kneazle.” Blaise leaned back in his chair. “I only want it for potion ingredients.”
“Liar,” Hannah said, leaning into him. “You secretly like him because he’s taken to you and not Draco.”
Blaise snickered. “That is a nice perk.”
The charm piece behind his ear warmed and he sighed loudly, tapping his wand against the piece. “What?” he asked irritably.
“Get decent. Your father is out of his meeting,
Chris said in Greek before cutting the connection.
He sighed loudly. “My father is no longer busy and I really do have work that needs to be done, damn it.”
“All right,” Hannah replied, sighing loudly. “This first, though.”
She kissed him. Like she meant it. She knew she’d pay for that tomorrow, but right now she didn’t care. If she had to leave so he could work, she wanted to remind him what he would be coming home to.
Blaise tightened his arms around her and wished that he really wasn’t at work. “Now who is wicked?”
“You have no one to blame but yourself,” Hannah said. “Admit it, though, you like me a little wicked.”