She's Not Familiar With the Term 'Middle Ground'..
Title: Interoffice Stereotypes
Spoilers: Set three years after AU book seven, cannon from OotP
Disclaimer: JK owns all, I am a broke college student. Correction: I own C. More Skeeter and assorted others…
Summary: Plots, allies, a prince in disguise - er, princess
A/N: My goodness. Unexpected allies in Luna, Neville & Hannah; dishy foreigners, and a new light in Fred’s eyes towards her. Not to mention the plot-against-her duo. Hmm, whoever could they be? She’s Not Familiar With the Term ‘Middle Ground’, It’s All Hers, Dammit
Millicent didn’t even want to know what the four of them would be discussing once she cornered Katie. It didn’t matter what anyone knew about her, she was done trying to explain herself to anyone, Fred included. Katie was grinning idiotically when Millicent dragged her into the kitchen.
“Half a dozen influential and international players gathered for a small dinner just to prove that I’m not the horrid beast everyone expects me to be?” Millicent said bluntly. “That why you wanted me all tarted up?”
“No, but it worked out rather well, didn’t it?” Katie grinned unapologetically.
“And you did help me out immensely with Angie. I adore her, but she damn near broke Fred’s heart. Stomped on it, actually. And you two were amazing! I haven’t seen him this happy -”
“Back it up, Bell,” Millicent held a hand up, now seeing that damn glint in her eye. “Nothing’s gonna happen between us. First off, he’s my employer. Second, he’s my landlord - which makes all of this sound like a trash novel setup, mind you. And third, there’s -”
“You and Fred -”
“Knock that thought out of your head, Bell. It’s not going to happen. Honestly, just because I’m single doesn’t mean I’ll jump into the bed of the first bloke I see.”
“I think you could both use the exercise,” Katie said cheekily. “It’s an excellent
way to burn calories.”
“Will you just admit that this was all a set up for good publicity?” Millicent didn’t want to talk about this any more. She wanted out of the ridiculous Gryffindor dress and to not think about the looks she’d seen Ansell, Rui and
Fred cast at her ample cleavage.
“Fine! Some of it was, but then when I saw Ansell looking at you, I thought maybe -”
“Stop with the matchmaking, Katie,” Millicent said it quickly. “I’ve not got enough on my plate with the strike and the accusations and my mum?”
“We just want you to be happy and sexual -”
“No, we don’t even want to think
about her being sexual,” Marcus boomed, entering the kitchen.
“Oh, don’t be such a prude, Flint,” Katie rolled her eyes before winking at Millicent. “If she wants to go on and on about thrusting on and licking up the twin, then I think we should encourage her.”
Millicent wasn’t sure if she should blush or protest at the idea. Marcus’s exaggerated gagging had her glowering at him instead. Some part of her brain knew that it was because he saw her as a little sister of sorts, but it still slammed in her gut the thought that no one wanted to think of her as sexual.
“I’ve had enough of playing the little dancing bear tonight,” her voice was quiet, and she turned to the door, only to run right into Fred. “You ready?”
“More than,” Fred didn’t look at her as he was too busy glaring at Marcus. “Luna wanted to ask you something before we go.”
He’d made the mistake of catching Katie’s last sentence, and was extremely grateful his pants ran on the larger side. His mind was playing merry havoc with the images her words and that the sight of Millicent earlier in his room had already put there. He’d also caught Marcus’s reaction and Millicent’s reaction to the reaction. Flint might not have meant to come off as a bastard, but it was obvious the Mil had taken it that way.
“Out of curiosity, Bell, which unlucky bloke was Mil’s set-up for the night,” Fred worded it purposely, just to hear Millicent’s indrawn breath. Good, meant she was listening as he wanted her to. Marcus also glowered at him, realizing how insulting that sounded.
“Unlucky? Any one of them would be lucky to have our Mil,” Marcus growled.
“Of course they would,” Fred grinned at him, which threw Marcus off more. “Well?”
“Rui initially, but he was being a bit of a twat earlier,” Katie huffed out. “Ansell did seem keen, which is why he got to sit next to her.”
“Tough luck for them both,” Fred shook his head. “Since it’s my flat and bed she’s going home to.”
Millicent stumbled against the door, nearly falling out of the kitchen before she could compose herself. Marcus’s mouth dropped open and Katie actually grinned back at him. He gave her a wink and followed Mil out of the kitchen. He impulsively grabbed her hand, and to his everlasting luck she didn’t break his hand for the move. She kept her head straight forward, locked on Luna who was smiling at them.
“We’re headin’ out,” Millicent frowned at the younger witch. “You wanted something?”
“Oh, yes. Mrs. Weasley made these especially for you. And I’m digging into who is spreading the rumors,” Luna held out a small plate of his mum’s biscuits.
“Lu, you don’t have to,” Millicent’s jaw got tight. Fred noticed she didn‘t eagerly grab for the plate as he would have. She had to know his mum wasn‘t going to poison her by now. “I know you’ve got enough with everything-”
“I’ve made time for it,” Luna said rather forcefully, which had Millicent’s eyes blinking a bit. Still, she had that same old dreamy smile in place as she continued on. “You know how no one really pays attention to what they say around me. Sometimes, being off in your own little world has its perks.”
“Right, then. Thanks. We off, Fred?” Millicent cleared her throat and kept her head up as she marched over to the spinning cloak rack of doom. She gave out a crisp, “Oi, cloak.”
Fred gaped as the cloak rack came to a grinding halt and spat out their cloaks. She shook his out to him twice before he moved into action. She waited patiently for him to put his on, and then he snapped to and helped her with hers. They apparated away without another word.
Blaise stared absentmindedly into his whiskey. He finally had everything he wanted, but it had come with the price of his friendship with Mil. Padma had asked him round for drinks at the end of the work day. Instead of taking her up on the offer he’d been angling for for years, he’d told her that he couldn’t because of one last meeting. She’d looked shocked and dejected, and he could honestly say he felt much the same. The owl had arrived just at the end of business that day, but he still sat here waiting in his office for the other participant to arrive. There was a quiet knock at the door which had his head moving up.
“Enter,” he said warily. “You’ve left me waiting long enough tonight, don’t you think?”
The door creaked open to reveal a woman wearing a dress the color of dusk. Flowing scarves of pale violets, blues and pinks with bright dashes of oranges and yellows wrapped around the her lithe form, and were a sharp contrast to her flaxen hair and milky skin. Blaise had to stare at that face for several minutes, long enough to miss whatever it was she was saying.
“And he’s not even listening to me,” she said in a lilting, dreamy voice. “One would think, what with your lady-love’s reputation on the line, you’d be paying more attention to the person trying to help her, Zabini.”
“Who are you?”
“If you’d been paying attention, you’d have heard me reintroduce myself,” she shook her head at him. “But I’ll say it again, I’m Luna Lovegood, and I know one of the culprits behind the smear campaign.”
“Bloody hell,” Blaise tossed back the last of his whiskey.
Millicent stood awkwardly at the bottom of the steps. For some bizarre reason, Fred’s comment kept playing in her head. She opened her mouth to beg off staying at the flat, but he beat her to the punch.
“How’d you get the rack to do that?”
“What?” For one minute she thought he was talking about her breasts. Why her mind jumped to that - well, she knew why it did, but it sure as hell shouldn’t have. “The cloak
rack’s what you want to talk about?”
“Yeah. Cause the twin and I spelled it, but Katie tinkered with it and -”
“I might have broken it the first time I chased my cloak around for ten minutes,” she tried not to wince at his wince. “I repairo’d it, didn’t I? I don’t always resort to violence. Just - I had to get to practice and Marcus was laughing his damn fool head off, and don’t think that bludger knocked him in the face all on it’s own at that practice -”
“You’re the reason Marcus got his horrifying teeth fixed? I could kiss you just for that alone.”
Millicent’s mouth popped open a bit at that, because damn it, now the idea of Fred’s mouth on her own was populating her brain. Merlin’s beard! Did the man even know what he was doing to her? And why was she letting him?
“Look, maybe I should just see if the Cauldron’s got an open room -”
“I don’t think you’re horribly violent.”
“I swear, you making absolutely no sense,” Millicent shook her head at him, tendrils of dark hair falling over her face.
“Because of the broken rack and Marcus’s broken face. You were provoked, and you’ve yet to break Draco which shows a lot of restraint. I was asking about the rack because I’m thinking of marketing them. I thought you’d found a counter spell.”
And she was the biggest idiot in the entire world. She’d thought he was trying to come up with reasons as to why she was single, and here he was doing bloody market research.
“Hmm, where do you see the market for nuisance cloak racks going?”
“Well, they are entertaining, but if even a little girl can get them to - ooof,” Fred grunted as Millicent shoved him gently. “That violent
streak is strong in you.”
“Says you,” Millicent’s head shook as she led the way up the steps.
Fred followed her more slowly, enjoying the view. His shoulder radiated from the warmth of her touch. He knew he’d been an idiot to bring up the ‘my flat and my bed’ comment just by the whole damn play of hers to go to the pub for a room. If he were even inclined to make a play, two days after a very public separation from her long-term boyfriend and only hours after seeing him avoiding his ex would definitely not be the time to do so.
He was so deep in his thoughts that he barely noticed she’d come to a dead stop at the open doorway. She had her wand out of her pocketbook and in hand before he even fumbled his out. Proved not to be worth it, because George jerked the door open and glared at the pair of them.
“Where the hell have you been, Gred?”
Millicent let out a shaky breath and lowered her wand. She shoved past George, who stumbled backwards and glanced back over her shoulder to speak to him.
“I’ll be in my room.”
George’s eyes and mouth popped open. The door had barely closed behind her when George started sputtering. Fred leapt for his brother and half dragged George into George’s room. When they’d first moved in, they’d soundproofed the rooms for obvious reasons. Other than the night that George had proposed to Allie, Fred had never been more grateful for that fact.
room. That’s your
room, Fred,” George’s eyes narrowed. “Are you shagging her?”
“Bloody hell, George, it’s not any of your business if I am!”
“She’s our frightening employee, of course
it’s my business!”
“You shagged Allie all the time she worked in the shop,” Fred hissed.
“Why are you hissing? She can’t hear you through my spell,” George snapped.
“Your spell was utter shite the first time you put it up. I had to triple reinforce it. Nice topic change, but it doesn’t change the facts that you slept with Allie repeatedly while you were her boss. As much as anyone can boss Allie, that is.”
“So what? Allie’s
not a homicidal maniac.”
“Neither is Millicent!”
“I don’t see the attraction to -”
“I swear to Merlin, George, do not finish that statement. You are my other half and we’ve never been in a row, but you are toeing a very thin line,” Fred said so darkly that George actually drew back.
“Has she bewitched you?”
“God, no! She’s a nice girl with an amazing rack and a killer right hook who’s going through a tough time. It’s called compassion, and yes, I actually have some,” Fred shook his head at his twin. Honestly, he’d spent less time with Millicent than Fred had so he couldn’t be expected to see the good qualities in her. “I saw Angelina today.”
“Bloody hell.” All of the fight went out of George.
“She’s looking good, Roger Davies was all over her and none of it fazed me in the least. You know why?”
“Because you finally realized that she’s an utter -”
“George, that girl in my room took my mind off of everything but her. Zabini’s trampled on her heart and through her pain, she made sure I didn’t feel any when I saw my ex,” Fred grinned at his brother. “And she had Katie’s cloak rack whimpering in submission
“No!” George’s jaw dropped.