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Originally Posted: December 1, 2008

Harry’s invisibility cloak would have been beneficial for this task. Unfortunately, Hermione knows that he wouldn’t approve of what she’s doing, so she didn’t bother asking to borrow it. It’s better to just go ahead and do this before she talks herself out of it. The nagging voice that keeps telling her, loudly, that this is reckless and foolish is easy enough to ignore when she’s focused and determined. If Harry’s voice had been added to it, though, she isn’t sure that she would have been able to disregard the warnings.

Breaking into a co-worker’s office isn’t how she wants to spend her evening, but it’s necessary. The worst part is that it’s all her fault, so she can’t even blame anyone else. She’s the one who was daft enough to write such scandalous things during the boring departmental meeting this morning, after all. She’s the one who hid the parchment quickly to avoid getting caught writing inappropriate things about a colleague when she was supposed to be listening to a lecture on new policies that she’d help write. And she’s the one who got distracted and forgot to remove the parchment before delivering the file to the man written about in lurid detail.

She’s lucky that she realized which file she gave Zabini in time to figure out a way to get it back before he would review it. It’s a case that they’re not dealing with until tomorrow afternoon, so she has a chance to get the parchment back without him ever finding it. The nagging voice keeps reminding her that a piece of parchment with naughty thoughts is embarrassing but breaking and entering could get her fired, but she doesn’t plan to get caught retrieving the note, so the humiliation definitely outweighs the danger.

It’s probably a sad indication that her life is pretty dull when she realizes that this is the most exciting thing that she’s done in longer than she can remember. Foolish but exciting. It’s just like Zabini to have wards up on his office that require actual thought to break. It’s a nice challenge, even if she’s having to work quickly so that she doesn’t get caught. The standard wards are removed easily, but his special wards prove to be nearly as complex as the ones that she has on her own office.

When she finally manages to break through them, she enters his office and promptly closes the door. Only then does she let out the breath that she didn’t realize she was holding. Bloody hell, what is she doing? She runs a hand over her face and counts to ten before she crosses the room to his desk. Everything is neatly arranged, which doesn’t surprise her. Blaise Zabini is even more meticulous than she is when it comes to his office, which means she’s going to have to be very careful or he’ll know someone has been there.

She sits down and is immediately surrounded by his scent. She closes her eyes and inhales, annoyed when her body begins to react just from a smell. This is ridiculous. She shakes her head and opens her eyes, focusing on the task at hand. After surveying his desk for a moment, she removes a stack of files from the corner and looks for the Emerson case notes. When she finds it midway through the stack, she opens it and is relieved to find the hastily folded parchment where she left it.

The words on the parchment are enough to make her blush despite the fact that she wrote them. She still can’t believe that she actually wrote those thoughts down. Being impulsive isn’t normal for her, and the events of today are enough to make sure that she’s more cautious in the future. After she puts the parchment in her pocket, she puts the files back in order. She takes another look at the desk to make sure that nothing is out of place before she leaves his office.

Now that she has what she came for, she’s more relieved than anything else. She puts his wards back up, which is easier now that she knows what he uses, and then she hurries down the corridor to her office. No one is around, but she doesn’t want to take any chances. When she enters her office and closes the door, she leans against it and stares at the floor as she takes several deep breaths. She did it. She managed to get it back without getting caught, and she didn’t even need Harry’s cloak.

“Working late, Granger?”

The three words are drawled in a familiar tone that never fails to make her body warm. They’re also coming from in front of her. She looks up quickly and blinks when she sees Zabini reclined back in her chair with his expensive shoes perched on the corner of her desk. His full lips curve into a smug smile when she gapes at him.

“Granger speechless? This is certainly a first.” He moves his feet off her desk, and she’s irritated at how he makes the simple movement appear so graceful.

“Taking a moment to collect my thoughts upon finding a colleague sitting at my desk is not the same as being speechless.”

He arches a brow before his gaze moves over her. “Pity.” He stands up and walks around her desk. “Did you enjoy breaking into my office?”

“Excuse me?” She frowns at him and resists the impulse to shift awkwardly. If she acts guilty, he’ll notice.

“I added a couple of extra wards just for you.” He smirks as he leans against her desk and studies her. “Tamalia told me that you were asking about my schedule. She assumed that you wanted to schedule a meeting, but I knew better.”

“Well, maybe you don’t know as much as you think,” she tells him. It’s difficult to have this conversation when she’s actually done what he’s accusing her of doing. “I was planning to stop by to discuss the Miller file with you, but she said that you were busy all day. I decided to speak with you tomorrow instead.”

“Oh, really?” He pushes off of her desk and walks toward her. When he’s standing in front of her, he reaches out a hand and glides it close to her cheek but doesn’t touch. “Then why did I see you breaking the wards?”

“Why would I want to break into your office?” she asks. She clears her throat when she hears how husky her voice is, flushing faintly when his lips quirk in obvious amusement.

“I think you know why.” He continues moving his hand as if he’s tracing the lines of her body. He leans forward and his breath is warm against her ear. “Maybe this will remind you. ‘His mouth is wet on my breast as he pushes me onto the table.’ Sound familiar?”

Oh, God. He read the parchment. “Zabini, I—“ She has no idea what to say. It’s not like she can deny it now.

“Imagine what the Minister would say if he knew that the brightest star in Magical Law spent her time in meetings writing something so erotic.” She shivers when he says the last word, practically purring it into her ear. Before she can reply, he brushes something against her face.

She looks to the side and sees the folded up parchment in his hand. “Give me that.”

“No.” He takes a step back and puts the parchment into the pocket of his robe. “I plan to keep it. After all, my name is mentioned a dozen times, at least.”

“You’ve had your fun. Give me the parchment.” She hesitates before she forces out, “Please.”

“My fun has only just begun, Granger. Surely you recognize that. You’ve always been such a clever girl, after all.” He gives her an intense look that she shouldn’t find so bloody arousing. “We’ll continue our discussion over dinner. You have ten minutes to organize your desk.”

“Dinner?” She blinks and tries to determine what he’s scheming, but he’s impossible to read. It’s one of the things that fascinates her about him.

He leans down as if he’s going to kiss her, and she finds herself swaying towards him. “Ten minutes,” he whispers against her lips before he opens the door and leaves her office.

After he’s gone, she leans against the wall and runs her fingers through her hair. Despite the fact that he didn’t even touch her, she’s still shaking from her reaction. She isn’t sure what she would have done if he had touched her. She walks to her desk and starts to straighten her files mechanically. Ten minutes until dinner. With Zabini. The man who read what she wrote about him and basically set her up, which means he must know her better than she realized. Oddly, she’s more intrigued than upset.

Of course, she can refuse his command. He didn’t even ask if she wanted to go to dinner. She doesn’t like being told what to do by anyone, especially not him. It’s ill-advised to go. If breaking into his office was foolish, having dinner with him is even more so. She continues to think about while she finishes straightening the office.

When she finishes, she grabs her bag and leaves her office. Zabini is leaning against the wall waiting for her. His lips curve into a slow smile when she shuts the door behind her. It’s not the smartest decision she’s ever made, but she knows that she’s going to dinner with him. Everyone deserves a chance to be reckless once in a while.