"But what do I do with this!" Draco all but shrieked, flailing his arms at the obscene amount of corner office space he was apparently supposed to…office…from. Who knew Great Aunt Morwenna had such an empire to her name, or why on earth she thought her brother's niece's uncle's son was fit to inherit it.
Pansy Parkinson, his sparkly new PA who he was rapidly falling in love with for her lip gloss alone arched a contoured eyebrow. "Send memos," she suggested. "Check emails. Order rent boys and writhe around in piles of ten pound notes."
"That," said Draco with a click of his fingers. "Can we put that on the agenda?"
Parkinson rolled her eyes, which Draco hugely respected, seeing as every single other person he had encountered since he had traversed the elevator to the thirty-sixth floor of Heron Tower had scuttled away and refused to even so much squeak at him. This girl had sass, she was getting an immediate pay rise.
As soon as he worked out how to do that.
Three days ago he had been in a perfectly drunken haze at one of Oxford's more reputable bars (and they were hard to find, he had done his research.) Now, now he was staring at chrome and glass fixtures with price tags he guessed would eclipse his monthly rent.
Draco rubbed his tongue over his teeth. That kind of attitude made him sound common – he had hardly lived in squalor his whole life – it was just it had always been his parent's money, and when he'd flown the nest, he'd imagined amassing his own wealth, not having it dumped on him like some reality TV star.
And it wasn't like he'd gotten into Oxford because of anything so vulgar as money. Or connections. Or power. Ptsh! Half of his fellow Etonians had equal amounts of that. Draco Malfoy really loved the study of history, his A-Levels had been a doddle, and had been perfectly content to coast through his under-grad years in The Rose and Crown pub until he was required to actually muster up some original thought on the French Revolution in – hmm – about three years?
Instead, he had literally been whisked from his bar stool at 3am by a downright terrifying private security firm, and informed that his Great Aunt Whatever had tragically passed away during 'negotiations' with the Lithuanians, and now, he, Draco Malfoy, had control over a large chunk of the 'Family Business'.
A quick consultation with his mother's lawyers had left Draco with a vague, hungover concept of a (surprisingly) legitimate and lucrative book publishing company that also had close ties with Hollywood and the BBC. He strongly suspected, as soon as the ibuprofen had started to kick in, that he was simply the cleanest member of her family his aunt could find to lump this particular business on in the event of her tragic passing.
It could have been worse. Although Draco himself was confident his parents were on the straight and narrow, you didn't have to wander too far off the family tree to find those with tax free incomes, and, seeing as he didn't have much of a choice about this inheritance, he was relieved at least not to have to worry about Revenue and Customs breathing down his neck. There were several restaurants and even a bowling alley he was very glad to had skirted clear of.
And so yesterday on the drive down to London, he had checked his bank balance on his many-months-shattered iPhone, only to discover his account now had almost as many zeros to it as Draco had years to his name.
Many, many, coffees and a new, non-broken iPhone later, he stood in the damnable office, looking down over Bishopsgate and trying so very hard not to be overwhelmed at being the youngest and least qualified person in the building by a long shot. The cleaning staff probably had a better concept of how books got made than him at that point, plus, they had the added advantage of knowing where all the loos were, which Draco would need to learn if he was going to hide as much as he suspected he would need to.
The view was incredible though, stretching out over East London, and if he took a moment to appreciate things, that wasn't the only perk he'd knew he'd be getting. No rent, no travel fees, fuck, even his entertainment costs could comfortably be taken care of under the company umbrella. He blinked in the early morning sunshine, watching the minuscule cars trundle by, and figured he should focus more on the bright side.
He just felt tired though. He was an utter fraud, a stupid child waltzing into a world of adults just because he had the right name. Most people would jump at the chance of being thrown a seven figure sum, Draco appreciated that. It was only…it didn't seem like he had much say over what he did with it, at least not so far. It wasn't like he'd won the lottery, he couldn't travel the world, or even chuck it all into charities. No, he was just worth X amount, and the company had Y, and the stockbrokers could invest Z. It was all meaningless. He felt like he could have been sick in his mouth.
Instead, he shook himself, straightened the bespoke suit he'd picked up from Savile Row that very morning, and smiled at Pansy. "Your 9am is here," was what she said instead of acknowledging his quip about the rent boys, flicking her eyes purposefully to the door of his glass fronted office.
A man a few years older than Draco was waiting in the corridor, eyes to the ground, rubbing his palms anxiously. Of everyone here, he was by far the scruffiest person Draco had seen; his brown loafers were lifting slightly from their soles, his tan jacket had obviously been sourced by the local teacher's union boot sale and his glasses were evidently NHS prescription.
It was love at first sight.
Draco coughed, loudly, importantly, like people who inherited large companies were supposed to do. "Who is that?" he asked as casually as his could. "Surely board members don't want me meeting with randomers alone, without any of them present?"
Parkinson sighed. "That is a board member," she said patiently. "Harry Potter? Almost single handily responsible for the revolution in pre-teen literature and the fantasy genre in general in the past few years?"
Draco blinked at her. "So, he's made magic…cool?"
Parkinson's glare could have made a glacier give up and go home. "You could say he's the reason we're all here."
"Right," Said Draco. "Excellent. Um, what does he want?"
Parkinson inhaled, then kindly placed her hand on Draco's shoulder. "Honestly?" she said. "I just think he wants to make sure you're not going to fuck him over."
Draco's jaw dropped as she waltzed out and winked – winked – at this guy Potter, allowing him permission to come into his office.
He had only a moment clear his throat, step back, and think how much better the walls would look if he had something intimidating and seriously fucking old hanging from the brickwork to prove he wasn't a bloody child in his great aunt's shoes. Tribal masks, ancient bones, good lord even signed tea-trade negotiations would have made Draco felt slightly more in command of the situation at that point as the stranger – Harry Potter – slipped into his office, and looked at him with the determination of a rabbit about to tell an anaconda who's boss.
"Mr Malfoy," he said, running one hand down his lapel, and pushing his glasses up his nose with the other as the door swung shut with a click. "Thank you very much for meeting with me."
Draco exhaled and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and middle finger. "It's no trouble at all Mr Potter," he said, bumping his hips off the desk to skirt around in and slump in the brand new leather seat. "What's on your mind?"
Potter took a breath, stealing himself, then spoke again. "You can't slash the young adult budget."
Draco blinked. "Huh?" he said, sound every inch nineteen-going-on-twenty.
Potter rubbed the stubble along his jaw line, and Draco's libido flipped thinking about how exquisite it would be to kiss along there. "People are writing it off as a fad, but it's not, and I can't stand by and let this company's successor demolish the program without fighting my corner."
He had a fractious energy to him, this Potter guy, massaging fingertips together like he was warming up to play the piano, pacing the office and ignoring the chair that had been proffered to him.
Draco, however, just sighed, and tried to look about his sparse desk for any clue as to what this man was talking about. All he saw was empty wire racks and a blank computer screen where he had neglected even to turn the beast on yet. "Young adult?" he said instead, sinking a little lower into the leather seat.
"The YA audience," Potter rasped, vaulting towards him, waving his hands. "Is the most lucrative, it's growth in the past three years alone-"
But Draco waved him off. "You're talking about The Hunger Games, right? I've read that."
Potter went a little slack. "Yeah," he said. "You could argue that's a forerunner in the genre, but it's so much more than that."
Draco tapped a finger on the wood of his desk. "So…you're worried I'm going to take money away from you?"
Potter blinked and pulled at his sleeve. "That was the proposal, yes."
"A proposal to cut funding to books and authors targeting the teenage audience?" Draco clarified, and Potter nodded.
"Please," he said with a huff. "You don't need to do this, I have several astonishingly good writers lined up, you'll see a real difference in-"
Draco laughed. "I'm not taking any money away from you," he said.
Potter went very still. "But the quarterly budget-"
Draco curled his lip and waved his hand. He'd seen people do that behind desks on TV. "It's my company now, and I don't see starving our next generation's imaginations as a sound investment."
Potter was resting his hands on the edge of Draco's desk, and at that, they dropped and gripped the edge.
"Do you really mean that?" he asked. He had really beautiful green eyes behind those thick black glasses, Draco couldn't help but notice. But he was older, part of his board, and Draco had a million problems with the business to address before he would probably ever be allowed to think about his love life again.
Especially with this guy.
"I'm a man of history," he told Potter, very much hoping he sounded like a man and not a floundering teen, but honestly believing his words. "History is just a collection of stories told by the most eloquent, and usually the victors. If we can't get kids telling stories, or at least believing in them, then what's the point?"
Potter stood gawping at him for a second. "Yeah, I mean, yes, my sentiments exactly." He cleared his throat and adjusted his shirt collar. "I'm sorry, I seem to have disturbed you for no reason."
"Oh no," Draco said cheerfully. "I have no idea what the actual budgets are, or who I need to talk to to stop that happening – someone might very well have decided to take all your cash away. I'm just saying-" and he grinned. He even licked his lips. "I'll do everything I can. I won't let your department fall – I'd be nothing if I never daydreamed after a good book."
Potter – Harry – relaxed in palatable relief. "Me neither."
Draco opened his mouth, faltered, then reasoned. He was in London now, in charge of important shit. He wasn't sure what exactly yet, but he was in a position now that afforded certain luxuries. "Excellent," he said, sitting up in his leather chair and lacing his fingers. "I'll have my PA organise a time and date for a lunch meeting, so we can get this all cleared up."
Harry touched his thumb to his lower lip, and smiled from under his lashes. "Thank you Draco," he said sincerely. "I look forward to it."