I posted this story over on Granger Enchanted back in 2014. The lovely, gracious bunnyhops (Severus' Malfoy Maiden here on FFnet) beta'd all of this story. She was a delight for bearing with me, both when I sent her new chapters constantly and when I dropped off the radar for nine months! This story ended up being 39 chapters when it was done.
This is a Hermione/Multiple Wizard story, so if that isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this story. As a heads up, all the wizards are Slytherin!
If you read my other long story, you may know that I like to create photo collages as I write to help create a visual for the scene or chapter. I've created a folder of photos for this story on my Flickr page (under the name MissFantastic) in case you want to see how I dress up Hermione or who I envision when I am thinking about these wizards. Of course, feel free to use your own imaginations as well!
Disclaimer: All characters and story lines from the Harry Potter series belong to JK Rowling and the lovely people at Scholastic & WB. I do not own them and make no money from publishing/writing this story.
Thank you so much to bunnyhops and krazyredhead for the edits, encouragement, and critiques for this chapter!
Hermione heaved a contented sigh and smiled as she stood on the corner in Diagon Alley. It really felt good to be home. She had not realized how much Wizarding Britain was home to her. It had certainly not felt that way when she left four years ago.
Her eyes were drawn to a small corner shop that sold newspapers, snacks, and other odds and ends. She was standing in front of that shop when her life had fallen apart around her. She made her way over to the exact spot and was pleasantly surprised to find the memory only elicited whispers of heartbreak and betrayal, though it had taken years for that to be the case. Hermione smirked as she thought of all the things that had changed.
Although it was not that long ago, the Hermione from back then seemed so much younger - so much more naive. Back then, she had just graduated from Hogwarts, having opted to go back for a proper seventh year and sit for her N.E.W.T.s. She had done exceptionally well, getting the most N.E.W.T.s in the history of the school. Her fiancé, Ron Weasley, had opted to "start his life going," as he put it, and had gone off to play Quidditch professionally. She remembered that he had been irritated that Hermione insisted on returning to school, because he had wanted to start a family right away. Hermione was sure she was not ready for motherhood at eighteen and used her education as a perfect excuse. Harry had gone straight into the Auror Academy to start his training there.
Seventh year at Hogwarts without her two best friends had been strange, but good. Life was quieter that year and Hermione was able to get so much more work done. She made other friends, this time gravitating toward people who were as interested in learning as she was. House affiliation was not a factor and she was friendly with people from all over the school. She corresponded with Ron and Harry, of course, but otherwise was blissfully immersed in academics.
It had been quite a shock to her when she had stumbled across this little shop all those years ago and saw tabloid photos of her fiancé, naked and in a compromising position, with a pair of buxom witches. The headline had read: Randy Ron's Repeated Romps. Hermione felt like her heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. She was in shock and had trouble breathing. She had no idea how long she had stood there staring in the shop window at those photos - photos that were graphic enough to leave no room for doubt about Ron's betrayal. All she could focus on was the motion of his pumping hips and the swaying of the woman's breasts.
Staring in the window back then, Hermione had seen her reflection, which made her feel even worse. She had just finished taking her exams and had a graduation party planned at the Burrow that evening; the whole family would be there for Hermione's party. She'd popped into Diagon Alley for a trip to the bookstore. She had promised to reward herself with some fun books after so much studying. Her reflection showed a small, mousy, dowdy witch. Hermione had thrown on an ill-fitting robe, her bushy hair was sticking out in all directions, and she even had ink stains on her fingertips. She certainly could not compare to those busty, sexually confident witches with Ron in the photos.
Hermione grimaced at the memory. It had been the most painful experience of her life, but Hermione Granger was never one to wallow in self-pity. After the shock came a white, blinding rage. Hermione forced herself to purchase one of the offending tabloids and Apparated directly to the Burrow, where her soon-to-be ex-fiancé still lived. He had money from Quidditch, but did not want to spend it on mundane things like rent. He also liked that his mother still cooked and cleaned for him.
Hermione had disrupted breakfast with a spectacular display of hexes directed at the youngest male Weasley. Within seconds, Ron was stripped down to his pants with the tabloid photos imprinted on his chest. Every other inch of visible skin broke out in boils. The boils across his back spelled out 'Lying Weasel'. Hermione ignored his screams and stomped up to the room she had shared with Ginny. Her trunk was still packed from school, so it only took her a few moments to gather her things. In those moments, however, Harry had come up to try to stop her. It still made Hermione sad to recall how her very best friend in the world had defended Ron, had accused her of over reacting and encouraged her to stay and work it out.
Hermione stormed out of the Burrow in a whirlwind of emotion and never looked back. As she was finishing school, she had been offered several apprenticeships with Masters across the globe, none of which she had taken because of her relationship with Ron.
Her relationship with Ron no longer an issue, Hermione set off into the world.
Now here she was, about four years later, in the same exact spot where everything had changed. She still had some sadness and hurt over how her relationship ended, but could not regret that it had ended. She and Ron were not a very good match and she would not have been happy. She certainly would not have finished two complicated apprenticeships, earning the title of Master in both Potions and Arithmancy, if she had stayed with Ron. Neither would she have had the opportunity to travel so widely and thoroughly as she had, since Ron did not like change or new places.
Hermione smiled at her reflection in the shop window. It too was altered. She was still small, that had not changed - but she was no longer mousy or frumpy looking. She was a confident looking, self-assured witch. In the course of her travels, she had sheared off her long, trademark curls that kept getting in the way and found she quite liked her little pixie haircut. She had the opportunity to find her own personal style and discovered that she liked shopping for clothes. She was wearing one of her favorite dresses, a bright royal blue vintage shirtdress with a flared skirt that stopped a few inches above her knees. She had paired the classic dress with fun coral t-strap very high-heeled sandals. Hermione chuckled as she looked down at her nicely manicured pink fingernails, because they were still stained with ink. Some things did not change.
Hermione checked her watch and saw that she was going to be late if she did not hurry. She had been wrapped up in the changes to Diagon Alley and in her own memories that time flitted away. She whirled around to head down the street and ran smack into a solid body. She let out a shriek of surprise as she lost her balance. Hands reached out to grab her so she would not fall back on her bum.
The friends were meeting some other wizards for lunch and a pint. They had all gone to school together and now, years later, they were still as close as they had been then. They all noticed the petite, shapely witch down the street.
"Bless the springtime and little dresses," Theo Nott grinned. He was often the quietest of the group, but when he spoke, everyone agreed that his comments were spot on.
"Indeed." Draco Malfoy chuckled. He appreciated a nice set of legs on a witch.
"Who is that?" Blaise Zabini asked, his eyes raking over the witch as they got closer to her. She seemed very interested in something in that shop window. "She looks familiar."
"You would know," Greg Goyle teased. Blaise had a reputation as a shameless flirt, who made it a point to get to know every pretty witch he came across. Greg took another look. "She does look familiar, but I can't place her."
"Well, let's go talk to her." Draco grinned. Draco liked her brightly colored high heels, and that he could see the outline of her thighs with the sun shining through the thin fabric of her dress.
All four wizards were so busy appraising her form, that they were caught off guard when she suddenly turned and barreled directly into them. She had been looking down at her watch when she ran straight into Draco's chest. He noticed that she really was a tiny thing. Even with those heels he liked, she only came up to his chin. Blaise and Theo reached out from either side of Draco to grab her arms, saving her from falling arse over teakettle. Some kind of purse flew out of her hands and Draco reached down to retrieve it, giving him a close up of those legs he had been ogling.
"Oh, bollocks! I am so sorry!" the witch apologized. She looked up at the four of them and her eyes went wide.
"Oh no, please do not apologize," Blaise purred, ever so slightly stroking the arm that clung to his. She had grabbed him back when she was falling. "Running into a pretty witch is never a bad thing."
Theo took the opportunity to look closer at the witch. She had smooth, firm and very darkly tanned skin. She also smelled divine; whatever scent it was, it was delicate and lightly floral. Greg furrowed his brow, sure he knew the witch from somewhere. She was about their age and had a lovely heart shaped face. Her whiskey brown eyes had widened when she saw them, letting him see flecks of gold in her eyes.
The witch righted herself and stepped out of their grasp, smoothing out her dress.
"Nevertheless," she smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry for not looking where I was going."
"I'm not sorry. If you had been looking then we may have never met," Draco said, returning her smile. He stared for a moment at those plump pink lips. He was sure they were soft. Draco handed her the rectangular pink purse she had dropped.
"Oh, but we've already met, Draco," the witch smirked, tucking her bag back under her arm. It was Draco's turn to look surprised and the others just looked confused. Clearly, no one had placed her yet. "Thank you for your assistance. And thank you, Blaise, Theo. It was nice to see you again, Greg."
The witch nodded at them in turn and went on her way. Theo thought her voice sounded very familiar. He wondered if she was some sort of singer that he'd heard on the wireless. It was an alluring voice, sexy, throaty and feminine. He liked how she said his name. None of that would account for how she knew them, though.
"Wait a minute!" Draco called after her. The pack of Slytherins had been stunned for a moment, but quickly caught up with her. They certainly were not going to let her get away.
"I'm afraid I can't," she said as she once again looked at her watch and kept up her pace. "I'll be late."
"This is not fair, Piccola." Blaise smiled, easily keeping up with her quick stride. He did so love it when witches played hard to get. Blaise adored a challenge. "You know who we are, but we don't know you."
"But you do know me, quite well." She laughed. Theo decided her laugh was even better than her voice. "It isn't my fault you all have poor recall. If anything I should be offended!"
Greg knew her identity was right on the tip of his mind. He knew her from somewhere, but it was not coming to him.
"We certainly don't want to offend," Theo said sincerely, capturing her hand in his. That slowed her down, as he intended. She looked over at him and Theo added her twinkling brown eyes to the list of wonderful things about this witch. "Let us make it up to you."
"Yes," Draco added. "Let us take you to lunch, as an apology."
"I already have a lunch date and I'm keeping my friend waiting," the witch giggled. She certainly was enjoying having the advantage over them. Draco liked that about her and smirked.
"Blow him off," Blaise encouraged, turning on that brilliant smile of his. "If indeed it is a him you are meeting."
"Oh, I couldn't do that." She stopped walking and clearly feigned scandal, raising her hand to her throat. Her eyes twinkled with amusement and Blaise knew then that this witch could easily play all his games. "He is a very, very dear friend."
Draco was trying to think of another objection, another way to keep her with them, when he noticed their witch looking over his shoulder and roll her eyes.
"Great, more Slytherins," she muttered to herself.
"Are you lot so hard up that you are chasing witches down the street now?" Adrian Pucey teased. The tall, debonair wizard was with the even taller and definitely beefier Marcus Flint. They had been going to meet the other four wizards for lunch, and had not expected to see them following a pretty little witch down the road like lost puppies. It was not entirely shocking though either.
"This lovely witch seems to know who we are, but none of us can quite place her," Theo explained. "Does she look familiar to you?"
Adrian and Marcus studied the witch, still holding Theo's hand. They were clearly appreciative, just as the others had been. She just stood, staring back at them with her brow raised, amused.
"This is a puzzle." Adrian nodded, circling them so he could see her from every vantage. This was certainly a delicious looking witch. She seemed classy to him. "She does look familiar, but I can't fathom forgetting any detail about this lovely creature. Marcus?"
"Same," Marcus agreed, brow furrowed and arms crossed over his broad chest. He liked what he saw, which surprised him. He was not usually attracted to petite witches, being so large himself. He always felt like he was going to break them. However, the way this wisp of a witch was standing so strongly, easily challenging his stare with her own – he knew she wouldn't break.
"Marcus Flint, a wizard of many words," the unnamed witch laughed. Marcus' brows rose and his affection for the little witch cemented in place. "You look good."
Marcus chuckled, flattered by her good opinion. Obviously, she'd seen him when he was younger. He had finally fixed his crooked teeth and even more crooked nose when he stopped playing Quidditch, having not seen the point prior to that since they kept getting broken.
"You too, Adrian," the witch continued, turning to face the other wizard. She reached out and touched his cheek. "But then, you always looked good. Such a pretty face."
The witch patted Adrian's cheek and walked away, leaving him slack jawed and the other wizards chuckling. Soon enough, though, they realized they were losing her.
"Wait," Adrian called out. Now there were six wizards falling in step behind the small witch.
"Sorry, can't," she said as she walked. "I'm running late for my lunch date. I'm sure you all will figure it out soon enough."
"You called us Slytherins before," Draco pointed out as they walked. "Does that mean you went to Hogwarts?"
"Good catch," she smiled brightly. Draco and the others all decided they wanted to give more right answers so they could see more of that smile. "I did indeed go to Hogwarts, with the lot of you."
"Which house?" Greg asked, keeping up with her quick pace.
"Definitely not Slytherin," the witch laughed.
"How can we see you again, if we don't know who you are?" Adrian cajoled.
"That is a pickle," she smiled, seeming to be disturbingly unaffected by the problem.
"Don't you want to see us again, Piccola?" Blaise gave his best flirtatious, seductive smile.
"Oh, I'm sure I'll see you around." she shrugged. "Besides, once you have solved your little puzzle, you will have lost interest."
"That's not possible," Theo objected. He was certain that this witch was interesting and would remain so, no matter her name. He had never felt so enthralled and briefly wondered if she was some sort of Siren.
"Well gentlemen, this is my destination." The witch stopped in front of a very posh, small restaurant that all the wizards had either been to or heard of before. It was a quiet, understated place with exceptional food. It was where they would take a witch if they wanted to be able to talk to her without interruption and to impress her at the same time. This fact made several of them wonder more about this lucky date she was meeting.
"This is a very nice place." Draco smiled. "We were also just on our way to lunch. Did we mention that?"
"No, you hadn't," she shook her head.
"This seems as good a place as any." Blaise grinned. He didn't want to drop hints like Draco. He saw no reason to be subtle.
"Suit yourselves. Enjoy." The witch smiled at them, effectively ending their banter and went inside. Several of the wizards just gaped at her retreating form and all of them felt somewhat dissatisfied at seeing her go.
Piccola = Italian term of endearment, literal translation something like "little girl"