Title: Twelve Dates of Christmas ( 1 of 15)

Pairing: Blaise Zabini/ Hermione Granger, Harry/ Ginny

Rating: T (to be safe, most chapters less)

Disclaimer: The character's are JK's. I am just borrowing.

Summary: Hermione wants some romance in her life this Christmas holiday but none of the complications that come with love. Her co-worker as well as friend, Blaise Zabini, is share in some romance with her because what are the chances it will lead to more. So, they agree for twelve love-free romantic dates but things are never that simple.

** Chapter 1 - Both Sides Now **

Hermione sat on the edge of Ginny's bed in the flat they shared and chatted away as she watched the red-head get ready to go out with Harry. She continued to explain her lunchtime discussion with Blaise to her best friend, "So, I told him if people can do Netflix and Chill, why can't I enjoy a romantic time with some and it not be about love. If we both happen to enjoy sleigh rides, why doesn't it have to mean more than just that moment?"

"Well, that actually does make sense. Though I think that you just need a good shag, but that is my humble opinion," commented Ginny put in her earrings as she looked at Hermione in her mirror. Ginny paused and took a long look at the other and admitted, "You have really changed in the past year and are starting to come into your own, as mum would say. Getting rid of some bad things that brought you down and started to gain some confidence in who you. I am very proud of you, girl. Oh and what did Zabini say to your 'enlightenment'?"

Hermione shrugged and tucked some hair behind her right ear as she said, "He seemed to think I had a valid point and then proceed to remind me to eat something before I got cranky."

"Must admit he is right on that one. Okay, I need to get going I am picking up my dress tonight as well as checking on a few more things before Christmas Eve," Ginny chuckled as she grabbed her keys and opened the her bedroom door as Hermione followed her out. Ginny spoke as she located her jacket and purse, "We are going to grab dinner out, so you are on your own tonight. Try to do something fun while I am gone. Toodles."

Hermione watched Ginny leave, went over to her CD player and put in one of cd's that were one of her mother's favorites. She gave a slight smile as the sounds of Joni Mitchell filled the room and she headed to the bay window in their living room. She sat on the padded bench as she thought about what her friend pointed out. Ending things with Ron turned out to be one of the hardest things she did in her life. At the time she told herself that it was the brave thing to do, she wanted her life to go on a different path. Making that decision was scary but if she had stayed with Ron, nothing would have gotten better- only worse. They would have continued to fight over his overreacting to the little things, his inconsiderate ways, and his old fashioned notions - basically trying to change her into his mother. As much as she loved Molly, that sortof life just was not for her. More power to Molly and those who can be content as a housewife but she felt like she had more of a purpose inside the walls of the Ministry.

"I've looked at love from both sides now. From give and take, and still somehow - it's love's illusions I recall. I really don't know love at all," she softly sang along with music and mused on how true that was. Being in love was nothing like she had thought before she began dating Ron, part of her loved his as a friend but she didn't think she ever felt in love with him. It was more like she liked the idea of loving him but the only things that kept her with him seemed to be their history and Harry. Now that Harry and Ginny were the perfect couple, she longed for those feelings and her core ached while she dated Ron towards the end.

Since the end of the relationship, Hermione began focusing on herself and the person she wanted to be. Many nights Ginny and her talked over their aspirations for the future over a container of chinese take out or a some nummy fudge. Her stomach rumbled a bit at the thought of food. Yes, she munched on some popcorn before her meeting but it was passed 6 and she really wanted to chinese food, maybe treat herself to some sushi.

She got up to grab her coat when a knock came from her door. With a puzzled look, Hermione opened the door to find Blaise standing there with a brown bag with a ticket from the sushi restaurant and a small, blue bottle of sake in the other hand. Blaise smirked at her before he spoke, "Hungry?"

"What are you doing here?" Hermione asked as she was trying to recover from the surprise of this visit. How did he even know where I lived?

"I grabbed some dinner and a bottle of my favorite sake to enjoy while we talk over your proposal," he answered and then paused as if he was listening to something coming from behind her, "Unless you have company, is there someone else here?"

Hermione shook her head and grabbed the remote on the end table as she replied, "No, just me. I normally have some background noise on when I am at home. It was just some much I put on."

When she turned back around, he appeared already in her kitchen pulling out trays from the bag and putting them on the same table in her kitchen. How very much like him, ever so sure of himself and then she remembered, "What proposal?"

Two trays of assorted rolls lay in the middle of the table as he grabbed a couple plates and glasses from drying rack next to the sink. "Well, you made a couple of good points on the way back to the office. You need some unmessy romance and I need some unmessy distractions outside my bedroom. So why not solve both our problems at the same time?"

Hermione eyed wearily as she took a seat at the table and crossed her arms over her chest as she asked, "So, what exactly are you proposing as the solution?"

"This is one of my favorite plum sakes," admitted Blaise set the plates and glasses down in front of their seats; then he began to pour a bit of sake into each glass. Then he continued, "I thought we should do some romantic dates from now till Christmas. Please help yourself to some sushi, I know how much you like it."

She didn't comment on that last statement and tried not to blush as she leaned forward to grab a couple pieces of each. Hermione asked, "Are you talking just Saturday night dates?"

"Since today is Thursday, no I am not," he chuckled as he pulled out a piece of parchment that turned out to be a calendar. It said 'December 2002' with a circle around the date: 'Thursday, 12th first date with Hermione.' And he magically stuck the calendar to the wall next to them as a reference. Blaise pointed to Christmas eve and said, "Looks like there are thirteen days till Christmas, if we count today and Christmas Eve. So, that would equal thirteen dates?"

"Thirteen?! Isn't that a bit much?" Hermione reached for her sake as she began to think about going through with the plan to date her friend with romance but no worries of love and all the problems that come with falling in love. Yes, she thought the idea was good overall but she hadn't really weighed the pros and cons; plus she never thought Blaise would be interested in dating her. He was too tall, dark, and handsome for someone in her league. With his high cheekbones and long dark, slanted eyes, Blaise Zabini was one of the most attractive wizards at the ministry and constantly had a gorgeous girl on his arm any night of the week as pictured so oftern in the Daily Prophet. When she had mentioned the random idea of dating without romance, she kind have been thinking out loud not actually proposing he should be the guy to go on dates with her. They were friends, just friends.

Blaise waved his hand infront of her face, "You still with me, Granger?"

She, again, shook herself as she downed the small amount of sake in her glass; maybe some liquid encouragement might be needed for tonight. Hermione put the glass down and apologized, "Yes, sorry. Just thinking, what were you saying?"

"Probably more like over-thinking things, like normal," he mused as he placed his chopsticks down to bring his hands together in his lap and continued, "I think you could use more than just two nights of romance to make up for all the years of going without any. So, just take a few minutes to consider my offer?"

They eat in silence a few minutes as Hermione thought it over and then after a bit more sake, she answered, "Okay, but Christmas eve is out, I have plans that night but basically I will be very busy all day. And we lay down some ground rules."

Blaise raised an eyebrow as he finished his last piece of sushi and then commented, "Of course, you would make up rules for dating you."

Hermione threw her napkin at him in gest as she got up to clear their dishes and spoke, "If this was normal dating, then there wouldn't be a need to rules. Since we are friends and want to stay that way after this experiment, I propose some guidelines to make sure we stay on the same page and remain friends."

He got up from his seat to take care of their trash and said, "I do prefer the term guidelines, go ahead then."

Hermione lead back against the counter as she began, "Well for our twelve dates of Christmas, there should be no gift buying. We should be enjoying the romance, not just showing up with things we bought."

He nodded and she continued, "Also, I think it would only be fair if we take turns planning the dates. Tonight is yours and I will plan tomorrow."

"Sounds fair, it will give us both to experience different types of romance. I may learn a thing or two from you, Granger," Blaise agreed as he followed her out of the kitchen to the living room.

Hermione pulled out a journal that was size of half of sheet of paper and wrote the dates on every left page till Christmas eve. Once done, she took out her wand and created an identical copy, which she handed to Blaise. She said, "Here is mated journals, whatever is written in one will be seen in the other. This will help coordinate information like times and where to meet as well as any thing needed for the date."

Blaise nodded as he shoved it into his inner book of his cloak, which lay on the back of her couch by the door, and Hermione spoke on, "With this being a last minute deal, how about we keep the date to two or three hours after tonight. I still have a lot to do before Christmas as I am sure you do as well."

He didn't comment as she walked into the kitchen and grabbed the half-empty bottle of sake to give back to him. He took it from her, just to put it turn around and put it on her shelf with a barely touch bottle of firewhiskey. Blaise replied to her glare, "You keep it. I already have a bottle at my place. We did not agree to no gifts till after I bought it for tonight."

She rolled her eyes and smiled but that smile faltered a little as he stepped up to her. Before she could change her mind, Hermione stated, "One last rule, no intimacy. If we are to stay friends after this, I refuse to be just another notch in your bedpost. There will be no kissing, no touching, and , of course, no sex. Just sharing romance atmosphere and events, no romancing each other."

Blaise took a step closer and with that sexy smirk, he purred, "What Granger, can't handle even a goodnight kiss from me each night? I knew I was too hot to handle, but even for you?"

Of course, that got her attention. Hermione meet his eyes and stood straight with her Gryffindor courage. She said, "I can handle a goodnight kiss, Zabini. I am just trying to save you from falling for me."

"Oh really," he smiled as looked at her lips with a bit of hunger in his warm brown eyes. Before he kissed her, he softly said, "I accept your guidelines .. Hermione."

** To Be Continued **

A/N: So my plot bunnies would not be satisfied with just a one shot. So… here I am. This is be one of the longest chapters. Most will be 2 pages. But I had to set the stage between these two. Also as I was setting up the outline for this story, I noticed on Netflix a movie called '12 dates of Christmas.' I have not seen this movie and really like the title so I felt like clarifying it - in case you were wondering. This story will be a lot of fully romance with a slight touch of drama towards the end, because that's what makes a compelling story. Enjoy and review. I read all your reviews. Happy holidays!

A/N2: I am influenced by songs, if you have read many of my other fics - you might have noticed this. Lol.. This story is mainly going to be inspired the soundtrack of Love Actually. Almost named it something like that. But those damn bunnies thought otherwise. lol..