A/N: Written for the DEE 12 Days of Christmas prompts - Sixth Day of Christmas. I do hope you like it. And Happy Christmas!
Mistletoe and Rabid Tinsel
"Is there a reason it looks like you've been attacked by rabid tinsel?" a low, masculine voice drawled right by her ear and Hermione Granger almost jumped clean out of her skin.
Spinning quickly, she narrowed her eyes when she spotted a sixth year Slytherin boy leaning against the wall behind where she'd been attempting to string tinsel over one of the window-sills of the Entrance Hall. She'd volunteered to help decorate the Great Hall in preparation for the Yule Ball and had been put in charge of the tinsel, much to her dismay. The boy who'd spoken had golden-blond hair that hung to his shoulders, and bright blue eyes that glittered like sapphires in the glow of the candles lighting the Hall. He was dressed in Quidditch training robes, the vibrant green and white of his house colors brightly displayed and telling tales of his loyalties.
"Couldn't have anything to do with the tinsel I'm stringing all over the place, could it?" Hermione asked sarcastically, rolling her eyes before turning back to her task.
She squeaked in surprise when the boy reached around her, closing a hand over the end of tinsel she was attempting to frame the window with. Attempting, because she was too short to reach the top of the window, and she wasn't tricky enough with her wand to levitate the tinsel and stick it to the windowsill at the same time.
"Need a hand?" he asked, sounding amused and reaching to stick the tinsel to the portion of the window he could reach.
"Erm… thank you," Hermione said, though the job was far from done since even he wasn't tall enough to reach the top of the window either, despite his strapping build and imposing height.
"Not done yet, Princess," he chuckled. "Come here."
Hermione squealed in surprise when the older boy put his hands on her waist and lifted her into the air, ducking as he did so and lifting her until she was sitting on his shoulders.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed, grateful that she was wearing jeans and not her usual school skirt.
"Helping you reach the top of the window," the boy chuckled.
"You can't just pick someone up and carry them around on your shoulders," Hermione protested. "I don't even know you're name!"
"Oh. Right. Thorfinn Rowle," he said, tipping his head back against her stomach so that he could meet her gaze. He shot her a purely wicked grin. "What's your name, Princess?"
"You don't even know who I am and yet you're carrying me around like a small child?" Hermione demanded, clinging tightly to his thick mane of blond hair, desperate for something to hold onto and terrified she was going to fall.
"Listen, Tinsel-Maid," Thorfinn said. "Ease up on the hair, yeah? And tell me your name while you stick that tinsel around the window, would you?"
"Now you're bossing me around?" Hermione huffed, squeaking when he ran his hands up the length of her thighs, holding her securely enough that she braved letting go of his hair to finish decorating the window with the bright silver strand of tinsel.
"You'll get used to it, Princess," Thorfinn Rowle chuckled.
"I'm Hermione," she said quietly when she'd finished decorating the window, still terrified of the height she was perched at, but feeling surprisingly safe with him clinging to her thighs like that.
"Hermione," he repeated. "Pretty name, Princess."
"Thank you," Hermione said. "You can put me down now, Rowle."
"There are twenty more windows to do out here," he pointed out. "And I can see that you've had rubbish luck decorating those ones, too."
He nodded toward the five she'd already attempted to decorate by herself.
"It's not my fault I'm short," she sighed.
"I'll make you a deal, if you like?" he offered.
"I'm not doing your homework for you, Superstar," Hermione said immediately.
"Good thing I do my own homework, then, isn't it?" Rowle laughed. "I'll help you decorate out here, so you won't look like you've been ravaged by tinsel by the time you're done, if you come to the Yule Ball with me."
Hermione's cheeks flushed crimson at the request and she dropped the strand of tinsel she was holding.
"Princess?" he asked, tipping his head back, grinning at her.
"You can't ask me to the Ball," she squeaked, her eyes wide with shock.
"You already got a date?" he asked, and Hermione would swear he looked disappointed.
"You're a Slytherin," she blurted out, frowning at him.
"So, what?" he asked. "You're a Hufflepuff, aren't you?"
"No," Hermione frowned. "I'm a Gryffindor. Why would you just assume that I'm a Hufflepuff?"
"You're helping decorate the Great Hall on the weekend," he shrugged, almost unseating her and making Hermione squeak, digging her hands into his hair and gripping tightly again. "And you're afraid of heights. And you really do look like you lost a fight with a roll of tinsel, Princess. There's bits of it tangled in all those wild curls, and it's stuck to your jumper, and there's bit caught in your left earring."
Hermione's cheeks brightened even more.
"It's not my fault that having this much hair makes the tinsel go all static-y," Hermione said.
"Will you come to the Ball with me, or not, Hermione?" Thorfinn asked her, grinning.
"Erm… I already have a date," Hermione admitted, her cheeks hot enough to fry an egg on.
"Don't reckon you'd drop him to come with me, would you?" he asked.
"If I say no, are you going to put me down?" she asked.
"Do you want me to put you down?" he challenged.
"Um…" Hermione bit her lip, glancing at the other windows that still needed decorating and weighing her fear of heights against her yearning to do a good job.
"Who're you going with?" Rowle asked, smirking when she didn't offer a definitive answer.
"Um… It's a secret. I'm not supposed to tell anyone, because everyone will make a fuss."
"Someone important then. One of the champions for the Tournament?" he mused. "And you're a Gryffindor. It's not Potter, is it?"
"No," Hermione shook her head. "Harry's practically my brother. I wouldn't go to something like the Yule Ball as his date. That'd be like dating a sibling."
"Oh," he said. "You're Potter's muggle-born witch? The one the Malfoy kid is always mouthing off about."
"Yes," Hermione admitted. "You can put me down now, Rowle. I won't be offended. I know how you Slytherins are about blood prejudice."
Rowle tipped his head back to look at her, his brow slightly furrowed.
"What if I don't want to put you down?" he asked.
Hermione frowned at him. "Then at least move to the next window so I can decorate it before you change your mind," Hermione shrugged.
He chuckled, but did as she asked, carrying her to the next window and passing her the long strand of blue tinsel to stick up.
"So," he said, holding her steady as she rimmed the window with tinsel. "If it's not Potter, it's one of the others. And I heard Diggory asked Chang, and everyone knows that the French chick is going with Roger Davies because he won't shut the hell up about it. So, you're going to the Ball with Krum, eh?"
Hermione's cheeks went scarlet and she cursed Rowle for using basic logic.
"I never said that."
"Favour burly Quidditch players, do you?" Rowle taunted, tipping his head back to smirk at her.
"Only the dark-haired ones," Hermione said spitefully.
"Yeah?" Rowle chuckled. "Funny, you've got a pretty good grip on all my blond locks."
"For fear of falling from this towering height," Hermione retorted.
"Fear of missing your chance to run your fingers through my mane, more like," Rowle said, moving to the next window and handing her some more silver tinsel. "Don't worry, Princess. You can ditch Krum and come to the ball with me."
"I'm not telling Viktor on the day of the ball that I'm going with some obnoxious Slytherin I've never met," Hermione insisted.
"Why? He's famous. He'll get a date like that," he snapped his fingers.
"Unlike you," she said, smirking in return.
"I've got a date, actually," Rowle shrugged, almost unseating her again and making Hermione grab at his hair once more.
"Then why would you ask me to go with you?" she demanded, glaring at him.
"Would've dropped her, if you'd said yes," he shrugged again.
"Are you just trying to set me up to make a fool out of me?" Hermione asked suspiciously.
"Nah," he shook his head, squeezing her thighs playfully. "Spotted you on my way to training, looking like rabid tinsel had ravaged you, and thought you were bloody cute. How old are you, anyway?"
"Fifteen," Hermione said.
"Not even legal yet," he chuckled. "Jail-bait. That's what you are. Want to be careful with Krum, too. He's in the spotlight. The media gets wind of your age and they'll get him for Stat."
"Viktor's never done more than hold my hand, thank you very much," Hermione huffed, putting her hands on her hips.
"What's he got? The restraint of a bloody saint?" Thorfinn asked. "If you were my date, I'd be pulling you into dark corners every spare minute."
"Good thing I'm not then, isn't it?" Hermione sneered.
"Don't tell me you're a prude, Princess?" he asked.
"I'm not a prude. But I do have morals, thank you very much. And as such I prefer to actually go on a date or two before I think about dark corners."
"Been in dark corners before, have you?" Thorfinn smirked, handing her more tinsel which she dropped her in outrage.
"Maybe I have. It's none of your business."
"It could be," Thorfinn said. "If you ditch Krum and come to the ball with me, instead."
"You've already got a date," Hermione reminded him. "Who are you taking, anyway?"
"Pitying of whichever poor girl fell for you 'charm' since she's obviously in danger of being dropped," Hermione replied.
"Only if you say yes," Rowle grinned. "I'm taking Becky Selwyn. Bit of a tart, though. Heard she was shagging one of my mates yesterday. Don't much fancy his sloppy seconds, you know?"
"Which of your friends is she cuckolding you for?" Hermione asked. "Maybe he'd be a better dating option."
"Minx," Rowle accused her, laughing.
"Cad," Hermione accused in retort.
"No way you're only fifteen, Princess," Rowle said a short while later, helping her decorate the rest of the windows as though she were as light as a feather and as though he wasn't running late for Quidditch practice.
"I am, actually," Hermione said. "Pass me that roll of blue tinsel with the stars, would you?"
He handed it to her, carrying her to the last window and holding her firmly atop his shoulders. When she was finished she surveyed her work critically, smiling at how good all the windows looked.
"Thanks for helping me," she said, grinning when Rowle gripped her hips and lifted her down from his shoulders as though she were as dainty as a doll.
"Looks nice," he said, glancing at the tinsel before his eyes dropped to look her up and down, too. He laughed. "Hells, Princess. You'll never get all this tinsel out before the ball."
"Yes, I will," Hermione said stubbornly.
She flinched when he reached out and ran both hands through her curls, dragging bits of tinsel out and chuckling at the shower of glittering debris that scattered around her feet when he did so.
"Hermione?" he asked quietly when she blushed, looking at her feet, never having had a boy run his hands through her hair before.
"Mmmm?" Hermione hummed without looking up.
Rowle hooked his finger under her chin, tipping her head up to meet his gaze before he pointed toward the ceiling. Hermione frowned before looking up. Her stomach flipped in horrified excitement when she spied a sprig of mistletoe growing above their heads.
"Oh," she said, blushing crimson.
"Guess some Christmas wishes do come true," Rowle smirked at her.
"I'm not going to the ball with you just because of that," she said.
"Spoil sport," he accused, carding his hands into her loose curls again and this time leaning down toward her.
Hermione's stomach flipped, butterflies rioting inside of her and she licked her lips nervously. She'd never kissed anyone before, either. His blue eyes darted between her brown eyes and down to her pink lips, seeming to revel in her anticipation when he took his time lowering his mouth to hers. He chuckled very softly just before capturing her lips, his fingers digging gently at her scalp and holding her still to receive his kiss.
Hermione melted. She hated herself for doing so, and she squeezed her eyes closed, trying to refrain, but the feel of his lips on hers made her weak in the knees. Unbidden, Hermione leaned into the kiss, her hands lifting to clutch at Rowle hungrily. He brushed his lips over hers slowly, taking his time as though he knew it was her first kiss. Hermione gasped when he licked at the seam of her lips, encouraging her to part them. When she did, his tongue dipped in to meet hers and Hermione's hands tightened, clutching at his robes and crumpling the fabric.
She felt like she couldn't breathe, and her heart was kicking out an uneven, erratic beat inside her chest. The scent of his cologne, like citrus and smoke, was heady and addictive, and the feel of his tongue smoothing along the length of hers made Hermione dizzy. One hand tightened in her hair as he slid the other down her back, pressing her closer to him until she was plastered against his chest, clutching his robes tightly in her clenched fists. Hermione kissed him back clumsily, having no real grasp of what to do, despite the number of her mother's naughty novels she'd pinched and devoured. If Thorfinn minded her inexperience, it didn't show.
When the mistletoe overhead scattered, adding leaves and berries to the tinsel-filled nest her curls had become, Hermione barely noticed. Indeed, she wouldn't have noticed at all if not for the feel of the cold stone wall of the castle pressing against her back when the spell released them and Rowle pushed her up against the wall, still snogging her hotly. A little whine of sound escaped her when he molded his body to hers, pressing into her hungrily and kissing her soundly. Hermione almost pulled away when his hand on her back slid lower still, dropping into her back pocket and gripping her arse through the denim of her jeans.
Merlin's little green apples, maybe she would like being pulled into dark corners by boys if they all kissed like this. Sighing against his lips, Hermione gave in to the sensations of being thoroughly snogged, reveling in the taste of his lips and the slide of his tongue and the heat of his body pressed to hers. She almost moaned when he rocked against her just a little, obviously as enraptured by the snog as she was.
The sound of someone very pointedly clearing their throat from close by was like a bucket of cold water dumped over her head and Hermione's eyes shot open even as Rowle disengaged his lips from hers, refusing to pull away even as he broke the kiss. Hermione squirmed, unable to guiltily jump from his arms when they'd been caught with him at her front and the wall at her back.
"What do we have here?" Professor's Snape's sinister voice drawled, and Hermione closed her eyes in absolute horror.
"Afternoon, Professor," Rowle greeted his Head of House calmly, still leaning against Hermione. His lips twitched like he might smirk.
"Rowle," Snape narrowed his eyes on the blond boy. "And…" he clucked his tongue when he recognized her. "My, my, my, Miss Granger. What would your precious little friends have to say about this?"
Unable to think of anything sassy or witty to say, and too terrified to huff at a teacher like Professor Snape, Hermione managed a strangled sort of squeak before clearing her through.
"Afternoon, sir," she said, mimicking Rowle and trying to find the calm and unruffled demeanor the boy was giving off.
"I believe you will find that canoodling is against school rules," Professor Snape drawled, obviously intent on drawing out her mortification as much as possible.
Unable to help herself, Hermione blurted out. "Um… actually, sir. There's nothing in the school rules that expressly forbids contact between students, intimate or otherwise. Only dueling is forbidden."
"And what rules might you be quoting, Miss Granger?"
"It's in Hogwarts: A History," Hermione said, her cheeks scarlet as she pushed, rather futilely, against Rowle's chest, trying to shove him off her. "Pages twenty-seven to thirty-nine dictate the school rules as laid down by the Board of Governors, and 'canoodling' isn't actually forbidden. When the school was founded, the Governors obviously never imagined that locking a collection of angst-riddled teenagers in a remote castle might result in anything so scandalous as a bit of snogging."
Hermione didn't think her cheeks could redden any further when Rowle looked at her, smirking wickedly and apparently surprised by her audacity.
"And it would seem that even a bit of snogging is not enough to cure you of being an insufferable know-it-all, Miss Granger," Snape sneered. "Five points from Gryffindor for your sass. And both of you get out of my sight."
"Yes, sir," Rowle said, barely concealing a chuckle. "Walk with me to practice, Baby-girl?"
Hermione glanced up at Rowle, her jaw dangling that he would dare to use a pet-name for her in front of a teacher.
"Uh… I'd really rather just go and grab a hot chocolate and pretend you don't exist," Hermione said, her cheeks still crimson.
"Is that any way to talk to you date for the dance?" Thorfinn chided.
"You're not my date," Hermione told him. "You have a date, and so do I. With other people."
"You're killing me here, Princess," Rowle pretended to be wounded.
"You'll live," Hermione assured him, patting his chest with one hand and fishing his hand from her back pocket with the other.
"You'll save me a dance, at least, right?" he bargained.
Hermione looked away when Professor Snape made a noise of disgust as they separated, swooping away like a great, greasy bat to round on some other students breaking the rules.
"Maybe," Hermione said quietly, blushing once more.
"It's a date," Rowle grinned, nodding his head and backing toward the doors, intent on getting to quidditch practice.
"No, it's not," Hermione argued.
"It will be when I snog you again, Princess," he smirked, winking at her. "You didn't think you'd get away with just one, did you?"
Hermione giggled in spite of herself when he backed across the room far enough that he bumped into the door before he grinned at her and dashed out onto the grounds despite the driving snow.