Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction using characters and elements from the world of Harry Potter, created and trademarked by JK Rowling. I do not claim ownership over any Harry Potter characters or the Harry Potter world. This story is for entertainment purposes only, and is not claiming to be any part of the Harry Potter canon. Thank you to JK Rowling for letting me play with the characters and not suing me for writing them into a new situation.
This story was written for a special gift collection created in appreciation for the penname I-was-BOTWP, which is currently being hosted on AO3. I encourage you all to read the rest of the great stories in this collection. My contribution was inspired by the music video for Findin' A Good Man by Danielle Peck. The AO3 versions also have cover art with the stories, so be sure to check them out. I made my own, with a little help from Elle Malfoy-Black, and am quite proud of it.
The club was loud and crowded…and colorful.
Ever since Bad Decisions—the hottest new nightclub—opened, the Wizarding community had been enchanted with the way it mashed together Wizarding and Muggle culture.
Single witches and wizards mingled together in traditional robes, or in the bright sequins and glitter that represented the Muggle nightclub life. The music that pulsed much too loudly was an eclectic mix of classic Muggle songs, redone by the growing group of indie Wizarding rockers. The menu had many Muggle options for the simplest to the most refined palate.
Above it all, drifting lightly in the air, was the key: the faint tang of alcohol tempting people to make those self-proclaimed bad decisions.
It was not Hermione's usual scene at all. Normally, she'd much rather be home with a book and a cup of tea, than dressed to kill in her tightest jeans, trying to yell over the sound of the music just to be heard by her companions.
"What?" she loudly asked again for the tenth time.
"I said, This is so much fun!" Ginny shouted back at her.
Hermione just smiled and lifted her fruity blue drink in response. Despite it not being her usual scene, she actually was having fun. Half the fun was seeing Ginny get up and out-dance every man who asked her, but there was something about the pulse of the beat that seemed to soothe the stress that constantly resided behind her eyes.
It had been some time since Ginny and Hermione had been out as single women. After both of their breakups, they'd just been so caught up in life—Ginny flitting around the country playing matches for the Harpies, while Hermione was flitting around the country doing research and assignments for the Ministry.
Ginny had finally had enough of this all work and no play thing, she wanted to go out, have some fun, meet some guys, and dance.
And that's exactly what she was doing.
Hermione was content to sip her drink and only get up when Ginny dragged her out for the occasional song.
Luna was another story. She mostly just sat around mumbling cryptic remarks while wearing a huge pair of very unusual glasses. The glasses were much too large for her face and were covered in copious amounts of jewels. They also had little cat ears on them and the lenses were tinted a blushing pink. On anyone else they would look quite silly, but on Luna they almost appeared natural.
As the music quieted a bit, Hermione leaned over and said, "So what brings you here tonight, Luna? Is everything still okay with you and Neville?"
Luna and Neville had been dating steadily since their Hogwarts days and were the closest thing to an old married couple that their group of friends had.
When Luna turned to look at her, the glasses magnified her blue eyes, making Hermione feel like Luna was staring directly into her soul. "Oh, yes, Neville is just lovely. He said he'd spend the evening tending his Arnica seedlings if I was going to have a night out with the girls."
Confused as to why Luna would then show up at a singles bar, Hermione opened her mouth to ask, but Luna anticipated her.
"Ginny said she really wanted to meet someone while out tonight, and I wanted to help."
"Oh," Hermione said, not knowing what else to say, considering the blond had been sitting at the table the whole time and giggling to herself. "That was very…nice of you."
Ginny came back to their table, fanning herself and breathing hard. She waved at the light-haired man she'd been dancing with, and he winked, though he didn't come off the dance floor. Turning to the girls, she said, "He is a very… vigorous dancer, I must say."
The look on her face clearly indicated she was considering him for some other vigorous activities.
"Oh, no, Ginny," Luna protested as quietly as the music would let her. "Don't go with him, he's a cheater."
Taken aback, Hermione asked, "How do you know that?"
"It's written all over his forehead," she answered, as if it were the simplest thing.
Ginny exchanged looks with Hermione and then gave a slight shrug. "She's usually right about these things. It was nice to dance with him, anyway."
She plopped down into her chair and surveyed the rest of the floor. It was hard to make anyone out with the low lighting and the whirling bodies. But she did eventually point out another man—dark hair spiked up three inches high, tall and lean.
He looked like he could have been a Quidditch player, and Hermione was not at all surprised he'd caught Ginny's eye.
"Let's wait till he turns around," Luna said, adjusting the glasses on her face.
As the song continued, the wizard turned to face them, and Luna let out a sharp bark of laughter. "Oh dear, definitely not that one. He lives with his mother."
Ginny seemed disbelieving, or like she was weighing whether it was important or not.
"Trust me," Luna said seriously, "you don't want to deal with that complication."
"How could you possibly know that?" Ginny asked.
"I told you. It's written on their foreheads." She took off the big glasses and handed them to Ginny. "Here, see for yourself."
With a humorous glance at Hermione, she took the glasses and put them on. "What am I supposed to—oh." She ripped the glasses off really quick, looking back out at the crowd before putting them back on.
She started laughing. "Hermione, it says 'Mummy's Boy' on his forehead."
"What?" Curious, Hermione reached over for the glasses. "Let me see."
When Ginny handed them over, Hermione felt a moment of trepidation for putting on anything that Luna Lovegood made. She was a brilliant witch, if a bit unconventional, but you never knew whether you'd be stepping into the brilliant or the unconventional.
With a deep breath, Hermione put on the glasses and realized it was both. Everything in the noisy club was dimmed just a bit—the lights, the sounds, the smells—but in return, she saw a silvery glow above the heads of all the men.
When they turned, she could make out words printed on their foreheads.
Some of the words were short, written in big letters, like the man Ginny had danced with who had the word 'cheater' in all capital letters.
The man with the spiky hair had 'Mummy's Boy' written at the top, with several sentences underneath that seemed to indicate he lived at home and still sat on his mum's lap.
"Are these all warnings?" Hermione asked, taking off the glasses and handing them back to Ginny who was making grabby hands.
"No, no." Luna shook her head. "They tell you important things about them as a prospective relationship."
Thinking about all the things she'd just seen, Hermione said, "That's rather demoralizing."
"Well," Luna said sagely, "it's very hard to find a good man."
Hermione smiled at her. "Neville might have been the last one, and you snatched him right up."
Luna just tilted her head to the side as if in deep thought. "I would share." Before Hermione could respond to that shocking statement, she added, "If it was necessary." She looked expectantly at Hermione.
"Ah, thanks." Hermione wasn't sure what else to say, but thought that Neville probably would not be thrilled at being treated like a commodity to be passed around. "I'm sure it won't be necessary."
Ginny, who had been looking around with the glasses suddenly exclaimed, "Luna, these are just brilliant!" She tipped the frames down and looked over them conspiratorially. "Do you suppose it could find me a man who was both adventurous and sensitive? I think I want a man with a good heart, but who still wants to try something new and get out and see the world."
It was on the tip of Hermione's tongue to mention that that was exactly what Ginny had had with Harry, but she heroically refrained from mentioning it. She wasn't entirely sure of all of the details behind their breakup, but if it was anything like her and Ron's breakup, there were probably many factors.
"Perhaps if you concentrated on those traits," Luna said, considering the request very seriously. "The glasses might show them to you."
"Okay!" Ginny went back to her perusal of the men through the glasses.
Hermione found her actions very amusing. "Ginny, what are you going to do if you find him?"
"Buy him a drink, of course. Maybe ask him to dance. Maybe take him home and shag him."
The grin on Ginny's face set all three of them off laughing.
"But wait," Ginny said. "What about you? What kind of man are you looking for, Hermione?"
Raising her hands, Hermione waved her off. "Oh, don't worry about me, I'm not really looking for anything. And I certainly didn't see much in the way of prospects when I looked through those lenses, either."
"Oh, come on, Hermione! It's no fun if you aren't looking, too. What's one thing you're looking for?"
When Hermione just shook her head, Ginny laughed and pulled at her arm. "Just one thing. It doesn't have to be a forever-connection. How about just one thing you didn't get in your last relationship? What's one thing that would make tonight great?"
One thing came to her mind, and she laughed ruefully at herself. "Well, it sure would be nice to find a good kisser for once."
Both women laughed at this. Ginny scrunched up her face, finding it distasteful to think of her brother's kisses.
"I've seen the way he eats his food." Luna seemed to be thoughtfully filing information away into her brain. "I find it unsurprising his technique might be a bit lacking."
"Alright," Ginny interrupted, before Luna could provide any further insights into Ron's kissing habits. "So an adventurous soulmate for me, and a good kisser for Hermione. That's what we're looking for, Glasses." She scrunched her face in concentration. "Do your magic!"
Ginny's wide open eyes turned to stare out at the dance floor once more.
Luna turned to Hermione then, her blue eyes still big even without the magnification. "And what will you do, Hermione, if you find a good kisser? Are you going to take him home and shag him, too?"
Startled, Hermione shook her head, even though Ginny enthusiastically nodded.
"I'll-I'll probably just buy him a drink, I suppose."
"And ask him for a kiss," Ginny added helpfully, her eyes never leaving the floor.
"Gin, you can't just go around asking people for kisses." The very idea of it made Hermione squirm.
"It's a singles club, of course you can," she scoffed. "And if the whole point is to find a good kisser, the whole experience is wasted if we can't get you one good kiss."
Hermione rolled her eyes. But whether it was the alcohol or the atmosphere, she was in a remarkably good mood. Besides which, she doubted the glasses could possibly zero in on that one particular trait.
"Okay, a drink. One, single drink." Hermione held up one finger for emphasis. "That's it."
Ginny pretended to pout, but both she and Luna knew that was probably the best concession they would get out of Hermione for the night.
When their goblets were all empty, it was Hermione's turn to go order more, so she made her way up to the bar. It took a moment or two to push her way past the patrons who were surrounding the barkeep with their orders, but she finally made it, only to find herself standing next to someone familiar.
It was the light smell of his cologne that stood out to her first. It took her a moment to place it, but when she realized that she recognized it from her weekly Ministry meetings, her head quickly snapped to the side.
"Malfoy?" she asked, surprised to see him, even though it was the most popular nightclub in town. "What are you doing here?"
"Granger," he greeted her, his eyebrow raised in amusement at her sharp, questioning tone. "The same thing everyone else is, I suppose. Drinking, dancing, mingling."
The quick glance he gave her outfit made her want to squirm under his gaze. She'd been determined to put on her favorite jeans, but had been surprised to find that her hips had curved out over the last few years. Since she refused to use magic to alter them, she'd just managed to squeeze herself in, making them mold to her body more than the clothing she usually purchased. The brightly colored top that was tied with flimsy strings over one shoulder was borrowed from Ginny, who had taken one look at Hermione's sensible white blouse and immediately insisted on replacing it with something sexier.
Some tall black boots completed the ensemble, and for once Hermione agreed not to tie up her riotous brown curls, leaving them out to twist softly around her face
She'd never appeared before Malfoy looking so unprofessional. Like usual, he was garbed in professionally-tailored dress robes, the high quality fabrics draped across his lean frame. His shoes were probably worth more than her entire year's salary. The only difference between the nightclub and the Ministry was that his white blond hair, usually perfectly styled, was disheveled like he—or someone—had run a hand through it.
His eyes lingered as they took her in, and she angled her chin up in anticipation of a rude comment.
Instead he said, "I'm quite surprised to see you here. I didn't know Hermione Granger did any of those three things: drinking, dancing, and especially not mingling."
She narrowed her eyes at him, even though she knew he was joking.
It was just their way. The bitter, angry insults of their youth had given way after the war to light jibes and taunts. Constant exposure because of their work had removed most of their animosity. In fact, they often found themselves on the same side of the most important issues, and Hermione was surprised to find she didn't mind verbally sparring with him.
In fact, it was strangely exhilarating.
But doing so outside of work was a discomfiting experience.
"Well," was all she could think to say, "I'm certainly entitled to a life outside of work. Although if I'd known you would be here, too, I might have stayed inside after all."
His lips twitched in a smirk, no doubt laughing at her because he knew she could come up with nothing more biting to say.
The barkeep delivered her three tall drinks with the extra long straws, and Hermione carried them back to the table without a glance backwards at the man she knew was still watching her.
As she set them down on the newly cleaned surface, she suddenly noticed that Ginny was staring at her with wide eyes, her hands frantically grasping at Luna's arm. The magnification of the Glasses made Ginny's eyes appear even more shocked.
"What?" Hermione asked. "What happened? What's wrong?"
Her intuition clanged in her head, an alarm bell, and the sudden rush of her heartbeat had her reaching for her wand.
She stopped just short of grabbing it, reminding herself that Ginny's over-dramatics were usually a clear sign that no one was in danger. If it were a true threat, Ginny would act, instead of making the funny gurgling noises that were coming out of her.
"Ginny," Hermione warned.
With a cautious glance at Luna, Ginny slowly straightened up and let go of her arm. "Er, Hermione," she said, her fingers tapping restlessly on the table as she looked down at them. "There seems to be, er, a situation…"
"The Glasses have been petitioned in faith," Luna intoned suddenly. "And the Glasses have answered."
"What now?" Hermione asked, exasperated, taking her seat once again. "Did you see something truly atrocious on some poor fellow's head?"
"Well," Ginny said, with a wry twist to her mouth, "it really depends on your interpretation."
"We've found your good kisser," Luna said, cutting right to the point.
"Oh, alright." Relieved that was all, even though it meant she'd have to go buy some bloke a token drink, Hermione made a show of looking around. "And? Where is he, then?"
With a very discreet finger, Ginny pointed straight at the tousled head of a platinum blond who had just walked out of the crowd by the bar.
Hermione's jaw dropped.
When he saw all three of them looking at him, he lifted his drink in a brief salute to the three women, and continued walking, lost again in the next crowd of people.
"Fuck," was all Hermione could say.
He didn't know what made him come to Bad Decisions that particular night. Sometimes he liked the loud, busy atmosphere, and the way everyone was always so absorbed in their own excitement that they forgot that he was an ex-Death Eater. Sometimes he met friends and they had a good time pretending they were part of the new, united post-war Wizarding society.
Mostly, though, he thought that sometimes he just didn't like to drink alone.
When he saw Hermione trudging back over towards him, he found himself holding back a smile, wondering what she could possibly want now.
Finally out of those prim and proper suits that she wore at the Ministry, and with the hair that he remembered from school making a curly halo around her head, it was not at all a hardship to watch her as she walked. In fact, it would have been positively pleasant if it wasn't for the look on her face.
She looked the opposite of pleasant. In fact, it might have been the same look on her face that she'd had when she'd had to approach him two months ago to acknowledge that he'd been correct about the policies regarding Centaur Land Rights and would he please help her with the draft after all.
Since the memory made him feel smug, he leaned back against the bar and waited for her to approach.
"Malfoy," she said, in that tone of voice that she forced when she was trying very hard to be pleasant. Her high-heeled boots each planted down firmly in front of him. He almost thought she was going to put her hands belligerently on her hips.
"Granger." His overly chipper response made her grit her teeth a tiny bit. "How nice to see you again. And so soon."
She didn't smile. "Can I buy you a drink, Malfoy?" she said, hurriedly.
He took a moment to process what she'd just said, reassessing her angry stance. Surely, he must have heard her wrong. "I'm sorry, Granger, it sounded like you just offered to buy me a drink."
She gave a long-suffering sigh. "That's exactly what I asked."
Slowly, he looked down at the half-full drink that was still in his hand, and then up at her face. She was carefully not looking him in the eye. "Uh, Granger, I already have a drink."
"I…I am aware of that," she said, the prissy way she pinched her lips together making him feel like shaking the starch out of her, like it always did.
So he responded like he always did. He leaned back even farther against the bar, the epitome of relaxed and starch-less. "Also, you realize I could buy this entire bar about 10 times over?"
Her eyes narrowed at him, and he felt that thrill up his spine that he always associated with victory. She was so irritated at him, and he didn't even know why, but he didn't care. It was too fun to get her riled up.
"I am well aware of that also, Malfoy," she ground out. "But do you want that drink or not?"
He swished the liquid in his tumbler around for a moment, thinking on her face and the unhappy look in her eyes.
"No," he decided. "No, I don't, actually." Then, remembering his manners, he added, "But thank you for the offer."
He was both surprised and a bit insulted to see relief in her eyes.
"Oh," she said. "Okay, then." She didn't seem to know what to do with herself and glanced backwards at the table where her friends still sat.
He noticed they were avidly watching them. A giant pair of glittering pink glasses on Ginny's face made him think she could see them clearly despite the stretch of dance floor between them.
Irritation started to rise in the back of his throat, but he tried to keep it down. "Did one of your friends dare you to approach me, Granger? Thought it'd be funny to see what would happen if the great Hermione Granger was seen being friendly with the infamous Draco Malfoy?"
He did not succeed at keeping a measure of bitterness out of his voice.
It shouldn't still bother him after all this time, but it did. It didn't matter what he did, or how much time passed, people still persisted in seeing him a certain way.
To Granger's credit, she seemed genuinely shocked. "No, Malfoy! That would be ridiculous."
There was the tiniest hesitation in her voice that made him think she was still hiding something.
He probably shouldn't have done it, but he pushed her, because it bothered him that she would come all the way over here and ask to buy him a drink, clearly against her will.
"Then go ahead and explain it to me, Granger. Why would you offer me a drink when you know I already have one, when you know I can afford my own, and when it's clear you aren't looking for any company or conversation? Really, I'm fascinated to hear what your reasoning could possibly be."
"It's not a big deal, Malfoy," she hedged. "You already said no, anyway. I'll just go back to my friends."
"Oh, no, no," he said. His hand darted out to catch her by the wrist, and he ignored the tingles that shot up his arm. That always happened. He was almost used to it. He imagined it was just a sign of his fighting blood coming up, since that was usually what they were doing. "Considering how you insulted me, I'd think the least you could do was offer me an explanation."
"In-insulted you?" she spluttered. "I offered you a drink!"
"And you keep glancing over at your friends," Draco pointed out. "Making me think that this is all some kind of prank meant to make fun of the poor lonely Slytherin all by himself in the club."
Okay, that was probably pouring it on too thick.
He hurried on. "So explain to me how I'm not supposed to be insulted by that."
"Hardly an insult—" She stopped and shook her head, her face suddenly coloring the slightest. Her eyes went a tiny bit wide and shot up to his forehead.
He just barely refrained from raising his hand to run it over his hair, wondering if there was something wrong with it.
"Well, if not an insult, what is it?"
"Er," she paused, "a compliment?"
His lips twitched the tiniest bit. She was uncomfortable and stretching for words. He had her now. "How exactly is it a compliment? I'm very excited to hear what you are complimenting me on."
She glanced back at the table with her friends, and Draco followed her gaze to see both Luna and Ginny make the same shoo-ing motion at her.
He laughed, but quickly wiped the smile off his face when she whipped back to look at him.
"Come on, Granger," he said, putting on his best wheedling voice. "You can't leave me in the dark now. There's clearly something interesting going on."
Recognizing the mulish look on her face, he lifted his glass up to his lips and took a large gulp of his drink. Then he said, "Okay, I'll just go ask the Weaslette."
Before he could take a step, her hand came up to slap him on the chest. He felt the same tingles that were usually confined to his arm. That was new.
"Malfoy," she said, through gritted teeth. "Don't go over there. I'll—I'll tell you."
"Please do, Granger, I'm dying of suspense here."
Her hand was still pushed up against his chest, holding him in place while she worried at her bottom lip, clearly trying to decide how much she was going to tell him.
The tingles spread into a kind of glow. Even when she abruptly removed her hand to place it awkwardly at her side, the warmth of it remained.
Attempting to be casual, she nodded in the direction of the redhead and the blonde. "Do you see those glasses that Ginny is wearing?"
"The ridiculously large and sparkly things that are making her eyes appear to be the size of eggs? Yes. You could say I couldn't help but notice them, actually."
"Well, they are magic glasses."
Draco waited. This was clearly not enough of an explanation, and he had the distinct feeling that he'd get more information if he held silent.
"Er," Hermione said, still uncomfortable. "When you look at someone, it shows you…pertinent information…about them."
A few more moments passed, but she seemed reluctant to say more, using the sudden swell of music as an excuse to delay the conversation.
So Draco prompted her. "What kind of information would that be?"
"Well," she said, angling her head as if looking for someone.
He turned to face the dance floor with her.
"For example," she pointed at a light-haired man who was dancing very closely with a short raven-haired girl, "he's a cheater. Married."
It amused him that her lecturing voice had suddenly turned on. He loved to contradict that voice.
"I could see how that would be useful information in a club. A wedding ring, though, will usually tell you as much."
Rolling her eyes, she pointed out another man, this one tall with hair shaped into ridiculous black spikes. "He lives with his mum and has an uncomfortably close relationship with her."
Draco narrowed his eyes at the man, trying to see if there were any telltale clues that would have made that information obvious to the naked eye. He had to concede that he could not tell that about the man just from looking at him.
"That's very fascinating." He turned to her. "I have to say, though, I'm pretty sure I just feel more insulted. As I can only imagine what horrible thing it said about me."
Hermione's mouth opened into a little 'o' of surprise. "Oh, no, it's not always bad things. Yours was…complimentary."
Intrigued now, he asked, "What did it say?"
She colored again. "That…that you're a good…conversationalist."
He waited a beat, noticing the high color on her face.
Then he nodded once, as if to himself. "So it was bad. And you don't want to tell me. Okay, fine." He turned back around to face the dance floor, crossing his arms over his chest, a severe look on his face.
"What? No. I told you, it was…complimentary."
"Granger, you can't lie to save your life."
"Why does it even matter, Malfoy?" He noticed that she didn't deny the fact that she was lying. He just wasn't sure what she was lying about, because he was certain if it had been something amusingly insulting, that she would have just told him with relish.
"If I'm going around with important personal information written on my forehead, don't you think I'd like to know?"
"Look Malfoy," she said, "it's just a little thing Luna made. Like a party trick. I wouldn't worry about anything it said. Half of it probably isn't even true."
Draco tried not to smile at her. She was really reaching now. She must be hiding something good, something embarrassing, for her to backtrack like that.
As she fidgeted with the short hem of her shirt, he carefully considered his options.
He didn't know why, but he was having fun arguing with her when they weren't at work and everything wasn't Urgent and Important.
"I want to see for myself," he finally announced.
She gaped at him. "I beg your pardon?"
"The glasses," he clarified. "I want to see the glasses. I'll look in the mirror, see what it says. Save you the embarrassment."
"W-what? No, you can't use the glasses."
He crossed his arms in the way that he knew irritated her, because it was what he did right before he prepared to hunker down on his firm opinion. He gave her just a moment to register his attitude, before he abruptly took a step past her, on his way to the table with his old schoolmates.
As he predicted, her hand shot out and grabbed him. "Okay, wait!"
The tingles where her hand clutched his were stronger than they'd been when he'd touched her. The spark of it shot through him, making him feel slightly disoriented when she quickly let go.
"Look, I'll get the glasses for you, just…just stay right here."
She stalked off without so much as a look behind her. Draco obediently waited for her in the same spot, noting with amusement that her friends thought her request was hilarious, but that Granger looked like she'd just been sentenced to the gallows.
When she returned, her mouth pinched tight, she simply held the glasses out to him without a word. They were incredibly feminine, reflecting back all the lights in the club in rainbow sparkles. She probably thought he would be too self-conscious to wear them.
He took them from her, unable to help the smirk that formed on his face, and then he put them on without hesitation and turned towards the mirror behind the bar.
While Hermione cringed beside him, he inspected his face through the pale pink lenses very thoroughly. Then he took them off.
"Granger, these glasses aren't showing anything at all." With an even bigger version of his smirk, he asked, "Was this all just an excuse to talk to me?"
"Wh-what? Of course not!" Her indecision as to which accusation to answer first delayed her just long enough that when she reached for the glasses, Draco had already moved them out of her reach.
"Let me see them! You must be doing it wrong."
"I know how to use a pair of glasses, Granger. And it says absolutely nothing on my forehead."
"Really?" She seemed confused. "It doesn't say that you're a good kisser?"
Draco's eyebrows rose straight up into his hairline as this tidbit was revealed. "The glasses said I was a good kisser?"
Hermione turned beet red.
Draco had started laughing, but he quickly turned it into a cough at the irritation and embarrassment on her face. He would definitely save that information for later.
"Well, this I have to see. Let me try it again." With one hand he held her off as she tried to reach for the glasses again. "Nope. Still nothing."
As he turned back towards the dance floor, he noticed that there were several glowing silver lights illuminating words and phrases.
"Wait a minute," he said, "I think I do see something. It's not the men, it's the women. All the women have something on their foreheads."
"Of course," Hermione said, her tone back to normal as her weighty mind pondered over the magic behind the glasses. "It's showing information about potential partners, so that's likely to change with the wearer. Oh, clever Luna!"
Speaking of the witch, Draco casually observed, "Did you know that Lovegood seems okay with sharing?"
"It says that? On her forehead?" Hermione stared in her friend's direction aghast. "I thought she was joking."
"Oh, she invited you to join her and Longbottom, did she? Not sure he's man enough for the both of you, but then I'm rather surprised he's man enough just for the one."
"I'll have you know," Hermione said hotly, those golden brown eyes flashing at him, "that Neville Longbottom is an incredibly attractive man. And what's more, he's a wonderful person, decent and kind, incredibly smart and brave. Any woman would be lucky to be with him, and if he weren't so obviously devoted to Luna, women would be trying to steal him away."
"Yes, yes, Longbottom's a saint," Draco said, irritated at the prickle of jealousy that rose up at her words. "But is he a good kisser? That's the question."
"Oh my god," Hermione moaned, trying futilely to get the Glasses back. Every move she made, he countered, turning his back on her. "Give me back the Glasses."
"I'm not done yet!" he insisted. He perused the women on the dance floor, occasionally calling out something he found interesting. "Your redheaded friend's forehead says, 'Ballbreaker' on it."
He made an overly dramatic grimace. "That's good to know, but rather scary, all things considered."
She couldn't help herself and she laughed. Ginny would probably love that.
At the sound of her laughing, he turned to grin at her. "And yours says—"
"No!" she shrieked, covering up her forehead.
But he didn't finish the sentence. Abruptly, the smile dropped off of his face, and he just stared at her.
With some effort, she brought her hands down. He'd obviously already seen whatever it was that was written there.
Alarmed at the serious look on his face, at those grey eyes magnified into dark storm clouds, she took a gulp of air and a wavering step backwards before she could help herself.
"What does it say, Malfoy?"
All of her insecurities flashed through her mind. She thought of the horrible things she'd seen on the foreheads of those men, and the worst of her flaws seemed to make those pale in comparison.
"Malfoy?" she asked again, her voice suddenly small. Maybe she didn't want to know.
He didn't answer her, though, he just kept staring at her until the anxious need to run away and hide had built to a loud thumping in her ears.
Finally, with deliberate movements, he reached up and took the Glasses off.
Though not as large without the magic lenses, his eyes were no less dark and intense.
He reached for his drink that was still on the bar top, and he shot the remaining liquid back. Then very deliberately, he set the empty tumbler down and the Glasses next to it.
"I've changed my mind," he said. "I'm going to let you buy me that drink."
That wasn't at all what she'd expected to hear. "What? Why? What did it say on my forehead?"
His quicksilver eyes glanced at her, taking her in with a single look, before he signaled the barkeep back over. "Two shots of tequila, with lime. Charge the lady."
Realizing he wasn't going to answer her right away, she paid the barkeep, and then looked in confusion at the two shots of tequila in front of them.
"Why did you change your mind?"
He grinned at her—a real grin, one that lit up his face, instead of that infuriating smirk he always seemed to wear. She almost forgot her question.
"I just felt sorry for you," he teased, "that you needed to be snogged so badly you'd approach the first person who seemed like they could manage it. I figured…I could use the drink, and I know there's at least one kiss at the end of it!"
She sputtered indignantly at him. Though she'd been prepared to offer him a drink, she certainly hadn't thought a kiss would be a remote possibility. "Absolutely not."
With a reasonable tone, he pointed out, "If you wanted a good kisser, there's no sense buying me a drink if you aren't planning on giving it a test go, now is there? So, a drink and a kiss. Sounds like fun."
The thought of kissing Draco Malfoy was revolting.
She imagined those stupid, smirking lips of his pressed against hers. That light scent of his cologne tickling her nose. That solid body underneath her fingertips.
She'd never thought about kissing him before, never wondered what it would be like to channel all their sparks and animosity into something more…carnal.
Her stomach tightened in knots.
That—that was revulsion, right?
She blamed her confused, circling thoughts for the way she didn't protest when he grabbed her hand.
He gave her a wink before he pulled her wrist up to his mouth and licked a wide stripe across the inside of it.
All of the thoughts fell right out of her head. She gasped as hot sparks shot all through her.
Draco Malfoy had just licked her. He'd just put his tongue on her body.
And oh god, it was soft and wet and warm, and she must have had too much alcohol already because she suddenly felt flushed from head to toe.
"Wh-what are you doing?" She meant to screech it angrily, but it came out so low and breathy she wasn't even sure he'd hear it.
"I'm having my drink," he said, his shoulders shrugging in nonchalance as he reached for a salt shaker.
She shivered and tried to pull her hand back to safety. Or maybe to raise it up to slap him in the face. Her hand didn't seem to move, though, no matter how much she told it to.
Draco shook the salt over her wrist and then eyed her again. For a second, he waited to see if she'd say no.
And she intended to, she really did.
Whatever they were doing was utterly ridiculous, and she needed to just take the Glasses and go back to her friends.
But she couldn't get herself together in time. And part of her was already leaning forward, eager for the feel of his tongue again, and that liquid sensation that seemed to melt through her.
His lips quirked up the slightest at the edges, as if he knew the dilemma she was facing. Then he brought her wrist up and licked the salt off, his eyes never leaving hers.
The gentle rasping of his tongue on her sensitive skin made her knees want to buckle.
How could he make her feel so desperate and needy so quickly?
She only barely registered him shooting back the tequila and taking a bite of the lime wedge. She was too busy trying to calm the frantic thumping of her heart and the raggedness of her breathing.
With his fingertips, he nudged the second shot towards her. And waited.
For several seconds she stared at it without comprehension. She was obviously supposed to go next.
She had a choice it seemed.
She'd intended to only buy him the drink, say her pleasantries, and return to her table. Not to have conversations, swap tequila shots, and…maybe…even have that kiss.
The extremely vivid memory of his tongue on her wrist, which seemed to keep replaying in her head, made it clear that he would most likely live up to the promise of the Glasses.
So she could take the shot by herself, just drink it down companionably, and leave. She had no doubt he'd let her go. And possibly they'd never even speak of this again.
Or…or she could do it like he did. She could see where this went. See if whatever this was between them that always had them so fired up was worth exploring.
Hermione looked up at him standing there, his gaze intense on hers. He seemed to be holding his breath, waiting and watching her, wondering which way she was going to decide.
She felt her Gryffindor kick in—that exciting recklessness of a leap into the unknown—and knew her mind was made up.
She reached for his hand, pulling it up towards her mouth, noting with some satisfaction the way his eyes seemed to darken as he watched her.
Without thinking about it any further, she quickly licked a stripe up his wrist, trying to ignore the way the taste of clean skin kindled heat in her belly.
Just focus on the next step, she told herself, which was applying the salt.
She made a face as she licked him again and the grains of salt made her salivate.
The tequila shot was not much better, and the face she made when she drank it made Draco laugh.
He handed her the lime wedge, but she shook her head. "It helps," he told her, pushing it towards her again.
She took a bite of it, and he was right, it took the raw edge off. But she still felt a burning in her throat, and a fire that seemed to run down her neck and the back of her shoulders.
There was heat all down her arms, and the way he was looking at her was only making it worse.
Had he ever looked at her that way before? Intense, focused, hungry.
The air between them positively vibrated.
"Round 2?" he asked, and they both knew he was asking about more than just a drink.
She hesitated only briefly before nodding her assent, swallowing hard.
The barkeep delivered their two shots, but Draco made no move to touch them.
He looked her up and down again, his eyes lingering on her bared shoulder.
When he took a step toward her, she reflexively took a step back, overwhelmed by how close he was.
A hand on her waist stopped her from moving any further back, and she looked up to see his pulse hammering in his throat.
The thought that he was just as nervous as she was calmed her the tiniest bit.
But when his other hand came up to lightly trace along her collarbone, she shivered at his touch, her head tilting to the side automatically. Goosebumps broke out all along her arms.
What was he doing?
But then she had the answer to her question, as his mouth came down.
She felt the warmth of his breath first, along the ridge of her neck, where his fingers had been. And then it was the heavy wetness of his tongue, licking along the same path.
She swayed at the sensation, heat shooting straight through her belly, that flame that had been kindled there immediately turning into a roaring fire. The hand at her waist steadied her, and she blinked up at him dazedly.
"Tilt your head again, darling," was all he said, and she did so obediently, remembering he had to put the salt on her neck.
The feeling of exposing her throat to him was somehow heady and high.
"And the lime." He held up the little wedge and placed it just between her teeth, a smile forming on his lips at the finished product.
Then he leaned down again, his tongue working at her neck, and Hermione had to hold back a moan.
With her eyes closed, she missed seeing him take the shot of tequila, but then his mouth took the lime from hers and her eyes shot open.
There was the faintest brush of his lips, just a whisper between them, but her whole body tingled.
When he pulled back, she felt everything inside her of her pull towards him.
She wanted the feel of his lips, his tongue on her, his bare flesh beneath her fingertips.
She may never have thought of it before, but she was thinking about it now. Images were racing through her mind, all of them telling her that without a doubt she wanted a kiss from Draco Malfoy. And probably more. Definitely more. Hopefully a lot more.
She didn't wait for him to nudge the drink towards her again.
She stepped in close to him, pulling the collar of his robe aside to expose smooth, pale skin. She didn't need the salt, she was salivating already.
But it was part of the game, and it was altogether exciting and arousing.
This close, the light scent of his cologne was stronger, and she took a moment to appreciate it before her tongue darted out, lightly dragging along his collarbone.
She heard the faintest hissing sound as his hands closed onto her hips, and she smiled in satisfaction. Barely pulling back far enough to reach the salt, she sprinkled it on, and then eagerly dove back to lick it off.
She didn't miss how his skin had warmed beneath her touch, or the thrumming of his heartbeat under her fingertips.
She'd forgotten the lime, but he hadn't. And she shot back the tequila while she eyed it sitting there in his mouth, his eyes daring her to make more of it than just the one bite.
She was tempted, oh how she was tempted, but she just copied him, her lips barely skimming along his as she took the lime.
They both were breathing hard as they stared at each other.
"I'm almost scared to know what Round 3 looks like," Hermione admitted. The husky quality to her voice surprised her. How had everything changed in just the last few minutes?
"I've changed my mind again," Draco said.
Hermione felt her stomach fall. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not going to kiss you."
The way her face fell at his words was adorable.
"You don't want a kiss," she repeated, as if trying to convince herself.
Hermione was ridiculously transparent. He found that refreshing—a woman who was clear about what she wanted and didn't keep everything hidden in layers of intrigue.
"I want a date," he clarified.
The surprised look on her face confirmed to him that he'd made the right decision. "A date? With me?"
"Well, yes, with you, Granger. Who else did you think I was talking about?"
When he'd first had that wild thought to take her up on her offer of a drink, maybe even a kiss, he hadn't expected that he'd feel such a strong, sharp desire so quickly.
But the taste of her skin, the sound of her breathy sigh in his ears, the way she felt in his arms, that clouded look in her eyes when he ran his tongue across her neck…he wanted more. He wanted everything.
"Like right now?" she asked, her brown eyes clouded with desire.
His belly clenched in answer, because yes, he kind of wanted her right now. He took a step towards her before he could help himself, hazy images of throwing his arm around her waist and Apparating her straight into his bedroom flitting through his mind.
But she was asking about the date, he remembered.
He forced himself to take a deep breath, but only felt his lungs clog with the smell of her hair. Which was a ridiculous thought because there couldn't possibly be enough of that fragrance in the air for him to smell it from this far away. But it had warmed him when he'd had his face right up against her neck, and he couldn't get the scent out of his nostrils.
"I kind of meant another time when you weren't sloshed, Granger. It doesn't have to be now."
She pouted a little, actually pouted. And he got distracted by her bottom lip, and the thought that taking that lime from her mouth had not brought him nearly as close to it as he wanted to be.
"I kind of would like my kiss right now, though." She looked up at him through her eyelashes. "Just to make sure the Glasses were right, of course."
He laughed. "I don't kiss on the first date."
Her eyes narrowed at his laughter. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him for a moment.
He recognized the stance from their arguments at the Ministry. She was about to be difficult.
It was the strangest thing, but where that exact stance had always made his blood boil with frustration, he found that now it just made him want to snog that expression off of her face.
Idly, he wondered if it was a temporary state, or if he was doomed to feel that way every time now. That would certainly make work rather inconvenient. In the sense of it getting in the way of him actually snogging her.
"What if," she started, in what he liked to think of as her Reasoning With Irate Ambassadors tone, "we compromised. We have the kiss now, and the first date tomorrow?"
The hot ball of lust that was still tight in his belly loosened just a little. Something warm—almost like affection, he thought—flooded through him at her persistence.
"Really trying to bargain there, I see. You must want it pretty bad," he joked.
She took a step forward, and now they were standing close enough that he could see the flecks of gold in her irises.
She put a hand on his chest, tentatively, as if she doubted it would be welcome there.
"Actually, Malfoy, I do."
And just like that, the warmth was gone, and it was just that tightening in his abdomen and a searing heat.
He cursed. Then he leaned down and said in her ear, through gritted teeth, "If I kiss you right now, Granger, I won't have to pick you up for that date tomorrow, because you will still be in my bed."
If he thought that would shock her into stepping backwards, he thought wrong. If anything, there was a look of dark excitement in her eyes.
It was hard to remember why he'd said he didn't want to kiss her right now, but there were alarms ringing in his head telling him not to. What was it again?
Oh yes, because he didn't want a one-night stand. He didn't want her to think that she'd made a reckless decision one night when there was too much alcohol and hormones were running high.
He'd decided he was playing a different game, with much higher stakes. And that involved holding out on the kiss that he suddenly wanted more than anything else.
He found himself swaying towards her, and the look in her eyes was the same one she had when she'd won a concession from him.
"Get your coat, Granger," he said, pulling back. He disentangled himself from her vicinity and put a finger to the bridge of his nose. "Don't give me that look. We're going to get dinner and some Sober-Up potions, and that's it. I won't blame anything on Bad Decisions."
She just smiled, and it sent a thrill down his back.
He couldn't help it, he smiled back.
To Ginny's shocked amazement, Hermione actually gathered her things to leave with Draco. She'd tried to protest that she wasn't going to shag him, that they were just going on a date, but Ginny had been watching as they'd shared those body shots, and the tension between the two was white-hot, even from across the room.
If her friend didn't get a good shagging before the night was over, she would be incredibly surprised. And disappointed, if she was being honest.
"I never would have guessed she'd have a thing for Draco Malfoy," Ginny said to Luna, watching the two exit out of the bar. The way Draco's hand hovered just on Hermione's waist spoke volumes, and Ginny smirked to herself. Definitely tonight. She was getting anticipatory shivers just watching the two of them.
"I should have thought of it, though," Ginny continued. "They never could refrain from poking at each other when they're in the same room."
Luna nodded, still scanning the room. It was her turn to wear the Glasses, now that Hermione had returned them. "Now they can poke each other naked," she said sagely.
The offhand remark and the idea of Draco and Hermione sniping at each other even while they were having sex made Ginny laugh. But she quickly sobered up again. "You know, I'm really surprised Hermione didn't insist on looking through the Glasses herself. To confirm what we told her."
"I suspect she was already distracted with thoughts of Draco. The Glasses don't create connections, they just help show them."
Ginny fidgeted with the cocktail napkins on the table. Then she looked up and said, as quietly as the music would allow, "We kind of lied to her, I think."
The Ravenclaw shook her head—slowly so she wouldn't dislodge the Glasses, but decisively. "We made a logical extrapolation based on the data given. It's not at all unreasonable to assume that if one was good at oral sex, that one would be good at kissing, too."
Ginny considered this. "Well, and it's a kind of kissing, I suppose."
They grinned at each other, and Ginny clinked her drink with Luna's before sipping the last of it up through her straw.
"And who's to say," Luna continued, "that wasn't what Hermione meant all along? Considering the way Ron eats and all—"
"Ugh! Okay, no more analyzing." She quickly added, "And we agree not to tell Hermione it didn't exactly say he was a good kisser."
"I doubt Hermione will be complaining."
At that moment, while Ginny was still watching the doors that Hermione and Draco had walked through, they opened again and a familiar face walked in.
She quickly ducked her head, intent on not being spotted, though she knew that was unlikely considering she'd dressed to stand out tonight.
"Ginny," Luna began, "did you see that Ha—"
"Yes, yes," she interrupted. "Did he see me? Do you think he knows I'm here?" She arranged the tall drink containers to stand in front of her, but since they were empty, they did very little to hide her from view.
"I think he knows."
"Is he—is he coming over here?" she asked, chewing on her lip, uncertain about what she wanted the answer to be.
"Yes," Luna said.
Ginny cursed quietly, debating whether she should run off to the loo.
"Before he gets here," Luna said, those magnified blue eyes staring at her, "did you want to know what his forehead says?"
"No!" She thought about it for an extra second. "Actually, yes, what does it say?" Before Luna could respond, she changed her mind, "Never mind, no! I don't want to know."
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Harry drifting closer, slowly making his way around the crowds of people.
"Just tell me," Ginny said, urgency in her voice, "does it say anything about him being adventurous and sensitive, with a good heart, and wanting to see the world?"
"No," Luna answered.
"Oh." It was probably silly for her to feel disappointed. But it could hardly surprise her. They weren't meant to be together.
When Harry was only a few feet away, Luna turned to her. "It says he's still desperately in love with his ex-girlfriend."
Ginny looked at her with misty-eyed shock. The look was still there on her face when Harry came up to their table to tell her she looked fantastic, and to ask her to dance.
As she walked off, a bit dazedly, with her hand in Harry's, Luna reflected on how Ginny hadn't bothered to ask to confirm with the Glasses, either.
That was okay. Luna trusted her extrapolations.
Pleased with herself that she'd got both girls settled, she picked up her things to prepare to go home to her own man. His forehead, like Harry's, just said, "TAKEN."
One Year Later
Hermione was unsurprised that despite being told repeatedly that he was not supposed to enter the dressing rooms before the ceremony, that Draco would manage to find his way in.
She didn't even bother to chastise him as he swooped in for a kiss.
"Not having second thoughts are you?" she teased him.
He clearly didn't think that question deserved an answer.
"I've brought you a present."
She started to protest about how she didn't need any presents, but she stopped when she saw what Draco brought out from behind his back.
"How did you get those from Luna?" She laughed, and reached for the Glasses, sliding them onto her face.
Draco's forehead said 'TAKEN.'
She hadn't really thought he was having second thoughts, but it relieved her to see the evidence, anyway.
"That night at the club," he started, "I had considering leaving my job at the Ministry."
It was clear Draco had something that he wanted to tell her. But Hermione already knew about that part. They'd talked about it at length in the months that followed the passionate start of their society-shocking relationship.
So she just nodded, remembering.
"I was feeling restless, frustrated," Draco continued. "I wanted something more from my life. But everything I looked at, everything I considered, seemed empty and worthless…or else so far out of my reach because of the decisions my family had made."
She frowned. He hadn't told her that before. She opened her mouth to say something, but his look stopped her. He was still talking.
"I was in that club thinking about the future, wondering where mine was going. And then you came up and argued with me."
"I offered to buy you a drink," she corrected, with a smile.
"And I thought about how big of a risk it would be to get involved with the one and only Hermione Granger. Of all the things that were out of reach, that one surely was. How foolish of me it would be to just invite that kind of heartache and trouble in my life. And then I saw you through the Glasses."
Those grey eyes that she loved held a silver glow that she knew was only for her. It melted her heart every time he looked at her that way.
"What did it say?" she asked.
"Look at your ring," he told her, gesturing.
Through Luna's magic Glasses, Hermione looked at her engagement ring, and saw the words 'Worth the Risk' scrawled across the band.
"I saw those words, and I did probably the most Gryffindor thing I have ever done. I let you buy me that drink."
Her heart felt impossibly full as she reached for the hand that would soon be wearing a matching wedding band.
"And?" she prompted.
"And it was the best decision I ever made."
She beamed at him, and he leaned down for another kiss.
At the last second, he pulled back. "Well, the second-best decision. The best one I ever made was to renege on the choice not to kiss on the first date. That was definitely the best decision."
A/N: This story was supposed to be much shorter, but I was so excited to write this idea that had been developing in the back of my mind ever since I saw the music video. The words just ran away with me. Special Thanks to HeartofAspen for her alpha work and for arranging this collection.
S&R: CONSTRUCTIVE REVIEWS WELCOME (CRW), which means I am always open to hearing your thoughts on my work