Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all its associated characters belong to J. and Warner Brothers. I am not writing this for profit, and the characters are being used without permission.

The Bet

"So, when's the wedding?"

Harry choked on his butterbeer. "What wedding?"

Ron grinned at his best friend. "Yours of course. I just want to know so I can get started on my Best Man speech. Unless you're thinking of asking Malfoy."

"To marry me?" Harry was, apparently, still a few leaps behind Ron on this one.

"No, you git. To be your Best Man. It's Ginny you're marrying."

"Um, excuse me for asking, but why am I marrying your sister?"

"Well, you kissed her, didn't you? And not just any kiss. A real kiss."

Harry groaned and downed another gulp of beer. "Don't remind me. Why do you think I'm drowning myself in butterbeer?"

Ron's countenance immediately changed. "You're not insulting my sister, are you?" he growled. "And Harry, I advise you to think before you answer me."

Harry just waved a hand at him. "No, no. I think it's me who's lacking."

Ron's face stopped its attempt at transfiguring itself into an angry tomato. "Huh?"

Harry sighed. "Well, you see..."

Harry softly placed his lips over Ginny's and closed his eyes. Her lips were warm, and he could feel the curve of her smile. A few seconds later, as he pulled away, Ginny gave an inelegant snort. Puzzled, he looked down at her.

"What's wrong Ginny? Are you ok?"

Ginny shook her head. "I'm alright." Harry realized, with a start, that she was giggling uncontrollably. She held up a hand when he opened his mouth to ask her what she found so funny. "Just give me a second."

After a short wait, she looked up at him and smiled. "Harry, can I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"May I kiss you?"

Harry frowned. "I thought that's what we just did."

Again, Ginny shook her head. Without another word, she grabbed Harry's face in her hands and pulled him down.

Harry almost cried out in shock when he felt her tongue enter his mouth. Some part of him observed, with clinical interest, how her tongue probed around. It paused for a moment, gently touching his palate and then seemed to come to some conclusion. Withdrawing from his still open mouth, it returned to Ginny's and she stepped back.

A faint look of amusement crossed her face as she licked her lips. "Harry," she said, "I don't think it's going to work out, you and me."

If Harry's mouth hadn't already been open, his jaw would have dropped to the ground and drilled a hole.


"You see, a girl, when she kisses a guy for the first time, is looking or some sort of sign. You know. Fireworks or something. When I kissed you, I can't even say there were any firecrackers. Sparks? Maybe. If you turned out all the lights and sealed the windows and doors. But fireworks? Nope."


She sighed. "You're just not the one Harry. I'm sorry."

Harry finished his story only to find Ron clutching his stomach and laughing uproariously. "Well," Harry growled, "I'm so glad I could be of some service, even if it was just to provide amusement."

"Harry," Ron gasped, trying to regain control of his voice, "Sorry old chum, but that's not what I imagined your first kiss to be like."

"Oh, sod off. Let me drown my humiliation in peace."

Ron, still shaking with the occasional laugh, just patted Harry's back and ordered another round.

"You know, it's not the fact that Ginny doesn't want me that bothers me." Harry gazed despondently into his mug. "It's the fact that she could stand there, smack her lips, and analyze the kiss!"

"Yup. I know what you mean. All guys secretly want to sweep his girl off her feet, right? Kiss her till she forgets her name."

"Yeah. But I kissed her till she forgot my name."

"Hi guys!" a cheerful voice greeted from behind Harry. "What's wrong with Harry?"

"Hey, Hermione! You're a girl! You can help him get out of his slump."

"Slump?" Hermione raised an eyebrow and slid into the seat next to Harry. "What happened?"

Ron quickly filled her in, trying to keep a serious tone. "And that," he finished, "is why we need a girl to help him. Tell him he's not a bad kisser."

Hermione turned incredulous eyes towards Ron. "How can I tell him that? I've never kissed him. He'll know I'm just saying it."

"He just needs to hear the words."

"Then why don't you tell him?"

"Are you daft? He doesn't want to hear that from a guy!"

Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes. Patting Harry on the shoulder, she leaned down and peered at him from the side.

"Harry, don't look so down. You're —"

"Don't say it," he interrupted, his face pillowed in his arms. "I don't want you to lie about it just to make me feel better."

"Who says I was going to say it?" Hermione asked, sharply. "For your information, I was just about to say 'You're just not Ginny's Mr. Right'. Does that sound like 'Harry, you're a great kisser' to you?"

Harry blinked and raised his head, only to find Hermione smiling at him. "Now," she said, "Let's drink some butterbeer and then head home. We still have that Transfigurations essay to finish."

Ron laughed and slapped Harry on the back. "That's our Hermione."

Harry smiled. "Thanks guys."

Later that evening, the Trio sat in the Gryffindor common room, working on their essays.

"Argh!" Ron suddenly yelled. "I can't take this anymore! I'll finish this tomorrow. I'm going to bed. Coming Harry?" he asked as he packed up his things.

Harry looked up from his parchment, chewing on the end of his quill. "Hmm? Oh, I'll be up later. I think I'll finish this paragraph first."

"Suit yourself. 'Night Hermione."

Hermione waved her hand in answer, and then continued writing.

Half an hour later, Hermione raised her head after finishing her essay. "Harry? Why are you still here?"

Indeed, Harry was still seated next to her, chewing on his quill.

"It's this part," he said. "I can't make a good transition. Nothing sounds right."

"Hmm. Let me take a look." Standing up, Hermione moved to his chair and peered over his shoulder. "I see. I think the problem is you ended with a slightly ambiguous sentence. If you instead said this and..." She reached out and took his quill, scratching out words and replacing them.

After a few moments, she noticed that Harry wasn't saying anything.

"Harry?" She looked at him and, suddenly, all her words were lost.

Harry wasn't paying any attention to her work on his essay. Instead, he was looking up at her with a gentle smile on his face and a softness in his eyes.

"Knut for your thoughts," she said, breaking the small silence that had fallen over them.

"I was just thinking 'What would I have done without Hermione and Ron', if you must know." His smile broadened. "I definitely wouldn't be getting the marks I am now."

Hermione felt a slight twinge of disappointment. She didn't know why, but what Harry had said wasn't what she'd wanted to hear.

With a sigh, she moved to sit in the chair next to Harry. "So, do you want to talk about Ginny? It must hurt to have the girl you like say that you're not the one."

Harry shook his head. "Ginny's not the girl I like. I mean, she's a girl I like, but not the girl, you know?"

"I don't think I understand, Harry."

"Well, it's like this." He paused to gather his thoughts. "You see, Ginny's a great girl. She's fun to be with and I get along with her just fine. So I thought, you know how she's liked me since second year? Well, why not give it a go. See how things turn out. They always say it's best if you're friends first, so it seemed like a good idea." He trailed off, eyes downcast.

Hermione stared at the ceiling, contemplatively. "But something seemed off," she said, softly. "It turned out that all your dates were with your friends. You went around with Ron and me, while Ginny came along. Ginny went to Hogsmeade with her friends while you tagged along. Nothing changed from when you were 'just friends'. You didn't hold hands. You didn't sit close to each other. When you kissed, it was friendly instead of passionate."

Harry stared at Hermione in shock. "How'd you know? That's exactly what happened."

She shrugged. "It was the same with Ron and me. That's why we cut it off at the end of fifth year. It just didn't have that spark. And whenever we were alone, one of us would start talking about you. It just didn't seem like there was an 'us'."

Harry nodded. "Yeah. Ginny and I never really did anything with just the two of us. In fact, I had more heart-to-hearts with you than her." He glanced around the common room. "Heck, I have more late night heart-to-hearts with you than anyone!"

Hermione laughed. "I guess you just had a different type of friendship with Ginny than with me."

"I have to say, you'd make a smashing girlfriend, Hermione. Whoever you hook up with will be the luckiest guy alive." Harry grinned at her, his face open and honest.

She laughed again. "And the girl you finally decide on will be, easily, the luckiest girl in the world." As Harry's grin widened, she couldn't help but add, "Once you learn how to properly kiss, that is."

His self-satisfied smirk fell and he blushed at the reminder of his embarrassment, but his eyes still twinkled merrily. "Well, Miss Granger. How would you know if I can kiss properly or not?"

Hermione flipped her hair in mock irritation. "I'll have you know, Mr. Potter, that I have had some experience in kissing. I have dated a few boys in the last two years, you know."

"Ah, but the question is, could they kiss you well. I bet I could do better than any of the boys you've dated!"

Hermione's eyes widened and Harry clapped a hand over his mouth. There was a moment of shocked silence.

It was Hermione who first found her voice back. "I bet you can't," she said, quietly.

Harry blinked at her.

"I bet," she continued in a stronger voice, "that you won't be able to kiss me as well as those other boys did. I bet you can't kiss me senseless."

Harry's face broke into a slow smile. "And what's the wager?"

Hermione tapped her chin with a finger, thinking. "If you win, I'll tutor you in any subject you want."

"And if you win, I'll help you with any research you need for a week. I'll even drag Ron along."

Hermione giggled. "Good luck! You'll sooner kiss Peeves than get Ron to help with actual school work!"

The two friends shared a laugh, and then fell into a nervous silence.

Again, Hermione spoke first. "Well, I guess I'd better get going." She hurriedly stood up and packed her books, acutely aware of Harry's appraising gaze.

Picking up her books, she turned around, only to be stopped by his voice.

"Where are you going, Hermione?"

She swallowed dryly and answered, "To bed. We have Potions first thing and then Arithmancy. I want to be alert, or else Snape will take more points from Gryffindor and we won't win the House Cup and everyone will hate me for making us lose and —" She realized she was babbling and cut herself off.

Harry had stood up and was now standing in front of her. Gently taking the stack of books from her, he placed them on the table and smiled.

"Hermione, I warn you. You'll forfeit our bet if you leave."

"I will? I mean, what bet?" Hermione flushed at how flustered she sounded.

Harry's answering grin could only be described as devilish. He drew closer, until the only thing Hermione could focus on were his brilliant green eyes. She noticed, as her pulse accelerated, that they flickered with shadows from the common room fire. This made him look slightly predatorial, and she couldn't help but breathe a little deeper.

"Maybe," he said, his voice low and his breath brushing across her lips, "this will remind you."

As he covered her lips with his, Hermione could feel him smile, and then her mind was deluged with sensations.

Of smooth silk, as his lips moved gently over hers.

Of soft flutters of butterfly wings, as his eyelashes brushed across her own.

Of a humid breeze, as his exhaled breath traveled over her cheek and into her hair.

Of moist heat, as his tongue nudged against her lips.

Of electric surprise, as she let him in.

And then, she knew no more as she pulled him closer.

Harry, feeling Hermione lean forward, placed his hands on her hips to steady her. For her part, Hermione quickly slipped her arms over his shoulders, tangling her fingers in his hair.

As he was drawn in, Harry angled his head to cover more of her mouth. He felt, more than heard, her groan of approval as it reverberated across their tongues.

In answer, he pressed his hands up, placing pressure on the small of her back until their bodies were flush against each other.

Again, she murmured into his mouth and, wanting a taste of her voice, he disengaged from her tongue and pulled his head back, dipping it to kiss her chin.

She offered no protest and tilted her head back, letting him press kisses down the line of her throat. Pausing at her larynx, he gave it a small lick with his tongue and then worked his way back up, this time continuing up her jaw.

Hermione jumped when he bit her earlobe, and then groaned in pleasure as he nudged behind it with his nose.

Noting her reaction, Harry kissed the spot, softly laving it with his tongue and applying a slight suction.

He almost lost his balance as Hermione's knees buckled. Recovering quickly, he wrapped an arm around her torso and leaned her against the table, only to be surprised once again when one of her legs wrapped around his, pulling him even closer. He had no choice but to place one hand on the tabletop and hope he didn't crush Hermione.

Covering her open mouth with his, he continued to kiss and suck at her lips, quickly losing himself in the pulses of pleasurable fire flowing through his body. He realized that he liked the sensation of Hermione's fingers running through his hair, but he enjoyed having her fingers slip themselves under his shirt even more.

This realization caused him to stop and pull away, breathing heavily. As he leaned his forehead against Hermione's and gulped in breaths of air, he took stock of the situation.

Hermione's hand had stopped pulling his shirt up, merely resting under it, against his chest. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was open slightly as she, too, panted for breath. Her lips were red and slightly swollen, glistening wetly in the firelight. She was almost sitting on the table, her hair falling backwards in waves. She looks like a goddess, Harry thought to himself. A very kissable goddess.

Hermione's eyes slowly opened and she gazed up at him in astonishment. "What, in Merlin's name, was that, Harry?"

He felt his lips curve into a slow smile. The glaze was fading from her eyes, but there was no mistaking that it had been there.

"That," he said, as she straightened up self-consciously, "was me winning our bet."

His mention of the bet was like thrusting a birthday candle under a waterfall. Hermione's dreamy smile disappeared and her hand promptly slid out from under his shirt.

"Oh, yes. The bet. Well..." She cleared her throat. "I guess you win. What subject do you want me to tutor you in?"

Although she didn't physically move, Harry still felt as if she was walking away. Maybe, he though, she doesn't feel the same way. Maybe it was only hormones and I stopped us from making a terrible mistake.

But Hermione's leg was still next to his, and she had, unconsciously, started to rub her foot up and down his calf as she tried to control her emotions.

He decided to take a chance.

"Um..." She looked up at his hesitant tone. "I'd like you to tutor me in..." He paused, gathering his courage. "I'd like you to tutor me in kissing."

"What?" She blurted out, eyes wide.

"Well, you see, I don't think I have it down. There's the bit with the tongue. I don't think I got it right."

"What...what do you suppose is wrong?"

"I...er...don't think I'm supposed to lick your ear."

Hermione shivered in remembrance. "Oh, I think you're okay with that one. Would you...would you like to practice? They say practice makes perfect."

Harry moved his head closer. "Really?"

She nodded, closing her eyes in anticipation as their breaths mingled. "Really."

A few minutes later, a breathless voice whispered, "You know, you didn't really win the bet. You were supposed to kiss me senseless. In fact, I'd say that while you were kissing me, I was in a state of heightened sensitivity, so —"

The voice was abruptly cut off.

Even more minutes later, another breathless voice asked, "Does that mean I really do have to help you with your research?"

There was a pause, then a choked laugh. "Just shut up and kiss me."

The End