Chapter one:
"Telling for the First Time"

Hermione hurried through the crowded streets of London, her waist-long cinnamon curls billowing behind her. As usual, she had lost track of time behind a pile of books in the National Wizarding Library, but nothing could keep her from getting to meet Harry and Ron.

The chilly air of November cut into her cheeks, and she pushed closer the shawl she was wearing over the long coat. It had been a present from Harry for her twenty third birthday. After graduating from Hogwarts, and now Voldemort was no longer a threat, they had decided to meet at The Leaky Cauldron once every month, where they would chat and drink till late. Since they had followed different paths, there were rare opportunities for them all to be together and keep up with their friendship.

The old tavern doors creaked as Hermione pushed them open, the warmth of the rusty pub surrounded her. She directed to their usual table, only to find a dark haired boy already there.

Those last years were quite hard for Harry. He was no more The Boy Who Lived, but as the Daily Prophet had renamed him, The Man Who Defeated the Dark Lord. This, to Harry's opinion, was much, much worse. Defeating Voldemort was the hardest thing he had dealt with, but after that he expected his life to be easy and peaceful. Much to his disturbance, his popularity had grown to unexpected rates. Being under the public eye constantly had made of the young man quite a reserved character, and he had very little friends apart from Ron and Hermione. He had not yet learnt how to cope with the standards people had set on him. Devoted to the Auror work he had at the Ministry, more than once he was urged to go into politics, but he never felt comfortable with the idea.

"Mr Potter, Mr Potter, can you sign my picture of the Coolest Wizard Alive?" said Hermione mockingly, handing Harry a copy of The Wizard, a prestigious magazine which had recently elected him as 'The Wizard of the Year.'

"That's not funny, Hermione," frowned Harry. "Thanks to this stupid award I have half of the wizarding press stalking me again!"

"I know Harry, I was just teasing you a bit." She approached her friend and hugged him. "It's been an awful lot of time," she sighed, still hugging him. "Has Ron arrived?"

"Not yet. He owled me this afternoon, he'll be coming later. He had to take Sam and Erik to the Burrow." He motioned Hermione to sit facing him and gave her a mischievous smile. "Luna hasn't come back yet from Romania, you know, and I wonder how he managed to survive with those children of his."

"Uhg, poor Ron," Hermione said sympathetically. "I bet he never imagined he'd live to become the father of a smaller version of Fred and George. Believe me, those twins are..."

"Yeah, I know." With a swift movement he pulled up his sleeve, revealing a red mark that resembled very much the outline of a child's teeth. "I had the pleasure to meet them."

"I see," she smiled back at him. "So, how are you? How's work at the ministry?"

"You know, fighting evil in every corner, getting the girl and all that hero stuff."

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Now, actually, the most dangerous thing I've done this week was to eat a pumpkin pasty out of date," he shuddered. "And how's your comittee?"

"Uhm, we're working very hard, you know."

"Form what I heard inside the Ministry, you're giving Fudge a hard time. It seems he cannot do anything without the permission of the Y.M.C.A." Harry mocked the movements of the acronym in the air as if he was dancing a Village People song, to Hermione's annoyance.

"I told you it's not Y.M.C.A., but W.M.C.A." Hermione was very sensitive about her work, and hated people to make fun of it. "Welfare for all Magical Creatures Association. And yes, our pressure against segregating measures is taking an effect inside the Misnistry, and if we keep this way," she said, with a triumphant gleam in the eye, "we'll also manage to gain some representation in the Wizengamot."

"And next, take over the world! Ron is right, sometimes you are scary." Hermione punched him on the arm playfully.

"Anyway, we love you the same," a deep voice intruded their conversation. A very tall boy in his early twenties stood next to the table, a wide grin spread on his freckled face, his hair flaming red.

"Ron!" Hermione and Harry exclaimed in unison.

"How are you? How's Luna and the twins? It's been ages since I last saw you. Ginny told me you were moving to a new house, did she told you I had lunch with her last week?"

Ron took a seat next to Harry and held up a hand for Hermione to stop her bombardment of questions. He was glad to be part of the trio again. Due to his job as Keeper for the Chudley Cannons, he spent most of the year travelling all over the world. These meetings at the Leaky Cauldron, apart from gathering the friends, were also a bit of an escape and relaxing to him. Now he had some holiday till the end of December, and all he wanted was to be with his wife and children and share some time with Harry and Hermione.

"I've missed you too, 'Mione." He directed Harry a knowing glance. "Well, now to your first question, I'm fine, but a bit tired. Luna's perfectly fine, and the twins, you know, they take after their uncles. Yes, I saw Ginny and she told me you had met. And yes, I'm finished moving and I hope you both come to pay a visit shortly. Did I miss anything?"

Hermione reached for the hands of her two best friends and grinned broadly. "I've missed you too."

Three butterbeers, two bottles of wine and four or five firewhiskey later, the trio sat at the same table chatting animatedly. Harry was telling them the story of a witch he had met once on the Knight Bus on his way to London.

"So she kept going on how really interesting were the new seats designed for the new Knight Bus, and I was really having a bad time trying to make her notice her mistake. But she kept on rambling about the design of the seats, taking hold of the chair of a woman sat next to us. She held on to it, admiring its sophisticated line." Harry was choking on his wine with laughter.

"Then, I finally had to say something, because she was really embarrasing herself, and mouthed 'it IS a WEELCHAIR' while at the same time I pointed at the seat she was taking hold of."

"No!" cried Hermione. "She must have noticed."

"Never, and that was the funny part. She seemed as if she wanted the earth to part and eat her up. She was the most obtuse witch I've ever met, really. Thank Merlin the handicapped woman was fast sleep at the time."

The three friends laughed heartlily at Harry's story. Ron called up the waiter and ordered more drinks.

"Oops, Ron, I don't think I should drink anything more." Hermione already felt a bit typsy. "One more drink and I will be telling you my darkest secrets," she laughed.

"Oh, don't spoil the fun, 'Mione. That is exactly what I hoped for." He arched his brows suggestively. Turning to Harry, he asked, "Speaking of dark secrets... how's the love life of the Wizard of the Year?"

"Ron, you too! Besides, what love life? I can't even remember the last time I went on a date!"

"I thought you were dating that brunette from the Mysteries department."

"Sandy," Harry furrowed his brows in false deep thinking, "or was it Sally? Anyway, she was not my type."

"What about Cho? You've been in and out of of it for a long time."

Harry's face changed and his smile faded. "Yeah, well, ours is a love-hate relationship. I don't think we're... uhm, compatible. Great times are great, but bad ones are just... worse."

"I'm sorry Harry, I didn't know." Hermione touched his arm.

"Oh, it's all right. I just sometimes miss her," he smiled weakly. "She's an amazing kisser, you know. The kind of kiss that could brighten up your day."

"Yeah," Ron continued, "those are the real ones, those you never forget." Both Harry and Hermione assented at this statement.

Ron eyed her curiously. "You can't be possibly talking about Neville?"

"Oh, please shut up!" She threw some peanuts at Ron and blushed. "Of course I won't forget that, it was the most embarrasing moment of all my life!"

"It was, what, three yeas ago, during that New Year's Eve party at Lupin's. Neville finally held all the courage he was capable of..."

"He was drunk, Ron, drunk."

"Yeah, whatever. So he gripped you by the waist and in a jiffy his mouth was all over you. You were so shocked," he laughed, "I thought you'd have collapsed if he hadn't faint..."

Hermione was turning crimson now. "He was really sorry afterwards, you know. Neville is such a nice guy, but I could never see him like that. I only wish he had expressed his feelings in any other way. Honestly!"

They all laughed at Hermione's expression.

"Uhm, if there's a kiss I'll never forget, that's the one Fleur Delacour gave me during the Triwizarding Tournament," said Ron dreamily.

"Ron, you're a married man!" Hermions reprimanded him.

"I didn't say it was the best, but one I'll never forget. If you ask me, the best, real one kiss was Luna's, when I proposed... and you know the rest."

"Now, 'Mione, what about you? I was just joking about Neville, you know."

"Uh-hum, I'm not telling you."

"But we have already told you, it's only fair."

"Who was it?"

Hermione shied away. "I'm going to order some more drinks."

"Oh, no, you are not going anywhere. Spit it out." Harry blocked her way out of the table.

"Okay, but first you have to hear the whole story."

"I'm just willing to," Ron grinned wickedly.

"Without interruptions."


"And then don't go mad at me."

"Why should we get mad at you? Unless you kissed Percy, or any of the twins. You didn't, did you?"

"Oh Ron, just shut up and let her talk."

"Okay, it was during our seventh year at Howarts, one afternoon I was in the library..."

"It figures."

"Ron! You promised."

"I know, I know. I'll remain a tombstone."

"Well, as I said, I was in the library..."

Hermione went past to that very moment during seventh year. She had the memory of that day vividly inscribed in her mind, every detail, every image. Four girls gathered around a table, late in the afternoon. The place was almost deserted and the reddish gleam of the setting sun entered through the tall windows of the library. Madam Pince seemed oblivious to the chattering group ensembled at the farthest corner of the room.

"So what do you think, Hermione?"

"I think that if you don't shut up and start doing your homework, there'll be no Graduation Ceremony to worry about. We'll never get to pass our NEWTS!"

"C'mon, Herms, nobody is going to fail. We've done enough study for today, that's all. We have earned ourselves some relaxation," Lavender pleaded, batting her eyelashes innocently.

Hermione sighed and rested the quill on top of her notes. She was outnumbered by Lavender, Parvati and Parvati's twin, Padma. If you cannot defeat your enemy, you better join them. With a bit of luck, she would have some time to study after dinner.

"So," Lavender looked at her intently, "will you choose chocolate brown or golden caramel robes? Personally, I think chocolate brown brings out your eyes."

"No way! Chocolate brown is a bit too dark and dull for a ball. I think she might wear dark red, a small sexy touch won't do any harm," Padma said. The rest of the girls giggled. Hermione was not specially know for her 'sexy touch'.

"I don't know," Hermione shrugged, "the ball is ages away!"

"Two months is not ages away! Besides, you'll have to hurry up if you want to get a good dress from Madam Malkin's," Parvati warned. "You know, having the rignt dress, the rest is child's play!"

"That's not true Parv," Padma argued. "The most important thing is of course having a date to go with!"

"I'm going with Seamus," Lavender started, going pink. "Not that big of a surprise."

"I guess I'll go either with Harry or Ron," Hermione said plainly. "Not a big surprise either."

"Sorry to blow up your plans, but Ron's going with Luna Lovegood," Padma said. "I heard her talking to some fifth year on Ravenclaw common room just this morning. Apparently, he just asked her yesterday."

Hermione oppened her mouth in shock. Apparently also, Ron had forgot to tell her of his intentions. Nevertheless, she was glad for him, Ron had kept blushing beetroot for some months now everytime he was around Luna. It was only a matter of time.

"Well, then I have only one option, I'll go with Harry," she smiled.

"No, you can't," Parvati blurted. The other girls eyed her curiously.

Parvati went pink and hung his head down. "I mean, Harryaskedmetotheball."

Lavender stared at her open mouthed. "Harry Potter? You never said, you little... Wait, you don't even like him!"

Parvati was now a deep shade of magenta. "Uhm, I... well, he just wanted to have a word with me before we came to the library. Well, he's persuasive, you know," she said defensively.

"Is he?" Hermione raised an eyebrow. "I would have thought he was rather shy."

"Okay, I just... urgh. He looked at me with those incredible green eyes and I could not resist." She buried her flushed face in her hands while the other girls roared with laughter. "I admit it, I might like him... a little bit." Madam Pince looked at them murderously.

"I guess I'll go stag, then," Hermione said, wiping off the tears from laughing.

"There are plenty of available boys still at Howarts, you can't go stag. You musn't go stag," Lavender said, tossing her blonde hair aside.

"You can always owl Viktor Krum," Padma suggested.

"He's playing at Canada. Besides, I don't think his girlfriend would approve."

"Um, Hermione, I have always wanted to ask you something," Padma started. "How is it... I mean, to be kissed by an International Famous Quidditch player?"

"Padma!" Parvati glared at her twin.

"It was fine, I guess."


"Just fine?"

"What?" She looked at the girls. "Is there a rate or anything?"

Lavender looked at her, astonished. "Of course there's a rate! You can have fine, good or excellent kisses," she counted with her fingers.

"Together with brotherly, friendly or passionate love kisses," Parvati continued.

"Don't forget about the opposites," Padma warned. "You can also have disgusting, slugish, stinky kisses, or..."

"Breathtakingly wonderful incredible kisses," the three cooed merrily. Hermione rolled her eyes and started wondering why was she losing her time with three girls with a mental age of three.

"If I had had one of those, I would remember," Hermione finally answered. "But I guess Krum's kisses were... just fine."

The three girls looked extremely disappointed, and Hermione felt as if it was her fault. After all, she had only dated three boys in her whole life. The first was Viktor, a very sweet boy, though his kiss just left her as cold as a fish. Then, she had had one single date with Ron, which turned out to be a complete disaster when he kissed her. It felt like kissing her brother, if she had any. And by no means she was telling this to any of the girls. The last of her dates was Ravenclaw Grant Hathaway. She had a light crush on him and they dated for two months before he left her for Cho Chang's younger sister, Li Chang.

But now she was dating no one, and she preferred to concentrate all her energy in the approaching NEWTS. She made her mind and faced her friends.

"Let's take it this way. If I am ever given one of those incredible breathtaking amazing blasts, you will be the first to know. That is if I survive," she smiled convincingly. "And now, study time!"

"I think I've had enough for today," Parvati said while she raised from her seat, closely followed by Lavender.

"Yeah, me too," Padma gathered her books from the table.

"I still have to look for a book on goblin rebellions, it's incredible all the information that is missing from Binn's explanations!"

"Hermione, love," Padma touched her arm, "you really ought to go out some more." She then turned and followed her sister out of the library.

Hermione tilted her head back and massaged her neck. It was stiff from all the hours spent in the library, bent down over a book. She fiddled with her papers, searching for a small note where she had scribbed the name of the book. The library was now deserted, and Madam Pince was gone to the archive to order some books. It was not the first time she was the last student to abandon the library, only that this time she was not alone.

She walked to the Hisotry of Magic shelf , just one row ahead from where she sat. She'd take the book and head directly to the Gryffindor tower. With a bit of luck she could torment Harry and Ron a bit for not telling her about their dates.

Hermione was so deep in her musings that she almost fell when she walked into someone.

"Ouch! I'm sorry, I thought I was the only one left here." She lifted her head and frowned when she realised with whom she had collided.

"Malfoy." The insufferable git had now grown to be almost a head taller than her and stood there with a book in his hand, his trademark smirk across his face.


"Spying on Gryffindor girls, are you? I thought a Malfoy had better things to do."

"I was spying none of your silly talk."

"Yeah, you just happened to pass by and decided to have a bit of light reading on, what, goblin rebellions?"

"That is exactly what I was doing, any problem with it?"

Hermione snorted at the arrogant git. "No. It's only I didn't know you could read upside-down."

He glared at the betraying book. By no means he could deny it. "Well, I heard a bit of your conversation, so what? What are you going to do?" Malfoy stood arrogantly in front of her. "You know," he looked down at Hermione with a strange glint in the eye, "it was quite... revealing."

Hermione raised her eyebrows. What on earth can he possibly find interesting in some silly girl's talk? And why was Malfoy looking at her like that? She felt uncomfortable under his intense, piercing grey eyes. She wouldn't admit it to anyone, but she was not blind to the fact that he had grown really attractive, and being so near to him made her feel uncomfortable. Noticing the effect he had on her, he ventured to come closer. Hermione started retracting her steps as quietly as she could. He might have refused to follow his Death Eater father's path, but he was still far from being someone in whom she would confide.

"I hope your eavesdropping served you to decide on what color of dress robes you should wear," she snapped and turned to leave, but found her way blocked with his arm. He rested the hand with the book at the other side of Hermione, pinning her to the bookself.

Hermione unsuccessfully struggled to free herself, but he was much too strong for her. She kept looking anywhere but him, her heart pounding hard in her chest.

"Actually, I was wondering if you could help me with a question I have," he wishpered softly into her ear, sending sivers through her spine.

"Then you would let me go?" Her voice was quivering. She wanted to push him away from her, but his proximity made her feel warm. She started to feel annoyed with herself.

"Yes. Then I'll let you go where you want to."

"Okay. What is it?" She looked at him directly in the eye, and felt her resolution falter.

His face was only some inches from hers. "I wanted to know if you could rate this." With that, he closed the gap between them and pressed his lips firmly against her mouth.

For a moment Hermione's eyes flashed open from shock, and she felt Draco's hand tucking at the back of her head, pressing her harder to him. The reasonable part of her mind that did still work told her to push him and run away, but her hands strangely had found their own way and were firmly clinging to his back. So she did the only thing she could, and simply disconnected any reasonable thought, drowning herself into Draco's mouth.

He ventured his tongue further and she opened her mouth, deepening the kiss. His hand moved from the shelf to her waist, the book falling to the floor with a loud thump (not that either of them could hear it). Her head was dizzy, probably from the lack of air, but breathing did not seem so important at the moment. He must have have felt a bit light-headed himself, because he lost ground and tumbled backwards, Hermione still frimly grasped by his side. His back crashed violently with the next bookself, which caused him to end the kiss.

They stared at each other, their breath ragged. Draco's hand was still rested on Hermione's neck. She looked at his flushed face and swollen lips, her full body aching with desire. None of them dared to speak first.

Just then, the library doors creaked open, and Hermione jumped out of Malfoy's arms, waking up from her reverie. She turned to her table and collected her bag. Without turning back, she hurried past Madam Pince, who had just returned from the archive, and left the library.

Once out, she took flight to Gryffindor comon room. When she arrived at the portrait hole, she was breathless and couldn't manage to say the entrance password.

"Are you ok, missy? You look rushed, truth to be told," the Fat Lady asked Hermione.

"Of course I'm not ok," she mumbled to herself, "I've just had the most breathtaking, incredible, most wonderful of the kisses." The Fat Lady looked at her questioningly, but Hermione said the password and entered the common room, straightening up and pretending nothing had happened.

Hermione coughed a bit before looking at her friends. It was the first time she had told someone about this story, and she felt awkwardly embarrased. Just as she expected, Ron was looking at her disbelievingly with his mouth hanging open. Harry's eyes were wide, and he looked stunned. An unconfortable silence passed between the three.

"Uhm, well..." she started.

"I can't believe it," Ron glared at her, "you kissed Malfoy? I mean, he's Malfoy."

"Oh Ron, don't start."

"Fraternising with the enemy!"

Hermione bursted out laughing. "He's not the enemy, you know that. And it was him who kissed me, years, ages ago!"

"I can't believe you never told us," Harry finally managed to say.

"It was nothing. Nothing, all right? I don't know why I bothered to tell you." How had she been so stupid as to believe they would understand? I was just a silly school anecdote, wasn't it?

"You promised not to get mad at me, remember?"

"It's alright, Hermione. We're just, shocked. Isn't it that, Ron?"

"Yeah, bloody scared out my wits," Ron smiled to her.

Harry emptied his glass in one gulp. "You know, I thought Malfoy had stopped insulting you because he feared Ron and me beating him up," he chuckled. He paid the bill to the barman and the three of them exited the pub.

"Sorry if I hurt your heroic ego, Mr. Potter," said Hermione sarcastically.

"Next time there's an evil overlord on the loose, I think we'll send you to tame him into a puppy," Harry said, and they all laughed at the thought of it.

"I can't wait to tease Malfoy with this piece of news at work." Hermione directed him a quizzical look. "He's an Auror now, you know."

"No, in fact I don't. I haven't seen him since Hogwarts graduation." After the 'incident' in the library, Hermione had avoided all contact with the Slytherin till they graduated, and it seemed he had tried to do the same. Even during Potions, in which both houses usually met, they did not look at each other, though Hermione would have swore she saw him looking in her direction when nobody noticed. Then school finished and they followed separated paths. She had thought about that incident many times, but never talked about it till tonight.

"He's been living in France for all these years, specialising in vampire hunting. But now he has come back, just to remind me why I hated him so much." Harry posed a disgusted face. "He hasn't changed a bit. He's the same arrogant insufferable git he's always been."

They walked arm in arm till they reached the Apparation post for the boys to go home.

"I'm not sure you should Apparate with all you've been drinking. You might splinch yourselves if you're not careful. Why don't you take the Knight Bus with me?"

The boys looked at her alarmingly.

"I'd rather splinch myself, you know," Ron smiled. "Come to visit soon." He hugged his friends and Disapparated before them with a loud cracking noise.

"Harry, don't tease Malfoy with this, will you?" Hermione looked at her friend pleadingly.

"I promise nothing," he grinned, and with a swift kiss on her forehead he Disapparated too, leaving Hermione alone in the deserted street.

She pulled her shawl closer and started walking. She shouldn't have told her friends about the kiss with Malfoy, what was she thinking? Now they would tease her endlessly for a simple, tiny, little unimportant peck.

Only that it was not that simple.

Definitely it was neither a tiny peck on the cheek.

Not to mention, it was not that unimportant if she could recall it so vividly after so many years.

Truth to be told, she had never been kissed like that again.

With a deep sigh, she raised her wand hand. The flashing light almost blinded her, and there appeared the Knight Bus to take her home.