"What have you gotten yourself into this time, Granger?"
The words were spoken from behind her. Hermione tried to turn around to look at the boy she knew must be smirking just from the tone of his voice but she could barely see over her shoulder. The string of lights tightened around her wrists and she cringed as the plastic cord rubbed against her skin. "Can you please help me instead of just standing there, Diggory?"
"Oh, I don't know," he drawled as he stepped around her and grinned. "You look rather cute like that."
Her cheeks turned red and she chewed on her bottom lip as she looked at his feet. "I really wish you'd stop teasing me and help me get free. If you're just going to stand there and have a laugh at my expense, I'd rather be alone."
"I'm not laughing, Granger," he pointed out, "though I am teasing you. It's just far too easy and your cheeks always turn such a lovely shade of pink. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun if they didn't, you know?"
She looked up then and gasped when she found him standing far too close. "Diggory, are you going to get these bloody lights off of me or not?"
"Call me Cedric," he told her with an easy grin. "And I don't know if I am or not. It's not every day a bloke has Hermione Granger completely at his mercy, you know? You never did tell me how you got into this mess anyway. Tell me that and I might consider helping you."
"I was trying to hang lights, obviously," she said in her snottiest 'you're a complete idiot' tone. "I wasn't aware that wizarding lights were different from Muggle lights because they looked the same and, well, it appeared they weren't too happy about being handled roughly without being asked to hang themselves."
"Ah, I think I understand now." He ran his finger along her arm, his gaze never leaving her face as he tugged at the strand of lights. "They decided to give me a Christmas gift early. I always knew these lights liked me. I've hung them for the past few years, you know?" He lowered his head and brushed his lips against her ear as he confided, "I think they rather fancy me."
Hermione's mouth felt suddenly dry as Cedric's lips touched her ear. She was so embarrassed and felt like a silly child who couldn't even defend herself against strands of Christmas lights. Of all the people who had to find her like this, it had to be the handsome Hufflepuff. At least it hadn't been a Slytherin or, even worse, the twins.
Cedric chuckled and stepped back, giving her a friendly smile even as his gaze looked down at her lips. She shifted in place and decided she'd imagined him looking at her lips. No boy, especially not one as charming as Cedric, would ever give her that sort of look. Well, she had caught Viktor looking but she dismissed it as fanciful notions instead of a desire to actually kiss her.
"Yes, well, I don't really see what their fancying you has to do with me. If you'd be so kind as to free me from their very unwanted embrace, I'll leave you to them," she managed to say firmly.
"Granger, I'm appalled at your utter lack of concern for these poor lights," he announced in a dramatic voice that would have made her smile if it had not been directed towards her. "You can defend the interests of House Elves, who neither want nor need your assistance in most cases, yet you have no compassion for these poor lights that are ignored, ignored! for eleven months of the year. They're wrapped up and put away in dark boxes that I daresay are very lonely and cold to remain there until callous creatures remove them because they want a bit of pretty during the holidays."
Hermione tried to glare at him. She tried to ignore the way his dark hair fell across his forehead and fringe that was far too long brushed against his eyelashes. She tried to remain stoic and no-nonsense to show that she could not be charmed by a pretty face and intelligent mind. Unfortunately, she rather failed. Her lips twitched and she bit the inside of her bottom lip to keep it from twisting into an amused smile. She started to laugh, shaking her head as she listened to his laugh join hers. "You're impossible!" she declared between laughs.
"You should do that more often," he said as he stopped laughing and smiled.
"What? Get tied up by Christmas lights?" she asked with a snort.
"Laugh." His words were soft and she didn't have time to do anything before his lips brushed across hers.
The kiss started off gentle. It was almost shy, a brushing of lips, not at all what she'd imagined for her first kiss and certainly not anyone she'd have ever imagined wanting a kiss. His fingers were warm and slightly calloused as they moved along her cheek and jaw before his lips pressed more firmly. Hermione had no idea what to do and simply went with the confusing emotions she currently felt.
Her eyes fluttered shut and she pressed closer to his solid body. Her fingernails dug into her palms as the strands of lights pulled on her wrists and arms. His tongue lightly touched her mouth, a gentle lick as his hand moved from her face to tangle his fingers in her hair. He pulled her head back and she felt his other hand on her back. She felt heat spread over her as his hand drifted down her back and soon rested on the curve of her arse.
She parted her lips and whimpered as his tongue slid past her teeth and teased her own. It was wet, warm, and she wanted more. She pushed her tongue forward, tentative and uncertain, curling it around his as she rubbed her body against him. There was a tingle in her tummy and she whined when he pulled his head back and released her mouth.
"Oh God," he whispered as he let go of her hair but kept his hand on her bum. "I shouldn't have--I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" she repeated dumbly. He'd not wanted to kiss her. Her face flushed with fresh embarrassment at that realization.
"Stop it," he scolded as he raised her chin and stared at her. "I meant that I was sorry for not asking first, not that I kissed you. I've rather wanted to do that since the Quidditch Cup when you got so bossy with Potter and Weasley. You look rather smashing when you're in a temper."
He grinned. "Well, well. All it takes is a bloody amazing kiss to make Hermione Granger speechless? I think I'll keep that bit of news to myself," he said as he touched her cheek. "Don't want every bloke around using the same technique when you go on a tangent about S.P.E.W. after all, do I?"
"It's fortunate you're not in Slytherin," she decided as she attempted to recover from his admission. "Otherwise, you'd use the information to force me to start C.L.A.A.S., the Christmas Light Appreciation and Admiration Society."
Cedric looked at her a moment and laughed. "God, Granger, you're adorable," he declared before he leaned forward and kissed her again, natural as you like, as if the event of kissing her happened regularly.
When he raised his head, he rubbed his nose against hers and sighed softly. She felt the tug of the lights and cleared her throat. "Please, call me Hermione, Cedric," she said softly. "Do you think you could release me from these lights now? While I rather enjoy kissing you, the plastic is a bit rough on my wrists."
"Huh?" His eyes widened and he stepped back. "Sorry," he said with a sheepish smile as he removed his wand from his pocket and released the lights. He took her hands when she finally had her arms free and rubbed his thumbs over the marks on her wrists. "Bloody hell. They left marks."
"It's fine," she told him as she stretched her fingers to get a bit of the feeling back into them. "It's not your fault."
"Uh, well, actually." He grinned but she noticed that his cheeks flushed as he said, "I overheard McGonagall say that you'd volunteered to put up the lights in here and IcharmedthemsoIcoulduhsaveyou."
"Could you repeat that a little slower please?" she asked as she arched her brow, trying her best to conceal her surprise. Of course, that certainly made more sense than living lights but in the wizarding world you never really knew.
"I've always excelled at Charms, you know," he told her before he leaned down a brushed a kiss on each wrist. "Stupid, wasn't it? You're an intimidating girl, though, Granger, and I just felt a bit lost on how to approach you."
"So you tied me up with Christmas lights and proceeded to kiss me?" This time, she was the one somewhat amused and she laughed softly when he looked up at her and grinned.
"Well, yeah," he said with a grin and a shrug. "Worked, didn't it?"
"I don't know about that," Hermione said thoughtfully as she pulled her hands back and retrieved her wand. A few hastily spoken words and Cedric was tied up with the Christmas lights.
"I'm very good at Charms, too, Cedric," she told him matter-of-factly. She put her wand in her pocket and smiled as she stepped closer. "I think that it's going to take another kiss or two before I decide if your evil scheme and misuse of the poor defenseless Christmas lights actually worked."
"Oh really?" he asked in a low drawl as he licked his lips.
"Yes, really. You see, I believe in very thorough research," she whispered as she leaned up and brushed her lips against his.