The First Date

Hermione was nervous. The last date she'd been on had been the Yule Ball.

She rifled through her closet looking for the perfect outfit. "What am I going to do?" she muttered, burying her face in her hands. "I need Ginny." Her head shot up and she ran downstairs.

She tossed some floo powder into the fire and stuck her head in. "The Burrow!" she cried out. After a brief spinning sensation, her head was in the Burrow. She could hear some of the boys talking, but couldn't see anyone.

"…really nervous," one of them was saying.

"Ginny!" she called out.

Stampeding footsteps could be heard above.

"Hermione?" Ginny said coming into the living room. Then she spotted her friend in the fire. "Hermione! What's going on?"

"I need your help with something, Ginny. Could you ask your mum if you can spend an hour or two with me? You can floo over," Hermione said, looking frazzled.

"Sure, Hermione, I'll be back in a sec."

Hermione heard the murmur of voices coming from the kitchen, then Ginny ran upstairs to grab something, and came back down carrying a bag and saying, "Out of my way, I'm coming through."

Hermione quickly pulled out of the flames, and climbed to her feet. A moment later, the flames turned green and a slender red-head stepped through.

"Let me guess," Ginny said smiling, "You need help getting ready for your date with Charlie."

"Yes!" Hermione said. "How did you know?"

"Hermione, I'm the only girl in the family. When the boys need advice on girls they will not go to my mother, so that leaves me as their only option. Charlie was asking for advice earlier today."

"Oh," Hermione said, then grabbed her best female friend's arm and began to drag her upstairs. "I have no idea what to wear!"

"No problem, just show me to your closet," Ginny said, amused.

Hermione threw open the doors to her walk-in closet and Ginny began to browse.

"No, no, no…" the red-haired girl muttered. "Ahah!" she said at last. She was in the very back of the closet. She came out holding a dress that Hermione had never worn before.

"Oh, no…I can't wear that," Hermione said shaking her head.

"Why not?" Ginny said in exasperation.

"I-I just can't," she said, her eyes wide.

"Why…because it's bright red, and probably very clingy?"

Hermione nodded her head.

"Too bad. You're wearing it." Ginny laid the dress down on Hermione's bed.

"B-but," Hermione tried to protest, but Ginny wasn't listening.

Ginny grabbed her friend's arm and pushed her into the chair in front of her vanity.

She rifled through her bag and pulled out a bottle of something. She dumped half of it onto Hermione's head and began to comb it through.

An hour later, Hermione's hair had been pulled back from her face and off of her neck; the back of her head was a mass of silky curls.

Ginny then spun her friends chair away from the mirror, and began pulling lots of makeup out of her bag.

Thirty minutes after that she helped Hermione put on her dress. After all, she didn't want an hour and a half's worth of work to be wasted because of smudged makeup or hair pulled askew.

When Hermione was finally ready, Ginny hugged her one last time and flooed home. She had only just stepped out of the fireplace when Charlie attacked her…figuratively speaking, of course.

"Which tie should I wear? This or this?" he said indicating the ties in each hand. "And should I wear my suit jacket?"

Ginny looked at the ties, and said, "No tie. Wear your black tee under your blue button down shirt, and leave the top two buttons undone. Wear your charcoal suit, and yes to the jacket."

"Thanks, Gin," he said and smacked a kiss onto her cheek before running upstairs faster than Malfoy running from Mad-Eye Moody.

A half hour later, he knocked on the front door of a rather large house in a pleasant neighborhood just outside London.

Richard answered the door. "Charlie," he said. The two men shook hands.

"Mr. Granger," he replied.

Richard stepped back from the door. "Come in. She'll be down in a minute."

"Charlie, it's good to see you again," Jane greeted as she entered the front hall. She hugged him and led him into the living room.

"You as well, Mrs. Granger."

"Why don't you have a seat while I go tell Hermione that you're here," she said, beaming up at him.

She went upstairs, leaving the two men alone together, sitting in an uncomfortable silence.

About three minutes later, the women came downstairs. Both men stood up and watched as, first Jane then Hermione came around the corner and into sight.

Charlie barely held in a gasp of shock. Hermione had looked grown up in the photos from the Yule Ball two years before, but she was now, unmistakably, a woman.

She wore a small red dress that fell in soft pleats to just above her knees, and she wore matching red heels. The bodice was tight fitting and clearly outlined her figure. It was off the shoulder, but had elbow length sleeves and a not-too-low-but-low-enough neckline.

"You look gorgeous," he breathed.

"Thank you," she said, blushing.

Charlie's cheeks turned pink. "Are you ready? Our reservation is for a half hour from now."

"I'm ready," she said. She led him into the hall where she got her coat from the closet.

Charlie took it from her and helped her into it. The two left the house as Hermione began asking about Oscar and Mick.

The entered a side alley not far from her home, and Charlie apparated them to an alley just down from the Leaky Cauldron.

The pair took a taxi to a French restaurant in Soho that Fleur had apparently recommended to Charlie.

"I remember you telling me two years ago that you enjoyed French food," he explained, turning a little pink.

Hermione smiled cheerfully up at him. "Thank you," she whispered, kissing him on the cheek.

The spent three hours talking, eating, and even dancing. Charlie surprised Hermione by being an incredibly graceful dancer. Although she supposed, that a clumsy dragon keeper was probably a dead one.

They arrived back in her neighborhood around eleven o'clock and took their time walking from the alley to her house.

"Tonight was just perfect, Charlie," Hermione said in a soft tone. "Thank you for a wonderful evening."

Charlie smiled. "Well, I had a wonderful time too…My family is having a New Year's party," he said, changing the subject suddenly. "I was wondering if you would consent to be my date for it." They had arrived at her house now.

"I'd love to be your date," she said.

"Great!" he said, grinning broadly.

Their eyes met. He pulled her close, and began to slowly lower his head.

Their lips met in a tender kiss that Charlie gently deepened. His right hand pressed against the back of her head, her curls slipping through his fingers. His left hand slid down her back to rest at the base of it.

They were oblivious to their surroundings, as they pressed closer together. Voldemort, himself, could've cast the Cruciatus Curse on them and neither would have realized it.

Hermione had never been kissed before. Though no one believed it, she and Viktor really had only gone to the ball as friends, and she wasn't going to kiss just anyone.

This kiss though, her first, made all storybook descriptions seem dull in comparison. She didn't want it to ever end.

But like most things in life, it did.

Charlie lifted his head, and pressed his forehead against Hermione's, both of them breathing deeply.

They stood like that for several minutes, until Hermione involuntarily shivered.

"You'd better go inside," Charlie said reluctantly, "I don't want you to get sick."

"I don't want this night to end," she replied sadly.

"Neither do I," he said. He gently pressed his lips against hers for one final kiss. "Goodnight, Princess," he whispered. He pressed a kiss to the palm of her right hand, and squeezed it softly.

"Goodnight," she murmured.

They stood, staring into each other's eyes for a moment, then, "Go…" he whispered.

Charlie stepped back, releasing her.

Hermione opened the door, and stepped into the house. She turned. "Goodnight," she said, yet again.

"Goodnight." He stepped back, still gazing into her eyes, and she reluctantly tore hers away and shut the door.

She stood with her forehead pressed to the door for several long minutes, then walked upstairs to her room.

Charlie stared at the door for several minutes after it had shut. He, at last, turned away thinking about her, Only two weeks until the New Year's party. With any luck, I can convince her to go on another date between now and then. It was with that hope that he finally left to apparate home.

Fifteen Points: Charlie Weasley's first wand according to the Harry Potter books was made of what wood and what core?

If you haven't already told me your house, don't forget to. The end of this month is the end of the Spring 2008 House Cup Challenge.