"Thanks for coming all the way down here for me," Parvati said, sliding into the seat across from Hermione in the bustling café.

"No problem! This place is no farther from the Ministry than it is the Prophet headquarters, and it's nice to have a change of scene. I mean, I love Harry and Ron, but sometimes it's nice to have lunch with someone else. How are you, by the way?"

Parvati smiled. "Fine, you?"

"Busy," Hermione exhaled lustily. "Ministry's in an absolute uproar; my department is understaffed again; I've had to take paperwork home over the past three weekends just to keep up..." Hermione sighed again and Parvati got the impression she wouldn't have had it any other way.

"Look, I was wondering..."

"Mm?" Hermione stopped unwrapping her sandwich.

"I need your help," Parvati blurted out. "It's Lavender."

"Ah."

"Yeah. I know, I've got one shot in a million with her, but still. The Prophet's New Year's Eve party is coming up, and, well, do you know any guys you could set her up with? Ones who would be...."

"Less than attentive?" Hermione supplied.

"Yeah. I can just ask Dennis again, but if she finds someone on her own, I might not get a moment with her to myself."

Hermione nodded sagely. "You mean Harry? Last I knew, he was still free. I've got a favor I can call in, and if I tell him he doesn't even have to pay attention to his date, it'll be perfect."

Parvati grinned. "Exactly. I owe you one, Hermione."

Hermione waved off her thanks. "Please. The man needs to get out more, anyway."

~

The atmosphere in the ballroom had grown steadily warmer as the night wore on, as the Prophet employees took advantage of the champagne their employers had provided, and the dance floor was filled close to its capacity. Parvati had joined the majority in taking advantage of the free alcohol; it couldn't hurt to give her vaunted Gryffindor bravery a little boost tonight.

Lavender had been drinking too, by the looks of it. "So, Parvati, what're you resolving to do for the new year?" The question had already been posed to all the other occupants of the table; luckily it was only their dates so the potential for embarrassment was slight.

"I can't say yet; it would ruin it," Parvati said. "What's yours?"

"I'm resolving to shag a girl before next year's out."

Parvati stared at her friend. "But I thought you didn't even date girls anymore."

"Well, I'll have to change that, won't I?" Lavender turned to the confused looking boys at the table. "See, I'm technically bisexual, and I even dated a couple of girls. But it would always get up to a certain point, you know, when we were getting intimate, and, just." She leaned in toward Harry and said in a stage whisper, "Girls are lovely, but there's no cock. And without that, just, how could I ever be satisfied? So, I stopped dating girls. Best to not start something that couldn't be finished," she said and laughed loudly.

Parvati sighed and covered her eyes with her hand. Yes, Lavender had definitely reached the point at which she started embarrassing herself in public.

Harry, to his credit, was holding up rather well. "So, you've, uh, changed your mind?"

"Not so much changed my mind, noooo, but I thought it was better to know exactly what you're talking about before you say you don't like something. Parvati here sure seems to like it well enough, so there must be something to it."

"Well, yes, perhaps there is," Parvati said, her cheeks darkening and her pulse quickening. Promising as Lavender's resolution seemed to be, of all the places to discuss their respective sexualities, this was far from the best. She cast about for a way to stop the deluge of words before something truly regrettable was said. "But, Lavender dear, I'm sure the men must be bored of this lurid subject by now. How about we go dance?"

"'s not a lurid subject," Lavender pouted. "It's perfectly natural." But she stood up anyway and extended her hand. "Harry? Dance?"

The two couples danced close together, and it was no trouble at all to cut in with Lavender as the clock began ticking off the minutes to midnight. Doubtless Hermione had briefed Harry on the situation before she had even suggested he ask Lavender.

"Oh!" Lavender exclaimed as Parvati took her hand and spun her away from Harry with an artistic twirl, clasping her close. "Where's Dennis?"

"He went to sit down; Harry went with him. It's just us."

Lavender laughed and spun Parvati around.

"Silly boys."

Silly Parvati, Parvati thought. The earlier conversation had only convinced her further that her plan had been right all along, though it had taken her altogether too long to get to this point.

They danced, doing silly spins and dips and bumping into their fellow dancers. As the minute hand of the clock swept toward midnight, a stout witch stepped in front of the band to begin the countdown in a magically amplified voice.

Parvati clutched Lavender closer; through the thin silk of the dress robes she could feel the moisture that had collected at the small of Lavender's back, the rapid rise and fall of her ribs, the ripple of the muscles as Lavender draped her arms around Parvati's neck. She was still flushed and laughing from their dance.

"No boys," Lavender giggled as the countdown neared one.

"No," Parvati agreed, and she caught Lavender's lips – mere inches away – in a gentle kiss. Nothing too much; just enough to let her know she meant it. Lavender responded after barely a moment, pressing herself firmly against Parvati's body and tracing the lines of her neck and shoulders with delicate fingertips. Parvati's hand slipped up to the back of Lavender's neck, making sure her lips stayed right where they were, soft and insistent against her own. But then there was cheering all around and Lavender dropped her hands from Parvati's skin and the kiss was over.

Parvati smiled as she pulled away, despite the pang of loss. "Happy New Year."

"You too," Lavender said, and then she grabbed Parvati's hand and started pulling her toward the drinks table. "Come on, this calls for a toast."

Parvati smiled at Derrick the mail room clerk as he pored them their champagne. Honestly, she would have smiled at anyone right now; she would have felt hard pressed to stop.

"To friendship!" Lavender clinked their glasses together and Parvati discovered there were certain things that could indeed dampen her euphoria.

"To not needing boys," she added gamely. Well, being 'just friends' with Lavender was pretty great too, and who knew? Maybe all she needed was time. Stranger things had happened.

~

Lavender was well and truly smashed by the time the party wound down. Harry volunteered, chivalrously, to take her home, but when Parvati explained how Lavender didn't have a Floo on account of living in a Muggle neighborhood, he let Parvati bring Lavender home with her without further complaint.

"Come on, you," Parvati said, as she propped Lavender up. The girl was having difficulty staying upright. Parvati could have sworn she'd had more or less the same amount to drink as Lavender had (and Parvati was not only able to stand with ease, but also walk, so there), but Lavender always had had a talent for getting fantastically drunk regardless of the amount or quality of alcohol involved. In all her years of knowing the other girl, Parvati was still not sure how much of it was an act, or perhaps the placebo effect. Force of will definitely entered into it somewhere.

They fell through the Floo onto Parvati's hearth rug and she laboriously half-dragged Lavender into the bedroom and coached her through undressing. It was, Parvati supposed, more than a bit selfish to have Lavender sleep in bed with her tonight, considering how Lavender was an ardent sleep snuggler and Parvati knew it well. But she also knew that Lavender wouldn't appreciate being put out on the couch, and besides, it was only a little bit selfish. Also she was still a bit drunk. And tired, which was the perfect excuse for everything.

Too tired to find pajamas, Parvati put on an oversize tee shirt and struggled Lavender into one as well, for she appeared to have fallen asleep sitting up on the edge of the bed. Parvati tucked her in and crawled into her own side of the double bed, pausing to cast a Sober-Up charm on her sleeping friend before she turned out the lights. Little good it would do now Lavender was already asleep, but it might at least help with the hangover in the morning.

When Parvati next awoke, the room was still dark around her. Lavender was spooned against her side as if attempting to merge into one being while they slept, but that wasn't what had woken Parvati. There was a hand on her stomach; it had worked its way under her tee shirt and now it was lazily stroking her skin.

Behind Parvati, Lavender's breathing was deep and even; could she possibly be doing it in her sleep? In which case, Parvati was bloody glad it had woken her up, because the light touch felt brilliant, and then even better, because Lavender's hand was moving up to cup the undersides of her breasts.

Parvati's breath hitched.

Lavender's hand wrapped around a breast and squeezed, and Lavender threw a leg over Parvati's thigh just as Parvati felt a blazing rush of heat to her groin. Lavender's fingers lazily skated over the pebbling skin of her areola and tweaked a nipple, which caused another rush of heat, and Parvati was having a really hard time believing Lavender was still asleep now.

"Lav?"

"Mmm?" hummed Lavender's voice from beside her ear.

"What're you doing?"

"Groping you quite thoroughly, I thought."

"Are you still drunk?"

There was a pause and Lavender's hand stilled on Parvati's breast. "I don't... think so. Maybe?"

Parvati sighed. "Then you should probably go to sleep." Parvati regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth, for she certainly didn't want to stop and neither did the persistent heat in her nether regions, but she was far too familiar with Lavender's propensity to make rash decisions and then regret them later. She wouldn't go along with any such rash decision if she could help it.

"Really?" Lavender's whisper was plaintive and her fingers fondly nestled themselves deeper in Parvati's cleavage.

"Really," Parvati said.

"But I was just getting started..."

"Look," Parvati said, "If you still feel like it when you wake up, we can finish in the morning, ok? I promise."

Lavender sighed, but her insidious fingers exited Parvati's tee shirt, causing Parvati's nerves to jump as the backs of the short nails grazed dangerously close to the elastic of her panties. Lavender snuggled down in to the blankets a bit, the devious hand returning to clasp her platonically on the shoulder, but her leg stayed resolutely draped where it was.

Within several minutes, Lavender's breathing had dropped back down to a normal sleeping level, but Parvati felt it would be hours before she could relax enough to sleep again. Lavender's quite thorough groping had aroused Parvati to a point where she really, really wouldn't have tried to sleep it off if her best friend hadn't been plastered all over her back – which really wasn't helping any, because Parvati could feel little sparks of anticipation at every point their bodies met, and in her state she was far too aware of Lavender's breasts pressing into her back through two layers of cotton, and the way Lavender's draped leg brought her crotch almost-but-not-quite into contact with the back of Parvati's thigh, and oh god. It was really just too much to bear, just lying there and feeling it all, but it wasn't as if Parvati was going to move Lavender off her. Things this good happened between them approximately never, and, as already established, Parvati could live with a certain amount of selfishness.

She might have even been able to drift off to sleep, eventually, if Lavender hadn't grunted softly in her sleep and started rutting – really, there was no other word for it – slowly against Parvati's thigh.

Parvati held completely still.

Lavender shifted again and in so doing managed to hook her leg around Parvati's, and now Parvati could definitely feel her friend's crotch pressed up against her leg, the lacy panties a scratchy counterpoint to the damp softness that had begun frotting more purposefully now that the appropriate leverage had been gained. An almost imperceptibly soft sigh escaped Lavender's lips and warmed Parvati's ear.

Parvati slid her hand between her legs, unable to help herself. She had intended to just press her wrist against her aching need and ride out some of the tension, but then behind her the crotch of Lavender's panties somehow slipped to one side, and her leg was suddenly bathed in stripes of slick heat. Parvati's fingers dove beneath the elastic of her own panties unbidden and she sighed as she stroked herself in earnest.

Lavender's hips were rolling now, a deliberate, hard grind, and Parvati tensed her hamstrings, doing whatever she could to provide more friction without upsetting whatever delicate balance they were hanging on to here. Her fingers were raking through her own soaked folds heedlessly, tactlessly, and her world was fast narrowing down to isolated points: the kindling fire between her legs, Lavender's arousal fiercely grinding down on her leg, the sharp points of Lavender's fingers digging into her shoulder; Parvati would surely have bruises there tomorrow.

Lavender let out a breathy, barely-there moan, and Parvati gave up and plunged one finger inside herself, twisting to find that spot, her thumb coming down hard on her clit, once, twice, and then she was coming, the shocks of pleasure wracking her body as she bit the pillow to hold in the cries.

As her body melted into its post-orgasmic lassitude, Parvati registered that Lavender was still moving, her leg clamped around Parvati's almost painfully. Her rhythm became increasingly erratic, and then Parvati was biting the pillow all over again as Lavender quivered and stilled, voicing her own orgasm in a series of sharp, breathy moans that fogged up Parvati's ear and went straight to her dizzy, not yet nearly overstimulated core. Parvati massaged her clamoring bits with the heel of her hand, willing them to be still because Lavender had clearly fallen asleep again and Parvati really should be doing the same.

~

"Fuck," Parvati muttered as the light of day pierced her sticky eyelids. Her eyes were far from the only thing that was sticky, she realized, as she rolled over and groped for her wand. There was a tight patch of dried Lavender on her thigh, and her own crystallized arousal under her fingernails and sticking her underwear to her skin. The whole room reeked of sex.

"Fuck," Parvati uttered again as she cast Tempus. It was twelve to nine; they were going to be late for work.

"Lav – Lav, Lavender, wake up." Parvati shook her sleeping friend vigorously by the shoulder.

"Wha, wha, 's going on?" Lavender asked, blinking furiously and struggling upright.

"We're going to be late, get up!" Parvati scrambled out of bed and doffed her tee shirt, not caring that Lavender could see everything; there would be time to feel awkward later.

Lavender scrubbed a hand over her eyes. "Work?"

"Yes, it's Thursday, and that means there's work; I must have forgotten to set an alarm..." She rifled desperately through her dresser; where had all the clean bras gone?

Lavender scrubbed some more and then blinked owlishly up at Parvati. "But, Pars, it's New Year's Day today. There's no work on New Year's, love."

"Oh." Parvati collapsed onto the bed, feeling suddenly drained. "Oh." She crossed her arms over her chest in an attempt to feel less exposed. "Well." Apparently the awkward would come right now.

"Mmm?" Lavender asked, flopping back down and stretching luxuriously. She really did make a pretty picture spread out on Parvati's bed like that, all flyaway blond hair and day-old mascara, the old tee shirt doing nothing to hide her hardened nipples or the tops of her pale white thighs. Parvati looked away.

"So."

Lavender crawled over and dropped her head into Parvati's lap. "You're not going to get all awkward on me, are you?"

It was really hard to avoid looking at Lavender now, so Parvati settled for just ignoring the points of her nipples through the tee shirt. "Um. If necessary?"

"You do remember you promised to let me finish last night, don't you?"

"Well, you sort of already did, right? Don't tell me you were actually asleep."

Lavender grabbed Parvati's wrists and brought her hands to her face and inhaled deeply. "Ahhh, you smell good. We could always start over again."

Parvati stamped down her desire to simply kiss Lavender's tempting lips right now and take her up on the offer. "You're not doing this because you think you have to, or anything, are you? Because I'd understand if..."

"If you just went to all the trouble to get me in bed last night and then refused? No. If you're the most perfect girl I've ever met and I'd really rather not have to shag anyone else if I had the choice? Yes. And if your crushes are completely obvious, and I could tell why you set me up with Harry, and maybe I thought it was a good idea too? Definitely yes – oh, fuck it, Parvati, we've got an entire day to spend in bed and could we just get on with it already?"

Parvati was sure her face was entirely red by now, and if she tried to speak she would surely babble, so she just gave into the temptation and kissed Lavender until there was no more need for talking.

Lavender's skin was sleep-warm and irresistible, and Parvati kissed and licked a trail down Lavender's throat with more than half a mind to keep going until she could explore those tantalizing nipples, and then peel her old tee shirt off Lavender and keep going some more.

"Care," she panted slightly as she came up for air around the vicinity of Lavender's collarbone. "To remind me exactly where we left off last night?"