Pansy, flushed with animation, told them a recap of her wild night. Ginny laughed at the right parts and shrieked unabashedly because she understood - she herself have had nights like those. Drunk and uninhibited and wanton and--

"--delicious," Pansy finished with a relish. She grinned, eyes unfocused, still living in the moment of heat.

Hermione forced herself to smile back. She clutched her glass of wine - still full - and lifted it to her lips for only a moment because her drink tasted foul and she wanted to appear like she was drinking. Her friends' glasses, containing drinks far more potent than hers, were on the verge of emptying. Hermione thought of asking if they wanted a refill, but stopped herself - she didn't know the names of what they were drinking, anyway.

The air was stale with cigarette smoke and sweaty bodies. It made Hermione want to gag, but of course she didn't. Why she allowed Pansy and Ginny to drag her to a bar, of all places, she didn't know. They thought they were doing her some kindness - sure, bring along their homely friend to a place where she would stick out like a sore thumb. The gorgeous guys get to pick between the bombshell and the firecracker, pretend they never saw the plain one in between them. Sooner or later the two women would be taken away, and Hermione would be left alone, nursing her still-full drink and wishing she was somewhere else.

Five minutes, she thought. When the allotted time passed by, Hermione quietly got to her feet, fished out six Galleons, and left. She knew if by some miracle Pansy or Ginny returned to check on her only to find her gone, either woman wouldn't wonder where Hermione went.

She would already know.


Yes, yes, she's still a virgin. Her friends wondered how she managed to reach the advanced age of twenty-eight and remain untouched. Loudly, she said men didn't interest her, since she never wanted to nurse a broken heart.

Secretly - or perhaps not-so-secretly, because everyone knew - no one had taken an interest in her.

Sometimes, she wished she was beautiful. She fantasized that once she had a makeover, she would be.

But still, even with all the make-up in the world, the world didn't notice her.

Loudly, she said that it was fine, since she wouldn't know what to do when a man intrudes in her life anyway. Hermione Granger had tons to do and so little time for them all - how could she possibly include a man in her infamous schedule? She might be bored by the routine of having to dote on someone else, or annoyed at the prospect of having to fit him in the thousands of little things she had to do each day.

Silently, she feared the man would be bored with her.

Then one night, she went absolutely insane. Crazed by the pitiful looks and angered by the understanding that showed in their eyes when she realized that they could see right through her charade, plus a little bit drunk from a bottle that tasted something like gasoline, she hid in the darkened alley and pounced - literally jumped - on a poor guy who happened to pass by.

"What the--"

She wore enough frilly perfume for the man to understand that she was a woman. She didn't have large breasts but she used them anyway, and pressed them against a chest broader than hers, thank goodness. When he spoke, she snaked her arms around his neck and breathed on his skin. He was taller than her, but just barely.

He gripped her arms, almost to the point of pain. "Lady, I don't know what the fuck you think you're doing, but--"

Ah, bloody hell. She knew that voice. What the hell was Draco Malfoy doing here? Premiere bachelor, number one on the lists of men women everywhere wanted to shag, and he ended up here, where she was prowling for a guy to practically maul?

Of all people--

Well. Of all people.

It didn't matter. It was dark and he wouldn't know her, and it was too late to back down now anyway.

His breath smelled of mint, and she thanked her luck while he threatened her life. She shook her head - stupid move because he couldn't see her - and then said, "Kiss me."

He gripped her arms harder, and now it hurt. "What?"

Maybe she should have hit his head. He'd be unconscious, yes, but then she could kiss him and experiment a little and she'd finally have the right to brag that, yes, I tounged a man. He was gorgeous, too.

"I'm talking to you!" While his voice soared to higher octaves it still remained in the masculine realm of tones. Bravo. Tonight was definitely her lucky night.

She pulled her hands free. In the dark she felt powerful, wild and wanton to the point of sin. She hooked one finger into the waistband of his pants, the other traced circles on his chest, and her lips found their way to the skin just below his ear. She read somewhere that this was a sensitive spot. She mumbled, "Kiss me," and a shiver passed through his body and she felt it. Hermione allowed her nails to scrape against what she figured was his nipple, again and again, and his hand came up to capture hers to halt her movements. But she still had one hand free, didn't she? So she used that to creep up inside his shirt, feeling all the muscles underneath.

She also read somewhere that the point where a man becomes a completely mindless puppet was when all their blood had stopped rushing north because they were too busy rushing south. There was something hard pressing against her thigh. Was that it? Was she the cause of it? Gamely she moved her leg - left, right - and he groaned. She whispered for the third time, "Kiss me." This time she added a little bit of tongue and licked his ear.

Her luck was turning against her. She was running out of ideas and if he still didn't make a move she would--

"You're going to regret asking me for it."

Before she could even frown at that, he had moved so fast that suddenly the next thing she felt was him on her, and the wall behind her. Her arms were trapped between them and she couldn't see - whose idea was it for this blasted darkness anyway? - but she could smell his minty breath and feel his ominous presence and knew she was not in control anymore.

Oh, boy.

She felt something soft against her neck and she shivered. "You smell so good," he said, and she was about to tell him what her perfume was but then she couldn't because his mouth was on hers. Finally.

But her feeling of triumph was short-lived.

As far as first kisses went, this was insane. Terribly so. It was intense, hot and wet and crazy. She couldn't breathe - his skin was too close, and his tongue... oh dear. She had always thought that she would gag once a guy kissed her. No, really. Something about saliva and unclean teeth and health issues--

But this... this was...

He was practically nibbling on her bottom lip, and she wanted to do something - either push him away or pull him nearer, she didn't know. But when she moved her hands he captured them again and held them high above her head. With one hand. The other went wandering down her body - pausing at strategic parts - and lifted the hem of her dress and...

Oh. Oh.

He released her lips, and they both drew shaken breaths. He tangled his fingers in her hair, his forehead against hers and demanded, "Who the hell are you?"

She wanted to tell him that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She certainly felt like it. But they were in the dark now, and come light he would realize the ugly truth. This was her only chance. "Does it matter?" she said. Her mouth tingled violently and she realized she wanted - needed - another kiss. Plus she had to stop talking so he couldn't memorize her voice. Emboldened by something she couldn't name, she sought his lips, found them, and melted in searing heat.

Things were happening too fast. She couldn't think at all. She couldn't speak. Inane sounds were coming from him, or her, she couldn't tell exactly - one minute his shirt was soft and crumpled in her clutches, the next she could feel the soft curls that littered his chest. And he was touching her, too, in places that shouldn't have been exposed but were, and it didn't matter because it was dark and he couldn't see her biting her lip and it was just pure ecstasy. He was tasting her skin, and she should feel revolted, but instead she felt heady. Cherished. Desired.

She proved that he wasn't thinking straight because she realized he didn't realize that she was close to him in built - and he was big. She knew men preferred bony legs and tiny waists. But in the dark, he only had his hands to see her, and they were everywhere, and he was breathing as heavily as she, and when she bent to spread kisses from his shoulder down to his nipple, with a grunt he brought her up and punished her mouth. She knew he had nothing on his mind but her, and this moment. This man, this gorgeous man, wanted her. Who would've thought?

He was opening her legs, lifting one up and around his hip. Some semblance of sanity returned to her, made her gasp. Something hot and hard pressed against that place. He was going to do it in a matter of seconds and she didn't know what to do and--

"No, no!"

She pushed him hard, and he yelped in surprise - he probably landed on his bare ass - and she took the opportunity to feel for her dress somewhere on the ground. She chose something simple and easy to grope for in the dark lest this happened. And it did. Not that she was planning it. Oh, wait...

She pulled the dress over her and ran for safety. She heard Malfoy curse behind her and fantasized he was collecting his clothes and would be coming for her - but then she realized he could, and ran faster. Only when she was in her own apartment, with three doors locked behind her, did she allow herself to stop and collapse on the floor. She was shaking.

She felt giddy and guilty and relieved and bereft. Her breasts still tingled and her lips felt raw and she could smell something minty on her skin. She had had her experience without the dangers having sex with a stranger usually gave. She had felt beautiful and wanted for who knew how long and she would carry that with her until forever.

The sun was up when she slept. She called in sick and relived last night.