A/N This is dedicated to the wonderful LoveHGSS on the occasion of her birthday, which she shares with Hermione! Happy Birthday sweetie!

As it's a gift fic for my beta this is unbetad, all mistakes therefore mine & apologised for in advance!

Hermione leant casually against the marble pillar behind her, trying to take the weight off her feet, which were encased in patent red peep-toe shoes. She smoothed her hands over the flared skirt of her black and red spotted dress and searched the crowd for the two men she had been accompanied to the evening's festivities.

She had known, deep down inside, that her evening would pan out like this. It was, after all, the way most Ministry hosted events ended. In the two years since the war Hermione had attended countless galas and fundraisers and memorial dinners, not because she particularly enjoyed them, but because it was expected of her as a member of the Golden Trio. This event was a promotion and fundraiser for a scheme which paired pureblood and Muggleborn students at Hogwarts and arranged for them to spend part of the holidays with each other's families. The idea was that they would gain a better understanding of the lifestyles and traditions of each group, and prevent the rise of a future Dark Lord by eliminating the blood purity factions. It was a concept Hermione supported in full, but it didn't mean she wanted to be tucked in a corner of the Malfoy grand ballroom by herself, especially not tonight.

After all, it wasn't the way any girl would particularly wish to spend her twenty-first birthday.

It wasn't even the event she objected to. She was wearing a lovely dress which accentuated her figure, and the food was divine and the atmosphere perfect. It couldn't be denied that the Malfoys knew how to throw a party.

It was her current situation at said event which was causing her to re-evaluate the wisdom of agreeing to come. She sighed, reflecting that no-one would choose to spend a party by themselves in a corner. Except, she mentally corrected herself, Severus Snape, who had just refused the advances of a curvaceous witch in a very low cut shocking pink dress. However, not being a brooding, menacing former spy, she didn't particularly want to be stood alone.

It wasn't even as though she had no options. There had been plenty of offers from friends, colleagues and admirers, even from the Lord of the Manor and host of the party. Lucius, who had somehow become a personal friend as they worked side by side in the newly created Integration and Appreciation Office, had said that as prominent members of their society, and representing the two groups at the focus of the new initiative they should accompany one another to the function. Hermione had laughed and told him to find some other pretty young Muggleborn to drape on his arm and warm his bed, since she had no intention of doing either. He had feigned deep offense, but as he greeted his guests with a blonde witch who worked as a Muggle Political Liaison, and spent the entire evening hanging on his every word, Hermione assumed he had taken her words to heart.

It just so happened that Hermione had, as always, agreed to come with Harry and Ron, who, as always, had insisted that finding dates was too hard as they couldn't find genuine women among the throngs of power and fame hungry witches. Hermione had wondered why they failed to find a date before hand when they never went home alone, and had insisted that she wouldn't be attending with them just to be left to one side while they flirted with the prettiest, easiest or occasionally just nearest witch.

It was a conversation they had over and over, and yet she had still agreed to come when they put on puppy dog eyes and begged. They had arrived arm in arm, smiled for pictures, sat together for dinner and speeches and as soon as the band began to play she was abandoned for a willowy blond and a petite curly haired brunette, respectively.

Hermione sighed again as she wondered why she couldn't follow their lead and just find a partner for the evening. There was no shortage of handsome men, and no shortage of interested ones, although few would pluck up the courage to approach the fiercely intelligent war hero. She laughed softly to herself, knowing damn well why she wouldn't just find a guy, any guy, and dance and drink and shag. Much as it appealed right now it wasn't her style, and she wouldn't let herself be talked into such an un-Hermione-like course of action by her loneliness.

Her musings on the state of her life, evening and birthday were interrupted by a gentle but masculine voice by her ear.

"Good evening Hermione."

She turned to look into the soft brown eyes of her friend and former professor.

"Hello Remus. How are you?"

He smiled at her as he replied. "I'm fine thank you. And you? Enjoying your birthday?"

Hermione's smile faded slightly as she answered, the dimming so slight few would've noticed.

"Yes, thank you. I'm surprised you remembered."

He looked a little sheepish for a moment before reaching his hand into the folds of the dark grey dress robed he was wearing.

"I didn't just remember, I, erm, got you a little something. It isn't much but, well, here..."

He handed a blue leather box with a little white bow on top. A curious frown creased her forehead as she lifted the lid. The surprise and delight in her eyes was unmistakeable, and relieved the awkwardness Remus felt.

Hermione looked at the sparkling crystal tear-drop pendant with pure joy. She had received a cheque from her parents which was useful but hardly heartfelt. Lucius had given her a selection of rare texts and a quill made from the tail feathers of one of his own Albino peacocks, and Harry and Ron had presented her with a book which magically indexed her personal library with a simple spell and could list all the titles by name, author, date or topic, depending which was most useful in the situation. Both gifts were thoughtful and reflective of her, and she was truly grateful, but there was a part of her which had longed for someone to give her a gift for a woman, rather than a bookworm extraordinaire.

Now in her hands she held a sparkling crystal on a long silver chain and she looked up at the man who had given it to her with shining eyes.

"Thank you Remus, it's so beautiful."

"Not nearly as beautiful as you," he replied, his eyes dancing as she blushed.

"Borrowing Sirius' chat up lines again?" Hermione asked with a smile.

"Not at all, just telling the truth." His statement was rewarded with a deepening of the pink flush on Hermione's cheeks.

To distract her from the handsome and apparently flirtatious man in front of her Hermione lifted the necklace from the box to put it on.

"Here, allow me." He took the chain from her as he stepped behind her and swept her curls off the back of her neck to allow him to fasten the clasp, the pendent sitting just above the neckline of her dress. His fingers traced the delicate chain round the edge of her throat and across her collarbone, causing her to shiver at his touch.

"Thank you," she breathed, feeling oddly dizzy at the sensation of his rough fingertips on the soft skin of her neck.

"You're welcome," Remus replied. "Dance with me?"

Hermione nodded and allowed Remus to pull her out onto the dance floor and hold her in his arms, moving gracefully to the music, joining the numerous other couples twirling and swaying to the band.

Hermione lost herself in the feel of strong arms around her as he led her across the dance floor, letting Remus take charge of their movement and focusing on the feel of his muscles under her palms and the warm, earthy scent of him.

The song changed to a slow, gentle one and she allowed him to pull her close, her head on his shoulder as they swayed softly to the music. Hermione raised her head to look at him and was taken aback by the mixture of heat and tenderness in his eyes.

"Kiss me," she murmured softly. She sighed and let her eyes flutter shut as he obliged.

She forgot her earlier woes, her surroundings, the other couples, the band. Everything faded away except for the feel of his warm lips, gentle but insistent on her own. Remus pulled her closer and deepened the kiss, his hands on her back, holding her to him. Hermione tangled her fingers in the soft hair at the nape of his neck, her other hand gripping his shoulder.

Remus pulled his lips from hers but didn't relax his arms, holding her to him still. He lowered his mouth to her ear and spoke softly to her.

"I want nothing more than to take you home and make love to you. But if I do you won't be rid of me easily. I'm not planning on a one night stand, I play for keeps," he said, unsure as to what her reaction would be.

Hermione pulled away from him. Hurt filled his expression as she took a step back, only to be replaced with hope and lust as she took his handed and wordlessly headed for the exit.

Lucius caught sight of the pair leaving quietly as he danced with Chloe, the blonde who he had asked to accompany him. It baffled him how Hermione could turn him down over and over, and send back the expensive and beautiful gifts he gave her, yet one sparkly bit of glass from the werewolf and she was putty in his hands. It seemed he would never understand women, at least not that woman. The one currently with him was simple enough to read. After a moment he realised he preferred it that way. Hermione, beautiful and brilliant as she was, was hardly the obedient and subservient type he preferred. He laughed to himself as he envisioned what the wolf was letting himself in for by engaging with the strong willed young woman. He wasn't sure, on reflection, that he was particularly envious. Chloe pressed against him in an entirely inappropriate manner as they danced. Definitely not envious at all.

Hermione pulled Remus out of the ballroom, across the entrance hall and out of the main doors of Malfoy Manor without hesitating.

"Don't you have a cloak you need to collect?" Remus asked, amusement at her eagerness colouring his tone.

"Lucius will know it's mine and return it." Hermione stopped a few metres from the front steps and turned to him, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Right now I just want to get you home."

Remus smiled. "Whatever my lady requests." He pulled her tight and turned on the spot, disapparating with a loud crack.

Moments later they reappeared in the main downstairs room of Remus' Hogsmeade cottage. Although she had never been there before Hermione barely spared a glance for the lovely room with its wooden floors, comfortable furniture and lead lined windows. Even the bookcases overflowing with volumes failed to hold her attention. Instead she stood on her tiptoes and kissed Remus, briefly but passionately.

"Bedroom?" she asked, her voice low.

Rather than answering Remus swung her into his arms and carried her up the stairs, laughing at her playful shrieks.

He deposited his burden in the centre of his bed the stood back for a moment to gaze at the picture of beauty before him. With her hair spread out around her and the skirt of her dress wrapped around her thighs she looked deliciously wanton. She shivered under his hot gaze, his eyes seeming to devour every inch of her. Eventually he knelt next to her and kissed her deeply, his tongue tangling with her own and exploring her mouth. Her hands were twisted in his hair as she kissed him back with equal fervour, loving the feel of his body against her, his mouth on hers.

Remus ran his hands down her back, finding the zip of her dress and tugging it down with one hand while the other undid the tie of the halter strap. He pushed the material over her breasts and down to her waist, smiling when Hermione lifted her hips and helped him slide it off her. He pulled back for a moment to admire her creamy skin in just her red lace underwear then lowered his mouth once more to hers. His hands explored her body as his lips wandered down the column of her throat, the soft moans and gasps falling from her lips serving to encourage him as he explored her body.

He kissed his way down her soft skin, paying particular attention to the area which made her gasp or arch against him. Without really noticing how Hermione realised she was completely naked apart from the necklace that still lay against her skin, and Remus' hot mouth was torturously close to her centre. She gasped and cried out as his lips closed around her clit, her hips bucking off the bed. She felt Remus chuckle against the delicate skin as his hands moved to hold her hips still, her body entirely at his mercy. He licked and sucked at the delicate flesh, his tongue driving her crazy. He moved one hand and pressed a finger into her. The sensation was too much and she came hard, crying his name.

Hermione came down from her high just as Remus removed the last of his clothes. She propped herself up on one arm and gazed at him shamelessly.

"Like what you see?" he laughed, the heat in her eyes turning him on even more.

"No. You're too far away for me to admire properly," she pouted.

Remus laughed and rejoined her on the bed, kissing her deeply as he settled his weight above her. She gasped at the feel of him on top of her, his arousal pressed against her core. She arched her hips into his, causing him to groan.

"Need you, now," she said, running her hands down his scarred chest and grasping him in her hand. She guided him to her entrance and they gasped as he plunged into her tight heat. Remus thrust deep into him, his movement slow and torturous as he slowly drove Hermione to ecstasy. He began to move faster as his own peak rushed towards them, thrusting hard into her willing body.

"Oh, Remus feels so good. Harder, please." She begged softly for that something more which would push over the edge.

Remus felt her fluttering around him. "That's it Hermione, come for me."

His rough words sent her over the edge, pulling him with her as they shouted each other's name.

Remus shifted his weight off Hermione and rolled onto his back, pulling her with him so she was cuddled against him, her head on his chest.

Hermione sighed contentedly.

"I think you should ask me again if I'm enjoying my birthday," Hermione said, smiling up at him.

Remus laughed. "Are you enjoying your birthday?"

"Best I ever had."

Remus kissed her, earlier passion replaced with tenderness. "Good."

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