Anything recognizable is the property of J.K. Rowling. I do not make any claim to ownership, nor do I make any money from this.

Please do not read if you are not of legal age in your country. There are adult scenes, however short and to the point.

Loosen Up

Three years after the defeat of the Dark Lord, the Ministry of Magic began holding an annual masquerade ball on the anniversary of their victory. As a vital person in the downfall of Voldemort, Hermione was forced to attend. Ron got out of the gaudy function by conveniently having a quidditch match against Italy. And Harry was more than delighted to go. He saw it as a way of raising the spirits of the community and a way never to forget what everyone had given up.

Hermione surveyed the crowd with disgust. All of the bodies moving and dancing and talking made a din of noise and sweat. She had only one use for the ball and the anonymity it granted her.

After the war, she and Ron had broken up having given each other everything they could. Since their frantic fumbling in the tent, Hermione had not felt another's touch and she longed for the simplicity of just feeling without connection.

She glanced at people as they twirled past, categorizing every apparently single man into two categories: Absolutely not and maybe. An hour in and just one in the maybe class. To her horror she reexamined the maybe man as his costume slipped and discovered it was Harry. No one in the maybe class then.

Huffing in defeat, Hermione selected a drink and walked out to the balcony overlooking muggle London. The lights always enthralled her and she could pick out the Thames as a black ribbon sluggishly making its way to the ocean. As she was lost in thoughts of the huge expanse of water a dark form approached her.

"You seem just as excited to be here as I am." He greeted her cordially.

"Indeed. I couldn't wheedle my way out of it no matter what I did." She propped her chin on her arms on the balcony.

"Your costume is exquisite." The man ran a long feather through his fingers, admiring the plumage.

Hermione smiled over her shoulder. Her costume was of a large golden owl, feathers and ribbons covering her mask and woven into her hair. The gown she wore was exquisite in its ability to shimmer and change color as she moved. And to top it all off, her cloak looked like wings, resplendent with more long feathers and ribbons.

"As is yours. I see we birds of a feather must flock together." Hermione commented playfully upon looking closer at the man's costume.

He wore the mask of a raven, covering just the top of his face, the beak long and curved. Feathers around the edge blended perfectly into his long black hair, reflecting the same rainbow sheen. Long dark robes swirled around his ankles just showing the tops of his black leather boots.

"As do pigs and swine." He inclined his head toward the ballroom where a man dressed as a wolf chased a woman in red by the balcony doors.

"The mouse and rats may have their way."

"And so shall I have mine." He smiled broadly. "Not many know that rhyme."

"And what is your way then?" Hermione was intrigued by the man.

"Since I am required to be here, I had desired to find acceptable company and pass the time until the ball finished and I could make my escape." It was his turn to look morosely out at London.

"It seems we have one more thing in common then. Though I am less willing to waste time at the actual ball." She looked sideways at him and decided he fit into her maybe category.

"You had somewhere to go Miss?" He took a small step closer to her, playing this time with a ribbon.

"I have access to rooms away from the noise." Hermione turned to face him, having to look up at him. She tilted her head so a feather on her mask ran along the nose of his mask.

The man's lips were curled up into a slight smile." Is there a dress code for these rooms?"

"Just masks." Hermione almost surprised herself with her boldness but continued to lean closer to the taller man.

He held his breath as she pressed herself along the length of his body. Carefully he turned his head to slide the beak of his mask along her cheek and bring his lips down to hers. The moment before they touched, the woman in red they had seen earlier slammed into them having been giggling and looking over her shoulder for the wolf.

"Oh I'm so sorry. Excuse me." She simpered before hiding around the side of the balcony door.

Soon after, the wolf came out and looked around. Spotting his prey he let out a playful howl and pinned her against the wall. High pitched giggling and growls issued from the corner as Hermione just watched appalled at their drunken behavior.

The masked man had caught the smaller woman by the shoulders to keep her from being knocked all the way to the ground and only realized he hadn't released her when she leaned close to him again. Her hands had come to rest on his chest, one directly over his heart. Gently, he let go of her shoulders and took one of her hands in his to kiss.

"I think it has gotten a little crowded out here." He commented.

"Uncomfortably so." Hermione agreed and slipped her arm into his. "Let's go somewhere quieter."

Hermione led him back onto the dance floor, unable to skirt around the edge as she normally would have liked. To her great surprise the taller man turned her gracefully into a slow dance.

"Sometimes it is faster to dance across a dance floor." He whispered in her ear, linking hands and settling his other on her hip. Hermione agreed and stepped confidently with him.

When they reached the other side Hermione once again began leading him down hallways and through doors until they reached a rather plain white door. It was unusual in its simplicity, looking rather like the door for a storage room but when she opened it he saw a sumptuously decorated bedroom in reds and browns with touches of green. He felt like he had walked into a forest caught perpetually between summer and fall.

As the man admired the decor, Hermione closed the door and warded it against intrusion. It was doubtful that anyone would come looking for her, but drunken couples might try staggering in. She then turned to the man.

"Is this acceptable?" She inquired, stepping near again.

"It is perfect. Quite the nest you have here."

"Just temporary rooms for my visits to London."

"You do not live here then?" He asked curiously as he trailed one hand up her arm.

"Not like I used to. I spend all of my time to the west, in a small town." Her hands ran up his chest.

"Anywhere I might have visited?" Robes slid to the floor.

"I doubt it. It's not highly traveled." More hands over bodies, feeling the heat rise.

"You would be surprised where I've traveled." Their lips met, just pressing together, before his opened.

"I'm not telling. Anonymity and all that. Part of the fun." She hissed against his neck and they transfigured their masks small enough to not get in the way but large enough to keep their faces hidden.

He tugged the zipper down the back of her gown while their lips moved together. Hermione was surprised by the way it felt like she couldn't get enough air. The boys she had kissed in school and after never affected her like this. This was definitely a man. Their mouths never left each other as he pushed the gown off her shoulders and she did the same to the shirt he wore under his robes.

Nipping at her lip, he pulled her tight against his body and lifted her out of her gown as she kicked off her shoes. Hands under Hermione's hips, he carried her to the bed and laid her down on the covers. She scooted up the bed until she was laying in the middle of it, keeping her left arm against her side.

For a moment he just stood and drank in the sight of her. Her curves were generous but well proportioned and smooth. He bra and panties she wore were simple flesh toned but delightfully arousing and he felt his pants become a little tighter. It had been 4 years since a woman was laid out in front of him.

He knelt on the edge of the bed to kiss her again and noticed she kept her arm stiffly at her side so he tried to move it. She resisted slightly. "Why don't you finish getting out of those pants. You're a bit overdressed."

"Does your arm hurt?" He asked concernedly, afraid something happened when the drunk woman ran into them.

"It's nothing. Just being self conscious."

"What is it?"

"Nothing. Just get undressed. I'm getting impatient."

Instead of speaking, he kissed her again and hopped off the bed, quickly shucking his boots and pants. Down to just his black silk boxers, he turned to scoot the pile away from the bed and place his wand within reach and Hermione gasped. The entirety of his back was covered in crisscrossing scars. Some were old and faded but some couldn't be older than 3 or 4 years. One shoulder was covered in a fresh scar wrapping partially around to his collar bone.

He heard her sharp intake of breath and turned to face her again. Hermione had propped herself up on her arms to see better in the dim light. With her arm out of the way he saw an angry red scar down her side starting under the strap of her bra and running straight down to her panties.

"I'll go then. I don't want to bother you." He reached for his clothes.

"No don't go. It's usually my scar that puts off people. Unless it bothers you too." She drew her knees up and hid her side again.

"Not at all. It shows you survived something difficult and earned your place at this ball. I would be honored if you would allow me the chance to show you how beautiful you are."

"How did something supposed to be so simple become so complicated?" Hermione suddenly felt very small.

"It's not complicated, we just think it is." The taller man soothed, running one thin fingered hand up her leg.

Hermione relaxed and allowed him to straighten out her limbs, teasing her until she mewled in need. He held himself over her, running his teeth over her nipples and dragging his short nails over her ribs. When Hermione could take it no longer, he leaned over the edge of the bed and found his wand. Wood in hand he tapped her belly before spelling away their remaining clothing.

The brunette had been wet from the moment they nearly kissed on the balcony and he slid against her opening. The hot feeling of being pressed so closely made her moan and wrap her arms tightly around his thin frame, pulling him closer. Feeling the smaller woman's arms around him made him heady with lust and he angled his cock to enter her.

A steady push and he was buried deeply within her wet folds. They groaned together, Hermione digging her nails into his back slightly, feeling the different textures of his scars. Their mutual cries becoming louder until he stiffened and came, shuddering over her body.

As their breathing returned to normal, their sweat slicked skin stuck together. He slid out of her and rolled slightly to the side, still trailing his fingers over her quivering stomach.

"I apologize for lasting only as long as a teenaged boy. What would you like me to do for you?"

Hermione blinked for a moment before she understood. "You've done plenty already. I'm fine now." Her eyes already starting to slide closed.

"Sleep well then little witch. You've given me more than I deserve." He watched her for a few moments until he was sure she was asleep.

Careful, so as to not wake her, he got out of bed and got dressed. He pulled the covers over her to keep her warm and left the room, locking it behind himself. Tired and ultimately worn out, he made his way back to the ball to make a final appearance before apparating to his house.