Well, here goes. After many years of writing challenge pieces for Dark Angel, I am officially doing my first in the HP universe. So, here goes. My version of Hermione as Cinderella. Don't let anyone get in the way of your dreams and all that jazz.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Louboutin Perdue D'Hermione

Expectations.

They can force you to pursue something you are destined to achieve or become. They can also mean you become a shadow of your former self, forever bogged down with mundane tasks, resigned to a mediocre existence.

Working with experimental Charms and Potions was Hermione Granger's dream. Unfortunately for her, this was something that was usually taken up by rich Pureblood spawn, who forever made attempts to come up with some worthwhile piece of genius with daddy's funding. Unfortunately, the Wizarding World's long tradition of inbreeding meant that most of those who had the means for such an indulgent career were lacking the intelligence or inclination to come up with much more than passable excuses for hair straightening potions. Or some hazardous trick to sell to the Weasley twins.

She had to be honest, Law wasn't so bad. It was challenging and interesting most of the time... or some of the time. As of late, it was more some of the time. Working for the Malfoys had its merits. Good working conditions, an excellent salary, which would see her well into her fifth decade of retirement if she invested it wisely. The main downside was having to work with the pair of blonde bigots, although even that hadn't been so bad, with the elder Malfoy grudgingly offering his formal apology for the events of previous years.

Of course, the Wizarding World reeled for a few weeks when it was revealed that it's most famous Muggleborn had taken a job with it's most infamously prejudiced family, but things settled down after a few months. Hermione enjoyed the challenging work that she was doing, helping Lucius and Draco redeem themselves by way of campaigning against the succession of convicted Death Eaters to their family's lordships. She acknowledged that it held a certain amount of hypocrisy, but chose not to dwell on it, instead concentrating on making the most of doing some good in a usually morally ambiguous career path.

Her biggest problem at this point in time, however, was her living arrangements. She was well into her third year of residing at the Burrow and, while it was warm and friendly, she had begun to feel somewhat like a maid.

It had started not long after she had moved in. Molly had been beside herself when she had taken up the offer, going into a frenzy with the idea of Hermione living under the same roof as her youngest son. First, it had been the odd cooking lesson, which Hermione wasn't that bothered about. She was a decent enough cook, but it was nice to learn a few extra skills.

It was when Molly had started teaching her the charm to remove grout stains, and which herbs to plant next to the potatoes to keep the gnomes away that Hermione's alarm bells went off. She was being groomed to be a wife.

In addition, not just any wife, Ron's wife.

...

"Hermione, dear, would you mind just running some cleaning charms over the living room? It looks like James has been flying that broom around in there again. That boy creates more destruction than a cage full of Cornish Pixies."

Hermione sighed and dropped her purse on the hall table, heading directly through the door on the left. She muttered a quiet curse at the clock that hung on the wall above the kitchen bench and pulled off her shoes as she entered the large room. Eyes widening in horror she took in the disaster zone laid out before her. Chairs were tipped on their sides, lamps were smashed and the boy had somehow even managed to cause the bookshelf to tip on its side. It was now wedged on an angle against the adjacent wall, books spilling every which way.

"So much for a few cleaning charms," she hissed, flicking the door closed in anger. Tugging off her favourite shoes she looked up at the light fitting, which somehow had three throw rugs and a curtain tie back hanging from it, and cast a quick indestructible charm behind her. She wasn't taking any chances with her shiny new Louboutins.

"Ow, fuck."

She spun around, surprised she hadn't heard the door open behind her and found herself face to face with the bane of her existence, who was currently rubbing his leg aggressively, having run into her bright turquoise shoes.

Sirius Black was six foot two of sexy, intelligent masculinity. And boy didn't he know it. After his rather sudden and random reappearance at the top of the London eye a year earlier, he had made it his mission in life to bed every woman who came his way, and ignore everything Hermione had to say on the subject. She had only been trying to assess his psychological state, but he continued to put on his cocky I'm always all right expression and ridicule her concerns.

Needless to say, her concern had morphed into anger at his dismissal of her watchfulness, and the anger had eventually become blind rage. They rarely spoke, but when they did, it was usually at a high level of decibels and involved many expletives.

"Piss off, Black. I'm trying to clean up here," she snapped.

"Keep your knickers on; I'm just grabbing a drink." He tiptoed towards the far side of the room, dodging the wonky furniture and broken objects, eventually reaching the liquor cabinet.

"You know you could have at least cast a couple of Reparos on the way over there."

"From your last comment, you made it sound like you didn't need any help." He poured himself a firewhiskey and took a sip.

She glared at him and turned back to the bookshelf, flicking her wand forcefully. It righted, but not without a fair bit of rocking back and forth.

"Merlin, why are you such a bitch," he muttered, brushing past her quickly.

"Why are you such a fuckwit?" she replied as she flicked her wand again, this time returning all the chairs to their rightful positions.

He ignored her and slammed the door. She looked back up at the light and sighed.

"That man seriously needs to see a psychologist," she said to the room. The light dimmed a little in agreement and she smiled up at it. At least the house understood her frustration.

...

"Ermione, could you pleez take Victoire for a bath?" Fleur's voice wafted down the stairs and Sirius saw Hermione stiffen in her chair.

"You don't have to do everything Molly and Fleur ask, you know," he said. The curly haired woman's head whipped around to face him and he blanched at her glare.

"Bugger off, Sirius. Why are you still here anyway?"

"Harry and Ginny are having a date night," he replied, pulling a face.

"Well why aren't you having one too then? You ignore my advice when it comes to your social habits and then suddenly do an about face just to piss me off."

"Oh, for crying out loud, Hermione. I'm not that bad." He rolled his head around and looked at the ceiling in an exasperated fashion, letting out a heavy breath. Sometimes this witch was infuriating. Beautiful, but infuriating.

"You are that bloody bad. You only come to the Burrow for the free food and to piss me off." Sirius chuckled and looked back at her.

"Get it right, I don't care about the free food."

She let out an anguished growl and stood up, storming over to the doorway. He watched her leave, admiring her perfect bottom as it wiggled out of view. Leaning back in the chair he sighed and rubbed a hand through his hair, pondering why on earth his subconscious insisted on constantly infuriating her.

He shook his head and groaned, knowing exactly why. Deliberately antagonizing the objects of one's interest didn't usually help with getting in their pants, but the tension sure was fun. He chuckled to himself and closed his eyes. There really was no foreplay that could compare to arguing with Hermione Granger.

...

"Really, Draco. You don't need me at this hateful excuse for posturing and preening. Please just let me have a quiet night in with some Franzen and a glass of wine?" Hermione sat next to the fire in the Weasley living room, tugging on a pair of running shoes as she spoke.

"You have to be there, Granger. You know how much it means to our social standing to be seen in public with a witch such as yourself."

"You're seen with me almost five days a week," she replied. Irritation had crept into her voice and Draco frowned.

"Yes, but we're paying you."

"So what makes this any different than when I'm attending meetings and hearings with you? Just because I'll be in a pretty dress?"

"It's a social occasion."

"You'll still be paying me."

Draco harrumphed in defeat and smirked wickedly. "Zabini will be there."

Hermione groaned. She hated that Draco knew the dark skinned man was her weak spot. After years of ignoring each other in the corridors of Hogwarts, they had found common ground in their interest in Potions. She freely admitted she had developed a bit of a crush on the surprisingly sexy former Slytherin.

"Fine, but you owe me. Big time."

Draco grinned. "Noted. I'll meet you at the gates, seven o'clock," he looked thoughtful for a moment, "If you get laid will that cancel out my obligation?"

She snatched a log up from next to the fireplace and tossed it at his face, but he was already gone. It wasn't the first she had attempted to inflict grievous bodily harm by Floo Network.

"Inappropriate prick," she muttered as she stood, heading for the front door and a good half hour of pounding the country roads.

As she headed out the gate, a slight figure crept from behind the living room couch, disappearing up the stairs to the attic.

There was no way Fleur Delacour was missing the party of the year.

...

"Fleur's head is positively infested with Wrackspurts, you know."

Hermione looked at Luna out of the corner of her eye. She knew not to argue when the other woman made bizarre statements, it was more likely to end in a discussion on more non-existent creatures, and then to a general debate on existentialism. She was most certainly not in the mood for intellectual conversation.

"Lovely day, don't you think?" She took a sip of her beer. They were sitting in Luna's slightly overgrown backyard on rickety wooden furniture, enjoying the last of the summer sunshine. Autumn was on its way and Hermione couldn't help but bemoan the end of the warm summer evenings. She would miss sitting in the exact spot she was in, just living.

"I'm serious, Hermione. There's something very odd going on with that woman." Luna drank from her own bottle and turned towards her suddenly, her lilting voice turning serious. "I think she's plotting something."

Hermione chuckled. "What exactly? It's not like she has anything to plot," she paused. "Other than making my live miserable by encouraging that menace of a child of hers to destroy everything in her path."

Luna went back to staring thoughtfully at the wispy clouds. "I don't think I ever want to be a housewife."

"Ditto." Hermione heard her companion snicker a little and looked at her out the corner of her eye. "What?"

"The way Molly has you running around after the grandkids, you'd think you already are," Luna managed to wheeze out between snorts. She turned towards her companion and Hermione glared. This only served to encourage the other woman and before she knew it, she chuckled a little herself. Luna doubled over in her seat, a deep belly laugh resonating around the walls of the backyard. Hermione couldn't help but join in.

"I'm doomed, aren't I?" she managed to grind out between gasps.

"Completely," Luna replied, "Molly's already naming your kids!" More peals of giggles erupted from the pair.

Hermione leaned back in her seat as she settled down, gasping intermittently catching her breath. Eventually she calmed enough to drain her drink and reach for another.

"Draco's making me go to this bloody gala they're having next week," she eventually piped up.

"Yes, Neville did mention an invite going around."

"You going?" Hermione's voice was hopeful and she turned to her friend with a pleading expression.

"Please. I wouldn't be seen dead at one of Malfoy's pretentious soirees," Luna replied, snorting.

"Yeah, I would rather be re potting Mandrakes."

"Is Blaise going to be there?" Hermione could hear the smirk in the blonde woman's voice.

"I don't know."

"You're lying. That's the only reason you agreed to go, isn't it?" Luna sat up in her seat and turned towards her fully.

"Maybe," she mumbled. She was rewarded for her honesty with a saucy look.

"You going to wear that red dress?"

"Maybe." She took another sip of her drink.

Luna smiled dreamily and leaned back in her chair. "You are so going to get some if you wear that red dress."

She nearly spat out her beer. "That is not why I'm wearing that dress, Luna!"

"Sure it isn't."

...

"I'm coming, I'm coming!"

Hermione thundered down the stairs towards the front door of the Burrow, her forward momentum almost outrunning her feet. She stumbled a little at the bottom but managed to catch herself before wrenching the door open. Fleur stood at the threshold, hand gripping a tearful Victoire's tightly.

"Fleur, what's happened?"

Fleur sniffled a little, "It's my mozzer." Hermione pulled a tissue out of her pocket and offered it to the older woman. "Sheez had a stroke."

"Oh, Fleur. I'm so sorry." She ushered the pair inside and led them through to the living room, wand waving towards the kitchen, summoning two cups of tea and a hot chocolate.

"I need to go home immediately, eez zere any way you can look after Victoire for the night? Everyone eelz is at zat darn gala, Bill's off in Belgium somewhere and I know you didn't really want to go..." Fleur trailed off and blew her nose.

"Of course." She added a small drop of milk to one of the cups of tea and handed it to Fleur. "She's far too young to be hanging around in hospitals."

"Oh, thank you, Eermione. I didn't know where eelz to go." She took a shaky sip of the tea and gave Hermione a watery smile.

"Let me just owl the Malfoys and let them know I'll be unable to make it."

"Of course, take your time."

Hermione stood and headed to the kitchen window, grabbing an owl treat on the way. She whistled and called out for Pig, who whizzed through moments later. Hastily scrawling a note on a piece of ratty old parchment, she sent the owl on his way, sighing in a mixture of disappointment and relief.

Although she hadn't been looking forward to conversations with the society types the family of blonde terrors tended to invite to their soirees, she had been looking forward to spending most of the evening flirting with Zabini. He had revealed to her a few months earlier that he detested stuffy events even more than she did, and ever since they had sought each other out, choosing to spend the evening hidden in dark corners making up ridiculous stories about their fellow guests and attempting to come up with valid reasons why they shouldn't go on a date.

She hurried back into the living room, rubbing her hands together. "Right, off you go," she said rather uncomfortably. She wasn't particularly good at consoling people, seeing as she was often the person who had inflicted the hurt in the first place.

Fleur drank the last of her tea and stood, awkwardly embracing Hermione and reaching for her purse.

"I'll zee you in ze morning, yes?"

"Of course. I'll put Victoire to bed in Bill's old room." Placing her hand on Fleur's back she led her to the front door and ushered her out, all the way insisting that she wasn't being put out in any way, but in the back of her mind feeling a little resentful about missing out on what would surely have been a fun evening of snarky comments and covert flirting.

...

Luna crouched behind one of the large bushes surrounding the Burrow, watching the front door for any signs of activity. She had popped around to help Hermione ready herself for the party, but had hidden moments after her arrival when she had seen Fleur hurrying up the path with her daughter in tow. Suspicion had taken hold and she had decided to hang back until they exited the house.

She felt a movement at her feet and looked down, "Bugger off," she hissed at the gnome. It looked up at her, appearing slightly affronted and Luna harrumphed. "Fine, you can stay. But be quiet."

The gnome shuffled away and Luna frowned at the impoliteness. In her opinion, semi-sentience was no excuse for a lack of manners.

She snapped to attention as she heard the quiet click of the front door opening and the accented voice of Fleur floating across the front yard.

"Thank you so much, Eermione," Fleur sniffled and Luna saw her draw a handkerchief from her robe pocket. "I don't know what I would have done." The French witch blew her nose and Luna rolled her eyes. Everyone knew witches with Veela heritage never needed to do something as uncouth as blow their noses. At least not in front of other people.

"It's not a problem, Fleur. It's not as if I really want to go to this thing anyway." Hermione stood at the door, hand resting on Victoire's head, patting it gently. The little girl had a blue blanket clutched tightly in her small hands and was looking up at her mother with watery eyes.

"Wrackspurts," Luna muttered.

Fleur turned and headed towards the front gate, and past the property's wards. Luna watched silently as Hermione closed the door and Fleur reached into her pocket, withdrawing her wand and a silver flask. Pointing her wand at an open second floor window, she closed her eyes, concentration taking over her expression, and muttered a spell under her breath. Moments later a swathe of red fabric came flying out the window and Fleur caught it gracefully before it hit the ground. Taking a sip from the flask, she winced, the flavour of the Polyjuice Potion clearly not agreeing with her.

Within seconds, blonde hair was turning a medium brown, and her skin darkened to a light tan. She shrank in height a little, and filled out in the chest and hips. Luna had to fight not to giggle when Fleur peeked down her top and raised her eyebrows at her suddenly enhanced chest.

Obscured by an overgrown bush, Fleur whipped off the robes she had been wearing, replacing them with the voluminous red gown and conjured a mirror to check her appearance. A lazy wand movement removed the tear-stained complexion she had been sporting for the past few minutes and replaced it with a perfectly made up visage. A last swipe of red lipstick and there was a quiet pop. Fleur and the mirror disappeared; Luna let out a breath and jogged up the path.

...

"Seriously, Fleur. I don't mi-"

"Hi!" Luna's cheery yet slightly vacant voice greeted her from behind the solid oak. Hermione smiled and opened the door fully, inviting her friend inside.

"Sorry for shouting through the door, I'm looking after Victoire for Fleur. I thought she was getting the guilts for leaving her with me." She led her through to the living room and flopped down on the cushy sofa, looking down at the young strawberry blonde haired girl colouring on the floor.

"You know how I said Fleur had a Wrackspurt infestation?"

Hermione looked curiously at the other woman. She raised an eyebrow in response and Luna looked pointedly at Victoire. "What?" she asked.

Luna rolled her eyes and jerked her head in the direction of the kitchen. The two women stood and moved out of the room and Hermione went straight to the stove, flicking a knob on and filling the kettle. A small hand closed over hers and guided it to the counter, gently forcing her to place the jug back on the counter.

"What are you doing, Hermione?" Luna asked as she turned off the tap. Hermione looked at her strangely huffed.

"Putting the kettle on."

"Shouldn't you be getting ready for the gala?"

Hermione crossed her arms momentarily before grasping the handle again and turning the tap back on. "Fleur's mother is in hospital. I'm the only person she could find to look after Victoire."

"Sorry to break it to you, sweetie, but that's a load of bull. The Wrackspurts have invaded her mind and made her do a very malicious thing." Luna twisted the knob again and the water stopped for the second time.

"Her mum's had a stroke!"

"Have you not listened to a word I've been saying for the last two weeks? She's been plotting something and now I know what it is!" Luna hissed, leaning towards Hermione so as not to disturb the little girl playing in the next room. "Gosh, for someone with intelligence as high as yours you are so dense sometimes. She's disguised herself as you and gone to the party in your place!"

Hermione stiffened and looked down to the sink. Her body began shaking lightly and before she knew it, her quiet snicker had become a full-blown belly laugh. "Luna, you've gone off the deep end! That is the most ludicrous and convoluted story you've come up with!" She turned towards her friend and hugged her tightly. Pulling away, she placed her hands firmly on the blonde woman's shoulders and looked into her eyes. "Don't ever change, yeah?"

Luna frowned. "I saw her in your dress. Disguised as you."

Hermione chuckled again. "I love you, but sometimes you are so far out."

"No, Hermione, I'm serious. She left the Burrow, ducked behind a bush, summoned your dress and took a swig of what I can only assume was a flask of polyjuice potion. Next thing I knew she was, well, you." It was Luna's turn to grip her friend's shoulders.

"Well that's just ludicrous. Why would Fleur disguise herself as me? Surely, she's not stupid enough to think she would get away with it. I mean, does she think will happen next week when I discover I went to the party after all?"

Luna shrugged. "I don't know, maybe she was planning on confunding a few people."

Hermione wrinkled her nose. "This whole thing does seem rather odd. She took my dress?"

"She took your dress. Summoned it right out your open window."

"That cow," Hermione hissed. She let go of Luna's shoulders and spun on her heel, dashing up the stairs to her room. Her bed, which had previously held a swathe of red fabric, was now bare apart from the blue comforter. Her shoulders dropped.

She hadn't realized until now how much she had been looking forward to the gala.

Trudging back down the stairs, she headed back to the kitchen, sitting down sullenly in one of the rickety old dining chairs.

"Gone?" Luna asked. Hermione nodded and looked up, pouting. "Don't worry, I have a plan."

"What can we possibly do? I have no dress, and now quite literally, no body to go with."

Luna sat down next to her and placed a hand on her back, gently rubbing it. "I know a few charms."

"Glamours only last a couple of hours, Luna. There's no point." She slumped lower in her seat.

"Not mine, daddy taught me a special version. How else do you think he scoops all those stories years before anyone else?"

Hermione straightened a little and looked up at her friend. "I don't really want to go to this thing anyway. Why do I even care?"

"Oh, come on. You were secretly excited and you know it," she paused and looked thoughtful for a moment. "Granted, you were probably more excited about looking hot in that dress for Zabini, but we can do something about that."

"Like what? I haven't got anything else suitable to even transfigure." She tugged at a stray thread on her tank top.

"Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Do I really need to bring up examples of some of the disguises I have created in the name of the Quibbler? Trust me." Luna stood and tugged Hermione up out of the chair. As she dragged her out of the kitchen, the blonde witch called out to the little girl playing in the living room. "Victoire, do you want to help Auntie 'Mione play dress ups?"

Hermione made a face. "I hate that nickname."

Luna grinned, "I know."

Victoire looked up excitedly and jumped off the floor, racing past them and up the stairs.

"I swear, that girl is going to break something one day," Hermione muttered as they followed. Her room was on the fourth floor, right at the far end of the corridor and she used the long trek up the stairs to mentally catalogue her dismally lacking wardrobe. It mainly consisted of Muggle business suits, jeans and tee shirts. How Luna was going to transfigure one of those bland items into something appropriate for a Malfoy function was, frankly, quite mind-boggling.

Luna went straight to the closet and flung open the doors, rifling through the modest rack only moments after entering the room. Random hangers were picked out and flung onto the bed with muttered comments. Eventually she seemed satisfied and sat next to Hermione on the floor.

"How do you feel about white," she asked.

"I'm not getting married, Luna. How about blue?"

"White it is," Luna chirped as she snatched up a random suit from the pile and cast a bleaching spell. The fabric went from charcoal to a bright white instantly and Hermione flopped back on the floor, sighing.

She ignored the flurry of activity around her, until something tickled her face. Opening one eye a crack she saw a wand pointed directly at her forehead. Luna's billowing sleeve was touching the tip of her nose and she was muttering something under her breath. Victoire was right next to Luna, fascination etched on her features as she watched her work.

"Close your eyes, Hermione. I wouldn't want to give you wonky eyebrows." She sighed and did as she was told, only having to submit to the darkness for a few moments. "What do you think, Vickie-boo? Does Auntie 'Mione look pretty?"

Hermione opened her eyes again and blinked, a little surprised at having a six year old's face only inches from her own. "She doesn't look like Auntie 'Mione any more."

"Well I think that's a most excellent result, don't you, Hermione?"

She sat up and looked in the full-length mirror next to the wardrobe. Her mouth dropped open and she groped desperately at her face.

"Where did I go?"

Luna and Victoire looked at each other and giggled. "Don't worry; it should wear off after a few hours. If I were you, I'd make sure I was back by around midnight to avoid any untimely revelations." Luna reached over to the bed and passed Hermione a white layered dress that Hermione could only assume had once been her favourite suit. "Go put it on."

...

The door across the hall swung open and Luna looked up. Hermione stepped out, looking nothing like her former self. Her medium length light brown hair had become long and dark, now falling in soft curls rather than indecisive waves. Her skin was a shade or two lighter than her normal tan, and although her features were still largely similar, a few key changes had helped to make her unrecognizable.

"I'm not sure about the length, Luna. It might be a tad inappropriate for a formal event," she said uncertainly, tugging at the hem. Luna grinned and winked down at Victoire.

"Come on, Hermione. Live a little."

Hermione gave the blonde witch an uncertain smile and headed back into her room. Sitting down gingerly on the bed, she looked expectantly at her friend. "Well, what do I do now?"

"Go to the darn party, you dork." Luna chuckled at her friend's dense behaviour.

"Right, that." Hermione's face held a faraway look that Luna thought would be more at home on herself. She took a step back as the now decidedly un-Hermione like woman stood and headed for the door, a determined edge held in her eyes. She slipped her feet into her favourite shoes as she left the room and began down the stairs.

Luna chuckled as she stopped on the third step and tugged them back off, doubtlessly thinking better of walking down four flights in six-inch heels. Looking down at Victoire, she patted the little girl's head.

"You don't tell anyone about this and I'll give you the biggest chocolate bar you've ever seen."

...

It was a full house.

Hermione let out a breath as she entered the ballroom of Malfoy Manor, relieved that the wards had recognized her magical signature and allowed her entrance. She wondered briefly how Fleur had managed to get past them and remembered Draco's plan to meet her at the gates. Damn him and his insufferable determination to show of his brilliant Muggleborn lawyer.

Glancing around, she noticed many of her own friends. Many of the most important and powerful members of Magical society were there. Almost all of the Weasleys were in attendance, which she knew was another bit of showing off on the Malfoys part. Always a good look to make amends with your former enemies.

She narrowed her eyes as she spotted herself taking a spin around the dance floor with none other than the younger Malfoy. Trust Fleur to use this as an excuse to flirt with rich, powerful men. She spun around quickly, deciding to avoid the fake version of herself in the red dress for the rest of the evening. Heading for the bar, she continued scanning the room for people she knew, realizing that she would have to rely on sheer pluck to strike up conversations with them this evening. She was too distracted by her own thoughts to notice the dark haired man she was about to collide with.

"Oh, excuse me!" she gasped, as she ran into a solid chest.

"I'm terribly sorry, miss. Wasn't taking a blind bit of notice of what was in front of me," the man replied. She looked up from his shirt straight into the handsome face of none other than Sirius Black.

"Clearly," she snapped, sidestepping Sirius and zeroing back in on the bar.

"Can I get you a drink?" he called out after her. She paused for a moment, remembering she wasn't herself for the evening and smirked.

"Sure," she replied, without turning around.

He fell into step beside her and offered his arm. She ignored it and continued walking. "I'm Sirius Black." His arm was retracted and he offered his right hand instead. Hermione turned her head slightly and raised an eyebrow.

"Really, Sirius Black you say?' He dropped his arm back to his side and frowned a little.

"Yes."

"Never thought I'd see an ex con at a party as stuffy as this."

Sirius chuckled. "I must admit, I'm usually more comfortable with a bottle of single malt and good conversation." They took the last few steps to the solid oak of the bar and he leaned casually against it.

"You don't look like the conversational type, Mister Black. I would pick you more for a causing havoc at Muggle establishments kind of man." Looking toward the bartender, she caught his eye. "Stella, please."

"Two," Sirius added, holding up his first two fingers. "I didn't pick you for the beer type."

"I'm sure you know what assumptions are, Mister Black." She watched the bartender as he poured two lagers into short stemmed glasses.

"The mother of all fuck ups?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Very good, my assumption would normally be that a Pureblood such as yourself would have nothing but disdain for such common expressions.

"And what would your assumption be?"

The corner of Hermione's mouth turned up and she turned towards Sirius fully. "A fuck up."

He smiled at her widely. "I like you. What's your name?"

"None of your business," she replied as their drinks were placed in front of them. She thanked the bartender and took a long draw from her glass.

"Now that's no way for a lady to behave," Sirius mimicked her motions and took a drink himself, still leaning casually against the counter.

"Do I look like a lady to you?'

"You look like one, but you certainly don't seem like one," he murmured. She bristled a little under his intense gaze and took in a sharp breath.

"So, Mister Black. What does a man of leisure such as yourself do to occupy his time?" She stepped away from the bar and headed towards one of the tables set around the perimeter of the expansive room.

"I am working on a project," he replied, following behind her. They sat at a table tucked into one of the darker corners and Hermione set her drink down.

"Oh? Sounds absolutely scintillating." Her voice was dripping with irony and she glanced off into the distance, watching the couples on the dance floor. Her aloof expression softened when she spotted Harry and Ginny, the red head carefully guiding her husband around, clearly adept at avoiding his clumsy footfalls.

"That's my godson, over there with the lead feet," Sirius stated, chuckling.

"I know," she replied, looking at him sideways.

"Oh, you've met?" Hermione paused for a moment before replying.

"No, but Hermione Granger has told me a lot about him." Sirius raised his brows.

"You know Hermione?"

"She's my cousin," she responded.

"I thought she was Muggleborn." She narrowed her eyes and fought to keep the sarcasm from her voice.

"Her parents are Muggles. Doesn't mean her whole family is," she snapped.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean offense. I just didn't know that Hermione had any magical family." She didn't, but refused to feel bad about lying to one of her least favourite people.

"Well, perhaps you should choose your words more carefully in the future." She took a sip of her beer. He held out his right hand.

"We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. Allow me to introduce myself, I'm Sirius black. Monumental jackass." She allowed the corner of her mouth to turn up a little and shook his proffered hand.

"Almost pleased to meet you, Sirius Black, monumental jackass." He chuckled.

"And you are?" She took another sip of her drink and turned her attention back to the dancing couples.

"Still none of your business." Lifting her hand, she gestured to the far side of the room where a handsome black man was chatting with Lucius. "Who's the ridiculously gorgeous wizard over there in the gray robes?"

"Zabini. He's also a monumental jackass," he replied, grudgingly.

"I seem to be gravitating to that type this evening, perhaps you can introduce us?"

"I would need to know your name for that."

...

They were dancing. Barely moving in time to the music, and in a dark corner of the ballroom, but dancing nonetheless. Had been for hours, easily having fallen into an innuendo-laden banter that Hermione had begun to enjoy immensely. If she were herself, there was no way she would have found her way into a secluded spot with him, dancing and talking and letting him touch her in a way that didn't involve her palm on his face. Something about this particular evening had made her uncharacteristically reckless.

"Please tell me your name."

"No." She smiled secretly and focused her eyes past his head. Fleur had made a stop at the bar and was taking a not so secret sip from the hip flask she had hidden under her dress. Hermione narrowed her eyes and prayed she wouldn't have to field too many comments about her being a closet alcoholic over the coming days.

She shivered as his lips brushed her ear, tongue darting out quickly and flicking her earlobe. "Please," he growled, almost desperately.

"No," she repeated, her voice coming out far huskier than she would have liked.

"I'll just ask your cousin." His lips were at her cheek now, heating up the already flushed skin.

"Go ahead," she murmured, pressing her chest to his. "She despises you; do you really think you'll get anything out of her?"

"She'll do almost anything to shut me up."

"She won't tell you that." He grazed her mouth with his and paused, their lips barely touching. She could feel his hot breath mingling with hers and desperately fought the urge to run her tongue over his bottom lip.

"I will find out, you know. I have connections." His hand gripped the dark curls that brushed against her back and he tugged, her head falling backwards. She looked up into his dark eyes and smirked.

"Connections can only get you so far, Black." He ducked his head; rubbing his nose against her neck, he took a deep breath.

"Trust me; mine can get me all the way." He moved his lips back to her ear and bit. She moaned softly and allowed him to force her back against the wall a few feet away. Placing her hands firmly on his chest, she began to push him away, but instead found herself grasping his lapels as he ran a hand up the side of her dress, eventually letting it come to rest just below her armpit.

His lips were only millimetres away from hers and she was, against her better judgement, about to let him kiss her when she heard a soft ringing in her ears, barely audible over the sound of the string quartet in the opposite corner of the room. The grandfather clock was letting everyone know that another hour had passed.

"Time," she gasped. He made a questioning grunt, but ignored her confused word.

"What's the time," she tried again. This time managing to speak in clear syllables. His lips touched hers gently, mouth open against hers. She let out a breath, about to throw caution to the wind and kiss him fully.

"About twelve," he replied. She leaned back against the wall and groaned.

"I have to go."

"What, Why?" His lips went back to her neck and she lolled her head to the side a little. Catching herself, she snapped back into an upright position and pushed him away with conviction.

"I'm sorry, Black. I really have to go." Dodging past him, she rushed for the door, her shoes the only thing hindering her progress. He grabbed her wrist and spun her around.

"When can I see you again?" he asked, desperately. She tugged her arm away and started back towards the entrance to the ballroom, looking back over her shoulder she replied.

"Perhaps sooner than you think."

She trotted gingerly down the stairs of Malfoy manor, desperate to get away from the man who was turning her conviction on its head. Midnight had come and gone and she prayed desperately that Luna's glamour charms would hold up to an extra few minutes while she got past the manor's wards.

"Wait," he called out after her.

"I'm sorry, I have to go."

"Who are you, fucking Cinderella?" She turned looked back at him, smiling unconvincingly. He stood at the top of the steps, arms outstretched.

"Something like that." Spinning on her heel, she ran as fast as she could in the towering shoes towards the gates, preparing herself to apparate as she approached the menacing looking wrought iron. Ducking through the person sized opening on the right side, she desperately imagined the wonky house she called home.

"Ow, shit," she gasped, her foot cramping just as the pop of apparition sounded. Her immediate reaction had been to pull her foot out of her shoe, and when she reappeared just outside the front gate of the Burrow, she felt the soft grass under one of her feet.

"Bugger," she muttered. There was no way she was risking going back to the manor for a shoe, even if it was half of a five hundred pound pair. She would ask Draco if he had found it on Monday.

Sighing heavily, she realized this would mean some explaining on her part, there was no way he would believe she had worn such garish shoes with a red dress.

...

"You're awfully quiet, today, Granger."

Hermione glanced up from her lunch and stuck her tongue out at the smirking face across from her.

"How incredibly unladylike."

"Go fuck yourself, Sirius."

Ginny, who was sitting on one side of Hermione, gave her a sharp whack on the arm and looked pointedly towards the cluster of children Molly was doting over at the far end of the table. Hermione looked down at her plate and muttered an apology.

"Filthy mouth there, Hermione." He smirked.

"Better than living a filthy existence," she snapped. She picked up her cutlery and cut into her steak, looking like she was attempting to mutilate it beyond recognition.

"Why won't you tell me your cousin's name?"

"Because I don't want you ruining her life as well as mine. The last thing she needs is to be dragged into your lifestyle of debauchery." She shoved a piece of the meat into her mouth and chewed angrily.

He glowered and huffed a little, deciding now was as good a time as any to bring more attention on himself.

"I found the perfect woman and all I have to show for it is this shoe." Sirius reached under the table and revealed a bright turquoise pump. Slamming it down on the table, he grinned in a slightly unhinged manner at Hermione. "Still want to lecture me on my lifestyle?" She glared at him and pushed her chair back forcefully.

"Excuse me; I'm going to make some tea."

The table went silent and Sirius looked around curiously. "What?"

Ginny cleared her throat and looked sideways at Harry, who shook his head almost imperceptibly. Fleur, having no such qualms about decorum piped up. "Ermione has a pair just like zem."

Sirius cocked his head thoughtfully. "You think she could tell me where she got them? Might be able to track the witch down if I go to the store," he paused. "Forget that, it's a bloody shoe. Must be tons of stores with ones just like it."

Fleur scoffed. "Sirius, zose are Christian Louboutins. Zey are not exactly common in zee Wizarding World."

Luna dreamily gazed in the vague direction of Sirius, "Oh, I don't think that's Hermione's. She hasn't worn hers in a week or so. Odd, considering they're her favourites..." Luna trailed off as Sirius stood abruptly and snatched up the shoe. She watched him rush inside and smirked.

...

"Please tell me it was you." Hot breath caressed her ear and Hermione stiffened. She tried to turn but found herself trapped by two strong arms, his hands placed flat on the counter in front of her giving her no choice but to stare out the window at the happy group of friends gathered around the picnic table.

"It wasn't me, Sirius," she murmured. "Now let me go or I'll do something drastic."

His tongue darted out, sliding up the column of her neck and she shivered. "I know it was you."

"For fucks sake, it wasn't me. Now let me go."

Sirius took a step back and held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Fine."

"Don't give me that shit."

"What shit?"

"That I give up, you win but really I'm just gong to prove you wrong and embarrass you in front of everyone shit."

"So you admit it, you're lying."

"Merlin, Sirius. Just leave it alone, will you?" She ran a hand through her tangled waves and turned back to the stove. Stiffening, she felt him move back towards her, chest again pressing up against her back.

"Tell me you didn't feel anything and we can forget anything ever happened." His arms ran down her sides and she shivered.

"I didn't feel anything."

"You're lying."

"Stop talking out your ass."

"I can feel the goose bumps on your skin. You definitely feel something." His fingers slipped over the exposed flesh between the bottom of her tee shirt and the top of her jeans and she let out a shaky breath.

"I-"

"Yeah, yeah. You don't feel anything." He let go of her and stalked around her, eventually coming between her and the stove. His eyes were dark and his hair a little more unruly than usual and Hermione couldn't help but hope desperately that he would ignore her stupid mouth and just kiss her. "I think I might be in love with you." She snorted.

"One night of dancing and civilized conversation does not equal love, Sirius."

"What makes you think it was just the other night?"

"You hate me, I hate you. I guarantee you don't know anything about me aside from the face value." She pushed him aside and reached for the teapot on the counter, stuffing a few teabags in and turning off the now whistling kettle.

"I know you hate it here." She took in a sharp breath and poured the steaming water into the pot. "I know you don't really want to be a lawyer." She slammed the kettle back down onto the stovetop and spun to face him.

"Oh, yeah? What is my one true ambition in life then, Sirius. Seeing as I so obviously am not happy with a job I've worked towards for the last ten years."

"You want to be an inventor." She froze.

"How do you know that?" she whispered, ducking her head and turning back to the tea.

"I watch you. I know what you read." He paused. "I sneak out after you sometimes and watch you cast charms at gnomes. I see you add extra ingredients to George's potions when you think he's not looking. I fucking know you, Hermione." He moved next to her and her breath hitched. "Come live at Grimmauld place. I know you might end up killing me, but at least I'll die knowing you have the opportunity to do what you really want to do and aren't sitting in a stuffy office somewhere chasing around after generations of Malfoys."

"I'm not moving in with you, Sirius." She picked up the teapot and set it on a tray with a cluster of mismatched mugs.

"You can have the whole basement to yourself. I swear, I won't even talk to you unless you speak to me first." He ran a finger over her cheek and she leaned into the touch, cursing her traitorous subconscious.

"You already have the Potter clan living there, I'm sure you don't need a bossy swot like me there to cramp your style even further," she muttered.

"Oh, for fucks sake," he ground out, placing his flat palms on her cheeks and kissing her, his mouth was warm and soft and she couldn't resist. Gasping in surprise, she kissed him back, gripping his tee shirt in both hands and pulling him closer, tugging at his lower lip and allowing his tongue to tangle desperately with hers.

As quick as it had happened it was over. Sirius pulled away and she picked up the tray with a shaky breath, heading back out to the large group gathered outside. As she walked through the doorway, she turned a little and smiled.

"I'll think about it."

End.