Author's Note: Ok people, here is the second answer to the challenge that was to have a valid reason for Hermione to be in a strip club. Just a short little snippet, and definitely not my best stuff but I promised you two answers so here it is. Sorry this one took so long to post! Life kept getting in the way. Oh, and there are no lemons in this one! Only implied lemons. If you want lemons read my other stuff =)
Hermione Granger put her hands on her hips and eyed her best girl friend with an air of utter seriousness.
"No, Ginny. N.O. I'm not going to do it."
Ginny's face turned down in a rather pathetic attempt at pleading, and Hermione tried to steel herself against the arguments she knew were coming.
"Oh come on Mione, you have to dance in the recital. You just have to. You're the best I've got! You-"
Ginny stopped mid plea as an unsteadily twirling figure caught her eye.
"Left foot, Lavender!" She called across the dance studio to the floundering girl, "Use your left foot to step into that turn! And Luna!" She tilted her head up to the girl at the very top of the dance pole, hanging by her feet, still slightly spinning and seemingly trying to pluck invisible creatures out of the air. "You really should come down before all the blood rushes to your head and you pass out."
"But Ginny," the upside down Luna said happily, "there are gringlies up here! They're awfully good luck if you can catch them. It's Daddy's birthday soon and he would just love one of these!"
Ginny sighed in a defeated manner and turned back to Hermione, one eyebrow raised in a pointed stare. "You see? And they're not even the worst. Luna's actually pretty good... when she remembers what she's supposed to be doing, and Lavender can do tricks but she can't dance to save her life. I need you."
Hermione looked around the dance studio at the collection of witches dancing and spinning around poles and wondered how on earth she'd gotten here. If someone had suggested to her a year ago that her best friend would be asking her to pole dance in front of hundreds of people she would have thought them barking mad. But here they were.
Ginny had discovered pole dancing quite by accident, and it was entirely Hermione's fault.
They'd been at Lavender's hen party, in a strip club of course, and Hermione had been trying not to look as uncomfortable as she felt, steadfastly avoiding looking around her at the men flying around and performing tricks on broomsticks while shedding their clothing, when Ginny had leaned over and asked a question.
"What do muggle strippers use?"
"Muggle strippers," Ginny went on as if Hermione hadn't almost choked on her drink, "they obviously don't use broomsticks in their acts, what do they use?"
Hermione cleared her throat. "Umm, poles. They dance around and do tricks on spinning poles."
"Spinning poles? But how do they stay up without magic?"
"Well, I suppose they train at it and build up the muscles necessary to hold themselves up with their own strength."
Hermione was a bit unsettled by the level of curiosity evident in her friend's eye.
"Hmm, do only strippers use these poles?"
Hermione's dread grew. "Why?"
"Just wondering. I wanted to know if it was like this," she indicated the stripper who was hovering next to Lavender and had just dropped his shirt in her lap, "Obviously a lot more people than just strippers do tricks on broomsticks so it's not a scandalous activity as long as you aren't removing your clothing while you do it. Do regular muggles do this 'pole dancing' too?"
Hermione had a very bad feeling about this. "Well... yes. I've heard of dance studios just for pole dancing and it's actually becoming more and more popular but-"
"Good." Ginny cut her off with a smile and the look on her face made Hermione groan inwardly. That was the look she got when she had some hair brained scheme and there was absolutely no talking her out of it. "I think I'd like to make that my Muggle Relations Project."
Hermione actually did choke on her drink at that point.
After the war, the ministry had ordered every influential member of society to do something to integrate a piece of muggle culture into wizarding society. It was a way of educating wizards about muggles and closing the gap between the worlds. They named it the 'Muggle Relations Project' and so far it had been quite a hit. Everything muggle was very 'in' right now and Arthur Weasley was considered a genius and a trend setter for his early fascination with them.
Most of their group already had ideas about what their project would be. Harry and Hermione had already completed theirs. Hermione had invented the wizarding version of a cell phone by expanding on the two way mirror charm. She used compacts so they could be easily carried around and instead of just being able to link with one other mirror the way Harry's had, they could be linked to any number of mirrors simply by touching the two together.
Harry had started teaching muggle cooking classes. Most witches and wizards had never done any cooking by hand and there were quite a few problems until Professor Snape had deducted that cooking was very similar to making potions and so anyone who had failed his class was not allowed to do it. Neville was severely disappointed.
Ron hadn't come back from training yet, but he had discovered soccer and was positively bonkers about it.
"They don't use brooms as all!" He'd exclaimed, "The use their legs! It's getting me into amazing shape and the best part is that how good you are is completely dependent on your physical skill alone. If you train your legs harder, than you run faster. No one can buy a better pair of legs and beat you just because they have more money!"
He was going to start a league when he came back.
These things were all very good. What Ginny was planning would turn the world on its ear. Can you imagine Professor McGonagall dancing around a pole? And the worst part was that none of them would even think it odd. Only the muggle born wizards would know it was scandalous and there really aren't that many of them.
Hermione made an attempt to stop the madness before it took hold.
"Ginny, it's really not the same as riding a broomstick-"
Ginny wasn't even listening to her. "Oh Hermione this is going to be so much fun! I'll go to one of those muggle studios and learn how to do it and then I'll come back and teach people. I've been so worried about what I was going to do but this will be perfect! Dancing is the only non magical thing that I'm really good at."
"But Ginny, there are other kinds of dancing you could do-"
"Not ones that are specific to muggles. We have just about every form of dance and I've done them all, but no one has ever heard of pole dancing here. It will be perfect!"
Over the next few days Hermione tried to explain but Ginny would not be budged.
"So what if muggles consider it a bit scandalous? I won't be teaching muggles now will I? No one here will know anything about it except what I tell them, and I promise you, no one in my class will be taking off their clothing. It will be fine."
So she went ahead and proposed her idea to the ministry for approval and if any of the members of the council were muggle born they hid it well and didn't say a word. Hermione thought that probably had something to do with Ginny's husband. As Ginny Weasley most people liked her well enough to not want to offend her but someone still would have said something.
As Ginny Malfoy no one dared.
Draco Malfoy was currently the wealthiest wizard in the world, and it had almost nothing to do with the already sizable fortune he'd inherited from his parents. His Muggle Relations Project had been to bring the stock market into the wizarding world. His net worth had gone from ridiculous to full out obscene in the last year. People were even more afraid of causing him displeasure than they had been his father, and everyone knew there was no quicker way to earn his wrath than to upset Ginny.
And so Hermione stood, one year later, in the 'Ginny Malfoy School of Dance', surrounded by pole dancing witches.
"Ginny, I don't even dance in front of the other girls." Hermione indicated the class going on, "They don't even know I started dancing. As far as they're concerned I just came to pick you up for dinner."
And that was actually how it had started. Hermione had come to meet Ginny before dinner at the studio because the red headed witch had insisted she come in and see how things were going.
Hermione had actually been rather intrigued with some of the moves and her brain had started working out the physics of it all and how these tricks that looked like they were in stark opposition of the laws of gravity would be possible. When Ginny was walking the last of the students to the door Hermione couldn't resist trying out a few of the things she'd seen.
She started with just a few basic pirouettes and spins and found that her background in ballet and gymnastics were very useful for pole dancing. There were quite a few turns and moves she could alter just slightly to incorporate the pole. She arabesqued while hanging from it. She kicked into a handstand and then hooked her feet around it so she could push off from the ground and spin with her arms out to her sides. She chasséd into a leap and grabbed onto it, holding the split position while she whirled around.
It proved to be addictive.
She now came in three or four nights a week to dance after everyone went home, and while she would admit that she loved it, she still couldn't bring herself to do it in front of people. The stigma of it being a scandalous activity just wouldn't leave her, even though she didn't actually do anything scandalous. Being in Ginny's First Annual Pole Dance Recital was definitely out of the question.
"But Mione," Ginny pleaded, "If people saw you dance they would be lining up around the block to take lessons. It would make me an instant success!"
The plaintive look in her eye suddenly turned calculating and Hermione just knew she wasn't going to like what came next.
"You're objection to being in the recital is that you don't want people to see you dancing right?"
Hermione nodded apprehensively, "Right."
Ginny smiled widely. "Well then they won't see you. We'll just glamour you and then you can dance without anyone knowing who you are."
Hermione hung her head in defeat.
"It's only a small gathering of people right? You're not going to turn this into a big ordeal and invite the entire country or anything are you?
Ginny clapped with glee. "Yes! Thank you Mione! I promise no one will know it's you and I can't imagine the crowd being more than just a few friends and family of the dancers."
As Hermione's head was still down she didn't see the slightly dishonest curve of her friend's lip.
"You want me to do what?" Draco Malfoy eyed his wife as if she had gone completely barking.
Ginny smiled up at him sweetly and repeated her request. "I want you to convince your godfather to come to my recital."
"Would you care to enlighten me on the reason you want Severus Snape to attend a dance recital?" Just thinking about the absurdity of that image almost made him laugh out loud.
His wife's smile went from sweet to devious in that way of hers that always made him wary at the same time that it turned him on.
"Let's just say there's going to be a performance that he really shouldn't miss."
Suspicion of her motive curled around in his brain. If she was doing what he thought she was then he was all for it. Those two had been avoiding each other for much too long.
"You know getting him to agree is going to be nearly impossible."
Ginny's smile went back to sweet as she leaned in to kiss him. "I have faith in you."
"You want me to do what?" Severus Snape eyed his godson as if he had gone completely barking.
"I want you to go to Ginny's dance recital."
Draco was good at hiding it, but Snape caught the slight twitch of his mouth indicating his wish to smile. Suspicion gnawed at him.
"Would you care to enlighten me as to the reason anyone would wish my presence at such an event?"
The twitch again.
"I have no idea."
"You've turned into a retched excuse for a liar, Draco."
This time Draco did smile. "To quote someone I have the utmost respect for, 'I got rather tired of it over the years.'"
Now it was Snape's mouth that twitched.
"All right. I'll go. But only to find out what your surprisingly Slytherin-like wife is up to."
And maybe, his traitorous brain interjected before he could stop the train of thought, because she might be there.
Hermione Granger was about to dance in a strip club.
She peered out from behind the curtain at the alarmingly large crowd of witches and wizards crammed into the Spearmint Rhino and once again wondered how she had been roped into this.
"Ginny you can't hold the recital at a strip club! Are you insane?" She'd exclaimed when her friend revealed the location she'd rented for the event.
"Why not? It's perfect! It's already got a stage set up with a pole and since I paid a ridiculous amount of money it's completely ours tonight. There will be no muggles present and no one from our world knows what it is. All they will see is a posh looking room with a stage. It just seemed silly to go to all the extra work of turning the studio into an acceptable performance area when there was such a perfect place already set up right down the street."
Hermione couldn't argue with that logic even though she desperately wanted to.
Her eyes continued scanning the ever growing crowd and she had just started contemplating murdering Ginny when she saw him.
Her heart stopped.
She tried to convince herself she was mistaken. What could have possibly compelled him to come here? The idea was so ridiculous that it hadn't even crossed her mind.
But there he was.
The reason she hadn't dated in over a year. The subject of her highly inappropriate dreams. And the man her heart had so foolishly attached itself to.
Severus Snape sat in the far back corner of the room, his presence reaching out to her across the crowded space until it seemed there was no one else around. His black gaze lifted to hers and she gasped and let the curtain fall between them.
Oh my god he saw me! Her brain rioted and she reached up to pull at her hair in embarrassed despair... and went calm.
The straight black locks sliding through her fingers were nothing at all like her curly brown ones and the blue eyes he would have seen would not give her away.No one would recognize her under this glamour. She had changed every single facet of her appearance to make absolutely certain of it.
She took a deep breath of relief and it was at that moment that she realized the opportunity this disguise provided her.
He wouldn't know it was her.
She could do anything she pleased and it would have no consequences. She could pour her heart out on the stage for him and finally find some release for all of her pent up emotions without any fallout. Her heart started pounding and she ran to the sound table to make a last minute change in music.
"Here," Draco said holding out a small green stone to Snape as he slid into the seat next to him, "You're going to want this."
Severus eyed the stone, "And why, pray tell, do I need a disenchantment stone to watch a dance..." His voice trailed off as his gaze was riveted to the girl who walked out onto the stage. She was striking, with her straight black hair and her brilliant blue eyes but it wasn't her appearance that had him captivated. There was something about the way she moved... the way she set her chin as she took her place on the stage... something that reminded him of...
Suddenly the girl's eyes locked onto his and she held his gaze as the music started. She looked at him as though she knew him, as though she was trying to tell him something with her eyes.
"Trust me." His godson brought his attention back to the stone and he held it out again.
As soon as it dropped into his palm the image of the mysterious girl wavered and Hermione Granger stood in her place. He could not stop his sharp intake of breath at the sight of her looking at him in that way.
And then she began to move and his heart stopped beating.
She was beautiful, her movements powerful and graceful as her body told a story of longing and heartbreak and unrequited love. Everyone in the audience held their breath as she poured her emotions into her dance, and as she finished her last turn, her hand stretched out as if reaching for him, and one single tear traced a path down her cheek. For a moment they were the only two people in the room, their eyes locked on each other as the final note sounded and he felt as though everything inside of him was turned inside out.
She loved him.
This beautiful woman with her brilliant mind and her kind smile wanted to be with him. He had stayed away from her ever since he had realized his feelings for her, not wanting to suffer the pain of being close to her and not being able to have her. And now she was looking at him with love shining in her eyes. He stood to go to her...
and the crowd went wild.
Hermione stood on stage, reaching out to him and pushing every ounce of love she felt for him into her eyes. He started to stand and for a moment she had the idea that he was going to come to her. The moment was broken as he was suddenly lost in a sea of people leaping to their feet, and she startled a bit at the sound of the applause. She had completely forgotten anyone but him was even watching her. She gave the crowd her best false smile and a bit of a bow before ducking backstage.
She made it halfway to the dressing room before she couldn't control the shaking of her limbs.
She leaned against the wall and took a few deep breaths, trying to pull her ragged emotions back under control. A noise came from behind her and she turned, false smile back in place, expecting Ginny.
What she got was Severus Snape with a look in his eyes that went way beyond intense.
Her smile faltered and she had to remind herself that he couldn't possibly know who she was. He probably just wants to know why you were staring at him. Yes. That had to be it. She pasted her smile back in place and forced herself to speak.
"Sorry for putting you on the spot like that." She tried to sound light and friendly, "I needed someone to act out the story to and you were in a perfect spot back there and-"
Her words faltered as he reached up to press his finger against her mouth.
"Hermione." Her name sounded like a sin falling from his lips and breathing became a distant memory. His hand lifted from her mouth and he brushed his fingers through her hair, making it turn from the sleek black strands back into her riotous mass of brown curls. She felt the rest of her shift back into place under the power of his silent spell and she suddenly felt extremely vulnerable. She opened her mouth to say something, anything, to try and explain away what she had done but he spoke first.
"Did you really think you could hide from me after that?"
He lifted her chin so she couldn't look away and the emotion in his eyes was staggering. Hope of the most insane variety started to unfurl in her heart as she stood transfixed by his midnight gaze.
"You cannot tell me you love me with every move you make and then run away. I am not a man to let such a treasure get away so easily." He leaned into her and whispered his next words against her lips. "Not when I have been coveting your love for so long."
She barely had time to register his words before all capability for higher brain function was lost as he claimed her mouth in a searing kiss.
The world ceased to exist.
There was nothing but this man whom she had loved for so long pressing his body against hers and wrapping his hands in her hair. Nothing but the feeling of him surrounding her, claiming her as his own. She had no doubt that he could have done anything he pleased to her in that dark hallway behind the stage and she would not have had the ability to remember any of the many reasons the should stop him.
Highest on that list being that they were most certainly not alone.
"Hermione are you back... Oh." Ginny had popped her head around the corner and was currently wearing an extremely self satisfied grin. Hermione jumped at the intrusion of the world back into her little bubble of fantasy and blushed furiously at the picture she knew they made. Severus simply glared at the red head and and kept Hermione firmly in his arms.
"Miss Weasley," He deliberately used a title which put her back into the position of a student being reprimanded, "Since I am almost completely certain that you orchestrated this outcome of the evening's events, the least you could do is not interrupt it."
Ginny's smile grew and she tossed a wink to Hermione before disappearing back into the club.
Severus looked down at the still blushing witch in his arms and just took a moment to hold her and let it sink in that she could be his. When he finally released her she looked up at him with a question in her eyes, as if she thought he might leave her. He simply held out his hand.
"Let me take you home, Miss Granger."
The smile she graced him with chased away all of the stains on his soul. She placed her hand in his.
"I would love nothing more, Professor."
And hand in hand, they walked out into the night and the start of their new life.
The end! =)