Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling; I'm only visiting her universe for nonprofit fun and edification. (No profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended).
Things were very different after the war, but that went without saying.
Which is to say, everyone had a tale to tell.
One of which Ginny Weasley was recounting, as she lounged on the squashy chair in her room, her hair still drying in the summer breeze that stirred the chintz curtains.
"You'll never believe who made a gambit after the last Harpies game."
"But you're engaged," Hermione said, and immediately realized that this was naive. Quidditch players were different, or so the great public thought. If she didn't have enough of Ron's stories —
Ginny's momentarily quirked eyebrow said all of that, and more. "Blaise Zabini."
It took her a minute. "Slytherin, right? Tall, dark, and Pureblood."
"All of the above. Said he'd fancied me since schooldays …"
"Well, he might have said something sooner, before you were engaged."
"Blood traitors weren't so fashionable when we were at school." An understatement. "Now … "
"Fruits of victory, I suppose," Hermione said. "If you call it a reward, being hit on by Slytherin males."
"Not only the males," Ginny said with a wicked smirk.
"Most vertebrates come in two sexes," Luna remarked dreamily, looking up from her book for the first time. Particle physics, if she didn't mistake. "And then there are the indeterminate cases, morphologically speaking."
"So what did he have to say for himself?"
"Not much, once I reminded him I wasn't looking, and particularly wasn't looking in his direction."
"You forebore from hexing him."
"Oh well, if the threat's plausible enough, you don't have to hex them. The nice thing about Slytherins is that they only need a hint. 'Ask Malfoy.'" She smirked. Ginny was still proud of that Bat-Bogey Hex, for all she had fried very much larger fish since then. Dueled Bellatrix Lestrange to a standstill, well, the three of them had, at the Battle of Hogwarts.
They still avoided mention of her, for very good reasons.
Hermione had a tale of her own, but in the meantime she had a cultural matter to parse. "What's gotten into them since the war?"
"I'm a Pureblood, if you believe in that stuff."
"You know the kind I mean. The ones who make a point of it." She said, "I was over at Andromeda Tonks' bookshop, and the place is just … crawling with them. I saw Pansy Parkinson there, for goodness' sake. With her nose in a book. A Muggle book."
Ginny smirked again at the mention of Pansy. "My dad can't get anything done at work, he says, for all of them dropping in to ask about eclectricity or whatnot. It's a plague, all right."
"Jungle fever," Luna said, stretching and putting her book aside.
"I tried to see what she was reading," Hermione said. Really, that was the measure of a person, what sort of things they were reading when nobody was looking. "She caught my eye and winked. Pansy Parkinson winked at me."
Ginny burst out laughing. "That's because you don't play Quidditch. She more than winked at me."
"Dean says that's what the Muggles call it," Luna added by way of clarification. "We went to see an American film about it."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "So Pansy is … "
"Past her flirtation with heterosexuality. Long past."
"Oh my." Her mother had said that life after school was very different, and here she was right again, and not only about Muggles.
"So what was she reading?" Ginny asked.
"Chess. A book about Muggle chess. And she had a whole stack of Georgette Heyer, and Machiavelli's Prince. Made her out very much more interesting than I thought she was."
"She's in the Diagon Alley book club," Luna said, "and the chess club too. It's like school, only nicer." She said, "I wish school could have been more like life, if you know what I mean."
Oddly enough, Hermione did. All sorts of things were very much nicer about life as a grown-up, that grown-ups had only hinted at: that sense of ease, and the fact that Luna did not annoy her as much as she had before, because Hermione was very much less frantic about whether she herself was doing it right — it being life in general.
"Ron tried to get me to join the chess club," she said, "but I'm more inclined to just play with him. Wizarding chess is so interesting." And it had been so much more relaxing since their passionate post-war romance had cooled and transformed into a surprisingly satisfying friendship. That was another thing about being a grown-up: one's tastes changed. Sensible food could be tastier than dessert, and solid friendship more pleasant than emotional drama.
"They play Muggle chess at the bookshop," Luna said, "and all sorts of Muggle games, too. The cards don't talk either. It's restful."
"So do they hit on you, too?" Hermione asked Luna. It might not be something she needed to take personally, what had happened, and she wasn't sure if that made it better or worse.
Luna shrugged. "I don't think so." She frowned in concentration. "But Dean says it's different since they re-classified him." Hermione frowned. "Since it came out about his father being a wizard." She said, "They were always following him around and annoying him, and now they've stopped."
Ginny narrowed her eyes at Hermione, with that shrewd look. "So … you have a tale to tell."
Hermione shrugged. "I suppose." It was embarrassing, actually, but things did better in the light of day. For a moment, she had the perverse urge to make Ginny play twenty questions, which Ginny forestalled.
"Two words, then: surname and given name."
She felt herself turn red. "Draco Malfoy."
Ginny hooted and fell back onto the bed.
Luna looked on mildly. That was Luna's great virtue: she lived in a world that was very much weirder than anything you could imagine, even on acid (which, disconcertingly, might be the cosmos as it actually was, if Hawking et al were to be trusted on the matter).
Ginny recovered herself. "So. Go on."
"Well, you know how it's a small world and all … the wizarding world." About five city blocks, if the truth be told. "And I keep running into him, I mean particularly of late, at the tea shop and the cafe and the bookshop and the pub, especially the bookshop, which is annoying because I'm not going to stop going to the bookshop just because Draco Malfoy has learned how to read."
Ginny said, "Well, he's not so vile as he was at school, I'll admit."
"Very much less befuddled," Luna said judiciously.
"And his clothes sense is acceptable, I suppose, and he's not too bad to look at, if you just ignore his face," Ginny said.
"Well, his expression's been less unpleasant lately, which is where the trouble started," Hermione said. Still not an acceptable preamble.
"And he doesn't use the M-word any more," Luna added.
"Now that's a staggering pile of extenuating circumstance," Ginny said, "so, go on."
"Well, he's been looking at me, and at first I thought it was just the usual… well, or that he might just happen to be facing that way." That did make her sound oblivious, which she thought she might be. After all, it had taken her and Ron far longer, and even now, she wondered if their friendship was based upon the things that they failed to notice in concert, or chose to ignore.
Chess was pleasant, even if she were still learning, really.
Ginny's face showed that she definitely shared the notion that Hermione was oblivious, but was being polite and not saying.
"So, one day I was at the bookshop and I had rather too many things… and dropped some of them. And Malfoy was there."
He had picked them up for her, by hand, which struck her as distinctly out-of-character because she did see the grip of his wand sticking out of the pocket … of his very fashionable Muggle jeans.
That was already a bit much, Draco Malfoy dressed like a Muggle university student, except for little hints here and there that it might not be the whole story: the long hair, for one thing, in its thirteenth-century Goblin-made silver clasp, and the signet ring. It was the look she had come to classify as Pureblood Muggle-Wannabe. Full Muggle drag, except for one or two very traditional Pureblood markers.
Draco Malfoy, dressed as a Muggle university student, helped her pick up her scattered books. Handed them to her, one by one, and yes she must have been oblivious because there were at least ten books, during the handing-over of which, more than once his fingertips brushed hers (she noticed that he didn't flinch)… but not until he looked up at her from under flirtatiously lowered lashes, from his half-kneeling position on the floor, did it occur to her that the contact might not have been accidental at all.
It was weirdly unsettling.
Ginny said, "You are right. You are oblivious. That was definitely flirtation."
"But the thing was … it was Malfoy."
"The only thing that surprises me is that it was you he set his cap for." She smirked. "I've been half convinced I was going to have to tell him to keep off Harry."
"Oh, the way he dresses. And walks. And everything."
"Gender expression is no predictor of sexual orientation," Luna offered. Hermione did one of the double-takes that had been all too common lately, as in, she stole my line.
"And he might well be bisexual," Hermione added, with proper academic detachment, in which case he has twice the number of people to fail with. "But that's rather a moot point…"
"So, you were intrigued." She nodded. Ginny had saved her the embarrassment of spelling that out.
"And it did seem to me that we were accidentally crossing paths rather more frequently after that, so, yes." She took a deep breath. "And then he started chatting me up, and …"
And I took him home in spite of it.
Ginny wasn't going to let her off the hook. "So what's Malfoy's notion of chatting you up?"
"Well, he complimented me on my clothes, to begin with. More than acceptably Mugglish, I suppose. Those were my oldest jeans… I mean, I was just at the bookshop to pick up some things. Ever so much more convenient, I mean, and I really do feel strongly about patronizing wizarding business concerns, what with the lot that's taken to crossing the border to buy their things at the chain stores …"
She didn't tell him that those jeans were so old that she had worn them on the Horcrux hunt. The pivot of his compliment was that they were acceptably worn-out, not the sort of thing that vulgar arrivistes were wearing to follow the latest fad. Original flavor, so to speak.
"And then he said that I looked quite authentic in them, and he liked that, and was it true about Muggles…"
Ginny rolled her eyes, as if to say she dreaded this bit.
As well she might.
"About the electricity." She felt her face get red. "I hadn't any idea what he actually meant by that." The hint, however, had been unmistakably naughty. She had picked up on that, because she wasn't entirely oblivious … and Malfoy was far from subtle.
No different than in school days, except in a somewhat different direction.
Ginny was trying (unsuccessfully) to stifle a fit of giggles.
"So then he asked if he might buy me a coffee."
"And you said yes."
"I'd been headed that way."
"And you were curious." She nodded. If only Ginny wouldn't emphasize that bit.
"Scientific curiosity is never to be deprecated," Luna said, adding, "though of course, sexual customs aren't to be judged on a single data point."
Thank you, Luna, she thought. "I had no intention of making a comprehensive survey," she said. "And I suspect Malfoy is an outlier, anyway." She returned to the matter of the tale, before Ginny had a chance to herd her in that direction. "And he's got a sort of twitchy charm, in the line of flirtation, if only one could turn off the soundtrack."
Such as the line about wanting to venture a bit further afield than he had.
Or the one about liking Muggle clothes because they rubbed interestingly.
Or the one about … what Muggles, and more specifically, Muggle-borns, did in bed.
(Muggle-borns were not merely a subset of Muggles, she wanted to point out, which was the one of the points over which a war had been fought.)
What did it, perversely, was the fact it was god-awful Draco Malfoy saying these things, which were horribly inappropriate and yet … evinced interest. Things had changed since the war, and this interest was a sort of spoils of victory. And it wasn't that he'd had an easy time of it since the end of hostilities, what with the trial and the financial penalties and his thirty-year probation, and the lifetime ban from the professional practice of Potions (due to the business in sixth year) or Quidditch (on general principles) anywhere in the wizarding world.
Not that he was exactly impoverished, given that wardrobe of his …
Nonetheless … oh, she supposed that there was still a lingering trace of her fetish for blonds, that she thought the Lockhart business in second year had done for. She did like long hair, and he used his to advantage, whether the flirtatious glance through the disarranged fringe, or flicking it out of his eyes or over his shoulder by way of gesture.
And he implied that he might offer something on the order of a new experience, and looked to her for the same.
Now that was flattering.
Scientific curiosity is never to be deprecated.
However, in all brute honesty, her fleeting sexual interest in Draco Malfoy was a discreditable amalgam of schadenfreude, idle curiosity, and (yes) boredom. She hadn't ever had a proper fling, and he might be an appropriate candidate, being completely inappropriate for any respectable social use. Certainly she couldn't imagine introducing him to her friends, nor (god forbid) her parents, who remembered all too well their encounter with his father in front of the bookshop at the beginning of her second year. That incident had sealed their consent to her plan to hide them on another continent once the war heated up in earnest.
"So, coffee with Malfoy," Ginny said.
"Yes," she replied. "Pretty much it was agreed from then on, I mean, at least in my mind."
Yes, the coffee was a prelude, or at least a preliminary assessment. The cafe was her favorite; they made Muggle coffee drinks and they made them strong, in a way that reminded her that coffee houses had once been very wicked places indeed, purveyors of the dark concoction favored of infidels, revolutionaries, lexicographers, and other suspicious types. Malfoy did have a sense for proper atmosphere, which gave him points.
If only he'd stop talking. He wasn't bad-looking, though really the appeal continued to be, this is Draco Malfoy making eyes at me. The stuff that came out of his mouth, though, about how much he might look forward to trying something new, and wasn't she interested in same, no, he had already said that …
Really, some people had no idea how to edit. A nudge was as good as a wink … but his nudges were threatening to push her all the way out of the booth and into the street outside and homeward to read a good book, alone.
She was already compiling a list of deal breakers: it would be no go if he was into rape fantasies, or Death Eater sex slave role-plays, or Lascivious Boss and Reluctant Secretary, or (god help us) Head Boy and Head Girl (because some people could not let go of school fantasies).
And she was armed, because it never did to let people like that into your house without precaution, even if the war was over. Maybe especially because the war was over.
And this was Draco Malfoy, after all.
"If you're going to tell the story, tell it," Ginny said, with some asperity.
She'd been staring into space.
"Common questions: so how does he kiss?"
And really, she should have left it alone once she'd gotten a sample of his notion of kissing: sloppy, and much worse aim than she would have expected from a not-too-bad Seeker…
… Oh yes, and speaking of that, the grabby hands, that she'd had to slow down, because a coffee house booth was no place for him to be pushing things that fast.
But it was impolite to say, "Are you trying to kiss me or eat my face?" She was a well-brought-up girl, and she had faith in human nature. He might still have possibilities behind closed doors, which is where this whole performance belonged.
She herded him out of the coffee house to the Apparition point, and thence to her flat.
Where he immediately disconcerted her by running from one switch-plate to the next, turning on all the lights, the ceiling fan, then the appliances in the kitchen, and heading straight to the corner where her desk stood —
"Do not turn on my computer," she said. She preferred that it stay switched off, because she had learned from bitter experience just how much of a power surge a proper hex would create, and what the motherboard could and could not survive in the way of magical overload.
He obeyed promptly, and she said, "Let's take up now, where we left off."
She immediately regretted it, because he went back to face-eating and grabbiness, and she could feel that pleasant surge of sexual interest draining off rapidly.
"No," she said.
He looked at her with eyes wide and face crestfallen. "I'm sorry."
That was a shock all by itself. Draco Malfoy didn't do apologies.
She said, "Let's start this again, slowly this time." Like dancing lessons, she supposed. She put his hands on her shoulders, and said, "I think it's best if you let me lead for a bit."
That wasn't bad, when he wasn't trying to lead; his height wasn't bad (she forebore thinking about kissing Ron, which had generally resulted in a crick in the neck, until they'd worked out that it was best to sit while doing that). He was only an inch or so taller than Harry …
… No, she would not think about her friends while kissing … this person.
And he did moan and wriggle nicely, which gave her a minor thrill, but then the cold observer in the back of her head pointed out that was her doing, not his, and wondered what she was going to get from this bargain … and when she stopped kissing his neck and returned to his mouth, his aim was every bit as bad as it had been before.
And the whir of the fan and the chatter of the appliances were getting on her nerves. Really, the dishwasher? And worse, it wasn't fully loaded, so this was a grand waste of resources, and the cost of this flat was extravagant enough without that…
Ginny giggled at her account of Draco's sloppy kissing. "So is he wriggly and bitey like a ferret?"
"Mercifully, no biting, though I think he expected me to nip him."
"And how does he look without his clothes, or did you get that far?"
"Much as he does with them." Ginny raised an eyebrow. "Pale, pointed … well, bony and elegant is not exactly my cup of tea. His hair's nice, though." And his hair he knew how to use, unlike … other things.
Gods, that had been awkward.
In particular, there had been one moment, after she'd finally nudged the kissing in more or less the right direction, which was to say, not so much saliva and more or less in the right place — if he wouldn't be so damnably aggressive, where he learned that she wouldn't like to speculate — and he'd gotten the point that if he backed off a bit, he'd get more …
… And she'd proceeded to taking off his clothes, because maybe the kissing wasn't quite so disappointing as the next bit, that from her limited experience was difficult to do exceedingly badly if one were sufficiently attentive, and he stared at her, as if she had missed something in the protocol.
She stopped, in case there were something he didn't like, and looked at him expectantly.
He looked at her.
At length he said, "No handcuffs?"
"No," she said. "No handcuffs." She said, "And even if I were into that sort of thing, handcuffs are not exactly safe practice."
She suppressed the urge to run to her desk to get him a list of references …
… which bibliography would have to be extensive, and in any case would presuppose the desire to learn, on his part, and the desire for a longer-term teaching post, on her part.
"Oh. I thought all Muggles did it with handcuffs."
She resisted her scientific curiosity about his sources.
"So are you all right with continuing?" she asked. His body seemed to think so, to judge from the warm nudge at her thigh, but as bodily response did not equal consent, she wanted to be sure.
"Oh yes," he said, with a voluptuous sigh.
That was sexy. He'd be a great voice actor, if only someone would write him some decent lines.
"So you did it with him." Ginny looked at her with horrified admiration, or maybe admiring horror.
"Yes. I did it with Draco Malfoy. For about thirty seconds, I think."
Ginny laughed, then clasped hands to her mouth as if that short sharp bark had escaped in spite of her. "No."
"Yes, very definitely and regrettably yes. With all due precautions, of course, which probably pushed him over the edge because they were so very Muggle. The lure of the forbidden quite undid him."
"And what was that nonsense with the appliances?" Ginny asked.
"Mood music, apparently."
Ginny whooped in laughter and so far forgot herself as to slide off the bed. "Draco Malfoy has a Muggle fetish."
"More than one, apparently. As I said, an outlier." She said, "Though he assured me he had a very good time, and asked if I might like a repeat performance."
"I politely declined."
She did not add that she had also declined his offer to do something more becoming with her hair. That was a bit much.
Though there was the lingering doubt, after the fact (never mind she knew it was completely irrational) — what had she done to attract that?
Ginny read it on her face. "What's the matter?"
"It was awful, at the time. It's only hilarious in retrospect. And yet — I wonder, I mean I can't help taking it personally."
Ginny said, "That's funny. Pansy said something very like."
Hermione looked at her expectantly.
"Now I never thought I would say, 'I feel sorry for Pansy Parkinson,' but she was good-humored enough when I declined her offer. She said something about joie de vivre, and making up for lost time, and how she'd wondered for years if she was doing the heterosexual thing wrong, because, you know, Draco."
"So they did — "
"More than once, I gather, but not enough to become a habit. She turned down his proposal of marriage."
Hermione shuddered. Imagine a lifetime of that.
"And then went out and found herself a series of test cases, some of whom were actually competent, and at a minimum not beastly selfish in bed."
"But it's a happy ending, more or less," Hermione said. "She said no, and he got the point."
"No," Ginny said. "It took Pansy years to figure out that she could say no, and a few more to make it stick. And then how to say yes to what she did want."
Author's Note: For several years now, TruantPony and I have shared a horrible fascination with the Draco/Hermione pairing. Unfortunately, the bulk of Dramione fic writers ignore the substantial racial subtext of this pairing, and add insult to injury by writing one rapefic after another, justifying the lack of consent by resorting to the fanon trope of "Draco the sex god" and the pretense that bodily response equals consent. So this, in a comedic mode, is our Reductio Ad Absurdum, written from the perspective of grown-ups and health professionals who have triaged our share of victims of sexual assault and harassment, and who know something about sex from sources other than someone else's endlessly recycled fantasies.
Since we shared snippets back and forth while writing, this challenge fic morphed into something of a remix, with cross-contamination in both directions.
References: For nasty exoticizing behavior (examples of, as well as assorted socially approved asshattery) see the websites Racebending, Racialicious, or Mircroaggressions. For a seventheenth-century comic-pastoral take on the sexual problem to which Hermione delicately alludes above, see Aphra Behn's poem "The Disappointment."
For accurate sex information, please ignore most fanfic.
The Challenge: Our original chat on 27 December 2012 produced the following constraints:
* No Ron-bashing. Ron and Hermione don't work as a couple, but they do work as friends.
* Hermione tells the story to Ginny and Luna.
* Pureblood Jungle Fever - POV the racialized exotic Other.
* Muggle technology as object of fetish: "Muggleborn sex always includes electricity."
* MUST INCLUDE both the race angle and the lure of the forbidden.
* Lots of inappropriate (including racist) comments from Draco.
* "The bigger the talk, the bigger the fail."
* Bad sex. Bonus points for "extra awkward."
* Pansy has the last word.