Chapter 1

It was 6th year and Professor Slughorn's Christmas party. Hermione had willingly invited Cormac McLaggen to spite Ron, but she had not expected him to be such miserable company. Hermione had thought hard on who would have irked Ron the most to invite. Of course, Cormac was the perfect candidate. When she invited him to accompany her to Slughorn's party, he did not hesitate to accept.

It was no secret to anyone, Hermione included, that Cormac fancied Hermione, but Hermione knew it would rub Ron the wrong way if Hermione picked Cormac as her date, when she had promised to take Ron first.

On the night of the party, Cormac played the role of the gentleman. He met Hermione at the bottom of the stairs to the girls' tower in Gryffindor, told her how stunning she looked in her pink dress and golden necklace, but that was where the niceties ended. The walk to the other end of the castle to Slughorn's office was filled with Cormac going on about himself.

"And this other game, when I was playing for the National Under-20 side, I made a save that would've left you speechless…" Cormac trailed off.

Hermione heard 6 of Cormac's highlight saves since they left the tower.

What have I gotten myself into? Hermione thought as she tried to put her best foot forward and remind herself she had taken him as a date to even the score with Ron about his new relationship with Lavender.

"Oh, that sounds better than the last one," Hermione said half-heartedly.

"It may have been my best. I was at full stretch stopping the Quaffle and made a remarkable first save, but gave up a rebound that required me to use all my skill to save the second attempt," Cormac boasted.

"Please, tell me another," Hermione said reaching Slughorn's office.

She knocked on the door, and Slughorn was immediately there to answer them.

"Hermione, my dear, please come in. The brightest witch of this age is always welcome. And Cormac, you strapping lad; come in, come in, I just received an owl from you uncle, Tiberius, he has invited me to go hunting with him over the holiday."

"Well it is possible I may see you out there, Professor." Cormac started. He then went into a conversation about how he may join Professor Slughorn on the trip because of a promising excursion that would involve some arguably illicit hunting with his uncle in Africa to hunt Runespoors.

Hermione took the opportunity to feel out the party while her date was preoccupied.

Hermione had a good time once she connected with Ginny and Dean, until Dean asked, "Isn't that Cormac?"

Hermione looked over her shoulder and sighed heavily as she made eye contact with Cormac, who was clearly searching high and low to find her. Once eye contact was established, there was no turning back. Cormac nodded his head acknowledging that he had seen her and Hermione turned away.

"There you are, little minx," Cormac said taking Hermione by the waist, too close for her comfort.

Hermione forced a smile trying to be polite, "Here I am."

Dean and Cormac struck up a conversation about some latest Quidditch match, while Hermione and Ginny stood and listened. Hermione was uncomfortable the whole time as Cormac held her. Eventually, the conversation turned onto Cormac's #4 best save of his career and Hermione couldn't hear it another time.

"I want a drink. Are you thirsty?" She asked Ginny more than anyone.

"Sure. I'd love one." Cormac said, trying not to deviate from his story with Dean.

Hermione went to the punch bowl, where she met up with Neville and took a few minutes to catch up with him.

Neville poured Hermione a drink and exposed to her that he had not made it into the Slugclub, but was happy to be involved anyway he could. They talked about their studies, mainly Herbology until Cormac slid between them and pushed Neville aside. He took Hermione by the waist again.

"You keep getting away from me," Cormac said slyly, holding Hermione's waist and pulling her to face him. She was uncomfortable by his closeness and forwardness. She did her best to look away from his eyes and when she looked up, he looked in the same direction, "Mistletoe. 'Tis the season," Cormac said smiling.

She looked back into him, and he met her gaze. The handsome boy held Hermione with both his hands around her waist, closed his eyes, and moved toward her lips.

Hermione moved her hands inside his and slipped out under one of his arms and moved for the opposite corner of the room.

Once she had run out of space to hide, she clawed at a window curtain and hid behind it thinking to herself what she had done. She jumped when she was joined by a boy.

"Hermione, what are you doing? What happened to you?" Harry asked suspicious of his best friend's behavior.

"I've just escaped- I mean, I just left Cormac under the mistletoe," she replied half out of breath.

"Cormac? That's who you invited?" Word travels slower with boys than girls.

"I thought it would annoy Ron the most," Hermione confessed, thinking about the situation she was in, "He's got more tentacles than a snarfalump plant."

At that moment another hand whisked away the curtain, and Hermione held her breath, but a waiter came through, "Dragon tartar?"

Hermione breathed out relief saying, "No, I'm fine thank you."

"Just as well. They give one horribly bad breath," the waiter replied.

Without a moment's notice, Hermione grabbed the whole tray and stuffed two of the appetizers in her mouth, "On second thought, they might keep Cormac at bay." Through the curtain she could see him advancing, "Oh, God, here he comes."

As quickly as she had gotten behind the curtain she snuck out the other side that Cormac was entering. Without being seen by Cormac, Hermione crossed the room to the doorway and decided to call it a night. She exited Slughorn's office, leaned against the dungeon walls, took her heels off, and started the walk to Gryffindor tower.

Hermione was halfway through the dungeons, before she was grabbed by the arm. Cormac had caught up to her. "Here you are, Ms. Perfect. Where are you off to?"

"I was going to call it a night, Cormac. I had a great time with you. Thanks for coming with me," Hermione said trying to be polite.

"The night isn't over yet," Cormac said keeping Hermione's arm firmly in his hand.

"I think it is, Cormac," Hermione replied very seriously.

"There is one thing I want to show you first," He said loosening his grip. Hermione thought about it and decided to hear him through. She looked at him waiting to hear his explanation.

"It's easier if I show you," he said letting her go and waiting for her response.

What the hell. She thought to herself.

Cormac led Hermione through the castle, he continued where he left off with his most miraculous saves. He eventually got to the entrance of the Astronomy tower where he opened the door for her. Once in the classroom, Cormac "Alohamora-ed" the door that led outside open. Again he held the door open for her and they stepped out onto the balcony of the highest point on the Hogwarts campus. A light snow covered the ground and a romantic lull of light from the castle made the scene quite beautiful. Hermione looked over the railing of the balcony to take in the breathtaking view.

"Cormac, this is incredible," Hermione admitted.

"Isn't it?" he said coming behind her and putting his arms on the railing on either side of her.

Uncomfortable again, Hermione tried her same technique of sneaking under his arms, but he caught her quick movement. He lifted his brow before moving in to kiss her. This time she had nowhere to go. He connected with her lips and Hermione had no choice, but kiss the 7th year back.

To be honest the kiss was good. Less clumsy than Krum's kiss, but Hermione wasn't crazy about it.

"Mmmm. This is nice, but I'd like to go inside now," Hermione said pulling away from the kiss.

Cormac looked at her knowingly and allowed Hermione to lead them both back into the Astronomy classroom.

Once through the doors, Cormac closed the door to the outside behind them and took Hermione by the waist in one movement. He pushed her against the closest wall and resumed his kiss from outside. He clearly had a different idea than Hermione.

Hermione tried to push him from his chest, but Cormac read that as her pushing against him in passion. He lowered his hands on her hips and pulled her closer to him, pressing her between him and the wall- a rock and a hard place.

"Cormac, pleas-" Hermione started, but he slid his tongue in her mouth. Hermione's mind wandered, but allowed it to happen. This was just innocent snogging.

At least she thought, until Cormac took one of her hands off his chest and moved it down his front. He stopped moving her hand until it rested on the crease of his pants. Hermione's eyes were closed as she kissed him, but they still rolled as she worked her hand over his pants.

This is harmless. She thought as she felt him tighten under her hand. This act wasn't up for long until Cormac started grabbing at Hermione hungrily. He was tugging on her dress and reaching on her bottom, while they continued to kiss.

Hermione wasn't alarmed until she felt one of Cormac's hands come up her dress. With her hand that wasn't on his pants, she tried to stop his advancing hand, but Cormac's second hand pulled Hermione's away. He skillfully slid her knickers to the side and pushed a finger in her.

Hermione was very uncomfortable and turned red. She kept her hand moving, but broke the kiss saying, "Please, Cormac."

Cormac kissed her neck and kept playing with her, "It feels so good. Keep going," he breathed.

Hermione didn't know why, but she obeyed and let him finger her.

He kissed her back on the mouth and slid a second finger in her tight hole. Hermione squirmed as he pushed into her.

"You like that?" Cormac breathed into her ear.

Hermione inaudibly nodded, enjoying the feeling, but she was still uncomfortable. Cormac went back to snogging her and started moving his fingers faster. Hermione couldn't keep kissing him as she left her mouth open, while she silently came up against the walls of the Astronomy tower.

Cormac took a step away, "Did you just cum for me?" he said with a sly grin.

Hermione was red in the face from embarrassment and shame, but nodded.

He smiled and cockily said, "Good, so it's my turn."

Hermione rationed that fair-is-fair, and waited for him to approach her, when he did Hermione kissed him back and fumbled over his belt buckle. Cormac smiled into the kisses. When Hermione was done with the lower half of his dress robes, she reached down between his last layer of clothes and skin to grab him full in her hand.

Hermione gripped him and started to move her hand up and down on him, hoping to reciprocate what he did for her. She wasn't happy with being forced into peer pressure, but she couldn't help but feel obligated. Hermione kissed him and stroked him while he moaned into her mouth. Hermione was sure he was close to cumming, but he pushed away from her.

Cormac moved to a seat in the classroom and motioned Hermione to follow him. He placed her in his lap and continued to kiss her again. Without any passion on her end of the kisses, Hermione replaced her hand where it had been and continued her work. She worked her hands up and down his length and she could feel him thrust his hips into her palm.

"That feels so good, Granger," Cormac said into her lips.

Hermione just wanted him to finish so she could end the night with a little dignity. But, it wasn't going to be that easy. With Hermione's guard down for a split second, Cormac reached up and started sliding the sleeves of her dress down her shoulders.

"No," Hermione said into his lips as she put her straps back up, but continued stroking him.

Cormac gave a passive aggressive grunt, but couldn't complain about his current situation. He groaned a few times into her kisses once he was close.

"Faster, Hermione, faster," he said leaning back and thrusting his hips into her.

Hermione couldn't look him in the eye, but pumped her hand up and down and bit her lip in concentration.

Cormac gave out a loud sigh as he finished in Hermione's hand. Once the last drops had escaped Cormac's tip Hermione retracted her hand and used the Scourgify Charm to clean her hand. She then stood up and crossed her arms, not knowing what to say.

"Oh, Granger, you really are a little vixen," Cormac said buttoning up his trousers with a laugh.

"Can we go back to the Gryffindor tower now?" Hermione questioned a little embarrassed at what she had just done.

"Don't be so sour about this. This is what students do," Cormac tried to calm her, "Flings are a part of being our age."

Hermione thought about what he said. He seemed to make a logical point. No one is getting hurt, and it wasn't the worst thing that happened to her. She still couldn't look him in the eyes, but Cormac gently put a hand by the small of her back and led her toward the door that let back to the main part of the castle.

The two walked side by side in silence through the castle. Hermione could see Cormac eyeing her the whole way and this made her even more uncomfortable.

By this time it was late, the detour to the astronomy tower kept the pair out past eleven. The curfew was nine, and that was when Slughorn's party ended.

Rounding the last corner before it was a straight shot to the common room, a voice came from behind them.

"What are two outstanding Gryffindor students doing out of bed past curfew?" A slow drawl said.

"Professor Snape, we just got out of Professor Slughorn's Christmas Party." Cormac said: his lie was perfect. He seemed to be an expert liar.

"I know for a fact, Mr. McLaggen, that Professor Slughorn's party ended precisely at nine. I was there when it ended." Snape said countering Cormac's lie. "Ms. Granger, I didn't know you were capable of moving throughout the castle without Potter or Weasley by your side. What ever were you doing?" He said raising his eyebrows slightly.

Hermione looked into Snape's eyes and had nothing to say.

"Give me both your wands," Snape ordered holding his hand out.

The students obeyed.

Snape whipped out his own wand and touched the tip of his to Cormac's first and said, "Prior Incantato."

Snape observed what the wand did and looked at Cormac knowingly. Then he used the same charm on Hermione's wand and gave her a surprised look.

"Well, we seem to have a problem don't we," Snape said looking at the two students. "If I were a betting man, I'd say that you two were up to no good. I've been around this castle long enough to know that anytime a charm used to open locks is used with a cleaning charm, two students were normally up to something they shouldn't be doing. Am I right?"

Hermione shuddered as she knew that the truth was going to be revealed.

Cormac quickly thought on his feet, "I was trying to impress Hermione by taking her through some of the less travelled corridors, such as the trophy room, but we bumped into Peeves who couldn't help but play a prank on us covering us in some orange goo. Hermione, being the brightest witch in school, didn't hesitate to clean the mess," He crafted his words perfectly. His lie almost had a poetic ring to it. Even the way he stood made it hard to disbelieve him. Hermione had a hard time remembering if that wasn't the real story or not.

There was no way Snape could deny what the boy was saying. He didn't have to believe him, but he couldn't disprove it. He thought hard trying to come up with an excuse to really punish the two, but without definitive evidence Cormac's story held water.

"Very well, but you are still out after curfew and will be assigned detention. Next Friday, meet me in my classroom." Snape said, "And 5 points from Gryffindor from each of you. Now to the dorms immediately."

Hermione and Cormac hung their heads and quickly strode the last 50 meters to the Fat Lady and through the portal.

Hermione couldn't help but admire the ability of Cormac's quick thinking.

Once in the common room, Hermione and Cormac had an awkward encounter. After their little tryst in the Astronomy Tower combined with a run-in with Professor Snape, they stood at the base of the steps to the boys' and girls' dormitories.

Few words escaped both their mouths, but Cormac moved his head to make eye contact with Hermione, "Gnight, Granger," he said with a smile.

"Gnight," Hermione said trying to break the eye contact.

She moved up the stairs before any more tension built up. She opened the door to the girls' dormitory and moved until she was in the room of 6th year Gryffindors. She lay in bed replaying what had happened that night.

The next morning was Christmas. Hermione woke up and looked out the window of her dormitory and there was a beautiful layer of snow on the Hogwarts grounds. She couldn't think of a prettier sight than Hogwarts in winter. Hermione strode down the stairs to the common room where her best friends were already shuffling presents into piles under the tree.

All three of them greeted each other with a "Happy Christmas," then proceeded to open gifts. Highlights of gifts included: broomstick maintenance kits, books, and of course new sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. After the appropriate thanks were given the trio went down to the Great Hall for Christmas Brunch.

At the table, Ron and Hermione hardly spoke. Harry had obviously told him about how Hermione had brought Cormac to Slughorn's party which had irked him; but Harry also told him that Cormac made a lousy date, which made Ron feel better. However, Ron still decided to give her the cold shoulder about bringing the only Gryffindor he couldn't stand. And of course Hermione had nothing to say to him, since his tryst with Lavender put a strain on Hermione and Ron's friendship.

While reaching for some breakfast hash, Hermione looked up and saw Cormac looking in her direction. He smiled at her and gave her a subtle wink. She turned red, looked away, but half-smiled. Neither Harry nor Ron noticed.

After breakfast, they all went back to the common room where they lazily spent the rest of their Christmas. Things went slow for them until it was the night that Hermione had to serve her detention with Snape.

Hermione got dressed ready for her detention and headed out of the girls' tower down to the common room. Once in the common room, it seemed that Cormac had been waiting for her. He was sitting in one of the red chair and stood up once she was in the room.

They hadn't spoken since the night of Slughorn's party.

"Hi, Cormac," Hermione said remembering that night.

"Ready for detention, Granger?" He said waiting for her to head out the portal door.

"As ready as I'll ever be," she said walking with him to Snape's classroom.

"If you're up for it maybe we can stay out late again and earn another round of detention," Cormac suggested. He was only half-kidding.

Hermione shook her head and continued walking down the empty corridor.

They walked in awkward silence, their footsteps echoed off the castle walls. Once outside the classroom, Cormac reached up and held the door open for Hermione. She walked in.

"Mr. McLaggen and Ms. Granger, I've given a lot of thought about what you should do for detention, and I've come up with some good solutions," Snape said not looking up from his desk, where he was busy correcting papers.

"Since you enjoy showing off the trophy room, McLaggen, I think it is fitting that you spend the next couple hours dusting and polishing all the trophies you can in two hours." Snape said. Then he added, "Without any magic." Snape summoned a bucket filled with rags and flew them across the room into Cormac's hands, "Off you go."

Cormac hung his head, dreading the tedious task of polishing old trophies and medals, but left the classroom to get started.

Hermione stood in Snape's classroom trying to think how she would be punished.

"As for you Ms. Granger," Snape started, "I've saved the task of reorganizing as many store cupboards as you can in the allotted time. I need you to check the inventory of what I have, and I need you to alphabetize the cupboards. Right now, they are organized by usefulness. Fix it."

Hermione's jaw gaped open. There were hundreds of ingredients. She didn't say anything. She just took her wand out and started magically removing all of the contents of the nearest cabinet and placing them in the open classroom so she could then reorganize the ingredients alphabetically.

It was menial and boring work. Hermione knew that Snape was enjoying himself watching her becoming more and more bored. He also enjoyed watching her attempting to create an inventory of his stores. Some of the ingredients smelled foul, while others were still moving, making it difficult to count. Snape even sniggered when Hermione opened a box, and what looked like a container full of orange sea-cucumbers sprayed a white liquid on Hermione's shirt.

After the two hours of detention, Snape announced that her time was up and that she could return to the dormitory. Drained from the laborious work, Hermione put the remaining ingredients in the cupboards and let.

Once through the portal of Gryffindor tower, she sat in the empty common room in front of the fire trying to make sense of how Cormac saved her the fate of a much worse detention if he wasn't able to lie so smoothly. She thought she had only sat for a minute in silence, but replaying Cormac's smooth talking had distracted her from the reality of how much time actually passed.

She was so deep in her subconscious, she hadn't heard Cormac walk through the portal. He plopped on the oversized chair next to the couch Hermione was sitting on.

"That was the worst detention ever," Cormac said letting out a huge sigh and rotating his wrist. It probably already formed permanent ligament damage from all the polishing he did.

Noticing that Hermione was too tired to chat, Cormac arched his back and stretched his arms across his chest, "Well, it's late. Are you going to bed?" he asked.

He had to repeat himself before Hermione registered what he said. "Oh, yeah," she replied getting to her feet and walking toward the stairwell that led to the dormitory.

Cormac walked right behind Hermione, and when the stairwell forked to the boys' dorm and girls' dorm Cormac turned around and said, "Sweet dreams, Granger," and kept going to the boys' dorm.

A/N: I decided to clip out the whole part with Snape. I don't know why I put it in there in the first place. For all you Snape/Hermione fans, I'm sorry, but for the sake of this story I made the executive decision to cut it out.

jrb2009