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Bad Birthday

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On her lunch hour, Hermione reluctantly Flooed into the Leaky Cauldron to meet with Ginny Potter on what had better turn out to be a life and death matter. She had a pile of work to do at the office and didn't have time for Ginny's usual nonsense. Ginny had a habit of butting in where she didn't belong, particularly in Hermione's love life, or lack there of to be more specific. For this and other reasons, Hermione tried to avoid ever being alone with Ginny. Harry and Ron were her buffers of choice. They were usually pretty good at reining in Ginny's enthusiasm. Ron was especially helpful as he often turned an alarming shade of red, and sometimes green, anytime Hermione's love life was brought up.

Unfortunately, Harry and Ron were both unavailable today, which she had found odd considering Ron was always available when food was involved. Hermione had tried to postpone the lunch date, but Ginny was insistent that they meet today. So, here she was. And she wasn't happy about it. With a grim, yet resolved expression on her face, she looked around for an open table. However, before she could find one, she caught a glimpse of red hair near the back of the room. She was surprised to see that it was indeed Ginny already waiting for her. Making her way through the lunchtime crowd, Hermione slipped into the seat across from her friend and said somewhat suspiciously, “You're here early. Why are you here early?”

“Well, hello to you too,” huffed Ginny, slightly put off by Hermione's rude greeting. “And I'm not that early. It's only been five minutes. And I could ask the same of you. Why are you here so early?”

“I am always early. You, however, are always fashionably late. Always.”

“I'm a married woman now, Hermione,” Ginny replied offhandedly. “I can't always be fashionable.”

“For as long as I've known you, you have never been anywhere on time.”

“Well, I'm not on time, am I? We've already established that I am five minutes early.” Ginny smirked at her.

Hermione glared. “Why did you ask to meet me here?”

“Yes, I'm fine. So is Harry. And the kids? So nice of you to ask. They're fine as well. Really, Hermione. Where are your manners these days? You're always in a bad mood lately.”

“I'm sorry, Ginny.” Hermione said with a sigh. “It's just that I usually have a working lunch. I'm very busy at the office right now, and I don't see why this was so urgent that it couldn't wait until the weekend. You know how I hate to be away from work this long.”

“Can't you stop torturing the house-elves long enough to have lunch with your best friend?”

“I am not torturing them!” exclaimed Hermione, offended at the thought. “I am trying to save them. House-elves are...”

“Oh, spare me the lecture, Hermione,” said Ginny, rolling her eyes. “I was just kidding. Well, sort of. Anyway, this couldn't wait until the weekend. Your birthday is Saturday.”

“No. No, no and no.”

“But why not?” Ginny whined. “You haven't even heard what I'm planning yet.”

“I don't want a party. I don't like parties.”

“You can't spend your birthday alone. Especially this one.”

“I have purposely not said anything about my birthday because I wanted to let it pass by uneventfully. I don't like big parties. Why shouldn't I get to spend my birthday the way I want to?”

“This isn't any ordinary birthday, Hermione. You are turning thirty. You should at least spend it with your friends. We would be hurt if you didn't.” Ginny gave her sad puppy dog eyes.

“I don't know,” said Hermione, starting to feel a little guilty. “It's awfully last minute. No one would probably be able to come anyway.”

“Your close friends who really care about you will make the time to come,” Ginny insisted.

“Well, I suppose if it's just you and Harry and Ron, it would be alright.”

“Oh, come on, Hermione. It's hardly festive with just us. You can see us any old time.”

“As long as it's just a few close friends...”

“Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking,” agreed Ginny enthusiastically. “Just a few people. Something intimate. ”

“Well, I suppose...”

“Wonderful! I've already started the invitation list!” Ginny exclaimed, shoving it in Hermione's face.

Scowling at being tricked into consenting to a party, Hermione snatched the invitation list out of Ginny's hands. She smoothed out the paper and as she looked over the list, her eyes began to narrow. “Ginny, why are all of the names on this list male?”

“Because you're turning thirty,” Ginny replied as though it were obvious.

“So?”

“So you're not married.”

Hermione didn't like where this was going. At all. “You are not using my birthday as an excuse to set me up,” she said adamantly. Ginny was always trying to play matchmaker, and it always ended badly. Always.

Ginny smiled patronizingly at her. “Think of it as my birthday present to you. You can thank me for it later.”

“Can't you just give me some slutty outfit that I'll never wear like you do every other year?” Hermione grumbled sulkily. Ginny was notorious for giving her gifts she didn't like. They were usually quite inappropriate. In fact, Ginny would have topped her list as the worst gift giver ever if it hadn't been for that time Ron had given her that Household Spells for Dummies book.

“I got you an outfit too,” Ginny replied tartly. “And you're wearing it to the party. It's quite fetching.” One could only hope it didn't involve a dog collar.

Hermione sighed and looked at the list again. It wasn't very promising. “All of the men on this list are either divorcees, confirmed bachelors or really old. I think this one is dead,” she said, pointing to a name on the list.

“Damn.” Ginny leaned over and scratched him off the list. “Well, you can't really afford to be too choosy at your age. All of the good ones are already taken. Or dead apparently.”

“I am not settling for some loser just because you think I need a man,” huffed Hermione.

“They're not all losers. What about Neville? He's nice, smart, and he has a really good job researching rare plants and their magical uses. I'm sure you two would have all kinds of boring things to talk about.”

“I don't know,” Hermione hedged. “I can't really picture myself with Neville.” Meaning, of course, that she couldn't picture herself being intimate with Neville.

“There is nothing wrong with nice boys, Hermione. Trust me, I married one. Sure bad boys are good for a fling or two, but when you're ready to settle down, you want someone nice, not some lying, cheating asshole that never comes home at night. And besides, just because they're nice doesn't mean they can't be naughty in the bedroom. Harry enjoys spanking me from time to time and...”

Hermione held up her hand. “Too much information.” She really didn't need to have that image stuck in her head. Although she couldn't blame Harry. She often thought Ginny really could use a good spanking.

“Besides,” Ginny went on, “I hear Neville's desperate too.”

“I am not desperate,” said Hermione, offended. Sure it may have been a little while since her last romantic encounter, but she wasn't some randy teenager who always needed to get some. She was a mature woman with many different pursuits that kept her intellectually stimulated, which was way more important than anything physical ever could be. She didn't need a man to make her feel whole. She barely missed the kissing or the way her stomach flip flopped in excitement over a certain look or light touch. Or the way her body quivered and tingled when eager fingers or other appendages accidentally managed to find just the right spot. Or... Oh bugger, it had been a long time.

“Of course you're not desperate,” said Ginny in that annoying placating tone that married women use on their single friends.

Hermione gritted her teeth and tried to reason with her very unreasonable friend. “I'm not married because I choose to not be married. I do not not need a man in my life to make me happy. I am an independent woman, and I am focusing on my career right now.”

“Pftt. That's what all the old maids say,” replied Ginny dismissively.

“My work is important,” Hermione insisted, glaring at her friend. “The house-elves need me.”

“It's time to face the cold hard facts, Hermione. House-elves hate you. They refer to you as the Crazy Hat Lady Who Must Not Be Named. You're in a thankless, dead end job. You have no husband, no children. You live with your frigging cat, for goodness sake. You probably haven't been laid since you let my brother get away five years ago...”

“I didn't let him get away,” interrupted Hermione indignantly. “We weren't right for each other. We would have been miserable together.”

“'Together' being the key word. Now you're miserable all by yourself. And not only that, I'm miserable too. If you would have just sucked it up and married Ron like you were supposed to, I wouldn't be stuck with Lavender. Do you have any idea what it's like to have such an annoying sister-in-law?”

“No. Thankfully, I escaped that cruel fate,” Hermione couldn't help pointing out.

Ginny glowered at her. “Just for that, I'm inviting Cormac McLaggen to your party. Harry and Ron wouldn't let me put him on the list because he irritates you so much, but he's an easy score, and you need a good fuck. You're turning into a real bitch lately.”

“I am not. Wait minute. Harry and Ron are in on this!”

“Of course. Although they were too cowardly to come here today, the big wusses. We're all worried about you, Hermione. We're afraid you're going to turn into a lonely, old cat lady. It's comfortable, practical shoes now, but pretty soon you'll be wearing your slippers everywhere just like Mrs. Figg.”

“I will not!”

“You're turning into an old spinster right before our very eyes. It's so sad, Hermione. Your vagina is probably shriveling up as we speak.”

“My... vagina... is just fine!” Hermione hissed under her breath, her face turning pink.

“Do you touch yourself?” asked Ginny, catching Hermione quite off guard. “You know... masturbate.”

“THAT is none of your business!” exclaimed Hermione, looking quickly around to see if anyone was listening.

“Because I was just reading this article in Witch Weekly...”

“Fine! You can invite him. Invite whoever you want. Just stop talking about... that.”

Ginny smirked. “Don't worry. If Cormac gets too bothersome, you can always Confund him.”

Hermione glared.

“Of course, then he might end up poking you in the wrong place. Not that you would probably mind,” said Ginny slyly.

“I let Ron do that one time! I told him I didn't enjoy it!”

Ginny started giggling.

“Oh,” said Hermione awkwardly. “Ron didn't mention that to you?”

“Contrary to what you might think, Ron and I do not share our sexual experiences with one another. We are a close family, but we're not creepy. He probably bragged about it to Harry though.”

Hermione let her head bang on the table. “Kill me now. I need a drink. Did you order us drinks yet? You know how long it takes here. And I really need a drink.”

“Already taken care of,” said Ginny, her eyes on two handsome men walking back from the bar. Purposely dropping a tube of lipstick on the floor she bent over just as the men were about to pass by their table. Coming up slowly, allowing them to get a good look down her blouse, Ginny gave them a flirtatious smile.

The one man smiled back at her and said, “Mind if we buy you two ladies a drink?”

“We don't mind at all,” Ginny said, quickly relieving the two men of their drinks.

“Mind if we join you?” asked the other man.

“Well, I suppose my husband would,” said Ginny, flashing him her ring. “My friend here is single though. She's abstaining from sex at the moment but is always looking for some stimulating conversation.”

“Oh, well, maybe some other time. I think our friends are calling us from way over there.” The two men disappeared so quickly they may as well have Apparated.

“That's too bad,” Ginny called after them. “Thanks for the drinks though.”

“Ginny, you are a horrible person,” said Hermione, taking a sip from her pilfered drink. She was breaking her rule about not drinking during working hours, but she really needed a stiff drink about now.

“Trust me,” Ginny said confidently, as though their conversation hadn't been interrupted. “You're going to be thanking me for this. You need a man. Any man at this point. And Lavender says Cormac's pretty good in the sack if you can get over him calling out his own name during sex.”

“Lavender told you he did that?”

“What can I say? She's a wealth of information.”

“Do you seriously think I would sleep with a man that would call out his own name during sex?”

“Please. You slept with my brother. I hardly think your standards are all that high,” said Ginny, rolling her eyes.

“If I was interested in having sex with an arrogant asshole that called out his own name when he orgasmed, I would have it with Draco bloody Malfoy,” Hermione said sarcastically.

Ginny's eyes lit up. “Draco Malfoy. What a good idea.”

“No,” said Hermione, starting to panic. Why did she have to open up her big mouth?

“He's perfect!”

“No, he's most definitely not perfect.”

“Why not?” Ginny demanded.

“Because he's Draco bloody Malfoy!”

“He's sexy,” said Ginny, getting excited about the idea. “Totally shaggable. I would do him if I wasn't married. Don't tell Harry that though.”

“I don't think I could say that out loud even if I wanted to,” said Hermione, making a face.

“And he's rich. Think of all the causes you could support!”

“Even I don't love house-elves that much,” said Hermione dryly, sitting back in her chair with her drink clutched in her hand.

“And best of all,” continued Ginny, completely ignoring her, “he's single!”

“He is single for a reason, Ginny. He's a prat.”

“You know,” said Ginny, her eyes twinkling with amusement, “everyone in school thought you two would end up doing it.”

“Doing what?” asked Hermione, feigning interest. Doing him in was the only thing she could think of at the moment. In fact, whenever she thought of him (which wasn't all that often!), she couldn't help fantasizing about hexing him into oblivion. Sometimes, just for fun, she would start mentally running through the list of hexes she knew trying to find the one that would inflict the most damage should she ever come across him in a dark alley. Not that she ever planned on coming across him in a dark alley, mind you. And she definitely did not fantasize about it either.

Ginny waved her hand in front of her face. “Doing... the deed,” she said dramatically. When Hermione still didn't respond, Ginny exclaimed rather exasperatedly, “Sex! Everyone thought you two would have sex!”

“What! They did not!” exclaimed Hermione in shock.

“Oh, come on,” said Ginny skeptically. “Don't tell me that you've never thought about it before.”

“No, of course I haven't!” Well, alright maybe she had, but it was something she was very much in denial about, and as far as she was concerned, that was pretty much the same thing as never having thought it at all.

“There was even a bet going around at one point,” Ginny said in amusement.

“I hope Fred and George lost their shirts,” mumbled Hermione bitterly.

“Mmm, they did. Like that visual, do you?”

“Shut up, Ginny.”

“Most people weren't very original and thought you two would shag in the Restricted Section after curfew.”

“I was a prefect!” exclaimed Hermione, outraged.

“I know,” said Ginny in agreement. “That's why I went with the Prefects' Bathroom.”

“You don't know me at all, do you?” Hermione pouted, finishing off her drink in one gulp.

“Apparently, Zacharias Smith is the only one who really does. That prick really raked it in. He bet you'd stay a virgin all through Hogwarts because you were too busy getting off on the stick you already had up your ass to bother with Malfoy or any other dick for that matter.”

“Zacharias Smith is an asshole. Please tell me he's married,” said Hermione, taking a drink off a tray of an annoyed waitress passing by.

“He is, Ginny assured her, “but even I wouldn't be that cruel. Besides, now that I think about it, you and Malfoy would make the perfect couple. Just like Romeo and Juliet in that Muggle book you gave me for Christmas.”

Hermione gave Ginny an exasperated look that said she knew Ginny hadn't read it. “You do know they die at the end, don't you?”

“They do? Shit. Why the fuck would you give me a book like that? You know how sensitive I am.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You're one of the most insensitive people I know. You're worse than Ron.”

“I'm sensitive about my reading material,” argued Ginny. “You know I only read romance novels.”

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most romantic plays ever written.”

“Death is not romantic, Hermione. No wonder your love life is so fucked up. Real romances end in bodice ripping and sex. You know, like what you're lacking in your life right now.”

“Well, if you don't think death is romantic then I don't know why you would want to set me up with Malfoy. We would only end up killing each other.”

“Or end up having mind blowing sex,” said Ginny, raising her eyebrows up and down suggestively. “I think the risk is worth it, don't you? Think of all the unresolved sexual tension that has built up over the years.”

“We couldn't stand each other in school. Whenever we were in hexing distance from one another, we were either cursing each other, or I was punching him in his pointy face.”

“Foreplay.” Ginny shrugged.

“He called me a Mudblood. He hoped I would die.”

“Oh, Hermione. That was years ago. Times have changed. He was just a stupid kid then. I'm sure he's matured since Hogwarts.”

“I doubt that,” Hermione muttered. “I'm sure he is just as annoying as he always was.”

“Well, I guess we'll find out, won't we? I'm inviting him to the party.”

“If he's coming, I'm not,” huffed Hermione defiantly, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Don't be such a party pooper,” said Ginny, adding him to the list and giving Hermione a smirk to rival Malfoy's. “You are coming, but whether or not it's Malfoy that makes you, is entirely up to you.”

Chapter Text

Several drinks later, Hermione stumbled back to her office, feeling slightly tipsy but much better about the party. She had thankfully managed to convince Ginny to vary her invitation list to include single witches and married couples by insinuating that she might have some latent lesbian tendencies and may be up for a little experimentation, perhaps even a threesome. Ginny seemed a little overly excited about the threesome possibility, but at least it would look more like a real party now and not like some desperate attempt to find her a man.

As luck would have it, Hermione somehow managed to make it all the way to her office without running into her boss, Mr. Baddock. She was quite pleased about it because Mr. Baddock was a real jerk and was definitely no fan of hers. She had used her pull with Kingsley to get her particular division created to better serve the interests of house-elves. It was a more legitimate version of S.P.E.W. without the horrible acronym. She had been most careful when choosing a name to avoid that mistake again. Unfortunately, it fell under the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, which was overseen by Mr. Baddock. He was commonly known as “Bad Ass” Baddock, and he had earned that reputation. He wasn't very happy about all the extra paperwork her new office created. She did like her paperwork. Needless to say, she wasn't his favorite person. So, not running into him while ever so slightly intoxicated was quite lucky.

However, her luck seemed to run out the moment she walked through the door of her office and was met with a very unpleasant greeting. “You're late.”

The man's voice came from behind her chair. He was facing the window and didn't even bother to turn around to look at her. That was so typical of him and never ceased to infuriate her. She liked to be acknowledged. This persistent lack of acknowledgment from her boss always brought back unpleasant memories of Potions Class when Professor Snape refused to call on her even though she was frantically waving her hand and was the only one that knew the answer anyway. Her boss didn't say anything else, and while she couldn't exactly see him, he appeared to be watching the rain fall out her window. It had been raining for months now, well, at least it had in her magical window. She had tried to bribe Magical Maintenance for better weather with hand-knitted scarves she had made herself but apparently they hadn't received them yet. Either that or they were ungrateful gits.

Fortunately, her boss's inattentiveness gave her some time to compose herself. While Mr. Baddock, was quite notorious for drinking his lunch, it was something Hermione would most certainly get sacked for. Not that she had had that much to drink. And besides, even if she had, she wasn't one of those annoying drunks who always made a fool of themselves like some people did. She didn't talk excessively like Mr. Weasley. She didn't swear a lot like Mrs. Weasley. She didn't talk too loudly and sing badly like the twins. She didn't laugh excessively like Ginny. She didn't blubber all over people like Harry. She didn't dance like Bill. She didn't throw up like Fleur. She didn't take her clothes off like Charlie. She didn't become overly affectionate like Lavender. And she did not fall on her face like Ron. In fact, she was the only one to survive a Weasley party completely unscathed with her reputation still intact. Surely, she could get through work without doing anything to embarrass herself. Her head was only feeling a little fuzzy after all.

Quickly, she shoved the dreaded invitation list down the front of her robes and tried to smooth down the escaped ringlets of hair that had fallen out of her tight chignon. Willing herself not to sound too drunk and get her sorry self fired, she launched into an excuse for her tardiness. Ordinarily, that would be pretty easy, as her boss had no idea what went on in the office anyway, but she was under the influence. Ever so slight that the influence was.

“I'm sorry, sir. I had a lunch meeting that went rather long,” she said in a rush. “We were discussing case file number five hundred forty-two, which as I'm sure you know, has left the department in a real quandary. Seems a member of the Department of Mysteries is involved now. He's our star witness but refuses to speak on the matter because, you know, he's an Unspeakable and they, um, don't speak...” Hermione faltered. Darn. That explanation hadn't really come off the way she had wanted it to. It had sounded much better in her head. She should have just stopped at the case number. Numbers always confused him.

“Sounds like a crap excuse to me, Granger,” said the man, turning around in her chair to smirk at her.

Hermione let out the breath she had been holding. “Oh, it's only you,” she said, slumping in the chair across from her desk. Could her day get any worse? Getting sacked would have been better than having to put up with him today of all days.

“Is that any way to treat your best client?”

“You are hardly a client. You are a vagrant, a loiterer at best.”

“According to your paper work here,” said Malfoy, lifting a stack of papers off of her desk, “I am your number one client. So that means I must be the best client. Or does it mean I'm the only one?” He smirked.

There goes that smirk again. That stupid, sexy smirk. Scratch that. She meant to think stupid, annoying smirk. Or stupid, predictable smirk. Something of that nature. Definitely not sexy. Nothing was sexy about Malfoy, except for maybe his gray eyes. No! Not even his eyes. His eyes were... stupid. Hermione put her head in her hands. It was days like this that she wondered if it was all worth it. As she sat on the wrong side of her desk, trying to reign in the impulse to hex the living daylights out of the man sitting across from her, she couldn't help thinking that Ginny may have a point. Her job sucked.

Every week it was the same thing. Malfoy would saunter in and put his feet on her desk like he owned the place. Then he would launch into some outlandish complaint that would require hours of paperwork on her part. He didn't seem to understand, no matter how many times she told him, that it wasn't her job to protect his rights. That she was only there for the house-elves. He would just ignore her and continue to tell her about how his house-elves, who for some unknown reason he had decided to free, no longer ironed his socks correctly or refused to wear clothes that he had spent good money on.

“Why are you wasting my time, Malfoy?”asked Hermione, looking up and sighing.

“Oh, am I bothering you? I thought it was your job to listen to house-elf complaints. This is the House-Elf Complaints Department, is it not?”

“Yes, but as I have told you on numerous occasions, this office is supposed to be for the complaints of house-elves, not their spoiled master.”

“Employer,” corrected Malfoy. “Well, you should have been more specific when you were naming your department then.”

Hermione scowled. “Let's cut to the chase. What horrible, nasty thing did your house-elves do this time? Obviously, they haven't killed you yet.”

“My toast was crunchy.”

“It's toast. It's supposed to be crunchy,” replied Hermione, rolling her eyes. “If you wanted bread, you should have asked for bread.”

“And my eggs were messy.”

“Did you by chance order them scrambled?”

“Are you using Legilimency on me? I should report you.”

“Are we through, Malfoy?” asked Hermione exasperatedly, checking her watch. She had wasted enough time with Ginny at lunch. She didn't think she could deal with him at the moment. She was starting to feel a little funny. Malfoy almost looked attractive to her today. She was definitely feeling off.

“Oh, I'm sorry. Do you have another appointment? Are there imaginary house-elves lined out the door waiting for your services?” asked Malfoy sarcastically. “And here I thought I was your only case. How selfish of me.”

Hermione glared at him. The fact that he was her only case was a constant source of irritation to her. “Just because house-elves are shy in nature doesn't mean they don't need my help. I have lots to keep me busy. I make house visits, and I lobby other departments on their behalf. I write a newsletter...”

“Ooh, a newsletter,” mocked Malfoy. “You are busy.”

“It's very informative and quite useful,” replied Hermione stiffly.

“Quite useful indeed,” agreed Malfoy. “I do believe I've seen my house-elves use them to start the fires in the hearth. My toasty ass thanks you.”

“Speaking of your ass,” said Hermione, feeling more brazen than usual. “Get it out of my chair now.” Hermione stood up to personally eject him from her chair but sat down just as quickly when her head began to swim. Standing up was not a good idea.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows slightly but only said, “I don't think so. This chair is much more comfortable. That other one you reserve for your second-class clients gives me a pain in the ass.”

Hermione was going to make an angry albeit witty retort. She really was. However, the only thing that came out was, “Hiccup!”

Malfoy gave her a funny look and took his feet off of her desk. Leaning forward with a curious look on his face, he asked, “Are you drunk?”

“No. Certainly not,” replied Hermione stiffly, careful to enunciate each and every word. “Hiccup!”

“Let me smell your breath.”

Hermione shook her head and held her breath.

Malfoy waited. And waited. His smirk getting bigger and bigger.

Finally, Hermione couldn't hold it in any longer and her breath came out in a whoosh.

“Apples?” he questioned curiously.

Mmmm, that was the green drink. Delicious. Without meaning to, Hermione smacked her lips. Recovering, she answered primly, “Yes, I'm very fond of apples.”

“And vodka? Are you very fond of that as well?”

Hermione glared at him through slightly bleary eyes. In this moment, Hermione could say without a doubt in her mind that Ginny was absolutely, positively wrong about Malfoy. He hadn't changed at all. He was still the same arrogant asshole he always was. The fact that she was now seeing two of him just to added insult to injury. And even worse, while she still detested the Malfoy on the left, she couldn't help thinking that the Malfoy on the right looked kind of sexy. Downright shaggable to be exact. She refrained from smacking her lips again, but she couldn't help feeling a little tingly. Perhaps, it was just the hardness of the chair she was sitting in. She would order a new one immediately. Her only consolation at the moment was that her hiccups seemed to be gone. Whether it was due to holding her breath or the thought of Malfoy turning her on scaring the crap out of her was debatable.

Scowling at the infuriating man smirking at her, whom she absolutely did not find charming at all, Hermione said, “I think we're through here. I'd say good day, but you would know I wouldn't mean it.”

“Aww, trying to get rid of me already? I haven't even told you about my sausage yet,” said Malfoy with a smirk.

“I have no interest in your... sausage,” said Hermione, stumbling over the word, her face growing hot.

Malfoy was about to say something else that was sure to make her uncomfortable when there was a knock at the door.

“Hermione, it's me. Can I come in?”

Hermione's eyes widened. “Just a minute,” she called. “Crap! It's Harry. Quick! You have to hide.”

“Why should I hide?” asked Malfoy in annoyance. “I have a legitimate right to be here.”

“I'd hardly say it's legitimate,” Hermione responded sarcastically, ”but it doesn't matter. Harry will jump to the wrong conclusion if he sees you in here. He'll assume things.”

“Like what? That we're sleeping together?”

“God no,” scoffed Hermione as though that were completely ridiculous. “He'll think you're plotting an overthrow of the Ministry using house-elves or that you are going to Imperius me to help you take over the world and become the next Dark Lord.”

“Potter's an idiot. But even so, why wouldn't he think we're sleeping together?” asked Malfoy, sounding a little put off.

“Because that would be preposterous. I should think he knows me better than that,” Hermione said snootily. “I do not do stupid things, and that includes you.”

“It is universally known that I am a sex god. There is no reason he wouldn't think we were sleeping together. Unless... Are you still a virgin?” Malfoy asked, starting to smirk.

“No! Of course not! I mean, that is none of your business.”

“You are still a virgin,” he said, fully smirking now. “All of that bitterness makes so much sense now.”

“I'll have you know, I have had sex loads of times,” Hermione snapped angrily, her cheeks flushing.

“You've probably have only had sex with Weasel,” he sneered in response. “That makes you still a virgin in my book.”

“Hermione? Are you going to let me in?” Harry asked from outside the door.

“I said just a minute!” she snapped. “See. Now you've made him suspicious.”

“You're the one acting suspicious,” Malfoy accused. “I'm just sitting here in your nice comfy chair, trying to get my complaint taken care of. You should probably lay off the booze. You're a paranoid drunk. And drinking makes you irrational.”

“I am not any type of drunk, particularly not paranoid. If you knew Harry as well as I do, you would know that I am being perfectly logical in my assumptions. You may not be aware of this, but Harry does not like you. Shocking, I know, since you are so charming and handsome and clever and have such a nice ass...” Hermione paused for a minute. That hadn't come out with the right amount of sarcasm. In fact, it had been completely lacking in any sarcasm whatsoever. Hermione shook her head to clear it before continuing on. “Anyway, I may have been a tad bit woozy for a minute there because I haven't had anything to eat all day, but I am perfectly capable of making rational decisions.” Green drink or no green drink, Hermione Granger was never irrational.

More banging on the door. “Hermione, are you alright? I'm coming in.”

“Get under the desk!”

“No,” Malfoy said stubbornly. “You get under the desk. Perhaps you can service me better down there.” He raised his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

The door handle rattled, and Hermione panicked. “Oh, I don't have time for this! Just keep quiet, and let me take care of things.” She quickly sat down behind her desk, carefully arranged her robes and said, “Come in, Harry. Sorry. I was just in the middle of a difficult case. Have to keep on top of things, you know.”

“Sorry to bother you. Ginny owled me that she thought you could use some of the twins' Sobriety Potion. I keep some in my desk in case of emergencies. Dawlish sometimes goes out on a bender and...” Harry trailed off and then paused for a long awkward moment. After a while, he finally said, “Hermione? Why are you sitting on Malfoy?”

Malfoy snorted and Hermione elbowed him in the ribs. “Don't be ridiculous, Harry. Why would I be sitting on Malfoy? Perhaps, you could use some of that potion yourself.”

“He has four eyes. I think he can see me, Granger,” replied Malfoy sarcastically from underneath her. “You should have put your hair down. Then we could have hid Crabbe and Goyle under here as well.”

“Would you shut up and let me take care of this,” Hermione hissed.

“Hermione, what exactly is going on here?” demanded Harry.

“Well, you see...”

“Does Malfoy have you under the Imperius Curse?”

Hermione turned and gave Malfoy and “I told you so” smirk. “Yes, and he wants to turn the house-elves into his evil minions too.”

“Nice try, sweetheart,” said Malfoy, returning the smirk. “But don't you think it's time we told Potter the truth. He did catch us in the act.”

“What the bloody hell are you talking about, Malfoy?”

“Come on, Potter. Even you can't be that thick. It's obvious we're sleeping together.”

“You're what!”

“We're what!”

Malfoy smirked at her and grabbed her around the middle in a tight hug. “Oh, Hermione. Aren't you tired of hiding our relationship? If Potter is really your friend, he'll accept us.”

Hermione struggled to get free from Malfoy's tight embrace. “I swear, Harry. There is no us. He's just being a prat.”

“So, you didn't have sex with him?” Harry asked, looking confused.

“No! I haven't had sex with anyone.”

“I knew you were a virgin!” exclaimed Malfoy.

“Since Weasel! I mean Ron! I have not had sex since Ron,” she corrected.

“You haven't had sex in five years?” exclaimed Harry incredulously. Malfoy snickered.

“Thanks for that, Harry,” said Hermione sarcastically.

“I'm sorry. It's just five years is a bloody long time. I thought Ginny was exaggerating, but now I think she might be right. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“I am not desperate!”

“Then why are you sitting in his lap? What other reason can there possibly be other than that you are desperate. I want to know the truth, Hermione.”

Hermione held her head in shame. “He's my difficult case.”

“The one she's on top of,” Malfoy added unhelpfully.

“He comes in every week to annoy me with complaints about his house-elves. Our relationship is purely work related.”

“That may explain why he is in your office, but it still doesn't explain why you are sitting on his lap.”

“When you knocked on the door, I... I panicked,” said Hermione sheepishly.

Suddenly understanding, Harry exclaimed exasperatedly, “Merlin, Hermione. You are completely horrible under pressure.”

“Yes, she is,” agreed Malfoy. “Wait did I just agree with Potter? The world must be coming to an end. What the fuck are you still doing here, Potter. Shouldn't you be out saving us all?”

Harry glared at Malfoy. “I think you can get off his lap now, Hermione.”

“Oh, right.” Hermione stood up and then quickly sat back down. “You know, I think I could use some of that potion after all,” said Hermione in embarrassment.

Harry handed over the potion, and Hermione quickly drank it. The effects were almost immediate. She practically jumped out of Malfoy's lap, her cheeks a bright shade of scarlet. Her mind felt much sharper, but curiously Malfoy still looked rather attractive to her. There must still be a few bugs in the potion the twins created. She would have to owl them later.

“Are you alright now, Hermione?” asked Harry, looking concerned.

“Yes, much better. Thank you.”

“Malfoy didn't slip anything in your tea, did he?”

“Sweet mother of Merlin, Potter!” Malfoy exploded. “I'm not trying to become the next Dark Lord. I'm not plotting to overthrow the Ministry. And I have no nefarious plans regarding the house-elves. You are a paranoid bastard.”

“Forgive me if I find it a little hard to believe that you are suddenly good now.”

“I wouldn't go as far as saying I'm good. Being bad is so much more interesting. But I'm not going to do anything that ends me up in Azkaban if that's what you're worried about.”

“If you're not up to anything, then why are you here?”

“Because my house-elves...”

“Cut the crap, Malfoy. Why are you really here?”

“Maybe I like the company,” said Malfoy, shrugging his shoulders.

Harry looked between Malfoy and Hermione for a minute as if considering it and then said, “Nice try, Malfoy. Just remember, I have my eye on you.” Harry headed for the door, looking back several times. “Hermione, let me know if you need anything.”

“I will. Thanks again for the potion. Goodbye, Harry.”

Harry looked back one last time and then left, but not before popping back in the doorway to see if he would catch Malfoy doing anything nefarious. The disappointment in not having caught Malfoy at anything was plain on his face. Muttering to himself, Harry walked away again, only to return again for one last look.

“She said goodbye, Potter,” said Malfoy, flicking his wand and slamming the door in Harry's face.

“That was rude,” said Hermione.

“I'm sorry. Should I have let you do the honors?”

Hermione scowled in reply.

“Now that Potter's finally gone, why don't you show me what you've been hiding there under those dowdy robes, Granger?”

Hermione gave him a disdainful look. “Oh, please, like I haven't heard that line before.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes and plucked the invitation list from her robes.

“Hey! Give that back. It's confidential.”

“Is that where you hide all of your important papers? Or just the ones you don't want ever touched by human hands.”

“So, you're admitting you're inhuman?” Hermione snapped.

“Glad to see your comebacks are no longer dulled by alcohol,” said Malfoy, perusing the invitation list interestedly. Finally, he looked up and asked, “Granger, why are all of the names on this list male?”

Hermione tried to snatch it back, but Malfoy held it out of her reach. “None of your business,” she huffed.

“Is this a set up? Is this the desperate measure Potter was talking about? A list to get you laid?”

“No, of course not. It's the invitation list for my birthday. Those are my friends.”

“All of your friends are eligible bachelors? Not including Longbottom of course.”

“There are single witches and married couples listed on the back.”

“You sorted your invitation list by relationship status.”

“I like to be organized.”

“Well, you can put me down as a maybe. Depending who the single witches are of course.”

“If I was going to put you down, I would call you a ferret or insult you hair care products.”

“Do you really want to go there, my bushy-haired, beaver-toothed friend?”

“We are not friends.”

“I notice you're not denying the bushy hair or beaver tooth part of that statement.

“Because the most important thing is that we are not friends.”

“We're friendly enough for you to put me on your invitation list. Not to mention, friendly enough for you to sit on my lap.”

“Sitting on your lap was a... mistake. A dreadful mistake. And I did not put you on that invitation list. Ginny did. And for your information, you did not make the final cut.”

“Is that so?” replied Malfoy, pulling what looked like an invitation out of his pocket. “I kind of thought I did.”

Hermione quickly snatched the invitation out of his hands and read it with a scowl on her face. “This isn't from me. I didn't invite you.”

“And yet I am invited. Curious.”

“It must have gotten mailed on accident,” said Hermione. “I distinctly said to take you off the list.”

Malfoy leaned in close. Too close. “Is that so?” he asked huskily. “Would you like to uninvite me then?”

Hermione was planning to tell him that she most certainly did wish to uninvite him. She really was. But all that came out was, “Hiccup!”

Chapter Text

Hermione had not thought about Malfoy once since their last encounter. It was probably more like a million times. And she blamed Harry. Harry and his stupid conspiracy theories. For Merlin's sake. She sits on Malfoy's lap one time and suddenly the safety of whole Wizarding World is at stake. Harry was convinced that Malfoy was up to no good, and he was determined to prove it this time. It was fifth year all over again, but instead of the Marauder’s Map, he had the whole Auror Department at his disposal. Now granted, Harry had been right that Malfoy was plotting something back then, but what Malfoy could possibly be plotting now, she had no idea. All she knew, was that she was sick and tired of hearing about him and his whereabouts. Harry was driving her crazy with his constant bombardment of owls and airplanes updating her on Malfoy's every move.

While she was still thinking about getting out of bed, Malfoy was already skulking out of his flat. While she was reading the Daily Prophet, Malfoy was at the Daily Prophet. While she was flooing to work, Malfoy was applying for an excessive amount of Portkeys. While she was at the office working on her newsletter, Malfoy was heading down Knockturn Alley. While she was having tea, Malfoy was having tea, although according to Dawlish's report, Malfoy's was far superior. While Hermione was out making house-elf calls and uselessly knocking on closed doors, Malfoy was having secret meetings with Goblins. While Hermione was sifting through paperwork, Malfoy was sending out dozens of owls. While Hermione was leaving the office, Malfoy was leaving the country. While Hermione was at home alone eating an entire bag of crisps for dinner, Malfoy was enjoying a six course meal at a five star restaurant. With a leggy blonde. While she was reading, Malfoy was still having dinner with that damn leggy blonde. While Hermione was tossing and turning and trying to get to sleep, Malfoy was doing who knows what with who knows who because Dawlish was completely incompetent. For Merlin's sake, what were a few frigging Wards when the safety of the entire Wizarding World was at stake?

After a fitful night's sleep, Hermione woke up the following morning to an owl pecking at her window. Harry's owl. It was an update on last night's events. It seemed, the leggy blonde had turned out to be Malfoy's mother. He was having dinner with his frigging mother. Dawlish was an idiot. She could have killed Harry for getting her swept up in all of that nonsense. If she hadn't been so tired, she might have sent an Avada his way, or at the very least a Howler. She didn't need this crap. She had a birthday party to go to that night, and she looked like an Inferi having a bad hair day. She stopped taking Harry's owls and temporarily disconnected herself from the Floo. She spent the rest of her birthday peacefully not thinking about Malfoy. She didn't think about what he was doing or who he was seeing. She didn't think about whether or not he would come to her party. And she most certainly did not think about whether or not he really did enjoy her company.

After a long soak in the tub, she finally resigned herself to getting ready for the party. She had just finished putting on her makeup and was about to try taming her bushy hair when she caught a glimpse of something evil out of the corner of her eye. It was the box containing Ginny's slutty present. It had arrived earlier in the day before she had cut off Harry, but she hadn't been able to bring herself to open it yet. It wasn't that Ginny had bad taste exactly. In fact, Ginny never looked the least bit whorish herself. But as Ginny constantly liked to remind her, Ginny already had a man and didn't need the extra help. Ginny's fashion sense, or rather fashion nonsense, with regards to what the single woman needed to wear in order to get a man was completely terrifying to a sensible woman such as herself. However, as Hermione well knew, the inevitable, no matter how much you wanted it to, couldn't be put off forever. As it was, she only had about thirty minutes left before she was supposed to take the Portkey to her surprise birthday destination. Taking a deep, calming breath, Hermione carefully waved her wand over the box, looking for any evil spells that might be placed upon it. Ginny wasn't above using dark magic when it came to fashion.

She had learned that lesson the hard way. One time, Ginny had given her some lingerie that happened to be of the edible variety. Hermione wasn't usually into leather, particularly the fruity sort, but it had been a boring Friday night spent home alone, so she had decided to try on the naughty confection just for fun. Needless to say, it was not fun and resulted in quite the sticky situation. Literally. Much to her chagrin, Hermione soon discovered that the knickers could only be removed one way, and it wasn't magically (although some may argue that point). After several failed attempts to remove the knickers herself (she just wasn't that bendy), she had broken down and owled Ron in the middle of the night to come remove them for her. Fortunately, Ron was always in the mood for a midnight snack and brought his appetite with him. Unfortunately, it was quite awkward for the both of them as they had broken up the week before and just hadn't gotten around to telling anyone yet. Ron still turned a bright shade of red anytime anything cherry flavored was mentioned.

After a thorough examination and no unusual spells were detected, Hermione gingerly opened the package and pulled back the tissue paper to reveal a stunning black satin dress. It was definitely sexier than what she would normally wear, but it looked like it would cover all of the appropriate places. Because she believed in choosing her battles (not because Revenge!Ginny scared the crap out of her), Hermione slipped out of her bathrobe and into her new party frock. To Hermione's surprise, it fit beautifully, and she couldn't help admiring herself in the mirror. She was even beginning to feel a little guilty for doubting Ginny. But not for long. Before she could even breathe a full sigh of relief, the dress suddenly started altering. She watched in horror as her waist cinched in, the skirt shortened and the neck line plunged. Leave it to Ginny to use a simple Alteration Spell for evil purposes. Hermione stood there in complete shock unable to tear her eyes away from her reflection. She was dressed to kill. Herself. Whether she would die from embarrassment or lack of oxygen was hard to say. Little black dress was right. But she could probably get through the night as long as she didn't have to bend over. Or breathe.

While Hermione stared in morbid fascination at her slutty reflection in the mirror, she happened to catch sight of a black string peeking out from the tissue paper of the box she had just opened. Perhaps because she was still in shock over her extreme makeover or because she was slightly disoriented from the lack of oxygen, she walked over to the package and pulled on it. She wished she hadn't. Holding the string up between two fingers, Hermione couldn't help but scowl at it. Leave it to Ginny to think of everything. Ginny had included a racy black thong to complete the slutty ensemble. This would not do. This would not do at all. There was no way in hell she was wearing that... that thing. She had to draw the line somewhere. And intimate apparel that was actually designed to go up your bum seemed like a good place to draw it.

Hermione wasn't really one for sexy lingerie, but even she knew it would be a fashion faux pas to wear white cotton knickers with a dress that short. Ginny was probably banking on the fact that she didn't own a pair of black knickers to go with the little black party dress and would have to wear the thong out of necessity. However, Ginny would be wrong. Because Hermione most certainly did own a pair of black knickers. They were the somber black knickers that she reserved for funerals, but they were black knickers just the same. And funeral knickers seemed oddly fitting for this occasion. Because for all she knew, she could be heading to a funeral. Whether it was going to be hers or Ginny's still remained to be seen.

Hermione started rifling through her dresser drawer looking for her funeral knickers but was distracted from her mission when her Portkey, a Magic 8-Ball, rolled off the table and landed somewhere under her bed. After a couple of failed Accio attempts, Hermione cursed under her breath and got down on her hands and knees (which was bloody difficult to do in that dress) and reached under the bed to retrieve it. As soon as she touched it, she cursed some more as she felt that horrible pull at her navel and found herself getting swept away to an unknown destination. She landed on her bum in the middle of the Leaky Cauldron. It was easy to see that Ginny hadn't put a lot of thought into the birthday locale. The decorations weren't much better. Pink balloons and pink streamers made a jarring contrast against the drab walls and looked like some tacky version of a sweet sixteen party. She supposed she should be grateful that Ginny hadn't gone with a depressing black, “over the hill” theme. Looking around, the only person she saw was the owner, Tom. She hesitantly walked up to the bar and said, “Excuse me. I'm Hermione Granger, and I...”

Before she could finish her sentence, Tom pointed his wand at her and as confetti shot out at her, he said in a voice that lacked any kind of feeling whatsoever, “Happy Birthday.”

Brushing the confetti off of her, Hermione asked, “Have you seen a red-haired witch?”

“You mean the one responsible for this?” he said with a scowl, gesturing to the hideous decorations adorning his establishment. “She told me to give this to you,” he said, handing her a letter. “And this.” He set a glass before her, filled it to the brim with firewhisky and then walked off into the backroom without another word.

Things were not looking good. Taking a deep breath, Hermione unfolded the letter and read the contents with a grim expression on her face.

Dear Hermione,

I'm really, really sorry. I had to move your Portkey up. I thought someone should be there to greet the guests. Something came up. Quidditch! So Ron and Lavender and Harry and I won't be able to attend the party. We feel just awful about it, but it's box seats! Besides, Harry said he wasn't up for a threesome anyway, so we would just be in the way. Have fun, and by fun, I mean get laid.

Your well-meaning friend,

Ginny

P.S. I hope the dress fit alright.

Hermione shook the Magic 8-Ball Portkey she was still holding and asked, “Am I going to Avada Ginny when I see her?”

Looking down, Hermione read the verdict. “Outlook hazy. Ask again later.” It seemed Ginny would remain The Girl Who Lived. For now anyway.

Picking up the glass of firewhisky, she downed it in one gulp with only a minimal amount of choking. She crumpled up the letter and threw it towards a nearby rubbish bin. Of course, she missed. The crumpled up letter landed under a table and as she was down on her hands and knees retrieving it, she felt a sharp slap on her bare rear end.

“My favorite position,” said a conceited voice from behind her. “And no knickers. Nice. You always were an eager one.”

Hermione gritted her teeth and stood up to welcome her unwelcome guest. “Cormac.”

“Now, is that any way to greet your old boyfriend?” Cormac asked with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Well, we were hardly... oof!” Hermione was cut off when he pulled her into a tight embrace. When his hands started to travel a little farther south, Hermione firmly unwrapped his arms from hers and pushed him away.

Cormac used the rebuff as an opportunity to check her out. “It's really good to see you again, Hermione. It's been a long time. When I got your invitation and saw you were turning thirty, my first thought was, Merlin, that's frigging old. For a witch, I mean. I know we were hot and heavy back at Hogwarts, but for all I knew, you could look like a total hag by now. But I must say, you're looking pretty damn good for your age. I normally like my women a lot younger, but your ass is as tight as some of the eighteen-year-olds I date. Your tits are still great too. Seriously. I'm not shitting you,” he said, looking her in the chest.

Hermione glared at him, which he completely missed because he was still staring at her perkily displayed breasts. Smiling tightly, she replied, “And I can truthfully say that you have not changed one bit since I saw you last.”

“Well, I do work out,” he said, faking modesty and flexing a bit. “You know, Hermione, that connection we had is still there. I can totally feel it. Can you feel it?”

“I feel...” Disgusted. Repulsed. Horrified. “Like a drink. Do you feel like a drink?” When he didn't answer right away, Hermione forced herself to stop boring a hole in her empty glass and meet Cormac's gaze. She was relieved to see that he was no longer staring at her chest but was mildly alarmed that he now seemed to be fixated on her feet. She looked down. Crap. Crap. Crap. She was going to kill Ginny for moving the Portkey up without telling her.

“Bunny slippers?” he finally said, looking up at her, a smile playing on his lips. “Kinky.”

“It was my Portkey. It got moved up,” Hermione tried to explain, getting a little flustered.

“Relax,” he whispered seductively, placing his hands on her shoulders and making her tense up even more. “I'm totally into it.”

“I... what?” asked Hermione, not sure how to respond to that.

“You don't have to play dumb with me. Lav told you about my bunny fetish, didn't she? You always did do your homework,” he said, sounding impressed.

“No, I...” she started to protest.

He leaned in closer until his lips were brushing the tip of her earlobe in a ticklish uncomfortable way. Letting his rough hands slide down her arms, he breathed in ear, “I think I have a bunny tail just about your size.” And then he gave her buttocks a squeeze.

Hermione practically jumped out of her dress, trying to get away from him. “How about that drink now?” she asked a little too loudly.

“Ah, playing hard to get, are we? Well, I do love a good chase. But then again you probably already knew that, didn't you?” he said, winking at her.

Hermione gave a nervous laugh and then reached over the bar to grab a bottle of whatever was closest. This was going to be a long night. Especially if no one else showed up. Hermione couldn't help wondering where everyone was. She knew the party was last minute, but surely at least one of her friends could take time out of their busy schedule to attend her birthday party. It was her thirtieth after all. She soon found out her answer when she was deluged with a flock of owls. While the messages were all quite different, they pretty much amounted to the same thing. No one was coming.

Charlie was tracking down an escaped dragon. Bill had eaten a bad steak that wasn't agreeing with him, and Fleur was having a bad hair day. Percy was asked to give a speech at a prestigious conference and was dragging Penelope along with him. Katie had been given a promotion and had to work late. Angelina and Lee had won a trip to Bolivia that required them to leave immediately. Hannah and Ernie were in St. Mungo's because they accidentally switched bodies. Padma and Pavarti were in a fight. Collin and Dennis were also in a fight. Dean had suddenly decided to relocate to the Muggle World. Mundungus had gotten a hot tip on a shipment of even hotter cauldrons. Oliver's broom had been in a terrible accident, and he wasn't up for a party after the burial. Justin had come down with a case of the Dragon Pox. Anthony had decided to become a hermit. Terry had been a victim of a Memory Charm and couldn't remember why he couldn't come, he just knew that he couldn't. Ludo Bagman was on the run from Goblins. Theodore Nott had mysteriously woken up married to Pansy Parkinson and was too busy trying to get the marriage annulled, and for some reason, a rather large tattoo removed from his ass. And Blaise Zabini had somehow landed himself in Azkaban.

Hermione wasn't quite sure what to think about her current situation, but she did know one thing for sure, those were the lamest bunch of excuses she had ever heard. Why didn't they just say they didn't want to come to her stupid party? This was the worst birthday she had ever had. The only thing that would save the party now was if Cormac came up with a lame excuse as well.

“So, is anyone else coming, or is it just us?” asked Cormac, raising his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

“It appears that it's just us,” Hermione answered bitterly, slumping dejectedly down in her chair.

“I prefer private parties anyway,” said Cormac, putting his arm around Hermione and pulling her in close. “How about you and me grab a bottle of red wine and continue this party upstairs?”

Hermione determinedly wriggled out of his tight grasp. “I think I prefer our current location,” she replied and after looking closer at the bottle on the table added, “and vodka.”

“What a coincidence. I love having sex in public places. And vodka. My, my, we do have a lot in common.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I doubt we have much of anything in common except maybe vodka.”

“Well, that's a start, isn't it?” Cormac grabbed himself a glass and poured them both a drink. Raising his glass, he said, “Here's to vodka and wherever it may lead.”

Hermione looked at his raised glass hesitantly. She had a pretty good idea that drinking vodka with Cormac was a bad idea all around. Particularly in the state she was in right now. She was feeling lonely, rejected and old. And she was coming to the conclusion that five years really was a frigging long time to have gone without having sex. Cormac was a very attractive man. Until he opened his mouth that is. Alcohol dulled the mind and the senses. If her mind were dulled and his words were slurred beyond recognition, it would be easy to overlook how repulsive he really was and do something really stupid. Still, five years was a long time, and he wasn't that bad. After all, it was her thirtieth birthday, and he was the only one who bothered to show up to her party. None of her so called friends were there. And Malfoy... Well, he was probably busy with some leggy blonde that wasn't his mother. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her glass and clinked it with Cormac's. “To vodka.”

Chapter Text

“So, what do you do, Hermione?”

Hermione was a little taken aback by the question. She hadn't remembered Cormac ever showing any interest in anyone other than himself before. Perhaps he had changed since Hogwarts. “Well,” she began, “I work at the Ministry in the House-Elf Complaints Department. I'm in charge of...”

“Oh, yes,” Cormac immediately interrupted. “I forgot you were so fond of the creatures. Pew, right?”

“It was S.P.E.W., actually,” Hermione corrected through gritted teeth. Spew, pew, poo, eww, stew – she had heard it all. Harry and Ron still couldn't get it right, although she suspected Harry did it on purpose.

“Quite useful, those creatures,” continued Cormac, not noticing her irritation. “Good for fetching and stuff. I was thinking of getting a dog but perhaps with your connections...”

“I don't think so,” Hermione returned coldly. It seemed Cormac had changed. For the worse.

“Perhaps it's for the best,” he replied, completely unfazed by her icy glare. “I hear some swot at the Ministry is trying to get them wages. Can you imagine? What are they going to do? Line their litter boxes in gold? Not that the money would matter really, I am loaded, but it's quite ridiculous.”

“Aren't you a keeper?” muttered Hermione just loud enough for him to hear.

“Why yes, I am,” answered Cormac cockily, choosing to disregard the sarcasm in her voice. “I thought you'd never ask. Tutshill Tornadoes. Been their star Keeper since I graduated Hogwarts, actually.”

Cormac then launched into an enthusiastic one-sided conversation on Quidditch, and he would not stop talking about it. Or himself. He went into minute detail over every save he ever made. She yawned several times, but he didn't seem to notice or take the hint. Hermione was so excruciatingly bored, she was ready to Avada herself or do something she'd really regret like sleep with him. Just so he would shut up. However, before she could break her five year streak along with every decent bone in her body, she thankfully spotted Luna and Rolf hovering in the doorway. Taking advantage of their timely arrival, she rather abruptly put an end to his narcissistic monologue by noisily pushing her chair back from the table. With slightly insincere apologies, she rushed over to meet her friends.

“Hello, Hermione,” Luna greeted her dreamily.

“Luna, Rolf! Am I happy to see the two of you!” exclaimed Hermione, hugging them both a little too enthusiastically.

“Oh dear,” gasped Luna. “It's worse than I thought.”

“Yes, very bad. Very bad indeed,” choked out Rolf.

“I'm sorry,” said Hermione. “Are you alright? I didn't mean to squeeze you so tight. It's just that... Did I mention how glad I am to see you?” She stepped back to give them some air.

Rolf made an odd sound in his throat and immediately covered his eyes with his hand. Luna stared at her unblinking for a long while before she finally said, “Your nipple is showing. Did you know?”

Hermione looked down in horror and immediately adjusted her dress. “I'm so embarrassed. Ginny gave this dress to me as a present and insisted I wear it. You know how she is. It doesn't really fit properly, and I guess when I hugged you...” She trailed off, mortified.

Luna's only reply was, “Tit beyond measure is man's greatest pleasure.”

“Pardon me?” asked Hermione, hoping she had heard wrong.

“Some of the boys in Ravenclaw used to say that.” Luna shrugged. “It's actually a wonder adolescent boys ever get sorted into Ravenclaw at all.”

“Hey,” said Cormac, coming up behind Hermione and standing way too close. “Loony Lovegood, right?”

Luna turned her pale eyes on Cormac and surveyed him shrewdly. “I remember you. You tried out for Keeper but lost out to Ronald Weasley.”

“He got lucky,” Cormac replied gruffly, obviously still sore about it after all of these years.

“Yes,” agreed Luna. “It was rather lucky for him that you played like you'd been Confunded.”

Hermione immediately started choking on her guilt, and Cormac sputtered something about blatant favoritism and the sun being in his eyes. Luna suggested the possibility of Loser's Lurgy or maybe jock itch, and Hermione had to work hard to suppress a giggle. When Luna spontaneously burst into a rousing verse of “Weasley is Our King,” Cormac stomped angrily off to get a drink.

After Luna finished her song with a curtsey to Rolf's polite round of applause, Hermione said, “I'm so relieved you could make it to my party on such short notice. It's apparently been a bit of a problem for some people. Of course some people aren't as good of friends as you two are. Why don't you both come in?”

“Oh, we can't stay,” Luna replied matter-of-factly.

“Certainly not,” stated Rolf in firm agreement.

Hermione looked crestfallen. The thought of having to spend her thirtieth birthday alone with Cormac McLaggen was truly heartbreaking. Not to mention stomach-churning. “But why not?” she almost whined.

“Because of the infestation,” Luna declared as if it was completely obvious.

“Let me guess,” said Hermione unable to hold in the sarcasm. “Nargles?”

Luna started laughing hysterically. She bent over and had to hold onto Rolf for support. “Nargles!” she shrieked. “That's a good one, Hermione. Isn't that funny, Rolf?”

“Yes, jolly good. Jolly good. I can hardly contain my mirth,” Rolf said in a monotone voice, looking like he wasn't having any problem containing it at all.

When Luna's laughter finally died down, she said, “It's so good to see you've finally found a sense of humor, Hermione. You're so much less dull now.”

Hermione scowled. “And it's nice to see that after all these years you've finally figured out that Nargles don't exist.”

“Well, of course Nargles exist, silly. They're just in hibernation this time of year.”

“But...”

“This place is infested with something far worse than Nargles,” Luna said ominously, her eyes darting past Hermione to peer into the dark, practically deserted Leaky Cauldron.

“Well, what is it?” asked Hermione, starting to get alarmed. She didn't like creepy, crawly things, and as it was, she already had Cormac to deal with.

Luna's expression turned unexpectedly serene. “Rolf wrote a really wonderful article about them in the special February edition of the Quibbler,” she said proudly. “Quite informative. Daddy was very impressed. We received a lot of letters. So many love-starved people in the world hoping to get bitten by one.”

Hermione looked at her incredulously. “Are you talking about... Love Bugs?”

“Well,” said Luna thoughtfully, “they're more like locusts.”

“Love Locusts?” Hermione scoffed. “You must be joking.”

“No, I'm not joking. They are very serious. Aren't they, Rolf?”

“They are indeed most serious.” He nodded solemnly. “Particularly when in the infestation state.”

Hermione remained unconvinced. Luna had always believed in the unbelievable. And Rolf? Well, he was obviously her soul mate.

As usual, Luna's enthusiasm for all things improbable was not the slightest bit deterred by Hermione's skepticism. “One Love Locust is quite sweet. And very useful. Their presence often results in a date, a bit of hand holding or maybe even a kiss. And if you're lucky enough to get bitten... you fall in love,” Luna said with a sigh, sharing a secret look with Rolf. “But when an infestation occurs, the Love Locusts mate and release pheromones that are so powerful they create an orgy-like atmosphere. For reasons unknown, infestations most often take place in establishments that serve alcoholic beverages.”

“Is that so?” replied Hermione cynically, trying hard not to roll her eyes.

“It's like a love free for all. Suddenly people are shagging in the loo, giving blow jobs under the table and having quickies in the corner.”

“Depraved debauchery. Not unlike what occurs with the common Sex Slug,” Rolf added knowledgeably.

“Except more romantic,” said Luna, looking at Rolf dreamily.

“I would concur,” Rolf said in his usual formal tone. Then for good measure, he added, “Sex Slugs are highly over-rated in my opinion.” Despite the stiffness of his reply, it was easy to see that Rolf adored his wife. Luna and Rolf were somehow oddly perfect for one another.

Luna smiled lovingly at Rolf and then turned back to Hermione. “With Sex Slugs, it's just sex,” she explained. “Nothing special.”

“Perhaps Sex Slugs were to blame for Ron and I,” Hermione said jokingly. It was no secret that their romantic relationship had been a bit of a bust.

“I don't know,” said Luna doubtfully, putting some serious thought into it. “With Sex Slugs, the sex is still really hot. It's more likely that you and Ronald were plagued by a Ho-hum Bug.”

Hermione scowled but didn't argue the point. It was probably the least ridiculous thing Luna had ever said. Ho-hum pretty much described her entire relationship with Ron.

“Anyway,” continued Luna as if she hadn't just insulted Hermione, “Sex Slugs usually only result in one night stands. Nothing that can't be forgotten with a quick Scourgify and some hard liquor. Love Locusts are much more complicated. If you get bitten by a Love Locust during an infestation, you are destined to have a very passionate love affair. For life.”

“Well, that doesn't sound so bad,” Hermione couldn't help thinking aloud. Her birthday was making her feel lonely and sentimental. Not to mention, five years of not having sex was really taking its toll on her. She almost wished Love Locusts were real.

“It wouldn't be except that during an infestation the locusts are in such a lust-filled state they are not as discriminate as they normally would be. So, if you do get bitten, you could end up with a complete jack ass.”

Hermione looked worried for a moment but then brushed it off. She did not believe in Love Bugs or Love Locusts or any of the other fantastic creatures Luna came up with. She was much too sensible for that nonsense.

“Of course,” said Luna brightly, “sometimes you get lucky. Rolf and I met during the infestation of '99.”

Hermione couldn't help noticing the blush creep up on Rolf's face. She watched in fascination as it spread to his neck and the tips of his ears. His reaction confused her for a moment but then she remembered about the depraved debauchery previously mentioned and couldn't help blushing a bit herself.

“So, who knows? You might find the love of your life tonight,” Luna said encouragingly.

A dreadful thought occurred to Hermione. “But Cormac is the only one here,” she said with a frown.

“Really? I rather thought Draco Malfoy would be here.”

“Why would he be here?” Hermione asked in surprise.

“Ginny told me he was on the invitation list, and I guess I just always assumed you two would eventually find one another. Sexually I mean.”

“Don't tell me you bet we would do it in the Restricted Section too,” Hermione said bitterly.

“Of course not,” Luna scoffed as though that was completely ridiculous. “I went with the Nargle-infested mistletoe. But Love Locusts would be good too.”

“Well, he's not here,” Hermione spat, not sure why she was so angry about it.

“So, it's just Cormac then?”

“Yes,” Hermione answered darkly.

“Oh,” said Luna, the pity evident in her voice. “That's tough luck then.”

“Indeed,” said Rolf gravely.

“There is no way I'm falling in love with Cormac McLaggen,” declared Hermione as much to herself as to Luna and Rolf. “I don't care how many so-called Love Locust there are.”

“Under normal circumstances, I would have to agree. He is a bit of a wanker, isn't he? But, it's a really bad infestation. I feel really horny just standing in the doorway. Don't you, Rolf?”

“I would have to concur,” said Rolf, fidgeting uncomfortably.

“It's lucky someone left an anonymous tip about the infestation at the Quibbler, or we may have ended up trying out that threesome possibility with you that Ginny suggested in the invitation.”

Hermione's eyes widened in shock, and she could feel the blush beginning to stain her cheeks. She couldn't believe Ginny had actually put that on the invitation.

“Not that we would be opposed to the idea normally,” continued Luna, oblivious to the awkwardness this subject was causing for everyone but her. “We're quite experimental, aren't we, Rolf?”

Rolf's response was somewhat unintelligible as he was busy boring a hole in the floor and refused to look up.

“Unfortunately, we're abstaining from sex at the moment. We're searching for the elusive Horny Nymphocaca,” Luna declared as though this explained everything.

“There is no such thing as a Horny Nympho... thingy,” Hermione said obstinately.

“Oh, Hermione. Don't be such a prude. Most thingies are horny.”

If she hadn't been purposely looking for it, Hermione might have missed Rolf's ever so slight nod of agreement. Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep calming breath. Luna could be exasperating to talk to, especially when she had Rolf's unconditional support. “And how exactly do you plan on finding this undocumented creature in which there is absolutely no evidence that it exists.”

“It's rumored that there is a colony in New Guinea. We're going to have sex in the middle of the jungle in an attempt to bring them out of hiding. They're attracted to a sexually charged atmosphere, you know. And since we've been abstaining, the sex should be particularly explosive. We're leaving for New Guinea tonight.”

So basically, they couldn't come to her party because they would be coming somewhere else. Explosively apparently. “Well, have fun on your wild goose chase,” said Hermione bitterly.

“It is not a wild goose chase. In fact, a prominent research firm is funding the excursion.”

“Someone is actually paying you to have sex in the jungle?” asked Hermione incredulously.

“Yes. Our wild jungle sex will be completely financed,” said Luna proudly.

Rolf cleared his throat. “Well, we really should be going, dear.”

“Yes, we definitely should. My vagina is tingling something fierce. Well, Hermione, I'm afraid we'll have to leave you to it then. Oh, that reminds me. I almost forgot.” Luna handed her something that looked like a fly swatter. “Happy birthday, Hermione.”

“What is this?” Hermione asked, looking at her gift skeptically. “Is it some kind of protection against the Love Locusts?”

“No, silly.” Luna giggled and even Rolf's lips turned up a bit. “It's a Passion Paddle. For after you get bitten,” she said, giving Hermione a wink before Apparating away.

Chapter Text

Hermione grumpily took her glorified fly swatter and returned to the table where Cormac was sitting, moodily downing vodka straight from the bottle. When she slumped down in the chair next to him, he handed the bottle over without a word, and she gratefully took a swig. Consumed with their own thoughts, they passed the bottle back and forth in silence. Hermione was just thinking how comfortable and nonirritating the silence was when Cormac's head suddenly banged down loudly on the table, and he started sobbing uncontrollably. This behavior was so totally unexpected from Cormac, that she could only stare at him in shock with her mouth hanging open. As she watched his shoulders shake, it finally occurred to her that she should probably make some sort of effort to comfort him. Not sure what to do, her hand hovered over him uncertainly for a moment until she finally settled on patting his back, with an awkward, “There, there.”

“I'm not really their star Keeper,” Cormac blurted out, turning his head to face her. “I'm only an alternate.”

“Oh. Well, I'm sure you're still very good,” she said, trying to sound encouraging. She didn't need him turning her birthday into his own private pity party. She had her own crappy party to deal with. “What about that great save you made against what's his name during that one game against that, uh, other team?” She supposed she should have been paying a little bit better attention before.

Cormac took a shuddering breath. “I lied. I've never even gotten to play. Bloody healthy injury-free Keeper,” he muttered.

“That's too bad,” murmured Hermione, still patting his back because she didn't know what else to do. “Perhaps he'll take a Bludger to the head soon,” she added, trying to sound hopeful.

“I wouldn't be that lucky,” Cormac said despondently. “Ever since that botched tryout for the Gryffindor team, I've had a confidence problem. I just don't know what happened that day. Loony was right. I did play like I was Confunded.”

“Oh dear,” said Hermione, the guilt washing over her. She felt horrible. Her selfish albeit perfectly executed Confundus Charm had completely ruined his life. He was a broken man. She stopped with her insincere patting and started rubbing his back as if to rub away his pain. “I'm so sorry.”

“Nothing for you to feel sorry about. Can you rub a little lower? It's not like you had anything to do with it, right?”

Her heart sank and so did her hand as she moved it lower down his back. “Right,” she echoed, sounding a little unsure of herself.

Cormac took another drink. “Look at me. I am a complete failure at life. I'm not married. I don't have kids. I don't have any real friends. I have a crappy job. And let's face it, I'm not getting any younger. Kind of like you, really.”

Hermione scowled. She couldn't help but be offended by his comment. Unfortunately, she could only find one thing that she could really quarrel with. “I... I do not have a crappy job,” she sputtered.

Cormac gave her a look that clearly stated he thought she was in denial. “You basically work for house-elves.”

“I happen to like house-elves,” she said defiantly.

“And I like Quidditch. It doesn't mean that my job is any less degrading. Can you rub harder and a little more to the right.”

“My job is not degrading,” she huffed, rubbing his back harder and working out his frustrations as well as some of her own. Then she remembered that she was trying to make him feel better to help ease her guilt, so she added, “And neither is yours. An alternate is a perfectly respectable job.”

“I'm Tippy the Tornado,” he confessed.

“The mascot?” Hermione asked incredulously, unable to hide her astonishment.

He nodded miserably and then buried his face in his hands again. “They wouldn't pay me just to sit around and do nothing, so I have to prance around in tights and a tornado suit and make a complete fool of myself. I've been doing it for ten years.”

“Oh my God. I've seen you,” Hermione gasped. Ron was always dragging her to Quidditch matches when they were dating. “When you played the Chudley Cannons. Well, you didn't play them, I suppose, but you danced, and I saw you.”

Cormac only started sobbing louder.

Recovering from her shock at having seen Cormac in tights, Hermione tried to think of something positive to say. “You did some, er, excellent pirouettes,” she said lamely.

“I can spin like a top,” he somehow managed to brag through his tears.

“It must be a really interesting job,” she offered.

“If you like bratty kids and getting peed on,” he muttered.

“If you hate it so much, why don't you quit? Surely there is something else you can do.”

“Quidditch is my life.”

“You could always try out for another team. The Cannons don't seem to be that picky.” She didn't follow Quidditch that closely but even she knew the Cannons were a crappy team.

“I've tried. I keep choking. You don't think it really is Loser's Lurgy, do you?” he asked helplessly.

“No,” Hermione replied adamantly. “I can say with complete certainty that it's not that.”

“I just wish I knew what happened that day of the Gryffindor tryouts. I think I could move on with my life if I just knew. Do you want to rub my front?”

“No.” She was feeling bad but not that bad. Still, she had to do something. The guilt was consuming her. She didn't want to be responsible for the wretched man he had turned into. She couldn't help but miss the cocky boy he used to be. She had to do something to make things right again. Hermione took a deep breath. “Cormac, I have something I need to tell you. I... I...” She was about to confess. She really was, but what came out was, “Harry only gave the Keeper position to Ron because they were friends.” Bugger it all. Harry owed her anyway.

“I knew it! I bet Weasley's sister fixed the tryouts too.”

“Mmhm,” Hermione nodded enthusiastically. “Ginny is a bitch.” Well, she was.

“I knew a girl couldn't be that good at Quidditch. Probably used a Performance Enhancing Potion. Am I right?”

Hermione scowled. She was all for throwing Ginny under the bus but not at the expense of all womankind. She was a feminist after all. “Ginny is that good at Quidditch. So are a lot of women. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not females who are buying up all the Performance Enhancing Potions,” she said pointedly.

“Touché,” said Cormac, smiling at her appreciatively. “You are a feisty one, aren't you?”

Hermione suddenly felt her skin crawl. At first, she thought it was because of Cormac's hand on her thigh. That was enough to make anyone's skin crawl. But then she heard it – a distinct buzzing sound. Her head whipped around frantically looking for the source of the noise. Gripping the gift from Luna tightly in her hand, she slowly stood up and raised the paddle high above her head, ready to strike at any moment.

Cormac looked at her curiously. “Is that a–”

Hermione quickly shushed him. “Be quiet!”

The buzzing sound continued, and Hermione's eyes swept around the room trying to locate her target. When her gaze shifted back toward Cormac, she was surprised to see him face down, spread out on the table. “What are you doing?”

“I've been a bad boy. I'm waiting for my punishment.”

Hermione looked up at the Passion Paddle she was holding up high in the air and then looked back at Cormac in alarm. “No! This isn't what it looks like. I mean it is, but...”

“Should I pull down my trousers?”

“No!”

Hermione would have protested even further, but she finally caught sight of the insect responsible for the buzzing sound. And in a moment of pure panic, she started swinging the paddle wildly about trying to kill it. In her overzealous determination to squash it flat, she went a little crazy, and before she could stop herself, her paddle landed with a resounding whack right on Cormac's waiting rear end. The good news was the buzzing stopped. The bad news was it was replaced by a really awkward silence. The squirm-worthy kind. Now that the immediate, not to mention imaginary, danger was over, she was feeling extremely foolish that she had let the paranoia get to her. Damn Luna and her stupid Love Locusts.

Unable to move or tear her eyes away from him, Hermione just stood there with the paddle frozen guiltily in the air in the place where it had rebounded off of Cormac's backside. Cormac was still sprawled out on the table with his back to her, and she was completely clueless as to what to do next. She had just spanked a grown man. Oddly enough, this was not something she had read about. Hogwart's: A History was really failing her right now. As she stared at Cormac, her heart pounding wildly, she noticed his shoulders start to tremble slightly. Oh, Merlin. She'd made him cry again.

Finally breaking the silence, Cormac let out a giggle. “That was so hot. Do it again.”

“No! It was not hot. It was an accident,” Hermione tried to explain, now wishing she really had made him cry. Tears were preferable to other bodily fluids.

“Who would have thought Hermione Granger was into sex games?” Cormac mused, still in his submissive position.

“I'm not into sex games!” she protested. “In fact, I'm not into having any kind of sex at all. I haven't had sex in five years!”

“Five years?”

“Five years!”

“That makes you practically a virgin. This is going to be so awesome!”

“It's not going to be awesome. It's not going to be anything. Because I am not having sex with you!”

“Of course you're not,” said Cormac, turning his head to give her a wink. “I haven't been appropriately punished yet.”

“Would you please just listen to me?” Hermione begged. “I am not having sex with you. Ever.”

“I am so going to explode when we finally do it. You might have to wait for your orgasm for the second or third go around.”

“Look, I was trying to be nice, but obviously, I am not getting through to you. It's never happening. We are never going to 'do it'. You repulse me. You are a vile, miserable excuse for a man. I would sooner have sex with a troll than you, and believe me, I am really not fond of trolls.”

“You're good,” said Cormac, propping himself up on his elbows. “If I didn't know any better, I'd think you really didn't like me.”

“I don't like you!”

“So, you want to spank me again?” Cormac asked, raising his eyebrows up and down.

“No!”

“Tie me up?”

“No!”

“Gag me?”

Hermione didn't answer right away. She had to think about that one. A gag would certainly make Cormac more tolerable.

Encouraged by her not immediately rejecting the idea, Cormac wiggled his backside and asked, “Now should I pull down my trousers?”

Losing her patience with him, Hermione slammed the paddle on the table next him. “ I said no!”

Cormac let out a moan. “I am so turned on right now.”

Hermione gritted her teeth. Cormac and her horrible birthday party were pushing her past her limit. She had a good mind to let out her frustrations (and the inner dominatrix she didn't even know she had) and spank the crap out of him. It sickened her to find that she was more than a little turned on by the idea. Fortunately, before she did anything stupid, namely Cormac, she was distracted by a voice calling her name from across the room.

“Hermione?”

She breathed a sigh of relief. Saved by the Floo. She could kiss whoever it was. “I'm coming,” she called back.

“Can I come too?” Cormac asked suggestively. “Or is that not allowed yet?”

“Don't move. I'll be right back.”

“I'll be thinking of you. Can I at least touch myself while you're gone?”

“No! Don't move anything!”

“But I am so sexually frustrated right now,” Cormac whined.

“Join the club,” Hermione muttered bitterly.

“Ooh, I've always been curious about those. Do you have to wear a collar? Or is that optional? And does the leather have to be black? Because I have this awesome pair of red leather trousers that really show off my ass. I call them my 'fuck me' trousers.”

Hermione's eyes went wide. “What are you talking about?”

“I was just wondering if sex clubs had some kind of dress code.”

“How would I know? I don't belong to a sex club!”

“Then why did you ask me to join?”

“I meant a club for people who are sexually frustrated!”

“There's a club for that?”

“No!”

“Oh, I get it.”

“Thank Merlin.”

“You're usually the submissive one, aren't you?”

“What? No!”

“I thought you seemed a little weak.”

“I am not weak!”

“Oh yeah?” he challenged in a husky voice, moving in closer to her until he was leaning over her. “Then dominate me.”

Hermione swallowed hard. “I, I...”

“Hermione?” the voice from across the room interrupted again.

“I'm coming!” she quickly yelled.

“Maybe we can come together,” Cormac purred, flicking his tongue at her earlobe.

“I don't think so. I have to go,” she said, pushing him away. “You stay here.”

When Cormac started to follow her anyway, she snapped at him in her most forceful voice. “I said stay!” She pointed to the chair. “Sit.”

“If I disobey, will you spank me? Spank me hard?”

Hermione let out an exasperated sigh. “I will only be a minute. Just... keep your pants on.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Cormac replied cheekily. And then he winked at her.

Hermione felt her hand tighten on the Passion Paddle. Cormac had it coming. Unfortunately, that's probably exactly what would happen if she let loose and really did spank the crap out of him. She quickly let the paddle drop to the table before it led to something kinky that she would later regret like a brand new black leather wardrobe.

Rushing over to the fireplace, she was dismayed to see Neville's head in the Floo. Just his head. Dropping down to her hands and knees so that she could talk to him properly, she said in a somewhat desperate voice, “Neville, please don't tell me you're not coming to my party.”

Neville didn't answer right away, and he seemed even more flustered than usual. Embarrassed that his reaction was because her breasts had spilled out of her dress again, she reached up to cover herself but then decided against it. She needed all the help she could get. And if she had to sex Neville up to get at least one more guest to come to her party, then so be it. She was desperate. And desperate times called for sluttier than normal actions. Of course that could be the alcohol talking. Or her shriveling vagina.

“I'm really sorry, Hermione,” Neville finally managed to sputter, “but I don't think I'm going to make it tonight. I'm a little tied up at work.”

Hermione was about to call him out on his lame excuse, at least the others had put some effort into it, but then she saw that he was actually serious. He really was tied up at work. “Are you alright, Neville?” she asked in concern. “Is that Devil's Snare?”

“Yes. Yes, it is,” choked out Neville, struggling to untangle the vine that had wrapped around his neck.

“Oh, I know all about Devil's Snare,” she exclaimed a little more gleefully than was appropriate for the situation. “Do you know how to produce bluebell flames?”

“Yes. I've tried that already,” said Neville, still struggling with the plant. “The flames only seemed to agitate it.”

“Well, that's odd. Perhaps you weren't doing it right. I could do it for you if you like. I've been able to do it perfectly since first year,” she couldn't help boasting. Old habits died hard.

“I'm sure you have,” Neville replied patiently, “but this is a very unique strain of Devil's Snare. I am in the process of performing numerous tests on it, and I am very close to a breakthrough. I have everything perfectly under control,” he assured her.

“Yes, I can see that,” replied Hermione, unable to hold in the sarcasm.

Neville pulled the Devil's Snare away from his face so that he could glare at her properly. “I'll have you know that I am a highly regarded Herbologist. I specialize in rare and exotic plants. In fact, I was specifically requested to study this new strain of Devil's Snare. I think I know what I'm doing.”

“I'm sure you do,” Hermione said in a placating tone, “but in addition to the extensive reading I've done on the subject, I also have actual hands-on experience with Devil's Snare. Did I mention that I saved Harry and Ron from it first year?”

“And did I mention that I am a highly regarded Herbologist?” asked Neville, obviously getting annoyed.

“There's nothing wrong with asking for help, Neville,” she persisted.

“I don't need your help anymore, Hermione. In case you haven't noticed, I've grown up. I am not that same needy boy you had to coddle in Potions. I am smart and successful and perfectly capable of taking care of myself. And I might add, I'm not that bad to look at anymore either. In fact, I am completely over that whole awkward phase and have been for a while now. You probably can't tell by just my head, but I'm pretty fit. Quite muscular actually. Did you know I was Mr. July in the Fun Guys of Fungi 2008 Calendar?”

“No, I–”

“Well, I was. I can get you a copy if you don't believe me.”

“I–”

“So with all that going for me, why is it that people insist on still seeing me as that chubby, pathetic failure destined to go through life hanging by his underpants?”

“Well–”

“I fought against Death Eaters. I led a school-wide revolution. I killed a giant snake. I've won numerous awards for my research and am about to have a book published. What else do I have to do to prove that I am no longer a bumbling idiot?”

“You–”

“Because I am not an idiot. I too know all about Devil's Snare. I am a frigging Herbologist for Christ's sake. And while I may not have been part of the Golden Trio, I have faced my fair share of dangerous situations and lived to tell about it. I've done loads of brave things without your help. Devil's Snare isn't even the most dangerous thing I've ever had to deal with. Did I mention I killed a giant fucking snake!”

Neville had to stop to take a breath and loosen the vine around his neck, so Hermione finally got out what she had been trying to say. “You should really relax, Neville. It will only kill you faster, you know.”

Neville closed his eyes and seemingly counted to ten before he let out a defeated sigh. “Yes, well, I'd better get back to my experiments then. Happy birthday, Hermione.”

“No! Wait!” exclaimed Hermione a tad desperately. “I have a great idea. Why don't you bring the Devil's Snare to my party? I could help you with your experiments here. I don't mind, really.”

“Thank you, but I think I'd have better luck at my lab. Alone.”

“But wouldn't it be more fun to experiment together?” she asked in her sexiest voice. What the hell. Neville really had gotten rather attractive.

“Um, I'm not sure how to respond to that,” Neville answered uncomfortably.

Hermione took a deep breath to gather up her courage. She may as well just lay it all out there. She didn't have a lot to lose except her maybe her dignity and hopefully Cormac. “Look, we're both adults here. Why don't we stop beating around the bush? You're desperate. I'm desperate. You're wrapped up in Devil's Snare. And...” she paused a minute before dropping her voice to a loud whisper, “and I think I may have a thing for bondage. So when I say experiment. I really mean... experiment.”

Neville's mouth dropped open, and he stared at her wide eyed without moving for such an excruciatingly long time that Hermione was afraid the Devil's Snare might have finished him off. Finally he said rather awkwardly, “Um, no offense, Hermione, but I don't think I can really see myself getting intimate with you. Sorry.”

It didn't matter that she had not too long ago thought the exact same thing about him. It still stung. She gave a halfhearted chuckle. “I was just joking. You should have seen your face.”

Neville let out a relieved laugh. “You really had me going. Especially with the whole bondage thing.”

Hermione cleared her throat. “Yes, well, I was particularly joking about that.”

“Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of lifestyle,” continued Neville, “but you're Hermione and...”

“And that would be weird, I suppose.”

“And creepy,” Neville added.

“It's a good thing I was only joking then,” said Hermione a little testily.

“Yeah,” agreed Neville. “Because the thought of you in black leather...”

“Is weird and creepy. I get it,” Hermione snapped. “Don't worry, it's just plain old boring sex for me. In fact, it's no sex for me at all at the moment, but if I was having sex, it would be boring. Because that's me – boring.”

“There is nothing wrong with boring. It's who you are. It's who I am too. It's just that together...”

“We would be sleep inducing. The equivalent of a perfectly brewed Draught of Living Death. Or worse.”

“Exactly! That's what I was thinking. You're a great girl, Hermione. I know there is someone out there who wants to have sex with you.”

Hermione tried not to take that the wrong way. However, her obligatory, “Thanks, Neville,” came out a little insincere.

“You know,” Neville mused, “I always thought that maybe you and Malfoy would, uh, connect in that way.”

Hermione's eyebrow arched. “In the Restricted Section?”

“Unused classroom,” Neville answered sheepishly.

“I really don't know what everyone thought they saw between Malfoy and I,” Hermione huffed, still angry about that stupid bet that apparently the whole school was involved in.

“Unresolved sexual tension? Just a guess,” said Neville hurriedly as soon as he saw her face.

“You know what, Neville? You're right. There is unresolved sexual tension between Malfoy and I. Emphasis on unresolved. And it's never going to be resolved. Because if it was ever going to be resolved, now was time. I'm obviously desperate. I tried to have sex with you, didn't I? If Malfoy wanted to, he could have resolved it several times over. All he had to do was frigging show up. But like everyone else, Malfoy couldn't be bothered to attend my stupid little party even though he was invited, not by me of course, but I didn't uninvite him. And I could have. And I probably would have if he hadn't insinuated that he might like my company, which is obviously not the case because if he really did like my company, he would have come to my party instead of leaving me alone with Cormac “can't keep his frigging hands to himself” McLaggen, who may or may not have pants on at this very moment.”

Neville started making little gagging noises, and she wasn't sure if it was from the Devil's Snare that had wrapped around his neck again or from the horrifying thought of Cormac being somewhere nearby without his pants on. Either way, she could hardly blame him. “Well, don't let me keep you. I'm sure you have better things to do. Like breathing.”

“Yes, breathing!” exclaimed Neville, jumping on the opportunity to get the hell out of there. “That's a great excuse, er, I mean idea! I should definitely go do that now. Because breathing is a very legitimate thing to be doing. Yes, well, happy birthday, Hermione. Have fun at your party.”

“I think I'd have more fun getting strangled by Devil's Snare,” she muttered bitterly.

“Okay then,” said Neville, obviously ready to leave. “See you later.”

Hermione stared at the empty Floo in disbelief. Rejected by Neville Longbottom. Pathetic. She had just thrown herself at the boy who had had a crush on her since first year, and he rejected her. This was the most humiliating thing that had ever happened to her. It was all Ginny's fault. She had been perfectly happy with her life until Ginny had to open her eyes to how lonely she really was. Feeling very sorry for herself, Hermione let her head bang down on the floor quite ready to have her own little pity party. After everything that had happened, and what had happened had been pretty bad, her only consolation was knowing that her birthday could not possibly get any worse. She was able to take comfort in that thought for a whole two minutes before she felt a sharp smack on her bare rear end. Hermione gritted her teeth. She hated it when she was wrong.

Chapter Text

With as much dignity as was possible after having just been spanked on her bare rear end while kneeling on all fours, Hermione stood up and faced the man who was turning out to be a real pain in the ass – in more ways than one. Smoothing down her dress in a vain attempt to regain her composure and her decency, she took a deep calming breath and held out her hand. “Give it back.”

Grinning lasciviously at her, Cormac twirled the Passion Paddle in his hand. “I don't think so,” he said, taunting her playfully. “You've been a bad birthday bunny keeping me waiting like that. I think it's time someone gave you your birthday spankings.”

Hermione let out a long sigh. This was not a situation she had ever been in before. Ron was pretty ordinary when it came to sex. In and out a few times and then he was fast asleep, and she had time to do what she really wanted to do – read. This was, well, exhausting. She wished she had never let Ginny talk her into this stupid party.

“Look,” she began, trying to take charge of the situation but still let him down gently. While Cormac might be an ass, he had also shown, in an extremely awkward display of emotions she never wished to revisit, that he could be vulnerable too, and the last thing she wanted was for him to start crying again. “You're a great guy, but I am really not in the mood for this right now. Or ever really. Like I said, I'm not particularly into these kinds of games. ”

“Come on,” Cormac cajoled, stalking his way even closer to her. “What's a party without games? How about a nice little game of pin the tail on the rabbit? I know that's one of my favorites.”

Not liking the twinkle in his eye or the thought of what Cormac's idea of pin the tail on the rabbit might entail, Hermione cautiously backed away from him. “I don't think so. It's been a long day, and I'm tired. I think it's probably best that we call it a night.”

“Aww, don't be a party pooper,” Cormac pouted. “I want to play a game.”

“I'm sorry, but it's getting late and I have to work in the morning,” began Hermione, trying to come up with some legitimate sounding excuses. “And I think I may have left the stove on. I should really–”

“I refuse to take no for an answer.” For emphasis, he slapped the Passion Paddle against his hip with a hard whack.

Hermione's eyes widened at the sound. “How about a nice board game?” she suggested a little desperately. “I bet I can whip your ass at Scrabble.”

“No, no, no,” he said, waggling the paddle at her. “It's my turn now. Let me show you how it's really done.”

“But–”

"Shhhh!” he said, backing her up against the wall and pressing his finger to her lips. “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm hunting wabbits."

“Wabbits?” she gulped, squirming in her bunny slippers. Dear Merlin, she was being seduced by Elmer Fudd. And it was so not funny. Where was a giant hammer when you needed one?

“Didn't you know? It's wabbit season,” he said, making a sudden lunge for her.

Fortunately, she had good reflexes and quickly ducked out of his grasp. “I'm pretty sure it's duck season,” she couldn't help retorting.

“Oh, you are a wascally wabbit,” Cormac said appreciatively, leaning in to squeeze her imaginary tail.

Hermione jumped. “Oh my, look at the time,” she exclaimed, glancing down at her wrist where her watch would have been had the Portkey not whisked her away before she finished getting ready. “I have to wun. I mean run.”

“Then hop to it, wabbit,” he said, smacking her on the rear with the Passion Paddle. “I wuv a good chase.”

Hermione didn't need to be told twice. As far as she was concerned, running away seemed like a pretty good plan at the moment. Cormac was blocking the way to the Floo, but the path to the door was wide open. Without any hesitation, she took off and ran as fast as her bunny slippers would take her.

Cormac, of course, had other plans.

Hermione was almost to the door when she felt her legs snap together. She had to do some fancy hopping to keep herself from falling. She should have kept hopping, right out the door, but her temper got the best of her. Hopping back over to Cormac, she angrily snapped, “Did you really just cast a spell on me?”

Cormac replied with a, “Huh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.”

Hermione glared at him. She sincerely wished a piano would fall from the sky and squash him flat. Perhaps she could Accio one for the same effect.

Shrugging, Cormac grinned and said, “Aw's fair in wuv and war, my widdle wabbit.”

“I am not your widdle wabbit,” growled Hermione, jabbing him hard in the chest with her wand. “I am a grown woman. A pissed off, fed up, grown ass woman who just turned thirty. And thanks to this miserable excuse for a birthday party, I have consumed enough alcohol to make my judgment and my morals more than a little fuzzy. Trust me. You do not want to mess with me right now.”

Smirking, Cormac brazenly disregarded the wand still pointed at his heart and leaned in until they were nose to nose. “Oh, but I do... wabbit.”

Hermione's nose twitched, but she held her ground. “Get this through your thick head. You and I are never going to happen. Ever.”

“Wanna bet, wabbit? I'm feewing wucky,” he lisped, seductively rubbing his foot against her fuzzy bunny slipper.

“Your luck just ran out,” retorted Hermione, stomping hard on his foot.

“Ooh, pwaying hard to get. I wike it,” said Cormac, completely undeterred.

“I am not playing anything,” said Hermione exasperatedly, hopping to the other side of the table to avoid getting groped any further. “I am seriously never having sex with you. In fact, after tonight, I'm not sure I will ever want to have sex again. To be honest, this is really creeping me out. I just want to go home, take a Dreamless Sleeping Draught and forget this night ever happened.”

Ignoring her rebuff, Cormac hunched over and tiptoed toward her holding the Passion Paddle out like a gun. “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm hunting a wabbit to scwew.”

Hermione let out a groan and hopped away from him. “Why don't you go 'scwew' yourself?” she muttered.

“Scwew da wabbit! Scwew da wabbit!” he chanted as he stalked her round and round the table.

Hermione felt ridiculous going around in circles with Cormac. She was tempted to put an end to the nonsense then and there by casting the nastiest spell she could think of on him. It certainly would be easier if she could just hex the crap out of him and be done with it. Unfortunately, she was still feeling a little guilty about the whole ruining his life thing. It was such a curse being nice. She couldn't bear the thought of Cormac crying again though, so she she kept hopping around the table just fast enough to keep out of his reach and give her time to come up with a suitable plan to get herself out of this horribly awkward situation. Surely she could outwit Elmer Fudd. After all, hadn't she always been the smartest witch of her age?

“You can wun, but you can't hide, wabbit,” taunted Cormac, close behind her.

“That's it!” exclaimed Hermione, stopping so suddenly that Cormac bumped into her. “You like games? Well, I challenge you to a game of hide and seek.”

“How about a game of hide the cawwot instead?” challenged Cormac, raising his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

“Absolutely not.”

“Then I don't want to pway your game either,” Cormac pouted.

“What's the matter, Tippy?” she jeered, hoping to trick him into playing. “Afraid your Seeking skills are even worse than your Keeping skills?”

Cormac's eyes darkened for a moment but then he smiled with his usual cockiness. “What's my pwize if I win?”

“Prize?” questioned Hermione, not liking where this was going. “You mean like a trophy?”

Cormac shook his head, unable to hold in the grin that was forming.

“Money?” she squeaked out hopefully.

Cormac shook his head again, his smile positively devious.

Hermione pursed her lips. She just wanted to get this over with. “What do you want?”

“I want to scwew a wabbit.”

“Think again, Tippy.”

“Awight, bwow me.”

“What?” asked Hermione in confusion, not particularly fluent in Elmer Fudd speak.

“Bwow me,” Cormac repeated, blowing seductively in her face.

“Oh,” said Hermione, suddenly understanding. “No. I am definitely not doing that.” Noticing his interest starting to wane and ruin her plan for escape, she quickly added, “But... I might let you kiss me. If you can find me, that is.”

Cormac's eyebrow quirked in amusement. “Aw wight, wuv. I do have a taste for wabbit tonight, and you wook dewicious,” he said, licking his lips provocatively. “Don't think you can twick me though. I have some wules.”

“Wules?” echoed Hermione a little nervously.

“No weaving,” he said, casting a locking spell on the door, “and no wunning away once I catch you.”

Hermione wasn't too concerned by these “wules.” She knew loads of unlocking spells, and the thought of Cormac actually catching her was almost as much of a joke as her birthday was turning out to be. He'd have to find her in order to catch her, and she just so happened to know an excellent Disillusionment Charm. It worked almost as well as Harry's Invisibility Cloak. Still, she didn't want to have to spend the whole night in hiding.

“You have five minutes,” she said, holding out her hand to shake his and make it official. “And then the party is over.”

“I'll do it in thwee,” Cormac boasted, taking her hand and kissing it. “And then the party can weawy get started.”

Hermione yanked her hand away from his slobbery lips and wiped it on her dress. Pointing her wand at him, she warned, “No cheating, or I'll hex you.”

Cormac smirked, but instead of replying, he covered his eyes and started counting. “One, two, thwee...”

Hermione anxiously looked around the room. There had to be someplace she could hide. Unfortunately, aside from a few hideous decorations, the room was pretty empty. Hiding behind the bar seemed a little too obvious. Perhaps under a table in the corner or...

“thiwteen, fouwteen...”

Hermione started to panic. Harry was right. She was bad under pressure. Noticing a coat rack in the corner of the room, she hastily hopped over to it and hid behind a musty old fur cloak that had probably been hanging there for years. Without a moment to lose, she cast her Disillusionment Charm.

“Weady or not, here I come. And I will be coming!” Cormac called out in a sing-song voice.

Not even bothering to look behind the bar, Cormac walked with a determined pace right in her direction. As he closed in on her hiding place, Hermione's heart began pounding so hard, she wished she had thought to cast a Silencing Charm. Slowly, he circled around the coat rack, running his smarmy fingers across the many forgotten cloaks still hanging on it. It was almost as if he was playing with her. As if he knew she was there.

When he stopped in front of her, Hermione got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. He was so close that his toes were nearly touching hers. All she could do was suck in her breath and hope he would move on. But he didn't. He continued to stand there for what felt like an eternity but unfortunately was not even three lousy minutes. Frozen in fear, she couldn't even flinch when he suddenly yanked back the enormous fur coat she was hiding behind. He was staring straight at her, but she still couldn't seem to make her feet work, so all she could do was stare back. And then it happened. He turned away. Ha! She knew her Disillusionment Charm was excellent. As he walked away from her, she let out the breath she was holding. Regrettably, when she breathed back in, she breathed in a lungful of centuries old dust.

“Achooo!” The sneeze effectively put the finite on her excellent Disillusionment Charm and very thoroughly blew her cover. Looking up, she found Cormac leering at her.

“Any wast words, wabbit?”

Hermione could only think of one thing to say. “Er... what's up, doc?”

“Me,” said Cormac with a predatory smile.

Ugh. She should have seen that one coming. She was about to give him a smart reply when he gave her a smart smack to the bottom. “Ow!”

“Huh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.”

Hermione gritted her teeth. First she had to deal with Loony Luna and now this Looney Tune. Having had enough of Cormac and his stupid games and his even stupider laugh, she pulled out her wand and said the one word she promised she would never say again, “Confundus.”

Cormac was in the middle of leaning in to claim his kiss when a strange look came over his face. And instead of crashing his lips to hers, he crashed right into the coat rack, poking himself in the eye.

“Feisty,” Cormac said, rubbing his eye and his crotch. “I wike it.”

Hermione watched in fascination as Cormac continued to seduce the coat rack. With expert hands, he fondled the cloaks, gently stroking the fur and and nuzzling his face between the soft folds of the material. Working the cloaks off their hooks, he let them fall to the floor in a heap. Seductively, he ran his fingers up and down the bare wooden pole. She should have probably felt bad about using that particular spell on him again. After all, she was nothing but a dubbuh-cwossing wabbit. But oddly enough, she felt pretty okay with it. She doubted the coat rack would mind being molested half as much as she would. And judging by the tightness of his pants, Cormac seemed pretty happy about the whole situation. Brushing her hands of him, she couldn't help saying, “Th-th-th-that's all folks.”

Hopping over to the door, Hermione easily opened it with the first unlocking spell she tried. Expecting to find sweet freedom behind the door, the sight that greeted her completely stopped her in her bunny tracks. Standing in the doorway, were two shirtless Weasley twins.

“Happy Birthday!” the twins sang in unison.

Hermione couldn't take her eyes off their bare chests. They were quite muscular. “Why are you shirtless?”

Fred shrugged. “Probably the same reason your bottomless. Ginny made us.”

Looking down at her own attire, she could hardly disagree. “Well, come in before you get any... colder,” she said, blushing as she stared at their identically perky nipples.

“Oh, we're not staying,” they immediately replied.

“Of course you're not,” said Hermione, not the least surprised by this.

“We're meeting with one of Charlie's friends to talk about setting up a franchise in Romania,” said Fred. “We tried to reschedule, but he's only in town for tonight. Ginny said we had to drop off the cake though. And that we should do it with our shirts off.”

The twins rolled in an enormous cake with pink frosting.

“We were going to hide inside the cake, but we thought it would be bad form to show up at our meeting with icing in inappropriate places. Tergeo never gets those hard to reach places if you know what I mean,” said George, raising his eyebrows up and down.

“And since we know you prefer practical gifts anyway,” added Fred, “we decided to give you this instead.”

He handed her a long pink box. Written across the top in big black letters was the phrase “For the discreet witch.”

“Go ahead, open it,” urged George.

Hermione looked and the box suspiciously. “It's not going to give me a black eye, is it?”

“Only if you use it incorrectly,” replied Fred, smirking.

George let out a loud guffaw.

Warily, Hermione lifted off the lid off of the box to reveal a small pink wand. It was very pretty and delicate-looking. She carefully picked it up out of the box. Twirling it between her fingers, she inspected it curiously. She had never seen anything quite like it before. “What is it?” she finally asked.

“It's one of our popular Self-Stimulating Wonder Wands. Don't let its slim shape fool you,” said Fred with a wink. “It expands to fit your... needs.”

Hermione stopped twirling it and stared at the wand in shock.

“It's self-lubricating too,” George added with pride.

“Guaranteed to have you orgasming multiple times in 24-hours or your money back,” said Fred. “Of course, since it's a gift there is no money to get back, but you can use it as credit towards a purchase of some of our patented Wet Dream Charms if you'd like.

“No, thank you,” said Hermione primly, holding the wand out to them. “I don't need this.”

“Harry told us about your problem,” George whispered loudly. “Your five year problem.”

Hermione turned pink and stammered, “Well, Harry is a... blabbermouth.”

“There's nothing to be ashamed of,” said Fred, putting his arm around her shoulder and giving her a squeeze. “Lots of women out there are leading orgasm-deprived lives. Like I said, its one of our most popular selling items.”

“If it was any other night,” added George, “we'd be happy to help you get back on the horse again, so to speak, but we really can't afford to pass up this business opportunity.”

“By the way, you look great tonight, Hermione” said Fred, looking her up and down, his eyes lingering on her cleavage area.

“Yeah,” agreed George. “I don't know what McLaggen sees in that coat rack over there.”

Hermione turned to see Cormac licking his way up the pole of the coat rack. He was definitely going to have a bad case of splinters in the morning.

“I don't know,” joked Fred. “I've always been partial to a nice rack.”

“You and your sexual hang-ups,” retorted George.

Fred rolled his eyes. “Well, I hate to leave on that note, but we should really be going. We don't want to be late for our meeting.”

“Good luck with McLaggen. Looks like you've got some stiff competition there,” said George, giving it one last try. “Get it? Stiff? Because it's a coat rack.”

Fred made a face. “Now, I know we've outstayed our welcome.”

“It wasn't any worse than yours,” grumbled George, walking with his brother toward the door. “Hey, you think we should put on our shirts for the meeting?”

“Nah,” said Fred. “He said it would be informal. But we should probably get out of here before the rest of Hermione's guests arrive. We wouldn't want anyone getting the wrong idea, would we, Hermione?” He gave her a wink.

“Happy Birthday!” And with a crack they both apparated away.

Once again, Hermione took her completely inappropriate gift back to the table and slumped down in her chair. Fortunately, Cormac was still preoccupied with the coat rack, so she had the bottle of vodka all to herself this time. This was the worst birthday she had ever had. And that was including her twenty-first when Ron got shit-faced and puked on her shoes. At least she wasn't alone for that birthday. Catching sight of the Magic Eight-Ball on the table, she picked it up and gave it a pathetic shake. None too hopefully, she asked, “Will anyone else be coming tonight?”

“I'd say the outlook is good,” drawled a sexy voice from the doorway. “Very good.”

Chapter Text

“Malfoy? What are you doing here?” Hermione looked up in shock. She had already resigned herself to the idea that he wasn't coming to her party, and now that he was here, it kind of threw her for a loop.

Draco walked toward her, casually pulling an invitation from his pocket. Waving it in her face, he said, “I was invited, remember?” And then he smirked at her.

As Hermione looked from the invitation in his hand to that stupid smirk on his face, anger started to bubble up inside of her. Maybe it was the way he had strolled in with a slight spring to his step, as opposed to hopping across the room like a deranged Easter Bunny. Or maybe it was the twinkle in his eye that indicated he had been having a pleasant evening so far, perhaps with a leggy blonde who was not his mother, instead of an extremely bad birthday with only a bottle of vodka and an extremely handsy Tippy the Tornado for company. Or maybe it was because he held an aura of confidence about him that suggested he had never been rejected by Neville Longbottom or anyone for that matter.

Or perhaps it was the fact that he was impeccably dressed in a dark suit that probably cost more than she made in an entire year and without a single hair out of place, instead of looking like he had been unwillingly dragged from his bedroom half-naked just to spend the evening being half-molested by an extremely over-sexed Elmer Fudd. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because, even though he had implied that he might, he apparently didn't enjoy her company quite enough to show up to her birthday party on frigging time.

Whatever the reason, she was mad. And she wasn't about to let him charm his way out of it, whatever “it” was.

Hermione stood up to glare at him properly. Unfortunately, she didn't accomplish this as gracefully as she would have liked. Whether it was due to the leg-locking spell that hadn't completely worn off or the obscene amount of vodka she had consumed, she couldn't say for sure, but she stumbled forward and fell right into Draco's very strong arms. Hermione took a longer than was completely appropriate moment to breathe him in before coming to her senses and angrily shaking him off. “Yes, I do recall some sort of mix up with the invitation list,” she admitted tersely. “I just didn't think you'd actually show up, is all.”

Unfazed by her icy demeanor, Draco carefully put the invitation back in his pocket and replied, “Since I was invited, and you never uninvited me, I thought I might as well stop by and check out the single ladies that you assured me would be here. However, it looks like you are the only one here.” He looked her up and down appraisingly, causing her to fidget and tug on the hem of her dress. Finally he said, “Nice shoes, Granger.”

“They're slippers, actually,” she retorted, trying her best to sound dignified despite the ridiculous, fluffy, pink bunnies on her feet. That she was able to correct him was only a small consolation.

“Hmm,” said Draco, unable to hide the amusement from his expression. “The invitation indicated this shindig would be a tad more formal. Too bad it wasn't more clear. I have a smoking jacket I look dead sexy in.”

Despite her determination to stay mad at him, Hermione's eyes went wide as an image of Draco Malfoy in a smoking jacket unwillingly popped into her head.

After a long moment of Hermione just staring at him, Draco cleared his throat to get her attention. When she still didn't respond, he finally said, “So, are you going to ask me to sit down, or are you just going to keep standing there gaping at me while you mentally undress me in your head?”

Snapping out of the rather vivid daydream she had been having—damn overactive imagination!—
Hermione glared at him and, letting out a harrumph, slumped down in her chair.

Taking that as an invitation, Draco removed a crisp white handkerchief from his pocket and carefully dusted off the chair next to her before sitting down. “Still fond of vodka, I see,” he commented, glancing at the half-empty bottle on the table.

“I am tonight,” muttered Hermione, generously pouring herself another drink.

Draco Accio'd a glass from the bar and poured one for himself. “What's the matter?” he asked somewhat mockingly. “Having a bad birthday?”

“You're late,” she blurted out before she could stop herself. She didn't know why it mattered, but it did.

“I'm the first one here,” said Draco pointedly.

“That shows how much you know,” Hermione snapped.

“Oh, was the party really hopping earlier?” asked Draco sarcastically.

“You have no idea,” Hermione replied dryly, letting out an involuntary shudder.

“Well, I apologize for my lateness. There were a few things I needed to take care of before I came here. Besides, I like to make an entrance,” he said, giving her a wink.

“What kind of things?” asked Hermione bluntly.

“Pardon?”

“What kind of things did you need to take care of before you could come to my party?”

“Why does it matter?” asked Draco, looking at her closely before smiling. “Were you waiting for me?”

“No!” exclaimed Hermione defensively. “I just think you're being kind of vague. Like you're hiding something.”

Draco shrugged. “What can I say? I'm a man of mystery. Some women find that attractive.”

“Some women are stupid and end up going out with serial killers,” Hermione retorted.

Draco looked at her with an amused expression on his face. “I can assure you that none of the things I was doing involved any corpses. And if you don't believe me, you can ask Potter or that idiot he has following me.”

“Oh, does Harry have someone following you?” said Hermione, pretending she didn't know.

“I couldn't even enjoy my messy eggs and crunchy toast this morning, let alone my sausage,” said Draco, giving her a sideways glance.

“But you had crepes for breakfast,” said Hermione without thinking.

Draco looked at her in surprise. “How did you know I had crepes?”

Realizing her mistake, Hermione stammered, “Oh, um, I didn't. You, uh, just look like a crepe kind of guy.”

“That idiot is reporting to you too, isn't he?” Draco accused.

“No, of course not. Harry may have mentioned a few things,” said Hermione vaguely. “I certainly didn't lose any sleep over it,” she added hastily.

“Did he tell you I had dinner with my mother last night?” asked Draco, looking at her closely.

“Eventually,” said Hermione a tad bitterly, remembering the very long night of reports on the mysterious leggy blonde.

“Did he tell you about our conversation?” Draco persisted.

“Harry didn't mention anything. I think Dawlish was too busy staring at your mother's legs. Why?” asked Hermione, starting to get suspicious again.

“No reason,” said Draco, trying to sound offhanded.

Hermione's eyes narrowed. “Are you plotting something with your mother?”

“Don't be ridiculous,” Draco scoffed. “I thought we already agreed I was using my house-elves for my nefarious plans.”

“Perhaps you are recruiting your mother's house-elves as well.”

“Mother is very particular about social etiquette. It's hardly proper to lend out one's elves.”

“Even to her own son?”

“Especially to her son. Mother is quite adamant that I do my own dirty work.”

“And is that what you were doing this morning? Dirty work?”

“I think we've already established that I was having crepes this morning.”

“After the crepes. When you were meeting with Goblins. When you were going to Knockturn Alley. When you were–”

“My, my,” interrupted Draco, clucking his tongue. “You certainly do seem to know an awful lot about my whereabouts. One might think you were obsessed.”

“I am not obsessed. I... I just have a natural thirst for knowledge...”

“About me,” Draco said, finishing her sentence for her. He leaned in closer, shrinking the gap between them. “So, tell me, Granger. Would you like me to help you quench that thirst?”

“Oh, well, er...” stammered Hermione, unconsciously picking up the Wonder Wand and fiddling with it nervously.

Glancing down at the small, pink wand in her hands, Draco asked, “Is that a...”

Hermione looked down in horror at the pleasure stick she had apparently just been fondling. Not knowing what else to do, she stuck it in her drink. “It's a drink mixer,” she said quickly, swirling it in her vodka. Unfortunately, that seemed to activate the wand, and it started vibrating obnoxiously, sloshing the vodka out of her glass. Having to practically shout to be heard over the loud humming noise that the device was making, she added rather loudly, “I prefer my drinks shaken, not stirred.”

Draco reached over and pulled the wand out of her drink. As he was inspecting it, lube squirted out the tip. “And how do you prefer your orgasms?” he asked, smirking.

Embarrassed, Hermione snatched the Wonder Wand out of his hand. “That is none of your business.”

“I was wondering what you were doing here all by yourself on your birthday, but I guess you were just enjoying some alone time.” He laughed.

Hermione scowled at him and in her anger, she unconsciously tightened her grip on the Wonder Wand. Lube squirted out the tip again, causing Draco to laugh even harder at her expense.

Not liking being laughed at, Hermione slammed the wand down on the table. “For your information, I am not alone. It just so happens that Cormac McLaggen is here.”

“McLaggen? What's he doing here?” asked Draco, sounding annoyed.

“Not molesting the coat rack, that's for sure,” said Hermione guiltily.

Draco gave her a funny look. “No, I mean, he wasn't on the invitation list.”

Hermione looked at him curiously. “You memorized the invitation list?”

“No,” said Draco quickly. “I just don't remember seeing that wanker on it, is all.”

“Well, that's because he wasn't on it. Harry and Ron would have thrown a fit if they saw his name. So, Ginny invited him behind their backs.”

“Why would she do that?” Draco questioned.

“Apparently Cormac is easy,” Hermione admitted bitterly.

“So, it was a list to get you laid,” Draco accused.

“It wasn't my idea. It was Ginny's. I am just an innocent victim in all of this.”

“And are you still innocent? Or did you let McLaggen take your virginity?” Draco asked, sounding jealous.

“I told you: I am not a virgin,” Hermione fumed.

Draco gave her a pitying look. “It's been five years. You may as well be.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, maybe it hasn't been five years anymore. You did get to the party late,” Hermione snapped.

“Where is he?”

“Who?”

“McLaggen.”

“I think he was getting his coat.” Or getting it on with his coat, she couldn't help thinking to herself.

Draco looked over toward the coat rack, and Hermione discreetly cast a Finite under the table.

Cormac immediately stumbled out from a pile of coats with his trousers hanging around his ankles. Looking around with a dazed expression on his face, his eyes finally settled on Hermione. Not bothering to pull up his trousers, he slowly walked toward her, waggling the Passion Paddle at her. “You've been a wascally wabbit, haven't you, wuv? I'm into some weird shit, too, but I can honestly say that's the first time–”

Hermione cleared her throat and nodded over at Draco.

Cormac's eyes turned on the intruder. “I see we have company,” he said, not looking at all pleased about it.

Draco glared back at him.

The atmosphere suddenly got so tense that Hermione felt the need to say something. “You remember Malfoy from school, don't you?”

“No, I don't think I do,” replied Cormac coldly, pulling up his trousers.

“Well, I remember you,” said Draco just as coldly. “You're the one who played Quidditch like he was Confunded.”

Hermione put her head in her hands and banged it against the table.

Cormac scowled. “Wait, I think I do recall something about you. You were that kid who was turned into a ferret and crawled into his friend's pants, right?”

Hermione peeked up from her hands just in time to see all of the color drain from Draco's face.

Cormac smirked. “I thought so. Now, why don't you put your little, white tail between your legs and scamper out of here. Hermione and I were in the middle of something.” He plucked a splinter out of his tongue. “Something pretty kinky, apparently.”

“I'm not going anywhere,” said Draco adamantly. “I was invited to this party.”

“Look,” said Cormac patronizingly. “I'm not into threesomes with dudes. You want to Transfigure yourself into a ferret again, I might consider it. Otherwise, hit the road.”

“Granger here said you were getting your coat. So, perhaps you should be the one hitting the road,” Draco replied stonily.

Cormac smiled wickedly. “It seems we're at an impasse. Unless you have any ideas.”

“I'll drink you for her,” Draco challenged.

Hermione's head snapped up. “What!”

“I'm listening,” said Cormac.

“We'll drink until one of us passes out. Last man standing wins Granger.”

Hermione scowled at him. “I am a human being, not some kind of prize to be won in a stupid drinking contest.”

“Deal,” said Cormac, ignoring Hermione and reaching across her to shake Draco's hand. “I should probably warn you though. I've never lost a drinking contest in my life. So, no hard feelings when Hermione and I end up having sex over your unconscious body, okay?”

“And I should warn you,” said Draco, his eyes flashing dangerously, “I never lose at anything.”

“Oh, yeah?” Cormac smirked. “I'm pretty sure you lost your dignity that day you had your furry little adventure down under.”

“And now I'm losing my patience with you,” said Draco, his lips curling up into an evil smile. “I guess you really can't trust a Slytherin, can you?”

A momentary look of fear crossed Cormac's face, but he quickly shook it off. Filling up both of their glasses, he said, “Let's drink.”

Hermione angrily sat back in her chair and put her arms across her chest. “This is ridiculous and highly offensive.”

“Speaking of offensive,” said Draco, smirking at her, “your nipple is showing.”

Hermione quickly looked down to adjust her dress, but seeing nothing amiss, looked up in time to see Draco pour something into Cormac's drink.

“I missed it,” said Cormac a bit sulkily. “Guess I'll have to catch it later. Between my teeth.”

“Bottom's up,” said Draco, raising his glass to his lips.

“Oh, it will be,” Cormac declared before downing his drink in one gulp.

Hermione watched in fascinated horror as Cormac's eyes rolled back in his head. Almost immediately, he tipped sideways and fell right out of his chair, making a thud as he hit the floor. Looking back up at Draco with her eyebrow arched, she asked, “Did you just poison Cormac McLaggen?”

Draco shrugged. “Maybe.”

Hermione got a funny smile on her face. “I think I may just love you.”

Draco smirked. “How much have you had to drink tonight?”

“A lot.”

Draco Accio'd a bottle from the bar and poured her a fresh drink, adding something from a vial he had hidden in his pocket. Pushing the drink toward her, he said, “Shall we make a toast?”

Hermione looked suspiciously at the drink. “Am I going to end up flat on my back if I drink this?”

“Well, that remains to be seen, Granger. Let's just see how the night goes, shall we?” He gave her a wink.

Moody's advice echoed in her mind, but she quickly dismissed it. It was her thirtieth birthday after all, and if she was ever going to do anything truly reckless, now was the time. And besides, witnessing Draco take out Cormac like that was the biggest turn on of her life. Fuck if she was going to pass up this opportunity and wait another five years to get laid. She picked up her glass and raised it up high. “What shall we toast to?”

Draco clinked his glass to hers. “To the smartest witch of her age. Happy Birthday, Granger.”

Hermione took a tentative sip and things suddenly became clearer. A lot clearer. “What is this?”

“It's Butterbeer with a sobriety potion chaser. I thought we should go into this with us both knowing what we're getting ourselves into.”

She looked at him thoughtfully and then took another sip. By way of conversation, she asked, “You don't happen to have Quidditch box seats, do you?”

“Of course I do,” he boasted, just like he had back at Hogwarts. “Been in the family for years. They come in quite handy during my various business dealings.”

“Mmmm, I bet they do,” agreed Hermione, sipping her drink. “And tell me. Do any of your business dealings have to do with rare and magical plants?”

Draco smiled at her. “Well, that is a lucrative field. I may have recently acquired a company or two that deal in such things.”

“I'm curious,” said Hermione, watching him closely. “Do you know anything about an odd strain of Devil's Snare that isn't affected by light?”

“Funny you should mention that,” said Malfoy, his eyes twinkling a little too merrily. “One of my companies is doing research on such a plant. I put my best man on it.”

“More like in it,” Hermione said dryly. “What are you up to, Malfoy?”

“I don't know what you mean,” said Draco, feigning innocence.

“You sabotaged my invitation list,” Hermione accused. “You are the reason no one showed up to my party. Why would you do such a thing?”

Draco shrugged. “I'm wooing you. How's it going so far?” He gave her a predatory smile.

Hermione's mouth dropped open. “You're... you're what?”

“I'm wooing you,” Draco repeated. “I thought this would be a good time for us to spend some alone time together. Away from your office.” When she still looked at him blankly, he added, “You know, like a date.”

“You bribed, threatened, tricked and endangered my friends just because you wanted to go on a date with me?” she asked incredulously.

Seeming rather pleased with himself, Draco replied, “Yep.”

Hermione looked at him as if he'd gone crazy. “You know, you could have just asked me out.”

“What do you think I am, a Gryffindor?” asked Draco, offended. “Slytherins scheme. That's what we do.”

“Well, it seems like a lot of effort.”

“Some things are worth the effort. You're worth the effort,” he quietly added.

“Oh,” said Hermione, not knowing what else to say.

“Besides,” he continued. “You wouldn't have believed I was serious if I'd just asked.”

“Well, if you would have given me some signals...” began Hermione.

Draco snorted. “I have been coming to your office every week for the last year just to spend time with you. I freed my house-elves for you.”

“You freed your house-elves... for me?”

“Well, and because what you said makes sense. We're no better than they are. House-elves should have equal rights and get paid for–”

Hermione cut him off by throwing her arms around him and pressing her lips to his. It only took him a moment to catch on, and they were soon snogging like teenagers. However, just when it was getting really good, they were interrupted by the bell ringing over the door. They broke apart to see Seamus standing in the doorway holding a big bouquet of flowers.

“Hey, Hermione,” said Seamus a little too exuberantly, his eyes going straight to her cleavage. “I ran into Ginny in Diagon Alley after I got the news that my divorce had come through. She mentioned that you might be–”

Not even letting him finish, Hermione whipped out her wand and hit him with a Petrificus Totalus straight to the chest. Seamus keeled over, bouquet in hand, the flowers scattering around him.

“Nice shot,” Draco commented.

Hermione stared down at Seamus in shock. “I think you might be a bad influence on me.”

“Is that a good thing?”

Hermione looked back up at Draco. “I'm not sure yet,” she said, biting her lip.

“Maybe it's time we found out,” he said huskily, leaning in to kiss her neck.

Hermione tilted her head back to give him better access. “Can I ask you something?” she said a little breathlessly.

“Mmhm,” he murmured into her neck, still peppering her with kisses.

“What were you talking about with your mother?”

“I was talking about you and my intentions toward you,” he whispered, tickling her ear.

“Oh?” she gasped.

“She wants to have brunch with you.”

“Oh,” said Hermione, a little less enthusiastically.

“Don't worry,” he assured her, brushing her skin lightly with his fingertips, letting them trail down her body. “I only told her about my honorable intentions.”

“Oh,” she said again, much more eagerly.

He returned to kissing her, a little more vigorously this time, exploring her body and getting to know her better.

Hermione was very much enjoying his ministrations thus far and was not at all concerned that her dress had somehow ridden up past her waist and that Draco's wandering hands were just now discovering that she wasn't wearing knickers. Between the kissing and the touching, she was feeling sensations she hadn't felt in a very long time, and she was looking forward to experiencing a few new ones as well. However, she was definitely not expecting what she felt next. “Ouch!”

“What?” asked Malfoy, halting his kisses to look at her in concern.

“Something just bit me.”

“Well, it wasn't me. I haven't gotten that far yet.”

“Maybe it was a Love Locust,” Hermione said half jokingly. At his raised eyebrow, she quickly muttered, “Or a common Sex Slug.”

“Definitely the Love Locust,” he murmured in her ear.

“How do you know?” she asked a little breathlessly.

“I have my sources,” he said between kisses. “I heard there was an infestation here. I bribed Tom to owl Weaselette a gift certificate for a free party rental. Weasleys never can resist free stuff.”

“Ginny didn't even pay for this party,” said Hermione, slightly offended.

“Nope.”

“So, you're saying that you used her to lure me here. Because you heard there was an infestation of Love Locusts?” said Hermione incredulously.

He grinned at her cockily. “Yep.”

“Are you insane?”

“Maybe.”

“You do realize that Love Locusts don't exist.”

“But they do,” he said, running his finger up and down her thigh in tantalizing figure eights.

“They do?”

“Mmhmm.”

“How do you know?” she practically whispered.

“Because I was bitten by one,” he confessed, looking deep into her eyes.

“You were?” She gulped.

“A long time ago. You just never noticed,” he answered.

“Dear, Merlin,” she breathed as he returned to exploring her body.

“Have you ever heard of the infestation of '99?” he asked, unzipping the back of her dress.

Hermione nodded.

He smirked. “Well this one is going to put that one to shame.”

Sometimes, it felt good to be bad, she thought as Malfoy kissed his way down her body until he was under the table making her bunny-clad toes curl. Leaning back in her chair, Hermione closed her eyes and smiled contentedly. Whoever thought Malfoy could be so agreeable? She supposed she would have to write Ginny that thank you note after all. A bad birthday was exactly what she needed. And with a Passion Paddle, a Wonder Wand, a giant cake with pink icing, a Love Locust infestation and around fifteen years of pent up sexual tension, this birthday had the potential to be epically bad.

Chapter Text

Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

So... did you get laid?

Impatiently awaiting your response,

Ginny Weasley
Party Pimp

P.S. Belated Happy Birthday!

…...........................

 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Are you mad at me? Or are you just tied up in the kinky way?

Imagining furry, pink handcuffs,

Ginny Weasley
Faithful Confidante

…...........................

 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I'm sorry we didn't make it back in time for your party. The game went into overtime and, well, you know how that goes. Well, I guess you don't know since you've never understood Quidditch, but anyway, we just got back this morning. I have a horrid hangover, but I wanted to check in. Because I'm a good friend like that. Hope you had a good birthday—meaning hope you got laid!

Your well-meaning friend,

Ginny Weasley
Helpless Quidditch Fanatic

P.S. Harry and Ron said to tell you they are sorry, too, and that they hope you had a happy birthday. They're too big of wusses to write to you themselves.

…...........................

 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Come on, I said I was sorry. I have to know. Did you get laid or didn't you?

Dying of curiosity,

Ginny Weasley
The Nosiest Witch of Her Age

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Okay, I've been through the whole invitation list, and no one I talked to admitted to having sex with you. The only three I couldn't get a response from were Cormac, Seamus and Malfoy. Please tell me you had sex with one of them.

Never giving up,

Ginny Weasley
Super Sleuth

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Fred and George,

Thank you for the wand and the cake. They were delicious. Just out of curiosity, did you ever find a spell that worked for getting icing out of inappropriate places?

With sincere thanks,

Hermione Granger
Satisfied Birthday Girl

P.S. The Wonder Wand also works as an excellent drink mixer. You should put that on the package.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Delicious? Are you sure you used the wand appropriately?

Doubley troubley yours,

Fred & George Weasley
Wonder Twins

P.S. Icing needs to be removed manually. Want some help?

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Fred & George,

I think I can say with absolute certainty that I used it quite inappropriately.

Thanks again,

Hermione Granger
Wonder Witch

 

P.S. No.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I'm so sorry! Fred and George told me you enjoyed their gift and now I feel horrible that you had to spend your birthday with only one of their crappy products for company. I promise I'll make this up to you. We'll throw you another birthday party this coming Saturday. I've already started a guest list with the second stringers. Don't worry! I'm on the job!

Ciao for now,

Ginny Weasley
Redeemed Party Planner

P.S. That wizard that you thought was dead is actually alive. Maybe I should add him to the new list.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Editor of the Daily Prophet,

I insist on a retraction. I am not dead. I have missed several social invitations as a result of this egregious error. Quit ruining my chances at love.

Still kicking,

Dedalus Diggle
SND/W (Single Non-Dead Wizard)

P.S. Can you move my obituary to the singles section?

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Ginny,

No! Do not throw me another party. The party you already threw for me really sucked, and I don't need another one. You are maybe the worst party planner in the entire world. The decorations were tacky. The locale, which, by the way, I heard that you didn't even have to pay for, you cheap bitch, had some sort of infestation. And while the cake was pretty good, I think the party games may have scarred me for life. You obviously put very little time and effort into planning my birthday party. The fact that you couldn't even be bothered to show up pretty much says it all. My birthday was so bad, I can't even put what happened down on parchment. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you. I'm glad I came. Like really, really glad I came. Like five times over glad I came.

Grudgingly grateful,

Hermione Granger
Sex Goddess

P.S. The rumors were true. Malfoy really is a sex god! Five year dry spell OVER!!!!!!

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I told you so! Good thing I got Harry out of the way so he didn't scare off Malfoy. You're lucky I'm selfless like that. Quidditch was awesome, by the way. Did I mention we had box seats! I want all of the slutty details next time I see you.

Always right,

Ginny Potter
Matchmaker Extraordinaire

P.S. Harry seems oddly happy about the news. You should bring Malfoy to Sunday dinner.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Smith,

Mental breakdown over thirtieth birthday has transpired. Please send cash.

Sincerely,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who Really Won the Bet

P.S. Don't tell Hermione that I told you she had sex with Malfoy. Even though she did. On her thirtieth birthday as per my winning guess.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Professor Trelawney,

Just wanted to let you know that your prediction came true. Good job.

Keep prophesying,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who Actually Listened to Your Prophecy

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Mr. Potter,

You're finally dead?

See you in the far and cloudy future,

Sybil Trelawney
Seer of All

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Professor Trelawney,

The other prediction. The one about Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger.

Beating the odds as always,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who Still Lives

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Potter says you did the nasty with Malfoy on your thirtieth birthday. I have a lot riding on this. Please advise.

Your timely assistance in this matter is appreciated,

Zacharias Smith
Current Bet Winner

…...........................

 

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2009

 

HARRY POTTER!

HOW DARE YOU MAKE A BET WITH THAT PRICK ZACHARIAS SMITH! WHO I DO OR DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH IS NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUSINESS! WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN SEX LIFE. YOU... YOU, WIFE SPANKER!

YOUR PISSED OFF FRIEND,

HERMIONE GRANGER
SEXIEST WITCH OF HER FUCKING AGE

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I'm really sorry. I totally deserved that Howler that came during a really important meeting at work and which just so happened to have had the Minister of Magic and other high-ranking officials of the Ministry in attendance.

My sincerest apologies,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who is Currently Dying of Shame

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Zacharias,

Sorry to hear that you are still suffering from Loser's Lurgy. Give Harry his frigging money.

With no regards whatsoever,

Hermione Granger
The Girl Who Does Not Have a Stick Up Her Ass

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Potter,

Enclosed is your frigging money. By the way, Michael Corner says to say hello to your wife. He also says to tell her if she still has that itch to scratch, he's available. He remembers just the way she liked it.

Not at all sincerely,

Zacharias Smith
Sore Loser

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Smith,

Enclosed is some frigging itching powder. The twins assure me that the itch will last five to seven days. If you need some help scratching that itch, I hear Michael Corner is available.

Wishing you continued failure in life,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who Wins Again

…...........................

 

Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Dear Weaselette,

I would rather puke slugs than attend Sunday dinner.

Not at all cordially,

Draco Malfoy
Granger's New Sex Toy

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Luna,

Thank you for the Passion Paddle. It has surprisingly turned out to be a very practical gift. I have already gotten plenty of use out of it and have a feeling it will come in quite handy in the future. And I can't believe I'm asking this, but do you have a copy of that article that Rolf wrote on Love Locusts? Just curious. How was your trip?

Thinking about Love Locusts,

Hermione Granger
Believer

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

You are welcome! Glad to hear the gift was a big hit! Our trip was a smashing success. Draco Malfoy, our financier, said it was money well spent. I have enclosed the article you requested. I should warn you, though, it's a steamy read! Enjoy!

Wishing you a Blibbering Humdinger of a day,

Luna Lovegood
Queen of the Jungle

P.S. I knew you would come around! I heard the infestation was a nasty one this year!

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Seamus,

I'm really sorry for hexing you like that and for you having to wake up to you know what. Yikes! No hard feelings, huh? Thank you for the flowers. I gathered them up off the floor sometime after you fled the building. They are in a vase on my desk and look beautiful! I really appreciate you being such a kind and forgiving friend.

Hex you later,

Hermione Granger
Straight Shooter

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Neville may let you get away with that kind of shit, but I'm Irish, and we don't forgive or forget that easily. The flowers were from my garden.

Forever holding a grudge,

Seamus Finnigan
Mad Irishman

P.S. Which book did you learn how to do you know what from? I'd like to borrow it if that's alright.

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Seamus,

I actually just borrowed that book from Malfoy. I asked him if he would mind lending it to you, but he said that there was no way in hell he was lending anything to that stupid Irish bloke who blows himself up every five minutes and tried to wreck all of his plans with a stupid bouquet of flowers that he probably just dug out of the dirt and didn't even pay for. Or something to that effect. But the book is called Moste Potente Sexual Positions for the Advanced Witch and Wizard, and Malfoy said you can special order it at Flourish & Blotts. He also said not to be cheap and to spring for the illustrated edition.

Happy reading,

Hermione Granger
Book Lover

P.S. I didn't know you were into reading. I host a book club at my house on Thursday nights. You should come!

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Weaselette,

Please disregard my previous response. I was not thinking with my dick at the time. I have since been informed that I most certainly will be attending Sunday dinner whether I like it or not. And I assure you that I will not like it. At all. Put me down for chicken.

Eternally Ungrateful,

Draco Malfoy
Granger's Pussy-Whipped Sex Slave

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Dear Crabbe and Goyle,

Cancel plans for world domination. Have to attend Sunday dinner.

Plot with you later,

Malfoy
The Next Dark Lord

P.S. Tell the house-elves.

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Potter,

Please disregard that last message. There was some kind of mix up with the owl. It was meant for some other stupid four eyes. See you at dinner. Unfortunately.

Worst Regards,

Draco Malfoy
Not Really the Next Dark Lord

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Malfoy,

I knew you were up to something! You won't get away with it. Not on my watch. I will Expelliarmus your ass. Oh, and Ginny wants to know if you like white or dark meat?

Always watching,

Harry Potter
Dark Lord Exterminator

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Potter,

I was just joking. I have no intention of becoming the next Dark Lord. You are a paranoid bastard with no sense of humor whatsoever. And I like dark meat, of course.

Your archenemy,
Draco Malfoy
Dark Meat Eater

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Malfoy,

I do, too, have a sense of humor. Bring your Quidditch gear with you. We'll play after dinner and all have a good laugh at your shitty skills on the field.

Looking forward to kicking your ass,
Harry Potter
The Boy Who Always Beats You to the Snitch

P.S. Voldemort was my archenemy. You're more of a ferret-like nuisance.

…...........................

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Potter,

Thanks for the offer, but I'll probably be too busy shagging your bushy-haired best friend to have time for Quidditch. And I think you underestimate me. You can ask Hermione about my skills on and off the field.

Looking forward to having sex on your dining room table,

Draco Malfoy
Slytherin Sex God

…...........................

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I can't remember a thing from last Saturday night, but I'm guessing we had a lot of fun. I woke up with some splinters in some kinky places. Want to do it again sometime?

Still wishing I could remember,

Cormac McLaggen
Proud Bunny Lover

…...........................

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Dear Cormac,

Sorry. It wasn't me you hooked up with. I've tried to Obliviate the mental image from my brain, but I do remember the object of your affection had a nice rack. Good luck with that.

Still wishing I could forget,

Hermione Granger
Obliviation Specialist In Training

P.S. Where did you get those fuck me leather trousers that you told me about?

…...........................

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Glad Rags. I'm one of their best clients. I have all of my Quidditch uniforms made there. Tell them Tippy sent you and get twenty percent off.

Cormac McLaggen
The Tipster

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Crabbe,

Did you ever remember to tell the house-elves that the plans for world domination were off?

Grunt at you later,

Goyle
Goon #1

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Goyle,

Shit. I thought you were going to do it. Oops?

Grunting back at you,

Crabbe
The Real Goon #1

P.S. You're #2. It's alphabetical.

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Crabbe,

Fuck. Malfoy is going to kill us. You still got that emergency Portkey?

Still grunting,

Goyle
The New Goon #1

P.S. I'm tired of being shitty #2.

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Goyle,

Yeah. I'll meet you at the secret place in a half an hour. Bring some snacks.

Always grunting,

Crabbe
The One and Only Goon #1

P.S. Sorry, man, but you can't fuck with the alphabet.

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Crabbe,

You like beef jerky?

Thinking about meat,

Goyle
Slim Jim

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Goyle,

Beef jerky is good. And bring some cake. All hell is about to break loose. This is no time for dieting.

Thinking about meat and cake,

Crabbe
Beefcake

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Draco,

Why am I getting complaints that house-elves are trying to take over the Ministry? And by the way, Harry is looking for you.

Lecture you later,

Hermione Granger
Harassed Ministry Worker

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Fucking Crabbe and Goyle. I'm on it. You sleeping at my place tonight?

Make it up to you later,

Draco Malfoy
Make-up Sexpert

 

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Draco,

If you don't get hauled off to Azkaban, you can sleep at my place tonight. On the couch. Take care of it!

Wishing you success in not fucking things up further,

Hermione Granger
Headache Sufferer

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Good news. The Minister accepted my generous apology. What do you say we celebrate tonight?

Hoping I got rid of your headache,

Draco Malfoy
Love Healer

P.S. If you are up for celebrating, you'll have to spring for it. I'm all tapped out.

…...........................

 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Come on, I said I'm sorry. It was really all just a misunderstanding. I'm sure one day we'll all laugh about this. Even that humorless, fun-sucking Potter. Please forgive me. I'll do that thing you like. You know, that thing you've been wanting me to try.

Resorting to bribery as usual,

Draco Malfoy
Reluctant Initiate

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Draco,

Sorry you didn't like that thing I wanted you to try as much as I hoped you would. Book club isn't usually that disturbing, I promise.

Keep reading,

Hermione Granger
Book Club President

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Seamus,

Sorry to hex you again, but who shows up to book club wearing nothing but a shamrock sock? I'm not sure how our signals got crossed but appropriate attire for book club is always clothing. Always.

Hex you next time,

Hermione Granger
Rule Enforcer

P.S. Next week's book is Pride & Prejudice!

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I have to admit, book club was definitely less boring than I thought it would be. But not in a good way. Although seeing that idiot get hexed again was fairly entertaining. Unfortunately, I can't get that whole “kiss the blarney stone” image out of my mind. Maybe you can make it up to me. In the bedroom or on Potter's dining room table.

Looking forward to doing you,

Draco Malfoy
Lucky Bastard?

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Draco,

Kingsley came into my office today and told me that you not only generously apologized for yourself but for the house-elves as well. You single-handedly freed hundreds of house-elves. You're my hero! I think it's time we celebrated for real. I'm planning the party now. I have included the guest list for your perusal.

1. Hermione Granger

Thinking of you,

Hermione Granger
Party Planner to the Sex Gods

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

Is this a list to get me laid?

Thinking of you with my hand in my pants,

Draco Malfoy
Horny Hero

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Draco,

You bet your ass it is. And speaking of soon-to-be, leather-clad asses, the package that came with this letter is your attire for the party. Don't be alarmed by the very clever alteration spell that comes with it. A shirt is optional. The party starts at 7:00 sharp. Do not be late. I have a Passion Paddle, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Hugs and spankings,

Hermione Granger
Dominatrix, aka Your Mistress

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Dear Hermione,

I will be there at 7:01.

All yours,

Draco Malfoy
Bad Boy

…...........................

 

Friday, September 25. 2009

 

Malfoy,

Freeing the house-elves? Well played. This isn't over. I know you're up to something.

Until we meet again,

Harry Potter
Even Worthier Opponent

…...........................

 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

 

DEAR HARRY,

MALFOY AND I ARE DATING! THERE IS GOING TO BE SOME SCREAMING. SENDING THE ENTIRE AUROR DEPARTMENT TO MY FLAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE!

P.S. Looking forward to dinner tomorrow.

Hermione Granger
DRACO MALFOY'S FUCKING GIRLFRIEND

…...........................

 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

 

Dear Potter,

Hermione said I needed to bring something to dinner to show my appreciation. I hope you like wine. It may or may not be poisoned.

Draco Malfoy
Disgruntled Dinner Guest

P.S. Quit having me followed.

…...........................

 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

 

Dear Malfoy,

I'll quit having you followed when you stop acting suspicious.

Constantly vigilant,

Harry Potter
Disgruntled Dinner Host

P.S. White wine would go better with chicken. Something sparkling would be nice. Save the poison for yourself.

 

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Dear Harry and Ginny,

Thank you so much for dinner. It was lovely. Sorry about the dining room table. We'll be happy to replace it.

Thinking of doing it again sometime,

Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy
The Witch and Wizard Who Came to Dinner

P.S. Draco would like a copy of your chicken recipe.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Potter,

I see you're still having me followed. If you're not careful, I'm going to ask Dawlish to be my best man at the wedding.

Until we're forced to meet again,

Draco Malfoy
Dawlish's New Best Friend

P.S. Hermione, Dawlish, and I are going out for drinks after work. I'm supposed to ask you if you'd like to join us.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Malfoy,

Do you really enjoy her company?

Thinking the worst about you,

Harry Potter
Skeptic

P.S. Where are we meeting? I have a feeling I'm going to need a drink.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Potter,

I think I might love her company.

Having gushy thoughts about a certain bushy-haired know-it-all,

Draco Malfoy
Hermione's Boyfriend

P.S. Three Broomsticks. And yes, you're probably going to need a few drinks. By the way, you're buying.

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Dear Ron,

Our worst fears have come to pass. Hermione and Malfoy are... in love.

Thinking the worst,

Harry Potter
Dooms Day Reporter

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Dear Harry,

Bloody hell. Well, we can't say we didn't see it coming. Although I really had my money (well, your money) on the Quidditch pitch.

Thinking about Quidditch,

Ronald Weasley
Quidditch Lover

P.S. Doesn't Malfoy have Quidditch box seats?

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Dear Ron,

Hermione and Malfoy are a couple. How can you think of Quidditch at a time like this?

Still thinking the worst,

Harry Potter
The Boy Who Can't Save Hermione

…...........................

 

Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Dear Harry,

Silver lining, dude. Silver lining.

Looking on the bright side,

Ronald Weasley
Eternal Optimist

P.S. Go Cannons!

…...........................

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Dear Ginny,

I was wondering if you wanted to get together for your birthday after work on Wednesday. Maybe a girls' night out? After all, I owe you.

Looking forward to paying you back for all you did,

Hermione Granger
Ultimate Party Plotter

P.S. Harry and Ron can meet up with us later.

…...........................

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Dear Hermione,

Girls' night out is code for getting a stripper, right? If so, I'm in!

Ready to party,

Ginny Weasley
Naughty Birthday Girl

…...........................

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Dear Cormac,

Do you happen to know if Tippy the Tornado does birthday parties? I have a friend I'm throwing a Quidditch/bunny-themed birthday party for on Wednesday. Think he's available?

Let me know,

Hermione Granger
Just Deserts Server

P.S. I'm looking for a stripper, too. Does Tippy do that kind of thing?

…...........................

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Dear Hermione,

I just so happen to know that Tippy does do birthday parties, and he is available that day. For an extra fee, he strips, too. He takes off everything but his mask. And in case you are wondering, he's totally hung. It's quite a show, if I do say so myself. There's a whirlwind feature and everything.

Gone with the wind,

Cormac McLaggen
Tippy's Talent Manager

P.S. Great party theme. Tippy can incorporate it into his show if you want.

…...........................

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

 

Dear Cormac,

That sounds awesome! I want the works. This birthday girl really deserves it. Wish I was able to be there to see her face. Unfortunately, I have other plans. Just send me the bill.

Break a leg,

Hermione Granger
Party Patron

…...........................

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

 

Dear Draco,

I've finally decided to do that thing you've been wanting me to do since we first started dating. I'm available tomorrow if you're up for it. I should warn you, I probably won't enjoy it.

Willing to fake it if I have to,

Hermione Granger
So-So Actress

…...........................

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

 

Dear Hermione,

I'm a Slytherin. I think I know an ulterior motive when I see one. Not that I care. Quidditch is Quidditch. I'll definitely take you up on your generous offer. Don't think you can distract me with sex until after the game though. Did I mention I have box seats?

Saving myself for Quidditch,

Draco Malfoy
International Association of Quidditch Honorary Member

P. S. The Falcons are playing the Harpies. I support the Falcons, however, I will understand if you identify more with the Harpies. I have included a few books on Quidditch for your reading pleasure.

…...........................

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

 

Dear Draco,

Challenge accepted.

Looking forward to playing dirty with you,

Hermione Granger
The Witch Soon-to-be Coming with the International Association of Quidditch Honorary Member in her Vagina

P.S. Thank you for the Quidditch books. They will undoubtedly be a great resource in helping me get a good night's rest. After all, I'm going to need my stamina for when we are not watching the game tomorrow.

…...........................

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

 

HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER!

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU REMOVE THESE FUZZY, PINK HANDCUFFS! TIPPY'S BEDAZZLED G-STRING IS ABOUT TO BLOW! AND FOR MERLIN KNOWS WHAT REASON, HE'S BROUGHT BUNNIES!

SEND HELP,

GINNY WEASLEY
NAUSEOUS BIRTHDAY GIRL

P.S. What's the score?

…...........................

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

 

Dear Ginny,

Harry and Ron should be there soon if all goes according to plan.

Hang in there,

Hermione Granger
Winner

P.S. Gryffindor three, Slytherin zero.