Disclaimer: JKR owns anything that is obviously hers. I own the rest.
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger
Warnings: Fairly Explicit Sexual Themes, More Talking Than You Would Think, Unrelieved Sexual Tension
Overall Rating: R
Summary: Hermione Granger is on a mission! It's a fairly simple mission. It really shouldn't be that hard. People do it every day! So ... why is she having so much trouble with it? Maybe it has to do with that annoying Draco Malfoy, yammering in her ear all night ....
Extra Note: An enormous debt of gratitude to margotlefaye bunney mazvn and little_dollface for betaing this for me with the toughest of love, and to little_dollface for making me the very shiny banner. You ladies rock!
Length: One-Shot, 6664 of 13952 words.
Hermione nervously smoothed down her skirt as she was standing in front of the inconspicuous entrance. It had seemed like a good skirt to wear earlier, but now it seemed too short. Or maybe it wasn't that it was short; maybe it was that it looked a lot tighter when she stood still and it clung to her legs. Or maybe both of those things didn't matter, considering that it was so ... thin.
She'd also thrown the 'legs or cleavage, never both' advice to the wind. Maybe she shouldn't have. Maybe she risked coming off as more of a tart than she really was with the 'jewel green' top that had seemed so much nicer earlier than it did now with its ruffled sleeves, low front and even lower back. She had had to cast a spell on it to keep it in place. Why had the necessity of spell-casting not tipped her off that this was a bad idea?
But at least it was green. Ron hated green for all sorts of juvenile reasons and he'd always managed to stomp on her joy of anything with that colour.
Well, tonight she didn't have to care about that. Tonight she would be free. She owed it to herself.
Straightening her back, she finally found the courage to enter the Leaky Cauldron. She'd been here many times before, of course, but never this late on a Friday night. She figured this might not be the last place she went tonight, but for a first place, she'd thought it would be all right. She honestly didn't know of many other places to go.
The place was darker and dodgier-looking than she remembered, and it was also much more crowded than she ever remembered seeing it before. Every table was filled with people talking, laughing, arguing ... and suddenly she realised she was alone. The realisation made her hang on to her handbag for dear life, clutching it to her midsection. Maybe there would be someone she knew among the witches and wizards cramped together, but she'd much rather not know if there were. She didn't want anyone to know what she was doing.
Suddenly her mission seemed stupid and sort of childish.
She really needed a drink.
First things first, however. She needed to find somewhere to sit down as she could hardly stand by the door all night. Tentatively, she moved into the room, doing a quick scan of each table as she went past, trying to not see the patrons’ faces, but just focusing on her first priority: Finding an empty chair!
Finally, at the very back of the room, she saw a chair at a small table with what was actually an almost perfect view of the room. Praying that the occupant wasn't just in the loo, she moved over to the chair, asking, "Is this seat taken?" while still scanning for any other potential chairs if it were.
"It is now," a pleasantly low voice murmured.
Feeling she should recognise the voice, Hermione finally looked down and got the shock of her life. She would know that pale face anywhere. It wasn't quite as gaunt as it had been the last time she'd laid eyes on it in person, but she had gone to school with him for six years, enduring his constant jabs, so unfortunately there was no doubt. This was either Draco Malfoy or his long lost twin. His eyes had only just made it to her face, it seemed, because they as well widened slightly in surprise. Then they narrowed in thought. Great. This was just what she needed -- for Draco Malfoy to know that she was trawling for ... well.
He was now wearing a somewhat amused look and making some kind of gesture. "Well, what are you waiting for, Granger? You wanted to sit, didn't you? Then sit."
"This is not what it looks like," she said in her prissiest voice.
"Oh?" he said, rather carelessly looking her over again. "So you aren't out looking for trouble, then? Love the colour, by the way."
Hermione's cheeks coloured slightly. Damn it. She'd known the clothes were over the top. Maybe she could make some minor changes without anyone noticing .... "It's none of your business," she said, sitting down as there really wasn't another chair to be had in this entire place. It was rather ironic, wasn't it? She was desperate for courage to go through with this and she landed at the table of the one person who was least likely to help her on that score.
Or maybe it wasn't that ironic. Maybe saner people would just much rather stand around the bar than sit near his unpleasant self.
He shrugged at her unfriendly statement, not looking as if he was overly concerned one way or the other. "Hey, what you're up to is bound to harm your relationship with Weasley, right? That would in turn hurt your relationship with Potter since he's so wrapped up in that family, and in the end you'll all be miserable. That makes me happy, so carry on."
Hermione cocked her head. "Did anyone ever tell you that you're a spiteful git?" she asked.
"Yes, that's happened once or twice. I think they want to take your order now."
Hermione looked up to find a server at her elbow. "Oh!" she said, feeling a little flustered. "I'll have, um, what he's having!" She eyed Malfoy's drink. Well, whatever it was, it didn't look too toxic. It had a rather appealing deep colour, actually, and it definitely wasn't in a wine glass, so she assumed it was stronger.
"Do you even know what I'm having?" he asked.
She shook her head.
He sniggered. "This'll be a fun night. So, tell me what you're looking for in a bloke and I might be able to help you out."
She was quiet as her drink was being served, but then very clearly replied, "I don't think so."
He shot her a surprised and disgusted look. "Not like that! But I come here more often than you do and can help you ... evaluate your prospects." He sniggered again for no apparent reason.
"Why were you helping me, again?" she asked, scowling at him. He seemed just a little too pleased with the whole idea.
"I already told you. To cause chaos and mayhem."
"Right." She gave him a very sceptical look.
He rolled his eyes. "All right, I'm bloody bored, ok? Watching you attempt to play the seductress beats doing nothing."
Ok, she could buy that. Unfortunately for him, she wasn't really interested in an audience. "I don't think you can help," she informed him. "So why don't you just mind your own business?"
"Ok, fine." He raised the hand that wasn't currently nursing his drink as if in surrender. "Have fun with your little quest."
He turned away, effectively leaving her alone and that was how she felt again. Alone. She nervously glanced around. How did one figure out who might be a suitable target for this? As crowded as the place was, nobody stood out as someone it would be a good idea to approach. How would she even know if they were open to suggestions? It would be rather embarrassing to walk up to some wizard and find out he was married or maybe just not interested.
She stared down at her hands in her lap, her drink still untouched. This wasn't as easy as she'd thought. Maybe she should just go home.
"The wizard over there, by the bar, to the left," Malfoy's voice said near her ear, making her jump. She hadn't noticed he'd moved his chair closer. "He comes in here sometimes. He's always by himself, so I don't think you have to worry about him being attached."
She glanced at the wizard Malfoy was pointing out to her and found that he was, in fact, looking back at her. Blushing, she quickly looked back down at the hands in her lap. Merlin, she wasn't ready for this. "And why are you telling me this?" she asked Malfoy.
"You looked like you were going to give up. I thought that would be a terrible, terrible waste." He smirked and took another swig of his drink.
"Well ...." She glanced at the wizard again and he raised his drink to her. She offered him a vague smile and then turned back to Malfoy. "Not him."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Don't get too picky now, Granger. What's wrong with this one?"
"He has this weird ... moustache," Hermione objected. "I can't kiss that thing!"
"So now you need kissing, too?" He sighed. "Fine. There's one over there, as well. He should be up to your standards."
Hermione looked at the other wizard but again she quickly returned her eyes to her lap. "No."
"And what's wrong with that one?"
He didn't make any attempt to hide his stare. "Too ...? Now you're just being difficult."
She glared at him. "I know that you'd like nothing better than for me to be rejected by some wizard, but I know my exact worth and my exact limitations, and when we're talking one-night things, wizards like that look for witches like ..." She looked up and then snorted as she saw that a very pretty witch had already approach the too-handsome wizard. She made a movement with her hand. "... that!"
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "It's not about that, Granger. Mostly, it's just about getting laid. When everyone's had a few drinks and is desperate for a shag, the only thing that really registers is confidence. If you have the attitude to pull it off, nobody really cares about the rest. It's not like you have to look at each other in the morning."
"Wow, thanks," she drily commented. She didn't really expect much from Malfoy, but had he just come out and called her ugly? She knew for a fact that she was not. She knew that tonight she was even well above average. She just wasn't quite in that one wizard's league.
But that was his way, wasn't it? Find anything he could to insult her with. Even if it were a gross exaggeration.
He snorted but didn't offer any better praise than that. Instead he said, "I suggest you drink up and try again."
* * *
A couple of drinks later, Hermione felt better about herself. Not that she'd felt exactly bad before, but she was further beyond caring and the anticipation had all of her nerve endings tingling. She liked that feeling. Malfoy seemed to notice how her nerves had settled, because he said, "Good. Now, how about that wizard? No strange moustache, but he doesn't look likely to end up on Witch Weekly's Special Pages. And before you think you're being clever by questioning my sexuality for knowing about those pages, I'd better tell you that I've been featured there myself."
Hermione closed her mouth, pouting a little at being declined the easy dig. "Must have been on a better day," she muttered to herself and then giggled for a second before she remembered herself and stopped. Whoa, that was odd. Why had she done that?
"I'm rich," he pointed out, having obviously heard her, "I don't need to be good-looking too. But you didn't even look at the bloke."
She supposed Malfoy didn't need to be handsome to get what he wanted in this world. But she also supposed that if she didn't know what an absolute git he was and if he didn't open his mouth at all, he wouldn't be too bad-looking. Not that she'd ever tell him that. She suspected that the merest hint of a pat on the shoulder would have him become completely insufferable and force her to abandon her chair. She couldn't abandon her chair. It was the chair! She needed it!
After a cursory glance at the wizard he'd pointed out, she said, "Nah."
He frowned at her and narrowed his eyes. "But why not?"
"There has to be heat," she insisted. "An attraction. Something. When I look at him, I get nothing." Well, nothing that wasn't there already, at least. She had plenty of heat on her own, but when she looked at that wizard, she just couldn't imagine sharing it with him. If she couldn't look at the bloke and imagine him taking her hard and fast somewhere, then what was the whole point?
Malfoy wearily rubbed his face. "And how will you know if there is heat without even talking to anyone? And, even more importantly, how do you know you'll get it from anyone at all?"
"Well ... there's a lot of people here. I should easily be attracted to someone and then I'll do it." Hermione really wouldn't know how to casually chat up someone and then casually leave them behind again if she changed her mind. It would be much too awkward for her peace of mind.
He snorted at her. "You're not really going to do this at all, are you?"
"Of course I am! Why wouldn't I be?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you're Hermione Granger, the most annoying swot Hogwarts has ever seen; the bestest female friend of the one and only Harry Potter; one of the biggest war heroines; not to mention destined to marry Ron Weasley, no matter what she currently seems to believe." He delivered his list with a sarcastic voice and a tilt to his lips that made her think that he didn't mean any of this in a good way.
"I intend to do this!"
"Go home, little girl. This scene is not for you." He took another swig of his glass.
"First of all," Hermione growled, quite sick of being patronized by someone who was drinking alone, "I was the oldest in our year and calling someone older than yourself 'little girl' is just weird. Second of all, if I didn't intend to do this, why didn't I wear knickers? It's quite frankly rather cold outside and it's ... well ... unhygienic!"
He stared at her for a second. "No knickers?"
"No knickers." Her cheeks heated. Come to think of it, maybe this was over-sharing. She wouldn't normally have told him that. Why had she told him? She didn't think she was that drunk ... but she'd just felt like it. Why would she feel like telling Malfoy she wasn't wearing any knickers? Did she really have that much of a wish to be ridiculed? And why did she have this incredibly odd feeling that everything was going to be all right?
"I don't believe you," he said with a dismissive shrug.
"Why would I lie about that?" For a second Hermione forgot about her embarrassment and other strange feelings as his accusation boggled her mind.
"To seem interesting. Boring girls do it all the time."
She sighed irritably and grabbed the edge of her skirt, making sure to keep her essentials covered while pulling it up to reveal the side of her thigh and hip all the way up to her waist. "See? Nothing there. Now can we please stop this nonsense?"
Malfoy stared and Hermione realised what she was doing. Her cheeks flushed crimson and she dropped her skirt down again. Had she just flashed a whole lot of bare skin to Draco Malfoy? Not to mention anyone in the vicinity looking their way? Oh, Merlin. Not good. Not good at all. Apparently, she had a lower alcohol tolerance than she'd thought.
Although, the slightly dazed quality of Malfoy’s look was actually bolstering her confidence just a little bit. If she could make him notice that she was a female, then the rest of the room should be a piece of cake.
He cleared his throat. "Ok. Fine. You're not wearing any knickers. But why the hell not?"
She shrugged sheepishly. "I figured they'd just get in the way or I'd lose them or something. Besides, it makes me feel different."
"So you truly do intend to do this?" Malfoy asked. "You do realise that Weasley is part of a very traditional family in a very traditional part of society? He's not easily going to forgive and forget."
Hermione wrinkled her nose. Way to kill her newly-found positivity. Wait, that wasn't a word! Was it? Oh, who the hell cared anyway .... "It's annoying how you seem to keep assuming that I want him to," she just replied, taking another sip of her drink. It was surprisingly tasty for something that effective. It was probably expensive too. Oh, well.
"Right," Malfoy said with one of those annoying sardonic smirks. "Well, then I can't wait to see what you come up with!"
Hermione swallowed. Yeah, she couldn't wait either. She hadn't really thought much further than showing up and doing the deed. There was a whole series of steps she seemed to have missed while thinking about this at home.
"Don't over-think it," he said, apparently reading her thoughts. "If you don't see anything you like, then just have a few more drinks and it's suddenly not so bad."
Easy for him to say! "Speaking from experience, are you?" she taunted.
"I don't need to pick up witches at a pub!" he indignantly replied.
"Who does?" Hermione shot back. Then she motioned for the server. This was going to take more drinks. Not only did she apparently need to put up with conversing with Malfoy, but working up her nerve to chat up some wizard, heat or no heat, really wasn't as easy as she'd initially thought.
* * *
"Hey, ease up or you're going to get sick," a not-too-concerned-sounding Malfoy was saying some time later.
Hermione lowered her glass. She supposed he was right. The room was a bit blurry and too sudden movements made her queasy. Maybe she should wait a little bit before having more to drink. The whole point of tonight was frantic movements, after all. God, she couldn't help for that point to be driven home again and again and again and again .... How long was it, it took the body to get one drink out of the system? A half hour? An hour? And how many had she had by now? She frowned, trying to remember, but had to admit she'd lost count. That probably wasn't good.
But she felt so nicely warm and tingly all over. She wanted to purr with sheer pleasure. Even Malfoy didn't seem like that much of a git anymore -- he actually seemed rather friendly ... considering who he was.
"So, any of them looking good yet?" he asked, his voice coming from somewhere further away than his body.
Draco Malfoy, the ventriloquist? The thought made her giggle.
"Ok, why don't we hold off on the liquid courage for a little bit?" he asked, removing the glass from her hands.
"That ... that may be a good idea," she agreed. "It's not very effective anyway. I still don't feel like ripping anyone's clothes off." Or, rather, she did, but no one's in particular. And the thought of ending up with no one at all depressed her. She felt like she'd die if she didn't have anyone inside her tonight. It did seem a bit harder to keep any single thought in her head, though. And sometimes she'd have a thought and then forget what it was about before she'd even finished thinking it.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow at her remark. That seemed to be an annoying habit of his. Although not half as annoying as him looking down her shirt. Ok, she wasn't actually annoyed by that, more like amused. And flattered. Not that it was all that flattering for a bloke to look at woman's chest since that seemed to be genetically coded into them, but the way his eyes kept returning seemed to suggest she had something worth looking at. Wait, what was it that annoyed her, again? She frowned. Damn. Another thought lost forever. It had probably been important too!
"Why are you even doing this?" he asked. "Don't get me wrong, I still think you should do it -- even if you need to be passed out in order to go through with it -- but ... why?"
Hermione's face heated. Damn him. "That's ... personal."
"It doesn't get much more personal than sex," he drily replied. "What's the matter? Does Weasley have a tiny willy?"
Hermione snorted a giggle before she could help herself. No, that was not funny! Why was she laughing? Damn alcohol. "No," she choked out around the laugh she refused to let out.
"Aw," he said, looking a tad disappointed. "No action, then? Or maybe too quick action? Or too loose action?"
She wrinkled her nose. "Loose action?"
"You seem the sort that might take revenge on a cheating fiancé."
"Oh. No. No cheating. No to the rest of what you said and ... no fiancé."
She refused to be saddened by that last statement. She'd made her own bed and she intended to not only lie in it, but to make sure that the sheets got nicely rumpled. God, it had been too long since her sheets had been rumpled. She really wanted to do a thorough job of rumpling them. Even the wizard with the moustache was starting to look good. Malfoy had been right about the drinks helping on that score.
"Aww, that's right. I keep forgetting. You broke up. How sad." Malfoy's tone of voice was anything but sad, mocking her.
"Does that make you any less obsessed with getting me into bed with some random wizard?" she asked, taking back her drink from him and knocking it back in one swift motion.
"No." He didn't make any effort to keep the glass from her but just watched her curiously. "Weasley is still going to mind. Whatever squabble you two are having will probably be over soon and then he will mind. A lot."
"Squabble," she said, feeling a little less drunk and a lot more annoyed than she had before. "Squabble? You think I'd go out looking for someone else to sleep with after a mere squabble with Ron?"
He didn't reply. "So this is a rebound thing, then?"
"No. It's something I want to do." She bit her lip, glancing at the men at the nearest few tables. It really was something she wanted to do ... in theory. But it was a very, very theoretic theory.
"To ease your itch?"
"No!" She sighed irritably, fed up with Malfoy's stupid guesses. "Because I need to. Because ...." She searched her foggy brain for a way to explain it. "Because I always needed to do this." Not that she didn't have an itch. She really, really did. And the longer she drew it out, the more it just seemed to grow. In fact, she was squirming just a tiny bit in her seat. It wasn’t the point, though. If it were only an itch, she could have taken care of it herself. Or she could have stayed with Ron and let him take care of it.
Malfoy frowned slowly, making her realise that maybe he'd had a little too much to drink as well, and said, "You always needed to go into a seedy bar and have sex with a random wizard?" He snorted a short laugh. "Knowing that would have made our time at Hogwarts more fun. You should have told me."
Hermione rolled her eyes and signalled for a refill. Once again, she was beginning to feel too sober to deal with him and work up her courage to chat someone up. Maybe she should suggest to the owner of the pub that they started carrying some sort of courage potion. She was sure they'd make a fortune off of that.
* * *
"Aren't you going to get sick if you don't ease up?" Hermione asked a little later, glancing at Malfoy's drink. She hadn't counted his drinks, but she was fairly sure he was well ahead of her and that any attempt on her part to try to keep up would be disastrous.
He sniggered. "I appreciate your concern, but I know my limits. Haven't reached them yet and won't for a while. Although the side-effects are going to be interesting."
"Why are you here, drinking alone, anyway?" Hermione asked before her brains could catch up with her mouth. To give Brains credit, they were being very actively tripped, tied up and held down by their foe, Alcohol.
"Well," he slowly said. "I woke up this morning, and I thought, 'What will I do tonight?' and then I decided that I would go to the Leaky Cauldron because I might get the chance to see Weasley's ex-fiancée attempt to get laid by someone who will neither have an impressive moustache nor be too handsome."
She wrinkled her nose. "That's not very forthcoming."
"It was a rude question, Granger," Malfoy sneered. "When people are drinking alone, you might want to try a bit more finesse when asking them why."
"Oh, come on, Malfoy. I showed you mine, so show me yours." She sniggered at her own almost-innuendo. Alcohol really had a poor influence on her sense of humour. Maybe Sense of Humour was trying to save Brains. Wait, that made no sense. What quality was doing what again and why was that a bad thing?
"You did not show me yours!" he objected. "Your reasons were vague at best. You needed to do this? What? Weasley just wasn't good enough for you for no reason at all?"
Hermione went quiet inside out. It was as if her mind was afraid to think about this particular subject in any way. Or maybe Brains had just permanently vacated the premises. "Something like that," she softly said.
"That's bollocks," Malfoy said, shaking his head. "You gave up a serious relationship to be with a stranger? You're going to be so disappointed. I almost feel sorry for you."
"Hey, I need more than love, I need sex!"
She cringed. It could have been worse, she supposed. She could have made an embarrassing exclamation to someone who loved to ridicule her -- while wearing a funny hat! Oh, where was Sense of Humour when she needed it so?
True to form, he laughed at her. "I knew he couldn't get it done!"
She scowled. "You're missing the point."
"No, I'm not." He beamed, ever happy to believe something bad about Ron. "Your lover was bad in the sack and now you're desperate."
Hermione irritably sighed. She supposed she'd better set him straight. "Ron could get it done just fine and there was nothing bad about it. He just wasn't interested in ... that is, he wasn't very adventurous, all right? I tried and I tried. For years I tried. But there's only so many times a witch can show herself in a kinky outfit, getting very little response, before she gets discouraged."
The beam gave way to a thoughtful look on Malfoy's face. "When you say kinky outfit ...."
"And that's not all I tried," she continued, oblivious to what he was saying. "I mean, I can't even begin to catalogue all the toys I bought, both of wizard and Muggle variety."
He blinked as if dazed by her statement. "Toys?"
"Yeah, you know," she said and made a dismissive wave, "restraints of different kinds, artificial body parts, visual aids, things that buzz and rub and generally feel good when used in the right or occasionally the wrong places." Things that were likely to be employed tonight if she didn't find someone to help her out soon.
Judging from the look Malfoy shot her, he seemed to have guessed that very thing all on his own. "Uh-huh." He swallowed and didn't seem able to say much more than that.
Was it really that strange to learn that she had wants and needs and fantasies? Just because he might find her thirst for knowledge boring, didn't mean that he had to assume that she only liked to have sex using the missionary position with the lights off.
Or maybe it did. He probably didn't even think she was capable of reaching orgasm. Git. She was perfectly willing and able, she just couldn't find a wizard to do the job in any manner that could be called exciting!
"In any case," she said, sighing, "Ron had no interest in any of that. He just wanted to make love the old-fashioned way, maybe once or twice a week, with only the two of us and no toys or outfits, and while it was by all accounts nice, it just wasn't ...."
"Enough?" he hoarsely suggested.
"Yes! I know I should probably have been able to let it go, but I wasn't. I mean, he didn't even want me to suck him off!"
Malfoy's eyes widened in renewed shock. "Huh?"
Hah! She’d bet almost anything that he’d always figured she would be too prissy to want to suck anyone off. Oh, she’d wanted. She had just been thwarted.
She shook her head, remembering the hurt and discouragement. "I read a book about it and thought it looked like fun and I'm sure I did it right, but he didn't react like I'd hoped at all. He let me for a bit but ... it was obvious he didn't think it was that interesting. He ... he even admitted as much afterwards." She cleared her throat and forced back the tears that threatened, feeling silly about getting all emotional about old issues. It was just such a sore spot with her. And she was probably a pathetic drunk too. "You don't know what it's like, Malfoy. To have all these desires and not even feel ... wanted. I know he always loved me, but he sure didn't seem to want me. Not in a physical way."
She shouldn't have told him that, Hermione realised through the alcohol haze a few seconds later when Malfoy hadn't responded at all, but was just looking thoughtfully into his glass. He was just going to laugh at her again and she was still too torn up over all the fights and the rejections and the final great row that had been the death blow to her relationship with Ron. It had led her here and she was going to go through with this even if it killed her. She didn't even care anymore if people would think her a slag. She just needed more. She needed to feel wanted and satisfied for once. It wasn't just about having an orgasm, it was about being fucked!
Malfoy finally looked up at her, but then he looked down at his half-empty drink again and cleared his throat. "This may come as a shock to you, Granger, but lust can get old too after a while," he said, strangely not seeming that amused by her admission of rejection.
Funny. He could have gone in for the kill, so why didn't he? She probably shouldn't ask him that. "I thought you didn't have to have one-night-stands," she pointed out instead.
"I don't. I was talking about my girlfriend ... um, ex-girlfriend ... ah, it's complicated." He frowned at the table.
"You broke up but you're still shagging?" Hermione guessed.
"Ok, maybe not that complicated," he muttered. "Anyway, we can barely stand the sight of each other. Never could. Yet we still tend to end up in bed together. In fact, that's why we stayed together for so long. We'd never be able to finish an argument without somehow ending up screwing. There's plenty of passion, but it drains the life out of you. Having a nice, calm relationship sounds rather good to me, actually."
"Calm is good," Hermione conceded, "but ours felt almost platonic! We were just ... glorified friends with the occasional very basic benefits. It was a deep, loving, boring relationship. I get love from a lot of people. Sex I'm only supposed to get from that special someone, so why wouldn't he give it to me? What's so hard about getting a little adventurous with your significant other every once in a while? I mean, I wasn't asking him to do anything terribly out of the ordinary, just ... show a little more enthusiasm. What's so wrong about that?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think that he might be more passionate with someone that isn't me?" she quietly asked, hoping for a little reassurance since he wasn’t openly mocking her but actually sharing this strangely open conversation with her. She was pretty tonight! She knew she looked a lot different than he remembered, with her hair made up nicely, make-up that accentuated her best features, not to mention her revealing clothes. He had to have noticed something more than her breasts and her missing knickers.
"I don't know," he said, lifting his glass to his lips again. "Maybe."
Hermione tried to not let the words hurt her. "Oh, right. I keep forgetting. You think I'm ugly and undesirable." She snorted and readjusted one charm-stickied shoulder of her shirt in order to do something. Her self-confidence was damn near squashed again. Maybe she just wasn't the kind of witch that men really wanted.
He looked at her for a few seconds, but then addressed his drink as he spoke. In fact, come to think of it, he seemed to avoid looking at her face and she couldn't recall him looking her in the eyes for at least a half hour. Maybe her breasts were just that much more fascinating. "That's not it, exactly," he said. "But sometimes you just can't help who you respond to. Genitals aren't very smart." He made a grimace that could have been a self-deprecating smile.
No, genitals weren't smart, she supposed. But they sure were opinionated at times. Even now she still desperately wanted to have sex with someone, anyone. If anything, she wanted it even more than when she arrived earlier. She even suspected that her cheeks were getting flushed from all the heat coursing through her veins. Fortunately, it was rather hot in here and there was a fair amount of flushed cheeks and glassy eyes in the room so she didn't stand out too much.
"Is your ex the reason you're here tonight?" It had just slipped out, but Hermione decided she really wanted to know. She didn't care whether it was a rude question. She had shared, now it was Malfoy's turn. Maybe then she could have some time to work up the courage to go face potential rejection. Why did Malfoy have to be such a git? Why couldn't he just say she looked nice? She needed another drink.
He shrugged carelessly. "Not in the way you probably think," he replied to her question. "I just had a bad day and thought I'd get a few drinks before having to deal with her, but then I stuck around because your inability to get laid was more fun."
And he just had to rub it in, didn't he? "Sleeping with someone you hate is worse than sleeping with a stranger," she pointed out.
"Why? I already know the sex is going to be good. With a stranger, you don't have that assurance. Mostly, it's just all right."
"And how do you know that?"
He sighed. "I haven't been a virgin for years, Granger. A couple of times in the past I've let a gold digger think she had me." He made a grimace that was something between a smirk and a sneer. "Always the same damn thing, isn't it?"
Hermione wouldn't know since she hardly knew what he was referring to, but she supposed he was right if he said so.
Malfoy raised his glass to her with a strange little smile. "Here's to you getting the sex you want and to me just getting through the night with my sanity intact!"
* * *
"How about that witch?" Hermione asked, pointing to a pretty dark-haired witch at the other end of the room. Malfoy and she hadn't spoken for a while but suddenly this suggestion had seemed like such a good idea to make. And why the hell shouldn't she?
Malfoy did a double-take. "Why, Granger, I had no idea!"
"No!" she hurriedly exclaimed. "I mean, sure, if I were dating someone and he wanted--" She cut off and bit her lip, blushing. She probably didn't need to tell him about those fantasies. "I meant for you."
"I told you that I don't need to pick someone up. As soon as I'm done here, I'll just Apparate to my ex's place, assuming I can still stand. She'll be annoyed at the intrusion and then punish me by bonking my brains out."
Hermione frowned and shook her head. "You shouldn't Apparate while intoxicated. It's not safe."
He snorted. "How magna-- ... magni-- ... big of you to consider my safety. I'll be fine."
"And, besides, you can't keep going back to something that's so twisted and unhealthy. That other witch might help you keep your sanity intact. Wasn't that what you wanted?"
He shot her a quick glance. "Yeah, um, Granger? I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to fix me. Especially since you don't have a clue what you're talking about."
"I'm not trying to fix you."
"Then fix my life. Whatever. Stop it."
"You know it's going to wear you down," she insisted, sure she had the right of it and too inebriated to care what he thought of her having such a strong opinion.
"No. What I know is that you came in here, claiming you needed to get laid by one of those blokes, but so far you haven't done anything to make it happen and sitting around, waiting for it, is getting dull."
"You're right," Hermione said, allowing for the change of subject and getting up before she could change her mind. "You're absolutely right. I need to do something about this and not just sit here, drowning my sorrows with someone who’d rather sleep with someone he hates than take a chance on someone new. Is anyone looking interested?"
He opened his mouth and then closed it. Then he opened it again to say, "I thought you wanted heat."
"Well, maybe I'm drunk enough not to care!" Or desperate enough. She sure was randy enough. She was now at a point where even the way the fabric of her clothes was caressing her when she moved was driving her out of her mind. She glanced around the room, desperately hoping for anyone to look interested.
Malfoy rubbed his face with one hand, looking weary. "Just walk up to any single male, Granger. They're not going to say no."
"Maybe they're not looking for sex." She bit her lower lip again.
"You don't have to be looking for it to appreciate it and hot, fast, no-strings sex is just about every bloke's wet dream." He was looking annoyed with her. How come he got to be annoyed with her?
"You're contradicting yourself. You said you weren't interested in that just a minute ago," she pointed out, congratulating herself for being able to reason so well at this level of intoxication and randiness. Was randiness even a word? She didn’t care.
"I said I wasn't going to look for it. If it offered itself ...." He shook his head with a sarcastic grimace. "Just go already."
"Right," Hermione muttered, taking the first very insecure step.
Her vision zoomed in on a wizard who was looking appreciatively at her. He was decent-looking by all accounts. Trying to ignore her own nervous jitters, she pasted on a smile and walked over to him.
* * *