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“Ah! Hermione, careful!” 

Ginny’s warning came just in time for Hermione to avoid crossing the threshold. Doing so would have trapped her under the mistletoe with Pansy Parkinson, of all people. For her part, Pansy seemed equally grateful for Ginny’s intervention, shooting the offending plant a withering glare.  

“Damn!” the Slytherin growled, stepping aside and far away from the mistletoe. “Who let Lovegood in charge of decorations? There’ll be loads of these everywhere!” 

Hermione was inclined to agree, and soon enough, the suspicion was confirmed. Strategically placed mistletoes could be found in some of the most unexpected places all around the grand ballroom the Ministry had arranged for its annual Christmas gala.  

When asked about the thought process behind her choice of décor, Luna had, of course, given a signature Luna answer – it certainly involved Nargles in one way or another. Hermione mapped all of the hotspots, so to speak, as she took a turn about the room with Harry and Ron. It would be best not to be caught in any embarrassing positions, mistletoe or not. 

Of course, the arrangement led to some hilarity – when Hermione wasn’t being subjected to it, it was quite funny to see the unwitting hostages taken by the charmed plant. Thus far, Lavender had to give Bill Weasley a smooch, much to the laughs of everyone present including Fleur and Ron, and Draco and George had been caught in a similar predicament which had guests wheezing in laughter.  

As the night wore on, Hermione was very proud to have avoided all of Luna’s well-meaning, supposedly Nargle-infested little traps. She had narrowly avoided what could have been a catastrophic encounter with Cormac McLaggen. Even Ginny herself had fallen victim to the plants – with Blaise Zabini, of all people, which had Harry grumbling in the corner for a little while. But no, not Hermione Granger. She was the brightest witch of her age; there was no way she would be caught unawares under a mistletoe. 

The bell had sounded midnight and thus the beginning of the end for the revelry; it was time to go home and Hermione looked forward to a good rest after so much dancing. It was as she retrieved her robes from the coat check at the door when she felt a terribly familiar sensation sticking her to where she stood, as if suddenly there was a tether coming from above, keeping her in place.  

Oh no.   

She looked up before looking anywhere else, and sure enough, there it was: a single sprig of mistletoe, hanging from a chandelier. She eyed the plant with pure frustration before turning to see whom she had the misfortune of being trapped with.  

She saw deep, emerald-green robes with white trim. She saw manicured hands. She saw blond hair, cascading down like a golden waterfall down a witch’s back. She saw crimson lips tugging into a smirk, and last, she saw deep azure eyes that looked as surprised as she felt.  

Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no.  

Well, I never...” Narcissa Black drawled with a raised brow, regarding Hermione with a mixture of curiosity and surprise.  

Hermione felt all the blood drain from her face and then almost immediately return in a furious flush. She saw Draco out of the corner of her eye, his mouth agape as he stood dumbly a few feet from them, staring bewildered. Harry and Ron, as well as Ginny, stared in equal parts disbelief and amusement.  

Ginny’s shoulders shook with laughter; Draco looked as if his soul had left his body, and Harry and Ron shuffled uncomfortably on their feet, hands deep in their pockets.  

“Are you going to stare all night?!” Hermione hissed, and everyone made a bad effort of looking away. She could still feel their gazes deviating to her and Narcissa every now and then. It was bad enough she had the misfortune of being stuck with Narcissa Black, of all people – she didn't need her friends and the woman’s son staring.  

Granted, Hermione thought as she looked the witch over, there were worse people to be stuck under the mistletoe with. She shuddered thinking of the close call with Cormac. Surely kissing Narcissa wouldn’t be as terrible – the woman was beautiful, with elegant, delicate features and bright blue eyes. She stood nearly as tall as Hermione, and her plum-tinted lips were full and looked to be so incredibly soft... 

“Ms. Granger, are we doing this or would you rather stare a little longer?” Narcissa interrupted with a knowing smirk. 

Hermione felt her cheeks redden further. “Yes! I mean, sorry, yes, uh... let’s do this thing,” she stuttered, and then immediately felt stuck. She looked at Narcissa, who only looked right back at her with mirth twinkling in her blue eyes.  

“Merlin,” she breathed out – were those eyes always that blue?? “How are we supposed to go about this?” 

“It’s a kiss, Ms. Granger, not an arithmancy equation” Narcissa quipped with a laugh. She raised an eyebrow, goading. “Surely you’ve kissed people before?” 

“Of course I have!” Hermione hissed, feeling flush all the way to the roots of her hair. “Just not...” she began, and then her mind just filled in the blanks. Never someone as pretty. Or elegant. Or poised. Or pretty. Did she say pretty already? 

“All right, then get to it.” Narcissa chimed, resting a hand on Hermione’s waist and leaning just barely into her space. “I always thought Gryffindors like you were the ones to... take charge, so to speak.” 

The last part was whispered in such a velvety voice and in such a suggestive tone that Hermione felt her throat go dry. Narcissa wasn’t... no, she was goading her.  

“Uh, t-take charge?” Hermione gulped, feeling the heat of Narcissa’s hand on her waist spread through her torso, her chest, her neck, and Merlin was she sweating?! She heard a whimper coming from somewhere and was surprised to discover it came from her own throat as Narcissa leaned even further in, grinning smugly.  

“Yes,” Narcissa whispered, her breath ghosting over Hermione’s lips. “Are you?” 

Hermione was very confused and wasn’t sure she had heard, but Narcissa’s lips were so very close and her blond hair had just grazed her shoulder and suddenly Hermione was drowning in Narcissa’s scent and... 

“For Salazar’s sakes” she heard Narcissa seethe, and then she noticed now the blonde was looking at her lips; those blue eyes had darkened to the hue of stormy seas. The observation took less than a second, because suddenly Hermione felt an abrupt force pulling her flush towards Narcissa, and she had no time to register the feel, the heat, and the astounding softness of the other woman’s body against her own, because Narcissa had wound her other hand into Hermione’s curls and tilted her head just so and... 

Hermione was distinctly aware of a squeak coming from somewhere in the vicinity – if she had to guess, it had been Draco – but her senses were overtaken with the overwhelming sensation of Narcissa’s lips – her impossibly, astoundingly, gloriously soft lips – gliding over her own as if they were skimming the surface, testing the waters, and they felt so intoxicating Hermione had no choice but to pull Narcissa even closer to her by the waist, grabbing fistfuls of her expensive robes and holding on tight. 

She practically inhaled Narcissa’s gasp of surprise, taking the opportunity offered by the blonde’s briefly parted lips to graze her teeth upon the bottom lip, and the response she got for that little bit of Gryffindor bravery was the tightening of Narcissa’s hand in her hair.  

At some point, Hermione felt the mistletoe tether release them, and the thought of Narcissa abruptly stepping away in light of their newfound freedom filled her with unfamiliar panic. Instead, all she felt was a renewed intensity in Narcissa’s lips, a renewed fervour that kept her hands where they were.  

“Ahem” someone cleared their throat nearby. Narcissa made no move to stop, so Hermione didn’t bother.  

“AHEM” there it came again. “Mother!” 

Hermione wanted to kill Draco, because his calling made Narcissa’s hold falter and her lips leave Hermione’s. With some weird, smug satisfaction, however, Hermione noted Narcissa didn’t let go completely; the hand on her waist remained there, and the one that had previously been tangled into her hair came to rest upon her shoulder. 

“Draco,” Narcissa scolded, looking like the picture of dignity and grace even if that plum lipstick was now smeared everywhere – undoubtedly on Hermione as well. “It’s rude to interrupt.” 

There was a guffaw of laughter – Ginny, Hermione came to find out – and then Draco was summarily dragged away by Ginny and Harry, with Ron following close behind and blushing profusely.  

Narcissa took a deep breath, still looking perfectly poised despite the smeared lipstick. “I suppose we ought to step out, before the mistletoe strikes again.” 

Hermione nodded. Neither witch let go for a long time, and soon enough Hermione felt that tether once again.  

“Oh no” she said dramatically. “What are we going to do about that?”