This is probably the best punishment that Xeno has thought up in the six years that Hermione’s worked for the Quibbler. Normally, when she’s crossed a line, he gives her a disappointed look then assigns her an article on creatures whose existence isn’t likely because those frustrate her more than anything else. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that she’s written several dozen articles on those mythical creatures over the years. Her interest in exposing corruption and informing the public about different things that impact their world often leads to stepping on toes of people who owl Xeno to whinge and demand action of some kind. She doesn’t mind because the tradeoff is worth it. Knowledge is power, after all, and she doesn’t want their world to become like it used to be where the information is filtered and secrets are kept. The Daily Prophet is still controlled by a few high-powered bigots who choose what they cover in their newspaper based on personal philosophies instead of a neutral view.
It really isn’t her fault that she occasionally oversteps her boundaries at the Quibbler. She’s helped contribute to the success of the paper and helped it to gain a reputation of legitimacy instead of farce. Some of her series of articles have even been recognized by European journalism circles, and she’s won a couple of awards for two different exposes. She can’t get to the truth without pushing and asking the hard questions sometimes. That’s all she did at the press conference yesterday, but there were obviously complaints to Xeno about her, again, so she’s being punished in order for him to follow through on whatever compromise he had to make to prevent someone from going after her directly.
In all honesty, she would have preferred to deal with them than accept this ridiculous assignment. Xeno had insisted, which meant she couldn’t even try to pawn the article off on Mandy or Alicia. Either of them would probably be thrilled to deal with this fiasco. They’d even view it as a reward instead of punishment because most people probably would. Hermione isn’t ‘most people’, however, so she is already annoyed with the crowds and smell of cigarette smoke and scent of alcohol that seems to be the perfume of choice by many of the witches and wizards attending tonight’s concert. The concert goers cover a variety of ages, and Hermione tries to focus on taking mental notes that she can use for her article. She might resent the assignment, but she’s certainly going to do the best job possible regardless.
This is the first performance by the Weird Sisters since the sudden death of Herman Wintringham three years ago. They’ve found a new lute player, and they’re recording music again, but this concert is huge to their fans because it’ll mark the first live event with the new line up. Even before Wintringham’s death, the band hadn’t made many public appearances since the war ended, and none this large. Hermione spent last night talking with Ginny via the Floo trying to get all the information about the band that she could since she isn’t exactly a huge fan. They’re enjoyable enough, and she remembers having fun dancing to them during the Yule Ball, but she isn’t aware of the members’ names, personal information, or romantic lives like Ginny. She also couldn’t name more than a couple of their songs, which really doesn’t make her the best person to write this article.
Besides, it’s probably going to just get her into more trouble because she has no interest in writing a fluff piece on popular musical culture. She’s curious about Wintringham’s death, which was never written about or discussed in the magazines at the time. She also wants to know why they’ve basically taken a hiatus since the war, especially considering their popularity has remained solid and none of them were connected with Voldemort in any way. Of course, if she asks the questions she wants to ask, they’ll probably kick her out and Xeno will send her on assignment to Greenland to hunt for some creature or another.
When the lights flicker, she makes her way towards the wall. She knows a spot there will give her a good view of the stage as well as the crowd, and she has no interest in dancing around or singing along, so it’s only fair to get out of the way so she doesn’t ruin any fans’ fun. Once she’s settled, she watches the crowd and has to smile at their enthusiasm. This band makes her slightly nostalgic, with thoughts of the Yule Ball and Tonks’ t-shirts and Ginny’s band poster all firmly embedded in her memories.
The crowd roars when the Weird Sisters arrive on the stage. Hermione turns her attention to them, noticing that most of them still have hair of various longer lengths, but they’re not wearing robes at all. They’re wearing Muggle clothes, which is surprising because she remembers the torn robes they’re known for. The crowd doesn’t seem to mind, and she can understand why. Despite the majority of the band members being in their early thirties, they’re rather good-looking, and they’re wearing tight Muggle trousers and shirts that fit well. The one closest to her side of the stage is actually wearing leather trousers that are so tight they’re almost indecent, and he hasn’t even bothered fastening his shirt. Of course, if she were a man with a chest and abdomen like his, she’s not sure she’d bother, either.
Their music has evolved over time. She can even hear a little Muggle influence, and she wonders if that also explains the clothing change. She’s going to have to ask a question about it because she’s curious. While she doesn’t mind their music, she’s never been a huge fan. However, she likes the new songs they’re playing quite a bit. The lead singer has a nice voice, and she likes the way the instruments work together. She’s also very impressed with the man in leather pants who is playing lead guitar. He’s definitely improved since they played the Yule Ball, or perhaps they just now have songs that allow him to play more of a part.
Regardless of what has changed, she finds her gaze on him throughout the performance. He seems to be lost in the music, mouthing along to the lyrics even when he’s not singing back-up, and he’s got a passion for what they’re doing that continuously draws her attention. She’s also honest enough to admit that she finds him attractive, with his angular face and fit body that make it obvious he’s a man and not some pretty boy musician. There are a few times during the concert when he appears to be looking directly at her, and she has to admire the way performers can make the audience feel as if that’s actually happening. Obviously, she’s just imagining it, probably along with dozens of other fans at the moment, but it does make her feel as if she’s part of the event instead of merely a casual observer.
The hours pass rather quickly. All too soon, the band is wrapping up, saying their thanks and doing introductions before calling it a night. Kirley Duke is the name of the lead guitar player, and she wishes she’d had more time to learn about the band members before this assignment because she’s curious about him. With a shake of her head, she has to laugh at herself. Ginny would be peeing herself in laughter if she had any idea that Hermione had actually been captivated by a band member.
Now that the concert is over, it’s time for her approved interview with the band, so she needs to collect her thoughts and stop fantasizing about guitar players with dark eyes and sexy smiles. By the time a crew member is leading her back stage, she’s more in control and coming up with multiple questions that she thinks will make the article interesting. She’s taken to a door, and the man knocks before taking off to finish his work. She isn’t expecting to be left on her own, so she’s probably making a rather odd face when the door opens and the lead singer peers out at her.
“Hello, I’m Hermione Granger. With the Quibbler? I’m supposed to interview the band,” she says, feeling slightly flustered at being left on her own to do introductions. She’ll have a word with Xeno about this and tell him that she’s not doing any more entertainment pieces unless a manager or someone in authority meets her beforehand.
“I know who you are, love. Who doesn’t know Hermione Granger?” The man grins and opens the door. “Come in, come in. I’m Myron. I’m so happy that you accepted the exclusive!”
“Exclusive?” Hermione blinks at him but enters the room, trying not to feel too much like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
“Look everyone. Hermione Granger is here.” Myron motions to her as if she’s on display before focusing his manic energy back at her. “Your series on Squibs was bloody brilliant. My great aunt is a squib, you see, and that article helped her reunite with the family because you pointed out so many horrid things that they realized they were a bunch of bigoted arseholes.”
“That article you did on the prejudice against werewolves really made me think.” A man comes up and shakes her hand. “I’m Heathcote, rhythm guitar. Not the pretty boy like Duke, so most don’t notice me all that much. Anyway, is it true that legislation has passed to actually start giving those victims some rights? It made me bloody angry to think of those kids not having a chance to go to school just because that Greyback arsehole was allowed to run free for so many years.”
“Let the poor girl breathe.” A skinny short man speaks up and motions to Heathcote and Myron. “They’re big fans of your work, dearie. I’m Merton. Cello. Are you thirsty? Hungry? You have to excuse the blokes. We’re always riding high after a successful concert.”
“We’re all fans, so don’t let Merton fool you. My wife even went to see you speak at some lecture about house elves after the war.” This man is tall and boyishly handsome. “I’m Donaghan, and I’m going to be asking for an autograph, if you don’t mind. My wife would hex me if I don’t get her one.”
“Did she?” Hermione is honestly feeling overwhelmed. There are so many of them, and they’re surrounding her, continuing to talk to her as if she can possibly have conversations with them all at once. A man named Gideon is asking about an article she wrote on the Finnish unicorn, of all bloody things, and one named Orisino is talking about the war heroics that had been written about years ago.
A sharp whistle suddenly silences everything, and she’s extremely relieved for the interruption. When she looks over, she sees the guitar player leaning against the wall, still wearing the indecent leather pants and open shirt. “Enough. She’s here to interview us, not to deal with your fanboy behavior and constant questions.”
“Our fanboy behavior?” Myron snorts. “That’s rich coming from you, Duke.” He glances at Hermione and smirks. “He’s the one who got us interested in your articles.”
“Myron, shut it, or I’ll shut it for you,” Duke warns, pushing himself off the wall and stalking towards her. When he reaches her, he takes her hand and brushes a kiss against it. “Thank you for everything you did for Meaghan.” His voice is low and husky, almost as if he’s confessing something to her, and she realizes she’s leaning forward to hear him when she almost trips.
Meaghan? It takes her a few seconds to place the name. He must mean Meaghan McCormack, who had been the subject of one of her first investigative efforts. A Qudditch player who had been sexually assaulted by a wizard with a large vault and connections, it had taken Hermione weeks to get enough evidence to expose the cover up by certain members of the auror department that Harry promptly fired before taking over the case himself and seeing justice done. “You know her?”
“She’s my big sister,” Duke says, letting go of her hand and straightening up. “She told me you were a rock during the entire ordeal, and I’m grateful for all you did.”
“She’s a strong woman,” Hermione says, knowing that she didn’t do anything except stubbornly refuse to give up on the case. “Anyway, we should get the interview done, as I’m sure you’re all ready to go celebrate the success of your concert.”
“Let’s sit. You can interview us, and we’ll attempt to be on our best behavior.” Myron leers playfully before giggling and falling onto one of the sofas beside Orsino.
“You’ll have to make sure to add something somewhere about our lascivious nature and great flirting abilities,” Gideon tells her. “We’re musicians, so we’ve got reputations to maintain.”
“Besides, this is the first time Dominic is being written about since joining us, so we need fans to believe he’s a playboy,” Merton points out. “Don’t write about Orsino or Donaghan. They’re married so the fans don’t care anymore.”
“They’re just joking,” Duke says when she stares at them all. His lips curve into a sensual smile as he leans against the wall. “Muggle rock stars seem to be valued for their sex appeal, from what we’ve observed, but we know you’re not that type of journalist.”
“Right. If you want a fluff piece, I’d suggest contacting Witch Weekly,” she says, looking away from him to focus on the others. “How much has Muggle culture influenced your music? I remember seeing you perform at the Yule Ball many years ago, and your style and wardrobe have both changed. What caused that development?”
It’s a good question, and it sets the tone for the interview. They stop joking around and give serious answers, talking about the war and how it affected their band considering some of them are Muggleborn. She finds out that they took off to the Muggle world after Dumbledore’s funeral and traveled around discovering new music and cultures until returning a couple of years after the war was over. They tell her about their enjoyment of the various styles of music they came in contact with and how it’s influencing their new style and tone. She learns that Duke writes all of their songs, sometimes having Myron or Heathcote assist, and they discuss the growth they’ve made as a band since they first got together. They also talk honestly about Herman’s unexpected death, about his serious depression and increasing paranoia as well as his addition to illegal potions that they’d discovered that resulted in him being given an ultimatum, and about how he had tried but the potion addition was too strong. They’re very candid, and she feels rather proud that they obviously trust her enough to handle such a sensitive matter. They are hoping for awareness of these illegal potions to assist anyone else that might be in a situation like Herman, hoping being honest might save others before it’s too late.
They talk for several hours. She has pages and pages of notes, and she even answers some of their questions, indulging them with tidbits of the war or research she’s done for different past articles. By the time she starts to wrap the interview, she’s no longer considering it a punishment. This is an opportunity to highlight a threat to their community, one that Muggles have been dealing with for years albeit illegal drugs instead of potions, as well as to discuss the lack of mental health healers in their community. She’s also going to be able to write up a rather interesting article about music and Muggle influence and wizarding culture. She’s excited to get started, and she doesn’t feel at all tired despite the very late hour.
“I knew you’d be perfect for this,” Myron says. “When our manager mentioned the press, we demanded an exclusive with you or nothing, you know?”
“No, I didn’t know.” That certainly explains why Xeno was adamant that she accept this assignment, not that the wily old coot had bothered being honest with her about the exclusive nature of the contract. Hermione smiles. “I’ll send you all a copy of the article for proofreading before it’s published, if you like. We usually offer that approval in this type of situation.”
“No need, duckie.” Merton says, waving his hand. “We trust you to do a smashing job of it.”
“However, feel free to owl us any time,” Gideon says, giving her a deliberate once over. “I play bagpipes, so you know I’m good with my mouth.” He grimaces when Myron slaps the back of his head. “Ouch! What’s that for?”
“You know our rules, git. No encroaching on another’s territory,” Myron mutters, rolling his eyes before looking back at Hermione. “We’ve got another concert planned in Brighton next week. We’ll have our manager send you tickets. You’re welcome to bring any significant other you might have?”
Hermione arches a brow. “There isn’t one right now, but my best friend’s wife would love to attend, I know. She’s a huge fan and used to have your poster on her wall. If you send me an extra ticket, I’ll bring him along, too.”
“Best friend?” Donaghan gapes at her. “You mean Harry Potter?”
“Bleeding hell. Potter might come to our concert?” Orsino wiggles around and smiles. “That’d be brilliant!”
“Yes, I mean Harry. He’s a huge fan of yours, too,” Hermione confides, having to smile at their reactions. Harry doesn’t see himself as anything that special, so he’d probably be embarrassed if he could see how the members of the Weird Sisters are excited about him coming to their concert. “Anyway, I think we’re finished here. It’s much later than I intended to keep you, so I apologize for that.”
“It’s fine. We didn’t need to go out and get pissed anyway. We’ve got a fan event tomorrow with the WWN anyway, so no hangovers is better for us,” Heathcote says.
“I’ll walk you out.” Duke smiles slightly when she looks at him, giving her the same stare he’s been doing since she arrived. During the interview, she’d done her best to ignore the attraction she senses between them and focus on her job. Now, though, there’s nothing to distract her from it.
“I think it’s time we get out of here,” Myron says, clapping his hands as he stands. “Hermione, it’s been wonderful meeting with you. Don’t be a stranger. We’ll go for a coffee one day soon and you can tell me more about David Bowie.”
“If you don’t mind, just sign this and make it out to Amelia,” Donaghan says, giving her a quill and a newspaper article published yesterday. “I’m sure she’ll be at the concert next week if only to meet you. She’s Muggleborn, too, so you’re our hero, you know?”
“I’m no hero,” she says, signing the newspaper anyway because he asked. “I look forward to meeting her.”
The others all gather their things and leave after hugs and promises to owl and behaving like they’re all old friends instead of having just met tonight. They are much friendlier and welcoming than their image would project. They’re all gone by the time she’s able to gather her own things together. All but Duke, who is still leaning against the wall and watching her as if she’s his prey for the evening.
“You’re nervous. I wonder why?” he drawls, smirking when she glances at him.
“Why do they call you Duke? You were introduced as Kirley on stage.” She refuses to acknowledge any nervousness because he’s likely to be more smug if she admits it.
“Kirley is a ridiculous name,” he points out. “Duke is what I’ve been called. It’s my middle name, as I’m sure that’s your next question. McCormack is my last name, but I haven’t used it since the band was formed. Yes, I was the one who subtly encouraged Myron to insist on an exclusive with you because I’ve wanted to meet you for years, since Meaghan’s ordeal, but it was supposed to just be so I could express my gratitude. I certainly didn’t expect to see you standing out there and to find myself thinking about what it would be like to sink deep inside you and hear you cry out my name.”
She blinks when she realizes what he’s just said. “You really were looking at me then?”
“I thought it was rather obvious,” he says, licking his lips in a way that makes her skin warm. “I was sure Salazar himself would show up before the concert was over to admonish me for behaving like a Hufflepuff and bringing dishonor on my house for behaving in such an apparent manner.”
“I thought it was part of the performance,” she admits, feeling flustered and uncertain. She isn’t the type for one night stands, especially not with attractive musicians who wear tight leather trousers that look painted on. She finds herself staring at the trousers, biting her lip as she weighs her options.
Duke laughs. “We might be great performers, but we don’t usually indulge in eye fucking our concert goers. That’s not the kind of reputation that we encourage. Myron noticed, of course, but he’s always been a nosy observant arse. So, no significant other?”
“No,” she says, raising her gaze from where’s been staring rather inappropriately to look at his face. “I’m single. It’s been ages since I’ve dated, much less done anything else.”
“I’m single, too.” Duke slowly smiles. “I can’t remember the last date that I went on, but I do know it’s been several months since I’ve done anything else. We’ve been busy with the new songs and tour preparations. Do you wanna fuck me, Hermione?”
“You can’t just ask questions like that,” she mutters, practically chewing on her bottom lip as she returns his stare. “Of course I want to. Even the most oblivious person could see that I’m attracted to you, and it seems to be mutual with the way you’ve been staring and flirting all evening. Should I is the question, Duke, not do I want to.”
“That’s a terrible question. I thought you were an ace reporter,” Duke points out. “Want is much more important than should. Want is about the heart and desire, not about the brain and logic. If I just wanted a tumble, I could go to any pub and pull with little effort, even without using the famous musician card. Groupies are a knut a dozen. I’m not making any promises, but we’re both adults, and I see no harm in enjoying each other for a night.”
“You really shouldn’t wear those trousers anymore,” she murmurs, running her hand over her face. “They are indecent and make it too difficult to think.”
“Those are two reasons why I need to wear them more often, I’d think.” Duke prowls towards her, finally leaving his perch on the wall, and moves in such a way to draw attention to the leather trousers and the rather large bulge pressing against their crotch. “Say yes, Hermione, and I’ll make it the most memorable night you’ve had.”
“I shouldn’t,” she says, looking into his dark eyes. “I’m writing an article about your band, so it’s unprofessional behavior, and I don’t do one night stands, so no promises doesn’t really support that.” She licks her lips. “However, all I can think about is going home and regretting not peeling those trousers off of you and riding you until we’re both completely spent.”
“I won’t tell your boss,” Duke promises, leaning down and licking at her mouth. “C’mon, sweetheart. Be bad with me.”
“So unprofessional,” she whispers before leaning up to kiss him. She tangles her fingers in his long hair, tugging him closer, and his hands are moving all over, pushing clothes out of the way, unfastening her trousers, touching and stroking until she’s whimpering into the kiss. Somehow, he gets her trousers and knickers down, freeing her right leg from them but not bothering to remove them completely. She can feel the leather rubbing against her intimately, and she shifts beneath him, rubbing against it more firmly as they continue to kiss and lick at each other.
“Are you protected?” he murmurs, breaking the kiss long enough to be practical. She nods her head, knowing that her birth control potion is up to date despite her recent long dry spell, and she watches him unfasten his trousers and shove them down just enough to free his erection. He’s long and thick enough to feel but not so thick it’ll be uncomfortable. She moves her right leg around him, rubbing her heel against the leather trousers as he pushes inside her.
While they fuck, because she’s honest enough to call this what it is and this is beyond just having sex, he moves his attention to her breasts, and she shoves his shirt off, scratching at his back as he thrusts in and out. This is the first time she’s ever truly fucked, and it’s exciting, in a way, because she can be rough and greedy without worrying about upsetting a boyfriend or doing something to jeopardize a relationship. His passion obviously extends beyond his music, because he’s moving and touching and tasting and doing things to her that are driving her wild.
It’s a shock when they roll off the sofa. There’s a pause while they stare at each other and start to laugh, but then they’re kissing again, and she’s on top, so she takes control and rides him hard. He touches her breasts, squeezing them as she straightens and moves up and down to take him deeper inside her. They stop themselves from coming a couple of times, but she eventually loses the ability to do anything but feel and take. She comes before him, tightening around him and shuddering as she rides out her orgasm. He follows her soon, hips bucking up and hands gripping her sides hard as he spills into her.
They kiss again while they calm down, their hands moving in a less desperate way as they stroke and touch and just enjoy that happy after orgasm feeling that makes her sated and sleepy. Finally, she can’t ignore that they’re on the floor on the dressing room at a music club any more. “I should probably get going,” she says, kissing him again before she stands up. “You’ve got your event with the WWN tomorrow, too.”
“I don’t think I can move,” he murmurs, giving her a sexy smile when she glances at him. “You’re something else, sweetheart.”
“You’re not too bad yourself,” she admits, smirking slightly as she tries to straighten her clothes. It’s a lost cause, of course, as she’s got wet spots on them, and it looks like her knickers might have been torn during his efforts to remove them so quickly.
“You can just Apparate from here,” he says, leaning up to rest his weight on his elbows while he watches her. “There’s no way you can cover up the ‘just fucked extremely well’ look you’ve got right now.”
“I think that’s the best idea. I don’t know who is outside the room, and I’d rather not have anyone realize what we’ve been doing,” she says. “I certainly don’t want rumors about me being a groupie getting around, nor do I expect you want gossip spreading about our one night stand, either.”
Duke makes a face before he gracefully gets to his feet, tugging his leather trousers back up but not bothering to fasten them. She looks up when she realizes she’s staring again. “No, I don’t make it a habit of sleeping with groupies or broadcasting my private life to the papers.” He reaches over to take her hand and smiles at her. “So, you’ll be at the concert in Brighton next week?”
She studies him for a moment before she shrugs. “Maybe. I don’t know for sure, Duke. Harry and Ginny will definitely go if I give them tickets, but it’ll depend on my workload whether I have the time or not.”
“What if I ask you to attend?” He smirks and gives her a look that really shouldn’t cause her tummy to flip around in such a way, especially considering they’d just fucked and her attraction to him should be out of her system now. It isn’t, nor does it appear that his to her has faded away despite their recent actions. He drags his thumb over the top of her hand and playfully sulks at her. “Please?”
Hermione leans up to brush a kiss against his mouth before she gets her bag and wand. Once she’s ready to go, she gives him a smirk of her own. “We’ll see. No promises, remember?” The last thing she sees before she apparates home is him running his fingers through his hair and smiling.
She's definitely going to the concert in Brighton next week.