The Favor

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She really needed to learn how to tell Harry no.

It was such a simple word that she didn’t know why she always failed to say it whenever Harry asked her for a favor. N.O. Two letters, one syllable, firm and precise. She always meant to say it whenever he came around with a ‘Hermione, I was wondering if…’ or a ‘Hermione, would you please…’ or the one that was most common, ‘Hermione, I have a favor…’.

It had been the last that resulted in her having to buy new dress robes (spending far more than she could afford on something she’d probably have a reason to wear only once, even if they were quite attractive and a lovely deep shade of blue), to actually bother with attempts to control her hair (which she ended up just leaving down), and to now make polite conversation with an entire group of people she had no interest in speaking to much less wasting her New Year’s Eve surrounded by.

Harry had disappeared shortly after they arrived at the New Year’s Eve Ball after giving her a mischievous smile and telling her to go find someone to dance with and just have fun. He claimed he was forced to attend this particular ball because of his joint ownership of the Cannons, but Ron had seemed to get out of accepting the invitation easily enough. Of course, Luna was due any day and had no intention of going into labor at some silly Quidditch party so he had an excuse. Regardless, Harry could easily have found a suitable date from many willing women instead of giving her the ‘pweese, I wuv you’ puppy dog eyes that made her unable to say no.

If she’d realized he planned to leave her alone, again, so he could dance with every Harpie and woman under the age of eighty, she’d have hexed his arse and put wards up at her flat to keep him away. She knew why he’d asked her, of course. It allowed him to prowl amongst the available women to find one he liked well enough to take home without worrying about a date. She’d been through this routine more times than she could count since the war ended eight years ago and his relationship with Ginny failed to pick back up. True, he rarely ever took anyone home but she knew having her as a date allowed him the freedom to play should he find someone he liked.

It was a shame that these parties had begun to bore her so much. She liked to dance and there were occasionally interesting people to converse with amongst the guests. It was finding the right partner that had begun to make her less inclined to attend. Most of the men who attended these parties were married, gay, obnoxious, or uninteresting to her. Unlike Harry and most single men who actually came to these balls, she wasn’t interested in meaningless flings and one night stands. She was twenty-seven years old, after all, and had no interest in becoming just another number on some bloke’s list of shags.

She’d had two lovers, during two brief relationships, and managed to remain good friends with both Ron and Terry. She wasn’t looking for anyone nor did having a relationship rank high on her list of important things, though she had to admit that it might be nice to have someone to call her own, to have the romance and intimacy and, well, the sex. It wasn’t like her life was lacking anything, after all. She had her work and her friends which kept her plenty busy.

Yet on New Year’s Eve at this beautiful ball with a glass of champagne in hand and lovely classical music playing, she found herself wishing she had somebody to call her own. Holidays seemed to drive home the fact that she was alone and they could get pretty bleak and depressing, or would have if she’d been home with only a bottle of wine for company. Damn Harry Potter and his stupid favors, she thought crossly as she made her way through the ballroom. Next time, she’d just say no!


The words halted her plans to sneak away from the ballroom and she turned to look at the man who had spoken. “Hello, Viktor,” she greeted with a warm smile that concealed her surprise at seeing him here. She did her best to ignore the rapid beating of her heart and the way his dark gaze made her cheeks flush and her palms sweaty like she was fifteen again and had a crush.

A crooked smile crossed his lips as he moved closer to her, gripping her elbow lightly to urge her away from the dance floor so they could speak more easily. “Vot you are doing here? You are vit someone?” he asked as he ran his fingers through his thick black hair. “It is being long time, Her-my-nee.”

“I’m here with Harry,” she explained, watching his smile fade as his lips tightened. “It has been a long time. How have you been?”

“I vould not vish to be keeping you from Potter,” he said as he released her arm.

“Viktor, must we go through this again? Nothing has changed in the last dozen years,” she told him firmly. “Harry is my best friend and I accompany him to these sort of functions because he asks and I can’t say no.”

“Is no business of mine,” he replied quietly as his dark gaze swept over her. “You look beautiful, Her-my-nee.” He reached up and brushed his knuckles against her cheek before tucking a stray curl behind her ear. Their eyes met and he licked his lips as he dropped his hand. “I---I should go now.”

“Don’t,” she said softly as she reached out and grabbed his wrist. His skin was warm beneath her fingers and she felt heat spread over her, still able to feel his touch against her cheek. “It’s been years, Viktor. I’d like to talk unless…oh, you’re here with someone, aren’t you?”

“No, I attend alone,” he said as he looked at her fingers around his wrist. “I stay only brief time because I haff be here or new boss get mad. He say ‘Viktor, I vant you go’ so I here I am. I cannot tell new boss no, not ven I haff become coach for team.”

“Oh, I didn‘t realize you‘d retired from playing. So you‘re here alone,” she murmured as she let go of his hand and took a drink of her champagne, wondering if that meant he was single or just hadn‘t brought a date tonight. Even after all these years, this man had the annoying ability to fluster, confuse, and arouse her all at once.

She hadn’t understood this attraction at fifteen or had chosen to ignore it out of fear and uncertainty to focus on a comfortable friendship with him. They’d corresponded for years, several times a month at first and then gradually tapering off to a few owls a year. She’d missed him, when they’d drifted apart, but she hadn’t known how to reclaim that earlier closeness.

“There is no vun, Her-my-nee,” he told her softly in that way that always made her wonder if he could somehow read her mind. He stepped closer to avoid being bumped when a group of wizards passed by.

She was surprised at his sudden movement and stepped back, tripping on the back of her robe. His hand moved behind her, large and solid against the small of her back and she felt his breath against her neck as he kept her from falling. It brought him even closer and she was very aware of the press of his body against hers and the way he smelt of a mixture of scents that was just uniquely Viktor. She was reluctant to release her hold on his arm and shoulder where she’d instinctively reached to catch her balance.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she moved her hand down his shoulder and along the length of his arm. His body was all sharp angles and smooth planes beneath his clothes, undeniably masculine in a way that excited and intrigued instead of threatened. He seemed tense when she touched him, though he shuddered when her fingers brushed against his throat. His tongue swept across his bottom lip and he inhaled sharply when she shyly moved her fingertips up his neck to caress his jaw.

She had never been one to believe the cliché about feeling sparks or gossip about the air being thick with awareness. She tsked when her female friends chattered about such notions and she thought most romance novels and films were silly and trite. The idea of gazes meeting across a crowded room and breath being taken away was just plain illogical. It had never happened to her so, therefore, she didn’t believe it existed.

Until Viktor raised his head and their eyes met.

“There is no one for me, either,” she said softly as she titled her head and licked her lips.

“Not Potter?” he asked huskily as his hand moved to rest lightly on her hip as the other slid along the small of her back.

“Don’t make me hex you, Viktor,” she muttered as her fingers moved into his hair.

“No hexing. I just vant to make sure as he is being new boss,” he told her as he pulled her closer

“Wait, Harry’s the new boss?” she asked as she tried to look away from his lips to be angry at her best friend for his obvious meddling in her personal life.

“Enuff about Potter,” he murmured as he lowered his head. “I am vanting to kiss you now, Her-my-nee”

“I’d like th---” Her words were caught by his lips as they pressed against hers. Distantly she heard people counting down to ten but their voices and laughter and singing faded as she opened her mouth for Viktor. The kiss was hesitant at first, just a brief touching of lips and tongue, but soon it deepened. She tightened her grip on his shaggy hair as she kissed him back.

The first kiss led to another and another until she’d lost track. When they finally parted, she was flushed and her lips were swollen. His hand was in her hair and the other was resting on her hip. Their breathing was ragged and neither paid attention to the music and celebration around them. It was just them, caught in this perfect moment, and she sighed softly when his hand touched her cheek.

“I vish to see more of you, Her-my-nee. I haff missed you and vant, how you say, to be knowing more of you? Vould you be liking to go to dinner vit me tomorrow night?” Viktor asked as he traced her bottom lip with his finger.

“Yes, Viktor. I‘d really like that.“ Hermione smiled as she brushed fringe from his forehead and couldn’t help but wonder if she’d finally found her someone. Only time would tell, she supposed. For now, it was a new year with new beginnings and second chances, she decided as she urged his head back down. “Happy New Year, Viktor,” she whispered before she kissed him again.

The End