By the time Hermione turns twenty-five she can honestly say that there are four kisses that stand out for her in her memory as important. Somehow Blaise Zabini has managed to worm his way into each and every one of them, even the ones where it wasn't him she was kissing.
In hindsight, she thinks, it's only natural he'd be involved in kiss number five too.
The first kiss, she supposes, he has a legitimate excuse, given he's the one kissing her.
It's her first kiss.
Well, there was Paul Wainwright in her Primary school's production of Beauty and the Beast, but really that doesn't count.
Blaise is her first proper kiss.
He's the first one that means something.
She's fourteen, and she knows who he is.
Okay, so what she knows is that he's a Slytherin, that his grades generally equal hers (except for that one time when he scored three points more than her in one of Binns' pop tests), and that she's obviously missing something because how is Blaise Zabini her first kiss?
He kisses her under a mistletoe ring just outside the door to the library.
She even checks the following day to make sure it's not one of the ones Peeves had enchanted, but it's completely clear of magical signatures.
All in all, it's very puzzling.
It's Friday night and she's running late, too caught up in her research into Buckbeak's case. She'd said she would help Lavender with her Transfiguration homework and she's just never going to be able to grab something to eat in the Great Hall and get her notes from her room in time.
It's the fact that she's in a rush that causes it. She grabs her books from the table with a carelessness she would never usually permit herself and flees, running a hand through harassed hair.
It's not until Hermione's ten paces down the corridor that she realises her mistake – the stack of Potions notes for her essay for Snape that she'd placed neatly on the floor beside the library table whilst she made room for more Magical Law books on the desk. She turns back quickly, berating herself for her stupidity and that's when it happens. Not the kiss. But Blaise.
He's just standing there; straight and elegant and just outside the library doors, all too familiar notes held carefully in his right hand, his head quirked to one side - watching.
Hermione bites her lip, fingers her wand in her pocket and waits for the joke. Waits for whatever Blaise is planning. She just expects it to be something – well, something nastier than a kiss at any rate.
Blaise lets out a long breath, eyes cutting away with a small wry laugh. "Granger," he says, his shoulders dropping slightly, head shaking almost imperceptibly as his eyes catch hers.
There's a beat of silence that goes on too long and Hermione wants to look behind her, check she's not being distracted as part of some kind of malicious master plan.
Blaise narrows his eyes, nods and says, "When I turned seven my Nonno gave me a book for my birthday. An old book, but you must remember I was seven and spoilt to some extent in the way that children are with new things. The binding was more than a little worn and the pages tattered. It had this dull brown cover and looked about as interesting to me at that age as I bet a Quaffle does to you now."
Hermione almost smiles, but holds it back. She takes a tentative step closer, unable not to ask, "What was it?"
Blaise's lips quirk up in a satisfied smile. "My family's copy of the Malleus Maleficarum."
Hermione's mouth opens in a soft 'oh' and she lifts her gaze from the stark contrast of the pale parchment of her notes against Blaise's fingers. "That's amazing, what year was it published?"
Blaise's lips twitch again and he looks so – unattainable even as he closes the last few feet between them. "Hand scribed," he says, and there's the crisp sound of skin brushing over parchment.
Hermione wants to ask if she can see it. If he's brought it to Hogwarts with him. If he's ever compared it with any other – published – editions.
But he's a Slytherin and there's something just wrong about this. She needs to remember to be careful – cautious.
Blaise's face dims and he lifts his empty hand up until it's within her line of vision.
There's a pause. A hesitation. Hermione watches his eyes twitch quickly from side to side and then the pad of his thumb strokes across the apple of her cheek and he leans in.
The kiss itself is so soft, so simple, it's almost nothing more than Hermione at seven; blushing and kissing Paul Wainwright on stage in front of their parents and friends. Except it's nothing like that, because it's so much more than just the press of soft full lips against hers, bottom lips brushing against each other, and the hint of the moisture she'd left when she'd bit her lip earlier, passing to Blaise's.
It feels like a whispered secret and it turns everything Hermione thinks temporarily upside down.
Blaise pulls back.
"I would have thought you of all people would know not to judge a book by its cover."
Hermione kisses Viktor Krum the morning after the Yule Ball.
She kisses him in a grove of holly and mistletoe, the morning dew rising in a light fog and shimmering fairies lighting up the corners in a way the Muggle equivalent she grew up with could never hope to match.
It's magical and it should be perfect, but for the fact that every moment of it Hermione's thinking of Ron.
She lets Viktor twine her fingers through his, watches the way their fingers slot together and as romantic as the setting is she can't help asking herself why this didn't happen last night, why she didn't let it.
Viktor strokes her hair back off her face, pushing it behind her ear. He murmurs something about 'pretty, the word rushed and thick under his accent and Hermione feels her cheeks flush and she ducks her head.
Pretty has never been something she's associated with the way she looks. Pretty is for Parvati or Lavender, but not for her. Maybe last night she could have understood it, but not now, not this morning, wrapped up in just one of her thick winter jumpers and old jeans.
"Hermy-own-" Viktor starts to say.
Hermione smiles and cuts him off. "Her-my-oh-nee," she corrects and looks up.
"You look just as pretty, this morning," Viktor finishes, grinning and ignoring her correction this time.
Hermione flushes again, thinks bitterly of what Ron might think of the comment, what he might suggest of the intent behind it. She thinks of what he'd said about Harry and for a moment insecurity creeps back in, the same insecurity that had questioned when Viktor had first asked her to the Yule Ball, why of all the girls he could have picked had he asked her.
She almost asks. She almost says, 'Why,' but then her common sense steps up, pushing the thought away with a flash of anger at Ron for making her doubt her own judgement.
"Are you missing your parents?"
"Huh?" Hermione says, eyes snapping back.
"You look – sad. I vos vondering if it vos because you are missing your parents."
Hermione blinks twice, shakes her head. "No, sorry. I mean I am, of course. But that's not why I was – sorry. I was just thinking."
"About Harry. You are vorried for him?"
Hermione smiles and steps closer. "Well yes, obviously. But no, it wasn't that. It's really nothing important."
Except for the fact it is, she thinks. It is important. So important that it's the whole reason she's here.
Viktor strokes her cheek again, cups it in a palm and says carefully, "Her-my-own-nee -"
Hermione opens her mouth, ready to praise him for getting so close to the correct pronunciation, but Viktor's thumb slides into the dip of her chin and he tilts his head, leaning in.
Hermione nods and closes the distance.
It's a good kiss. Viktor starts slow – tentative and very gentleman-like. It's longer than when Blaise kissed her the year before and more grown up - practiced - than the kiss with her old friend Luc felt during her last summer holiday.
Viktor licks against her mouth with the tip of his tongue, tiny kitten licks, barely there and asking for permission like his 'maybe.'
He doesn't press it too far, lets Hermione lead, gives her space to pull back and it should be perfect.
But then there's Ron.
And then there's all the reasons she's here and it can never be perfect.
Hermione pulls back, trails her finger across the palm of Victor's hand. He smiles.
"You're going to be late for practice," Hermione says diplomatically. Her world doesn't feel tilted, but her stomach does – turned over and suddenly hollow.
"I vill see you later?" Viktor says.
Hermione nods, waits until he's gone and sighs, slipping out through the archway and onto the hedged path.
Someone reaches out and catches her wrist. Hermione draws her wand without thought, spinning to face the person drawing her closer. For a horrible moment she expects to see Ron, red faced and ready for another argument where neither of them say what they mean and instead say everything they don't mean to.
It's not Ron.
Blaise's hand is a light circle; a delicate hold that feels strong none the less. The edge of a nail brushes the inside of her wrist and Hermione feels her skin prickle.
He watches her for so long without speaking that Hermione starts to count the seconds. She doesn't for a moment consider the idea of breaking the silence first.
She watches back and tries to figure something about Blaise out.
"He's almost right – Krum," Blaise says eventually and it's been so quiet, the two of them caught in some kind of battle of wills where the prize is unclear, that his voice cracks through the silence more obtrusively than it should. "Weasley will see it too, sooner or later."
Hermione narrows her eyes, opens her mouth in a question she has no idea how to phrase.
Blaise cups her cheek tilts her head left then right.
"Though his observation was flawed, I'll concede -"
Blaise drops his gaze to her lips and Hermione notes that his own are downturned – just slightly, his face just slightly tighter and less relaxed.
"- almost right."
He drops her hand and turns on his heel, disappearing around a corner.
Hermione doesn't follow, but it's a minute more before she carries on.
Hermione kisses Cormac in the doorway to the Potions classroom.
It's nothing like it was with Viktor or Blaise or any other kiss she's ever had.
It's disappointing and too wet. There's far too much tongue and far too much pressure and, when it comes down to it, Cormac's just far too grabby for Hermione's liking.
Hermione kisses Cormac because it feels expected; because she can't think of a way to get out of it.
Hermione doesn't kiss Cormac so much as she's ambushed and he kisses her.
It's pretty much the final straw of the night.
She slides her face sideways and slips out from between the wall and Cormac. "What was that supposed to be?" she asks, angry and frustrated.
Cormac's forehead crumples up and not for the first time that night Hermione questions his intelligence, then she questions hers for going ahead with this whole ridiculous idea in the first place.
Cormac stretches an arm out toward her and attempts to try and pull her back. Hermione steps away, eyes widening. She wipes at her mouth with the back of her hand. It comes away wet and glistening in the candlelight of the corridor.
"You didn't enjoy it?" Cormac asks.
And that's it!
It feels like she's been frustrated for the last two months, so it's not her fault really.
It's Ron's fault. Ron's fault she got herself into this mess in the first place and Ron's fault for what she does next.
Hermione jabs her finger into Cormac's chest and snaps. "No, I didn't. It may have escaped your attention given that you seem to barely notice anyone else around you is capable of having opinions yet alone feelings, but being slobbered on whilst someone treads on my toe and tries to –" Hermione makes a gesture with her hands and huffs in exasperation "- my breasts is not exactly my idea of an enjoyable experience. Maybe if you paid a little more attention to those around you, you might actually have managed to gain some kind of -" she hesitates for a moment, mouth open while she tries to find a phrase that can encompass all of Cormac's failings as a date. "- clue!"
She doesn't wait for a response or give Cormac any chance to make one. She turns on her heel and strides ten paces down the corridor. She hears Cormac mutter something that sounds suspiciously like 'frigid' behind her and takes a left turn that, last week at least, had been a shortcut to the library, rolling her eyes with a huff.
A hand reaches out and catches hers, pulling her into an alcove. If Hermione hadn't just had the evening she's had she may have been more forgiving. As it is she looks down to the long dark fingers curled around hers yet again, then up into almond eyes and snaps. "What is it with you, Zabini, and grabbing me out of the blue? Have you ever thought of just saying 'excuse me' instead? I hear it's quite an accepted way of gaining someone else's attention. Polite even."
Blaise places his finger against her lips, his eyes shifting out into the corridor behind them warily. "Not so loud," he says, voice so low it's almost a whisper, but with none of the breathy quality usually associated with it.
Hermione would have argued, but Blaise shifts his eyes behind them again and instead she pauses, tilts her head to the side and studies him.
Blaise's fingers loosen against hers and he looks back at her, waiting; questioning. It takes a moment of staring back before she figures out what for.
Hermione catches the fingers that are slipping away, bites her lip and nods. Blaise's lips twitch in response. His eyes sweep over her face and he smiles.
"McLaggen's a fucking idiot," he says and leans in.
The kiss is so completely opposite to the one with Cormac it's ridiculous.
One of Blaise's hands threads through her hair, while the other tickles trails along her fingers, up her palm and across her wrist before sliding down again to just hold her hand.
His tongue sweeps across her lower lip, traces the dip in the centre and coaxes Hermione's own lip forward, luring it into his mouth like it's been bewitched.
Blaise tastes of coffee and spiced honey; the Maple syrup and pecan pie from Slughorn's party. It's rich and heady. He tastes like Hermione would have imagined, not that she ever has; sophisticated and the kind of sweet that never gets too sickly.
Hermione hears a pleased sound, can feel it like a hum as it vibrates through her chest. She's not sure if it's her or Blaise making it.
His tongue touches hers, strokes against it, but it's never too much, Blaise always pulling back, biting gently, soothing any sting and keeping it just verging on more than light. It's so easy to let him press her back, to lean into the wall and pull him in.
Hermione chases him forward when he eases off and starts to slow the kiss into butterfly touches; light kisses, lips brushing and mimicking the one from two years earlier.
"The McLaggens were always a little obtuse," he says, his voice drawn out and almost as tempting to chase as the kiss.
Hermione's head feels thick and there are a thousand questions she wants to ask.
Blaise strokes her cheek, smiles this pleased smile that could be smug, somehow isn't. She thinks that it is, instead, almost sad.
Of the thousand questions she could ask, what she actually does say is, "Harry said you called Ginny -" Hermione pauses, she chews on her lip and tastes Blaise there. "- a filthy little blood traitor?"
Blaise's eyebrow lifts and Hermione suddenly realises her slip, but then his lips turn down and his face goes blank. He looks away from her and then back.
"And you took McLaggen to Slughorn's party tonight," he says. "We all have our reasons. And our secrets it seems."
Hermione's been waiting to kiss Ron for several years.
By all accounts it should be disappointing.
It should be a moment she's built up so much in her imagination that the real thing can never compare.
But it does.
It's not perfect.
Ron doesn't kiss with the practiced ease of Viktor or Blaise. That comes as some surprise to Hermione because he definitely had enough practice with Lavender the year before.
And it's awkward.
It can't be anything else. There's adrenalin pumping hot and urgent through Hermione's system making her feel on edge and hyper aware of everything around them. Her mind's racing with all that's happening; with the fact that this is it; Ron's kissing her – finally. Ron has to be feeling the same.
For that moment nothing else matters.
Their teeth clack against each other as Ron lifts her up off the ground, pulling her in tight. Hermione's wand tip must be digging into Ron's back because her hand's simultaneously trying to hold onto it and Ron at the same time. It's clumsy and too enthusiastic and far too rushed, but it's perfect and it's all she can focus on. It's something to cling to. It's something that makes hope flood through her; warm and needed.
And then Harry's voice breaks through, reminding them of the battle around them. Ron pulls back. His eyes are wide and fixed on hers, his breath's coming in heavy pants, and Hermione knows the feeling.
They keep their hands on each other, Ron's settling over the small of her back, Hermione's bunched up in his clothes and holding on.
And then they're moving again, taking the stairs up three at a time. The only difference is that now Ron's hand is holding Hermione's tight like he's afraid to let go, like she's afraid of losing everything.
Hermione's still blushing from Harry's comment about 'holding it in,' his own face red and embarrassed and pleased all at once.
Harry focuses on Ginny when they turn the corner. Ron does too.
Later, Hermione thinks back and isn't sure either of them even see the third figure standing at the window.
Hermione does though.
Blaise stands on the other side of Tonks and barely glances their way, his wand directed through a broken pane, body turned side on and lips moving fast.
He shifts to the side, ducking behind the wall to avoid a curse that comes streaking through a lower pane. It breaks through the glass and sparks off the opposite wall, making a large tear in a painting of Centaurs and causing them to rear up in shock.
It's the first time he sees her, and his eyes fasten on her face quickly, sweeping over in appraisal before dropping down her body to her hands. Blaise's lips twitch. It's not a smile. It's not anything Hermione can identify. There's no visible emotion behind it, just a barely there movement of his lips and then he's looking back at her face.
He gives her a small nod, and turns back to the window mouth moving quickly in time with a flourish of his wand.
Hermione wants to ask, wants to know what he's doing; wants to know why.
He's not wearing his tie, just plain school clothes, nothing obvious that would give away his house, and Hermione needs to know his reasoning except Harry's moving away. Ron's following, pulling her by a hand with a, "Come on Hermione, we'll come back."
Hermione doesn't see him again for over two years.
She hears from Roger Davies that he'd gone abroad soon after the battle.
She asks Neville about him once, months later.
Neville seemed to have learned so much of many the students' loyalties that final year.
"What do you know of Blaise Zabini?" she asks one night, sitting across from him in the Three Broomsticks.
Harry and Ron are completely oblivious to the world around them, enthusiastically discussing the weekends Quidditch results, Ginny tucked into Harry's side smiling and adding her own observations of the teams to the discussion.
Neville pauses. The tankard he's lifting to his mouth freezing halfway for a moment.
He takes a slow drink of it, lowers it back to the table and looks at Hermione.
"What do you want to know?" he returns and it's careful. It's the kind of response he may have given if someone had asked him what her, Ron and Harry had been up to at any point during their school career.
"When did he choose sides?" Hermione asks. There are a hundred others she could have chosen, but it's the one that always jumps to the front.
Neville looks down at the table, swirls the liquid in his mug. "I would guess a lot earlier than I knew about it. I was never sure. Zabini – even after he made his choice he always kept his cards close to his chest."
Hermione hums, thinks back to her third year; remembers standing in a corridor and Blaise's caution.
"Do you think he always knew?"
Neville watches her, looks across the table to Ron and then back. His brow is furrowed. "I think -" he pauses, "- I think he always knew what he wanted out of his decisions. I think he's a lot more Slytherin than Draco Malfoy ever was."
There is almost a ten year gap between the first time they kiss and this.
They've been working together as Unspeakables for eighteen months. And it's - Merlin! By the time it actually happens Hermione isn't sure she can breathe around Blaise any more.
Neither one of them has ever mentioned the two kisses they shared in school, or that morning after the Yule ball or any of those other 'moments.' Blaise is all business. He's friendly to a point, but it's never anything that could be interpreted as something close to familiar; as something where there could be more.
It's not his fault, but Hermione looks over at him on the other side of the lab and knows he probably didn't help the way things turned out with Ron. Or more he did, because there have been moments since she and Ron agreed to just be friends when she has looked at Ron and seen the rest of her life tied up in his eyes; in the way he watches her, and been relieved. Blaise turning up didn't change anything, it just forced her to ask the question she'd been avoiding.
Blaise brushes past her arm as he reaches for a book, a murmured 'excuse me' passing his lips. And Hermione thinks of Cormac and afterwards; of glaring up at Blaise and wonder's if she can even remember a time when she wasn't frustrated by him.
Sometimes it feels like there's no air in the lab when it's just the two of them. There are times when she has to shirk her robe and step out, splash her face with water and stare in the mirror until she stops seeing Blaise's skin against hers.
At least for Hermione.
Blaise doesn't seem to notice.
He's quiet and focussed and it's like he's never even thought to look at her with anything more than grudging respect.
They barely talk and it never goes beyond work.
Hermione has a bad habit of thinking aloud and her chattering sounds awkward and too loud is the face of Blaise's silent concentration. She feels more conscious of it and ends up over-explaining herself which doesn't really help the awkwardness.
One time, when they haven't spoken a word to each other for four hours and Hermione's throat feels too full and clogged up, she almost shouts out, 'Why did you kiss me?' She's spends the next five minutes in silence wondering if she actually did; if Blaise would have even reacted if she had.
Then there are the moments when she looks up and catches him as he's looking away. At least she thinks she may have, but then his gaze will so casually sweep back past her to a text or whatever he's working on that most of the time Hermione ends up just putting it down to her imagination.
All in all, it's frustrating to the point where she's actually started pulling her hair and her lip is so sore from being bitten that she thinks it may be permanently scarred.
"This isn't working," Blaise says. "We need a stronger charm, to separate the strands."
Hermione nods, but her chest feels tight and the side of Blaise's arm is still a hot line against her own from where they're standing too close.
"Much stronger and we run the risk of damaging the contents of the artefact," Hermione replies, but her voice sounds hollow, like she's reading out a line and she can hear a faint thrum of questions whispering over each other until it becomes a chatter that dulls her hearing.
Blaise hums. "Let's look at the translation from the tomb again. Maybe we missed something. It's more than possible Doorly interpreted something wrong in the original investigation."
Hermione's skin prickles as Blaise moves away, and she moves to stretch behind her for the charms book they'd been using earlier. She needs a distraction; needs to get her brain focussing on the task at hand again.
There's the ghost of a hand on the small of her back as Blaise moves past and she startles, stepping sideways and catching her foot on the bottom of her robe. Blaise's arm slips quickly and deftly around her waist, catching her and drawing her back up and against his chest; settling her centre of gravity against his.
Hermione goes to say thank you, but Blaise is walking through the door like nothing happened.
And that's kind of it.
Because it's not the first time he's broke their amicable, but purely professional routine like this. And it could be put down to friendly concern except for the way his breath ghosted her ear and the fact that Hermione's had just about enough of questioning everything about her relationship with Blaise.
She takes a deep breath and tries to separate out the whispering, tries to latch on to one question that sounds sensible.
It doesn't quite work.
Every sensible question she has disappears and when Blaise walks back in, she finds herself asking, "Why did you leave?"
Blaise stops two paces into the room, looks at Hermione and then around them before slowly arching his eyebrow and replying warily, "So I could retrieve a copy of the translation. So we can assess its accuracy before proceeding."
"No, I mean after the war," Hermione says like that makes the question sound any less insane and random.
Blaise just watches her, and Hermione is almost sure he's going to ignore her and that she'll be sitting at home tonight wondering if she said anything at all or if it was all in her head.
"I didn't need to stay. My Grandparents left me their house in Italy after they died. There was no need at the time to be here." Blaise answers. He places the parchment down on the counter, leans back, head tilted patiently. "Is that all you wanted to know, Hermione?"
Hermione feels like she did just before she took her NEWTs; like she's about to do something so important, but she has no idea what the questions will be and if her preparation will be sufficient.
She feels like it isn't and finds herself standing there with her lip between her teeth while it suffers further torture possible disfigurement.
Blaise nods, small and so reminiscent of when she'd seen him during the battle. It's a moment before she realises he's looking away and starting to straighten, turning back to his notes.
Hermione lets her lip slip free, swallows the whispers and steps forward, pushing up into Blaise's space. "Why did you say Viktor's observation was flawed?"
Blaise looks down at her; at the hand on his chest then up to her face. He looks momentarily cautious. Or just confused, she not sure.
"After the Yule Ball, outside in the gardens," Hermione expands, in case Blaise doesn't remember; in case it's just her and she's made more of this than Blaise ever intended.
Blaise doesn't move to say anything, but he holds her gaze, barely blinking. There's a mole just under his left eye that Hermione doesn't think she's ever noticed before and her skin feels prickly like before a storm.
He tilts his head, lifts his hand and traces one finger over her cheek bone making her shiver. He lets it hover just under the corner of her eye. "You look better like this; with ink smudges like this one here, and pencils holding up your hair."
And that's – that's not what Hermione expected.
He doesn't move, just stays there, finger brushing over that one spot and watching her. Everything's too quiet and there's something stuck in the base of her throat that stretches down into the pit of her stomach. She opens her mouth, lets the cord snap up like she's letting go of a catapult and says, "I'm so fed up of this," before pressing up on toes and closing and that last inch between them.
Blaise's hands steady her hips. She can feel his fingers fluttering against them - listless and then determined as they pull her closer, turning them both around and hoisting her up onto the counter.
Blaise smirks against her mouth just before tugging on her lower lip with his teeth, sucking it inside. She tries to smile back because this kiss – this kiss is nothing like before. It's like the other kisses were all just glimpses of this one. Like this one's whole where the others were just pieces of a kiss waiting to be put together.
Hermione presses forward, against him and even though she has to keep reminding herself to breathe it feels like this is the first time she has properly in months. Her foot hooks behind Blaise's knee and she catches his lip in a bite, pulling back with it still between her teeth and looking up at him.
She lets go, slides backwards and smiles when Blaise chases after her.
"So -" Hermione says as Blaise nips at her collar bone, fingers undoing the top two buttons of her robe. She feels hot and a little frazzled with the rush of adrenalin. Blaise's other hand is tracing up her side, his knuckles grazing the underside of her breast. She starts to ask why this took so long, but Blaise latches onto this spot just below her right ear and the question ends up as a slightly embarrassing, "Nngh!
"I believe you were opposed to me 'grabbing you out of the blue,'" Blaise says carefully, letting his tongue flirt along the shell of her ear. "Are you saying you've changed your mind because I'm sure that could make our workdays far more -entertaining." He pauses, pulls back and in this light and this close it looks like his pupils are rimmed with gold. "Definitely a lot less frustrating."
Hermione places one hand against Blaise's shoulder to keep him away, to let her look at him.
He looks right back, smirks and it's so dirty and full of promise and so bloody satisfied that Hermione almost wants to push him away, cross her arms and huff. She thinks of every time he's said excuse me since they've been working together; the way it's always been preceded or followed by a barely there touch that Hermione has always written off as an accident because it always seemed so out of place.
Because it was out of place.
She scowls, lets her brow furrow further when all Blaise does in return is let his smirk slide into a wide smile.
"God, I hate you, Zabini!"
Blaise's eyes track her bottom lip, his thumb following, resting when he reaches the middle of it and almost, but not quite pushing inside. Hermione's tongue flicks in her mouth like it's thinking about reaching out and touching because it's clearly traitorous.
"Because I beat you in Binn's test that once? Because Professor Snape always scored my essays higher than yours? Or because I gave you the opportunity to make the first move this time?" Blaise queries half-heartedly, like his concentration's elsewhere. Probably on the hand currently inching its way up her calf, hitching up her robes and sliding against the lower part of her thigh, tickling the skin in a way that really does not make her want to laugh not even remotely.
Hermione tips her head back biting down on the nail of Blaise's thumb instead of her lip.
"Because you're a bloody self-satisfied, conceited git," she replies, but her voice, when she speaks, is too breathy to sound in any way close to disapproving.
Blaise laughs, a low chuckle that vibrates through her chest. "Umm, clearly," he says and tries to lean in again for another kiss.
"Just so we're clear," Hermione says, pushing him back, "Snape only scored you higher because you were in his house and I was in Gryffindor."
Blaise shakes his head. "Whatever you need to tell yourself, Granger," he says.
When she goes to reply, he catches her mouth whilst it's still forming the first syllable, covering it and sliding his tongue against hers in a way that causes Hermione to loose track of her retort.
In the end, Hermione's fifth kiss is, to be specific, pretty indistinguishable from the sixth, seventh, eighth – 'Oh God' - ninth…