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Blinded (By Love)

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Hermione closed her eyes. Not that it made much of a difference given the silken blindfold Pansy had just finished wrapping snug around Hermione's head. Already she felt the stress of the week beginning to leach out of her tight muscles, her shoulders starting to drop and her jaw slowly unclenching. Strong, deft fingers dug into the base of her neck, rubbing and pressing until Hermione's head lolled back, a shudder of pleasure vibrating down her spine. Pansy chuckled and brushed a kiss against the side of Hermione's head; Hermione was sure, when she looked in the mirror later, she'd find a smudge of red lipstick there. The thought made Hermione's stomach flip.

Merlin, Hermione really loved date night.

She'd been seeing Pansy for a little over six months, long enough for the shock of it to have mostly worn off, for Hermione at least, if not quite for her friends. But the woman Pansy had grown into was so much different than the horrid girl she'd been at Hogwarts over a decade ago, somebody more than deserving of Hermione's time and affection. After years spent working abroad Pansy had returned to England with little fanfare two years ago, joining Hermione, much to her surprise, in the Department of Mysteries. Hermione had been mildly horrified at the sudden, visceral attraction she'd felt upon seeing Pansy again, but she'd never thought she'd ever act upon it. It was an embarrassing aberration, but not one anybody ever needed to know about. But Pansy had spent the next year and half slowly wearing her down, chipping away at the wall between them by showing Hermione that she really had changed, showing her wit and intelligence and determination. By the time Pansy had finally asked her out, Hermione had been helpless to resist her.

"Open up," Pansy purred from somewhere in front of Hermione. Hermione did as instructed and something salty and savoury was placed upon her tongue. She chewed, relishing the sharp bite of hard cheese combining with the slightly spicy tang of salami. It seemed like Pansy had got some sort of charcuterie board for tonight's date which made sense—it was far easier to feed somebody finger foods, as they'd learned from past experience.

"Good?" Pansy asked. Hermione smiled and nodded. She felt brilliant. There was something so wonderfully freeing about having one of her senses taken away. Normally her brain was always running at full speed, thinking about the next five tasks on her to-do list before she'd even finished the first. It meant she was often quite frazzled and harried, but something about losing one of the senses she so relied upon made everything go still, forcing her to be utterly present in the moment. It also heightened her other senses, making the food she ate taste richer, the smell of Pansy's perfume more alluring, and the sound of her voice clear and sweet as a bell. Pansy's fingers brushed lightly against Hermione's neck and Hermione felt it down in her bones, the delicate touch setting her nerves alight. Until Pansy, Hermione had never known this was something she wanted, something she'd come to crave, and now she couldn't imagine living without it. Every week she looked forward to their Friday night dates with an eagerness she'd not known she was capable of, and each time Pansy exceeded her expectations.

"Good," Pansy, said, her voice oozing satisfaction. Hermione couldn't see Pansy, but she was vivid in Hermione's mind's eye, her red-painted lips pulled into a smug smile, her brown eyes soft the way they always were when they lit upon Hermione. "In that case, why don't I give you another bite to eat"—something briny and damp nudged at Hermione's lips and Hermione opened them to accept the sliver of pickle, the bright, sour crunch incredibly satisfying—"and then you can tell me about your day."

Hermione smiled as she chewed before launching into the latest drama with Jacobson from the Death Department, who was trying to take over the project Hermione was spearheading that was clearly in Time's domain. Pansy, who worked in the Space Department, was familiar enough with all the Unspeakables involved to follow along with the petty politics at play and provide her own witty interjections and scathing commentary. It was so unbelievably nice, dating somebody with whom Hermione could actually talk about what she did all day. Not only did Pansy understand Hermione's work, more or less, but she also had the clearance to hear about it. It was like being with Pansy had managed to show Hermione all of the things she desperately wanted in a partner and had never known she could have. Merlin, she was mad about Pansy.

"What's that smile for?" Pansy asked. She'd been sharing the details of her own day—apparently Draco was in some kind of fashion-related crisis and Pansy had spent half the day trying to manage him—while continuing to feed Hermione bites of food, but the no doubt sappy expression on Hermione's face had clearly distracted her.

"You know," Hermione said, her voice filled with the shock of revelation. "I think I'm in love with you."

"Oh," Pansy said, and Hermione knew if she could see her that Pansy would be doing her best to look cool and unaffected, but with her heightened senses Hermione could hear the flustered note in her voice, the slightly strangled quality as she continued, "Is that all?"

Hermione's smile grew. "Yes, that was all. Please, continue. You were talking about some kind of incident involving Draco and… a chartreuse blouse?"

There was a long pause, and then, "Yes! Utterly ridiculous. Here, have some bread, you'll need the carbs to give you strength for this one." She shoved a large morsel of bread into Hermione's mouth. The sponge was light and airy, the crust perfectly crisp and faintly herby. Pansy waited until Hermione was occupied with her mouthful before saying, so quiet it was practically a whisper, "I love you, too."

Hermione's heart gave a little flutter, though she was unable to respond with a mouthful of bread. Pansy used her preoccupation to continue on, "Now, before I can truly begin the story I need to try and describe this blouse because it's vital that you really imagine it in all its glory."

Hermione grinned giddily as Pansy began to describe the blouse in minute detail. Hermione did her best to picture it in her mind despite the distraction of her wildly beating heart. Pansy loved her.

Date nights really were the best.