Magical Contracts Suck
Harry Potter was lying in his four poster bed in the Gryffindor tower room he shared with four other boys in his year. One of those boys was his best friend Ron Weasley. Harry was fuming for two reasons. The first being his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire this evening, binding him to compete in the highly dangerous Triwizard Tournament; the second was no one would believe him when he told them he didn't enter his name, including his so-called best friend. Then he thought of his other best friend, Hermione. He hadn't seen her since he left the Gryffindor table once his name was called. She would believe him. He was sure of that. A short time later Harry drifted off to sleep.
The next morning when Harry awoke, it took a few moments to remember the events of the previous evening. He ripped back the curtains around his bed and looked over at Ron's bed, hoping to talk to him, but he was already gone, probably already headed for breakfast. Harry had hoped he would get a chance to talk to Ron this morning. He was positive Ron would see and recognize the truth if he would listen. Harry got dressed and went down the spiral staircase.
When he entered the common room, the people who had already returned from breakfast broke into applause just like they had done the night before. The Creevey brothers were motioning for him to join them. After looking around for Ron and Hermione and seeing neither, Harry bolted out the Portrait hole only to run right into one of the two people he was most desperate to find. Hermione stood there with a stack of toast in a napkin.
"I thought you might like these," Hermione said, holding out the toast, "instead of going to the Great Hall this morning."
"Thanks Hermione," Harry said gratefully. "You're the best."
"Want to go for a walk?" Hermione asked.
"That's a great idea," Harry replied as he bit into a piece of toast.
Soon, they were striding across the lawn headed toward the lake. Harry started to tell Hermione all that had happened after he left the table the previous evening, including Professor Moody's suggestion that someone was out to kill Harry. He was immensely relieved when Hermione accepted his story without question.
"Of course I knew you hadn't done it, Harry," Hermione said. "The look on your face when Dumbledore called out your name told me that instantly."
"Have you seen Ron?" Harry asked.
"Uh, yeah. He was at breakfast," Hermione said.
"Does he still think I entered my name?"
"I don't think so…not really."
"Not really? What does that mean?"
"Oh Harry, isn't it obvious?" Hermione asked despairingly, "He's jealous."
"Jealous?" Harry said incredulously. "Like I want to make a fool of myself in front of the entire school!"
"I know that, Harry," Hermione said patiently. "But look at it from his point of view. It is always you who seems to get all the breaks. You're famous…and, well, he has all of his brothers he tries to compete with and…"
"So he's willing to throw away our friendship over a petty jealousy?" Harry asked.
"I think it was just the last straw," Hermione said quietly. "But I'm sure he will come around sooner or later."
"I don't even want to be in this competition. I mean, I didn't put my name in the cup, so how can I be magically bound to risk my life?" Harry asked. He stopped and turned to Hermione. "Wait, do you know anything about magical contracts? I want to know if I really have to compete."
"Not really Harry, but..."
"We can go to the library," They finished together and Harry felt a smile arise for the first time since last night. 'No matter what, I can always count on Hermione,' he thought.
Thirty minutes later Hermione and Harry had several books on contracts spread out over three different tables in the library. Hermione also found a couple of history books that dealt with Triwizard Tournaments.
After a couple of hours or so, Hermione slammed a book closed. "This is useless. Basically, once you are engaged in a magical contract, it must be carried out. Whoever designed the stupid Goblet's contract entry is at fault here. I mean, who ever heard of a name written on a piece of paper being the sole requirement?" She grumbled as she picked up one of the books on the Triwizard Tournament. As she turned a page, her brow furrowed as she unconsciously tucked her hair behind her ear.
Harry found himself staring at his best friend and from the depth of his teenage brain came, 'She really is beautiful when she does that.'
'Beautiful? Hermione? Where did that come from? I mean…," Harry's thoughts were cut off when Cho Chang walked into the library and stopped at Madam Pince's desk, which was situated right behind Hermione's chair. Harry's teenage brain started comparing Cho and Hermione. Harry had always thought Cho Chang was the most beautiful girl in the castle, but seeing these two young ladies in comparison, he realized that Hermione had moved past the bushy-haired girl from first year. Cho could be said to be more truly beautiful, but Hermione was very pretty in her own way. Harry's eyes moved to the ear Hermione had tucked the hair behind. It was a beautiful ear…
"Harry, what are you staring at?" Hermione's voice cut into his musing.
"Uh…nothing, I mean I was just thinking," Harry said quickly as his eyes looked down at the book in his hand while a blush raced across his features.
"Well, I found something here," Hermione started. "It seems in 1365, a champion named a replacement champion… Oh wait, sorry. You have to be unable to compete to do that," Hermione sighed.
Harry looked back up in time to see Hermione subconsciously move a few more strands of hair behind her ear. His thought strayed back to his earlier observations and once again he found himself staring at Hermione's ear. This time though, his eyes wandered from her ear to her lips. The tip of her tongue darted out to moisten her lips and disappeared. Harry could now see the sheen of moisture that glistened on the lips and his teenage brain started harassing him again as he wondered what it would be like to kiss his best friend.
'Kiss Hermione?' Harry asked himself. 'But...but she's my best friend and..and.. she's a very beautiful young woman,' Harry's brain kept arguing with itself as he kept staring at Hermione's lips.
Hermione looked up from her reading to make a comment, only to find her best friend's eyes glued upon her with a strange expression upon his face. She was about to say something but she paused as she tried to figure out what he was thinking and, as she stared back, she found herself becoming entranced by his green eyes. Very mesmerizing green eyes. She'd never seen them so focused, especially on her. Somewhere in that mutual stare, she found a desire to lose herself in those eyes every chance she could. It was only after they were staring at each other for several seconds before they realized what they were doing and each turned away with their cheeks blushing madly.
After a breath to control herself, Hermione regained her composure and remembered what she was going to say. "I'm sorry, Harry. I don't think you can get out of the contract." She closed the book in front of herself with disgust and slid it away. "I mean, it's a stupid magical contract, but it is a magical contract."
"Yeah, that's fine," Harry said as he regained his own composure. "I guess I'm stuck."
"You know I'll help you anyway I can," Hermione said and, for a second, their eyes met again but quickly, they both looked away.
"Thanks," Harry said. "I guess we should put these away," He indicated the books spread out.
"I'll do it," Hermione exclaimed, needing to get away for a few seconds.
"I'll help," Harry offered as he ignored Hermione's protests and took an armload of the books. He followed Hermione who started putting each book back where it was supposed to go. Finally, Hermione reached for the last book in Harry's hand. He released it a moment to early and it fell to the floor.
"I'll get it," Harry exclaimed, but Hermione had already started kneeling down. Harry got his hand on it first but, as he started to hand it to Hermione, he found himself only inches from her. Those lips he'd been staring at were so close, so inviting.
Hermione had bent to pick up the book that had fallen only to have Harry beat her to it. When they both stood back up, she found herself only a few inches from Harry. She noticed those mesmerizing green eyes were fixed again upon her as that strange look came across her friend's features once more. Her pulse started racing as she once again found herself lost in his eyes. The tip of her tongue once again darted out to moisten her lips.
Harry's own pulse was now racing as he felt Hermione's closeness. When he saw the tip of her tongue once again moisten those lips, his brain shut down and pure instinct took over. He leaned forward slightly so that he could feel her hot breath on his face and then his lips were touching hers ever so softly.
Hermione couldn't move as she felt Harry's breathe so close to her lips and then he leaned towards her slightly and his lips touched hers. Sensations exploded in the young witch as her brain immediately shut down. Hermione's eyes closed as she melted into her best friend's kiss.
It was several seconds before the kiss ended and the two friends looked at each other.
"Oh Hermione, I…I am so sorry! I didn't mean, I mean…" Harry sputtered as he realized he'd just kissed his best friend.
Hermione just stood there looking at Harry. That had been her first kiss and it had been incredible. Her brain, which normally had an answer for everything, still couldn't fathom what had just happened. Her best friend had just kissed her and it was the single most blissful experience she had ever experienced and she had no answer to what to do now.
"Let's just forget it, Hermione. I didn't mean to. It just happened," Harry continued to sputter, concerned he had just lost his best friend.
At those words, Hermione's brain snapped back into focus. "No Harry. We need to talk about it," she said.
"You're still my best friend Harry, but we can't just ignore this," Hermione insisted as she took Harry by the arm and led him into the back recesses of the library. She glanced around and found what she was looking for, a table unseen by anyone not in that area of the library, and led her friend to it. When they were seated, she started. "Okay, let's be honest with each other. We'll just clear up what happened and then move on, okay?"
Harry just nodded as he swallowed nervously.
"Why...why did you kiss me?" Hermione asked with a hint of her own nervousness.
"I...I...uh, don't know."
"There must be some reason," Hermione said. "What about earlier when you were staring at me? Do you think it might have something to do with that?"
"Uh...I guess," Harry replied as the blush returned as dark as ever.
"Okay, then. What were you staring at? I mean, what were you thinking?"
"Uh... do you really want me to answer this? You might not like the answer."
"Yes, I think you need to," Hermione answered as she steadied herself and hoped Harry didn't hurt her feelings too much. She expected he'd probably been thinking of Cho Chang and somehow he'd lapsed into a fantasy. "We need to be totally honest here. I promise no matter what, you will be my best friend. I mean, after all we have been through, do you think this will keep us apart?"
Harry looked away for several seconds and then returned his gaze to the table. He picked up a quill someone had left and ran the feather between his fingers. Finally his eyes lifted to Hermione who was waiting patiently. "Well I was sort of staring at you."
"That we know, but why were you staring at me?"
"Uh, well, I…I mean, uh, Cho walked into the library earlier and, well, I was...oh never mind, Hermione! You don't want to hear this," Harry said as he rose from his chair.
Hermione sighed. She'd been right in her guess that Harry had been lost in a Cho Chang fantasy, but she knew they had to get it out in the open. She put her hand on his. "Harry, please. If we leave it here, it will be awkward for us and I really don't want that. I promise, no matter what you say, it's alright. But we have to clear this up."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked and, when Hermione nodded, he sat back down with a heavy sigh. "Fine," He again allowed his eyes to wander but then finally, he turned his emerald eyes upon Hermione. "You know I have always thought Cho was pretty?"
Hermione nodded and steeled herself for the explanation. She knew he was going to say how much more beautiful Cho was than her, though Hermione was pretty sure that Harry would say it in gentler terms.
"She...well, when she came in earlier and she was...was standing right behind you," Harry nodded over Hermione's shoulder to indicate where she had been in comparison to her.
Hermione nodded as she realized she'd been right. He'd been fantasizing about the Asian witch. She sighed inwardly but waited for her best friend to continue.
"Well... I started sort of...comparing the two of you and..." Harry swallowed nervously but then continued, "I uh, I realized you were as pretty as she is and I, well, I found myself staring at you," His gaze turned toward the table as he waited for Hermione to yell at him.
"Of..." Hermione started in a resigned tone, but then what Harry had said sunk in and she stopped with her mouth agape. 'Did I just hear him correctly?' She thought, but knew she had. She finally realized it was Harry's way to let her down gently. To move away from the truth. Hermione knew that Harry thought Cho was extremely pretty. The black-haired Ravenclaw was considered to be one of the most beautiful girls in the castle. She was sure Harry would eventually get up the courage and ask Cho out and of course, since he was Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, she would definitely say yes.
'But what if...' Hermione started as she stared at her friend but then mentally shook her head. 'No...he couldn't think me, the buck-toothed, bushy-haired know-it-all was pretty. He's just being nice.' As she stared, Hermione noticed Harry was blushing even more. 'Embarrassed obviously,' She thought.
"Harry, you don't have to say things like that," Hermione replied finally as she decided to let him know she knew the truth. "I know I'm not pretty. Between my hair and my teeth, I doubt anyone will ever think that I am nice to look at."
Harry could only stare at her in disbelief, but then finally, he blurted out, "Hermione, I'm already mad at Ron for not believing I didn't lie. Don't make me mad at you as well!" Harry's ire quickly overcame his overwhelming shyness. "I do think you are the smartest and one of the nicest and most beautiful girls in this castle. Any boy who doesn't think so is a fool. Personally, if I thought I had a chance in the world at being your boyfriend, I would ask you in an instant!" When Harry finished, he realized what he'd just said and the blush upon his face raced to his ears and down his neck as well and he turned his gaze back to the quill in his hand.
'He really thinks so?' Hermione asked herself. But she'd seen that determined look in Harry's eyes on many occasions and knew he believed what he was saying. Her fingers rose to her lips where she could still feel the tingling from their earlier kiss. The 'what if' arose in her mind again and, this time, she entertained the thought but she still couldn't believe that Harry would really want her as a girlfriend. She swallowed but finally said. "Harry, do you really mean that? Not just trying to make me feel better? I mean about the boyfriend thing?"
Harry looked up into brown eyes that belonged to his best friend and swallowed."I...I know I shouldn't have said it, but yes. Yes I meant it. But I know you..."
"I... I think you would have every chance, Harry," Hermione said before she lost her nerve.
"Wha…what?" Harry stammered.
Hermione took a deep breath as she found Harry's green eyes staring at her again. She knew she was taking a risk, but she delved into her Gryffindor courage and, with a last hope that she was doing the right thing, she replied, "I think you would have every chance to be my boyfriend. That is, if you really want to be."
Harry's pulse tripled in a second and he was positive his heart would beat itself out of his chest and land on the table in front of him soon. He couldn't believe it, but he knew he wanted Hermione to be his girlfriend. "Uh...Hermione Granger, woul...would you be my girlfriend?"
Hermione heard the words and still, it took a couple of seconds before she believed them. She smiled finally. "Yes I will. I'll be your girlfriend. That is if you promise to kiss me like you did earlier, Mister Potter."
"Just once?" Harry asked in a cheeked reply.
"Well you know me and my planner. I will see if I can fit you in some other time though," And the two of them found themselves laughing, and then found themselves kissing once more. In the next few minutes, the initial nervousness left them and the natural friendship they shared reemerged, but now it was deeper than ever.
It was a few minutes later when, hand-in-hand, they walked out of the library that they both remembered a serious issue with their relationship at the same time. "RON!" They said simultaneously.
Harry stopped and leaned against the wall right outside of the library. "He's never going to let this go is he? I mean, the tournament and now the prettiest girl in school?"
Hermione was biting her lower lip, obviously thinking. Finally, she looked up with her eyes alit. "Harry, did you mean it when you said you didn't want to compete in the tournament?"
Harry had watched his new girlfriend bite her lower lip, something he'd seen her do a hundred times, but now he realized just how much it made him really want to kiss her again. "Hermione, I just wanted a normal year this year. I'm tired of almost dying. Besides, now I would definitely prefer to spend my time with you, instead of worrying about being killed in a competition I have no chance of winning."
"Well if that's the case, how about if we let Ron compete for you?" Hermione asked. "That way, he gets the tournament and you get the girl."
"But the magical contract! How -"
"Do you trust me, Harry?" Hermione asked as she looked at him questioningly.
"There is no one in the world I trust more," Harry replied sincerely.
Hermione's smile lit up the corridor. "What if it causes you pain?"
"You really are scary sometimes, you know," Harry replied. "Just what do you have in mind?"
"Well, you remember when I said the Champion in 1365 named a replacement when he wasn't able to compete?" Hermione asked.
"Well, we just need to make sure you aren't able to compete, now don't we?" She asked with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
"But how? I mean, as long as you're not dead, Madam Pomfrey can fix you up before the night is over it seems," Harry said.
Hermione kissed her new boyfriend lightly on the lips. "You leave that to me. Now that you are mine, I don't plan on risking you in this tournament. But do you think we can keep us," she motioned between them, "a secret for a couple of days? I think we need to approach Ron with the tournament offer at the same time we tell him about us."
"But what do you need a couple of days for?" Harry asked.
"Well, I want you to sweat on exactly how I plan on hurting you," Hermione replied sweetly but then, seeing the look in his eyes, decided to calm him. "Relax, my boyfriend. I just want a copy of the Triwizard rules to make sure the replacement rule is still in there. I would hate to cause you pain for nothing. I'm going to send an owl to Percy to get an official copy. I also need to check on a Hogwarts medical rule that I remember reading."
The next two days were brutal for Harry for, not only was Ron still ignoring him, but the constant companionship of Hermione without them being able to express their new relationship the way they wanted to was driving him nuts. Though, through the entire two days, Harry did find himself walking around with a smile on his face, especially when he caught Hermione staring at him. When they walked down the halls side by side, he constantly had to fight the urge to not take her hand in his and from the occasional twitch he saw her arm make, he knew she was fighting the same desire. The two days passed exceedingly slow but finally, they did pass.
"Come on," Hermione said after dinner on the second day and then she practically dragged Harry to an empty classroom. When they got there, Hermione reached her arms around Harry's neck and proceeded to make up for the two days that had went by. "I have it," she finally said when the kissing ended.
"What?" Harry asked still in a daze from the kiss.
"The Tournament rules and my answer about the medical guidelines of Hogwarts," Hermione replied. She quickly read the relevant sections in the rules. "The rule is definitely still in the contract," She said a couple of minutes later. "It reads, 'Any Champion who, after being selected, but before the first event occurs, becomes physically unable to compete, must name a replacement Champion of his or her own choosing. Once the replacement Champion is accepted in the tournament, the original Champion is considered legally excused from the tournament'."
"You're brilliant, Hermione!"
"Thank you. But now comes the hard part," Hermione explained. "We need you physically unable to compete. I first thought I was going to have to find a serious hex that would be incurable for a while..."
"Relax, I think all you have to do is break your arm or leg."
"But Madam Pomfrey can fix a broken bone in an instant," Harry said. He'd had much experience in that department. "She grew every bone in my arm in less than a day before."
"I know that, Harry," Hermione said with an annoyed expression. "But what you don't know is that Muggle born and Muggle RAISED children are allowed to request Muggle-based medical treatment in lieu of magical healing. In this case, your arm or leg would be in a cast for several weeks taking it past the first task."
"Yes I know, Malfoy," Hermione said.
"Okay, that was really scary. I just said 'uh' and you knew what I was going to say?" Harry asked.
"Of course," Hermione smiled at Harry. "I've been keeping you out of trouble for years so I've learned most of your monosyllabic verbal tendencies."
"Now, Malfoy is going to start saying you're injured just to get out of the tournament, but it's a no-win situation either way. If you compete, he's going to say you faked your way into the tournament and try to turn the whole castle against you," Hermione explained. "But I think the faster you are out of the tournament, the faster this whole thing will be forgotten. As soon as the first event is over and you're out of your cast, no one will even think of you in terms of the tournament again."
"I hope you're right," Harry said. "All I need is a yearful of Malfoy."
"Malfoy will be Malfoy no matter what," Hermione said with a shrug.
"Yeah, you're right," Harry replied. "So what do we need to do?"
"Well, I was thinking that we can have an accident while practicing banishing charms," Hermione suggested.
"But we haven't done banishing charms yet," Harry said.
"It's in this year's lesson Harry,"
"So?" Then it hit him. "Oh, you already know the spell, don't you? You read your charms book over the summer."
"And so should you, Harry," Hermione said. "We are going to have to work on your summer studying." Then, seeing the look of panic in Harry's eyes, she gave him another kiss that settled him down. "Don't worry, I promise we will work on a compromise that works for both of us. Especially if we base it on a reward system."
"What type of reward?" Harry asked.
"Well, presuming you are still wanting me as your girlfriend by the summertime, I could imagine kisses could be incorporated into such a system," Hermione responded. "Maybe something like this?" She proceeded to demonstrate her reward system.
Harry stood glassy-eyed when the kiss ended. "Studying isn't bad," he murmured.
Hermione smirked, but she finding this power over Harry to be quite exhilarating. "Okay, now banishing charms. It would probably be a good thing if you learn them, or at least know what they are, so the injury looks genuine," she explained. She spent the next two hours teaching Harry how to do the charm. He finally got it when she threatened to not let him kiss her again until he could banish the pillow she had brought for this purpose across the room.
"I definitely like your reward system much better than detentions with Snape," Harry said smiling at her which caused her to blush.
"Excellent work, Harry! Now that you have the banishing charm down, it is time for our accident. Are you ready?" Hermione asked as she reached into her book bag and removed a very large, very heavy tome.
"I'm going to banish this into your left arm, that way you'll still have your wand arm," Hermione said as she sat the book on the desk about five feet from her boyfriend.
"Can I have another kiss for the pain?" Harry asked.
"But it doesn't hurt yet."
"Okay, for the pre-pain then?" Harry asked with an innocent look on his face.
"Then you're going to want one for the actual pain, and another for the post pain, I presume?" Hermione inquired.
"Actually I was thinking of much more than one for the actual pain," Harry smirked. "I mean, you're going to feel awfully guilty since you're causing it."
Hermione loved the self-confidence Harry was showing in their fledgling relationship. Even without them being able to show it to everyone, he had shown he liked the idea of her being his girlfriend. But the self-confidence worried her as well. She knew that if Harry lost his shyness, he could have any girl in the castle. She couldn't help but wonder if their relationship would survive that. She glanced at her boyfriend only to see him staring back at her.
"It's not going to happen, you know," Harry said.
"What isn't?" Hermione asked.
"Me not wanting you," Harry said.
"I've been getting you into trouble for three years; don't you think I know your looks of self-doubt?" Harry asked. "I might have been stupid not to see what was in front of me until now. But even I know a treasure when I find it. Now give me my kiss and then break my arm so within a couple of days, I can kiss you in the Great Hall in front of everyone."
Those words, the idea of of him kissing her in front of the whole school, sent shivers down her spine and butterflies into her stomach. It was that moment when her self-doubt did leave her. She knew without a doubt Harry really did want her. She gave him his kiss before moving to the other side of the room. "Ready?" She asked.
Harry gritted his teeth and a look of concentration appeared in his eyes as he nodded.
"Depulso," Hermione said as she flicked her wand at the large book. It flew off the desk and slammed heavily into Harry's arm right below his left elbow. The bone snapped with an audible crack causing Hermione to wince. Harry though, only grimaced as the pain shot up his nerves, letting his brain know serious damage had been done to his arm.
"I'm sorry, Harry!" Hermione said as she rushed over to him.
"I really want that kiss for the pain now," Harry said as he allowed his arm to gingerly fall to his side. "It really hurts."
It was five minutes later that they entered the Hospital wing and found Madam Pomfrey.