The Yule Ball
It was the morning of Christmas Eve and Harry was in Gryffindor common room, sitting in his regular chair and waiting for the woman he loved to join him for breakfast. 'The woman I love,' Harry thought. It had been less than two weeks since Hermione's nightmare when they had first spoken the four lettered 'L' word to each other. It's a simple word that has given men an eternity of hope and dreams or cursed them to an eternity of despair and damnation. To Harry though, when that word was said for the first time by Hermione, it was the end of a previous life and the beginning of a new one. He smiled to himself as he recognized the sound of her footsteps on the stairs and looked up to see a sight he wanted to see every day for the rest of his life. His Mione, looking at him with a smile on her lips, first thing in the morning.
"Good morning, handsome," Hermione said as she saw her boyfriend in his favorite chair.
"Good morning, gorgeous," He replied. "Ready for breakfast?"
"Before we go, can I ask you something?" Hermione asked.
"Well, the Yule Ball is tomorrow night…" Hermione started.
"What did I forget to do?" Harry asked nervously. "Was I supposed to get you something or…"
"Oh no, Harry! Nothing like that," Hermione said. "It's well... You said you didn't know how to dance and I have never been dancing, but I thought it was going to be just a, you know, dance dance. Where you can just sort of dance however you want. But I heard Angelina talking to Katie yesterday and it's going to be a lot more formal than that. They were talking about how the first part of the ball will have formal dances like the Waltz and such."
Harry's face paled. "I... I don't know how to do that. I'm sorry, Hermione; I'm going to embarrass you."
"Of course you won't, Harry," Hermione replied. "I don't know how to dance like that either."
"We could just not dance," Harry said with a hopeful look on his face. "We could sit and watch everyone else."
Hermione's expression turned sad. "Well, we could do that, but I was hoping maybe you'd try something with me."
'ANYTHING! JUST SMILE AGAIN!' Harry's inner voice screamed. "I'd do anything for you, love."
Hermione's face lit up in a smile again and she started toward the steps. Then turning back, she said, "Wait here, I'll be right back." She quickly dashed up the steps and brought back a book. "I stopped by the library yesterday to see if there was any way… well, to learn to dance."
Harry grinned. This was definitely his Mione. Need to know about an evil creature that might be petrifying people? Go to the library. Need to find out who Nicholas Flamel is? Go to the library. Need to know how to dance? Go the library. 'Someday,' Harry promised himself, 'I'll build a library for her and fill it with every book she could ever want just to see the smile on her face.' He saw she was looking apprehensively at him. "How can we learn to dance in a day?"
"Magic, of course," Hermione replied as her radiant smile reappeared. "There is a charm in here that will guide your body, feet and arms to the correct positions for the dance."
"So, we just use the Charm tomorrow night and we'll be able to Waltz?" Harry asked. "That's not so bad."
"We uh, could, but then we would look like robots as our bodies are jerked around," Hermione replied. "No, what the book suggests is you use the spell to practice with, as it keeps moving you around. You should be able to start anticipating the next move until eventually you don't need the charm at all. You'll just react to the music."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Harry replied as he imagined a few minutes of practice. "How long would we need to practice?"
"Well, it says we should be able to make it work in about ten hours' worth of practice," Hermione said, looking hopefully at Harry.
"Ten hours? No way. Not going to happen," Harry said very determinedly. 'There is no way I am going to spend ten hours learning a dance I'll only use for fifteen minutes at most,' Harry thought. Of course, two hours later, he was in an empty classroom being jerked around like a possessed demon while learning how to dance because the love of his life, the woman of his dreams, had looked at him with her almond-colored eyes and said the most despicable thing a man can hear when he's disagreeing with a woman.
Hermione awoke Christmas morning to find several presents at the foot of her bed. The first was from her parents. That made her a little sad. She realized that she had not gone home for Christmas for the last three years, if she counted this one. 'Next year,' she thought. 'Maybe Harry can spend Christmas with me and my parents.' The idea of Harry sitting next to her in her home, opening gifts, made her smile. She opened the card attached to the box and smiled as she read the Christmas card. It was a beautiful poem about Christmas and love. She also found a gift certificate to her favorite non-magical bookstore in the card. Another smile. 'I know where my first stop will be on the way home for the summer.' She lifted the box the card was attached to and sat it in front of her. By the weight of it, she knew it was going to be more books. She was quite surprised when she unwrapped and open the box, only to find it filled with weights that surrounded a much smaller box. Puzzled, Hermione opened the smaller box where she found a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings.
A note was enclosed with the earrings; she unfolded it and read, 'A princess can't go to a ball without something special to wear for someone special.'
Hermione looked at the earrings and beamed. It really was a very unanticipated gift. "Thanks Mom and Dad," she whispered. Then she thought 'Someone special? Had they figured out from my letters about Harry?' She had been writing home about Harry for over three years, but had specifically not mentioned their relationship to them in letters this year. She thought about her plan to kiss Harry in front of her parents at Kings Cross when they got there for the summer break before telling them of their new relationship status. She shook off the thoughts and turned back to her presents.
She quickly opened the other gifts from relatives that her parents had forwarded to the castle and, finally, she came to the present she waited until last to open: Harry's. She was curious to learn how much effort he had put in to picking the right gift. She thought back to her nightmare of being with Ron and laughed. She'd end up with Quidditch books and chocolate frogs on her anniversary if it was him. Just so he could have them himself. Hermione's fingers actually trembled as she undid the bow on Harry's gift and, when the paper was off, she was holding a small box. When she opened it, she found herself looking at a beautiful diamond necklace shaped like a heart. The note in the box read:
I hope this matches whatever you're wearing tonight. I heard that a diamond is a girl's best friend and, since you have always been my best friend, I hope this always reminds you of me.
As Hermione looked at the gorgeous necklace, she suddenly realized something. Frowning, she dug back into her gifts and pulled out the earring box from her parents. She set the necklace next to the earrings and realized the settings matched. 'How?' She first thought, but then realized her boyfriend must have owled her parents in planning her Christmas presents. 'At least now I know how they know about Harry. And they called him someone special,' she thought. She had a feeling this was going to be a Christmas day to remember.
Hermione did notice one thing that caused her to pause. There had not been a gift from her other friend, Ron.
Harry awoke very suddenly on Christmas day. Wondering what had caused his abrupt return to consciousness; he opened his eyes and saw something with very large, round, green eyes staring back at him in the darkness so close they were almost nose to nose.
"Dobby!" Harry yelled, scrambling away from the elf so fast he almost fell out of bed. "Don't do that!"
"Dobby is sorry, Sir!" Squeaked Dobby anxiously, jumping backward with his long fingers over his mouth. "Dobby is only wanting to wish Harry Potter 'Merry Christmas' and bring him a present, Sir! Harry Potter did say Dobby could come and see him sometimes, Sir!"
Harry remembered the time three weeks ago when Hermione had stumbled on to Dobby in the kitchens and dragged Harry down there. Harry had been happy to see his friend, the house elf, and had been glad to find out he was now working at Hogwarts.
"It's okay," said Harry, still breathing rather faster than usual while his heart rate returned to normal. "Just - just prod me or something in future, all right? Don't bend over me like that..."
"Can Dobby give Harry Potter his present now?" The house elf asked.
"Of course you can," said Harry. "Er... I've got something for you, too."
It was a lie; he hadn't bought anything for Dobby at all. But he quickly opened his trunk and pulled out a particularly knobbly, rolled-up pair of socks. They were his oldest and foulest, mustard yellow, and had once belonged to Uncle Vernon. The reason they were extra knobbly was that Harry had been using them to cushion his Sneakoscope for over a year now. He pulled out the Sneakoscope and handed the socks to Dobby, saying, "Sorry, I forgot to wrap them..."
But Dobby was utterly delighted. "Socks are Dobby's favorite, favorite clothes, Sir!" He exclaimed, ripping off his odd ones and pulling on Uncle Vernon's. "I has seven now, Sir. But, Sir ..." he said, his eyes widening, having pulled both socks up to their highest extent so that they reached to the bottom of his shorts. "They has made a mistake in the shop, Harry Potter, they is giving you two of the same!"
Harry looked confused for a second, then said, "You're right, Dobby. Next time I'm in Hogsmeade, I'll get a second pair and you can have two sets."
Dobby's overly large eyes started to water as he handed a small package to Harry. "Harry Potter is too kind! He is noble and selfless…"
Harry had opened the package and found – socks!
"Dobby is making them himself, Sir!" the elf said happily. "He is buying the wool out of his wages, Sir!"
The left sock was bright red and had a pattern of broomsticks upon it; the right sock was green with a pattern of snitches.
"They're ... they're really ... well, thanks, Dobby," said Harry, and he pulled them on, causing Dobby's eyes to leak with happiness again.
"Dobby must go now, Sir. We is already making Christmas dinner in the kitchens!" Said Dobby, and he hurried out of the dormitory.
Harry looked over at Ron who was still snoring away. Then he turned back to the presents on the foot of the bed and started to open them. Sirius sent him a pen knife with attachments that would open any lock and undo any knot. The Dursleys sent a single tissue. Hagrid sent a huge assortment of sweets including all of Harry's favorites: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum and Fizzing Whizbees. Harry noticed there was no present from Ron before he turned to the one he was most eager to see; the one from Hermione. He opened the box to find a complete set of Quidditch seeker armor, along with a note.
You're too special to me to allow anything to happen to you. I can't be with you on your broom to protect you when you're too stubborn to realize Quidditch is just a game. Hopefully when you wear this, it will remind you of my love and just how much you mean to me. Just remember that I can't be in your arms when you're in the hospital wing.
Mione (only for you, Harry)
Harry looked at the armor and smiled. She knew exactly what he wanted even without him knowing it himself. 'Best Christmas present ever,' he thought.
Cedric Diggory awoke on Christmas morning to find the vast assortment of gifts he was accustomed to. Presents from his parents, one from Cho, more gifts from admiring women, but there was also one that didn't have a name on it. When he finally opened it, he found a wand cleaning kit, and a note.
Hope we can use this together sometime.
Your Fellow Champion,
Cedric immediately found an urgent need to shower. It was thirty minutes later when his fellow Hufflepuffs finally convinced him to come out of the water.
When Ron awoke, he immediately attacked his presents. He found his yearly jumper from his mother, a box of chocolate frogs from Hermione, a book called Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland from Harry and a box of creams from the twins. He didn't think twice about getting presents from Harry and Hermione when he hadn't given them anything. He knew they would understand that he was too busy with the tournament to worry about such things. Ron looked at the box of creams the twins had given him. 'Like I would eat them,' Ron thought as his hand reached for one and put it in his mouth. A quick canary change and molting later and he was ready to get dressed and head downstairs. Well, right after one more cream.
Harry and Hermione spent a nice breakfast together, each expressing their appreciation for the gift the other had given them. Afterwards, they adjourned to an empty classroom where they practiced the dance steps. What had been agony the previous day became enjoyable as Harry could see the love in Hermione's eyes. The rest of the morning was spent expressing their love with their lips, but definitely not by spoken words. It was during one of these non-verbal expressions that Ron appeared in the common room.
Harry didn't even look up from the kiss. "Good morning, Ron," he said as he stared into Hermione's eyes.
"Anything we can do about that this evening, love?" Harry whispered to Hermione.
"Maybe a silencing charm?" She answered quietly.
"I'll leave it in your capable hands, love," Harry said as he picked up one of her hands and ran a finger over her palm. As he kept his eyes fixed on hers, he took the palm and brought it to his lips where the kiss was as light as a feather. Hermione shivered at the sensations of pleasure that radiated from her hand.
The twins were sitting at a table, watching their brother eat another cream and turn into a canary again. Fred turned to George. "That compulsion charm really worked well."
"Yeah, but now he'll eat them all before tonight," George replied.
"True, but it's still fun to watch now."
At noon, Harry and Hermione went down to the Great Hall for a magnificent lunch. At least a hundred turkeys and Christmas puddings were served while large piles of Cribbage's Wizarding Crackers were given out. After lunch, Harry and Hermione joined the Weasley twins, Neville and Ginny for a snowball fight. Hermione refused to play at first, but Harry gave her his patented puppy dog eyes look and she relented. Unfortunately for everyone else, she proved she was deadly accurate with her banishing charms and soon everyone was being chased by her snowballs.
Ron made his appearance at four in the afternoon. He had his ever present egg under his arm.
"Come on, Ron," Fred yelled as he sent a snowball at his brother. The snowball struck his egg instead.
"Hey!" Ron yelled just as another snowball struck him.
Ron lifted the egg to his lips to give it a kiss, only to find his lips stuck to the cold metal surface. "HLP ME!" He cried out to the people around him.
Harry looked at the twins, who looked at Hermione. Each of them shook their heads. They didn't dare do a heating charm when the egg was so close to Ron's face and all of them remembered where the egg had been and wasn't about to touch it.
"I think you'll need to wait for the metal to warm up," Hermione suggested. "Maybe if you go back inside and find a fire."
Ron tried to say he'd be seen, but it came out. "BU Ill bu..." and no one understood him. Finally, he tried to hide his face and egg in the crook of his arm and cloak as he moved toward the castle. The egg finally came loose after twenty minutes of being indoors, but by then, half the castle had either saw the champion or heard the story.
At five o'clock, Hermione excused herself saying it was time to start getting ready to go to the ball.
"Three hours to get ready, love?" Harry asked in surprise.
Hermione leaned over and whispered in his ear. "It'll be worth it, I promise." Then with a quick kiss, she started for the castle.
Harry made his way up to his dorm at a half past six. After a nice warming shower, he donned his shirt, pants, tie and dress robes. As he was heading back out of the dorm, Ron entered with lips so red it looked like he was wearing lipstick.
"Uh..." Harry had to take a step back from being startled by the way Ron looked. "Don't you need to be getting ready pretty quickly? The Ball starts in a half hour."
"I'll be fine, Harry," Ron scoffed. "I'm a champion, remember? They can't start without me."
"Fine. Well, we'll see you at the Ball," Harry replied. With another glance at his friend, he left the dorm walked down the steps shaking his head.
Down the in Slytherin common room, Millicent was putting the final touches on her fiancé. "Now Draco darling, stop fidgeting with your bandages. You know Madam Pomfrey says you shouldn't scratch them."
Draco wasn't paying attention to his betrothed. He was currently lost in thought as he stared across the common room at Pansy Parkinson who was attending the Ball with Theodore Nott.
'How has my life plummeted so far, so fast?' He asked himself as he watched Pansy glide gracefully across the floor. 'Two months ago, I was the undisputed king of Slytherin. I had the looks, the money and she was my girlfriend.' Pansy turned and her cleavage flashed Draco. Draco let out a wistful sigh. 'Now I can't even stand to look at myself in the mirror.' Whenever he did, his gaze was immediately caught by the missing eyebrow. He knew who to blame though, somehow he knew it was Harry Potter's fault. "Potter and his mudblood..." Unfortunately, he had muttered the last words out loud.
"WHAM!" Millicent's right hand connected with Draco's jaw. "I TOLD YOU NOT TO INSULT THEM!" With a look of panic, Milly nervously glanced around the common room, expecting the smell to arrive any second.
"What'd you do that for?" Draco asked as he cowered away from his very large betrothed. "I just called her a mud…"
"WHAM!" It was Millicent's left hand that connected this time. Again, she waited in panic, but then sighed in relief when the expected smell didn't arrive. She finally bent down and lifted her fiancé physically off the floor. When he was unsteadily standing on his feet, she glared into the only eye he could still open. "Are you going to do it again?"
Draco just shook his head in fear.
"Excellent, love. Now pick up your teeth and go see if Madam Pomfrey can fix them before the ball. Okay love?" Millicent said. "I'll meet you outside the Great Hall." She smiled at her fiancé. "I am so looking forward to our wedding. It's going to be beautiful, isn't it dear?"
Draco just nodded in agreement as he retrieved the three missing teeth from the floor. Without another word, he quickly made his way out of the common room. When the door closed behind him, he didn't move toward the hospital wing. He turned and struck out for Professor's Snape's office. He hoped his Head of House could talk to his father for him. Plead with him to get him out of the betrothal contract.
Draco didn't realize he was just giving Karma another chance to kick his arse.
Harry and Neville were pacing nervously, waiting for their respective dates to make their appearance down the steps.
"I'm going to make a fool of myself, Harry," Neville moaned. "Why did I ever ask Ginny?"
"You'll be fine, Neville," Harry replied. But he was thinking he might make a fool of himself as well. "Just have confidence."
When Harry's eyes turned back to the staircase, every thought left his mind as his jaw descended in complete amazement. Harry even forgot to breathe for several long seconds. Dressed in beautiful periwinkle blue dress robes and with her hair sleek, shiny and twisted in an elegant knot, Hermione was the very epitome of beauty. Harry could do nothing but stare in amazement at his girlfriend. He finally controlled his jaw long enough to utter, "Her…mi..ne?"
As Hermione saw the expression on Harry's face, she smiled. And though diamonds sparkled from her ears and she wore the diamond necklace Harry had given her, Harry thought they paled in comparison to the treasure that was her smile. It was another minute before Harry could close his mouth and brain function returned to him. When he made his way over to his girlfriend, he said, "You… You're gorgeous."
"Was the three hours worth it, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Uh… yeah," He stammered as his mouth was still having trouble maintaining a closed position.
"Well, you're quite handsome as well," Hermione said as she took in her boyfriend's appearance. "I must say, Missus Weasley did a wonderful job of picking out robes for you."
The moment of perfection only lasted a few seconds later as a voice neither really wanted to hear said, "Hermione, can you do something…" Ron had started as he came down into the common room. It was at that moment he saw Hermione standing next to Harry.
Down in the dungeons, Draco was pleading with his Head of House.
"No Draco, your father was quite specific. He intends on you being married at Easter," Snape said. "There's nothing I can do."
"But... I'm too young to be married," Draco whined.
"That's between you and your..." Snape started, but he stopped suddenly as an all too familiar smell of rotting corpses and sulfur suddenly invaded the Potion Master's overly large proboscis. Nobody would ever accuse Severus Snape of being an idiot; cruel, cunning and unable to lose a grudge, yes, but stupid, no. While his office was being rebuilt from the previous explosion, he realized that having his desk so far away from the door had been a mistake, especially with all of the possible harmful potions he had and would accumulate again. It was this fact, and this fact alone, that allowed him to react in time.
"GET OUT!" Snape yelled as he grabbed Draco and pulled him toward the door. The flash flame and explosion that occurred this time threw the two of them out the door and against the far wall. Lying face down on the hall floor, frustration poured out of the Potions Master as he yelled, "OH, JUST BUGGER ME!" It was most unfortunate for him to use that particular expression, considering the exact position Draco Malfoy had landed in on top of him due to the explosion.
Crabbe and Goyle had decided to sneak into Snape's office and make off with his Firewhisky for the Ball. They were waiting around the corner to the Potion Master's office when the explosion occurred. Unsure what the sound was, they both ducked their heads out of their hiding spot and looked down the hall. They saw their Head of House lying face down on the hall floor with Draco Malfoy lying on top of him when Snape screamed, "OH, JUST BUGGER ME!" They turned and stared at each other with eyes the size of saucers. By unspoken agreement, they both turned and fled back the way they had come. It didn't take long before the news of the love affair between Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy made its way around the school.
"Just cut it off," Ron pleaded to Hermione as he lifted a piece of the frill that ran around the neck of his dress robes.
"Honestly Ron, I'm nervous about the Ball! Look at how my hand is shaking." She held up her hand. "Do you really want me to do a severing charm so close to your neck?"
Everyone stopped what they were doing and waited. Most of them were desperately hoping the champion would still let her try.
Ron watched Hermione's hand shake and the single brain cell in his head not dedicated to chess or eating decided to make its opinion known. With a shake of his head, Ron started for the steps.
When Ron had turned his back on Hermione, she pulled out her wand and sent the most powerful silencing charm she knew at his backside.
Back up in his dorm room, Ron started trying to take care of the frills himself. The results were disastrous as strings of frill were dangling from every part of his dress robes and no matter what he did, the outfit was more dress than robes. By the time the youngest champion made it back down to the common room, everyone else was gone. Everyone, that is, but a ginger-colored cat who had been lying in a common room chair. When Ron passed the chair, the sight of all of the strings dangling from his robes were too much for the part kneazle. Crookshanks launched himself at a particular long string. Ron did not feel the slight tug as he continued out of the common room. Crookshanks spent hours playing with one of the two threads which had held the main seam that ran up the back of the ancient robes together. The single thread left had been washed and cleaned over a thousand times in the past two hundred years and had very little strength left in it.
Professor Sibyll Trelawney stared at herself in the mirror. She couldn't tell if her large glasses needed to be cleaned or if her vision was blurry because of the three bottles of cooking sherry she'd already polished off that evening. 'Time to face my fate... uh... date,' she thought as she turned and walked out of her room.
It was a long walk from her room to the area outside of the Great Hall. She'd just made it to the bottom of the grand staircase when she first spotted her date. She could see that his robes were in tatters and his lips... She blinked and blinked again. 'Merlin, does the boy wear lipstick?' The Divination Professor swallowed as she remembered the crystal ball and what it foretold. "Damn the crystal ball," she muttered and turned to go back up the steps. She'd only made it three steps before Ron spotted her and dashed to her side.
'I curse you fates...' She thought as she turned to greet her date.
Ron studied his professor... eh... date intently. Her robes were... well the only word that really could be used, is 'shawly'. It appeared that at least forty different shawls had been sewn together to create an interesting ensemble of clashing colors and patterns. Around her neck, Trelawney had her multitude of chains and beads while her arms were covered with at least a dozen different bangles each.
"Wow, and I thought my dress robes were bad," Ron said as an attempt at a polite opening remark to his date.
Sibyll was still busy cursing Fate and missed most of what Ron had said. She only heard, "My dress robes were bad." I agree with you, Ronald. They are quite bad," she agreed.
It was at that moment the champions were called to wait near the door while the rest of the school entered the Great Hall.
Once everyone else was settled in the Hall, Professor McGonagall told the champions and their partners to get in line in pairs and to follow her. They did so, and everyone in the Great Hall applauded as they entered and started walking up toward a large round table at the top of the Hall, where the judges were sitting. Though once the applause had died down, laughter and giggles broke out throughout the Hall. Ron knew the laughter was toward his date and her ugly dress robes. 'How could she embarrass me like this?' He thought.
The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had vanished; instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.
Harry and Hermione were sitting at a table with Neville and Ginny, Fred and George Weasley and their dates Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinet and, rounding out the dozen were the Patil twins along with the Creevey brothers who were spending more time staring at Harry than at their dates.
Up at the Champion's table, Ron had ended up sitting next to his brother Percy who had explained his boss was suffering from too much of a personal illness to attend. He also added that he had been promoted to Mr. Crouch's assistant and was there representing him. Ron really didn't hear a word he had said since his entire focus was on the plate in front of him. 'Where's the food?' He wondered. He saw Cedric at the other end of the table and yelled out, "Hey Cedric! Did you get my present to you? Want to get together after the Ball and polish our wands?" Cedric's fork fell out of his hand and rattled upon his plate as he looked at his date Cho Chang. Ron realized his error. "Sorry, you're with Cho tonight. Well, if she wants to help you polish your wand tonight, that's fine. How about you and I next week?"
Cho wanted to disappear under the table as all eyes had turned toward her. Her eyes turned to her boyfriend's questioningly. Cedric just shook his head.
Ron looked down and there was still no food on his plate or on the table. He failed to notice others looking at the menu sitting beside the plate and asking for something particular. He just kept staring and waiting. Finally, Professor Trelawney explained the menu to an utterly confused look on her date's face. Finally, after the fourth attempt at an explanation, she was reasonably certain he got the procedure.
Ron looked at the menu and then spoke plainly to his plate. "Everything!" And he waited, and waited, but still no food came. He tried again, much louder this time. "EVERYTHING!" Again he waited and waited, but still no food appeared. He turned to Sibyll. "Mine's broke."
Sibyll reached into one of the many pockets sewn into her robes and pulled out a bottle of cooking sherry. After she downed a few swigs directly from the bottle, she turned back to her date. "No. You have to ask for it by the name on the menu."
"Oh," Ron looked back at his plate. "Chicken." And this time, his plate filled with chicken, potatoes and corn. "Cool," Ron said and then he continued down the menu. "Pork Chops, steak, bass and another chicken." When he had finished, his plate was filled up to his chin with food. As the last chicken dinner filled the top, the pile of food slowly toppled down onto the table, covering everyone in bits of food.
"Stupid plate," Ron grumbled. Then turning to the other champions, he continued, "I mean, have you seen anything this stupid? How are you supposed to get enough to eat?" He stabbed at a little red potato that had rolled in front of Fleur and stuffed it in his mouth.
Dumbledore swept his wand and the mess was cleared away instantly.
"Hey! That was my food! I was going to eat that!" Ron cried out.
"May I suggest one plate at a time, Mister Weasley?" Dumbledore said.
"But what if they run out?" Ron whined.
"I assure you they won't."
Seventeen plates of food later and Dumbledore wasn't positive anymore if the food would last. Fortunately, the rest of the people sitting at the champion's table had stopped eating pretty quickly. Most of them had turned slightly green at the sight of the youngest champion's eating habits. Dumbledore noticed Ron had stopped using his utensils shortly after the second plate and had just started grabbing it all with his hands. Finally, Ron finished his last plate and said, "That was good. What's for dessert?"
"Uh... I think it's time we start the dance, Mister Weasley," Dumbledore suggested. "If I could have all the champions head to the dance floor, it would be appreciated."
Everyone rose from the table and Ron quickly wiped his hands on his robes. The grease blended in with the fourteen other gravy and other food stains already present.
It was on the first note of the champions dance when it happened. Ron's size thirteen left foot (which showed everyone in Hogwarts who had witnessed the first task that there was no correlation between size of feet and other parts of the body) came down painfully on Sibyll Trelawney's right foot. As she bent down to grab it, his other size thirteen foot descended onto her left hand. Madam Pomfrey was quickly called over to heal the six broken bones in her foot and the two others in her hand. Madam Pomfrey was about to give her a clean bill of health when she noticed the pleading look in Professor Trelawney's eyes. "Maybe you better sit out for a while," she advised.
'Great,' Ron thought. 'Now I can't show everyone how well I can dance.'
At eight forty-five, the switching spell employed by Hermione on the contract switched points of exchange. The air to be exchanged now was a windowless portion of the castle three stories up. Hermione had picked that spot in particular because it was safe.
The second dance of the evening was a Waltz. Harry led Hermione on to the floor. The hours of practice paid off as the two of them glided effortlessly over the floor. Staring into each other's eyes, the movements were second nature to them by now. They finished dance after dance and still nothing else mattered but each other. Soon, the magic spotlight was focused entirely on them as they glided over the floor, but neither seemed to notice.
Ron was still grumbling when the spotlight fell upon the Boy-who-lived and his date in her diamonds and periwinkle robes.
"Sssssssss ssssssssssssss sssssssssssssss"
Thanks to Hermione's silencing spell, the gas was silent, but forceful. The youngest champion was lifted six inches off his chair before he fell back down. The expelling gas also destroyed the last remaining thread holding the back of Ron's robes together. Outside the castle walls, a deadly stagnate cloud hung ominously.
For the next hour, Harry and Hermione glided gracefully across the dance floor and the cloud outside the castle became thicker and thicker. Ron appeared to be jumping up and down in his seat. Finally, the dancing couple needed to catch a breather and quench their thirst. They made their way back to their table where Neville and Ginny were sitting and talking quietly.
"What would you like to drink, love?" Harry asked as he held Hermione's chair for her to take her seat.
"Butterbeer," Hermione replied.
As Harry was returning four minutes later with two butterbeers, he noticed Victor Krum had walked up to his date. Remembering Hermione's dream, he quickly moved back to his girlfriend's side.
"Herm-mi-ne-ne?" Krum asked.
"Hermione," she responded. "Victor Krum, right?"
"Yes," the Quidditch star responded. "I see you lots in library. Everyone says you are very smart."
The blush that crept over Hermione's face made Harry glare at Krum in suspicion. He put out his hand. "And I'm Harry Potter, Hermione's boyfriend," he emphasized the last two words.
"Yes, yes. I know your story. You two dance very vell together," Krum replied as he shook Harry's hand.
"Thanks," Harry replied, but still stood a bit closer to his girlfriend.
"Vished you hadn't got hurt," Krum said. And with a quick glance around to make sure Ron wasn't there, he continued. "I think you vould have been better challenge as champion."
Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure how my name got in that cup, but I'm glad I'm not competing."
Krum's eyes lingered on Harry for a second longer before he nodded and turned to Hermione. "I vanted to ask question. My date, her name is Luna," he nodded over to the dirty blonde-haired girl twirling alone on the dance floor with her eyes unfocused. "She mentions creatures I never heard of. Makes me feel like Durmstrang doesn't teach vell. I vant to know if you can tell me vat a Crumple-Horn Snorkack or a Blibbering Humdinger is? She keeps avoiding mistletoes saying they have Nargles, but I have no idea what Nargles are. Vhat if they're dangerous? Ve obviously have very bad magical creature instructor at my school. I'm afraid I'm going to look stupid in front of my date."
Ginny had her hand in front of her mouth as she fought the laugh trying to escape. Before a confused Hermione could reply to Krum's question, she spoke up. "Those creatures aren't widely known, but Luna is our resident expert on them. I'm sure she'll understand if you ask her about them and will be glad to explain everything there is to know."
"Thank you, I vill ask her. I am relieved they aren't common."
"May I ask how you ended up asking her to the Ball?"
"It vas the strangest thing," Krum explained. "Shortly after they announced the Ball, I found her huddled in the bow of our ship. She was mumbling something about escaping the vrackspurts and veasels," Krum shrugged. "I felt sorry for her and ve started talking. I told her I didn't vant to ask anyone to the dance because the girls vere always following me around, she told me she couldn't go vithout being asked since she vas only third year." Krum scratched his head as he thought back. "Somehow in our conversation, I ended up asking her to go vith me."
Ron caught the sight of Krum speaking with Harry and Hermione. Realizing the Quidditch star would much prefer to talk to a fellow champion, he turned to Trelawney. "Excuse me, but duty calls. I shall return shortly."
"Don't hurry... eh, I mean don't worry," Sibyll replied as she continued to act as if her hand was in great pain.
Ron got up from his seat and made his way through the crowd of dancing students. As he got close to his destination, he saw Krum turn to Harry and say, "Cedric tells me you are vonderful seeker. Best the school has seen in years. Vould you like to go out flying sometime?"
"Sssss ssssss sssssss sssss"
"Sure," Harry responded, holding his hand out to Krum again right as the air-propelled Ron slammed into the Durmstrang champion, knocking them both to the ground. Harry quickly bent over and helped Krum to his feet. "Sorry," he muttered to the Bulgarian.
The commotion caused most of the Hall to stop dancing and almost everyone turned in the direction of the noise. What they saw brought back painful memories of the first task as Ron got to his knees. The rear of Ron's robes were split completely in two, clearly showing that Ron Weasley, Triwizard champion, was starkers under his robes. The dance had to be postponed for several minutes as house elves were called to clean up the floor from the vacated dinners. The band itself took quite a bit of time to regroup and start playing again.
Ron didn't seem to notice the extra air the opening provided as he quickly recovered his feet. He then held out his hand to Krum and said, "I would love to fly with you and hey, can we polish wands together sometime before the second task? Maybe next week when Cedric and..." his voice trailed off as he watched Krum turn and quickly make his way back to Luna's side.
A disgruntled Ron turned to Harry. "Why'd you have to scare him away? You know how much I wanted to talk to him!" Ron didn't wait for an answer as he gave his old friend a look of disgust and stormed back to his date.
Ron's temper continued to increase as he made his way back to the table, but then he thought of a way to sooth his feelings. When he got back to Sibyll, he said, "Let's go to the gardens," in his most charismatic voice, which basically meant nothing.
Sibyll had had a good view of her date's ass-ets as he was kneeling on the floor. That sight, coupled with an idea of walking in any garden with Ron Weasley, was more than her stomach could handle and she promptly threw up.. "Sorry, but I don't think something I ate agreed with me. I should head back to my tower."
'Her tower?' Ron thought with a wry grin. 'I didn't think she'd offer this soon, but I am a champion.' He gave the Divination Professor a knowing glance. "Sure, I'll walk you up and maybe..." Ron lifted his eyebrows suggestively. "Maybe we can finish the party there."
"NO! I mean no, I think I feel even sicker than that. Maybe I should go to the hospital wing and rest in one of those beds until Madam Pomfrey can take a look at me," Trelawney said. She turned and fled out of the Great Hall before Ron could volunteer to help her.
Ron just sat in his chair the rest of the evening, watching Harry and Hermione dance the evening away while grumbling under his breath how unfair it was.
"Would you like to take a stroll in the gardens?" Harry asked the next time they finished dancing. The gardens of Hogwarts had been put under a warming spell for the night to allow couples to wander around in their dresses and cloaks without undue chills.
"I'd love to," Hermione replied.
Hand in hand, the two lovebirds wandered out of the Great Hall and into the rose garden. As they rambled along the various paths, they discussed the evening and how wonderful it had been. They meandered along fairy-lit paths that passed fountains, flower bushes filled with large roses and various statues. They passed other couples strolling, as well as many others, sitting on the various benches that were spread out along the path. Their journey ended at an empty bench located near one of the most beautiful fountains. Harry sat down and pulled Hermione close as the two enjoyed the serenity of the garden.
"It's been a very beautiful evening Harry," Hermione whispered. "I don't ever want it to end."
"A month ago, if you'd told me about a Ball with dancing, I would never have believed I would enjoy it," Harry admitted. "But tonight... tonight was perfect. It was perfect because it was with you."
The two of them became lost in the gaze of the other. Finally, Harry reached out a finger and traced it along Hermione's jaw line. Hermione closed her eyes to the touch and was not surprised when Harry's lips grazed hers lightly, teasingly. A small sigh escaped her lips as his found hers again. This time the kiss was a little more aggressive. Her arms encircled Harry's neck and the kiss grew. Lips parted and tongues danced to the music of their hearts. Seconds turned to minutes, but neither cared for they were lost in their own blissful world. Even the sound of approaching footsteps failed to draw their attention.
Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies were following the same path Harry and Hermione had traversed a few minutes previous. The lovely, silvery blonde haired Veela was looking for a convenient reason to get rid of her drooling date. Davies was handsome enough, but his skills in the matter of women left much to be desired though he thought he knew everything.
As Fleur neared a large fountain, she saw a raven-haired boy kissing a brown-haired girl. 'I recognize zat 'air. Zat's 'Arry Potter,' She thought. 'Ze Boy-Who-Lived. Zat would be a good conquest of ze night. 'E 'as to be powerful if what Cedric said about 'im killing a basilisk is true.' Fleur's eyes flashed as she thought of such a wizard for her to control with her whims. 'Tonight I'll make 'im mine,' she thought as she imagined the things she would teach the young wizard. And none of it had anything to do with magic, or at least not that type of magic.
"Excuse me, aren't you 'Arry Potter?" Fleur asked the young man who was still engrossed in the young witch by his side. When neither of them seemed to notice her, she became a little irate. ''Ow dare zey ignore me!' Fleur thought. 'I'll just get 'is attention and turn on my allure. 'E'll be mine in an instant.' Fleur walked over to the couple of tapped them on the shoulder. "'Arry Potter?" As the young man broke the kiss with his girlfriend and glanced at her, Fleur blasted him with every bit of allure she could muster. Roger Davies, caught in the Veela enchantment, just sat down and stared at the angel before him, his mouth was agape and drool pouring down the front of his robes.
When Harry turned to see who was interrupting one of the most blissful moments of his life, his eyes fell upon a petite, silvery blonde haired woman and, for an instant, he recognized her as the Beauxbatons champion. But then all of his thoughts were swept away as he felt a floating sensation giving him immense pleasure. At the center of the pleasure was the blonde woman. He knew he needed to please her, to impress her. She was everything and everything was she. When Harry thought back later, he knew it felt almost exactly like the imperious curse Moody had put them under earlier in the year.
A voice started to call to him. 'Kiss the woman and all that you desire will be yours. You want her! You must have her. Impress her and make her yours.' Harry felt the need to listen to the voice. He needed to kiss the woman who would make his desires come true. He rose from the bench and started toward the perfect entity. But he'd only take two steps when another voice broke through the whispers of the desires. It was a demanding voice, one that seemed to fill Harry's mind. 'Hermione! You love Hermione! She is your anchor, your life, your love! HERMIONE!" The last word was verbal as it tore itself from the very depth of Harry's throat. As soon as he spoke Hermione's name, his mind instantly cleared and he jumped back from the woman in front of him.
'What?' Was Hermione's initial reaction when the Beauxbaton Triwizard champion had tapped Harry and her on the shoulder, interrupting a very blissful moment. She was still a bit dazed from the kiss and it took a moment for her to clear her mind. As she did, she watched her boyfriend rise from his seat and move toward the blonde Veela. She watched in horror as Harry reached out for the woman as if he was going to kiss her. A wave of despair rolled through her when it appeared Harry was about to leave her for the witch, but then she saw Harry's eyes widen in shock as he shouted her name while at the same time stumbling away from the Veela.
Hermione at first was confused, but then she saw Davies drooling all over himself. She remembered the Quidditch Cup and the men and boys there and she knew what had happened. 'That…that ... bitch just tried to steal my Harry!' She thought as she exploded in anger. She whipped her wand out and pointed it directly at Fleur. "Get away from my boyfriend." She said in a low but dangerous voice.
"C'est vrai? You think he prefers a little girl like you over a woman like me?" Fleur demanded as she tossed her perfect hair.
By then, Harry had moved to stand beside Hermione, trying to figure out exactly what had just happened. His mind was clear but confused. It was like his thoughts were running in slow motion.
"Looks like he does prefer me you pathetic hag!" Hermione snarled. "I don't have to resort to magic for Harry to desire me. Now get your arse out of my sight before I do something you'll regret."
"You think you can do something to me?" Fleur asked with a sneer that still did not change the perfection of her face. "Zere is nuzzing you can do. If I want your boyfriend, I'll take 'im. I'm perfect! I'm a Veela. Every man wants me. Every man desires me."
"BANG!" A brown light came out of Hermione's wand hitting Fleur right in the face.
"There… see how perfect you are now," Hermione said.
"What? What did you do?"
Hermione reached into a pocket of her robe and tossed a small compact over to the Veela. "Take a look," she said with a small laugh.
"Zere is..." Fleur started. But as she opened the mirror, she froze. Dozens of pimples were appearing all over her face. "Zat's... Zat's not possible! Veela can't get acne. We 'ave perfect skin."
"Used to have perfect skin, it looks like," Hermione smirked. "I think you will find you have eighty-seven pimples at this moment, each resistant to magical treatment. I'll warn you that if you try to treat them magically, they will erupt and your face will have more craters than the moon. Let them heal naturally and you'll be fine. Now get out of my sight and keep your paws off my boyfriend."
Fleur was furious. "This...this... English bitch has stolen my beauty! And she thinks that she could keep a man I want?" She felt the anger rise and her blood start to boil as she felt her body start the transformation. "In a second I'll ram a fireball up her…"
"PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" Hermione yelled as she realized what was about to occur. Fleur's eyes widened as fell over stiff as a board, hitting the ground with an audible thud. Hermione walked over to the Beauxbatons witch and stared down into her eyes. She could see the hatred in those eyes. "You want to transform?" Hermione asked. "Then let me help you. ACCIO CANARY CREAMS!" She cried out as she waved her wand.
From various locations, the packages of the Weasley-made candy came zooming toward her. Hermione deftly caught the first few packages. She then ripped several of the packages open and squished them into a single large mass. "You wanted to be a bird? I can definitely help you with that," Hermione continued to Fleur as she shoved the entire wad of creams into the Veela's mouth. "That's right, you can't chew can you? Here, let me help you with that as well." Hermione sent another spell that liquefied the creams and the liquid traveled down the Veela's throat. Hermione then countered the body bind and, with her wand still up, she backed several feet away.
Fleur rose to her feet and started to pull her own wand until she realized her hand was a wing; a wing covered in yellow feathers. She gasped as she looked down, only to see her beautiful legs were now bird-like and her nose had become a beak. Not her normal harpy type beak, but the beak of a canary.
"TA WEET!" Fleur cursed at Hermione. "TA WEET!" She then looked toward Davies in the hope that her date would come to her aid. Unfortunately, the effects of the allure coupled with the effects of the canary cream produced a very peculiar reaction in the young man. Roger Davies no longer had a look of desire, but his eyes were now filled with hunger. He hadn't eaten much at the Ball since his fork had kept missing his mouth as he stared at Fleur but now, for some reason, he suddenly had a desire to find out what canary tasted like.
"TA WEET! TA WEET!" Screamed Fleur as her date licked his lips and started toward her. She took off running toward the Beauxbatons carriage followed closely by Davies. As she passed other couples, the male of each one started getting looks of hunger in his eyes and followed Davies in his pursuit of the overly large Veela canary. Just short of the carriage, Fleur transformed back. Unfortunately, Fred and George still had not corrected the molting problem and the zit-faced Veela found herself surrounded by two dozen young men all staring at her 'natural beauty'.
Rita Skeeter had been flitting around all evening and had several juicy stories. There was the story of Hagrid being half giant, and another where a student champion was dating a professor and finally, she had stumbled on the Beauxbatons champion trying to use her Veela powers to get with the Boy-Who-Lived. 'Oh yes. Tomorrow's Prophet is going to have several articles with my name on them,' she thought as she flew away from the garden.
Unfortunately for the reporter turned beetle, her path of flight to exit the Hogwarts grounds took her near a windowless wall where an invisible cloud hung. The stench instantly paralyzed her and she plummeted toward the ground. A fairly intelligent spider lived near the base of that wall. The spider had noticed over the course of the last month or so that, periodically, an enormous amount of insects fell to the ground in this spot. The spider had erected a large web and caught the insects that fell from the sky. At first, he thought they were all poisonous with the smell that emanated from them, but quickly discovered if left along for a few days, the smell left the insects and they were eatable once again. Rita Skeeter hit that web that night. The spider noticed the smell emanating from this beetle was worse than any he had ever dealt with before. 'Must be one of those dung beetles I heard about,' he thought as he quickly wrapped the foul smelling creature in a cocoon of spider silk.
Hermione turned back to her messy-haired, green-eyed boyfriend after she watched the Veela canary make a beeline out of the garden. "Oh Harry," she cried as she threw her arms around him. "You… you were able to fight off a Veela for me! How?"
"I... I don't know," Harry replied as he still tried to work through the sluggishness. "My mind fogged over and there was a voice in my head saying I should kiss her, but then a much louder voice broke through telling me it's you I love. When I concentrated on you, all thoughts of her went away."
Hermione tightened her grip on Harry. She knew what that meant. She knew he really did love her. Only true love can break Veela magic. She remembered their conversation earlier in the month. 'Someday definitely sounds extremely nice,' she thought. And as much as she tried not to, she found herself looking at her left ring finger, thinking of a future when there would be a ring there. A ring placed there by the man she was holding. 'Look at me,' She thought. 'I'm getting as bad as Ginny. No, not really," she reminded herself. "I know he loves me.' Then she looked one more time at her finger and smiled. 'Someday.' She rested her head on his shoulder and they just stood there holding each other to the sound of the fountain, their hearts dancing together to a song unheard.
Much later that evening, they walked hand in hand to the Gryffindor tower. After a tender but simple good night kiss, they each made their way to their respective bed where they both relived a wonderful evening before drifting off into a peaceful slumber.
Albus Dumbledore was removing his lurid colored robes while getting ready for bed after an uneventful Yule Ball. Yes, he did have a note from Madam Maxime complaining that her champion had been turned into a canary. Fortunately, Olympe had found her nude student before anything happened with all the lustful young men surrounding her. He also had another note from Karkaroff saying his champion had disappeared. Seems Krum had told his fellow classmates he was going in search of something called a Crumpled-Horned Snorkack. 'Whatever that is,' Dumbledore thought. 'All in all, a very successful night. The Greater Good is still safe and always shall be as long as I am awake and in charge of the situation,' he thought as he climbed in bed. 'Tomorrow is my weekly tea with Alastor. Always good to catch up on old times. Alastor sure is forgetting a lot of things that's happened to him but, unfortunately, he doesn't have my mind.'