This chapter has been updated. Yay! I changed my mind about ron bashing. The new plan is two-fold. Step 1: Take a Ron. Step 2: BASH! BASH! BASH!
Also fixed the letter Daphne receives.
Harry had not had a good year so far. His dreams of a normal year had been mercilessly crushed by his name coming from the goblet of fire. First, he was essentially called a cheater in front of all three of the gathered schools. Then he had been forced to compete in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and then he had to face his peers staring and jeering at him. Did no one understand that he had no desire to participate. And he had just finished out-flying a dragon! Whose idea had that been?
He looked up, and saw madam Pomfrey rushing towards him. 'God that women can hover.' He thought. 'I know Sirius joked about her hovering over my father, but I think he might have been downplaying. This is insane!' After assuring her he was ok, Harry triad to tell her he didn't need an examination, and then he waited patiently as he got that examination anyway. Afterwards, Harry started the trek back up to Hogwarts. He was stopped however, by a hand on his shoulder. He looked behind him and saw the person he least expected to see: Ron.
"What do you want?" Harry asked. He wasn't in the mood for Ron anymore. He was fed up that Ron could have believed that he had entered the stupid tournament. In fact he was fed up with many things about Ron. His jealous and petty nature was just at the top of his list.
"I just- I reckon you'd have to be barking mad to put your own name in the Goblet of Fire." Ron said. Harry just stared at him. He had no idea how thick Ron actually was, but he was pretty sure that Ron could head-butt a troll and come out feeling better.
"So…what exactly does that mean?" Harry responded. He already had an idea where Ron was going with this, but he was curious nonetheless. It was another thing about Ron that bothered him. The redhead had no subtly. The Gryffindor courage was endearing at times, but had no place in normal social life.
"Well, we can be friends again, right?" Ron looked like he thought this was perfectly normal. Harry thought he might be joking, but Ron looked at him eagerly. 'I might be wrong about the troll. Ron might actually kill it.' Harry smirked internally, but kept his outward expression schooled.
"Ron, I'm going to make this as plain as possible. The answer is no. we can't be friends again. You didn't believe me when I told you I didn't enter the competition, and now you do? Come on Ron. Beside the absurdity of that statement, I have no assurance that you will be any less of a fair-weather friend then you have been previously."
Ron finally managed to stutter out: "wha-no, I- that's-what?"
Harry sighed, Ron truly was stupid. Nonetheless, he started to explain. "Look Ron, I told you several times that I didn't enter. It was just like 2nd year. But you believed me then Ron. Why not now? I believe I have an idea, but I want to know what you think."
Ron looked down, and mumbled "I was jealous." He looked back at Harry. "I thought that you just entered to get more attention. I'm Sorry."
Harry looked at Ron. He seemed serious. Harry shook his head. "Ron, this is what I don't get about you. You seem unable to see anyone's basic thoughts or beliefs. As I've said many times before, I hate my fame, due to the morbid and frankly, emotionally tragic circumstances to how I achieved it. I'm astounded that someone so talented at understanding how people play chess can't even see how much books and school mean to Hermione. Yet you continue to belittle and outright mock her for it. And that is the crux of the issue. You have an extreme case of jealousy and inadequacy. You feel threatened by you brothers and their success, by Hermione's intelligence, and even Malfoys wealth. You're lazy, belligerent, inconsiderate, and you have awful table manners. The only reason I've preferred your company to others is your spot as the first wizard my age that I met. But you've made your bed Ron, lie in it!" He Spat. Turning, he started up towards the castle. Hearing Ron sputter incoherently behind him, he turned to find what he considered the reddest human being he had ever seen.
"Something to say Ron?" He snapped. Ron appeared to make up his mind, and went for his wand. Before he could even draw, he noticed Charlie Weasley grab Ron's arm. "Surely you're not that stupid Ron. You're gonna draw on the last wizard to kill a dragon since Merlin?" He asked, firmly keeping Ron's arm down to prevent him from pulling his wand. Ron's eyes widened at the statement. Harry, for the most part, was not surprised. When he flew the dragon into the bridge, he didn't try to kill it, yet he hardly believed it survived the crash then fall.
Shrugging, he simply said "Sorry Charlie. Hope it's not too much trouble."
Charlie replied "No, she was getting old, anyway. Only had a decade or two left in her."
Harry nodded, and resumed his trek back up to the school, leaving the redheads behind.
Daphne was having a bad week so far. Malfoy had become more arrogant and cocky than she had previously thought possible. In the two months they had been back at school, he had many times insinuated that it would "Benefit her to be with someone of his standing." She still shivered at the thought of it.
Her worst fear was that her father would finally give in and sign the marriage contract with Lucius. The only thing stopping him was his belief that Daphne should have a say in her own life. It also didn't help that he hated Lucius Malfoy. While David Greengrass was a shrewd politician and pureblood, he was no death eater.
However, when she got down to the great hall for breakfast, she was surprised to see her personal owl, Glace, waiting for her. Malfoy, already sitting on the other end of the table, called out as she passed by. "Probably a letter from your father, telling you he has accepted my generous offer. But don't worry; we'll be married by next year."
She just stared indifferently at him, her Ice Queen mask staying firmly in place. She quickly untied the letter for the owl's leg, and fed it a piece of bacon. She then told it to wait in the owlery overnight and be back in the morning, she would have a response by then. She opened the letter, recognizing her father's neat, slanted writing.
How are you studies going? I assume well. Still neck and neck with Ms. Granger? I hope this letter finds you well.
Daphne, Lucius Malfoy has been putting considerable pressure on me to accept the marriage contract with his son. Don't worry, I haven't accepted yet. However, I must do something soon. We Greengrass's have always remained neutral, but I fear we must pick a side. Be that as it may, I recognize that you dislike the Malfoy scion immensely.
Therefore, I will let you make a choice. I can allow me to agree with the Malfoy contract, in exchange for several stipulations, including the 'boy' not trade you about with his friends, and you remain unharmed, or you can choose to fully reject their offer. However, understand that this path forces you to do something else, think of it as the backlash. Before I tell you what you would be doing, I must explain something. It is tradition for the Tri-wizard Tournament to hold a ball around Christmas. You will need a date for this ball. As I stated, you could choose Malfoy, and accompany him, or choose another. But as I'm sure you are aware, these events are not simple parties. Your partner for the night says more about you that one might think. That is why I must caution you against blindly choosing someone else.
Lucius spent a rather substantial amount of time here attempting to persuade me to accept, and during that time, drop several hints of the return of the 'Dark Lord.' Because the Malfoy's obvious affiliation with You-Know-Who, to marry Draco would be almost publicly siding with him. As there are very few ways to avoid being bullied or coerced into siding with him, there are only two other options if you truly wish to remain neutral.
One is rather simple. We continue, like all the Greengrasses before me, to remain neutral. You would refrain from attending the ball, and I would tell Lucius that I have decided that it would be best to wait a few years, for you arethe heir to the Greengrass line. While I'm sure this option seems the most appealing to you, I urge you to consider what I am about to say.
Siding with the Light in this instance may prove to be the correct thing to do. Albus Dumbledore, while manipulative and politically ruthless, is also incredibly fair, and the only wizard capable of besting the Dark Lord alone. Therefore, I am going to ask that you attend the ball with a date of my choosing. The final decision is of course, yours, but I ask that you wait a few days before replying.
In order to solidify our position in the Light, we must appear truly committed. Hence, I ask that you attend the Ball with Harry Potter.
Daphne just stared at the parchment, breakfast forgotten.
She was going to have to go to a ball with Harry Potter!
All she could say was: "Shit."