Disclaimer- I do not own Harry Potter. I do not make any money from this work of fiction. I just write for fun, reviews, and to bring humor and joy to readers.
A/N- Wow it's been like 3 whole days since I finished Never Give Me A Marriage Law Challenge. And here I am with a new fic! Some ground rules. This is a Manipulative!Dumbledore fic and while I don't bash the Weasleys I'm not very cuddly with pretty much all of magical Britain. I'm not singling anyone out really other than the Ministry, Dumbledore, Hogwarts professors...oh and occasionally Voldemort makes an appearance but only through dialogue thus far (I'm posting 6 of 14 pages I've written in this chapter alone).
Picture this: Hogwarts, Harry Potter's 4th year. Halloween Evening. After the Champions' names have been read out. Got it pictured? Good. Read what happens next below :D
Harry sat on his bed. Ron had decided that he was no longer speaking to Harry, which suited the young man just fine. He sighed as he lay back on the bed. He was stuck in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. His supposed best friend didn't believe him. That thought had him wondering about Hermione. Did she believe him? He had to know. Harry took his cloak and snuck down to the common room but Hermione wasn't down there. He frowned. He had to know right away. He needed someone on his side and if Hermione wasn't…well he really needed to talk to her.
Harry took out his Firebolt and opened the window of the dorm carefully before flying out the window. He found the girls' tower easily but he wasn't sure which dorm window was Hermione's. On a gamble he moved up to the fourth floor window and flew close enough to see inside to find Hermione sitting on the windowsill with a book. He gently knocked on the window and her head snapped up before her eyes widened. She checked to be sure she was alone and then grabbed her robe to open the window, "Harry what are you doing here?" She whispered harshly.
Harry gazed at her hopefully, "I just…I have to know, Hermione. Do you believe me?"
She softened, "Harry, of course I do. If you say you didn't put your name in then you didn't." She cupped his cheek and smiled, "Now then, you crazy boy, go back to your dorm and go to sleep. We can talk in the morning."
Harry smiled, "Thanks. I just…I had to know. If even you didn't believe me…"
"Harry I always believe you," she pulled him to her and gently kissed him on the lips, "we'll talk in the morning."
The grin that followed that kiss threatened to split Harry's face in two. "Okay but only if that kiss is met with another one."
"Of course it will be," she promised, watching him pull away and fly back toward his dorm room. "Boys can be so stupid," she sighed as she shut the window and went to bed. "Flying to my window? Really Harry," she shook her head. "Patience is a virtue." Still, she was rather pleased that she'd finally taken the risk to show Harry how she felt and seen that Harry had quite enjoyed it, even possibly felt the same. Unlike him, though, she could wait until morning.
The next morning Harry rose early and quickly readied himself for the day. He needed to see her soon. After that kiss Harry had found himself having some very happy dreams about the two of them. He walked downstairs and waited, eager to see Hermione again. Last night had been Harry's first kiss and he was quite keen for another. After his return to his dorm he'd spent some time thinking about their relationship. Hermione was the prettiest girl he knew; true, she wasn't a stunner like Cho Chang. But Hermione had more depth than the other girls. The other girls in their year were mostly interested in boys and fashion. Harry's fame was important to them because they wanted to be famous too. Hermione didn't care about his fame and she wasn't swayed by his money either. Hermione genuinely liked him for him. And Harry found her quite attractive anyway. He'd become very much aware that Hermione was a girl the previous year and that had led to a good many embarrassing dreams. Although after that kiss Harry thought they weren't so embarrassing after all.
Harry gazed up at the girls' staircase and grinned as he saw Hermione coming down. No sooner was she off the last step than Harry was kissing her. Hermione smiled into the kiss and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. Harry's hands moved to her waist as the kiss continued. When they parted she smiled at him, "I take it you liked the first one?"
"Very much," he breathed, smiling at her. "I was wondering if you might have an opening for a boyfriend?"
She tilted her head in thought, "Well I suppose I do Mr. Potter. Do you intend to apply for the job?"
"I'll fill out the forms in triplicate if you ask me to," he said, resting his forehead on hers.
"That's not necessary," she gave him a quick kiss, "but more kisses are expected and maybe some snuggling too."
Harry grinned, "Sounds good to me."
She pulled back from him, "First, we need breakfast and I don't think after last night we should go anywhere near the Great Hall."
Harry nodded in agreement. "We can get some food from the kitchens," he suggested.
"That's not a bad idea," she released her hold of him and took his hand, "let's go get some breakfast Harry. Then we can work out how to get you out of this tournament." Harry grinned at her words as she pulled him toward the portraithole.
In the kitchens Dobby quite happily served them food while Hermione and Harry talked about their new relationship. Once they'd had their fill talk turned to getting Harry out of the tournament. "But Moody said that magical contracts force us to compete," he said to her.
She took his hand and squeezed it affectionately, "Harry did you submit your name?"
He frowned, "Of course not. Hermione I thought you believed me!"
"I do Harry," she kissed him softly, "my point is that the three Champions are held by magical contract, yes. But you aren't because unlike them you didn't enter your own name. The contract can't go off of a name; if that was the case then a first year muggleborn could be the victim of a vicious attack by a blood bigot like Malfoy by being stuck in a competition that they're unprepared for."
Harry's eyes widened in understanding, "So I can't be held responsible for the actions of someone who no doubt wants to see me die."
"Exactly," she smiled. "The contract is between the cup and the person who submitted it. The paper with the name on it is to affirm the contract between submitter and the cup itself," she said.
"Well then what do we do now?"
"We tell your godfather the truth of what happened and we start training," Hermione said, very much aware of their audience.
A familiar elf grabbed Harry's sleeve and tugged on it, "Excuse me Harry Potter sir but Dobby would be happy to be youse elf. It would be greatest honor to work for Great Harry Potter Sir, friend of house elves."
Harry looked at Hermione. Upsetting his new girlfriend wasn't an option. Plus, whatever Ron and other purebloods said Hermione was right. It was enslavement. The purebloods got so wound up over that word that they missed Hermione's point. She wasn't out to free all the elves (they needed the work and a few questions to Dobby had revealed that they needed to be bonded with a family to live) but rather to give them free agency. The ability to choose a new master if one was abusive and to defend themselves from attackers. That was a cause that Harry was firmly behind. Hermione looked thoughtful about it so Harry spoke, "Only if you understand that I'm paying you Dobby. I won't own any slaves. You're my friend."
The other elves stared at Harry in awe. Hermione beamed at him proudly while Dobby's eyes filled with tears, "D-D-Dobby is the Great Harry Potter Sir's friend?"
"Of course you are," Harry smiled at him, "you did everything you could to try and protect me, even if it meant harming yourself for speaking against the Malfoys. You're a good friend Dobby. The only friend I value more is my Hermione."
The little elf burst into tears, "Dobby is honored to be Great Harry Potter Sir's friend! Dobby is happy to works for his friend!"
"How does one day off a week sound?" Harry asked.
"Oh no Dobby is happy with one day off a month. Dobby cannot take wages from a f-friend either," the elf argued.
"Two days off a month and no wages but you get an allowance each week that you can use to buy yourself or me or anyone else anything you want."
Dobby thought about the terms before nodding his head eagerly, his ears flapping against his skull. "Dobby accepts!"
With Dobby off to give Sirius a letter the couple walked near the Black Lake. "So for the tournament, the solution is simple. You refuse to compete."
Harry looked at her. "I thought you said we'd train."
"All of those elves report to Dumbledore, Harry," Hermione said. "We have to keep this to ourselves."
He nodded in understanding, "so how do I refuse, exactly?"
"Don't perform at the first task," she said. "We can train and learn new magic together to keep people unaware of what we're doing. And I suppose some snogging could become a part of all that training."
Harry grinned. Snogging Hermione was a very appealing idea. Supplementing that with training and studying was fine with him. "Can we start on the snogging now?"
She smiled and pulled him to her, kissing him, "I think that's doable."
They learned quite a bit together leading up to the First Task, and not just about snogging. They mastered plenty of charms and Harry taught Hermione how to cast a Patronus, using one of their many memories together to create the playful otter. They filled a classroom with pillows and used summoning charms and banishing hexes to have a pillow fight. Hermione had many inventive ways to teach him how to cast spells and he enjoyed her ideas and activities. He was pretty sure everyone would learn better if Hermione was their teacher; no offense to Flitwick or McGonagall but his girlfriend was more fun. Although given that their lessons always ended in snogging maybe he was a bit biased.
Hagrid told Harry to meet him one evening and Harry went only because Hermione promised to go with him. They saw the dragons and exchanged a horrified glance. They were going to pit a 14 year old wizard against a dragon?! When they returned to their private classroom they warded it, Harry having found the study of runes more interesting than he'd thought they'd be. Hermione was a good tutor with that and Harry quickly picked them up. They always warded their training room, which was filled with pillows and other comforts. Harry collapsed on a pile of pillows, "Dragons. They're setting us up like the Romans did the gladiators."
"On the plus side, my handsome boyfriend, you're not competing," Hermione said, falling back into a pile of pillows near him, "and you have your girlfriend alone in a classroom filled with pillows."
"Banishing hexes it is then," Harry smirked, rolling out of the way as Hermione tried to smack him with a pillow.
"It's war now," Hermione said, sending three pillows his way.
"Bring it witch," Harry said, licking his lips as he sent four at her.
After they collapsed into the pillows, tired, they snuggled close together. "Hermione what will happen when I say I'm not competing?"
"Well some people will try to stop you," Hermione said. "But you've never been afraid to stand by your convictions. I'm sure after we get you out of the tournament then there'll be more stupid whispers about you being a cheater and a coward but they're all idiots anyway."
"Yeah that's true," Harry sighed. The betrayal of his fellow Gryffindors didn't hurt as much as he'd thought it would. Certainly not as much as the stinging and tripping hexes constantly being sent their way. Or the many 'pranks' of the twisted twins in which he and Hermione were hurt or nearly severly wounded while Gryffindor laughed at their misfortune. The bubotuber pus was one of the worst. "Hermione if their treatment of us gets worse what do we do?"
"Well Professor McGonagall isn't much help," Hermione mused. "I guess we should look through the school rules and find out what our options are. There are copies in the library. We'll just pick up one tomorrow."
Harry nodded. That sounded like a good idea. Gryffindor had become a house of bullies with him and Hermione their targets. He closed his eyes and settled into the pillows. It was pretty comfortable. He could sleep like this, Hermione in his arms lying on a floor of pillows. He opened his eyes, "Hermione? We really warded this room. What if we just slept in here together? We could make the one closet a bathroom and the other one a dressing area and a place for our clothes and stuff."
"If it means I don't have to get up from my comfy spot I'm all for it," she mumbled, nuzzling his neck. "You're too comfortable Harry Potter."
"Not sorry about that," he said, closing his eyes again.
When they woke the next morning Harry smiled and kissed her forehead, "Is there anything you can't do Hermione?"
"All I did was sleep Harry," Hermione said, pulling back to look at him. "What do you think I did?"
"Last night is the first time I haven't had a nightmare ever," he answered.
"Oh Harry," she hugged him, "I'm so sorry."
"It's okay Hermione."
Her problem-solving brain was already kickstarted though. She sat up and looked at him, "Are your nightmares always the same?"
"Usually it's my mom screaming as Voldemort kills her but other times…recently it's been you he kills," Harry admitted quietly. Hermione hugged him tightly and he returned it.
"And you always feel guilty when you're happy too," Hermione said before pulling away and tracing his scar with her finger, "Harry I think your scar is related to both of those things. I think we need to look into books on magical scars and dark curses that can cause them."
Harry nodded in agreement. That actually sounded like a good idea. He kind of wondered why he hadn't done that before.
"My Lord, Barty Crouch says that we have a problem."
"What is it Wormtail?"
"The Potter boy is the most hated boy in the school. Only his mudblood friend remains on his side. Killing him now would do nothing for our cause."
Voldemort was silent as he pondered Wormtail's words. He had a point. Potter's death would be most powerful when he was loved by everyone. But how to make Potter a hero again? That certainly wasn't his specialty. This would require some thought and careful planning.
They had to sneak back up to their dorms to shower and change. They both packed up their trunks and shrunk them once their dormmates were gone before meeting in the common room to go to breakfast. "What say we stop somewhere?"
"You owe me a snog anyway," Hermione smiled. Harry grinned and took her hand, lacing their fingers as they left the Gryffindor common room. If they had their way, they wouldn't be returning.
Harry offered Dobby four pairs of socks if he could attach a bathroom to the classroom he and Hermione called home. Dobby actually suggested a special room within Hogwarts he called the Come and Go Room that could change to become whatever they wanted. He showed it to them and Harry and Hermione were amazed at the room's abilities. But it wouldn't maintain its look for them and so they asked Dobby if there was an old dorm room somewhere with a bathroom attached. He volunteered to look for them during classes that day.
The first task was on Saturday, leaving them with four days until the task. Just to keep him aware of things, Harry wrote to Sirius about how Gryffindor was treating him and Hermione and how they were sleeping outside of the tower for their own safety. He also told him about Hermione's ability to keep his nightmares away and their theory that his scar was behind them. The one thing Harry didn't say a word about was their plan for the tournament. Keeping that a secret was paramount.
Hermione and Harry finished their last class of the day and were on their way to their training hideout when Dobby found them. He smiled, "Dobby has found perfect place for Harry Potter Sir and his Hermy-knee." He led them up a couple floors to a set of rooms. "These used to be professorses roomies. But is not being used for long times and just needed cleaning up."
Hermione grinned. That meant they had a bedroom, bathroom, living room, mini kitchen/dining room, and plenty of room for their belongings. "This is perfect Dobby, thank you."
"Dobby is glad youse is approving," he bowed to them so deeply his ears touched the floor. "Dobby and Winky is cleanings it up for youse twos."
Winky appeared, looking at the floor and wringing one of her ears in her hands, "Winky is glads youse is likings it."
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look, "Winky we were going to give Dobby some new socks as payment. Can we get you anything?" Harry asked.
"Winky is just wanting family," the elf mumbled quietly.
Harry looked at Hermione, who licked her lips and knelt down in front of the female elf, "Winky, Dobby is bonded to us but as a friend. I understand you want to work and belong to a family, but I think slavery is wrong. If you work for us it's as a friend. You'd get time off and an allowance each week."
"Youse is not setting Dobby free with socks?"
"Of course not," Harry said. "Dobby bonded with me as my friend, not my servant or slave. Dobby would rather have socks than payment and if that's what he wants, that's what he gets."
Winky thought about this, "I is not wanting wages or days off."
"Dobby has two days off a month and you get the same," Hermione said. "And instead of wages, you get an allowance. That way you can buy things for your family with your own money."
Winky contemplated Hermione's conditions while Harry and Hermione put their trunks into the bedroom and put their things away. "A bed instead of pillows," Harry said, looking at her, "Reckon we can survive without our nest of pillows?"
"We'll make it work," she said, pulling him into a hug, "this is so much better than Gryffindor Tower."
"Agreed," he nodded, closing his eyes as he enjoyed Hermione's embrace. She was the first person to ever hug him that he could remember. And she was also his favorite. Molly Weasley felt suffocating when she tried to hug you. But Hermione's hug was warmth and acceptance and he enjoyed each and every one.
When they exited the bedroom together hand in hand Winky was standing up, "I is agreeing to youse rules."
Hermione smiled at Dobby leaping for joy that his friend had a job. He was a special little elf and almost impossible not to love. Harry grinned at Dobby's actions before looking at Winky, "Welcome to the family then Winky," he said. The little elf hugged Harry's legs and then moved to Hermione, hugging her too.
Hermione looked at Harry, "We actually have a task for the two of you. We need to look into why Harry's scar is always giving him nightmares, making him feel guilty for being happy, and why he can sometimes get visions from Voldemort. We know the killing curse was cast that night, so maybe look into that and various dark arts rituals. Killing Harry was important and he did it on Halloween which is an important day for magicals. Books about those things aren't accessible to us here at Hogwarts so you might need to get some dark arts books."
Dobby and Winky both wrote down what Hermione talked about and nodded before vanishing on the spot. Harry looked at her, "What say we do our homework and then I get to snog my girlfriend on our couch?"
"I think your girlfriend might be up for that," she smiled.
Sirius Black sat in the cave, re-reading his godson's latest letter. He was very nervous about the tournament. Dragons! What was wrong with Dumbledore that he was setting Harry up to face down a dragon at the age of 14? And the way Gryffindor was treating Harry and Hermione made him furious. He felt ashamed to have ever been a Gryffindor. Harry and Hermione's theory about Harry's scar made sense but he had no clue where to even start to help them figure out what was up with the scar or how to stop it.
Sirius was certain of several things. Dumbledore was an enemy to him and to Harry. Hogwarts in general was not a good place for his two favorite teenagers to be. Something was definitely up with Harry's scar too and hopefully those two could work out just why. He felt quite powerless, being unable to help them and just serve as someone for them to vent to. When he finally could help them he vowed to do everything he could for them.